The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the GOP/Tea Party. We support President Obama and the Democratic agenda and seek to preserve the Senate majority while taking back the House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mitt Romney: The GOP's Great White Hope




Bring up the subject of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and the conventional wisdom has either New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or political scion and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as the likely nominees. Oh sure, there's a few people who, with a straight face, believe Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are viable candidates, but they have as much of a chance of being nominated as I do. Which is why my money's on Mitt Romney 3.0.

A New Hampshire Granite Poll released last week showed Romney with an astonishing 39% lead over all other hopefuls including Christie, Bush, Paul, Rubio, Rob Portman and Ted Cruz, none of whom broke single digits. That's a pretty startling statistic. And one Romney is no doubt seriously mulling. When New Hampshire beckons, you listen.

Consider Romney the New Nixon. The dull, awkward loser who, despite all the odds, makes a stunning comeback, aided in part by timing and circumstance. Like Nixon, Romney likely won't stop running until he wins, regardless of his halfhearted statements to the contrary. Running for the most powerful and complicated job in the world requires a massive ego. Something Romney has in abundance. But he also has deep pockets and prominent pals with even deeper pockets. Lastly, he's an oasis of mainstream sanity in a sea of radical Tea Party lunacy. He's truly the GOP's Great White Hope.

There's a reason Romney's polled 31 points higher in New Hampshire than other GOP hopefuls. It's a pretty sorry pack. Christie, the former Hope, is damaged goods. He's a belligerent, bullying, scandal-plagued New Jersey back-room brawler. And he's obese. Seriously, people, let's move on. It ain't happening. Bush? He stands the best chance despite his potential deal-killing last name, family troubles, and unpopular views on taxes and immigration....but only if Romney's not in the race.

Let's face it: Romney looks pretty damn good in a suit. And he's quite accomplished politically and in business, is squeaky-clean, and heads a quintessential all-American white-bread family. And once you peel away his fringe-pandering "severely conservative" layers, he's an unapologetic moderate at heart. Would that play well with independents and conservative Democrats this time around?

If Romney wants to win he must address four critical areas: first, he must shed the flip-flopper costume and demonstrate integrity and conviction in his positions. In short, he's got to grow some mainstream balls, embrace his record (including and especially RomneyCare) and stop pandering to the party's lunatics. Trying to out-crazy Rick Perry is not a winning strategy.

Next, he needs to show voters passion and personality, two critical traits that were painfully absent in the 2012 election. He must stop appearing robotic and out of touch. He needs to be the charming, compassionate Romney that his pals supposedly know, not the stiff, tone-deaf automaton who ran against Obama.

He also needs to acknowledge his wealth and put a productive spin on it: "Hey, I'm rich, ok? But guess what...so is every other presidential candidate! My wealth, which I amassed on my own as a businessman, is precisely what affords me the time and ability to commit myself to public service. To be able to help those less fortunate."

Lastly, he needs to clean house. Assemble a whole new team and, more important, a whole new campaign strategy. Together with his advisers, he must figure out a way to bring normal Republican voters to the primaries. The campaign can't be the exclusive playground of the nutballs. He's got a huge opportunity to appeal to all those moderates who lament that "there just doesn't seem to be any place in the party for folks like me anymore." If the man who's put the "aw" in awkward  can enjoin them into the campaign early, and simultaneously come across as a real human being, 3.0 might just be his time in the sun.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin



Dear Ms. Palin:

I feel sorry for you. I truly do. It must be terribly frustrating to be so irrelevant. To have your rabble-rousing, race-baiting drivel limited to Fox's Sean Hannity Show in your desperate, pathetic, never-ending quest for attention. You are, put simply, one of the most ignorant, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-filled racists to ever hit the national political stage (thank you John McCain).

Your new video, in which you call for President Obama's impeachment because of his "lawlessness," is an unconscionable, unpatriotic piece of garbage. The level of disrespect, condescension, sarcasm and reality-butchering is astounding. To say that your fake-cutesy, sing-songy, snarky delivery is vomitous would be a colossal understatement. You're also quite tone-deaf, comparing your suffering over his presidency to that of a "battered wife." There really are no groups you won't offend, are there?  

Impeach Obama? For what, doing his job amid relentless Republican obstructionism and intransigence? For trying to keep government operating efficiently? For growing the economy? For creating millions of new jobs? For caring about 8-year-olds crossing the Mexican border alone? For wanting to find a practical, compassion solution to the immigration issue? For providing everyone health care? For trying to narrow the income inequality gap? For protecting women's rights?  For allowing people who love each other to marry?

