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.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is Obama About to Make a Huge Mistake Over Afghanistan Troop Surge?


President Obama announced this week that he'll be unveiling his war strategy for Afghanistan next Tuesday and in particular his decision on the September request made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal for an additional 40,000 troops. White House sources report that Obama will authorize just 30,000 which, if true, may be a huge political miscalculation.

Any additional troop authorization under the requested 40,000 is going to create a feeding-frenzy of Republicans rhetoric accusing the president of failing to listen to the generals; for being weak militarily; and for placating liberals. At a time when Obama's popularity is waning and he's facing uphill battles domestically on health care and the economy, the last thing he and Democrats need is to have the GOP attacking the administration on the war. So the obvious question is, if Obama's gonna up the ante to 30,000 troops, why not just give the general the 40,000 he asked for, albeit it with stringent progress demands, measurable benchmarks and realistic timetables for "mission accomplished" and a successful exit? In this explosively charged political climate, why feed right into the duplicitous hands of the "Obama doesn't support the troops" crowd?

Also, sending additionally troops--any additional amount--poses a huge political risk for the president among his supporters as well. A Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama sounding the anti-war alarm while escalating the operation sends a very mixed, confusing message to those who voted for him and expected a troop draw-down rather than a build-up.

To be sure, the 'correct amount' of additional troops needed for the Afghanistan "surge" is an absolutely arbitrary number, with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gen. McChrystal and countless others in disagreement over how many should be sent to complete the mission, whatever that is. So, why not defer to the leading commander in the region and give him what he sees in his McChrystal-ball rather than over-analyze the situation (as Obama's perhaps done for the past two months...only to come up with essentially the same conclusion), picking another number out of thin air which may or may not be the right one, and which allows your enemies to bash the crap out of you? Wouldn't it be more pragmatic and politically expedient to give the general the benefit of the doubt and shut down the engine of the right-wing attack-machine in the process? It just seems like Obama's regrettably setting the propaganda table for his ravenous GOP dinner guests.

Now on the other hand, instead of trying to play the "let's try to make everybody happy and ultimately make no one happy" game again, Obama could do what many believe he truly wants to, and what voters elected him to do: end the war, period. But this would mean acting on his true convictions. Now that would be novel, wouldn't it?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Palin Forces Oprah Off Television!


Am I the only one who finds the timing suspect? That just days after Oprah Winfrey, Queen of Daytime Television, interviewed former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the media titan announced she's quitting her top-rated talk show in 2011? Seems like voters are not the only ones terrified of The Wasilla Wonder's next move.

Ok, so the notion of Oprah's departure being directly tied to a fear of Sarah Palin is a little far fetched. But, Oprah's ratings, and her confidence, have been continuously slipping, and let's face it, Palin's some kind of force to be reckoned with, no? As I wrote last week, I think Oprah's genuinely disturbed by the fact that audiences seem to respond to Palin more than her. And what about the moment during the interview when Oprah joked about Palin as future competition: "Oprah, you're the queen of talk shows. There's nothing to ever worry about," . But perhaps worry she did, as it's quite possible The Big O, just days later, decided: "Oh screw it, I'm Oprah Winfrey, and I ain't gonna knock heads with this bimbo in a year or two. I'm outta here!"

Now this is all supposition, and maybe Oprah's simply throwing in the towel all on her own. After all, she's had a phenomenal 23-year run. But she's also very smart and prescient, and I suspect knows what the rest of us highly perplexed observers already know: never, ever underestimate the inexplicable popularity of Sarah Barracuda.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Republican Lies and Deception Over Cancer Screening


It's highly unfortunate timing for the Obama administration that two new cancer-screening recommendations have been made by government and independent medical groups in a week where the president is seeking legislation for his historic health-care reform bill. While the measures have sparked intense controversy, it's irresponsible and disingenuous for Republicans to label these new guidelines as partisan-based and illustrative of the sort of "rationing" they claim reform will bring. Just like global warming, health-care has become overly politicized, and some things simply aren't political. We all breath the same air, drink the same water, and can contract cancer regardless of political persuasion.

