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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Dick Cheney Interview We'd Love to See


Former Vice President Dick Cheney settles into his Wyoming living room for an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace. Cheney looks frustrated, irritated and impatient, yet still possesses the aura of the uber-confident terror-fighting SuperHero so few people truly understand and appreciate:

Wallace: It's been eight years since we were attacked on Sept 11th by al Qaeda. Mr. Vice President, is America safe?

Cheney: Is Nancy Pelosi's voice grating and shrill? C'mon, Wallace, you must've been one helluva softball pitcher as a kid. What kind of dumb question is that? Of course we're safe? Notice any attacks lately?

Wallace: No. But it took eight years between the first World Trade Center attacks and the 9-11 attacks. Doesn't it worry you that Al Qaeda is a methodical planner and could just been gearing up for the next wave of terror?

Cheney: No, under the Bush administration we employed the finest, most highly-trained operatives to locate, infiltrate, and destroy countless al Qaeda cells. We killed their leaders. We wiped 'em out, baby. Mission accomplished. And we did it by being tough of these bastards.

Wallace: Yes, but, you have come under extreme fire lately now that we have a better understanding of the interrogation tactics--which many believe to be cruel and illegal--which the administration secretly and without Congressional approval authorized the CIA to use on HVT's, or High-Value Targets. There's some pretty awful stuff that took place, no?

Cheney: What are you, a pussy Wallace? What specifically do you have a problem with?

Wallace: Well, threatening to drill holes into prisoners' heads with power-drills...I mean, Mr. Vice President, that does seem pretty harsh and inhumane according to American standards.

Cheney: Oh my God, you are a pussy. (angrily) Lynne, get me my Black & Decker...I'm gonna show this little weasel what.....

Wallace: Wait, wait, wait....Mr. Vice President, that's ok, I get it. You're saying we did what we had to do to keep the country safe. At all costs. We had no choice.

Cheney: Now you're seeing things the right way, Mike.

Wallace: Chris.

Cheney: What?

Wallace: Chris. Chris Wallace. Mike's my dad.

Cheney: (angrily motions to his assistant) This ain't Mike Wallace? Who the fuck is this guy? I thought I was talking to Mike Wallace. I should shoot you in the fucking face over this. (turns back to Wallace)You have any more questions, kid?

Wallace: Yes, if we may proceed with the interview....

Cheney: Fire away, Junior.

Wallace: Mr. Vice President, you've been very vocal these past 8 months in harshly criticizing President Obama and his administration's national security policies. You accuse him now of using the Justice Department for political purposes over the CIA scandal, and that it's making America less safe as a result. Your critics charge that (a) no administration in history has used the various levers of government for their own political gain more than the Bush administration, and that (b) your comments are nothing more than a self-aggrandizing attempt to redeem yourself for failing to protect us on 9-11, for getting us into an unjust war in Iraq, and for violating international law, the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. Constitution and America's own rule of law. In short, Mr. Vice President, that it's all a desperate PR campaign to excuse and justify committing various war crimes. Your response?

Cheney: That's it, get me my shotgun! I'm shooting this fucker in the face! Come here you little bastard..I'm gonna....

Wallace: (running for his life) Hey, wait, Mr. Vice President, stop that! I'm...outta...hereeeeeeeeeee......


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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wal-Mart's Hypocritical Music Policy



What do recording artists Green Day, Sheryl Crow, Nirvana, Radiohead, Pat Benatar, John Cougar Mellencamp and Tom Petty have in common? They've all had albums or songs banned or censored by superstore Wal-Mart. The same Wal-Mart which on August 31 will exclusively release the new album, "The Time of Our Lives" from 16-year-old writhing, gyrating, pole-dancing, near-naked-posing pop tart Miley Cyrus.

From the Walmart.com website:

..."Recordings identified with the Parental Advisory Label may contain strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse. Wal-Mart Stores, Sam's Club and Walmart.com (collectively "Wal-Mart") do not carry recordings designated with the Parental Advisory Label."

But apparently to Wal-Mart, a barely-post-pubescent Lolita act without a Parental Advisory Label is just fine. The dual-named singing sensation (still not sure what the the difference is between Miley and alter-ego Hannah Montana, but I'm not 10 either) has come under fire in the last year for her bizarrely sexually suggestive Vanity Fair photos with her dad Billy Ray Cyrus and for dancing provocatively with a stripper-like pole at the recent Teen Choice Awards. She also has a boyfriend who's old enough to drink, drive, vote and serve in the military, but too old to be romancing little girls....no matter how old they look and/or pretend to be. 16 is 16.

To be sure, Sheryl Crow is no worse for society, or at least Wal-Mart's allegedly God-fearing customers, than Cyrus. But then again, mega-star Miley/Hannah sells a shitload more albums than Sheryl. And being the exclusive distributor? Well, you can figure out for yourself how ginormously profitable this album will be for the superstore.

When it comes to Wal-Mart's morality, apparently it's all about the Benjamin's, baby.


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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Psycho Kidnapper-Rapist Phillip Garrido Should be Put to Death


In 1988 Phillip Garrido was released from prison after serving eleven years for kidnapping and raping a Nevada woman. He was supposed to serve fifty years but was paroled and tagged a registered sex-offender. And now we know the chilling details of the 1991 abduction of then-11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, now 29, who Garrido and his wife Nancy grabbed off the street in front of her Northern California home and held her prisoner in their backyard shed, during which time he repeatedly raped her and ultimately fathered her two children, 15 and 11. Do the math: she was impregnated at age 14.

This sick monster, who delusionally called the ordeal a "heartwarming story" when arrested, should not have been free to stalk his child victim. How is it that one can kidnap and rape someone, receive fifty years, and be on the street in ten? There's something radically wrong with our criminal justice system when animals like Garrido walk amongst us after committing horrific crimes.

