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Nov
20
Bigmouth Strikes Again: It Is Time To Completely Ignore Morrissey
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Bigmouth Strikes Again: It Is Time To Completely Ignore Morrissey

11/20/2017 05:51 pm ET

So Morrissey stuck his foot in his mouth again.

Color me surprised.

For some reason, the legendary singer decided to weigh in on the recent scandals involving Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.

Why he felt the need to do this is beyond me, but after reading his comments, it is safe to say these are thoughts that would have been better suited being left in his head.

About Spacey’s victim, who was a 14 year-old boy at the time, the former Smiths frontman remarked, “You have to ask, where were the boy’s parents. You ask yourself, if the boy didn’t know what could happen. I don’t know what it was like for him but in my youth, I was never in a situation like that. Never. It was always clear to me what could happen. If you’re in someone’s bedroom, you have to know where it could lead. That’s why I don’t find the whole thing very believable. It seems to me Spacey has been unnecessarily attacked.”

If you have not read the details of the allegations against Spacey, I recommend going ahead and doing so. Not only did Spacey seem to all but admit what he did, but Morrissey’s comments read as a disgusting exercise in victim blaming.

Where were the kid’s parents? He should have never allowed himself to be in a situation like that?

So the “He was asking for it,” defense. Wow.

Likewise, the singer seemed to blame the victims Harvey Weinstein.

“Those people knew exactly what would happen [when they went up to Weinstein’s hotel room], and they played along. Afterwards they were embarrassed or they didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “And then they turn it around and say: ‘I was attacked, I was surprised, I was pulled into the room.’ But if everything went well, and it helped them to a big career, they wouldn’t be talking about it.”

So they were just embarrassed or regretful because they didn’t enjoy their encounters with Weinstein.

Apparently, to Steven Patrick Morrissey, being sexually assaulted or even raped is nothing to complain about.

Ok, then.

This isn’t the first time Morrissey has said something both cruel and ignorant. Surely, it won’t be the last.

But I wish it would, at the very least, be the last time anybody even talks about what he has to say. He has shown repeatedly that he has nothing of significance to add to the conversation on anything.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me, the man with the “Irish Blood” and “English Heart” is now permanently persona non grata. And maybe going forward, Morrissey should take a little bit of his own advice.

“Bigmouth, Bigmouth Bigmouth strikes again And I’ve got no right to take my place With the human race”

Nov
17
Argentina Is In Good Hands
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Argentina Is In Good Hands

11/17/2017 05:47 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I was heartened to see recently that Argentina and the United States are talking about increasing trade with each other. I think open trade is a hallmark of a productive economy and the United States couldn’t have a better partner to deal with on the Argentinian end of the spectrum than President Mauricio Macri. I met President Macri last year at the house of American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen and then again earlier this month at a private dinner at the same location.

Jack is working hard around the world to build relationships that could be beneficial not only to AJC, but to many countries worldwide. This includes President Macri, whom Jack is very close with.

On a personal level, President Macri is a charming guy. When you combine his charisma and his penchant for reform, you can easily tell why many consider him to be the Argentinian Ronald Reagan. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of world leaders but to this point, President Macri has been the most impressive one I have met.

I have been to Argentina many times since my daughter studied abroad in Buenos Aires for her law degree. Without a doubt, the country has changed in a positive way under President Macri’s leadership.

Most recently Macri’s party won re-election, which is good news for the Argentinian people and for us, since it makes the road to trade between our two countries easier. There are many investment opportunities for American businesses in Argentina and I hope the friendship between our two nations grows so that the U.S. and Argentina can benefit from each other over the long haul.

In addition, for as long as President Macri is in office, it means that we have a key ally in the region, which is excellent. I am very pleased that President Macri is a friend to Israel as well.

I look forward to progress continuing to be made in Argentina under President Macri and am excited for the positive global outcomes that should occur as a result.

Nov
16
Moore Must Go. Franken Must Go. And The Partisan Excuses Need To Stop.
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Moore Must Go. Franken Must Go. And The Partisan Excuses Need To Stop.

11/16/2017 05:55 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The other day I ripped apart Roy Moore and said he didn’t belong anywhere near the U.S. Senate. But after reading Leeann Tweeden’s story, I’m starting to wonder if maybe Moore would feel right at home.

In case you missed it, Tweeden told a story about Franken kissing her against her will and groping her breasts while she was passed out sleeping. Some have labeled it as an accusation, except it isn’t an accusation, because Tweeden posted an actual photograph of Franken committing the groping.

Franken has now come out and said he welcomes an ethics investigation. Ok, but what exactly is the investigation supposed to turn up? The evidence is literally a photograph of Franken groping Tweeden. The whole thing seems to be the epitome of an open and shut case.

Democrats are hemming and hawing about this but CNN’s Amanda Carpenter said it best when she told Jake Tapper that this cannot be a partisan issue. Whether it is Roy Moore on the left or Al Franken on the right, they need to go, period. Because if we protect one due to ideology, then there is no moral standing to go after the other whose ideology you don’t agree with.

At the core of this, though, is the fact that these were powerful men who thought they could get away with these things. Moore continues to deny what he did while Franken has no such luxury due to the existence of photographic evidence. But either way, how sickening is it that these men did this and it seemed to not even be a thought in their heads. CNN even uncovered tape from a few years ago of Franken mentioning doing a skit with Tweeden. Somehow the part about violating her never came up.

I suppose in some circles I would be considered a powerful man. I am CEO of two companies and sit on several boards. I will also admit that I love beautiful women. But not once has it ever crossed my mind to do the kinds of things these men have done.

Maybe it is because I have three daughters and if anybody did this to them, I would want to run them down with my car. Maybe it is because that’s just the way I am wired. I don’t pretend to be perfect morally, but I can say with absolute certainty that I am definitely better than this.

Moore needs to go. He won’t drop out, but he should. Hopefully the voters don’t reward him and the women he tormented haunt his dreams for years to come.

Franken needs to go. He won’t be tossed out of the senate, but he should be.

Hopefully Leeann Tweeden and all of Moore’s victims find some semblance of peace someday. And I wish I had something more to offer them than my sincerest condolences for how they were treated.

But if we don’t get our act together as a society and punish this type of behavior with more than a slap on the wrist – which is what the “ethics investigation” will amount to – then we are going to see more and more of this and it is never going to get better.

And as a father of three daughters, I pray that’s not how this all plays out.

Nov
15
Can My Daughter Be Friends With Muslims?
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Can My Daughter Be Friends With Muslims?

11/15/2017 03:36 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

As I watched the news of the latest terror attack in New York City earlier this month, my oldest daughter asked me a simple question. “Dad, why do people do these things?” The terror attack in New York City prompted a further array of questions. “Some people hate others because they are different,” I say in a sad tone. “But I’m not different,” she says.

It is impossible to convey the mixture of heartbreak and fear I feel for her. This constant stream of jihadist attacks have made it clear that I will teach my daughter the lesson generations old, one that I, as an immigrant from a majority Muslim country, for the most part nearly escaped. I will teach her to be cautious, I will teach her suspicion, and I will teach her distrust. Much sooner than I thought I would, I will have to discuss with my daughter whether she can truly be friends with Muslim people.

Meaningful friendship is not just a feeling. It is not simply being able to share a beer. Real friendship is impossible without the ability to trust others, without knowing that your well-being is important to them.

History has provided little reason to trust Muslim people in this way, and these recent years have put in perspective the pure contempt that people of that faith have for those who hold western values.

Likewise, despite decades of robust evidence of continuing Islamic terror, attacks that occur are met with cries that we must understand why this was done to us.

As against our gauzy national hopes, I will teach my daughter to have profound doubts that friendship with Muslim people is possible. Spare me platitudes of how we are all the same on the inside. I first have to keep my daughters safe, and so I will teach her before the world shows her this particular brand of rending, violent, often fatal betrayal.

Let me assure you that my heartbreak dwarfs my anger. I grew up in a majority Muslim country. With all its faults, it was a happy-childhood. But what’s surprising is that I am heartbroken at all. It is only for Jewish people who grew up in such a place that watching these Islamic extremist groups is so disorienting. I suppose the ridiculous thing was thinking friendship was possible in the first place. It hurts only if you believed friendship could bridge the cultural gorge.

Imagining we can now be friends across this cultural line is asking us to ignore our safety and that of our children, to abandon personal regard and self-worth. Only Muslim people can cordon off the actions of these terror groups and ignore the “unpleasantness” from a position of safety. The past decade or so has fixed the awful thought in my mind too familiar to westerners: “You can’t trust these people.”

It is not ISIS or Al Qaeda itself who has done this; we have seen their type before. Rather, what has truly broken my heart are the ranks of Islam’s many allies and apologists.

But the deepest rift is with the apologists, the “good” Muslims, the Muslims who understand that these terror groups do “unfortunate” things but don’t speak out against them. They bristle at the accusation that their silence supports terror, insisting they have to ignore these Jihadi attacks. Relying on everyday decency as a shield, they are befuddled at the chill that now separates them from western culture in their offices and social circles. They protest: Have they ever said anything supportive of violence? Don’t they shovel the sidewalk of the new neighbors? Surely, they say, their religion does not mean we can’t be friends.

I do not write this with condescension or glee. My heart is unbearably heavy when I assure you we cannot be friends.

The same is true, unfortunately, of those who hold no quarter for Islamic terror groups but insist that westerners need to do the reaching out, the moderating, the accommodating. Imagine the Muslim who dislikes innocent people in western countries being blown up but wished the whole thing would just settle down. However likable, you could not properly describe her as a friend. Sometimes culture makes demands on the soul.

Don’t misunderstand: Muslims and western citizens can like one another. But real friendship? ISIS and Al Qaeda’s horrific mission props up outrageous claims of western devils, threatening the very body of the little girl I love. No amount of shoveled snow makes it all right, and too many imagine they can have it both ways. It is this desperation to reap the rewards of Islamic supremacy without being so much as indicted that Frank Gaffney recognized as America’s criminal innocence.

We have been encouraged to reach across cultural lines. But there is a difference between simple disagreement and fighting for your very survival in the world, the bodies of your children, your humanity.

We can still all pretend we are friends. If meaningful civic friendship is impossible, we can make do with mere civility — sharing drinks and watching the game. Indeed, even in a world where these jihadist attacks occur, I have not given up on being friends with all Muslim people. In fact, having grown up in a majority Muslim country, some of my dearest friends are Muslim. But these are the friends who have rushed in to condemn the latest terror attack or inhumane action by an Islamist state, people who have shared the risks required by strength and decency.

There is hope, though. It falls to us to do better. We cannot agree on our politics, but we can declare that we stand beside one another against this terror; that we live together and not simply beside one another. In the coming years, when my daughter asks her questions again, I pray for more hopeful answers.

****PLEASE NOTE: The above was written as satire. It is not meant to be taken seriously and in no way represents how I actually feel. The article is a response to this op-ed in the New York Times. In fact, some of the sentences are virtually word for word with “Muslim” put in place of “White.” The point of this was to show how ignorant and bigoted the NY Times op-ed was. Hopefully, by seeing what this NY Times op-ed would mean if it had been written about Muslims, you can now see how awful the sentiment behind it truly was.****

Nov
14
Is Hezbollah on the Rise?
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Is Hezbollah on the Rise?

11/14/2017 05:14 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The American Jewish Congress noted with concern the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last weekend, citing fears over the growing influence of Iranian proxy, the terrorist Hezbollah group.

Tensions in the region have already begun to spiral, following the launch of a rocket at Riyadh from Yemen, which Saudi Arabia attributed to a “declaration of war” by Iran and Hezbollah. That the recall of its citizens from Lebanon by Saudi Arabia coincided with Hariri seeking refuge in Riyadh from where he announced his resignation, only further provoked fears of Saudi military action in Lebanon.

The resignation of the moderate Hariri seemed choreographed to isolate Hezbollah and its dangerous intentions of derailing Lebanese authorities, but it has instead fueled a culture of fear, instability and mistrust among Lebanon’s regional neighbors which only serves to strengthen Hezbollah’s hand.

Even more reason to worry if international powers cannot cooperate with local moderate forces to counter the combined force of Iran and Hezbollah, which would virtually guarantee the situation will spiral, increasing the likelihood of a clash with Israel and the additional spread of terror throughout the Middle East.

Israeli officials initially concluded that Hariri’s resignation was a clear sign of the combined power of Hezbollah and the Lebanese government operating in cahoots with Iran. Despite Israeli distrust of Iran and Hezbollah, however, the administration remains unconvinced that Saudi Arabia alone is capable of curtailing Iranian influence and coordinating an allied response to deescalate tensions across the region.

While publicly neither Israel nor Hezbollah has expressed an appetite for renewed military action, cabinet minister Naftali Bennett says Israel will be taking a “cautious” approach to recent developments, “to prevent an unnecessary escalation in the region.”

Meanwhile, much of the focus will be on Saudi Arabia to make the next move in the ongoing power play, with an economic boycott against Qatar being the most likely option. With Hezbollah able to draw on Iran for financial backing though, such sanctions are unlikely to bring the terrorist group to its knees.

We have seen the results of aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we need to make sure that does not happen again. We must strive for peace in the region, and to get that, we need cooperation on an international level to stomp out terrorist groups and avoid complete destabilization of the Middle East.

Nov
13
American Jewish Congress Statement on the Deadly Earthquake in Iran and Iraq
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on the Deadly Earthquake in Iran and Iraq

11/13/2017 03:06 pm ET

The American Jewish Congress offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the earthquake that has left parts of Iraq and Iran in ruins. Over 400 people have lost their lives in this deadly natural disaster, and thousands of others are either injured or missing. We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of this tragedy.

As thousands have been left without shelter and medical treatment, the American Jewish Congress supports and encourages immediate relief efforts, and urges the local and international community to provide help and assistance to all those in need. We stand in solidarity with all those affected.

Jack Rosen, President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary – American Jewish Congress

Nov
11
Regardless of Sexual Assault Allegations, Roy Moore Does Not Belong In The U.S. Senate
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Regardless of Sexual Assault Allegations, Roy Moore Does Not Belong In The U.S. Senate

11/11/2017 12:41 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The allegations that have surfaced against Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore are horrendous to say the least.

Moore has been accused of acting in a sexually inappropriate manner with underage girls many years ago.

Thus far, Moore has denied the charges made against him. I can’t say for certain if these allegations are true, but he has changed his story and issued bizarre non-denials, which are not generally the actions of somebody who has done nothing wrong.

Mitch McConnell has suggested Moore drop out of the race. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) has said that if Moore does get elected, he should be removed from the Senate.

I agree with both men.

But truthfully, even before these allegations, Roy Moore had no business being within 1,000 feet of the senate.

Let’s be honest about who Roy Moore is: He is the absolute epitome of every negative stereotype people have about southern Republicans.

For starters, he was removed from the bench as a Judge twice for refusing to follow the law. In other words, he was being an activist Judge, something the right normally hates.

You’d think that would be disqualifying to hold any other type of elective office – let alone U.S. senate – but somehow he remained a viable figure.

And virtually every word or action he involved himself with ends up being worse than the last. Roy Moore has compared homosexuality to bestiality, advocated for making homosexual acts illegal, and suggested gay people should be barred from raising children or serving in government.

Additionally, Moore said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in government, a stance that puts him strongly at odds with the U.S. Constitution.

Moore seems to believe Sharia Law is on the rise in certain Midwest states, a thought that has exactly zero basis in reality.

Moore believes 9/11 was God’s punishment for straying from “God’s law.”

And the capper, he thinks football players kneeling for the anthem are in violation of federal law, which I suppose means he believes they should all go to jail.

I’m not wild about players kneeling for the anthem, but I certainly recognize their right to do it, and I absolutely do not want anybody punished by the law for doing it. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.

I’m all for anti-establishment. Believe me, nobody hates the way the ruling class behaves more than I do. They act all-knowing, condescend to anybody who disagrees, and then end up being wrong on most major issues, anyway. And when you point out how wrong they were, they just ridicule you for being a racist, or a sexist, or a homophobe, and a rube.

Except here’s the deal: Roy Moore actually IS all of those things.

Democrats are usually just making these accusations to smear their political opponents, but in this case, it is true. In all reality, Roy Moore won’t step aside, because he never does.

Even if the allegation gain more traction, he’s likely not going anywhere. Remember, this is a man who was removed from the judiciary twice and still didn’t have the shame or decency to just go away. And I’m sure he won’t now, either.

But he should.

He would be doing his party AND his country a huge favor.

Whether or not Roy Moore deserves to be in jail is a matter for the police to figure out, but one place Roy Moore absolutely doesn’t deserve to be is the U.S. senate.

If Republicans want to save their brand and while simultaneously saving the country from a huge disaster, they should find a way to pull the plug on his candidacy before everything finds a way to somehow get even worse.

And if you’re thinking that’s impossible, just remember, this is Roy Moore we are talking about here. It ALWAYS gets worse.

Nov
10
Morocco May Hold the Key to Regional Stability
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Morocco May Hold the Key to Regional Stability

11/10/2017 05:21 pm ET

The balance of power has long been shifting in the Middle East, and many would say not in America’s favor: Iran has been emboldened, Russia triumphant, and America and its allies on the defensive. This all can be explained by the fact that the coalition to counter Iranian influence and intransigence has been weak and fractured. The peace process between Arabs and Israelis has been sidelined, moderate Sunni Arab states have seen their economies stagnate and political tumult has gripped many of them.

And so the United States has been looking for allies to counter Iranian hegemony on the one hand and Sunni extremism on the other.

A key divide among the moderate Arab states comes from the schism that has formed between Qatar and the other GCC countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The divide has made it difficult for these traditional US allies to form a unified front against threats to regional stability and US interests. The region therefore needs an actor who has the credibility and the self-interests to play a constructive role in bringing the GCC countries back together into a solid meaningful, pro-US alliance. This same actor could also bring the Israelis and Arabs together to talk meaningful peace and transform that relationship to become a force for good in the region.

As you scan the region and look deeper into the history, values, and interests of each country and leader, one of them stands out. Morocco, and its King, is just a natural fit.

The Kingdom enjoys the oldest uninterrupted treaty of friendship with the United States. During the Cold War, it was a stalwart against communism, and more recently has played a crucial role in executing the global war against terrorism.

The country has also been a pioneer of the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and the late King Hassan II held some of the first secret meetings between Egypt and Israel, which later led to the signing of the Camp David peace that still keeps the peace between those two countries. Moreover, Israel has about one million citizens of Moroccan origin, the great majority of whom still keeps ties to their country of origin and fondly retell memories of their parents or grandparents who existed in harmony with Muslim neighbors under the sovereignty of a Muslim monarch. Morocco’s relations with the Palestinians have also been strong. The Quds Council, the institution that is meant to protect the Muslim’s claims to areas of Jerusalem where there is Muslim heritage, is headquartered in Rabat, Morocco, and the Moroccan government has been a historic supporter of the Palestinian cause.

At the same time, Morocco enjoys credibility with the countries of the GCC. When Saudi Arabia and UAE called for a boycott of Qatar, Morocco remained neutral and sent emergency aid to that country. This week, the King of Morocco is visiting the UAE to inaugurate the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, in a sign of warm relations between the King and the Emir. Also, in what could be termed as “Vacation Diplomacy”, the King of Saudi Arabia spends his summer vacation in Tangier, the most northern city of Morocco, where he meets other foreign leaders and conducts the business of his Kingdom. More concretely, Morocco has declared its alliance with the GCC countries against any foreign threats to their common security. And the GCC countries have responded with billions worth of investments in the Moroccan economy.

Morocco is endowed with a unique place in the region and should be seen by the United States as a go-to country for regional mediation and to serve as the country around which an alliance can form. An alliance that can hold together in the face of the onslaught of rogue regimes and extremist movements across the region.

Nov
9
When It Comes To The Saudis, It’s Wait And See……
 
by Dr. Kazmir

When It Comes To The Saudis, It’s Wait And See……

11/09/2017 01:53 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The Saudi government has long been a source of corruption and fascistic rule but to their credit, it seems as though they are finally trying to fix that.

Some of the most connected business and political leaders in the country are being swept up as part of an anti-corruption probe, including Royal Family Members and executives.

Charges range from bribery to money laundering to extortion. Between this and the recent liberalizing of some Saudi laws – including women above a certain age being allowed to drive at certain times of day – Saudi Arabia seems to be headed in the right direction for the first time in a long time.

But there is a long history of failed reformers in the Middle East, covering countries like Iran and Iraq. Intentions always start out positive but whether or not the results end up that way is ultimately another matter.

And let’s remember Saudi Arabia’s long history of disgraceful behavior towards other countries. It wasn’t long ago that the Saudi national soccer team refused to observe a moment of silence for London terror victims during a game in Australia. I could use flowery language here, but I won’t. Instead, I will simply say it was as classless and disgusting as anything I’ve seen in a long time and it sickened me to my very core.

Over the years they have funded numerous bad acts and it is worth keeping in mind that a whopping 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Plus, they still refuse to help one bit with the refugee crisis that is tearing their region apart.

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.”

So the ongoing reforms seem like a step in the right direction, but we must see how it all plays out. Over the years, I know our government has had strong ties to the Saudi Royal Family and that has made it difficult for any president to lean on them strongly.

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 and my hope was that one of the things he would do differently was lean on the Saudis for their bad behavior and put pressure on them to take in refugees.

I’m a supporter of the president, but to be honest, his actions thus far regarding the Saudis have been far too deferential and incredibly disappointing.

I know the saying “money talks” applies here, but are human rights really for sale? Does human decency really carry a price tag?

The answer should be no, but unfortunately, up until now, it has been yes. Simply put, Saudi Arabia has gotten away with things no poor country would have gotten away with and it is unconscionable.

These corruption arrests and reforms appear to indicate these unconscionable abuses may be on the way out in Saudi Arabia.

But I hope and pray somebody that if the Saudis don’t ultimately deliver the changes necessary in the long run that somebody with real political power has the courage to stand up and call them out for it instead of doing what is always done, which is bending a knee.

I truly want the Saudis to change and our government to refuse to kiss their ring if they do not.

But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Nov
7
Do Not Let Anybody Shame You Into Voting If You Don’t Want To
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Do Not Let Anybody Shame You Into Voting If You Don’t Want To

11/07/2017 05:05 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

You hear it every November when there’s an election. “Get out and vote.” “Do your civic duty.”

Of course, most people only say that because they want you to vote for their preferred candidate, but I digress…..

When it comes to the responsibility of voting in a free republic, I tend to lean on the opinions of two of America’s greatest creative geniuses, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who said, “There is no shame in not voting if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

In fact, I will take it a step further: Even if you DO know a lot about policy, there is no shame in not voting if you find the choices objectionable. Some of the smartest people I know refrain from voting for this very reason.

Every election, many people feel pressured into voting when they really do not know anything about the candidates or issues, beyond maybe a quick article they read just before voting.

Much like Parker and Stone, I am not saying these people shouldn’t vote or don’t have the right to vote. I am simply saying that if they are apathetic or simply don’t want to vote, then they have every right to abstain without being made to feel like a monster.

The constant refrain is that people died for your right to vote. But people seem to be confusing rights with duties. Because much like all other rights, just because you have it, does not mean you need to exercise it if you aren’t comfortable doing so.

You have the right to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean you need to purchase one.

You have the right to freely exercise your religion, but you are equally free to not exercise any religion at all.

The point is, having a right doesn’t mean that right needs to be used. Being free to do something also means being free not to do that same exact thing if that is the action you choose to take.

So on this day, Election Day 2017, here is the advice I will give you, no matter how unpopular it may be: Vote if you want. If you do vote, then cast your ballot for the candidate you prefer regardless of why.

But if you don’t like any of the candidates, you believe the system itself is illegitimate, you don’t feel you know anything, or you simply don’t care, then feel free to note vote, if that is what you think is best.

After all, as a wise man once wrote, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

And if you are going to make a choice, it should be the one you want to make, not the one others wish you would make.

