WBEZ | Paul Ryan http://www.wbez.org/tags/paul-ryan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Syrian Activist Feels Like US is Punishing Him for Surviving Terrorism http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-punishing-him-surviving-terrorism-113838 <p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/411944_10150892112515740_1097309100_o_0.jpg?itok=0twoJ8hP" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Mohamad Al Bardan, right, at a vigil for Syrian refugees at Faneuil Hall in Boston. (Courtesy of Mohamad Al Bardan)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p dir="ltr">Boston-based Syrian activist Mohamad Al Bardan could easily tell his own story as a kind of &ldquo;profile in courage.&rdquo; It would be about a young student protester who saw his peers gunned down, but didn&rsquo;t stop demonstrating.</p></div><p dir="ltr">He could describe how, even after he left the country and got a masters degree and a high-level tech job in the US, he kept pushing for human rights in Syria and for the fair treatment of Syrian refugees across the world.</p><p dir="ltr">But the way 28-year-old Bardan tells it, his story isn&rsquo;t so simple. There are parts of it he still struggles with: When you live and watch others die, or when you leave while your friends stay, a bit of &ldquo;survivor&#39;s guilt&rdquo; is inevitable.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6La-K9ydOBA?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">And he&rsquo;ll tell you courage is relative. Yes, he did attend demonstrations as Bashar al-Assad&rsquo;s crackdown began in 2011, but once he saw police open fire on a protest, he made sure not to stand in the front row the next time. Twice, he drove to protests but couldn&rsquo;t get out his car. He remembers shaking from fear. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can say that you are brave enough, like you don&rsquo;t care about losing your life at certain times but that&rsquo;s not the truth when it comes to reality,&quot; Bardan &nbsp;says. &quot;Everyone wants to stay alive. I remember there was a huge amount of fear.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">He may have gone through a lot, but Bardan seems himself as lucky. He was accepted to Northeastern University for grad school and left Syria just as the government started&nbsp;cracking down on demonstrations, but before the civil war began in earnest and ISIS became the brutal force it is today. He often wonders what would have happened had he stayed.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Maybe I was one of the refugees here and there, or maybe I was one of the victims. I feel like I&rsquo;m privileged,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m lucky enough to be here. I got my visa before things had started.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/among-lucky-few-syrian-family-rebuilds-americas-heartland-113439" target="_blank"><strong>RELATED: Among the lucky few: Syrian family rebuilds in &#39;America&#39;s Heartland&#39;</strong></a></p><div>For the past 4.5 years, he has been an activist in the Boston area, working with the Syrian Nonviolence Movement and other groups, first on campus at Northeastern and then throughout the city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the wake of the Paris attacks, he has been disappointed in what he sees as the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/northwest-indiana%E2%80%99s-syrian-refugee-resettlement-program-limbo-113837" target="_blank">reactionary response from some US politicians</a>, including Massachusetts&nbsp;Gov. Charlie Baker, who said he <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/after-paris-attacks-mounting-us-opposition-resettling-syrian-migrants-113829" target="_blank">opposes letting Syrian refugees into the state.</a></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Politicians shouldn&rsquo;t be reactionaries. What happened in Paris is a sad, heartbreaking event. But fighting terrorism is totally a different thing. It should be systematic, not reactionary,&rdquo; he explains.</p><div><div data-entity-id="85668" data-entity-title="Harvard SafeMode Event" data-entity-type="node"><aside data-tracking-code="harvard-safemode-event-"><div>He understands security concerns and&nbsp;supports more security background checks, but sees the debate on whether to accept refugees as &ldquo;un-American.&rdquo;</div></aside></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a one-dimensional problem. For sure, our duty here is to protect this country, to protect the national security of it, and it is the first priority for all of us. But at the same time, we have other responsibilities, we can&rsquo;t turn our backs to the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. ...&nbsp;I totally understand all the concerns, but as a Syrian, I want to tell people, we are humans at the end, and we need to feel that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_435813818376.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 361px; width: 540px;" title="In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015 file photo, a Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father's arms while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)" /></p><p dir="ltr">His parents and siblings are still in Syria, and he fears that after the attacks in Paris, they won&rsquo;t be able to get visas to visit him.