The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the GOP/Tea Party. We support President Obama and the Democratic agenda and seek to preserve the Senate majority while taking back the House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Will Tea Party's Legacy Be in Splitting GOP Tickets Straight into Defeat?


Oh what a difference two years can make. Back in April '08, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist enjoyed sky-high approval ratings over 70% and was a serious candidate for Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential running mate. Along with Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, he was considered one of many rising stars of the Republican Party. Whether justified or not, they were packaged and marketed as moderates; Republican light. But they're all fairly hard-line conservative politicians. Yet to today's far-right-extremist Tea Party fringe, these guys might as well be Barney Frank. And that's great news for Democrats, who stand to benefit hugely as the misguided, small-minded passions of Tea Baggers serve to split GOP tickets across the country....thus sabotaging the party's chances of regaining power in November.

Jump to April 2010, and Crist can't get himself arrested as he tries in vain to win the Senate seat vacated by Republican Mel Martinez and currently held by George LeMieux, his former aide and appointee. This week he announced he was defecting from the GOP and will run without party. Back in the Fall Crist held a huge lead over his Republican challenger, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. Rubio went from trailing 22 points to leading by 18. The Democrat in the race, U.S. Congressman Kendrick B. Meek, is running third. Rubio is a Tea Party favorite. So is Crist's defeat a Tea Party victory? Hardly.

What we're seeing in various national campaigns is a foreshadowing of the Republican Party's ruination. The party has been hijacked by Tea Bag radicals; super-duper hardline right-wing fanatics who comprise the absolute smallest wing of the party yet have the loudest voice. They've handed over the reins to rabble-rousing propagandists like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich, and in the process effectively kicked out pols who now do appear moderate/centrist by comparison. As former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean asked this week, "Is this a sign that people, perhaps centrists or moderates, like Charlie Crist, have no place in this new emerging Republican Party?" The answer is yes. And that will be the GOP's final death knell.

Consider what former President Ronald Reagan said after he defected to the GOP: "I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, it left me." That's exactly what's been happening to the more moderate conservatives across the nation as the Tea Baggers have ratcheted up their racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-government radical attack rhetoric. And Crist is not alone in his defection. Arlen Specter switched parties last year after realizing he could no longer win as a Republican. To be sure, the Tea Party is making political life very difficult for candidates who would've been shoo-ins prior to this movement's controversial emergence last year. Over in Utah, Bob Bennett faces an extremely tough primary race even though he's conservative enough to have earned an A grade from the National Rifle Association, an 84% rating from the American Conservative Union and 98% from the Chamber of Commerce.

In Arizona, Sen. John McCain is seriously threatened by primary challenger J.D. Hayworth, watching his once sizable lead shrink to around 5 points. For Indiana's Senate seat being vacated by Evan Bayh, former Senator Dan Coats is facing a stiff challenge from state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who's got far-right backing and support. In Kentucky, Rand Paul (son of Ron) is the Tea Baggers' favorite, yet it is Trey Grayson who has the support of party leaders. There are similar stories elsewhere such as California, Colorado and of course the swing state of Florida.

In a year when Democrats are supposed to be shaking in their boots over the GOP Bogeyman's big gains in November that'll sweep them back into power, it is the Tea Party that Democrats may be thanking a few months from now for pouring scolding water on the Republican "revolution."

Keep up the good work, Sarah, Michelle, Glenn, Newt and the rest of ya. Keep splitting those tickets. We Democrats just love 3-way races...


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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Jew Says 'Sorry Sarah, America is Not a "Christian" Nation'


Sarah Palin apparently hasn't heard of Separation of Church and State. Here's what she said at a Women of Joy conference in Kentucky last week, attended by 16,000:

"God truly has shed his grace on thee -- on this country. He's blessed us, and we better not blow it. And that's why I talk about politics. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our founding fathers, they were believers. Hearing any leader declare that America isn't a Christian nation . . ."

In her usual obnoxious, snarky, grating manner, Palin's "any leader" reference was clearly directed at President Obama, who in a 2006 speech said, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation--at least not just--we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers."

