Monday, August 22, 2011

You Know You're a Tea Bagger If...

As the 2012 presidential campaign intensifies, there's been much speculation
as to the philosophies, motivations and overall composition of Tea Party constituents.
To help clarify any lingering confusion and to help define these passionate Americans,
I offer the following Litmus Test:

You know you're a Tea Bagger if:

1. You hate science and the corrupt scientists who manufacture data in nefarious schemes

2. You think global warming is a hoax

3. You think there are hundreds of Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientists who believe
in Intelligent Design

4. You think Social Security, Medicare and "big government" are mutually-exclusive

5. You think God is an evangelical Christian conservative

6. You think Elvis was born in August

7. You think the "Soviet Union" remains one of America's biggest threats

8. You can see the "Soviet Union," or Russia, from your backyard

9. You think Paul Revere is famous for warning the British

10. You think the historic "Shot Heard Round the World" took place in New

11. You think John Wayne Gacy was a rugged movie star

12. You think John Wayne was a serial killer

13. You think homosexuals can be "cured" by Marcus Bachmann

14. You think Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has committed "treason"

15. You think there are "Death Panels" consisting of evil doctors who will kill
old people

16. You think Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity tell the truth and that Fox News is
fair and balanced

17. You think governors who advocate their state's secession from the Union
would make great presidents of the United States.

18. You think that African American males like President Obama benefit more by
government assistance than those hard-workin' white folks

19. You think President Obama is an illegal alien

20. You think Michele Bachmann really worked for the IRS just to get inside to
better understand the enemy

21. You think the Founding Fathers abolished slavery

22. You love America but scowl when your opponents exercise the very Democratic
principles which make it great, like free speech; separation of church
and state; a free and open press; freedom of religion; checks and balances;
freedom from persecution; and civil rights for all

23. And most of all, unlike your founding Tea Party brethren 238 years ago,
you think "No taxation without representation" really just means "No taxation."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obama's the "Dick Cavett President"

I love Dick Cavett. He's a brilliant, irreverent thinker with a uniquely dry, sardonic, sarcastic wit and deadpan delivery. Qualities that make for a terrific
writer, humorist and interviewer, but unfortunately not a United States

Sadly, Barack Obama has become the Dick Cavett President. He's wicked smart, cool and lightening quick with an intellectually biting quip. And while George Bush may have been the guy some wanted to have a beer with, Obama's the guy you'd love to hang with at 2am at a Village jazz club and smoke some weed.

But his brand of nuanced, over-intellectualized witty replies to Republican
street bashing makes him look wimpy, weak and outmatched. While the GOP's Hulk Hogans are verbally beating his ass, he's in full-on Cavette mode. The only thing missing is the mod turtleneck. Guess who's winning the rhetoric war?

Case in point: earlier this week Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the Tea Baggers' Great White Hope since he entered the race a week ago, stooped to a familiar thuggish strategy of attacking Obama's patriotism and calling into question his lack of military service. When asked about this on CNN Obama replied, "I’ll cut him some slack. He’s only been at it for a few days now." WTF?! What kind of lame response was that? That's the best he's got? Asked to comment on the president's quip, Perry deftly attacked with "Actions speak louder than words. My actions as Governor are helping create jobs in this country. The President's actions are killing jobs." Ya see, Dick? That's the way to frame the debate and stay on point, all the while cutting your opponent's legs off.

So what should Obama's reply been? How about:

"Gov. Perry is in this campaign just a week and his #1 campaign strategy for fixing the economy and putting people to work is to attack my patriotism? How offensive to the American people who are seeking help from their elected leaders...not more of the same Republican smear rhetoric and stonewalling." How's that? That would show some fire in the belly. Some much needed balls.