So now what do we do with this deranged psychopath who has zero chance of being rehabilitated? If it was up to me he'd be put to death. Get rid of his sorry criminal ass once and for all so that he can no longer pose a threat to another human being, inside or outside of prison. Why should we pay a couple of hundred thousand dollars to incarcerate him for the rest of his life? I don't want my tax-dollars paying for his shelter, his three daily squares, his television, his prison-yard weight-lifting, his college degree. I don't want him reading, watching movies, listening to music, exercising.

As the father of a young daughter I cannot fathom what Dugard's mother and stepfather have been through. What Garrido did to this poor young girl is beyond unconscionable. He robbed her of her life. He mentally, verbally, physically and sexually abused her for 19 years. He destroyed her spirit. There simply is no mercy that should be shown this beast. I want him first gang-raped in prison, then castrated, and finally executed. With Dugard pulling the lever.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Real Appeal of Ted Kennedy and the Camelot Clan


In the wake of Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, I think the one thing that unified Americans in their appreciation and affection for the Kennedys and Teddy in particular perhaps was that, after putting aside the family's vast wealth, they lived and died just like the rest of us. And in that lesson is the painful reality that money can't buy love, health or happiness, or prevent unfathomable horror.

To be sure, the Kennedy clan is America's version of royalty, complete with the queen-like figure in the late matriarchal Rose. But just like Great Britain's royal family, this Camelot had more than its fair share of dysfunction and tragedy. The Kennedy Curse, as it's known.

The Kennedys are no stranger to alcoholism, drug addiction, DWI's, adultery, cancer, amputations (Ted Jr), stillborn and premature infant death (Arabella, Patrick), plane crashes (Joseph Jr., Kathleen, Ted, John)) accidental death (John Jr), murder (John and Bobby) and scandal (Ted's Mary Jo Kopechne Chappaquiddick drowning; William Smith's Palm Beach rape charge; Michael Skakel's murder conviction). They're a living, breathing soap opera. But America loves a good soap opera.

And all of this melodrama was part of the same initial appeal George W. Bush had with voters. The "he's just like us" factor. It's why people like John McCain, John Kerry and Mitt Romney fail to catch on nationally with voters in the same way. Looking past their vast wealth, there is nothing seemingly humble about their beginnings or the lives that followed. They are largely viewed as privileged, lacking that same connection that the Kennedys made with the common man. Will we ever forget the heartbreaking images of Americans of all ages, religions and races sobbing in grief at the tragic losses of John, Bobby and John Jr. as if these iconic figures were part of their own families?

As the proverb goes, some people are born on 3rd base and think they've hit a triple. The Kennedys always knew they were born there, but never forgot that most everyone else hadn't been. They dedicated their lives to public service, trying to help the little guy reach 3rd even knowing that, no matter how fast he ran, he'd still never hit that triple.

Ted Kennedy's contribution to American culture and society can be seen in virtually every historic issue fought in modern American politics, including health care, social security and medicare, minimum wages, education, immigration, aid for senior citizens, civil rights, voter's rights, women's rights, gay rights and human rights. And he accomplished all this as a gentleman and a respected bi-partisan leader, with civility, graciousness and humor. A larger-than-life Washington character. Sadly, there's no one to step in and fill his shoes....on either side of the aisle.

Ted Kennedy's legacy, and that of his family, is abundantly clear. But more importantly, so are the many reasons he was loved and cherished by so many as a true national treasure.

RIP, Liberal Lion.


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, August 26, 2009

This Democrat is Disappointed with his President and his Party


For eight miserable, depressing, frustrating years Democrats watched helplessly as President George W. Bush and the Republican Party used every legal, illegal, amoral, unethical and unconstitutional ploy to first gain, consolidate and then hold onto power. They didn't care who or what got in their way. They were a robotically disciplined, ruthless political goon squad which stayed on message like a brainwashed cult.

It began in 2000 with a stolen election handed to Bush by a partisan Supreme Court, which bucked its own federalism position to end the Florida recount. It continued with manipulating intelligence and perpetrating lies in order to invade Iraq in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. From there we saw the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame; the Abu Ghraib abuses; the firing of U.S. attorneys; illegal wiretappings and the breaking of FISA laws; and as we learned this week, illegal torture and interrogation techniques involving guns, power-drills, death threats and mock executions.

Power is not something modern Democrats are used to. The GOP controlled both houses of Congress from 1994 until 2006. And with the exception of Bill Clinton's two terms from 1992 to 2000, they've controlled the presidency dating back to Ronald Reagan in 1980. But now Democrats not only own the White House, but have an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Yet oddly they're still acting as if they're on the outside looking in. With no power. At the mercy of Republicans still. They appear leaderless and without direction. They seem lost and ineffectual. And it starts with Obama, who seems overwhelmed by several domestic and foreign crises, causing him to waiver and flip-flip in attempting to carry out his vision.

Obama needs to accept that voters elected him president and gave Democrats congressional majorities to bring about change and not be a bunch of weak-kneed, spineless namby-pambys who still fantasize about bi-partisanship. The president needs to grow some balls and start acting a little Bush-like in pushing through his agenda. It's time to stop singing Kumbaya.

So here's some advice to Obama on how and where he needs to get tough:

1. Health care: stop pussyfooting around while conservatives destroy your reform bill. Get on the tube in a primetime address to the nation and forcefully dispel the myths being perpetrated by disingenuous Republicans. Look straight into the camera and tell Americans that they are being lied to. That he's about to drop his public option provision is a colossal sign of weakness. Get tough, dammit!

2. Prosecute Bushevik war criminals, including Bush and Cheney if the evidence is there. You can bet your ass that's what they'd do if the situation was reversed. These criminals need to be held accountable, or America's rule of law is meaningless. Forget your "I'd rather look forward than backward" nice guy routine. Message to Obama: against the ruthless GOP attack-machine, nice guys finish last.