Well, I happen to be one of those Jews Obama was referring to. And until The Wasilla Wonder regrettably slithered onto the national political scene I, like many people, had this crazy notion that America is the great Melting Pot. Not a Christian nation, but a secular one with a majority of citizens who just happen to practice Christianity. Big difference. The truth is, the number of people calling themselves Christians has declined 10% over the last 15 years. And maybe this decline can be attributed to the polarizing rhetoric of good Christian folk like Palin and others before her who've served to turn many off to religion. Which may explain why the fastest growing group in America are the non-believers. Sarah Palin: Poster Girl for Atheism.

Right wing radio blowhard John Gibson on Wednesday vehemently supported Palin's exclusionary statements on the premise that a majority of Americans call themselves Christians, therefore America's a Christian nation. Gibson is certainly not alone in this belief. I wonder, since there's a Democratic president and a majority of Democrats in both houses of Congress, if Palin, Gibson & Company would agree that we're a Democrat nation? To the contrary, these propagandists believe, as Sean Hannity claimed Wednesday for the umpteenth time, that America is a "center-right nation." Apparently, these hate-mongers' definition of "majority" is rather convoluted.

Someone needs to give Palin a history lesson (along with all the other lessons she needs for the myriad areas for which she is woefully ignorant) focusing on the doctrine of Separation of Church and State, which the Founding Fathers very intentionally created to keep government out of religion, and vice versa. Specifically addressed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, government is prohibited from establishing a national religion and giving preference to one religion over another. "Our Constitution established a secular government and has no mention of Jesus, Christianity, or a god of any kind, despite the false message spread by figures such as Sarah Palin who claim that America was founded as a Christian nation," reminds Paul Fidalgo of the Secular Coalition for America.

How ironic that the very same leaders who incite so much Tea Party passion about "small government" and "freedom" are the very same people who (a) want government to make decisions about religion and (b) want minorities to feel as if they're less American than those nation-owning Christians. But Palin, like Hannity, Gibson, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and all the other conservative and Tea Party instigators, is dangerously pouring gasoline onto her base's guns/God/gays flames in a shameless campaign to divide the nation and demonize all those who disagree with her gangster government-in-exile. Now that she's done her Arctic best to turn whites against blacks, she's desperately trying to rile up Christians and turn them against Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists to name a few. Her religious and racial rabble rousing--and that of her cohorts--is despicable. Get ready gays, you're the next stop on the Palin & Co. hate train.

I'm sorry Sarah, but this is my America too, dammit. I want people like you to stop telling the rest of us what America represents and to whom. I want you and your myopic, small-minded thought-bandits to stay out of my body, my bedroom and my religiosity or lack thereof. I want you to stop claiming "we need to take America back." Back from what...blacks, Jews, atheists, gays? You want America back? How about putting together a serious platform of ideas and candidates and get elected, just like Obama and the Democrats who control both houses of Congress. Palin obviously needs to be reminded that in the last election, voters overwhelmingly rejected her brand of "history" and vision for the future.

On a side note, to further illustrate the utter ignorance emanating from the right lately, consider what Gibson had to say Wednesday on whether America is a racist country: "We know that it isn't. It's just down to a couple of Klansmen....There essentially is no racism left in America...and Democrats need to keep racism alive to hold onto the black vote. They know that black people love to hear that racism is running amok." Sorry Gibson, you narrow-minded racist nitwit, black people don't need to "hear" about racism from arrogant white fools like you...they live it. Thanks for showing us firsthand just how alive it really is. You should be ashamed of yourself. In fact, I'm embarrassed for you.


Onto another subject...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, April 19, 2010

Dangerous Right Wing Rhetoric: There Will be Blood


Republicans are angry. Bitter. Hostile. Resentful. Desperate. Hungry for power. And ratcheting up the hate-speak to such irresponsible and reprehensible levels that one day soon they may have blood on their hands if they don't stop.

We can blame the Tea Party and its de facto leaders--Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Rep. Eric Cantor to name a few--for riling up Republicans with relentless attacks on President Obama and Democrats using code language and euphemisms like "take our country back,""reload," and "gangster government." We've witnessed racial and sexual slurs, threats, intimidation, violence, Democrats hanging in effigy...all in an attempt to delegitimize Obama's presidency through accusations of radicalism and socialism. As Cantor disingenuously claims, Obama wants "to remake America in the image of Europe."

