Dean Obeidallah

Dean Obeidallah

Dean Obeidallah is a former lawyer turned political comedian and commentator. Dean has appeared on numerous TV shows including CNN, Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" Special, Current TV's "The Young Turks," ABC's "The View," MSNBC's "Up With Chris Hayes," NBC's "Rock Center," and ABC's "Nightline." Dean has written articles for CNN.comThe Huffington Post, BBC Radio and written jokes which have appeared on NBC's "Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update" segment and CBS' "The Late, Late Show." He is also co-director of the soon to be released "The Muslims Are Coming!" Twitter: @deanofcomedy

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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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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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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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Advice to Obama and Romney for debates: Be Funny!

02 October 2012 Published in Blog

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

This adage may be the reason that President Obama and Mitt Romney will avoid using humor during their upcoming presidential debates. But that’s a mistake.

Past presidential candidates have used comedy in the debates, and guess what, they won the election. Obviously that’s not the only reason they won, but you can’t deny it helped them.

Here’s something you don’t need a high-priced, inside the Washington beltway political consultant to tell you: When you make people laugh, they tend to like you more. It creates a bond with people because your words have caused them to have a visceral reaction: Laughter.

I’m not saying Romney or Obama should come out with series of zingers or one-liners. However, a well-written and well-delivered joke is potentially more valuable in increasing your likability than a $100 million dollar donation from Sheldon Adelson to your Super PAC. (Mitt Romney: I hope you’re reading this!)

But keep in mind, all laughs are not equal in the world of presidential debates. A presidential candidate telling a funny joke at an appropriate time in the debate will help him show his human, playful side.

Contrast this with comedy caused when a candidate does something awkward or makes a gaffe at the debate. Those don’t help. Think Al Gore sighing loudly in his first debate with George W. Bush in 2000– funny for us, deadly for him. And then there was George W. H. Bush obviously looking at his watch twice during one of the 1992 debates as if he had somewhere more important to be.

The use of comedy during the debate also has another potential upside. Not only can comedy ingratiate you with voters, when wielded correctly, it can be a formidable weapon. A good joke can show the absurdity of your opponent’s argument. If America is laughing with you and at your opponent, that’s a good thing for your campaign.

The most famous example of a presidential candidate deftly using a debate joke was Ronald Reagan in 1984. Reagan, who was 73 years old at the time, was the oldest president to ever seek a second term. Some viewed his age as a liability.

But Reagan, when asked by a journalist during the debate if his age would be a problem, delivered this classic line: “I want you to know also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. Even his opponent Walter Mondale laughed. That effectively closed the door on that issue.

Another effective use of comedy during a debate was in 2000 by George W. Bush. (Ironic isn’t it, because Bush would later become a walking punch line.) Bush had already run ads attacking his opponent Al Gore for his alleged claim that he had invented the Internet. (Gore’s exact quote had been: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.")

During one presidential debate, Gore gave one of his patented, detailed laden answers to a question which included numerous mathematical figures. Bush, instead of taking on the substance of the argument, responded using humor: ”I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the Internet, but he invented the calculator as well. It's fuzzy math."

That was a great line for two reason: One, it was funny. Two, it furthered the narrative Bush was creating of Gore that he was arrogant. The result was America was laughing at Al Gore plus they were reminded about his alleged claim that he invented the Internet.

Although as a warning to both Obama and Romney, a poorly delivered joke can hurt you. It will make you look more awkward, less relatable, and will be fodder for every late night TV comedy show out there. You better make sure you have a good comedy writer working with you and practice delivering the joke before the debate. (Just throwing this out there, but I will make myself available to either Obama or Romney if you need a comedy coach for an almost reasonable sum of money.)

So President Obama and Mitt Romney, as you prepare for the upcoming debates by cramming facts and figures into your tired brains, save some time to learn one or two jokes. I can assure you that a detailed, nuanced answer to a policy question will not be as memorable, nor move people as much, as one really good joke.

The GOP has a Muslim problem

03 September 2012 Published in Blog

(CNN) -- A Catholic priest, a rabbi, an evangelical minister, a Sikh, a Greek Orthodox archbishop and two Mormon leaders walk into the Republican National Convention.

It sounds like the beginning of a joke. But the Republican Party's decision to invite representatives from all of these faiths to speak at this week's convention, but to exclude a Muslim-American imam, is anything but funny.