3. Tell Dick Cheney to shut the fuck up once and for all: commenting on the new CIA torture scandal, the bloviating former vice president charged this week that Obama was politicizing the Justice Department at the expense of national security. Obama needs to figure out a presidential way to tell Dr. Evil to shut his self-aggrandizing, ass-covering trap already. Enough's enough from Darth Vader. Nobody gives a shit what he thinks.

4. Guns at rallies: allowing armed freaks to parade around rallies and town halls like Rambo while the president and Congressmen are feet away is the most insane thing I have ever seen, and Obama needs to put an immediate end to it without worrying about hurting the NRA's feelings. For Pete's sake, the Busheviks banned "No Bush" t-shirts at rallies. Can you imagine them letting protesters with assault rifles near Dubya?

5. The Release of Pan Am Terrorist Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi: After serving less than a third of his 27-year sentence, Megrahi, terminally ill at 57, was freed by the Scottish government last week on "compassionate grounds" so he could go home to Libya, where he received a hero's welcome, to die amongst family. This monster showed zero compassion in killing 270 innocent people when he blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Obama's tepid response--that it was "highly objectionable"--fell far too short. Releasing this butcher is an outrageous, unconscionable act, and one that is highly insensitive to the victims' families. Where was Obama's stern warning not to release him? Next time get it right, O.

6. The Economy: by any measurement, the economy has clearly bottomed and is in recovery. The housing, banking and financial industries have strengthened; job losses have been halved; Q2 GDP contracted just 1% from the previous 6.4% in Q1; consumer confidence is up appreciably; and there's a raging bull on Wall Street. Obama needs to address the nation and, in Reagan-esque fashion, ask Americans if they're better off today than they were 10 months ago when Bush's economy was in a death spiral. Take the offensive and claim success!

A final message to Obama: it's time to get aggressive, show some certitude, and be resolute in your positions. Stop banging your head into walls trying to create bi-partisan love and start showing some tough love. Do what voters elected you and Congress to do: shake things up, make radical changes, and take America in a new direction. If you don't, you will lead your party down a ruinous path in the 2010 midterm elections, and you are certain to be a one-term president.


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, August 25, 2009

Mock Executions, Power Drills to the Head and "We'll Kill Your Mama?" Why Obama Must Fully Prosecute Bush's War Criminals


So now we know the CIA went even further than previously thought in interrogating and torturing terror suspects. This includes guns and power-drills pointed at heads; death threats against family members; and mock executions. Democrats are outraged, while hypocritical Republicans are claiming witch hunt.

This coming from a party that impeached a U.S president, Bill Clinton, on charges stemming from an adulterous affair. The same party that's now crying foul over a special war crimes investigation. It's good that right-wingers have their priorities straight, huh?

As expected, the vicious GOP attack machine kicked into high gear Tuesday, tearing a familiar page from its lies and deception playbook. Right-wing radio's spinheads are literally whipping themselves into a mouth-frothing frenzy, claiming "the Obama administration is creating this CIA scandal to divert attention away from its problems" and how "all the left cares about is protecting the feelings of murderous terrorists" or that "liberals want to destroy our Democracy." This is the sort of reprehensible and irresponsible rhetoric we heard repeatedly during the Bush years. It's what Republicans do best, and Obama and the Democrats better get on the offensive or they'll end up having to relentlessly defend themselves from this hateful drivel, which would be a major distraction and undermine their entire agenda.

Obama and the Democrats will never succeed in the propaganda war if they simply meet lies with intelligent, rational response. They need to grab the controls and re-frame the debate rather than constantly play defense. And maybe they should even start spreading some lies of their own. Put Republicans on the defensive for a change. Its time to fight fire with fire. Why be swift-boated again? Have Democrats forgotten how the Rovians succeeding in making the war hero John Kerry look weak on national security while turning draft-dodging Bush and Cheney into John Wayne? Is there any doubt they'll exploit the CIA scandal, painting Democrats as unpatriotic in the process? Or that they'll take the recovering economy, and twist reality so that voters think that things are headed in the wrong direction? Just look how they've hijacked the health-care debate, spreading despicable lies about "death panels" and "pulling the plug on Grandma." History can so repeat itself.

Now let's address the issue of whether the CIA went beyond the call of duty in its interrogation techniques. Hindsight is indeed a luxury, and to be sure, the threats posed by non-uniformed, suicidal, murderous terrorist butchers are by far more frightening and harder to combat than our traditional enemies of the past. But that's again in the context of history. If we go back 65-70 years, when America battled the Nazis, Mussolini and the Japanese, or during the ensuing decades when the paranoid Communist Russian fear raged out of control, the Unites States military and intelligence apparatus managed to protect the nation while still abiding by international law.

Throughout modern U.S. history, each presidential administration viewed its then-enemy as the most dangerous and deadly. But what kind of nation will we become if we suddenly decide that the current enemy is the most deadly, and therefore we no longer must obey international law, the Geneva Conventions, FISA laws, the Constitution or our own rule of law? Where do we draw the line? Once the bar is reset for "acceptable" interrogation and torture, the playbook will be forever changed, and American soldiers' lives will be at stake. What happens to these brave servicemen and women when they are captured if we've committed illegal acts of torture all under the name of national security? What's to stop other armies from doing the same? And if so, what are we left with? When laws are no longer respected you have anarchy. Which is why President Obama must punish these Bush-era criminals under the fullest extent of the law. This isn't a presidential blowjob we're talking about here.....


