General rule of thumb: don’t compare the Holocaust to anything

It’s been about a week since I discussed politics, and since then, the entire world has basically changed course.

And that’s not really much of an exaggeration.

Early last week, the world was exposed to shocking visceral images of incapacitated children, poisoned by sarin gas in what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack by the authoritarian Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad. The use of chemical weapons is not only outlawed by the United Nations, but also in an agreement between Syria, Russia, and the U.S. in 2013 after the country used chemical weapons against its people the first time.

In response to the horrific attack, President Trump – who categorically denounced any type of intervention in Syria four years ago – launched a surprise missile attack on a Syrian air base.

Russia, who has helped prop up the Assad regime during the country’s six-year civil war to protect its own interests in the region, condemned the attack.

The United States, in turn, accused Russia of covering up the Syrian government’s role in the attack. And this was all on the eve of Thursday’s meeting between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin, which, until the two finally sat down, no one was sure was actually going to happen.

And just like that, the Trump-Putin bromance has finally come to an end.

Sean Spicer

While many have praised Trump for his decisive action, others have been critical of his spontaneous action that in all likelihood was taken without an overall strategic plan. Others say it’s a smokescreen to distract us from discussing U.S.-Russia collusion.

But this, without a doubt, begins a new chapter in our country’s role in the Middle East, as well as our relations with Russia. We knew Trump’s footprint would be left on the geopolitical landscape. This is it. And now we see where we go from here.

Unbelievably, these seismic events were still outshadowed this week by the incomprehensible remarks by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who, without any provocation, essentially downplayed Adolf Hitler’s cruelty and rewrote history to pretend like he never gassed and murdered more than six million Jews.

The statements were made during a White House press briefing, which drew audible gasps from reporters in attendance, and led to Spicer issuing an apologetic statement afterwards. But the outcry over his remarks was so great that he appeared on camera on CNN to issue a further apology later in the day. He then spent all of Wednesday on an apology tour.

Oh, Sean. I mean, the man has the hardest job in the world, being forced to justify the nonsensical actions, statements and tweets of Donald Trump to the press. But watching him try to back away from his own words was like watching a trainwreck in action.

Adding insult to injury, he referred to Nazi death camps as “Holocaust centers,” as if they were some type of museum, and misstated the name of the Syrian president.

And on top of that, he said it during Passover.

It’s pretty much common sense. Whether you’re talking to a friend, a colleague, your pet dog, or especially the entire national press corps, do not draw comparisons to the Holocaust. And don’t show sympathy for Adolf Hitler.

It’s pretty much the basic rule of humanity.

Melissa McCarthy … you’re up.

A deeply troubling anti-Islamic sentiment is upon us

I really, really wanted to lighten things up around here today and back away from politics in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.

But there’s one more piece of unfinished business.

I’ve spoken about how the most powerful way to combat terrorism is to show that it hasn’t taken away your spirit or your heart. And I know that sounds like an overly simplistic, idealized, Care-Bearish way to think about it, but I firmly believe it’s true.

New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman today said the most tangible accomplishment terrorist groups like ISIS can achieve is to inspire fear. They can’t establish the type of Islamic state that they so badly want to. Not in Paris, certainly not in the U.S., not anywhere.

They win when their actions cause us to panic. They win when they make us rush to react. And they especially win when they divide us.

Refugees ParisAnd I’m afraid that seems to be what’s happening right now. At least in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attacks.

Barack Obama has stood firm in his stance to not put American troops on the ground to fight ISIS. His administration has, however, coordinated with the French military in its airstrikes of ISIS strongholds in Syria over the last two days..

At least one presidential candidate, Governor Lindsay Graham of South Carolina — whose polling so low he wasn’t even invited to FOX’s undercard debate last week — wants to send troops, warning that the next “9/11” is on its way from Syria.

But what’s most alarming is the xenophobic, anti-Islamic sentiment that has erupted across the U.S. At least 23 governors — all but one of them Republican — are taking action to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states.

Another presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal — whose so irrelevant I don’t even remember if he debated or not last week — issued executive action to blockade Syrians from Louisiana.

Donald Trump said he wants to inspect mosques for signs of terrorism. Ben Carson wants Congress to defund federal programs that resettle Syrian refugees in America. Jeb Bush said we should favor Christian refugees over Muslims.

It appears that people are forgetting that the United States’ history of acceptance of all people is what made it the global superpower and world leader it is today. We set the standard for diversity.

Quite simply, the America we know does not exist without the infusion of immigrants.

Does that mean we all get along? No. But the sudden discrimination of Muslims is as anti-American as can be. And it’s all because of the perverted view of a small minority of religious extremists.

It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be upset. And it’s certainly understandable to crave justice.

But remember who the enemy is. When we start discriminately searching for people to blame, that’s when we lose all the values that make us who we are.

Do you know what takes real courage in the face of hardship? Not giving into intimidation or fear tactics, especially those spewed by political stakeholders who have their own ulterior motives.

It’s up to you to make up your own mind.

Is a no-fly zone the way to go in Syria?

Those who watched the Democratic debate last Tuesday may recall a conversation that took place about the merits of implementing a no-fly zone in northern Syria, near its border with Turkey.

It’s a divisive issue in the political spectrum, with presidential hopefuls on both sides of the aisle offering varying opinions. On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton voiced her support for it, and Bernie Sanders was adamant against it.

The immediate goal of a no-fly zone would be to save Syrian lives. The Syrian government, led by Basher al-Assad, is dropping barrel bombs — canisters filled with explosives and metal fragments — on civilians in areas that have been taken over by opposition forces (the same forces the U.S. supports), killing some 200 people per week.

Turkey is strongly pushing for a no-fly zone to stem the flow of Syrian refugees into its borders.

So that makes it sound pretty clear-cut, right? Institute a no-fly zone, and it stops Syria from killing its own people.

The problem is enforcement. Think of a turnpike with speed limit signs but no state troopers. Why would you bother slowing down?

If the U.S. and other world powers implement a no-fly zone, they must enforce it, meaning shooting down planes that disobey. Which would further entangle our nation into what has already been an ugly and violent civil war.

Further muddying the situation is Russia, which is currently flying over Syria to attack the forces that oppose Assad’s regime.

If a no-fly zone is administered, and Putin ignores is, that leaves the U.S. with the harrowing decision of whether to shoot down Russian aircrafts.

We pretty much spent the better part of five decades trying to avoid armed conflict with the Soviet Union. At the time, many speculated the world was on the brink of World War III.

So the point is that this is pretty much an impossible decision to make. At best, it furthers U.S. involvement in a brutal war, and at worst, sets off a global crisis.

It’s easy for a presidential candidate to say what they would do without having to deal with the consequences. From what I’ve heard from those who favor it, when questioned what they’d do if Russia disobeyed and flew through it anyway, respond with the ambiguous cop-out: ‘We’ll deal with it if it happens.”

At least for his part, Marco Rubio came out and said that he would retaliate against Russia if they violated a no-fly zone. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart.

Simply put, it’s decisions like these that make me glad that the toughest choice I had to make today was whether to have a piece of leftover chocolate cake or a Mallomar for dessert this evening.

I ate both.