Paul Ryan Reveals his Radical Roots

05 November 2012
Published in Blog

All Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan had to do was keep his radical views hidden for two more days--actually, less than 48 hours. Perhaps then less voters would be aware of how extreme and divisive he really is.

But Ryan couldn’t wait. Maybe it’s because he was “under duress” as recent polls show President Obama’s lead in Ohio growing. Plus a new Pew Poll indicates President Obama now has a three point national lead.

Maybe it was because he thought his views would remain private, like Mitt Romney believed when he made his infamous comments dismissing 47% of Americans?

But I don’t think those are the reasons. I believe Ryan had simply been waiting for an opportunity to confess his real views to a receptive audience.

For those unaware, yesterday Ryan told thousands of Evangelical Christians by teleconference that President Obama’s policies threaten our nation’s “Judeo-Christian” values. Ryan also raised the specter of “a clash of civilizations” by warning listeners that Obama’s polices compromise, “western civilization values that made us such a great an exceptional nation in the first place.”

Obviously this statement tells us a great deal about Ryan, the person Rush Limbaugh described as “the last boy scout.” Although to be honest, I was a boy scout and we never learned that our laws must be based on anyone’s religious scripture nor should we use fear to scare people to support political candidates.

Up until this point in the campaign, I was actually relieved that Romney and Obama had focused on policy issues, not religious values like we heard time and time again during the Republican presidential primary. I thought that the concept that our laws must comport with the Bible disappeared with Rick Santorum’s failed presidential bid. But Ryan just couldn’t help himself. Ryan’s statement made me think of the “Godfather III” when Michael Corleone remarked: “Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.”

Ryan’s comment that President Obama’s policies are threatening Judeo-Christian values is clearly intended to send two messages to the Evangelical voters. One, if elected, Paul Ryan will work to ensure that our laws and regulations are in compliance with the Bible. This really shouldn't be a surprise because Ryan has made it clear he opposes abortion even in the case when a woman is raped—thus, sentencing a rape victim to carry the child of the rapist in her womb for nine months.

Ryan is a man who actually stated that “Roe versus Wade” was similar to the infamous “Dred Scott” Supreme Court decision which upheld slavery. Who could actually compare the concept of owning a human being with a women’s right to have control over her own body?!

There’s also clearly a second reason Ryan told these conservative Christians that Obama does not share their religious values. Anyone guess? This one is easy: Because President Obama is not a Christian like them but actually…a Muslim. (Cue scary music.)

This is not only false since Obama is a Christian, but appalling because Ryan is a Catholic and is undoubtedly aware of similar smear tactics used by people to scare voters about John F. Kennedy’s presidential candidacy. Kennedy’s political opponents argued that too was a threat to American values.

This issue dogged Kennedy until his famous speech in 1960 to a group of Evangelical leaders where he stated: “Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.”

However, when Paul Ryan was given a chance to address Evangelicals, he didn’t follow the lead of John Kennedy, trying to end divisiveness based on religion. Instead, Ryan fed the very same bigotry John Kennedy was seeking to combat.

It’s my hope that Mitt Romney denounces these statements by Paul Ryan. Of course we know that won’t happen. Often in presidential campaigns Vice Presidential candidates act as a “pit bull” and say combative or extreme things which the presidential candidate actually agrees with but doesn’t want to say publicly. Lets hope that isn’t the case here, but sadly I fear it is.

Is Mitt Romney a “Political Sociopath”?

31 October 2012
Published in Blog

Sociopath: a person who has “no social conscience.” We often hear this term used to describe criminals who commit heinous acts but show no signs of remorse. These people lack the ability to discern between right and wrong.

Look, I’m in no way saying that Mitt Romney is a sociopath in the sense it’s applied to serial killers. But Mitt Romney might just be a new strain of this malady: a “political sociopath.” How else do you explain how Romney can change positions so frequently on key issues with no sense of remorse or guilt?

Or does Mitt have a split personality, sorta of a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Romney”? Or is it “Dr. Mitt and Mr. Hyde”? In either case, is it possible there are two Mitt Romneys. And like in the famous Jekyll and Hyde tale, it seems that one has no memory of what the other has said or done.

I’m not even referring to Romney’s earlier “evolution” on issues from years ago which gave us "Romney 2.0." By now most are familiar with these Olympic quality flips: Mitt being unabashedly pro-choice when Governor of Massachusetts, but a few years later when seeking the Republican presidential nomination, he suddenly become a hardcore pro-lifer. Or his reversal on gun control: when Governor, he signed into law a ban on assault weapons but now opposes similar gun control measures. And, of course, his championing a health care plan that was the first in nation to impose an individual mandate but now opposing that very same element of Obamacare.