&nbsp;It may be too risky for him to go back home. So he doesn&rsquo;t know when he will see his family again.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are the ones who suffered from what happened during the last 4.5 years. My parents just suffered from losing many beloved ones around the country, and we are seeing that we are being punished one more time right now.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">He hopes that the pain the Paris attacks caused will, in the long term, lead to a deeper level of empathy and understanding.</p><div><em>A forum on the Syrian refugee crisis with PRI&#39;s The World host Marco Werman at the Harvard Kennedy School on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.&nbsp;</em><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/935389593206588/" target="_blank">RSVP ON FACEBOOK</a></em></div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-politicians-want-punish-him-surviving-terrorism-and" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></div><p dir="ltr">&quot;Turning our backs on refugees is not the right reaction to the Paris attack. We need to open our hearts for them and feel that they have the same pain.&quot;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-18/syrian-activist-feels-us-punishing-him-surviving-terrorism-113838 It's official, Paul Ryan is elected House Speaker http://www.wbez.org/news/its-official-paul-ryan-elected-house-speaker-113549 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/paul-ryan-gettyimages-494816054-2cd425f60914d1c56200ecc475f08abe71e9b757-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452850020" previewtitle="Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., greets fellow members on the floor of the House chamber."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., greets fellow members on the floor of the House chamber." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/29/paul-ryan-gettyimages-494816054-2cd425f60914d1c56200ecc475f08abe71e9b757-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., greets fellow members on the floor of the House chamber. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was easily elected to serve as the 54th House speaker Thursday, ending a tumultuous few weeks for the Republican House majority as it scrambled to find a replacement for outgoing Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.</p></div></div></div><p>Ryan, a former Republican vice presidential nominee, got 236 votes &mdash; well above the 218 threshold to become speaker. After the vote, Ryan thanked Boehner for his service and said his election to the top spot in the House is about &quot;wiping the slate clean.&quot; For more in-depth coverage, head on over to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/29/452688786/wisconsin-republican-paul-ryan-elected-house-speaker">It&#39;s All Politics</a>.</p><p>Here&#39;s Ryan&#39;s first&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan/status/659743402490257408">tweet</a>&nbsp;after being elected to serve as House speaker.</p><div id="res452850674"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Let&#39;s do this. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SpeakerRyan?src=hash">#SpeakerRyan</a> <a href="https://t.co/DRFtRFnpt0">pic.twitter.com/DRFtRFnpt0</a></p>&mdash; Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) <a href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan/status/659743402490257408">October 29, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></div><div>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/29/452849492/its-official-paul-ryan-is-elected-house-speaker?ft=nprml&amp;f=452849492" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></div></p> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 11:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/its-official-paul-ryan-elected-house-speaker-113549 Gay rights groups bristle at being excluded from immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/durbin_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some Illinois gay rights advocates say they feel betrayed by their Democratic allies because same-sex couples aren&rsquo;t legally recognized in an immigration overhaul bill that&rsquo;s headed to the floor of the U.S. Senate next month.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/immigration/amendments/Leahy/Leahy7-%28MDM13374%29.pdf" target="_blank">provision</a> to recognize so-called bi-national same-sex couples was dropped from the bill at the last minute on Tuesday, just before it was approved, 13 to 5, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.</p><p>Some Senate Republicans had warned the amendment would sink the larger immigration bill. That apparently prompted some Democrats who traditionally back gay rights issues, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, to urge his colleagues to leave the language relating to gay couples out of the bill.</p><p>&quot;I believe in my heart of hearts that what you&#39;re doing is the right and just thing,&quot; Durbin said at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing. &quot;But I believe this is the wrong moment, that this is the wrong bill.