I first visited the White House Press room during the Reagan administration. Larry Speakes stood behind the podium during press briefings, if memory serves.
During that first visit I met a variety of D.C. reporting heavyweights. Sam Donaldson and Helen Thomas, were among the first I met and both later served as mentors.
Helen, finding out my family lineage invited me to her house where she made me Kibbeh (The Lebanese dish I grew up making with raw beef – but she made with raw lamb).
She also offered me unfiltered opinions on a variety of subjects including the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
It was another two years before I revisited the press room – this time while I worked on a television investigative report about illegal immigrants and their use on the rich thoroughbred horse farms across the country.
Three or four times during the Reagan administration and perhaps a dozen or so other times during the Bush administration I visited the White House press room as part of my duties as a reporter.
In the 90s when I moved to the D.C. area I got my congressional press pass and though I was working for America’s Most Wanted I had several occasions where I visited the press room and sat in on briefings.
I traveled with Presidents and presidential candidates during the 1984, 88, 92, 96 and 2000 elections.
I was always impressed by the mental acumen and experience of those who covered the President on a daily basis. At one time I added up the experience of those sitting in the front row of the press room during a briefing and was humbled by the thought that among the five people sitting in those seats there was more than 160 years of experience – most of it from Helen Thomas.
“That was your first mistake. You took your lucky break,” said Paul McCartney and broke it in two.
I didn’t mean to do that, but the darn alarm clock kept going off and I was still tired.
Okay, just kidding.
“She’s waiting for me - yeah!”
Actually few of us wake up to an AM/FM alarm clock anymore and rare is it, if you do, Paul McCartney or the Beatles will be playing.
I have been to the mountain top and I have seen brothers and sisters!
No, seriously, I spent the Christmas vacation with the family at a friend’s cabin in the Catskills at the top of a mountain where there was no internet and no cell service. The cabin had no satellite television and I spent four days completely disconnected from the rest of the world.
I came down from the mountain top expecting to hear more about Presidential politics and was happy that was not the case.
But I did find George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Vera Rubin died.
How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? That question, asked by local musician and civil rights activist Daryl Davis rings hard in the ears this Holiday season.
Which holiday season? Hanukkah and Christmas run concurrently this year. Ramadan was back in June and July while Mawlid is celebrated in December. Kwanzaa is also celebrated this month. And the big daddy Christmas is neigh upon us.
I woke to a television commercial featuring a beautiful young woman whose sole purpose in life seems to be selling a spray that eliminates “poo odor” after you make a fecal deposit in your bathroom.
“Oh the humanity,” as Les Nessman would say.
In an interview with The Sentinel this week incoming U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen said one of the greatest concerns facing the country is the “Fake News” currently spreading virally like a pestilence across the land – aided and abetted by a President-elect who acts like Typhoid Mary by tweeting factually inaccurate information gobbled up by the electorate as a sugar-freak gobbles twinkies.
When my father was my age he had about three months to live. The lung cancer which cost him his life ravaged his body for close to two years.
The doctors in their infinite wisdom had given him but three to six months to live when he was diagnosed, but pop was a contrarian by birth and it was joyful to see him in his element telling doctors to kiss his nether regions.
He told me his greatest regret in life was spending too much time working and not enough time with his children – and that knowledge guided me in bringing up my own children.
I want to apologize to them for that – they spent a lot of time with me growing up.
Moreover I believe my generation as a whole should apologize to their children. The actions of the last few weeks, neigh the last few years have driven home a very salient point – we as a country have not overcome our prejudices and we seem unwilling or unable to learn from past mistakes.
When I was but a wee lad and the extended family met for the holidays, most notably for Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner, we’d separate into two camps.
The adults had a long, extended table where my grandparents and their children and spouses ate dinner. The kids, well we were assigned a couple of card tables replete with paper plates, plastic cups and dishes while the adults ate from the fine china.
While the kids constantly fought and argued about cartoons or football, the adults held discussions about art, literature and business – for my grandfather forbade any discussions on politics or religion.
On Monday students at Blair and a handful of other nearby high schools marched peacefully through Montgomery County to protest the Presidential election – and some of the proposed appointments by President-Elect Donald Trump.
While no educator authorized the Blair students to leave a proposed demonstration on the school’s football field, no one put up serious opposition to the students when they decided to leave the school and meet up with others.
The County Police escorted the protesters, urging them to keep to the sidewalks. There were no arrests and only one incident of violence reported – someone threw a bottle with no injuries.
The event began trending nationally on social media websites as it coincided with other protests across the country.
Many of the comments were denigrating toward the high school kids – saying they should be suspended or kicked out of school. Some of the comments were sexist, misogynistic and racist. Some were dismissive. Few were supportive.
The students we interviewed at The Sentinel – and some of them are available online on our website and through Twitter and Facebook for all to see – were cogent, thoughtful and very mature – unlike the adults who dismissed the kids.
While the high school students could see shades of gray in the election – mostly bitter adults could only see things as black and white.
For a voter who grew up and came of age during the Vietnam War this is really hilarious.