Palin opens every speech by shouting to her audience, "Do you love your Freedom?," as if those very freedoms are truly at risk of being taken away. She force-feeds her misguided groupies with propaganda that Obama's "un-American" policies make America "less free." One Tea Party organizer over last weekend threatened: "To the elites....we're not going to be worried so much about shooting the folks who come to shoot us. We will skip several levels and go straight for their throats." The rhetoric has intensified to the point where a new poll shows that 74% of Republicans fear that their rights and freedoms are under imminent threat, vs 52% in 1996, after the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.

There's even a Facebook page, with over 200,000 "fans," urging violence against Obama: "DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN." Amen? Really? As if this violent sentiment is somehow a Christian tenet? Jeez, what the hell is wrong with these people?

Former President Bill Clinton, who occupied the White House when anti-government terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building fifteen years ago killing 168 people, last week condemned the right's dangerous rhetoric:

"There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do," warned Clinton, adding that monsters like McVeigh and those like him "were profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant anti government line." And in a NY Times op-ed Monday Clinton urged those in power to consider the potentially grave consequences of their inciting rhetoric: "...We must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged."

In response, right wing radio blowhard Limbaugh over the weekend attacked Clinton and warned, "You have just set the stage for violence in this country. Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton." So what we have here is a righteous condemnation not of the despicable acts of rabble-rousing conservatives, but of Clinton's warning of their consequences. Classic case of shoot the messenger.

Make no mistake: the political landscape is an arid tinderbox that could ignite at any moment. Those like Palin, Bachmann and Limbaugh who are stoking the flames of hate will be the ones responsible if this relentless instigating turns into a heinous act of violence. It's hard to imagine how this reckless inciting of the disaffected, using the lowest common denominator, will not result in tragedy; how one of these brainwashed "patriotic" loons is not gonna pick up a gun one day and do something horrible, just like McVeigh did, for love or hate of country.

And it's a damned shame that not one legit Republican in power is willing to publicly condemn this dangerously over-the-top rhetoric. But why should they, I guess. They hope to benefit by it come November.


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, April 16, 2010

Tea Baggers: Republicans in Wolves' Clothing


So according to the NY Times poll released this week, we now know that a majority of "Tea Baggers"--the foot soldiers in the Tea Party army--is little more than a collection of rich, educated, white men. Translation?: Republicans. Is this really a surprise?

The "grass roots" rage of the Tea Baggers recalls another faux-populist movement in recent history. Remember the "Brooks Brothers Mob?" The angry, belligerent, bullying rich, educated white males who descended on Miami-Dade County in 2000 to disrupt the Bush/Gore recount? They were Republicans too. And most in fact were GOP operatives sent on a specific mission to undermine the Democratic process. See any parallels between these thugs and the Tea Baggers?

The Tea Party, despite what its de-facto leaders like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich would like us to believe, is but a very small, fringe mob of hate-mongers like their Brooks Brothers counterparts. Poor Gingrich only had 500 'Baggers to preach to at the Austin, Texas Tea Party rally Thursday. In Manhattan, only about 700 protesters showed up. At their big D.C. rally, about 5000 attended. Hardly a "tsunami of conservatism," as Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle boasted to protesters at her Nevada rally.

No, the Tea Baggers are not stupid, as some have claimed and which the poll cites to the contrary. But they are terribly misguided and perhaps embarrassingly manipulated; manipulated by the GOP and its disingenuous spinners into harnessing all of their frustration and rage at President Obama into their underlying not-so-subtle-racism. While they can't use the N-word outright, they instead have adopted code language like "socialist," "Muslim," "radical" and "un-American" while tapping the "birthers" and "truthers," to delegitimize him and his presidency. All the Times poll did this week was put some stats and facts to this theory.

Consider what Bachmann told the D.C. crowd: "We're onto them; we're on to their gangster government." Did she really want to say "gangsta" government perhaps? Is this just another racist code word? It's pretty clear what the goal is behind this sort of dangerous rhetoric.