The first finding announced earlier in the week by the federal Preventive Service Task Force recommended less-frequent breast-cancer screenings for women under 50. The second was announced Thursday by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offering new guidelines for pap smears in preventing cervical cancer, specifically that women should delay having them until the age of 21. As expected, both recommedations have unleashed a torrent of emotions and debate on both sides of the aisle, and from women's groups, cancer-prevention advocacy groups and within the medical profession. Now, I am neither a doctor or a scientist and I am not going to pretend to have anything but a personal, and highly visceral reaction to these new guidelines. But I will strongly argue against exploiting these very sensitive subjects for political purposes, which is shamefully what the GOP is doing as it attempts to kill the reform bill.

In one sense, the controversy may be somewhat overblown. The ACOG's pap smear findings are similar to what the medical profession has been suggesting for years about prostate cancer prevention. That it's healthier and more effective to screen for, and treat, this very slow-moving disease as men age rather than in earlier years, especially as false positives can lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful biopsies and subsequent side-effect-laden treatments.

But on the surface, the task-force's mammography recommendations seem outrageous and irresponsible. I for one belong to the "there can never be too much cancer-screening" camp. That's just a very seemingly logical mantra to adapt, in my neophyte, medically-uninformed opinion. And I say that as someone who's lost loved ones to this dreaded, ravenous disease. In fact, I hate cancer, and I'm all for spending as much time and money researching cures. But medicine and cancer-prevention is not that simple, according to many individuals who have medical degrees hanging on their walls instead of pictures of Shakira (ok, my secret's out...). So I'm going to let the experts continue to argue the merits, or lack therof, of reduced, increased or status-quo cancer-screenings.

And that's precisely my point: let's let the medical professionals, scientists and researchers do their job and keep the politicians out of this debate. Contrary to right-wing charges, both medical groups were established as apolitical (in fact, the task force was appointed by George W. Bush) and neither focuses on health care costs in drawing their conclusions. To be sure, there's too much at stake here to reduce such a colossally important medical matter to mere pawn-status in the anti-Obama wars of partisan zealots like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok) who are literally salivating at the "let's kill health-care reform" gifts they think they've been handed this week by the task force and the ACOG. What we don't need is more self-serving, duplicitous, inflammatory rhetoric about killing granny, rationing treatments and the perils of socialized medicine. Republicans must stop spreading lies in their insatiable hunger to deceive and manipulate Americans over health care reform. They must keep their personal emotions, religious beliefs and political motivations out of the debate. Haven't we learned anything from the Terri Schiavo case?


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 18 left). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 18, 2009

Was This Magazine Cover of Obama "Sexist?"


I just did a radio interview where I was asked about the Newsweek cover shot of Sarah Palin in tight running shorts, and if I thought it was sexist. Clearly, the magazine cover has been capturing the attention (and I suspect the fantasies) of many. America, meet your newest pin-up, Sarah Barracuda.

To the Republicans who've been critical of Palin's mistreatment by the big bad liberal media, I say, stop your whining. Nothing's more unflattering than a thin-skinned conservative. The Newsweek shot is no more "sexist" than the May Washingtonian cover of a bare chested beefcake President Obama, who the publication called its "hot new neighbor." Nor was the "President Cool" Ebony cover, or the New York Obama-terrorist satire cartoon-cover, racist.

Let's face it, the cover is a fair representation of Palin: an empty suit with a hot bod and a pretty face. She didn't get where she is today (wherever that is) by being a highly experienced, overachieving policy wonk numbingly versed on world affairs, economics and the environment. Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain thrust her 16 months ago into the national spotlight knowing she'd become America's favorite MILF, arousing (pun intended) his base and perhaps a few dirty old independents. He could've chosen a lot of other infinitely more qualified women like Liddy Dole, Christy Todd Whitman or Kay Bailey Hutchinson, but neither of them have the sleek gams or bodacious ta-ta's of The Wasilla Wonder. And she's been milking it ever since, trading on her womanly charms for maximum profit and exposure (pun intended). As I reminded the radio reporter, it isn't Hillary Clinton or Olympia Snowe in that Newsweek shot; there couldn't have been a "sexist" cover without a complicit Palin. Playing the victim card now seems terribly disingenuous.