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.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ridge Says Bushies Exploited Terror Threats for Political Purposes. No S**t, Sherlock


So now it's been officially confirmed: With political gain as the goal, President George W. Bush's administration attempted to elevate the terror alert just days before the 2004 presidential election. The disclosure comes from former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in his new book, "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege . . . and How We Can Be Safe Again"

Ridge writes that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, in reaction to a threatening video released by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on October 29, 2004, "strongly urged" that the threat level be raised just three days prior to the election, and that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld concurred with Ashcroft. Ridge claims he vehemently disagreed, suggesting that elevating the threat level on the eve of the election was not warranted and would undermine the administration's credibility.

As expected, Bush officials have denied Ridge's allegations:

"The story line advanced by his publisher seemingly to sell copies of the book is nonsense," said Rumsfeld's spokesman.

Former White House chief of staff Andy Card said: "We went over backwards repeatedly and with great discipline to make sure politics did not influence any national security and homeland security decisions. The clear instructions were to make sure politics never influenced anything."

And former homeland security adviser Fran Townsend: "I’m a little mystified. Never in my experience did I see any political influence exerted on the cabinet secretary."

This is a huge story, but not a surprising one. Anyone with half a brain knew that the Bushies waged its own terror campaign between Sept 11, 2001 and the 2004 election, scaring the bajesus out of Americans by frequently manipulating the threat level to its political advantage. As Associated Press's Ron Fournier wrote in the summer of 2004:

"The politics of terrorism has Democrats tied in knots. Each time President Bush raises fears of a possible attack, the political debate shifts from his most troublesome issue (Iraq) to one of his strongest (the war on terrorism) while Democrats fight their impulse to question the president's motives."

To be sure, as this story unfolds, the criticism of Ridge will intensify. In typical Bushevik fashion, you can bet there'll be harsh attacks and character assassinations, all of which will directly contradict the previous public praise lavished on Ridge:

March 2, 2004: President Bush said Ridge and other officials "are doing a fantastic job of leading this department."

December 1, 2004, the day after Ridge announced his resignation, Bush said: "His efforts have resulted in safer skies, increased border and port security, and enhanced measures to safeguard our critical infrastructure and the American public. In the fight against terrorism, he has played a vital role in protecting the American people from a real and ongoing threat."

That is, of course, until Ridge blew the whistle on his former boss. But his explosive charge is really old news in a way. He's really not telling us anything we didn't already suspect. The Busheviks for eight years abused the power of the presidency, consistently using the White House, the Justice Department and the Attorney General's office, and other levers of government, for political gain. Whether manipulating terror threats, firing U.S. attorneys, or smearing former Ambassador Joe Wilson for example, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft/Gonzalez cabal zealously and consistently played the politics of fear game. But will any of them ever pay for their misdeeds? Don't hold your breath.


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, August 19, 2009

Kudos to Barney Frank. Leave it to a Gay Guy to Have the Biggest Balls in Washington



The Town Hall Health Care Crazies are still out in full force, disrupting and hijacking these events and putting elected officials on the hot seat. But not at Rep. Barney Frank's gathering in Massachusetts Tuesday night. Frank, the biggest bad ass in Washington, issued a glorious and long-overdue smack down of some fringe lunatic who compared President Barack Obama's health-care reform to the policies of Nazi Germany.

..."My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?" the woman asked Frank.

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?," an incredulous Frank rhetorically replied, indignantly adding "You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis....Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."

Bravo, Barney. Frank's our new Congressional hero. It's about time someone stood up to these belligerent, ignorant freaks and simply told them to fuck off. He's the only politician so far who's refused to dignify this hate-filled, incendiary nonsense with a reply. I'm sorry, but these Town Hall meetings are not a forum of entitlement, where vile rebel-rousers have an inalienable right to bitch-slap politicians and waste their time with inflammatory crazy-speak. What Frank did today was poetic justice and should be a lesson-learned for other politicians facing these angry mobs of malicious misanthropes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'll Say What Most Democrats Won't: Obama Needs to Grow Some Balls Quickly or his Administration Will Implode


There's a lot at stake for President Barack Obama in his battle to reform the health-care industry. In many ways, this very contentious debate is the House of Cards of his political legacy. Many believe that as goes health-care reform, so goes Obama. And they're right. Obama seems lost right now, and that's not a good thing for him, for Democrats or for the nation.

Obama has shown a general unwillingness to put up an aggressive fight for what he says he believes in. He's appearing weak, indecisive and without conviction. The health-care initiative seems on the verge of imploding, and with it will go the president's stock.

The latest sign of trouble is the speculation that the White House could soon be dropping its once-essential "public option" from its proposed health plan, now referring to it as "not the essential element," as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said over the weekend. This is extremely disturbing, if true, for it shows that the president is bowing under pressure and compromising where he should not.

Let's get straight to the point: Obama seems more concerned with peacemaking than reform-making. He seems more preoccupied with staying popular, despite his tanking approval ratings, than with pursuing an aggressive agenda of change; change which he was elected to achieve. For an incredibly articulate and bright guy he seems woefully unprepared for the health-care debate. He still doesn't get it that mere talking-points and likability just won't cut it against (a) a massively misinformed electorate desperately in need of specifics and plan details; and (b) a Republican Party hellbent on destroying him with lies and misrepresentations.

To be sure, he's no George W. Bush, with whom I disagreed on virtual every domestic and global issue, but who demonstrated certitude when carrying out his agenda. When he wanted to march us into war, he did. When he wanted to use illegal torture and spying techniques, he did. When he wanted to lower taxes for the richest Americans, he did. When he wanted to take down political enemies like former Ambassador Joe Wilson, he did. He didn't care what Congress, the Senate or Democrats thought, and he never paid attention to public opinion polls. He was resolute and his precision was laser-like. He got the job done.

No doubt, Bush was dangerous, insecure and impulsive. A reckless cowboy whose irresponsible actions we're still paying for and will be for some time. But, he fought hard and relentlessly for what he believed in, which is an awful lot more than we can say about Obama in his initial seven months.