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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Tea Party Movement Isn't About Racism? Read this...



The Tea Party movement is not about Sarah Palin: most Tea Baggers, while they love her inflammatory rhetoric, think she's unqualified to be president. The movement is not about taxes: most think the amount they pay is fair. And Tea Baggers really aren't angry about big government either: most love their Social Security and Medicare and wouldn't want to lose it. These and other unsurprising revelations are part of a NY Times poll released this week which reinforces the ugly truth about the role racism plays in the Tea Party movement.

Contrary to how the movement is portrayed as a non-partisan, multicultural, age/gender-diverse "big tent," most Tea Baggers are wealthy, white Republican males over 45, according to the poll. The poll chillingly illustrates what's really at the core of the movement: intense frustration, anger and resentment over the belief that a black president is giving taxpayer handouts to other blacks. In fact, 25% believe the Obama administration favors blacks over whites. As the Times reports, they believe that "too much has been made of the problems facing black people."

There's no denying the level of ignorance that permeates the Tea Party movement or the rampant racism in which it's rooted. Here's a classic example of Tea Bagger "populist rage:" "I just feel he’s getting away from what America is," said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, of Jacksonville, Fl. "He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him."

Clearly, in Ms. Mayhugh's America, blacks aren't supposed to hold positions of power. They're not supposed to benefit more than white people. In fact, white people are supposed to get all the goodies. And good, patriotic Americans are white, Christian and go to church regularly. So it's no stretch that in this America, if you're black and not a church goer, well then you must be a socialist, a Muslim (can ya be both, for Pete's sake?) and anti-American. Well, at least that's what shameless demagogues like Palin have brainwashed them to think.


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, April 14, 2010

Here Comes Another Colossal Republican Lie


In a hotly contested election year where the stakes are huge, how will Republicans fight financial reform without appearing to defend Wall Street's interests at the expense of Main Street? The answer is simple: lie. And lie big, as always. Craft a disingenuous campaign to convince voters that regulating big banks--and thus the GOP's rich fatcat pals--will hurt the little guy. Brilliant. Turn financial reform into a populist movement. Convince the Average Joes to get all fired up, march in the streets, and fight against the very reforms that will in fact help them considerably. Turn them, once again, against their own self-interests by lying to them. As Lenin said, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

And where have we seen this before? If you said health care reform, you're right. The Republicans may be the Party of No, and may not have a lick of ideas of their own, but they are very effective liars, highly adept at framing issues to turn public sentiment their way. The recent health care battle is a stunning example of this. How else do you explain all the Tea Bagger rage over legislation that truly protects them and their families?

A perfect illustration of this duplicity is the "death panel" lie, where the "government takeover" of health care, according to the GOP, would result in President Obama getting to decide whether Granny lives or dies. Makes a great soundbyte. Republicans are masterful at creating devastatingly effective talking points.

Which brings us to financial reform and the Senate bill proposed by Democrats. A bill which seeks to place further regulations on Wall Street and aimed at the sort of high-risk trading practices that caused the meltdown of 2008. Here's the lie which we can bet will become the new ad nauseum "death panel" talking point:

"We cannot allow endless taxpayer-funded bailouts," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell this week. "That’s why we must not pass the financial reform bill that’s about to hit the floor. The fact is this bill wouldn’t solve the problems that led to the financial crisis. It would make them worse."

That's right. Get out there and fight, Mr. and Mrs. Average American. Fight for your Wall Street executives! We need to protect them. We need to make sure they stay rich, fat and happy, because if we attempt to rein in their reckless cowboy investment activities, that'll be bad for you and bad for America! It'll cost you in taxes! No! We must let them do whatever the hell they want, without restriction! No more 'big government' intervention! Power to the people! The Wall Street people! Financial reform, like health care reform, is terrible for you! No more death panels and bailouts! Don't let Democrats hurt you. We Republicans are looking out for you. Have your best interests at heart. And by helping us protect the insurance industry, the big banks and corporate America...we're really protecting you. God bless America!

A note of interest: McConnell himself supported President Bush's emergency $700-billion Wall Street bailout back in the Fall of 2008. Oh, how quickly those pesky little Republicans forget...