No, I’m talking about Romney 3.0. This Mitt seems to have no recollection of his prior statements made just a few short months ago. For example, when Mitt Romney was the scary Mr. Hyde, he tried to appeal to conservative voters in the Republican primary by promising a tax break for, “…everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent.”

But in the first presidential debate with President Obama, that Mr. Hyde was nowhere to be found. Instead we only saw a moderate, reasonable “Dr. Romney,” who now pledged: "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans." 

Even President Obama sensed there was two Romneys, stating the day after that debate: “When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney, but it couldn't have been Mitt Romney." This led Obama to coin his own diagnosis: Romensia.

And Romney’s split personality has become more acute in the closing days of this campaign. For example, Dr. Romney continually claims that when he was Governor, he worked in a bipartisan manner with the Democrats who controlled the Massachusetts Legislature. But what Mitt doesn't tell us is that his Mr. Hyde used his veto over 800 times in a four year period to block Democratic legislative initiatives.

And now Dr. Romney argues that he did not oppose using government funds to help bail out the auto industry. However, Mitt ‘s Mr. Hyde had stated the opposite in a Republican primary debate: “…with regards to the bailout…whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go….My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout…with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand."

And Mitt’s Mr. Hyde – obviously unable to predict that a massive hurricane would strike the Eastern seaboard a week before the election – stated in another Republican primary debate that he would take the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the federal government and give it back to the States. The result would be that when a massive disaster occurs impacting more than one State- as they often do-there would be no umbrella organization coordinating the effort.

But now Dr. Romney says he wouldn’t abolish FEMA. Instead, in times of emergency, people should get “help from the federal government and FEMA” in coordinating where disaster assistance is most needed.

And amazingly, Dr. Romney has in the last few days started billing himself as the“change” candidate.  It’s just a mater of time before we see a poster of Romney colored in red, white and blue, emblazon on the bottom with the words: “Hope.”

While obviously there are voters who are not fans of President Obama’s polices, at least they know what he stands for. In the case of Mitt Romney, not only don’t we know what his stands for, we don’t know even know which Mitt Romney would serve as President.

Obama-stare puts a spell on Romney

25 October 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- The key to President Barack Obama's triumphant performance in Monday night's debate was not his command of the facts, his well-crafted answers or his cutting comeback lines. It was one thing: the stone cold, laser-like stare Obama shot his opponent when Mitt Romney was answering questions. I call it "Obama-stare" -- but unlike Obamacare, this Obama plan may not be good for your health.

For those, like me, who watch the other candidate closely when his opponent is answering a question, the contrast between Obama and Romney's reactions was like comparing Darth Vader with Honey Boo Boo. Romney's look vacillated between forced smiles to that of a person whose stomach was alarmingly churning and was worried he wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time.

But Obama pinned Romney with the look -- Obama-stare. It's not a look we saw at the previous debates. (Of course, Obama didn't even attend the first one.)

Obama-stare resembles the grimace that Wyatt Earp might have had on his face moments before guns were drawn at the famed gunfight at the OK Corral. Or even Clint Eastwood's classic scowl in his "Dirty Harry" movies just before shooting a bad guy -- not to be confused with the look he recently gave to an empty chair.

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Will Big Bird be Downsized?

10 October 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- What has Big Bird ever done to Mitt Romney?! Did a young Mitt try to meet Big Bird and Big Bird snubbed him? Did Big Bird in essence give Mitt "the bird'? Or was Romney just channeling his inner Oscar the Grouch?

For those who may have missed it, during last night's presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that if elected president he would cut funding to PBS. He even mentioned Big Bird by name. (This is even more shocking because Mitt offered very few specifics on how he would cut the deficit other than slashing support for PBS.)

So what happens to Big Bird if Romney has his way? Will Big Bird be laid off? What jobs are out there for an 8-foot-2-inch yellow bird who sings slightly off-key? Will Big Bird become part of the 47% that Romney talked about who believe they are victims and are entitled to government funding?

And what about the other Muppets? What will come of them? How will they survive in this tough economic climate?

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Mitt Romney insults US Olympians with VP Announcement

11 August 2012
Published in Blog

“Why would Mitt Romney steal the spotlight from our US Olympic athletes during the Olympics?”