Nov
6
The Voices Who Know The Least Seem To Be Loudest On Gun Debate
 
by Dr. Kazmir

The Voices Who Know The Least Seem To Be Loudest On Gun Debate

11/06/2017 04:43 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

They say empty barrels make the most noise and in the wake of recent shootings, we have seen that play out in real time.

I am truly amazed at how the people who know the least about guns seem to be the ones leading the charge on the discussion regarding “What needs to be done.”

Full disclosure: I am not a firearms expert. I have fired rifles before and I probably know more than the average person, but I certainly would never claim to be somebody who could teach a course on the subject.

Yet somehow, I still my think level of knowledge about firearms is superior to the vast majority of those with the loudest megaphones at this moment.

Case in point: Here are some reactions following the shooting in Las Vegas……

Hillary Clinton, “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

We hear this all the time, usually from people whose knowledge of guns comes from watching television and movies. A “silencer,” or “suppressor” DOES NOT actually make the gunshot silent. What it does is make the shot less loud so as to protect the shooter from permanent hearing loss. But even with the suppressor, the shots still sound roughly as loud as a Jet engine, which as I’m sure you’re aware, is still pretty damn loud.

Here’s MTV’s Ana Marie Cox, “Man, imagine if the right believed in unfettered access to the ballot box as much as they believed in the right to own guns.”

In addition to showing a photo ID to buy a gun – something you do not have to do when voting in many states – this tired old canard of “hey, buying a gun is easier than _____” is so played out that it should be wearing bell-bottoms.

In Nevada, for instance, you must pass a background check in order to legally purchase a firearm.

Speaking of which….. Machine guns – automatic weapons – are illegal. Have been for decades.

Thus, if the Nevada shooter modified a semi-automatic weapon to turn it into an automatic weapon, that is already against the law. Anybody telling you otherwise – ie: that it is easy to legally purchase an automatic weapon – is very much mistaken.

We hear a lot about assault rifles, which to most people really just means a semi-automatic weapon, which covers a lot of ground. I’ve actually heard semi-automatic machine gun, which is a real treat, because there is no such thing.

And following the Texas shooting we heard much of the same. Constant refrains to ban AR-15 rifles because they are supposedly “assault rifles” and “machine guns.” But they are semi-automatic rifles, not automatic rifles.

Not to mention the shooter had a domestic violence conviction, which disqualified him from legally purchasing a gun of any kind.

So his firearms purchase was illegal and no amount of background checks or new laws could have stopped it.

I could go on…..seriously, I really could. There is enough material to write a whole book on this stuff. But I think you get the point.

Unfortunately, the media plays into this by constantly promoting the views of those on both sides who don’t really know what they are talking about.

If we are ever going to make progress on this issue, that has to stop. Mass shootings like these are a tragedy of epic proportions and I’m not going to act like I have all the answers.

But I do know that just pounding your fist on the table and recycling talking points that either are not true or wouldn’t have done anything to help, serves no positive purpose.

My suggestion to those who are so dug into their positions but do not actually know anything: read a book and educate yourself.

Because no matter what side of the debate you are on, you aren’t doing anybody any good if you can’t at least intelligently defend your point of view.

Nov
3
CEO Shows the Path to True Female Empowerment
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Contributor

CEO Shows the Path to True Female Empowerment

11/03/2017 05:42 pm ET

NORTHJERSEY.COM /DAVE MARTIN

As a father of three daughters, I have always been a person who has sought to help and encourage women achieve their maximum potential in the workplace. I’m also somebody who has long admired those women who have made it to the very top of their profession.

Deborah D. Visconi is one of those women.

Visconi is the first President and Chief Executive Officer for New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, NJ. New Bridge is the largest hospital in New Jersey, the largest hospital in Bergen County, and is the 4th largest public hospital in the country.

Her path to that prestigious position began at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Health Services Administration and a Masters of Science in Health Care Administration. Visconi did not have anything handed to her – like any strong and driven professional woman, she worked incredibly hard every step of the way as she moved up the ladder bit by bit.

She began as a lab tech and eventually rose to the position of Beth Israel’s Senior VP of Executive Administration, where she developed growth plans for the hospital and helped lead the development of community outreach programs for underserved communities. Visconi improved clinical efficiency and increased patient satisfaction scores by over nine percentage points from prior year though the implementation of the hospital’s clinical information system, and creation of an aggressive ambulatory growth strategy for outpatient practices by increasing managed care participation for faculty and creating concierge and convenient care services.

After moving on to a position as Director of Operations of Morristown Medical Center, the flagship hospital for Atlantic Health System, one of New Jersey’s largest non-profit health care systems, Visconi oversaw multiple hospitals in the Atlantic Health System’s receipt of international recognition as a leader in healthcare equality by the Health Equality Index. The implementation of patient experience initiatives linked with cultural sensitivity, training programs and interpretation innovations under Visconi were so admired that they were featured in regional publications as “best-in-class” models.

While with Morristown Medical Center,Visconi also lead a team credited with programmatic growth across the enterprise, implementing the strategic plan and enhancing the hospital’s footprint to the community. She led health care reform initiatives including ACO development and bundling models of care for the system, leading to service line restructuring and cost saving.

And now in her current role with New Bridge Medical Center, Visconi will be tasked with transforming the care delivery system to assure access for all residents of Bergen County, development of population health initiatives to assure needs of the community are met. Visconi will also be responsible for creation of innovative programs in the fight against the opiod epidemic, which is of the utmost importance as even the president has made clear with his declaration of the opioid epidemic as a national health emergency.

New Jersey is my neck of the woods and I have worked with hospitals and hospital administrators for years so it is important to me that strong and smart leadership be in place at New Jersey’s top hospitals. I am pleased to say that I believe Debroah Visconi is exactly that type of person and that New Bridge Medical Center is in excellent hands. I am thrilled for her and even more thrilled for the patients who will receive excellent care on her watch.

Nov
2
Brazille Shows DNC Dysfuncion, But Washington As A Whole May Be Broken
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Brazille Shows DNC Dysfuncion, But Washington As A Whole May Be Broken

11/02/2017 05:57 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Former DNC Chair Donna Brazille has released an excerpt from her book about the 2016 campaign and to say it has people talking would be the understatement of the century.

The crux of what Brazille’s excerpt revealed is that President Obama left the DNC in shambles and Hillary Clinton’s campaign used that as an opportunity to give the party some financial assistance with the price being that the Clinton campaign would more or less have complete control over the DNC for a full year before Hillary Clinton won the nomination.

This led to the entire party apparatus being skewed in Hillary Clinton’s favor, essentially rigging the system against Bernie Sanders, a claim many of his supporters had been laughed at for making.

The fact that this was happening isn’t all that shocking to most who are “in the know.”

What was stunning, however, was just how clearly and concisely Brazille spelled out the details.

It is one thing to have strong suspicions, but it is another to have all of those worst suspicions confirmed in such a concrete manner.

Of course, Brazille writing about this is informative, but I would be remiss if I didn’t stop to chuckle at what a dishonest actor she is being. Let’s not forget that the Wikileaks dumps not only revealed Brazille’s contempt for the Sanders campaign, but also that the former Chair was a willing participant in stacking the deck in favor of Clinton.

In fact, CNN even fired Brazille due to the revelation that she had been feeding questions for televised debates to the Clinton camp ahead of time.

In addition to confirming our worst suspicions about collusion between the Clinton camp and the DNC, what these revelations show is an utter lack of care for anything other than personal power.

President Obama cared so much about his party and his ideals that he did precisely zero to help raise money for Democrats who needed it if they were going to join him in Washington to help his cause.

Hillary Clinton took it a step further, ensuring that – according to Brazille – less than half of one percent went to state and local races that the Democrats needed to win.

Again, we’ve become accustomed to politicians being lying, conniving, greedy, power mad creatures, but it is still disturbing when the light gets shone directly on that phenomenon this way.

If Brazille’s excerpt showed us anything, it is that the Democrats are in shambles and have been for quite some time.

The Republicans, who spent an entire year fighting to stop the candidate that eventually won their nomination and now can’t seem to get much passed even with a majority in both houses, are not looking much better, if at all.

Regardless of party, none of this is a good look for our political system.

If these two parties can even figure out how to run their own internal operations, then how are we supposed to trust them to govern?

I guess we aren’t. And really, maybe that’s the real lesson from all of this.

Nov
1
New York Attack Aside, Our Immigration System Needs To Be Improved
 
by Dr. Kazmir

New York Attack Aside, Our Immigration System Needs To Be Improved

11/01/2017 05:39 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Yesterday’s attack in New York City was an awful tragedy and I weep for the victims. I was in New York City yesterday having a business meeting and can only say I am unbelievably grateful to have not been caught in the violence.

In the aftermath, the furious debate over U.S. immigration policy has gotten even more heated.

I’m not looking to argue anything one way or the other based on what happened yesterday. However, the events in New York City aside, it has always been clear that 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.

The point system isn’t perfect and certainly could be tweaked to suit our purposes here in the United States. But it is a good place to start. Canada’s system is much better than ours with a strong foundation we can emulate. We should take that foundation and build upon it to make an immigration system that works much better for America.

Nov
1
American Jewish Congress Statement on New York Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on New York Attack

11/01/2017 11:35 am ET Updated Nov 01, 2017

The American Jewish Congress is appalled by the terror attack that was carried out in New York yesterday, leaving eight innocent people dead and many more injured. Our condolences and thoughts are with the victims, their families and those affected by this cowardly act, the deadliest to occur in the city since the September 11 attacks. These attacks are becoming ever more frequent and their targets are always innocent people going about their everyday lives, from children travelling on a school bus to groups of friends celebrating.

This was an attack not only on America, but on the free world and serves as a reminder of the dangers of radical Islamic terror. We must unite once again in our shared values of freedom and tolerance to combat hate and ensure our universal values prevail. The American Jewish Congress stands in solidarity with all victims of terror and with the citizens of New York.

Jack Rosen, President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary – American Jewish Congress

Oct
31
Anti-Gillespie Ad Was Way Over The Line And Hopefully Not Sign of Things To Come
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Anti-Gillespie Ad Was Way Over The Line And Hopefully Not Sign of Things To Come

10/31/2017 06:14 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I have known Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie for many years and have always found him to be of the highest quality character.

So imagine my surprise when I was surfing the web and saw this.

In case you can’t see the video, it is an ad put together by the Latino Victory Fund that depicts a white man in a pickup truck with Ed Gillespie and Donald Trump bumper stickers holding a gun as he chases down young children of different ethnicities.

The implication here is clear: that Ed Gillespie and his supporters want to hunt down children of color and hurt them. Again, I have known Ed Gillespie for many years and this could not be further from the truth. In fact, he’s actually fairly middle of the road on a lot of topics including immigration.

Not that it matters to the people who made the ad, who are willing to claim anything – not matter how fallacious and sleazy – to try to hurt a political opponent. I’ve been around politics a long time and I get that it can be very nasty. But that was over the line.

WAY over the line.

Likely, it is because the Democrats in Virginia are scared. Not scared of Ed Gillespie’s policies, but that he may win.

He came close last time and is polling very close again. So if they have to lie to try to scare people into voting for Ralph Northam? They will do and not think twice because apparently race baiting is terrible unless it is THEIR kind of race baiting.

I don’t live in Virginia so I have no dog in this electoral fight, but I am very tired of seeing politics play out this way.

These types of tactics have been used for a long time, but they seem to have escalated to a level even more unhealthy than normal recently, and that is very dangerous.

Because we are getting to the point where we can’t just disagree and the other side isn’t just wrong, they are evil.

And once the other side is evil, there is nothing you can’t talk yourself into doing for what you believe is the greater good.

I can tell you where that leads, and I promise you, it is nowhere good. This is all getting way out of hand and I just hope at some point we all remember that despite our differences, each side just sees things differently and there is no need for this kind of viciousness.

Because ultimately, if we forget that, then God help us all going forward.

Oct
30
Kevin Spacey Should Be Ashamed of Himself
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Kevin Spacey Should Be Ashamed of Himself

10/30/2017 06:16 pm ET

Kevin Spacey has been accused of inappropriately touching an actor years ago who was 14 at the time.

His response was that he doesn’t remember it because he may have been drunk, if he did do it he’s sorry, and oh by the way, he’s gay.

That response is so bizarre that I’m not sure where to start.

First, I’ve been drunk once or twice in my life. At no point in time did somebody accuse me of inappropriately touching a child. Most people do things they regret when they are drunk, but that generally doesn’t include child molestation.

Second, he’s sorry if he did do it. Good to know.

Third, and most important, the mention of the fact that Spacey is gay.

There had been rumors for years – rumors Spacey largely denied – but whatever, who cares. The point here is that sandwiching in the fact that he is gay as an attempted partial cover for the reprehensible act he is alleged to be responsible for is disgusting.

Being gay or straight does not make you any more or less likely to engage in inappropriate conduct with an underage child. Throwing that detail into his statement is Spacey’s way of attempting to garner sympathy for himself.

It is exactly the same garbage Harvey Weinstein tried when he admitted to being a sexual predator and stuck a line in about wanting to fight the NRA.

I don’t care what your thoughts are on the NRA, they have nothing to do with what a repulsive human being Harvey Weinstein is.

And being gay has nothing to do with whether or not Kevin Spacey tried to sexually molest a child.

Gay people have a hard enough time in this world and the last thing they need is somebody committing sexual assault and trying to use homosexuality to downplay it.

Homosexuality is not an excuse for committing sexual assault against a minor and Kevin Spacey should be ashamed of himself that he tried to save himself by sullying an entire sexual orientation.

I’m sick of powerful people like Weinstein and Spacey making excuses and attempt to gain sympathy for themselves.

It is cheap and abhorrent and I, for one, am not falling for it.

I hope nobody else does, either.

Oct
26
Trump and Christie Team Up To Tackle Opioid Crisis
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Trump and Christie Team Up To Tackle Opioid Crisis

10/26/2017 05:35 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Painfully recalling the alcoholism of his own brother, an emotional President Trump made a bold declaration today about the opioid crisis in America, something he pledged to fight with everything he has.

There are roughly 175 overdoses everyday, which the president declared is a health crisis that this generation must end. To head this effort, the president has chosen New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Full disclosure: I know Governor Christie fairly well and I believe the president has made a great choice here.

Governor Christie has been personally affected by this issue, having lost a very close friend to this crisis years ago.

A major part of this initiative will involve providing better treatment for addicts, which, to be honest, is something I wish would be integrated into the war on drugs in general.

I understand that like opioids, many illegal narcotics are dangerous. But I also believe that fighting addiction with treatment rather than jail cells is more humane and effective.

That doesn’t mean hardcore drug abusers who commit crimes shouldn’t be punished, but I would like to see the system as a whole lean more towards treatment and less towards incarceration.

All of that said, it is nice to see the opioid crisis finally discussed out in the open and given the proper national attention.

For far too long opioids have ravaged numerous parts of the country and it is about time that fact was recognized by those who have the power to make positive changes.

Whatever you think of him, President Trump is doing the right thing here and his choice of Chris Christie was a perfect one, as the Governor is as committed to this battle as anybody ever could be.

America needed strong leadership on this issue and now they have it.

I hope with all my heart they are successful.

Oct
26
American Jewish Congress Statement Thanking Governor Hogan
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement Thanking Governor Hogan

10/26/2017 03:49 pm ET

Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies in Maryland from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel.

This order makes Maryland the 23rd state to enforce legislation that fights against the boycott Israel movement.

Here is Governor Hogan’s statement:

“Israel is a robust democracy with many rights and freedoms that don’t exist in neighboring countries, or across much of the world. The shameful BDS movement seeks to undercut those rights and freedoms, using economic discrimination and fear, by boycotting Israeli companies and prohibiting them from doing business in the United States”

The American Jewish Congress offers our thanks and appreciation to Governor Hogan for having the courage to stand up for our friend and ally Israel. We must stand together against the boycott Israel movement and all those who unjustly attack Israel.

This a positive step that weakens the boycott Israel movement. We encourage other states to pass similar legislation in support of Israel.

Jack Rosen – President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir – Vice President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake – Secretary; American Jewish Congress

Oct
25
Flashback: Carlson and Boot Get Heated Regarding Way Forward On Foreign Policy
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Flashback: Carlson and Boot Get Heated Regarding Way Forward On Foreign Policy

10/25/2017 05:47 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

A few months ago, I watched Tucker Carlson debate Max Boot on foreign policy. The other day, I re-watched it on youtube while at the airport waiting for a flight and my initial reactions at the time still held true.

Now, before anybody jumps down my throat: yes, Fox News is certainly a conservative network. And yes, Tucker Carlson can get a tad obnoxious at times. But watching these two men whose foreign policy ideas are so diffeent go head to head was interesting to say the least.

In fairness, there was a lot of cable news like theatrics, people talking over each other, petty insults, etc…. that made the segment cringe worthy at times. However, the main crux of the argument between the two was fascinating and really represents the battle for the soul of the Republican Party on the issue of foreign policy. Essentially, Boot represents what many have called the “neo-conservative” wing of the Republican Party.

This is the group of Republicans who were gung ho about overthrowing regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and are equally gung ho about trying to topple Iran and Syria while taking a hard line with Russia. They believe this is necessary to spread American values throughout the globe. Think John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Meanwhile, Carlson represents what might be called the “anti-interventionist” wing of the Republican Party. They don’t want to spread American values across the globe. They believe countries all over the world – even ones with evil dictators – are best left alone for fear of backlash against America and the potential instability of what could happen following a forced regime change. They basically want America to mind its business unless there is some sort of major national interest or direct threat to the nation involved. Think Ron Paul.

During the fiery exchange, Carlson challenged Boot both on Boot’s past positions – he vehemently supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Mohammar Al Qadaffi, for example – and current positions – he supports a hard line stance with Russia and Iran and a full-fledged overthrow of Bashar Al Assad in Syria – while attempting to present a case that Boot’s positions are foolish and produce more harm than good. Carlson said that while Putin and Assad are both bad, we have common cause – the destruction of ISIS – and so it would be in America’s interest to work with them on this particular issue.

Boot, in turn, made the case that Russia’s alleged attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election made them a hostile enemy who should be treated with scorn. He said we do not have common cause with Russia, deemed them and Iran as our #1 threats, and more or less stuck to his guns that Assad needed to be toppled. Then it got really interesting when Carlson challenged Boot on what would happen if the United States toppled Assad in Syria, asking him who would take over that country. Boot had no answer, and in that moment – in my mind at least – exposed the biggest flaw in his camp’s way of thinking.

As Carlson pointed out, Boot loudly proclaimed the Middle East would be a better, more stable place if the United States deposed Saddam Hussein. He was wrong. Boot had similar aspirations in Afghanistan. He was wrong. Boot loudly cheerlead for the overthrow of Qadaffi in Libya, making many of the same arguments he did with Hussein in Iraq. He was wrong again. Now, he argues the same must be done in Syria.

The question is, at what point do we stop listening to these people? What more do we need to see before we realize that just overthrowing one dictator to give way to chaos is simply not an acceptable strategy?

Say what you will about President Trump, but this is part of why he won: because instead of parroting the company line repeated ad nauseum by Hillary Clinton and virtually every Republican primary candidate (with the notable exception of Rand Paul and to a much lesser extent Ted Cruz), he chided these so-called intellectual geniuses for their pattern of repeatedly getting things like this – something that can and has gotten millions of people unnecessarily killed – completely wrong and then paying no price for their repeated failure. But this really isn’t about the president.

This is about the way forward on foreign policy and if we, as a nation, are ever going to learn our lesson when it comes to these issues. Bashar Al Assad is terrible. I am in no way saying otherwise. But I’m dying for somebody to tell me how he is (a) a threat to the United States and (b) any different from Saddam Hussein in that the cure is likely worse than the disease. I’d also love to know why we can work with some of the most horrific regimes on the planet – including Joseph Stalin, who makes Vladimir Putin look like Nelson Mandela – but simply cooperating with Russia to defeat a common enemy – in this case ISIS – is completely forbidden because Russia may have been the ones behind the dumps of the emails of John Podesta and the DNC.

Let’s put aside the fact that Russia – and every other major world power, including the United States – constantly tries to influence foreign elections to their perceived benefit.

If we want to ensure that whatever actually happened in 2016 never happens again, it seems to me that making a concerted effort to greatly improve the government’s cybersecurity might be a better way to go than constantly screaming “RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA!!!!!” for everything from a spilled cup of coffee to grainy reception on a television set.

And it also strikes me that maybe if we want fewer messes that we both create and then end up making worse by trying to “clean them up,” it might behoove us to stop unnecessarily agitating conflicts and unnecessarily starting wars with foolish delusions of grandeur and fantasies of the world in the United States’ image. In other words, perhaps it is time we made the collective decision to stop listening to consistently wrongheaded advice of people like Max Boot.

The United States and the world would be better off if we did.

Oct
24
ESPN Embarrasses Itself Once Again…….
 
by Dr. Kazmir

ESPN Embarrasses Itself Once Again…….

10/24/2017 06:02 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

ESPN just cannot stop shooting itself in the foot.

Mere days after the debut of “Barstool Van Talk” on ESPN2 as a weekly late night series, network President John Skipper pulled the plug, essentially saying that he had made a mistake in thinking that ESPN could do the show while maintaining separation from the Barstool brand.

Alrighty then.

What seems to have happened is several ESPN employees were infuriated by what they refer to as the sexist nature of Barstool Sports and loudly voiced their grievances. Chief among them was Sunday NFL Countdown host Samantha Ponder, who was upset over a rant Barstool’s President Dave Portnoy had done about her on a podcast in which, among other things, he said Ponder needed to “slut it up.”

In defense of Ponder, what Portnoy said about her was foul. But really, that’s kind of what Barstool does.

From what I’ve seen of their work, they are kind of a mixture of Howard Stern and Colin Cowherd – hot take sports mixed with the type of primal instinct libido driven talk that guys engage in when women are not around.

I personally find Barstool to be very hit or miss, but whether you like their brand or not is irrelevant. Who they were as a brand and what they do was never a mystery.

Which is why Skipper’s decision makes no sense.

I’m reminded of the old parable about the old lady who sees an injured snake, picks it up, nurses it back to health, and is stunned when the snakes eventually bites her. After all she had done for that snake, how could he bite her? Simple: He was a snake and that’s what snakes do.

Barstool – and the two talents involved in “Van Talk,” Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter – are what they are. To green light a project with them, knowing what they were going to do, and then cancel the show when they deliver exactly what was expected just seems beyond ridiculous.

And for a company that has had numerous problems of late – from the Robert Lee announcing story to Jemele Hill calling half the country white supremacists to numerous layoffs due to declining revenues – ESPN could not have come out of this whole ordeal looking more foolish.

The president of a major network is not somebody we should normally be hearing from publicly very often, yet Skipper’s name has come up time and time again in major media stories over the past few months. That isn’t good. And this fiasco is just the latest example of how chaotic the Worldwide Leader seems to be at the moment.

The funny thing about all of this is the idea that Portnoy and the Barstool brand will somehow suffer from this in any way.

They won’t.

The fans of Barstool – love them or hate them – are loyal and aren’t going anywhere. Not to mention they may have picked up new fans who will now view them as a “non-PC” alternative to ESPN.

But make no mistake, this is another black eye for ESPN, a network that really did not need more negative press.

ESPN won’t be going out of business any time soon, but if its president can’t stop stepping into metaphorical dog poop, this is only going to get worse as time goes on.

Oct
23
Ok, Conservatives, Your Turn Now: Shun O’Reilly Or Be Quiet About Weinstein
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Ok, Conservatives, Your Turn Now: Shun O’Reilly Or Be Quiet About Weinstein

10/23/2017 05:32 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Bill O’Reilly is back in the news.

The disgraced former Fox News Channel Host is claiming that the latest report about him from the NY Times – that he repeatedly sexually harassed former FNC legal analyst Lis Wiehl resulting in a complaint that required a $32 million dollar settlement – is just some part of a grand conspiracy to bring him down.

