I take it back. Don’t vote for Gary Johnson.

The first presidential debate may be three days old, but discussion surrounding it has not stopped.

What’s most interesting is that the chatter most prevalent in the media and among the two campaigns has nothing to do with any policy positions that came up on Monday night — but rather, a former beauty pageant contestant.

It was the final minutes of the debate, and viewers had already somehow survived 90 minutes of incessant bickering, mostly from the left side of their screen.

But that’s when Hillary Clinton laid a perfectly executed trap. And Donald Trump took the bait.

She mentioned a former Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado, who Trump once insulted alicia-machadofor gaining weight. It was ingenious because it was a blemish against Trump that, somehow, we have never heard of before.

Of all the terrible, horrible things we’ve heard about Donald Trump over the past year and a half, his treatment of this woman was not one of them.

Instead of letting it go, Trump did what he does best — went on the defensive, and rather than calming the waters, he only proceeded to make the situation worse. And now, with the entire nation refocused on this election, we’re getting a full dose of Trump’s sexist, misogynistic tendencies. (Trump, for his part, appears to be retaliating by trying to turn the narrative to Bill Clinton’s past infidelities.)

Hillary is a lot of things to a lot of people. She’s definitely intelligent. But she’s also cunning. And honestly, I don’t think that’s the worst trait to have in a president.

For many, the debate probably validated their belief that they don’t want either candidate to be our president. And those people over the last couple of days may have taken a second look at the predominant third party candidate, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico turned Independent, who’s polling at around 7 percent.

They should stop. Immediately.

And I know I endorsed the inclusion of Gary Johnson in this race, but, we shouldn’t give him credence simply because he exists as a third option. If he was a good third option, then fine. But recent history disagrees with that notion.

It’s been a rapid descent for Mr. Johnson in recent weeks, beginning with his failure to know anything about Aleppo, the city in northern Syria that’s facing the worst bombing the country has seen in its entire years-long Civil War.

And that coincides with his quirky-bordering-on-crazy behavior during interviews, like in this one last week with Bloomberg politics.

But the final nail in the coffin may have come on Wednesday, when, during a Town Hall-style interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, he was unable to come up with an answer when asked to name one single world leader that he respects. It was, in his own words, “an Aleppo moment.”

gary-johnson2

Maybe the problem is that we should stop expecting our presidential candidates to be perfect. I mean, if you think about it, how many world leaders around the world are there right now who are universally liked?

When you’re in the public eye, people are going to look for reasons not to like you. Most of the time, they find them.

Trust me, I wish we had a leader who kept his cool every day on the job. Who was respected in the international community. Who was well-spoken. And who kept his campaign promises and who could represent our country with the proper amount of dignity.

If only that existed.

Oh wait. It does.

His name is Barack Obama.

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Remember when people used to actually root for world peace?

Let’s say you have a lot of friends.

Most of them like you. The majority of them truly respect you. The others just don’t want to get on your bad side.

But then there’s three people who don’t like you. Really don’t like you. So much that they may even want to cause you harm, if they had their way. You’ve had really bad skirmishes with them in the past, and the bad blood still lingers. But instead of acting out, you just decide to pretty much ignore the other’s existence.

It prevents any belligerence in the short term, but is it really the ideal solution? Do you really want to live each day knowing that one of these people might come after you?

In a perfect world, wouldn’t you rather make amends, let bygones be bygones, acknowledge that mistakes were made and go on living peacefully? You don’t have to love each other. You just have to tolerate one another and acknowledge the other’s existence. Give a curt nod when you pass each other on the street, rather then turning in the opposite direction.

Peace and camaraderie is always the better option, right? If a solution presents itself that avoids conflict — take it.

Well if you agree with me, then you also happen to agree with the recent actions of our president.

Yup, folks, this just got political. I tricked you!

In the past calendar year, President Obama has made the attempt to reconcile and burn bridges with three nations, each of which have a very checkered recent history (to say the least) with the United States — Iran, Cuba and Vietnam.

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One chants “Death to America” every morning. The other once allowed nuclear missiles on their soil to point directly at us. The last engaged with us in a war that killed 58,000 Americans.

Yeah, that’s bad blood.

I know what some of you may be thinking. If a country has American blood on its hands, then why ever make amends? We’re the most powerful country in the world — screw ’em!

But is that really a solution? Just maintain the status quo and expect no repercussions? Is it healthy to have an entire nation remain an enemy for decades and decades? If you truly believe that, then maybe you believe the U.S. and Soviet Union never should have ended the Cold War.

