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.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

An Open Letter to Phil Jackson: PLAY ME!



Hey Phil, play me. Please. I'm dead serious. I want to play for the Knicks. Like right away. And I promise you the team will do no worse with me than with that miserable overpaid bunch of losers you call a team. That's because you've lost 12 games in a row, 22 of the last 23, and have dropped to 5-32 on the season. The worst you can do with me is win!

Think about it. What do you have to lose? I'm the X-factor you've been looking for to shake things up. I'm 5/8, but I don't jump or shoot like Mugsy Bogues or Nate Robinson. Though 55 and in reasonably good shape, I'll probably need to sit after every three or four minutes. But you'll still do better with me.

Think about it. A small middle-aged Manhattan Jew in orange and blue. The fans will love me, as will the press. We'll start racking up victories. Jewsanity, they'll call it. I'll be like "Rocky." New York loves an underdog, and I'll make the Garden rock like it did when Willis Reed limped out in Game 7 of the '70 Finals. I'll be on ELLEN and JIMMY FALLON. Everyone will be talking about us. And we'll win games. I promise. You've never seen my behind-the-back layup. Just have Calderon keep feeding me.

Think about it. You just gave away JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, two of the team's most colorful personalities. You need me now. I used to do stand-up. I'll be a f'ing hoot in the locker room. Who do you have now for laughs, Samuel Dalembert? I rest my case.

Seriously Jax, this is no joke. You're losing every single damn game, ok? Try me. I guarantee that you can't do any worse with me. I'll even learn that damned triangle offense... and we all know how much you like that...whatever the hell it is. Stop wasting your time on 'Melo. He'll never get it...and you know it.

Think about it, oh great Zenmaster.  I'll be on stand-by with my Payless specials laced and ready to go. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Hey GOP, Please Keep Steve Scalise at the Top of Your Junk Pile

The Republican Party's strategy for reaching across the cultural and racial divide, in an effort to expand its tent for the next major national election, is to throw its full support behind embattled Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise who, by his own admission, spoke in 2002 to The European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a white supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Scalise claims he did not at the time know the origin of the group or Duke's involvement.

Scalise, who as Majority Whip is the GOP's 3rd highest ranking representative, told a reporter almost twenty years ago while running for office that he was like "David Duke without the baggage." Was this simple pandering to a key voting block or a much clearer window into the man's political and moral psyche? Either way, he knew exactly who he was targeting.

As House Republicans vote Tuesday to elect its leaders, many on the right have been all too quick to defend Scalise's utterly implausible story, even blaming Democrats for the controversy. Speaking on MSNBC's Hardball Monday evening, Republican strategist and former Dick Cheney advisor Ron Christie said: "I think the Democrats are being disgraceful in the way that they're playing the race card. The Democrats are dividing this country..." he said, while specifically naming DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

In a statement released Monday Wasserman Schultz said: "As the new Congress begins, nothing discredits Republican claims of 'outreach' and bringing people together more than their decision to keep Steve Scalise at the top tier of the elected leadership of their caucus...Anyone living in this century should have known better than to attend and speak at a white supremacist event, particularly one founded and led by David Duke, and Scalise's explanation that he wasn't aware isn't credible by a long shot."

And Earnest, during Monday's White House press briefing, said: "There's no arguing that who Republicans decide to elevate into a leadership position says a lot about what the conference's priorities and values are."

So let's get this straight: what riles Republican officials is not that their party has racists, who do and say despicable things, but rather the Democrats who make public their words and actions. Welcome to 2015, where condemning a racist is playing the race card.

To the GOP I say, please keep Steve Scalise in his leadership post. Leave him up there as a glaring symbol of what your party stands for. Let Americans know who you support. Who you defend. Who you reward with power. Who you call a "man of character." 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Here Comes Bush v. Clinton 2.0


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Earlier this year I wrote a piece titled "Forget Christie: Why Jeb Bush Will Win the 2016 GOP Nomination." Looks like he's made it semi-official with the announcement over the weekend that he will "actively explore" a presidential run, and will release approximately 250,000 emails early next year from his two terms as Florida governor from 1999-2006. As Yogi Berra famously said, It's deja vu all over again...

