In a post-Weinstein era, where do we go from here?

It was said almost immediately in early October, when dual articles in the New York Times and the New Yorker exposed an alarming pattern of inappropriate and abusive sexual behavior by film mogul Harvey Weinstein, that this was a watershed moment.

But it’s hard to tell if something truly is a watershed moment while it is happening. It’s the events and reactions that occur after that determine that.

Three months later, there’s no doubt it was a watershed moment, indeed.

Women have been racking their memories of all the times they have inappropriately harassed and kept their silence, the victims of an existing punitive culture that deterred women from speaking out against powerful men.

Men, conversely, have reflected on all the times that their behavior towards women may have crossed the line and if they, too, are guilty of sexual impropriety.

What’s different now is we’ve finally entered a new age where we, as a society at large, are ready to listen to women and accept their stories.

And my how the floodgates have opened. Kevin Spacey. Louis CK. Charlie Rose. Matt Lauer. The list goes on of men who have been publicly accused and subsequently lost their jobs, or faced punishment and public shaming.

My worry is that people will get lost in this cloud of constant accusations. I worry that the discussions will devolve to “Who’s next?” followed by, “Will he lose their job?”

Because if that is the case, then we lose the question that truly matters: Where do we go from here?

Moving forward, will we now live and work in an environment where men, knowing that they will be held accountable for their actions, will think twice before they act? Will we begin educating youths of the improper nature of sexual misconduct, even before they know what sex is – like we do with drugs?

What’s happening now will not matter if we don’t learn anything moving forward, and that is where conversations need to be directed.

Exposing people for their past behavior is a good start, but more important is making sure that this behavior doesn’t persist.

As far as how to deal with the accused, well, that’s another discussion. What we’ve obviously learned is that this issue is not black and white. When hearing about alleged misconduct, we need to decipher if the accused has exhibited a lifelong pattern of pervasive sexual misconduct, or if they made a mistake.

Will they vehemently deny the allegations and demean their accusers, or will they accept responsibility and strive to become a better person? Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves, and judge accordingly.

There’s a lot of ugliness being reported now. I’m sure there will be more accusations coming. But often, the brightest times emerge after the darkest storms.

Let’s hope there is brightness ahead.

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Heroes live in Portland

Donald Trump did not invent bigotry. He did not create xenophobia. Or discrimination.

But what has been highly apparent during his rise is how he has emboldened people who do participate in these nefarious behaviors. By calling to make “America Great Again” and giving no single specific strategy about what exactly that means – he’s letting his supporters interpret it however they want.

And to many of our nation’s most despicable people, the time when America was at its “greatest” was when all laws and institutions catered directly for the white majority, while those outside of that group were basically left to fend for themselves.

Whether you like it or not, America is changing. It’s becoming more diverse. And that has always been our basis, ever since its founding nearly 250 years ago.

We are a nation of immigrants.

A girl leaves a message at a makeshift memorial for two men who were killed on a commuter train while trying to stop another man from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, in Portland

And right now, those immigrants — especially those from Muslim-majority countries — are feeling extremely scared and vulnerable.

Are Muslim-Americans less protected under law than they were before Trump took office? No.

But do they harbor more fear walking down the street? Taking the train? Just entering a room, not knowing whose inside of it and what reaction they are going to get? Of course.

And this environment, fueled by Trump’s words and actions,, is what will be the man’s lasting legacy.

We do not know if yet if this is what directly led to what happened in Portland last week. In case you were totally consumed with your barbecues or your weekend getaway, three men rushed to the aid of two women who were being accosted with anti-Muslim insults.

Two of them were killed.

The three men — the last of whom is expected to live despite taking a knife slash to the neck — are being hailed as heroes.

And they are. Standing up to hate is what makes us heroic. We can all do it in our own way. These three men saw it before there eyes, and they intervened. Two paid the ultimate sacrifice. Their names are Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Rick Best.

Trump condemned the attack on Twitter … two days later.

After last week’s cowardly attack in Manchester, it’s easy for even the most tolerant of humans to become just a fraction of a bit more suspicious of people of Muslim faith.

