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As we slowly down dive into the 2020 Presidential Election with the Commander In Chief spewing rhetoric of “fake news,” I think that the masses need to understand another phrase that was brought to prominence by the vetting of credentials in the 20th century and forward: A gatekeeper. With daily attacks on traditional media by […]

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The Montgomery County Sentinel recently celebrated its 165th birthday. Our family has owned this community newspaper for 57 years. It is my privilege and honor to be its current publisher. Nowadays, it is more important than ever to bring correct data to our readers whether they pick up a print edition or read it online. […]

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By Brian J. Karem    @BrianKarem I almost laughed. Okay I did laugh. I got a call from a friend who asked me if I was in the middle of the rugby scrum involving President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and a seemingly comatose Mike Pence. “I kept screaming at the television, ‘Karem, jump in […]

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The news analysts and pundits took us to the races this weekend after a question I asked President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House actually got answered. The pundits, of whom I admit I am one, got it wrong.

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The National day of mourning opened up gray, overcast and cold in the Nation’s Capital. There was a hint of snow in the air as the nation laid to rest George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st president. Equally praised and criticized as the last great moderate in American politics, in his passing the nation seems […]

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He is “Individual 1.” You know him as Donald J. Trump – our 45th president – and the legal noose around his neck appears to be constricting while his political fate seems very much up in the air. This week, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the first time publicly pointed a finger at Trump after […]

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The dictionary tells us the difference between empathy and sympathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another by intellectually identifying oneself in another versus the feelings of pity or sorrow for another’s plight.

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The best people I’ve ever worked with in the big world of politics and business played a team sport – and usually it is football. I say this understanding my bias as I played and coached the sport. But it is true. One of the best things I learned playing football is to be part […]

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Somewhere in the bowels of the White House an underpaid staff attorney is toiling away for an administration that struggles daily to produce the same product as human bowels do.

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The founding precept of the First Amendment is the idea that I may disagree with what you say, but defend to death your right to say it. That being said, there are many who purport to be supporters of Free Speech who believe CNN’s Jim Acosta is a rude man who deserves to have his […]

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Republicans are jeering, the Democrats are cheering while some are searing over the recently concluded midterm elections. I’m leering at the results and looking at a bunch of angry people. No one is angrier than President Donald Trump. He began Wednesday, the day after the midterm elections, declaring victory for himself and his party after […]

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After nearly two years of distortion, lies and deceit that rivals anything by the fictional Gordon Gecko, or at a Flat Earth Society meeting, Donald Trump is beginning to sound boring. I used to get lathered up with his antics. I wanted to shout from the highest rafters he was full of it. I wanted […]

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As we approach Halloween a definitive theme has grasped the country. Whether it’s the Dow Jones Industrial average plunging like a scary roller coaster, or the chills of our president calling reporters “The enemy of the people,” while one turns up dead or the hair-raising specter of a president clinging eagerly to the term “Nationalism”, […]

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By Brian J. Karem On Oct. 2, journalist Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post disappeared after he entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey. The progressive reporter was an “enemy of the people” and part of the “Fake Media,” according to our president, and the Saudi Royal family loathed his progressive stances. Khashoggi has not […]

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President Donald Trump had a pretty good week. He renegotiated a NAFTA agreement, changed its name and apparently has had positive feedback on the deal from union representatives. Unemployment is down to its lowest level since man landed on the moon. And in a move predicted by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the United States Senate […]

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I was just 15. It was 1976. I was a Hell raiser as much as I could be. I never thought I treated anyone with disrespect, but early that Summer I had a party at my mother’s home – aided and abetted by a friendly neighbor who bought us some “Boones Farm Strawberry Hill,” wine, […]

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President Donald Trump took off early Wednesday morning to the Carolinas to survey the damage following the recent Hurricane Florence which smacked the area hard. Trump needed to go after the recent criticism that he ignored the dying in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria decimated the island last year. With nearly 3000 dead in Puerto […]

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A big bag of wind threatening disaster and death is barreling down on the east coast. President Trump (who for the sake of argument isn’t the big bag of wind) is pointing at the federal government’s success in Puerto Rico where 3,000 people died as an indication of how well prepared we are for Hurricane […]

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Late last week as the White House Press Corps settled into the latest version of “new normal” at the White House – that being no briefings, appearances by the president only in small pool sprays and the occasional chance to shout a question at him – I looked up. Standing on the South Lawn with […]

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I did not know John McCain well. My interactions with him can be summed up to a meeting at a party in the D.C. area where I exchanged pleasantries, a few interviews and a chance encounter on the tram traveling to his office from the Senate. Those interviews included questions about his time as a […]

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Just before President Donald Trump took the stage at the Civic Center in Charleston W.V. Tuesday night, the loudspeakers began blaring a song by The Rolling Stones: “Sympathy for The Devil.”

