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.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

We're Winning

Call me crazy, but the House Ethics Committee rules changes reversal, the imminent Tom Delay investigation, the John Bolton apparent defeat, and Bush's dead-as-a-doornail Social Security privatization initiative constitute a very exciting trend of Democratic victories. Is this the start of something big? Are the winds of change blowing in Washington? Are Americans tiring of the partisan infighting that has held our political system hostage for years now? Have the Republicans finally gone too far, and have they finally sensed it themselves? Who knows. But what I do know is that we're winning. Small battles perhaps, but you cannot win a war without first winning the battles. Something's in the air. Can you feel it? I certainly can. And it sure smells sweet. Andy

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bill Frist's Not-So-Secret Agenda

Tonite is the The Bill Frist Show. The Senate Majority Leader takes center stage, albeit through a 4-minute videoptaped speech, at the Family Research Counsel's "Justice Sunday" event at a Louisville, KY church. The event, which will be broadcast nationally, is being promoted through fliers with claims that the filibuster is being "used against people of faith." In short, this highly inflammatory rhetoric suggests that if Senate Democrats block a Bush judicial nomination by using the 200-year-old filibuster tactic, then (a) they are attacking the nominee's faith; and (b) they themselves are not people of faith. These accusations, which many in the GOP leadership have been relentless in dispensing, are irresponsible and reprehensible. Tonite's event is a religious sham, and designed to appeal only to the most narrow-minded Christian conservative wing of the Republican party. So why then is Frist heading the bill? It's simple: 2008. Frist has been shamelessly pandering to this group for some time now, most recently in the Terri Schiavo case. He liked what they did for Bush in both 2000 and '04, and he wants them in his court when it's vote time. But he better be careful. This strategy could backfire big time. Most Americans are increasingly fed up with the Religious Right; many Senate and house GOPers are 'losing faith' as well; and not all people of faith share the extremist views of this radical group. For example, there's C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance and the pastor of a Louisiana church. Gaddy is concerned about "the transition from religion as a source of values and wisdom, to religion as a strategy for passing legislation or winning an election." Gaddy believes Frist may have already miscalculated. "I don't judge people's motives," he said. "If Sen. Frist sees this as an essential step in launching a presidential campaign, he's more involved in a stumble than a step." Let's hope he's right. Andy

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Injustice of "Justice Sunday"

Tomorrow evening an event will take place in Louisville, KY at Highview Baptist Church, organized by the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) and will feature a controversial videotaped speech by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Joining Frist will be other Christian conservative icons such as Rev. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and of course the Dean of Dogma himself, Tony Perkins, the FRC's president. The event is to rally churchgoers to protest the filibuster as a weapon used by Senate Democrats to block Bush's conservative judicial appointments. The overall rallying cry is that the filibuster is being "used against people of faith." This is an outrage. Sen. Frist, House Leader Tom Delay and their merry band of Jesus Freaks will stop at nothing to strip this country of its cherished founding principles such as separation of church and state, separation of powers, and checks and balances. How dare they blur the line like this between religion and politics. How dare they make reprehensible accusations that a vote against a Bush judicial appointee is a vote against people of faith. They are relentless in their attempt to portray people against Bush, the Bush administration, his decisions, his appointees, Republicans and the Church as being "the faithless." Since when did Christianity become the only religion? Since when did God become a Republican? Since when did the rules changes so that, to become a "person of faith" you must follow Bush unconditionally, follow the church and follow politicians like Frist and Delay's religious dogma? Are there no Democrats of faith? Are there no Democrats who go to church, temple, mosques and pray to a God? Does God and faith only exist now in 2005 for conservative Republicans and no one else? Wake up America, our beloved land is becoming a very, very scary place. Andy