A couple of other Palin thoughts while I'm at it: watching the Katie Couric "what do you read" clip on Oprah this week was more humiliating and embarrassing the second time around. And, Palin's explanation for why she didn't answer the question is even worse. She said she was "annoyed," and thought Couric was suggesting that Alaska was a "foreign country," isolated from the rest of the world. "It was unprofessional of me to wear my annoyance on my sleeve like that," she admitted. So, either one of two scenarios exist: either Palin is utterly misinformed and lacking in intellectual curiosity in not reading books and magazines, or, she's a catty hothead who blows her cool on national TV. Neither individual is someone we'd want just a heartbeat from the Oval Office.

Lastly, in her interview with Barbara Walters this week, Palin was asked to rank President Obama's performance to-date from 1-10. "Four," uttered the unsurprisingly derisive Palin. Well, if Obama's a four, she's a negative four-trillion. You betchya.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Big Surprise Moment During the Oprah/Palin Interview


For weeks now we've been teased with promotions for the much-anticipated interview between talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey and America's most infamous political train-wreck, Sarah Palin, which finally aired Monday. Everyone wondered how the chat would go. Would Palin spill some dirt on McCain? Bash almost-son-in-law Levi Johnston? Announce that she's running for president in 2012? But the real telling moment came in the first seconds of the sit-down, as Oprah, perhaps feeling threatened and insecure by a woman who for some strange reason seems to captivate audiences more than her, attempted to make the hype all about her. They don't call it The Oprah Winfrey Show for nothing. It was a moment worthy of a WWF Smackdown: The Narcissist vs The Maverick.

Did you feel snubbed that I hadn't invited you to be on the show during the campaign?, Winfrey immediately asked The Wasilla Wonder. To which a rather snarky Palin quipped, "No offense to you, but it wasn't the center of my universe." Oh no she di-'int! Palin then added, "I've heard more about that during the last few weeks than during the campaign." Clearly taken aback, an incredulous Winfrey asked, "You didn't even know about it?!" Wow. It was kind of painful to watch. It was as if Oprah was pleading, Wait, don't you know who I am? I am Oprah...Winfrey....I elect presidents...I turn no-name authors into superstars....I make middle-aged, middle-American white women swoon more than Josh Groban! Are you telling me you didn't obsess about me when you were on the campaign trail? Shocking! Truly shocking!

And there you have it. The one big, and only truly relevant moment in the interview. The Mammoth Ego from Chicago meets the Mighty MILF From Alaska. Last time I saw theatre this good a bunch of human cats were jumping around on Broadway.

But just when I thought it was all over, another AHA! moment occurred when the Id-bruised Winfrey wondered if she should take heed of all the chatter about Palin getting her own television program:

"Oprah, you're the queen of talk shows. There's nothing to ever worry about," . Nicely done, Sarah. Perhaps you're a little smarter than we think...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Republicans Once Again Shamelessly Exploiting Terrorism For Political Purposes


It's been a great week for Republicans, that is if you consider raging hypocrisy and shameless propaganda successful virtues. Two national security issues have come to the forefront and have given the GOP and its allies a major opportunity to criticize President Obama and the Democratic leadership.

The first case involves the November 5th Fort Hood shooting rampage by US Army Major Malik Nadal Hassan, who Republicans are demanding be called a terrorist for killing 13 people in what they claim is the first act of terrorism on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The second involves the Obama Administration's decision last week to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terrorists in civilian court in New York rather than through a military tribunal, a move the right warns puts Manhattan, the judge, jury and victims' families in grave danger. You can literally smell the political posturing. The opportunity to hang a terrorist attack on Obama is a Republican's wet dream.

In the Hasan case, it's certainly quite politically expedient for Republicans to throw the terrorist tag on the psychotic psychiatrist. But perhaps they should wait for evidentiary proof that Hasan was indeed an Islamist jihadist connected to a terror organization in a plot to kill U.S. soldiers and not simply a horribly deranged, conflicted individual who committed a random act of violence.

Those who rush to label Hasan a terrorist must remember the charges of WMD and al Qadea connections against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. They were wrong then and they could be dead wrong now. If Hasan is indeed a terrorist, and his rampage a true act of terrorism, let that be the conclusion of a military investigation rather than indictment by partisan rhetoric. As heinous as Hasan's massacre was, perhaps that's all it was: a horrific, premeditated massacre. But that conclusion would not afford the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservatives the opportunity to exploit the dead purely for political purposes.