But that’s what we have to fight against. What we have to remember is that evil and terror has no faith or creed. It is bound in nothing but pure hate and disillusion. And that we are all in this together.

Three people in Portland didn’t forget that.

Will you?

When your country no longer upholds its values

There once was a time – not too long ago – when the United States of America was the standard bearer for democracy. When we set the example for the rest of the world to follow.

Look around the globe. Pick any country. In nation after nation, you’ll find authoritarianism, corruption, inequality, crime, nepotism, oppression, racism. It’s rampant. Some countries contain all the above.

And we’re not immune from those evils. America has never and will never be perfect. We’re still an evolving process.

But very few countries have achieved what we have. The checks and balances we have in place to oversee our president are abundant, and they’re there for a reason — to protect the American people from a despotic leader.

Donald Trump is rewriting the book on 240 years of history.

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And while he’s raised many red flags, and alarmed not only the American public but members of Congress, not much has stood in his way. At least not yet.

People excuse Donald Trump’s behavior because they say he has yet to do anything illegal (yet). But what we fail to realize is that the goalposts of what we consider illegal actions from a president are becoming narrower and narrower.

What’s illegal and what’s not should not be the benchmark for our nation’s highest office.

It’s really the unwritten rules of governing, which Donald Trump has repeatedly torn to shreds, that we should be concerned about.

It’s not illegal to undermine a federal judge, but no one ever does it. Except Donald Trump.

It’s not illegal to discredit the entire press corps, but no one ever does it. Except Donald Trump.

It’s not illegal to share top secret, classified information with hostile foreign nations, but no one ever does it. Except Donald Trump.

It’s not illegal to fire the FBI director midway through his term while he’s investigating you, but no one ever does it. Except Donald Trump.

These are the boundaries that Donald Trump is destroying. And all those other countries who are guilty of all of those heinous actions I listed above, well, we can no longer tell them that they need to be more like us. Not if this keeps up.

Now, they can look at what’s going on here and say, “Hey, if they’re doing this, then we can do whatever we want.”

We used to look at backsliding democratic nations like Venezuela, Turkey and Russia and hold our head high. We’d say that this could never happen to us.

Now we’re the ones who other countries are laughing at.

And it will take a while to fix what Donald Trump has done. A significant portion of our credibility has been shattered. But it’s not irreparable.

At the end of the day, we must remember that we brought this onto ourselves. We voted.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes in our country’s history. But we’ve always learned from them.

Let’s just hope this is another learning experience.

1980s and 1990s sci-fi movies are lot less fictional than we thought

Ever since 1968’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” science-fiction films and books have carried a similar theme: computers gaining enough artificial intelligence to outsmart human beings.

For the majority of people who don’t live in the computing world, the idea of machines overtaking humans has always been an entertaining premise that’s only somewhat haunting. Because while it seems plausible, we don’t know enough about technology to ever believe it possible.

In other words, we have a hard time processing a threat that our brain doesn’t fully understand.

It’s a reason why few people legitimately fear the scientific dangers presented by global warming. In general, we know that climate change is happening, and it’s bad, but we don’t know why, and therefore we do little to stop it besides complaining about it on social media.

Take the 1983 film “WarGames” starring a young Matthew Broderick. In the film, he operates an oversized computer to discover a backdoor into the U.S. government’s defense systems. Simply by pressing a few buttons — which he thinks are harmless — he accidentally sets our computer systems onto an unstoppable path towards nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

That was 34 years ago.

The reason why this has been such a reoccurring topic in science fiction is because it was only a matter of time.

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Look how far we’ve come technologically since then. Now in the 21st century, the new arena for warfare is online.

And more people should be afraid. Or at least care.

Russian interference in our elections was not simply a hack, or an inconvenience, or “fake news” — it was an attack. We were attacked by a hostile foreign nation.

And last week, more than 150 countries were victimized by a “ransomware” attack that is believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea.

And this time, they ain’t just trying to stop a movie.

To avoid getting too technical, ransomware is basically a hack that scrambles your files with encryption, and then demands you pay a ransom to unlock the encryption — aided by the anonymity of Bitcoin.