The Republican Party has a problem with Muslims. Of course, American Muslims can take some solace in the fact that we are not the only minority group that the Republican Party hardly welcomes.

Let's be honest, if you don't like Muslims, blacks, gays, immigrants or other minorities, which political party would make you feel most comfortable? Sure, some Republican officials are minorities, but a recent Galllup survey found that 89% of the Republican Party is white.

To be clear, I don't believe that most rank-and-file members of the Republican Party hate Muslims. The problem is that certain Republican leaders have stoked the flames of hate toward American Muslims, and other minorities, as a political tool to motivate people to support their cause.

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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.

America's Slaughterhouse: Who's Really To Blame?

31 July 2012 Published in Blog

By Lawrence D. Elliott

July 31, 2012

Businessman, philanthropist and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made his opinion known on the subject of gun control after the senseless massacre in Aurora, CO. An outspoken advocate for gun control in a state with arguably the toughest gun laws in the nation, it was no surprise he'd soon make his voice heard. Through radio, television, and the newspapers, he's urging the two major Presidential candidates to take a leadership role in America's gun problem.

"Somebody's got to do something about this," Mayor Bloomberg told Bob Schieffer in an interview for CBS' Face the Nation, which aired on July 22nd. "And it requires, particularly in a presidential year, the candidates for President of the United States to stand up once and for all and say, 'Yes they felt terrible, yes it's a tragedy, yes we have great sympathies for the families, but it's time for this country to do something.'"

"And that's the job of the President of the United States," the mayor continued. "I don't know what they're gonna do, but I think its incumbent on them to tell us specifically, not just in broad terms."

Really? President Obama and Governor Romney? The Mayor is a smart guy. He's a lot smarter than I am, but does he really believe that will happen?

Mitt Romney is going speak out? You mean the man who signed a bill banning assault weapons in Massachusetts, then appeared before the National Rifle Association vowing to protect their 2nd Amendment rights at all costs as he's running for President.

And President Obama? He's a Democrat and Democrats run from the gun control issue like scalded cats. And it's been longer than the three and a half years Obama has been in office. Some say it can be traced back to the 1994 mid-term elections when the Democrats took a butt kicking, courtesy of NRA-backed candidates.

I'm not saying Mayor Bloomberg doesn't have a point. He does. But we need to get serious if we want to know who's to blame for our failure to control our appetite for the gun. Then, we can fix the problem.

The knee-jerk reaction is to put all of the blame on the NRA and I'm also guilty of that one. But is it entirely true? Sure, they've been putting fear into any politician who even thinks of bringing up the gun control issue. And thanks to them, we have 25 states with "Stand Your Ground" laws or statutes, which allow any citizen legally carrying a weapon to shoot and kill another simply out of fear, real or imagined.

No they're not innocent, but...

And should we blame the politicians? Yes, you can say they don't have the courage to speak candidly on the issue. But you can also say we collectively don't have the sense to listen to the truth. We want to be told what we want to hear and they're all too eager to oblige us. Because they know they'll be punished at the ballot box if they don't.

Did you catch that? I just hinted at who I believe is to blame? Need another one? Quick, find a mirror and voila! There you are!

Yes, we are to blame. Collectively, if not individually.

According to Gallup, in 1996, 57% of Americans surveyed were for laws which would have made it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semiautomatic guns, known as assault rifles. In the same survey, 43% were against such laws.

However, in 2011, the numbers are virtually reversed, with 53% against such laws and 43% for them. With the amount of gun violence we've experienced in our country over this time period, these numbers are unbelievable.

Everyone has beautiful words of comfort and prayers for the victims. I'm no different. My heart goes out to all of the victims, both living and those who were lost. But are we really angry about what happened? If so, what are we going to do about it? Will the victims be forgotten while the killer lives on in infamy?

Will the NRA again be to blame? We're supposed to be adults, so allowing someone to make our minds up for us with multimillion- dollar, fear-filled ads is ridiculous. If we used our own intelligence, their campaigns would be trumped by our common sense.

Will we blame the politicians? Who would stick his or her neck out for a policy "we the people" aren't really in favor of? Some would. Most won't. So that makes us all ultimately guilty for the carnage caused by our failure to craft a sane gun control policy or to enforce the laws already on the books.