Friday, April 22, 2005

Feels Good to be a Democrat Today

We lost the House, the Senate, the White House, and perhaps even the courts. We don't control the media, as purported daily by conservative spin monkeys like Rep. Tom Delay, and it sure feels small and insignificant to be a Democrat these days. But not this week. This week I am feeling empowered; satisfied. Hell, I'm even gloating. By all indications, things are looking worse each day for embattled House Leader Delay. The solid wall of Republican support is slowly chipping away. Our poster-boy for morality and ethics is on the hot seat, and it's getting hotter every minute. Let me go out on a limb and say his days are numbered. He's going down. He will eventually lose his leadership post. And let's not forget the midterms, and the fact that he only won in '04 by 55% against a no-name opponent. He could very well find himself playing a lot of tennis in '06 with Tom Daschle. It also appears that President Bush's nominee for UN Ambassador, John Bolton, seems doomed. Apparently, even the Senate GOP is starting to consider that perhaps berating and threatening suboordinates, fishing for secret personnel info, exaggerating WMD threats and chasing a female lawyer through a Moscow hotel just may not be very diplomatic. Lastly, Bush's Social Security privatization plan is all but dead. Senate and House Democrat's take note: you do have power. Look what happens when you stop being Bush's patsys. Next stop, the filibuster. We must win this showdown. But all in all, it sure feels good to be a Democrat right now. Andy

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Voinovich to the Rescue!

Just when it looked as though John Bolton would sail through the nomination process on his road to UN Ambassador despite teasers of opposition from Senators Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Chuck Hagel (Neb), high-drama occurred on the Senate seas. Yesterday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after several impassioned pleas from across the aisle from Joe Biden (DE), Chris Dodd (CT) and others, Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind) aggressively pressed for a vote. Out of nowhere, in true Superhero fashion, out stepped Sen. George Voinovich (OH) to save the day. Full of non-partisan bravado and missing only the cape, Voinovich informed his peers, "I have heard enough today that it gives me some concern about Mr. Bolton." With that, he said he would not vote until more information could be had, and more questions answered. Pressing still for a vote, Lugar persisted, albeit unsuccessfully, and the session eventually came to a halt, with several Republicans, including Lugar, hopping on the "let's further investigate" bandwagon. Whoa! Kudos to Voinovich! An objective politician able to listen to logical debate and have the courage to speak his mind despite heavy partisan pressure. The system does work. So what's the end result? A delay of about two weeks or so, at which time several things can happen. Bush can feel the rising heat and withdraw Bolton's nomination; opposition can increase from Republicans who sense defeat and don't want to be on record as supporting a loser; and most likely, the delay will allow more Bolton dirt to surface and he'll self-destruct. In any case, the Left has cause for celebration. Time's running out on Bolton. Andy

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Delay's Denial and the "Liberal Media"

Claiming he's giving them "the real story," embattled House Leader Tom Delay today sent an email to supporters in his suburban Houston district issuing a sweeping denial of his alledged ethics transgressions. But here's the real kicker: DeLay blames these attacks on Democrats, liberal groups and the "legion of Democrat-friendly press" who are trying to wrest away Republican control of Congress. "It is abundantly clear that their fundamental strategy revolves around attacking me and working to tear down Republican leadership," he said. Ok, much has been said in these and other pages about Delay and his relentless and unsubstantiated accusations about the Democrats and their "mission." But I am really starting to seethe about this notion of a powerful "Liberal Media" that, last time I checked, exists only in the fantasies of Republicans. Just where exactly is this powerful liberal media? Give us names, stations, networks. CNN? Every time I watch it they seem to bend over backwards sucking up to the Right. MSNBC? If anyone calls Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough Left-Wing sympathizers, they're missing some screws. The NY Times? They report in a very balanced manner. I am often just as upset with them for not supporting the Democrats as I am with their coverage of the Right. But isn't that exactly what an objective news publication is supposed to do? Let's make sure we make a distinction between the Times' news coverage and their columnists. The latter is certainly biased towards the Left. But the news coverage is more than fair. Lastly, we now have Air America Radio. Gaining momentum, but hardly the powerhouse of Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc. We all know who controls the airwaves these days, and, unfortunately, it ain't us. So how about it, Tom Delay, quit your incessant whining and defend yourself on the merits of the facts, not some invisible Left-Wing Media Boogeyman out to get ya. Andy

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What Goes Around Come Around....