This was my immediate reaction when I heard that Romney was announcing his choice for Vice President on Saturday morning. I couldn’t understand why Mitt could not wait until after the Olympic ended Sunday night to make this announcement? And I can assure you that I would be asking the identical question if a Democratic presidential candidate had done the same thing. Respect for our Olympic aathletes should never be a partisan issue. (Although there's no doubt if President Obama had made a major political announcement during the Olympics, some on the right would claim it was a sign Obama didn't love America enough or some other attack on his patriotism.)

There was no rush for Mitt to make this announcement. He had made his choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate on August 1. He had waited this long to share it with us, why not wait a few more days so that our Olympians could receive the full media attention they deserve?

If Mitt had simply waited until Monday to make his announcement, it would not have had any negative impact on Romney’s campaign. His choice of Ryan would have still clearly dominated the news headlines and been the story of the week.

Romney could have even waited till next weekend to inform us of his VP pick. The Republican National Convention doesn’t kick off until August 27 and this announcement in the days before it would have built excitement for that event. Indeed, that’s what John McCain did by announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate on August 28, 2008, four days before that year’s nominating convention.

Instead, Romney chose to reveal his choice for vice president at a press spectacle on a US Navy battleship during a weekend showcasing close to 100 Olympic matches—including diving, cycling, women’s volleyball, basketball, and track and field. And these events are almost all finals, which means the award of Olympic medals for the athletes competing.

Our American Olympians have trained and sacrificed for years to make it to this level. This is their chance to proudly represent the United States. It’s also their opportunity to receive some well-deserved recognition for their work. For most of these athletes, this will be the pinnacle of their athletic career. There are no million-dollar paydays awaiting the bulk of them. This is their payday. This is their brief, but well-earned, shining moment.

People like Pittsburgh’s Jake Herbert who is in his first Olympics ever wrestling at the 84kg level after a stellar college wrestling career. And University of Arizona Junior Brigetta Barrett who will be going for the gold this weekend in the Women’s High jump.   Or Nick McCrory, a diver who finished two places short of qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, but who continued to persevere and this year achieved his dream of donning the red, white and blue uniform in the Olympics.

And there are also the US Olympic teams competing for gold medals this weekend, such as the women’s volleyball team which features athletes like Lindsey Berg, who was a back up player for the past two Olympics but finally in 2012 made it to be a starting player for the US team.

What makes the timing of this announcement even more astounding is that Mitt Romney was the head of the 2002 Olympic games. Consequently, he’s fully aware of the daunting challenges these athletes had to overcome to make the US Olympic team. The pressures they are under to perform well while representing our nation. And the recognition they truly deserve for their efforts.

Why did Romney make his announcement now? Possibly because a new poll released earlier this week showed Romney now trailing President Obama by seven points and he felt compelled to so something now? Maybe he was feeling the heat from others in his party to make the announcement as soon as possible? We can’t be certain.

But what we do know for sure is that Romney was aware that the Olympics games were taking place and that his announcement would overshadow our Olympic athletes. This selfish decision by Romney tells us possibly more about him as a person than any of his stands on the issues.

Is Mitt Romney actually “Stupid”?

18 July 2012
Published in Blog

Could Mitt Romney be “stupid”?

That’s the question CNN’s Erin Burnett posed on her show this past Monday when discussing Romney’s refusal to release his past income tax returns. Actually, she hypothesized that there were three possible reasons Mitt refused to release them:

“One, he had a lot more money in tax shelters in prior years than he does now."

"Two, he did something shady.”

“Or, three, he's stupid."

Could Mitt’s refusal to release these documents--which are clearly hurting his campaign—be because of stupidity?

Look, there’s no doubt Mitt is very book smart. He earned two graduate degrees from Harvard--an MBA and Law degree-which he received after cramming 5 years of studying into 4 years. Only about 12 people per year achieve this feat at Harvard. 

But in the immortal words of “Forrest Gump:” “Stupid is as stupid does.” Which means that even if you have the best education in the world, and are a multi-millionaire, if you do stupid things, you’re stupid. It’s that simple.

Maybe the dictionary can help us decide this issue.  Merriam-Webster’s tells us that the most appropriate definition of the word “stupid” is: “Given to unintelligent decisions or acts.”

So, is withholding tax returns an “unintelligent decision” aka "stupid"? It would seem to be when polls indicate that 61% of Independent voters think Romney should release his returns from the last 12 years. (To date, Romney has only released his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011.)

Add to that, Republican leaders have been increasingly calling for Romney to release these returns, including Congressman Ron Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.

And, add even to that, well-known conservatives in the media such as George Will, Bill Kristol, and “The National Review” have, too, called upon Romney to be more forthcoming and release returns for additional years.

