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.

We need more Joe Bidens

13 October 2012
Published in Blog

(CNN) -- In a world of politicians who memorize sound bites and regurgitate them like robots, Joe Biden is different. Biden says it as he sees it. And, yes, that philosophy can lead to a few gaffes. OK, in Biden's case, a lot of gaffes. But that's the risk with being real.

Maybe Joe Biden isn't always "presidential" as that word has come to be defined, but isn't it about time we revised the definition of that word? Sadly, it has come to mean a staid, reserved person who shows almost no emotion -- almost like Spock from "Star Trek." But presidents and vice presidents are still human beings and should be allowed and encouraged to act like it.

Look at Biden at Thursday night's vice-presidential debate: He laughed, he almost cried, he got angry, he looked to the heavens, he laughed some more. Joe Biden gave us a veritable one-man show. It was a tour de force. After Biden retires from politics, he should seriously consider touring the nation with a show: "Being Biden" or "Say it ain't so, Joe."

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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.