There is no better time for Obama than the present. The power and the bully pulpit of the White House is his. He also has the benefit of an overwhelming majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He still has the support of Americans, who elected him in a clear mandate for change. He's a brilliant politician and has the ability to rally people into his corner. There's still time for him to prove he can get the job done, but not much.

With his rapidly dwindling popularity, and with voters growing increasingly frustrated by the minute, Obama needs to demonstrate and ability to lead and execute. He needs to be clear and concise with what he wants, and he must strong arm legislators--much as Bush did--to win their votes for his measures. He's got to grow some balls, for Pete's sake, and choose between being The Decider or The Waffler.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fox News "Can't Get a Straight Answer" from White House. Now They Know How the Rest of the Media Felt During the Bush Years



During the administration of President George W. Bush, reporters at the daily White House briefings were routinely dismissed, disrespected and lied to as press secretaries Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan, Tony Snow and then Dana Perilo arrogantly refused to answer tough questions on hot-button issues such as Iraq, Katrina, CIA leaks, illegal wiretapping and torture. Bush himself was dismissive and showed a general disdain for the media during his press conferences, on the few occasions he actually held them. He often ridiculed and chastised reporters who pushed his many buttons a little too far, ignoring their questions with a smug "I'm just not gonna answer you," as he did with NBC's David Gregory in one such notable and highly contested exchange.

To be sure, the Bush administration was the most secretive in history, blatantly marginalizing and demeaning the press as it cavalierly reshaped American politics and national security with relative media impunity.

And now the hypocritical Republican crybabies at Fox are outraged over a heated exchange last Thursday between President Barack Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs and their White House correspondent, Major Garrett, over unsolicited emails allegedly being sent out by the White House to shore up support for Obama's health care reform. It seems like this is all the network can talk about since, incredulously asking "Where are all the other reporters? Why are we the only ones digging into this issue? Why can't we get a straight answer out of Gibbs?

Email spamming? Are they for real? Where was Fox News and Major Garrett as thousands of US soldiers were dying, and tens of thousands more injured and maimed, in Bush's unjust Iraq war? Where was Fox and Garrett as Bush, Cheney, Rove and Scooter Libby were outing CIA agent Valerie Plame and putting her and other agency operatives in danger as retribution over her husband Joe Wilson's 2003 NY Times op-ed "What I didn't Find in Africa" (regarding the bogus claim about Saddam buying yellow cake uranium from Niger). Where was Fox and Garrett as Bush embarrassed and humiliated the U.S. by botching the post-Katrina rescue and recovery? Where was Fox and Garrett during the Abu Ghraib crimes and the Bushies' contention that only a "few rogue soldiers" were responsible? Where were Fox and Garrett when Bush was breaking FISA laws so he could spy on whoever the hell he wanted? Where were the tough questions then? Where was Fox and Garrett's outrage then? Where was the respect for the Constitution and the rule of law then? Where was the concern over Americans' right to privacy then? Spamming has them fired up? Cheney please....


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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sarah Palin's "Death Panel" Mantra: Like it or Not, this Woman's Influence on the National Stage is Now Crystal Clear


As the debate over President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul intensifies, one thing has become quite clear: it took former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin just three weeks into 'retirement' to prove that when it comes to major domestic policy, she is going to be right smack in the middle of it all. And surprisingly, all it took for her to fully inject herself squarely into the health-care debate was one simple, albeit politically explosive comment last week:

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

But the truly astonishing part is that The Wasilla Wonder has actually framed the entire debate with her disingenuous reference designed to scare the crap out of old folks and those who care for them. "Death panel" has now become the official catch-phrase and rallying cry of all the right-wing loons salivating at the opportunity to not just derail Obama's attempt at reform, but more importantly to undermine his nascent administration's entire agenda. Conservatives smell Obama's blood, and the health-scare mobs are just the front lines in the much more complicated war to take him down.

'You betchya, America, we're not gonna let that Muslim terrorist in the White House allow those youths-in-Asia to kill our grannies, gosh darn it!'

But I have to give Palin credit. For someone with the knowledge and intellectual curiosity of an Alaskan moose, she's sure demonstrating some deft political skills. What the health-care debate has proven is that in 'retirement' she's not crawling under any rocks just yet. For some strange reason, and I cannot for the life of me understand it, there actually are a whole bunch of people who hang onto every word this inarticulate, vacuous, empty-Versace-suited fraud has to say. That we as a nation are engaged in a bitter partisan battle over such an important subject as health care, with Palin's words leading the charge on the right, is absolutely mind-boggling. Maybe Republicans have been right all along: perhaps she is the future of their party.


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, August 12, 2009

The Health-Scare Mobs Pt 2: What the F**K is Everyone So Angry About?



From what we can tell by the nightly news clips, they're mostly old, white and, gosh darn it, enraged. I'm not talking simple anger here. I'm talking balls-out, spittle-flying, neck-veins-bulging, exploding-skull, I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass anger. They're coming in busloads to the nationwide "Town Hall" meetings held by Senators and Congressmen to discuss President Obama's proposed health care system overhaul. And they're bringing much more than just concern over their medical coverage. There's enough ignorance, racism and xenophobia at work in just one gathering to fill weeks of Rush Limbaugh airtime.

