We’ll always have Paris

It’s basically gotten to the point where we are living in a cartoon world where the Trump administration is playing the role of the archetypal bad guys.

Like, if you were to write a kids’ movie or a dystopian novel, and you envisioned an adversarial government as the story’s antagonist, but exaggerated it so much that the reader or viewer would find it implausible that such evil would exist in real life– that’s what we are dealing with.

Our president is boorish and immature. The chief strategist whispering in his ear is a present day Joseph Goebbels. Our Attorney general embodies the appearance of a generic southern racist.

They’ve scaled back on civil rights, LGBT protections, healthcare protections, and now, they are doing all they can to repeal environmental protections.

The latest being Thursday’s announcement to rescind our involvement in the Paris climate accords – a pact signed by 195 countries to limit carbon emissions with the hope of saving the planet, an agreement that was spearheaded by Barack Obama two years ago.

I feel like I say this every week, but … how is this real?!

Trump climate

The one silver lining I tell myself is that just because Trump states something aloud or signs an executive order doesn’t mean things change with the drop of a hat. There’s still checks and balances that limits his abilities and other mechanisms that act as a bulwark against his tyranny.

In this instance, the climate accords state that there is about a 4-year removal process, meaning that full removal from the agreement may be determined by who elect in the 2020 presidential election.

Hate is building for Donald Trump. It’s been happening since day one. But it’s only a matter of time until there is an unprecedented, large-scale rally in Washington, D.C. calling for his ouster.

And if that occurs, I don’t think I’d be able to live the rest of my life with dignity if I don’t go.

Not only is Trump enraging so many with his mind-boggling decisions, but he’s also corrupting our intelligence by making up words.

Either you know about “covfefe” or you don’t. In short, Trump tweeted a made-up word, didn’t delete it for five hours, and the world scratched their heads until then trying to figure out what he meant.

When the media asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer what the president meant — fully expecting him to say it was a typo — Spicer answered seriously, “The president and a small group of people know what he meant.”

I’d say the inmates are running the asylum, but I think we’re well past that.

All I know is that if things don’t change quickly, I think we’ll all be drinking at Tiger Woods levels really soon.

Tomorrow is Friday. after all. The perfect time to start.

Happy covfefe everyone.

Forget next year’s election, America’s biggest decision is Justin Bieber vs. One Direction

The world almost made it a full week without a high-profile terrorist attack. So close. This time havoc struck western Africa, in a hotel in Mali last Friday morning, where Islamic militants took 170 hostages and killed 19 of them.

There’s really not much else you can say or do but to believe in the power and resilience of humanity. We may not be living in a fairy tale, but one has to remain hopeful that good will always prevail over evil, even in the darkest of times.

If you’re having trouble believing that yourself, then take strength in Antoine Leiris, who, despite losing his wife in the Bataclan attack, refuses to bear hatred for those who pulled the trigger that fateful night.

If a man who lost so much can see the bigger picture, then maybe we can too.

Remember, it’s our decisions we make that truly define us.

Justin BieberAnd this past weekend, a decision was upon the world that, one way or the other, really showed our true colors.

Justin Bieber vs. One Direction.

And the Beliebers won.

The solo artist and boy band have combined to warp an entire generation of young girls’ musical tastes. They’ve both cultivated a sweeping fan base, and in the last few days, their popularity was put to the test.

Justin Bieber’s fourth studio album, Purpose, came out on the same day as One Direction’s fifth, titled Made in the A.M, their first album since their quintet became a quartet following the departure of Zayn Malik. In the end, Bieber sold some 649,000 albums to One Direction’s 459,000.

The dual releases created the biggest quandary for teenage girls since the Hunger Games made them decide between Peeta and Gale.

(I still can’t believe Katniss chose Peeta.)

(I mean … I never read them.)

(I read them.)

I’ve been pretty hard on the Biebs on this blog. I won’t deny it. Mainly because I can’t deny it since a search of his name will reveal myriad angst-ridden posts about him dating back to 2010.

But I will go on record, right now, by saying that I am willing to wipe the slate clean on Justin Bieber. Henceforth, I will only judge him on his actions moving forward, starting with Sunday night’s closing performance at the American Music Awards.

If I took one thing away from it, it’s that I didn’t realize he’s actually a pretty good dancer. His voice has always been fine. It’s nothing show-stopping, but he’d probably get at least three out of four chairs to turn on a blind audition of The Voice. No way Pharrell would turn. No way.

