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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Dude," Where's My President!?


With the midterm elections just days away and bloated predictions of a massive
Republican victory sweeping the nation, President Obama has been pulling out all
stops to get out the Democratic vote, including an unprecedented appearance
Wednesday night on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the self-described "fake news" show. It was a last-ditch strategy to reach young
people, and I seriously question the wisdom of this decision.

Obama's now being chastised by the right for denigrating the office of the
presidency by appearing with Stewart. But that's not the issue for me. In fact, I believe invading a sovereign nation like Iraq using false and manufactured evidence, or trampling on the Constitution with illegal spying, are much more egregious disrespects to the office. By comparison, these same Bush-supporting conservatives are therefore a tad disingenuous in their criticism of Obama.

My biggest problem with Obama's Daily Show appearance was that it was a dreadful performance. The president was unattractively defensive, and at times rambling, humorless, pleading and frustrated. He seemed exhausted. I'm not sure whose decision it was to put Obama on this program--let's assume his top advisor David Axelrod concocted this desperate scheme--but I suspect he's regretting it.

Obama desperately tried to convince the studio and home audience that his
administration, given the Bushevik shitstorm it inherited, has done a pretty
good job, especially with the economy, jobs and health care. I don't disagree. It/he has brought the nation back from the precipice of disaster. But his closing-argument prowess left much to be desired. He was not presidential. He was not convincing. He was not assuring. And he let Stewart best him, on several occasions. The most notable being "I don't think you wanna use that phrase, dude!" when the president said his former chief economic advisor, Lawrence Summers, "did a heckuva job." Stewart was referring to Bush's infamous misguided praise of former FEMA head Michael Brown, who notoriously botched the government's Hurricane Katrina rescue and relief effort (not exactly sure though how I feel about Stewart calling the president "dude," but I lean towards an apology being in order).

Another solid moment for Stewart came after Obama was seeking recognition for his accomplishments. "...We have done things that people don’t even know about." Stewart slyly shot back, "What have you done that people don't know about? Are you planning a surprise party for us? With millions of jobs and health care?"

And when a clearly disappointed Obama said "Jon, I love your show...and I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits" before admonishing him for not cutting him some slack on the economy, Stewart deftly returned with "Not to lump you in with other presidents" before reiterating voters' frustration with the slow pace of the recovery. It was one of Stewart's patented "Oh, snap!" moments and the primary reason he is so loved by his viewers. There is no one in the media who can be so biting in such a non-threatening, nice guy way.

To be sure, appearing off teleprompter is not one of Obama's strengths. He's awful off script and is equally uncomfortable in one-on-ones. He speaks in a slow, measured monotone and comes off dispassionate and unconvincing, which is in total contrast to his unparalleled soaring oratory skills when addressing mass audiences. And when one assumes he was virtually preaching to the liberal Daily Show choir, the decision to appear, after being semi-admonished by its iconic host, let alone exposing himself to subsequent Republican ridicule, seems quite counter-intuitive.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Open Letter to Democratic Voters


Ok, you're pissed off. Really pissed off. Especially you young folks, and blacks, and progressives. We get it. You feel your party has let you down. And you feel that President Obama, who you historically elected two years ago and who you expected to magically lift America from its economic abyss, has disappointed you as well. You're angry about your jobs (or lack thereof), you're angry about your dwindling home values, you're angry about your disappearing 401K/IRA/savings accounts and you fear for the future. And rightly so. The country is experiencing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression eighty years ago, and desperation and despair has set in for many of you.

Tuesday of next week there will be an election. A very, very important election. An election that will critically alter the political landscape for many years to come, and greatly impact the health, economic, social, environmental, legislative and judicial policies of our nation, many of which affect you and your families. At stake, among other things, are decisions about your health, your Social Security, your Medicare, your civil rights, your children's education, who you can marry, who you can have sex with, a woman's right to choose, how and when you can buy a home, when you can retire, protecting your retirement savings, whether we govern under the Separation of Church and State, whether we respect science, fund stem cell research, fight global warming, and whether your children are sent to fight unjust wars.