The attack, performed with software by the name WannaCry, may have cost lives. Among the victims was the servers for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, which relies on IT systems to perform urgent, life-saving operations.

WannaCry targeted Microsoft, taking advantage of a vulnerability that had recently been leaked by a hacker group in April after it obtained hacking tools compiled by the National Security Agency. Before that, Microsoft had released a software upgrade fixing the issue, which most people did not utilize. And now they’re screwed.

This is the era we live in. Everything is automated. And around the clock, hackers are trying to infiltrate these computers. Yes, groups are working equally as hard to safeguard computers simultaneously, but it’s an endless cycle. The fabrics of our world now lie within computer codes and operating systems.

And those who still naively believe that computers aren’t capable of bringing about our downfall, well, I suggest you pop an old Matthew Broderick flick into your VCR.

Then after you’ve watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, watch WarGames.

Jimmy Kimmel is the most human late show host on TV

Anybody who watches Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show knows that the man cries a lot.

He teared up when discussing the death of Cecil the Lion two years ago; he couldn’t hold it back when he mourned the passing of legendary comic Don Rickles late last month; and most recently, and certainly understandably, he openly wept when revealing on his show that his son was born with a heart defect that required life-saving emergency surgery.

Seeing somebody express raw emotion and vulnerability always gives you greater insight into who they are as a human being.

What makes us so unique to any other species is our ability to emote and to experience real sorrow. It’s what makes life tragic and glorious at the same time.

So to see Jimmy Kimmel have a moment of pure emotion like that only adds to his appeal. Especially since his story is so undeniably sympathetic. Any child being born with a heart defect is saddening.

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But what’s made Kimmel’s monologue so particularly memorable was his inclusion of politics. While he didn’t directly malign any one or group in particular, he bemoaned the fact that those with preexisting medical conditions who were afforded protection against healthcare discrimination under Obamacare may lose those protections under a new Republican plan.

And he pointed to his newborn son as a living and breathing example of this. “If your baby is going to die … it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all agree on,’ he said to raucous applause.

Kimmel has received mostly support from his TV colleagues and the general public. But of course, there are those few — like this former Republican Senator — who just can’t bring it upon themselves to look past politics and see the human element.

Obamacare may be repealed as soon as Thursday. And Kimmel is right about something: we need to stop kicking this issue around like it’s a political football. These are people’s lives at stake. It’s not a game. It’s not about politics.

But what makes the topic of healthcare so dicey is one simple fact: we are selfish.

And there’s nothing wrong with being selfish. To make it in this world, you need to look out for yourself and your best interests.

The reason people don’t like Obamacare is because premiums and their deductibles are high. They’re healthy and yet they’re paying an exorbitant amount for insurance because they’re being forced to by Obamacare’s mandate.

But the subtext to that statement is you don’t want to contribute your share to cut the costs for sick people.

I understand that money is hard to come by. Very few of us make enough to support the life that we wish to live.

But that is the reality of why healthcare is such a polarizing issue in our country at this moment.

At some point, you have to ask yourself: Are you willing to make a few sacrifices to prop up your fellow Americans, and fellow humans.?

Jimmy Kimmel’s little boy was saved.

Will the next one be?

Hasan Minhaj … PREACH

One of the most important ingredients for a healthy democracy is a free and open press. History has been marked by nefarious and corrupt leaders who, over time, abuse their power to clamp down on civil liberties and control the national press.

Journalists serve as a check on any regime. People may not always like what they have to say, but investigative reporting is what prevents a dictatorship.

In nations across the country, the press serves as an extension of the government. In those cases, instead of receiving the truth, the public is hearing propaganda that bolsters government influence. It sedates and essentially brainwashes people, and creates an environment that allows a government to run amok.

This is a divisive time for America. There are people who loathe our president and adore the press; and then there’s people who revere our president and abhor the press.

I’m not using this post to tell you how you should feel about the president. But we should all be thankful that America possesses an open and independent press that is able to inform the public of things they otherwise would never know. It’s one of the most important tools that keeps our government from breaking the law.

