Of the course the media is being biased. But they really have no choice

Ever since Donald Trump’s precipitous dive in the polls resulting from the leaked video of him making lewd comments about women to former NBC personality Billy Bush, the disgruntled Republican nominee has been making the same claims over and over again at his rallies.

“It’s a rigged election.”

“There’s a media conspiracy against him.”

The cries from Trump have become so incessant that even President Obama told him today to “stop whining.” 

To that end, the first claim is pure poppycock. Disregarding the fact that the election hasn’t even happened yet, there are few more closely regulated processes in our country than voting.

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Voter fraud is so rare that it’s almost nonexistent. But because Donald Trump keeps warning his followers that it’s a near certainty to happen, he’s essentially deputizing his supporters to police polling stations on Nov. 8 using intimidation tactics and any other means to prevent people from voting for Hillary Clinton — particularly those in the inner cities.

In other words, if the election is indeed rigged, it will be in his favor.

Now to his second point about the media being biased. He’s much less wrong about this one.

And don’t get me wrong. As a former journalist, I have plenty of faith in today’s media, even if they do tend to over-sensationalize and spend too much time harping on the “hot item of the day,” whatever it may be, rather than informing viewers of the things that they really need to know.

But anyone whose been trained as a journalist understands the importance and responsibility of remaining impartial and reporting news objectively.

Does bias tend to creep in? Sure. But that’s just human nature.

The singular question that journalists have been facing this election cycle, however, is how do you fairly report on Donald Trump? The man breaks from all conventional political decorum, disrespects the media, and lies through his teeth.

I hate to say this, but there is a reason why Trump’s primary supporters lack college parrishdegrees. Meanwhile, The overwhelming majority of journalists — especially those on major networks — likely went to multiple schools of high repute, and thus are informed enough to understand the severe implications of a Donald Trump presidency.

And if that’s the case, then it is not only a moral obligation for journalists to call out Trump when he lies, or to dig into his questionable past — but a necessity.

By treating Donald Trump like a normal presidential candidate — which he is anything but — the media would become an accomplice to his political malfeasance.

So if you think the media is out to get you, Donald, then you’re right. But it’s because you feed them ammunition with your revolting behavior. Deal with it.

It cannot be overstated how dangerous Trump’s allegations against the media are, given the anger he’s stoked among his supporters.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the fallout from the Arizona Republic’s first endorsement of a Democratic candidate in the paper’s 125-year history.

After weeks of receiving death threats, the newspaper’s president and publisher, Mi-Ai Parrish, wrote an eloquent, humanizing response to their opponents, using the names of colleagues and family members to convey that they, too, are people who each have their own American experience, and that they simply made the choice out of their best interests for our country.

And yet, we make them out to be the bad guys?

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A love letter to America

Dear Americans,

We are better than this.

Too often, the vehicle that is our country’s driving force towards democracy — our elections — is the very same one that stalls us against one another.

It is the cornerstone of what makes us a free and sovereign nation, and yet, can also showcase the very worst in all of us.

While it’s far from uncommon for an election that determines a nation’s highest leader to become a bitter, partisan affair, this year, it’s sunk to new levels.

And it’s brought us to a place where we should never be.

We used to respect one another. We didn’t always agree, but we were at least willing to listen, understand each other’s viewpoint and attempt to find a common ground.

It’s the fundamental principle our nation was built on. Compromise.

We rose from oppression. We were ruled by a monarchy that didn’t give us a say. So we designed our government in a way that allows us to keep each other in check. Did it slow the legislative process? Yes. But it was supposed to. And it forced lawmakers and people of all ideologies to sit down at the table together to find a solution.

Somewhere along the way, we lost that. And it’s been happening for decades. But rather then confront the problem, we’ve turned a blind eye and pretended it wasn’t there.

Now we are dealing with the consequences of our own willful ignorance.

The rampant xenophobia, sexism and racism that has entered mainstream political discourse like never before has given the entire a world a glimpse into what our country has become. Our problems and shortcomings have been put under a spotlight. And there is no where to hide.

Rather than working to solve these issues, too many people are seizing the opportunity to blame and decry those who they believe are responsible for this mess.

As a result, it’s created a toxic political atmosphere and made us more divisive than ever.

We once cared about setting an example for the world. But instead we’ve become an ominous warning of what can happen when we  put ourselves ahead of each other. When we let fear dominate over hope. When we disregard ideas simply because they’re not how we want them to be.

This election season has been painful to digest. It’s agonizing to see people who harbored decades-old contempt suddenly feel emboldened to make their hate known.

