Trump succeeding where Obama failed on Middle East

First published May 23, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

On his first trip to the Middle East, President Donald Trump has done more to rebuild the United States’ standing in the region than President Barack Obama did in eight years.

So far, Trump has travelled to Saudi Arabia and Israel to work with the two nations on combating Iran’s aggression and to tackle the deal of all deals — the Middle East peace process.

Consider the differences.

In June 2009, Obama made his first overseas trip to Cairo to apologize to the Muslim world for America’s fight against Muslim terrorists after al-Qaida’s 9/11 attack.

Trump travelled to the Middle East to show the world American leadership has returned. There were lots of “firsts” in Trump’s oversees trip to Israel, one of America’s most trusted allies.

Trump was the first U.S. president to fly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. The flight symbolized his attempt to unify two nations that have no diplomatic relations in a bigger fight against Iran.

“It’s forcing people together in a very positive way. I could see a much deeper path to friendship with Israel and … a lot of it’s spurred on by what’s happening in Iran,” Trump said.

Saudi Arabia doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist but the two countries are united in wanting to stop Iran’s ascent in the region.

Trump became the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Taken by the Israelis in the 1967 Six-Day War, the wall sits in disputed land. Israel claims it but the Palestinians insist that they want the wall to be included in any final peace talks.

Meanwhile, Obama never made one trip to Israel during his two-term presidency. But he could make the time to cut a nuclear deal with Iran so they could build a bomb and terrorize our allies like Israel in the Middle East.

Thanks to Obama’s do-nothing approach in the Middle East, Iran and Russia filled the void, supplying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with weapons to fight a bloody civil war and commit atrocities against his people like gassing women and children.

Obama rewarded Iran for their bad behavior by signing a nuclear agreement with a nation which vows to wipe out Israel.

Thanks to Obama’s utter negligence in the Middle East, ISIS camped out in Syria and Iraq and grew stronger. This week ISIS struck again in Manchester, England, where a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children outside the concert arena where singer Ariana Grande performed.

Prior to the Manchester terror attack, Trump explained in his speech in Saudi Arabia that America alone “cannot crush this enemy.”

“Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion.

“The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”

As ISIS insults democracy with fresh terror attacks, Trump’s proposed ban on radical Muslims entering the U.S. doesn’t look so crazy. And his leadership in the Middle East is a welcome pivot for America and the world.

‘Russian thing’ quite the mess for Trump

First published May 18, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

At last! An independent counsel has come along to deal with the “Russia thing,” as President Donald Trump characterized his imbroglio with Moscow.

U.S. justice officials did what they should have done months ago — appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate whether the Trump campaign somehow colluded with Russia to win the election.

Serving under two presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — Mueller also holds the distinction of having served as director for 12 years, the longest tenure of any FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.

You can’t get more bipartisan or trustworthy than this man.

“In my capacity as acting attorney general, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

This “Russia thing” has turned into such a mess.

In less than two weeks, President Donald Trump has turned the most powerful position in the world into a buffet of scandals — of his own making.

Last week, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, an action critics said looked like a move to obstruct his investigation into Russia. The next day, Trump invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to the White House for a meeting.

This week, the Trump-Russia controversy lurched from one bloody red story to a redder, bloodier one. The Washington Post reported Monday that in Trump’s meeting with the Russians, he shared highly-classified intelligence on ISIS.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Comey wrote a memo following a dinner meeting with Trump. In the memo, Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

It’s worth mentioning that the Times noted: “The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.”

This sequence of events has been a public relations disaster for the White House and America. Stocks and the dollar tanked, amid the whirlwind of Washington turmoil, as Wall Street rightfully worried that Trump won’t be able to pass his economic growth agenda of tax reform and deregulation — because Congress is busy chasing down the latest on the alleged Russia conspiracy.

There’s no question that Trump’s adversaries within the federal government (and externally, namely Russia) are leaking a barrage of stories (both real and fake), to discredit and eventually topple his fragile presidency. But Trump doesn’t need their help.

“This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Trump tweeted the day after Mueller’s appointment.

Trump is destroying President Trump one tweet at a time, with his loose lips and determination to run a vaudevillian presidency reminiscent of Colonel Mustard in a board game of Clue.

Trump really needs to do himself a favour: Stop tweeting, stop talking about Russia, and let Mueller do his job!

Trump did no wrong in Russian dealings, but must exercise more presidential discipline

First published in May 16, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

When it comes to how the liberal mainstream media covers President Donald Trump, facts seem to be eclipsed by unhinged and bitter bias.

Trump has the right to fire anyone in his cabinet for any reason. He also has the right to share intelligence with other nations, including Russia.

The media’s latest hissy fit erupted over a Washington Post report that claimed Trump shared “highly-classified intelligence” about ISIS with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The intelligence was gathered from a U.S. partner about the threat of the terrorist group using laptop computers to down airplanes, said the story.

Granted, the optics look pretty bad.

