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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gates and Crowley Share a White House Beer. President Obama Declares an End to Racism


Ya gotta love America. Two weeks ago, when Police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. were screaming at each other like Archie Bunker and George Jefferson, I'm fairly certain the last thing either man thought at that racially-charged moment was that they'd soon be sipping beer together and yukking it up in the White House Rose Garden with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. But that's precisely what they did this week, proving once again that anything can and will happpen in this nutty country of ours.

In a storybook ending worthy of Rodney "why can't we all just get along" King, the Massachusetts antagonists posed in what will go down in political history as the cheesiest, most embarrassing and most gratuitously sensational photo-op ever.

Crowley, after his highly controversial disorderly-conduct arrest of Prof. Gates in his own home, suggested to Obama, after the leader-of-the-free-world said the Cambridge police "acted stupidly," that the three of them get together for a White House brewsky to kiss and make up. A boneheaded suggestion which the president boneheadedly accepted.

With the four men seated at a round table with their frosty mugs of Blue Moon, Bud Light, Sam Adams Light and Buckler's beers, and with Biden and Obama with uprolled sleeves, the picture could not have looked more fake and insincere. What the hell the president intended to get out of this Kumbaya charade is anyone's guess. Neither Gates or Crowley will dislike each other any less, and race relations in America will not be changed one single iota.

That Obama felt the need to inject himself into this non-story and take away precious presidential time from pressing economic and health care matters is beyond belief. For an awfully bright guy who usually has laser-like focus on priorities, this time he's bungled it big time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Fix the U.S. Auto Industry


I own a marketing business. In many ways, we're all marketers. As marketers, the goal is to create products and services that consumers will want to buy. And therein lies the number-one problem with U.S. automakers: no one wants the cars they're manufacturing. The problem isn't the cost of labor, which many would like us to believe, though it's easy to play the union straw-man game here.

True, on first glance, car-manufacturing costs here in America appear much higher than the foreign competition. There's this myth that American autoworkers are paid $70/hour in wages and benefits (for health care and retirement) versus an average of $48/hour for employees of Toyota, for example. But, what this $70/hour statistic doesn't tell you is that it also includes retirement and health-care benefits for current retirees, unlike Toyota's figure, and when that's backed out, the hourly cash compensation and benefits cost drops to below $40/hour for companies like General Motors. There's the strong argument to be made, therefore, that U.S. autoworkers work as cost-efficiently, or even more so, as their foreign counterparts.

To be sure, Detroit's problem is not the autoworker, and it's not the unions. I've been driving Fords for years and they are built solidly and run great. I'll stack up a Ford Focus to any similarly priced foreign car any day. The autoworkers have done their jobs. It's the executives who have failed miserably. Disappearing ingenuity, poor design and dreadful marketing is to blame, not the poor shlep who toils on the assembly-line for eight hours a day. Fix these problems and you'll have a much healthier, more competitive, and more profitable U.S. auto industry.

Easier said than done, right? Granted, I do not profess to have all the answers. It's taken GM, Chrysler and Ford decades to screw things up, so it's safe to say that (a) identifying the underlying problems and (b) finding the cures will take some time as well. But there are some things that truly appear to be low-hanging fruit:

1. Go Retro: what happens every time Detroit rolls out a slick, sexy throwback like the Mustang, T-Bird or PT Cruiser for example? Consumers love it. The problem with cars today is that they all look the same. Big boxy things, medium size boxy things, and small boxy things. I think back to the 60's and 70's, and how each model had its own style, design and individuality. They had curves and contour and were sleek and sexy. So sexy, some of them, that you'd just slowly walk along the side and run your hand along body. Who the hell wants to do that today with any of these homely boxes? Back in the day, you could easily identify any make and model from a block away. Today they're all indistinguishable from each other. They've become commodities.

What should Ford's Mustang success tell us? That perhaps it's time to give consumers more exciting, nostalgic options. Perhaps a retro '72 Lemans. Or how about a '64Corvette, '68 Corvair, '72 Gran Torino or '69 Camaro? I bet these models would fly out of the showroom. And as a marketing ploy they could roll out just one or two new retro models per year, built around a massive, attention-grabbing PR and ad campaign. They could do the same with retro pick-up trucks and other specialty vehicles like the classic "country-squire" station-wagons (complete wih wood-panelling) and the El Camino.