Despite the fact that he's not been to Iowa in two years, and that his political team consists of just four people, Bush has big Republican donors salivating on the sidelines. Folks who can't bear the thought of supporting bombastic New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose BridgeGate and Hurricane Sandy scandals, coupled with his anger management problem and obesity, vastly diminish his overall appeal outside the Garden State.

Bush is the anti-Christie.  He's got pedigree, class, is soft-spoken yet firm, smart, moderate (by today's wacko Tea Party standards) and married to a Mexican woman, making him quite an attractive candidate to many, as Hispanics are becoming a much bigger percentage of overall voters. And, mostly because of what he's not--a fringe loon like Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, or a 'loser' like Mitt Romney--big GOP donors and bundlers would euphorically hop aboard the BushTrain the nanosecond he declares.

But Bush also has serious liabilities that concern the party's ultra conservatives, such as his controversial positions on immigration, education and taxes, as well as his overseas investments. And then there's that pedigree thing. Though his mother Barbara has essentially flipped on her famous 2013 claim that "we've had enough Bushes," the million-dollar question remains, 'is the country ready for yet another Bush?'

In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year, 69% of Americans agreed with Ms. Bush that it's time to move on. And with the news full of terrorist beheadings by ISIS; the turmoil in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East; new reports of CIA torture tactics; Dick Cheney reprising his Darth Vadar routine; and a still-struggling economy, will the ghost of big brother George haunt baby bro and present insurmountable challenges to an eventual campaign?

To be sure, Bush is no centrist, despite his lofty reputation. He's for tax cuts to the wealthy, is against abortion and gay marriage, is in bed with gun owners (we can partially thank him for Florida's Stand Your Ground law), and his views on faith have put him squarely in the middle of controversy. In 2003 he intervened on the side of the family of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman in a persistent vegetative state, whose feeding tube was removed and then ordered reinserted, against the wishes of her husband, her legal guardian.

All of which makes Hillary Clinton the most likely victor in this dynastic match-up. The country has matured and evolved, but the Republican Party hasn't. It is Clinton's views, not Bush's, that are shared by a majority of Americans. Voters want immigration reform; have overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage; believe in a woman's right to choose; worry about climate change; want to close the income gap; seek government regulation of Wall Street and the banking industry; and support Obamacare and the need to insure all Americans.

Yes, America's next president will likely come from American political royalty, but she won't be a Bush.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Real Dick Cheney "Meet the Press" Interview...




With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation programs, which cites brutal acts of torture on detainees between 2001-2006, Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," sat down this past Sunday with former vice president Dick Cheney.  Below is the original version of that interview before Cheney's people threatened Todd with a very cold, wet death if he didn't destroy it and re-interview him. Thankfully, Kim Jong-un's hackers were able to locate the original and make it public:

TODD: Mr. Vice President, this report is utterly shocking in its findings. The level of torture qualifies as criminal; a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions as well as our own moral standards here in America.

CHENEY: Well, it all depends on how you define torture.

TODD: Detainees were kept naked, chained and shackled, beaten, starved, waterboarded, shot and even killed.

CHENEY: Get to the torture part...

TODD: And you would do all these things again?

CHENEY: You bet your liberal ass I would! And just for shits and giggles, Chuckie. They don't call me Dr. Evil for nothing.

TODD: So you don't think any of this is torture.

CHENEY: Torture to me is having to listen to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. You can waterboard my ass all day long...just please don't make me listen to those two.

TODD: Let me ask you about a few specific cases. Let's start with Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded so aggressively, leading led to convulsions and vomiting....and in one instance he became completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.

CHENEY: Bubbles? Sounds like party-fun to me, Chuck.

TODD: But Mr. Vice President, Zubaydah was also shot while he was held captive....and developed an infection in his left eye, which had to be removed.

CHENEY: He's got two eyes, for Pete's sake. What does he want...everything?

TODD: What about the near-drowning of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded at least 183 times?

CHENEY: That's not torture. In my house that's a shower.