As it followed The Beatles “Revolution,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” I felt like I was being punked.

But everything about this administration feels like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch so I can’t say I was surprised.

Wednesday in a press briefing Sarah Huckabee Sanders told us she was shocked that anyone thinks Donald Trump has lied to us.

She called the prospect “ridiculous.”

She keeps using that term, but I’m sure it doesn’t mean what she thinks it means.

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If Satan does exist, then he thrives inside the Roman Catholic Church.

Of course that’s a huge “if”.

A grand jury in Pennsylvania last Tuesday released a report that documented 300 “predator” priests who are accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims going back to the 1940s.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” a priest in the Washington, D.C., diocese told me Sunday. “It is our shame.”

It is worse.

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The United States has been a curious experiment in government from its inception.

Highly influenced by the Magna Carta, our forefathers sought to govern themselves. No King. No despot. No Tyrant. A nation of ordinary people making decisions for their own lives and working together to help each other – that was the ideal upon which our government was founded.

The bedrock to this experiment was and has been a well-informed electorate. That free flow of information has been instrumental in exposing the evils of slavery, the hopes of a Civil Rights movement, the dreams that landed man on the moon and giving parents a thrill at seeing their son and daughter in print. Sometimes, when first published, those facts were contested and called false – though they later turned out to be true. The struggle then boils down to writing things with which the government disagrees versus the government’s spin on events. Because of this, and much more, an independent press is specifically protected in the First Amendment to The U.S. Constitution.

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“Excellent Smithers. Release the hounds.”

Or, if you prefer, “The die is cast.”

New or ancient reference, the bottom line is there’s a three-way race now underway for County Council.

Marc Elrich, the Democrat is squared off against Republican Robin Ficker – the notorious gadlfy popular for a variety of things, including yelling at professional basketball players and getting a term limit measure leveled on county councilmembers.

That move alone has earned Ficker a huge following as county voters, unable to move themselves into a voting booth, can now rely on term limits to automatically kick out the best, the worst and the mediocre councilmembers after three consecutive terms.

Ficker hopes to turn his popularity into a trip to the County Executive’s chair and guess what? He has a better chance than most Republicans in this very blue county at getting the results he wants.

The reason is twofold. It isn’t just that voters love the idea of automatically kicking out the rascals.

One of those rascals, Nancy Floreen (a Democrat) has apparently obtained enough signatures to enter the race as an independent.

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Somewhere Hunter Thompson and Bill Hicks are laughing over a tab of LSD and wondering if our reality is their drug-induced nightmare.

Or something like that.

The phone call was hilarious, if not touched. It began with him threatening me bodily harm. It ended in laughter – at least on my part.

“Your entire problem is that you are a hack Democrat who doesn’t understand how great the president is,” I was told.

“Your problem,” I responded, “Is that you think I care what you think.”

“Just like a liberal.”

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Dealing with the Donald Trump administration is problematic for a variety of reasons.

As a reporter, it’s been difficult as he’s labeled us “The enemy of the people,” and accuses us of producing “Fake News.”

He’s publicly said all Americans should not believe what we see and hear, but should only listen to him for truth, justice and the American way.

Along the way his administration has battled in ways previously unseen with working reporters. This week Kaitlan Collins from CNN got banned from an event because she either asked “inappropriate questions” or was “rude” to the president in a pool spray event.

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As a reporter with America’s Most Wanted, and while covering crime and politics in a variety of venues during the 35 years of my career, I’ve seen hope born from despair in the eyes of crime victims, refugees and those suffering in war zones a thousand times.

Tuesday I saw it in the most unlikely of places: The U.S. Congress.

In this national atmosphere of divisiveness marked by vitriol where the overriding narrative is dominated by anger and despair as we feed the wrong wolf (apologies to Chris Cuomo who used this metaphorical tale a few weeks ago and I seem to be beating to death), I was taken aback to find in a joint subcommittee meeting Tuesday two people from opposite ends of the political spectrum joining together to do their best to end the war against the First Amendment.

