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.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

An Open Letter to Millennials: Bernie Sanders Will Break Your Heart


Let's turn the clock back to 2008. Millions of young people were swooning over Barack Obama, a hip, cool, black first-term Senator from Illinois who, in his bid for the presidency, tantalized them with visions of hope and change. For his infectious optimism and promises of a new, united America he was rewarded with a resounding victory over his Republican opponent John McCain: 365-173 electoral votes and 53%-46% of the popular vote.

But leading up to that historic win, the Democratic primary was a real slug fest. While Obama took about 15% more delegates than rival Hillary Clinton, it was Clinton who won the popular vote. It was a truly ugly battle. I can't begin to tell you how many verbal brawls I got into with rabid Obamacon friends who were so drunk on the Kool-aid that they could neither understand or accept my support of Hillary.

Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, they leaped head-first into the Obama pool while at the same time drowning in their Hillary vitriol. And their hostility towards her, and those who supported her, grew with each stirring Obama speech. The more he became this transformational political figure, the more she became a tired, shrill symbol of the past.

But the years passed and the hope and change soon turned into anger and disappointment. The progressives bristled at Obama's stand on marriage equality. That the rich got richer. That he was too militaristic. That he caved too quickly and easily to Republicans on the budget and key elements of his healthcare proposal. While the right called him a socialist, the left accused him of being too conservative. He broke their hearts.

Which brings us to Bernie Sanders. The new cool kid in school. The one who inexplicably excites you millennials, and whom you believe transcends politics, despite his establishment credentials as a 25-year Washington insider. You love him. Yet you hate Hillary despite the fact that for decades she's been a passionate supporter of myriad progressive causes including marriage equality, paid family leave, a woman's right to choose, universal pre-kindergarten, universal healthcare and gun control.

And that "Bern" you've been "feeling" has made you quite nasty. The social media smear campaign against Clinton has become so toxic and sexist that Sanders himself had to tell the bullies to back off this week.

I get your "anti-establishment" fervor, and I can certainly appreciate your passion and idealistic view of the world at this early stage in your voting life. But I'm baffled by your enthusiastic support of a shrill, fairly dull, wonkish 74-year-old white-haired Jewish socialist from Vermont with a grating Brooklyn accent... (full disclosure: I'm a NY Jew)...who rants about income-redistribution, breaking up banks and free health care and college education for all. To borrow from my (also Jew) pal Dave, Sanders is that loud curmudgeonly uncle that you hope doesn't corner you on Passover to ask why you're dating a non-Jew, don't have children yet or chose art over medicine.

I hate to burst your bubble, but Bernie Sanders will never win a general election to become president of the United States. And it's highly unlikely that, after an expected victory in his neighboring state of New Hampshire Tuesday, he'll have any meaningful nomination juice. But if he did ever make it to the Oval Office he'd break your heart just as Obama did. He'll either cave under Republican pressure and/or shift to the center to compromise. And his "progressiveness" will quickly start to look like, well, the behavior of every other career politician who has to play the dirty game of politics.

Monday, February 08, 2016

An Open Letter to Independents: Can You Really Be That 'Undecided'?

Oh, you independents! For decades now you've been the hot girl at the party. Those highly coveted 'undecided' folks who at the last minute will finally figure out who you prefer and become the critical votes that tilt an election to one candidate or the other. According to polls, as many as 43% of Americans are political independents.

But this phenomenon confounds me. In fact, I think it's 100% bogus. I find the concept of 'undecideds' fundamentally disingenuous. Sorry, but I think you're nothing more than a bunch of attention-seekers who drag candidates, the media, your friends, family and co-workers into one very long ass-kissing marathon until election day. And you love every minute of it.

With the exception every couple of decades of a grass-roots, doomed-from-the-start third-party run at the White House, America operates under a two-party system: Republican and Democrat. And at no time in history has our political system been more dysfunctional, more polarized and with the two parties further apart on just about every single domestic, global and social issue. Given these diametric differences in core beliefs, is it really that hard for you guys to choose sides?

You either believe that all people, including gays, have a right to love and marry, or you don't. You either believe that a woman's body belongs to her, and that it's her choice to have an abortion, or you don't. You either believe in the separation of church and state or you don't. You either believe that guns kill people and that we need more regulation, or you don't. You either believe in climate change or you don't. You either believe in immigration, including Muslims, or you don't. You either believe that no one should work for less than $15/hour or you don't. You either believe in affordable health care and education for all, or you don't. You either believe in government helping the needy, or you don't. You either believe that America's role in the world is one of isolationism, or you don't. I could go on.

So why the meandrous internal debate? Why all the protracted soul-searching? Are you guys so out of touch with your own core beliefs and values that you really can't decide between Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders... and Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or the other Republicans, even if ideologically the two sides are in different galaxies?  Are you really going to wake up November 8, 2016 and think, "Ya know what? I was gonna vote for Cruz, but I really am for aiding the poor, the sick, the needy...and believe in a woman's right to choose and same-sex marriage, so, I'm actually gonna vote for Hillary!"

Grow up. Pick a side. Stand for something. For someone. And then spend this year helping that person get elected.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

It's Official: Donald Trump is a Loser!