Back in the 90's, Republicans used the filibuster to block President Clinton's judicial appointments about 60 times. They also used it against him on his economic stimulus package; health care reform; campaign finance reform; and other legislative initiatives. But if you listen to Republicans, the filibuster, around almost as long as our Constitution, seems to have been established in 2000 by the Democrats to unreasonably obstruct the Bush agenda. Of course this is not the case. But it would be a gross abuse of power for the Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, to push through radical rules changes that would strip the Democrats--or perhaps even the Republicans should they ever find themselves the minority party again--of this 200-year-old necessary political weapon. The Republicans also love to play the poor victim these days of the fierce partisan rhetoric of the "Liberal elite" and the virtually non-existent "Liberal media." Led by embattled House Leader Tom Delay, they claim there's a vast Left-Wing conspiracy out to get them. They whine about how nasty politics has become, and they blame that on the Democrats. Well, let's not forget how vicious and relentless the attacks on the Clinton's were in the 90's. It was the Republicans who started the modern nastiness in Washington politics. Much has been said about the apparent friendship between former president Ronald Reagan and then-former House Speaker Tip O'Neil. As legend goes, they'd fight during the day, then set aside their swords and share a drink and some friendly conversation afterwards. Back then, the "aisle" was just a symbolic divider in a Senate or House chamber, and not emblematic of how our elected leaders on both sides of it generally treated each other. But those were not the same Republicans we have today. Today's breed consists of graduates of Newt University, the adult education Mecca for nastiness. And their professors were stalwart conservatives like former Rep. Bob Barr (GA), hellbent on taking down a Democratic president and sparing no cost in the process . I said it back then, and I'm saying it again, the political landscape changed in the 90's. No longer was the terrain one of general respect and courtesies across the aisle. The intense hatred for Bill and Hillary Clinton served to turn Republicans, and the party, into a venomous attack machine capable of doing anything, anything, to win. So it utterly amazes me now to see and hear Republicans crying 'foul.' My friends, you reap what you sow. And what we have now is one giant crop of rhetorical partisan crap born from the Right. The game of politics has been changed forever. Andy

Friday, April 15, 2005

Stackin' The Judicial Deck

Judges beware! The Republican revenge posse is juiced up and angrier than ever. And they're comin' to get ya. It's a two-man tag team in Washington leading the charge. On one front, House Leader Tom "The Devil" Delay is attacking the existing judiciary and on the other front Senate Majority Leader Bill "The Video Diagnoser" Frist is paving the way for the new crop of Christian conservative judge-puppets who'll sail through the nomination process once the age-old filibuster disappears faster than Karl Rove's integrity. You see, these feisty Republicans--the same group of hard-line Federalists who normally champion states' rights and an independent judiciary--just don't like what the judges are deciding these days. Be it abortion, gay marriage, prayer in school, religious objects in public places and government buildings, or the Schiavo case, these renegade judges somehow did not get the memo titled "How the Republican Jesus Freaks Want You to Vote." So instead of abiding by the strict dogma that fuels the religious right, these judges have had the audacity to be independent and impartial, framing their decisions against the U.S. Constitution instead. The nerve! So now we have Delay making not-so-thinly-veiled threats against the judges in the Schiavo case, calling for punishment, impeachment and other as-yet-unnamed harsh treatment alluded to in his reprehensible comments these past few weeks. And we have Frist, who in the coming weeks is sure to force a battle on the Senate floor over the filibuster issue, seeking unprecedented rules changes that would all but result in the Senate being a mere rubber-stamp for President Bush's radical conservative judicial appointments. The showdown between The Frist Gang and the Democrats could embroil the Senate in a brutal, protracted partisan war that virtually brings the legislature to a grinding halt. Let's hope our Republican friends heed the advice of the usually pragmatic Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said "I will vote against the nuclear option . . . because we won't always be in the majority." Now there's a smart politician. Andy