&quot;</p><p>Recognition of a same-sex relationship in federal immigration law would mean that marriage or civil unions could be grounds to grant legal status to an immigrant spouse, or to prevent their deportation. Federal law currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, although the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the issue.</p><p>Its exclusion from the Senate bill, after months of lobbying lawmakers, prompted a backlash from Illinois gay rights advocates.</p><p>&ldquo;My initial reaction is anger. Anger that, again, we get scapegoated,&rdquo; said Julio Rodriguez, chair of the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not only a tragedy, but I think it&rsquo;s a sad statement on the part of our allies, and the relationships that I think we believed that we had,&rdquo; Rodriguez said.</p><p>Despite the setback, activists will continue to lobby lawmakers to include recognition for gay couples in a later amendment to the bill in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state&rsquo;s largest gay rights advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the right bill and this is the right time,&rdquo; Cherkasov said Wednesday. &ldquo;You know, this is a comprehensive immigration reform. This could be the only chance we have in a decade, if not in a generation, to fix all the problems of our broken immigration system.&rdquo;</p><p>The pressure from gay rights groups puts Illinois&rsquo; two senators in a difficult political position. Durbin is a liberal Democrat who has traditionally enjoyed support from the gay rights community, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recently bucked his own party to announce his support for same-sex marriage.</p><p>But Durbin didn&rsquo;t immediately respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s interview request Wednesday. And Kirk&rsquo;s office declined to comment on whether he supports recognition of same-sex couples, saying that he&rsquo;s still reviewing the bill.</p><p>The news comes as a blow to the estimated 267,000 gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, according to one <a href="http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/us-lgbt-immigrants-mar-2013/" target="_blank">recent study</a>.</p><p>The lack of legal recognition puts that group in limbo, said Phillip Knoll, a 31-year-old Chicagoan who has been dating his boyfriend, who came to the United States from Singapore on a student visa, for the last five years. The legal uncertainty makes it hard to plan for their future together, Knoll said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s weird to have to consider whether or not you&rsquo;re able to make the sort of decision that&rsquo;s really personal, and that something political has to happen first,&rdquo; Knoll said. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s an odd way to think of yourself.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Knoll said he and his partner remain optimistic that they&rsquo;ll stay together geographically. But down the road, Knoll said his boyfriend&rsquo;s immigration status could affect their decision to marry &ndash; or even to leave the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;And it would feel like getting pushed out, right?&rdquo; Knoll said.&rdquo; I think it would feel like we were not welcome in the country [where] I was born, and in a country that he&rsquo;s been welcome as a student. Why can&rsquo;t he stay and contribute?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 Gay rights groups: Don’t leave us out of immigration bills http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-don%E2%80%99t-leave-us-out-immigration-bills-106813 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Gay Immigration_130424_abk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some gay rights groups in Illinois are now applying their own political pressure in the fight to overhaul the nation&rsquo;s immigration system, as they worry a final deal could leave same-sex couples in the lurch.</p><p dir="ltr">The political difficulty of recognizing same-sex couples in U.S. immigration law was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786">on display Monday</a>, when U.S. Reps. Luis Gutierrez, a liberal Chicago Democrat, and Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and former GOP vice presidential nominee, made stops in Chicago to plug their ideas for an immigration overhaul in the House.</p><p dir="ltr">Bipartisanship and compromise were the buzzwords of the day, until someone in the audience at a downtown luncheon asked whether Gutierrez thought the immigration changes would recognize same-sex relationships.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And I will fight for it, but I do not believe it will be in a bill,&rdquo; Gutierrez said, adding that he supported the idea, but was concerned about its ability to gain support in Congress.</p><p dir="ltr">After a long pause, Ryan, who opposes same-sex marriage, chimed in.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So I&rsquo;m gonna stick with just the immigration stuff here,&rdquo; he said, giving a nervous laugh.