Well, first of all, no need for O’Reilly to be brought down. That already happened last year when he was forced out at Fox.

More importantly, however, as O’Reilly’s old co-worker Megyn Kelly mentioned on NBC this morning, the $32 million payout is not normal hush money. That is a MONSTROUS settlement.

Something very bad and out of the ordinary went on there, most likely including what Wiehl herself alleged, which is non-consensual sex. If what Wiehl alleges is true – and the fact that O’Reilly shelled out $32 million to keep the settlement details confidential makes me think it very well may be – then there is a serious chance O’Reilly crossed the line from harassment to physical abuse.

Neither is good, but one is clearly far more heinous than the other, as the $32 million figure indicates.

I said this about Harvey Weinstein and I will say it about Bill O’Reilly now: this may have been an “open secret” at Fox, but everybody knows it now.

And I don’t care what Bill O’Reilly’s political leanings are, he needs to be flat out ignored by conservatives, who should not let their distaste for the mainstream media distract them from who this man really is.

Quite frankly, if you are a conservative and you are shouting about Weinstein while having nothing to say about O’Reilly, you’re just as bad as those in Hollywood and elsewhere who have been silent about or even defended Weinstein.

A sexual predator is a sexual predator, and that person’s views on gun control, abortion, or taxes should not matter one iota when it comes to what we think of him.

Weinstein tried to play the victim by saying he was a product of his time and win brownie points with the left by vowing to go after the NRA. Shame on him.

Likewise, O’Reilly is trying to make himself the victim of some grandiose left-wing operation to destroy him. Shame on O’Reilly for this.

And shame on anybody who buys any of it.

If we are ever going to change the culture in show business so that women don’t have to constantly fear being sexually assaulted or harassed, those in that industry and the public at large has to stand up and make it known this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

FROM ANYBODY.

To be clear, this does not mean blindly believing every accusation brought against a powerful man. Nobody is immune from being lied about by somebody with an axe to grind. But in cases like these where it is very clear what happened, the perpetrators of the assault and harassment need to be shunned completely.

No producer credits or radio guest spots.

Just fade away into oblivion.

Oct
19
Richard Spencer Is Repulsive, But Giving Him Attention Only Emboldens Him
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Richard Spencer Is Repulsive, But Giving Him Attention Only Emboldens Him

Media are overstating his influence and contributing to his grand plans in the process.

10/19/2017 03:47 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2017

JOE RAEDLE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Richard Spencer apparently has people talking again as he prepares to make a speech at the University of Florida.

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 wrongheaded and bigoted.

I also find much of the media attention he draws and violent reactions towards his presence to be the absolute wrong way to combat his ideas.

Over the past two years, stories have been written about the “alt-right” and how conservatives are 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 spotlight 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 D.C., 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 at the time, 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.

For as much media coverage as it received, even the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville only garnered several hundred racists who share Spencer’s views.

Truth be told, 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.

If you are as disgusted with Spencer as I am, I suggest you remember, it is attention he craves, so stop giving it to him.

Tempting though it may be to shout at him or promote violent action against him, we would all be best served understanding that the best way to hurt Spencer and his cause is to simply ignore him.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Oct
18
If Hollywood Is Ever Going To Change, Names Must Be Named
 
by Dr. Kazmir

If Hollywood Is Ever Going To Change, Names Must Be Named

10/18/2017 05:50 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

With each passing day, the stories from women in Hollywood are getting more and more disturbing, to the point where I almost can’t even hear them anymore because of how sick they are.

Academy Award winner Emma Thompson said she “lost count of the unwanted hands” that touched her. Actresses Reese Witherspoon and America Ferrera have alleged that they were both sexually assaulted, which is bad enough, but both women claim it happened when they were minors.

As the father of three daughters, I am literally repulsed by hearing stories like these. They make me uncomfortable, nauseous, and sad.

They also make me angry.

Angry at the men who would do such things. Angry at those who enabled and protected these predators. But also angry at the lack of consequences these men have faced.

Sure, we know about Harvey Weinstein, and hopefully he will get what he deserves. But what about the others?

Who were the predators that shouldn’t have been touching Emma Thompson? Who sexually assaulted America Ferrera and Reese Witherspoon? Even if these men can’t be prosecuted, surely it is worth alerting others about their behavior so that they can at least be publicly shamed and voided, right?

Otherwise, Harvey Weinstein’s demise doesn’t do much other than remove one shark from a sea of them. It would be like if the Saudi Royal Family were run out of town and replaced by another Saudi Royal Family. Sure, it is great to get rid of the one bad apple, but if the culture isn’t transformed and the rest of the bad apples aren’t rooted out, then what really changes in the long run?

I know it is painful, but women need to start coming out, naming these men, and explaining what was done to them. Without that, the men who are doing this remain shielded and little more than symbolic, cosmetic changes occur.

Now, to be clear, we must avoid a situation where the herd mentality leads to swaths of men being falsely accused and/or shamed for things that are not actually morally inappropriate. For example, actress Brie Larson complaining that a TSA agent asked for her phone number is not a violation. But if he had inappropriately touched her or abused his power by flagging her for a search? That certainly would have been.

Women need to be careful when they make these allegations that they make complaints about truly abhorrent behavior. A clear line needs to exist and any man who steps over it needs to be punished. But it must be considered that any false or exaggerated claim is not only terrible for the falsely accused, it is also awful for the other women whose legitimate claims will come under question.

With that in mind, though, the public is with the women in Hollywood, likely more so than it ever has been, so NOW is the time to speak up. To all those who have been victimized, I urge you, please DO NOT waste this opportunity to make things better and change the culture. Start naming your accusers and let’s make sure they cannot abuse their power with anybody else the way they did with you.

Oct
17
Threatening Dana Loesch Isn’t Funny or Noble, It Is Sick
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Threatening Dana Loesch Isn’t Funny or Noble, It Is Sick

10/17/2017 06:02 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

What is happening to Dana Loesch right now is wrong. Very very wrong.

In case you missed it, the nationally syndicated host has been forced to pack up and move from her home because of threats made by those who do not like the fact that she is not only an ardent defender of the second amendment, but also a proud spokesperson for the NRA.

There are those who will try to justify this by saying that Loesch is somehow a death merchant or something because of the positions on guns that she holds and promotes on behalf of the country’s largest firearms advocacy group. They say that Loesch is promoting violence and hatred while claiming people are dying because of her, so therefore it is ok in their minds to make these threats and terrorize her the way she is terrorizing America.

This is, of course, the type of dangerous thinking that brings us militant groups like ANTIFA. You see, violence is justified to these people as long as there is violence on the other side so they can claim self- defense. And since in the minds of those threatening her, Loesch’s rhetoric leads to violence, it is therefore acceptable to do this to her because they are simply fighting fire with fire.

Except that it isn’t acceptable. Not at all.

Even if you are against what Loesch believes on guns, it is not like she is going around encouraging people to shoot at others unprovoked and kill them. She simply thinks the second amendment should be interpreted a certain way and that specific policies are preferable in this regard. In a Democratic Republic such as ours, she has that right, even if you do not like it.

More to the point, though, regardless of how you feel about Loesch or anything she may advocate for, think through the implications of what escalating your hatred of her to this level results in.

This is exactly the line of thinking that 60’s radicals like Bill Ayers used to morally rationalize using bombs and other forms of violence. Because once you have convinced yourself that not only is the other side wrong, but they are evil who must be stopped by any means necessary, there is literally nothing you cannot talk yourself into doing for the “greater good.”

For point of reference, this is how every major type of ethnic cleansing has started throughout history.

Dana Loesch is a strong and independent woman, and surely, she does not need me standing up for her.

But I will, anyway.

So to those who think this type of behavior towards her or anybody else is in any way permissible, I say you’re wrong and you need to stop. Dana Loesch is somebody’s wife, child, and mother. If you don’t like what she has to say, fight her at the ballot box or through other forms of political organizing. But the threats need to end now before they go beyond words and something awful happens that nobody can take back.

Oct
16
Lessons Should Be Learned From Bergdahl Incident…..But Will They?
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Lessons Should Be Learned From Bergdahl Incident…..But Will They?

10/16/2017 05:48 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl plead guilty today to charges of desertion connected to his disappearance in 2009 and as a result, he could face major jail time.

In case you are unfamiliar with the case, Bergdahl walked off from his post in June, 2009 and was captured by Taliban fighters who tortured him for five years.

President Obama made a controversial deal where he agreed to release five Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl’s safe return.

There was debate over whether Bergdahl was a hero or a traitor, disagreement over whether the president should unilaterally be able to make a deal like the one he made. But that debate looks misguided now that we know for a fact that Bergdahl was a deserter, especially when one considers the fact that numerous troops were deployed trying to find and rescue him with several of those troops injured or even killed in the process.

All told, the deal President Obama made was one of many misguided decisions he made during his presidency. I understand the idea of not leaving soldiers behind, but to release five dangerous captives after Bergdahl deserted his men and endangered the lives of many soldiers who were tasked with looking for him was a huge mistake, plain and simple.

For as much as I never want to see anybody captured and tortured, the suffering Bergdahl brought about due to his actions make it very difficult to argue that the sacrifices made to get him back were worth it.

This should also show once again why unilateral decisions by the executive branch should be very rare. Not to say congress always gets it right – certainly they do not – but checks and balances were put in place for a reason and our country’s government is at its best when nobody is acting in an autocratic manner.

I hope with all my heart that lessons were learned here and we won’t see something like this happen again anytime soon.

Oct
16
American Jewish Congress Statement on Austria’s Parliamentary Elections
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on Austria’s Parliamentary Elections

10/16/2017 04:13 pm ET

In response to the Austrian parliamentary elections, the American Jewish Congress issued the following statement:

“The American Jewish Congress expresses its profound concern that at yesterday’s Austrian parliamentary elections the far-right Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache, gained more than 25 percent of the vote. This is the strongest showing in Europe for a party of the far-right since World War II and makes a party with worrying history of anti-Semitism the second largest political bloc in Austria.

“We congratulate Sebastian Kurz, head of the centre-right Austrian People’s party, who will now become Chancellor, and strongly urge him to form a coalition of centrist parties and not be beholden to a party of the far-right in his new coalition government. A party with such xenophobic and intolerant views should not be allowed to enter the mainstream of European politics.

“The trends in Europe should trouble Jewish groups around the world, including in the United States. The rapid re-emergence of the far-right in Europe, which this week’s election in Austria is just the latest example, may have more to do with European immigration and Islamism than a wider intolerance towards Jews and other faiths.

“However, we know only too well from our tragic history where hatred and intolerance of any kind leads. It is also the case that alt-right groups in the U.S. are emboldened by the success of the European far-right and this poses a serious and immediate threat to the Jewish community, as well as any citizen of the U.S. committed to freedom, democracy and justice.”

Jack Rosen – President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir – Vice President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake – Secretary; American Jewish Congress

Oct
13
American Jewish Congress Statement on Decertification of Iran Deal
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on Decertification of Iran Deal

10/13/2017 04:31 pm ET

The American Jewish Congress supports the decision taken by President Trump to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. While we opposed the deal at the time we were happy to be proven wrong, but we have not been. Looking back now we feel even more confident that this is a bad agreement that goes against the interests of Israel, America and citizens of the world that are opposed to terror.

At the time of the signing, it was the Obama Administration’s belief that the agreement would serve to bring Iran in from the cold and strengthen the moderates in the regime. However, the simple fact is that this not happened, and worse the Iranian regime has grown bolder and more dangerous. Unencumbered by the crippling sanctions that were working, they have continued to spread terror around the region.

We are mindful that the defence establishment and many world leaders are in favour of maintaining the deal, but sometimes we need fresh thinking. In business or politics, bad ideas have consequences and continuing to further a bad strategy when it has proven not to work is folly. The 15 year period where the nuclear program can be resumed is fast approaching, and it is time for a new paradigm on Iran for the safety of the region and good of the world.

Jack Rosen, President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary – American Jewish Congress

Oct
13
The Hill’s Misleading Tweet About Speaker Ryan Shows The Danger of Not Reading Past Headlines
 
by Dr. Kazmir

The Hill’s Misleading Tweet About Speaker Ryan Shows The Danger of Not Reading Past Headlines

10/13/2017 12:18 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Social media can be a great way to connect with people and stay in the loop on current events. Unfortunately, it can also be a tool used to spread bogus stories as a way of furthering an agenda rather than reporting the truth.

Yesterday, I noticed several people in my Twitter feed re-tweeting a story by “The Hill”with snide comments attached to it. The Twitter title for the article? “Ryan: Puerto Rico needs to “get back on its own two feet.”

“Despicable,” said one person. “”What a piece of garbage!” said another. The tweet continued to circulate, even being re-tweeted by several well-known people with giant megaphones like Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who commented, ”Funny, you never said that about Houston.”

To be fair, Senator Murphy has a point, doesn’t he? Paul Ryan is clearly a heartless jerk who doesn’t care about the human suffering being endured in Puerto Rico.

I probably would think that…….if I hadn’t read past the Twitter headline.

From the article: “Yes, we need to make sure that Puerto Rico can begin to stand on its own two feet,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference. “They’ve already had tough fiscal problems to begin with. … We’ve got to do more to help Puerto Rico rebuild its own economy so that it can be self-sufficient.”

Hmmmmm. Seems as if Speaker Ryan is saying that the Federal government needs to do more to help Puerto Rico so that eventually, they will be able to stand on their own two feet. Doesn’t seem like he wants to abandon them in their time of need at all.

But let’s look at a little more from the article just to make sure.

“Ryan, however, argued that the immediate humanitarian crisis there did warrant having 17,000 federal personnel on the ground, including FEMA and military officials. ‘There’s a humanitarian crisis that has to be attended to. And this is an area where the federal government has a responsibility, and we’re acting on it,’ Ryan said.”

Oh ok, so I was right, and that Twitter headline was completely misleading nonsense.

Funny, I was able to read enough to figure that out but a sitting Senator wasn’t. Or he just didn’t care to because the Twitter headline fit the agenda he is pushing.

And that really is the danger in not reading past headlines. It is one thing when individual people with no platform do it. It is ignorant and foolish but it ultimately only distorts that one person’s views. But when an important person with a powerful voice does it, well, what you get is a whole lot of people worked up into a frenzy over something that isn’t even real.

No matter what you think of Paul Ryan, he did not deserve that disingenuous Twitter headline, and he deserved having people like Chris Murphy spread it around like it was true even less.

I have a lot of friends who work as reporters and I respect what they do, but many people already trust the news media less than ever before and stunts like this by “The Hill” just re-inforce why. They have to be better than this or it is only going to get worse.

And as for people like Senator Murphy? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he merely read the headline and wasn’t purposely trying to misrepresent Speaker Ryan’s words.

But that’s far more consideration than Senator Murphy gave Speaker Ryan. And if Senator Murphy wants to prove he deserves that courtesy being extended to him again down the line, he would be well-served being much more careful when it comes to stuff like this and acting in good faith, or much like the media, he, too, will eventually completely lose any trust from the public that he once had.

Oct
12
It’s Not Simply A War On Opiates – It’s A Campaign For Quality Medicine
 
by Dr. Kazmir

It’s Not Simply A War On Opiates – It’s A Campaign For Quality Medicine

10/12/2017 01:13 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

While the media is consumed by the efforts of our country, and the VA, to decrease opiate usage, the real concern of furnishing better healthcare can easily be overlooked. Opiate related deaths have soared in recent years, and the tremendous rate at which they are prescribed in this country has rightfully raised an outcry.

But in reacting to the opiate crises, are we missing the point?

Secretary of the VA, Dr. David Shulkin, has done an outstanding job of implementing a visionary series of measures designed to offer alternatives to opiates to the VA’s veteran patients, including a new emphasis on alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Through these farsighted means, the use of opiates in VA pain clinics has begun to steadily decrease. Through his empowerment of the national pain committee, strong support for VA facilities nationwide has allowed this approach to spread nationally.

That this approach can work is readily evident; proof of the success is evident in reviewing the measures implemented years ago at the Bronx VA, where Chief of Rehabilitation Medicine, Dr. Heidi Klingbeil, with the support of the facility’s Director, Dr. Erik Langhoff, immediately appreciated the perils of an opiate driven practice when she assumed leadership six years ago. Like most pain clinics there was a large population of patients with complaints of pain, all of which were being maintained on pain medications. Most of these patients were relatively nonfunctional, few were working, and most were requiring increasing doses to achieve any relief—a phenomenon called “tolerance”, common to opiates.

The strategy Dr. Klingbeil used was to first treat any patients that might benefit from further diagnostic testing, surgery, or other procedures—often eliminating their underlying condition. Of the remainder, those that had relatively simple conditions, like back pain due to common back strains, the use of opiates became temporary, and only used to allow patients to participate in a very comprehensive physical conditioning program. The Bronx VA geared up to provide an intensive Back School that now runs every day, morning and afternoon, to accommodate any schedule. At the same time, acupuncture was offered to all patients, immediately upon entering the clinic, and as frequently as needed.

A variety of other measures, such as yoga and biofeedback, chiropractic care, and meditation have all been used as well. The bottom line is that the number of patients prescribed opiates at the Bronx VA averages half of the number prescribed opiates even 4 years ago, and the quantities prescribed to those patients has dropped even more dramatically. While an improvement in opiate use statistics is both necessary and laudable, the emphasis really belongs on simply furnishing better healthcare. The VA has led the charge nationally in doing this, with a strong leader, Dr. Shulkin, at the helm, and clinic’s like Dr. Klingbeil’s pain clinic.

It is undoubtedly more work to offer acupuncture—which may require six sessions for improvement, than it is to prescribe opiates, and then only need to see a patient just every few months. Really diagnosing a condition, and treating is also far more involved than prescribing opiates. But each individual really deserves a thorough look at their own condition. For example, for patients with cancer, obviously continuing opiates if it makes life livable, is appropriate. Similarly, very elderly patients on very minimal occasional doses of opiate pain relievers for conditions for which there is no “cure” are appropriate to continue these medications.

For those patients for which there is no unusual diagnosis, such as standard mild spinal arthritis, a condition that physicians recognize to be widespread, and “appropriate for age”, tapering their opiates is a warranted, if often difficult proposition. Many of the pain patients in the United States have been on their pain medications for years, and are understandably frightened of discontinuing them. Patients such as these will require very slow tapers—which may stretch over many months, or even a year.

Working with patients to help lead their own tapers has worked very well at the Bronx VA, where “patient-led weaning” is a common practice. With our current visionary leadership in Dr. Shulkin, the VA has the opportunity to do it right. With a dedicated staff in place, and examples such as Dr. Klingbeil, and the Bronx VA pain clinic, it is time to rethink the simple mantras of simply doling out pain meds.

But in its place let’s not simply reverse the course to a no opiates course either. It’s not a war on opiates, it’s a war for the judicious practice of medicine, on behalf of all those who suffer pain.

Oct
11
Great Art For A Great Cause on October 23
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Great Art For A Great Cause on October 23

10/11/2017 02:57 pm ET

Follow me on Twtter: @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 Fund 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 properly 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. On October 23, brilliant artist Tae-Hong Min will be auctioning off some of his art in New York City. Min’s incredible work represents some of the very best the world has to offer and you have a rare opportunity to not only add pieces of it to your collection, but do so knowing you have supported a great cause, as proceeds will go to benefit the Survivor’s Benefit Fund.

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. So I urge you to visit the Survivor’s Benefit Fund website and support this great cause. And I hope to see you on October 23 in New York City for the auction where you will get the rare opportunity to add the art of the brilliant Tae-Hong Min to your collection while simultaneously helping this great cause.

Oct
7
Strong Leadership in South Asia
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Strong Leadership in South Asia

10/07/2017 12:58 pm ET

With all of the uncertainty and fear in the world right now, I wanted to take some time to talk about a great leader who I don’t feel gets enough credit for all the good he has done. As those who know me are aware, Lahore is my birth city and I grew up there. It is also the birthplace and home of current Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. I don’t always keep up to date on Pakistani Politics, but having been born in Lahore which is the largest city in Punjab I always try to follow what is going on as best as I can. The majority of the population comes from Punjab, compared to the other provinces. I met CM Sharif when he was elected a few years back and again in 2013.

I have found Chief Minister Sharif to be incredibly practical and transparent. This is not an easy task being how deep the bureaucracy goes in Pakistan, but to his credit, Sharif has largely found a way to navigate around that bureaucracy and deliver on the promises he made to his people.  He is considered to be the most hard-working chief minister and is respected by leadership in the other provinces, as well as international diplomats.

Women have had much more rights than many Middle Eastern countries and under Sharif, women’s rights have been advanced to an even greater degree. Sharif’s leadership has led to more women than ever being educated and an environment which has allowed women to freely live their lives and take part in everyday tasks like shopping, participating into job openings, and driving, rights that are either limited or non-existent for women in countries like Saudi Arabia. Under his administration, for the first time, minorities in Pakistan are getting their fair share to serve in the government. There are Sikh parliamentarians elected and serving in the Punjab Assembly.

Since much of the country is poor, child labor has been an issue and a tough one to deal with.  However, with Sharif at the helm, child labor has been largely on the decline and poor children have been re-directed from sweatshops  and brick killons, to schools. Sharif believes children should not be denied an education because they come from a poor family and he has done an excellent job of providing educational opportunities to the poor.  Healthcare is a major issue too in terms of affordability and Shehbaz Sharif has made great strides towards ensuring care is improved in Punjab while poor people are not turned away because of an inability to pay.  The hospital system is by no means complete yet, but it has made excellent progress since Sharif has been in charge.

Shehbaz Sharif has also exhibited great respect for the judiciary and the rule of law, the hallmark of any properly governed society.  Along those lines, he also did a fantastic job of building up Punjab’s infrastructure which is crucial for economic development. Sharif has been tough when he has had to be – making National Security and Military Strength as a major priority – but he has also shown a great ability to exercise diplomatic  relations to the neighboring countries. Under his leadership, the energy crisis and transportation has improved.

Pakistan faces many challenges ahead but based on everything he has done so far, I have no doubt Sharif will be elected as Chief Minister in the year 2018 general elections, and rightfully so.  Pakistan has been extremely unstable over the years but Sharif’s leadership has been a breath of fresh air in the province of Punjab. He is the only candidate from his party who can become a potential Prime Minister of Pakistan and he would be ideal for the country due to his tremendous progress in Punjab. The country has had military coups for 61 years with 33 years of martial law. However, Sharif has exhibited a belief in Democracy and rule of law, which is critical if Pakistan is going to continue to make progress over the long haul.  I believe he is the right man to continue to lead the way forward for the people of Punjab and I hope he gets the opportunity to finish the job he started. It is essential that the Trump Administration and the G 20 nations work closely with him for a better future for Pakistan.

Oct
5
Hollywood And Democrats: Speak Up Against Harvey Weinstein Or Show Your Hypocrisy
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Hollywood And Democrats: Speak Up Against Harvey Weinstein Or Show Your Hypocrisy

10/05/2017 05:58 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2017

ERIC GAILLARD / REUTERS

Hollywood has been very vocal about its distaste for President Trump from the very second he entered the presidential race. They have crowed endlessly about what a sexist pig he supposedly is, getting louder and louder by the day.

Perhaps they should have been looking a little closer to home.

Thursday, the New York Times broke the story that one of Hollywood’s biggest moguls, Harvey Weinstein, has sexually harassed dozens of women over many years, and even reached out of court settlements with at least eight women, including actress Rose McGowan.

Weinstein amazingly found a way to quote Jay-Z, bash the NRA, and take credit for scholarships to women all while saying he was nothing more than a product of his time who didn’t know any better.

I’m in my 60s and I’ve never even come close to sexually harassing any of my employees. I may have been a pain in the ass to deal with or a demanding boss from time to time, but somehow I managed to be multiple levels above the great Harvey Weinstein.