As much as I’ve tried for the past year to shrug it off as an aberration that will normalize itself after Election Day, I’ve finally come to the realization that we cannot.

We must confront this. And it’s with this dispirited sense of acceptance that I have hope.

Because on November 9, we have the unique opportunity to shape where we go from here. We can continue the division along two separate paths, or we can come together and stand united like we have so many times before.

This is within our capabilities.

It won’t be easy. But if we strive to do it, then we can.

I will place my vote on Election Day. And whatever happens happens.

But I will control the one thing that is within my power: to be the best version of me that I possibly can. And to care and respect the people that I see every day.

Are you with me?

Sincerely,

The Weinblog.

‘The Times They Are a-Changin”

The title of this post could apply to today’s world in so many ways. But that’s not the reason why I used it.

Let me allow myself one day to step away from politics (something I also plan to make a habit of post Nov. 8 … which, shh, no one tell Trump is the actual Election Day.)

Because I don’t feel like there is any need to really elaborate on or analyze the recent development of the several women — and counting — who have come forward to share their stories of being victims of sexual harassment or abuse by Donald Trump. It speaks for itself. But here’s a list of all who have done so, in case you lost count.

Anyway, the title of today’s post is obviously a nod to Bob Dylan, who, today, became the first musician ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature — and the first American to win the award since Toni Morrison in 1993.

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But before I even go further into that, let’s pause for a second to mourn the demise of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, who retired on Wednesday effective immediately, following revelations that the bank created false accounts for its customers for years.

Stumpf raked in millions of dollars from this unethical and illegal activity. The bank took back about $40 million from Stumpf in bonuses, but he’ll still walk away with more than $100 million, while thousands of low-level employees were fired in the wake of the scandal.

So let’s just take a moment of silence for the end of Mr. Stumpf’s career.

If you stood up and danced … well, I did too.

Back to Bob Dylan. I inherited a fondness for the folk musician from my father, who listened to him growing up.

Quite frankly, it’s really hard not to like Bob Dylan. He never had the best vocal abilities. But all he cared about was singing about things that mattered in the world.

He didn’t target a particular base. He didn’t sing to top the charts. And he didn’t care what type of people listened, or where they came from.

All he wanted to do was provide an anthem for those who aspired to make this world a better place. For those who believed in peace and harmony.

His songs are so simple, and yet, you can single out any lyric from any of them and frame it on your wall because it sounds so lovely.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

How does it feel? To be without a home? Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me. I’m not sleepy, and there ain’t no place I’m going to.

I don’t think there’s any question that Bob Dylan is more than a musician. He’s a poet. A dreamer. An innovator. And someone who provided a voice for those who believe the answer to our world’s problems are much more simpler than we think.

The times certainly are a-changin’. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Don’t take my word for it. Take Bob’s.

No Donald. This is not what men talk about inside of a locker room.

Donald Trump has, for months, made me ashamed to be an American.

But now, he’s made me ashamed to be a man.

Why? Because I have had more than one woman approach me since last Friday, genuinely wondering if Donald Trump’s words that were caught on video from 2005 are truly what the average man discusses inside of a locker room.

Because by excusing it as simple “locker room talk” — and with GOP representatives saying they’ve heard much worse on a regular basis — it’s led women to believe that every man discusses sexual assault in a locker room.

On this blog, I offer my opinion on a lot of subjects. I try my best to stay impartial and to recite information that I know to be credible. But rarely do I consider myself as a legitimate, first-person source or expert who is able to speak knowingly about a current topic based on experience.

However, as a man who has been in locker rooms many time in his life, I can unequivocally say that the language used by Donald Trump in that video is not locker room talk.

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First of all, men don’t speak in locker rooms. Once we enter, our goal is to leave as soon as possible. Most men go out of their way to avoid having to be inside a locker room. They’ll change in their car. Or wear their sweaty clothes home.

And we certainly don’t look around for people to start conversations with.

If we do happen to do that, then we talk about life — as many professional athletes have attested to. We talk about our jobs, our families, our good news and our bad news.

Do men talk about women? Of course. Do we use verbiage that we would likely not use if a woman were part of the conversation? We do.

But there is a major difference between using crude language and bragging about committing sexual assault — as Trevor Noah pointed out on the Daily Show on Monday.

Making things worse, at least one GOP Senator refused to acknowledge that the actions Trump were describing in the video even qualified as sexual assault. Which means that, because of Donald Trump, we’ve actually reached a point where sexual assault is being trivialized.

As if Donald Trump hadn’t done enough.