The most important test for Americans in the Hasan case is deciding what actually constitutes as terrorism, and therefore who is a terrorist. Any mentally ill Muslim can walk into a supermarket and yell "Allahu Akbar," as Hasan had before opening fire on his fellow soldiers, but does that in and of itself make him an Islamist terrorist rather than simply a violent fringe lunatic? Does this give license to Republicans to frame the debate with reckless, irresponsible and incendiary rhetoric? As ThinkProgress’ Matt Duss put it: "The definition of terrorism is not ‘any violence by any Muslim anywhere at any time for any reason’."

The rhetoric is no less in Attorney General Eric Holder's decision on Mohammed. To show how political this situation has become, consider the blatant hypocrisy since Friday of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who's been harshly criticizing the Obama administration as being soft on terrorism yet had nothing but praise and support amid the New York prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers:

"It seems to me that the Obama administration is getting away from the fact that we’re at war with these terrorists. They no longer use the term, ‘War on Terror’....This seems to be an over concern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern for the rights of the public...
It gives an unnecessary advantage to the terrorists and why would you want to give an advantage to the terrorists, and it poses risks for New York."


But back in the mid-90's Giuliani sang a different tune:

"It should show that our legal system is the most mature legal
system in the history of the world, that it works well, that that is the place to seek vindication if you feel your rights have been violated."
[The New York Times, 3/5/94]

"...New Yorkers won’t meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon: the law." [The New York Times, 3/5/94]

"I think it shows you put terrorism on one side, you put our legal system on the other, and our legal system comes out ahead." [CBS Evening News, 3/5/94]

The notion that a civilian trial is tantamount to letting these terrorists walk, or inviting them to turn the criminal justice system into a circus, or posing a tremendous threat to New York City, is completely without merit whereas history is concerned: since 2001, 195 cases of terrorism have been uneventfully prosecuted in civilian courts, with 91% ending in convictions, including those of '93 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe-bomber Richard C. Reid. But this little factoid surely won't stop Republicans from turning both of the cases into an extremely noisy rallying cry.


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 25 left). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 13, 2009

Katie Couric Should Be Fired!




So, former vice presidential candidate and girl-wonder Sarah Barracuda Palin writes a 413-page memoir, Going Rogue, (due out Tuesday) and sits with mega-media-mogul Oprah Winfrey to dish about the big bad partisan press that treated her unfairly during the 2008 campaign. She took extra special jabs at CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric--who she accuses of being biased, condescending and "badgering"--and ABC newsman Charles Gibson, who she said appeared bored, patronizing and judgemental as he "peered skeptically" at her from his authoritarian nose-dangling reading glasses.

I have to say, I agree with Palin. In fact, I am calling for CBS to fire Katie Couric for her outrageous inappropriate, unprofessional and offensive behavior. Let me remind you of Couric's crime: During the interview, Couric asked MILFY to explain why Alaska's proximity to Russia translates to having foreign policy experience. And then, Couric had the uber-audacity to ask the woman who wanted to be next in line to the Oval Office what newspapers and magazines she reads regularly, and an uncomfortable Palin replied: "Um, all of them, any of them."

I'm sorry, but what part of "seeing Russia from my window" does Couric not get? This is exactly the kind of foreign policy vision America needs. And, to ask Palin what she reads? How dare Couric throw Palin such a hardball question like that, one that truly smacks of some serious liberal-fueled badgering? This is a woman who lobbied to literally be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Leader of the free world. Show some respect, Katie, and ask her to explain the complicated cultural and religious differences between Iraq's Shia, Sunni and Kurdish populations as relating to a solution to the war. Ask her to give an overview of the Arab-Israeli conflict and what her strategy would be for bringing about a lasting peace in that region. Ask her to explain the role played by the insurance, pharmaceutical and medical industries in America's health-care problem. Ask her to explain how credit default swaps, derivatives and other risky financial instruments nearly brought Wall Street to its knees. Now these would be softballs; slam-dunks Palin could've answered with her purdy lil eyes closed, thus demonstrating her overall intelligence and political savvy. But instead, Couric opted for the low road and spilt her vitriol in the form of the brutally difficult what she reads question.