The terrain for Obama could get much shakier if, as reported, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decides to enter the race. And why wouldn't he? Obama's struggling on every front, and he's the GOP's wet dream right now. With his big straight-shootin' personality and Boy-Wonder-like deficit-busting reputation and moderate social views, he could, as I've been warning for months, be Obama's worst nightmare. He could be the tough-talking, take-no-prisoners, roll-up-the-sleeves populist firebrand that would appeal to way more independents and moderate Democrats than the administration would like to contemplate.

With the new Gallup poll citing a dismal 26% approval rating on the economy, Professor Obama better immediately rethink his game plan and start fighting fire with fire and show us some guts or he'll soon be back lecturing Constitutional Law in Chicago.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ostroy's List of Air-Travel Don'ts

Having recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, and as a frequent flyer, I've had the displeasure of spending many hours in the air with strangers who are clearly in need of a little reminder about proper air-travel etiquette. These days, with long lines, invasive x-rays requiring near-nudity, constant delays, smaller, more crowded planes and the threat of terrorism, the flying experience is frustrating and challenging enough without some buffoon sitting next to me making the flight even more unpleasant.

So to make the overall flying experience more bearable, at least for me, I hereby request that passengers follow "Ostroy's List of Air-Travel Don'ts:"

1. If you're considerably overweight, please don't expect to encroach my space. I have absolutely nothing against you personally. This is all about real estate. I didn't buy my seat so I could subsidize yours. If you're too large to fit into your own seat, buy two.

2. Please don't endlessly pray out loud next to me, no matter what religion you follow. It freaks me out and makes me wonder what you're so afraid of and trying to prevent.

3. Please don't bring really smelly food on the plane to gorge on. Remember that we're sitting so close we're practically having sex. I can do without the Burger King wafting into my yard.

4. What part of my face buried in a book is confusing to you? Please don't talk to me. Let me read. If I want to chat I'll start a conversation.

5. And if you do talk to me, please don't do it with a mouth full of food. I don't want little chewed Burger King pieces flying at me like mortar shells.

6. Please don't fart incessantly. If you have a gas problem, please lock yourself in the lavatory and decompress in private.

6. Please don't get on a plane if you have breath that would choke a swine.

7. If you're sitting behind me, please don't kick my seat non-stop.

8. If you're sitting in front of me, please don't snap your seat back at 100 miles an hour. Slow it down, pal, you're not doing crunches. A little head's up so you don't smash my laptop would be most appreciated.

9. My headrest is not a walking stick, so please don't use it as one. I didn't pay for whiplash.

10. Please don't fly unless you've showered sometime in the prior week. Your stank has no where to go except in my face.

11. Please don't listen to your iPod so loudly that the people 10 rows back can hear it through your headphones.

12. When you're putting your bag in the overhead and I'm in the aisle seat, please don't put your crotch anywhere near my face. Be mindful of where your package is headed. Same goes for your ass.

13. Please don't fall asleep and rest your head on my shoulder....unless you want it elbowed by an intolerant New Yorker. We're not gonna snuggle.

14. Please don't blatantly stare at my computer screen while I'm working. If I want your input I'll ask for it.

15. And whatever you do, do not even think about chewing tobacco and spitting the "juice' in a cup every three minutes. This is the rudest, most disgusting thing you could ever possibly do on a plane. Please indulge your mouth-cancer-inducing pleasures elsewhere.

There ya go. Maybe we can now all fly a little more pleasantly and comfortably. I thank you in advance.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bachmann Wins Straw Poll; Perry's Running; Pawlenty Says 'I'm Outta this Freak Show!'

The Crazy Party took a step closer to nominating a presidential candidate who
makes even moderate Republicans' skin crawl.

In that great political bastion of Ames, Iowa this weekend a microscopic
percentage of that state's Tea Party faithful ran to the ballot box to officially
anoint Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann their Great White Hope. Less than 24 hours later Tim Pawlenty, perhaps the sanest hopeful in the place next to Jon Huntsman, tossed in the towel. Apparently intelligence, sanity and moderation are not qualifications for being a Republican president these days.