To be sure, this election is like no other in American history. It represents the cruel irony of potentially reversing 200 years of American progress just two years after electing the first black president. Just two years ago we thought, look how far we've come, America! Two years later we're now thinking, look at how little we've truly progressed. The Republican Party, re-branded as the Tea Party, would like to "take America back" to the days when older, rich white men had all the money and power. Their policies are self-serving and elitist, and they'd love nothing more than to strip you of everything that government provides you, your family, your parents. And if they win on November 2nd, that's what they'll immediately start doing.

The truth is, while the economy still struggles, it is without question much better than it was when Obama took office. Gross domestic output (GDP) has grown from -6% to +3%, a nine point swing. We went from losing 750,000 jobs per month to now experiencing seven straight months of private sector job growth. We went from having Wall Street, banking, hotel, airline, retail, housing and the automotive industries on the precipice of bankruptcy to now experiencing solid recovery and, in some sectors, record growth and profits. Credit, previously frozen, now flows again to business and consumer borrowers alike.

The policies of President Obama and the Democrats have worked. Now is not the time to toss out the guys who kept America from another Great Depression and hand the controls back to those who sent it there. You must remember the nearly unprecedented financial crisis Obama inherited in January 2009, and the solid economic progress that's been made since. While we still have a long ways to go in this recovery, we can just as easily, and quickly, sink right back into that abyss. A place where only the rich, the corporate fatcats and the special interests benefit. And that's exactly what will happen if you allow your frustration and anger to result in Republicans winning control of Congress next week.

So this is your choice, Democrats. You can take your anger out on your own party or you can take it out by supporting your party and keeping from power those who seek to harm you. Yes, it's a lesser of two evils choice, but a choice nonetheless, and one you must make. The stakes are way too high not to. Don't do what the Ralph Nader-ites did in 2000 when they cast their protest vote against Al Gore and in doing so rolled out the Red Carpet for eight years of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove tyranny. No, the way to protest is to vote against those who threaten your own interests, not those who seek to protect them, however frustratingly slow that may be taking.

Your party and your leaders are like family. You don't always like them, and you don't always agree with what they say, what they decide, or how long it takes them to deliver. But you always support them. And that's what you must do next Tuesday. Give President Obama and the Democratic Party the chance to continue re-building America for you and your families. You cannot stay home on Tuesday. You must get out and vote, and tell everyone you know to do so as well. The consequences of not doing so will be devastating.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's Stop Being PC and Call the Tea Party What It Is: The Stupid Party


There. I've said it. And it feels damn good. I'm sorry, but I'm sick and tired of watching the mainstream media, and seemingly everyone else for that matter, give legitimacy to this cabal of embarrassingly under qualified non-intellectuals who seek to reverse the social, educational, scientific and economic progress America's made since the Founding Fathers put pen to paper and drafted the U.S. Constitution...ya know, that little document which Tea Baggers like Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell like to refer to ad nauseam despite not having a clue as to what the hell's actually in it.

Yes, I'm sick and tired of the sheer stupidity of this movement called the Tea Party. I'm aghast at the stupidity of both its candidates and its constituents. They decry and denounce everything modern, logical and rational. They're against everything and think government should stand for nothing. And what's truly stupid is that they don't even understand the very principles for which they stand. Just witness the level of ignorance in the following video at a D.C. Tea Party rally:



These uninformed lost souls vehemently shout for "small government" and "less government handouts," but ask them if they'd like to lose their Social Security and Medicare and they smile and say, "Oh no, that stuff I like!" They don't know what the hell they want, yet that hasn't stopped them from being really, really angry anyway. And they support candidates who stand for nothing and are against everything. They mock science, think evolution is "a myth,", claim President Obama is an illegal alien, are against stem cell research, the Department of Education, the EPA, Social Security and Medicare, health care reform, financial reform, cap and trade and other environmental protections.

Just consider the sheer lunacy of some of the statements found in a NY Times article Thursday by several Tea Party supporters interviewed about their denial of global warming:

"It’s a flat-out lie," said Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician and founder of the Corydon Tea Party. He added that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. "I read my Bible. He made this earth for us to utilize."