If there is an open door towards peace, how do you not at least peak inside? Obama has taken a careful step through that door recently by negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, announcing a thaw with Cuba, and just this week, took further initatives to settle the lingering rifts between the U.S. and Vietnam.

No one’s saying to welcome these nations back with an open arms. Instead, it’s merely one cautious step towards long-term reconciliation.

There used to be a day when “world peace” was an unanimous goal.

Now the calls are to build walls. To alienate foreigners. To condemn entire groups of people because of the actions of a small minority.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m still game for world peace. And I’m proud to be represented by a leader who at least gave it a shot.

When the death of a Supreme Court justice upends an already crazy presidential race

One day, a movie is going to be made about the 2016 presidential race.

What has already been a raucous, combative election campaign that’s entertained and horrified all at once was dealt its biggest plot twist yet on Saturday — the death of a Supreme Court justice, leaving a gaping vacancy in our nation’s foremost judiciary.

Antonin Scalia, who served three decades on the court, was known for his steadfast conservatism and propensity to treat every decision by the letter of the law. His tendency to invoke the literal meaning of the Constitution in every single case made him a heroic legal figure to conservatives and, conversely, an obstruction of progress in the minds of liberals.

Whichever it was, there was no doubting his influence on American policy for an entire generation.

Scalia.jpgHis absence leaves four liberal and four conservative justices apiece, meaning whoever fills Scalia’s gap could essentially tip the scales of judicial balance as the tiebreaker in all major decisions moving forward. Among those decisions coming up soon include cases on abortion, immigration, affirmative action and the Affordable Care Act.

It’s the president’s responsibility to replace Supreme Court justices, as chartered by the Constitution. Democratic presidents choose liberal judges, and Republicans choose conservatives. It’s the way it’s always been. President Obama has already chosen two justices since he took office.

And the U.S. Senate majority has said it will do everything in its power to make sure he does not choose a third.

Scalia’s death turned into a political issue almost immediately. Republican presidential candidates and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s inappropriate for a lame duck president to choose a Supreme Court justice, and that they would use whatever tactics necessary to delay an Obama appointment.

Now this is where an egregious display of hypocrisy comes in.

Republicans are citing the so-called, unwritten “Thurmond Rule” — named after former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, whose greatest legacy was his devotion to protect segregation by unsuccessfully thwarting the passage of the Civil Rights Act — which says a president should not choose a Supreme Court justice during the final months of his term.

Disregarding the fact that there is still nearly a full year left in Obama’s term, it’s worth McConnell.jpgnoting that historically, the Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a justice after their nomination. As of this writing, there are 340 days left until the next president takes office.

Obama has already said he will fulfill his duty by appointing a nominee in the coming weeks. Other Democratic Senators have lambasted the Republicans’ threats to stall the process as an abdication of their oath of office, while noting the hypocrisy in that, as fervent defenders of the Constitution, they are ignoring that very document if they pursue this strategy.

Republicans say it’s been 80 years since a lame duck president has filled an open Supreme Court seat. What they’re conveniently forgetting is that Justice Anthony Kennedy, an appointment by President Ronald Reagan in late 1987, was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in February of 1988, an election year.

Last point: Mitch McConnell, in 2008, said during a Senate session that the Democratically-controlled Senate should disregard the Thurmond Rule and consider any lower court nomination under then lame duck President George W. Bush. Now that the tables have turned, he’s not singing quite the same tune.

Those are the facts. Make of it what you will.

All I can say is, coming to a theater near you in 10 years from now — “2017: The Race to the White House” directed by Ben Affleck.

I’m just eager to see what white actor Hollywood chooses to play Obama.

Obama’s last State of the Union, El Chapo, and a Friends reunion!

President Obama stood at a lectern Tuesday night for just under an hour to deliver his final State of the Union address.

As an avid Obama supporter, I am obviously biased. But I don’t see how people could disagree with the overarching message that he aimed to deliver.

When we are united, we are better. That’s what he emphasized. America is not run by Congress, but by its people.

It was a comforting speech during a time when many in the political spectrum are trying to cultivate a sense of fear and anger for their own personal gain.

Obama SOTU 2016.jpgOf course, there were issues he brought up that don’t have full support in Congress: climate change, health care, the war on terror.

Not everyone may love him, but I think history will be very, very kind to Obama. And I, for one, will miss him when he’s gone. *Cue Cups song by Anna Kendrick*

On that note, let me move on to my favorite black president to my favorite Mexican drug lord. El Chapo. Which, incidentally, is the same name I would choose to give a Mexican teddy bear if I ever happened to own one.