One of Weinstein’s lawyers, Lisa Bloom, was the one who helped bring down Bill O’Reilly, who was repulsive according to her. Weinstein? Eh, he’s just a guy going through some things. I wonder if her difference in attitude towards the two has anything to do with Weinstein green-lighting one of her projects?

The PR firm representing Weinstein? Its managing director is Anita Dunn, who you may recall from her days as an Obama adviser. Not surprising since Weinstein has helped raise huge sums of money for Democrats for years. This of course includes Hillary Clinton.

I haven’t heard much outrage from prominent elected figures on the left about this, because well, Weinstein helped put most of them into power. Funny how that works, right?

Let’s be very clear about this: Anybody who talks incessantly about the empowerment of women and the need for men to be taught that they can’t get away with treating women like objects can either speak out against Harvey Weinstein or they can shut up forever as far as I’m concerned.

We all know money talks, but in cases like this, it can often buy silence, too. Or even allies like Bloom and Dunn. After all, as the WWF’s Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase used to say, “everybody’s got a price… and you will be bought!”

I guess we will see if anybody in Hollywood Weinstein gave jobs to or any of the elected officials he raised bundles of money for have the guts to say anything. But I suspect most of them will just end up proving Ted Dibiase right.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Oct
4
Tom Petty: American Icon
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Tom Petty: American Icon

10/04/2017 05:55 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

It’s hard to properly put into words how people feel when a cultural icon passes away, but in a sense, that shows just how much his legacy means.

The latest icon to pass away was Tom Petty, one of America’s all-time great rock artists and a man whose songs have been a part of mainstream American culture since the 70’s.

Petty was one of those artists whose songs you knew, even if you didn’t realize it. In fact, after his passing, a friend of mine pointed out several of his songs and I said I didn’t know any of them. Then he played clips of those songs, and it turned out I did.

I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of Petty’s music. Not that I don’t think he was talented – certainly, he was. Just that I never sat down and seriously listened to it, so I wasn’t familiar with his songs beyond the big radio hits, which I did enjoy.

But I have spoken to so many people over the last few days who not only lamented the loss of Petty, but also had stories. So many stories.

One friend told me the first concert he ever went to as a high school student was Tom Petty and that he had saved all year to buy the ticket. Another recalled waiting in line at midnight at Tower Records to buy one of Petty’s albums that was new at the time. Another recalled the first date he ever had with his wife in which they went to dinner and discussed music wherein they discovered they both loved Tom Petty.

I also heard a lot about how Tom Petty was all about the music. In other words, if you went to see his concerts, there weren’t long political speeches, or a lot of fancy pyrotechnics. Petty let his music speak for itself.

And maybe that’s why so many people knew his songs and didn’t even realize it. Maybe that’s why we didn’t see a lot written over the years about his personal life. Maybe Petty was just a guy who let people judge him largely on the merits of his art, which is kind of refreshing in today’s day and age.

Fan or not, one thing is for sure: The United States lost one of the most talented musical artists it has ever had this week. May he rest in peace.

Oct
3
Empty Barrels Make The Most Noise In The Gun Debate
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Contributor

Empty Barrels Make The Most Noise In The Gun Debate

10/03/2017 06:25 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

They say empty barrels make the most noise and in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, we are seeing that play out in real time.

I am truly amazed at how the people who know the least about guns seem to be the ones leading the charge on the discussion regarding “What needs to be done.”

Full disclosure: I am not a firearms expert. I have fired rifles before and I probably know more than the average person, but I certainly would never claim to be somebody who could teach a course on the subject.

Yet somehow, I still my think level of knowledge about firearms is superior to the vast majority of those with the loudest megaphones at this moment.

Case in point: Here’s Hillary Clinton, “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

We hear this all the time, usually from people whose knowledge of guns comes from watching television and movies. A “silencer,” or “suppressor” DOES NOT actually make the gunshot silent. What it does is make the shot less loud so as to protect the shooter from permanent hearing loss. But even with the suppressor, the shots still sound roughly as loud as a Jet engine, which as I’m sure you’re aware, is still pretty damn loud.

Here’s MTV’s Ana Marie Cox, “Man, imagine if the right believed in unfettered access to the ballot box as much as they believed in the right to own guns.”

In addition to showing a photo ID to buy a gun – something you do not have to do when voting in many states – this tired old canard of “hey, buying a gun is easier than _____” is so played out that it should be wearing bell-bottoms. A common refrain in Nevada is that you don’t need a permit to buy a gun. Well, not for a rifle, but you DO need one for a handgun. More to the point, in Nevada, you must pass a background check in order to legally purchase a firearm.

Speaking of which…..

Machine guns – automatic weapons – are illegal. Have been for decades. Thus, if the Nevada shooter modified a semi-automatic weapon to turn it into an automatic weapon, that is already against the law. Anybody telling you otherwise – ie: that it is easy to legally purchase an automatic weapon – is very much mistaken.

We hear a lot about assault rifles, which to most people really just means a semi-automatic weapon, which covers a lot of ground. I’ve actually heard semi-automatic machine gun, which is a real treat, because there is no such thing.

I could go on…..seriously, I really could. There is enough material to write a whole book on this stuff.

But I think you get the point.

Unfortunately, the media plays into this by constantly promoting the views of those on both sides who don’t really know what they are talking about. If we are ever going to make progress on this issue, that has to stop.

Mass shootings like these are a tragedy of epic proportions and I’m not going to act like I have all the answers. But I do know that just pounding your fist on the table and recycling talking points that either are not true or wouldn’t have done anything to help, serves no positive purpose.

My suggestion to those who are so dug into their positions but don’t actually know anything: read a book and educate yourself. Because no matter what side of the debate you are on, you aren’t doing anybody any good if you can’t at least intelligently defend your point of view.

Oct
2
Weep for the Victims in Vegas, But Also Don’t Add To Their Pain
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Weep for the Victims in Vegas, But Also Don’t Add To Their Pain

10/02/2017 06:05 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I woke up to a nightmare today, as did all of America. In Las Vegas, a crazed gunman killed at least 58 people and injured hundred more at Mandalay Bay during a Jason Aldean country music concert last night.

First of all, thoughts and prayers to the victims and families. It is sad beyond words that any human being is capable of wanting to carry out such a heinous attack. Call it terrorism, call it mass murder, call it whatever you want: It was monstrous and horrifying.

That said, while we all need to come together when incidents like this happen, it seems like in some corners, people are picking fights at what couldn’t be a worse time.

It doesn’t get much sadder to me than seeing people waiting around hoping that the narrative fits their ideology. As I write this, I do not have all of the details about the gun used, how it was obtained, what the shooter’s motivations were, etc….. but that hasn’t stopped plenty of people from yelling and screaming about these issues without knowing much themselves, in support of whatever pet cause they want to use this shooting to justify.

And speaking of not knowing anything, social media can be fun, but perhaps it would be wise to back away from it a bit in the immediate aftermath of an incident like this? Articles were coming out saying one thing, getting retweeted and shared a ton of times, and then an hour later it would turn out the original article was completely wrong. I have noticed this trend occur virtually every time a major event like this goes down, and I do not understand why people don’t see it and understand how destructive it is.

I understand that waiting until all the facts are in and giving time for the full picture to emerge isn’t what people seem to want to do in this social media age, but it is certainly the most prudent course of action given how much the early reports in these situations turn out to be bogus. There are real life people being hurt when this false info is spread and I wish people would remember that before doing it, even if unintentionally.

Oct
2
AJCONGRESS STATEMENT ON THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING
 
by Dr. Kazmir

AJCONGRESS STATEMENT ON THE LAS VEGAS SHOOTING

10/02/2017 01:21 pm ET Updated Oct 02, 2017

In response to the shooting in Las Vegas, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen, Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir and Secretary of the Organization Dr. Ben Chouake released the following statement:

As details of the appalling shooting in Las Vegas emerge, the American Jewish Congress’ thoughts are with those impacted and their families.

This was a cowardly act of hate against a defenseless group of revelers, guilty of nothing more than enjoying a concert. Worldwide, attacks of this nature are all too common, as a society we need to fight this hate and ensure that our values of freedom and tolerance prevail.

This past year, we have witnessed the two deadliest mass shootings in our country’s history. While we as a country grapple with the ramifications of these deadly attacks, now is the time to grieve for those we have lost.

We hope you will join with the American Jewish Congress in praying for the victims and their families. We ask you to join with us in standing firm against violence and evil in all of its forms.

Sep
29
What Yom Kippur Means To Me
 
by Dr. Kazmir

What Yom Kippur Means To Me

09/29/2017 07:44 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

On this, the holiest of holy days for the Jewish people, Yom Kippur, I would like to post something short and sweet before I spend a significant amount of time fasting.

I have seen so much anger, hatred, and bitterness lately that it has made me sad. But in times of crisis, I turn to my faith. I turn to God. I always have.

That’s why I never allow political points of view to define anybody in my eyes. I treat everybody the way I would like to be treated and allow a power higher than myself to do the judging.

I do everything I can to be the best father and human being that I can. And I hope that others see me the way I see myself.

My daughters are everything to me and I take great pride in how well they have turned out. I’m thankful for the success of my business and grateful that it allows me to give back to those who need help. I love working with Jack Rosen at AJC and I admire greatly what an important voice he has become in our community.

So today, I say to everybody – no matter what your faith, gender, sexuality, race, or religion – may God bless you with the same sense of strength and purpose he has so mercifully given me.

Sep
28
Allowing Women To Drive Is A Nice First Step, But Saudi Arabia Must Not Stop There
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Allowing Women To Drive Is A Nice First Step, But Saudi Arabia Must Not Stop There

09/28/2017 05:55 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

It was big news all over the world when Saudi Arabia announced recently that they will begin allowing women to drive.

They are about a century behind on that, but hey, better late than never.

And while allowing women to drive is a nice start for Saudi Arabia, before we go too crazy heaping praise on them, let’s remember that they still have a LONG way to go.

Women in Saudi Arabia still can’t do virtually ANYTHING without a male guardian giving them permission. They cannot travel alone or even open a bank account, for example. Men more or less completely control women in Saudi Arabia, and treat them like property. That has to change.

And so does the idea that men and women always need to be separated. With a few exceptions – like hospitals – men and women are kept apart. In fact, in 2013 the courts in Saudi Arabia ordered the building of “separation walls” to keep male and female employees at businesses from mixing together.

Furthermore, women are not considered equal under the law in terms of how much their testimony means in court. A woman’s testimony counts for 50% of what a man’s does, which is even worse than the 3/5 compromise America made as far as how much an enslaved black person would count towards representation numbers.

So like I said, allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia is a nice start. But it is ONLY a start. And until women are given freedom and treated as equals in Saudi Arabia, we all must remain vigilant and loud in support oppressed women.

Sep
27
What Happened To Owen Benjamin Is Further Proof We Are Losing Our Minds
 
by Dr. Kazmir

What Happened To Owen Benjamin Is Further Proof We Are Losing Our Minds

09/27/2017 05:55 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

A lot of people like to crow about freedom of speech and the open exchange of ideas. But these days, it seems like the only speech anybody is in favor of allowing is speech THEY like.

Case in point: After a video surfaced of comedian Owen Benjamin talking about transgender children – and the fact that he thinks it is insane for parents to allow children as young as eight to take hormone blockers, even joking that he was feminine enough as a child that some would have thought he was transgender – he had a standup gig at UCONN cancelled, as the University said Benjamin’s views weren’t in keeping with their values.

This has become a fairly common occurrence. Speakers with any view that is not approved of by the intelligentsia end up being disinvited from speaking and shunned like pariahs. It is happening all over the country, predominantly to conservative leaning speakers, although even noted liberals like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins have been targeted.

The most ridiculous part of this particular case is the fact that Benjamin is a comedian, who mostly does silly jokes and plays piano. He isn’t some ideologue who was booked to give a speech. But that didn’t matter to UCONN, who apparently thought his words on the issue of parenting transgender children might trigger some people.

To be fair, liberals are not the only ones guilty of this. I wrote yesterday about the president’s call for football players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired and many seem to agree. While I do not agree with kneeling for the anthem, I also do not think anybody should be cut or fined for doing it.

Quite frankly, if we are ever going to move forward as a society, we have to be willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, not just the ones we agree with. And in a case like the one involving Owen Benjamin, if his views were so offensive to any individual person, that person had the option to not attend the show, while others who wanted to enjoy his comedy could have done so. That decision has now been taken out of the hands of UCONN students and those who live in the surrounding area, and that is a damn shame.

As those who know me are aware, I was born and raised in a country that is far more restrictive with speech than the United States. Or at least it was. I will never forget when I first came to the United States and was introduced to comedians like Richard Pryor and George Carlin. The fact that these guys were free to say what they said was unbelievable to me. I remember loving the fact that there were people who pushed the boundaries and were even able to be rewarded for it.

But that seems like a lifetime ago. Now, if anything said offends somebody, nobody else is allowed to hear it. I have three girls and was always careful with them growing up as far as closely monitoring what they were and were not exposed to until they reached a certain age. It appears as though college administrators and other opponents of a free and open exchange of ideas think this is their job now.

Except it never was before and it should not be now. College students are supposed to have their worldview challenged on a regular basis. That was always the whole point of college: Expose young people to new ideas so they can learn and grow. But again, that was then, and this is now. Instead of being challenged, students are now being coddled, protected to the point where they grow up and become unable to handle a comedian’s opinion on parents of transgender children or a football player taking a knee.

It is worth remembering that if you shut down speech you don’t like, it is only a matter of time before somebody decides that speech you do like is no longer acceptable, and that gets shut down, too. The answer to bad speech is good speech.

But the way things have been going, I don’t know how anybody could even differentiate between the two anymore.

Sep
26
If NFL Protesters Want Change, Their Methods May Not Be The Most Effective Way To Get It
 
by Dr. Kazmir

If NFL Protesters Want Change, Their Methods May Not Be The Most Effective Way To Get It

09/26/2017 06:10 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

President Trump set off a firestorm – as he has done many times – when he suggested over the weekend that NFL players who sit for the national anthem should be fired and are SOBs.

Let’s start with the obvious: The president should never have said what he said. The language was inappropriate, but more importantly, a sitting president interjecting himself into an issue like that is not something that should ever happen. Conservatives would have been infuriated if Barack Obama had done something similar, and rightfully so.

But the president’s comments have fueled so much anger on both sides of the issue that it seems as though we have forgotten what the issue was in the first place and it has turned into “is it unpatriotic to sit during the anthem?”

To that question my answer is something similar to what Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said about flag burning, which is that a person has the right to do it, but Manchin is well within his rights to not like it. I’m ok with anybody protesting peacefully, even kneeling during the anthem, but I do not like the message it sends. The flag is a symbol of the country, and like it or not, kneeling during the anthem is seen as disrespecting America.

Because really, what other reason would there be to do the protest at that time? Colin Kaepernick himself said it was because he couldn’t stand for the flag of a country that he felt was oppressing minorities. He is, therefore, in effect, taking a big shot at America.

If it wasn’t about America or the American system, he could have just as easily peacefully protested at another time. By doing it during the anthem, his message is clear.

Now, you may agree with him. But like I said, that doesn’t mean other people can’t dislike it.

And that was what President Trump tapped into during his rally. He wasn’t just playing to his base, but also to millions of Americans who simply see kneeling during the anthem as taking a swipe at America and they do not like it. In fact, recent polls suggest close to 2/3 of people feel this way.

The players largely followed suit by taking a knee together Sunday. I understand that they want to show they have a voice and don’t want to give the president the satisfaction of doing what he wants them to do. But there’s a backlash coming, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

In fact, it already started. Alejandro Villanueva is an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers who served in the military. He was the only member of his team who came out of the tunnel for the anthem to stand while the rest of the team remained in the lockerroom. As a result, Villanueva, who was known previously only to hardcore football fans, has seen jersey sales skyrocket.

And that’s ultimately the point I’m making. Those on hardcore ends of this issue aren’t going to change their opinions no matter what. And if your goal was to send a message to the president that you’ll do what you want no matter what he says, then mission accomplished. But if your goal was to get people on your side to achieve the goals you claim you want to attain, then this was only going to rile up those in the middle whose support you are going to need if you are going to really make a change. Because without change, these protests may feel good, but in the end, they won’t mean anything.

Sep
26
American Jewish Congress Statement on Germany’s Recent Election
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on Germany’s Recent Election

09/26/2017 10:20 am ET

The American Jewish Congress would like to congratulate Angela Merkel on her re-election as Chancellor following yesterday’s German election. Her reputation as a leader who respects religious communities and Israel is well known and we are sure that she will maintain this throughout her premiership.

The rise of the far-right in Germany is alarming and it is incredibly worrying that for the first time since the 1930’s they now have seats in parliament. Following the German response to the refugee crisis, it is clear that politics in the country has changed. The AfD’s track record when it comes to its public statements on minorities is concerning and so we urge the Party to ensure that they have a zero tolerance to racism, antisemitism and any other type of bigotry within their party.

Germany has a been transformed as a society in the last 70 years and we call on all Germany’s political leaders to stand firm against the politics of hate.

Jack Rosen-President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir-Vice President; American Jewish Congress

Sep
25
Iran Is A Problem That Must Be Dealt With
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Iran Is A Problem That Must Be Dealt With

09/25/2017 06:39 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

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.

Many other countries have a vested interest in making sure Iran is kept in check, including France, whose President – Emmanuel Macron – recently said, “Is this agreement enough? No. It is not, given the evolution of the regional situation and increasing pressure that Iran is exerting on the region, and given increased activity by Iran on the ballistic level since the accord. Let’s be honest, the tensions are on the rise, look at the activities of Hezbollah and Iran’s pressure on Syria. We need a clear framework to be able to reassure regional countries and the United States,”

Macron believes the U.S. should not walk away from the deal entirely, but that the terms should be renegotiated. He is absolutely correct.

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. And 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.

Ronald Reagan preached peace through strength and that is the play here. President Trump may not like the terms of the Iran deal and he may talk tough, but I do not believe he is looking for armed conflict. However, President Trump is not going to let Iran walk all over us, especially when – as he said – they should be grateful for the life raft we tossed them rather than looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Unlike with President Obama, who refrained from showing strength, Iran would be wise not to cross that metaphorical “red line” again with President Trump, and I truly hope they understand that.

But if Iran does cross that “red line,” I’m glad we finally have an administration in place that won’t let them get away with it.

Sep
22
When It Comes To Views On Women, Saudi Arabia Once Again Shows That It Still Exists In The Stone Age
 
by Dr. Kazmir

When It Comes To Views On Women, Saudi Arabia Once Again Shows That It Still Exists In The Stone Age

09/22/2017 06:11 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

For those of you who think the United States is such an awful, repressive place, well, all I can say is sometimes things need to be put into perspective.

In Saudi Arabia, women are treated as though they are property.

Case in point: women are not allowed to drive and a senior state cleric actually said this is a good thing because women have “a quarter the brainpower of men”.

Sheikh Saad al-Hajari, the head of the Saudi government’s religious edict authority in the southern province of Assir is the one who made these comments, following them up with gems like, “Their lack of intellect does not harm their piousness because they are made that way.”

Ah, I see. So women are mentally inferior and it is God’s fault.

Ok then.

Unfortunately, it is not like this is a minority opinion in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary: it is the norm.

And I won’t mince my words: what he said was boorish and wrong. And the policy he spoke of – women not being allowed to drive – is horrifying.

Some have suggested that it is just a cultural difference and that we need to accept the laws of the Saudi government. I accept those laws in so far as I won’t be calling for some sort of war or anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they are incredibly repressive and wrong. I don’t care if that makes me sound culturally insensitive or whatever the term being used these days is, because that type of treatment of women is flat out wrong and pretending otherwise is doing nobody any favors.

Cultural relativism is particularly bad, because it attempts to justify awful behavior. I don’t care what your culture is, or where you live, but denying women basic freedoms should be so far beyond the pale of what is acceptable that I just can’t get my head around anybody who believes otherwise.

Islam may be a religion of peace and most of its followers may be perfectly fine people, but those hardcore conservative members of the religion who still believe this type of behavior from a government is ok, quite frankly, need to get with the times.

This cleric is clearly wrong for what he said and Saudi Arabia is very clearly wrong to even have that law in the first place. But let’s not kid ourselves: this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how women are treated over there. Allowing women the ability to drive would be a nice first step, but if we want to make sure this kind of thing stops happening for good, and women are truly treated with respect in Saudi Arabia someday, we need to stay loud and vigilant.

Sep
21
Valerie Plame Can Claim Whatever She Wants, But Her Anti-Semitism Is Clear As Day
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Valerie Plame Can Claim Whatever She Wants, But Her Anti-Semitism Is Clear As Day

09/21/2017 06:07 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2017

I hadn’t heard the name Valerie Plame in a while. It had been years since she was outed as a CIA operative by Bob Novak resulting in her story catching fire in the press years ago, and quite frankly I had completely put her out of my memory.

Until Thursday.

Ms. Plame tweeted out a link to an article titled “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars.”

Hell of an article to Tweet out on Rosh Hashanah, but I digress.

The article’s author, Philip Giraldi, essentially argues that American Jews should not be in position to influence American foreign policy because they are somehow doing the bidding of Israel. Yes, this man is openly calling for discrimination against an entire religion.

What a guy.

Among the brilliant gems contained in this article is this:

“We don’t need a war with Iran because Israel wants one and some rich and powerful American Jews are happy to deliver. Seriously, we don’t need it.”

Yeah, I hear ya man. Gotta watch out for those rich and powerful American Jews. Starting wars, controlling the media, manipulating the banks. Those shifty SOBs are pure evil!

Of course, when called on the clear anti-semitism of the article, she defended it by saying that “many neocon hawks ARE jewish,” and telling everybody to put aside their biases and read the full article in question.

OK, I put my biases aside. The article in question is anti-semitic trash.

Plame continued to dig in until one of her friends probably called her and told her to stop making herself look like a fool. At that point, likely tired of the abuse, Plame tweeted, “OK folks, look, I messed up. I skimmed this piece, zeroed in on the neocon criticism, and shared it without seeing and considering the rest.”

Sure. I mean, who would’ve thought an article titled, “America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars,” might have anti-semitic content. This kind of mistake could’ve happened to anybody.

The truth is, Plame obviously read the piece, agreed with it because she has a burning hatred of Israel (which she has tweeted about in the past, including approvingly commenting on this very same author before), and re-tweeted it thinking she was making some incredible point about “evil Zionists.” Except she got much more backlash than she expected and eventually cried uncle.

That’s why her so-called “apology” rings hollow. She clearly meant everything she said initially and only backtracked when the Twitter pitchforks got too hot for her liking. But I’m not fooled and I’d wager neither is anybody else.

Valerie Plame is an anti-semite. Period. End of discussion. She can try to dress it up any way she wants, but her own history tells the tale better than anything else ever could. As the saying goes, if you want to see who a person truly is, believe them when they tell you.

Valerie Plame just told us all exactly what a disgusting, bigoted, and repulsive person she really is. And I don’t know about anybody else, but I heard her, loud and clear.

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Sep
20
American Jewish Congress Statement on Mexico’s Recent Earthquake
 
by Dr. Kazmir

American Jewish Congress Statement on Mexico’s Recent Earthquake

09/20/2017 05:50 pm ET

The American Jewish Congress extends its deepest sympathies to all those affected by the earthquake in Mexico. The magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck 23 miles from Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico. The tragic natural disaster has claimed the lives of more than 200 people and demolished building throughout the area.

The American Jewish Congress strongly supports robust and immediate relief efforts, urging the international community to act with haste to provide assistance for all those in need. Please join with us in offering our help and support to the people of Mexico.

Jack Rosen-President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir-Vice President; American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake-Secretary; American Jewish Congress

Sep
20
Mourning The Passing of One Of Boxing’s Greatest Warriors
 
by Dr. Kazmir

Mourning The Passing of One Of Boxing’s Greatest Warriors

09/20/2017 05:44 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The boxing world lost a great champion and one heck of an interesting character with the passing of Jake LaMotta at the age of 95.

