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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WARNING: These Rap Lyrics Could Put You in Jail

07 March 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

March 7, 2014

“Anything you say can be used against you in the court of law.” These famous words are, of course, part of the Miranda warnings read by the police to suspects after being arrested.

But this warning apparently needs to be updated to advise people that not only will anything you say, but also any rap lyrics you write can be used against you, even if they were penned years before the crime at issue.

Those are the very facts of Vonte Skinner’s case currently pending on appeal before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Skinner was charged with the 2005 attempted murder of Lamont Peterson who had been shot several times at close range.

Earlier this week oral arguments were heard regarding whether Skinner’s rap lyrics were improperly admitted by the trial judge.  Here’s just a sample of 13 pages of Skinner’s lyrics read by the prosecution to the jury:

I love bringin’ heat and to beef melt ya’ Jeep. Two to your helmet and four slugs drillin’ your cheek to blow your face off and leave your brain caved in the street.

Yo, look in my eyes. You can see death comin’ quick. Look in my palms, you can see what I’m gunnin’ with. I play no games when it comes to this war shit. If death was a jacket, you would see how the floor fits.

You get the idea. Unsurprisingly, Skinner was convicted despite the weapon not being found and conflicting testimony identifying him as the shooter.

To continue reading please visit The Daily 

Arizona’s Pro-Discrimination Law Won’t Stop With Gays

24 February 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

February 24, 2014

If the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature has its way, gays could be thrown out of bars, restaurants, and hotels across the state.

Last week it passed a bill that would permit businesses to deny services to any person if doing so would substantially burden the business owners “exercise of religion.”  Why? Because the Bible condemns such homosexual unions. In essence, this measure would legally sanction discrimination against gay Americans by masquerading as a defense of religious freedom.

When I first read about this proposed law, my reaction was probably the same as many others: Are you f#@#ing kidding me?!  But they’re not. And even scarier is that Arizona isn’t the only state where Republicans are trying to to turn the Bible into the basis for American law. The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives passed a similar bill two weeks ago, while Idaho and Utah have considered similar measures. 

For a moment, imagine you’re part of a same-sex couple at a restaurant in Arizona after this law went into effect. The owner walks up to you, and in front of other customers, announces that you and your partner will not be served simply because you’re gay. I can’t even imagine the embarrassment and frustration that would cause.  And the worst part is the owner would be legally protected to do just that.

Let’s put side the legal challenges to this bill for a moment—and there will be many. I have some practical questions about exactly how this law would work. So, here are a few:

To continue reading please visit The Daily 

Coca-Cola Critics Have Never Heard of ‘E Pluribus Unum’

05 February 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

February 4, 2014

(The Daily Beast) At this point, we shouldn’t be shocked by the intolerance of some towards immigrants and other cultures.  But who could’ve predicted the outrage we saw over the Coca-Cola commercial that aired during last night’s Super Bowl?!

The commercial simply displayed the diversity of our great nation by showcasing people singing “America The Beautiful” in different languages—beginning in English and then Spanish before moving on to other languages. But it caused some to seriously freak out.

This tweet summed up the sentiments of many on the right: “Fuck that bullshit. This is America speak fucking English #ThanksObama#fuckcoke” Others labeled Coke as communists while others claimed that since a women in a hijab was featured in the commercial (who is actually a friend of mine), that Coke was supporting terrorism.

We even saw former Congressman Allen West—a Tea Party Darling—write: “This was a truly disturbing commercial for me.”

West explained that he knew he was supposed to accept the “politically correct” idea to “foster multiculturalism” but he wasn’t having any of it.  He then quoted approvingly a passage from Teddy Roosevelt who demanded that every immigrant “should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country” because “we have room for but one language here.”

And there was Todd Starnes—host of a Fox News radio show—who tweeted, “Coca Cola is the official soft drink of illegals crossing the border. #americaisbeautiful.”

I get why these people are mad. In essence, the Coke commercial was the Ghost of Christmas Future providing them a glimpse of an America that features even more people speaking languages other than English, practicing other faiths than their own and celebrating cultures they don’t understand. That scares the crap out of them.

To continue reading please visit The Daily 

Can the GOP Get Out of Its Own Way?

28 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 28, 2014

(The Daily Beast) Another day, another idiotic comment by a Republican—or at least that’s what it seems like. At this point I have to wonder if the advisors hired by the GOP actually hate the Republican Party.

Could it be that Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus accidentally hired Democratic consultants? Or perhaps certain Republicans have a fear of success, so they are subconsciously sabotaging their own party? Of course, there is the possibility that what many of us view as cringeworthy statements are actually the views held by most in the GOP.

Whatever the reason, the Republican Party in the last month alone has churned out more jaw dropping sound bytes than Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus combined. And that’s no easy feat.