Donald Trump, the New York billionaire seeking the Republican nomination for president, achieved something monumental in Monday night's Iowa caucuses. He became the very thing he most despises: a loser. With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz winning 28% of the vote, Trump's 24% narrowly beat  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for second place by one point. So much for all the polling, which Trump had obsessively been citing every three seconds.

To be sure, voter turnout was huge, at record levels. About 50% more Iowans braced the nighttime cold to get in on the action. That's a good thing for our Democracy. The more people who engage in our political process the more effective and inclusive it will be. And yes, as in-the-tank-for-Trump conservatives like MSNBC's Joe Scarborough have been pointing out, he garnered the most votes in the history of this state's caucuses save for Cruz himself. But Cruz won, not Trump, and Rubio essentially also achieved "the most" votes except for Cruz. So in the context of the totals, Trump achieved nothing special except grab a proportionate slice of the record turnout as did his more viable opponents.

And why was there record turnout? The conventional wisdom prior to Monday held that Trump was so wildly popular that he would be drawing tens of thousands of Iowans off the couch and into the caucuses for the first time. People so angry, so fed up, so ready for "something different" that this would be an election like no other. Quite the opposite could also be said though. That Trump so angered and offended the collective intelligence of the good people of Iowa that they got off that couch, alright, but to ensure that he wouldn't win.

As I've been saying for months, Trump is an embarrassing sideshow. A modern day Morton Downey Jr. A carnival-barking agitator, spewing hate-filled racist rhetoric, not a mainstream politician with substantive policy proposals. And while it's been fun for Iowans and others to pack arenas to experience The Donald Trump Reality Show, as evidenced last night, it's not translating to victory. 

So what about New Hampshire? Unless Jeb Bush pulls off a miracle and rises up from the ashes (which I still believe is a strong possibility), the smart money's on Trump fading into oblivion from this point forward, with Rubio taking the Granite State's contest next week. From there, Cruz will win South Carolina, and then it'll be a tough battle between the two "non-establishment" Senators thereafter.

Trump will soon figure out a way to exit the race--based on some typically self-aggrandizing, truth-stretching gibberish--and go back to doing what he does best: borrow the shit out of other people's money to slap his ubiquitous brand on gauche skyscrapers, ugly clothing and anything else he can license. Maybe even file a bankruptcy or two and get divorced again. But no matter the spin, he's still a loser. The thing he hates most. There's nothing more delicious than a Trump concession speech.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Here's What Could Finally Bring Down Trump

Donald Trump likes to call people "stupid." Whether he's referring to President Obama, Congressional leaders, the media or his opponents, the Republican front-runner has so far delighted his supporters these past eight months with an unprecedented flurry of demeaning ad-hominem attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.

But now he's calling these very same supporters stupid, claiming there's nothing he can do to lose their backing, not even if he committed a horrific act of violence.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay?" Trump said at a rally over the weekend in Sioux Center, Iowa. "It's, like, incredible."

Well, Trump's narcissism is, like, incredible, okay? Think for a minute about what he said, and perhaps the underlying disdain for his supporters. His ego is so gargantuan, his rapacious Id so deprived, he's convinced himself that he's so important and desirable that he could literally kill someone without political cost. The level of "they'll-love-me-no-matter-what" presumption here is astounding.

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of his supporters' intelligence or ability to reason. It's pretty insulting, in fact. That Trump thinks his "fans" are mindless morons who will blindly follow their Pied Piper like rats into the drowning pool is quite telling. But will they care? Will they finally turn all their "anger" on him? Will this insult--one that's aimed squarely at them instead of one of the bloviating billionaire's enemies--be the long overdue final straw that brings down this vulgar house of cards?

It's one thing to sit at a rally and be entertained by a modern-day Morton Downey Jr. as he mercilessly rips into his opponents. It's quite another to be the target of his contempt.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Is This Why Trump Won't Release His College Transcripts?

"I went to the Wharton School of Business," Donald Trump routinely brags at his campaign rallies. "I'm, like, a really smart person."

And I'm, like, really? We don't believe you. We think you're full of it, just like you grossly exaggerate and lie about virtually everything else pertaining to your personal and professional life (note the Politifact study illustrating he tells the truth just 1% of the time).

On paper, Trump's educational background appears impressive. He first attended Fordham University and then transferred in 1966 to the real estate studies program at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree.

But contrary to his self-aggrandizing over-the-top embellishing, Trump's two years at the prestigious business school, from all public accounts, seem mediocre at best. His fellow students have no recollection of him. No Dean's List, no Honor Roll, no notable extra-curricular accomplishments. A completely unmemorable academic existence, including continuing rumors that his grades were unimpressive.

So is the Republican front-runner--the man who questions President Obama and Sen. Ted Cruz's citizenship, and who calls everyone in government "stupid," an academic fraud? Is his self-purported "smarts" as mythical as the Muslims he claims were dancing in the streets following the 9/11 attacks? 