I personally am offended and ashamed by Trump’s assertion that this is common behavior among men. Because it is not. I can not recall one instance in my life where I heard a man brag about forcing himself upon a woman without consent. And if I did, I certainly would not laugh and play along with the banter.

We’re just 27 days away from it being over. And if you look at the polls, it appears increasingly likely that Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations will finally come to an end — all thanks to a woman.

If that’s not sweet, poetic justice, then I don’t know what is.

You say you want a revolution?

All throughout history, we’ve learned about the amazing power — and devastation — of a national revolution.

The French Revolution. American Revolution. Russian Revolution. Revolutionary Road. Prince and the Revolution.

OK I got a little carried away there with the last two, but you get the point.

Revolutions happen. And not just in the past. Take a look at the Arab Spring, which saw (two!) successful revolutions in Egypt and another in Tunisia, and failed ones in Libya, Syria and Yemen that are having terrible consequences on not only their respective regions, but the entire world.

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Remember, it’s only a revolution if it works. Otherwise, it’s a failed uprising and a civil war. And nobody wants that. Those are the ones that are stowed away in history books as things we’d like to forget.

And while contemporary revolutions may seem feasible in third world countries, or as in the Middle East, in states that were formed arbitrarily in the aftermath of World War II, they would never happen in developed countries, right?

The idea of an American Revolution occurring in 2016 is utterly laughable, right? We pride ourselves in being the most technologically advanced, powerful and diverse country in the world, right? We may throw around Twitter garbs like it’s nobody’s business, but we’d never actually have a real-life, revolt, right?

Right?

Apparently, some don’t agree.

At a campaign rally in Iowa on Tuesday, Trump running mate Mike Pence actually had to dissuade a supporter who was calling for a revolution if Hillary Clinton were to become president.

The comment was so outlandish that even Pence looked mortified, and wasted no time responding “No, don’t say that.”

Granted, Pence is only looking ahead to running for president in 2020 on the Republican ticket, so a revolution is the last thing he wants.

But this is the toxic and dangerous state we have found ourselves in after an unprecedented, nasty yearlong presidential election. The rhetoric from both sides — though it’s 100 times worse from one end — has been so divisive and so discordant that partisan supporters can’t even imagine a world where the other side wins.

And that is scary.

Think about what a revolution actually is. Rebels taking to the streets with weapons, preparing to injure, maim or even kill any one who opposes them.

Because of the propaganda and demagoguery (yes I learned that word in Sunday’s debate — thanks Hillary) coming from Donald Trump, there are actually people out there who he’s incensed so greatly that they’re ready to reject the outcome of our democratic election.

And at least one person is Iowa is ready to revolt.

In the past, it was secret newsletters that were circulated privately among rebel factions to ignite a revolution. Maybe now the new call for action in the digital age will come from blogs.

Well, consider this a call for inaction.

America, don’t revolt.I repeat: do not. A lot of people will be pissed regardless of who wins on Nov. 8. That’s inevitable. But trust me, a bloody revolution is far worse.

Just stick to what you do best and make monstrous comments on Facebook and Twitter.

I can’t believe I just encouraged that.

Sigh. Donald Trump wanted to make America great again. Looks like he made America hate again.

Good job, dude.

Debate #2: We’ve hit rock bottom.

After what was probably the most humiliating weekend for a presidential campaign in the history of American politics, Donald Trump entered Sunday night’s debate a dead man walking.

You’ve all seen and heard his vulgar and shameful comments from 11 years ago, in a video brought to our attention by the Washington Post. Comments that Trump has ludicrously shrugged off as “locker room banter” — despite the fact that this was not in a locker room, but in a bus surrounded by a television crew while wearing a microphone.

I’d be a hypocrite if said I’ve never objectified women while talking with my friends in private. But I have never — never — heard any one use the language that Trump did in that video. That is not locker room banter. Those are the words of a sick and disgusting man.

Republican politicians have defected en masse from supporting Trump. Robert De Niro wants to kick his ass. And his excuse of “locker room banter” was so weak that even former NFL players have come out against it. 

And that was all before Sunday night. To say his campaign was on the fritz is a massive understatement. He was like a defeated character in a Mortal Kombat battle; dazed, on his last legs and waiting for Hillary Clinton to “Finish him” with a final blow.

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Democrats tuned in, frothing at the mouth, waiting for it to happen. But it never came.

Instead, Clinton stuck to her initial game plan from the first debate of letting Donald Trump do all the damage to himself. She stayed calm and composed, while Trump sunk to new lows, bringing up her husband’s past indiscretions, and telling his political opponent that if he were president, he’d throw her in jail — a threat that undermines the whole basis of Democracy — all the while lurking menacingly behind her.