</p><p dir="ltr">The exchange illustrates the political challenge of including so-called bi-national same-sex couples in an immigration overhaul, particularly in the GOP-led House of Representatives, where cobbling together bipartisan support for an immigration bill is already a tall order, even without tossing in the hot-button issue of gay rights.</p><p dir="ltr">But some activists in Chicago say recognition for same-sex couples must be included. They were surprised that Gutierrez seemed to declare the idea dead on arrival, even before a House bill has been introduced.</p><p dir="ltr">Recognition in U.S. immigration law would mean a same-sex relationship could be grounds to grant legal status to a foreign spouse, or to prevent their deportation. It could also help gay foreign couples who are working in the U.S. on visas.</p><p dir="ltr">Those laws currently apply only to heterosexual couples because federal law defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, though the U.S. Supreme Court is now reviewing the issue.</p><p dir="ltr">That provision could have a big impact on the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender immigrants who are now in the U.S. illegally &ndash; about 267,000 people, according to an <a href="http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/us-lgbt-immigrants-mar-2013/">estimate</a> from the Williams Institute, a think tank that researches LGBT legal issues.</p><p dir="ltr">Gutierrez&rsquo;s political calculus doesn&rsquo;t sit well Julio Rodriguez. He chairs the LGBTQ Immigration Rights Coalition of Chicago, which advocates for gay rights in immigration law.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t pick and choose when you wanna be our allies,&rdquo; Rodriguez said, adding that full recognition for same-sex couples is the right thing to do, regardless of political difficulties.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We helped elect many of those folks who are sitting in Congress that are our allies,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve provided financial resources, we&rsquo;ve provided people on the ground, and we expect a return on that investment.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Recognition for same-sex couples is not included in the sweeping immigration overhaul bill introduced in the Democrat-controlled Senate last week, though gay rights activists say they&rsquo;re lobbying Illinois&rsquo; Senators to have it included via a later amendment.</p><p dir="ltr">But Gutierrez&rsquo;s suggestion that it may not be included in a House version came as news to some of his allies in Chicago&rsquo;s gay rights community.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That is very surprising to me,&rdquo; said Jane Merrill, with the Center on Halsted, an LGBTQ community center on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. &ldquo;Though the bi-national same-sex couple provision was on in there, there was a lot of positive feeling that it would be.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Passing immigration reform and recognizing same-sex couples in immigration law shouldn&#39;t be mutually exclusive, Merrill said.</p><p dir="ltr">But Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois, suggested his group&rsquo;s lobbying efforts will remain focused on the Senate for the time being.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We realize just how hard a lot of our issues [will] be to make it through both chambers before we make it to the president&rsquo;s desk,&rdquo; Hannig said. &ldquo;I guess for lack of a better term, we&rsquo;re definitely keeping it real.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gutierrez, for his part, said in an interview with WBEZ on Tuesday he wants to include same-sex couples in an immigration overhaul. He pointed to his longtime support of gay rights, though in the past, he&rsquo;s gone <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/immigration-bill-leaves-same-sex-families-out">back</a>&nbsp;on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/immigration/guti%C3%A3%C2%A9rrez-sees-immigrants-gays-uniting">forth</a>&nbsp;on how hard to push for them when it comes to his trademark issue of immigration reform.</p><p dir="ltr">Now, as one of the key Democrats working to navigate a massive immigration overhaul through the GOP-led House, Guiterrez said he&rsquo;s simply being realistic when he tells his allies in the gay rights movement that the votes aren&rsquo;t there.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t pander,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t raise false expectations. That&rsquo;s not what I expect from a friend and an ally.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Gutierrez said he hopes to introduce the House immigration overhaul bill he&rsquo;s drafting with Rep. Ryan in a few weeks. But the whole question could be moot by the end of June, when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the federal definition of marriage.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Alex Keefe is a political reporter for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 10:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-don%E2%80%99t-leave-us-out-immigration-bills-106813 Gutierrez, Ryan push immigration overhaul in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ryan gutierrez WBEZ Alex Keefe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Midwestern political odd couple teamed up in Chicago Monday to build momentum for an immigration overhaul in Congress, even as some lawmakers have urged a slowdown following last week&rsquo;s bombings at the Boston Marathon.