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Delay Under Fire

The downward spiral of House Leader Tom Delay continues with Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) calling for the embattled Republican to resign from his leadership post, and former House Speaker and head Right-Wing nut-emeritus Newt Gingrich calling for Delay to clarify his recent inflammatory rhetoric against judges to the American people. He also recently received a similar sugar-coated wrist slap from Sen. Rick Santorum, and has been distanced from Pres. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Yet despite all this, Delay still asserts that he's the victim here. As Gingrich said, Delay seems to be blaming some "Left Wing conspiracy" for his troubles. It's the Democrats and the media who are out to get him, Delay says. Perhaps it's more a result of the illegal fundraising and conflict-of-interest allegations, Tom? Ya know, the ones for which you've been admonished three times by the bi-partisan House Ethics Committee. Isn't it funny how some politicians refuse to take any ownership over their legal and/or ethical indiscretions. The always-honorable Rev. Al Sharpton, for example, currently being investigated for misuse of campaign funds, blames it on racism; says he's being targeted because he's Black. I guess that makes Tom Delay Black too. Well, not really. He's just a slimy Republican. But he has a scapegoat too in us liberals. So what's to become of Delay? Will the mounting scrutiny and pressure on him increase? Will his fellow slimers in the House and Senate desert him at some point like they did Trent Lott? Not just yet. But a few more embarrassing situations/comments from Delay might just do the trick. Andy

Friday, April 08, 2005

"The Judicial War on Faith"

Will somebody, anybody, please stop Tom Delay from further polluting our political landcsape? Earlier in the week, speaking before a conservative group in Washington on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," he once again glared his venom-spewing fangs at the federal courts, laying out his plan--an apparent follow up to his not-so-thinly-veiled threat against the Schiavo judges last week--for both retribution and change. It seems Rep. Delay believes, despite our very clear separation of powers doctrine, that it's within the power of Congress to legislate the judiciary process, and he put the blame squarely on Congress for allowing "the judiciary to run amok." But what are we really talking about here? Simply put, Delay and his Christian conservative co-conspirators want to change the system, the rules, because they don't like the decisions being handed down by judges. They want Congress to "set parameters" of courts' jurisdictions and its obligation "to make sure the judges administer their responsibilities," especially when it comes to the hot-button cultural wedge issues like school prayer, abortion, gay marriage and religious expression in public/government locations. They want to, in essence, have a pre-determined set of rulings that judges can make on these issues, and then and only then will they be satisfied. But someone needs to remind this blatant defiler of the U.S Constitution that that's not how our system works. There's a reason why our country is great, and it's the 1000% untouchable Democratic principles of separation of church and state; separation of powers; and a system of checks and balances. The theocracy that Delay envisions in his myopic little Oligarchic world is indeed a fantasy in his head, but with each passing day America inches closer and closer to his world and away from ours. Consider Delay's relentless stumping to change the rules so that Congress can impeach, punish and/or remove judges whose decisions the Religious Right does not like. Consider their quest to end the filibuster, so that the minority party can be bulldozed with Christian conservative judicial appointments. This is scary stuff, folks. And it's just plain wrong. We're spending upwards of $200 billion, and losing thousands of lives, to fight for Democracy in Iraq, yet here at home our leaders are hellbent on taking away our freedoms. This has got to stop. Let's start with taking down Delay. Check out yesterday's post for suggestions on how you can get active. Andy