LaMotta was one of the greatest middleweights of all time, a former champion with incredible toughness and an iron chin. The amount of punishment he was able to take seemed otherworldly, with the best example coming in the last of his six fights with the greatest fighter of all time – Sugar Ray Robinson – on February 14, 1951.

This fight would come to be known as the St Valentine’s Day Massacre for its bloody brutality, and despite being pummeled practically into oblivion, LaMotta somehow stayed on his feet as the referee mercifully called off the contest in the 13th round.

Always quick with a witty line, LaMotta once quipped about Robinson – his best and most famous opponent – “I fought ‘Sugar’ so often I almost got diabetes.”

But for as great as he was to watch in the ring because of his violent, aggressive style, Jake LaMotta was not a man without faults. The former champ had a criminal conviction for introducing men to an underaged girl at a club he owned in Miami and he admitted to “taking a dive” against Billy Fox as a favor to the mafia.

That was part of the allure of Jake LaMotta, though: the fact that he wasn’t a Saint.

The general public saw that for themselves clear as day in Martin Scorsese’s movie about LaMotta’s life, “Raging Bull,” starring Robert DeNiro. “Raging Bull,” contained very dark material, showing the champ for everything he was, warts and all. The film served as a look not just at the life of the champ, but as a window into his tortured soul. To this day, it remains widely praised as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and Deniro’s performance is generally thought to be one of Hollywood’s most iconic.

For as unbelievably tough as he was, though, even in his old age, Jake LaMotta unfortunately met the one opponent that even he couldn’t beat: father time.

RIP “Raging Bull.” This world will be a lot less interesting without you.

Sep
18
The Florida Nursing Home Tragedy Is Unacceptable And Steps To Avoid It In The Future Must Be Taken
 
by Dr. Kazmir

The Florida Nursing Home Tragedy Is Unacceptable And Steps To Avoid It In The Future Must Be Taken

09/18/2017 05:56 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The tragedies that we have seen with Hurricanes Harvey, Irama, and Jose have been heartbreaking. The devastation that hit Florida, Georgia, Texas, and the Caribbean as a result has legitimately brought tears to my eyes. People have lost their homes, suffered brutal injuries, and in some cases, even lost their lives.

Speaking of lost lives, what happened in the Florida nursing home in Florida where 10 elderly people perished due to the negligence of the facilities’ employees was unconscionable. These so called “professionals” were supposed to be trained to protect the public. It was their job to help nurse people back to health, not make play a role in ending the very lives they were entrusted

This brings up a greater issue, which is the poor overall standards for people that work in these facilities and the ease with which they are able to defraud the local governments.

Case in point: prior to the Inspector coming to view the facility, the staff cleaned up the entire building. The state MUST do a better job in the future of avoiding being tricked like this. A thorough investigation of the facility should be on the table at ANY time, which would include surprise visits. That way, the employees never know when someone will be coming in to take a look at the location, and don’t have the luxury of only cleaning up and doing their jobs when they need to pass a scheduled inspection.

But it goes well beyond just pulling the wool over the eyes of local governments. A lot of nursing homes hire LPNs and RNs from local nursing schools. These people need to be looked at thoroughly so as to ensure clean backgrounds of ALL employees. No person with a criminal background should be allowed to work in a healthcare facility.

In addition, the standards have to be raised from an educational standpoint as far as what qualifies a person to work in these places. Many low-quality nursing schools and even online nursing schools – and it is incredible to me that those even exist – have to be held to stricter standards.

Everything from the professors, to the facilities, to the curriculum has to be vetted and scrutinized at a much higher level or I fear we will see more of this type of stuff. The benchmark simply needs to be higher for what passes for a credentialed nursing program.

Sadly, because the bar has been lowered and standards have been relaxed, we have seen a move towards maximizing profit at the expense of providing quality care. I’m a business man, so I am all for maximizing profit. However, this should NEVER be done at the expense of the patient.

In Medical school, the first thing they taught us was “First do no harm.” Unfortunately, it seems that is a lesson those in this nursing home in Florida either forgot, or never even learned at all.

Sep
14
Rice Lies Again, And Now Her Word Means Less Than Nothing
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/14/2017 05:40 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Susan Rice lied to the American people when she went on television and repeatedly blamed a Youtube video for the Benghazi attack, when she knew damn well it was a coordinated attack.

And apparently, Rice lied again when she insisted she knew nothing about unmasking Trump campaign officials last year.

According to CNN, “Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.”

According to the report, the Obama administration felt “misled,” so Rice requested the names of the officials be released internally.

This is supposedly common place, but even if that’s true, it doesn’t make it right, and more importantly, it doesn’t change the fact that Susan Rice is a liar.

The problem here isn’t that Rice is a liar, per se – I sadly expect lies from government officials – but that she lied on such a grand scale and about something of such high importance.

The American people deserved to know the truth about what happened in Benghazi. And as uncomfortable as the truth was, it was understandable – a terrible mistake was made and people died. Instead, she was the front person for what became a pathetic attempt to cover up the true nature of events.

On the unmasking, if it is indeed common place as some have suggested, then why not just admit it? Why say you know nothing about it?

Again, lies of such a high level of importance and magnitude kill any trust the public could have ever possibly had. This is incredibly dangerous, as it is one thing for people to not trust that a public official will follow through on a policy they proposed, but another when they don’t even trust the government to be honest when a major event happens. This is how conspiracies take shape: Because nobody can trust the official story, so they just jump to wild conclusions.

Benghazi and the unmasking were treated like conspiracies by many, but it turns out neither one was a conspiracy at all. There was no second gunman on the grassy knoll, just an unscrupulous liar who should never be believed again.

Sep
13
Hill Went Way Over The Line, But Demanding Her Firing Is Silly
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/13/2017 06:20 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I’m constantly amazed at the news cycle these days, but by now I guess I should be used to seeing headlines like “Press Secretary says ESPN Anchor’s Comments Were Fireable Offense.”

In case you missed it, Sportscenter anchor Jemele Hill went on a Twitter tirade, calling the president a white supremacist, suggesting that he is surrounded by other white supremacists, and saying that anybody who voted for him supports white supremacy.

Jemele Hill is entitled to her opinion and ESPN is within their rights to discipline her or not however they see fit.  But let’s be honest here: If a white anchor said anything similar about President Obama, that anchor would have been in extremely hot water.

To me, that is what is objectionable.  I have nothing against Jemele Hill and do not wish to see her fired, but there has to be some consistency here.  If Mike Ditka, Britt McHenry, Curt Schilling, and Linda Cohn can all be seriously reprimanded or fired for expressing conservative thoughts – or in Cohn’s case, simply questioning whether the network should talk so much about politics – and Hill gets a slap on the wrist for saying half the country supports white supremacy?  That’s not a consistent standard.

Simply put, ESPN has to decide if they are going to completely shut down political speech or if they are going to let it all fly.  Either everybody can say what they want, or nobody can say anything.  If everybody can say what they want, that means people should be able to speak their minds on ANY side of the aisle without being afraid of getting in trouble.  If everybody has to shut up, then those who violate the policy must be harshly punished, no matter what the ideology they espoused was.

Simple and fair.

But ESPN can’t keep playing the game they are playing.  Make a choice and stick with it.  Because if you don’t, nobody on any side of the aisle is going to trust their brand anymore.  And with all the chord cutting going on as it is, that’s the last thing they need.

Sep
12
Congratulations To New Ambassador To Italy Lew Eisenberg
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/12/2017 04:33 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Congratulations to my good friend Lew Eisenberg on becoming the United States’ new Ambassador to Italy.

I have known Lew and he has always been someone that has inspired me. He was a hard-working, successful businessman before becoming chair of the New Jersey Commission on Privatization and Competitive Contracting in 1994 under Governor Christie Todd Whitman. That job began Lew’s long foray into politics, which also included becoming National Finance Chairman for the RNC and President National Co-Chairman, and National Finance Chairman for McCain/Palin in 2008.

Along the way, Lew has become one of my closest friends and somebody who has helped guide my own philosophy.  I always tell people that the two biggest political influences on me were Ronald Reagan and Lew Eisenberg.  I’ve seen him be a terrific leader and a positive influence in his community and he is the type of person that I can honestly say I would trust with not only my own life, but the lives of my children.

I could not be prouder of Lew or happier for the United States that they chose such a great and well-qualified man for this job.  I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life than the fact that Lew will be an excellent Ambassador to Italy.

Sep
11
Mourn For The Victims of 9/11 But Don’t Stop Asking Why The Saudis Haven’t Been Held Accountable
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/11/2017 06:09 pm ET

9/11 changed everything.

They say “Never Forget” 9/11 and I know I certainly won’t. It was the worst attack ever carried out on U.S. soil and it hit home very hard for me, since I was in New Jersey at the time and a significant number of victims on 9/11 were from my home state. My heart still weeps uncontrollably for the men and women who died that day, all of whom went about their normal business thinking they would see a tomorrow that never came.

We have been at war ever since, beginning with Afghanistan.

Now, our Armed Forces are spread out all over the Middle East, battling numerous countries in wars that seem like they may never end.

Strangely, the country to which the vast majority of the 9/11 hijackers belonged – Saudi Arabia – has not been touched. I was hopeful that President Trump, who seems to march to the beat of his own drum on these matters, may have been different when it comes to kowtowing to the Saudis.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case thus far.

Not only have we not stopped kowtowing to the Saudis, we have allowed them to get away with all kinds of human rights abuses and we have done nothing to put pressure on them to do their duty when it comes to the migrant crisis in the Middle East.

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.”

So on this day when we remember the tragic deaths of thousands of innocent people, let’s also remember who was ultimately responsible for carrying out the attack and continue to push for them to have to answer for it. Money shouldn’t buy a pass in these matters, but it repeatedly has and probably always will.

They say you have to know your history so that you don’t repeat past mistakes, but it seems like no matter what we know about the history of this event, nothing is going to stop the same mistake – ring-kissing of the Saudi Royal Family while they support terrorists who wish to do us harm –from being made over and over again.

And that’s a damn shame.

Sep
8
American Jewish Congress Statment on Phasing out DACA
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/08/2017 03:30 pm ET

We are shocked by President Trump’s decision to phase out the program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This decision goes against the core of who we are as Americans and detrimentally impacts the futures and welfare of over 800,000 hardworking youth. These children did not choose to come to this country. Their only fault is that their parents wanted to achieve a better life, a better hope, and a better future for them. Dreamers embody the ideal of the American Dream. They are not so different from the many Jews who immigrated here. I myself traveled to America for the first time when I was just 4 1/2 years old! The decision to revoke DACA is a broken promise. These youths were lead to believe that they had a future in this country, and now they will live in fear and uncertainty. The American Jewish Congress has a history of fighting for the rights of minorities and we will do so again. It is unjust and wrong to single out these youths and threaten them with deportation. We ask you to join with the American Jewish Congress in opposing the elimination of DACA and support common sense immigration reform that provides hope for the future of these DREAMERS.

Jack Rosen, President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President – American Jewish Congress

Sep
8
Pray For Those Who Will Be Affected By Irma
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/08/2017 03:11 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Yet another deadly hurricane – this time “Irma” – is in the process of sweeping through the Florida and the Caribbean as we speak, with projections that it could do historically terrible damage.

I have property in Florida and I travel there a lot for both business and pleasure. Much like Hurricane Harvey, the damage Irma will do in Florida and the Caribbean when it is all said and done is going to be heartbreaking.

And living in New Jersey, I obviously had a ringside seat for the destruction that occurred during Hurricane Sandy. That was one of the most horrific weather occurrences I have ever seen, and many people I know personally lost everything.

Much like Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Louisiana Governor John Edwards before him, Florida Governor Rick Scott has his hands full and I am praying for him. I am also, it should go without saying, praying for everybody caught up in this hurricane.

I will say, though, that I am encouraged by Governor Scott’s strong leadership thus far as he seems to be ahead of the curve on preparation for the fallout of the storm. And, politics aside, the federal government under President Trump did an excellent job handling Hurricane Harvey and I am optimistic they can do the same with Irma.

Once again, we must come together as Americans and human beings to help those who will desperately need it in the aftermath. Godspeed to all. I will be praying for you, and I hope everybody else is, too.

Sep
7
The World Weeps As Heinous Acts Occur In Burma
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/07/2017 04:31 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I remember advocating for Burma leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1989 when she was arrested and sentenced to 21 years, I traveled to Washington and to other countries internationally to fight against the Burma dictatorship. We wanted her to be released from custody and house so that a fair election could be held. When she received a Nobel Prize in 1991, it truly warmed my heart.

Today, however, all of the admiration I had for this once great woman is gone. I always thought very highly of the people of Burma and believed they were tolerant, but it appears I was mistake. The systematic torture and murder of Muslims currently going on in that country is beyond sickening.

The United Nations needs to get involved and step in immediately. This is genocide, plain and simple, and something must be done before it is too late. As a Jewish man who grew up in a predominantly Muslim country, I know just how difficult it can be when you are the religious minority. There is name-calling, bullying, and sometimes outright violence.

It is shameful when the religious minority is treated that way, but it is nothing compared to what appears to be nothing short of ethnic cleansing going on in Burma.

The world needs to unite to take the proper steps to not only stop what is going on in Burma, but to also make sure it never happens again anywhere else. Minority groups should never be forced to live in fear just because of who they are, and it should certainly never be allowed to reach the level that it has in Burma where the minority is being outright purged.

And in addition to the international community, Aung San Suu Kyi needs to reverse course and take the proper steps to stop what is going on in her country. I loved and respected her once. We all did. It’s time for her to remind us why.

Sep
5
Congratulations to Future Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell
 
by Dr. Kazmir
09/05/2017 06:02 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Congratulations to Richard Grenell, who will be nominated to Ambassador to Germany under President Trump. Grenell is an incredibly well-qualified candidate for the position, having served as U.S. Spokesman at the United Nations from 2001-2008. He also briefly served as Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Spokesman.

But there is one other fact about Grenell that really stands out: he is openly gay.

Now, normally I would not even think that is worth mentioning, but considering that four years ago social conservatives forced Grenell to resign as a national security spokesman for Mitt Romney, this shows just how far the Republican Party has come in just four years.

I became a Republican because of Ronald Reagan who spoke about the “Evil Empire,” lower taxes, less regulation, and allowing businesses to thrive. I felt he was an incredible breath of fresh air and a terrific spokesman for everything I always admired about America.

But the social conservative part of the Republican platform has never appealed to me. I suppose you could say I lean somewhat Libertarian, but I just do not care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home. Gay marriage is now legal and we have seen the Republican Party elect a president who was for legalized gay marriage, allow an openly gay speaker to address the Republican National Convention, and now will oversee the appointment of an openly gay man as Ambassador to Germany.

I am thrilled for Richard Grenell for all he has achieved and I am proud of the Republican Party for finally beginning to bend in what I believe to be the correct direction on this issue. Richard Grenell didn’t get this job because he is gay; he got it because he was the best person to fill it. That’s always what I’ve understood conservatism to be about – the cream rises to the top, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Say what you will about the Republican Party writ large, but Grenell’s nomination is a positive for both them and the American people, who will get an outstanding Ambassador out of the deal.

Aug
31
Stop Making Excuses For Melania
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/31/2017 06:08 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

There was major uproar over the past few days regarding the shoes worn by First Lady Melania Trump as she and the president went to Houston to show support for the relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Some have suggested that those who are upset over a choice in wardrobe might be getting a little carried away. Personally, however, I think the criticism is very much warranted and anybody who disagrees is just trying to curry favor with the president and his minions.

Those who seek to deflect from the awful sin of wearing heels and a FLOTUS hat are simply sexists who refuse to judge a woman by the same standards as a man. Of course wearing those fancy, expensive items was awful and anybody who doesn’t see this as a legitimate issue is simply using that as a shield to hide their own sexism.

This isn’t just some talking point. These wardrobe choices matter! And shame on anybody who thinks this is merely silly and petty and is not a legitimate concern. If Melania Trump cannot be trusted to dress properly for an occasion as important as this, then what CAN we trust her to do? Can a First Lady actually be forced to resign? If so, it may be an avenue worth exploring.

Truthfully, the choice of shoes was so tone-deaf that it makes me wonder if perhaps it was done intentionally. Maybe it was some sort of secret signal to the Russians who hacked our elections to make her husband win.

Wouldn’t even surprise me if Putin himself picked out the outfit for Melania himself. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time Trump colluded with the Russians.

Now, that I think about it, if Putin did pick out that outfit for Melania, then she should probably be put on trial for treason. After all, she is Russian.

Wait a second. Now it all makes sense. Melania is a KGB agent who “honey trapped” Donald Trump and has been secretly working to get him elected president so that she can take the United States down from the inside! She probably has all kinds of legitimate dirt to blackmail him with, too!

This is obviously treason.

I guess that settles it: we have no choice but to start impeachment hearings for Melania right away.

But we can’t stop there. Treason is punishable by death.

So we should probably get the guillotine ready.

Aug
31
American Jewish Congress Statement on Devastation of Texas By Hurricane Harvey
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/31/2017 12:16 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2017

The American Jewish Congress offers our thoughts and prayers to all of those displaced and affected by Hurricane Harvey! This terrible disaster has done irreparable harm to thousands of Americans living along the coast.

Harvey has dumped more than 15 trillion tons of water on the Texas and Louisiana coastline leaving thousands temporarily homeless.

The American Jewish Congress offers our support to the people of Texas and Louisiana. The time is now for us to come together to support those affected by the hurricane.

The city of Houston has been struck hardest by this unimaginable disaster. Floods, broken levies, and monstrous rainfall have uprooted this proud city.

The people of Texas and Louisiana need our prayers and support. We hope you will join with us in standing with us and helping our brothers and sisters in their plight.

Jack Rosen, President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President – American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary – American Jewish Congress

Aug
30
Erdogan Is A Thug And Hopefully His Goon Squad Is Made To Pay Dearly
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/30/2017 06:02 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

In case you missed it, 19 indicted were including 15 Turkish security officials, for attacking protesters during a May 2017 U.S. visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

I have one word for this news: Good.

No need for me to write some long treatise about how horrible Turkey’s leader is, so I’ll make this short and sweet……

Let’s drop the pretense here: Erdogan is a thug and he runs his government like a brutal dictatorship. He’s an anti-semiteanti-free speech fascistelection riggingmonster who brutally punishes dissent.

The fact that Turkey – with this goon as its leader – has any presence at all in the European Union tells you all you need to know about that organization and why Britain chose to leave it.

Like I said, no need to sugarcoat: Erdogan’s presence is another reminder of how good we have it here in the United States and how awful it is in some other places. If there is any justice, Erdogan’s gang of criminal conspirators will pay dearly for what they did to those protesters back in May. And if there is any karma in this world, Erdogan himself will be punished summarily in due time for his evil deeds.

Aug
29
Disaster Sometimes Reminds Us All About The True Meaning Of Human Compassion
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/29/2017 05:52 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

While I was born in Pakistan and have lived much of my adult life in New Jersey, I lived in Houston for two years and I have children that were born there. So watching what has happened in the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey over the past few days has really hit home for me.

I have been deeply saddened to see the destruction and devastation caused by the hurricane.

But in a strange way, the aftermath has helped lift my spirits.

Why do I say that? Because of all the incredible displays of kindness and generosity I see on display from, so many of my fellow Americans.

Sure, there have been the occasional boneheads suggesting that Houston deserves this because Texas is a “Red State” or outright saying they wouldn’t give money to a state that voted for the president.

But at a time when this country feels more politically divided than any point since I’ve been here, the overwhelming majority of people have managed to drop their petty grievances and come together to help those in Houston who are in dire need of assistance. Citizens in the area have risked their own lives to help strangers, people outside the area have been sending in donations left and right, and joint prayers have been said all throughout the country for the well-being of those in harm’s way.

And no matter what you think of them, President Trump, Governors Abbott and Edwards, and local law enforcement have all done a terrific job of handling the crisis.

The people in the Houston area are going to continue to need our support, our money, and our prayers for a significant amount of time as they attempt to rebuild the damage done. How long it will take to repair that damage is anybody’s guess. But what’s not anybody’s guess is which country has the most generous and warm-hearted citizens, even if sometimes it takes an unmitigated crisis to remind us of that.

*Note: If you haven’t do so already, I implore you to donate anything you can spare to one of the fine charities collecting funds to help the Houston area recover from this natural disaster.*

Aug
28
The FBI Never Sleeps: A Look Inside The Newark, NJ Field Office
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/28/2017 04:56 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The FBI has been much talked about over the past year, although unfortunately a lot of the talk has been more about political topics than actual law enforcement. That’s why I decided to go to my local field office in Newark, NJ to talk with some of the bureau’s agents and get a better idea of what working for the nation’s top police force is really like.

One thing I noticed right away is that the office is very professional and diverse with a terrific blend of men and women of different backgrounds. This has been a staple of the leadership of Timothy Gallagher since he took over in early 2016. Since then, the Newark division of the bureau has had an excellent reputation with it being said that they are always ready to handle any task and any challenge not only in NJ but around the world, so I was eager to see it for myself.

First, I talked with agent Sandra Carroll, a 23 year veteran of the FBI who specialized in white collar crime (which immediately made me think of the TV show “White Collar” that starred Matt Bomer) until three years ago when she transitioned to HR and recruiting. Agent Carroll said that being a black female agent gives her an interesting perspective and helps her relate to other minorities when she goes to make recruiting presentations. She said it was hard being at the bureau at first, but once she proved she could do the job, she was treated very respectfully, and at times, she has seen men be extra courteous to her because she’s a woman.

Next I spoke with Kimberly McDonald, who does community outreach and has worked for the bureau for 9 years. Her main task is working with members of the public – local law enforcement, religious leaders, school administrators, etc…. – to help them better understand federal laws and what constitutes violations. In addition, she talks with students about bullying and cyber safety, and this is where her background in clinical social work really becomes a benefit to her, because it helps her relate to numerous people of many different upbringings.

I also had a chance to speak with Roshan Patel, who was finishing up his final year as an intern for the bureau in public affairs. He was born in Morristown, NJ, speaks four languages (Hindi, English, Kodrathi, and Holdu), and told me he was nervous when he first started but everybody has treated him very well. Roshan helps the Public Affairs team inform the public when something important happens.

 Jagdeep Narula is an intelligence analyst who takes information that the bureau receives (like threats) and processes it so agents are in the best position to make informed decisions. He was born in the United States but is a Sikh and wears a turban, which he says has never created a problem for him. Jagdeep has worked in the bureau for eight years told me that his father originally came to this country from India for a better life, and that every single day he succeeds at the bureau he is proving that his father’s decision was the correct one.

Lastly, I spoke to Mr. Bradley Cohen who is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Branch. Bradley manages nine squads that cover 18/21 counties in New Jersey. Those departments team with local law enforcement to go after serious threats involving largely drugs, gangs, criminal enterprises, and terrorism. The squad he is on has over 100 agents working for it and handles the bulk of the most important issues relevant to New Jersey, and he says that cooperation with local authorities is crucial, because with all the crime out there, the only way to get the job done with maximum effectiveness is to have as many hands on deck as possible.

Overall, I came out very impressed with this group, who displayed an incredible knowledge of their positions and have incredible dedication to their jobs. The Newark office has many resources at their disposal and looks poised to handle any challenge at any given time. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet and talk with them and I will unquestionably sleep a lot easier at night knowing that these fine men and women are alertly on the case.

Aug
25
As Hurricane Harvey Devastates, There Should Be No Room For Politics
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/25/2017 06:26 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

A category three Hurricane known as “Harvey” is in the process of sweeping through the Texas area, with projections that it could be the worst of its kind in nearly 50 years.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Louisiana Governor John Edwards have their hands full and I am praying for both of them. I am also, it should go without saying, praying for everybody caught up in this hurricane.