Monday, April 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin


Dear Sarah:
Let me start off by saying I am not a fan. Quite the contrary. In fact, I think you're terribly misinformed, misguided, intellectually deficient, woefully unprepared, sarcastic and mean-spirited... and with a voice that is a gazillion times more grating than nails on a chalkboard. There is absolutely nothing I like, admire, or respect about you. Nada. Zippo. And I am not alone. Even most Republicans agree with me, judging from how your stint as John McCain's ill-fated running-mate was the kiss of death for the majority of conservative voters. The idea of you running for president in 2012 is laughable. A joke. A Fairbanks fantasy. You are beyond ill-equipped for the job. You stand as much chance of winning the presidency as I do. Which is exactly why I am begging you to run. Please. Run for president. And somehow also brainwash enough of your fellow misguided Tea Baggers that folks like me are dead wrong about you so they'll vote for you in the GOP primary. This is my fantasy.

In a perfect political world, you'd be President Obama's Republican challenger in the 2012 election. I'm soiling myself just thinking about it. Because you would make history. And not in a good way. Not in any way that would make Michelle Bachman proud.

No, the truth is, you would become the GOP's debacle heard 'round the world. It would be the sort of landslide they'd be talking about in Poli Sci classes for years to come. You'd become an American political case-study. Because outside of a half-dozen wacko Tea Baggers, no one would vote for you. And then you'd be a universal laughingstock and maybe then you'd finally go away for good.

So Sarah, please run. Do it for America. Give us the kind of hopey-changey stuff we're truly longing for....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ya Wanna Talk "Radical" Behavior Newt? How About Looking in the Mirror?


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is out spreading the GOP gospel with the most outlandish, false and incendiary accusations about President Obama. At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans Thursday, Gingrich gravely, and with quite the dramatic flair of Sir Laurence Olivier, warned the staunchly conservative crowd:

"This is the most radical administration in American history. The most radical president in American history has now thrown down the gauntlet to the American people. He has said, 'I run a machine. I own Washington, and there's nothing you can do about it.'"

To be sure, Republicans are lock-stepping all over the "radical" talking points right now as if Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove is still emailing missives from the West Wing. But exactly where does this unconscionable, unpatriotic, unfounded claim come from? Just what exactly has Obama done that merits such an outrageously inflammatory label?

Is Obama "radical" because he's still fighting George W. Bush's Iraq war? Is he "radical" because he's authorized a 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan, just like the John McCain-prompted Bush did in Iraq? Is he "radical" because his terrorist-targeted Drone attacks into Pakistan total more than Bush during his entire eight years? Is he "radical" for increasing the debt, as did Bush and Ronald Reagan? Is he "radical" because he wants to appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court the way Bush placed hardline right wingers Samuel Alito and John Roberts on the bench? Is he "radical" for lowering taxes on the poor and middle class, unlike Bush, who gave the rich the biggest tax cut in history? Is he "radical" for cutting a deal with Russia and hoping to end nuclear proliferation, as Reagan championed? Is he "radical" for ushering in the same model for health care reform that Richard Nixon advocated?

The truth is, the right has been on a racism-fueled campaign since January 2009 to deligitimize Obama's presidency. They've employed every dirty, shameful trick in the book in an attempt to undermine his reputation, his patriotism and his ability to lead. The latest vitriolic salvo, over health care reform, is simply another ruse manifested from this intense racial hatred. And they will not stop as long as they believe they can succeed.

Gingrich's "radical" histrionics are to be expected, no matter how offensive or patently false his claims. As we get closer to November's midterms, we're sure to witness a ratcheting up of this sort of dangerous rhetoric. Strap your seatbelts on, because the political landscape is going to get even much uglier.

But as long as we're on the subject of "radical" behavior, perhaps we should remind Gingrich, and the good old fashioned Tea Baggin' American patriots he preaches to, that it was he, not Obama, who is a thrice-married serial philanderer who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife; was investigated and reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee; and was shamed out of office by his Republican brethren. Sounds like pretty "radical" behavior to me. I'll take Obama any day...