That’s me dropping a souvenir hint for any of my friends who visit Mexico in the near future.

The man whose empire has exceeded that of Pablo Escobar’s, and who has already escaped from Mexican prison twice in ways that would be astonishing even if it was in a movie, was captured yet again.

And it happened right after he did a front page interview for Rolling Stone Magazine. With the actor Sean Penn.

On the surface, it may seem unethical to interview and cooperate with one of the world’s most wanted men while he’s on the run from the El Chapo Sean Penn.pngMexican and American government. But as a former journalist, this is the type of interview you want to do in your lifetime. One that not only tells an epic story, but involves major risks and secrecy. When the process of even getting the interview is just as exciting as the interview itself, that’s when you know it’s special.

It’s just slightly disheartening that a man whose never been associated with journalism was the one to do it.

Darn it. Outdone by Sean Penn. Again. Few people know this, but I was actually the runner-up to play the role of Harvey Milk in the 2008 film, Milk, which earned Penn an Oscar.

The second runner-up? A carton of 2% milk.

Don’t fact check any of that. Just go with it.

Let me transition one more time to my all-time favorite sitcom: the show whose famous lead-in song is known by everyone, yet the band that sang it is not. I know the name, though, but I’m not going to tell you. Do your own research. For once.

It’s The Rembrandts.

Friends showAnyway, the cast of Friends is reuniting. It’s exciting news, although it isn’t in the way everyone hoped. Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Joey ad Phoebe won’t be starring in a new episode soon, but they will come together for an NBC special next month honoring famous sitcom director James Burrows. They’ll be one of several famous sitcom casts who will be present.

Sorry James, it’s supposed to be your night, but all anyone cares about is seeing our favorite TV Manhattanites together again. In this case, no one will be there for you, whether the rain starts to fall or not.

I miss the days when I used to watch an episode of Friends at 11 p.m. on a school night before falling asleep.

It may not be on at that time anymore, but if you are reading this at 11 p.m. EST on Wednesday, or anytime after, then congratulations. It means you didn’t win Powerball.

You’re welcome.

While the nation goes crazy, a man named Bud Weisser tried to save us

A few hours ago, Donald Trump said he wants to bar entry into the United States for all Muslims.

I’m way too aghast at this news to even attempt to formulate an objective, productive post about it. So I’ll let it go, for now.

But I will say this: Most people are smart enough to refrain from posting ethnically, racially or religiously insensitive comments on Facebook, knowing full well that it won’t be received favorably by their peers, and that doing so is essentially equivalent to outing yourself as a bigot.

Sharing the sentiments of someone else who is saying such things?

I see no difference.

Obama Oval OfficeBut anyway, this is obviously a very bizarre time in America right now. Six million people are running for president, and we’re less than a week removed from the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

People are seething over guns and radical Islam, and there’s so much divisiveness that President Obama felt obliged to address the nation directly from the Oval Office on Sunday for just the third time in his presidency.

The world really needs something we can unite behind in agreement — even if it’s not necessarily a positive thing.

Enter one, Bud Weisser.

Let’s face it. This kid never had a chance. You hear unfortunate sob stories all too often of children being born into a life of poverty or crime, or other circumstances so miserable that they never really had a fair shake to become anything but a criminal.

The same goes for any kid who had the bad luck to be named by their Bud Weisserparents Bud Weisser.

And this isn’t one of those things where your parents named you Charles Manson and then some psychopath came along and ruined your name forever.

This Bud Weisser fellow is 19 years old, and the company Budweiser was founded in ’76. No, not 1976 — 1876. What in god’s name were these parents thinking? And don’t give me that “his real birth name is Buddy” nonsense. They knew full well what would end up happening. They knew.

Anyway, Bud Weisser fulfilled his destiny last Thursday when he was arrested for trespassing the Budweiser brewery.

It’s his second arrest in 15 months, as he was charged for breaking into a gas station convenience store last August, presumably to steal Budweiser.

Again, poor dude never had a chance. And even if he is a perpetual screw-up, I think he did this stupid act last week for the greater good. To distract us from the chaos that’s happening in the world.

Because you can’t possibly hear a story about a man named Bud Weisser being arrested at a Budweiser brewery and not temporarily forget what you were thinking about beforehand.

Time Magazine is set to announce its 2015 Person of the Year on Wednesday.

In my mind, the decision has been made.

And his name is one Bud Weisser.