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Jun
7
Remembering A Musician Who Touched All of Our Lives
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/07/2017 04:52 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Today would have been the 59th birthday of Prince Rogers Nelson, known mostly to the world simply as “Prince.” He was an enigmatic figure to be sure, but a creative genius nonetheless. Not only did he sing countless mainstream hits such as “Purple Rain” and “Raspberry Beret,” he also played numerous instruments, and wrote most of his material.

Several years ago when he was on tour, I remember a friend of mine going to see him at the IZOD Center in New Jersey and remarking that it was one of the greatest live events he had ever seen. Prince had that effect on a lot of people, even dazzling the world one year with his talents during the Superbowl halftime show.

Funny enough, Prince was on my mind recently when I overheard a heated political argument between two strangers. I didn’t know these two people and had no idea how they knew each other, but the discussion was so intense that I had to walk away from the area for fear that violence was going to erupt. I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of the argument other than I heard the words “Donald Trump” and “Russia” at some point.

So why did this make me think of Prince? Because I remember a similar heated debate between two people I actually do know – two dear friends of mine – during the Clinton impeachment years ago. One of them was insistent that Clinton be removed from office while the other shouted that the whole thing was a right-wing conspiracy.

I remember things seeming like they might get out of control when the Prince song, “When Doves Cry” began playing on the radio and everybody just stopped to listen. Granted, it was only for a few minutes, but those few minutes of ceasefire were a mighty splendid thing. Some point later that day my friends went back to arguing, but those few minutes of Prince music really mellowed a situation that seemed like it was about to get very ugly.

And I guess that as part of why even though I was never as big of a Prince fan as some others, I always respected his talent, showmanship, and ability to connect with people. If you think about it, that’s the true beauty of music: if a song is good, it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be any race, gender, sexual orientation or religion and have at least a brief moment of common ground with somebody you might otherwise want to spend your day screaming at.

I thought about that today when it was pointed out to me that today would’ve been Prince’s 59th birthday. I thought about how much I wished more people would think about what they have in common rather than fighting over what divides them. And I thought about how much we could use Prince’s creative genius to help people mellow out – if only for a few minutes – and remember that just because you may disagree with somebody, doesn’t make him evil. Hell, he may even like the same Prince song as you!

Comedian Chris Rock joked this morning that schools should be closed for Prince’s birthday, and that may be a bit much. But as somebody who lived through the man’s prime and saw the power of his musical brilliance, I can say with absolutely certainly that the world misses him terribly.

Jun
6
Khan Should Reconsider His Campaign To Disinvite President Trump From State Visit
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/06/2017 04:49 pm ET | Updated 22 hours ago

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested that the U.K. should cancel President Trump’s scheduled state visit because of tweets the president sent out criticizing Khan’s response following the attack in London over the weekend. In the tweets, President Trump first said that Khan was wrong to tell people not to be alarmed and when Khan’s camp claimed the president was taking him out of context – Khan said he meant do not be alarmed by the extra police, not do not be alarmed by terrorism – the president labeled that a “pathetic excuse.”

For her part, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said President Trump was wrong to say what he said but that the state visit would go on as planned. Boris Johnson, a leading conservative voice in Britain and the previous mayor of London, defended Khan, saying the current mayor was correct to have said what he said about people not being alarmed by the extra police.

If I am being fair here, it seems as though the president did take Mayor Khan out of context. That said, instead of just ignoring the tweets or choosing to make a brief statement and then let it go, Khan has decided to make a very public show of the matter.

But this isn’t the first time. Khan has made a show of going after President Trump before, even calling him a “buffoon” and “ignorant.”

So while I understand that what happened to Khan’s city is awful and my heart goes out to him and all of his constituents – in addition to the victims – one wonders if Khan is really that upset by a man whose opinion he holds such low regard for – or if he is using the moment to gain support amongst the electorate of a city that doesn’t like the president very much.

It could even a combination of both.

The truth is, President Trump probably shouldn’t have come out so forcefully but Khan’s request is ridiculous. And quite frankly, if he really is a man who wants peace and is interested in building bridges not walls – as the cliché goes – he should welcome the president’s visit. In fact, he should invite him to sit down and try to hash this out.

The United States and England are each other’s closest allies, and both sides need to listen to each other and get on the same page. Prime Minister May understands this and is doing the right thing. President Trump may have metaphorically fired the first shot but Khan has let some hurtful words obscure what the real goal for everybody should be. He is being thin-skinned and petty, which is exactly what he is accusing the president of doing.

If Khan wants to be a hero to his base and prove some sort of political point, he should carry on doing what he’s doing. Refuse to talk to President Trump and keep pushing for him to be banned from state visits.

But if he is really the leader he claims to be; if he is really a uniter; if he is really somebody for whom the well-being of all id the main objective, he should reconsider his actions and attempt to hash out his differences with the president.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157.

Jun
5
In Attempting To Stop Terrorism, We Must Punish Those Funding It
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/05/2017 04:51 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The bombing in London over the weekend was just the latest in a long line of reprehensible acts by international terror groups like ISIS.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but these people need to be wiped off the face of the earth. And to be clear, I do not mean Muslims, or anything even remotely close to that. I’m talking strictly about terrorists who believe blowing up innocent people is a morally justified act.

I’ve never liked the phrase “war on terror” because it is too open ended and could mean literally anything. I also don’t want the United States unilaterally invading the sovereignty of countries to chase down these violent extremists.

But what I do want – and what we should all demand, quite frankly – is that the major heads of state finally do what should have been done years ago: put their heads together and agree for the sake of all humanity to align against these monsters.

The Saudis have suggested that all countries should be punished for sponsoring state terror. The Saudis should probably listen to their own advice, and stop doing that themselves, but I’ve come to the sad conclusion at this point that would be too much to hope for.

That said, it is a good idea to cut diplomatic ties with any country supporting terror activities. Qatar has supported numerous extremist groups in the Middle East such as Al Qaeda, Al Nursa, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Qatar government is a bad actor in the region and it may be time to consider moving the U.S.’s base out of that country, either abolishing it outright, or transferring it elsewhere in the Middle East.

Fighting these groups, while necessary, can sometimes feel like whack-a-mole, where each terrorist killed produces even more in his place. This is why while we continue to fight this battle against extremists, we must also deprive them of their main sources of funding that makes their activities possible. Cutting ties with those who fund our deadliest enemies is a must, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Jun
5
Statement on London Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/05/2017 04:41 pm ET

The American Jewish Congress stands in solidarity with the people of Britain following the terror attack this past Saturday in London. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of those effected by this disgusting attack. That so many have lost their lives is heart-breaking.

Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Britain and the friends and family of those effected following the terrorist attack in London. This is the third attack in a matter of months and we have all witnessed first-hand the power of hate and corrupt ideologies. The American Jewish Congress urges decision makers to remain focused on their goals and to not let this evil erode our western values.

Jack Rosen, President

American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President

American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary

American Jewish Congress

Jun
2
Everybody Needs To Calm Down About the Paris Agreement
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/02/2017 04:37 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

In case you missed it yesterday – and if you watch television, listen to the radio, go on the internet, read newspapers, or have any social media accounts, you probably didn’t – President Trump announced his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate agreement.

The agreement was non-binding, the United States still has three years to work out something different, and quite frankly, it was going to be far more punishing to this country than to China and India, two other major users of carbon.

None of that mattered to the Twitter and Facebook mobs, though. All day I read comments like “RIP earth,” or “America is destroying the planet.”

I don’t watch a lot of television but last night I happened to have Tucker Carlson’s show on and one of his guests was a Mayor in Miami. Carlson conceded the point that climate change may be a real issue that needs to be dealt with, but asked a poignant question about how this specific agreement would help make any kind of significant impact on climate change, which given the cost, it should. The Mayor reverted to talking points about climate change in general, never once answering Carlson’s question.

This is important because I saw a lot of it in the wake of the president’s decision. Reasonable minds can argue over climate change itself, but the issue here isn’t whether or not climate change is bad, it is whether or not this deal is (A) beneficial in a significant way (B) worth the exorbitant costs it would impose on our country.

Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change, emotions have taken over to the point where as long as “something” is being done, then it must be good. We don’t even need to examine the particulars, we just need to act.

This is an incredibly dangerous way to approach anything, let alone a major agreement like this.

Further, as I said above, the agreement is non-binding, which means there is no enforcement mechanism and any country involved can decide not to hold up their end if they so choose. If you are somebody who truly believes climate change is disastrous and you want real, impactful action, shouldn’t you be lobbying for the president to work with the senate and house to ratify a treaty that can then be presented as legally binding? Isn’t doing otherwise just meaningless grandstanding and posturing?

But none of those questions get asked when hysterics are involved.

The brilliant Michael Malice – whose book on North Korea “Dear Reader” is a must readfor anybody who wants to know what is REALLY going on there – recently said on the Joe Rogan podcast that the issue of climate change is amazing to him because 95% of people who will call you a “denier” for showing even the slightest bit of skepticism about the catastrophic predictions don’t know anything about the subject themselves except that “all scientists agree” and they are intellectually and morally superior to you for not being a “denier.” As Malice joked, the vast majority of these people can’t even name two clouds but they somehow think they are experts on a very complex subject like climate change.

This is not to say that the climate change alarmists are wrong. They may not be. But the ones who sound the alarm without really knowing anything are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Most scientists agree climate change is occurring and that it is a problem. But what to do about it and just how drastic of a problem it is are areas that need robust discussion. It is possible that climate change activists are right when they say the answer can’t be “do nothing.” But the answer also can’t be “Do something…..anything.”

Whatever we do needs to be beneficial to the point of being worth the price that will have to be paid. What does that entail? Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know the Paris agreement doesn’t fit the bill. And those screaming at the top of their lungs need to realize that, too, so that they can focus their energy on coming up with a more practical and purposeful solution, instead of one that just feels good but is merely symbolic.

Jun
1
Lebanon’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Ban Is Immoral
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Lebanon’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Ban Is Immoral

Gal Gadot has nothing to do with that conflict. She’s not a soldier or a public official; she’s just an actress.

06/01/2017 03:59 pm ET | Updated 4 hours ago

MARIO ANZUONI / REUTERS

I must admit, I’m not exactly what the kids call “hip.” I do my best to follow what’s happening in the culture, but sometimes things get past me.

So when a friend of mine told me that the actress playing Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot – is Israeli, I was both surprised and excited. Other than Natalie Portman, I’m not aware of a whole lot of Israeli movie stars who have headlined major motion pictures, so finding this out put a smile on my face.

But my smile quickly turned to a frown when I saw that Lebanon will be banning the movie because of Gadot’s presence in it.

The movie does not come out nationwide until tomorrow, so I obviously can’t tell you if it is good yet. But I can tell you that whether or not it is good has nothing to do with the country in which its star was born.

This is textbook racism, and while it is Lebanon so I shouldn’t be surprised, it is still amazing to me that this can happen in 2017. Lebanon’s rationale is that they are fighting Israel so they do not want to glorify a film with an Israeli in it.

First of all, Gal Gadot has nothing to do with that conflict. She’s not a soldier or a public official; she’s just an actress.

Second, who cares, anyway? We have cast actors and actresses from countries we were hostile to for years without a second thought. Doing otherwise would have been discriminatory and morally wrong.

Not to mention it would have robbed us of some excellent acting performances.

And really, all of this begs one question: What exactly is Lebanon afraid of? Do they think that if people in Lebanon see the movie they are going to suddenly start loving Israel? Do they think Gal Gadot will magically turn their citizens into pro IDF zealots or something?

The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. If individual people want to be closed-minded and not see a movie because the actress is from a country they don’t like, that’s ok. It’s stupid and ignorant, but we all make choices and nobody is suggesting forcing anybody to watch the movie for any reason.

But for a government to outright ban it? Again, I know this is Lebanon and they do things differently over there, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong. Yet I haven’t seen any prominent public officials – including President Trump – condemn Lebanon for this.

By refusing to call them out en masse for their behavior, we are holding the Lebanese government to a different, much lower standard just because of where the country is located geographically, and that is ridiculous. Bigotry shouldn’t get a pass just because it comes from another culture in another part of the world.

This may all seem insignificant, but if we don’t stand up against it as a society, we are essentially saying that behavior like this is ok. That is not a message we want to send to anybody anywhere, especially if we are to ever have hope of changing hearts and minds worldwide.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Jun
1
Lebanon’s Wonder Woman Ban is Not Only Wrong, It Is Immoral
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/01/2017 03:59 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I must admit, I’m not exactly what the kids call “hip.” I do my best to follow what’s happening in the culture, but sometimes things get past me.

So when a friend of mine told me that the actress playing Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot – is Israeli, I was both surprised and excited. Other than Natalie Portman, I’m not aware of a whole lot of Israeli movie stars who have headlined major motion pictures, so finding this out put a smile on my face.

But my smile quickly turned to a frown when I saw that Lebanon will be banning the movie because of Gadot’s presence in it.

The movie does not come out nationwide until tomorrow, so I obviously can’t tell you if it is good yet. But I can tell you that whether or not it is good has nothing to do with the country in which its star was born.

This is textbook racism, and while it is Lebanon so I shouldn’t be surprised, it is still amazing to me that this can happen in 2017. Lebanon’s rationale is that they are fighting Israel so they do not want to glorify a film with an Israeli in it.

First of all, Gal Gadot has nothing to do with that conflict. She’s not a soldier or a public official; she’s just an actress.

Second, who cares, anyway? We have cast actors and actresses from countries we were hostile to for years without a second thought. Doing otherwise would have been discriminatory and morally wrong.

Not to mention it would have robbed us of some excellent acting performances.

And really, all of this begs one question: what exactly is Lebanon afraid of? Do they think that if people in Lebanon see the movie they are going to suddenly start loving Israel? Do they think Gal Gadot will magically turn their citizens into pro IDF zealots or something?

The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. If individual people want to be closed-minded and not see a movie because the actress is from a country they don’t like, that’s ok. It’s stupid and ignorant, but we all make choices and nobody is suggesting forcing anybody to watch the movie for any reason.

But for a government to outright ban it? Again, I know this is Lebanon and they do things differently over there, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong. Yet I haven’t seen any prominent public officials – including President Trump – condemn Lebanon for this.

By refusing to call them out en masse for their behavior, we are holding the Lebanese government to a different, much lower standard just because of where the country is located geographically, and that is ridiculous. Bigotry shouldn’t get a pass just because it comes from another culture in another part of the world.

This may all seem insignificant, but if we don’t stand up against it as a society, we are essentially saying that behavior like this is ok. That is not a message we want to send to anybody anywhere, especially if we are to ever have hope of changing hearts and minds worldwide.

May
31
What I Learned During My Trip To Morocco
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/31/2017 04:59 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Recently, I took a trip to Morocco and to be honest, I had no idea what to think before I got there. I had never been to the country before and didn’t know much about it other than the fact that it is a majority Muslim country. I am happy to say that I came away from my trip both impressed by the country and its leadership and hopeful that I can serve as a model for what a successful country in the region can look like.

The country is largely liberalized but there are conservative pockets, so you may see people worshipping at a Mosque or women wearing hijabs, but you are just as likely to see young professionals at a bar or restaurant after finishing a day of work. One thing you see in abundance is women drivers, which is not what some in the United States would expect. In fact, I joked with my daughters – who were surprised bars and restaurants existed in Morocco let alone women drivers – that in Morocco, women not only drive, they give people heart attacks because they are so aggressive on the roads.

Morocco has a King but from what I observed and researched, there is a constitutional monarchy in place with separation of powers. In 2011, the country put forward a new constitution that delineated the powers of the king and that of an elected government. These changes ensured the satisfaction of the February 20th reform movement that was inspired by what at the time was called the Arab Spring. It was surprising for me to learn that Morocco’s government functions in a manner much closer to what you might find in England and the United States than most people probably realize.

In addition to liberalizing the political system, Morocco has also done an excellent job of improving its infrastructure through largely successful public works projects like new ports, modern highways, and fast trains. I was thrilled to be able to call back home and have a conversation on my cell phone while a Moroccan friend of mine drove roads that did not look all that different from what I was used to driving on in the United States. The improved infrastructure also seems to be attracting major titans of industry, as both Boeing and Nissan – for example – have set up shop in the country.

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All of those things aside, if I am being perfectly honest, as a Jewish man, I was concerned going to Morocco because as I said, it is a majority Muslim country and I thought it was possible I would be the victim of anti-semitism. But when I got to Morocco, I was thrilled to find that not only did I have nothing to fear, I also had plenty to celebrate. Tens of thousands of Jews attend festivals in the country every year and in Casablanca alone there are 25 active synagogues. The Chabad Rabbi even told me that on Friday nights, Jewish worshippers are often greeted by salutary car honks or “Shaloms” by Muslim Moroccans.

Don’t get me wrong, Morocco still suffers from some of the same turmoil other countries in the region constantly battle: religious extremism and terrorist attacks. But as a whole, not only is the country beautiful aesthetically, it is also beautiful emotionally. To see so many people in that region co-existing peacefully and living normal, happy lives truly warmed my heart and made me optimistic that perhaps peace may one day be possible.

But for the immediate future, it made me realize that Morocco is a country that deserves our support. They are an emerging, stable nation, and one that could be an important ally in that area of the world, which is something we desperately need right now. I look forward to future trips to Morocco and urge our public officials to take a closer look at the many ways in which the nation could be helpful to our interests.

May
30
The Violence Must Stop Before We Can No Longer Recognize Ourselves
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/30/2017 04:48 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Over the past few days, I have read about and personally witnessed some uncomfortable things that should alarm everybody.

Matt Rinaldi, a Texas state representative was physically assaulted and threatened by other members of the Texas state legislature after he called ICE on some demonstrators who were protesting a Texas immigration law and allegedly held up signs saying “We’re illegal and we’re here to stay.” If people were holding those signs, then they were advertising the fact that they were breaking the law. But even if they weren’t, that does not excuse the fact that he was shoved by other members of the Texas state legislature and threatened. Violence – or the threat of violence – is simply not an acceptable answer.

Of course, compared to what happened in Oregon – where two men were stabbed to death for defending two women from anti-Muslim epithets – what happened in Texas is incredibly minor. The fact that anybody would openly hurl racial slurs at somebody in public is bad enough, but when two men bravely stepped in to stop it were killed for their efforts, it goes from disgusting and vile to monstrous.

And to be honest, it makes me worry. This past weekend, I flew back and forth to Kentucky for business. At Newark airport on my way to Kentucky, I was struck by the fact that I saw a man with a turban under a hat. When I asked him why the turban was covered up, he told me it was because he was afraid some people would see it and react violently. I got a similar story from another man I met in the Kentucky airport on my way home. He was with his wife and two children and said he covered his turban because he was scared of potential violence against him.

Putting aside the fact that these men were Sikhs, which would make anybody that might harass them not just wrong but ignorant as well, the fact that anybody has to be scared to walk around wearing a turban in public is something that shook me to my very core.

As a Jewish man who grew up in a Muslim country, I faced a similar issue. It was well-known that nobody was to walk around wearing a yamaka for fear of being hurt. That scarred me as a young boy and I would imagine it does the same to the children of the man I met in Kentucky.

None of these things are related, yet in some way, they all fit together. The combination of hatred and violence or fear of violence is something that can cripple any society, and it is something we should do our best to stop.

This doesn’t mean we all have to get along or that we can’t be prejudice in some way. I’m not naïve or stupid. I understand that we are going to have heated disagreements on major and minor issues and while it would be nice if prejudice doesn’t exist, it does and we are all generally guilty of it in some form.

But there is a big difference between disagreeing with somebody and putting your hands on them. There is a big difference between disliking somebody because of his race and harassing or assaulting somebody because of that dislike. And there is a big difference between societies that understand these distinctions and those that do not.

People will blame President Trump and his “climate of fear and hatred” but let’s be honest here: this is not new. Blame the president all you want, but this has been happening for years and everybody involved is an adult. The question is how do we stop it, or at the very least, minimize it.

Punishing those who cross the line harshly is obviously part of the equation, but the truth is, it starts individually with each one of us. As a society, we have to understand that while there will always be bad apples who do terrible things, we need to make sure that individually, we do what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones from veering down this path. Because if we don’t, we could end up turning into something so awful, that we are no longer recognizable to ourselves or anyone else.

May
26
The Blame For Gianforte’s Actions Is On Him Alone, And He Should Not Be In Congress
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/26/2017 05:02 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2017

Republican Greg Gianforte won a special election Thursday against Democrat Rob Quist for a seat that had been held by Republican Ryan Zinke, who vacated his post to take over as Secretary of the Interior.

Under most circumstances, this would be newsworthy but no big deal. Certainly nothing that would generate massive national attention beyond the usual political types.

But Gianforte’s actions on the eve of the election turned this into something much bigger than anybody could have imagined.

After being asked a question he did not like by the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs – somebody with whom I don’t always agree but an excellent reporter nonetheless – Gianforte responded by slamming Jacobs and breaking his glasses.

I understand that when you are in the heat of a political race and you are being badgered by reporters asking you tough questions, the pressure can get to you. Gianforte isn’t the first, and he probably won’t be the last.

But it is one thing to let the pressure get to you and a completely different issue entirely when losing your cool leads to you committing an act of violence. That is never okay, least of all for somebody who wants to sit in the U.S. Congress.

That is why even though I tend to agree with Gianforte on issues more than I do Quist, I cannot say in good conscience that the election results were positive. Gianforte assaulted somebody – for which he has been charged by the local sheriff – and he has clearly shown he cannot and should not be a member of the House of Representatives.

Personally, while I know it will not happen, I would like to see him resign ASAP. This type of behavior was disgraceful when Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) did it back in 2006 and Rob Etheridge (D-NC) did it in 2010. Those two should have resigned as well, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

If we cannot hold those in public office to the same standards with which everyday Americans are held at their jobs, then really, what is the point? If you are an average American working a regular job, ask yourself this question: If I choked and slammed somebody at my place of employment, would I be fired?

We all know the answer to that question is yes.

Sadly, it is a little different in this case, since the assault occurred before a vote and Gianforte still won. He wasn’t a sitting member of Congress yet, so this would be after the fact. But if Gianforte had any sense of shame, he would resign.

But while Gianforte is THE CULPRIT in this case – there can be no mistake about that – the attempt of many members of the media to tie this to Donald Trump is once again showing their hand.

Just as it was ridiculous for Barack Obama, or anybody else who made sympathetic statements about Black Lives Matter, to be held morally responsible when some of the worst elements of that cause commit a crime against a policeman, Donald Trump bears no responsibility here. Violence at his rallies – much of which was agitated by those who opposed him – does not mean it is somehow the president’s fault when some lunatic running for congress assaults a reporter.

Gianforte is a grown man who is fully in charge of his own actions. His assault of Ben Jacobs is on him and him alone. So stop trying to make this about somebody who had nothing to do with it, and instead focus your ire on the person who deserves it: Greg Gianforte.

May
25
Stop Trying To Make Something Out of Nothing
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/25/2017 05:06 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

President Trump is on a historic trip this week and it has mostly been what you would expect from a world leader, as opposed to the usual craziness surrounding anything involving Donald Trump these days.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to try and make it into some sort of crazy story, even if there isn’t one.

President Trump spoke in front of many powerful Muslim leaders including the Saudis; he met with the Pope; he went over to the wall in Israel and met with that country’s most important figures.

That’s a positive thing and it should be treated as such, regardless of how you feel about the president. But some people just live to be angry and media outlets enjoy fueling that fire.

Heat Street’s Stephen Miller summed this phenomenon up best, tweeting, “How you know Trumps trip has been an incredible success: Media can only talk about holding hands, facial expressions & handshakes.”

And that is exactly what we are hearing about. The president’s handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron was “intense.” The Pope didn’t smile. The Prime Minister of Montenegro had his spotlight stolen.

The micro analyzing and projection going on here is something to behold, and quite frankly, these are all silly takes from people who are desperate to create a negative story where one does not exist.

Speaking of projection, how about CNN’s Chris Cillizza’s headline, “Donald Trump’s Foreign Trip is Going Smoothly. It Won’t Last.”

First of all, it is humorous that Cillizza admits the trip has mostly been a success right off the bat. Good for you, Chris. But then, he adds, “It won’t last.” That’s some hard news analysis there, Chris. Didn’t realize you had a crystal ball. You got any lottery numbers or future Superbowl winners you want to share, too?

Joking aside, this is the kind of stuff that has driven people crazy for years and made many people want to tune out the mainstream media entirely. If there is some sort of major issue on the trip, then great, go ahead and report all about it. But trying to create inane negative stories out of thin air is doing nothing but playing to those who desperately want everything President Trump does to be a calamity while further alienating those who don’t trust a word you say.

Some advice to those in the media who play into this insanity and my friends who despise the president so much that they will literally boil over with hatred just because he exists: take a deep breath and relax.

As Current Affairs’ Nathan J. Robinson wrote regarding the terrible cottage industry of so-called fact checkers following the president’s election, Donald Trump is going to be factually right sometimes in a way that cannot really be disputed. He’s going to do things that even you think are good sometimes, even if you hate his guts with every fiber of your being. When those moments occur, it is ok to just nod your head and move along, waiting for the next time he legitimately gives you something to be outraged about.

It’s a much smarter and healthier way to approach your everyday life. And it may even save you a few trips to the shrink.

May
24
When It Comes To The Seth Rich Conspiracies, Enough Is Enough
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/24/2017 04:48 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2017

We’ve always had fringe conspiracy theories floating in the ether, but it seems like now – perhaps because of social media – they are more visible than ever.

Lord knows there have been a million insane conspiracy theories revolving around President Trump and Russia. My personal favorite was the one that claimed the Russian government had been grooming him to be president of the United States since the 1980s. Gotta love those Russians – always playing the long game!

But now we are being constantly bombarded with stories about the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich.

Look, I get it. The same way that those on the left just cannot accept Hillary Clinton’s defeat and desperately want to cling to some other explanation – even if the Russians were behind the release of DNC/Podesta emails, there is no evidence that stuff did anything to sway votes in PA, Michigan, and Wisconsin – so to, do some elements of the right want their own biases confirmed.

This is what makes “fake news” spread – an eagerness to believe anything that supports your previously held belief.

The problem with the Seth Rich theories is that law enforcement has already debunked them. Not to mention the main source pushing them – the notorious Kim Dotcom – has been shown to be a liar on stuff like this before. If you’ll recall, he famously said he had a way to recover all of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, yet somehow, he was never able to make them reappear.

And shame on Sean Hannity for running with this nonsense. I’ve met Sean personally and have found him to be a very nice guy. Many others – including a lot of people who despise Hannity’s politics – would say the same. The majority of people don’t know anything about some of the truly nice things Hannity does for people behind the scenes, and that’s to Sean’s credit, as he doesn’t want any philanthropic stuff he engages in to be about him.

That said, this past election cycle has clearly driven him insane. Whereas he was previously just a right-wing talking head with whom I agreed sometimes and disagreed sometimes, he has now become a full-blown conspiracy loon who gins up crazy stories and repeats White House talking points.

If you know me or have read my writing, you know that I am a supporter of the president. But that doesn’t mean I accept everything he does or says uncritically. And it certainly doesn’t mean spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories just because they suit an agenda.

Being able to think for yourself is a very important tool to have in one’s intellectual arsenal.

Sean Hannity has completely lost that aspect of himself. I realize he was always biased but he has gone into dangerous territory now that he may never come back from.

Sadly, what Hannity is doing here is far worse than the spreading of most conspiracies. Most of those we can just shrug off and laugh at. But this is especially awful because of the pain it is causing Seth Rich’s family, made even more terrible by the fact that they have literally BEGGED Hannity to stop using Rich’s death to further a political agenda.

Thus far, he has ignored their pleas, which is beyond shameful. I’m a father and if one of my children were killed and some television host tried to use that death for a ratings or political ploy, I would be beyond enraged, justifiably so.

