Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ostroy on Thursday Morning's "Strategy Room" on

Please tune in Thursday morning, Feb. 26th, as I'm scheduled to appear for the 10-11am hour of's "Strategy Room."

I'll be representing the rational voice from the Left in what is sure to be a very lively, spirited roundtable on the hot political topics of the day. You can stream it live at Stop by and check it out....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Party of "No"

In response to President Obama's agenda for the country, Republicans have borrowed former First Lady Nancy Reagan's mantra from her 1980's anti-drug campaign: Just Say No! Get used to it. This is the strategy the GOP's gonna employ for the next four years as it attempts to bring Obama down and win back the House and Senate. And what a boneheaded strategy it is.

We recently saw the Senate pass the president's $787-billion economic stimulus bill with just three GOP moderates--Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter--breaking ranks to vote for it. The measure previously passed in the House with 177 Republicans marching in lockstep to vote against it. Not one single vote from the right. Smells a little fishy, right? After former President Bush and Republicans gave Wall Street and the banking industry $2-trillion last Fall in bailouts and guarantees, don't tell me the January 29th vote on the Hill was anything more than pure partisan politics at its worst.

Make no mistake: Republicans are pissed off. They got trounced in November, and their response has been to act like spoiled, petulant, whiny 4-year-olds. The geniuses in the Party have decided that the road back to power is paved with defiant, unified opposition. That's a very calculated strategy that's going to backfire big-time.

Americans mandated change when they elected Obama president and gave Democrats greater majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama currently enjoys a 68% approval rating, higher than when he was campaigning for the job. And Democrats hold a 12-point approval lead over their colleagues across the aisle. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday morning shows 74% of Americans believe Obama is "trying to work with Republicans to get things done" while 59% said no to the question "Are Republicans trying to compromise with Obama." After eight miserably polarizing years under Bush, Obama's attempting to bring a new bi-partisan civility and tone to Washington, and Americans clearly recognize and support that. But he's wasting his time. For Pete's sake, his former rival Sen. John McCain on Monday challenged him over his use of a helicopter! Can it get any more trivial and petty than that? In that one little 'copter comment from McNasty we got to see just what these guys are all about.

With regard to the stimulus bill, wouldn't it have been more politically prudent for Republicans to rally around the president in a show of unity as they together attempt to lift the American economy out of its current abyss? Wouldn't it have been better to show voters they're part of the solution, while at the same time denouncing parts of the bill but promising Americans to "keep Obama and the Democrats in check" as the watchdog party these next few years? I'd call that a win-win for the GOP. But that's not what Republicans have up their crisp white sleeves. What they want is to giddily roll into the 2010 midterm elections with a smug "I told ya so" campaign theme. To be able to proudly declare, "we didn't vote for this bill." There is the right's unwavering hope that Obama and the Democrats fail in its efforts to jumpstart the economy. They see that as their ticket back to victory.

But what Republicans fail to grasp is that Obama's plan must succeed. It has to succeed. It simply cannot fail, period. Because if it does, and we're still racked by this financial crisis in 2010, we're all gonna be bankrupt and on breadlines...and that includes House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Opposer-in-Chief John McCrusty himself. If these GOP clowns believe that America can withstand another 20 months of recession, credit freezes, layoffs and stock market declines, it's truly delusional and drunk on it's own Kool-aid. Poison Kool-aid. The kind that kills political parties for good...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Guess What? Cheney's Still a Dick!

It was an eerie foreshadowing of things to come perhaps. Former vice president Dick Cheney, at President Barack Obama's inauguration, looking an awful lot like a cross between the Grim Reaper and Mr. Potter, the sinister banker from the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life."

Well, he hasn't disappointed. The world's most infamous dick proved yet again that he never tires of scaring the bajesus out of Americans. The human Orange-Alert gravely warned that because of Obama's policies there's a "high probability" that the United States faces "a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind" targeting a major city. Boo!

Cheney warned that the proposed closing of the Guantanamo prison, along with greater restrictions and limitations on interrogation tactics, puts the nation at severe risk of terrorist attack: "The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes."

It seems Darth Vader believes the Obama team's simply gonna sit arm-in-arm with our enemies and sing Kumbaya while America's targeted for a horrific attack: "When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."

Let it be known for the record that the biggest terror attack in U.S. history occurred on Cheney and Bush's watch, and that acts of terrorism around the world increased significantly while those two fear mongers were at the controls. Lastly, that seven years passed since the 9-11 attacks is not necessarily something Americans should rest assured by. Keep in mind it was eight years between the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Maybe it's still a bit too early for Cheney's self-aggrandizing.

Cheney defended the harsh tactics he and his former boss employed in the war on terror. Protecting America is "a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business," Cheney asserted. "These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek."

And he ought to know. He's the toughest, meanest, dirtiest, nastiest most evil person to ever hit Washington.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Why Obama Must Drop Daschle

President Barack Obama wants former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. There's just one snag: Daschle hadn't disclosed that he failed to pay $128,000 in taxes on the car and driver provided for him by Alston & Bird, the D.C. law and lobbying firm where he served as Special Public Policy Advisor to various health-care clients since 2005.

Then there's Tim Geithner, Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary, who is a former executive (2001-2003) of the International Monetary Fund, where he failed to pay $15,000 in Social Security taxes; taxes he was responsible for paying the government directly, since the IMF did not withhold them from his paychecks. He recently paid the tax plus almost $2000 in interest, but no penalties.

And in an effort to cleanse Washington from its diseased influence from special interests--rampant under the Bush administration--Obama announced strict new rules limiting lobbyist activity, promising that "no political appointees in an Obama administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years." The only problem was that just 24 hours later he appointed William Lynn III, a former lobbyist for U.S. defense contractor, Raytheon, to be a Deputy Secretary of Defense.

With these questionable appointments, the prevailing White House justification has been that each candidate is "uniquely qualified" for the job. But is that really good enough? Is that what Obama meant when he promised America that he was bringing a new moral and ethical standard to Washington in the post-Bush era? Is this really the message he wants to convey to voters in just his fist month in office; a message that it's ok to break or skirt the law just as long as you're a good guy with a special skill-set? Or that it's ok, as in the case with Lynn, to bend your own rules when it suits you?

The answer, of course, is no. Obama has an opportunity with Daschle to get his mission back on course, and to to deliver on his promise to hold his staff to higher standards. He should lead by example, and that means withdrawing the former Senate Majority/Minority Leader's nomination immediately before the soup gets too thick and he gives Republicans too much ammo in their opposition role.

Let's face it, there's plenty of folks who can fill Daschle's post. He's an extraneous piece of the Obama puzzle. He's simply not worth the fight; not worth the potential damage to Obama's reputation. Unlike Geithner, who's former role as head of the New York Fed makes him supremely qualified to help steer the nation through this deep economic and banking crisis, Daschle is expendable. Now don't get me wrong: I'm not justifying Geithner's appointment because he is "uniquely qualified.". The point is, if Obama wants to score points with voters and immediately shift the PR momentum, he can do so and still end up with the guy he really needs by casting off the one he doesn't. It's a smart political move.