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tom Delay Must Go

What do you get when you cross a whole bunch of PAC money with some foreign travel, a little nepotism, snake oil and a lot of self-righteous religiosity? Tom Delay. That over-zealous little devil is up to his exisiting tricks again, this time on the hotseat for using lobbysists' money for overseas trips and for allegedly laundering $500,000 from his PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority, or Armpac, into the hands of his wife and daughter. Delay's blatant disregard for Congressional ethics, the judiciary process and, quite frankly, the U.S. Constitution, is a disgrace to our political system and a stain on America. He is one of the most ruthless, calculating, polarizing, power-hungry politicians in modern history, and he needs to be stripped of his House GOP leadership post. But will his fellow Republicans do it? Not a chance. They're either too afraid, too in awe, or both. Too afraid because, if you you don't support his initiatives, Delay will commit political homicide. His standard m.o. is to "primary" Republicans who resist his votes, threatening to throw his support to the challenger in the next primary. He also quite effectively dangles the committee chairmanship carrot as a bargaining chip to get his way. And others, the fanatic Christian conservative base of the party, love the vitriole and venom he spews on the hot-button wedge issues like judicial appointments, abortion, gay marriage and Terri Schiavo. Delay's a downright hero to the head Jesus freaks like the Bush Brothers, Frist and Santorum, for whom he does the dirty work but whose hands never get dirty themselves. One day though, he will go too far even for them, and he'll implode. And they'll finally toss him to the curb like the trash he is, but not until he's finished the job (sometime right after the mid-terms perhaps). Right now he's pretty damn good to have around, as he is to the religious right what steriods are to Bobby Bonds. So what's an angry Democrat to do? We can mobilize. We can make noise. We can donate money to help pay for the anti-Delay ads. We can sign petitions and we can demand that our leaders in Congress bring his reign of terror to an end. Visit web sites like MoveOn.org, WithoutDelay.org, OurFuture.org and American Progress.org to take action. Let's strap a bullseye on his back like the Republican's did with Tom "the Obstructionist" Daschle. It's time for Tom "the Law Breaker" Delay to go. Andy

Monday, April 04, 2005

Farewell the Filibuster?

Fresh off their defeat in the Terri Schiavo case, our Republican friends are at it again. Although this time it's they who want to pull the plug...on Senate filibustering of presidential juducial appointments. Can't get what you want the good old fashioned legal way? Change the law! Senate Democrats have used the filibuster to thwart Bush's attempt at ushering in a dangerous crop of right-wing judges into the Federal courts. Frustrating for Republicans? To say the least. But they are not wont to just sit idly by and not get their way. Karl Rove taught them they can have anything they want. The filibuster, an important weapon of the minority party, has been around longer than Rove's love handles. It's part of our system of checks and balances. But the Republicans are more ruthless than ever in their quest for supreme power. To change the filibuster process would be a major travesty of justice and a detriment to all Americans. Let's hope moderate Republican Senators like Olympia Snow, Lincoln Chafee, Arlen Spector, John McCain, Susan Collins and others do the right thing and split ranks on this one. And kudos to W.Va. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democratic elder statesman who's leading the Senate charge on this issue. Got a few extra bucks? I'm sure Sen. Byrd's campaign could use them. He's sure to be the conservatives' numero-uno target come '06. Andy

Friday, April 01, 2005

It's Time to Take Down Tom Delay

Rep. Tom Delay just won't quit. The Republican House leader is one of the most tireless, relentless preachers of religious dogma there is. In the wake of Terri Schiavo's death, just when we thought we might've heard the last of him, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "there he goes again." This mad little devil is now hellbent on retribution. It's not enough that the Schiavo case, leading to her death, had become a major emotional and political distraction from the more pressing issues confronting Americans today. Now Delay wants the judges heads on a silver platter. He blames them for Ms. Schiavo's death, calling them "an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary." He released a statement yesterday warning "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today." Just what the hell is he talking about here? Is this a thinly veiled threat of violence? Is he speaking in code to the throngs of Jesus freaks out there ready to kill judges with whom they disagree? This is totally irresponsible, reprehensible and just plain dangerous behavior on the part of the 2nd highest-ranking GOP'er in the House, especially after the death threats already received in this case by Judge George Greer of the Florida Circuit Court. And let's not forget the murder of Chicago Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother a month ago by a deranged defendant. What this country doesn't need is a vindictive right wing extremist in Washington urging more violence. Devil Delay needs to be censured. And he needs more than just a wrist-slap. He's already been admonished three times by the House Ethics Committee for alleged illegal fundraising activity. It's time for Travis County, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle to finally hand up that indictment of Delay, a move that, under House rules, would force him from his leadership perch. And the FBI should grill him on just what he meant by his vague threat yesterday. Let's put Delay back where he belongs: on the hotseat defending against his own abuses of power. Maybe then and only then will he no longer have the time to preach what he doesn't practice. Andy