That you, like that other heartless conservative Dick Cheney, even have a perch from which to still spew your venomous hate-speak, is unfortunate. No one, not even the Fox faithful, should be subjected to your incendiary bile. You're a failed, disgraced politician who, despite becoming a humiliating punchline following the 2008 election, refuses to crawl back under your rock. Trust me: no one except Hannity, a few horny white Republican dudes and a smattering of their intellectually bankrupt women are interested in what you have to say.

Ssshhhh....hear that sound? It's the rock beckoning.... 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What Religion is My Company?



I own a marketing company. I'm Jewish. My partner is Italian and Christian. Of our almost fifty employees, our cultural and religious make-up is quite diverse. We are a company of people. The company itself is not a person. So what's our religion? Whose religious beliefs should trump those of all others? Mine? My partner's?

The United States Supreme Court issued a highly controversial decision this week involving Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, and Conestoga, a cabinet making company, ruling that "closely held" companies can, based on the strong religious beliefs of their owners, refuse to provide certain contraceptives at no cost to their employees. In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote: "Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga ... protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies." The court essentially gave legal precedent to Mitt Romney's preposterous 2011 assertion that companies are people too, and therefore have the same rights as individuals.

"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion of the 5-4 decision. "Can an employer in business for profit opt out of coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations, antidepressants, or medications derived from pigs, based on the employer's sincerely held religious beliefs opposing those medical practices?" she added.

Exactly. Just where is the new line drawn? How far can business owners twist this ruling to deny their employees health care? Can Christian Scientists refuse some basic medical coverage altogether? Can Jews refuse to cover medical procedures that occur on the Sabbath? What about those business owners whose personal religious beliefs are based on strict interpretation of the Bible? Can they therefore deny coverage to homosexuals? Adulterers? Atheists? (all of whom, by the way, should be killed according to various passages in the Bible).

So what is my company's religion? My company doesn't have one. My right, on any conceivable level, to force my personal religious beliefs on my employees disappeared the nanosecond I signed our Limited Liability Company (LLC) documents that would serve to insulate me as an individual from legal and financial claims against the company. Signing those documents created a distinct, legal firewall between my company and me personally, my religious beliefs and, more importantly, my ability to impose them on my staff. I gave up that "right" (assuming I ever had it, which is debatable), as soon as I sought the government's and the court's protection as an individual. I can't have it both ways. Nor can Hobby Lobby, Conestoga or any other "closely held" for-profit company. The Supreme Court's ruling is misguided and convoluted.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dick Cheney's Big Neo-Con Con



Former VP Dick Cheney wrote the following in his Wall Street Journal op-ed this week:

"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

And if you were to guess that he was referring to his former boss, George W. Bush, you'd be wrong.

The man with whom Bush committed the worst military debacle in U.S. history and, as many believe, with whom he's guilty of war crimes, was actually talking about President Barack Obama.

In in the wake of escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, neo-cons like Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer and others have crawled out from under their war-mongering rocks in a pathetic attempt to vindicate themselves while dumping the blame for this disastrous mess on Obama.

The level of audacity, duplicity, shamelessness and megalomania with Cheney in particular is astounding. The war began unjustly, was misguided and mismanaged, and soon proved Cheney 100% dead-wrong on everything he pitched to Americans. Let's revisit for a moment his greatest hits:

-Insisted Iraq had WMD
-Predicted the invasion/war would "last weeks, not months"
-Claimed we'd be "greeted as liberators"
-Bragged that extremists would have to "rethink their strategy of Jihad"
-Boasted that the insurgency "was in its last throes" back in 2005

In fact, the war lasted eight years, cost $1-trillion and 4500 U.S. soldiers' lives. It was a blood-thirsty conflation of Saddam Hussein with 9/11. It was battered with threats of "mushroom clouds" and domestic terrorism. It remains a vile twisting of reality, and an unconscionable exploitation of the nation's collective emotion and fear following the horrific New York City and DC attacks. And it was all perpetrated by Bush/Cheney & Co., not Obama, who merely inherited this mess.

To say that Cheney's op-ed piece is revisionist history would be a gross understatement. Rather, it's the most mind-numbing case of delusion in political history.

Like Vietnam, Iraq is falling following U.S. withdrawal...spiraling into bloody civil war because it lacks a strong enough democratic government and military to sustain itself without American help. And it's been racked by centuries of violent sectarian conflict. It's no surprise that the country now finds itself on the eve of destruction just three years after Obama brought home the troops.