</p><p>United States Reps. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, and Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said they hope to usher an immigration reform bill through the GOP-led House by the end of the summer.</p><p>A sweeping immigration bill that would provide a path to legalization for millions of illegal immigrants was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. Gutierrez said he and Ryan are in the process of drafting a House bill.</p><p>&ldquo;[N]ow it is time, at the end of the day, after they sweat and they toil, that they can receive the same satisfaction of being a citizen,&rdquo; Gutierrez said.</p><p>Ryan, meanwhile, stressed that changing the &ldquo;broken&rdquo; immigration system goes along with quintessentially Republican ideals. He pointed to his own family&rsquo;s immigration from Ireland during the Great Famine.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no other economic system &ndash; no other immigration system &ndash; that has done more to lift people out of poverty than the American free enterprise system and the American immigration system that we have here,&rdquo; Ryan said.</p><p>The congressmen offered few specifics about the contours of a House immigration bill, but they did highlight several possible components.</p><p>The measure would include an electronic verification system that would allow employers to check the immigration status of would-be workers, Gutierrez said. He also stressed that U.S. officials should crack down on people who overstay their visas, and wants to implement a guest worker program that includes safeguards to protect immigrants against exploitation.</p><p>Ryan, for his part, stressed that an immigration overhaul would strengthen national security by beefing up the country&rsquo;s borders.</p><p>In the wake of the Boston bombings, allegedly perpetrated by two ethnic Chechen brothers who immigrated to the U.S. legally, some Republicans have raised concerns about moving forward with an immigration overhaul too quickly.</p><p>But Ryan said he&rsquo;s not concerned about fellow Republican withdrawing their support, and cautioned against making a &ldquo;knee-jerk assessment&rdquo; about how the Boston bombings might play on Capitol Hill.</p><p>&ldquo;We need a modern immigration that helps us not only protect our border, but protects national security in all of its aspects,&rdquo; Ryan said. &ldquo;So if anything, I would say this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws.&rdquo;</p><p>A bill in the U.S. Senate would provide a path toward legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, provided they pay a fines and back taxes. Those immigrants could be eligible for citizenship after 13 years. The bill would also provide billions of dollars to beef up border security, and would impose an electronic verification system for employers.</p><p>But some groups have taken issue with the Senate bill, saying it may not provide enough protections for some foreign workers. Others have complained it would abolish visas for immigrants from countries that are underrepresented in the U.S.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786 Biden wins (Yes, he did) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/biden-wins-yes-he-did-103099 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6395_BidenRyanDebates-scr.jpg" style="height: 260px; width: 620px; " title="Biden and Ryan were both effective in the VP debates" /></div><p>Vice president Joe Biden did what he had to do Thursday night: Energize the base.<br /><br />His job was just that narrow.<br /><br />And, frankly, Paul Ryan, his GOP opponent, also did what he had to do last night: Not screw up. Look grown up. Hold on.<br /><br />His job was equally laser focused.<br /><br />But in the end, I&rsquo;ll give the win to Biden for two reasons:<br /><br />1. He affected the people he needed to affect. He may not have edged Ryan by much in the insta-post-debate polls, but he moved Democrats out of a significant depression. That&rsquo;s no small thing considering the damage President Barack Obama brought on the ticket last week.<br /><br />2. Everyone in GOPlandia today is talking about Biden&rsquo;s teeth, rudeness, laugh, etc. In other words, no one&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;even on the red team &mdash; is pretending their man Ryan won on points. And no one is proposing Biden blew it on substance. They&rsquo;re saying their man held his own &mdash; which he did&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;and Biden laughed at him&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;which he most surely did.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 04:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/biden-wins-yes-he-did-103099 Biden's burden http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/bidens-burden-103070 <p><p>Vice president Joe Biden&rsquo;s job tonight is not, actually, to make mince meat out of GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Biden%20AP.jpg" style="float: right; height: 374px; width: 300px; " title="Contesting the veep sweepstakes: Joe Biden. (AP)" />Biden may do that, and it would sure be nice, but the goal tonight is actually different. As Nate Silver points out in his<em> </em><a href="http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/bidens-debate-mission-whip-up-democrats-to-blunt-romneys-gains/?