Tuesday's meeting held by Sen. Arlen Specter in Lebanon, PA is a perfect example of the vitriol these poor legislators must endure (yeah, I said "poor" legislators) from the health-scare mobs. Here's a sampling of the outrageous misconceptions spewing from the mouths of these misinformed ragers:

-"This is about the dismantling of this country"
-"We don't want this country turning into Russia"
-"We believe there are several issues out there that leave the Republic at risk, not the least of which is this ObamaCare"
-"You are trampling on our Constitution!"
"They are talking about killing people"
-"Adolph Hitler was for exterminating the weak, not just the Jews and stuff, and socialism--that's what's going to happen" (my personal favorite, btw...and rumor has it that this was actually Sarah Palin in deep disguise)

My God, what the hell is going on here? I'm sorry but, how stupid can people be? Russia, Nazis, Socialism, killing old folks? Are people really believing this crap? Or, have circumstances turned them all into 24/7 anger-machines who, unable to afford therapy, are using the Town Hall meetings as a mechanism to let off steam? A place to vent when you feel like the world has kicked you in the ass? An opportunity to use elected officials as punching bags for all the pent up hostility and frustration over the recession, joblessness and the resulting stress it causes at home? Additionally, are these same people also using the health care issue to channel generations of racial animosity and intolerance? Have the Town Hall meetings simply become the perfect stage for bigots to scream, "Fuck everybody! It's not my damn job to pay for your damned health insurance! Go back to your homeland! Get a job! Stop freeloading! White Power!?" Because that's sure as hell what it all feels like...


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, August 10, 2009

The Health-Scare Mobs: We're Missing the Main Point Here


Where have we witnessed this scene before: throngs of angry, belligerent conservative goons disrupting public debate of a heated issue? And where have we seen this tactic before: Republicans trying to frame issues with malicious lies about the opposition and its policies?

Well that's exactly what's happening as President Barack Obama attempts to reform the health care industry to create universal coverage, and as Democratic members of Congress hold "town hall" meetings across the country to explain the program. Hordes of semi-violent demagogues have hijacked these events, shouting down the speakers and even hanging the legislators in effigy. It's shocking and reprehensible.

There's been much controversy surrounding these highly contentious gatherings over the belief that the mobs have been prepped and mobilized by the GOP and/or special interest groups backed by the drug, hospital and insurance industries. While the likelihood is that most are (radio host Sean Hannity's website entices people to "Become a part of the mob! Attend an Obama Care Townhall near you!" and then lists dozens of scheduled meetings), that's not the real issue here.

It's not our business whether the crowds are organized by self-serving, anti-Obama conservative groups. I don't care whether Karl Rove himself packs these people on a bus, provides them scripts, hands them lunch, and personally leads them into the meeting areas. The First Amendment protects free speech, and these people have a right to organize, assemble and speak their minds as they see fit, as long as they do so in a non-disruptive, non-threatening civil manner. But what is of concern is that these self-proclaimed "patriotic Americans" are acting in a bullying and often violent manner, thus stripping the opposition of its right to free speech. It's all very reminiscent of the 2000 "Brooks Brothers" mobs who, under the guise of local protesters but actually official GOP goons, disrupted the Miami re-count in the Bush/Gore post-election battle. These rowdy town hall meetings have been overrun by rabid Republicans acting like brutish mobs with the singular goal of preventing the health care debate from taking place. They seek to shout down and drown out the opposition. And that's not acceptible.

Republicans are very good at lying and deceiving in an effort to bolster their cause and frame the issues. Can we ever forget how Sen. John McCain, Sarah Palin and others did their best to portray Obama as a terrorist, socialist and Muslim? What about the "birthers," who insist that Obama's presidency is not legitimate because they believe he's not a U.S. citizen? These crafty Republicans fear-mongered to get us into war with Iraq, and now they're fear-mongering again on health care, scaring people into thinking that if Obama's reform succeeds, then the government will dictate the who/what/when/where/why of their personal coverage. They're even scaring ailing senior-citizens into thinking they'll be euthanized rather than to spend wasteful taxpayer dollars keeping them alive. This suggestion is beyond despicable, but not a surprise.

So while the health-scare mobs spread their lies and deceptions, let's set the record straight on a few main points of Obama's proposal:

-There'll be no caps in coverage
-There'll be no exclusions of pre-existing conditions
-There'll be no euthanizing of seniors
-No one has to change their current doctors
-No one has to change their insurance carrier

To be sure, the health care issue is extremely complex. Both sides of the aisle are throwing facts and figures around as they try to convince people that they have Americans' best interests at heart. But in cutting through all the muck, there's one very simple, logical question in determining who's lying and who's not: are Republicans really the party that's gonna protect the old, the sick and the uninsured more so than Democrats? Sounds absurd, right? Yet so many people still allow themselves to become brainwashed by the GOP's deceptive rhetoric.

What's most unfortunate in this whole mess is how so many people continue to be used and manipulated by the GOP. They're the same ignorant lot who believe that Obama's a Muslim, that he hangs out with terrorists and that he was born in Kenya. They are the birthers, the tea baggers and now the health scare fools who've been duped yet again, despite almost 100 years of proof to the contrary, that the Republican Party is the party looking out for the little guy.


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.

Friday, August 07, 2009

July Job Losses Down Significantly. Republicans Accuse Nation's Employers of Conspiring to Make Obama Look Good


The U.S. Labor Department released on Friday its July report showing that the American economy shed 247,000 jobs, the lowest monthly number since August 2008, and representing a continuing declining trend since the beginning of this year when job losses hit a record high 700,000 in January.

To be sure, 247,000 jobs lost in one month is both staggering and sobering and an indication that the economy is still struggling. Yet when you measure it against 700,000, it's abundently clear that, like other leading economic indicators that have shown consistent improvement this year, the jobs market is nearing a bottom and according to most economists will likely begin to recover sometime next year. This is not only very good news for the economy and those looking for work, it's a feather in President Barack Obama's cap and a sign that his administration's stimulus plan is indeed working.

But do you think Republicans are giving the president any credit for this marked improvement in the economy? Fat chance. Typical of conservatives' reactions to the steady stream of positive news has been radio host Bill Bennett, who said on his program earlier this week: "Yes, the economy is beginning to turn around, but the stimulus package is not why."