The Oval Office meeting with the Russians occurred the day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was conducting an investigation into whether the Trump campaign and Russia colluded in (indirectly) rigging the election.

And the White House allowed only one photographer — a Russian — to attend the meeting.

That’s just not right. Moreover, while Trump may think he’s thumbing his nose at the press, these actions make him look undisciplined.

However, buried beneath the Washington Post’s salacious headline — “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador” — in paragraph six was this:

“As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.”

And more facts were buried in the story:

“Russia and the United States both regard the Islamic State as an enemy and share limited information about terrorist threats. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support President Bashar al-Assad.”

So, is it really horrifying that Trump, who campaigned on fighting the Islamic State, would try and work with Russia to topple the terrorist organization?

As far as jeopardizing America’s safety, national security advisor H.R. McMaster dismissed the Washington Post report.

“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” said McMaster, who was at the meeting.

What the media appears to be infuriated over is that time and time again, Trump is playing them like a fiddle and defying the odds. From boycotting the White House correspondents’ dinner, to having the audacity to fire Comey, Trump is running a different kind of presidency.

Some aspects of his style are excellent for disrupting Washington’s colossal, entrenched, and institutionally-corrupt bureaucracy. But the real problem with Trump’s latest unconventional action was the flagrant, sloppy way he executed it — and no less on the day after firing Comey for the “Russia thing,” as Trump described it.

Trump needs to take a big gulp of presidential discipline, and start reading the Presidential Daily Brief, prepared by the National Security Council to help guide him through conversations with foreign leaders.

Being president can’t be boiled down to a page of bullets or tweets. Trump would be wise to start doing more homework, and to curb his penchant for veering off script with a foreign leader to chit-chat about his golf game.

James Comey should have been sacked months ago

First published May 10, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

Official Washington gasped when President Donald Trump exercised his legal right to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Frankly, it should have been done months ago and the sacking is hardly the “political explosion” trumpeted by CNN’s Dana Bash.

Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton — despite the liberal media’s relentless polling that predicted a Democrat victory — was truly a “political explosion.” Moreover, liberals calling Trump’s action “Nixonian” are equally laughable.

Republican President Richard Nixon was impeached for using the White House to spy on the Democratic Party.

The Nixon Library tweeted:

“FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI.”

Unfortunately, a disgraced, paranoid president sets no standard whatsoever for a president acting lawfully. Correct me if I’m wrong but Comey served at the pleasure of Trump. And that pleasure was clearly exhausted.

The sacking was quintessential Trump. After everyone assumed Comey was here to stay, Trump shocked swamp dwellers in Washington and the FBI director himself, delivering a terse late afternoon letter to Comey.

“While I greatly appreciated you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote.

To date, of the three ongoing investigations conducted by the FBI, the Senate and House, no conclusive evidence has been found to prove Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia to rig the election.

Comey’s thirst for political stardom — always eager to testify before Congress and preen in front of TV cameras — reportedly made Trump question his ability to conduct an independent investigation into the Russia controversy.

The president relied on a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who concluded that Comey was no longer fit to serve as America’s top cop because of his bungling of Hillary’s e-mail investigation.

Legally, the FBI is not supposed to publicly confirm or deny ongoing investigations. Yet, Comey announced in a July 2016 press conference, that no charges would be filed against Hillary.

“It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do,” wrote Rosenstein.

Then, Comey boasted to Congress that he reopened the e-mail investigation days before the election. More recently, Comey announced to Congress and the world that the FBI was conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

Regrettably, Trump dismissing Comey months into his presidency only will fuel Democrats’ obsession into the unfounded claims that Trump is trying to cover up a Russia conspiracy.

At the same time, Trump’s timing is brilliant.

Once again the mercurial president took charge of the Washington news cycle, shifting the narrative from Russia to Comey’s incompetence. Now all eyes, reporter ink and yack will be devoted to speculating and (trashing) who will lead “our crown jewel of law enforcement,” as Trump noted in his letter.

But Trump must swiftly nominate a new FBI director whose credentials, not to mention integrity, rivals that of a saint. The winning candidate must be a man or woman without ties to Trump’s campaign or presidency and capable of taking an unbiased look at the Russia investigation — wherever the evidence leads.

GOP House finally repeals Obamacare

First published May 4, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

After a decade of being in the political wilderness, House Republicans have realized that they’re in charge: President Donald J. Trump runs the White House, and they now control Congress. Recovering from an embarrassing fumble earlier this year to repeal Obamacare, Republicans finally got the job done on Thursday, voting, 217-213 to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was never affordable – for patients or insurers.

“What protection is Obamacare if there is no option in your state?” House Speaker Paul Ryan asked in floor remarks before the vote was taken.

Ryan went on to inform the nation that Iowa has only one insurer in the state, and that this particular insurer plans to pull out of 94 of the 99 counties. Why? Because it’s totally unsustainable for this company, from a financial standpoint. Iowa is far from the only state where Obamacare is failing (miserably) to provide healthcare coverage to Americans. Alaska had two insurers and is now down to one single-payer system.