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter"><em>Five Thirty Eight</em> blog</a>, what Biden must do is raise the temperature for Dems &mdash; cheerlead, if you will. Inspire, rally, get the blood going.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s not that the Democrats don&rsquo;t need to push back on a bunch of lies Mitt Romney threw out at the last debate. They do, because a heck of a lot of those stuck. And it&rsquo;s not like it wouldn&rsquo;t be great to show Ryan up as the <a href="http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/107242/how-paul-ryan-convinced-washington-his-genius#">intellectual poseur</a> that he is, because that would be icing.<br /><br />But the albatross hanging around Biden&rsquo;s neck is the top of his own ticket: President Barack Obama and his disastrous performance at last week&rsquo;s event.<br /><br />Since that dismal appearance, the polls have risen in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/debate-damage-romney-ties-or-leads-new-polls-102991">Romney&rsquo;s favor</a>, with Silver&rsquo;s own probability stats showing Obama down a full 18 percent. Silver&rsquo;s Electoral College forecast has Obama down more than 25 percent since Oct. 3, below 300 for the first time all year, and Romney up and within striking distance of the magical 270, also for the first time.<br /><br />I could, as so many of my Obama voting pals have done, argue that the race was always going to be tight, that all the debate did was level the Dem convention bounce, and that the president actually inched up in favorability after the debate. And that might all be true.<br /><br />But the damage Obama did &mdash; and which Biden can only hope to mend in part&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;is expressed in polls as an enthusiasm deficit, and in real life human beings as a terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach.<br /><br />What the polls really say post-debate is that Republicans got excited because Romney came through, while Democrats were angry and disappointed in Obama for not fighting back.<br /><br />That is what I&rsquo;m talking about: Obama had managed, pre-debate, to erase or push back on the disappointment many of us have felt during his first term, especially that nagging sense that he can&rsquo;t or won&rsquo;t fight when the going gets tough.<br /><br />Remember TARP? The debt ceiling crisis? The outlines of the Affordable Care Act (dragged out for such a long time that it lost its most progressive features)? How about the fact that Obama had to &ldquo;evolve&rdquo; to publicly support same sex marriage over a torturous three years in office? Or the total absence of leadership on the housing crisis? Immigration?<br /><br />It seems I spent last year writing about this pattern of Obama&rsquo;s to underperform, to be have to deal &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-08-01/obama-bends-again-89908">with the hand we were were dealt</a>,&quot; as David Axelrod famously said.<br /><br />The president always has a good excuse: Denver&rsquo;s altitude, protocol, somebody else&rsquo;s lack of leadership, and, the great and true bogeymen, racism and Republican obstructionism. Unfortunately, Obama&rsquo;s people have used those last two so often and so flippantly that they&rsquo;ve become tired and have lost much of their impact, no matter their truth.<br /><br />Joe Biden, bless him, can&rsquo;t and won&rsquo;t repair that tear. But he will do what the president seems incapable of doing: he will fight with his whole heart.<br /><br />And, maybe, just maybe, that will blur the disappointment for enough of those who were left slumped last week to get them up and out to campaign and, most crucially, to vote.</p></p> Thu, 11 Oct 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-10/bidens-burden-103070 With Latino voters, Ryan may hurt Romney more than he helps http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-08/latino-voters-ryan-may-hurt-romney-more-he-helps-101736 <p><p>If Latinos are the great swing voters of 2012, what does Mitt Romney&rsquo;s selection of Paul Ryan as the GOP&#39;s VP candidate mean? And where, if anywhere, will Ryan have an impact with Latinos?<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/paul%20ryan%202%20AP.jpg" style="height: 452px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (AP/file)" />Because he represents Wisconsin&rsquo;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin%27s_1st_congressional_district">1st Congressional</a> District, which is more than 90 percent white and only about 6 percent Hispanic, Rep. Ryan has not had a need to address issues with Latinos in mind, or with a message tailored in any special way for them.<br /><br />So what does Ryan think about the issues important to Latinos?