(I don’t actually watch The Voice.)

(I’m watching it right now.)

But now it’s time to see if Bieber has learned anything from his past transgressions.

Hey, Ben Carson, once stabbed a dude — allegedly — and tried to hit his mom on the head with a hammer — again, allegedly — and the guy might be our next president. All can be forgiven.

Don’t let me down, Bieber. I want to like you. I really do.

Otherwise, I’m spending my entire fortune on One Direction’s next album to make sure you don’t win Round 2.

That’s smarter than starting a 401K, right?

Enough sadness. It’s time to focus on the fun in life again!

Alright, time to get some positive vibes back in here. It’s been a very gloomy last few days, and though we should never forget the victims of last Friday’s attacks in Paris, we need to remember that it’s important to continue on with our lives in good spirits.

So let’s get to some fun stuff. What’s in the news?

Charlie Sheen has AIDS.

Oh, come on. This is really the top nonpolitical story in the U.S. right now? Charlie couldn’t wait like a week when the rest of the world calmed down to announce this?

Charlie Sheen AidsActually, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Charlie Sheen does not have AIDS. He did, however, tell Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” Tuesday that he’s not only HIV positive, but that he’s had the virus for four years, and that he’s paid millions of dollars to people to keep it private.

As cruel as it may sound, this might be the least surprising news ever. In fact, at the rate that he was consuming drugs and alcohol and engaging in sex with porn stars and prostitutes during his infamous 2011 partying binge, he’s pretty fortunate that testing HIV positive is all that ended up happening to him.

But he said all the right things on Tuesday, and maybe he can turn this challenging life episode into an opportunity to help others who have once struggled with drugs and addiction.

Perhaps Charlie intentionally waited until now to publicize this knowing that it would be vastly overshadowed by news in Paris. If so, it was a brilliant move on his part.

Other famous people should take note. If you have a dark secret you’ve kept hidden throughout your life, reveal it now while the world is distracted by international tragedy. Because no one will care. Even gossip blogs have shown a modicum of restraint lately out of respect to the Paris victims.

Benedict Cumberbatch, now is the time to tell people about your underground baby seal harpooning business. And Emily Blunt, you can finally share with the world that you’re an ardent follower of the Church of Scientology.

These are how rumors start.

Seriously though, I refuse to log off WordPress tonight without talking about something happy.

What’s Justin Bieber up to these days? That guy is always making a fool of himself. He’s the go-to man for unintentional comedy.

So, let’s see, top Google search for his name says: “Justin Bieber writes about friend who died in Paris attacks.” Shit. No. That’s not how that was supposed to go.

It’s OK though. Shake it off. And let’s stick with music. It’s the one thing we have always been able to rely on throughout history to distract us from reality.

What’s atop the Billboard Hot 100 right now? It’s been a while since I’ve checked.

Ah, Adele is back. That’s nice. Some song called “Hello.” I’m sure this is an energetic, upbeat song that will provide instant joy.

Time to go listen!

Pray for Paris. But pray for Baghdad and Beirut, too.

The world remains grief-stricken over the bloody events in Paris on Friday night, details of which have begun to surface over the last 48 hours. The death toll has risen to 132, and many more remain seriously injured.

Residents of the French city have crowded around memorials dedicated to the victims, still in a state of shock and apprehension, as evidenced by multiple false alarms on Sunday that caused mourners to run in terror of a repeat attack.

The nation wasted no time responding. French warplanes have bombed Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Syria, making it clear that the world is on the brink of war, in some capacity.

Sympathizers worldwide have taken to Facebook to show their solidarity, which has allowed users to overlay their profile pictures in the colors of the French flag.

Beirut attack

Mourners in Beirut, Lebanon

Some disturbing rhetoric has manifested from people who crave justice. Many, like Republican presidential candidates, are blaming so-called lax policies during the migration crisis for the attacks, failing to comprehend that the people who are escaping Syria are fleeing from the very same thing that Parisian bystanders ran away from on Friday night. Others are unabashedly pointing to strict gun control laws in Paris as a contributor to the tragedy.

When unprecedented, tragic events like this unfold, it becomes easy to trick yourself into thinking that nothing else in the world is happening. That everything else stands still and that we should all focus our attention towards this one thing and one thing only.