Let's start with Pawlenty. In assessing the landscape objectively and without partisan rancor, and despite that I disagree with much of his views, the guy probably would've made a decent president, or at least the kind who wouldn't keep me up at night worrying about America's moral destruction. But unfortunately for T-Paw he doesn't fit the Crazies' fantasy image of the Republican Alpha Male. To their naked eye, he kinda looks and sounds more like their stereotypical image of a liberal. You can almost see him behind the wheel of a Volvo, his Bierkenstocked foot resting on the foreign pedal.

Which brings us to the GOP's newest boy-wonder, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who fits the Alpha Dog profile with his folksy drawl, cowboy boots, pick-up truck and general swagger. When he's not talking to God he's busy promising voters that he'll "make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as possible." I wonder if that pesky little government involvement he'd like to rid Americans of includes Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran's benefits, the Post Office, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Weather Service and even the military? Or are those the "consequential" aspects of government; the "good stuff?"? This is a politician who's running for the highest office in the land, yet an office and a government for which he has zero respect and appreciation. A governor who's wanted his state to secede from the Union. It's hard to convince voters you should be president of the "government" you so clearly disrespect. But as I keep saying, Rick Perry has about as much chance of becoming president as Katie Perry.

Now onto Bachmann, who is very likely to slug it out with Perry these next many months for the Crazy vote while Mitt Romney sits back and watches, and benefits from, the train wreck. You can be sure Bachmann and Perry are gonna rip into each other like "The Real Housewives of New York."

Bachmann hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit and was in rare form. Gotta give her credit: she is a master at staying on point and evading virtually every question while coming off over-rehearsed, robotic and lacking substance...and with her usual mangling of the English language. On CBS's "Face the Nation" she boasted that "I have been taking my message all across Iowa, and people resonate with that message." Sorry Michele, messages resonate, not people. But then again what do you expect from a woman who thinks the historic Shot Heard 'Round the World was in New Hampshire?

On NBC's "Meet the Press" host David Gregory appeared as frustrated with her evasiveness as if he were talking to a tight-lipped 15-year-old. He played the clip of her talking about her husband Marcus's influence in her life: "My husband said, 'Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.' Tax law? I hate taxes. Why should I go into something like that? But the lord said, wife, you are to submit to your husband." She insisted that in her marriage being "submissive" means being "respectful." Gregory was incredulous as he suggested that that kind of "respect" would never fly with his wife.

The candidate who claims she could fix the economy is just three months also humored Gregory with her stand against homosexuality, asking her to comment on her previous statements such as: "It's part of Satan....It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals.....Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous." Her straight-faced answer? "I don't judge." I guess that's ok if you think calling someone Satanic isn't judging them. And as for that "personal enslavement" thing, kinda gets us back to that whole "submissive" question, no? Hmmm....

On "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace she was outed for appearing to support Obamanomics. Wallace pointed to her opposition to the Stimulus Package yet cited three letters she wrote to the Federal government asking for money for her state, saying the funds would help Minnesota's economy. A bit of a contradiction you say? Not to Michelle, who's argued that if the money's there for the taking, why should voters in her state lose out? But if she truly believed the Stimulus was a bad thing for the economy and would continue to rack up perilous debt for America, wouldn't it have been more politically expedient, and consistent, to refuse such funds? This is yet another example of the colossal hypocrisy of the Bachmann's, who've had no trouble over the years seeking government money for both political and personal use.

And when Wallace, pointing to Bachmann's lone opposition to raising the debt ceiling, asked her about her seeming inability to compromise if she were elected president she offered that she'd hopefully be taking thirteen new Republican Senators with her to Washington for a filibuster-proof Congress. So much for compromise.