I have already seen a number of high profile people already attempting to make political hay out of this involving President Trump’s response with some criticizing him heavily for not appearing to care enough.

I can’t believe I even have to say this, but people are in serious danger. This is no time to get needlessly political. President Trump will be in contact with the Governors involved and they will handle everything the best they can. Instead of using this as another opportunity to try and bash the president, I’d suggest your energy would be better spent sending positive energy towards those affected and donating money to help them repair the eventual wreckage. Now is no time for politics and I really wish more people saw how obvious that is.

Godspeed to those caught in Harvey’s wrath. I’ll be praying for you and I hope everybody else is, too.

Aug
23
ESPN Did Something Silly – Let’s Hope They Learn From It
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/23/2017 04:59 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I have to be honest, when I saw a story floating around the internet claiming that ESPN had switched a commentator for a college football game to an assignment away from Virginia because his name was Robert Lee – the same first and last name of a famous Confederate Civil War General – I thought it had to be a humorous news story from the Onion.

I mean, I know we are living in sensitive times, but there’s no way anybody could think an Asian broadcaster born more than a century after the civil war ended could evoke a problem announcing a football game just because his name was similar to a Confederate General, right?

Apparently, I was wrong.

Amazingly, the story WAS true and ESPN even issues a statement about it, claiming they were afraid people would have made fun of the name similarity on social media.

Seriously? That’s a reason for switching an announcer’s assignment? We are now at the point where fear of social media jokes is legitimate in this context?

Good Lord.

I realize this whole thing is trivial and doesn’t really matter in a vacuum, but it is the broader context that makes it a problem.

If ESPN was willing to make a move like this to avoid social media jokes – or more likely because they somehow feared it would be “insensitive” to have an announcer named Robert Lee call that game – then what is next? If a guy bears a slight resemblance to a well-known criminal, terrorist, white supremacist, etc…… does he get reassigned or outright left off an assignment because the network fears some people might be upset by seeing his face? I could use a bunch of other likewise silly examples, but I think you get the point.

There is nothing wrong with being sensitive to people’s concerns. But when that sensitivity lands you in the realm of oversensitive or even absurd, it is time to stop and re-evaluate what you are doing.

This story was leaked to Outkick the Coverage’s Clay Travis and was clearly never meant to go public, but it did.

And if ESPN is smart, they will learn a lesson from it.

That lesson? Sometimes it is best not to overthink and overcomplicate things that should be simple. Because doing so could lead to people being subject to reassignments or worse for no good reason and in the name of doing “good” you actually end up being ridiculous or worse. This time it was just an announcer being foolishly switched off of a game. Next time? Who knows. But let’s just hope this serves as a wake-up call to ESPN before it does indeed lead to something far worse for somebody who doesn’t deserve the consequences next time.

Aug
22
AJCongress Statement on Recent Barcelona Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/22/2017 09:30 am ET

The American Jewish Congress stands with the people of Barcelona following Thursday’s horrific attacks. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

As we see these acts of violence and hate span borders, now more as ever, we must stand united in the face of these horrific events. We must stand in solidarity with those suffering a loss across the world. These types of attacks try to make us afraid, but we must continue to live in a manner that proves our basic values of freedom and liberty will never diminish.

Jack Rosen, President of American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir, Vice President of American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake, Secretary of American Jewish Congress

Aug
21
Farewell to a Legend
 
by Dr. Kazmir

08/21/2017 03:54 pm ET

CBS NEWS

The world lost a truly great man over the weekend when Jerry Lewis passed away at the age of  91.

Jerry Lewis was a terrific entertainer.  From his partnership with the great Dean Martin to his long and fruitful solo career, Lewis never ceased making people laugh.   In fact, for as good as his early material was, his performance as talk show host Jerry Langford in the 1983 dark comedy “The King of Comedy” alongside Robert Deniro and Sandra Bernhard remains one of my all time favorite examples of Lewis’s work.

With Jerry Lewis, though, for all his comedic ability, he may be remembered best for his work outside of Hollywood.  For decades, Lewis ran telethons to raise money for muscular dystrophy.

When it was all said and done, Lewis raised billions for his cause and became synonymous with celebrities who really make a difference in this world.  Many talk the talk but few walk the walk, but Lewis walked that walk for many years and really did his part to make this world a better place.

I’ll miss the entertainment Jerry Lewis provided me with over the years, but more than that, I’ll miss having a terrific human being like him on this planet using his platform to help so many who needed it.  RIP Jerry Lewis.  You may be gone, but your impact will live on for years to come.

Aug
15
Trenton Will Lead The Way On Helping The Homeless
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/15/2017 04:46 pm ET Updated Aug 16, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

With all the craziness going on in the world right now, it is nice when I can look out and see somebody doing something positive that won’t cause partisan bickering.

As a New Jersey resident, that’s why I’m proud to say I truly commend the job Eric Jackson is doing as Mayor in Trenton, NJ.

I’ve known Mayor Jackson for a while and have always found him to be a strong thinker and somebody who knows how to get things done. Even though he is a Democrat, Jackson has worked with Republican Governor Chris Christie if he felt the effort suited his constituents, political parties be damned.

As Vice President of the American Jewish Congress, I have worked with him on reaching out to Israeli businesses as far as getting them to consider doing business in Trenton. He’s able and willing to work with anybody he needs to in order to yield positive results for the people in his city.

That is why I was pleased to see that the Department of Housing and Urban Development granted Trenton $3.8 million to find permanent housing for the homeless.

Trenton has vowed to use that money to fund emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, and rental assistance in conjunction with 15 non-profits.

This effort really warms my heart, because quite frankly, for all the talk of who is a bigger victim than who in this country, homeless people are truly, visibly suffering and are the most venerable among us. They need real, tangible help and I am very glad that such a competent and caring leader is out on the front lines doing everything he can to make sure that they get it.

Aug
14
This Weekend Was Awful, And I Fear It Is Only Going To Get Worse
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/14/2017 05:06 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2017

I’m a Jewish Pakistani immigrant, so obviously I was disgusted by everything that went on in Virginia over the weekend. People have been killed, including two state troopers on their way to the scene, and the entire event escalated to a place that should make everybody sick to their stomachs.

Let’s get this out of the way: The roughly 1,500 white supremacists who showed up in Virginia are disgusting people. Even though I recognize the white supremacists’ right to do what they did – and commend the ACLU who had the unfortunate task of not only defending their rights but also facing incredible heat for doing what their organization was established to do – that doesn’t mean I wish it never happened at all.

And I also wish the media would have treated it that way, too.

The truth is, this was a small number of people who came from across the country to draw attention to themselves and their cause and the media gave it to them. These white supremacists were completely insignificant but instead of being ignored, which would have deprived them of the attention they were so desperately seeking, the media gave them all the coverage they ever could have asked for and then some.

Now, they feel more emboldened and important than ever, which is the last thing any of us should have ever wanted.

The driver responsible for running over the protester should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as should anybody else on the white supremacist side who committed any acts of violence.

But I fear the leftist violence in response is only going to exacerbate what we saw over the weekend. I realize these white supremacists are scum and many feel they had this coming, but antifa has taken action like this in the past against those who aren’t white supremacists, not that it mattered to them. As long as they simply say somebody like Gavin McIness, for example, is a Nazi, then that’s all they need to justify hurting him and those like him. Soon, it just becomes “anybody I don’t like is a Nazi, go get him!” and at that point, we’ve lost everything America is supposed to be about.

Lastly, while I do support President Trump – and was glad to see him finally come out and use harsh words to condemn the white supremacists today – he should have done this immediately. Instead, he gave those white supremacists a way to twist his words to fit what they wanted him to mean, which was helpful to nobody except the white supremacists. Whatever you think the reason for this was – nefarious or not – it was a mistake and he needs to learn, especially in this climate, that being in any way vague about stuff like this is unacceptable.

I would like to think this mess and the violence antifa has been responsible for would stop and that everybody would just take a step back and realize what is going on here. Nobody is saying anybody should have to consider the viewpoint of these white supremacists, but there’s a difference between fighting everything they are for and literally fighting them. It may feel good to punch a white supremacist, but that just escalates matters and gives them the attention they want so badly. These people are insignificant and have no power, and if you want it to stay that way, let them spit into the wind where nobody can hear them rather than unintentionally aiding their cause.

I do not expect cooler heads to prevail here in any way, though, unfortunately, and I have a feeling things are about to get worse. Way worse.

Aug
11
While We Wait To Debate Insurance Again, Let’s Talk About Drugs
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/11/2017 03:33 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Obamacare may be a dead issue for now, but that doesn’t mean the debate about health insurance costs in the United States won’t continue. However, 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.

Aug
10
My Guide To Following The News Without Losing Your Mind
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/10/2017 03:33 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Ever since Donald Trump took office in January, it seems like there has been a daily pattern when it comes to news coverage: 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.”

Recently, I have been writing about how we have lost the ability to have rational conversations and my need to just unplug from it all from time to time. But I have largely managed to maintain my sanity through all of this craziness, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’ve managed to do that.

Here’s my trick: I have a four part 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 going nuts.

With that in mind, I figured I would offer up my system to you as a recommendation with how to proceed in these crazy times. Feel free to use it if you wish. I hope it helps!

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. If you do not read anybody that challenges your views, then you become more and more isolated and end up being unable to even fathom how somebody could think differently than you do. That’s a recipe for mental disaster, to say the least. 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 John Stossel 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, because refusing to do so can be incredibly damaging to your psyche.

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.

Aug
9
What I Learned During My Recent Trip To Albania
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/09/2017 04:38 pm ET Updated Aug 09, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Last week I was in Albania and had the opportunity to meet with their 33rd Prime Minister, Edi Rama.

I learned that prior to becoming the Prime Minister, Rama was the Mayor of Tirana, which is the largest city in Albania and has people living there from all over the world, including everybody who works at Diplomatic Embassy Offices. Tirana has a population of about 418,000, so having been the Mayor of Tirana, Rama understands that community very well.

We had a 2-hour lunch meeting at his official residence which is 4 hours from Tirana where I thanked the Prime Minister for his continuous support for the Jewish people. Prior to my lunch with Rama, I had a different perception about him, but came away very impressed.

During my previous trip, I met so many Balkan leaders, all of whom were likewise impressive. And Albania itself is quite impressive, as it is largely a very safe place with no religious turmoil. I think American businesses would be wise to get involved in Albania and help create jobs and economic opportunities over there, because there is some real growth potential in Albanian markets and helping a U.S. ally become stronger helps the United States’ long-term interests in the region.

Rama won the Albanian election in June and was re-elected as Prime Minister of Albania and has pledged to fix the Albanian justice system. He shared with me his visions for education reform, healthcare, improving the life of every Albanian, creating job opportunities, improving infrastructure, and improving law and public safety, all of which seemed very in tune with values that we here in America hold dear. There is no room for corruption in Rama’s Government.

This is why I think President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson would be wise to work with Rama. Albania is an extremely important ally and friend that America needs to be able to trust, and with Rama – who is an intelligent man who thinks outside the box – I believe the U.S. government has a leader they can easily work with.

Aug
8
In Crazy Times, I’m Glad I’ve Found A Way To Relax
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/08/2017 04:58 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Being involved in some way with politics and even writing about it here at Huffington Post, I try to read everything I can to keep myself as informed as possible. But I have to admit, sometimes the topic can become not only tiresome, but downright depressing, and I find that I need a break.

Problem is, with how much I have on my plate as far as obligations involving family, business, and philanthropy, I really have no time for new hobbies, or any hobbies for that matter.

Thankfully, at the behest of a friend, I recently began listening to non-political podcasts when I fly on business and I have to say, doing so has really helped me relax and unwind on some fairly long flights.

I’ve also found myself mostly listening to podcasts that talk about the past, rather than the present. My mind has gone back years and sometimes decades to old sporting events, as well as retro music. These days, I don’t get the opportunity to watch that much sports or delve into new music due to my busy schedule, so keeping up with the current scene can be very difficult. However, thanks to some of the podcasts I have found, I am discovering that enjoying memories of the past can be just as rewarding.

One such podcast is called “Play Like A Jet” and features in-depth interviews with former players from my favorite football team, the New York Jets, about certain New York Jets seasons. What I really like about this one is it is unique – it is done in a timeline like format, where a player comes on the show and goes through all the details of that season from a player’s perspective, which really helps make that season come alive again. A recent series on 2008 with former safety Kerry Rhodes was an especially fun trip down memory lane.

And on the music end, I’ve found the “Throwback Podcast” to be a lot of fun. So far I’ve listened to all of the episodes and especially enjoyed the one about Live’s “Throwing Copper,” which I never bought but still remember hearing constantly on the radio back in the 90’s. It reminded me of how much I prefer the mainstream music of that decade to the music of today, and hearing about some of these songs again has made me think back to what seemed to be a far happier time, or at least a lot less constant negativity.

I mentioned in my column yesterday that we have all lost the ability to talk to each other and rational discussion has become impossible, but these podcasts have helped me remember times in my life when I didn’t feel that way. And the beauty of it is, there are so many podcasts out there, covering virtually every topic imaginable. If you like standup comedy – odds are your favorite comedian has a podcast. Favorite sports team? Dozens of podcasts likely exist about them. You love television and movies? Music? Food? Cars? There are podcasts for EVERYTHING.

They are often raw, unfiltered, and the last place where people can have honest and enjoyable conversations without fearing a fight breaking out. It’s like the wild wild west of fun and interesting content out there, and I’m genuinely glad I’ve delved into it. As I alluded to yesterday, I’ve been largely able to keep my sanity in these crazy times, and being able to escape into entertaining shows like these is part of the reason why.

Aug
3
Progress Must Be Made On Immigration
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/03/2017 12:19 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2017

The RAISE Act, introduced this week by Senate Republicans Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and David Perdue (Georgia), which leads the United States towards a merit-based immigration system, is a step in the right direction.

As an immigrant myself, it is painfully obvious to me that 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 I’m glad we have finally started trying to change that.

Aug
2
We Have Somehow Lost The Ability To Talk To Each Other
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/07/2017 01:30 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Recently, I was at the airport coming back from another long business trip when I overheard a conversation between two people that just made me shake my head.

The two men, who appeared to be friends, were talking about an ad they had recently seen on television promoting “Right to Work,” which essentially describes a measure intended to allow employees the choice of whether or not they must join a union as a condition of employment – basically, open shop as opposed to closed shop.

One of the men said, “should help open up some job opportunities,” to which the other man replied, with complete seriousness, “come on, you know all that anti-union talk is just coded racism and bigotry.”

Now, I did not stay around long enough to hear the rest of the conversation, but that brief window into the chat seemed beyond strange to me.

Whether or not “Right to Work” is a good idea is a very long and complex discussion, one I’m not going to wade into today.

But the fact that one of the men immediately jumped to an argument that had nothing to do with the actual merits of the issue made me realize just how sad debate in this country has gotten.

Instead of making reasoned arguments, so many of us just yell, “racist!” “sexist!” “Un-American!” “Un-Patriotic!” to the point of ridiculousness.

If you were against the Iraq War, you hated the troops. If you disliked President Obama’s policies, you were a racist who hated a black man being in charge. If you think the Russia allegations are more smoke than fire, you’re a “Kremlin stooge.” And if you report anything negative about the president, you are “fake news.”

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Unfortunately, it appears we have lost the ability to have any kind of reasoned discussion about anything. This has always been the case in some circles, but today, it may be worse than I’ve ever seen. A 24 hour news cycle built on sensationalism combined with people who work themselves into a frenzy all day on social media seems to have turned even normal people into talking point spouting lunatics who would rather shut down an argument with ad-hominem name calling than have meaningful discussions about serious issues.

I’ve heard it suggested that somehow this is President Trump’s fault because of the crude language he uses and the insults he lobs on Twitter, but he seems to me to be the culmination of what was already building rather than the cause of it.

As a doctor, I wish I had a cure for this problem to go along with the diagnosis, but I don’t. People aren’t going to abandon social media or stop filling their heads with angry rhetoric any time soon, so the only thing you can really do is unplug from it all from time to time and attend to what’s really important: your friends and family. That is what I try to do and somehow I have managed to keep my sanity throughout all of this craziness.

For now.

Aug
1
New York Jets Rookie Makes Waves, But Are We Being Too Hard on Him?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
08/01/2017 04:11 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

New York Jets defensive back Jamal Adams, a rookie taken sixth overall in the 2017 NFL draft, raised quite a few eyebrows when he said the following yesterday:

“I’m all about making the game safer, but as a defensive player, I’m not a big fan of it. But I get it. I can speak for a lot of guys that play the game. We live and breathe [football]. This is what we’re so passionate about. Literally, if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field. And that’s not a lie. There’s so much sacrifice that we go through as a team, and just connecting as one and winning ball games. There’s nothing like playing the game of football. But again, I’m all about making the game safer.”

Later on, Adams’ teammate, cornerback Morris Claiborne, made similar comments.

Very quickly people came out to either cheer or jeer what Adams had said. Green Bay Packers Tight End Martellus Bennett tweeted that there is no way he would ever want to die for football, adding “I hope All these young cats that are willing to die for the game of football find a higher purpose in life.”

Former New York Jets running back Thomas Jones fully backed Bennett’s tweets, adding in a series of tweets of his own, “Only a brainwashed buffoon would say they’re willing to die over a damn ball. Fake ass tough guys. Get it together. Same NFL cats willing to die on the field are the same ones “nae naein” and “hitten them folks” all day. What part of the game is this? Here’s an idea. Instead of “DYING” valiantly for football” take some of the earnings, create your own business & “LIVE” comfortably.”

Jones’ former Jets teammate, ex-Safety Kerry Rhodes, had a more measured response, though he still felt the idea of dying for football was off-base. “Guys saying they will die on the football field are nuts. I love the passion for what you do, but would your owners die for you to play? I personally don’t want to die anywhere if at all possible…..and I’m very passionate about quite a few things in my life.”

On Fox Sports, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and former Denver Broncos Tight End Shannon Sharpe both said that while they certainly weren’t looking to die for anything, they understood what Adams meant. Lewis and Sharpe agreed that even knowing the risks, they both still felt a life of football was worth it and that the good they got out of football outweighed the bad. Sharpe even went so far as to say he would have said the same thing as Adams 15 years ago, although he indicated he would be much more careful with his words now.

And I think Sharpe touched on something that makes a lot of sense.

Adams is 21 and while Claiborne is a little older, even he is still only 27. They are both very young men in the heat of the moment talking about something they love and are passionate about. When I read the comments Adams made, I read it more along the lines of what Sharpe and Lewis said – that even with the risks, there is nothing on earth he would rather do, and the positives outweigh the negatives for him, even if it takes a few years off of his life in the end.

Even if you disagree with Adams – and I certainly understand both sides of the argument here – I don’t think he literally meant he wanted to die for football. He’s going to have to learn to become more judicious with his words, and now that he’s in New York, he will no doubt have a whole staff of trained professionals making sure he is more careful.

Deep down, I don’t think Jamal Adams wants to be sentenced to death. Seems more like an over-excited kid who is succumbing to the exhilaration he is currently feeling. He will eventually gain some perspective, and maturity will allow him to frame what he says in a better, more dignified way.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t still love football or decide – like Lewis and Sharpe did – that when it is all said and done, the physical toll of a violent game and overall risk to his health were worth it to him. Or maybe he won’t. Only time and experience can ultimately tell that tale.

Jul
31
The President May Have Just Made His Best Decision Yet
 
by Dr. Kazmir

07/31/2017 04:15 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2017

MOLLY RILEY VIA GETTY IMAGES

I am a supporter of President Trump, but let’s be honest: Thus far, his administration has been fairly disorganized. There have been an unprecedented number of leaks and warring factions have been at each other’s throats. It has only been six months into his presidency, so if Donald Trump wanted to turn things around, he had to put somebody in place as Chief of Staff who will clear out the dead weight, get everything on the right track, and generally stop putting up with the kind of amateurish backbiting that has carried on since January.

I firmly believe the president has found his man in 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 what it takes to run a tight ship. With Kelly and his no-nonsense approach at the helm, nobody in the administration will escape his wrath if anybody steps out of line.

General Kelly has also shown the kind of guts the position of running the DHS demands and he will carry that over to his new post as Chief of Staff. He has the kind of independent streak necessary to stand up to the president and reel him in when he’s acting improperly, much as he did when strongly opposed President Obama’s statements about closing the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, since he believed it would allow many suspected terrorists hellbent on destroying the United States to roam free and pose a grave problem.

He ruled Gitmo with an iron fist and ensured that it served its intended purpose. He did the same with DHS. And now he will run the White House staff the same way.

And make no mistake, General Kelly will also stand up to President 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 the president needs as Chief of Staff. 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 middle ground for White House staff now; the job will get done and it will get done right or there will be hell to pay.

An important part of President Trump’s pitch to voters was the fact that for decades in the business world, he has put the right people in the right places. Running a branch of government was new to President Trump and he has had his stumbles early on. But General Kelly is fearless and tireless, and his elevation shows the president realized that major changes needed to be made, so he went ahead and made them.

And when it is all said and done, I have a feeling this will end up being a decision President Trump will look back on as one of his best.

Jul
28
Obamacare Vote Hammers Home An Important Lesson We Should’ve Learned Long Ago
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/28/2017 01:08 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

This is why nobody trusts politicians.

Obamacare repeal, which was one of the key issues President Trump ran on, has failed to pass in the U.S. Senate. There are some who are ecstatic about this and some who are upset, whatever their reasoning may be.

But the fact remains that Republicans promised a full repeal of Obamacare and they did not deliver.

One Republican deserves zero blame for breaking that promise, namely Susan Collins of Maine. Collins said all along that she had no intention of voting for an Obamacare repeal and she stayed true to her word. Whether you agree with Collins or not, that was her position all along and there is nothing wrong with that.

However, the other two Republican holdouts, John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska?

Well, that’s a little bit different.

Just to put things in perspective, here are some powerful words about the need or Obamacare repeal:

“I’ve asked this question before, but I will ask it again: for whom is the Affordable Care Act affordable? Certainly not the average, hard-working Alaskans who are being forced to shell out thousands of dollars for their premiums each month. It isn’t affordable for school districts and other state entities, who will pay huge taxes. It isn’t affordable for kids, whose education will suffer.

This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”

So who spoke those words? Lisa Murkowski, in December 2015 after voting for a full repeal of Obamacare.

How about some more powerful words about Obamacare:

“Since its enactment, Obamacare has been full of empty promises that have only made our nation’s health care problems worse. I hear from Arizonans every day who have been saddled by rising premiums, increased health care costs, and reduced access to doctors and hospitals. In fact, according to data released last month, 24 insurance plans in the Obamacare exchanges will see double-digit rate hikes in 2016, while residents of Phoenix are expected to see their premiums increase to roughly 19 percent. The highest average premium increase in Arizona is projected to reach a whopping 78 percent.”

Who said that? If you guessed John McCain in December of 2015 after voting to repeal Obamacare, you are correct.

For those of you that were happy the law didn’t get repealed, that is fine. This isn’t really about the bill itself; rather, it is about the tiresome habit politicians have of promising something and then doing the exact opposite.

Former Republican House Leader Eric Cantor more or less gave the game away on this point in a recent interview, stating in response to a question about promising Obamacare repeal that many Republicans knew they couldn’t actually do it, but “if you’ve got that anger working for you, you’re gonna let it be.”

In other words, let your constituents work themselves into a frenzy, then promise to take care of whatever they are angry about, but when the opportunity comes to actually do it, punt the ball.

I suppose that is the point of voting “yes” on a repeal bill you know will never pass heading into an election year only to reverse course the second you have the chance to really repeal the law you claimed was destroying, “average, hard-working Alaskans.”

And just so we are clear, this is in no way confined only to Republicans. Democrats constantly make promises like this only to break them later. Getting us out of unpopular military entanglements, many of which raged on in some form or another long after the Democrats took the House and Senate in 2006 and Barack Obama assumed the presidency in 2009, is a perfect example of how political doublespeak is the only thing in Washington that is truly bipartisan.