TODD: Mr. Cheney, this next allegation is even more disturbing. It involves...er...um...rectal feeding or rectal hydration, without any documented medical need. Seems like it was used as a form of behavior control.

CHENEY: Damn right it was. I think we got that idea from that Al Pacino movie, "CRUISING."

TODD: That's not funny, Mr. Vice President.

CHENEY: (looks at Todd glaringly, with sounds coming from his mouth as if he's chewing on marbles) Do you see me laughing?

TODD: Some detainees were forced to walk around naked and shackled, hands above their heads. Dragged all over the place, being beaten. What is your response to that?

CHENEY: Um...that would be the Pacino film again.

TODD: C'mon, Mr. Cheney, one detainee, Gul Rahman, was found naked from the waist down, chained to the floor of his unheated cell, frozen to death. That, quite frankly, is unconscionable.

CHENEY: He didn't pay his utility bill. So we turned off the heat. We're not running an SRO at Gitmo!

TODD: Mr. Cheney, I'm really starting to get upset with your arrogance, colossal inhumanity and chilling disconnect from reality.

CHENEY: Chuck, one more comment like that and I'll chain you to the floor naked, club you with a spiked paddle and pour ice water all over you while blasting Ariana Grande.

TODD: Now that, Mr. Vice President, is indisputable torture. You can't deny that.

CHENEY: You're right, Chuck. No one should have to listen to Ariana Grande.

Some Hillary Advice for Christie

So New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has weighed in on Hilary Clinton's electability. That's like the Knicks telling the Warriors that they have little chance of winning this year's NBA championship. 

With the holidays approaching, I'd like to offer Christie this little gift of advice: you should spend your time contemplating your own depressed political stock, and chances (zero) of winning the Republican nomination for president in 2016, and not worry so much about Hillary Clinton, who has the support of 65% of Democratic primary voters.

The New York Times on Sunday reported that Christie recently told a group of energy executives that Clinton "lacks her husband's talents and personal appeal." I'm not sure what alternate universe Christie resides in, but Hillary Clinton is perhaps the only politician on this planet who is more popular than Bill Clinton.

Christie also claims he's more likeable than Hillary. While I'm sure he's a huge hit among nasty, arrogant, dismissive, disrespectful Northeastern conservatives who love being told "shut up" and "you're an idiot" by their elected officials, I have serious doubts that his big, bad Jersey blowhard routine will play well in the rest of the nation. 

BridgeGate. Temper. Obesity. Just a few of The Boss's outsized liabilities to go along with his outsized personality. And when (not if) both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush toss their hats into the ring, Republicans from California through the Midwest to the Rust Belt, Great Plains and down into deep South will be a singing a chorus of "Christie who?"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The GOP's "The Party of Working People?" Who Knew!



Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy defeated Sen. Mary Landrieu in last Saturday's runoff election, handing the Republican Party their eighth pick-up and a 54-seat majority when the new Senate convenes in January. The victory broadens the already massive shift in that region's politics: the deep South is now as red as a fire engine, with nary a Democratic Senator or Governor across nine states spanning the Carolinas to Texas. 

In his victory speech, Cassidy proudly made clear his constituency:

“We are a working-family region,” Cassidy said. “The Republican Party is the party of the working people.”

The problem with this declaration is that it is 100% patently false. Unless of course he's referring to another GOP, not the one that's vehemently against raising the minimum wage, or providing healthcare coverage for all Americans, or regulating Wall Street and banks, or seeking to dismantle the Department of Education or the Environmental Protection Agency, or cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood, or fighting immigration reform, or protecting the interests of Corporate America. Shall I go on?

As for Cassidy himself, let's take a peek inside his own Congressional record in terms of his support for the little guy:

-Voted YES on terminating the Home Affordable Mortgage Program
-Voted NO on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package
-Voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act
-Voted NO on four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees
-Voted NO on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program
-Voted YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion
-Sponsored prohibiting abortion information at school health centers

Hardly the record of an advocate of the poor and middle class. But Cassidy and his party are certainly crafty enough to convince an appreciable segment of their base that words matter way more than actions.  Haven't poor and middle class white, rural conservatives been duped and disappointed by the GOP in the past? Apparently they have short memories, and voting against one's own economic interests still rules the day.  