So while I know people with far bigger platforms than I have said this already, I say this to Sean Hannity and the rest continuing to spread the Seth Rich conspiracy: please stop. There is a family hurting and you have done enough unnecessary damage already.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

May
23
Manchester Attack Shows The World Must Unite To Destroy Evil
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/23/2017 05:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2017

A suicide bomber killed 22 and injured plenty more when he let off a blast at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Monday. ISIS has already taken credit for the attack, which is disgusting but not surprising.

The fact that this suicide bomber purposely targeted an event largely attended by teenagers is especially reprehensible and psychotic. Targeting children is the most monstrous thing anybody could ever do, and I truly wish the perpetrator had lived to answer for what he did.

I’m not normally a vengeful man, but as a father, I cannot even begin to describe how sad and enraged the news of this attack made me. My daughters are both fans of Ariana Grande and easily could have been at the concert if they lived in England. Even worse, a friend of mine has a younger brother who lives in Manchester and wanted to go to the concert, but couldn’t because he had a test the next day.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but these people need to be wiped off the face of the earth. And to be clear, I do not mean Muslims, or anything even remotely close to that. I’m talking strictly about terrorists who believe blowing up children is a morally justified act.

I’ve heard the saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but once you involve intentionally trying to kill children, there cannot even be an attempt to justify it. This is straight up evil, plain and simple.

Prime Minister May and President Trump both had strong words for the attack, but the truth is, words are nice, but they are no substitute for action. These extremists must be destroyed and the only way that is going to happen is through global cooperation.

I have been vocal in the past about invading countries and nation-building. The results never turn out well and many innocent lives end up needlessly being lost.

But that doesn’t mean force is never justified. I’m a Jewish man, but I’m very familiar with the Christian theory of a Just War: the only proper war is a war of self-defense.

Well, I’d say this qualifies.

I’ve never liked the phrase “war on terror” because it is too open ended and could mean literally anything. I also don’t want the United States unilaterally invading the sovereignty of countries to chase down these violent extremists.

But what I do want – and what we should all demand, quite frankly – is that the major heads of state finally do what should have been done years ago: put their heads together and agree for the sake of all humanity to align against these monsters.

We don’t have to be best pals with countries that might otherwise be hostile to our interests to see that on this one issue, we are ALL on the same side.

Black or white. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Atheist. Republican or Democrat. European, African, Caribbean, American, Asian, Indian or Latin American. This cuts across EVERYTHING. Whatever disagreements we have can still be fought about, and that is fine. But on this one issue, if we are going to survive as a civilization, unity is the only answer.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

May
22
President Trumps Speech In Riyadh
 
by Dr. Kazmir

05/22/2017 05:05 pm ET | Updated 2 hours ago

THE HILL

Speaking to leaders from across the Muslim world, it was important that President Tump addressed the growing threats from terrorism and extremism which have threatened America, Europe and the Middle East. For there to be stability across the Arab world it is vital that there is religious tolerance, by encouraging countries to take control of the fight against extremism themselves, President Trump is increasing the chances of a lasting peace. The US cannot fight this battle alone and it is important for individual States to realise the role they must play. President Trump was correct to address the “common values and shared interests” that the United States shares with its Saudi allies and others in the region. As I have witnessed first-hand, the countries of the Gulf, the United States and Israel have many mutual interests and concerns and remember there is an opportunity to build a positive relationship that benefits all parties.

The Jewish community has been the target of religious terrorism both in Israel and across the world. It is incredibly poignant that President Trump specified his desire to stand with the Jewish community in the fight against terrorism and his statement will help build bridges between the Jewish and Muslim community. As President Trump now makes his way to Israel, the American Jewish Congress hopes that he will be able to continue to create a positive atmosphere of dialogue which can lead to progress in the fight against Islamic State as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Jack Rosen, President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary, American Jewish Congress

May
22
The President’s Trip Could Serve A Positive Purpose
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/22/2017 05:22 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

President Trump’s current trip, one in which he will meet with leaders of all three major religions is both a necessary positive step in his presidency.

Regardless of how you feel about all the hoopla going on surrounding the Trump administration right now, the fact remains that the man IS president, and as such, he needs to continue to execute the duties of the office.

The world is a volatile place right now and doing everything possible to keep escalating tensions to a minimum is a positive for everybody.

Admittedly, the president got off to a rough start in Saudi Arabia, where I would have liked to have seen him buck the trend of kissing the Saudi ring, so to speak. We all know what the Saudi Arabian government has done in the past and continues to do now, and despite this, we hear next to nothing from our country’s most powerful lawmakers, let alone past presidents.

It was my hope that President Trump – who ran as a complete wild card that was not beholden to anybody – would lean on the Saudis a little bit about their human rights violations and maybe even try to convince them that they should use the vast land and resources they have to take in some refugees from the region. While he did not do this, it was merely his first visit with the Saudis, so perhaps he will be a little bolder as he goes along.

That said, it was important the president show that despite all the rhetoric and heated debate, he does not hate all Muslims and think they are evil. As President Trump himself said, getting the help of the Muslim world to help destroy the extremists is crucial in the battle against ISIS and Al Qaeda, and hopefully saying he is anti-extremist and not anti-Muslim is a good start.

The Pope and the president had their fair share of disagreements throughout the 2016 campaign, but again, it is important that the president show he can put that behind him and be a unifier. Many Catholics voted for the president and see the Pope as their spiritual leader, so president Trump being able to have a dialogue with the Pope would show a level of maturity that he sometimes seems to lack when it comes to those who criticize him.

Most importantly, though, it is crucial that the president make the most of this trip as a way to reaffirm our alliance to our #1 ally Israel, and reassure Prime Minister Netanyahu and the citizens of his nation that America has Israel’s back. Whatever your thoughts are on President Obama’s policy towards Israel, it is unquestionable that Prime Minister Netanyahu believed he was getting the cold shoulder from the United States over the past eight years, something that must end under President Trump.

Again, this trip isn’t going to heal the world and it isn’t going to make the issues surrounding the president go away. But it could serve a positive purpose and start a few worthwhile dialogues. If nothing else, given all of the other madness going on right now, we should all be happy for that.

May
22
The President’s Trip Could Serve A Positive Purpose
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/22/2017 05:22 pm ET | Updated May 24, 2017

President Trump’s current trip, one in which he will meet with leaders of all three major religions, is both a necessary positive step in his presidency.

Regardless of how you feel about all the hoopla going on surrounding the Trump administration right now, the fact remains that the man IS president, and as such, he needs to continue to execute the duties of the office.

The world is a volatile place right now and doing everything possible to keep escalating tensions to a minimum is a positive for everybody.

Admittedly, the president got off to a rough start in Saudi Arabia, where I would have liked to have seen him buck the trend of kissing the Saudi ring, so to speak. We all know what the Saudi Arabian government has done in the past and continues to do now, and despite this, we hear next to nothing from our country’s most powerful lawmakers, let alone past presidents.

It was my hope that President Trump – who ran as a complete wild card that was not beholden to anybody – would lean on the Saudis a little bit about their human rights violations and maybe even try to convince them that they should use the vast land and resources they have to take in some refugees from the region. While he did not do this, it was merely his first visit with the Saudis, so perhaps he will be a little bolder as he goes along.

That said, it was important the president show that despite all the rhetoric and heated debate, he does not hate all Muslims and think they are evil. As President Trump himself said, getting the help of the Muslim world to help destroy the extremists is crucial in the battle against ISIS and Al Qaeda, and hopefully saying he is anti-extremist and not anti-Muslim is a good start.

THE MORNING EMAIL
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The Pope and the president had their fair share of disagreements throughout the 2016 campaign, but again, it is important that the president show he can put that behind him and be a unifier. Many Catholics voted for the president and see the Pope as their spiritual leader, so president Trump being able to have a dialogue with the Pope would show a level of maturity that he sometimes seems to lack when it comes to those who criticize him.

Most importantly, though, it is crucial that the president make the most of this trip as a way to reaffirm our alliance to our #1 ally Israel, and reassure Prime Minister Netanyahu and the citizens of his nation that America has Israel’s back. Whatever your thoughts are on President Obama’s policy towards Israel, it is unquestionable that Prime Minister Netanyahu believed he was getting the cold shoulder from the United States over the past eight years, something that must end under President Trump.

Again, this trip isn’t going to heal the world and it isn’t going to make the issues surrounding the president go away. But it could serve a positive purpose and start a few worthwhile dialogues. If nothing else, given all of the other madness going on right now, we should all be happy for that.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

May
19
The Immigration Issue Isn’t Going Away, No Matter How Much We Wish It Would
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/19/2017 04:41 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

If you are not familiar with Sandra Duran, you can read about her here. She wasn’t a famous actress or singer, nor was she some rich socialite or anybody in the public eye at all.

She was just a mother in her car driving in Los Angeles when a drunken man named Estuardo Alvarado smashed into her car and killed her.

Duran leaves behind children that will now grow up without a mother, which I find especially awful since I have several children myself and cannot even bear the thought of being taken from them now, let alone before they were grown.

This is all bad enough, but made far worse by the fact that Alvarado had already fled the scene of another accident he had just caused. Worse than that, though, was the fact that he was here illegally, had a rap sheet a mile long, was previously deported multiple times, yet still somehow remained in the country.

Let’s start with the obvious: not all immigrants here illegally are violent criminals, and some have even presented evidence – though it has been hotly disputed – that they commit fewer crimes on net than American citizens.

Except the problem is, whether those claims are true or not, there is no getting around the fact that each crime committed by somebody here illegally is a crime that simply would not have happened if that person had not been here.

Does this mean I am suggesting all those here illegally should be rounded up and deported? Of course not. But it does mean that if we cannot even respect immigration laws enough to keep somebody like Alvarado – a man with over 20 felonies and misdemeanors on his record – out of the country, then those laws are a failure and need to be fixed immediately.

It also means that we may want to take a deeper look at some of the other costs of illegal immigration.

Being that I am somebody who came to this country many years ago as an immigrant from Pakistan, I know better than anybody the incredible opportunities America can offer. I came here with nothing and I was able to become a very successful doctor and live an amazing life. But I came here legally and did everything the right way.

And while I sympathize with those who are undocumented – whether they snuck in unlawfully or just overstayed their visas – there is a reason why countries need to have at least some control of their borders. As much as I want to see as many people as possible come here from other countries and do well, when somebody comes here as an undocumented worker, there are people who suffer as a result.

For starters, there are those who wait in line for legal citizenship only to be bypassed and essentially punished for following the law.

But there are also negative consequences for some American workers, especially those who are most in need. As both Senator Bernie Sanders and President Trump pointed out during the 2016 campaign, there are millions of Americans who are suffering. Unskilled laborers haven’t had a significant raise in wages in many years and quite a few of them struggle to find or keep steady employment.

When an undocumented immigrant enters the labor force, this drives down wages for those aforementioned unskilled laborers, because employers would prefer to pay those immigrants the artificially low wages that are far below what an American citizen may accept under the minimum wage laws.

Furthermore, the market becomes flooded with a much greater supply of this cheap, unskilled labor, and fewer jobs exist for working class Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT blaming these immigrants. It is still better for them to make the low wages in this country than it would be to have stayed in their home countries and worked. They are doing what they feel is best for them.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot admit that such lax policies towards illegal immigration come at a cost to many working American citizens.

And in more extreme cases, that cost can be the life of somebody like Sandra Duran.

Many have opposed the border wall, which I completely understand since the logistics of getting it done are both difficult and costly. Plus I’m not so sure it would work, anyway. Nor do I think amnesty in any form is the answer, as that doesn’t fix anything and ultimately just rewards those who broke the law.

But what I do know is that the current lawlessness as it pertains to this issue is flat out unacceptable. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know damn well that it isn’t to just turn a blind eye as this problem continues to get worse with seemingly no end in sight.

It’s time for some real leadership on this issue, whether it is from the White House, the congress, or some completely outside entity that steps up with good, practical ideas. As a nation, we have twiddled our thumbs about this for far too long and something needs to be done about it before it becomes a problem so big that it becomes impossible to ever solve.

May
18
An Independent Investigation Is Underway, But Will You Accept The Results?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/18/2017 05:04 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Congratulations to those who were loudly screaming for an independent investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign. In case you missed it, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as independent counsel to run the investigation.

I wrote previously that I believe an independent investigation was not the best idea given the poor results those investigations have produced over the years, and the fact that the FBI is stocked full of trained investigators who are better suited than anybody to undertake an investigation of this magnitude.

I still feel that way.

However, if there is going to be an independent counsel, I am glad it is Robert Mueller.

In case you are unaware of Mueller’s background, he was picked by former President George W Bush to take over the FBI, taking the reins just one week before the 9/11 attacks occurred. He earned the respect of everybody across the political aisle when he – along with James Comey (yes, THAT James Comey) who was Deputy Attorney General at the time – threatened to resign their posts if the Bush administration did not make major changes to its domestic wiretapping program.

In fact, Mueller was so highly regarded that Barack Obama asked him to stay on an additional two years when his original ten year term was up.

At the time, Obama called Mueller the “gold standard” of FBI directors, adding “given the ongoing threats facing the United States, as well as the leadership transitions at other agencies like the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, I believe continuity and stability at the FBI is critical at this time. I am grateful for his leadership, and ask Democrats and Republicans in Congress to join together in extending that leadership for the sake of our nation’s safety and security.”

If you noticed James Comey’s name in connection with Mueller earlier, it is because they are close personal friends and Comey took over for Mueller as FBI director in 2013. Mueller is going to have to put business over friendship if he is going to truly conduct a fair, independent investigation, and most people seem to think he will.

While I support the president, I believe we should see how the investigation plays out, and if it turns out that everybody’s worst fears about president Trump and the Russians are true, we need to be willing to take action against him.

But this whole situation begs an honest question to those who have been crowing about Russia and President Trump for months, seemingly non-stop: Does this satisfy you?

More importantly, if I may paraphrase a question asked of President Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election, will you accept the results of the investigation as legitimate?

Let’s say Robert Mueller holds a press conference months from now and announces that the investigation has uncovered nothing that would be considered significant wrongdoing, will that be enough for you to move on from this whole subject?

If the answer is “yes,” then I give you credit for being open-minded and reasonable in your desire to simply see if anything objectionable actually occurred.

If the answer is “no,” then you should probably just go ahead and admit that your mind is already made up and you don’t care as much about the possibility of Russian collusion as you do undermining a democratically elected president at every turn, regardless of the facts.

I suspect that even if President Trump is exonerated by the Mueller investigation, the accusations of treason and calls for impeachment from those who despise the president and are consumed every waking hour with thoughts of taking him down somehow, will not cease.

I hope I’m wrong. But I’m pretty sure I’m not.

May
17
Wait To Get All The Facts Before Losing Your Mind
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/17/2017 04:59 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The entire world is going crazy over the New York Times’ report about former FBI Director James Comey’s rumored memo detailing meetings with President Trump in which he asked Comey if he could let the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn go.

The report was anonymously sourced and we have yet to see any physical evidence of this memo or hear anything about it from Comey. So we should all approach the story with healthy skepticism until such time that we see proof.

So far during the Trump Presidency, we have seen an unprecedented number of leaks coming from all over the place. Current staffers. Former staffers. Some of the leaks have proven to be accurate. Others have been incorrect and seem to have been driven by those with an agenda.

While President Trump isn’t blameless here – he has tweeted recklessly and insulted certain people and organizations giving them a motive to want to hurt him – the lengths to which some with agendas seem willing to go to try to “bring down” the president is a major area of concern.

It isn’t concerning because of President Trump himself. Plenty dislike him intensely and wish to see him harmed politically and that is fine. What is not fine is using the fact that you so despise the president that you use the media to leak things that are either not true or flat out have no business being aired in public.

Just to be clear, I’m not blaming the reporters who are writing the stories based on these leaks. They have a job to do and these leaks ARE news.

But to those doing the leaking, I suggest you think about what you are doing. You may think you are just undermining the current president, but you are really undermining the entire process. After all, if you can set this precedent now, what is to stop others from doing the exact same thing to the next president, or the one after that?

As for the current issue involving James Comey, he has been subpoenaed by congress and so has the rumored memo regarding his conversation with the president. We will hear from him soon enough and see what he has to say. At that point, we can all logically sit down and try to figure out what to make of it.

But for now, the rumor and innuendo make for great chatter, and raises plenty of questions, but until we get actual answers, everybody would be wise to take the leaks with a grain of salt and wait to get the full story. Until we hear more from the key parties involved and get all the facts laid out in front of us, it would be wise to remember a very old saying: believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

May
16
Cooper Isn’t A Sexist, He’s Just Disrespectful….But He’s Not The Only One
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/16/2017 05:31 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

My old friend Kellyanne Conway seems to have a way of finding herself front and center in the news cycle these days.

First, there was the incident on CNN where Anderson Cooper rolled his eyes at her during an interview. Then there was MSNBC’s Mika Brezinski claiming on-air that during past interviews on behalf of President Trump, Kellyanne would claim “I need a shower” after the cameras were off.

The Anderson Cooper incident has been branded as sexist by some people, but that is silly. Unprofessional? Sure. Disrespectful? Absolutely. But sexist? No. This had far more to do with the president Kellyanne represents than anything having to do with her gender, and pretending otherwise plays right into the absurd identity politics so many of us have long detested.

As far as Mika Brezinski, the unprofessional manner in which she conducted herself was far worse than what Cooper did. I obviously have no way of knowing if Kellyanne said what Brezinski claims she said, but comments made off-air like that are generally understood to be off the record. But because Brezinski hates President Trump – and by extension Kellyanne – so much, she didn’t care.

It’s a tad ironic since she and her co-host/fiancé Joe Scarborough had no problem using the president for ratings when he was a candidate. But that’s her cross to bear.

The larger problem here, though, is that Cooper and Brezinski are representative of a much deeper issue, which is that it seems the media thinks it is ok to toss out all the rules when covering President Trump because they so strongly dislike him.

Let’s be honest here: Kellyanne Conway is somebody who is paid to push the president’s narrative. So is Sean Spicer, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and several others. So was Josh Earnest, Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, David Axelrod, etc…..

All of these people are well-compensated spin doctors. They know it, we know it, and the media knows it. Thus, the media’s job is to understand that fact going in and aggressively challenge them during interviews.

The issue here is that despite the fact so many past spin doctors played very fast and loose with the facts that didn’t suit their agendas, they were never disrespected to the level that the representatives of President Trump have been.

The press are supposed to be the people who bring the truth to light, but it becomes much harder for the news to be reported fairly when the entire press corps hates the president so much that they lose and all objectivity.

There is a danger here and it goes far beyond President Trump. No matter what you think of him, there are going to be times when he is right and the press is going to go out of their way to make it look otherwise. In fact, this has already happened several times. And conversely, there will be a president for whom the reverse will be true.

But that is not acceptable. We are all human beings and we all have our own thoughts and feelings. But the news media is supposed to tell us what is happening, not sharpen their claws because they do not like who they are covering. Because then they are not news; they are nothing more than an advocacy arm.

May
15
President Trump Pays Tribute To Fallen Officers….We Must Follow His Lead And Support Them
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/15/2017 04:39 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Special Agent Terry Watson a U.S. Army veteran had served with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 13 years until he was stabbed to death in the course of an investigation in Bogota, Colombia in 2013. He was survived by his wife.

Special Agents Chad Michael, Forrest Leamon, and Michael Weston were returning from a counter-narcotics operation in Afghanistan in 2009 when the military helicopter they were riding in crashed, killing all three of them. Michael left behind a fiancé, brother, and parents who loved him. Leamon was survived by his wife and unborn child as well as his sister and parents. Meanwhile, Weston was ripped from his wife, brother, and parents.

Special Agent Don Ware was killed in 1975 after he was kidnapped, beaten, and shot while working on an undercover narcotics mission in Mexico. His wife and three daughters lost pieces of their souls that day.

I tell you these stories not to depress you, but rather as a way of paying homage to a group of people who are both essential to our safety but also incredibly brave. They were taken long before their time and their sacrifices for the good of the country deserve to be recognized.

That’s why I was so happy to see President Trump put forth the proper praise to these amazing men and women at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service.

“Though your loved ones left us much too soon, the memory of their courage will live on forever. To see so many names together, is only to get a glimpse of the debt America owes to those who protect our streets,” he said.

Members of our Armed Forces get plenty of attention and praise for what they do and they have earned every bit of it. But the men and women who serve in dangerous police units like the Drug Enforcement Agency get overlooked for the contribution they make to society and the impact they have on our lives.

This is why I am proud to serve as part of the DEA Survivor’s Benefit Foundation Corporate Committee. The heroes who risk their lives every day to defend us from dangerous criminals and cartels often do not get the recognition they are due and their families are not as well taken care of as they should be.

Any officer who is killed in the line of duty deserves a hero’s burial and our eternal appreciation, but we owe it the members of the family they left behind to see to it their incredible act of martyrdom does not go for naught.

They risked everything for us. The least we can do is provide for those they loved so dearly.

President Trump articulated that thought well when he said, “No one asked these selfless men and women to enlist in this righteous cause…They joined because their hearts were big, and full of amazing courage. They put on the uniform because they believed it was their mission in life to serve. It is our duty as a people and as a nation to prove worthy of their sacrifice.”

He later added, “Thousands are living today in New York who otherwise would be gone, because our great police fought to bring safety to our streets,” he said. “As president, my highest duty is to keep America safe…You are the thin blue line between civilization and chaos. I want you to know that patriotic Americans truly support and love our police.”

That’s why I urge you to please take a moment to visit the Survivor’s Benefit Foundation’s website and do your part to pitch in.

This is an organization that is doing God’s work and it is something that all Americans – black or white, Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, man or woman – should be able to unite behind.

Our country is better for what these men and women put themselves through for our protection and we must ensure that the best, brightest, and bravest continue to be willing to stand up for us.

And they need to know that if God forbid the worst happens, we will come through for their family the way they always came through for us.

Or as President Trump put it, “Whatever you need, we are here for you, and we are praying for you.”

May
12
In The Midst Of Turmoil,An Excellent Choice Is Made To Head USAID
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/12/2017 03:28 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

It seems like there has been non-stop lunacy in DC, and unfortunately, one very important nomination by the president has been overlooked.

The name of Mark Green has been submitted to run USAID. Green’s credentials are impeccable, with a resume that includes time as a congressman, ambassador to Tanzania, and Senior Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

In today’s political climate, it seems like there is literally nothing that will not cause a fight. So it is telling that the choice of Green to run USAID has more or less been universally praised.

Jeremy Konyndyk, former head of USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance said, “Mark Green is a really strong choice to head USAID. He has very deep experience and reach within the development sector.”

Save the Children said “Ambassador Green recognizes the importance of robust investments in foreign assistance and the need for transparency and accountability.”

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition President Liz Schrayer said, “In full disclosure, Mark is a dear friend to the USGLC, having served on our Board of Directors for years, as well as being the Senior Director on our staff. With an impressive background as a member of Congress, a highly respected ambassador, and member of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Board, Ambassador Mark Green is an exceptional choice to lead USAID.”

To be sure, USAID needs a shakeup and Green is going to be facing the dual challenge of not just getting the agency back on track, but finding a way to do so in the face of looming budget cuts.

This is not going to be an easy task, but whoever takes over the agency will have to rise to the challenge, because the humanitarian outreach and diplomacy USAID provides are incredibly important.

That’s why it is so refreshing to see somebody so well-respected across the board nominated for the post.

He has a long road ahead of him, but I look forward to watching Mark Green use his wealth of skill and experience to lead USAID towards a successful future.

May
11
The FBI, Not Congress, Needs To Be Running Point on Russia Investigation
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/11/2017 05:19 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

James Comey was relieved from his post as head of the FBI and already we are hearing all kinds of speculation as to why.

Some have suggested it was because Comey was getting “too close” on Russia. I’m not sure I understand this rationale since the investigation is continuing and will be overseen by a new director who has strong ties to the Democratic party. So this doesn’t seem like a net positive for the president if the idea was to have somebody in charge at the FBI who has his back.

Furthermore, the investigation is still ongoing and will continue into the foreseeable future. Comey or not, this whole mess is far from over.

The calls for an independent commission to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign are getting louder and louder. While I understand the desire to get to the bottom of the issue, the idea of turning this over to a congressional commission seems like something that is better in theory than in reality.

Consider for a second the history of these types of independent commissions. The Warren commission, the 9/11 commission, the Financial Crisis Inquiry commission. All were high profile bi-partisan investigations, but none truly uncovered the type of information that everybody hoped for.

So does that mean we should just drop the whole matter and just give up? Of course not. As I’ve said many times, while I am a supporter of the president, if there is evidence to be found of wrongdoing here, then let’s see it.

An independent commission is the reflexive solution to this, but the best one is to just let the FBI continue to do its job. Bi-partisanship and the spectacle of hearings may play well in Washington DC, but the truth is, the FBI is our top federal law enforcement arm. These are men and women who are trained to investigate high profile cases and have brought down many criminals and criminal organizations. If there is something to be found, they will find it.

But hey, if you think a group of politicians is better suited to handle a major criminal investigation than a bureau of the nation’s most elite group of criminal investigators, that’s fine. I’m sure the keystone cops masquerading as congressional members are a far superior option than people who have literally spent their entire professional careers chasing and locking up the country’s worst criminal elements.

And if resources are something you are worried about, simple solution: we just take any extra funds we might have spent on an independent commission and allocate it to the FBI so it has everything it needs monetarily to conduct the most thorough investigation possible.

If we want shameless grandstanding, then we should go ahead and throw all our chips down on the congressional table.

But if we want some actual results, then we need to push those chips to the center of the table and go all-in with the FBI.

May
11
American Jewish Congress Statement on South Korea’s Presidential Election
 
by Dr. Kazmir

05/11/2017 03:27 pm ET

AFP

The American Jewish Congress congratulates Moon Jae-in on his election to President of South Korea.

In his speech after the election, Mr. Jae-in noted that South Korea faces a series of challenges. As President, it will be his duty to help defuse security tensions with North Korea while also negotiating with President Trump in the United States and the leadership in Beijing to alleviate tensions over the U.S. missile defense system that is being deployed in South Korea.

The American Jewish Congress extends our congratulations to Mr. Jae-in as he begins this difficult Presidency. We stand ready to assist him in pursuing better relations for both the United States and the region.

We hope you will join with us in congratulating Mr. Jae-in on his election.

Jack Rosen, President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary, American Jewish Congress

May
11
American Jewish Congress Statement On South Korea’s Presidential Election
 
by Dr. Kazmir

05/11/2017 03:27 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2017

AFP

The American Jewish Congress congratulates Moon Jae-in on his election to President of South Korea.

In his speech after the election, Mr. Jae-in noted that South Korea faces a series of challenges. As President, it will be his duty to help defuse security tensions with North Korea while also negotiating with President Trump in the United States and the leadership in Beijing to alleviate tensions over the U.S. missile defense system that is being deployed in South Korea.

The American Jewish Congress extends our congratulations to Mr. Jae-in as he begins this difficult Presidency. We stand ready to assist him in pursuing better relations for both the United States and the region.

We hope you will join with us in congratulating Mr. Jae-in on his election.

Jack Rosen, President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President, American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary, American Jewish Congress

May
10
Rumors About Powerful Politician Put Wrongheaded Attitudes About Sexuality Front and Center
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/10/2017 05:07 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

A new documentary “Behind the Scenes of a Victory” about French President-elect Emmanuel Macron – the 39 year-old centrist who defeated National Front’s Marine Le Pen to win France’s highest political office – is drawing a lot of attention because of a longstanding rumor addressed within it.

Macron, who is married to a woman 24 years his senior who was at one time his teacher, opens up about the whispers that he is secretly gay and has been in a relationship with a male radio executive.

“Two odious things: on one side misogyny because they say it’s not possible to be with a woman who is 24 years older,” says Macron in the documentary.

“That’s how I’ve always lived because I’ve been with my wife for 20 years. And on the other side, it’s homophobic.”