What happens next with the healthcare debate is anybody’s guess at this point, but regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, Senators Murkowski and McCain’s votes on repeal once again demonstrated plain as day a lesson that everybody in the world should have learned long ago: never ever trust the word of a politician.

Jul
26
Comedian Reminds Us Of A Simple, But Unavoidable Real-World Truth
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/26/2017 05:47 pm ET Updated Jul 27, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Recently, I was listening to an episode of the “Part of the Problem” podcast with comedian Dave Smith when I heard him discussing a subject that really struck a nerve.

If you are unfamiliar with Smith, he is an anarcho-capitalist libertarian who is excellent at breaking down complex issues into simple terms, and does so in an entertaining and funny way.

A friend of mine recommended I check out “Part of the Problem” and while I often disagree with anarcho-capitalists, I found myself enjoying the show quite a bit.

On the episode I referred to above, Smith railed against the minimum wage in general, but the “Fight for 15” in particular. In case you are unaware, the “Fight for 15” refers to the movement for a $15/hr minimum wage across the United States.

In breaking down the subject, Smith talked about the Gas Digital Network, which is the network that carries his podcasts. Smith talked about the owners of the network – comedian Luis J Gomez and Ralph Sutton – and how they put everything on the line trying to make the network a success. They worked like lunatics, invested most of their savings, and attempted to build something from scratch. They did this knowing it might take months or years to make any money, that is, if the business didn’t go belly-up altogether like most start-up ventures do.

Then, they went out and hired people, knowing those people were guaranteed to make money while they may not see a dime for who knows how long, if ever.

Smith then said that after all of that, people think they have a right to dictate to Gomez and Sutton that they pay a certain wage, even though these people took none of the risk, didn’t put in any of the work, and invested nothing of their own.

He went on to say that if these people wanted to guarantee others a wage of $15/hr, they should start their own business and pay whatever wages they wanted. But until then, all they would be doing is pricing potential employees out of the market by artificially raising wages that many business will not and cannot pay.

As I said, I don’t agree with Smith on everything, but on this, he is 100% correct. As a man who came over here as an immigrant and built my business into a successful operation, I can personally attest to the fact that there were many times I thought I was going to fail and be broke. I was often the last person involved with the business to see a dime, even though I worked around the clock to try to keep things going.

And when success came for me, I had earned it with my blood, sweat, and tears.

I do my best to take care of my employees financially, but there have been times when I could barely afford to pay the bills let alone pay $15/hr. Not to mention the fact that the labor certain jobs require simply is not worth $15/hr to me.

If I were to pay everybody a minimum of $15/hr, it would mean I would be forced to make due with fewer employees or pay some who make more than that less to make up the difference. Everybody would be equal, but some who would deserve more than $15 wouldn’t get it and many others would be unemployed altogether.

And this shouldn’t be a one-size fits all solution, anyway. Even if you want to argue for a minimum wage, it really should be from state to state or city to city. You could make a case for a $15/hr minimum wage in NYC or LA if you wanted to, but in Binghamton, NY or Charleston, SC? There’s simply no way most businesses in areas like that could afford to pay all of their workers $15/hr. You’d see a lot of robots at McDonald’s and a lot of low-skilled workers without jobs.

Believe me, I wish everybody could earn a zillion dollars and everybody was wealthy. But that just isn’t reality. When it comes to issues like this, sometimes we have to take a step back and think with our heads rather than our hearts.

Even if we wish we didn’t have to.

Jul
25
I Remember Neda & I Hope You Do, Too
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/25/2017 05:20 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter:@mk1157

The other day, I was watching the video of that girl who was arrested in Saudi Arabia for wearing clothes that didn’t cover all of her body and I had a flashback to a different video I had watched years ago. 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 I 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 watched the video of the Saudi girl 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 am 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 when he called the judges who initially 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.

Jul
25
Watching A Cricket Match and Soaking In Freedom
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/25/2017 11:55 am ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

In case you missed it, England won the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in cricket defeating India. I barely get to watch sports these days – or much of anything for that matter – but I was really glad I was able to see this.

Not only did I enjoy the cricket match itself, but I smiled at the thought of how hard these women worked and how much they were able to achieve. As is usually the case when I think about female empowerment and success, it made me think of my own daughters, who I am so proud of, because all three of them have worked incredibly hard and done so much to contribute to society.

They are everything strong women should be.

But it also made me think of how proud of this country, because women have achieved so much in a relatively short period of time. So much so, that we are able to celebrate their importance to humanity and the freedom they have 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.

But here, many women do the exact same job as men and in a lot of cases, do that job at an even higher level.

Equality has always been the goal, and while reasonable minds can disagree over specific sex-based issues like abortion and mandatory paid maternity leave, 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%.

What a great message that is for women to send to the countries in this world that are far more oppressive to females: 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!

Women in the United States live by that mantra every day, and show their value through the equality they have earned while letting 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, they get their satisfaction by living well. Or, in this case, by living free.

Jul
21
Linda Sarsour Is Dangerous, So Let’s All Stop Pretending Otherwise
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/21/2017 05:14 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2017

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

While I tend to vote for Republicans more often than Democrats, keep in mind that I live in the Northeast and Republicans in New Jersey tend to be fairly moderate, as I’d say I am.

I have numerous friends who are Democrats and admire many public officials who represent the Democrat party. I believe it is necessary for both major parties to be well represented and combine their ideas, because I think both parties have good ideas that should be implemented.

But if the Democrats were smart, they’d run far away from Linda Sarsour.

This is a woman who said that Ayaan Hirsi Ali – who was a victim of FGM, escaped brutal conditions, and now must travel with bodyguards 24/7 – deserves to have her vagina taken away because Sarsour doesn’t agree with her worldview.

She also paid tribute recently to Imam Siraj Wahaj, a man who was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and said homosexuality is a disease.

Sarsour praised Assata Shakur, a convicted cop killer who escaped prison and fled to Cuba, where she has been hiding out for almost 40 years.

She has said so many disgusting things about Israel, that I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but I’d say her calling for a one-state solution that would completely wipe Israel off the map might be a decent starting point.

And, of course, there’s her most recent lunacy, which was calling for “Jihad” against President Trump and the American government. Her later claims about this – that she would never advocate violence and was instead referring to the literal definition of a struggle as opposed to the widely accepted definition of violent overthrow – are so ridiculously disingenuous, that I’d laugh if it wasn’t so pathetic. Remember, she’s incredibly peaceful, except when she’s lauding the actions of a convicted cop-killer, an accomplice in a bombing, or cheering on Palestinians throwing rocks at Israelis as a profile in courage on Twitter.

Essentially, Sarsour’s nonsensical claim about what she “really” meant when she said “Jihad” has just as much credibility as the president of an organization who hates gay people trying to claim that he was talking about a pile of sticks when he yelled out the word “fagot.”

Let’s be clear here: Linda Sarsour was calling for violence against President Trump and the United States government, and if you believe otherwise, I’ll introduce you to the toothfairy.

I don’t know why elements of the left have embraced Sarsour: maybe it is because she is a loud voice against a president they hate, maybe it is because she is considered to be a member of an oppressed minority group, so people are afraid to call her on her insanity, maybe it is because some of these people actually agree with her. Hell, maybe it is a combination of all of the above.

Whatever the reason, she is a menace and a terrible person, and CNN’s Jake Tapper – who called Sarsour out for her horrific misdeeds and was labeled a member of the “alt-right” for his troubles because that’s the only defense Sarsour has in her repertoire since her actions are obviously indefensible – was 100% correct to say what he said.

Sarsour’s words and actions speak for themselves and I do not care what which God she prays to or which country she comes from, she is terribly and dangerously wrong in every way. And no matter what some people on the left have talked themselves into, she does not represent progressive values; she represents hatred and violence.

The sooner everybody en masse realizes this and properly shuns her for it, the better.

Jul
20
Godspeed, Senator McCain
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/20/2017 05:55 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

My heart goes out to Senator John McCain and his family. It was announced yesterday that Senator McCain has brain cancer, but in true Senator McCain fashion, he has vowed to fight it and beat it.

This is nothing new for the Arizona stalwart, who survived torture as a POW in Vietnam and eventually returned home to the United States where he has had a long and distinguished career in public service going all the way back to his days as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution back in the 1980’s.

Full disclosure: while I have my disagreements with Senator McCain, particularly on foreign policy where he favors a far more interventionist approach than I do, I helped raise money for his presidential bid in 2008. Disagreements aside, I thought he was the best man for the job and still believe his ability to lead and work with people of all viewpoints were important qualities that would have served him well as chief executive.

But at a time like this, we should be focusing less on political agreements or disagreements and simply zero in on the fact that an American hero who sacrificed his entire adult life as a public servant – whether as a member of the military, the House, or the Senate – is battling something horrible and we all need to rally around him.

I was happy to see that even McCain’s longtime political adversaries such as Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama made sure to let everybody know that this is the time to put political grievances aside and pray for the health of a great American.

As I said, Senator McCain surely has a rough battle ahead of him, but his entire life has been one battle after another and he has always found a way to survive and make it out the other side. I believe he will find a way to do it again now, against yet another evil adversary. Godspeed, Senator McCain. We are all pulling for you.

Jul
19
A Woman Was Arrested For What She Was Wearing In 2017 – Really?
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/19/2017 05:01 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

For those of you who think the United States is such an awful, repressive place, well, all I can say is sometimes things need to be put into perspective.

Surely, ours is a nation that has its issues, but one of those issues most certainly is not a woman being arrested for wearing clothes that are considered too short.

Unfortunately, that is what happened in Saudi Arabia yesterday. She was held for hours and then released after the international backlash from the story spreading on social media forced the Saudi government’s hand.

First of all, I must say, I am very glad this story spread and that this young woman was eventually released.

But she never should have been arrested in the first place, and that is a major problem. Saudi law requires that a woman be covered, which means they are essentially treated as property.

Some have suggested that it is just a cultural difference and that we need to accept the laws of the Saudi government. I accept those laws in so far as I won’t be calling for some sort of war or anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they are incredibly repressive and wrong. I don’t care if that makes me sound culturally insensitive or whatever the term being used these days is, because that type of treatment of women is flat out wrong and pretending otherwise is doing nobody any favors.

Cultural relativism is particularly bad, because it attempts to justify awful behavior. I don’t care what your culture is, or where you live, arresting a woman for wearing a skirt should be so far beyond the pale of what is acceptable that I just can’t get my head around anybody who believes otherwise.

Islam may be a religion of peace and most of its followers may be perfectly fine people, but those hardcore conservative members of the religion who still believe this type of behavior from a government is ok, quite frankly, need to get with the times.

Saudi Arabia was very clearly wrong to do what they did and I’m glad they rectified their mistake. But let’s not kid ourselves: this is not the first time something like this has happened there, and it won’t be the last. Stopping this woman from being punished any further was a nice first step, but if we want to make sure this kind of thing stops happening for good, we need to stay loud and vigilant.

Jul
18
The Women’s March Made A Mistake That They Should Really Think About
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/18/2017 05:06 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

The Women’s March is coming under fire for their praise of Assata Shakur AKA Joanne Chesimard, who turned 70 over the weekend, citing her supposedly strong record on racial justice.

In case you are unfamiliar with her, Shakur was convicted of first degree murder for her role in the 1973 murder of a New Jersey state police officer, a man who left behind a wife and two children.

When I first saw the Women’s March tweet out positive things about her, I was incredibly disappointed. Keep in mind, I live in the state where this happened, and I know many police officers who very easily could have found themselves the victim in that situation, so this case really hits home for me.

But it hits home for me for another reason. Two children had their father ripped away from them by a group that included Shakur, something that is as unforgivable a sin as there is. Just the thought of being taken from my daughters – even now when they are already grown – is the most horrifying thought I could ever have. And with how close I am with my daughters, I would imagine it would devastate them much the same way I know that New Jersey police officer’s children were devastated in 1973 when they were told their father was never coming home.

The police in this country have their faults, I’m not attempting to argue otherwise. But they put their lives on the line everyday and when one of them is senselessly murdered, the least we can do is try to bring the assailants to justice.

With Shakur, she may have been brought to justice, but she has largely gotten away without having to pay the proper price for his crime. Shakur escaped prison in 1979 and has been hiding in Cuba, with the full knowledge of the Cuban government, ever since. Today, she remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Now, I am not generally one for embargoes, because I think that they tend to punish average people while not actually making a situation better. The way to turn people around to your way of thinking isn’t to block them from sharing in your culture, it is the exact opposite. A little taste of what American freedom really looks like can go a long way towards changing hearts and minds.

But when it comes to Cuba, President Trump is right to stand up and say that they must return Shakur to the United States to face justice if they want to ease relations with us. What Shakur did was unspeakable and the fact that she has not been made to face the consequences of those actions is appalling.

If Cuba really wants to show they are willing to do things differently and open up trade and travel with this country, this is a small gesture they could make to help wounds heal and allow for our two countries to begin work towards a less hostile future.

The demand for her return should be flat out non-negotiable, and every member of Congress – especially the ones from New Jersey – should be willing to stand up and demand this across party lines. It is shameful that they haven’t already.

And the Women’s March should be equally ashamed of themselves. There are plenty of women in this world who have done great work on behalf of racial justice, but the vast majority of them are not unrepentant cop killers. The next time the Women’s March decides they would like to honor Shakur, maybe they should think about that.

Better yet, maybe those involved with the Women’s March should think about the policeman’s two children and consider how they would feel if somebody honored a person who murdered their fathers instead.

Jul
17
Carlson and Boot Square Off Over What “Conservative” Foreign Policy Should Be
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/17/2017 01:34 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I must confess, I do not have much time to watch television these days. I’m constantly on the road travelling and the commitments I have to my family and my business take up virtually all of my time.

But the other night I found myself with the rare opportunity to relax with a drink on my couch. I turned on the television and flipped through the channels until I came across Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News Channel.

Now, before anybody jumps down my throat: yes, Fox News is certainly a conservative network. And yes, Tucker Carlson can get a tad obnoxious at times.

But when I saw him ready to square off against Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations, I knew sparks were about to fly.

In fairness, there was a lot of cable news like theatrics, people talking over each other, petty insults, etc…. that made the segment cringe worthy at times.

However, the main crux of the argument between the two was fascinating and really represents the battle for the soul of the Republican Party on the issue of foreign policy.

Essentially, Boot represents what many have called the “neo-conservative” wing of the Republican Party. This is the group of Republicans who were gung ho about overthrowing regimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and are equally gung ho about trying to topple Iran and Syria while taking a hard line with Russia. They believe this is necessary to spread American values throughout the globe. Think John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Meanwhile, Carlson represents what might be called the “anti-interventionist” wing of the Republican Party. They don’t want to spread American values across the globe. They believe countries all over the world – even ones with evil dictators – are best left alone for fear of backlash against America and the potential instability of what could happen following a forced regime change. They basically want America to mind its business unless there is some sort of major national interest or direct threat to the nation involved. Think Ron Paul.

During the fiery exchange, Carlson challenged Boot both on Boot’s past positions – he vehemently supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Mohammar Al Qadaffi, for example – and current positions – he supports a hard line stance with Russia and Iran and a full-fledged overthrow of Bashar Al Assad in Syria – while attempting to present a case that Boot’s positions are foolish and produce more harm than good. Carlson said that while Putin and Assad are both bad, we have common cause – the destruction of ISIS – and so it would be in America’s interest to work with them on this particular issue.

Boot, in turn, made the case that Russia’s alleged attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election made them a hostile enemy who should be treated with scorn. He said we do not have common cause with Russia, deemed them and Iran as our #1 threats, and more or less stuck to his guns that Assad needed to be toppled.

Then it got really interesting when Carlson challenged Boot on what would happen if the United States toppled Assad in Syria, asking him who would take over that country.

Boot had no answer, and in that moment – in my mind at least – exposed the biggest flaw in his camp’s way of thinking.

As Carlson pointed out, Boot loudly proclaimed the Middle East would be a better, more stable place if the United States deposed Saddam Hussein. He was wrong. Boot had similar aspirations in Afghanistan. He was wrong. Boot loudly cheerlead for the overthrow of Qadaffi in Libya, making many of the same arguments he did with Hussein in Iraq. He was wrong again. Now, he argues the same must be done in Syria.

The question is, at what point do we stop listening to these people? What more do we need to see before we realize that just overthrowing one dictator to give way to chaos is simply not an acceptable strategy?

Say what you will about President Trump, but this is part of why he won: because instead of parroting the company line repeated ad nauseum by Hillary Clinton and virtually every Republican primary candidate (with the notable exception of Rand Paul and to a much lesser extent Ted Cruz), he chided these so-called intellectual geniuses for their pattern of repeatedly getting things like this – something that can and has gotten millions of people unnecessarily killed – completely wrong and then paying no price for their repeated failure.

But this really isn’t about the president. This is about the way forward on foreign policy and if we, as a nation, are ever going to learn our lesson when it comes to these issues.

Bashar Al Assad is terrible. I am in no way saying otherwise. But I’m dying for somebody to tell me how he is (a) a threat to the United States and (b) any different from Saddam Hussein in that the cure is likely worse than the disease. I’d also love to know why we can work with some of the most horrific regimes on the planet – including Joseph Stalin, who makes Vladimir Putin look like Nelson Mandela – but simply cooperating with Russia to defeat a common enemy – in this case ISIS – is completely forbidden because Russia may have been the ones behind the dumps of the emails of John Podesta and the DNC.

Let’s put aside the fact that Russia – and every other major world power, including the United States – constantly tries to influence foreign elections to their perceived benefit. If we want to ensure that whatever actually happened in 2016 never happens again, it seems to me that making a concerted effort to greatly improve the government’s cybersecurity might be a better way to go than constantly screaming “RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA!!!!!” for everything from a spilled cup of coffee to grainy reception on a television set.

And it also strikes me that maybe if we want fewer messes that we both create and then end up making worse by trying to “clean them up,” it might behoove us to stop unnecessarily agitating conflicts and unnecessarily starting wars with foolish delusions of grandeur and fantasies of the world in the United States’ image.

In other words, perhaps it is time we made the collective decision to stop listening to consistently wrongheaded advice of people like Max Boot. The United States and the world would be better off if we did.

Jul
13
Begala Went Too Far and Needs To Take Several Steps Back
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/13/2017 05:24 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I’ve written in the past about the danger of constantly yelling and screaming about Russia and how those doing that yelling and screaming are ignoring the fact that what they are doing is incredibly dangerous.

Case in point: CNN analyst and former Bill Clinton strategist Paul Begala.

Here’s what Begala said on CNN last night:

“We were and are under attack by a hostile foreign power and… we should be debating how many sanctions we should place on Russia or whether we should blow up the KGB, GSU, or GRU [Russia’s foreign intelligence agency].”

Read those words slowly and carefully. “Under attack by a hostile foreign power.”

For all the talk about dangerous rhetoric, that is the kind of saber rattling that can push us into a terrifying armed confrontation that could get a lot of people unnecessarily killed.

For starters, Russia has a nuclear arsenal. Yet we have continued to antagonize them unnecessarily for almost a year. Unless Russia does something truly worthy of a military response – like dropping a bomb or literally invading – I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m not exactly eager to start another needless war, especially against an opponent that actually has the capability to do long lasting damage.

Nearly as important, though, those who are attempting to rile up Russia are ignoring the fact that – like it or not – they are an important ally in the war on terror. We don’t have to love them and they don’t have to love us for us to realize that we have a common enemy that it is in our mutual interest to work towards destroying. For whatever his faults, Putin is a potentially valuable asset to our biggest foreign policy goal – wiping out extremist terror groups like ISIS – and it is in our best interest to try to get along with him, rather than provoke him for no reason.

It is one thing to be concerned about the Russian government attempting to influence the 2016 election. But it is a completely different matter altogether when you go beyond asking for increased cybersecurity and launch into the type of hostile rhetoric that could cause horrific consequences.

Of course, Begala knows this, and doesn’t care. All that matters to him is ginning up ratings on CNN and doing anything he can to de-legitimize the president. And if he has to loudly attempt to agitate a battle with another country with nuclear arms? Well, so be it.

But whatever your thoughts are on President Trump, trying to push the country into a war just to spite him is beyond insane. And I wish those engaging in this behavior – like Begala – would stop being partisan hacks for five seconds and stop to think about just how much damage their efforts could cause.

Then again, it’s Paul Begala, so why would I expect any thoughtful actions at all?

Jul
11
Here Comes The Judge: Rookie Serves As A Role Model On & Off the Field
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/11/2017 07:39 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Last night, the world saw a performance for the ages in the homerun derby by Aaron Judge, the latest in a long line of New York Yankees phenoms.

Judge even hit the roof, smashing a shot over 500 ft.

As somebody who has lived in the NY area for most of my adult life, I really enjoy it when one of the local teams has a player of this high caliber. Judge not only won the homerun derby, he has completely taken baseball by storm this season, leading the league in nearly every offensive category as a rookie.

But I’m just as impressed with his character as I am with his baseball skills.

Judge was adopted, and although that can really eat at a person, it has only seemed to make him a better person. He is, by all accounts, incredibly close with the parents who raised him, even saying publicly that he still calls to talk to them every single day.

As a father myself, I have to admit I got a little misty eyed when I read about that. I am very close with my children and we would do anything for each other. It truly warms my heart when I see other parents and children who feel the same way.

Judge is also very serious about his faith, but not in a way that would put off those of other faiths. His faith and strong parental upbringing appear to be building blocks upon which his strong foundation of character has been constructed. Whether or not you are a person of faith yourself, this is a foundation that everybody can universally respect.

Famous people should not necessarily be role models. They are often just people who are extremely talented at something that has thrust them into the spotlight whether they wanted to be famous or not.

That said, it is nice when a star emerges who comes across as a genuinely good person and a suitable role model for the youth. Aaron Judge is only 25 years old, and obviously a lot can change. But as of now, he seems very much like somebody I would be happy to have my own son aspire to be like, both on and off the baseball field. It is for that reason, in addition to his incredible athletic skills, that I will cheer especially hard for his success and look forward to hopefully watching him ply his craft at a high level for many years to come.

Jul
10
Christie: A Perfect Fit For Sports Talk Radio
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/10/2017 05:28 pm ET

If you are a fan of sports talk radio in New York, then the names of Mike Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo are probably larger than life to you.

ESPN will debut their original “30 for 30” documentary on those two Titans of talk radio later this week and I’m greatly looking forward to watching it.

For those who don’t know, the duo broke up several years ago when Russo went to Sirius satellite radio and Francesa stayed behind to do afternoons by himself at WFAN.

Francesa has since remained #1 and will likely stay there until he retires at the end of the year.

Speculation has grown about who may replace Francesa – he’s a giant in sports radio and obviously a big name is the likely route if WFAN wants to stay in the #1 spot in afternoons.

So who can fill Francessa’s shoes?

Well, why not New Jersey Governor Chris Christie?

Full disclosure: the governor is a friend of mine.  But because he is my friend, I know him very well and as such, I know him well enough to know he’d be perfect for that job.

Governor Christie has suffered a lot of negative press lately and his political approval ratings are at an all-time low.

But while he’s never been this unpopular, he’s always been very controversial.  Why?  Because he says what he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t care much if people don’t like it.

Which is exactly what you want in a sports talk host, especially one on the biggest sports station in New York.

See, the governor is controversial for a variety of reasons, but one of them is his passion.  Passion for what he believes in.  Passion for those close to him.

And passion for his favorite sports teams.

He’s already done a good job as a guest with current WFAN morning hosts Boomer and Carton.  He’s gotten into fiery arguments with Giants fans over the Cowboys.  He’s fervently discussed New York baseball and a whole host of other issues in such an entertaining way that even those who despise him still admit he is a perfect fit for WFAN.