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I confess that until recently I did not believe covering the Donald Trump administration and my physical proximity to the President during the last 18 months had given me any great insight.

Most days are spent reacting to a variety of stimuli and scandals that give one little time for deep analytic thought beyond retching.

But CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Thursday night on his show, in a segment called “Closing Argument” crystalized my thoughts regarding our president.

Using a Trump Tweet (I call these choice little Trump brain droppings “Twitter Litter”) Cuomo declared the president hates this country.

The tweet was frightening, anti-American, anti-free press, and alarming. In part it said, “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media.”

I replied to the President’s twitter litter, “Let no one mistake what this man is saying: He believes a man who murders journalists, who criminally invaded another country, who poisons his enemies is NOT the enemy of the people – but those who point out these crimes are. @realDonaldTrump who is the real enemy of the people?

Like Cuomo, I found Trump’s tweet undermining and demeaning – particularly after I recently lost friends and colleagues in Annapolis when a crazed gunman entered the Capital Gazette and killed five people with a shotgun.

That loss still stings and the president’s inability to summon even a modicum of respect for the dead is unnerving.

“This is ugly and it is unoriginal. But most importantly it is an admission that you hate your country,” Cuomo said before citing several historic references that show attacking a free press is a bullying tactic used by demagogues, despots and dictators. All of this is true. I found Cuomo’s argument lawyerly, logical and air tight – if you accept the premise.

But making the logical leap to Trump hating his own country?

I don’t think so.

In fact, I believe Donald Trump believes that he loves his country. Certainly those who support him believe this and telling them point blank their favorite president hates America will not make any headway with them. It will only add to the divisive nature of our country and keep us from meeting somewhere in the middle to hash out our differences.

Cuomo, a man I respect and call a friend, once recounted the old morality tale of unknown origin attributed to the Cherokees and succinctly described in the movie “Tomorrowland”:

Casey Newton: “There are two wolves” … You told me this story my entire life, and now I’m telling you: There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?

Eddie Newton: C’mon, Casey.

Casey Newton: Okay, fine, don’t answer.

Eddie Newton: Whichever one you feed.

In the case of Trump and his anti-media sentiments it is awfully tempting to call the tweet “boring” as some have or evidence of hatred against our country as Cuomo has. I confess upon first seeing this particular bit of Twitter Litter I too was angry, but after watching Cuomo, I was forced to re-evaluate this opinion for I believe it is feeding the wrong wolf.

Again I say, I do not think Trump hates our country.

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And so it’s over – or is it?

Councilman Marc Elrich apparently survived an attempt by local businessman Donald Trump, I mean David Trone, I mean David Blair to buy the Democratic nomination for county executive. By just 80 votes Elrich emerged victorious from this summer’s primary election only to face a cornucopia of challenges headed into the fall general election.

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During the American Revolution community newspapers in the embryonic country bound citizens together with provocative editorials and news of the day as citizens rose up to break free of the tyranny of a King. Many newspapers published the Declaration of Independence and helped to popularize the founding principles of our nascent nation.

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The American voting public during the Republic’s history has delighted itself upon the thought that an average citizen of reasonable intelligence can rise to the fore and serve a great nation dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nothing, of course, can be further from the truth.

Our history, indeed, is replete with the election of fools to the highest office in our land. The notable exceptions being perhaps the first four or five presidents and maybe two or three more during the run of the Republic.

Many of them have had connections and wealth. None have been from the lower class. None of them are the “great unwashed.”

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The old-fashioned snail mail letter was quick and to the point as well as being in all caps:

“The felon Hillary lost her fat sloppy ass and you fruit cakes just can not get over that fact. Now go to your safe place and whack off you sick piece of sh*t.”

Meanwhile, the president’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave and left a rural Virginia restaurant this weekend.

That move spurred a variety of actions that led to an unprecedented action this week: the president’s press secretary now has secret service protection.

Sanders has no doubt received a variety of threats – as has many of us who are covering this administration.

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During the course of my career I’ve often been asked to speak to young reporters and students regarding the art of questioning.

It boils down to “Ask the darn question.”

There is an art to crafting a question and there is a gentle way to proceed with questions depending on the subject, the topic and a variety of other variables including but not limited to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

At the end of the day, you must simply pull the trigger and ask the question.

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This 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.

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When 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 […]

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Or 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.”