At this point, being the RNC chair means always having to say you’re sorry. Or at least being called upon to contextualize and explain outlandish remarks made by some in the Republican Party.

And the biggest irony is that this is supposed to be the “new and improved” Republican Party thanks to the famed “Growth and Opportunity Project” released last year. This autopsy report was billed as the GOP’s treasure map to electoral gold with helpful hints for Republicans to improve their messaging so that they could attract more women, minorities, the young, etc. Clearly, some Republicans haven’t read the report—or perhaps some just don’t know how to read.

In any event, lets take a quick a look at the Republican gaffes that have occurred in the last month alone:

To continue reading please visit The Daily 

The Loud Truth About Abortion Protesters

23 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 22, 2014

(The Daily Beast) Be a man-stop your woman from killing your baby!”

“Mommy, don’t kill me!”

“You are going to be the father of a dead baby!”

These were just some of the comments being screamed Saturday by protesters standing outside an abortion clinic I visited.  These statements, and others like them, were being directed at women and their male companions as they approached the clinic— often by people holding signs that read, “Babies are murdered here” or “Danger! Baby killing zone.”

Was this clinic in Texas, Mississippi, or another Red State with a long history of opposing a women’s right to choose? Nope, it was in the blue state of New Jersey and in the very blue city of Englewood, a municipality that President Obama carried in 2012 with over 70 percent of the vote and where local Republicans didn’t even field a candidate to oppose the reelection of the Democratic mayor (PDF).

So why did I visit an abortion clinic for the first time in my life? Because I was confused as to what is the real face of the people gathered outside of abortion clinics.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told us that these people are not anti-abortion “protesters.”  Instead, he glowingly described them as, “counselors” who wanted “to comfort these [pregnant] women” by speaking to them, “quietly and in a friendly manner.”

Scalia offered these remarks during oral arguments in a case challenging the legality of a Massachusetts law that imposes a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics which anti-abortion protesters are prohibited from invading.  The Justice implied that a buffer zone was not needed because the people outside these clinics were not angry protesters, but rather a collection of kindly “sidewalk counselors.”

But something wasn’t adding up.  Katie Klabusich, who has volunteered for years escorting pregnant women into clinics, told me a far different story.  She spoke of numerous incidents where anti-abortion protesters would scream in the face of pregnant women in the hopes of shaming and bullying them to not enter the clinic.

To continue reading please visit The Daily

How to Be Loved Like Rush Limbaugh-9th Most Admired Person in the US

22 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 15, 2014

(The Daily Beast) Rush Limbaugh is the ninth most admired person in the United States! That is, at least according to a new poll released this week. But if you are like me, I’m sure you have the same question: Why isn’t Rush higher up on the list?

For example, the poll has the Dalai Lama coming in at number seven, two spots ahead of Rush. But, honestly, what has the Dalai Lama really accomplished? He just walks around in a robe and talks about peace. Rush, on the other hand, has 20 million listeners and is responsible for coming up with new content five days a week on his radio show.

With that aside, here’s the thing: You, too, can be just as admired as Rush. How you ask? Simple, just follow these easy life lessons that Rush has bestowed upon us over the years--they are a road map to admiration:

1. Call out fakers:  Rush isn’t the type to hold back when he sees a person faking it and neither should you.  For example, actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, appeared in campaign commercials for Democratic candidates who supported stem cell research. Many applauded Fox but Rush couldn’t sit idly by when he noticed Fox faking symptoms to get sympathy.  So, even though Rush isn’t a doctor, he wisely called out Fox for “exaggerating the effects of the disease” by his “moving all around and shaking, ” dubbing it "purely an act.” It’s courageous statements like these that will lead people to admire you.

2.  Women want honesty: Rush knows the number one thing women want is pure, unadulterated honesty. And that’s what he gives them. That’s why he told us that the women who oppose sexual harassment are “out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes.” You see, women are just waiting for men to sexually harass them, and deep down they know it. Rush has also shown us the importance of being honest when debating a woman about political issues. Don’t hold back, because that would be sexist. That’s why Rush called grad student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she testified before Congress in support of health insurance policies covering the cost of birth control.

To continue reading please visit The Daily

Seven Reasons Chris Christie Isn’t Toast

10 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 10, 2014

(The Daily Beast) The pundits are circling like vultures. You can’t turn on a cable news channel—except for Fox News, of course—without hearing an expert tell you how deadly Bridgegate is to Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions. Some have called for the governor to resign. Others say he’s “forever tarnished.”

