Donald Trump accelerates likelihood of disaster with North Korea

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In an off-the-cuff remark in August, President Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” widely interpreted as a euphemism for nuclear war.

Long before he was elected president, the danger of America’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of a short-tempered, ignorant vulgarian like Donald Trump was clear. With his finger on the button, the globe might be one childish slight away from nuclear war. Only eight months into his presidency, escalation between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the two most unstable nuclear-powered leaders on earth, is threatening to realize the worst of those fears. Continue reading

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Trump may be more dangerous than anyone can fathom

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Trump is America’s first serious flirtation with a racist, nationalistic strongman.

One of the most curious aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is the way his supporters defend him. From televised surrogates to people on the street, there is a tendency to dismiss the most outlandish things Trump says as mere showmanship and to insist of his most bigoted and authoritarian proposals that he doesn’t really mean them. This is the opposite of most politicians. Usually it’s cause for concern that a candidate won’t meet his promises; in Trump’s case it’s supposed to be reassuring.

It isn’t. Nothing about the candidacy, policy proposals, personality, or tenor of the campaign of Donald J. Trump is reassuring. He is the only candidate in history to get the benefit of the doubt – that who he will be in office is better than who he is on the campaign trail. Far from expecting a toned-down Trump in the Oval Office, there is every reason to believe he will be much worse once elected. Continue reading

Words versus deeds: Foreign policy in the 2016 election

The likely 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are the most disliked major party candidates in American history. But of all the faults these candidates have, their darkest aspects are most visible in foreign policy. And for as much as Americans don’t like the two of them, imagine what the rest of the world must think as the most powerful nation on earth prepares to hold an election between an accomplished war criminal and a maniac who pledges to become one. Continue reading

Donald Trump is our greatest threat

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Right now, Trump is the country’s number one nightmare.

Covering Donald Trump as a presidential candidate isn’t easy. Everything about the man and his campaign is a distracting spectacle – violent rallies, Twitter feuds and fratty arrogance so immature he defends his dick size in debates. For months he was regarded as a joke. But while the media focuses on theatrics this egomaniacal tyrant is being carried toward the White House on enthusiastic American shoulders. If he’s a joke, we’re the punchline. Continue reading

Christian conservatives: Analyzing modern civilization with ancient superstition

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A “blood moon” on September 27 was treated by some religious conservatives as a godly omen.

Before the advent of science and the ubiquity of light pollution, human beings gazed up at the stars and ascribed great meaning to astral events, treating them as omens from the gods. Many of these mystified people still wander the earth, untouched by modern knowledge of gravity and geometry. They aren’t just hiding out in the Amazonian wilds, either; many of them follow Glenn Beck’s Facebook page. Continue reading

Washington hypocrisy and warmongering jeopardizes breakthrough nuclear deal with Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second-left, stands on stage with diplomats in Switzerland, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, far right.

As diplomats from the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany move closer to reaching a historic deal with Iran that would temporarily block it from pursuing certain nuclear ambitions in exchange for relaxation of sanctions, Republicans are vowing to do all they can to scuttle the deal. It’s remarkable that, at a time when the first modern meaningful international agreement between the US and Iran is about to go through, Republicans are rattling sabers as aggressively as ever.

Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker called the deal “one of America’s worst diplomatic failures.” “Instead of making the world safer,” Walker alleges, “this deal will likely lead to a nuclear arms race in the world’s most dangerous region.” In keeping with the lockstep obstructionism that has defined the GOP throughout Obama’s presidency, other Republicans have protested the deal, citing Iran’s untrustworthiness and existential threat to world peace.

For years, Washington and the news media have portrayed Iran as the most dangerous national power on the planet. That opinion is not widely shared by the global community, however, which by a significant margin places the United States at the top of a list of the biggest threats to world peace. Despite the abundance of negative public opinion on Iran in the US, the question of what exactly makes the country such a threat is rarely meaningfully explored.

A brief history of US/Iranian relations reveals everything about who should be distrustful of who. Continue reading

War, from a last resort to the first

Leaders discuss Iran's nuclear future.

Leaders discuss Iran’s nuclear future.

Last week, the United States – along with five other powerful nations – reached an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. In exchange for the lifting of some sanctions, Iran will diminish its nuclear ambitions and agree to international inspections, marking a mild diplomatic milestone. Naturally, for conservatives, this makes it an apocalyptic disaster. Continue reading

Nuclear negotiations are no time for political games

Leaders discuss Iran's nuclear future.

Leaders discuss Iran’s nuclear future.

Obstruction has defined and united Congressional Republicans since the earliest days of President Obama’s term. Few Republican maneuvers, though, have generated as much rage as Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s cynical, stupid and dangerous letter to Iran. Forty-seven Republican senators signed the letter, attempting to undermine or diminish the nuclear deal being worked out between Iran and the U.S.

Per the deal, in exchange for the U.S. lifting some of its sanctions on Iran, Iran will agree to keep its nuclear program within certain agreed-upon parameters, including postponing any nuclear weapons programs. As the specifics continue to be ironed out, Cotton’s letter provided a senseless, politically motivated distraction. Fortunately, the Iranians are more serious than Senate Republicans, and the letter hasn’t derailed the diplomats having the real conversation. Representatives from the most powerful nations on the globe – the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – are all working with Iran to come up with an internationally agreeable program. Continue reading

Special New Year’s edition: Three 2015 resolutions for America

Say what you will about America, there’s one thing that’s undeniably true: people don’t like you to say what you will about America. Despite being the most powerful economic and military force on the globe for the last 100 years, our culture is quick to take offense at even the mildest of criticisms. Self-reflection has never been our greatest strength, making a list like this controversial.

Nonetheless, we face several crises together. Most commentators don’t consider 2014 to have been a “good news” year. Whether we realize it or want to admit it, this country’s business and political classes have committed inhuman crimes in our name, and they will continue to do so for as long as we let them. If, instead, Americans pledged to confront these issues openly and honestly, we could pave the way to a much brighter future. These are the issues activists, organizers, and opinion leaders should be hammering home in 2015. Continue reading

Sony did the right thing by pulling “The Interview”

You could be forgiven for mistaking the spectacle surrounding Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “The Interview,” a film about an American talk show host who is recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, as a convoluted marketing ploy. The real-world story is almost surely a thousand times more interesting than the movie itself, with alleged North Korean cyberterrorists hacking Sony and threatening movie theaters, Sony canceling the film’s Christmas release and President Obama promising to “respond proportionately,” presumably by disrupting some future North Korean film he doesn’t like.

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“Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un, center, is the Justin Bieber of North Korea. Photo by Reuters.

There’s a great deal of doubt over whether North Korea is actually behind the hacks, and even greater doubt they could actually make good on any threats. Still, I disagree with Sony’s critics. As difficult as it is for me to say, Sony did the right thing by pulling the movie. Continue reading