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 regain Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

An Open Letter to Veterans, Active Military and Law Enforcement: What Do You Believe?

I first want to thank you for your patriotism, heroism and your brave service to America. You do what few others won't, which is to put your own lives on the line to protect ours. You place yourselves at grave risk every single day abroad, nationally and locally. For that we are forever grateful and in your debt.

It's no great secret that many of you, if not a majority, are Republicans. And as Republicans, I must ask you, how can you support Donald Trump?  How can you support someone who has such utter disdain for the principles on which our nation was founded, and who has no respect for those courageous individuals like you who's job it is to uphold the law and defend our Constitution and homeland?

When Trump incessantly bellows that we must "make America great again," what he's actually saying is that she is not great now. Is that what you believe? Do you believe that America is not the greatest nation on the planet right now?

When Trump says that we are "losing the war against terror," is that what you believe? Do you believe that the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS and other vicious enemies are beating you? That you are losers?

When Trump says that America is a "disaster," is that what you believe? Do you believe that we are living in a state of chaos?

When Trump says that crime in America is "out of control and rapidly getting worse," is that what you believe? Do you believe there's lawlessness in our cities and local communities?

Because if you believe all of this gloom and doom you're admitting colossal personal failure. You're letting Trump accuse you of not doing your jobs. With each and every one of these statements he's disrespecting you and everything you stand for and risk your lives for.

When Trump mocks decorated veterans like Sen. John McCain because he was "captured" and is therefore not a "real" war hero, is that what you believe? Do you believe that our soldiers who are captured, tortured and imprisoned for years are not heroes?

How do you feel when you hear Trump threaten not to support our NATO allies (who, for example, valiantly and loyally stood with us post-911), acting instead like some two-bit mobster holding out for protection money? Do you believe we should waiver in our support of our allies and hold an economic gun to their heads?

How do you feel when Trump talks of murdering the families of terrorists, and of torturing prisoners despite clear violations of the Geneva Conventions? Do you believe this is the sort of American exceptionalism you're fighting for? That these actions will make America great again?

How do you feel when Trump arrogantly boasts that he gets his military advice and foreign policy experience from watching tv shows and through hosting the Miss Universe pageant? Do you believe these are qualifications for Leader of the Free World?

How do you feel when you hear Trump compliment brutal dictators like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein? How do you feel when he unconscionably invites Russia to hack into our State Department because he "hopes" they "find" the missing Clinton emails, a request so bizarre and not just ethically irresponsible and reprehensible but, more so, a grave threat to our national security. Treasonous, in fact, as many believe. How about when he back-peddled the next day and said he was joking and being "sarcastic:" do you think it's funny to suggest that one of our biggest enemies commit espionage against our government and its citizens for Trump's personal political gain?

Trump's claims of catastrophe can only be translated to one thing: If America's not great, if America is a disaster, if crime is out of control, if terrorists are winning, then our military, homeland security, FBI, CIA, police and prosecutors are doing a horrible job.  I don't think that's what you believe, do you? Then I ask again, how could you vote for someone who so disrespects the job you do and is calling you a failure? Think about it. It simply doesn't make any sense.

Trump is counting on your support to usher him into the Oval Office. But do you really believe his behavior is worthy of being president of the greatest nation on Earth and commander-in-chief of the world's greatest military?

When you go into that voting booth on November 8th please remember Trump's dark, dystopian, doomsday view of America, and his obvious opinion that your dreadful performance is responsible for it. Also remember that when Trump had a chance to serve side by side with you in Vietnam, he chose instead to hide behind the cashmere coattails of his wealthy daddy, who secured four deferments and an exemption for him through the kind of "personal rewards" afforded the "rich, powerful and well-connected." The kind of elitism which Trump blasted Democrats for on Wednesday.

You are dutifully suiting up and proudly and bravely serving. You're fighting and bleeding on the battlefields of war and on the streets of our cities and small towns. You are heroes and you are selfless. You deserve better than someone who deems America and you, it's protectors, a failure.

We all deserve better than Donald Trump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dear Bernie-or-Bust'ers

Dear Bernie-or-Busters...