And Gibson? She should've smacked those obnoxious glasses right off of Gippetto's face. Sure, Gibson tried to mask his intense hatred for Palin by seeming to act in the same near-catatonic, monotone manner that he does during every single other interview he's ever given, but we could see right through that charade. He can't stand Palin, and it showed...or didn't...but we knew it was there...sort of...I think...we just couldn't see it, that's all. Doesn't mean it wasn't there. Kind of like WMD.

Call me crazy, but I deem Couric's behavior, and the harsh treatment by Gibson, an egregious abuse of the public's trust and an affront to professional journalists everywhere. Fire them both!


Watch CBS News Videos Online


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 30 left!). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 12, 2009

The Simplest Justification for a Public Option


Though not the least bit surprising, Republicans have been manipulating the current health-care debate with incessant partisan posturing, lies and deception and endless anti-Obama/liberal propaganda. But consider the following very simple case for a truly meaningful public option:

-Americans expect and receive government-provided free education: Democracy
-Americans expect and receive government-provided free police protection: Democracy
-Americans expect and receive government-provided free fire protection: Democracy-Americans expect and receive government-provided free sanitation: Democracy
-Americans expect and receive government-provided free libraries: Democracy
-Americans expect and receive government-provided free criminal defense: Democracy-Americans expect and receive government provided free food stamps/welfare: Democracy
-American veterans expect and receive government-provided healthcare: Democracy
-If average Americans were to receive government-provided health care: SOCIALISM!!??

What's wrong with this picture? Need I say more...


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 30 left!). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 09, 2009

F**K You Sean Hannity!


That's right, fuck you Sean Hannity. Someone had to say it. You are anything but the "great American" you and your brainwashed listeners delusionally call each other every five minutes. In fact, to the contrary, you're about as unpatriotic as they come. You root for America to fail. Just so you can keep spewing your partisan venom at President Obama and Democrats. Shame on you.

I say this not as a Democrat who's upset with you, because I'm not. Truth is, I and most other Democrats couldn't care less what you have to say. We find you ignorant and insignificant and can't believe anyone actually chooses to listen to you on the merits. But what's most shameful about you is how you blatantly lie and deceive your own audience. People who put their trust and faith in you. And you pay them back by feeding them bullshit at every possible turn. If only they know just how full of crap you are. But their ignorance of the facts is exactly what you prey on. As ill-informed as you are on the issues, they make you appear smart. And that's not easy.

Hannity on Friday was predicting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lacked the votes needed to pass the health-care reform bill, or "Pelosi-Care" as he calls it. That the measure had hit a wall and that Democrats were abandoning ship. He smugly mocked Pelosi, complete with devilish Dick Dastardly cackle, because she had been predicting the bill's passage. Oh, how just a few hours can make someone look completely out of touch. As usual, wrong again Sean.

Hannity, like most disingenuous right-wing talking-heads, has been wetting himself over what he claims to be a "horrible week for Democrats." Give these guys a couple of gubernatorial victories and they predict the Rise and Fall of the Obama Empire. Truth is, on a national level, Democrats have won every single House and Senate special election over the past year, including two last Tuesday. Every one. If there's any referendum going on here it's on the Republican Party and its incumbents, not Obama. Voters are resoundingly rejecting conservatives from New York to California. Hannity and his fellow liars can yap all they want about the significance of Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia respectively, but these two statewide contests prove nothing on the national scale. They were fought and won primarily on local issues. Given all the victories the left's piled up in the House and Senate under Obama, I'd be worried if I were Michael Steele and his GOP. And as for last week? With the two House wins and the health-care bill's passage, I'd say it was a pretty good one for Democrats. Nice try, Sean.

Hannity also incessantly lies to his listeners about the economy. He simply cannot admit there's been significant improvement. He rails on that this is now "Obama's economy," yet deceptively shields his audience from he truth about how the president and his economic team have pulled the nation back from the brink of financial Armageddon this time last year. You won't hear him talk of GDP growth, huge declines in job losses or recovery in the banking, housing, retail and auto industries. You won't hear him discuss the Dow's rise from 6500 to 10,000. Don't hold your breath waiting for anything truthful such as, "While we still have a long way to go, we sure have come a long way and are seeing many signs of improvement." Of course not. That would make him honest and objective.