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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.

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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.

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Today’s “New Normal,” isn’t new and it isn’t normal.

Sixteen-year-old baccalaureate student Nimah Nayel is a victim of the old racism and hate, long existent and awful in its scope.

This vile hatred, the antithesis of the American Spirit stayed dormant and seemingly was swept away into the dustbin of history where it belongs until the minions of Donald Trump took his racist and hate-filled rhetoric primetime and brought back the hatred with a vengeance.

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The only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat. One is venal and vile. The other is clueless.

I was discussing the problems of politics with a candidate’s surrogate the other day and it dawned on me there are people who still do not understand why Donald Trump got elected to the highest office in the United States.

Many want to merely dismiss his supporters as being stupid. Some want to dismiss their neighbors as being racists or misogynists for supporting him while still others who love Trump are labeled as traitors.

The Trump supporters on the other hand have labeled those who oppose Trump traitors, racists, misogynists and stupid – but in fairness so has the president. While both sides of the aisle retreat to their side of the sandbox and act like toddlers with loaded diapers, some of us are still scratching our heads and wonder how this all came to pass.

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Programming my own music on YouTube is one the last pleasures a diehard rock n’roll fan has left to look forward to in this topsy-turvy world.

Miguel is fine, but I like my guitar solos, back beats and a signature rock lyric.

Yes, I know I’m dating myself, but Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who, The Beatles, David Bowie, Lou Reed and a few others really still get my blood flowing.

And let’s face it, us old farts need to keep our blood flowing.

Everyone grows older if they’re lucky, but there are some things from childhood I absolutely refuse to part with until they pull the shroud over my eyes that one last time.

Imagine my consternation then when the Jim Carroll Band’s “Those are people who died” is interrupted by a David Blair ad.

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My dad taught me a lot of things growing up. Some I can share, but some would be best left to late night conversations after imbibing some Wild Turkey.

One of the things that sticks in my addled, aging mind is that it is best to “shut the Hell up and let everyone think you’re an idiot, rather than opening your mouth and getting your butt beat because everyone found out you’re an idiot.”

I know, there are plenty of other interpretations of that particular saying from dear old dad – but his sticks with me.

Obviously Kanye West, Donald Trump and several county candidates for council and county executive could’ve used the services of Dear Old Dad.

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An 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.

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Somewhere in Potomac tonight there is a family sitting in a home that cost more than $1 million, upset with the noise coming from commercial aircraft flying into Reagan National Airport and they’ve convinced the county to spend $150,000 to an aviation expert in order to come up with alternative flight plans into Reagan.

Putting aside that it is still hard for me to swallow that there is an airport named after the president who took a giant squat on air traffic controllers, I’ll happily sign up to take the money from the county because I can tell you there can be little if no change in the traffic pattern at National.

That’s not something those people living in multi-million dollar homes want to hear, but it’s something that’s going to be said.

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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.

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In 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

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Woke up this morning feeling half past dead, with this silly rock lyric running through my head.

The mailman was early and gave me a shout about something I had no idea about.

Then the garbage man jumped in screaming “Make America Great Again.”

Finally I had my morning covfefe and started thinking in prose once more – though my rock rhyming lingered for a while, that’s for sure.

I switched on the radio – that ancient listening device – and caught Humble Pie’s “30 Days in The Hole.”

Then I felt at home.

Suddenly it all made sense. I wasn’t having a lucid dream. This is reality. In the year 2018 we are now officially through the looking glass.

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Curious how old habits stay with you.

When I was a young boy and it snowed I loathed walking into either the front or backyard disturbing the fresh powder. It looked too pristine, too gentle and way too cool.

I wanted to preserve the moment – or the myth of the “perfect snow day”.

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“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.

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The late comedian Richard Jeni once said in reference to American politics if you’ve gone too far to the right or too far to the left then you’ve . . . gone too far.

And here we are in 2018. Our president says to the nation during a joint news conference how much he enjoys conflict and how happy his White House is. “Believe me everyone wants to work in the White House,” he said an hour before Gary Cohn became the latest to say “Not so fast.”

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It was a dull yellow, square envelope that looked as if it housed an invitation. In a way, it did.

“Hope you and every other member of the FAKE media die soon so real Christian Patriots can once again live in this country. Fat ass,” it said.

Thus, my latest vague threat showed up in the mail Friday. No return address, no name and of course no direct threat.