Judging from the first day of the Democratic convention, it seems that there is still a lot of anger, resentment, frustration and obvious disunity. The boos at the mere mention of Hillary Clinton's name were loud and forceful. And at this point in time, they were quite surprising and unsettling. Whether they are deserved or not is another question.

Look, we get it. You're pissed off. Your guy lost, you think the system was rigged (the DNC email scandal certainly stokes those flames) and you hate Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine for vp. But what we don't get is your continued inability to see the stark differences between Clinton and Donald Trump. The liberal/progressive vs. fascist contrast between them, and more so, how your overall interests are clearly best served by Hillary....while Trump stands for everything you don't.

Not even after last week's substance-bankrupt dystopian shit-show called the Republican convention have you been able to see the bigger picture. Not even after several rousing speeches by Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders at the opening night of the Democratic convention drew you a picture of these differences, and the gravity of the situation. Not after they all implored you to lay down the gloves and join the freedom vs. tyranny fight against Trump.

You're still pissed, and you seem hellbent on being pissed. Almost as if you're enjoying the rebellious, contrarian ride. Do you really want to throw this country's future away by handing the election over to an ignorant, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist dictator-in-training? Do you really want Trump as the role model for your children? Can you ever see his mug etched on Mt. Rushmore? Seriously, people, are we really having this conversation at this critical juncture?

Your inspirational leader, Sanders, is practically begging you to move past your emotions and your disappointment to help him ensure that Trump is never elected president. If he is able to move on past the acrimony and disappointment of his campaign against Hillary, and put his heart and soul behind her, why can't you? What makes you more knowledgeable about Bernie, more committed to his message, and his view of America than the revolutionary-in-chief himself?

With all due respect, you're beginning to sound like a bunch of petulant children who kick and scream whenever they don't get everything they want. You're the equivalent of the sandlot brat who whines "it's my ball" and quits the game because he doesn't like the way it's being played or because he's not winning. This is not behavior of revolutionaries. A revolution doesn't happen overnight, which is why Sanders is pleading with you to continue the fight with him well beyond the convention and the election. Real revolutionaries fight to the death and put the cause before themselves. You're not doing that. You're making this all about you.

If you fail to show up for Hillary in November, and Trump wins, then your revolution will prove to be nothing more than a faddish exercise in futility by privileged white millennials who shamefully cut off their noses to spite their faces...while destroying everything that Sanders worked to achieve for you. Because President Trump will toss it all in the trash. The gains made on minimum wage, income inequality, free college, Wall Street/big banks, criminal injustice, the death penalty, Citizen's United, climate change, super delegates and more will have been in vain. They'll end up like sad bullet casings on the failed battleground of your ill-fought, prematurely ended revolution.

The Rolling Stones wrote "You Can't Always get What You Want." And they also suggested, "But if you try sometime, you might find, you get what you need." With Hillary, you may not get everything you want, but you'll definitely get most of what you need. With Trump you'll get a big fat sweaty middle-finger shoved in your face.

The comedian Sarah Silverman, who fought long and hard for Bernie this past year, astutely opined Monday night on the convention floor that your behavior is "ridiculous." Which, given everything that's at stake, it most definitely is. How about proving her wrong. I bet she'd love that...

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Speech Bernie Sanders Must Deliver Tonight

Dear Bernie...
We recognize and appreciate that there's a lot of baggage you're carrying around on the heels of your loss to Hillary Clinton. And we can also appreciate that the current DNC email scandal has likely poured salt on a very open wound. Which is why your support of Clinton, in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party, is extremely admirable. 

You will be delivering an incredibly important, historic speech tonight at the Democratic Convention. Judging from the boos you received at an address to delegates in Philly Monday morning, you'll have your work cut out for you. As such, you have one very critical task tonight: to deliver unequivocally a very clear message to your supporters, the essence of which is the following:

"Our voices have been heard, we have achieved so much to change a broken system, and we are so close to the finish line. But our revolution will end up a colossal waste of time, energy, money and opportunity if you do not support Hillary Clinton for president. All the major concessions we fought long and hard for...all the changes to the Democratic Party's platform...will have been for nothing. If Donald Trump is elected, everything we stood for for the past 15 months will be lost. Which is why you must, I repeat you must, put aside emotions and vote for Hillary.