I’m not going to sit here and speculate as to whether or not Macron is gay.  If he says he isn’t, that’s fine.  I’ll take him at his word.

But the larger issue here is how ridiculous it is that anybody cares if he’s gay at all.

While I was originally born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, I have called New Jersey my home state for many years and I remember watching former Governor Jim McGreevey resign his post as Governor because he abused the power of his office to hide the fact that he was gay.

I don’t want to live in a world with Governors who use their political authority to cover up affairs, gay or straight.  But I also don’t want to live in a world where anybody feels they have to go to such lengths to avoid being outed as gay.

Furthermore, I don’t want to live in a world where rumors about somebody possibly being gay are seen as negative.  Whether or not Macron is gay is less of the issue here than why that rumor means anything at all to anybody.

I suppose if a politician is having an affair, it can be considered news if it somehow affects his or her job performance.  Mark Sanford disappearing on the “Appalachian Trail” when he was Governor of South Carolina is a good example of this.

But otherwise, I don’t care about the private lives these people lead, and I care even less about their sexual orientation.

This Macron rumor gets on my nerves whether it is true or not.  If it isn’t true, anybody spreading it as some sort of negative is mean-spirited and homophobic.  And if it is true, then it is legitimately upsetting that the man feels he has to go to such lengths to hide who he is.

Being gay doesn’t make you any less of a person and anybody who acts otherwise is closed-minded and stuck in the past.

This doesn’t mean that anybody who objects to gay marriage or does not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding based on religious principles is automatically a bigot.  There is a difference between having religious objections to certain acts and thinking those acts make a person bad.

But if you would be less likely to vote for somebody because of who that person sleeps with, you’re simply irrational and wrong.

The French people have much bigger issues to deal with than who Emmanuel Macron is or isn’t screwing.

Unless, of course, like most politicians, he ends up screwing all of his constituents.

Then they can feel free to object.

May
9
Bob Owens’ Tragic Death Is A Sad Reminder That Depression Is A Silent Killer
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/09/2017 02:58 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2017

This morning I was scanning the internet for news like I do every morning when I saw that Bob Owens had passed away from a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound.

If you are unaware of Owens, the 46-year-old was an expert on firearms and firearm safety and was best known as the editor of bearingarms.com, a pro-Second Amendment website.

I like to look at everything from a variety of directions, so I generally read sources from all over the political spectrum representing a wide array of viewpoints. When it came to guns, whether you agreed with Owens or not, his site was always one of the first I went to if firearms issues were in the news.

Love him or hate him, the North Carolina native knew his stuff when it came to firearms and was always somebody whose thoughts on gun-related subjects were worth reading.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with everything he wrote, and I realize he wrote controversial things at times, but reading experts on subjects from multiple points of view is important, and Owens did an excellent job with the topic he covered.

And no matter what you thought of Owens’ positions on guns or politics more broadly, you still have to feel an incredible amount of sympathy for those who were closest to him and unquestionably hit the hardest by his suicide.

As I said, the news of Owens’ death was sad, but after the initial surprise hit me, I thought long and hard about his family. He was survived by a wife and two daughters, and as a father myself, I just could not shake how anybody could voluntarily choose not only to end his own life, but to do so with children left behind.

According to suicide.org, the overwhelming reason a person dies by suicide is mental illness, most specifically depression, which far too often goes untreated. This is why you hear stories time after time about people who died by suicide but didn’t seem suicidal. Somebody may seem down or depressed for a period of time because of a painful incident or a pattern of negative treatment that became too much to bear.

But far too often these people keep quiet and do not seek help, which means the depression never improves and the person gets worse and worse until he feels like he has no other recourse.

There are cases where somebody exhibits certain behaviors that make the depression easy to pinpoint but in the vast majority of cases, the eventual suicide victims simply suffer in silence and refuse to let anybody in until it is too late.

It is important that we all work together to collectively help stop this from being such a widespread epidemic.

We must do our part to make sure that people know they are not alone and there is no shame in admitting your depression and seeking help. Seeking help for depression doesn’t make you weak or pathetic; it makes you human. We desperately need to make sure that those who feel so isolated and helpless that they would consider taking their own lives understand that there is another way and there is nothing wrong with seeking it.

We have to do our best to ensure that there are fewer cases like Bob Owens. Not just for the suicide victims themselves, but for the devastated friends and family members they leave in their wake.

For more on suicide prevention visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

To read the tribute written by Owens’ friend, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

May
9
American Jewish Congress Statement on French Election
 
by Dr. Kazmir

05/09/2017 10:05 am ET | Updated May 09, 2017

REUTERS

In response to Mr. Macron being elected as President of France, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen, Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir and Secretary of the Organization Dr. Ben Chouake released the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress congratulates Mr. Macron on his historic election as President of France.  This election result signifies a victory for tolerance and moderation and comes at a critical time for France and its Jewish community, the third largest Jewish community in the world. We look forward to working with President Macron on shared issues concerning the Jewish communities in the US and France in the near future.”

May
8
The French Have Spoken, But Did They Say More Than Meets The Eye?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/08/2017 02:25 pm ET | Updated May 09, 2017

Follow me on Twitter@mk1157

So the results are in and as it turns out, France is not the United Kingdom nor is it the United States.

Whereas the pollsters all had it wrong when the UK voted to leave the European Union and they likewise were incorrect in predicting Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump, they did not fail this time, as the expected result of Emmanuel Macron defeating Marine Le Pen for the French presidency came to fruition.

Less interesting than the actual result – which was predicted by more or less everybody – was the breakdown of who supported the two candidates.

Macron got a huge percentage of highly educated, upper-income people and did especially well with older voters. Le Pen, on the other hand, saw her best results among the young, the working class, and the poor.

For years, the school of thought has been that the left-leaning candidate is a champion of the poor and the youth while the right-leaning candidate is more interested in helping the older and more financially secure. But remarkably enough, these results show that people in France believe the exact opposite to be true.

We saw some of this dynamic shift in the election of Donald Trump as president with how well he did with white working class voters and states he won that Republicans usually lose. But with the French election, we saw that the traditional “left-right” paradigm may be shifting significantly.

To be sure, part of the reason for this is the fact that neither Trump nor Le Pen represent traditional right-wing thought – or at least what we generally consider right-wing in the United States – as their campaigns tended to focus far more on positioning themselves as champions of those who were left behind by globalization rather than extolling the virtues or laissez faire economics.

What’s funny is that while many believed Trump and Le Pen to be kindred spirits ideologically – though Le Pen is undoubtedly far more nationalist than Trump – while the youth in the United States overwhelmingly did not support the president’s election, that did not carry over to France, where Le Pen was unusually popular with a demographic that is normally reliably left-leaning.

In fact, the success Le Pen had with young voters has been touted as something she can build on for the future, with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage even going so far to predict that she will win the French presidency in 2022.

Maybe he’s right. Or maybe not.

But the fact that both Le Pen – even though she lost overwhelmingly – and Trump shook some electoral norms is interesting to say the least. It could be a sign that many people worldwide are taking a harder look at individual issues and are less concerned with party labels and pre-conceived narratives.

Many have opined on the dangers of populism and while they may have a point, I will say I do enjoy the fact that more and more people seem to be thinking independently and are less obedient to machine politics than they have been in past years.

If nothing else, THAT is an encouraging trend I’d like to see continue. I may not always agree with the leaders selected here and abroad, but voting on the candidate rather than being a slave to party and ideology is an interesting shift for the electorate writ large.

Ultimately, that could be good or bad. After all, if the political matrix eventually breaks wide open, it will certainly be a fun spectacle, but if it doesn’t produce better results, then it will be nothing more than an entertaining disaster for everybody involved.

May
5
Colbert Shouldn’t Be Fired, But His Defenders Should Be Honest
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/05/2017 05:38 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The hashtag #firecolbert has been trending on Twitter recently, largely because of a rant the late night host made involving President Trump and Vladimir Putin.

In case you missed it, here was the rant, directed at the president:

“Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster.”

Now, I don’t really find that rant funny or edgy – literally every comedian on earth these days is doing f’ Trump material – but I don’t really find it that offensive, either.

And even if I did, it isn’t really my place to say what is funny or offensive. Other people can decide that, and they can vote with their remote controls if they don’t like what Colbert said.

One prominent voice who agrees with me on this said, “”I will NOT support #FireColbert. I am [against] ALL BOYCOTTS. He is a horrible human being, but if u don’t like him change the channel.”

Those words were tweeted by Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, who is a big supporter of the president and clearly not a fan of Colbert.

That said, let’s not kid ourselves here. Many of the people who are quick to defend Colbert are many of the same people who would be going bonkers if a conservative humorist – perhaps Greg Gutfeld – were to have made a similar comment about former President Obama. We would be hearing about how disrespectful the rant was and a lot of the same people defending Colbert now would be screaming for Gutfeld’s dismissal.

And of course they would be slamming Gutfeld for being homophobic. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald – who is no fan of Trump but is a great reporter and intellectually honest – mused about this very phenomenon, tweeting, “Homophobia for the right cause, with the right targets, is good homophobia, apparently.”

Proving Greenwald’s point, as far as I can tell, GLAAD, which is the largest anti-LGBT defamation advocacy organization in the world, has yet to condemn Colbert or say much of anything about his remarks, for that matter.

Like I said, I don’t like the idea of the offended police trying to boycott sponsors of a comedian or outright get him fired because they were upset by one of his jokes. That’s a slippery slope that has potentially perilous consequences in today’s day and age when a social media mob can essentially coalesce around a heckler’s veto.

Furthermore, President Trump has said some pretty nasty things about other people over the years. He’s a big boy and he certainly doesn’t need a safe space created for him to shield him from an off-color joke.

But if you would not have been ok with this joke being made about President Obama or would’ve called it homophobic, then acting like Colbert said is righteous simply because he is on your side and you don’t like the target of his wrath is not only hypocritical, but it actually gives ammo to your ideological enemies.

Yet Colbert gets a pass for this from all the activists and advocacy groups who would otherwise be all over him because he is a liberal and his target was President Trump.

That’s a dangerous game to play. After all, if you fancy yourself an open-minded, tolerant liberal and cheer the idea of a gay sex act being something bad so long as it is used as a weapon against somebody you dislike, then why should anybody else think it is wrong to do the exact same thing?

Again, that doesn’t mean Colbert should be fired, suspended, or even have to apologize to President Trump. Just don’t watch the man’s show if you don’t like him.

But that doesn’t change the fact that a great deal of those encouraging his behavior are rank hypocrites.

And Glenn Greenwald was right when he called this out. I just wish there were more people like him who were willing to do the same.

May
4
The AHCA Passes The House, But Does That Really Mean Anything?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/04/2017 05:24 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2017

The AHCA has passed the House after being changed significantly to satisfy the growing number of Republicans who were reluctant to go along with the original bill in large part because of the amount of money that was going to be spent and how much it would add to the debt. In fact, Senator Rand Paul famously called it “Diet Obamacare,” because he felt it was essentially tossing a few chocolate sprinkles on something that was still going to taste pretty horrible.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made a major mistake rushing through the process when he should have taken his time, met with a variety of house members and senators, and then carefully put together a comprehensive bill his members could largely get behind.

Instead, Ryan botched all of that and though I’m a supporter of president Trump, he should have used his negotiating skills to help Ryan get something productive done from the get go.

As of now, the bill will go to reconciliation in the Senate and will likely die there. Republicans simply don’t have the 60 votes to stop a filibuster, so it is highly probable that the AHCA never becomes law.

But whether or not the AHCA ever makes it into law doesn’t change the fact that Obamacare is in major peril at the moment, and the reasons why are numerous, beginning with the fact that the bill was 1,900 pages long and virtually nobody who voted for it actually read it.

As Nancy Pelosi famously said as the debate over Obamacare was raging on in Washington, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

The idea was to put something in place and then fix it along the way.

That never happened.

Most people who now have coverage under Obamacare will tell you the same thing….”I have big deductibles, less choice of doctor and hospitals and my premium costs have exploded.”

The only people happy with the current state of Obamacare are the roughly 90% of the insureds under the system who are either getting large federal subsidies or are now eligible for Medicaid.

For those who pay the full amount, they make just enough to not get a subsidy but too little to afford the skyrocketing premiums.

Family coverage in a state like NY costs $1,294 per month (after taxes) with a $12,700 family deductible. Only annual physicals and certain well care is covered until the family reaches that deductible. No prescription drug coverage until that deductible is met.

That is why people who are paying for this coverage are calling it the Unaffordable Care Act.

Let’s look at what the Act was intended to do:

Lower costs, increase choice, and provide improved healthcare for all Americans.

None of that became a reality.

Don’t forget the most pronounced promise of all……”If you like your plan you can keep your plan.”

The dishonesty of that statement ended up being so egregious that it was Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2013.

When the AHCA doesn’t pass the senate, we will all be living with Obamacare through the 2018 midterm elections.

But the reality is, Obamacare is self-destructing, and sooner or later, something is going to have to be done about it.

Like it or not, this issue is not going away. Obamacare will need to be addressed, and either fixed or outright replaced at some point, and with the way the electorate and its representatives are currently polarized, who knows when it will happen.

But make no mistake, it will happen, because if nothing is done, eventual collapse is inevitable. I just hope when the Democrats and Republicans finally come to their senses and realize they have no choice but to do something, they don’t do what they usually do, and combine forces to make it even worse.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

May
3
Stop Using the FBI As A Political Football
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/03/2017 03:57 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Today, FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate. He faced the wrath of both Democrats and Republicans, most notably on issues relating to last November’s presidential election and the subject of potential Russian involvement. I’m not going to get into all of the specifics of those issues, because quite frankly, they’ve been analyzed and talked about to death at this point.

What I will say is the FBI must be doing something right if it is riling up both sides of the aisle.

The Democrats and Republicans both grilled James Comey for different reasons and the hostility showed why an independent FBI is crucial.

Yes, Comey and the FBI in general should be held to account for major decisions it makes. Every powerful person or organization in the public sphere needs to be checked lest it become too powerful.

I would say this about the CIA, the Federal Reserve, the Military, etc…… nobody should ever be too powerful to be questioned.

But the way in which both sides are attempting to use the FBI as a political football should be alarming to everybody, no matter what your political affiliation.

In this particular case, as it pertains to the Russians, the election, etc….. the FBI is conducting investigations and has been for quite a while. If and when the FBI investigation is complete, Republicans and Democrats on the hill should not only feel free to look through the findings with a microscope and question anything problematic, they should feel OBLIGATED to do so.

The FBI is not perfect by any stretch, but it has done a lot of great work and brought down plenty of dangerous and corrupt people throughout the years.

And constantly trying to undermine James Comey and the FBI to score partisan political points is dangerous.

The public needs to be skeptical of public agencies like the FBI, but people also need to be able to trust that the findings of these agencies aren’t being produced at the whim of some nefarious political agenda.

If the public believes the FBI is nothing more than a glorified political apparatus because opportunistic politicians work to destroy its credibility, then it might as well not even exist, because it will be impossible for it to do its job in good faith.

Like it or not, the FBI is an important arm of law enforcement that has made mistakes, but has overall done a lot of good. When its investigation is complete, if there are still questions, or enough legislators agree that a more extensive independent run investigation needs to be done, that’s fine. As I said, nobody is above being questioned.

But until then, as far as I’m concerned, the FBI is already conducting the independent investigation so many are calling for. And maligning the FBI as supposedly not independent with no evidence to back that assertion up is not only false, but the kind of action that could cause an unnecessary irreversible damage of the trust the American people have in one of their most necessary institutions.

May
1
Dr David Shulkin Will Help Fix A Broken VA
 
by Dr. Kazmir
05/01/2017 04:37 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

When President Trump selected David Shulkin to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, he did a terrific job of finding the right person to lead a very important department. When President Trump was elected, he vowed to draw from his decades of experience in the business world and put the right people in the right places. I have known David Shulkin for a long time and have worked with him closely, so I say in complete confidence that no matter what you may think of the President and his policies, this was an unquestionably excellent choice.

That’s why the Senate voted to confirm David 100-0.

President Trump thought outside the box here, because the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is typically a Veteran.

But David isn’t a Veteran.

Instead, he boasts a prolific career in hospital management that has greatly endeared him to his peers while leaving little doubt he will do a great job fixing what has been a very flawed VA hospital system. David ran two very prestigious hospitals, including Beth Israel Medical Center in NY, Morristown Medical Center in NJ.

He also oversaw the Atlantic Health System and several prolific collegiate hospital systems, including the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and – returning to the institution where he received his MD in 1986 – the Medical College of Pennsylvania.

David has been a respected academic in the field as well, sitting on the board of numerous medical journals – such as the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association – and holding the Chairmanship of Medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine.

As somebody uniquely trained as a clinician, researcher, academic, executive, and entrepreneur, he has both the medical and business background to be the ideal fit for the position. Still, people will point to the fact that he has served as Undersecretary of the VA since March 2015 as a negative against him.

But, if we are being completely fair, he has not been the top man in charge nor has he been given enough time to put his own stamp on the VA to try to turn it around his way. And anybody who doubts his commitment to the job or his desire to make the VA great again should have those worries calmed by David’s own words about the VA’s troubles.

“The first responsibility that we have to our veterans is to make sure those that need urgent care are getting care on time,” he told NPR, adding that, “We’ve brought in people from the outside who have private sector experience. And what we’re saying is that we have to do business differently. … We know how to make this program work better.” The VA sorely needs that kind of approach, and that is what it will get with David in charge. That’s why he was picked out of a list of candidates that included over 100 names. I’m delighted for my friend, but even more elated for the improved care our heroic veterans will receive with David’s medical, hospital, and business expertise running the show at the VA. His resume, intelligence, and character make him the perfect man for the job, and I look forward to watching his leadership restore America’s faith in the VA.

Apr
28
America Has A New Favorite Grandma’s Boy
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/28/2017 04:02 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Sometimes in life, inspiration comes to you in places you don’t expect. That’s exactly what happened to me last night.

The NFL draft is what many football fans refer to as Christmas in April. For three straight days, college players are selected by teams who will then pay those players a hefty sum to play professional football.

I recognize that supremely gifted athletes being officially told they will be awarded a handsome payday is not exactly everybody’s idea of a good time. In fact, many might call it out and out boring or silly.

But last night, I saw something during the draft that was neither boring, nor silly. It was downright captivating.

After being selected 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons, UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley was understandably excited, but not just because he had just been drafted to play professional football.

McKinley was raised by his grandmother in a poor neighborhood in the bay area of California. She would do everything – including collecting cans to recycle – just to do what she had to do to provide for the two of them. While she laid on her deathbed, McKinley, who was not yet in college, promised his grandmother that he would get a scholarship to play division one football and he would make it out of the rough and tumble neighborhood in which she raised him.

Fast forward to last night: after officially being drafted, McKinley held up a picture of his deceased grandmother, and enthusiastically yelled, “I made a promise to her and I stuck to it! I made that promise, man,” before adding, “I told her! Before she passed away, I was going to live my dream! I was gonna go D-I! I was gonna get out of Richmond, I was gonna get out of Oakland! I was gonna go to the NFL! I made that promise to her, man! Thirty seconds later she passed away! And this is who I do it for! This is who I do it for, man!”

It was an unusual moment and probably threw a few standards and practices people at NFL Network for a loop, but it was an incredibly powerful message and a story that touched the hearts of millions of viewers.

Admittedly, I never saw McKinley play at UCLA, but he can count me as one of his fans now. The way he honored his grandmother and the sacrifices she made for him during one of the biggest moments of his life says everything about what kind of man he is.

The NFL draft may not be where the average person goes to be uplifted, but last night, that was the event to watch if you wanted to be inspired.

I hope McKinley plays great for the Atlanta Falcons and continues to make his grandmother – who is no doubt watching him from up above – proud of the man he has become.

The NFL and the Falcons just added one hell of a player and more importantly, one hell of a human being, to its ranks.

There may be a darkside to football – the injuries, the brain trauma, etc…. – but this moment and McKinley’s journey as a whole is a gigantic ray of sunshine.

Good luck on Sundays, Takkarist. I will be watching and pulling hard for you, and will assuredly be one of many cheering loudly and proudly for America’s favorite Grandma’s Boy.

Apr
28
A Man Who Truly Makes A Difference
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/28/2017 10:47 am ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

If you have read my writing, then you know that I write a lot about national and global issues.

But I’d like to take a second today to write about a good friend of mine, who is making a big difference in my home state of New Jersey.

Jim Gonzalez has done an excellent job improving health services within urban metropolitan environments.

Since 1999 he served as an executive for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), working at its flagship Level I Trauma Center, University Hospital in Newark, then soon after assumed the leadership of its specialized care facility, Broadway House for people living with HIV, drug addiction, and behavioral disorders.

His work with addicts and behaviorally challenged patients showed just how much he cared about those with some of the roughest problems in society.

In 2011, the University’s President asked him to serve as the Hospital’s CEO, and once the State of NJ passed legislation to merge UMDNJ with Rutgers University, he led the Hospital’s transition from its University structure into a standalone, independent State entity that continued to serve the citizens of Newark incredibly well.

What I’ve been most impressed with, however, is Jim’s ability to have such a major impact on the community at large.  In addition to his job duties, Jim has provided support and mentorship to disadvantaged Newark students who work one day a week in a corporate business or healthcare setting, and go to school the remaining 4 days. In seven straight years, 98% of the graduates from this school have been accepted at major colleges and universities, earning millions of dollars in scholarship funds and changing their lives forever.

Jim also volunteers his time and experience to develop a cutting edge model in medical education that incorporates the impact of community upon an individual’s well-being with the faculty and staff of the future Seton Hall Hackensack Meridian Medical School to be located in Nutley, NJ.

In both business and politics, so many of the best and brightest know what it takes to truly make accomplishments that enhance the world around them. They value trust, the try to understand the opponent’s point of view, and they build upon a culture of community and strength in seeking solutions.

Jim Gonzalez is one of those best and brightest.  He is a great man and I’m grateful to have worked with him.

More importantly, though, I’m extremely proud to call him my friend.

Apr
26
Woody Johnson Will Be An Excellent Ambassador To England
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/26/2017 06:05 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Several months ago, President Trump picked UK Prime Minister Theresa May to be the first World Leader he sits down with face to face.

The President recognizes – smartly – that Britain is our oldest ally and it is very much in the interest of both nations for a strong relationship to be in place.

That’s why I’m thrilled he picked my friend Woody Johnson for the extremely important role of Ambassador to England.

Everybody knows Woody from his ownership of the New York Jets football team, but he is far more than just a sports owner or the heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune.

Woody has been heavily involved in countless charitable ventures across the globe and as a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has contacts and friendly relations with numerous power brokers worldwide.

When the UK voted to leave the European Union, it meant that they became separated from the pack and need to be dealt with on their own, as opposed to one part of a much larger organization.

And Woody’s global relationships and friendly disposition make him very well-suited to be the one tasked with helping

President Trump put together deals that will help the United States AND Britain.

I look forward to seeing President Trump and Prime Minister May work together to further the interests of both of our great nations.

I believe each of them understand the importance of the relationship and the crucial need for working out deals that are mutually beneficial.

I also trust that my friend Woody will do an excellent job of moving that process along and making sure that the United States and England both come out of it as winners.

The Jets will unfortunately have to do without Woody while he attends to his Ambassadorship, as his brother Christopher will take over as owner for the time being.

As a New Jersey resident, I am sad to see Woody step away from the Jets, but as an American, I couldn’t be more delighted to see a great man step into a critical post that I have no doubt he will succeed in.

Apr
25
Booing Ivanka Trump May Feel Good But It’s Counterproductive
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Booing Ivanka Trump May Feel Good But It’s Counterproductive

You should be cheering her every chance you get.

04/25/2017 05:08 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2017

At a meeting of female business leaders in Berlin, Ivanka Trump was booed for referring to her father as “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

I understand that many people do not like the president and they are entitled to that opinion. I also fully grasp the fact that many women see the president as “anti-woman.” I don’t see it that way, but I respect those who do.

However, I’m not really sure what booing Ivanka Trump is supposed to accomplish.

I realize this incident occurred in Germany and pales in comparison to some of the other negative reactions she has faced – most notably verbal harassment by fellow passengerson JetBlue flight – but quite frankly, I don’t understand the thought process here.

For starters, Ivanka Trump loves her dad and is going to defend him. You can dislike that all you want to, but that is what children who love their parents do. I have three wonderful, beautiful daughters who disagree with me strongly on most political issues. However, I am quite certain that they would defend me from what they saw as incorrect assessments of my character. It is fine to hate her father and be upset at her for defending him, but it is exactly what any proud daughter would do.

More importantly, booing, hissing, and – in more extreme cases – harassing Ivanka Trump seems to be antithetical to achieving the goals of those who say they oppose the president’s supposedly “far right” agenda.

Take a look at the donation histories of both Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. Then take a look at some of the policies that Ivanka has publicly pushed, such as paid maternity leave and universal child care. Ivanka and Jared are lifelong liberals and Ivanka couldn’t even vote for her father in the primary because she never changed her registration. Truth is, if her father hadn’t been running, it seems likely Ivanka and Jared would have both voted for Hillary Clinton (they may very well have donated to her as well).

Stephen Miller over at Heat Street cleverly pointed out that he was far less concerned about Ivanka’s business ties and relation to the president than her actual policy beliefs. Many on the right feel the same way about her husband. They see Jared Kushner’s rumored rise and Steve Bannon’s supposed fall as a sign that the president is going to be pushed towards the left.

And if you look at the histories of both Jared and Ivanka, that fear from the right certainly seems to make sense. So to those on the left, may I humbly suggest that you are approaching this all wrong.

You should, in fact, be cheering and not booing Ivanka, even when she is defending her dad, who you hate so much. The simple fact is that she is largely pushing policies you support and the more power and influence she has over her father, the more likely you are going to see some policies that resemble what we would have seen from a Hillary Clinton presidency.

If your main objective is to show the world how much you hate Donald Trump, then I guess booing Ivanka makes sense. But if you actually care about liberal policies being enacted, then you should be cheering her every chance you get.

Apr
24
The French People Have A Big Decision To Make
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/24/2017 05:11 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

First, it was the United Kingdom. Then, it was the United States.

Now, apparently, France has joined the fray.

Yesterday’s results in the first round to elect a new president in France yielded the same message we’ve seen in the U.K. and U.S.: a big, giant, middle finger to the political establishment. When 39 year-old former banker Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen emerged as the final two candidates who will do battle for the presidency on May 7, the people made their feelings loud and clear: Enough is enough.

With Le Pen, it really is a sign of the times. Years ago, the idea that anybody from France’s National Front – which has long been tarred for having less than tolerant positions on issues like immigration – would be anywhere near the French presidency would’ve seemed unfathomable. Seemed just as insane that the complete political novice Macron would be so close to the presidency, either.

Yet here we are.

And we are at this point because of the sheer insanity of what has gone on in France and, indeed, all over the world. Terrorism in France is absolutely out of control. It seems like there is a new attack every single day and the current government has no solutions. Jobs are leaving, the economy is a mess, and people just want somebody who isn’t from the political class who will come in and stop doing things the same way everybody else has. In other words, they want somebody who will not be a puppet to powerful interests and will do something to reverse the dangerous tide.

If you think about it, Donald Trump is the blueprint here, regardless of who wins.

While Le Pen is far more extreme than Trump – she wants a temporary ban on ALL immigration, not just immigration from select countries – and she is far more of a socialist than he is, her populist message of “France first” bears a striking resemblance to our president’s vow to put America first.

And Macron is a left-leaning centrist who is far less incendiary than president Trump, but he’s a lifelong finance guy with zero experience in elective office. That story sounds a tad familiar, does it not?

All of the candidates who didn’t make the runoff have endorsed Macron and all the oddsmakers have him heavily favored to win on May 7. Le Pen may pull off a Trump-like upset, but it is far more likely she will go down in defeat just as her father, the creator of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen did in 2002 when he made the runoff against Jacques Chirac.