And that’s why the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is such a big deal. Founded in 1921, the event celebrates the First Amendment and the free press, and serves as a lighthearted evening that reminds us all that, at the end of the day, the White House and the press corps are allies.

Until today. Because Donald Trump didn’t go.

The list is endless, but this yet another reminder that our president does not care about protecting the fabric of our democracy.

Last Saturday’s event, nicknamed the “Nerd Prom” – which happened to coincide with Trump’s 100th day in office – was hosted by Hasan Minhaj, who you would only recognize if you are a frequent watcher of the Daily Show.

I have no insider information, but I saw Minhaj as a top candidate to replace Jon Stewart upon his departure. He is young, funny, energetic, and brings an outside perspective unique to most Americans. The job ultimately went to Trevor Noah, who is doing a nice job in his own right, and I’m glad to see that both men have found success.

Nonetheless, Minhaj has some pretty damn poignant things to say at the close of his speech, and I think it’s important for all of us to hear. I’ll share with you a snippet.

“We are in a very strange situation where there’s a very combative relationship between the press and the president. But now that you guys are minorities, just for this moment, you might understand the position I was in. And it’s the same position a lot of minority kids feel in this country. You know — do I come up here and just try to fit in, and not ruffle any feathers? Or do I say how I really feel?”

I don’t really have much more to add.

And know that now, more than ever, is the time to support journalists.

Why Trump’s first 100 days in office have been an abject failure

The fact that Donald Trump’s approval rating has been hovering somewhere around the mid to high 30 percent range since he took office should not surprise anyone.

Of the American electorate, it’s safe to say about one-third are die-hard Trump supporters. The ones who flooded his rallies. The ones who you saw quoted on television saying that we need to ban Muslims and build a wall at the expense of the Mexicans.

That last 20 percent or so of voters who supported him enough to get him over the hump and into the White House were clearly moderate Republicans who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And if you flash back to Nov. 8, it’s hard to blame them. The propaganda machine about Hillary Clinton’s potential conflicts of interest and corruption was in full swing, boosted – as we know now – by state-backed Russian hackers.

Just days before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced that his agency was reopening their investigation against Hillary Clinton, in what will infamously become known as “The Comey Letter.” What he did not say was that his agency was also investigating Donald Trump.

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So of the steadfast conservatives who would never vote for a Democratic candidate, it stands to reason why those dark clouds hovering over Hillary Clinton would sway them to vote for Donald Trump, even with all the controversies of his own.

Is that a legitimate excuse to vote for a narcissistic, mentally unstable xenophobe for the most powerful position in the world? No. But that’s why it happened and that’s how we got here.

Saturday marks Trump’s 100th day in office, a milestone that Trump has publicly criticized but also privately obsessed over.

Any one that has spent any time studying how government works – especially one like ours, with its extensive checks and balances – understands that a president can only be effective through diplomacy and compromise by working with both sides.

If you pedal a set of campaign promises that were never too popular to begin with, and then proceed to double down on them while ignoring one half of Congress, then any half-wit who took one undergraduate course in political science understands that’s the opposite way to run a country.

Donald Trump ran a business as a one man show. It was his way or the highway. That doesn’t work for government. And voters have no one to blame but themselves for not foreseeing this.

At this juncture, it’s apparent that Trump is more concerned with pleasing his base than governing.

Which leads us back to that dismal approval rating. Trump will shrug it off as “fake news,” but the educated Republican voter who relied on Trump to live up to his campaign promises is likely to be disappointed at this point.

And unless Trump suddenly learns the fine art of diplomacy, that’s not likely to change.

Yes, there’s still a lot of time left in his presidency *shudders*. But if his first 100 days are any indication for how he will approach healthcare, tax reform, foreign policy, national security and other important issues that affect the day-to-day lives of Americans, then those swing voters are probably going to be experiencing some serious regret. And soon.

But while it’s been a bad 100 days for our president, it’s been a good 100 days for a lot of other people: the grassroots activist. The protester. The men and women who suddenly found their political voice amid this tumultuous regime.

Trump will one day be gone.

But those voices will linger.