If you truly believe in me and my message, then you must stand with me as I stand with Hillary. Because a Donald Trump presidency not only will result in a 100% undoing of the goals we achieved together in our campaign, it will set America back 200 years. The progress we've made will be gone, and the great progress still to come will never materialize.

A Trump presidency poses a tremendous danger to America, it's guiding principles and life as we know it. At home, civil liberties, workers' rights, criminal justice, income equality and the environment will be threatened beyond anything we've ever experienced. Our safety and security will also be at grave risk because Trump will destroy our critical alliances abroad. His incendiary rhetoric and race-baiting behavior will isolate us from the rest of the world and will further serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists.

We need to stand together, united, and ensure that Donald Trump never gets anywhere near the Oval Office...unless its at the invitation of President Hillary Clinton! It's time to harness our anger and frustration and direct it to Donald Trump. Its time to mend fences and heal for the greater good of our great nation. It's time to join together and not throw away everything we accomplished.

Do not view your vote as merely a vote for Hillary Clinton, but more so as a vote for what you and I fought so hard to achieve these past 15 months. If you quit on us now we lose everything we've gained. There's simply too much at stake on November 8th.

Don't quit! Keep fighting! Please continue our political revolution with me as I stand with Hillary to make sure that Donald Trump will never be president!

Please join me....Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!....." (Here's where you need to get the crowd chanting...enthusiastically...passionately...)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Open Letter on Brexit to Trump's Angry Old Working-Class White Male Supporters

First off, I want to say for the record that I truly understand your frustration, your anger, your general discontent with income inequality, your fears of terrorism and your desire for secure borders, homeland security, and real change. The poor and middle classes should share in America's wealth and prosperity by having good jobs, rising wages, affordable health care, housing and education, and a chance to live out the American dream that our parents and grandparents--most of them immigrants--experienced. I get all of that. But what I don't get is your support for Donald Trump and your belief that he is the answer to your problems.

Also for the record, I am not the product of a wealthy real estate family...or any wealthy family. My father drove a New York City taxi for 35 years. The job took such a toll on him physically that he would often come home bent over in a 90° angle from sitting behind the wheel 15 hours a day. Nobody handed him anything. I shared a room with two brothers, and when I was old enough to work (14) my parents had me pay room and board. I paid my way through college, holding down two jobs while squeezing in my studies, racking up thousands in student loan debt that took me a decade to pay off.

Just to be clear, and regardless of my current political/socioeconomic status, what I've earned, and what I've saved, like you, is all I have. There is no inheritance waiting in the wings. As the years quickly pass, I've excitedly looked forward to the day when I can retire, sit on a park bench, read the paper, feed some pigeons, and live out my remaining days in peace, tranquility and relative financial comfort and security. Which is why I need to issue you a very serious warning. A grave warning for all of us.

Take a look at the fallout from Brexit, the United Kingdom's controversial and, to many, shocking exit from the European Union, thus ending a 40-year relationship with this giant economic and political bloc. The referendum, which ended in a 52-48 vote, was largely fueled by the same type of voter anger, frustration and disenchantment that you feel. But there's a tremendous cost to voting out of anger and emotion. Of sending "protest" votes. The consequences can be devastating and irreversible, as the Brits are now experiencing. The political system collapses, the currency craters, financial markets tank, and the economy risks falling into a protracted tailspin, wiping out trillions in savings and wealth in the blink of an eye.

The parallels between the intense economic concerns and nationalistic motives behind the Brexit vote, and the sentiment that's fueling Trump's incendiary campaign, are more than worth noting. To be sure, what happened across the Atlantic could very well happen here. Think about that for a second. Think about your retirement, your savings, the plans you hatched decades ago and how quickly it all could disappear if the American economy and political system is turned on its head and thrown into chaos with the election of Trump, a divisive, polarizing figure with zero political experience, and with rapidly dwindling faith and trust within the Republican Party, in the financial community and on Wall Street, and on the global stage.