To be sure, right-wingers love to attack liberals for being in bed with Hollywood and the entertainment industry. But the GOP claiming to be "the party of the working people" is as big an example of fiction and fantasy as anything coming out of Los Angeles.  

After the New Year, it'll be the first time in eight years that the Republican Party has controlled both houses of Congress. American's working people will soon find out how much Cassidy and the GOP will value and protect their interests.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Ray Rice Needs


I am not a violent person. It's not in my DNA to use my fists, or any type of weapon, to harm anyone, let alone a defenseless woman. Even if provoked, it would be hard for me to cause physical harm to another person. That said, if I felt threatened, or my family was in danger, I'm sure the adrenaline would kick in and I'd do whatever necessary to protect myself and my loved ones. But I could never slam my fist into someone's head and knock them unconscious simply because I was angry.

Which is why I believe we're missing the main point in the Ray Rice domestic violence case: that nothing except an intensive, lengthy psychological rehabilitation process will help the Baltimore Ravens running back become a better man. It's terribly misguided, and an oversimplification of the root cause of domestic violence, to think that an indefinite suspension or lifetime ban from the National Football League will "teach him a lesson" and provide some deterrent effect among offenders. Domestic violence is not about "lessons." It's not about conscious, rational thought. It's purely about uncontrollable rage, and the use of violence, often deadly, to express that rage.

Studies have proven that dealing with criminals punitively (and yes, domestic violence is a crime, not something between "Rice and his wife," as some female nitwit at Thursday night's Ravens game told a reporter) has little or no effect on preventing future crimes. Do we honestly think that the next time some pro athlete is about to coldcock his woman in a fit of anger he's going to stop and say to himself, "I shouldn't do this...it could cost me my career?" Our prisons are full of people who've seen others get punished for the very crimes they then went on to commit.

Rage has no brain. Rage doesn't stop to think about consequences. Rage acts first and thinks later. It cannot be "treated" punitively.

Should Ray Rice be banned for life from the NFL? Personally, I'd like nothing better than to see him get everything I feel he deserves, including criminal prosecution and prison time. He's a violent criminal and a coward and I detest his behavior. So yes, if his NFL contract includes a morals clause which specifically calls for such a ban under the circumstances, he should be barred from ever playing professional football again. But let's not kid ourselves. More importantly, he needs treatment. Psychological treatment. He needs to control the very rage that deemed nothing wrong in punching the lights out of his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and dragging her limp, unconscious body out of a hotel elevator like a dead fish. A lifetime ban will not stop him, or anyone else, from again causing physical harm to another human being.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What Happened to "Never Again?:" Thoughts From an American Jew



The current crisis between Israel and Gaza has certainly stirred up a tornado of emotion and strong opinion worldwide, and has become a polarizing force among American Jews. Caught between their cultural identity and the horrific images of dead civilians, including children, it's easy to understand how many have become sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians.

To be sure, no one wants to see dead children. It's hard to support any military action that kills kids. But I think there's a critical perspective being lost in this war. And that is that it is war. War is horrific, brutal and ugly. Soldiers die. And war kills innocent people. Even children. Which is why governments typically go to war as an absolute last resort, when all other options have failed, because very, very bad things happen during war.

War is typically fought to the death. There are no gentlemanly courtesies afforded the enemy. They try to kill you, you strike back with deadly force as well. It's kill or be killed. It's not, "Hey...you're trying to kill me, but you're a lousy fighter with crappy weaponry so I'll just slap ya down a little and let ya live so you can keep on trying to kill me." Because one day, they might succeed. And then you're dead.

Which is precisely why I'm having a very hard time understanding how some of my fellow American Jews can be so supportive of Gaza and the militant group Hamas which governs it. How they can excuse the actions and atrocities caused by this genocidal Jihadi organization, whose charter calls for the annihilation of Israel and it's people?