But either way, France is in deep trouble and in desperate need of strong leader who is not afraid to make the right decisions to turn the economy around and get at least some semblance of control over the immigration and terrorism issues that have plagued France for so long.

Americans and the world need a strong France, because like it or not, they are going to be a very important ally against the global terror threat that we have faced for years. Whether it is Le Pen or Macron, the winner is going to have to get tough and be willing to do what needs to be done to help combat this issue that has been a plague on the entire world.

For everybody’s sake, I pray the French people choose wisely.

Apr
21
American Jewish Congress Statement in Response to Paris Terror Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/21/2017 10:25 am ET

In response to the terror attack in Paris yesterday, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir issued the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress stand in solidarity with the people of Paris in the aftermath of the terror attack which took place yesterday. This is the second time in less than a month where police officers, those who stand to protect the citizens of their country, have been targeted in this sad and shocking manner.

“These kind of attacks are becoming seemingly more frequent and demonstrate the dangers of radical Islamic terror. Around the world, we must unite to combat hate, protect our values and encourage stability. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of this attack.”

Apr
18
The Enemy of My Enemy is NOT Always My Friend…….
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/18/2017 03:46 pm ET | Updated Apr 18, 2017

Follow me on Twitter:@mk1157

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I’m starting to think John McCain may fit that definition.

All due respect to the Senator from Arizona, whose military service during Vietnam was both brave and heroic, but it completely escapes me why he continues to support “rebel” organizations who many times end up being just as dangerous as the despotic regime they are opposing.

There was a group in Afghanistan led by a fellow named Osama Bin Laden whom we armed during the cold war. There are rebels in Syria to whom we have given arms. These are just two examples of many instances where the strategy of backing the “enemy of my enemy” blew up in our faces.

McCain recently held a meeting with the head of MKO – a rebel faction opposed to the current Iranian regime – where he sang the group’s praises.

While I understand McCain’s dislike and distrust of the Iranian regime and Assad, MKO may not be quite so innocent, either, as they stand accused of thousands of deaths.

In fact, as recently as 2012, MKO was listed as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union. There are many questions about what they may or may not have done, but there is no question about what they want.

“Today, there is a consensus in the Middle East about the clerical regime’s destructive role and that the religious fascism ruling Iran is the primary source of war, terrorism and crisis in the region,” said Maryam Rajavi, MKO’s leader.

“Regime change is not only indispensable to ending the egregious violations of human rights in Iran but also to establishing peace and tranquility in the region. As long as the clerical regime is in power, it will not abandon the export of terrorism and fundamentalism.”

Regime change. Just like Nicaragua. Or Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Or Libya. Or countless other nations we made unquestionably worse with our involvement.

Of course, McCain is by no means alone in his insanity.

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, U.S. intelligence has been working with MKO for quite some time. Bin Laden had worked with U.S. intelligence for quite a while as well, when we were fighting the Soviets and saw him and his group as an asset.

If you aren’t sure how that turned out, go ahead and read about what happened on 9/11.

And that’s really the point here: The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy simply does not work. We have been slapped in the face with this fact over and over again, but like a battered wife who keeps returning to her abusive husband, we keep thinking that next time will be different.

But as we know all too well by now, this always plays out the same in the end. Today’s ally is tomorrow enemy. Today’s freedom fighters are tomorrow’s terrorists. And vice versa.

You would think we would have learned our lesson by now, but apparently, we still haven’t. I don’t know what it is going to take, but through their constant repeating of the same mistake, I’m pretty sure that if the government were a person, they would be wearing a strait jacket at this point.

Apr
17
An Attack Was Stopped In Pakistan, But We Must Stop The Next One Too
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/17/2017 05:19 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Over the weekend, a militant was killed and two of his accomplices were arrested in Lahore, Pakistan during an operation in which a terrorist attack on a minority Christian Church was stopped.

According to authorities, suicide jackets and explosives were taken from the militants who had planned an Easter attack.

Last year an Easter attack was carried out by Taliban affiliated militants in a children’s play area. That attack killed over 70 people and wounded hundreds.

As a Jewish man who grew up as a minority in Lahore, these types of religiously motivated attacks make my blood boil. I was sickened when I heard about the attack last year and I was thrilled to hear an attempted attack this year had been stopped, although I was still saddened that it was being planned in the first place.

For starters, I want to commend the Pakistani military for a job well done. Without them, the likely would have been a lot of dead and injured people on Easter Sunday, and their great efforts prevented that.

This is the first time the military has ever directly saved the minority community. I thank General Bajwa and the Core Commander of Lahore Lt. Gen Sadiq Ali. Since General Bajwa took a hold of the military, he has done a terrific job battling the terrorists in the villages of Pakistan, which, sadly, the Pakistani government had failed to do.

I likewise want to praise Prime Minister Sharif for allowing the Military to clean up the villages in Pakistan of Jihadi and Religious extremists. Although the military and civilians have suffered a lot, it is good to see the problem of terrorism being fought head-on.

Sharif and the Military must also protect the judiciary, which is an incredibly important tool in this fight as well.

As I have mentioned many times in the past, these extremists are not just enemies of the United States and Pakistan, they are enemies of us all. We must unite in our efforts to erase them from the globe, no matter what it takes. This may require many countries who are not traditionally allies to work together, but if that is what needs to be done, then so be it, because the well-being and survival of the world is at stake.

We have no choice but to win, because failure would produce far too dire a consequence.

Apr
14
American Jewish Congress Statement on Palm Sunday Terror Attack in Egypt
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/14/2017 03:57 pm ET

In response to the terror attack in Egypt on Palm Sunday, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir issued the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress stands in solidarity with the people of Egypt in the aftermath of the terror attack which took place in Northern Egypt on Palm Sunday. The terrorists chose to attack a church on a religious holy day, in a targeted and tragic manner.

“These recent attacks are a reminder of the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism and show us that we must unite to fight hate and protect our values. We must stand for peace and encourage stability and development, and not give in to terror and the attacker’s evil ideology.

“We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families during this sad time.”

Apr
13
RIP Dan Rooney
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/13/2017 05:10 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Professional football and the world lost a great man today when Dan Rooney passed awayat the age of 84.

Rooney is a former ambassador to Ireland under President Obama, but he is obviously best known for owning the Steelers, a job that was his birthright, since his father, Art Rooney, was the previous owner. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Dan Rooney wasn’t just an entitled kid who just laid around and did nothing.

Instead, he worked in every aspect of the team’s affairs, starting as a little kid, learning the business from the ground up. The Steelers are considered one of the NFL’s marquee franchises and Dan Rooney was a major part of why. His leadership and steady hand on the wheel played a major role in preserving the stability of the Steelers.

Think about it: In the past 48 years, the Steelers have had a grand total of three head coaches. That’s right, THREE. Whatever your favorite team is, compare how many coaches they have had during that time period to the amount the Steelers have had and the contrast will astound you.

Dan Rooney also is responsible for a lot of positive developments in the NFL over the years, most famously the adoption of the “Rooney Rule,” which stipulates that every team must interview at least one minority candidate for any head coach or general manager opening. The idea was to give minority coaches a greater chance to interview for these positions, potentially giving them exposure that they deserved but were not getting.

In a twist of irony, it was this exact rule that prompted the Steelers to interview Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Mike Tomlin for their head coaching vacancy in 2006. Rooney and his staff were so impressed with Tomlin, who had not yet even turned 34, that they offered him the job. Three years later, that decision and the rule that prompted it paid off when Tomlin, at 36, became the youngest head coach in NFL history to lead a team to a Superbowl championship.

The Steelers were an incredibly well-run football team under Dan Rooney’s watch, but more importantly, they were a model for what modern business should be. The Steelers were successful on and off the field and by all accounts, he did an incredible amount for charitable causes and was both loved and respected by his peers and employees.

He was a perfect example of how to succeed without – for lack of a better phrase – being a callous bastard. More managers and CEOs should be like him.

In fact, more people in general should be like him.

RIP Dan Rooney. You will be greatly missed.

Apr
12
Sean Spicer Stuck His Foot in His Mouth……But Let’s Ease Up on the Pitchforks
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/12/2017 04:20 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Ok, very stupid.

In case you are living in a cave or did not have access to electricity for the past day or so, here is what the press secretary said yesterday:

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you are Russia, ask yourself: Is this a country and a regime that you want to align yourself with?”

After then acknowledged Hitler did, indeed use deadly gas during the Holocaust, he then added, “I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”

Again, dumb. Very very dumb.

Spicer would later profusely apologize, but it was too late for many. Hordes of people and organizations branded the press secretary an anti-semite and virtual Holocaust denier while demanding he resign immediately.

I’m not going to defend Spicer’s remarks, because quite frankly, there is no defense for them. What he said was wrong, he knows it was wrong, and he even said as much quickly after the fact.

I completely understand the sensitivity over anything having to do with the Holocaust. It was one of the worst instances of mass murder in world history and the pain and hurt of the horrifying ethnic cleansing that occurred still lives on to this day.

Furthermore, I’m a Jewish man who grew up in a majority Muslim country. I have seen horrific instances of anti-semitism up close.

So I know what anti-semitism and Holocaust denial look like and pretending that what Sean Spicer said constitutes either of those things does nobody any good.

Spicer was not denying the Holocaust or acting in an anti-semitic manner. He was explaining the administration’s perceived need to use force against Assad, got overzealous, and said something thoughtless. He quickly realized the mistake he made, owned it, and publicly threw himself under the bus for it.

He certainly should be held accountable for his words and deserves criticism – even he admits that. But let’s ease up on the pitchforks just a little bit.

Getting carried away and making unbelievably poor statements when comparing two murderous dictators is bad. However, acting like Spicer is somehow in league with David Duke is flat out ridiculous and counter-productive.

Anti-semitism and Holocaust denial legitimately exist in this world and we must condemn them whenever they pop up. But Sean Spicer wasn’t denying the Holocaust or exhibiting hatred of Jews. He was simply sticking his foot in his mouth. There’s a big difference between the two, and I wish more people would understand that getting outraged about the latter does nothing to effectively fight the former.

Apr
11
United Airlines Shows How Not To Treat Customers
 
by Dr. Kazmir

United Airlines Shows How Not To Treat Customers

I’m not so sure I can ever fly United again.

04/11/2017 04:43 pm ET | Updated 1 day ago

BROSTOCK VIA GETTY IMAGES

I fly a lot all over the world for business and for pleasure. Lord knows I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles in my life.

I usually fly United and while I don’t always have issues, there have been times when my luggage was lost; the staff was rude; and I was saddled with inconvenient delays. Much as I was perturbed by these experiences, I usually just chalked them up to the occasional unfortunate nature of air travel.

But yesterday, I heard the story of what happened to the man who was dragged from a plane following an overbooking. I watched the video, too. And to be honest, I’m not so sure I can ever fly United again.

I understand why airlines overbook flights. Financially, it is in their best interest to do so, because of the probability that seats could be empty. An empty seat on a plane is basically the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet because it will never be something the airline can sell again. So it makes business sense to overbook flights and just bribe a passenger or two to leave the plane if that becomes necessary.

However, these passengers weren’t just booked, they had boarded and were seated. At that point, those passengers all have a right to their seats and it is the responsibility of the airline to do whatever needs to be done to entice one of the travelers to get off the plane.

What United did here was clearly a breach of the agreement made and the lengths to which they went to remove a passenger were way over the line. That passenger had every right to his seat and was flat out assaulted.

The worst part of all is the cavalier nature the CEO and company’s PR flacks showed when reacting to anger over the incident. Twenty years ago before cell phone cameras and social media, it is possible nobody would have ever even heard about this story. But now, people all over the world know about it and instead of owning up to the mistake and vowing to do whatever is necessary to make restitution to the passenger who was abused, the company dug their heels in.

Not only was this infuriating, it was also a terrible business move. United’s stock has plummeted since the incident, and I would imagine it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Which is as it should be.

United Airlines has made me very hesitant to ever use their services again and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Hopefully, they will think twice before doing anything like this again and other airlines will take notice and avoid this behavior outright. And hopefully the court will financially punish them dearly.

But in the court of public opinion, that financial punishment has only just begun.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Apr
10
Bullying is shameful, and not just when children do it
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/10/2017 05:08 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Growing up as a child, I was bullied quite a bit. I wasn’t the biggest or strongest child, and children can be cruel.

This is why when I got older, I quickly realized the importance of teaching children not to be bullies at an early age. The idea is to prevent those children from growing up to become people who use either physical size or a position of power to torment those who may not be as strong.

So you can imagine my horror when I read about the situation going on right now in WWE with announcer Mauro Ranallo.

In case you are not aware, Ranallo was an announcer on the Smackdown brand and a few weeks ago, he suddenly vanished from the airwaves. Wrestling fans began to wonder where he was until stories began to emerge about behind the scenes drama that claimed Ranallo as a casualty.

Long story short, Ranallo has documented mental health issues, suffering from bi-polar disorder for nearly 30 years. He has been very public about this fact and everybody knew it. Ranallo began his career announcing wrestling at the age of 16 and his dream had always been to announce for WWE. Last year, that dream came true when WWE signed him to announce for their Smackdown television show. Ranallo did such a good job on the show, that he won “announcer of the year” in Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the top source of wrestling news in the world.

Ranallo was proud of this award, so he tweeted about it. That was when all the problems reportedly began.

According to multiple reports, Ranallo’s Smackdown broadcast partner – and former WWE wrestler – John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL) thought that celebrating an award won in a wrestling newsletter – which was strictly a no-no back in the days when people in the wrestling business were still trying to maintain the illusion that everything that happened in the ring was real – was a terrible offense. He began to pick on Ranallo and generally make his life a living hell into he essentially drove him to become so miserable that he more or less had a mental breakdown.

This was all more or less confirmed by one of Ranallo’s best friends, MMA legend Bas Rutten, who tweeted about it.

If this were an isolated incident, that would be one thing. But it isn’t. Do a quick google search on JBL and you will find a massive collection of articles and interviews with wrestlers documenting countless stories of Layfield’s bullying of other WWE employees over the past two decades.

One recent example is former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who documented an incident in his book about Layfield constantly bullying him, including one time when the former WWE champion arranged for Roberts’ passport to be stolen on a trip overseas, causing him a cornucopia of issues. Layfield denied this on Twitter, but former WWE star John Hennigan (formerly John Morrison in WWE and currently Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground) corroborated Roberts’ story, while claiming he had been bullied by Layfield as well. In addition, another former WWE wrestler, Mike Bucci (formerly Simon Dean in WWE and Nova in ECW) chronicled in a shoot interview stories of Layfield bullying Roberts.

Again, a quick google search reveals far more than just Roberts, Ranallo, or Hennigan as victims of Layfield. This is a pattern of behavior that has persisted for many years.

In the old days of the wrestling business, hazing and bullying was prevalent. But that was the old days. WWE is a publicly traded company and while practical jokes are one thing, physical and mental abuse cannot and should not be tolerated.

Problem is, Roberts says in his book that they are not only tolerated, but encouraged. And Layfield’s continued presence in WWE along with Vince McMahon’s refusal to reprimand him for any of the abuse he has dished out sure seems to back up Roberts’ point.

The “Be a Star” campaign is an anti-bullying organization that counts WWE as one of its partners, but it is clear that WWE does not practice what it preaches on this issue. Be A Star needs to hold WWE’s feet to the fire and threaten to end its relationship with WWE if this stuff isn’t nipped in the bud immediately.

In truth, though, they shouldn’t have to demand anything. McMahon should put a stop to this culture of abuse simply because it is the right thing to do.

It is time for Vince McMahon to send John Layfield packing and convey the message that these shameful practices will no longer be tolerated in his company. And while I respect the fact that he took his father’s successful regional territory and built it into a global empire, if a mentally-ill announcer getting tortured into giving up his dream job isn’t enough for McMahon to take action, then it says quite a bit about McMahon’s character, and not in a favorable way.

Apr
7
A Message Was Sent In Syria, But Let’s Hope That’s Where This Ends
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/07/2017 05:25 pm ET | Updated 5 days ago

In 2012, President Obama now famously warned Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad that any use of chemical weapons would constitute the metaphorical crossing of a “red line” and would be met with military action.

He began systematically drone bombing in Syria and arming the rebel forces fighting Assad, but he did not make the kind of grand military strike people were expecting.

Last night, Donald Trump finally made good on that red line promise.

Let me be clear: I am a supporter of the president, and I understand what his reasoning was for ordering Tomahawk missiles to be launched at an airfield in Syria as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. The president wants Assad – and the rest of the world – to know that actions have consequences, and when the United States promises a show of force if certain conditions are not met, then it will follow through on that promise.

The idea here is that Assad was not supposed to use chemical weapons, and he did, anyway, so he had to be punished. After all, who is going to respect a leader who makes threats and then doesn’t follow through on them?

In fact, that was Obama’s biggest mistake. Not the fact that he did not follow through on the “red line” promise, but that he issued the “red line” warning in the first place. That left him with two options when Syria crossed that line: commit an act of violence that in all likelihood would enflame Syria, Russia, and Iran at the same time while making things worse overall, or look like a weak leader whose threats nobody takes seriously.

For frame of reference here, I used to know a guy who ran a sportsbook, and he would tell me all the time about customers who had “gotten over” on him. If you are unfamiliar with what that means, he was basically referring to people who had made bets with him, lost, and then refused to pay. It was at that point he would have two choices: respond with violence to send a message and try to collect, or eat the loss and just refuse to do business with the person ever again.

He told me he always chose the latter. Why? “Because it isn’t worth it. It would be frustrating, and hurting the guy would feel like the right thing to do, but far too many things were likely to go wrong and make matters worse for me in the long run.”

In this case, he meant jail or some sort of violent retaliation. In the case of Syria, it would mean thousands more dead and a country that could end up even worse off than it was in the first place.

Again, I understand why President Trump did what he did. As I said previously, Assad is horrible, and I feel terribly for his victims. I also recognize that making threats you don’t follow up on sets a dangerous precedent that invites countries to disregard any threats you make.

But realistically speaking, what is the end game here?

In addition to Syria obviously being upset, so are Russia and Iran, who are strategic allies of Assad. Do we want an armed conflict with all three of them? People were reportedly injured and/or killed in the airstrike. Is hurting them going to bring back the people Assad allegedly gassed, or is just going to inspire more blowback against military forces we have serving in the region? Even if we do toss Assad out, we know some of the rebels have ties to very dangerous groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. If Assad is pushed out, there is a pretty good chance one of those factions wins up in power. What then?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no good answer to this problem, but the best one is to have the International Criminal Court handle Assad. It may not be as satisfying as dropping bombs, but it is also nowhere near as likely to cause a veritable cornucopia of new problems in the region on top of the ones we already face.

President Obama made a terrible mistake when he made his famous “red line” declaration. President Trump compounded it with the airstrikes he unleashed.

One of the biggest fears I had of a potential Hillary Clinton presidency was her history of pushing the United States into violent conflicts and regime change expeditions. She has made it clear in the past that she wants the U.S. much more heavily involved in the Syria conflict, and mere hours before the airstrikes, she more or less advocated that exact same course of action. But she also wanted to take it much further, advocating the overthrow of Assad and a show of force against Russia by shooting down the planes they have flying over Syrian airspace.

I hope President Trump was simply doing this to send a message and that he does not follow up with the even more drastic measures Hillary Clinton has pushed for. Because if Iraq and Afghanistan are any indication, once we get in, we may never get out. The whole process becomes like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon: it never ends.

And many more lives will be lost in the process. Even many of the president’s staunchest supporters don’t have the heart to watch that happen. Neither do I.

I just hope President Trump doesn’t, either.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Apr
6
Syria Is A Mess, But Airstrikes Will Make It Even Worse
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Syria Is A Mess, But Airstrikes Will Make It Even Worse

We simply cannot be the world’s policemen.

04/06/2017 04:57 pm ET | Updated 6 days ago

Earlier this week, at least 70 people were killed in Syria following the use of chemical weapons. While we do not yet know for sure exactly who was behind this – both ISIS and Al Qaeda reportedly have these capabilities – but because of his reported use of chemical weapons in the past, the blame has fallen on the leader of the Syrian government, Bashar al-Assad.

Many on both sides of the aisle pushed President Trump to intervene and last night he launched a military strike on Syria.  We have actually been involved in the Syrian conflict for several years via the use of drone bombs, but some people are talking about a full-throated push to force Assad out of power.

At this moment, I would like to suggest we listen to the words of a very prominent world leader who seems to think this course of action would be foolish.

We simply cannot be the world’s policemen. We have done it countless times and it always ends in absolute disaster.

“If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away and fix broken U.S.”

In another statement, this same prominent world leader said, “We should stay the hell out of Syria, the ‘rebels’ are just as bad as the current regime. What will we get for our lives and billions of dollars? Zero.”

Finally, this same world leader wondered aloud, “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict?”

If you guessed that the world leader I’m referring to is President Trump, you are correct. Those were tweets he sent out in 2013 when President Obama was pushing involvement in the Syrian conflict. He was beat back at the time, although as I mentioned, he simply began drone bombing them instead.

Our history shows that an operation to depose Assad would likely cause more problems than it would solve.

I said this about Vladimir Putin and I will say it about Bashar al-Assad as well: he is a very bad man and I weep for his victims.

But we simply cannot be the world’s policemen.

We have done it countless times and it always ends in absolute disaster. If you don’t believe me, Google what happened when we toppled governments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Nicaragua, just to name a few.

Regardless of intentions, the unintended consequences – piles of bodies and a regime that takes over and ends up being even worse than the one it is replacing – are often staggeringly terrible both for the country we are invading and for us.

Airstrikes and more military intervention are not only going to be ineffective in the long run, they are also going to get a lot more people killed.

I sympathize with the idea of holding Assad responsible in some way if he is found to be the one behind the chemical attack, but airstrikes and more military intervention are not only going to be ineffective in the long run, they are also going to get a lot more people killed.

So what can we do? Well, it would be nice if other countries in the region like Saudi Arabia would help out, but since that is not going to happen, there needs to be some sort of international cooperation and the International Criminal Court should get involved.

To a great deal of people that will not be considered a strong enough action to take. I’m not 100 percent convinced myself that it would work.

But what I do know is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and our history shows that an operation to depose Assad would likely cause more problems than it would solve.

I wish President Trump had listened to his own words from 2013, rather than those of the bloodthirsty foreign policy establishment that dragged us into perpetual Middle Eastern war in the first place.

And when it comes to taking further military action in Syria, I have only three words of advice: Don’t do it.

Apr
5
Terror Strikes In Lahore, Pakistan
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/05/2017 05:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 06, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Yesterday, I wrote about St Petersberg, Russia.

Todat, it is Lahore, Pakistan, where at least six people were killed and 18 more were wounded.

The carnage was the result of a suicide bomber for whom the Taliban has taken credit. This was another in a series of attacks since the New Year that have plagued Pakistan.

These continued acts of terrorism around the globe sicken me to my very core.

And obviously, anybody who knows me is well aware that this attack was deeply personal for me.

No, I did not know anybody who was killed or injured. But Lahore is the city where I was born and raised and there are still people I care about deeply there.

Needless to say, I have a vested interest in the area.

But as a citizen of the world, I have a vested interest in the safety and security of everybody everywhere.

Listen, I completely understand the concept of blowback – the idea that when a government harms people in other countries it will produce people wanting to retaliate – but these kinds of terrorist attacks are just completely beyond the pale.

Unfortunately, we live in a world now where even talking about this makes you intolerant to some people.

Most Muslims are peaceful and wonderful people. However, the extremists who are committing these atrocities in the name of religion are neither peaceful nor wonderful. They are horrific barbarians who attempt to pervert a religion so they can use it to justify their actions.

This is why it is important to differentiate between the extremists and everybody else, and why international terror groups and their cells must be destroyed.

Of course, we must be careful in how we do this. We cannot and should not get ourselves into another war from which we cannot extricate ourselves.

And as I said yesterday, we must work together with other countries on this. Even countries whose leadership and policies may make us uneasy.

This is not a battle we chose, but it is one we must continue to fight and win.

The entire future of the world depends on it.

Apr
4
Condolences To The Victims Of Terrorism In Russia And A Reminder That Eradicating Terrorism Is A Global Goal
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/04/2017 05:06 pm ET | Updated Apr 05, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Fourteen people were killed in St. Petersburg, Russia Monday when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a train stop. My heart goes out to the victims of that tragedy and the people of Russia.

We know the suicide bomber was a 22-year-old who was originally from Kyrgyzstan. Why he did it or at whose behest is still unknown, though it does seem likely to be related to a terror group of some sort.

It is possible ISIS was involved. But even if they were not, terrorism is terrorism and it needs to be stamped out everywhere it is found.

The battle with extremists has been a major problem all over the world and countries are going to have to give each other cooperation if these extremists are going to be defeated.

Even countries who may not like each other will have to cooperate.

This is why for all the hand-wringing Democrats are doing about President Trump supposedly being too friendly with Russia and Vladimir Putin, attempting to have at least a somewhat cordial relationship with them is not necessarily bad.

Let’s start with the obligatory disclaimer: Vladimir Putin is not a good man. He is incredibly dangerous, has committed horrible acts against journalists (and others), and he is certainly not somebody with whom we should invest much trust.

However, I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly eager to antagonize a country with nuclear weapons.

In addition, we also happen to have some common enemies, specifically ISIS and Al Qaeda. If Putin is going to help us with that fight – even if his motives are not pure – then that is a benefit to our national interest.

And that is the best strategy for eradicating the terrorists who wish to do us harm: cooperation. If we needlessly bomb and nation-build, we create more enemies. If we work with others to systematically target the actual perpetrators rather than innocent bystanders, we accomplish the dual goal of keeping our own country safe while ridding the world of these truly evil monsters who wish so badly to destroy us.

Again, this does not mean that Putin is our best pal or that we should become full-blown allies. But strategic situational alliances can be helpful, even if it involves occasionally collaborating with a tyrant like Putin.

The battle against terrorism worldwide is neither pleasant nor easy. But it must be destroyed at all costs.

Even if it will take help from some bad people to make it happen.

Apr
3
A Salute to Senators Manchin, Heitkamp, and Donnelly on Judge Gorsuch Nomination
 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/03/2017 02:36 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I must commend Senators Joe Manchin (WV), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Donnelly (IN), who have shown the courage to rise above partisanship in the current discussion of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

There is no debating Gorsuch’s credentials: Columbia graduate, J.D. from Harvard Law as a Truman Scholar, Appellate and Supreme Court Clerk, and a decade as an Appellate Court Judge.

During his distinguished career, Gorsuch’s intellect and judicial record have both been shown to be first-rate.

Even the country’s foremost liberal legal minds agree on this.

Famed Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax that he thinks “Trump was smart to pick someone who was highly credentialed and hard to oppose,” adding “he’ll be hard to oppose on the merits.”

His fellow Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, says, “Gorsuch is a brilliant, terrific guy who would do the Court’s work with distinction. He is and he would.”

The Washington Post’s Daniel Drezner, an ardent Trump critic, says, “Whatever you think of his legal philosophy, Gorsuch seems both willing and able to rule against any of Trump’s unconstitutional power grabs.”

The Washington Post’s Radley Balko, one of the most prominent civil liberties reporters in the country, says, “Willingness to stand up to executive power is rapidly becoming most important trait in a justice. Love to see that analysis of Gorsuch.”

Reason Magazine’s Damon Root, who covers courts and their rulings says, “Neil Gorsuch’s record includes votes against both law enforcement overreach and executive branch overreach.”

Realistically, this SHOULD help ease the minds of those who are so terrified of President Trump abusing his power.

I understand progressives still have sore feelings over Merrick Garland, but nothing can be done about that now. The Garland situation is not Gorsuch’s fault, and in fact, as Balko points out, “On many issues, including most of those we cover here at The Watch, Gorsuch’s record suggests that he’d actually be to the left of Garland.”