Sorry Sean, but this is definitely not Obama's economy. Obama's trying, and very deftly I might add, to fix the shitstorm Bush dumped in his lap. In office just 10 months, the worst economy since The Great Depression is no more Obama's than the 9-11 attacks were Bush's fault.

If Hannity truly wants to be a "great American," he can start by being truthful to his listeners and stop rooting for his supposedly beloved America to fail.


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 30 left!). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 06, 2009

The Sad Tale of Greg the Republican


I have this friend. We'll call him Greg. Greg's an insufferable Republican. One of those Republican stooges who drives you nuts. The kind that seems brainwashed, defying logic and blindly defending the GOP and anything Republican as if they're on the payroll. Even if it goes against their own self-interest. I believe it's mild insanity.

Greg's not stupid. He's actually rather intelligent. Has a graduate degree. He's not the stereotypical resident of Dumbfuckistan. In fact, he's from Southern California. Lives in a ritzy gated community. An exclusive yet culturally diverse enclave that is home to all ranges of white people: rich white people, really rich white people, and super-rich white people. He owns a technology company. One that in fact does business with the U.S. government. But when it comes to politics, Greg seems as mindless as a Pied Piper rat. I often wonder what drives an otherwise savvy guy to the point where his ability to reason is paralyzed by the political filters through which information passes...distorting reality beyond recognition. What makes him and others so unconditionally loyal to the Republican Party, where they can no longer think straight?

To be sure, these folks are so consumed by partisan vitriol that, for the opportunity to bash President Obama and Democrats, and with an insatiable desire for power, they literally root for the economy to fail. They want the government to suffer. And they're willing to to get their own asses kicked financially just so they can say "I told ya so" about Obama and perhaps win an election next year. It's baffling. It's shameful. And, quite frankly, unpatriotic.

Greg and people like him truly appear to be upset at any sign of a recovering economy. It's as if their brains have chips that translate language into partisan drivel. You say "Wow, did you see that awesome 3.5% GDP number?" They hear, "Obama's successful." You say, "Retail sales are strong, and consumers are spending again," and they hear, "Obama's economic policies are working." They wince at good news. Therefore, you cannot engage them in intelligent, rational discourse. They are consumed with the "Republicans good, Democrats bad" mantra. It's all they can hear. And it's what drives them. So their typical response is to try proving that things are really terrible and getting worse. No matter how uninformed and foolish it makes them appear.

Greg keeps sending me articles. Has been for a year now. It's like he's possessed. On a mission. Nothing but pessimistic, negative, bearish, politically-rooted propaganda about the economy and the stock markets. The funny thing is though, Greg is in complete, utter denial. He and his naysayers have been dead wrong all along. The Dow has surged from 6500 to 10,000, and with it the economy has come out of recession, showing solid, consistent gains in the financial, banking, automobile, retail and housing markets. We've witnessed appreciable growth in the GDP; a steep drop in job losses; declining inventories; increases in manufacturing and productivity; increased borrowing; a rise in consumer spending; strong corporate earnings; and other very positive economic indicators. But none of this matters to Greg & Company. Their hatred of liberals, and their intense hunger to see Obama fail, keeps them oblivious to reality. In the face of clear, obvious economic recovery, these Chicken Littles keep yelling "The sky is falling, the sky is falling." And worse, if need be to bring Obama down, they'd be willing to lose more jobs, more home value, more investment dollars and more corporate sales. Their party first, country second mentality is unconscionable. They want America to fail.

Fortunately for Greg and his pals though, they get to play Chicken Little while Obama's cleaning up the economic shitstorm their president left him. If only they were able to show a little appreciation.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A "Republican Renaissance?" Yeah, and I Hear the Mullet's Coming Back Too"


There's colossal joy in Mudville this week as Republicans predict sweeping success in next year's mid-term elections in the wake of Chris Christie's and Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial wins in New Jersey and Virginia respectively, and in what they say is a clear repudiation of President Obama and Democrats' "liberal agenda." A newly energized GOP Chairman Michael Steele is calling it all a "Republican renaissance." Talk about premature ejaculation.