Contrary to the rhetoric and radical Islamist propaganda surrounding the current conflict, the battle is not about Israel occupying Gaza (a more fact-base case can be made that it began in response to the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers from the West Bank). Israel withdrew from its occupation of Gaza in 2005 amid intense and violent protest by, and forced removal of, the area's 8500 settlers. Every building, with the exception of synagogues and greenhouses, was demolished. This painful struggle, pitting Israeli against Israeli, civilian against soldier, including daily images of troops dragging screaming and sobbing settlers out of their homes, was played out on television screens all over the world that controversial Summer.

And what did Israel get in return for handing over the region to the Palestinian Authority? Two years later Gaza's citizens went to the polls and in a "democratic" election gave control of the territory to Hamas. And we're now witnessing its colossal failure as a governing body. Rather than build schools, hospitals and mosques, it's been using these locations as launch pads for the thousands of rockets that have been fired towards Israel since their victory.

Hamas has also diverted critical funding and resources--concrete, for example--to build terror tunnels into Israel through which its militants can abduct and murder both soldiers and civilians. And its main defensive strategy is to cowardly use its citizens as human shields, while subsequently crying foul when those citizens get killed in return fire.

Let's be clear: Hamas's rockets have a very specific purpose: to kill Israelis. Not just Israeli soldiers, but innocent men, women and yes, children. And they're being fired to also cause destruction to Israel's cities, its infrastructure and its nuclear facilities. These are not warning flares that Hamas militants are firing towards Israel. They are deadly weapons launched with an intense, venomous hatred, and with a desire to kill and maim Jews.  

Israel's critics charge that its aggressive response to the rocket attacks has been "disproportionate." They cite the death toll, which has almost 2000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza being killed, while just three Israeli civilians have died. But does the fact that most of these Hamas rockets have been shot out of the sky by Israeli's incredible Iron Dome air-defense system, before they do harm, mitigate their intent to blow innocent Israeli civilians into bloody pieces? Would the "score" not be much closer if Israel was less capable of defending itself?

Perhaps Israel's American Jewish critics could answer a few key questions: Should Israel be excoriated and condemned for having more sophisticated weapons, and for minimizing its civilian casualties as a result? Should Israel, because of its successful defense against these deadly rockets, not be firing back at the terrorists launching them because they're being launched from residential areas and schools? Should Israel be treating Hamas like a bunch of petulant teenagers incapable of causing real harm, or as the murderous terrorist organization it is, hellbent on its death and destruction? Must Jewish blood and body parts fill the streets of Israel's cities before its armchair critics in the U.S. and elsewhere can justify its aggressive response? Before American Jews can support such retaliation?

The pro-Gaza, hashtag-fueled cries from American Jews is misguided and, quite frankly, shameful. Whatever happened to "Never Again," the promise by Jews to never again let themselves fall victim to genocide? It's easy to sit in a Starbuck's on Manhattan's Upper West Side and spread social media gospel about how Israelis are "overreacting." I suppose 5600 miles gives one both a safe perch to preach from as well as a false sense of security. But just imagine how these same people would be acting if a bomb exploded on the #1 subway train. And another the next day, and then others in a mall, supermarket and cafe. I wonder if there'd be the same cries for restraint and "proportionate" retaliation.

American Jews seem to be forgetting the thousands of innocent Israelis that have been blown to pieces since 1948 in synagogues, restaurants, nightclubs, on buses, in schools and elsewhere by Palestinian suicide bombers and other acts of terrorism. They're forgetting the horrific images of dead Israeli children being dragged lifeless from the rubble, who died a horrible death simply because they were Jews. How can they forget? This conflict did not start last month.  

We must remind ourselves that without Jewish arrogance, naivete and complacency, the Nazis may not have been able to murder 6-million of our people seventy years ago. A failure to recognize the enemy's goal of ultimately exterminating their entire population helped lead Europe's Jews onto the trains and to the concentration camps without a fight. And, while the rest of the world did little to stop it either.

So against that historical backdrop of genocide, and with chilling acts of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence spreading across Europe once again, the message from Israel is clear: American Jews can think and say what they want, and be naive, complacent or pretend the enemy's sole reason for existence is not to brutally destroy theirs. But Israel vows...never again.