Watching and listening to Perry and Bachmann's words and actions I wonder why they even bother pretending to like Democracy? Clearly, neither respects the notion of compromise, the Separation of Church and State, checks and balances, a free and open press, or the truth. Their brand of politics seems more fit for a despotic third-world nation.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Assessing the GOP Debate

Good news for President Obama. He officially won Thursday night's Republican
debate in Iowa and he didn't even have to show up. Despite all the criticism coming at him from all sides including mine, not one GOP hopeful was able to present him or herself as a viable alternative for 2012.

Mitt Romney, who earlier in the day showed his true elitist colors while defending corporate America as "people too," was as consistently bland, evasive and flip-flopping as ever, while trying to convince voters that having economic expertise means buying up troubled companies and gutting them for maximum profit. If this is what being "front-runner" means, then the party is in very serious trouble.

That other supposed front-runner, Michele Bachmann, came charging out of the gate shouting her talking points and, bragging of her accomplishments, pointed to her "light bulb law." Not one of her finest moments of rhetoric.

Tim Pawlenty, who perhaps had the most to lose, perhaps lost the most. He needed to show voters that he was tough and able to fight. He gave it his best shot. And his best shot was pretty darned weak. Imagine Woody Allen screaming at someone. Not terribly scary.

What was scary though was Newt Gingrich's obnoxious, anger-filled display. He arrogantly criticized everything the moderators asked him as being "gotchya" questions--even those Chris Wallace asked about his record--and he was so full of rage it was embarrassing. This, as his ex-wives will attest, is a man who is clearly used to getting this his way and when he doesn't he gets belligerent and narcissistic.

As for the other hopefuls--Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Boy-Not-Wonder John Huntsmann--they were as unimpressive and irrelevant as ever. Yawn....

So that brings us to three Republicans not yet in the race but who very well may dive in shortly: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani, and the Wasilla Wonder, ole Grizzly Mama herself, Sarah Palin.

Let's start with Palin, who in fact will in no way enter the race. She's so ill-equipped to be president that even her empty suit is empty. But she utterly loves all the attention and will milk it till the very last drop.

Rudy Giuliani may be one of the party's best bets, but as soon as Democrats play his infamous "There were no terrorist attacks on Bush's watch" clip he's doomed. Throw in failed marriages, cheating, and a general disdain for the working class and his picture gets even darker.

And that brings us to Perry, who, if he can somehow manage to get beyond his radical "secession" comments, as well his state's dismal record on education, health care and the environment, is most likely to win the nomination. He's an aggressive, articulate, attractive, funny, engaging Texas governor...and we all know how that can end up.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Change I Never believed In

President Obama has taken a lot of heat lately over what many believe is his mismanagement of the economy and his inability to successfully take on his Republican opponents. Unlike millions of other Democrats, I am neither disappointed or surprised by his political failings. Prior to the 2008 election, and as an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton, I wrote quite frequently about what I believed would be Obama's inability to fight Republican obstructionism and the party's fierce attack machine. Sadly, I was 100% right.

It's easy to understand Obama's appeal in 2008. He was indeed exceptionally bright, a master campaigner and fundraiser, and able to move tens of thousands of his progressive disciples, moderates and independents through rousing, messianic oratory. But I never drank the Kool-Aid, and had heated battles with many friends who couldn't understand how I didn't "get" Obama's second-coming status. And while I was thrilled that a black man could come so close to the Oval Office and ultimately win the election for the first time in history, I didn't get caught up in the whole liberal guilt trip. What I personally hoped for for America was that the best candidate win, not the darkest.

To be sure, Obama showed passion and a deeply personal vision for America, but he lacked something much more important: the fire in the belly and the cajones to battle the ruthless GOP warriors to see his vision through to law. The man with the sanctimonious professorial lectures who loves to stay above the fray while being 'the only adult in the room' has learned the hard way about the ugliness of modern partisan politics. Watching him these past three years it's as if he's fighting against the Republican bazooka while merely holding a gladiator shield. He's been outwitted, outmatched and out of touch. This is hardly the change anyone believed in or hoped for. He now looks like Jimmy Carter on a bad day.