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

Thursday, April 08, 2010

McCain's Mavericky Maverick Denial: The Videotape, Unlike the Senator, Doesn't Lie...



What the f**k is happening to Sen. John McCain? This dude's starting to resemble a bad train-wrecky realty show. Could "Mortifying Missteps by the Maverick" soon be giving "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" a run for its money? The once highly-respected independent-thinking "maverick" seems to have gone bonkers, no doubt brought on by his cornered-rat-like panic and desperation as August's GOP primary nears and many signs point to a stunning re-election loss to challenger J.D. Hayworth. I suppose fear of unemployment makes a man do crazy things...

The unraveling is reaching a bizarre peak. A couple of weeks ago McCrusty did the unthinkable: he brought hopey-changey mavericky Sarah Palin to Arizona to campaign with him. By golly, this is the same Palin who almost single-handedly imploded McCain's 2008 presidential bid. The same Palin who, you betchya, was called a diva and a nit-wit by top McCain advisors post-election. But also the same Palin who seems to be the Tea Baggers' porn star. And without those angry, deficit-hatin' Tea Baggers, who prefer Hayworth, McCain's reality-show days could be rapidly approaching. But, the Arizonans who voted for McCain all these years aren't Tea Baggers. In fact, they like him because he's a maverick.

Which brings us to meltdown #2. Over the weekend McCain shockingly claimed to Newsweek: "I never considered myself a maverick."

Excuse me? Really? Never considered himself a maverick? Are you kidding? As Jon Stewart pointed out, this would be like Rudy Giuliani saying "I never said 9-11." So just in case Sen. McCain, or anyone else for that matter, needs a little reminder as to the Senator's awesomely mavericky status...the video above gives it to ya straight from the maverick's mouth.

Oh Johnny boy, I guess we hardly knew ye....


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, April 07, 2010

Can We Fire the Pope?


The Catholic Church is diseased right now. Amid the mounting global scandal over pedophilia, it's suffering from epidemic proportions of denial and enabling. It seems to care more about protecting its own image and interests than the faithful innocents it's been called to serve under God. Perched atop this mess is Pope Benedict XVI. And if it is ultimately proven that he was negligent in turning a blind eye to years of sexual abuse by priests under his charge--when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and as head of the oversight body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981-2005)--then he must step down or be removed from the papacy. The corner office of the Vatican is certainly no place for sexual abuse cover-ups.

There are now unconscionable abuse cases arising out of Ireland, Germany, Minneapolis and Wisconsin, where over 200 deaf boys were sexually molested over a span of perhaps 25 years by then-Father Lawrence C. Murphy. The charges are beyond shocking and the acts they describe are heinous. And these are just the cases made public and over the last few weeks. To be sure, this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Despite being plagued by years of sexual scandal, the Church remains cavalier in its denial and arrogant defense of itself and of its failed self-policing mechanisms. It acts as if it's above the law and shrouds itself in secrecy, and its predatory monsters are afforded leniencies and forgiveness no other common criminal would receive. For example, Murphy, in a letter to the CDF, begged "I am seventy-two years of age, your Eminence, and am in poor health. I have just recently suffered another stroke which has left me in a weakened state. I have followed all the directives of both Archbishop Cousins and now Archbishop Weakland. I have repented of any of my past transgressions, and have been living peaceably in northern Wisconsin for twenty-four years. I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood. I ask your kind assistance in this matter." He died in 1998, still a priest. After his death, Archbishop Weakland appealed to the Vatican to close the case: "...This Discastery commends Father Murphy to the mercy of God. And shares with you the hope that the Church will be spared any undue publicity from this matter."

What's infuriating here was Murphy's unbridled arrogance; after sexually violating over 200 young boys he felt confident enough in the Church's tolerance of these despicable crimes to ask to live out his years with the "dignity of my priesthood." Were the 200 boys left with any dignity? And it's nice to know that the Church apparently cared more about bad PR than deaf kids being attacked by this 'dignified priest.' As an aside, Rule #1 of effective PR is this: first admit the problem, then describe the aggressive measures being taken to fix the problem, and then assure that the problem won't ever happen again. That's what the Church should be doing if it's truly concerned about PR.

