Alarming News

October 10, 2013

The role of police in NYC

I have a piece in the New York Post today asking the question on many a New Yorker’s mind: where were the cops during the motorcycles vs. SUV chase?

Follow me on Twitter: @karol

Posted by Karol at 08:52 AM | Comments (1)

September 9, 2013

Let me see if I have this correct

We’re going to have an “unbelievably small” war with Syria, which is the best way to deal with Iran, which is a tiny country and thus not a serious threat?

(I have a longer post on Syria coming).

Posted by Karol at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

July 25, 2013

She’s worse than him

I’ve got a piece in the New York Post today (my first non-mommy piece since Jack was born 5 mo ago!) on Huma Abedin and how, at this point, she’s even worse than Anthony Weiner. She’s enabling him and trying to make this erratic man our mayor. No, thanks.

Posted by Karol at 01:53 PM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2013

The big 3-5

I know there are people who move to the U.S and still refer to where they came from as “my country.” That wasn’t my parents and not just because they took our Soviet passports at the gate, called us traitors and told us to never return. They were here, in America, to be Americans and my brother and I were to be nothing but.

It didn’t go quite that smoothly, however. It might be news to some people but being Soviet-born and living in America in the 1980’s did not make me very popular with the other kids. Then Ivan Drago casually said “if he dies, he dies” while Apollo Creed lay dying and all hell broke loose. Assuring the other kids that I was totally, totally rooting for Rocky too only worked til they found out I hadn’t seen the movie (or, really, any movies. In fact the only movies I can remember seeing in theaters until that point were “Muppets Take Manhattan” and “Splash” so basically anytime anyone mentioned movies I’d talk about the love story between Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah or Kermit and Miss Piggie). Added to the fact that I never knew anything about any TV shows (we had no TV in the living room, just a small one in the kitchen which was turned on during hurricanes and wars) and my mom packed me weird lunches and dressed me funny and, in that hard-to-remember era when Russians were rare in Brooklyn, I didn’t have the easiest time.

When my father found out some kids were calling me “Commie” he tried to give me a comeback. “Just say ‘if I were a Commie I wouldn’t have left Russia.’”

Oh, ok.

The 8 year olds will definitely understand that.

There wasn’t even a long pause before they called me Commie again.

But here’s the thing about America, and yes I’ve noted this before, after awhile you’re just…American. I could keep a chip on my shoulder forever about being teased as a child, I could retreat into the culture I came from because some kids were jerks or I could move on with becoming who my parents brought me here to be.

Being an immigrant is part of my identity, I don’t deny that. Even 35 years later the fact that I learned another language before I learned English means that I frequently google words I know to be sure I’m using them correctly. I mispronounce words I learned in books. But more than that there’s an American trait that I wasn’t born with but work at developing. Other cultures think of it as American niceness, politeness. When I lived in Scotland they’d imitate the American accent and say “have a nice day!” But that’s not quite it. It’s a sense of fairness and a dogged (I just googled “dogged” to be sure it meant what I thought it meant) pursuit of right. When the Snowden/NSA story hit a few weeks ago the commentary I heard from other immigrants was of course the government is spying on us whenever they feel like it. And of course they’re not going to just do it to fight terrorists. And of course there’s nothing we can do about it. On the IRS scandal, of course the government is going to use it to get their political enemies.

But people born in a country where doing the right thing is celebrated and shopkeepers tell you what kind of day to have don’t just take things like that in stride. They weren’t born in a country where hundreds of years of backward government had led to this kind of cynicism that gets passed on from parents to children. They were born in a new country, a country that was formed to be better. Even the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial fits that. The protestors don’t like the decision of a fair trial so they take to the streets. At no point are any of the protestors concerned that they’ll go to jail for making the state look bad. In the place I was born sham trials exist to this day and those who protest those trials risk being next. The U.S has black marks in its history, sure, but when Jay-Z says “I thought this was America, people” it’s because even he knows what America means. “I thought this was Cuba, people” or “I thought this was Russia, people” doesn’t have quite the same connotation.

I’m two days late on my 35th Americaversary post because I’ve had an incredibly eventful year which leaves me with almost no free time to write (or sit, or sleep, or breathe) like I used to. In September I started a business and in February I had a son. I’ve only written three things since Jack was born and two of them were about how hard my life is right now (actually, the third kind of was too). I know talk of the “American Dream” can be cliche but despite how difficult things currently are for me I feel like I’m living in it. I had an idea for a business and (with an awesome business partner) went for it. I get to raise my children, Jack and Sadie, in freedom, I get to have more than one child (I know people all over the world have lots of babies but one of the most poignant stories of my youth were my parents telling me that if we had stayed in the Soviet Union I would have been an only child. They saw life there as hell and wouldn’t add another kid to that.), I get to marry the love of my life. I am so grateful for all I have and each July 20th I remember how easy it would have been to have none of it.

My family on Father’s Day:


Previous July 20th posts:










2003 (scroll down a little to July 18).

Posted by Karol at 05:20 PM | Comments (9)

February 18, 2013

Jack Avram is here

K, Sadie, Jack

February 12, 2013. 7lb, 4oz.

Posted by Karol at 09:08 PM | Comments (5)

December 19, 2012

Where do we go now?

While a lot of people are talking long term strategies to stop school shootings, I have some *right now* ideas I learned from being Jewish, in my my latest piece for WNYC’s A Free Country.