To be sure, Dick Cheney is a very lucky man. That he's not spending his last days rotting in prison for the death and destruction he's caused is quite fortunate for him, as is his ability to continue spewing his unpatriotic, self-serving bile in the neo-con-friendly Wall Street Journal.

But if the unforgiving drubbing that Fox News' Megan Kelly gave Cheney on her program Wednesday night is any indication, history, even among Republicans and conservatives, is judging him quite justly.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Forget Christie: Why Jeb Bush Will Be the 2016 GOP Nominee


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Chris Christie will not be president. Nor will he win the Republican nomination. In fact, it's likely the BridgeGate and SandyGate scandals will derail his decision to even run.

Despite bragging of his vindication in the incomplete report released last week by his hand-picked 'independent investigator,' Randy Mastro, the New Jersey governor's hole just keeps getting bigger and deeper. You know you're in trouble when the surrogate you send out to do your biased bidding on the Sunday morning talk shows, Rudy Giuliani, calls the report "inconclusive" on NBC's Meet the Press.

So as Christie was jetting out to Vegas to kiss billionaire kingmaker-wannabe Sheldon Adelson's ass, thumbing his nose at the allegations against him and pretending everything's back to normal, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll was released showing his popularity's dropped to an embarrassingly low 17%. And at his press conference last week, he traded in his new softer, gentler, contrite self for the original brash, belittling, confrontational model....excoriating reporters simply for doing their jobs. Yes, Christie's back and he's pissed!

Someone needs to remind The Big Man that Americans don't elect angry, arrogant bullies as president, especially those from New Jersey who are embroiled in revenge scandals. As the polls indicate, voters aren't buying his "I didn't know anything" routine. They're instead concluding that he's either lying through his teeth or is utterly incompetent. Nobody wants a president who can't control his staff, or who might call Russian president Vladimir Putin "stupid" or an "idiot." To be sure, Christie's damaged goods, and the goods weren't that hot to begin with.

Which is why former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will most likely toss his hat into the ring and eventually become the GOP's nominee. He's got class, pedigree, political juice and a Mexican-born wife...assets the Republican Party desperately needs. He's an oasis of respectability and sanity in a sea of fringe madness. He's appealingly establishment and old-school against a backdrop of Tea Party Turks run amok. He's Steady-Eddie. Conservative enough to appeal to the masses, but not too conservative to attract independents.

Forget Christie. And forget Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Paul Ryan. They have as much chance of becoming president as I do. Bush is the only electable one in this bunch. And the only one who makes Democrats very, very nervous. Those Bush's...they have this habit of winning...

Bush v. Clinton 2.0. Get ready...

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Is Woody Allen Guilty or Innocent of Child Sexual Abuse?


Woody Allen is guilty. Woody Allen is innocent. Actually, I have no idea what Woody Allen is, nor does anyone else except Dylan Farrow and Allen himself, although that hasn't stopped anyone, especially in the 24/7, free-wheelin', open-mike social-media playground, from pontificating as if they do.

To many in the court of public opinion, Woody Allen is as guilty as sin. Why?  Well, because it looks that way.  And because Dylan, his adopted daughter with ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow, published a shocking letter earlier this month recounting the sexual abuse she claims to have endured over twenty years ago when she was seven.

Perhaps like so many explosive allegations such as these, the truth will never be known. But that hasn't stopped people from making unequivocal judgments against Allen as if they were eyewitnesses to the alleged crime. The intoxicating allure of social media has given every Tom, Dick and Jane the forum to serve as judge and jury, absent the evidence to render such devastating judgements. Opinion has become the new fact. 

Let me state for the record, again, that I have absolutely no idea whether Allen is guilty or innocent. But I do believe in America's system of due process, and the state of being innocent until proven guilty. The allegations against Allen are not new, nor are the conclusions drawn by Connecticut police, the state attorney and child-abuse experts they hired in 1993 to investigate; experts who had concluded that there was insufficient evidence that Dylan had been molested by Allen, and that it appeared she'd been coached.

Let's be clear, the allegations made by Dylan and outlined in her open-letter are horrifying.  As the father of three daughters I cannot comprehend such abuse. It sickens me to even think about it. I accept that she believes every single word of what she's saying, and that these ghastly experiences comprise her absolute truth. Whether they are real memories based on actual experiences, or are the nightmarish images cruelly planted by her mother when she was seven, will never be known for sure unless Allen one day confesses or Dylan experiences an epiphany.

But there's one indisputable fact here. Dylan Farrow was indeed abused by someone: either a sick, twisted, evil man with whom her mother was involved for many years, or by an even more deranged mother who, out of her own angry, vindictive and unconscionably self-serving state, sentenced her child to a life in an emotional prison and destroyed her relationships with her father and sister. She is a victim of unthinkable, heinous abuse either way. And for that we should feel nothing but compassion and rage. 