In just the past two trading sessions alone the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped almost 900 points and 5%. And we may not be done with the carnage yet. Keep in mind these losses are merely the impact of what's taking place in England which, by the way, is not even among our top five trading partners. Think about what would happen to the U.S. markets if this was our political and economic system that was thrown into complete disorder and confusion. The Brits are already having serious buyers' remorse, evidenced by the over 4-million citizens who've signed a petition calling for a new referendum. The Leave movement's leaders are already backing off their promises regarding key issues such as health care and immigration, realizing that the lies which fueled their hate-filled campaign can't realistically result in policy or change. Don't make the same horrible mistake British voters now know they've made.

I know you're not terribly fond of Hillary Clinton. Ok, some of you despite and hate her and can't fathom her back in the White House, this time sitting in the Oval Office as president and commander-in-chief. But let me assure you this: a Clinton presidency will not cause an upheaval in our political and economic system. The dollar will not plunge to 30-year lows. The stock markets will not devolve into crisis, triggering massive selloffs domestically and from investors abroad. America's credit ratings will not be lowered. There will not be a run on banks by terrified small investors like you. You will not lose everything you've worked hard for your whole life because we have an "un-PC" self-serving racist maniac in charge. You may not like Hillary or her politics, but you will be able to sleep at night with Madam President at the helm.

But I will promise you this: "President Trump" will make you regret the day you ever pulled the lever for him. He'll renege on his wild promises, just as he's already backing off the Muslim ban. The anger you feel now will be nothing like the anger you'll feel when you see your retirement account cut in half, or worse. America won't feel so great again. You know the old adage, be careful what you wish for. Because as John Oliver so aptly put it, "there are no fucking do-overs."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What Broadway Can Teach Hollywood About Diversity

Hollywood has a problem. It's largely run by rich straight white men who, for the most part, champion the work of other straight white men. According to well publicized statistics, if you're a black, Hispanic, female or LBGT actor of director you've not been invited to the party. Getting jobs, good jobs, Oscar potential jobs, is nearly impossible.

In the last twenty years there have been twelve black Oscar winners. Only five have been in the acting category. There were two directors, one for documentary feature and one for documentary short subject. Four winners were in the music and writing categories, and there was one producer.  In the last ten years, just ten black actors received Oscar nominations, while two black directors were nominated (in the feature category). Shockingly, not one black actor has been nominated in the past two years, spawning the #oscarssowhite social media backlash and calls for a boycott of the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony.

The last woman to win an Oscar for Best Director was Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for THE HURT LOCKER. She is also the last woman to be nominated in that category. Prior to her, Sofia Coppola was nominated in 2003 for LOST IN TRANSLATION.

In the Best Picture category, in the last ten years, just five films with a mostly black cast and/or central theme have been nominated. Overall, the stats for Hispanics are pretty dismal as well.

(For a more in depth look at the statistics of "Hollywood's Diversity Problem" please check out the results of research performed by The Adrienne Shelly Foundation)

Contrast that with Broadway in just the last year alone and you get a starkly different picture, one that screams of diversity and inclusion. One of the four best plays was written and performed exclusively by black women. Two of the five Best Musical nominees were black productions, as was one of the four nominated best musical revivals. And all four musical acting awards went to to black actors. The overall nominees list was quite diverse as well; seven other individual nominees were actors of color, as were two directors in the Best Play and Musical categories.

Women fared well as well across many categories, most notably in a production like WAITRESS, with its ground-breaking all-female creative team (full disclosure: my late wife Adrienne Shelly, who was killed in 2006, wrote and directed the film on which this musical is based).

The obvious question is, how can the two communities be such polar opposites when it comes to diversity? The answer isn't clear. But what is clear is there's a desperate need for the power brokers in Hollywood to own up to the fact that there's a shameful dearth of black, Hispanic, female and LBGT talent in front of and behind the klieg lights. And that needs to change.

“Think of tonight as the Oscars, but with diversity," host James Corden said in his opening monologue. "It is so diverse that Donald Trump has threatened to build a wall around this theatre.”

When it comes to race and inclusion, it's not a good sign when your industry is compared with Donald Trump, even in jest.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Donald Trump is America's Gift to bin Laden

Somewhere, somehow, amidst his decadent cavorting with 72 virgins, Osama bin Laden must be smiling. Smiling like a man who's finally seeing his master plan come to fruition.

In the wake of the horrific mass killing at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, where 50 people died in the the deadliest shooting in United States history, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been spewing newly amped up nativist racist rhetoric against refugees, immigrants and Muslims in particular.

