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.com, The 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
Website URL: http://www.deanofcomedy.com
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Typically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.
The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.
The small hearing room that accommodated 60 was packed with the faces of brown and white people, while others filled the hallways and adjacent conference rooms. For the next three hours, this hearing would be the big show in this small town. And it didn’t disappoint.
At the outset of the hearing, the attorney for the mosque, sensing that the room was filled with opponents, made a simple plea to the municipal board members: “This is not a public referendum, it’s a question of law.”
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Dick Cheney is back! On Wednesday an op-ed he co-wrote was featured in The Wall Street Journal, he appeared on Fox News and even released a YouTube video attacking Obama for his alleged failures in Iraq.
But I just don't get it. Why would Cheney reinsert himself into politics and even more astouding is why, of all things, would he ever discuss the Iraq war? Cheney had gotten away with it. He was never held accountable in any way for all the crap he said and did that misled Americans to support the Iraq war. Cheney was like "Kaiser Soze" from "The Usual Suspects." He made people believe somehow that he wasn't the bad guy.
We had even stopped talking about the profits Cheney reaped from the war due to his connections with Halliburton. Although just a few months ago, Senator Rand Paul did again repeat that claim.
And to be honest, my anger, and I bet many others as well, towards Cheney had subsided in the six years since he had left the government. Many of us, including myself, had forget how much we hated him. Things were going great for good ole Dick. Not bad for a guy who left office with 74% of Americans disapproving of his job as Veep.
But seeing Cheney on TV brought that all back. The anger and the questions we had about Cheney and his role in the build up to the Iraq War had returned. Plus it made me realize that Cheney still looks a lot like Danny DeVito as the "Penguin" in "Batman Returns."
Cheney returning now to talk about the Iraq war makes no sense. He's like a guy who robbed a bank and got away with it. The police have even stopped searching for him. But then years later, he returns to the same bank he robbed and opens up a savings account so he can deposit the money he stole. You have to wonder if deep down Cheeny really wants to get caught.
For those who may have forgot or blocked it from their memory, how bad was Cheney when he was in power? I think Joe Biden summed it up well in his 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin with the remark: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history.” And I’d say Biden was being too kind.
When I think of Dick Cheney, all I can say is: I’ve never been lied to so much by someone I wasn’t dating. And I mean he lied – both by commission and by omission in leaving out information he should’ve told us during the run up to the Iraq War.
Who can forget Cheney’s continual invoking of the name "Saddam Hussein" and "9/11" in same sentence despite no evidence linking the two. But Cheney knew that by saying those two terms together over and over, soon the American public would believe that there was truly a connection making it easier for the Bush administration to garner support to attack Iraq.
And to Cheney’s credit, he was correct. In the run up to the Iraq war, polls found that 72 percent of Americans said it was either “very or somewhat likely” Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Of course, there was zero evidence to support this assertion.
But Cheney, plus others in the Bush administration, did more than just that. The US Senate’s bipartisan Select Committee on Intelligence conducted a five plus year investigation that yielded a 170-page report in 2008. The report concluded that Bush, Cheney and others in the administration had exaggerated the intelligence reports and discounted uncertainties when selling us the Iraq War.
Here are some example’s of Cheney’s statements made in the year before the Iraq war that were noted in the Senate report:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction There’s no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”
“We now have irrefutable evidence that he [Saddam] has once again set up and reconstituted his program, to take uranium, to enrich it to sufficiently high grade, so that it will function as the base material for a nuclear weapon.”
However, as the Senate report clearly notes: “No intelligence agency ever assessed that Iraq had reconstituted nuclear weapons.” (Emphasis added.)
Cheney also publicly asserted in 2003 that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons in one to three years. However, the Senate report explained that the majority view of the US intelligence community at that time was that barring Hussein acquiring key nuclear material abroad – challenging to say the least because that's when the West was closely watching him – the soonest he could develop a nuclear weapon was five to seven years.
Cheney also stated: “The Iraqi regime has been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents.” The reality was, of course, that no such weapons were ever found.
But maybe we are wrong. Perhaps Cheney knew something we didn’t? Maybe he had some special info hidden in his clandestine bunker?
I say lets give Cheney a chance to once and for all clear the air. Lets have the ultimate political reality show: “Dick Cheney versus The Lie Detector.”
We simply strap Cheney to a lie detector and ask him questions. It could even be on Fox News and Sean Hannity could host it. It would a huge ratings bonanza.
Finally, we will know with certainity whether Cheney was lying about Saddam and 9/11 connections, the WMD and everything else he claimed when selling us a war that left thousands upon thousands of Americans and Iraqis dead. And the body count is sadly still growing by the day.
I’m sure Fox News would be up for it. The only question is will Cheney have the courage to do it. So, what do you say, Dick?