2. Make U.S. Luxury Cars Status Symbols Again: when I was a kid, rich folks bought Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals. If you owned a "Caddy" everyone knew you had made it. What Cadillac needs to do today is embark on a branding campaign that can achieve for its luxury sedans what it has done for its Escalade, which has become the uber-chic vehicle for rappers, playboys, rich businessmen and limo fleets. If you can succeed in making one Cadillac brand sexy and desirable and a true status symbol, it can be done for the others.

3. Create Major Product-Placement Campaign: let's get "hot" American cars all over Hollywood and the music business. Put these new, sexy US-made cars in films, TV shows and music videos to create buzz, branding and status.

4. Give the Hot New Vehicles to A-List Celebrities: Wanna sell thousands of a sexy new model? Identify pop-culture's trend-setters, across all demographics (i.e Britany Spears, Jennifer Aniston, Leo DiCaprio, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Angelina Jolie, Carrie Underwood), and give them free cars to drive around Hollywood....and then make sure they get photographed in them.

5. Create a Massive "Buy American" Campaign: for Pete's sake, Americans are the most patriotic people in the world. Give 'em a reason to raise the flag and they will. Detroit has been woefully impotent in rallying consumers to its "made in the USA" vehicles.

6. Create a Hot American-Made Hybrid: Why has Detroit let Toyota dominate this market with its Prius? Americans buy hybrids to be "green" and energy efficient and, quite frankly, because it's hip and cool to have one. These same people I'm sure would love to buy American as well.

It's time to truly shake things up in Detroit if the U.S. auto industry is going to survive and thrive going forward.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alaska's Moose-Shootin' Quitter-in-Chief Waves Goodbye. People with Brains Everywhere Rejoice



Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin bid a fiery farewell Sunday amid a legion of supporters, thus ending The Fairbanks Follies, the most bizarre chapter in U.S. political history. Where she goes from here is anyone's guess. But if the conspicuous absence of coverage in Monday's NY Times and Wall Street Journal is any indication, no one really cares.

In her semi-angry, condescending 15-minute speech, the self-proclaimed maverick pulled no punches with her detractors. Of the media she said: "You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why, that's why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin' things up." Yer darn tootin' right there, Sarah! You betchya, girl! But if only that were true. Please tell us exactly what the press made up about you, because the way I see it, your reputation for being a vacuous, uninformed, un-curious, un-read, inarticulate political lightweight is 100% factual.

She continued bashing the press: "One other thing for the media, our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone." Well if the new governor shamelessly parades his "very nice family" around like political props they way you did with yours, they'll be up for grabs too.

And as for those amoral show-biz folk: "By the way, Hollywood needs to know, we eat, therefore we hunt!" Yeah, Hollywood, take that...you coke-sniffin', fake-boobin', blasphemous anorexics! (By the way, I was 'huntin' for a nice skirt steak at Gristede's the other day. Does that make me a 'real American' or a Hollywood sleazeball?)

To say Palin is an unpredictable enigma is not enough. She's a walking contradiction. An uber-hypocrite who rails against "government bailouts" but as governor gave every Alaskan $1200 in "energy relief." Kinda hard to paint yourself as a role-model for small-government when your populist moves result in a $741-million handout. That's why Alaskans loved her, temporarily. Her approval rating was a whopping 93% two years ago but has since dwindled to the mid 50's this month. She exits office with a bloated budget, sagging oil revenues, rising unemployment and personal popularity that's hemorrhaging. She can blame Hollywood, the media, Democrats, President Obama, the Bogeyman and whoever else she wants. But she personifies Harry Truman's famous adage, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." She's a quitter. And nobody likes a quitter. Especially sitting in the Oval Office.

While she and the kool-aid drunken, MILF-lovin' Republicans who adore her delude themselves into thinking she's our next president, the rest of us sane Americans know there's not a shot in hell she'd ever make it beyond a GOP nomination, and even that's being generous. She's an empty Versace suit. Style over substance. All smoke and mirrors. And the mirror's gonna get foggier and foggier with each passing day that Palin hits the national stage and opens her mouth. Let's not forget how her woeful inadequacy, cheesy folksiness and obnoxious colloquialisms already derailed one presidential campaign. Now with the word quitter added to her existing unimpressive resume, she's got as much chance of becoming president as I do. I might actually have a better shot...