Those who reflexively oppose Judge Gorsuch – because of bitter feelings over Garland and the fact that Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump – should also understand that rather than demonizing minorities, he protects their rights.

Neal Katyal, who was Solicitor General under President Obama and is currently a Georgetown Law professor, argued in a New York Times op-ed that liberals should back Gorsuch because he has, “no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him.”

Katyal goes on to describe De Niz Robles v. Lynch and Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, both cases where Gorsuch ruled AGAINST federal power on the grounds that the government was attempting to “retroactively interpret the law to disfavor immigrants.”

Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner points out that Judge Gorsuch ruled to safeguard the religious liberties of two inmates in two separate cases – Native American Andrew Yellowbear and Muslim Madyn Abdulhaseeb – on the grounds that their religious liberties were being violated.

In reality, the Democrats’ stand is only symbolic. Republicans will either use the “nuclear option” to end the possibility of a Democrat filibuster, or they will use what the Federalist’s Sean Davis has referred to as the “two speech rule.”

Either way, Judge Gorsuch will get confirmed.

I just wish the process was based more on judicial acumen and less on petty partisan differences – whether Garland or Gorsuch – on both sides of the aisle.

Mar
27
AHCA’s Failure To Pass Doesn’t Mean Healthcare Isn’t In Need of Fixing
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/27/2017 11:42 am ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The AHCA was destroyed by a combination of Democrats, moderate Republicans, and hardcore Conservative/Libertarian types, all of whom had different reasons for opposing the bill, but nonetheless all came together to defeat it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made a major mistake rushing through the process and refusing to be transparent. He should have taken his time, met with a variety of house members and Senators, and then carefully put together a comprehensive bill everybody could get behind.

Instead, he botched all of that and essentially began with what Senator Rand Paul called “Diet Obamacare.” President Trump, of all people, should have seen this coming. Any smart negotiator knows you do not start with your final offer. Ryan did, and he was left looking like a fool.

I think Paul Ryan is a smart guy and despite what his political enemies say – regardless of whether one likes his ideas – I do believe he has the best interests of Americans at heart.

Maligning his intentions is both unfair and wrong.

And while I am a supporter of President Trump, he has to take some of the blame here, too. He is known for his deal-making skills, yet, somehow, he allowed this negotiation to be bungled stupendously.

None of this changes the fact that Obamacare is in major peril at the moment, and the reasons why are numerous, beginning with the fact that the bill was 1900 pages long and virtually nobody who voted for it actually read it.

As Nancy Pelosi famously said as the debate over Obamacare was raging on in Washington, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

The idea was to put something in place and then fix it along the way.

That never happened.

Most people who now have coverage under Obamacare will tell you the same thing….”I have big deductibles, less choice of doctor and hospitals and my premium costs have exploded.”

The only people happy with the current state of Obamacare are the roughly 90% of the insureds under the system who are either getting large federal subsidies or are now eligible for Medicaid.

For those who pay the full amount, they make just enough to not get a subsidy but too little to afford the skyrocketing premiums.

Family coverage in a state like NY costs $1,294 per month (after taxes) with a $12,700 family deductible. Only annual physicals and certain well care is covered until the family reaches that deductible. No prescription drug coverage until that deductible is met.

That is why people who are paying for this coverage are calling it the Unaffordable Care Act.

Let’s look at what the Act was intended to do:

Lower costs, increase choice, and provide improved healthcare for all Americans.

None of that became a reality.

Don’t forget the most pronounced promise of all……”If you like your plan you can keep your plan.”

The dishonesty of that statement ended up being so egregious that it was Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2013.

Paul Ryan has said that as a result of the AHCA’s failure, we will all be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.

But the reality is, Obamacare is self-destructing, and sooner or later, something is going to have to be done about it.

Like it or not, this issue is not going away. It will need to be re-addressed at some point, perhaps sooner than Ryan expects.

Mar
23
American Jewish Congress Issues Statement Following London Terrorist Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/23/2017 05:06 pm ET

American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir issued the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress stands in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom in the aftermath of the tragic terror attack that took place in Westminster yesterday. The terrorists chose to attack the British Parliament, home to one of the oldest democracies in the world, often referred to as the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’, a symbol that stands proudly shining out its values of freedom across the entire world.

“These heinous attacks remind us of the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism and that we must unite against it to protect our values. At this sad hour let us recommit to not give in to terror and instead pledge to stand against the attackers and their evil ideology of hate and stand for peace.

“We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of this horrific attack and their families.”

Mar
20
As We Head For The Fiscal Cliff, There Seems To Be No End In Sight
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/20/2017 05:13 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter:@mk1157

One of the hottest topics in the news for the past week or so has been the proposed 2017 budget of President Trump as presented by OMB director Mick Mulvaney.

It has been said that the president is a heartless monster who is slashing spending to the bone. In particular, he has been criticized heavily for drastically cutting funding for Meals on Wheels – the program that provides meals to seniors in need – and eliminating funding for the NEA

Let’s start with the former. This is one of those unfortunate stories that was incorrectly reported from the start. As Kevin Drum of the left-wing Mother Jones says of the story:

“The Department of Housing and Urban Development runs a program called Community Development Block Grants. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It provides funds to states that they can use for a variety of approved purposes,” adding that “Some bright bulb noticed that a few states use a small portion of their HUD CDBG money to fund Meals on Wheels. Actually, small isn’t the right word. Microscopic is the right word. Elderly nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels receive about $700 million from other government sources—most of which aren’t targeted one way or the other in the Trump budget—but hardly anything from CDBG grants.”

Drum continues later in his post, “spinning this as ‘Mulvaney guts Meals on Wheels’ is pretty ridiculous. The vast majority of federal funding for Meals on Wheels—which comes via HHS’s Administration on Aging, not HUD’s CDBGs—remains intact.”

And the NEA? I love and appreciate arts, but artists should play by the same rules as the rest of us: sell your product on the open market or get private donations to fund it. However, asking me, or as OMB director Mulvaney put it – a coal miner in West Virginia – to fund it against our will seems to be a tad unfair to me.

Of course, it has been pointed out that the NEA is such a small part of the budget, so why should it be eliminated? This is the rhetorical trick where if something is small, it shouldn’t be cut because why bother, but if it is big, it can’t be cut because it is too important.

The craziest part of all of this is that even after all of these budgetary measures, federal spending would be roughly at the same level as when President Obama began his second term.

Yet this somehow makes him a horrible budget cutting cretin.

We have to be honest with ourselves: We have an unbelievable debt that is not going away anytime soon. Like it or not, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and military spending are all going to have to be dealt with in a major way if we are ever going to find a way to dig ourselves out of this.

And if this is the reaction after what represents relatively minor cuts to the discretionary budget, what kind of kicking and screaming will occur if somebody in power eventually decides to act like a grownup and confront the massive debt crisis we face?

We can argue all we want about little bits and pieces of these budgets, but the fact is, we are beyond broke.

Way beyond.

And after watching what has gone on over the past week, I’d say the odds of it being fixed in my lifetime are somewhere between slim and none.

Mar
17
Preserving The Dead and Preserving Hope…….
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Preserving The Dead and Preserving Hope…….

03/17/2017 04:39 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @Mk1157

A few years ago, a Jewish man named Fishel Benkhald in my birth country of Pakistan began a campaign to save the last Jewish cemetery in the country. As a Jewish man myself, I obviously felt very strongly about his cause and am glad he championed it, despite plenty of anti-semitism that was thrown his way.

Benkhald was fighting for the roughly 300 graves that cemetery held and the heritage they represented. Many in the region wanted to turn it into a Muslim gravesite, but thanks to Benkhald’s brave crusade, attention was given by Senators Cardin and Corker, as well as Congressmen Farenthold, Zeldin, and Pascrell and the cemetery was preserved.

Not long after, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, committed to preserving Jewish cemeteries in his home country, despite that country being a majority Muslim nation. This effort brought together important figures from Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in what was a rare show of religious unity.

I bring these cemeteries up because I was thinking about them recently and how important their preservations are. The world has many different religions and they should all be respected. But it is the way we treat minority religions that truly defines who we are as people.

What’s great about the United States is that while we may have some religious arguments, ultimately, we are one big melting pot. If you send your child to a public school, they are very likely to be in classes with other children of every faith imaginable.

It is truly beautiful.

In other parts of the world, this is often not the case. The religious turmoil in the Middle East is the kind of chaos that people born here just cannot relate to. They may know somebody in one of those countries or they may read about it on the news, but unless they experience it for themselves, they can never really know what it is like.

We’re not talking about going to court to argue a religious issue with which we disagree. We are talking about literal life and death.

That is why it is so important that these cemeteries be preserved well into the future. Sure, many of the people who are buried in them passed away years – and in some cases even generations – ago. The individuals themselves may carry no particular great significance to the general world population.

However, what they symbolize cannot, in good conscience, be extinguished or replaced. Not only do they represent the heritage and traditions of an entire culture, but they also represent something much larger.

Tolerance and hope.

You see, knowing that those sacred burial grounds continue to exist shows that minority religions – at least in some small way – are being treated with at least some small degree of tolerance in areas of the world where we might not expect it.

And that gives me hope that perhaps we can expand this base of tolerance on a larger scale going forward.

Fishel Benkhald and King Mohammed VI are very different people. They practice different faiths, they live in different countries, and they are obviously in much different social classes.

Yet on this one issue, they both showed great courage and provided the Jewish community and the entire world with incredible deeds and I hope more people of all stripes follow their lead.

The preservation of these Jewish cemeteries was by no means the brokering of world peace.

But it was a nice step in the right direction.

Let’s hope plenty more steps in that direction are taken all over the world.

Mar
15
Bringing Down The Cost of Drugs
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/15/2017 01:20 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @MK1157

There has been much debate about health insurance costs in the United States, but there seems to have been little discussion of actual healthcare costs.

Health insurance is very expensive, but a big part of the reason for that is how costly drugs and procedures are that the insurance covers.

So what can we do to lower drug prices and make medicine more affordable?

For starters, the patent system needs to be re-worked.

The average drug in this country costs anywhere from a several hundred million to a few billion dollars to develop. Obviously, it is important that drug companies be allowed to patent the drugs they cultivate, because otherwise, there would be minimal financial incentive to spend all of the money it takes to bring those drugs to market.

The patent period lasts for 20 years, but that starts from the time the drug is invented, not the time it being sold. The average drug takes 8 years to come to market, meaning that in most cases, the developer of the drug has 12 years before they can face any competition.

While I understand that a significant period of time should be afforded to these companies so they can recoup their research and development costs, shaving a few years off of that could be very beneficial to consumers. The earlier availability of generic drugs would lower overall drug costs, especially for those who pay for their medicine out of pocket.

Another issue we must confront is the fact that we are subsidizing drug costs for much of the rest of the developed world.

The United States accounts for nearly 50% of R/D funding, yet the same drugs that cost so much in the United States are often close to 50% cheaper in other countries.

How can this be?

Basically, our country does not have tight price controls on these drugs, while others do. The result is that whatever costs drug companies cannot recoup from the countries with strict price controls gets dumped onto us, making our drugs much more expensive.

Many have suggested that a solution to this would be to adopt the same price control measures here, but that would mean the drug companies would have nowhere to recover their costs and it would lead to less innovation and fewer new drugs in the market since opportunities to make money would be far more scarce.

One interesting idea to combat this is to allow for the re-importation of drugs from Canada, where they are generally far cheaper than in the United States.

Some have said this practice should not be allowed because there is potential for fraud and it would mean bypassing the FDA. Those are reasonable arguments and should not be dismissed out of hand.

However, it is worth considering the potential ramifications for Canada.

This practice would likely result in a Canadian drug shortage, which would mean they would be forced to raise prices somewhat and pay something closer to the true market share that they should have been paying for drugs all along.

And whether or not that re-importation bill is how we do it, getting other countries to pay their true market share for drugs so that drug companies don’t lean so heavily on us is a must if we are ever going to get fair pricing in the United States.

Mar
13
DEA Survivor’s Benefit Foundation…..A Terrific Cause You Should Support
 
by Dr. Kazmir

03/13/2017 04:59 pm ET | Updated 3 hours ago

DEA SURVIVOR’S BENEFIT FOUNDATION PAGE

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Special Agent Terry Watson a U.S. Army veteran had served with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 13 years until he was stabbed to death in the course of an investigation in Bogota, Colombia in 2013. He was survived by his wife.

Special Agents Chad Michael, Forrest Leamon, and Michael Weston were returning from a counter-narcotics operation in Afghanistan in 2009 when the military helicopter they were riding in crashed, killing all three of them. Michael left behind a fiancé, brother, and parents who loved him. Leamon was survived by his wife and unborn child as well as his sister and parents. Meanwhile, Weston was ripped from his wife, brother, and parents.

Special Agent Don Ware was killed in 1975 after he was kidnapped, beaten, and shot while working on an undercover narcotics mission in Mexico. His wife and three daughters lost pieces of their souls that day.

I tell you these stories not to depress you, but rather as a way of paying homage to a group of people who are both essential to our safety but also incredibly brave. They were taken long before their time and their sacrifices for the good of the country deserve to be recognized.

Members of our Armed Forces get plenty of attention and praise for what they do and they have earned every bit of it. But the men and women who serve in dangerous police units like the Drug Enforcement Agency get overlooked for the contribution they make to society and the impact they have on our lives.

This is why I am proud to serve as part of the DEA Survivor’s Benefit Foundation Corporate Committee. The heroes who risk their lives every day to defend us from dangerous criminals and cartels often do not get the recognition they are due and their families are not as well taken care of as they should be.

Any officer who is killed in the line of duty deserves a hero’s burial and our eternal appreciation, but we owe it the members of the family they left behind to see to it their incredible act of martyrdom does not go for naught.

They risked everything for us. The least we can do is provide for those they loved so dearly.

As I said, I am proud to take part in this noble cause and I greatly urge you to join me in helping to do what is right by these fallen heroes.

Any time or money you can contribute would go a long way.

Please take a moment to visit the Survivor’s Benefit Foundation’s website and do your part to pitch in.

This is an organization that is doing God’s work and it is something that all Americans – black or white, Republican or Democrat, gay or straight, man or woman – should be able to unite behind.

Our country is better for what these men and women put themselves through for our protection and we must ensure that the best, brightest, and bravest continue to be willing to stand up for us.

And they need to know that if God forbid the worst happens, we will come through for their family the way they always came through for us.

Mar
10
Should The Catholic Church Allow Priests To Get Married?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/10/2017 04:57 pm ET

Twitter: @mk1157

Pope Francis has been a bit of a controversial figure since assuming the highest position in the Catholic Church back in 2013.

He also managed to draw the ire of then-candidate Donald Trump, who was not pleased at what he perceived to be shade thrown his way by the world’s most prominent Catholic.

And now, he has ventured into territory that is guaranteed to generate an incredible amount of controversy.

According to reports, Pope Francis has said he would consider allowing older married men in isolated communities to join the Priesthood, something that would forever change one of the Church’s most longstanding traditions.

In the Pope’s defense, the amount of Catholics over the past three decades has increased by 57% while the amount of Priests has decreased by 17%. This indicates a resistance of Catholics to enlist as a Priest, something which could become a much larger problem if it is not ironed out at some point in the future.

It is assumed that pushback against this idea will be strong, but it may not be as fierce as some would expect.

If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.

Now, to be fair, I’m a Jewish man. This is not news to anybody who knows me or has read anything I’ve ever written. Therefore, I want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to tell Catholics what they should and shouldn’t do, nor am I being critical of the faith in any way.

With that in mind, however, it has to be recognized that lifetime celibacy – especially in this day and age – is a lofty goal, but not something that is going to appeal to a lot of people. By continuing this requirement, it stands to reason that a lot of great people who could have been valuable members of the Priesthood – as well as terrific assets to the Church and community writ large – will choose different paths for themselves.

From my own experience, I know how great a religious leader can be for faith and community. I have known and attended Temple with so many excellent Rabbis over the years. These men were great ambassadors to my faith, but they also provided invaluable life guidance to a large number of men and women who needed it over the years. It would have been a shame if they had chosen to go a different way simply because they were not allowed to have families.

All of that said, you may be asking yourself, “What on earth does a Jewish man care about what the Catholic Church does?”

Truthfully, for all of the scandals the Church has endured, it has done a lot of great charitable work, even for those who are not of the faith. While I respect everybody’s right to be religious or non-religious, there is no denying that religious organizations have been an immense help to those in need, which should always be encouraged.

The Church may have its issues, but like many other religions, it fulfills a very important societal role for those in desperate need of help that have nowhere else to turn.

The world is a better place when the Church is an option for the downtrodden.

So perhaps this is a change worth considering.

Because the alternative may be a terrible Priest shortage. And if that happens, nobody wins.

Mar
9
U.S. Immigration Needs To Be Fixed… But It Must Be Done Right
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/09/2017 05:46 pm ET | Updated 4 days ago

Twitter: @mk1157

The immigration system in the United States is incredibly flawed. No matter what side of the aisle you are on politically, that fact cannot be denied.

For years, we have heard about fixes to the problem. Bills have been proposed, fighting ensued, and the end result was a lot of hand-wringing and nothing getting done.

A friend of mine recently laid the blame squarely at the feet of Republicans, claiming that if only they had gotten on board with President Obama’s immigration proposals, the issue would be solved once and for all.

With all due respect to my friend, that is just silly.

I give President Obama credit for trying, just as President Bush tried before him.

In fact, the bill had some good aspects to it. Fast tracking those here on student Visas in the STEM fields was a good idea. I would argue it does not go far enough, however, as I don’t see why any student here on an F1 Visa who graduates shouldn’t be fast tracked. Why let these students come here to learn a skill and then just let them go back to their country without reaping the benefits of the training our country provided? Doesn’t make much sense to me.

The parts of the bill that would have opened up more opportunities to low-skilled workers and offering paths to citizenship are nice in some ways, but they would have presented major problems. While I’m not looking to use a deportation force to round up the millions of undocumented workers living in the United States, I’m also not sure how you go about making them citizens without sending a terrible message that it is ok to break our laws just as long as you stay off the radar for a long enough period of time.

And as much as my heart breaks for the low-skilled workers who want to come here for greater economic opportunity, we must remember that providing that for them comes at a cost of potentially fewer jobs and lower wages for the low-skilled workers who already live here.

Of course, the elephant in the room is border security. I don’t think every person who breaks our immigration laws is a bad person. But if we are going to be a nation, we have to find a way to control who comes in without calling those who want reasonable restrictions racist.

I also understand that much of the problem stems from people overstaying their Visas, which is a wholly separate issue. That, too, is something that needs to be improved upon.

Frankly, our entire immigration system in general needs a lot of work. For whatever you may think of Senator Marco Rubio, one thing he is certainly right about is the fact that we need to tailor our legal immigration towards a more merit based system, as opposed to one based on who your relatives are.

People who bring value to the labor market need to be prioritized. That may sound cold, but it is the only sensible way forward.

For instance, Canada admits nearly 2/3 of their immigrants based on economic considerations, whereas in the U.S., that number is roughly 1/8. In the United States, nearly 2/3 of our immigrants are admitted based on who their relatives are.

That is exactly backwards.

Canada also uses a point system to grade immigrants, with those in specialized fields and with PHDs being given much extra consideration.

Canada has it right and we do not. And if we really want to fix our immigration problem, we should start by following their lead.

Mar
8
A Salute to American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/08/2017 05:14 pm ET

With all of the anti-semitic attacks against JCC facilities in the news these days, I am more proud than ever of my work as vice president of the American Jewish Congress (AJC).

AJ Congress is a leading organization in the fight against anti-semitism worldwide and a strong supporter of the state of Israel.

And as much as I am gratified by my own work with the organization, I am even more thrilled to be working side by side with the organization’s President Jack Rosen.

Jack moved to the United States when he was just a small boy, the descendant of grandparents who were killed in the Holocaust and who parents survived the concentration camps. He always remembered his roots and has spent his life working to make sure his legacy includes a strident defense and advocacy for the Jewish people.

In addition to being president of AJ Congress, he has also shown a rare ability to put his mission – advocacy for Israel and the Jewish people – above politics, having been named to advisory roles in the presidential administrations of both Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush.

That’s one of the best traits of Jack’s personality: his ability to transcend everything for the cause.  He has traveled all over the world – including such nations as Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to meet with people of all stripes in an attempt to bring a peaceful and prideful message of Judaism to many diverse people.

AJ Congress is a terrific organization, but it would not be what it is today without Jack, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be in the trenches with him, fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your terrific leadership, Jack.  We are all better off because of it.

Mar
8
A Day To Celebrate Women
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/08/2017 02:54 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Today is International Women’s Day and it makes me swell up with pride.

First and foremost, I am so proud of my three daughters, all of whom have worked incredibly hard and done so much to contribute to society.

They are everything strong women should be.

But I am also proud of this country, which is a place where women can take off from work and celebrate their importance to humanity because they have the freedom to live their own independent lives.

In many other countries, sadly, women are denied rights and treated in an incredibly abusive manner. In these nations, women are not just treated as second class citizens; they are treated like property.

Which is why as much as I love and respect all women and understand the celebration taking place, I believe a stronger message would have been sent if women the women participating would have gone to work instead of staying home.

By showing up to work today instead of staying home, these women would have showed the world loud and clear just how much freedom they have gained in such a short time here in the United States, and just how proud they are to be able to do the exact same job as men.

Equality has always been the goal, and while reasonable minds can disagree over specific sex-based issues, it cannot be denied just how much progress women have made as a whole in the past few decades.

So much progress, in fact, that many women now earn more money than their husbands.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38% of women are now the primary breadwinners in their households, a massive increase from three decades ago, when that number was under 20%.

A great deal of those women have children and those children attend schools, several of which were closed today because of teachers not going to work.

I understand the message these teachers are trying to send, but I still think this was the wrong way to do it. By keeping the children from school for a day, the kids are being deprived of the learning they need to one day become successful inspirations like their teachers.

And many of the working women who depend on those teachers – but do not have the same luxury of taking a paid day off – have been forced to take unpaid leave with minimal notice.

The old saying is that living well is the best revenge against your enemies. I firmly believe that by showing up today, many of the school teachers who spend so much of their time and energy shaping our country’s youth would have sent a similar message worldwide.

That message?

Some of you may think my sex makes me unequal, but here I am, doing everything a man can do and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it! I’m strong, I’m independent, and I’m just as important to my job and society as a whole as any man ever could be!

After all, why not send that message, since it is undeniably true? Show your value through your equality and let those in countries where women don’t have these rights exactly what they are missing out on because of their oppression.

To paraphrase the old saying, get your revenge by living well. Or, in this case, by living free.

Mar
6
Colin Kaepernick Went Against The Grain, But He Also Exposed Some Truths About Himself and Celebrity Culture
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/06/2017 02:45 pm ET

Twitter:@mk1157

Colin Kaepernick announced that he will be ending his symbolic protest of racial oppression in the United States this upcoming season.

For those who may have missed it, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kicked a hornet’s nest last season when he decided to sit – and then later kneel – for the National Anthem before games, so as to protest what he saw as unfair treatment of oppressed minorities in the United States.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick said at the time.

Say what you will, but by doing what he did, Kaepernick certainly went against football orthodoxy.

Now, he says he will stand for the upcoming 2017 season.

Many have said they believe the quarterback’s decision is nothing more than a calculated ploy to make interested teams more likely to bid on his services and convince them he will not be a distraction now that he is a free agent.

But Heat Street’s Stephen Miller has an alternate take and seems to believe something entirely different is in play here.

“With Obama out and Donald Trump in, Kaepernick is clearly signaling that we as a nation have been healed from the deep racial divides of last season in the NFL and Obama’s final season in office,” he writes.

Miller is obviously trolling here, but it is interesting that the biggest event to occur in the past year was the election of Donald Trump to replace Barack Obama and instead of turning into a non-stop Trump basher, Kaepernick chose to end his protest.

I don’t think the two things are related – and neither does Miller, who is clearly joking – but it is a funny coincidence.

My own thoughts on Kaepernick have never really changed. If he wants to sit or kneel before games, that’s his right. And though I would never personally do it myself, I don’t think the act inherently makes one disrespectful of the troops or anti-American. If he chooses to voice his concerns in that manner, I have no problem with it.

What I do have a problem with, though, is the fact that Kaepernick was not exactly the best spokesman for his cause.

Go take a look at most of his quotes on the subject and you will see that while he was clearly very passionate about it, he spoke in very vague terms and sounded more like a riled up college student than somebody who had seriously studied the matter.

It doesn’t help that he made incredibly ignorant positive comments about Fidel Castro – a monstrous dictator – or that after all his talk, he admitted to not even bothering to vote in the 2016 election.

Ultimately, while Kaepernick may be brave for going against the grain, he is also case in point for why nobody should pay any special attention to the political opinions of famous people.

Celebrities are just like everybody else in that some are smart and well-informed, but most are not. The only difference between celebrities and your crazy next door neighbor is that celebrities get a platform to espouse their opinions.

But that doesn’t mean their opinions are any more important or well-researched than that crazy next door neighbor’s.

Even if they star in movies, sing great songs, or can throw a football really far.

Mar
2
Enough of the Innuendo, Let’s See Some Proof!
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/02/2017 12:34 pm ET

Last night I was relaxing and watching some television when I got a text message from a friend of mine.

“Quick, turn on MSNBC……Trump and Sessions are screwed!”

I turned on MSNBC to see them discussing supposed “bombshell” reports by the New York Times and Washington Post that were going to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency and force Jeff Sessions to resign from his post as Attorney General.

I decided that instead of watching other people talk about these stories, I would read them for myself.

So I read them and I have to admit, I was left kind of confused as to why this was all being hyped as the next Watergate.

The New York Times article was essentially yet another restatement of the “Trump may have ties to Russia” story that has been making the rounds for months.  There were not any specific details of these alleged ties beyond what we have already heard and certainly nothing that would prove the accusations in any kind of concrete manner.

The Washington Post story involved Sessions, claiming that he lied under oath about meeting with a Russian ambassador.  Many pundits took this further, claiming it was proof that Sessions colluded with the Russians during the presidential campaign and that he should resign.

For starters, Sessions was asked if he had spoken to the Russians either in his capacity as a surrogate or if he had discussed the 2016 campaign with them.

He said no.

Considering that he was on the Senate Armed Services Committee and spoke to ambassadors from numerous countries constantly, exactly what is out of the ordinary here?  Senator Ted Cruz, who also sits on the SASC, said he has met with a half dozen ambassadors in the past few months.  Senator Joe Manchin took it a step further, saying he had also met with the same Russian ambassador Sessions did.

Senator Claire McCaskill came out firing this morning, saying that Sessions should resign and claiming members of the SASC NEVER meet with ambassadors.  Except The Federalist’s Sean Davis uncovered two of McCaskill’s old tweets – one from 2013 and one from 2015 – where she herself acknowledges meeting with a Russian ambassador.

So unless there are recordings of the conversations Sessions had that prove he spoke to the ambassador about the election, there is no reason to believe he was not simply doing his job as a member of the SASC and there is certainly no way to prove perjury.

Sessions is just a pawn in all of this, however, as it becomes more clear by the day that certain people simply will not accept Donald Trump as president and are throwing around anti-Russia hysteria as a convenient scapegoat.

It would appear Joseph McCarthy was born a few decades too early.

This is not to say there shouldn’t be an investigation of some sort.  If the intelligence community and the house believe there is sufficient cause to hold hearings on the whole Russia matter, then fine, go ahead.

Put everything on the table.

But until we see some real, tangible evidence of wrongdoing, perhaps it would be wise to stop jumping to conclusions that are heavy on innuendo and anonymous whispers and quite light on actual proof.

It might also be wise to remember that Jeff Sessions is a long-standing member of the federal government in good standing who – regardless of what you think of him – has never had any hint of corruption in his distinguished career.