<br /><br />According to a June 2012 <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/155327/hispanic-voters-put-issues-immigration.aspx">Gallup</a> poll, U.S. Hispanics are most concerned about (in this order) healthcare, unemployment, immigration, economic growth, the gap between the rich and the poor and the deficit.<br /><br />Beck Research did a study at about the same time that echoed roughly the same sentiments with <a href="http://www.dailypolitical.com/politics/education-more-important-than-immigration-for-hispanics.htm">one crucial exception</a>: Education.<br /><br />But according to DailyPolitical.com, &ldquo;When the choice was given of focusing just on improving the economy versus making education better to help the economy, 53% of the Hispanic voters thought that improving education across the board in the country is crucial in helping to improve the economy. Just 44% of those surveyed believe that improving the economy should be the biggest priority of all.&quot;<br /><br />Where is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/paul-ryan-on-education-policy-vouchers-for-profit-colleges-local-control/2012/08/11/4eb74a7c-e3b2-11e1-98e7-89d659f9c106_blog.html?hpid=z3">Ryan on education</a>?<br /><br />* He voted for No Child Left Behind, the Bush program that created super federal oversight over states and school districts. (His <a href="http://paulryan.house.gov/issues/issue/?IssueID=9972">own website</a>, however, says this: &ldquo;Stagnant student achievement levels and exploding deficits have demonstrated that massive amounts of federal funding and top-down interventions are not the way to provide America&rsquo;s students with a high-quality education.&rdquo; So he&rsquo;s both for and against a strong federal role in education.)<br /><br />* He supports vouchers to allow students to go to private schools and for profit colleges (he also voted against a Department of Education measure that would stop for profit colleges from promoting misleading information about themselves).<br /><br />* He voted against the specific section of the stimulus that designated money to avoid teacher lay-offs and provide funds for Head Start.<br /><br />A prominent part of Romney&rsquo;s platform, with which Ryan agrees, is the elimination of Obamacare (a carbon copy of Romney&rsquo;s healthcare initiative as governor in Massachusetts). Ryan&rsquo;s own proposed economic plan calls for deep cuts to Medicare.<br /><br />But according to polls conducted by Latino Decisions/Univisión News, U.S. Hispanics are overwhelmingly <a href="http://www.latinodecisions.com/blog/2012/06/29/latino-voter-opinions-on-health-care/">in favor of a federal healthcare program</a> and against cuts in Medicare.<br /><br />* 57 percent of Latinos want Obamacare to stand as is.<br /><br />* 73 percent <a href="http://www.latinodecisions.com/blog/2012/08/11/paul-ryan-the-national-debt-and-the-latino-vote/">oppose cuts to Medicare</a>, and that includes 70 percent of Latino Republicans and 73 percent of Latinos in Florida. Sixty percent &mdash; including 63 percent in Florida&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;believe the government should provide health insurance.<br /><br />And on the economy?<br /><br />Only 31 percent of Latinos want tax cuts, and 55 percent want more government investment in public projects, including education and infrastructure.<br /><br />Ryan&#39;s no help with immigration issues either. He voted against the DREAM Act and his web page is an <a href="http://paulryan.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=200306">anti-immigrantion buff&#39;s dream</a>.<br /><br />In fact, Ryan has the potential to make even the GOP&rsquo;s most loyal Latinos nervous. (That would be Cuban-Americans in Florida; they constitute 72 percent of GOP voters in Miami-Dade County). Support for the economic embargo on Cuba &mdash; sacred to the dependable (though shrinking) older Cuban-American community&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;and strong (but toothless)&nbsp;anti-Castro rhetoric has always been a given for Republicans appealing to Cuban voters in Miami since John F. Kennedy screwed up the Bay of Pigs.<br /><br />But Ryan, representing an agriculture state eager to sell to Cuba, has <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/ryans-cuba-embargo-stance-examined-hs6g0ts-166068626.html">voted three times to end the embargo</a>. (I&rsquo;m with him on this one!)<br /><br />In a recent <em><a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/11/v-fullstory/2946098/how-paul-ryan-could-be-a-drag.html#storylink=cpy">Miami Herald</a></em> story, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart said, &ldquo;[Ryan] was a free-trader and we explained to him the human-rights and terrorist record of the Cuban dictatorship. His record ever since is one of a strong supporter for freedom in Cuba. He is a strong ally.&rdquo;<br /><br />Except I can&rsquo;t find that &ldquo;strong record&rdquo; anywhere. And as recently as 2009, Ryan publicly questioned the need for the embargo.<br /><br />At the end of the day, I can&rsquo;t find a single area in which Ryan helps Romney with Latinos, and in at least the crucial state of Florida, Ryan&rsquo;s negatives are strong enough to actually lose votes.<br /><br />Nice work, governor.</p></p> Wed, 15 Aug 2012 09:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-08/latino-voters-ryan-may-hurt-romney-more-he-helps-101736