All in all, it was a said night for America.

Not many people will look at Hillary Clinton and feel suddenly struck by hope and inspiration. I fully understand that. But Donald Trump will only succeed by convincing us that our country is weak and pathetic, and that we need him to save it. His words conjure nothing but despair and hopelessness.

Why in the world do we need to be subjected to this?

Thankfully, cooler heads have prevailed 24 hours later — as practically every media outlet has declared Clinton the winner of the debate, and are not giving Trump credit for simply being better than his miserable performance in the first debate. A new poll also has Clinton up 11 points.

If one positive emerged from Sunday night’s spectacle, it was not from any of the candidates or the moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz (who did a nice job), but from an undecided voter in a red sweater vest who asked the nominees a question about energy.

His name is Kenneth Bone. And he is our new folk hero.

Sure, it’s a stretch to say that the entertainment provided by one folksy-looking, unfortunately-named man  was enough to cancel out the tumult of the debate, but we will take anything at this point.

#ImWithBone

Hurricane Matthew, creepy clowns and I think there was a vice presidential debate

A lot has been happening over the past few days, between creepy clown sightings across the U.S., a rather boring presidential date, and the threat of a historic hurricane threatening to wipe out the entire eastern coast of Florida.

But before I get to that, I must express my grief and heartbreak over my beloved New York Mets, whose season came to an abrupt end with a devastating 3-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants in N.L. Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.

The Mets defied expectations this season by making the playoffs even after several key players went down with injuries. They overcame adversity and fought tooth and nail and every single night, and I could not be prouder, even if the sting of defeat has yet to wear off.

Also, it officially nullified my preseason prediction. But hey, it’s never to early to call for them to win it all in 2017, is it?

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard summed it up perfectly in a tweet: “Baseball has a way of ripping your heart out, stabbing it, putting it back in your chest, then healing itself just in time for Spring Training.”

Well said, Noah.

But let’s brush through a few topics here quickly.

Sticking with sports, my girl Maria Sharapova will be making her return from hersharapova-celebratingsuspension sooner than expected after the world’s highest sports court shortened her punishment stemming from her failed drug test earlier this year.

Her initial suspension was way too severe considering the body that sentenced it acknowledged she wasn’t intentionally trying to cheat. So I’m happy for her.

And I promise my admiration for her has more to do with the fact that she is a strong, independent, successful and talented woman than that I enjoy watching her beautiful, long-legged sweaty self running up and down a tennis court for two hours. I swear.

OK, next. The vice presidential debate. Hot moderator Elaine Quijano notwithstanding, I honestly have to willfully urge my brain to remember that I watched this on Tuesday night. Both men are seasoned politicians and skilled debaters, and basically canceled each other out with their blandness and scripted responses — especially in comparison to the strong personalities and unpredictable nature of the candidates at the top of their respective tickets.

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Analysts say Mike Pence “won” the debate, but I don’t really see how you win anything when he basically spent 90 minutes denying quotes by Tim Kaine of Donald Trump, which basically were recited verbatim.

News analysis the next morning basically went like this:

Tim Kaine quoting absurd Trump statement.

Mike Pence: He never said that.

Video footage of Trump saying exactly that.

In all seriousness, considering the man Pence was forced to defend, he did do a pretty decent job — even if I didn’t agree with basically anything he said. And also, shame on Tim Kaine for not digging into Mike Pence, an ultraconservative, on his religious liberty bill debacle last year.

Oh well. Those looking to be entertained need to wait only three more days until the next presidential debate. I’m sure it will lend us plenty of fodder.

creepy-clownAnd finally, these creepy clowns. There have been stories across the U.S. of bizarre sightings, crimes, hoaxes and other weird incidents involving clowns. Heck, 12 arrests have been made in association with clown sightings and there’s even been one death.

Here’s my theory: there’s a film adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” hitting theaters next year. It’s all one big publicity stunt. We’re all scared of clowns to begin with, right? So why not plant these “creepy clowns” across the states to unnerve people people even more, adding a more frightening aura to a film that has a scary clown as its antagonist. That’s definitely something Hollywood would do.

Alright, that’s all I got.

But to the good people of Florida, do try to stay safe this weekend. The forecast looks pretty grim.

Plus, you don’t want to be the city that gets destroyed by a hurricane with a wimpy name like Matthew.

At least wait until we hit the letter ‘W’ for the big storm.

Because Hurricane Weinblog is coming for you, bitches.