But for many it hasn't stopped there. This emotional outrage is the basis for Allen's conviction in the court of social media. The "experts" on Twitter and Facebook use as "proof" myriad situations--misguided conflations-- that should have nothing to do with this case but have served to complicate it even further: the horrible abuse of children that occurs every day all over the world; how women are abused and mistreated by more powerful men; and by what many believe is Allen's "creepy" behavior with the then 19-year-old adopted daughter of Farrow, Soon-Yi Previn, with whom he's been married since 1997. None of which can or should be used to draw any conclusions about Allen's guilt. But is has.

Which is why it's time for people on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere to stop drawing broad, unfounded, incriminating and terribly unfair conclusions of guilt, or unequivocal statements of innocence, about a very complicated 21-year-old case with which they personally know absolutely nothing about.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Christie's Bully Pulpit and the "Lady Mayor"





One thing's certain in the latest allegation against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: either Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is blatantly lying through her partisan teeth or The Sopranos are alive and well in Trenton.

According to Zimmer, and coming on the heels of the BridgeGate access-lane revenge-closings scandal, she was strong-armed and threatened by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno last year in a shakedown attempt for support of a real estate development deal that was a pet project of Christie's and the Rockefeller Group, a company with whom he has close ties.

Zimmer said the two met in a Hoboken parking lot in May, where the conversation went a little something like this:

Guadagno: Ayyyyyy.....you wanna get some of that cool fed cash for your poor little Hurricane Sandy victims, do ya? Whattya gonna do for us?

Zimmer: What do you mean?

Guadagno:  We got a project ova here...a very important deal....means a lot to the Big Guy. Ya know what I mean?

Zimmer: No, I really don't.

Guadagno: Ok, lemme make it simple for ya, Cheech. You getchya money when you support the deal. Ya don't get shit if you make the Boss angry, kapish? And by the way, this conversation never happened.

Speaking at an event in Union Beach Monday where she addressed reporters but refused to take questions, a stoic, seemingly lawyered-up Guadagno unequivocally denied Zimmer's charges:

"Mayor Zimmer's version of our conversation in may of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. Any suggestion, any suggestion, that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false."


Citing the devastation caused by the storm and saying she was a Sandy victim herself, an incredulous, animated Guadagno called Zimmer's allegations "particularly offensive to me" and denied them as "wholly and completely false."

Yet as each day passes and another new plot twist surfaces, it becomes more and more implausible that Christie, Guadagno and the administration are being truthful. As the saying goes, where there's smoke there's fire. Christie's reputation, like that of his corruption-plagued state, precedes him. He's publicly ridiculed those who've disagreed with him as idiots, jerks and stupid. This derisive behavior points to a culture of intimidation and abuse created and maintained by the governor himself. With that evidence as a backdrop, is it really hard then to imagine Guadagno's "You better pony up, or else"  threat?

Another big question is, why would Zimmer lie? What does she have to gain by totally fabricating a story and thus tossing herself squarely into the center of one of the most complicated, far-reaching and consequential political scandals in recent memory?

Zimmer met Sunday with the United States Attorney's office to provide details and documents to substantiate her story. She's also offered to take a lie-detector test and testify under oath. Guadagno herself admits she met in that parking lot last May with Zimmer and that they did discuss Sandy relief money. She just disagrees with Zimmer's "version" of that encounter.  As the popular SNL skit goes, "Really? Really?"

Zimmer's timing may be suspect to some on the right, but her situation is akin to that of countless crime victims who are bullied into submission and silence, fearful of retribution. But all it takes is someone else to come forward first and the floodgates open. For both Zimmer and Christie, BridgeGate is merely the House of Cards. It's naive to think that Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, BridgeGate's intended victim, and Zimmer are the only local pols touched by the Christie Mob. There's likely other mayors, assemblymen, senators and/or bureaucrats preparing to come forward with their own allegations as well.

Furthermore, we haven't even witnessed the full bore of the state and Federal investigations yet and what the subpoenas of former top Christie aides Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien and the Port Authority's David Wildstein will reveal. If given immunity, these former loyalists could end up singing like canaries, costing the Big Guy the White House and perhaps even the Governor's mansion.

And not for nuthin', it doesn't help Christie's "I am not a bully" narrative to have surrogates like Rudy Giuliani, who's called BridgeGate a "political prank," and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who on CNN Monday referred to Zimmer as "a lady Mayor," defending him.

Fuggeddaboutit.......!