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Did Obama Mean "Stupid-ly" or "Stoopid-ly"?"


Those who are criticizing President Obama's choice of the word "stupidly" in describing the behavior of Cambridge, MA police officer Sgt. James Crowley in the racially controversial arrest of black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his home last week, clearly are not familiar with urban slang. It's quite possible the nation's first African American president was in fact paying the arresting officer a compliment.

For example, according to www.UrbanDictionary.com, "dope" doesn't mean "fool," it actually means "cool." "Fresh doesn't mean "sassy," it means cool, or "dope." "Def" doesn't mean hard of hearing, it also means "fresh" or "dope." "Phat" does not mean overweight, but "hot" (as in pretty/sexy) or, again, "dope." And similarly, "stoopid" is also used to describe something or someone cool, fresh and dope. Confusing for sure, but hey, I didn't make this stuff up.

Look, we are talking about a president who has rapper Jay-Z on his iPod.
Perhaps it's possible that Obama, in an attempt--however un-dope--was trying to grab some street cred and sound fresh, and therefore was commending Sgt. Crowley's mad-cool, or stoopid police work? A little far-fetched maybe, but everyone should just chillax and stop trippin' and get outta the Prez's grill. Fo' shizzle.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hey Republicans, Can You Answer These Questions Truthfully About the "Obama Economy?"


The Republican party's love affair with former President Ronald Reagan took on Mark Sanford-like Argentinian proportions after eight miserable years of George Bush. To conservatives today, Reagan is God. To Democrats, he's an overrated myth who tripled the deficit and doesn't deserve the hype. But, he was a masterful politician who brilliantly asked Americans during a 1980 televised debate with then-incumbent Jimmy Carter, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" The rest is campaign history.

With the country still reeling from the impact of the worst financial crisis not seen in 80 years, perhaps it's time that that other masterful politician, President Barack Obama, defend his nascent administration's fiscal policies by revisiting and re-phrasing that legendary question: Is the economy stronger now than when Bush left office? It's a really simple question, and one that cuts right through the rampant partisan rhetoric polluting the airwaves today.

So here's a little test for our Republican friends to help them decide the status of the nation's economy. I dare them to answer these questions truthfully, as Americans first, and not as transparent partisan stooges:

1. Is the stock market stronger today than when Bush left office?
2. Is the banking industry stronger than when Bush left office?
3. Are Wall Street companies (JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, etc) doing better today than when Bush left office?
4. Are the credit markets doing better than when Bush left office?
5. Is the auto industry doing better than when Bush left office?
6. Are the housing markets doing better than when Bush left office?
7. Are retailers doing better than when Bush left office?
8. Is the technology industry doing better than when Bush left office?
0. Are monthly jobless claims lower than when Bush left office?
10. Is consumer confidence higher than when Bush left office?

Of course, the answer to every single one of these black and white questions is yes. Conclusion? It's abundantly clear that President Obama's stewardship of the economy has resulted in tremendous improvement from the near-abyss the nation fell into last Fall at the end of Bush's presidency. While Republicans can vehemently criticize Obama's stimulus plan and disingenuously declare its failure all they want, the facts speak for themselves.

Nice work, President Obama. Keep it up. While Republicans may never thank you, their businesses, jobs, homes and savings will.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Passing of Walter Cronkite


The year was 1980. I was a boy from Queens, NY, on my way towards earning a Journalism degree. Like so many other students of the Fourth Estate I had my idols. The role models whose greatness I aspired to someday emulate. I studied the work of perhaps the most famous newsman ever, Edward R. Murrow. I thought Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were true American heroes. And I was completely awed by Walter Cronkite, who had retired from the anchor desk at CBS that same year. He was the silver-haired, staccato'd voice of reason whom everyone trusted and took very, very seriously, especially our nation's presidents.

There are many moments in Cronkite's career that will always be remembered. When he choked back tears as he announced officially the death of President John F. Kennedy, America cried with him. When the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the surface of the moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped off, Cronkite was speechless; as awestruck as a 15-year-old meeting Miley Cyrus. And Cronkite's power and influence was never more on stage than in 1968 after he returned from Vietnam and all but said the war was a lost cause. Then-president Lyndon B. Johnson lamented, "If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America."