Trump reiterated the obvious in a tweet:

“Insurance companies are fleeing ObamaCare – it is dead. Our healthcare plan will lower premiums & deductibles – and be great healthcare!”


Remember, President Barack Obama famously swore to Americans that “If you like your (health insurance) plan, you can keep it.” Well, that was the first big lie of Obamacare. The second was that insurance would be affordable. I, like millions of others, was forced to dump the plan I liked because it became UNAFFORDABLE. The plan I have now isn’t giving me much care for my dollar. I pay a $367 monthly premium, with a $5,000 yearly deductible … and I’m healthy!

The American Care Act eliminates the individual mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance and and the tax penalty that went along with it. Those who don’t receive insurance through employers will receive tax credits from $2,000-$4,000, depending upon their age. A family could receive a credit for as much as $14,000. For individuals making over $75,000 a year and families making over $150,000, tax credits would naturally be lower.

States can also apply for waivers from Obamacare to allow insurers to charge higher premiums to patients with pre-exsiting conditions. This means healthy people won’t be punished with outsized premiums to pay for other people’s care.

“We want to brag about the plan,” a triumphant Trump declared in a White House Rose Garden press conference after the vote.

And brag he should. The vote happened on President Trump’s 105th day in office. And despite the mainstream media’s relentless attempts to trash his presidency, Trump is following through on his campaign promise. Victory doesn’t taste much sweeter than this.

“Many of us have been waiting seven years to cast this vote,” Ryan added before the House vote.

Let’s hope Republicans in the Senate feel the same way as Ryan, and do their part in righting the wrong that they whined about while President Barack Obama was in office.

“If Republicans can’t follow through now,” observed the Wall Street Journal, the public will conclude that they’re either dishonest or feckless, and then wonder if they deserve their jobs.”

And the choir sang, “Amen.”

Washington media has sold out to advocacy

First published May 2, 2017 in the Toronto Sun

President Donald J. Trump eschewed this year’s White House Correspondents dinner — the annual ritual notoriously oozing with journalistic hubris (an event the president of the United States has traditionally headlined) — to “meet with much better people.”

While an elite group of journalists, who mostly despise Trump, were in a fancy D.C. ballroom, heaping self-congratulatory praise upon one another, Trump was in Harrisburg, Pa. at a rally with 7,000 adoring fans of his own.

“I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be one hundred miles away from Washington’s swamp,” Trump roared.

This is the first presidential administration in 36 years to shun the ‘Nerd Prom’ dinner event, which is customarily held for the president and the reporters who cover the president — or in this case, mock him.

And what better place for Trump to be than in Pennsylvania? After all, it was one of few blue wall states whose heavily Democrat, union-workers voted for him and helped win him the presidency. Hillary Clinton took the votes in rural Pennsylvania for granted, and the liberal media laughed at Trump for campaigning there. Look who’s having the last laugh (at the press) now!

Reveling in the glory of his Harrisburg visit, Trump ticked off his first 100 days’ accomplishments. Some wins: Confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, bombing Syria after President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his people, a tax reform plan, and demanding China join the U.S. to fight North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Is there more work to be done? Sure, like keeping campaign promises by repealing and replacing Obamacare, and “building a wall.” Yet, the liberal media refuses to give him credit for what he’s done, particularly showing leadership abroad — where president Barack Obama abdicated to dictators.

Back in D.C. — at the Washington Hilton — 190 km away from real Americans with real problems, members of the White House Correspondents Association and their guests were in full-on party-and-trash-Trump mode.

“We cannot ignore the rhetoric that has been employed by the president about who we are and what we do. We are not fake news,” insisted association president Jeff Mason.

Paradoxically, ironically, and hypocritically (had to get them all in!), many of the White House journalists who cover Trump have fueled Russia-Trump campaign conspiracy stories, despite there being any conclusive evidence. As well, they have demonstrated hostility, contempt and sarcasm in their coverage of the president. Trump has gotten zero credit and coverage by the mainstream, liberal media for donating his $400,000 a year presidential salary back to the government. His first quarter 2017 salary of about $80,000 was donated to the National Park Service.

“We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American People,” Mason added.

Yet, Trump supporters trust Trump more than they trust the news media, and it drives the liberal news media crazy. Starting with this past presidential election, the media lost its credibility and influence with many voters by being in the tank for Hillary Clinton. The skewed polls (and biased analysis of results) showed Clinton winning by a landslide over Trump. Now the same reporters are convinced (still, without evidence) that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to rig the election.

Looks a lot like the fake news Trump has described.

“We are here to celebrate the press, not the presidency,” boasted Mason at what he claimed was a “sold-out” dinner.

And herein lies the problem: The Washington media has sold out to ideology and advocacy; objective journalism is no longer being served up by these correspondents.