Trump early Monday disingenuously attempted to conflate the attack by 29-year-old American Omar Mateen with what he called the threat from Syrian refugees entering the country, going so far as to lie in his claim than Mateen was "born in Afghan." Hours later in a speech in Cleveland, Trump offered an even more outrageously offensive line of attack:

"The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here."

Mateen's parents are immigrants from Afghanistan. Mateen was born in New York.

Trump also reiterated his plan to temporarily ban Muslim immigration, specifically from countries where he believes the threat of terrorism was greatest.

"We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer," Trump said, promising to only lift the ban "when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country."

He continued, "Many of the principles of Radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions... Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American" (many, by the way, would argue this could also be said about Trump himself).

When bin Laden masterminded the horrific September 11 attacks which killed 3000 people on U.S. soil, he of course sought to kill Americans and cause catastrophic destruction in the process. But there was a more likely goal: to forever change America. To turn American against American. American against immigrant. American against Muslim. bin Laden's aim was to prove to the Muslim world that America was in fact as ugly, ignorant, racist and anti-Islam as he preached to his jihadis. Give America time, he believed, and everything it stands for, everything it believes in, its core tenets, its morality, its free press and even its precious rule of law, will be turned on its big fat arrogant head by scapegoating, hatred and violence. The bullies and fascists will take over, and democracy as we know it would be corrupted forever.

And now, fifteen years later, comes Donald Trump, the rabble-rousing, wall-building anti-Muslim isolationist gift-wrapped in a bloated orange box. The birthday present bin Laden always wished for but never lived to receive. Trump is the perfect vessel to realize bin Laden's ultimate dream of destroying America. He's everything the brutal monster hoped for and wished upon "The Great Satan." If Trump were to become president, America loses, but more tragically, bin Laden finally wins as he always planned.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Winning Strategy for Hillary: Just Let Trump Be Trump

There's no question that Hillary Clinton's speech in San Diego last week was incredibly effective in defining the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump as erratic, petulant, thin-skinned, dishonest, dangerous and woefully unqualified to be president. It was an evisceration of the kind not experienced by Trump during the GOP primaries. It also served as the foundation for a barrage of unrelenting attacks he can expect for the next five months. But one thing's certain: Clinton will be greatly helped during this time by Trump himself. She just needs to let Trump be Trump.

Trump simply cannot help himself. Like a child. Or an addict. Unfortunately for him, he is incredibly thin-skinned. He is super-sensitive. He cannot hear even the slightest challenge or criticism without coming out swinging like a ranting, raving, unhinged, emotional lunatic, which sends him careening off message. And that's when anything and everything can and will come out of his mouth. No matter how irrational, incoherent or offensive. No matter how un-presidential.

Safe to say, last week was not a particularly good one for Trump. He faced a mountain of criticism over his controversial racist comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who's presiding over the Trump University civil fraud case. The case itself also took the news spotlight, with Trump accused of essentially robbing seniors and low-income folks out of their savings. Trump also imploded at a press conference he held to address accusations that he reneged on a promise to raise $6-million for veterans causes. And there was that brilliant Hillary speech, which was so unsparing and scathing that it left Trump a terrified sweaty mess the rest of the week.

The media may have also reached a tipping point with Trump. At his press conference he unleashed a tirade of insults, referring to journalists as "dishonest" and "disgusting" while calling one ABC News reporter "sleazy." At almost every Trump rally he also relishes calling them "scum" and "slime." It would seem that the media's love affair with the bloviating, sexist, racist billionaire may finally be over, in which case he will face a tsunami of scrutiny the likes of which will result in even greater Hillary-landslide-causing temper tantrums.

To be sure, what we witnessed last week was that there's clearly just one adult in the room.  Which is why Hillary should stay on point, discussing substantive policy issues while defining Trump as "dangerous" and "incoherent," drawing a stark contrast between them. She should demonstrate experience, leadership and presidential temperament, just as she did in San Diego. And she can bet that Trump will continue to do and say outrageously offensive things, and will pout, whine and stomp his feet like a spoiled, petulant 6-year-old every time he's "insulted," treated "unfairly" or not properly "praised." Hillary should simply let him self-destruct.