It's hard to imagine any one journalist in today's vast maze of broadcast and print news outlets having such devastating impact on presidential politics. But Cronkite was tough, he was courageous, and he spoke the truth from his heart and his soul. Sadly, those virtues are gone from the news business today. Makes one wonder what would've happened during the George W. Bush years if the media had someone with a pair of balls like Cronkite to challenge him on Iraq, torture and Hurricane Katrina for example. Instead, the press was utterly neutered during those eight years, more concerned with preserving its White House gala invites than reporting the news in the take-down mold of Woodward and Bernstein. I'm convinced Cronkite would've single-handedly prevented Bush's second term from happening had he been back at the anchor desk.

Years after Cronkite retired he gave an interview where he spoke of the young John F. Kennedy Jr.'s salute to his father's coffin as it passed during the funeral procession after the Nov 22, 1963 assassination. Cronkite broke down, attempted to compose himself, and through tears smiled and sheepishly offered, "Anchormen aren't supposed to cry." But what Cronkite really taught us was that true leadership and inspiration doesn't come with cowboy swagger and machismo. It comes from being so in touch with the populace that your emotion, your humility, your courage and your strength becomes theirs. And that's what Walter Cronkite gave America during nineteen of the most tumultuous years in our nation's history.

Just a few short years ago I had the thrill of sitting a couple of rows behind Cronkite at several youth ice-hockey games at NYC's Chelsea Piers, where my now 17-year-old son and his grandson played for the same Cyclones team. I was much too scared to approach this living legend, and would've babbled some incoherent gibberish had I done so. But I didn't need to. It was simply enough just to be in the same room with him.

R.I.P. Walter. There will never be another like you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Goldman Announces Record Profit and Bonuses. So Much for Financial Reform and an End to Greed on Wall Street


"Greed is Good," Gordon Gekko, "Wall Street" (1987)

Well, greed is not only good, apparently, it's back, and more ravenous than ever. On Tuesday the venerable Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs announced an astonishing $3.4-billion quarterly profit, it's best ever in its 140-year history. It also announced that it's allocated a whopping $11.4 billion towards employee compensation this year. So, just a few months after being bailed out by the U.S. Government and after much public and congressional excoriation over its high-risk trading and excessive compensation practices, this year's bonuses could match or beat the highest ever, while bringing Goldman back into the dicey mortgage and credit game.

"I find this disconcerting," said Lucian A. Bebchuk, a Harvard law professor, as quoted in Wednesday's NY Times. "My main concern is that it seems to be a return to some of the flawed short-term compensation structures that played an important role in the run-up to the financial crisis."

There are some very obvious questions here. How can Goldman turn around its fortunes so fast, going from government bailout to historic profit just two quarters later amid the worst economic crisis the nation has seen in 80 years? Where's the money coming from? After taking taxpayer money to survive, has Goldman returned to the same high-risk trading tactics that could strangle cash-flow should the markets turn further downward? What happened to all the regulation that was supposed to come with government intervention? How is the public to be assured that Wall Street's financial meltdown last Fall won't happen again, requiring even more taxpayer bailouts as the industry demonstrates an inability to tame it's voracious appetite for massive payouts derived from unsound banking practices?

Goldman received $10-billion last Fall in TARP bailout funds. How about this: next time they experience a cash crunch, rather than receive another government bailout, their employees return their bonus money? Why aren't we passing legislation to ensure that Goldman's highly paid execs, not the American taxpayer, foot the bill of the next bailout? Are we just gonna sit here and watch these greedy fat cats cut themselves massive bonus checks and then cut a check of our own next time they run out of cash? What have we learned from last fall's crisis? What steps are we taking to ensure that there's been true reform and that you, me and every other taxpayer won't have to clean up another colossal mess these reckless cowboys have created? Where does it all stop?

Gordon Gekko: "The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

To be sure, greed is alive and well on Wall Street.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Monday Morning


How come the 911 attack, which occurred 9 months after Bush took office "didn't happen on his watch" and "is Clinton's fault" according to many bull-headed Republicans yet, as House Minority Whip Eric Cantor says, "it's now Obama's economy" after just 5 months?

For sure, let's not focus on the eight years it took Bush to destroy the economy when we can blame Obama for not fixing this colossal mess in his first 5 months.

How can Obama's stimulus plan have "failed," as a chorus of leading Republicans have now charged, when just $57-million of the $787-billion total has been spent so far?