But the real picture is anything but rosy for the GOP. The truly bigger race, in Upstate New York, handed them a humiliating defeat in the solidly red 23rd Congressional District, where a Democrat hasn't won the House seat in over 100 years. This was a national election based on national issues, and therefore a clear affirmation, not a repudiation, of Obama's performance...something which Steele, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and all the other propagandists are conveniently ignoring but are shaking in their Uggs over. Christie and McDonnell won on purely local issues. Their victories mean absolutely nothing on the national stage. The real takeaway from Tuesday is that voters still want change; the sort of change that does not bode well for the GOP.

But Democrats should not be complacent or assume the tide is with them. An early warning to the left: be very, very leery of your counterparts across the aisle. They are angry, resentful and desperately want to be back in power. They will do and say anything to achieve that end. And they're pretty good at it. Great at propaganda. Skilled in truth-stretching. Will even lie through their venomous teeth to get what they want. And now they're reinvigorated. Their victories this week have left them with a euphoric, and inflated, sense of self and entitlement. The Republican orgasmatron is in high-gear, with promises of the proverbial happy-ending. The talking-heads are now bragging that most of the country is conservative, anti-big-government, anti-abortion, faith-based, pro-war, tea-baggin' Obama-haters who will kick Democrats to the curb next year. To the contrary though, as Democrat Bill Owens' victory in NY's 23rd indicates, voters continue to be trading in their Republican clunkers for the newer Democratic model.


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 40 left!). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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, November 04, 2009

One Spin You Won't Hear From Republicans About Tuesday's Election


Democrats lost two key elections Tuesday, the gubernatorial races in New Jersey, where Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Jon Corzine, and in Virginia, where Bob McDonnell defeated Creigh Deeds in a special election to fill the vacating Tim Kaine's seat.

As expected, the Republican spin-machine is in euphoric overdrive, maniacally labeling these victories a broad repudiation of President Obama's "liberal agenda" and an ominous foreshadowing of things to come for Democrats in next year's midterms. Granted, a strong night for the
GOP--winning is always better than losing--but hardly a sign of any tidal waves of conservatism sweeping the nation, as right-wing pundits are boasting.

But what you won't hear the spinners crowing about is the shocking punch to the gut the GOP took in Upstate New York's 23rd Congressional District, where a Democrat won for the first time in over 100 years. That's right, 100 years. Despite massive support from right-wing heavyweights (pun intended) Rush Limbaugh and GOP oracle Sarah Palin, Republican Doug Hoffman was defeated by Democrat Bill Owens, for whom Obama campaigned aggressively. Let me be the first to say that Owens' win is a resounding affirmation of Obama's performance.

It's important to note that, unlike NY's 23rd, the NJ and Virginia elections were won on statewide and local issues. Christie's victory can be attributed to two central themes: corruption and property taxes. Hardly a referendum on Obama or Democrats nationally. And Virginia? Well, that solidly red state hadn't voted for a Democratic president since 1964. It's a bit of a stretch to say McDonnell's win is a reshaping of the broader national political landscape. Remember that former Governor Kaine was a conservative Democrat and Obama's victory last year was a huge upset. Let's keep things in perspective: it's not like McDonnell turned Massachusetts red.

Speaking of his victory and what it all means, Christie said, "Tomorrow we're going to take back New Jersey for the least fortunate, who don't want government to fix every problem." Yeah, if we can be certain about one thing, it's that poor folks hate all that government assistance. Medicaid? Public education? Food stamps? Cash-for-clunkers? Home-buying tax credits? Mortgage relief? Yes, I'm sure the "least fortunate" would much rather see those most fortunate rich folk get huge tax cuts instead. So now Christie's "least fortunate" got what they wanted: Chris Christie to the rescue to save them from all that big-government, problem-fixing aid to the little guy. Jeez, will the little guy ever learn?

On the overall significance of Tuesday's victories for conservatives, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said, "America, through the voices of those folks in New Jersey and Virginia, had something to say." Really? And what exactly did they have to say up in NY's 23rd, where a Democrat hasn't won in over a century? Does the good chairman heed that voice, and what it says about how voters on a national level view his party and its candidates? Apparently, voters still want change, and man, did the GOP get change in NY's 23rd. Let that be a foreshadowing of things to come for the myopic, narrow-minded, small-tented, shrinking fringe-right base of the Republican Party next year.