Sure Bill, the economy is stimulated, but it's not because of the stimulus package. All of the economy's critical benchmark indicators are just turning around by themselves. The $3-trillion or so injected into the nation's financial framework has had zero impact, while America's magic fairy dust has been sprinkled over Wall Street, the housing and banking markets, corporate earnings and the jobs market. Gotta love that magic fairy dust....

Now we all know that Republicans would be screaming for Obama's head if at this point in time the economy had continued to slide deeper into recession; if the GDP continued to appreciably contract, if job losses mounted, if GM went under, if the housing market worsened, etc. Simply put, they so desperately want to claim failure for Obama and his stimulus plan, and no matter how positive things turn, or how bright the future outlook becomes, they will never credit him for reviving this abysmal economy that George W. Bush created during his miserably-failed eight-year administration. But in 2010 and 2012, voters will, and that's all that matters.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hubba Bubba! Just One More Reason To Love Bill Clinton


Republicans are downright miserable this week. Why? Because the man they hate so much, their arch-nemesis, the president they once tried to take down even through impeachment and still failed, Bill Clinton, has rubbed his mojo in their collective faces yet again. Riding into N. Korea on his white horse to rescue imprisoned journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, His Royal Bubbaness could not have looked anymore like the uber-rock star that he is.

During a brief press conference after her and Lee's arrival back in the United States, Ling recounted how incredible it was to walk through a door and see the former president standing there, clearly indicating that they would finally be going home after three months in captivity.

Watching the clip of Ling's comments, MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews expressed what I believe most Americans feel about Bill Clinton: "Wow..I was caught up in that emotionally. I mean, 'I walk into a room and there he is.' I guess, ya know, Regis Philbin coulda been there and she might have been just as happy, but I don't think so. I mean this seriously, there's something iconic about Big Bill Clinton....The guy is bigger than life." Amen.


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, August 05, 2009

Drunk and High...and So F***ing Selfish


On July 26th, Long Island's Diane Schuler heretofore inexplicably drove a minivan full of children and adults onto the wrong side of the Taconic State Parkway and crashed head-on into an SUV, resulting in Westchester County's worst traffic accident in 75 years. Eight people died in the fiery crash: Schuler, four children, (her own 2-year-old daughter and three nieces), and the SUV's three adult male passengers. Following the crash, there was much speculation that Schuler had become ill, disoriented and had fallen victim to some sort of sudden affliction.

But with Tuesday's toxicology report released, we now know she was simply drunk out of her freakin' skull, high on marijuana, and driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on a bottle of vodka, according to police. Her blood-alcohol level was .19, more than twice the legal limit where someone is considered DWI. Experts said she had the equivalent of 10 shots of 80-proof alcohol in her system.

My heart goes out to Schuler's brother Warren Hence and his wife, whose three young children died so senselessly at the hands of their mind-numbingly selfish aunt. I also feel for Schuler's husband Daniel, who lost his 2-year-old daughter, and will now be raising his 5-year-old son Bryan--the only crash survivor--without a mother.

To say this is a tragedy of epic proportions would still be a gross understatement. There are people who get killed every day through no fault of their own. They are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. People like those three men in the SUV, and Schuler's tiny passengers. Or innocent bystanders during a robbery. Or people like my late wife, the actor/writer/director ("WAITRESS") Adrienne Shelly, who are brutally murdered by intruders in their homes and offices. These unfortunate souls played no role in their very untimely and undeserving deaths. But Schuler had choices. She knew exactly what she was doing, and fully understood she was putting the lives of so many people in danger. And the choice she made was to get so utterly shitfaced that, for several miles and minutes, she could not even realize she was on a wrong-way death-drive.

I have house in upstate New York. I sat in traffic for almost 4 hours that fateful Sunday--a normally uneventful drive which lets me zip back into Manhattan in 1:40. So I knew something had been terribly wrong. Then the radio reports came in. And then I eventually passed the charred remains of the toppled, mangled minivan. It made me sick. And what also made me sick was the utter senselessness of it all. That it all could've been avoided. That those four beautiful little children, and the three men from Yonkers, could all still be alive today. That a couple from Long Island would not have to attend funerals for their three young daughters.

My wife, and thousands like her, had no choice. Their lives were savagely ripped from them. I know what it feels like to live through horrific death. I also know what it feels like to raise a 2-year-old by myself. But what I don't know is why people continue to make stupid, irresponsible and selfish choices that bring on such horror and cause death to so many. I suppose I will never understand.


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, August 04, 2009

Can We Trade in Our Republican Senate Clunkers?


It seems this is how the typical political discourse in Washington occurs these days:

Democrats: We have this great idea that...
Republicans: NO!
Democrats: But if we....
Republicans: NO!
Democrats: How about if...
Republicans: NO!
Democrats: Or we....
Republicans: NO!
Democrats: It'll be good for....
Republicans: NO! NO! NO! Don't you get it? Whatever you push for, no matter how good it is for the country and for Americans, we're gonna oppose it because it's in our own selfish interests to undermine President Obama, the economy, health care and everything else on the administration's agenda because the 2010 midterms are right around the corner and we want to take back the controls.

Case in point, the government's "cash for clunkers" recession-busting program, which gives rebates of $3500-$4500 to anyone trading in an old heap for a new, more energy-efficient car. The initiative was such a hit with spending-starved consumers in July that Ford posted its first quarterly profit in two years, and others including GM, Chrysler and Toyota saw significant sales increases over June. Dealers reported selling 250,000 automobiles, a pace not seen since before the recession began. So successful was the program that the government blew through its initial $1-billion budget, and has gone back to Congress to request an additional $2-billion to keep it going. The House approved the measure last week, and now it rests with the highly partisan Senate.