I'm not one of those people who wants to eliminate the 2nd Amendment from the United States Constitution, thereby erasing responsible gun ownership. Such an attempt wouldn't get ratified, anyway. It also wouldn't completely eliminate gun violence. I'm not wishing for a utopia because it doesn't exist.

But what's wrong with doing what we can to reduce it? Is it wrong to restrict the massive firepower of assault weapons to trained law enforcement officers and our military personnel? And is it really unconstitutional to prevent anyone from purchasing 6,000 rounds over the Internet without question?

Maybe the next time this happens, you'll have to make a decision of which family member you can save first as the bullets fly. Or you'll have to use your body as a human shield for your loved one. Or maybe you'll be forced to cradle your infant daughter or son as you leap from a balcony to safety during the next armed assault by a crazed maniac.

And we should all believe there will be a next time in America's Slaughterhouse.


Lawrence D. Elliott is an author whose work has appeared in many popular books and publications, including 4 books in the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A native of San Diego, California, he's lived in Germany since May of 2011. Visit his website at

A National Conversation, Not The Sounds of Silence

28 July 2012 Published in Blog

By Scott Blakeman 

July 28, 2012

Imagine if immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001, President Bush shrugged his shoulders and told the nation, "There's nothing we can do to stop this kind of horror. If a terrorist wants to hijack a plane and fly it into a building, he's going to do it regardless of what we do or laws we sign."

And yet a week after a domestic terrorist slaughtered innocent men, women and children with an arsenal of military-style assault weapons, our political leadership is once again telling us that there is nothing we can do to stop this kind of gun crime, and that reinstating an assault weapons ban would not help prevent these horrific acts from happening again.

It is not just Aurora. Every year since 2001, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, approximately 30,000 people have been killed by firearms in America. And the reaction to this carnage has been to loosen existing gun laws, and to radically misinterpret the Second Amendment.

The National Rifle Association essentially harbors terrorists, by resisting any attempt to apply sensible regulations on gun use. The NRA wants almost anyone to obtain virtually any kind of gun and unlimited amounts of ammunition. Hunters don't need assault weapons or high capacity ammunition clips to shoot deer. These weapons and the ability to shoot more than 30 rounds at one time are for murdering large numbers of people.

The NRA is a massively funded lobbying group that politicians of both parties bow down to with timidity and fear. When you hear politicians say "the political will isn't there" for stricter gun control, what they're really saying is that they are afraid to stand up to the NRA. That's why the assault weapons ban, and the ban on high capacity clips, was allowed by both parties to expire in 2004. Democrats, like Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad, and Frank Lautenberg have introduced bills to limit ammunition, but these bills garner little support.

The words that frustrate and infuriate me the most are from those in both parties who say now is not the time to talk about gun violence. After 9/11, if someone had said now is not the time to talk about terrorism, they would rightfully have been considered insane.

The conversation must start from the top. Although President Obama is inexplicably considered by right wing media to be a threat to gun rights, his administration has been given a failing grade by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 

The President's speech in Aurora was moving and compassionate, as was his speech last year after another terrorist attack killed men, women and children, and nearly took the life of Congresswoman Giffords. No federal gun legislation was enacted after that attack either.

The President said about Aurora, "If there is anything to take away from this tragedy, it's the reminder that life is very fragile." We are constantly reminded of the fragility of life, because approximately 33 people are killed in America by gun violence every day. What we need to take away from this tragedy is a renewed determination to, at the very least, begin an intense national dialogue on the causes of gun violence, and what steps can be taken to reduce it.

We must stand up to the fatalism, cynicism and ignorance of those who say, "There's nothing we can do. And no law will help." There is much that can be done. And we can demand that the political will be found to get it done. Instead of cowardly running away from the NRA and the issue of gun violence in the U.S., we must bring it up now, and bring it up loudly and forcefully. Those who vote against gun control legislation, or do nothing to promote it, even if they are liberal on other issues, should be challenged by pro gun control candidates.

And even though almost every Obama campaign advisor would tell him otherwise, the President must start the national conversation about gun violence right now. His speech to the National Urban League, where he called for reinstating the assault weapons ban, is a good start. 

The American people are listening. And this time, they must hear more than the sounds of silence.


Scott Blakeman is a liberal political comedian and commentator, who appears regularly on Live. He will perform his one man show "Liberal Jew" at the Lenox Town Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts on August 18, and the Grange Hall on Martha's Vineyard September 1.   Twitter: @scottblakeman