The right-shifted spectrum of US politics

Here’s Ben Smith writing about what he sees as a major shift in Democratic party policies.

Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party.

While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.
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Trump, Saudi Arabia, and Iran

Yesterday I posted the weird photo of Donald Trump, the Saudi King, and Egyptian dictator al Sisi placing their hands on a glowing orb, something that has sparked plenty of mockery and internet memes. Some have said that touching the orb was what caused a sinkhole to suddenly open up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida at roughly the same time.
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Using ‘principles’ to hide the fact that you are being a jerk

It is a common tactic for people to invoke some high-falutin’ kind of ‘principle’ as a shield to deflect criticisms of their appalling views. The one that is most commonly invoked these days is to say that you are ‘fighting political correctness’ when you are denigrating minorities, gays, women and other marginalized groups whom you think are getting too uppity. The next step is to claim that your right to free speech is being denied when you get criticized for your words. These people seem to think that the right to free speech means that one has the right to not be criticized for exercising that right.
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This seems to never get old

That Americans are woefully ignorant about world geography is well known. My first experience with this was when I first came to the US for graduate studies. When I told people that I was from Sri Lanka, most people had never heard of it. That was not surprising since this was before the various vicious ethnic and political conflicts in that country had brought it greater notoriety. When you add to that the fact that the country was known as Ceylon before 1971, the lack of awareness was perfectly understandable.
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Fighting religious indoctrination in South African schools

I have been hearing from Christopher, a reader of this blog and is a secular activist in South Africa, about a court case that being waged in that country to remove religious bias in their public schools. The group that has brought the case is called OGOD which is an acronym for the Afrikaans Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie. The group challenged the practices of six schools that are explicitly teaching Christian doctrine.
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Film review: Lion (2016)

I was quite disappointed with this highly acclaimed film, based on a true story, that was nominated for six Academy Awards (though it did not win any) including for best film and for best supporting actors for Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

The first half of it is about a five-year old boy Saroo in India who lives in a remote town with his mother, older brother Guddu whom Saroo idolizes, and sister Shekila. His family is extremely poor and his mother works as a laborer gathering rocks in the heat of the day. Guddu and Saroo engage in petty thievery to buy food for the family and help out their mother. But one day while he and Guddu are out on another such mission, Saroo gets separated from his brother and, after falling asleep on a train, ends up in Kolkatta, a teeming city over a thousand miles away. After wandering the streets fending for himself and fending off people who seem friendly initially but have darker motives, he ends up in an orphanage with a large number of other street children. A kindly official, after failing to locate his mother, arranges for him to be adopted by an Australian couple (mother played by Kidman) living in Tasmania.
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