Upsetting as well is the excuse-making and bait-and-switching coming from the lay community. Case in point William McGurn's op-ed piece in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal in which he writes that Jeff Anderson, a victims' lawyer in the Milwaukee abuse case, has a history of suing the Church in other abuses cases: "...it's hard to think of anyone with a greater financial interest in promoting the public narrative of a church that takes zero action against abuser priests, with Pope Benedict XVI personally culpable." McGurn clearly finds it more relevant to assassinate the character of the lawyer in this abuse case rather than be outraged over the abuses, and the abusers, themselves. His position is symbolic of the overall unwillingness of the Church, and its supporters, to directly address its sexual abuse problem while blaming others.

There's also this preposterous notion that priests will not molest little children if we simply allowed them to marry and have opposite-sex relationships. The ridiculousness of this supposition is just another example of the colossal denial in religious circles. Let's be very clear about one thing: heterosexual marriage does not cure homosexuality and pedophilia. Our prisons are filled with lots of "normal" married folk who just also happen to sexually abuse children. We've got to stop looking for reasons to justify and excuse this vile behavior and instead focus on implementing real reforms that will identify, prosecute and punish the abusers.

Perhaps most infuriating is how Church officials have vociferously defended the Pope, who they claim has been a harsh and outspoken critic of the "filth" that infests the Church, citing him as an architect and promoter of reform. But it's gonna take a helluva lot more than mere words or public outcries from the Holy See to end the rampant molestation of children by its priests. We can no longer live with the double-standard that currently exists and which protects priests from punishment for their disgusting crimes and does so in a shameful covert cover-up manner. Repentance, demotions to desk duty, and other meaningless slaps on the wrist are inexcusable. These undeserved courtesies are an outrageous insult to victims, and do nothing but perpetuate the circle of horrific abuse. One thing must change immediately: whether your white collar comes from JC Penney or the Vatican, if you sexually abuse children you should rot in jail. Period.

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

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Conservative Lynch Mob Gunning for Michael Steele: More Political Racism?


I'm willing to bet my life's savings that, back in 2008 when Michael Steele was elected head of the RNC, many people on both sides of the aisle were as incredulous as I in seeing a black man leading this almost entirely white political party. A party that seemingly cares about the struggles and needs of blacks and other minorities about as much as Saddam did Shiites.

At the time, it was painfully clear that Republican officials focused not on Steele's qualifications and overall merit in putting him in charge, but rather their sense of urgency and political expediency in having a black face of the party as they battled fiercely with the Democrats and then-candidate Barack Obama. It was, and embarrassingly/shamefully so, their proud "see, we have black folks too!" moment. But they couldve put rapper Jay-Z atop the RNC and it still wouldn't have attracted black voters, which was clearly their goal with Steele's dubious appointment.

And now, in the wake of the RNC's new sex club scandal, these rueful conservatives are calling for Steele's head, all too happy to throw him under the bus and effectively reversing a decision that no one truly liked in the first place. I mean, a black man running the RNC?! A party with not one elected black U.S. Congressman or Senator? A party which received just 4% of the black vote in '08's presidential election? Gosh darnit, what were these crazy whiteys thinking!? What kind of boneheaded 'hopey-changey' thing was that?!

So now the Voyeur club scandal--where party officials expensed thousands of dollars at this Los Angeles sex and "bondage" emporium--is conservatives' chance to fire the black dude nobody ever really wanted anyway, and who had a bulls eye on his back from day-one. And this campaign, like the ridiculously disproportionate Tea Party vitriol over healthcare reform, is no doubt heavily rooted in racism.

Now of course, in their defense, Republicans will say, "How can we be racist in axing Steele if he was black when when we elected him?!" Normally, that would be a fairly plausible argument. But in Steele's case, his appointment was just as racist, for he was handed the reins not because of his overwhelming qualifications, but because of his skin color, which was a cheap, calculated ploy in seeking minority voters. The intended message was clear: "We'll put this unqualified black man in charge of an all-white party and you dumb minority folk will be duped into our make-believe 'big tent' and magically come out Republican." That's not racist, you say?


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.