Where did Obama go wrong? To begin with, he squandered huge majorities in both the Senate and the House, wasting over a year fighting for health care reform while caving on the critical public option. Can you imagine how much the GOP would've accomplished in the same period had they controlled the White House and Congress? Can you imagine how ravenously they would've rushed through their ideological agenda and changed America as we know it? Obama's also caved on the economy, on gay marriage, on the Bush tax cuts, on Guantanamo, on Afghanistan and on debt ceiling/deficit reduction bill. And we still have 14-million people out of work with a 9.1% unemployment rate. What happened to jobs, jobs, jobs? Where's the jobs bill?

Obama simply seems neutered, unlike his predecessor. Like him or not, look what Bush was able to do to further his conservative agenda. He didn't care what anyone thought..not voters, the media, Democrats or members of his own party. He, Cheney and Rove saw their vision through, whether it was right or wrong or good for the country. The point is, they acted. They led. Where's Obama's leadership?

I'm not gonna say Hillary Clinton's perfect or baggage-free, but I firmly believe she'd have fought much more effectively for Democrats. She knows first-hand how ruthless Republicans are when they're in battle. She would've calculated her battle strategy day-one. To the contrary, three years later, Obama still appears like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.

Monday, August 08, 2011

My Conversation with Jesus

In the wake of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's God-apalooza gathering on Saturday down in Houston, Jesus Christ himself actually came to me in one of those mystical moments of spiritual revelation, sharing his principles and extremely passionate views about humanity and the state of religion today. So many times we hear how Jesus talks directly to people like George Bush, Sarah Palin, Michelle and Marcus Bachmann and Gov. I feel terribly grateful and blessed to have had this incredible experience of God talking to me. Here's an excerpt from our conversion:

Me: Mr. Christ, or can I call you Jesus?.... I gotta ask you this question before anything else. Is it true that you're a Republican?

Jesus: What!? Where did you get that ridiculous notion from, my dear Jewish atheist child. Have you not actually read my book, I mean the Bible?

Me: Well, it's just that Republicans are constantly hiding behind the cloak of religion as if somehow they have you on their side. They constantly equate faith with judgement, intolerance and even bigotry. They proudly claim that to be God-fearing you must be against everything that helps the poor, the sick, the elderly, the needy, and minorities. Is that what you taught them?

Jesus: No, In fact, just the opposite. I fought for justice. You can't just put money in a tin at church on Sundays and think you're doing God's work. Sure, you can feed the poor, but if you're not fighting to better their existence on a systemic level then you are not in line with my teachings.

Me: Jesus, what are you talking about?!

Jesus: It's simple. I am a manifestation of the the most disenfranchised human beings. I am black. I am homosexual. I'm a paraplegic. I am a woman. I'm an old, sick man. I belong to the meek. Remember them? Remember what I said? I didn't say "the rich and the corporations shall inherit the Earth," did I? What is mankind doing today to truly help those in need? Or do the rich simply want to get richer while the poor suffer? Remember Luke 14:13 & 14...But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. And Luke 12:15...Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Or how about about Deuteronomy 15:7 & 11...If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. Do you see what I'm sayin' here? For Pete's Sake, does this sound like the teaching of a Republican? I'm a liberal! There, I've said it! Look at my sandals, my hair...duh!

Me: What about Rick Perry's 'prayer rally' in Texas on Saturday? He was talking to you. Told you "you are our only hope." Were you listening to him? Did you say anything back?

Jesus: First off, let me say neither I or anyone in my family was at that event. That's not my kind of prayer rally. As for me being the only hope, that's quite sad. Perhaps Mr. Perry would be better served to look in the mirror and judge his own narrow-minded, divisive behavior. How he and his conservative brethren prey on the weak, the meek, the needy. Remember Proverbs 14:31...He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Ok, gotta run...I have a bris in Great Neck I have to get to...

Me: Thank you Jesus, thank you for setting the record straight on a few things.