The "Transcripter" movement demands that Trump release his full Fordham and Wharton transcripts. It's time for him to prove just how smart he is, or isn't. Let's see the grades. I suspect his GPA never cracked 3.0, which is why the transcripts remain a hidden mystery.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Reason Why Trump Draws Huge Crowds

Donald Trump's rallies are true political phenomenons, drawing the kind of crowds normally reserved for rock stars. But the reason why 10,000-20,000 people wait in line to see him isn't because they're hungry for a detailed policy speech by one of America's great thinkers.

Nor are they coming to see him, contrary to much speculation among the punditry, because they're so "angry." MSNBC's Jacob Soboroff interviewed Trump supporters at a recent rally but these 'great American patriots' couldn't even intelligently articulate why they're so enraged. One exasperated woman sighed, saying she's "Tired of all the lies we've been told...and I believe everything Donald Trump says..." I guess she missed the Politifact study illustrating that Trump tells the truth just 1% of the time.

So what is it then that's driving this unprecedented attendance? It's simple: Trump's rallies are as hot a commodity as Jerry Springer tickets. His "fans" are there for the spectacle not the substance. They want the hockey fight, not the game itself. The game bores them. They just come for the brawls and bloodshed. And Trump gives 'em plenty of both. "Don-ald, Don-ald, Don-ald!" 

It's the same reason why MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the mainstream media lavishes so much free airtime on Trump, hanging on his every word and covering his rallies live like they're U2 concerts. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and all the other GOP hopefuls are lucky if they get a 20-second clip, while Trump's on the tube 24/7. He's a ratings bonanza, guaranteed to do or say something so outrageous and offensive that it would make even a train wreck wince. Racism? Sexism? Xenophobia? Bullying? It's all part of the daily Donald Trump Road Show. 

To be sure, the media can't get enough of Trump. And neither can the simple-minded citizens of Smalltown, USA, for whom Trump is likely the biggest celebrity they'll ever see up close. Let's face it, when you're in Ames, IA, Hampton, NH or Hilton Head, SC, going to a Trump rally just might be the most exciting thing you can possibly do. 

But bracing the November weather to vote, however, is an entirely different commitment. History and statistics show that come election day these fired-up Trumpites will likely stay home, click the remote and simply switch to another salacious reality show.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What If This Is Actually What Donald Trump's Campaign Is All About?

Thanks to Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential campaign is like no other in the history of American politics. It's certain to be studied in colleges and universities, and analyzed by consultants and pundits, for decades to come.

The old rules, as well as conventional wisdom, have been tossed aside for a whole new fascinatingly despicable play book. Now all a candidate needs to do to become the front runner of a major political party is be angry, insulting, confrontational and totally lacking substance. To hell with being "politically correct;" just fire up blue collar white folks with ignorant racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic rhetoric. 

Which brings us back to Trump, the man who put the "ad" in ad hominem attacks. The buffoonish bully blowhard who's turned the Republican Party on its head in the biggest feeding frenzy in the history of Ids. But what if instead of being an unprecedentedly mean-spirited political campaign it was actually a pioneering, praiseworthy research project that would turn Trump from goat to hero overnight?

How genius would it be if Trump were to announce, just as he started to drop in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, that his campaign was in fact not a legitimate quest for the presidency, but rather to conduct the world's greatest social experiment? That is was a brilliantly crafted scheme designed to expose the bigotry, ignorance and ugliness that's prevalent in American culture. A test

Trump would explain that in his "experiment" he set out to prove that he could do or say anything, no matter how outrageous or offensive, without consequence... because it would tap the raging anger and bigotry in so many Americans. That in his attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator, he'd push the envelope so far until it would draw these bigots out into the open like scattering cockroaches. That the more inflammatory and racist his rhetoric, the more people would like him. And that just when he'd say something so irresponsible and reprehensible that it should finally kill his campaign, it actually would propel it even further.

Trump's initial plan would be to offend Mexicans, immigrants and refugees. He'd call them terrorists and rapists, and threaten to build walls to keep them out. If that didn't turn voters off he'd move on to gays and women. Then he'd attack war heroes and people with disabilities. He'd call his detractors "stupid, "losers" and "bimbos"... and insinuate that female reporters were treating him badly because they were 'menstruating.' He'd lie about 9/11. And when, despite all that, he'd incredulously find himself pulling ahead by 20+ points, he'd call for an all out ban on Muslims.

And this phenomenon would continue unabated. The more despicable Trump's words and actions, the more popular he'd become. Until one day, in typical Trump megalomaniacal grandiosity, he'd step before the cameras for the big reveal:

"I'm leaving the race. I don't want to be president. I never wanted to be president. I just wanted to hold a mirror up to the ignorance and bigotry that lurks dangerously beneath the surface. And you shocked me. The more vile and racist I became, the more you loved me! No matter what I did, I'd go up in the polls! I'd say to Melania, what do I have to do turn these people against me, kill someone?! I pulled off the greatest social experiment in American history. In the end, it wasn't Donald Trump whose behavior was shameful, it was yours. I was merely pretending, but you weren't. You've got a lot to work on, America. And you can thank Trump for exposing it."

Talk about redemption. The last laugh would surely be Trump's...