Keystone XL: Obama the Pragmatist

By Bob Burnett
Friday April 05, 2013 - 08:41:00 AM

On April 3rd and 4th, President Obama spoke at several San Francisco fundraisers. While he didn’t specifically mention the Keystone XL pipeline, the tenor of his remarks indicated that he’s likely to approve the controversial project. Obama seems to be most influenced by his inherent political pragmatism.

I’ve heard Barack Obama speak on several occasions. The first was February 19, 2007, at a San Francisco ore-election fundraiser with a lengthy question and answer session. Towards the end of the event a woman asked then presidential-candidate Obama what his position was on same-sex marriage. For an instant, Obama seemed surprised; then he gathered himself and responded he was aware of strong feelings on both sides of this issue and his position was evolving. Five years later, in May of 2012, President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage.

What took Obama so long to make up his mind? No doubt he needed to clarify his own moral position – although the Protestant denomination he was baptized into, the United Church of Christ, announced its support for same-sex marriage in 2005. But I’m sure the President carefully weighed the political consequences and, last May, thought the timing was right.

Over the last six years I’ve realized Barack Obama has several personas. On occasion he moves us with stirring oratory; that’s Reverend Obama, the rock star. Once in a while, he turns philosophical; that’s Professor Obama, the student of American history. On April 3rd, I saw Politician Obama, the pragmatic leader of the Democratic Party. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Syria: A Multi-Sided Chess Match

By Conn Hallinan March 31, 2013
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 07:56:00 PM

In some ways the Syrian civil war resembles a proxy chess match between supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime— Iran, Iraq, Russia and China—and its opponents— Turkey, the oil monarchies, the U.S., Britain and France. But the current conflict only resembles chess if the game is played with multiple sides, backstabbing allies, and conflicting agendas. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Roe v. Wade: Still Controversial After 40 Years

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:52:00 PM

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. In this case, Jane Roe, a pseudonym for Norma Leah McCorvey (née Nelson), brought a class action suit challenging the constitutionality of a Texas criminal abortion laws, which forbids procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother's life. The Supreme Court stated that state criminal abortion laws "that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy." -more-

SENIOR POWER Five matzohs for Nora!

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:14:00 PM

I recommend Nora’s Will, a 2011 DVD about death, family, love, mental health, Passover, and suicide. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Buddhist-Style Mindfulness Applies

By Jack Bragen
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:26:00 PM

Buddhist ideas and some Buddhist practices are extremely applicable to people who have found themselves in the predicament of being mentally ill. Buddhist ideas of nonattachment and acceptance are potentially a lifesaver for people who experience numerous hardships. -more-