This is how heads of state converse?

Ever wondered what phone calls are like between heads of state? The Intercept has obtained the transcript of the phone conversation between Donald Trump and Philippine’s president Rodrigo Duterte. It is quite fascinating to read because it shatters the idea that conversations between heads of state are staid and serious exchanges. While they talked about serious affairs (drugs and North Korea), the tone of the discussion sounded like the low-level chatting of two slightly drunk fraternity guys just shooting the breeze about international affairs.
[Read more…]

The phony ‘Middle East peace process’ gets a new lease of life

Like every new president before him, Barack Obama hoped to make some headway in resolving the bitter dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. But he and his secretary of state John Kerry eventually realized that Israeli intransigence was too strong especially since, thanks to the Israel lobby in the US has a lock on the US congress, they could not use as a bargaining chip the only real leverage they have, the massive amount of aid that the US gives that country. So they essentially gave up.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]