"This so-called climate science is just ridiculous," said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. "I think it’s all cyclical. Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue." She added: "Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too." (um, that's because it is)

And yet another Tea Baggin' genius: Lisa Deaton, a small-business owner in Columbus, Ind and founder of Tea Party affiliate We the People Indiana, said "They’re trying to use global warming against the people. It takes way our liberty. Being a strong Christian, I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us."

Even worse are the certifiably loony candidates that these dopes are supporting. Let's take a look at the Tea Party's "A Team:"

Consider O'Donnell, who's cheated on her taxes, lied about her education, defaulted on her mortgage, defaulted on her college tuition, reportedly used campaign funds for personal use, campaigned against sex and masturbation, and admits to "dabbling in witchcraft." She has also made a series of very bizarre statements about scientists cloning humans with animals which produce "mice with fully functioning human brains;" and believes homosexuality is "an identity disorder" and that having women in the military "cripples the readiness of our defense." Her latest embarrassment involves her complete, utter lack of knowledge about the Separation of Church and State and the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment establishment clause which protects it:



Or Harry Reid's Senate opponent in Nevada, Sharron Angle, who during an interview about abortion, when asked hypothetically what a 15-year-old girl who was raped by her father should do, Angle suggested that she "turn lemons into lemonade" and find a solution. She also wants to repeal health care reform; is against financial reform; seeks to cut Social Security benefits; and scoffs at global warming. Just this week she told a group of Hispanic students that they look Asian.

Or how about Joe Miller up in Alaska, who thinks that unemployment insurance is unconstitutional, and who had his goons assault a reporter this week simply for asking a question? Or Rand Paul in Kentucky, who doesn't believe in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or Colorado's Ken Buck who thinks "this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated." Or the "refudiatin" Sarah Palin, who Tweeted her followers this week urging them to support Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Raese. Only problem: Raese is running in W Va. Can you say, airhead?

And what about Newt Gingrich, who's blatant racist comments about President Obama last month were shocking let alone moronic: "What if Obama is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together his actions? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."

To be sure, what we're witnessing with the Tea Party is politics at its stupidest best. This is a dumb party, with dumb ideas, dumb candidates and even dumber voters. Someone just has to say it, and I'm fine with it being me.


On another subject, we can use your help at The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is 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. Our mission is simple: to support women filmmakers. Since then we’ve awarded over 20 grants and scholarships through our partnerships with Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, American Film Institute, Columbia University, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, IFP, Women in Film and the Nantucket Film Festival. Our grantees include Cynthia Wade, who won an Oscar in '08 for her documentary, FREEHELD, which we helped fund. If you visit our website you’ll see the many faces of the very talented women from around the world who’ve benefited from our assistance. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How to Fix the Political Debate Process



I admit it. I'm a certifiable political junkie who will literally watch two Chicago
Aldermen debate if I have the time. I simply love the dance. It's pure theater. The ultimate reality show. And sometimes it can be like watching Snooki and Angelina slug it out, except in business suits, behind a podium, and trading political barbs instead of expletive-laced Guidette-isms. Which is exactly why the process is broken and desperately in need of fixing.

Politicians today lie more than ever, because they've come to learn that the mainstream media cares little to prove them wrong. So they will say anything, to anyone, at any time if they think it strengthens their standing, weakens their opponents and demonizes them. And this disingenuous behavior is no more prevalent than on televised debates, where lie after calculated lie is hurled between the combatants, to the moderators and to voters watching at home. The recent Meg Whitman/Jerry Brown, Chris Coons/Christine O'Donnell, Harry Reid/Sharron Angle and Rand Paul/Jack Conway debates are prime examples of this truthiness epidemic.

But do debates have to be such truth-starved spectacles? Should politicians be allowed this forum to summarily dupe and deceive? Are the parties expected to just sit there like a bunch of saps as accusations are presented as fact without any verification whatsoever? How are voters supposed to make educated decisions about whom to vote for if candidates' lies go unchecked? Without such verification these political debates are useless. Unless of course it's the Snookiness of it all you're looking for.