Posted by Karol at 04:27 PM | Comments (2)

November 13, 2012

Turn your pages to 2004

I try to offer a little historical perspective, on the post-election doom-saying and celebration, by taking us back, all the way back, to 2004 and talk of a permanent GOP majority, in my latest piece for WNYC’s It’s A Free Country.

Posted by Karol at 01:44 PM | Comments (5)

November 6, 2012

Willing to be pleasantly surprised

I want to be wrong. I would feel very happy getting this election wrong. But this is the way I think the map breaks tonight (and I think WI and IA are longshots for Mitt too). I think it will be close overall but that Obama takes it in the end.

Posted by Karol at 04:43 PM | Comments (9)


In case anyone is wondering how NY’s “vote anywhere” thing works today:

You fill out your ballot in a privacy booth like everyone else. With pen. Because it’s still like 1970 in NYC. (And as I explained to my shocked sister-in-law today–these are our new machines! This is our updated way of voting!)

Then put you put your ballot in an envelope which doubles as an affidavit. That is, your ballot is ensconced inside but the information you fill out is on the outside, able to be read by anyone. You fill out a bunch of information like where you live and why you can’t vote there (displaced voters tick a box that says their information can’t be found in the voter rolls).

And in two different places on the affidavit you’re asked your party identification. I know there are Republican poll workers but I didn’t see any at my polling location and I don’t have a lot of hope for an envelope identifying the ballot within as filled out by a member of the Republican party making it through a long and tedious journey to be counted. Maybe I’m cynical. And yes, I realize it’s NY so who the hell cares anyway.

Posted by Karol at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2012

The list

This is the most all-encompassing list I’ve seen of all the reasons not to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Posted by Karol at 07:24 PM | Comments (1)

November 2, 2012

A marathon debacle

My latest for WNYC’s A Free Country looks at Mayor Bloomberg’s failed leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Posted by Karol at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2012

But, I mean, choose Mitt in the end you dodos.

This might be the most even-keeled column I’ve ever written: Undecided voters don’t deserve the abuse they’ve been getting.

Posted by Karol at 11:14 PM | Comments (3)

October 9, 2012

America today

State Department: No video protest at the Benghazi consulate:

Prior to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi late in the evening on Sept. 11, there was no protest outside the compound, a senior State Department official confirmed today, contradicting initial administration statements suggesting that the attack was an opportunistic reaction to unrest caused by an anti-Islam video.

THERE WAS NO VIDEO PROTEST before they murdered our ambassador.

Via Brain Terminal.

Posted by Karol at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

October 6, 2012

Don’t save Big Bird

National Review’s “The Homefront” blog picks up a picture of my daughter and the most obvious political point about Sesame Street.

Posted by Karol at 10:51 AM | Comments (4)

September 12, 2012

Obamacare in one sentence

This is awesome:

Hat-tip Larry

Posted by Karol at 06:23 PM | Comments (5)

9/11, 11 years and one day later

It was hard to say anything new about 9/11 after 11 years. On Facebook I posted “I’ll never forget but I don’t carry it around with me like I did for years afterward. That almost scares me, reminds me of 9/10 complacency, but it’s easy (and good) to let life go on and not let worry cloud everything you do. RIP everyone, and everything, we lost that day.” And then added this comment “The years 2001-2003 are a blur for me. I became even more of a homebody than I was. I wasn’t afraid to leave my house, and I wasn’t depressed exactly, but there was a cloud over everything. I felt like the blackout of 2003 finally snapped me out of it. The fear at first that it was terrorism followed by the relief that it wasn’t made me feel good about life again (eating all the ice cream sandwiches out of the fridge before they melted helped.)” But everything else has been said in the last decade.

It gets harder each year to really remember what that day was about. This year a NY Times op-ed columnist, and former reporter, placed the blame of 9/11 on the Bush administration as if they sat back and did nothing on purpose while these attacks were planned. I have a response to this in today’s New York Post. Just like the other truthers, who believe there were no planes, fire can’t melt steel, etc., these new “soft” truthers can’t handle the real truth of what happened to us that day.

Yesterday’s attacks on our embassies remind us that we’re still at war. Islam might be a fine religion, every religion has its maniacs, but fundamentalist Islam keeps rearing its head and killing people. It must be put down. You don’t have to be a conservative to believe that. This brand of Islam is entirely incompatible with liberalism and seeks to squelch freedoms we all take most seriously. The right to not be offended doesn’t exist and, despite what the US Embassy in Egypt believes, there’s also no right to not have your “religious feelings” hurt.

People keep commenting that I haven’t written enough about the upcoming election. I just have too much going on in my life right now to stay on top of things like I did in 2004 or even 2008. But yesterday showed that we continue to have a weak president who makes our country weak too. Obama’s only statement on the embassies was to attack Romney. This is no leader. I have called him an empty suit for years before he got elected and it is more true than ever. I want a Republican president but I would accept a strong Democrat right now. People keep saying that’s Hillary but I’m not so sure. If I had the option to swap out Obama for a truly strong Democrat, who wouldn’t let our country down the way Obama did yesterday, I’d jump at the chance. It’s not partisanship anymore, it’s Americanism. I want to see a strong America again and with Barack Obama we never will.

Posted by Karol at 09:23 AM | Comments (6)

September 5, 2012

My other big news

My friend Michelle and I have opened a blowout bar in NYC. And you can get a simultaneous manicure too.

We got our first write-up today in Racked.

We’re doing Friends&Family week through Sunday so you can use code FFFix for 25% off blowouts by making an appointment on our website.

Posted by Karol at 04:47 PM | Comments (7)
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