How and why can General Motors so gleefully come out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy just 40days after its sky was falling? Am I missing something?

How is that Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs can report a $2-billion profit (that's profit, kids, not sales) for the month of May (as reported in Monday's NY Times) after needing a government bailout just last Fall? Something smells fishy....

Why is it that some hard-headed Republicans, like Pat Buchanan on Monday's "Morning Joe" MSNBC program, refuse to pronounce Judge Sonya Sotomayor's name correctly (So-to-may-OR), even after fellow guest Chuck Schumer kept saying it correctly? A little not-so-subtle racism perhaps?

Now that we've learned former VP Dick Cheney instructed the CIA to conceal from Congress the administration's interrogation and torture policies, will the vicious right wing attack machine apologize to Nancy Pelosi, who blew the whistle on this in May?

Only a true "mayv-rick" like Sarah Palin can attempt to turn quitting into virtues people can and should respect and admire.

An astounding 71% of Republicans now say they'd vote for Sarah Palin for president. That means that 71% of Republicans are totally fucked in the head.

Do you really think Obama was checking out some 17-year-old Brazilian girl's tush? And even if he was, still better than unjustly invading Iraq and killing 5,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of others, no? Maybe if Bush had checked out some hottie's ass instead of obsessing over Saddam's, the country'd be a lot better off right now.

Since the "Twitter Nation" gave itself so much credit for advancing Iran's post-election rebellion, can we now blame Twitter for its apparent, and unfortunate, failure?

And finally, a non-political thought: Is it really a question whether or not Michael Jackson wanted to be white? If his changing skin-tone over the years leaves any doubt, how about the fact that he chose a white surrogate and he has three white kids? How come this "proud black man" doesn't have black children? Something to think about....


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Most Incredible Moment from Michael Jackson's Memorial


For the past 12 years Michael Jackson paraded his children around the globe like sideshow freaks. What we saw were tiny spectacles shielded under umbrellas and faces hidden by scarves. He dehumanized them at every possible turn. They, like their uber-bizarre, iconic father, became the object of ridicule despite their total innocence. Sadly, the American public barely got a glimpse into these childrens' lives, developed no relationship with them whatsoever, and thus became detached from it all. We certainly never could quite understand Michael's complicated, dysfunctional life, so there was no way we'd understand that of his kids.

But that all changed in one fleeting moment on the stage of LA's Staples Center Tuesday at the outsize, overhyped public tribute to the self-proclaimed King of Pop. Following an emotional rendition of both "We Are the World" and "Heal the World" by the celebrity attendees, the Jackson clan stayed onstage to say their final public goodbyes. The group included Michael's three kids, Paris, 11, Prince Michael 12 and little "Blanket," 7. The children stood nervously amongst the family members as brothers Jermaine and Marlon and then sister Janet shared their grief. It was very touching to see the aunts and uncles demonstrating genuine love, affection and concern for the little ones. At one point during Marlon's tear-filled send-off, Janet hugged Paris tight, leaned in to ask how she was, and then grabbed her hand and held it in hers in such a gentle, supportive way only a loving auntie would do in such an emotionally difficult moment. Paris then leaned her head into Janet's body, looking for and finding the safety she so desperately needed. No matter what I've felt over the years about Janet and the rest of the kooky Jacksons, I will never forget that image of genuine love and tenderness for that little girl who must've been going through a living hell trying to reconcile the sudden death of the only parent she's ever known, while having to do so amid the circus-like atmosphere.

And then in a very surprising moment, Paris chose to speak. She stood in front of the mic and immediately began to break down. As she sobbed uncontrollably, she somehow managed to muster up all the courage a grieving 11-year-old could under the circumstances and said , "I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just wanted to say I love him. So much." It was a totally unscripted, and terribly sad moment, and one would have to be heartless not to have been moved to tears.