So maybe we should stop dragging his good name through the mud without anything substantial to back it up.

Mar
1
Rising Above Petty Partisan Politics at the State of the Union
 
by Dr. Kazmir
03/01/2017 03:15 pm ET

Last night, the Stare of the Union produced an incredibly touching moment involving Carryn Owens, the wife of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, who was killed in action during a raid in Yemen back in January. The moment produced tears, standing ovations, and an assurance from President Trump that Ryan Owens’ death was not in vain.

“I just spoke to our great General Mattis who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy’,” he declared.

In that moment, Donald Trump became president of the United States, according to somebody you would never have expected to utter those words.

“He (Trump) became president of the United States in that moment, period. There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful of him, to be mad of him, but that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period,” said CNN commentator and former Obama staffer Van Jones, an ardent Trump critic who compared the president’s Republican National Convention speech to something George Wallace – the former Alabama Governor and fierce defender of racial segregation – would have delivered.

Jones continued, “And for people who had been hoping he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping that maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should be a little bit worried tonight. Because that thing you just saw him do, if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years.”

The rest of the speech was what you largely would expect: the president vowed to increase the nation’s military budget, build a wall on the southern border to stop the flow of illegal immigration, fight Islamic extremist terrorism to the ends of the earth, produce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, repeal and replace Obamacare, and reform the tax code.

For anybody who has been paying attention, this is nothing new, as the president had pledged to do these things all throughout his campaign. But what it does show is that President Trump has not forgotten these promises and intends to be a man of his word.

It also shows that despite all the unhinged hysteria in some circles, the president is not at all a rigid ideologue.

I happen to think the infrastructure bill is a bad idea, just as I did when President Obama pushed a similar stimulus bill back in 2009.  These massive spending bills never work as intended and infrastructure should be handled at the state and local level, anyway.

But this is certainly not a “Republican” idea.  It just as easily could have come from the mouth of Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or – as I just demonstrated – the aforementioned President Obama.

The point is, if President Trump thinks something will be helpful to the American people, he will do it, regardless of party orthodoxy. Much as I do not like this particular idea, it is refreshing to have a president – from either party – who truly operates independently and does not much care for the usual partisan bickering.

And if I may echo Van Jones, if he can be THAT guy going forward, he just may still be sitting in the White House at this time in 2024.

Feb
27
Congratulations to New DNC Chairman: Tom Perez
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Congratulations to New DNC Chairman: Tom Perez

02/27/2017 04:10 pm ET

ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES

Congratulations to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who is now Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Whatever one thinks of Mr. Perez’s politics, he is certainly well-qualified for the position and should serve his party well.

One thing I will say, however, is that I’m a little concerned about comments Perez has made alluding to the fact that Democrats should not work with Donald Trump no matter what he does.

I believe that would be a mistake.

Democrats have no duty to help or work with Donald Trump just as Republicans had no duty to do so with Barack Obama.  I am not denying that.

However, to me, it seems silly to fight against somebody even if it is an area in which you find yourself in agreement.

For example, President Trump has made it clear that he would like to spend upwards of $1 trillion on infrastructure.

Personally, I think that would be a mistake.  But Democrats have generally been very supportive of such measures and if they came out against an infrastructure bill, they would be going against their own policy goals just to spite a president they do not like.

Should Perez decide on that course of action, he is welcome to do so, though it would not make much sense to me.

If I may quote a fairly popular figure from Perez’s own party, “I don’t think it makes sense to say, ‘No, we’re not gonna work in any way in any form with the Trump administration.  Trump has talked appropriately about a collapsing infrastructure: our roads, bridges and water systems. If he is prepared to work with us on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of jobs and doing it in a way that doesn’t privatize our infrastructure or give tax breaks to billionaires, yes, let’s work together.”

Those are, of course, the words of Senator Bernie Sanders from an interview on “Morning Joe” in January.

And, it should go without saying, that Sanders is 100% correct.

He was also correct when he came out the day after Donald Trump’s election as president and said, “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.  To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

Reasonable minds can disagree on what constitutes the negative traits Senator Sanders mentioned, but his general philosophy – working with the president if he agrees with him and opposing him when he doesn’t – should be flat out common sense to virtually everybody.

The fact is, while Donald Trump was elected under the Republican banner, he is not an ideologue and that is a big part of what propelled him to the presidency.

People didn’t necessarily see a liberal or a conservative, but rather an independent-minded businessman who railed against the corruption and incompetence of the elites in both parties and promised a different, better way.

Now, whether or not he can or will deliver that better way is obviously something that remains to be seen.  But much of his campaign revolved around how the ruling class had seen the benefits of the system while the working people had not, a message that resonated not only for the president, but also for the voters in the Democratic primary who chose Bernie Sanders.

People are tired of business as usual in Washington DC and if Tom Perez wants the Democratic Party to be successful again, it would serve him well to remember that.

Feb
24
If You Truly Think Richard Spencer is Horrible, Then Stop Talking About Him..
 
by Dr. Kazmir

02/24/2017 04:28 pm ET

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

CPAC, which is the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives in America took place this week and a lot of the usual stories emerged in the aftermath.

President Trump took some more shots at the media and many reporters took shots back at him.

As Piers Morgan has been saying, I really wish both the President and the media would ease up a little bit and I still hope that will happen eventually.

But I have to say, one story that emerged really disturbed me

That story was the ejection of National Policy Institute Director Richard Spencer from CPAC.

In case you are unfamiliar with Spencer, he basically believes in white nationalism and a demographic heavily skewed towards those of European ancestry.

As a Jewish man, I find Spencer’s views to be both wrong-headed and bigoted.

The issue I have here is that CPAC did not invite him and even asked him to leave when he showed up, yet, instead of focusing in on that, much of the media reported with glee about his presence there as if he had been asked to be there.

Stories were written about the “alt-right” and how conservatives were going to have to deal with the influence and popularity of people like Spencer.

The problem is, this is a completely false narrative.  Spencer does not have any major influence or following.  In fact, up until the media started building him up, virtually nobody even knew who he was.

He was just an obscure individual with a fringe think tank until he started being given all kinds of attention because he coined the term “alt-right” and many wanted to tie Donald Trump into that movement.

So they gave Spencer the attention he so desperately craved because they wanted to use him and his white nationalist views in an attempt to write President Trump off as a racist.

That’s why there was so much coverage of Spencer’s post-election event in Washington, DC, where he spoke to a room of maybe 100 people and jokingly shouted “Hail Trump” as a way to keep the spotlight on himself.

Of course, the media played it up like this was some large, dangerous group that was spreading hate across America.  In truth, it was nothing more than a bunch of social rejects who found themselves finally being paid attention to, not by President Trump, but by hordes of eager reporters.

Michael C Moynihan of Vice News summed it up best, joking on the Fifth Column podcast that when there are more reporters than people attending the event, you know the story is being way overblown.

For his part, I don’t really blame Spencer.  I may not like his views one bit, but I see exactly what he is doing.  He knows the media see him as a representative for what they believe vaulted President Trump into power – white resentment – and he is more than happy to soak up as much coverage as he can.

In essence, he is reveling in being a national bad guy, because it keeps people talking about him while providing the public with the illusion that he has any significance.

He doesn’t.

He has very few people in a country of 320 million people who take him or his ideas seriously, and nobody cares about him except those who wish to serve their own agendas by trying to tie him to President Trump.

For those complaining about Spencer, remember, it is attention he craves, so stop giving it to him.

You can hurt him most by simply ignoring him.

Feb
23
Rest in Peace, Alan Colmes
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/23/2017 09:18 pm ET

In today’s polarized political climate, it seems almost impossible to imagine liberals and conservatives getting along despite strong ideological differences.

But Alan Colmes could get along with anybody.

The talk radio and Fox News Channel veteran passed away at the age of 66, leaving behind a wife and a legion of fans who either cheered his liberal voice in a sea of conservatives or jeered his views while enjoying his charm and wit.

While the Hofstra University graduate first came to prominence as a talk radio host, he is best known for being the longtime co-host of the Fox News program, “Hannity and Colmes,” alongside Sean Hannity.

Despite their strong differences of opinion, the two remained friends the entire time they were paired together as well as during the years after they had been broken up on-air.

Said Hannity during an appearance on FNC’s America’s Newsroom, “I know a lot of people remember us from our political disagreements, but what they may not know is he was not only a guy with the greatest sense of humor but a guy that had a human level of decency and love and kindness and humor. One of the funniest guys I ever met.”

“I want people to know this was a good man with a great, huge heart…I have a hole in my heart today.”

This echoes sentiments from Colmes’ other most famous on-air sparring partner, his sister-in-law (and O’Reilly Factor nemesis), Monica Crowley, who took to Facebook to describe what this loss meant to her.

“Alan was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He took his beliefs and work seriously and at the same time lived his life full of joy, laughter and commitment. He loved what he did for a living, and he loved those around him—-without condition. During the most heated political debates, his infectious sense of humor would come through, and before you knew it, even his staunchest political opponents were smiling.”

“He was incredibly kind, generous and warm—-and completely devoted to my sister and our family. He was a gentle soul and a good man.”

Colmes got his start as a standup comedian and that is perhaps why so many people loved him despite political disagreements.  He would disarm his opponents with humor, so that even if they wanted to wring his neck, they couldn’t help but like him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Colmes several times myself and I, too, was very impressed with what a nice, thoughtful person he was.

In a way, Colmes was one of the last of his kind.

Old school television and radio personalities who loved their jobs and refused to let anything get personal, no matter how heated a debate would get.

That was what always attracted me to Larry King’s show on CNN as well.  King would ask interesting questions and challenge guests, but he always remained likable and never descended into the gutter.

Larry King was never politically partisan, but it was the same principle of presenting interesting television without being over-the-top-obnoxious that makes me long for the days of “Larry King Live.”

It also had me thinking to myself on many occasions how much more enjoyable Sean Hannity’s program was when it was he and Colmes together, having heated but friendly on-air squabbles.  No disrespect to Sean Hannity, but that 9PM (and now 10PM) slot was never the same after Alan Colmes left.

Unfortunately, he has now left more than just the 9PM timeslot.

RIP Alan Colmes.  Your class, professionalism, and jovial nature will be missed by millions.

Feb
22
The President, The Press, And You…
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/22/2017 05:28 pm ET

The president and the press seem to be very much at odds, more so than I have ever seen.

Every day it seems I have to watch this pattern repeat itself: The press accuses the president of lying; the president accuses the press of lying; people argue about who is telling the truth; heated arguments break out; the term “Fake News” gets tossed around, and then we go to sleep.

It feels like a scene from “Groundhog Day.”

I have a system I like to use so as to avoid getting caught up in the minutia.  This system generally allows me to sift through the nonsense without losing my mind.

And with all of the people losing their minds these days, I figured I would offer up my system to you as a recommendation with how to proceed in these crazy times.

1.  Acknowledge nobody has a monopoly on truth. The president and his staff – just like all those in the past – are going to be untruthful at times when it suits their agenda.  The same has been true of the media (as T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner has documented extremely well).  Be sure to treat BOTH sides with skepticism at all times, especially when something seems to suit your own biases perfectly.  As Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch Tweeted, “When a news article fulfills your most urgent political desires, and is based 100% on anonymous sources of unstated motivation, be skeptical.”

2.  Play the waiting game. Since neither side has a monopoly on truth, it stands to reason that a lot of what you see and hear is going to end up being inaccurate. Social media exacerbates this problem, since an incorrect quote or story can spread all over the internet within minutes and the correction usually goes relatively unnoticed. Whenever anything comes out – from the president or a media report – wait a while for more details to emerge before jumping to conclusions.

3. Make sure to read people who challenge your views. I would say that I lean somewhat conservative, but I make sure to read liberal and libertarian sources so that I can get a full picture on every issue, rather than just having my existing views reinforced. If you are liberal and need some good conservatives to read, I recommend Charles CW Cooke of National Review, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist, and Ben Shapiro of the Dailywire. As far as liberals, three of my favorites are Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept, Michael Tracey of the Young Turks, and Nathan J Robinson of Current Affairs. For the libertarian perspective, Thomas E Woods of the Mises Institute, Radley Balko of the Washington Post, and Matt Welch of Reason Magazine are all worth checking out. All of these people may aggravate you by pushing opinions you don’t like, but that is the entire point. Get out of your comfort zone and avoid living in an “echo chamber” at all cost.

4. Use cable news and talk radio only for entertainment. There is nothing wrong with watching Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC all day – or listening to somebody like Rush Limbaugh or Thom Hartmann – just as long as you understand that they are basically “infotainment.”  There may be some worthwhile stories covered and you may become exposed to interesting panelists, but you cannot learn about any issues in any kind of real depth from television or radio soundbites.  So enjoy radio and television, but do not rely on them.

So that’s my system.  Feel free to use it if you wish.  I hope it helps!

Feb
21
President Trump Picks General H.R. McMaster to be National Security Adviser
 
by Dr. Kazmir

02/21/2017 02:30 pm ET

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

 

Some of President Trump’s picks for advisory and cabinet posts have been controversial.  That does not necessarily make them good or bad, it just means there is a major difference of opinion on whether or not they are the best choices the president could have made.

This is a common occurrence for any president.  Quite frankly, it would be silly to expect otherwise, as ideological differences are the reasons we have elections in the first place.

However, sometimes somebody is selected who is so universally qualified and respected that he seems almost immune to the usual partisan bickering.

General H.R. McMaster is one of those men.

For me, personally, General McMaster checks all of the boxes necessary for the president’s National Security Adviser.  He’s a veteran of multiple wars, a successful General, and a man who has shown that he can crush our enemies but is not instinctively looking for violent military adventures.

McMaster has earned a wide array of military honors – including a silver star and a purple heart – but he has also shown an ability to diffuse situations.

He helped pacify Talafar in 2005 and literally wrote the book on the need for speaking up in the military.

I love this trait in General Kelly and General Mattis (who convinced President Trump not to bring back torture methods), but McMaster’s statements in this area are even more pronounced.

After all, McMaster wrote Dereliction of Duty, a public criticism of military officers of the Vietnam War era for not challenging President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara over their mistakes in the Vietnam conflict.

In comparing him to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who is known for standing his ground against excessive executive power, journalist and Iraq War veteran David French notes at National Review that McMaster’s willingness to stand up to authority when necessary makes him the ideal man for the post.

“Gorsuch has famously questioned the explosive expansion of the federal bureaucracy.  In his seminal book, Dereliction of Duty, McMaster famously called out civilian and military leaders for their profound mistakes in the run-up to the Vietnam War. Central to his argument is the notion that generals can and should (consistent with the chain of command and respect for presidential authority) provide their independent judgment to the president, including by criticizing and pointing out the shortcomings of the president’s tactical and strategic plans. In other words, effective military leaders shouldn’t simply roll over when confronted with unreasonable presidential demands.”

It is that independent streak along with impeccable military knowledge and leadership that make McMaster so widely well-regarded and respected.  Whether you love or hate President Trump, this was an excellent pick.

No doubt about it.

Feb
21
Tolerance Is A Two Way Street
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/21/2017 05:50 pm ET

Since January, there have been nearly 70 incidents across the country and numerous bomb threats involving Jewish Community Centers.  As a result, Ivanka Trump, who is a converted orthodox Jew and whose husband and children are also Orthodox Jews, took to her Twitter account to call for religious tolerance.

Instead of being applauded, she was met with scorn and ridicule.

To me, this is shameful, no matter what your politics are.

And it is unfortunately indicative of a much larger trend in our society.

I have already written about a need for civility and the dangers involved in designating anybody who disagrees with you “evil.”

That said, it is bad enough when that nastiness is directed at the people whose views you despise.

When it is directed at a friend or family member in a “guilt by association” type manner, it is even worse.

Ivanka Trump – despite having his last name – is not her father.  Whatever you think about the President, it is not right to take it out on his daughter.

It would not be ok if somebody said these things about Chelsea Clinton or the Bush daughters, either.

And really, what exactly is the complaint here?  All Ivanka did was call for tolerance.

You can agree with her wish for greater tolerance while disagreeing with her father’s policies.  This isn’t an “either or” proposition.

But some people would rather just be angry at the President and say mean things about his daughter out of spite, even when they have been claiming for months to agree with the actual content of her message.

And unfortunately, some people do not seem to understand that tolerance is a two-way street.

The same people who want to run somebody out of the country for being a closed-minded bigot for even suggesting that we may need tougher immigration policies are equally quick to espouse that it is ok to beat or bully that person for those views.

The same people who talk about a need to embrace love seem to think it is ok to mock a woman’s foreign accent – or even call her a prostitute – just because she is married to somebody they don’t like.

The same people who decry racism are first in-line to call any black person with an opposing point of view – like Senator Tim Scott – an “Uncle Tom.”

When journalist Chadwick Moore dared to even write a profile of a controversial gay conservative, he was practically disowned by his friends and colleagues.  Many of those same people have suggested Peter Thiel isn’t even a “real” gay person because of his political views and tried to get him kicked off the Facebook board.

All of this in the name of “love” and “tolerance.”

I have said it before and I will say it again: everybody has every right to dislike President Trump’s policies as much as they want.  That is the beauty of being an American.

However, when we personalize these issues to the point of disparaging somebody who had a message of nothing but peace simply because of her last name, we are descending to a very ugly place.

Ultimately, many of these people who are touting love and tolerance are going to have to decide if they really care about those principles or if it is more important to them to harass people on airplanes and social media to show others that they are on the “right side.”

The choice is true love and tolerance or mean-spirited virtue-signaling.

Going forward, I truly hope we see more of the former than the latter.

Feb
17
America Jewish Congress Condems Terrorist Attack In Sehwan, Pakistan
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/17/2017 05:47 pm ET

American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir issued the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress condemns the horrific terrorist attack that took the lives of 75 people and injured more than 200 people at the 800-year-old shrine of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz in Sehwan Pakistan. Thousands were gathered with their families, including their children, to joyfully celebrate the ritual of sufi dance, ‘Dhamal’, when a subside bomber entered the shrine and blew himself up. Hospitals are in state of emergency, as rescue efforts endure to assist the wounded. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those murdered and injured in this attack. “

Feb
17
New World Alignment
 
by Dr. Kazmir
When the UK voted to leave the European Union because its citizens wanted to put British interests first, it shocked the world.
Several months later, when Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States because of a similar sentiment – that the elites were not serving the people – it was a similar stunner across the globe.
In France, an election looms that is likely to deliver either Marine Le Pen or Francois Fillon into power, either of whom would represent a shift towards a France-first approach in that nation.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Angela Merkel – a poster child for EU style globalism – has seen her popularity plummet and it remains to be seen whether or not she can survive a September re-election bid.
New British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump have already had excellent talks and meetings about renewing the strength of the American/UK relationship.  It appears that we will probably see something similar after France’s elections and possibly after Germany’s as well.
The winds of change are in the air and the common theme is simple: No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Each country knows that focusing on its own priorities must come first, they also realize that there is a common enemy that must be destroyed and for the sake of all of our nations, we must all work together.
Of course, I speak of the battle against ISIS and Al Qaeda. Here in the United States, terrorism has been a major issue and rightfully so. But in Europe it has been a non-stop nightmare that the people of these nations can’t seem to wake up from.
In France alone, there were over a dozen terror attacks in 2016.  Germany has suffered from a rash of incidents as well. All of our interests coincide on this particular issue.
Thankfully, President Trump has shored up our relationship with Israel.  And for all the criticism he’s taken over the issue, the fact that he has not been overly antagonistic towards Russia is actually a very positive aspect of his presidency.
Nobody is going to argue that Vladimir Putin is a wonderful man.  He is a sinister person and we all know that his political enemies have had a habit of disappearing.
I’m not saying we should necessarily “buddy up” to Putin, but strategic alliance on the issue of global terrorism can be a mutual benefit.
What is happening in Syria is heartbreaking and the bloodshed is frightening.  As I’ve written before, my mother was originally from Syria, so I have an especially strong feeling of sympathy towards those who are suffering there.
However, while both Putin and Assad are not going to win humanitarian awards anytime soon, we must also remember that the rebels they are fighting over there are, in part, populated by members of ISIS and Al Qaeda.
And in doing so, they can also help us avoid another needless ground war invasion, the likes of which brought us a disastrous war in Iraq from which this country – and much of the Middle East – has still not recovered.
This does not mean that this country, our friends in Europe, and as I recently wrote, the GCC nations in the Middle East, particularly the Saudis, should not do everything in our power to help the innocent Syrians fleeing the chaos (well-vetted refugees, not the far more dangerous assylees).
We absolutely should. But we also cannot take our eye off the ball.
A new global alignment is underway, one that prioritizes national interests and global cooperation against terrorism.  And I will pray every day for its unmitigated success.
Feb
17
Memories of a Tragedy and the Continuation of Hope
 
by Dr. Kazmir
Doctor, businessman, entrepenuer, and philanthropist
02/16/2017 06:13 pm ET

The other day, I was flying home from Florida when I suddenly had a flashback. My mind took me back to 2009 and Neda Agha-Soltan. For anybody who does not remember, Neda was a beautiful young philosophy student in Iran who was supporting the protests against the election of then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She was walking back to her car when she was shot in the chest and killed.

The video of that murder was seen all over the world and to be perfectly honest, when I saw it back in 2009, I cried like a baby. Maybe it is because seeing such a sweet and innocent girl senselessly murdered made me think of my own daughters, but I remember being uncontrollably sad and upset.

But it also felt incredibly lucky to be living in a country where something like that would never happen to my daughters. I thought about all of this as I flew home from Florida and it made me realize that no matter how divided we all are, I am still proud of all of us as Americans.

I may not agree with all of the protesters who have been relentlessly criticizing the president for virtually everything he does. But I’m grateful that we live in a country where they can voice their concerns without fearing death or imprisonment from the government.

I may not agree with certain members of the press who seem almost gleeful in saying negative things about President Trump. But I am happy they can say these things without fearing for their jobs or their safety.

I may think the Democrats are jumping to conclusions by asserting without any concrete proof that President Trump is secretly working with Vladimir Putin. But I’m glad that they have the ability to make those accusations without fearing assassination or removal from office.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Our system of checks and balances and freedom of expression is just an incredible phenomenon to behold, especially for somebody like me who grew up in a country where those principles were not emphasized.That’s why even when the President goes too far – like calling the judges who ruled against him on the travel restrictions “So-called Judges” – I am still thankful for our system.

Sure, he may have attempted to de-legitimize the judge in the eyes of the public, but in other countries, those judges would have been thrown in jail or killed. Or worse, there may not have been Judges to push back against the executive at all. Not in America, though.

Here, we have mechanisms in place to protect rights.  We may disagree on finer points, but compared to many countries where women, members of the LGBT community, and other minorities are flat out treated like property, we have it pretty damn good.

I suppose you could say that for all the talk of white privilege or male privilege, all of us have the greatest privilege of all: American privilege. I wish more countries would allow their citizens to be free like we are so people could experience the wonders of open elections, speech that wouldn’t get them hunted by the government, and the ability to follow their hopes and dreams.

Maybe one day. And I certainly hope that some of the protesters here in America will extend their protests someday to fight for the rights of those people, too.

But for now, I will just pray that we don’t have to read about too many more women like Neda. There’s only so much sadness the world can take.

Feb
15
Dr. Tom Price as Head of Health and Human Services
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

02/15/2017 05:10 pm ET

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There has been a lot of talk about Obamacare (AKA the Affordable Care Act) potentially being repealed and replaced under President Trump. However, in order for that to be done properly, there must be somebody in charge of Health and Human Services who has quality solutions and the impeccable knowledge of healthcare it will take to muster a great replacement plan.

Thankfully, Tom Price fits both of those categories.

The original bill is nearly 2,000 pages and has far too many landmines within it. Dr. Price knows that the replacement bill must be simpler and scrap the worst parts of the law that are driving up cost and driving down care.

I understand that the mission of Obamacare was to deliver affordable health insurance, but with the recent announcement that premiums will be rising 22%, it is clear that despite the best of intentions, the law may have helped some people, but it has driven up costs for many others.

As a doctor myself, I very much value both quality of care and the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. I believe that the government should interfere minimally and market-driven ideas must be at the forefront. Despite some claiming that Republicans have not offered any alternatives, there have been several replacement plans have been in existence for several years that rely on the principles I spoke of in the previous paragraph.

One such plan is Dr. Price’s long-standing alternative, the “Empowering Patients First Act,” which shows he has a clear understanding of how to repeal and replace the existing healthcare law. He believes in fixed tax credits, starting at $1,200 per year and increasing with age, which would allow people to have greater control and use that money towards any plan they saw fit (this goes for Medicaid, Medicare, and VA recipients as well, as they would have the option to opt out and receive these credits if they chose to do so).

Health savings accounts – a terrific idea going all the way back to the Gingrich-led congress of 1994 – feature prominently into his plan. These are a great way for people to save medical money over the long term so that they can build a substantial sum in their accounts for when they are older and have a greater need for the money to pay for increased medical bills that typically accompany old age.

But Price also realizes that safeguards for our most vulnerable need to be included, too, so he has provisions in his plan to keep people from being denied insurance for having pre-existing conditions as well as funding mechanisms to help pay for high-risk state pools that can assist the truly poor and sick from being unable to get the care they need. Those are all excellent ideas and would be a significant step in the right direction.

However, Paul Ryan and others – including Democrats – have thoughts about what else could be added to make Price’s plan even better and like any wise person, he has said repeatedly he will listen to ANYTHING that could potentially add value for the American people.

Costs need to come down without the high quality of doctors and hospitals we have become so accustomed to in this country being adversely affected.

Dr. Tom Price knows this and he is on the case. As a fellow doctor, he has my complete faith, and I have the utmost confidence that he will succeed.

Comments
Feb
15
Judge Neil Gorsuch appointed a Justice to the Supreme Court
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

02/15/2017 12:41 pm ET

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Love him or hate him, President Trump delivered on his word to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court who has a strong record of adherence to the Constitution when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat of the late Antonin Scalia.

There is no debating Gorsuch’s credentials: Columbia graduate, J.D. from Harvard Law as a Truman Scholar, Appellate and Supreme Court Clerk, and a decade as an Appellate Court Judge.

During his distinguished career, Gorsuch’s intellect and judicial record have both been shown to be first-rate.

Even the country’s foremost liberal legal minds agree on this.

Famed Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax that he thinks “Trump was smart to pick someone who was highly credentialed and hard to oppose,” adding “he’ll be hard to oppose on the merits.”

His fellow Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, says, “Gorsuch is a brilliant, terrific guy who would do the Court’s work with distinction. He is and he would.”

Along with those legal bonafides comes what Judge Andrew Napolitano – during an appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight – called a “dose of skepticism” about government power, which should be very pleasing to those who are afraid of Executive Overreach during the Presidency of Donald Trump.

But don’t just take Judge Napolitano’s word for it.

The Washington Post’s Daniel Drezner says, an ardent Trump critic, says, “Whatever you think of his legal philosophy, Gorsuch seems both willing and able to rule against any of Trump’s unconstitutional power grabs.”

The Washington Post’s Radley Balko, one of the most prominent civil liberties reporters in the country, says, “Willingness to stand up to executive power is rapidly becoming most important trait in a justice. Love to see that analysis of Gorsuch.”

Reason Magazine’s Damon Root, who covers courts and their rulings says, “Neil Gorsuch’s record includes votes against both law enforcement overreach and executive branch overreach.”

This is, indeed, an important trait in ANY potential SCOTUS Justice, but it should help ease the minds of those who are so terrified of President Trump abusing his power.

Those who reflexively oppose Judge Gorsuch should also understand that rather than demonizing minorities, he protects their rights.

Neal Katyal, who was Solicitor General under President Obama and is currently a Georgetown Law professor, argued in a New York Times op-ed that liberals should back Gorsuch because he has, “no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him.”

Katyal goes on to describe De Niz Robles v. Lynch and Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, both cases where Gorsuch ruled AGAINST federal power on the grounds that the government was attempting to “retroactively interpret the law to disfavor immigrants.”

Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner points out that Judge Gorsuch ruled to safeguard the religious liberties of two inmates in two separate cases – Native American Andrew Yellowbear and Muslim Madyn Abdulhaseeb – on the grounds that their religious liberties were being violated.

Carney adds that, “with his nomination of Gorsuch, Donald Trump really has provided a reprieve to many who feel threatened by state power — including many you wouldn’t even expect.”

Unquestionably, Dershowitz, Tribe, Drezner, Balco, Root, and Katyal all fit into Carney’s category of “many you wouldn’t even expect.”

I look forward to watching him ensure that the laws of our great nation are properly upheld and equally applied to all Americans.

Feb
15
Piers Morgan dukes it out with Bill Maher and Jim Jeffries on HBO’s “Real Time”
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/15/2017 12:21 pm ET

This weekend, I was flipping through the channels and happened to catch Bill Maher’s show “Real Time” on HBO. The most heated part of the show came when British television host Piers Morgan got into it with Maher and Australian comedian Jim Jeffries.

The most contentious part came when Morgan – who said he disagrees with the President’s travel restrictions – pointed out that 87% of Muslims are unaffected by the EO and thus calling it a Muslim ban is inaccurate.

In my most recent post, I called for civility and sanity from everybody. I guess Jim Jeffries didn’t read that post, though I wish he would.

Jeffries retorted that it is a Muslim ban, told Morgan to “F- Off” and then extended his middle finger toward him. In both of these cases, love him or hate him, Morgan was factually correct, yet the audience went crazy on him and so did social media.

All over the internet, people were talking about how Jeffries “Owned” Morgan. I’ll admit, I’m a 60-year-old man, and maybe I’m not as in touch with the internet crowd as others who are younger than I am.

However, I must say, I’m not sure I understand how Piers Morgan got “Owned.” He stated a fact – that you can hate the policy and think it is wrong, but if 87% of Muslims can still enter the country, then it cannot be called a Muslim ban – and in response, Jeffries cursed at him and flipped him off.

Jeffries didn’t even attempt to make a coherent point, he simply resorted to name-calling. Yet, somehow, people on Twitter counted that as winning the argument.

If you haven’t seen the exchange yet and think I’m making this up, you can watch it here. And if you have seen it, then you know that Jeffries didn’t “Own” anybody. He simply made a nasty statement towards a person whom the audience did not like about a President they truly hate.

The fact that any rational person mistakes that for winning an argument is mind-boggling.

By the way, Jeffries also later responded to Morgan’s assertion that people have become unhinged and need to stop comparing President Trump to Hitler by telling Morgan that we need to give it time, because Hitler didn’t kill all the Jews on the first day.

I don’t care what your politics are, that comment is disgusting and Jeffries should be ashamed of himself. As a Jewish man, the fact that anybody could compare a man who was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of 6 million Jews and 11 million people overall to anything President Trump has said or done is beyond sick.

As Morgan correctly pointed out, what Jim Jeffries and many others are doing in equating President Trump to Hitler is incredibly scary. Once you go all the way down that road, there’s no coming back.

Because when you’re convinced somebody isn’t just wrong, they are evil, then it is easy to talk yourself into doing literally ANYTHING to stop them. I mean, after all, what wouldn’t you do to stop Hitler, right?

That’s how you convince yourself that hurting people like Milo Yiannopoulis and Gavin McInness for simply having views you deem hateful is ok. Or that bombing buildings is justified in the name of the greater good.

If you want to know where this leads, I suggest you read about the Weather Underground and Timothy McVeigh, two sides of a very dangerous coin. I don’t care how much you hate President Trump, this has to stop right now.

And God help us all if it doesn’t.

Feb
10
A Call for Civility
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

02/10/2017 02:32 pm ET

Today, I wish not to make arguments in favor of – or against – President Trump or his policies.
People are entitled to love or hate the President and his policies and voice their opinions loudly should they so choose.

But this dangerous element of Neo-Mccarthyism surrounding President Trump and anything that can even be remotely tied to him is toxic and needs to stop. Leading up to the Superbowl, I read an op-ed in USA Today that argued Tom Brady had a duty to speak out against Donald Trump because everybody knows they are friends and at one point, the media saw a Make America Great Again hat in his locker. Brady never publicly wore the hat or endorsed Trump’s policy positions and repeatedly said he did not want to talk politics. He was harassed, anyway.

Jimmy Fallon, who hosts a goody comedy show, was eviscerated for merely having Trump on his show and not aggressively questioning him like a prosecuting attorney.

Steve Harvey met with Trump to discuss improving living conditions for black people in the inner-cities. Harvey said that regardless of who the president is, his goal is to help poor black people improve their lives and if he has a chance to do that, he should take a “seat at the table.” This got him branded an “Uncle Tom.”

Taylor Swift, who has said nothing supportive of Trump whatsoever, has been excoriated for simply refusing to speak out against Trump. Sadly, it hasn’t stopped there. People are ending friendships and disowning family members. Horrific verbal assaults are being levelled at people for even the slightest connection to Trump (Your mother’s best friend’s sister’s gardener’s accountant’s doorman once opened a door at a Trump Hotel? NAZI!!!!!)

Now, we have Nordstrom giving into pressure from the same mob and refusing to sell Ivanka Trump’s products, despite the fact that as recently as a few months ago the company publicly claimed those products were making them money. This follows an incident in December where a man was kicked off an airplane for berating Ivanka in front of her husband and children for the wrongdoing of being Donald Trump’s daughter.

I will reiterate: If you hate Donald Trump and his policies that is fine. In fact, it is your right as an American. However, bullying his daughter simply for having the audacity to love her father and support him should be a bridge too far for anybody.

My friend Kellyanne Conway obviously thought so when she lashed out at Nordstrom and urged people to buy Ivanka’s products. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on the ethics rules, but it seems to me that if we cannot take a step back and understand the circumstances in context – that Kellyane was merely defending Ivanka from what she thought was an unfair attack – then we have really let the insanity of the current political climate get the better of us.

I’ve known Kellyanne a long time and I promise you, she was merely reacting like a mama bear defending one of her cubs, not attempting to turn the White House into QVC.

Kellyanne was right to defend Ivanka, and whatever anybody’s thoughts are on President Trump, bullying people like this is not right. Shutting down clothing lines, ending friendships, blacklisting celebrities, treating anybody associated with President Trump in any way as not just wrong but evil……. if we aren’t careful, that can very easily lead us down a very bad road.

I hope and pray we can come together as a nation before this escalates completely out of control.

Feb
10
Senator Jeff Sessions Confirmed As U.S. Attorney General
 
by Dr. Kazmir

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Jeff Sessions is a longtime friend of mine, and I am very happy to see him be confirmed as Attorney General of the United States.

Make no mistake, though – while I am personally delighted for my friend, I am much more pleased as an American to have a man of impeccable qualifications and integrity about to take the reigns as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

His resume reads like a roadmap to the Attorney General’s office: Six years as an assistant U.S. Attorney, 12 more as U.S. Attorney in Alabama, two years as Alabama Attorney General, and two decades in the United States Senate.

During his time in those posts, the Senator has been a constant champion of law and order.

He has pushed for strenuously controlling our borders, something that will unquestionably take center stage during a Trump administration.

But despite his penchant for tough enforcement of laws and wealth of experience, there have been some concerns expressed about Senator Sessions not being willing to apply the law to everybody equally.

As I stated above, Jeff and I have been friends for years. I know him very well and can personally attest to the integrity of his character.

His record has been challenged, but I believe he has demonstrated his fidelity to the law repeatedly throughout his career.

This is a man who pushed to desegregate Alabama schools and helped prosecute KKK leader Henry Francis Hays, who received the death penalty for abducting and killing a black teenager named Michael Donald.

He later saw to it that Hays’ accomplice and father were brought up on federal charges related to the murder.

Some have said he only prosecuted a voter fraud case because of racial motivations, but the son of Albert Turner – the main defendant in that case – disagrees and has endorsed Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General.

Said Albert Turner Jr. per the Washington Examiner,

“I have known Senator Sessions for many years, beginning with the voter fraud case in Perry County in which my parents were defendants. My differences in policy and ideology with him do not translate to personal malice. He is not a racist. As I have said before, at no time then or now has Jeff Sessions said anything derogatory about my family. He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. I believe him when he says that he was simply doing his job.

I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity. I believe that he will listen, as he has in the past, to the concerns of my community. More than most I am very familiar with him. I believe he will be fair in his application of the law and the Constitution; as such I support his nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States.”

That is what Jeff Sessions has done in every government position he’s ever held: be fair in his application of the law, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality.

And it is exactly why he will make a terrific Attorney General of the United States.

Feb
7
The Best Way to Truly Help the Refugees in Syria
 
by Dr. Kazmir
02/06/2017 06:16 pm ET

I am an immigrant. I came to this country as a young man from Pakistan and was able to build an incredible life for myself and my family because of the opportunities living in the United States afforded me. I wish for as many people as possible to experience this as well.

If you know me, are familiar with my story at all, or have read my writings, then none of this is news to you. But one thing you may not know about me is that my mother was a Jewish woman that originally lived in Syria. That’s why, more so than most, my heart truly goes out to the refugees in Syria, especially those who are persecuted religious minorities.

These refugees have found themselves living in a nightmare through no fault of their own. I do not think we should outright ban these refugees from coming into our country forever. However, just saying “let’s let them all in” is not the answer, either.

If we are being truthful here, even if we say the danger of the refugees as a terroristic threat is somewhat overblown (indeed it is the asylees that have caused most of the carnage), there are still very real costs involved.

Whenever you take a large amount of people from a completely different region and entirely different culture and import them, it costs a lot of money and it becomes a challenge for them all to assimilate. This isn’t their fault, it is just reality. So while we can certainly take some of the refugees, it makes very little sense that we are being relied on so heavily to take hundreds of thousands more.

That’s why we need help from some countries in the region who have not done their fair share to kick in and help their suffering neighbors. Namely, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia, in particular, could be a gigantic help on this issue.

As noted Middle Eastern scholar Daniel Pipes explains, “Saudi Arabia has many unique attractions for Sunni Muslims. To begin with, it has 100,000 high-quality, empty fiberglass tents that can house about 3 million people in Mina, just east of Mecca. Fireproof and air-conditioned, complete with toilets and kitchens, this unique resource is occupied a mere five days a year by pilgrims on the hajj.”

In demonstrating how little the Saudis have contributed here, Pipes notes that the amount of Syrians in that country is shockingly low:

“One study, by Lori Plotkin Boghardt of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, estimates the number in the ‘low hundreds of thousands,’ say 150,000. That’s a small fraction of the over 4 million in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — and just 5 percent of the migrants who could be housed just in Mina’s splendid tents.”

As I said, these people are in a terrible situation and the United States and Europe should help to a reasonable degree. But there is no excuse for those Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that I mentioned not to pitch in much more, especially Saudi Arabia. While I know our government has strong ties to the Saudi Royal Family and that has made it difficult for any president to lean on them strongly in the past, President Trump got elected as a man of the people who would shatter norms and smash the established order in favor of doing what is right and just for the people of America. Persuading the Saudis to pitch in on taking refugees would be a great way for him to prove that.

Feb
6
Is There a Problem Brewing with Iran?
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

02/06/2017 03:17 pm ET

I’ll never forget watching the Iran Hostage Crisis unfold in my youth, as over 50 hostages were held for 444 days in Tehran.

The crisis ended in 1981, but the impression it left on me was earth-shattering. I learned then that Iran is a menace that can never and should never be trusted. My memories of that crisis went through my head as I watched President Obama finalize the Iran deal in 2015.

The terms of the deal were weak and I was horrified – though not surprised – to learn about how much of the details surrounding the deal were a lie, as Obama Administration spokesman Ben Rhodes incredibly bragged about in the New York Times.

I was incensed when I saw that the deal included the release of hundreds of billions of dollars in funds, especially since it gave away the leverage our sanctions had given us. Jay Solomon’s book, “The Iran Wars,” sheds much light on this, making a strong case that Iran was on the verge of complete financial collapse at the time of the deal. According to Solomon, President Rouhani was warned by advisers that, “their country could run short of hard currency and face a crisis” if Tehran wasn’t able to get access to billions of dollars in funds that had been frozen due to sanctions. Solomon also notes that our government knew this, as U.S. officials at the time, “saw the collapse of Iranian currency as a clear sign that Tehran’s financial system was cracking.”

With that in mind, it seems fairly clear that if we had stuck to our guns, Iran would have had no choice but to cave. Instead, we bailed them out. Look, I don’t want to antagonize any countries unnecessarily and I’m certainly not looking for a war.

But we should have held firm instead of ceding ground and in the process, trusting a country that has proven repeatedly that they cannot be trusted. And they proved it yet again with its ballistic missile tests. The United States is not the only nation affected here, either. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, and Russia all have a vested interest in making sure Iran is kept in check. An emboldened, nuclear Iran would cause incredible world chaos and be bad for everybody, which is why we should not be the only country to stepping up to stop it from happening.

Again, the last thing I want to see is a war. But if we aren’t going to enforce treaties, then we might as well not even bother with them at all. To that end, I am glad General Flynn has let Iran know that they are on notice. And when it comes to General Flynn, say what you want to about the man, but you know he is not messing around.

Ronald Reagan preached peace through strength and that is the play here. General Flynn and President Trump may not like the terms of the Iran deal, but they are not looking for armed conflict. However, they also are not going to let Iran walk all over us, especially when – as President Trump said – they should be grateful for the life raft we tossed them rather than looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Iran would be wise not to cross that metaphorical “red line” again, and I truly hope they understand that.

But if they do cross that “red line,” I’m glad we have people in place who won’t let them get away with it.

Feb
1
Former South Carlonia Governor Nikki Haley To Be Ambassador To UN
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

Former South Carlonia Governor Nikki Haley To Be Ambassador To UN

02/01/2017 12:53 pm ET

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Congratulations to my good friend and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who was confirmed with ease as Ambassador to the United Nations. This appointment says a lot about Nikki Haley, but it also says a lot about President Trump.

Remember, before eventually endorsing the President, Governor Haley endorsed Marco Rubio during the Republican primary and said she was “not a fan” of Trump’s, even calling him “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.”

But President Trump overlooked that, because he realized that personal grievances aside, Nikki Haley was uniquely qualified to be our country’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

And indeed, she IS uniquely qualified for the job, largely on the basis of her background and experience. After all, who better to send to the United Nations as an Ambassador and symbol of our nation’s incredible diversity than a woman who was born to two immigrants from Punjab, India.

She rose all the way to the South Carolina House of Representatives and from there, she became the first Indian-American female to ever become governor of a state.

And while she has stood up for conservative values throughout her career, she has also shown a tremendous ability to be a force for unity.
Following the disgusting mass shooting at a black church by Dylan Roof in South Carolina, Governor Haley saw to it that the confederate flag be taken down at the statehouse. On this issue, she took a stand against some people in her own party and, in the process, brought together people of all races and creeds to do what was right.

She will no question continue to do what is right as UN Ambassador, including her continued vocal support of the nation of Israel. While Governor Haley has said a two state solution is ideal, she has also made it clear that America will stand firm and proud at Israel’s side.

Said Haley during her confirmation hearings, “Nowhere, has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent, and more outrageous, than its bias against our close ally, Israel.”

While she did praise the UN overall, she was upfront about the fact that she will let them know when they are wrong, like in the case of the UN’s Human Rights’ Council, which has condemned Israel numerous times with no rebukes given to Syria and North Korea.

Governor Haley has shown through her words and actions that she will be a fantastic blend of reasoned diplomacy and brazen honesty. It is exactly what we need in a UN Ambassador and I look forward to how proud her service in the role will make all Americans.

Jan
31
President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration
 
by Dr. Kazmir
01/31/2017 02:24 pm ET

At a time when we need an accurate press more than ever, the kind of carelessness that I have been seeing lately has me concerned.

Just in the last week or so, I saw a story about how President Trump was putting a gag order on EPA employees and that news spread like wildfire, only for longtime agency officials to debunk it and say what was being done more or less constituted standard procedure. There was the story about the entire State Department resigning in anger about Trump taking over, but it turned out to be only four people and they had not quit, they were fired.

I could go on and on. Literally. There are so many examples of this in the past few weeks, that I could fill a full length book. I voted for and support President Trump, but that does not mean I do not want the media to report mistruths or negative actions he takes when those things occur. Unfortunately, though, it is hard to trust anything being reported when this keeps happening.

I realize this is the age of social media and that creates extra demand for immediacy, but the media has to start doing a more careful and thorough job of investigating these stories before prematurely reporting them and getting things wrong.

Otherwise, much like the boy who cried wolf, people will start to tune them out on stories that are serious and do demand attention. Stories like the Travel Executive Order issued Friday. Let me first say this: As an immigrant from a Middle Eastern country, I am very troubled by some parts of the Executive Order. Green Card holders – who have already been vetted extensively – are permanent residents and the fact that they were ever included in this is ridiculous.

Furthermore, any other kind of Visa that was already issued – including student Visas – already went through the process and should not be retroactively affected in any way.

That said, while I believe the President acted hastily in some ways, not enough reporting has been done on the fact that he did not pick those seven countries out of thin air; they were chosen previously under an existing law enacted by President Obama. And none of this is to say that there aren’t major improvements needed in our process or that there aren’t very real concerns here.

Hillary Clinton herself admitted that it is basically impossible to properly vet Syrian refugees. And we have seen with our own eyes what some of them have done in Europe. These people are in a terrible situation and I want to help as much as we can, but our safety MUST come first. There is no easy answer here, but stricter methods should be used and we cannot pretend there aren’t some very legitimate risks involved.

But I have seen those worries largely belittled or ignored by the press. I know there is an impulse to treat everything the President says or does with hostility because of how openly antagonistic he has been to the media, but it is important for a complete and truthful picture to be presented to the American people at all times.

The New York Times’ Ross Douthat and Current Affairs’ Nathan J. Robinson recently wrote excellent, well-reasoned, columns on the danger the fourth estate faces in covering the President.
If the media allow their disdain for the President to cause inaccurate reporting, they will become the very thing they accuse him of being.

For the sake of our nation, I hope they are better than that.

Jan
27
The Problem with Immigration
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

The Problem with Immigration

01/27/2017 04:59 pm ET

A lot of people seem very upset at the border wall President Trump plans to build. Let me just say, that while I understand some of the complaints and I have plenty of reservations about the wall myself. However, I do not see the desire to build the wall as racist. I also do not understand the need for those who disagree with the wall to brand anybody who thinks it is a good idea with the “racist” label.

As somebody who came to this country many years ago as an immigrant from Pakistan, I know better than anybody the incredible opportunities America can offer. I came here with nothing and I was able to become a very successful doctor and live an amazing life. But I came here legally and did everything the right way.

And while I sympathize with those who are undocumented – whether they snuck in unlawfully or just overstayed their visas – there is a reason why countries need to have at least some control of their borders. As much as I want to see as many people as possible come here from other countries and do well, when somebody comes here as an undocumented worker, there are people who suffer as a result.

For starters, there are those who wait in line for legal citizenship only to be bypassed and essentially punished for following the law.

But there are also negative consequences for some American workers, especially those who are most in need. As both Senator Bernie Sanders and President Trump pointed out during the 2016 campaign, there are millions of Americans who are suffering. Unskilled laborers haven’t had a significant raise in wages in many years and quite a few of them struggle to find or keep steady employment.

When an undocumented immigrant enters the labor force, this drives down wages for those aforementioned unskilled laborers, because employers would prefer to pay those immigrants the artificially low wages that are far below what an American citizen may accept under the minimum wage laws.

Furthermore, the market becomes flooded with a much greater supply of this cheap, unskilled labor, and fewer jobs exist for working class Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT blaming these immigrants. It is still better for them to make the low wages in this country than it would be to have stayed in their home countries and worked. They are doing what they feel is best for them.

But it comes at a cost to many working-class American citizens. Perhaps the answer is to truly reform our immigration system and find ways to let more people in than we currently do. Maybe we can more effectively screen people so that we can try our best to avoid these problems.

But we do need safeguards and we do need to address the issue. And we cannot continue to act as if anybody who even dares to speak about it is some unconscionable monster. President Trump promised to take steps towards fixing immigration, something both parties in Washington have talked about, but failed to do for decades.

The border wall may or may not be a great solution, but it does at least address the issue in some way, which is something the American people clearly want. To those who strongly oppose the wall, I say step forward with a list of real, comprehensive ideas and present them to the American people.

Complete inaction is no longer good enough. For the good of the nation, let’s all come together and really try to fix this problem.

Jan
25
Women’s March in DC
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/womens-march-in-dc_b_14389698.html
THE BLOG

Women’s March in DC

01/25/2017 04:21 pm ET

The women’s march and the inauguration were, in a way, concurrent symbols of what is great about America.

First, there was the peaceful transfer of power, and the celebration of this country’s free and fair elections. Then, there were those who were unhappy with the results of that election, letting their voices be heard on issues that are important to them.

What I do worry about are some of the more extremist elements of either side.

Many of the protesters greatly dislike our new President and his supporters and that is their right. But those who held up signs comparing him to a Nazi, or made speeches claiming they wanted to “bomb” the White House are not only wrong, they are completely defeating any sympathy non-marchers might have for their cause.

Making incest jokes about the President and his daughter isn’t helpful, either, and certainly doesn’t convey a message of love. And just so nobody accuses me of being one-sided, anybody who engages in similar behavior on the right is just as guilty.

While I believed strongly in the Tea Party’s message of wanting a government that is limited and not overarching in its authority, I was greatly upset by some of the signs I saw disparaging President Obama on a personal level, rather than on the basis of policy.

I have a friend who flew into DC for the inauguration and found himself sitting next to somebody heading to DC to attend the march.
And he told me an amazing thing happened.

They talked for the entire flight and had a respectful, polite discussion. Their disagreements were vast, but in the end, they came away realizing they had more in common than they thought and even exchanged phone numbers.

I would like to see more of this.

People get so wrapped up in their beliefs and their echo chambers that they forget that ultimately, despite the rhetoric, we all want the same thing: A safe and prosperous life.

That’s why it is important to stand up for what we believe in, but to remember that the people who disagree with you aren’t necessarily bad people, they may just see things differently than you do.

So don’t write them off as bigots or idiots and call them names, instead, try making a rational argument to persuade them.
And remember that for as much as some of us struggle here in the United States, it is nothing compared to what others go through elsewhere.

I was born and raised in Pakistan. I know very well what intolerance and the denying of rights looks like. And for those women who stood up and marched, I say great, exercise your freedom of speech. But remember that many women worldwide don’t have that privilege.

Personally, I would love to see people from all sides – left, right, and center – march for those who are truly disenfranchised. I’m talking about women, LGBT members, and other minorities who are treated like property in far less civilized countries.

We can all come together to descend on the United Nations and demand an end to the selling of women into slavery. The execution of gays in places like Iran. The abuse of children in the third world.

This is something that everybody from Madonna and Ashley Judd to Ted Cruz and John McCain could get behind.

It would unite us as Americans and as humans.

And it would send a clear message to those in the world who are far more oppressed than anybody in this country could ever imagine that everybody deserves human rights.

Jan
24
Mike Pompeo To Head The CIA
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/mike-pompeo-to-head-the-c_b_14360786.html
THE BLOG

Mike Pompeo To Head The CIA

01/24/2017 02:38 pm ET

For the first time in my adult life, we are watching a situation where the President of the United States and the intelligence community seem to be openly feuding.

President Trump has gone back and forth with former CIA Director John Brennan and former DNI Director James Clapper.

The President has taken shots at the intelligence community on Twitter and in other public forums, while some of those members have taken anonymous shots at him.

This is a relationship that needs to be repaired for the good of the President, the intelligence community, and most of all, our great country.

The next CIA Director is going to have the unenviable task of not only bridging this divide, but also running the agency that is at the forefront of the intelligence gathering that is so crucial to the safety and security of the United States.

I believe Mike Pompeo is up for the challenge and will succeed where very few could.

A former military officer during the Cold War, Pompeo knows the importance of combatting foreign threats in a swift and succinct manner.

And he doesn’t play around.

The idea behind the Iran nuclear deal – avoiding a war and coming to a peaceful resolution – was good.

However, what was not so good was the lying that President Obama’s team – as Senior Adviser Ben Rhodes bragged to the New York Times – lied about the timeline and terms of the deal.

Pompeo wants that deal to have terms that are stronger and are more in America’s national interest.

He will not just sit idly by and allow poorly constructed and negotiated deals like that remain without renegotiation of some kind.

As a Congressman for the state of Kansas, he has consistently come down on the side of keeping the country safe.

Yes, he may be a little harsh in his belief that Edward Snowden should be executed. That is not a position I agree with.

However, he did say that while he personally thinks Snowden should be executed, he believes the man should receive his due process, meaning that he respects individual rights and believes Snowden should be judged by a jury of his peers. Mike Pompeo thinks Snowden should have his day in court and not be imprisoned or executed without a fair trial, regardless of his own personal feelings on the matter.

He is also for intensified surveillance, but not to the point where it would cross the line no government should cross.

If he was, he would not have the endorsement of Michigan Congressman Justin Amash.

Amash, who is one of Congress’s top civil libertarians and a strident warrior on behalf of individual rights, had this to say on his official Twitter account the day Pompeo’s nomination for CIA Director was announced.

“I know @RepMikePompeo. He’s a great pick. Yes, we have our disagreements, but Mike will listen to our concerns and serve with integrity.”

A fair man who is hellbent on securing the safety of our country while respecting the Constitution and listening with an open mind to any reasonable objections that come his way.

Sounds like the right man, at the right time, for the right job.

Jan
24
Reince Priebus To Be President Trump’s Chief Of Staff
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/reince-priebus-to-be-pres_b_14369306.html
THE BLOG

Reince Priebus To Be President Trump’s Chief Of Staff

01/24/2017 06:51 pm ET

The Chief of Staff for an administration is the procedural right hand who helps lead the president through political landmines and steers him toward strategic victories.

For President Trump, that Chief of Staff will be the eminently capable Reince Priebus.

Reince has been a friend of mine for several years and I believe he is an excellent choice. Here’s a guy who began his career as a successful lawyer before becoming the youngest Wisconsin state GOP chairman in 2007.

Once he took over, he excelled, helping bring Wisconsin Republicans to new heights, culminating in the successful campaigns of Scott Walker for governor and Ron Johnson for senator.

Much like a college football coach who rises through the ranks from a small school to a division 1 powerhouse, Reince took his successes to the national level, first as general counsel to the RNC and then as RNC chairman in 2011.

When he took over, the RNC was seen as being in trouble. They were $23 million in debt and with President Obama in the White House, saying an uphill battle was ahead would be a major understatement.

But that didn’t stop Reince, who raised $20 million in cash within a year and began to turn things around.

While Obama won re-election in 2012, Reince’s eyes were on the prize, which was building a long-lasting base of power.

His efforts paid off in a major way in 2014 when the Republicans retained the house and took the senate, giving them control of both bodies of congress for the first time in eight years, and finally allowing the party to be in position to mount strong opposition to Obama’s policies.

Then, in 2016, the final cherry was placed on top of the Republican sundae, when Donald J. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.

Not only did Reince’s efforts help hand Republicans the most political power they have ever had – the house, the senate, the presidency, the majority of governorships, and the majority of state legislatures – but he defied all the odds in doing so.

The pundits, the strategists, the pollsters – they all said Donald Trump didn’t have a chance. Some Republican insiders even felt that Reince and his fellow RNC higher-ups needed to pull a convention coup to keep Donald Trump from getting the nomination in June.

But Reince stayed neutral and trusted his voters to make the right decision.

And every single time the “experts” began to insist Trump was done and Republicans should just give up, the man who would become President continued forward and Reince was right alongside him.

Now, they will continue to fight side by side in the White House, working each day to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of citizens who so richly deserve a better America.