It's true that presidential candidates are not legally mandated to release their tax returns. Yet candidates since FDR have voluntarily released them. These candidates--Democrats and Republicans alike--understood that this is about transparency. We, the people, are entitled to know how our possible future president made their income, how much taxes they have paid as well as to know what and where they have invested.

That is why Mitt Romney’s own father--George Romney--released 12 years of his tax returns when he was seeking the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination. Bob Dole--the Republican presidential nominee in 1996—released 30 years of his past returns, while George W. Bush released nine years and Barack Obama seven.

And when presidential candidates refused to be forthcoming in releasing tax returns, such as in the case of Democratic presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton, the media hammered them until they were released.

Lets state the obvious to make the stakes clear: Mitt Romney is seeking to be the head of the biggest economy and most lethal military in the world. He will in essence be the leader of the free world and one of the most powerful people on this planet. Thus, we deserve to know as much as possible about him and certainly information regarding facts which are solely within his possession--like his tax returns.

This growing controversy is reminiscent of the one started by the right that President Obama was not born in the United States. These “birthers” kept pressing this issue until it became a distraction to President Obama’s agenda. Consequently, President Obama had no other way to put the issue to rest than to finally release his long form birth certificate in April 2011.

Mitt Romney is obviously aware of both the birther issue and the past “taxer” issues. And just as in those instances, this issue is becoming a distraction to his campaign and an ever-expanding albatross around his neck.

This brings us back to the original question: Could Romney be stupid? Very doubtful. But not releasing his tax returns is stupid. It will plague him through the campaign until Election Day. However, despite this obvious downside, Romney still refuses to release the returns.

To quote another iconic line from "Forest Gump:" “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Well, only Mitt Romney knows what’s in his income tax returns and he’s certainly fully aware of what he’s “gonna get” in response if he releases them.

It appears that Romney would prefer to be labeled “stupid” than release his past tax returns. Could it be that the consequences of releasing his returns are far worse?

Mitt Romney is not a flip-flopper

18 July 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- "This is a man without a core, a man without substance, a man that will say anything to become president of the United States."

Rudy Giuliani uttered these harsh words when describing Mitt Romney eight months ago. But then, four months later, Giuliani endorsed Romney.

Is Giuliani correct? Is Romney truly a man "without a core"? The simple answer: No. Romney has a distinct core -- not that of a politician, but of a CEO.

What do I mean? We have become accustomed in these highly partisan times to politicians who adhere rigidly to their ideological positions. They don't change their views to attract supporters. Rather, they want voters to agree with the positions they advocate.

In contrast, a CEO is not shackled by ideology. A CEO's success is measured by the bottom line, not by how many principles he or she sticks to.

To the CEO, if a product is not selling, you don't stick with it until the product destroys your business. Instead, you tweak it. You rebrand it. You try a new slogan or new packaging. And if people are still not buying it, like New Coke, you drop it. You regroup, come up with a new product and then start selling again.

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Why it's actually good for Obama if Supreme Court Strikes Obamacare

24 June 2012
Published in Blog

(New York, NY) This is a HUGE week! For those who follow politics, you know why.

For the rest of you, let me put it in perspective: This news is bigger than Snooki getting pregnant or Justin Bieber beating up a member of the paparazzi. It's even bigger than the finale of “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Biggest Loser”-- combined!

This week, the United States Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act- also known “affectionately” as Obamacare.  

Will the law be upheld or will it be struck down in whole or in part? It’s like trying to guess the identity of the person Kim Kardashian will marry next (and then quickly divorce)--everyone has an opinion and there are no wrong answers. (My view is that the Supreme Court will uphold the law, deferring to Congress, thus allowing the issue to be resolved in the political arena.)

To me, the most intriguing part of this impending decision is its political implications. The prevailing wisdom – if “wisdom” is even a word that can be applied to anything involving our politics today –is that if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, it will be a big blow to President Obama and will negatively impact his reelection campaign. I completely disagree.

Even though this law is President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, it’s very unpopular. Recent polls indicate that only one third of Americans support it and, worse yet for Obama, only 21% of Independents.

Mitt Romney views the law as such a liability for Obama that he made it a central part of his very first campaign commercial after effectively securing the Republican nomination. In this ad, Romney sets out what he would do “Day One” of his presidency, which includes his boast that he would dismantle Obamacare. In contrast, if I were elected President, on my first day in office, I’d be more focused on picking out the best closets in the White House and locating the good Chinese restaurants in the area.