But that would be a mistake. Because in the process, you’d be ignoring tragedies that happened in other parts of the world this weekend.

On Thursday, a suicide bomb at a funeral in Baghdad killed at least 17 and wounded 33. On Friday, the same day as the Paris attacks, suicide bombers in Beirut killed 43 and wounded 239. Both attacks, which ISIS has taken credit for, were targeting Shiites, which the Sunni terrorist organization sees as heretics.

The death tolls of both pale in comparison to that of Paris’s, but if the overlying message people have been declaring this weekend is that an attack on innocent civilians anywhere is an attack on all of humanity, than why should that matter?

Honoring Beirut hero, Adel Termos

Honoring Beirut hero, Adel Termos

The mass media is partly to blame, which has been focusing nearly all of its coverage towards Paris, and therefore impeding news of the Baghdad and Beirut bombings from reaching the general public.

An Indian blogger, Karuna Ezara Parikh, took to Twitter to voice her frustration over this disparity in attention by writing a beautiful poem that has been shared by thousands.

Ignoring these two deadly incidents also means ignoring one Lebanese victim of the Beirut attack, Adel Termos, who, while out with his daughter, tackled a suicide-bomber before he could enter a mosque, potentially saving hundreds of lives. The bomber detonated his vest in the struggle, killing himself and Termos. He’s a hero. There are mixed reports as to whether his daughter survived.

Everybody should know his name. Adel Termos.

Where’s the option on Facebook to drape your profile picture in Lebanese colors, some have lamented. Others point to the skin color of the victims resulting in the unbalanced coverage.

I think it’s inappropriate to compare the scale of these attacks to one another, or use them to fuel your own political bias. However, besides the higher number of casualties in Paris, it’s easy to understand why it’s getting more attention. It’s an iconic city that many people have visited and fallen in love with. A place of beauty and rich history. It’s among the most glamorous cities in the world.

The same cannot be said, unfortunately, about Baghdad and Beirut, two cities mired in the ever-worsening turmoil ongoing in the Middle East.

Pray for Paris, indeed, but pray for Baghdad and Beirut, too.

All three were attacks on humanity, in different parts of the world.

All three should bring us together as one.

The true aim of terrorism is only successful if we let it break our spirit

It’s a shame that I even have to make this post. It’s early on Saturday morning, and yet, here I am, not even out from beneath the covers of my bed.

Paris is reeling. More than 125 are dead in what was a series of coordinated, simultaneous terrorist attacks that ISIS is taking credit for.

What can you really say? This is an unprecedented tragedy and the entire world is mourning.

But here is what I’ve decided: terrorism, sadly, is something that may never go away. There will always be extremists out there who are disillusioned enough to believe that murder and chaos is the only means to an end in order to achieve the world that they desire.

Peace for ParisAnd while they gloat about and praise these cowardly acts, the only way to properly defy them is to let them know that nothing they can do will make us cower in fear. Nothing will let us change who we are. We will not subscribe our lives to the fear of terrorism.

They can’t win, ever, because they can not break our spirit.

And that’s what needs to happen moving forward. Petty disagreements surrounding political emails, oil, the South China Sea, and a piece of paper determining how many centrifuges Iran can spin need to be be put aside so we can look at the bigger picture.

What ISIS did on Friday night in Paris is an act of war. Now it’s up to the rest of the world to decide what they want to do next. We have truly reached a defining moment in history. And that’s where everyone’s focus should lie. How we react to this, both politically, mentally, and spiritually. Most importantly, it’s something that we all need to do together.

People are still haunted by the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any mention of sending troops overseas is met with backlash. When we send special forces to Syria, the predominant question is whether there will be “American boots on the ground?” No one wants any more Americans to die in a war on foreign land.

Thus far into his presidency, Barack Obama has refrained from starting a new war for that very reason. But to say that he hasn’t tried anything to stop ISIS is flat-out untruthful. A clandestine drone campaign has been ongoing for months. The operation just recently killed a notable ISIS executioner.

Will that policy change? It’s possible. Acts of evil can change the minds of even the most staunchest pacifists.

But that’s for world leaders to decide.

As for the rest of us, we can do our part by standing together as one. Never mind your religion, skin color, ethnicity, immigration status, salary, or political views.

Let’s unite under a more simple concept.