Brian Karem

Brian Karem

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Happy Father's Day Mom!

IMG 0328This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day and I’ve customarily spent the time thanking my dad for a variety of things he taught me. He was my first hero. When I was younger I wanted to grow up and be just like him.
I admired his sense of humor and his love of athletics as well as the fact he held a position of prominence among the members of our neighborhood as he coached and mentored young men. He gave me sage advice and later in his life he was among my closest friends until his death.

When my dad was dying

IMG 0756When my dad was dying of lung cancer, I remember him sitting on my sofa and giving me two bits of advice.
The first was to spend time with your children when they are young – something he sadly thought he did not do enough of when I was younger.
The second bit of advice he gave me came via my mother and the Dick Van Dyke show. “Your mother was right. Never lose your sense of humor or your thumbs.”
For children of my generation that was a direct reference to an episode called “It May Look Like a Walnut” and my mother has been fond of referring to that episode since it first aired.

Dad, not so much, but he tried hard to keep his sense of humor even at the darkest hours. One of them came when he told me he heard about experimental therapy that could prolong his life. Since it wasn’t FDA approved my dad couldn’t get it. “Knowing my luck it would kill me quicker, or make me grow an extra arm,” he joked.
But watching my dad get a death sentence of three months that he suffered through and stretched into a year and half was no joke. And like most who loved their father, there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t miss him. He died when he was two years younger than I am now.
I’ve always wondered if the therapy he heard about could’ve lengthened his life or if there were other therapies we didn’t know about that could’ve done the same.
Last week President Trump signed the “Right to Try” act which will give those dying a chance to try experimental drugs.
Between the low unemployment numbers announced on Friday and the “Right to Try” act signed into law, the president would seem to have had a better week than most under his belt.
Instead, we are inundated with tweets about NFL athletes, and a fake ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House attended by interns and government workers instead of Philadelphia Eagle fans. The president tweets out distractions, undermining his own agenda.
Meanwhile in the press room his surrogates, including press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claims she has more credibility than members of the media even though she won’t admit she’s ever passed erroneous information to the American people.
Some are upset by all this, but I’m not one to lose my thumbs.
I’m convinced the president, and his faux outrage is spurred by reading “Misery is the New Happiness” by comedian John Debellis (2018 Abuzz Press). “Always turn another person’s disaster into how they’re ruining your day,” Debellis wrote. He also wrote “Life is only as bad as we make it.”
Chaos is everywhere and the president has made political gains in this chaos and enraged his base by playing both the victim and the aggressor. Trump continues to scream “Witch Hunt” while his administration has sanctioned 13 Russians indicted by the Mueller investigation.
Rudy Giuliani admitted on national television he is engaged in a strategy to defend the president in the court of public opinion against impeachment because he believes that’s where the Mueller investigation is going to take the country.
People as different as Sen. Jeff Flake, who said, “Don’t go there,” and former FBI Director James Comey have spoken out against impeachment. Rahm Emmanuel, former chief of staff for president Obama and a frequent Trump critic warned that impeachment is a “legal constitutional standard” and not something to be tossed around merely for political reasons.

...Those issues must be dealt with honestly, openly and factually

The president, in an attempt to get out front on the issue pardoned Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator, author filmmaker and provocateur who became a cult figure on the right after proposing conspiratorial theories about former president Obama and Hillary Clinton. The pardon sends a clear message: Anyone indicted and convicted can be rest assured the president will be there with a pardon to greet them on the backside.
To top it off the President, who says he isn’t above the law, says he can pardon himself.
The idea there is he isn’t above the law because the law says he is so. Having fun yet?
Today the issue is: what did the president know and when did he know it? What actions did he take? No matter what else we consider, those issues must be dealt with honestly, openly and factually.
If at the end of the day the president is right and he has done nothing wrong, then everyone had better accept it. If, on the other hand at the end of the day he is found to have done something wrong, we’d better be able to deal with that and accept it as well – all of us.
In the meantime, remember to keep your sense of humor and your thumbs. Dad did both.

The Sinkhole at The White House

white house sinkhole 1Or the Love Song of J. Alfred Trump

In an administration running on threats, “alternative facts,” propaganda, divisiveness, and is fueled by the energy of an overweight septuagenarian and his flock of minions who seem to be straight out of a casting call for The Sopranos, The Mickey Mouse Club or Glee, this past week reached a new low.
Extensive rains caused a small sinkhole to open up outside of the press briefing room and reporters joked it was an exposed escape tunnel for fleeing staffers who were digging their way to freedom with coffee spoons. And as though they were pinned and wriggling against the wall preparing a face to meet the faces they meet or scuttling across the floor of the D.C. swamp, those same staffers who have lamented the administration they serve eagerly once again took up their ode to T.S. Eliot and headed to the network talk shows to tell us about “spies” and how great the president is though privately they continue to wring their hands, gnash their teeth and flail about with “insidious intent.”

Limit the power of all politicians - Vote!

IMG 0271An apocryphal saying attributed to both Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken declares the only way to look at a politician is “down.”
I can certainly understand the sentiment and add the only thing worse than a die-hard Republican is a die-hard Democrat.

The battle between the press and the President

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Of the two comments I’ve heard most regarding media activity in the White House press room, the most ridiculous comment I hear is “Why don’t you guys all get up and walk out?”
This comment assumes almost the same kind of mindset attributed to the president: The press is a monolithic group of reporters working in unison to create a narrative. The president believes we’re trying to create a false narrative or are unfair in the way we cover his administration; everyone else just thinks we’re often full of it.

King, Kennedy, Mom and Dad - Deja Vu all over again

Martin Luther King Killed 2 666x276In the early Spring of 1968 my mother began playing a Michelle Lee album she’d purchased.
For Weeks “L. David Sloane” and the laments of a woman trying to escape a lover she knew was bad for her filled the house. When Lee said at the end of the song, “Get off my Back!” I can remember on more than one occasion my 30-year-old mother vamping in her hip-length boots and best Jane Fonda hairdo as she lip-synched to the song

Remember the Hawking Legacy

Stephen Hawking warns us to stop reaching out to aliens before its too late"My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all." – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking’s last warning for us before he died is chilling: Get off the planet or face extinction.
We are an ignorant, nasty, brutish lot – us humans. But we are also a curious, loving lot. Our dichotomy is apparent by simply looking at the U.S. electoral landscape.
However, this isn’t one of those columns.
This is about hope.

Putting a Gun to Our Head

cowboy 940083 960 720Somewhere today in this country there is a troubled kid who believes life isn’t worth living. People see him or her as a freak, a danger junkie, a gun-nut, a nerd, a weirdo, or someone who otherwise doesn’t fit in.
That child is stockpiling weapons and plans to make the rest of the world pay for his or her pain.

Trump, Pence and Nuclear War

NuclearExplosionTurns out the President of the United States may not be a misogynist after all. He’s a misanthrope.
There is little else to conclude after the events of the past week.
It began with the breaking news that White House Staff Secretary for President Donald Trump, Rob Porter, apparently beat two of his ex-wives.
The information came to light when the FBI investigated Porter to give him security clearance. The story, complete with pictures of one of his wives with a black eye made the rounds and the White House began spinning like a turbo-charged child’s top.

Out of Many - One

POTUSsouthlawnFor those who love President Donald Trump, his first State of the Union Address remains an affirmation of the reasons why they voted for the man. Rick Santorum, not the president’s favorite person by far said it was a noteworthy address. It, “is different in that it is laced throughout with narratives.

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