Which brings us to the fix; how to make debates truly meaningful in the election process. It's really quite simple: research and verify, right there on the spot. Why can't the sponsor/host, whoever it may be such as CNN, PBS, Fox or some University, have a bank of fact-checkers in the studio, sitting like telephone operators at a telethon, next to the moderator's table? With online research tools available like Google and Lexus-Nexis, how difficult would it be to spend a few minutes digging for the truth each time there's a material dispute about a candidate's record? In Jerry Seinfeld's new show "The Marriage Ref" a reputable journalist fact-checker sits on-stage and does just that. Does our political process not deserve the same respect for the truth?

Here's how the revised debate system would work: let's say candidate A claims candidate B voted for or against a critical bill. Or perhaps candidate B claims candidate A made a controversial position statement in the past. Or one accuses the other of having some sort of embarrassing skeleton in the closet. Rather than listening to several minutes of he-said/she-said accusations and denials, without it ever being conclusively proven, how about conclusively proving it? At the beginning of each debate the moderator would announce a format such as this:

"In the first 75-minutes of tonight's debate, each candidate will have two minutes to answer a question, which will then be followed up with a 30-sec rebuttal by the other. The candidate will then have 30 seconds to answer the opponent's rebuttal. The final 15 minutes will consist of the findings of our fact-checking team, seated to my right, of each disputed item, at which time you will have an opportunity to address the results and acknowledge any mistakes and clarify them as well. You will then each get a one-minute closing statement. So we urge you to pay close attention to accuracy, as we will be uncovering the truth behind any controversial statements and accusations. Now let's begin..."

Imagine a debate where politicians knew going in that they'd be caught red-handed with their hands in the bullshit jar if they operated business as usual. Imagine a debate where the media actually did it's job in digging for the truth rather than play marginalized ringmaster in a political sideshow.


On another subject, we can use your help at The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is 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. Our mission is simple: to support women filmmakers. Since then we’ve awarded over 20 grants and scholarships through our partnerships with Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, American Film Institute, Columbia University, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, IFP, Women in Film and the Nantucket Film Festival. Our grantees include Cynthia Wade, who won an Oscar in '08 for her documentary, FREEHELD, which we helped fund. If you visit our website you’ll see the many faces of the very talented women from around the world who’ve benefited from our assistance. 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, October 15, 2010

"Muslims Killed Us on 9/11?"



Once again, Fox's Bill O'Reilly has put his giant Republican foot in his blabbermouth. On ABC's The View Thursday O'Reilly, during a heated exchange with the ladies about the proposed Islamic Community Center two blocks from Ground Zero, spewed the sort of ignorant, race-baiting venom that's become all-too familiar among conservatives: "Muslims killed us on 9/11!" Moments later, the program's most reliably outspoken libs, Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, got up and angrily walked off the stage, only to appear minutes later after O'Reilly sucked it up and apologized, pathetically trying to rationalize and spin his racist garbage into something less offensive.

There's a reason why most Americans oppose the Center, as O'Reilly cited from a CNN poll. It's the same reason why a third of Americans believe President Obama is an illegal alien. It's because rabble-rousing lying racists like O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, in partnership with flame-stoking lying pols like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, dominate the media and control the message the right-wing vomits to its equally ignorant racist base.

So Muslims killed us on 9/11? Was it Jews who killed innocent New Yorkers in the Son of Sam murders in the 70's? Was it blacks who killed 29 Atlanta children in the early 80's? Was it Christians who blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995?

O'Reilly and his fear-mongering cohorts know very well what they're doing as they regurgitate their incendiary rhetoric to the masses. There's nothing like a little good old fashioned racist propaganda to scare the bajeesus out of the blissfully unaware and bolster one's position. And for those despicable ignoramuses who oppose the building of the Islamic Community Center, that includes demonizing an entire religion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Midterms: It's the Stupidity, Stupid


Once upon a time, not long ago, voters actually voted with their best interests at heart. Oh sure, there were Democrats and Republicans and even some of those pesky little independents who now seem to be the pivotal block in almost every major election. Heck, some people even voted communist. But what all of the candidates had in common was intelligence. They were always smart, highly educated and experienced. All voters needed to do was choose which ones best represented their economic, social and foreign policy interests.