So let's analyze this: the government is helping drive (pun intended) consumers to make big-ticket purchases, which in turn is clearly reviving an anemic auto industry, which in turn could result in a ripple-effect throughout Detroit and ultimately create jobs and help aid the nation's financial recovery. Sounds like a perfect, spot-on strategy to inject some much-need life into the ailing economy, right? Well, not if you're a Republican who cares more about getting re-elected and winning back Congress than fixing the economy and helping Americans get back on their feet.

The beauty of the cash-for-clunkers program is that it's an inarguable success. It's working exactly as the administration envisioned, and the results are clear, factual and impossible to dispute. But when asked about it, and if they'll support it, Republicans offer up the most lame excuses.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) on Monday criticized Obama for underestimating the program's popularity because he initially only earmarked $1-billion to fund it. So let's get this straight: Obama screwed up because the program is a huge success! Ya gotta love the Republicans' convoluted logic. Other talking-point criticisms are that while the program's successful, it's "mortgaging our children's future" and/or is taking away critical stimulus money from more worthy programs.

But the simple truth is this: Republicans don't give a crap about the unemployed, the uninsured, the economy and making this country financially healthy again. To the contrary, it's in their political best-interest to root for failure. To wish the economy further turmoil, to have greater unemployment, to have Detroit go bankrupt, and to generally just get voters so angry and fed up that they'll vote Republican again. But Americans are starting to get encouraged by all the positive signs in the economy, and that could ultimately make them happy again. And happy will not equate to GOP votes come November 2010.

What the cash-for-clunkers program has clearly demonstrated is that there's tremendous pent-up demand among consumers, as evidenced by the record 7% savings rate and the program's success in loosening those purse-strings. While there are indeed millions of Americans unfortunately without jobs and living hand to mouth, there are still plenty of people with money and this program is helping them spend it, which in turn is helping lift the economy. Senate Republicans need to lay down their partisan swords and act responsibly here by passing an additional $2-billion funding measure.


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, August 03, 2009

Hey Americans, You Want Economic Recovery? Spend Some Money, Dammit!


By any measurement, the United States economy, mired in steep recession since December 2007, has bottomed and has recently shown signs of recovery.

Second-quarter gross domestic product contracted by just 1% after Q1's -6.4%; home sales and construction starts continue to rise; the index of leading economic indicators has risen for 3 consecutive months; major banks and financial institutions have begun reporting solid profits; 70% of Q2 corporate earnings have met or exceeded estimates; monthly unemployment claims are declining precipitously; Wall Street's bull is roaring; and even the comatose auto industry is showing signs of life.

Yet the one critical thing absent in this economic turnaround is job growth. Without it we'll have the longest U-shaped recovery known to man. And the only thing that's going to get America's businesses, both big and small, to start hiring again is when they see a sustainable increase in sales. It's not enough that earnings are stronger. They've come at a huge price: significant cutbacks in operating expense and massive layoffs. But if the economy is to truly expand, it's now the top line that must appreciably grow. And this can only happen if the American consumer stops hoarding cash like squirrels with their nuts and starts spending money on the goods and services of manufacturers and retailers; buying big-ticket items like homes, cars, electronics and vacations, as well as clothing, music, books, etc.

The personal savings rate today is around 7%, while it was at zero just a year ago. Americans are practically stuffing cash under their mattresses like their Depression-era counterparts, still saving for that proverbial rainy day despite the torrential rains having waned and the skies clearing. If this continues, we risk stagflation, when prices rise amid high unemployed and slow growth.

What we need is a more forceful President Obama encouraging consumers to loosen the purse-strings a bit. People need to believe in the economic system, but they also need strong leadership, optimism and encouragement. Former President George W. Bush, after the 9-11 attacks, urged Americans to go out and spend money in order to avoid recession. For all his warts, and he had plenty, he wasn't that off the mark. The underlying sentiment was, let's get back to normal. Well, regarding the current economy, already in recession, we cannot get back to normal unless Americans start spending again.


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.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Conservative Radio's Andrew Wilkow Makes Sean Hannity Sound like Rosie O'Donnell


He barks and snaps like a rabid pitbull, spewing his venomous hate-speak towards everyone from gays and blacks to immigrants and liberals. His shrill, vitriolic diatribes suggest a serious anger-management problem. Thankfully relegated to the low-ratings, low-significance Sirius Satellite Radio, he is nonetheless, with the exception of the moronic blabbermouth Mike Church, the most narrow-minded, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist buffoon on the airwaves.

This is a guy who, on the day Sen. Chris Dodd announced his prostate cancer, said of the Connecticut Democrat: "I'm starting to think the prostate cancer is from spending a little too much time with Barney Frank." What are you, 15, Wilkow? So you're implying that Dodd and Frank have gay sex, and that's why Dodd's been stricken with prostate cancer? Not only is this an utterly ignorant thing to say, it's a colossal insult to the gay Massachusetts Congressman, and towards Dodd it's cruel, crude, insensitive and highly juvenile, especially for someone who spends half his airtime criticizing "snarky" liberals. Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Regarding another top liberal suffering from a typically deadly illness, Sen. Ted Kennedy, who's inflicted with brain cancer, Wilkow's been railing for weeks now about how much money is being "wasted" in an attempt to save the Massachusetts liberal: "Why throw more money down that rat hole." How about showing a little compassion, Andrew?

Wilkow often talks about his dad who's suffering from cancer himself, and having lost a father to cancer, I sympathize and sincerely wish them both the best. Yet when it comes to liberals suffering from this dreaded disease, Wilkow appears to have ice running through his veins and is devoid of heart.

Last Friday, in another classic asinine Wilkow diatribe, he wondered how easy it would be to take on Democrats even while inebriated: "Maybe I should drink and see if I can debate liberals. Just dumb myself down." Well, you can't get any lower on the dumb scale, Wilkow. And, as I have done twice with you when guesting on your program, debating you--drunk, sober or even comatose--is like taking candy from a baby.