This will be a terrific pairing because both men are winners who have had incredible triumphs throughout their respective careers.

But it is also great because both men are pragmatic and not ideological.

Yes, Reince Priebus has made a career in Republican politics, but there is a reason why he is respected by those on both sides.

He is a pragmatist, who would much rather work together with somebody to get something done than pick needless partisan fights.

Just like Donald Trump.

We are about to witness the construction of one of this country’s most successful presidencies, and Reince will be one of the key reasons why.

His ability to work for the advancement of ALL Americans will play a major role in making that happen.

Comments
Jan
23
UK Government refused to sign communique of Paris Peace Conference
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir released the following statement:

“On behalf of the American Jewish Congress, we would like to express our gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for its strong and principled diplomatic efforts to stand with Israel and the Jewish community. By choosing not to sign the communique of the Paris Peace Conference, which was negotiated without the presence of either party involved in the conflict, the British Government has made a clear policy decision. This choice continues a process that began with the Prime Minister’s speech after UN Security Resolution 2334, and the UK is now looking to prevent unfair and inappropriate conduct towards Israel. This is particularly important during the final days of the presidential transition period in the United States, when we know that the incoming administration has indicated a very different approach to the incumbent.

“The American Jewish Congress is clear that the only way that peace can be advanced in a fair and proper manner is by direct, bi-lateral negotiations, between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the British government for its commitment to ensuring a fair and balanced narrative is presented within the United Kingdom, especially in a political context which is often set against Israel.”

Jan
23
Thank you, Senator Charles Schumer and Senate Democrats
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/thank-you-senator-charles_b_14334664.html
THE BLOG

Thank you, Senator Charles Schumer and Senate Democrats

01/23/2017 02:58 pm ET

I would like to thank New York Senator Charles Schumer for his professionalism and grace in helping to move along the confirmations of General James Mattis for Secretary of Defense and General John Kelly as the head of Homeland Security.

I realize that as the leader of Senate Democrats, Schumer could have attempted to flex his political muscle and filibustered either of these two Generals. This is especially true of Mattis, who needed a waiver since there was a seven-year moratorium in place on appointing a recent Veteran to the position.

Thankfully, Senator Schumer chose country over party and now these two supremely qualified men will be able to lead in positions that are extremely well-suited for.

I have written in-depth about my admiration for both Generals and have given reasons why I think they will do a great job.

And the fact that they were so easily confirmed is a testament not only to the judgment of President Trump, but also the judgment of Senator Schumer and his fellow Democrats.

I know Senate Democrats don’t agree with everything President Trump wants to do. I also know there will be many battles ahead between the two parties.

But on these two confirmations, both sides of the aisle came together and did the right things and that is a beautiful thing to see.

There will be disagreements to come, but for now, Senate Democrats deserve praise and I truly hope they are willing to continue working with President Trump and his team for the betterment of our great country more in the future.

Comments
Jan
18
General John Kelly to head Department of Homeland Security
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/general-john-kelly-for-department_b_14231734.html
THE BLOG

General John Kelly For Department Of Homeland Security

01/18/2017 06:03 pm ET

The number one job of the federal government is to keep its citizens safe. That’s why the person running the Department of Homeland Security needs to be somebody who understands what it takes to make our enemies think twice about trying anything dangerous against us.

That man is General John Kelly.

Not only is Kelly a 45-year Marine whose impeccable credentials made him a four-star general, he’s also a man who understands the real threat. Much like President-elect Trump, General Kelly sees the Southern border as our Achilles heel and the easiest way for those wishing to do us harm to get into this country and perpetrate an attack. With Kelly at the helm, the border will be made secure and that threat will be destroyed.

General Kelly has also shown the kind of guts the position of running the DHS demands. He strongly opposed President Obama’s statements about closing the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, realizing that having so many suspected terrorists hellbent on destroying the United States roaming free would pose a grave problem. He ruled Gitmo with an iron fist and ensured that it served its intended purpose.

And make no mistake, General Kelly will also stand up to President-elect Trump if he feels has to.

Back in January, the General told the Military Times, “The one thing I was always told is you absolutely have to tell truth to power … the decision makers have got to have ground truth,” adding that, “Otherwise, the decisions they make could be flawed — and that can be dangerous.”

That’s exactly the kind of man we need at DHS. He realizes the top priority is, was, and should always be, the well-being of the American people. If he sees mistakes being made, he will say so, regardless of potential career consequences.

This isn’t a game to General Kelly. He has devoted his entire life to serving this nation. His own son was killed in Afghanistan following in his father’s footsteps. There will be no capitulation to our enemies and no flowery language, either. The job will get done and it will get done right or there will be hell to pay.

Once again, President-elect Trump has done a terrific job of finding the right person to lead a very important department. As he has shown us for decades in the business world, that’s what he does best: puts the right people in the right places. With fearless and tireless men like General Kelly and General Mattis in charge of two of our nation’s most important national security agencies, we, the American people, can sleep well at night knowing we are being well protected.

A new era is upon us. Come January 20, those who oppose America are going to find out very quickly that the days of weakness and appeasement are over. America is going to be strong again. America is going to be safe again. And most importantly, America is going to be great again.

Jan
18
America First
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/america-first_1_b_14246232.html
THE BLOG

America First

01/18/2017 11:14 am ET

The self righteous indignation from the media and professional diplomatic quarters at the phone call of President Elect Trump to the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is improper.

Yes, our official policy has been a “One-China” policy where Taiwan isn’t officially recognized, but anybody who does two seconds worth of research can see that is only on paper and probably needs to be revisited.

Taiwan is our 9th largest trading partner and we sell them billions of dollars’ worth of weapons. We furthermore unofficially but actually spread our own military network as a defense for Taiwan. Taiwan itself is a major investor in mainland China and there is much official or unofficial business between them. This “no official ties” stuff is paper thin for both the relationship of America and Mainland China with Taiwan. The protests from Beijing are something we can live with to better secure the ties with Taiwan, a democratic ally in an area dominated by an ever increasingly belligerent mainland China.

Make no mistake: Donald Trump will speak to China, regardless of any discussions with Taiwan and he will let them know that while he wants diplomatic relations with them, but he is not going to let the United States be bullied or pushed around.

And really, all this Taiwan hand-wringing does is once again prove we pay no attention to our friends anymore.

While Sec. Hillary Clinton was accusing Vladimir Putin of tampering and hacking – claims she never came close to substantiating – while threatening to shoot down Russian planes with a no-fly zone in Syria, Donald Trump said he wants to sit down with Putin and work things out.

While the current administration made a deal with Iran that was so bad that they had to – as Obama administration official Ben Rhodes admitted to the New York Times – hid it from the American public and then compounded that by making a ransom payment they tried to deny making, Donald Trump has said he wants to get rid of that terrible agreement and make a better one that puts America’s interests first.

While the current administration puts out a press release touting the so-called mixed legacy of Fidel Castro, a murderous, authoritarian dictator who imprisoned and executed gays, Afro-Cubans and political dissidents of all stripes, President-elect Trump called Castro out for the monster he truly was and warned Cuba that if they don’t change their ways, the United States has no reason to do anything that is to their benefit.

Under the watch of the last two administrations, we spent trillions of dollars and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people – both American and those in the middle east – to fight wars that were not in the American interest while creating more enemies abroad. In addition to leaving Iraq a mess we turned Libya into a chaotic war zone with migrants struggling for their lives.

This is exactly why the American people elected Donald Trump in the first place. They want a President who isn’t going to pretend to not have relations with a country when we clearly do, he isn’t going to make terrible deals with foreign governments and deny them, who isn’t going to spend trillions of dollars and waste hundreds of thousands of lives in unnecessary wars, and who most certainly isn’t going to let the United States be anybody’s doormat.

Peace through strength. No more politics as usual.

America first.

It is about time somebody stood for that in this country and our friends again and I, for one, am proud as can be that we finally have a leader at the top of our government, Donald Trump, who feels the same way.

Jan
16
American Jewish Congress’ Critical Statement of the Paris Summit on January 15th and UN Security Council Meeting on January 17th
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/american-jewish-congress-_5_b_14201642.html

American Jewish Congress’ Critical Statement of the Paris Summit on January 15th and UN Security Council Meeting on January 17th

01/16/2017 02:38 pm ET

The American Jewish Congress stands opposed to the Paris Peace Conference led by France on January 15th and the possibility of any further untoward one-sided and anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council meeting set two days later on January 17th. We also support the decision taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend the summit. The way the outgoing Obama administration has acted in its final weeks in office, allowing the adoption of the anti-Israel resolution by the Security Council on December 23rd, 2016, has given the impression that this summit and subsequent Security Council meeting will be biased against Israel.

President Obama is continuing to use his final days in office to wrongly influence the peace process. It is a long-standing convention that an outgoing administration does not take it upon themselves to make major policy changes in the lead up to the inauguration of their successor. The Paris talks should be postponed, as the newly elected President should have the opportunity to represent the U.S. on this issue. Until then, the United States should maintain the status quo and oppose resolutions against Israel by international bodies, rather than turning their back on years of foreign policy.

There is only one way that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved, through direct bi-lateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Resolution 2334 has already changed the goal-posts for any talks. Every effort should now be made to bring the parties together on an equal footing, the current moves by the international community are prejudiced against Israel and are preventing constructive dialogue.

The countries attending the Paris summit should be aware that singling out America’s ally Israel five days before the January 20th inauguration, will be viewed as a complete lack of respect for American convention and the newly elected Trump Administration. The participants should also recognize that any attempt to put together a second anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution will make it harder to achieve lasting peace and send a negative message to the incoming Administration whose publicly stated views are in opposition to the anti-Israel resolution.

Thank you for your loyal support of the American Jewish Congress.

Best,

Jack Rosen
President
American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir
Vice President
American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake
Secretary
American Jewish Congress

Jan
13
Dr. David Shulkin to be Secretary of Veteran Affairs
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/dr-david-shulkin-as-secre_b_14136390.html
THE BLOG

Dr. David Shulkin as Secretary of Veteran Affairs

01/13/2017 11:19 am ET

Once again, President-elect Trump has done a terrific job of finding the right person to lead a very important department. As he has shown us for decades in the business world, that is what he does best: puts the right people in the right places.

Along those lines, he has selected David Shulkin – a longtime friend of mine – to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

David is an interesting choice because once again President-elect Trump thought outside the box. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is typically a Veteran.

But David isn’t a Veteran.

Instead, he boasts a prolific career in hospital management that leaves little doubt he will do a great job fixing what has been a very flawed VA hospital system.
David ran two very prestigious hospitals, including Beth Israel Medical Center in NY, Morristown Medical Center in NJ.

He also oversaw the Atlantic Health System and several prolific collegiate hospital systems, including the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and – returning to the institution where he received his MD in 1986 – the Medical College of Pennsylvania.

He’s been a respected academic in the field as well, sitting on the board of numerous medical journals – such as the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association – and holding the Chairmanship of Medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine.

He has both the medical and business background to be the ideal fit for the position.
Still, people will point to the fact that he has served as Undersecretary of the VA since March 2015 as a negative against him.

But, if we are being completely fair, he has not been the top man in charge nor has he been given enough time to put his own stamp on the VA to try to turn it around his way.
And anybody who doubts his commitment to the job or his desire to make the VA great again should have those worries calmed by David’s own words about the VA’s troubles.

“The first responsibility that we have to our veterans is to make sure those that need urgent care are getting care on time,” he told NPR, adding that, “We’ve brought in people from the outside who have private sector experience. And what we’re saying is that we have to do business differently. … We know how to make this program work better.”

The VA sorely needs that kind of approach, and that is what it will get with David in charge.

That’s why he was picked out of a list of candidates that included over 100 names.

I’m delighted for my friend, but even more elated for the improved care our heroic veterans will receive with David’s medical, hospital, and business expertise running the show at the VA.

His resume, intelligence, and character make him the perfect man for the job, and America will have the opportunity to see that for themselves very soon.

Jan
11
AJ Congress Supports British PM Theresa May on criticizing Sec. Kerry’s remarks on Anti-Israel UNSCR 2334
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/aj-congress-supports-brit_b_14086648.html
THE BLOG

AJ Congress Supports British PM Theresa May on criticizing Sec. Kerry’s remarks on Anti-Israel UNSCR 2334

01/11/2017 11:03 am ET

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s criticism of Secretary Kerry’s remarks after the adoption of the Anti-Israel UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir made the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress welcomes Prime Minister May’s statement on Thursday (12/29) responding to Secretary Kerry’s speech which criticized Israel, with her spokesperson saying that PM May does ‘not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.’

“Sec. Kerry remarks of attacking another democratically elected government are out of place. America would be shocked and outraged if one of our democratic allies would make a similar negative remark on the composition of our democratically elected government.”

Jan
6
American Jewish Congress Congratulates New US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/american-jewish-congress-_4_b_13791732.html

American Jewish Congress Congratulates The Next US Ambassador, David Friedman

01/06/2017 05:13 pm ET

American Jewish Congress President Mr. Jack Rosen and Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir released the following statement on the announcement of David Friedman being appointed as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel:

“The American Jewish Congress congratulates David Friedman on his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

“Clearly, Mr. Friedman represents a different approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than we have seen in the past. While we support fully a peaceful resolution and have worked tirelessly over the years to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, it is, however the time to confront Palestinian incitement and murdering of Jews.

“That said, the Palestinians have not been serious about the Peace Process for many years and have been working to undermine the State of Israel both through incitement of hatred and acts of violence against Israelis, and also through diplomatic and lobbying efforts abroad, including attacking Israel in foreign parliaments, at the United Nations and most recently leading the efforts at UNESCO resolutions to deny Jewish and Christian claims to historical holy sites. The Palestinians and the international community need to understand that diplomatic terrorism has consequences, and so it’s no surprise to us that the incoming US Administration seems to be pursuing a different approach, as seen by Mr. Friedman’s appointment and widely publicized plans to move the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“All actions have consequences and this move by the new Trump Administration is perhaps only a natural reaction.”

Dec
31
Rick Perry to Head Department of Energy
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/rick-perry-to-be-head-of-_b_13899084.html
THE BLOG

Rick Perry to be Head of Department of Energy

12/31/2016 05:52 pm ET

2016-12-30-1483129029-2134463-140227202405rickperrystorytop.jpg

Energy production is an important driver of our economic and technological future.

That’s why I am glad that President-elect Trump has selected my good friend Rick Perry to run the Department of Energy.

I’ve known Rick since he was Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and I’ve seldom met anybody who has shown a greater capacity for leadership.

By fighting tax increases and expanded regulations, he kept Texas a destination state for businesses and an engine of job growth. During the economic downturn, nearly 1/3 of all private sector jobs were created in Texas, many of which were in the energy sector.

Which is exactly what makes Rick such an outstanding choice for the Department of Energy.
Yes, I am aware of him infamously calling for the department to be shut down. However, that was because he felt that he and his fellow Texans had a handle on energy production in their state and he did not feel the federal government needed to infringe upon that.

But now, he will get a chance to share Texas’s successful economic and energy strategies with the rest of the country.
And fear not, alternative energy advocates. For those of you who are so worried about what Rick’s approach to energy will be, let Hudson Clean Energy CEO, Neil Auerbach put your mind at ease.

As Mr. Auerbach wrote at CNBC.com Wednesday regarding Rick’s energy record while Governor of Texas, “During his tenure, natural gas production climbed 50 percent, while oil production soared by 260 percent. However, the growth of the wind industry under Perry’s tenure was even more dramatic, growing from only 116 megawatts of production in 2000 to over 11,000 megawatts in 2013.”

Auerbach added that, “If Texas was a country, it would rank as the fifth largest producer of wind power in the world,” while praising the former Governor’s “pragmatic approach to economic growth with energy at its core.”

That’s precisely what we need: a practical voice with the experience and knowledge to guide our energy policy in the right direction.

As you can see, under Rick’s leadership, Texas did produce a lot of oil and natural gas, but wind power grew exponentially as well. That is because he understands that all energy options should be on the table and we should be willing to use anything that produces positive results.
That is the strategy of a forward thinking, market-oriented individual, who truly comprehends that results matter more than intent or ideology.

President-elect Trump promised a no-nonsense, businesslike approach to government and by putting Rick in charge of the Department of Energy, he continues to show that his words are more than just hollow rhetoric.

I’m excited for my friend and look forward to the terrific job he will do in making America’s energy policies and production great again!

Dec
23
Kellyann Conway as Counselor to the President
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/kellyanne-conway-as-couns_b_13798396.html
THE BLOG

Kellyanne Conway As Counselor To The President

12/23/2016 10:36 am ET

Today, President-elect Trump announced Kellyanne Conway will serve as counselor to the president under his administration.

This move was not unexpected, but it was nonetheless very well deserved.

On a personal note, Kellyanne is a dear friend of mine and I could not be happier for her. She earned this and quite frankly, there is a strong case to be made that President-elect Trump would not have won without her.

She’s come a long way from her humble beginnings as a young girl in New Jersey who worked summers at a blueberry farm.

When Kellyanne took over the Trump campaign in August, it looked as though Hillary Clinton was going to waltz right into the White House. All the experts said Trump was dead in the water with women, Hispanics, and blacks. They said it was an uphill battle that could not be won.

But they were wrong and Kellyanne knew it.

She understood better than anybody that Trump’s message was resonating with far more people than most people realized. Even if they refused to tell pollsters out of fear of being called nasty names, there were numerous voters were ready to pull the lever for the man who is now President-elect and Kellyanne saw that clear as day.

She took over a campaign mired in chaos and went right to work. She helped Donald Trump focus and craft his message in a way that re-assured women and minorities that despite what the dishonest media was telling them, Donald Trump would be their man. He would be the man who would go to Washington and battle to bring back the jobs America has tragically lost to foreign competitors while simultaneously draining the swamp of the cronyism and corruption that has plagued our nation’s federal government for far too long.

Kellyanne equipped Trump with a very simple but powerful message for those who felt they were being left behind and feared for their economic future: I see you, I hear you, and I will fight for you. I will be your voice.

That message propelled Donald Trump to the presidency and did so with the support of the majority of white women, as well as 13 percent of black men and nearly 30 percent of Hispanic voters. He also flipped an astounding number of counties that voted for President Obama twice.

And he couldn’t have done it without the wisdom, guidance, and political savvy of Kellyanne.

With Trump’s victory, Kellyanne also became the first woman to ever successfully run a winning presidential campaign. This is a feat that – feelings on Donald Trump aside – she should be lauded for universally.

After all, Hillary Clinton may not have broken one of the most important glass ceilings in presidential politics, but Kellyanne sure did.

I have no doubt that Kellyanne will do a terrific job in her new role as counselor to the president, but I likewise know she will continue to focus heavily on an even more important job: being a mother.

As she told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo this morning, “I see people on the weekend spending an awful lot of time on their golf games and that’s their right. But the kids will be with me. We live in the same house and they come first.”

That’s Kellyanne for you. She will work as hard as anybody, but like any great parent, she never forgets that family always comes first.

I am proud of my friend Kellyanne and I look forward to seeing her help soon-to-be President Trump make America great again. She earned this job and I have absolute faith in her ability to be a fantastic edition to the new presidential team.

Dec
21
Berlin Christmas Market Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir

THE BLOG

Berlin Christmas Market AttackEine Schneise der Verwüstung ist am 20.12.2016 auf dem Weihnachtsmarkt am Breitscheidplatz in Berlin zu sehen. Bei dem möglichen Anschlag mit einem Lastwagen auf den Weihnachtsmarkt an der Gedächtniskirche am Montagabend (19.12.2016) in Berlin wurden zwölf Menschen getötet, mehr als 50 weitere Personen wurden zum Teil schwer verletzt. Foto: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++ |

12/22/2016 10:06 am ET
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/berlin-christmas-market-a_b_13775936.html

A Christmas market in Berlin was attacked Monday when a truck plowed into a crowd, leaving 12 dead and 48 injured. This was similar to a truck attack that left 80 dead in occurred in Nice, France in July. Also on Monday, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot by a madman at an art gallery, who made sure to shout out “Do not forget Aleppo!”

I could go on and on listing events like these, but you get the point.

Listen, I completely understand the concept of blowback – the idea that when a government harms people in other countries it will produce people wanting to retaliate – but these kinds of terrorist attacks are just completely beyond the pale.

Not to mention the fact that Germany has been especially accommodating with taking in refugees and certainly never invited any kind of response like this.

Unfortunately, we live in a world now where even talking about this makes you an “Islamaphobe” to some people.

We are not allowed to simply point out that these crimes were committed in part due to blowback but also in the name of one specific religion.

Our current president, Barack Obama, refuses to even say the words “Islamic Extremism.”

Look, I know that just saying those words isn’t going to magically cure the world of all of these terror attacks.

However, it does allow us to clearly define our enemy and it likewise provides the opportunity to differentiate between those who use the religion as justification for murderous acts and the vast majority of Muslims who are peaceful, wonderful people.

Nobody believes all Muslims are terrorists and separating the “extremists” from the rest of the religion merely reinforces that fact.

Thankfully, our President-elect, Donald Trump understands this and is going to ensure that we call these madmen out for what they truly are.

He realizes that the battle is with these extremists and not with the entire religion. He also recognizes that we must destroy terror groups like ISIS and their cells but we can do this by cooperating with other nations and without involving our country in more pointless nation-building exercises that led to quagmires like Iraq and Libya.

This is why, for all the hand-wringing Democrats are doing about our President-elect supposedly being too friendly with Russia and Vladimir Putin, I can’t see why this is a bad thing.

For starters, I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly eager to antagonize a country with nuclear weapons. In addition, Putin is invested in wiping out our enemies in Syria and seems intent on doing exactly that.

So why not let him?

This doesn’t mean Putin is a good guy or that we are his best pal. It simply means that on most occasions, cooperation is better than conflict.

And that is the best strategy for eradicating the terrorists who wish to do us harm: cooperation. If we needlessly bomb and nation-build, we create more enemies. If we work with others to systematically target the actual perpetrators rather than innocent bystanders, we accomplish the dual goal of keeping our own country safe while ridding the world of these truly evil monsters who wish so badly to destroy us.

It’s important we get our priorities in order and employ all the right strategies in the war on terror.

Thankfully, in a matter of mere weeks, we will have a president who does exactly that.

 

Dec
15
President Elect’s Pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/president-elects-pick-for_b_13634760.html

THE BLOG

The President-Elect’s Pick For Secretary Of State

12/14/2016 09:59 pm ET

The purpose of a secretary of state is to be the United States’ chief diplomat, putting together deals and avoiding conflicts with as many countries as possible.

With that being the case, I’m not sure there is anybody more qualified for the position than Rex Tillerson.

I have heard all kinds of criticism of Rex Tillerson for being too friendly with certain nations, especially Russia. But I’m not sure I understand these complaints. As CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson has traveled the globe and managed to get deals done with powerful people who can be tough to get along with. Shouldn’t this be considered a plus on his resume, not a minus?

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean the United States should or will just roll over for anybody with Rex Tillerson at the helm. What it does mean, however, is that the United States will be in the business of making smart deals and avoiding armed conflict.

Russia is a perfect example. Yes, Vladimir Putin is a brutal dictator who has unjustly punished citizens and members of the press who disagree with him. But that doesn’t mean just talking to or negotiating with him is a bad thing, nor does it mean we endorse everything he does. It simply means we are willing to talk to potentially hostile nations and try to avoid scenarios that necessitate us getting dragged into yet another needless war.

And what exactly is the alternative, anyway?

Even if we place sanctions on countries, they never have the desired effect. Millions starved due to the sanctions we placed on the Iraqis, and their government merely used that as another propaganda weapon to use in convincing their people we were the enemy. Decades of embargoes on Cuba did nothing to help the suffering of the Cuban people or curb the power and riches of Fidel Castro.

Rex Tillerson understands that and is fully capable of using the diplomatic skills he honed at Exxon Mobil to make sure we don’t unnecessarily antagonize anybody while also ensuring American interests are protected at all times.

Yes, he lacks governmental experience, but this is exactly the type of “out of the box” choice that people elected Donald Trump to make. The President-elect, in his infinite wisdom, realizes that a shrewd businessman with great negotiating skills and an incredible Rolodex is more suited to serve America’s diplomatic interests than any career bureaucrat could ever be.

And there are some very well-respected people who have worked in the top state department job who agree with me and think he would be perfect for the position.

Said Condoleeza Rice, who was secretary of state under George W. Bush, “Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world.”

Likewise, James Baker, former secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, said Tillerson would be an “excellent choice” to run the state department, adding, “As CEO of one of the world’s largest and best-run companies, has demonstrated the management and negotiating skills, and has the international experience, that are required in the job.”

President-elect Trump is already showing us that he isn’t going to play the same ridiculous game the politicians in Washington have been playing to our detriment for years. He isn’t going to pick people for his cabinet just because the political establishment calls for it.
In fact, just the opposite.

With Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump has made an unconventional, yet brilliant pick to build and maintain diplomatic relationships around the world while assuring our national interests are always served abroad.

And that’s the way it damn well should be.

Dec
12
President Elect’s Sectary of Defense, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis
 
by Dr. Kazmir

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-munr-kazmir/presidentelects-secretary_b_13531656.html
THE BLOG

President-Elect’s Secretary of Defense Pick, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis

12/09/2016 05:21 pm ET

Perhaps the best quality of President-elect Donald Trump is his ability to find the best people for key positions. That is a major reason for his business success and it will be a major reason for his eventual success as President of the United States.

Take General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for instance. Here is a man who is universally loved and respected by those he’s served with and has the unique combination of leadership skills and resume accomplishments to make him the ideal fit for the job of Secretary of Defense.
People know General Mattis from his tough quotes and his “take no prisoners” attitude, but what some don’t realize is he is also an extremely intelligent man who always looks at all sides of an issue before deciding on what works best. This is a man who required the men serving under him to read books about the culture of their opponents in battle and had those same men attend cultural sensitivity training so they would be mentally and emotionally equipped in addition to physically equipped.

Sure, he likes to kick a little ass, but he’s a smart strategist and a deep thinker, too, as anybody who served under him in Iraq and Afghanistan will tell you.

That’s why in addition to “Mad Dog,” he’s also been called “The Warrior Monk.” Mattis is nuanced: He wants to destroy our enemies, but do it in a well-thought out, strategic way, as evidenced by his criticism of a lot of mistakes that were made during the Iraq War. He thinks Iran is a major threat, but also favors working on a diplomatic solution rather than just tearing up the Iran deal and starting from scratch. He realizes Israel is under assault, but also recognizes that there are people on the other side of the conflict suffering, too. He wants to stop future attacks but recognizes that torture is not an effective method of extracting information.

And that’s another great thing about James Mattis: He has the guts to speak his mind, no matter what. President-elect Trump proclaimed his support for bringing back waterboarding on the campaign trail, but a few weeks ago, he backed off. Why? Because James Mattis told him he’s seen no evidence that it works.

Which is another great thing about President-elect Trump: He will surround himself with the best and brightest and actually listen to their opinions. Donald Trump knows what all great men know, which is that he doesn’t know everything. While he has shown the strength to be authoritative on important issues, he has also shown a willingness to take input from those around him who may know certain subjects better than he does. That is the mark of a great executive and a wise leader.

A brilliantly qualified General, who is willing to speak his mind, leading the Defense Department with a President who is both shrewd enough to appoint that General and smart enough to listen to him. That is a terrific combination and come January 20, we, as Americans, will all be grateful to have both of them serving our interests.

Sep
28
Press Release on Passing of Former Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres
 
by Dr. Kazmir

str1705interview_385040k

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres. I had met him on many different occasions. I always admired his courage and he has been a great inspiration to me. He was a righteous man and strong leader whose efforts have paved the way for Democracy in Israel. His presence will be missed greatly, yet he will be forever remembered.

I pray for his family and the people of Israel following this tragic loss.

 

-Dr. Munr Kazmir

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