I stood mesmerized by that incredibly powerful, gut-wrenching moment. Feeling so sorry for these now motherless and fatherless children. These heretofore mysterious Jacko kids at once became very human and real. Looking and sounding just like every other normal kid who just tragically lost a father they so clearly loved dearly. And it painfully reminded me of my own little girl, for whom I had the unbearable task almost 3 years ago of telling at the tender age of 2 1/2 that her mommy was never coming home again after having been brutally murdered. Brought back a lot of awful memories. No child, or parent for that matter, should ever have to experience such sadness and grief. And shock. I'm not only "daddy" to my little one, but to three older children as well. I can't bear to think about how my sudden, premature death would affect my children. Today, after all the hoopla...after all the singing, the speeches, the Al Sharpton theatrics...when the curtain on this circus was about to come down, all I wanted to do was simply hug that poor little girl and tell her everything was going to be ok. I truly hope, that for her and her siblings, it will be. It's certainly going to be quite an uphill climb.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ostroy on Fox News' "Strategy Room" Monday at 10am


I'll be on FoxNews.com's Strategy room Monday morning (July 6) at 10am. Join us for a lively roundtable discussion of the hot political topics of the day....from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan to Michael Jackson, Gov. Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin, Al Franken and the economy. Watch it live at www.foxnews.com/strategyroom.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ye. Some Suggested New Jobs For an Ex-Maverick


She literally came out of nowhere. She blew onto the American stage with the speed and notoriety of British singer Amy Winehouse, without the booze and rehab but with the same self-destructive flair. She's been called dumb, vacuous, uninformed, inexperienced, underqualified, embarrassing and a joke. Now add quitter to that impressive list of credentials. The key question now is, do Republicans still consider her the future of their party? Gee, I really hope so.

The most famous MILF in America, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, abruptly and with great fanfare, announced Friday that she's resigning from the job she was elected to just three years ago. Just like that, a year early. Adios America, I'm outta here. Obviously, a firm believer in the Truman Doctrine: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." The former vice presidential candidate who faced massive challenges and ridicule over her glaring lack of political experience just quit the only prominent political job she's ever had. This stunning 'maverick move' certainly won't bode well in a much-speculated 2012 presidential run, as some are hinting is part of Palin's convoluted master plan.

In a long, rambling statement, Palin said"...I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks...And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!...I’ve determined it’s best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell." So let's get this straight: you don't wanna be a lame duck Governor because that'll be bad for Alaska, but you believe it's more "efficient and effective" for Alaska to now be run by a lame-duck Lt. Governor. Well Sarah, at least your political gobbledygook is consistent.

When normal English language became too complicated for Sarah she offered us this: "Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me – sports… basketball. I use it because you’re naive if you don’t see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket… and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And I’m doing that – keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities – smaller government, energy Independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it’s time to pass the ball – for victory." What the fuck is she talking about!? To quote my all-time favorite comedian Richard Pryor from a brilliant early routine about The Exorcist: "Is the girl crazy?"

Sarah Palin's time in politics has been a train-wreck worthy of reality television. She's been investigated for abuse-of-power charges. She's spent $150,000 on clothes during the campaign. She defended her daughter's unwed-teen pregnancy as if it was some sort of cool conservative virtue. She's claimed to see Russia from her backyard. She could not name one newspaper or magazine she regularly reads when interviewed by Katie Couric. Most recently she's humiliatingly duked it out publicly with David Letterman. This is a woman who some would like us to believe can lead America in times of war, terrorism and global economic recession? Equipped to be Commander-in-Chief? To be our chief diplomat? I think not. And while we're at it, how she ever got her existing job is a fucking mystery. She makes George W. Bush appear downright cerebral.

To be sure, despite that the GOP might bizarrely continue to view Palin as their savior, she's no Elizabeth Dole, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Christine Todd Whitman, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins or Condoleeza Rice. These are all brilliant thinkers and deft politicians. So here's my suggestion for Sarah Barracuda (her old high-school basketball nickname): stay out of politics. There are plenty of other jobs to excel in and better suited for someone with your skills and personality: flight attendant, librarian, cocktail waitress, nanny, personal shopper, Alaska tour guide to name a few. You can probably even become bigger than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh if someone gave you a daily radio show.

Happy Birthday America, from soon-to-be ex-Gov. Sarah Palin. She's given you the ultimate gift.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"The Jacksons:" The Ultimate Reality Show


I must be losing it. I'm finding myself near-obsessed with the Michael Jackson story and all its bizarro, sordid and sensationalistic details. From Larry King's nightly hour-long expert-testimony-filled JackoFests to Matt Lauer's morning Today Show tours through Neverland, I've become like a jammie-clad high school girl catatonically-captivated by The Hills. The only thing missing is the incessant texting to my pals to gab about it all.