By the way, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was re-elected after spending a reported $100-million+ to defeat Comptroller Bill Thompson by just 5%. A very painful reminder of how and why the rich often dominate politics. Interesting to think who'd be sitting in City Hall right now had Thompson's war-chest been fatter, or Bloomberg's smaller...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

One Year After Election Day: The Verdict on Obama


As America struggles to recover from an economic meltdown and is engulfed in two long-standing wars, the burning question now is, has President Barack Obama done a good job in office since his historic election one year ago or is he destined to suffer the same fate of Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush as unmemorable, ineffective, unpopular one-term chief-executives?

I'm not going to get into Iraq and Afghanistan, wars which Obama's inherited and which have raged on for for eight and six years respectively. There's no quick fix, and it's going to take him some time to sort out strategy and future direction. It's simply too early to judge him here.

But let's take a look at the economy. When Obama's predecessor George W. Bush took office in 2001, unemployment was at a respectable 4.2%. When he left office, it had nearly doubled to 7.6%. It stands now at 9.8%. Former president Bill Clinton left Bush with a $281-billion budget surplus, yet Bush left Obama with a $1.2-trillion deficit. The deficit is now $1.4-trillion. The national debt handed to Bush in 2001 was $5.7-trillion, and grew to $10.6-trillion by the time he left in 2008. It's currently $11.9-trillion. What does this all mean? A couple of things: first it says that Obama's economy has not materially worsened since he took office, especially as compared to the bashing it got under Bush. Next, and more importantly, it proves that Obama's $787-billion stimulus plan worked.

What's critical in the analysis of Obama's performance is perspective. Let's not forget where we were last year at this time. The proverbial sky was falling. America's financial system was on the verge of collapse, a crisis not seen since the Great Depression. There was an unprecedented global economic meltdown, and for the first time in 75 years Americans contemplated withdrawing their money from banks for fear of widespread default. Credit froze, borrowing ceased, and all economic activity stopped. One year later there's appreciable GDP growth, businesses are optimistic, earnings are up, inventories are down, orders are rising, credit is flowing, borrowing has resumed and stock markets have rallied. And, monthly job losses have gone down from an average 750,000 when Bush left office to the low-mid 200's. On the economy, it's pretty safe to say that Obama and his policies have been highly effective.

On another domestic front, health care, Obama has not been so successful, largely due to his own indecisiveness and unwillingness to wage a bloody fight to push through his plan. Also, timing is everything, and with the struggling economy, war and terrorism to contend with, Obama's made a huge miscalculation and error in judgement in taking on the health-care issue so early in his presidency. It's served as a major distraction, and has handed Republicans something they can sink their venomous teeth into; something that, unlike the problems he's inherited, is all his. He has no one to blame here but himself. Exacerbating the struggle is his misguided quest to be bi-partisan despite a Republican minority that has zero desire and intent to help him pass reform on any level. A party that's hell-bent on bringing down his administration at every turn. He's been straddling the fence, trying to make everyone happy, including his enemies across the aisle. Consequently, he's lost control of the issue.

Nine months after taking the oath of office, while it's still way too early to label his presidency a success or failure, it is fair to conclude that he's definitely on the right track, and as far as the economy is concerned, he's brought America back from the dead. For that he deserves credit. On the foreign stage, given all that Bush left him, he also deserves a little more time to intelligently assess strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan. We've already had eight years of catastrophic military ineptitude. It's actually quite refreshing to have a president who's carefully weighing all options before committing troops to battle. But these are definitely now his wars to wage and/or end, and time is running out on his honeymoon. He needs to formulate a plan, and soon.


On another note, the film I produced, SERIOUS MOONLIGHT, which was written by my late wife Adrienne Shelly (WAITRESS), will have its U.S. premiere and afterparty December 3rd in NYC. This event will also serve as the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Foundation fundraising gala, and proceeds will go towards helping ASF achieve its mission of supporting women filmmakers. Tickets are $150. Please join me, our stars Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, our director Cheryl Hines and others at this red-carpet event. Tickets are extremely limited (only 40 left!). To purchase, please call Jessica at 212-381-1716.

ASF is a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization which provides 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.