But barring evidence that directly implicates Christie in the political-retaliation debacle, this scandal won’t hurt his higher aspirations in any significant way.  How can I say that? Well, I have seven reasons why:

1. We have the attention span of a house cat. We focus on an issue until another shiny object—or a piece of string—distracts us. Right now cable newsdom is all abuzz with Christie—but how long will that wall-to-wall coverage last? Until Miley Cyrus twerks again or Dennis Rodman visits another country in the Axis of Evil or Rick Flair gives another pep talk.

2. The other leading 2016 candidates have—or will have—scandals.Hillary Clinton has Benghazi, which the GOP will keep on life support for the next few years. Rand Paul plagiarized speeches. Ted Cruz was born in Canada. Marco Rubio has “Watergate”—his desperate need for water when giving important speeches, as well as a penchant for enhancing his bio to make himself look “more dramatic and victorious in the face of adversity.” And we still have another year or so until the presidential election cycle begins in earnest.

To continue reading please visit The Daily

‘SNL’ Gets What the Rest of TV Should: Racial Diversity Means Quality

07 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 7, 2014

(The Daily Beast) “Tragedy plus time equals comedy.” This famous quote that has been attributed to people from Woody Allen to Carol Burnett.

“More diversity equals better comedy.” This much less cited quote I think is even more relevant today. No need to Google who said this—I just did. (But I do expect it to become hugely famous-so save this article.)

On Monday, Saturday Night Live announced it had hired comedian and improv performer Sasheer Zamata to join its cast. The addition of SNL cast members usually gets a little press but this was not a typical addition. Zamata was added after a controversy erupted over the lack of black female cast members at SNL—the last being the amazingly talented Maya Rudolph who left in 2007.

Adding diversity to a comedy show—or to any show for that matter—simply to fill a quota would be wrong. But as a comedian and as someone who worked at SNLon the production staff from 1999-2007, I can tell you that greater diversity truly does equal better comedy.  Authentic voices representing different backgrounds only enhance the comedy stew. So instead of one-note comedy bits, we see nuanced ones that resonate as being truthful—which in turn is better comedy.

And I say this from first-hand experience. When I worked at SNL, I was the only person on the production staff of Arab heritage. Consequently, when writers were working on sketches that dealt with the Middle East—and believe me, there were a lot in the years after 9/11- they would often ask me questions.  Some were factual inquires. Others were: “Is this racist?”  If I sad “yes” they made sure to put it in the sketch. (Kidding!)

To continue reading please visit The Daily

6 Reasons This Could Be Obama’s Best Year as President

04 January 2014 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

January 3, 2014

(The Daily Beast) “Obama is done! He’s a lame duck. It’s over for the president.”

These are the type of the comments we saw in the media as 2013 came to a close. As some political pundits saw it, Obama can forget seeing any of his proposals enacted and should simply enjoy the perks of being president -like free cable and limo rides.

Could they be right? Sure, it’s possible. Obama’s approval ratings are near his lowest as president and his disapproval rating is at 54 percent, his worst ever.

With that said, 2014 could be a great year for the president—in fact, it could be his best ever. I know some of you are thinking: I must be crazy.  Well, a lot of people who have been called crazy later went on to be recognized as geniuses. Of course, some who were labeled as “crazy” actually turned out to have mental disorders.

In either event, here are the six reasons that 2014 could be Obama’s finest.

1. The US economy is improving: A good economy generally equals higher approval ratings for president and in turn more political capital for him to push for his proposals. Even President Clinton had an approval rating of 73% in themidst of his impeachment. Why? One big reason was the US economy was strong with unemployment at 4.5% and falling. Currently, the US economy appears poised for growth. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point during the Obama administration at 7%. This is in sharp contrast to the 10% unemployment rate we saw at one time in Obama’s first term. In addition, the stock market just had its best year since 1997, the GDP for the third quarter of 2013 grew at a surprisingly strong 3.6% annual rate and the IMF recently raised its 2014 growth projection for the US economy.

To continue reading please visit The Daily Beast

The Right’s ‘Duck Dynasty’ Hypocrisy

19 December 2013 Published in Blog

By Dean Obeidallah

December 19, 2013

(The Daily Beast) Attention conservatives: you have the right to hate any group you want. Blacks, gays, Muslims, Jews, other sects of Christians, whoever you like. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has noted numerous times that the First Amendment guarantees “freedom of thought” in addition to freedoms such as religion and expression. Consequently, you can think as many hateful thoughts as you choose.

But here’s the thing: if you voice those hateful views publicly, you will be held accountable. That’s called personal responsibility. You would think people on the right would be familiar with that concept since they idolize Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Look, you aren’t going to find a bigger defender of freedom of speech than myself.  I’m both a writer and standup comedian, so expression is my lifeblood. But the First Amendment does not provide you immunity. It simply means that the government can’t prevent you from expressing yourself. But once you say something, you will be called to answer for it.

To continue reading please visit The Daily Beast

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