Not today. And in particular, not in today's Republican Party. What we're witnessing today is a monumental dumbing down of GOP politics. The lowering of the standards and qualifications bar so low that only candidates appealing to the lowest common denominators stand a chance. Intelligence, education and experience is out. Ignorance, inexperience and nauseating folksiness is in.

Which leads us to two seminal figures in today's GOP: Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party queen and princess respectively, who have helped redefine grass-roots politics, and not in a good way.

Palin, who helped put the Tea Party on the map, and her protegee O'Donnell, best personify the new breed of Republican: charming, attractive, angry non-intellects who mock education, science and logic, while claiming "I am you" in an effort to identify with average voters. It's Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington, except without any ideas, vision or intelligent things to say.

But give them some credit. These two empty-suited frauds have accomplished the unthinkable: by historic comparison, they've actually made George W. Bush seem smart and qualified. Say what you will about old Dubya, but at least he served two full terms as Texas Governor. And, contrary to O'Donnell's proud claim for herself, he went to Yale. Stacked up against these two colossal lightweights, he's Lincoln.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's no place in Washington, no place in the GOP, for the likes of Palin and O'Donnell. But rather than be considered serious contenders for the White House and Senate, perhaps a job where their qualifications are better matched might be in running out to get Mitch McConnell's or John McCain's lunch or fetching John Boehner's martinis and tanning cream.

What's happening to the GOP should be of grave concern to Republicans, who are watching their party become hijacked by the unintellectual elite. The dummies have taken over, and the old guard--McCain, McConnell, Boehner and other establishment Republican leaders--may find themselves powerless if the Tea Baggers get their way in three weeks.

In today's GOP, the dumber candidates are and the more they project themselves that way, the more they think they'll identify with the common voter. Who needs experience? Who needs a solid education? Who needs to be able to stand before the press and not sound like an absolute, substance-lacking moron? If Palin, O'Donnell, Angle, Rand Paul, Joe Miller, Michelle Bachmann and others in the Tea Party Army represent the future of the Republican Party, then the Republican Party has no future.


On another subject, we can use your help at The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is 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. Our mission is simple: to support women filmmakers. Since then we’ve awarded over 20 grants and scholarships through our partnerships with Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, American Film Institute, Columbia University, NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, IFP, Women in Film and the Nantucket Film Festival. Our grantees include Cynthia Wade, who won an Oscar in '08 for her documentary, FREEHELD, which we helped fund. If you visit our website you’ll see the many faces of the very talented women from around the world who’ve benefited from our assistance. 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, October 08, 2010

Christine O'Donnell Fixes America in 265 Words



Need a good laugh? Take a little trip over to Delaware's Tea Party Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's website and check out her positions on fixing America's most pressing problems like jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, health care, energy and national security. It's chock full of all the creative, ground-breaking, thought-provoking political and policy insights you can cram into a whopping 265 words. That is of course if the thoughts it provokes, and the insights it offers, are that O'Donnell is woefully lacking in knowledge and substance.

Wanna fix the jobs problem, you say? Well, O'Donnell has an incredible plan: "Believes jobs are created when businesses are freed from endless taxes and bureaucratic red tape." That's it. All of it. Word for word. The entire plan in a nutshell. Can't you literally hear the stampede of people headed back to work now...

Wanna reign in spending? O'Donnell has the solution: "Believes unrestrained government spending is eroding our freedom, destroying our economy and ceding our sovereignty to foreign debt-holders like China." I think the deficit just dropped a trillion bucks as we speak...

Wanna make America more energy efficient? O'Donnell "Supports a market-based approach to energy solutions that will keep competition high and energy prices low." Wow! Why didn't Al Gore think of that?

Or how about taxes? O'Donnell "Will fight to remove the crushing tax burden faced by American families and businesses and dramatically simplify the tax code." Dang, if anyone can untangle this intricate and complicated tax code it's Christine O'Donnell! Didn't she major in Tax Law at Oxford?

Ya think Delawareans would be fortunate to have representing them in Washington such a brilliant thinker and policy innovator? Let's hope they make the right decision on November 2nd..

In the meantime, I know a Senate hopeful in Delaware named Chris Coons who could use a few bucks. Click here to donate.