“Personally, I think he’s a terrible governor,” said a friend of mine, who is a former Obama staffer.  “But,” he continued, “I do enjoy him when he’s on with Boomer and Carton.  Think he’d be a much better WFAN host than governor.”

Whether or not you agree with his politics, there is no denying the fact that Governor Christie has the shown the personality, passion, charisma, and penchant for stirring conversation that all the best sports talk hosts posses.

Chris Christie and WFAN is a match made in heaven.

Jul
8
Chief Justice Roberts Speaks Essential Words To Our Youth That Ring So Very True
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/08/2017 03:20 pm ET

Chief Justice hard harsh, but necessary words for a group of young men graduating 9th grade at a New Hampshire school recently.

Among other things, Roberts told the graduates he wishes them occasional bad luck – injustice, betrayal – so that they understand and appreciate the value of being treated fairly and having truly loyal friends.

In short, what Chief Justice Roberts was saying is he hoped these young men faced challenges that they would be forced to overcome so that they would understand that life isn’t always a picnic and sometimes you have to deal with and defeat struggles.  Or in other words, you cannot expect everything to go your way in life and you need to be prepared for the fallout when it doesn’t.

Similar words have been said by many people over the years, but when they are said by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, they carry more weight.

The truth is, many people in today’s world – especially in the United States – have had it far too easy.  I lived in Pakistan – a far less prosperous country that was not so kind to religious minorities like myself – and had some truly terrible experiences.  My daughter’s, much as I love them, and much as they have worked hard for everything they have accomplished, have not been exposed to those same experiences.

I would never want that for them and I am glad everyday that I do not have to worry about them facing any of that.  But deep down, I do wonder how well they would handle it if something major not only didn’t go their way, but somehow went horribly wrong.  I hope that never happens, but if it does, I hope I’ve done a good enough job as a father to have instilled in them the strength to overcome.

I think this was really what Chief Justice Roberts was saying.  He wants these young men to succeed, but also wants them to know failure so they can grow from it and learn to appreciate success.  He wants them to get knocked down so they can get back up and know how to continue to do so any additional times they get knocked down.

Essentially, he wants these young men to deal with real life issues we all encounter every single day and be well-equipped to handle them.  He wants them to be normal, functioning adults in a world that seems to far too often produce grown people who have been encouraged to prolong adolescent fantasies of what life is really like.

Good for him for saying it.  Those young men will be better off for hearing those words and so will every other young person who reads them.

Jul
6
Don’t Defend The Indefensible
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/06/2017 09:54 am ET

Growing up in a majority Muslim country, I was always aware of certain customs that went on that much of the world didn’t know much about.  Female circumcisions is one of them.

The barbaric practice where the girl’s female reproductive organs are more or less mangled is still something that is practiced in enough of the Muslim world that it amazingly continues to be an issue that needs to be addressed.

I’m all for religious freedom and I believe strongly in everybody’s right to practice a religion and abide by those customs.  But when those customs are flat out abusive to powerless girls all over the world, then we have to admit that fact and call it out for what it is.

Female circumcision is both immoral and archaic.  There is no defense for it, and regardless of which culture allows it to occur, it must be identified as what it truly is: assault and battery.  I don’t care who is doing it, female circumcision should be outlawed and properly shunned by all sensible people in public.

Yet there are those who are afraid to say this out loud for fear of being called Islamophobic.

I have plenty of Muslim friends who disagree with this practice.  But I have told them and I will say it here, female genital mutilation is wrong and it must stop.  Call me Islamophobic if you want, because I know that’s not true.  But I also know many young girls around the globe are being hurt by this awful procedure everyday, and more and more people need to call attention to this and shun it until it stops once and for all.

Jul
3
Stop Trying to Cause A War
 
by Dr. Kazmir
07/03/2017 08:59 pm ET

President Trump is going to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and Democrats and the press are already jumping all over this.

Nevermind that we have seen no real evidence of collusion, and even according to now exiled FBI Director James Comey, there doesn’t seem to be any that exists.  Nevermind that President Trump struck Syria, a strategic ally of Russia.  And nevermind that Vladimir Putin himself said he thinks U.S.-Russia relations are as strained as they have been in decades.

None of that is apparently enough to stop the yelling and screaming.

Of course, those doing that yelling and screaming are ignoring the fact that what they are doing is incredibly dangerous.

For starters, Russia has a nuclear arsenal.  Yet we have continued to antagonize them unnecessarily for almost a year.  Unless Russia does something truly worthy of a military response – like dropping a bomb or literally invading – I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m not exactly eager to start another needless war, especially against an opponent that actually has the capability to do long lasting damage.

Nearly as important, though, those who are attempting to rile up Russia are ignoring the fact that – like it or not – they are an important ally in the war on terror.  We don’t have to love them and they don’t have to love us for us to realize that we have a common enemy that it is in our mutual interest to work towards destroying.  For whatever his faults, Putin is a potentially valuable asset to our biggest foreign policy goal – wiping out extremest terror groups like ISIS – and it is in our best interest to try to get along with him, rather than provoke him for no reason.

The media has really ratcheted this up – likely because it is a ratings winner – and the Democrats have done the same because they want to use it to raise money and damage the President.

But ultimately, trying to push President Trump into hostility towards Vladimir Putin does not make us safer.  In fact, the complete opposite is true.  And I wish those engaging in this behavior would stop to think about just how much damage their efforts could cause if successful rather than continuing to act in this manner for blatantly selfish reasons.

But I won’t hold my breath.

Jun
30
Enjoy the 4th, But Help Those Who Make It Possible
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/30/2017 04:05 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

As we approach Independence Day, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what July 4th means to me.

I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in the United States, but I have been a citizen for many years and think of this country as my true home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I like to do on the 4th, which mostly revolves around barbecuing, relaxing in the sun, and watching awesome fireworks displays.

But it also occurred to me that the only reason I am able to do these things is because I came to the United States. And we are only able to enjoy these things in the United States because of the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe and preserve our Democratic Republic.

I’m talking not just about the military, but also about local and national law enforcement. I understand that the whole issue of policing in general has been controversial of late, but regardless of their shortcomings, we still need law enforcement to protect us from criminals and help keep our families safe. This goes for firefighters as well.

So with that in mind, this July 4th, I want to make a personal plea to you.

Enjoy your barbecues. Lay out in the sun and enjoy the nice weather. Be dazzled by some amazing fireworks.

But then take a few moments to think about the brave souls who lay their lives on the line for all of us. And remember that without them, none of this would be possible.

Furthermore, I ask you to do me one better. This 4th of July, find a charitable group – any group you deem worthy – that helps needy Vets, or the widows of police officers and firefighters, or any other type of cause in that genre that is near and dear to your heart, and donate.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand not everybody has major money to give and I’m not asking for that. If you can’t afford to donate $1,000, donate $100. If you can’t afford to donate $100, donate $10. And if you can’t afford $10, then donate $1.

Any amount of money you can give to show your love and appreciation would go a long way towards allowing the people that serve as the guardians of our safety to see that we know how important they are and we haven’t forgotten.

Now go eat some hamburgers and hot dogs and enjoy the colorful explosions!

God bless America, and happy 4th of July!

Jun
28
McEnroe May Have Ruffled Some Feathers, But He Was Right
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/28/2017 02:31 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

John McEnroe, one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, stirred up a hornets’ nest recently while promoting his new book “But Seriously.”

McEnroe was on NPR over the weekend when he was asked about female tennis star Serena Williams, whom he called the “best female player ever – no question.” When the host pressed him as to whether or not Williams could be considered the best tennis player in the world, McEnrore remarked that as great as she is, competing on the men’s circuit is completely different and if Williams were playing on the men’s tour, she’d rank around 700 in the world.

This set off a firestorm with many accusing McEnroe of being a sexist for suggesting that Williams would do so poorly against the world’s best men.

McEnroe later appeared on CBS’s morning show and the “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, and while he said he had never intended for Serena – who tweeted about McEnroe’s comments disapprovingly – to be upset by what he said – especially since she’s pregnant at the moment – he refused to back down from his comments or apologize.

As a father of three beautiful, talented, and accomplished women, I have only one thing to say to John McEnroe:

In a world where everybody usually ends up slinking away into the corner and apologizing anytime they say something the least bit controversial, good for you for standing your ground, because you are right.

Admittedly, while I know tennis to an extent, I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if McEnroe’s 700 projection is accurate. It is possible he was exaggerating a little bit to make a point.

But his general point stands.

The fact is, McEnroe wasn’t being sexist, he was telling the truth, and his only sin seems to be saying it out loud.

It isn’t the first time he’s said it, either. Two years ago he remarked that at age 56 he still believed he could beat Williams, and added that she MIGHT be able to beat a man ranked around 500.

Is his opinion crazy? Well, not according to a wide array of Tennis experts who were polled a few years ago when there was talk of Williams playing top male player Andy Murray, whom Williams herself told David Letterman would destroy her in a manner that would be embarrassing for her.

According to USA Today’s Chris Chase, who polled the experts, “Everyone agreed that Serena wouldn’t get a game off Murray and a few agreed that she wouldn’t win a point. No one believed she’d come close to beating a man in the top 100. When asked where in the men’s rankings Serena would be able to get a W, the answers ranged from “between 200 and 300” and “no one in the top 1,500.” (And let me add that the respondents were not people prone to hyperbole or sexism.)”

There are physical differences between men and women that make them different, which is the entire reason for tours and leagues separated by gender.

This doesn’t mean Serena Williams isn’t an incredible tennis player, because she is. She’s a phenomenal athlete and the best of all-time at what she does, as McEnroe himself said.

But she couldn’t beat top level professional men. I don’t see why saying that out loud is even considered controversial, because it shouldn’t be.

Lying about this to spare feelings or avoid being called sexist is silly and it does women no favors to be lied to just because some people feel the urge to be politically correct.

Playing against men is a completely different task and saying so publicly is not demeaning to women; it is a biological fact.

Jun
27
What’s Truly “Problematic” Is Monolithic Thinking
 
by Dr. Kazmir

What’s Truly “Problematic” Is Monolithic Thinking

06/27/2017 05:01 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

I read a lot of articles and generally try to learn something from all of them and not get too upset if I disagree with the content. Every now and again, however, an article comes along that irritates me to a great degree.

Today, I read one of those articles.

Writing at Elle Magazine, Sady Doyle writes about “problematic women.” What is a “problematic woman,” you may ask? Apparently, it is a woman who doesn’t think in lockstep with Doyle.

Writing first of NBC anchor Megyn Kelly, Doyle opines, “No matter what she did at NBC, it would have been a mistake to make a feminist hero out of Megyn Kelly

Why is that? Doyle claims that “When we saw [Megyn] Kelly primarily as a victim, she was framed as a blameless heroine, and her actual and ignominious track record was overlooked. When we see Kelly now as primarily a conservative propagandist—which is what she is and always has been—that victimhood is mostly erased. The truth is I, too, would have loved to watch Kelly’s feminist awakening. But that hasn’t happened, and a woman can of course be problematic and be a victim of sexism. Both lionizing Kelly and dismissing her abuse are ways to avoid this central truth.”

Doyle, it turns out, decided not to just stop with Megyn Kelly. She had harsh words for any woman associated with President Trump, including his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, and Whitehouse Spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

“There’s the Instagram feminism and message-tested complicity of Ivanka Trump—who is often cast as a spoiled bimbo, rather than the canny and ethically bankrupt opportunist she appears to be. There’s Melania, a long-time apologist for her husband’s birtherism. There’s Kellyanne Conway, and the Internet’s brief yet fraught debate about what feminism owes her.”

Ok, so Doyle doesn’t like President Trump. Fair enough.

What about a strong female leader in the UK, notably British Prime Minister Theresa May? Doyle doesn’t think much of her, either.

“We should not weep for Theresa May or any other conservative woman whose policies contribute to the continued oppression of women and minorities,” she says.

Well, I’ll give her credit for one thing: at least she’s honest. Doyle doesn’t even attempt to disguise her disgust for conservative women. It doesn’t matter that Kellyanne Conway was the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign. It doesn’t matter that May has risen to the highest office in Great Britain – nor certainly that the woman who is best known for having that job, Margaret Thatcher, came from a working-class family and smashed every glass ceiling imaginable. It doesn’t matter that Ivanka Trump has pushed a paid family leave plan that is similar to the one Hillary Clinton wanted to enact.

No, what matters is that they either have ties to or actively represent center-right political thinking and in Doyle’s world, that simply will not do.

I mean, she could have said something like, “While I do not share the beliefs of these women, I admire the posts to which they have risen and can appreciate the doors they have opened for women.”

Instead, she prefers to call them “problematic” and more or less write them off as “fake” or “token” women.

I have three daughters I love very much and the fact that somehow if they don’t ideologically walk in lockstep with women like Sady Doyle that they are “problematic” is not only ridiculous, it is offensive.

For the record, my daughters disagree with me politically for the most part. I could be upset by that, but instead, I choose to be proud of the fact that they are independent women who have the ability to think for themselves.

But then, I’m open-minded, which is sadly “problematic” to Sady Doyle and many like her.

Jun
26
A Tribute To A Wonderful Woman Whose Life Was A Blessing For Humanity
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/26/2017 04:53 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

If you are familiar with my writing, then you know I often opine about politics, pop culture, and even sports on occasion.

But today, I want to talk about an amazing woman I knew well who touched the lives of many people.

Penelopi Kallis was born in Greece in 1935 where she grew up with two siblings during a turbulent time in history. She became engaged to a man named Nick in 1954 who went to New York City to work, sending home money to Greece whenever he could. In 1957 the two were married and Penelopi moved to the United States.

Penelopi became a seamstress and gave birth to two sons in the early 1960’s and in the 1970’s she and her husband built a successful Seafood restaurant in New Jersey, where they had moved.

Those are the basic facts of Penelopi’s life, but now I want to talk about what an amazing woman she was.

Sure, she was an underprivileged woman who was the very definition of what the American dream is all about. Penelopi and Nick worked hard to build a life for themselves and their sons and did a remarkable job.

I became friends with her son John years ago and in my meetings with her, she could not have been more helpful or kind. She also could not have been prouder of her sons, who despite the restaurant’s success, were always her number one joy.

After she passed away recently, I attended her funeral and saw a group of women hysterically crying during the service. I spoke to them after the service was over to ask why, and they told me about how they had come to Fort Lee as immigrants years ago and knew nobody, but Penelopi went out of her way to make them feel welcome. Penelopi would routinely cook for them without asking for anything and was constantly doing nice things for them to make sure they understood they were not alone and were part of the community in Fort Lee.

Penelopi Kallis wasn’t a famous athlete, politician, actor, or musician. But she was extraordinary and when she passed away, the world lost a truly incredible woman who spent her whole life putting others first without asking for a thing in return. A woman who loved her family and worked hard to make sure they had everything they could ever want, including and especially her devotion.

I will miss Penelopi and so will countless others. And when my time comes, if I am able to leave behind even half the legacy that Penelopi did, I will consider my life a great success.

Jun
23
Depp Did The Right Thing Apologizing, But All of Us Need To Be More Judicious With Our Words
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/23/2017 04:44 pm ET

At Glastonbury Thursday, actor Johnny Depp made a joke insinuating he wanted to assassinate President Trump.

 “Can you bring Trump here?” Depp asked the British crowd.

When the booing began, Depp added, “You misunderstand completely. When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it’s been awhile, and maybe it’s time.”

The reference Depp was making was clearly to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by John Wilkes Booth.  While Depp clarified that he was just joking and even later apologized, I really wish people would be more careful with their choice of words, especially in lieu of the shooting that occurred in Alexandria recently.

I said this when I talked about the confrontation Piers Morgan had with Jim Jeffries on “Real Time with Bill Maher” when Jeffries attempted to equate President Trump to Hitler and I will say it again now: everybody needs to cool it with calling those they disagree with Nazis or wishing their political opponents dead.

That is a dangerous path to go down and it is one some of us never come back from.  Because once you believe somebody on the other side of your beliefs isn’t just wrong, he is evil, then there eventually becomes nothing you can’t talk yourself into doing under the guise that it is for the “greater good” of humanity.

The Alexandria shooting proved that loud and clear.

That doesn’t mean Johnny Depp will be responsible if somebody tries to shoot President Trump or somebody close to him.  The fault for that – as it does with the Alexandria shooting – lies strictly with the person who perpetrates the crime.

But we are being naïve if we don’t come to grips with the fact that accusing your political opponents of literally trying to kill people – Obamacare repeal – or literally being a fascist puppet of Vladimir Putin – watch MSNBC or listen to Maxine Waters sometime – does not have some sort of potential to enhance the potential for something like Alexandria to happen.

And just to be clear, this isn’t exclusive to the left.  Glenn Beck, for example, practically made a living tapping into similar right-wing lunacy during much of the Obama presidency.

Like I said, Johnny Depp will not be at fault if anybody tries to do something crazy to President Trump, nor should he be.  But he is a very famous man with a very large megaphone, and he really should be more careful.  All of us should be.  Because I fear if we don’t stop and take a breath to consider that the other side of the argument may just be misguided instead of monstrous, there is going to be a lot more violence ahead.

And that way lies destruction the likes of which most of us cannot even imagine.  I hope with all of my heart nothing like that even comes close to happening.

Jun
21
Don’t Jump To Conclusions After Tuesday’s Special Election
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/21/2017 04:45 pm ET Updated Jun 21, 2017

There were special elections held on Tuesday in South Carolina and Georgia.  The race in South Carolina went to the Republican as expected, though the margin of victory was a lot slimmer than most anticipated.  But the eyes of the country were on Georgia Tuesday, where Democrat Jon Ossoff faced Republican Karen Handel for the house seat vacated by HHS Secretary Tom Price.

Ossoff is a 30 year-old who doesn’t live in the district where he sought office, but he still got 49% of the vote before Tuesday’s runoff with Handel.  Record money was poured into his campaign, most of which came from outside the district.  Democrats saw an Ossoff victory as a way to send a message to President Trump that Americans – even in Georgia where he won comfortably – do not support his agenda.

But Ossoff lost.

And now Democrats who built this race up as a referendum on the president are backtracking while Republicans who downplayed it are building it up as a major win for the President’s agenda.

The truth – as it usually is – lies somewhere in between.

Frankly, this race was never as important as people made it out to be.  It reminded me a lot of the special election in upstate NY early in President Obama’s term where a tea party candidate surged and it looked like he may win a seat unexpectedly.  Republicans rallied around him and said if he won, it would be a huge repudiation of the Obama agenda.

He lost just like Ossoff, but it really didn’t matter much.  The Republicans did very well in the mid-terms and the special election faded quickly into the abyss.

In reality, while the President’s approval ratings are low, we won’t know exactly what that may mean from a practical sense until 2018.  He still has time to deliver, and if the economy does well, he may overcome his early struggles.  But it is way too soon to know what any of this will really mean, if it means anything at all.

One special election won’t tell the tale and anybody who says otherwise is merely guessing or trying to drive ratings.

Though in today’s political climate, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish between the two.

Jun
20
In Committing Career Suicide, Kaepernick Also Exposed A Deeper Cultural Issue
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/20/2017 07:01 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Colin Kaepernick may have just ended his own career.

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’s taken it a step further.

Following the acquittal of the officer who fatally shot Philando Castille, Kaepernick took to Twitter to declare that the police in America were – in effect – modern day slave catchers.

I understand his frustration with the verdict in the case, but that statement is obviously ludicrous and is going to all but guarantee that teams who were already wary of signing him because they felt he is a backup level talent whose presence on the roster wouldn’t be worth the media circus he would bring with him will no longer even consider bringing him on board.

That said, heated rhetoric aside, 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.

And this slave catcher comment is the cherry on top.

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.

Jun
19
American Jewish Congress Statement on Recent London Attack
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/19/2017 05:00 pm ET

In response to yet another horrible terror attack in London, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen, Vice President Dr. Munr Kazmir and Secretary of the Organization Dr. Ben Chouake released the following statement:

Following the terrorist attack last night in London, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. This was a shocking attack on those observing their faith at a place of worship, and once again highlights the power of hate and corrupt ideologies. We must stand together to combat this, and encourage cohesion and stability in society.

Jack Rosen President American Jewish Congress

Dr. Munr Kazmir Vice President American Jewish Congress

Dr. Ben Chouake Secretary American Jewish Congress

Jun
15
We Need To Wait For The Results Before We Pass Judgment
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/15/2017 05:03 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

There are reports that Robert Mueller, who is serving as independent counsel in the Russia investigation, may be investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice. Bearing in mind that multiple newspapers reported President Trump was a target of an FBI investigation in the past and it turned out he wasn’t – and that even if he is being investigated, that doesn’t mean he’s de facto guilty of anything – let’s wait and see how this all plays out before we jump to conclusions.

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, there is indeed an independent counsel, and while I support the president, I believe we should see what the results of the investigation are before deciding anything conclusively. If it turns out that everybody’s worst fears about president Trump are true and he committed a high crime or misdemeanor like obstruction of justice, then he should be dealt with accordingly.

But this whole situation begs an honest question to those who have been crowing about President Trump for months, seemingly non-stop: will this investigation 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 getting to the truth 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.

Jun
14
There Is Only One Man To Blame For the Alexandria Shooting
 
by Dr. Kazmir
06/14/2017 04:58 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2017

This morning a group of congressmen were practicing for a charity softball game in Alexandria, VA when a crazed shooter started firing. Several were wounded, but thankfully the only person who ended up dead was the shooter himself.

Within minutes, cable news was on the case, and everybody was on social media posting about it. I hoped that everybody would just see this for what it was – an insane maniac carrying out a horrific act – but of course, it didn’t take long for the usual storylines to emerge.

First, there were the usual gun-control shrieks, with Virginia Governor Terry Mcauliffe leading the pack. Then, after it was discovered that the shooter despised the president and was a major supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, there were screams about how the out of control rhetoric of the left led to the shooting. We even had a more extreme version of this, with some wishing the shooter had actually killed some members of the GOP and others claiming it was justifiable homicide because those congressmen are trying to repeal Obamacare.

Let’s start with the first assertion. The shooter was an Illinois resident who legally purchased a gun and passed a background check. As congressman Mo Brooks – who was on the scene when the shooting happened – said, as awful as something like this is, it is part of the ugly side of freedom. Brooks went on to say that the second amendment existed to protect against tyranny and you don’t talk about curtailing free speech because somebody gets hurt feelings or getting rid of search and seizure laws because some who were guilty went free. The gun discussion is certainly a fair one to have and it is a debate I’m sure we have not seen the last of, but freedom has consequences and sometimes very unpleasant things can happen.

As far as blaming Bernie Sanders or any of the rhetoric of the Democrats, this is lazy thinking and it is unfair, just as it was when some tried to blame Sarah Palin for the Gabby Giffords shooting. Yes, some Democrats have used some over the top rhetoric implying that the president is a traitor or that because Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, they are heartless monsters who don’t care about people’s health.

While I do not like that kind of talk and find it both awful and counterproductive, Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have millions of followers across the country, and 99.9% of them have never committed an act of political violence. Blaming Sanders passes the blame from where it really belongs, which is on the shooter himself.

As for those who cheered the shooter’s actions or thought he was justified because of Obamacare or anything else, this is what I warned about months ago when talking about how people needed to stop comparing President Trump to Hitler. It is one thing to believe somebody who disagrees with you is wrong, naïve, or even dumb. However, when you push that to the point of believing those on the other side of you are evil and are comparing them to genocidal dictators, it is only a matter of time before you are able to talk yourself into doing virtually anything and morally justifying it.

I hope today serves as a wakeup call and that we can use this as a moment to stop, take a breath, and realize that while we may disagree on issues, this kind of violence is never the answer. I hope we stop pointing fingers at everybody under the sun and start laying all the blame on the horrible monsters who are committing these acts. I hope I don’t ever have to write a column like this again.

But after watching what went on in the aftermath of today’s shooting, I’m afraid I probably will.

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