But if the Supreme Court strikes it down, it pulls the rug out from under Romney on this line of attack. Can Romney truly hope to attract voters by saying: “Remember that health care law we didn't like, well if it was still in effect, I would get rid of it.” It would be like “Captain America” coming to save us from a monster that has already been killed by “The Hulk.”

While that doesn't help Romney's campaign, he arguably an has even bigger problem if the Supreme Court finds this law unconstitutional. Romney has claimed that if Obama is reelected, he will be: “unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” meaning Obama can run amuck and do whatever he wants in his second term. Who knows what Obama might try: Ban guns? Impose communism? Force straight people to marry gay people?

However, the Supreme Court striking down Obamacare undercuts this fear tactic by Romney because it proves that the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution work. If one branch goes too far, another branch will rein them. This is the express purpose of having three branches of government--it creates a checks and balance system to avoid tyranny as James Madison famously stated in The Federalist Papers.

If the healthcare law and the "Fear factor" Romney is peddling regarding Obama are gone, guess what he's stuck with running on: The economy. While that may sound appealing, it isn't--not only because when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, his State was 47th in job creation--but because as a new poll released this week found, almost 60% of Americans believe that the President has little impact on job creation. We are now collectively grasping that issues beyond the President's control--such as the European economic crisis and oil prices--greatly impact our economic well being.

Bottom line: Mitt Romney has to be rooting for the Supreme Court to uphold the health care law and especially the unpopular individual mandate portion. (Which ironically is the same mandate Romney championed in Massachusetts when he was Governor.)  

In any event, a recent poll found that 77% of Americans want Congress to start work on a new health care bill if this law is struck down. Meaning that this issue is not going away even if the court strikes it down. Perhaps striking it down gives Obama another shot a health care law that will be effective and popular with the American people. (And if the Court upholds the law, President Obama needs to start better explaining the positive aspects of the law so that we are all  better informed on the full scope of this law--as of now, the negative voices are driving the narrative despite polls showing a solid majority of Americans support many key parts of the law.)

So America, set your DVR's and invite your friends over to watch the US Supreme Court announce the decision of the decade live on TV! Oh yeah, you can’t watch it live on TV because the US Supreme Court won’t let cameras in. Parenthetically I think this is a mistake – I could envision a new popular reality TV series: “The Real Judges of the Supreme Court.”

If the health care law is struck down this week, President Obama will undoubtedly be disappointed. But watch Mitt Romney ‘s response closely to see if you can detect if he, too, is unhappy. He should be.

Obama, Romney: time to debate, and curse?

16 June 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN)  Fact: Americans love to curse. We, the people, use profanity every day. Some will deny this reality, but those people are [expletive] kidding themselves.

Cursing is in our movies, TV shows, books and magazines. It's also a big part of our daily conversations -- especially when we get passionate about something.

However, for some bizarre reason, we demand that our elected officials not speak like the rest of us. We condemn them for even the slightest bit of swearing in public.

For example, about a week ago, House Speaker John Boehner was rebuked for using these words when speaking to Republican House members: "Let's call bulls--- bulls---"

President Obama raised more than a few eyebrows when he stated in a 2010 television interview that he wanted to know "whose ass to kick" to get the cleanup of the BP oil spill moving faster.

And Vice President Joe Biden came under fire for saying to President Obama during the signing ceremony of the health care law: "This is a big f---- deal!"

We need to stop being so hypocritical in holding our politicians to a ridiculously prudish standard of communication. If we get worked up about an issue, we wouldn't just use the King's English to explain how we really feel -- we'd be adding some French.

But we have neutered our politicians' intensity and passion by limiting their choice of words. And then we wonder why so many of our elected officials -- and especially our presidential candidates -- seem so bland and hard to relate to.

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No 'Avenger' in sight for America

24 May 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- America is in trouble. And we know it.

Just look at recent polls: 70% of Americans would describe the nation's economy as bad. Some 61% think our country is on the wrong track. Only 24% of Americans think the economy has actually improved in the past few years. And almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned about being able to pay for their housing.

We could use Captain Economy to help us create jobs. Plus we need Deficit-Reduction Man and Five-Percent-GDP-Growth-a-Year Dude. Or maybe we can just let The Hulk loose in Congress and tell him: "Hulk: Smash!"(I'm not sure how Hulk smashing Congress helps the economy, but I think most of us would pay to see it.)

But, alas, there's no superhero in no sight. There's only President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

I must admit that there was a time in 2008 that I thought Obama could have been a superhero, but I was wrong. We have seen his campaign theme morph in four years from "Yes We Can" to "It Could Be Worse."

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Click HERE to watch Dean Obeidallah on CNN discussing this article.

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