Let's face it, if you're into train wrecks, it doesn't get much better than this. In the age of reality television, this is the ultimate real-life family freak show. Welcome to The Dead King of Bel Air. The life and death of Michael Jackson is a deliciously perfect blend of The Swan, Wife Swap, The Bachelor, American Idol, Celebrity Rehab, Survivor, Cops and The Surreal Life. And I'm fucking hooked.

There's one helluva ensemble cast in this sideshow. We have Papa Joe Jackson, the verbally and physically abusive patriarch who mourned his son's death by immediately basking in the limelight of the BET Awards while practically hawking T-shirts from his trunk. There's sister Janet, who also chose the BET stage to share her pain. There's brother Jermaine, whose healing process required a little Neverland facetime with Lauer . There's also Diana Ross, who likely is about as surprised to learn she's the children's back-up guardian as I would be if I was in the will. (By the way, if something happens to me I think I'd like Joni Mitchell to raise my young daughter. Joni's mature, mellow, sings great and probably has a mad-cool house in Laurel Canyon. Nah, that's a dumb idea. Better stick with the existing plan).

We also have the shameless, attention-starved, sycophantic, blood-sucking media-whore leeches Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who've been about as ubiquitous as Gov. Mark Sanford's love life this past week. Rumor has it that the Dynamic Duo of Dogma are fighting over who gets to eulogize MJ who, a week after his death, is still not buried. I guess when the family's too busy attending awards shows and giving Neverland tours that leaves little time for funerals. Apparently, they can't find the proper place for Michael's grand send-off. Seems like the Rose Bowl, Staples Center and Dodger Stadium are all booked. May I suggest a quaint little church in the Valley perhaps? One large enough to accommodate family and close friends? Ya know, the way other people do it? This is supposed to be a funeral, not a fucking Jackson Reunion Tour. How about just putting the man in the ground with some dignity already?

I suspect the Jackson Family Circus is about to get even more
freakish though. We've yet to to hear from Debbie Rowe, the surrogate who bore two of MJ's kids, and whether or not she's gonna fight to get them back. We've yet to hear from the Supreme Diva herself, Ms. Ross, who's either out at Toys R' Us stocking up on goodies or huddled with her lawyers and publicists. There's the 2002 Will and Testament, which may or may not actually be the "Last." There's the certain legal battles over Jackson's bazillions and the greedy landgrab that'll come from all sides. There's the much-anticipated toxicology report and official autopsy results, which may or may not paint a sad tale of a drug-riddled overdosed cultural icon. Then there's the countless nurses, doctors, lawyers, promoters, colleagues, spiritual advisors and friends who are crawling out of the woodwork to share the juicy lurid details of Michael's life in their insatiable quest for their proverbial 15 minutes. We're also sure to have more tell-all books, TV shows and bio-pics than we could ever have imagined. And speaking of movies, here's a little prediction: "The Michael Jackson Story," starring girlfriend-beating pop star Chris Brown in a career-reviving role. The back-story is tremendous: one tortured soul portraying another.

To be sure, Jackofest is going to be with us for a very, very long time.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"That's Me, Al Franken"


Finally, the state of Minnesota has its second U.S. Senator after an eight-month legal battle following the 2008 election. Al Franken, the former comedian, author and political talk show host, ultimately prevailed over incumbent Norm Coleman in a knock-down, drag-out fight that ended Tuesday in the state's Supreme Court. Franken will join 59 other Democrats next week as the party has its first filibuster-proof majority in thirty years. Of course, it's a great day for Franken, the party, Minnesotans and comedians everywhere.

I remember the 1970's well. Saturday Night Live ruled the day. Franken was one funny (albeit dry, sarcastic and intelligent) dude. But whoever thought that 30 years later he'd become one of the most influential people in the world, holding one of 100 exclusive seats in America's most powerful legislative body? So it got me thinking: who do we have among today's young comic performers who could one day be making law in the Senate's prestigious chambers?

Will Andy Samberg be the first politician to run for U.S. Senator armed with an array of provocative digital shorts starring him and singer Justin Timberlake? Will Sacha Baron Cohen run? And if so, as himself? As Borat? As Bruno? Or what about Jackass's Johnny Knoxville? Think about all the genital-abusing pranks he'd bring to Washington. Just sit back and close your eyes and dream a little. The possibilities are endless.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.