The Ostroy Report

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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mitt and Rick's Wild Ride



So what do we make of the Arizona and Michigan primaries? One thing's for sure: Mitt Romney didn't win them per se. Rick Santorum lost them. Oh sure, Romney got the popular vote and the delegates, but the truth is Santorum, like his uber-conservative fellow cult member Newt Gingrich, has a knack for imploding just when things couldn't look better for him.

Just three weeks ago Santorum looked absolutely golden after his impressive three-state sweep of Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado which sent Romney's campaign into a tailspin. But then, just as he did after his victory in the Iowa caucuses, when he imprudently sparred with a college student over gay marriage and blew (pun intended) New Hampshire, he went on a verbal-diarrhea tear last week, calling President Obama a "snob" for pushing college, and attacked John F. Kennedy's views on the separation of church and state, saying they made him want to "throw up." And then in the Arizona debate Romney wiped the floor with him over his own Senate record. Oh, so close Rick yet sooooooooo far.

Santorum, the self-appointed Jesus spokesman, has apparently pushed his social agenda a tad too far. There's a phone call for ya Rick...Anita Bryant's calling. She wants all her ignorant, narrow-minded homophobic bullshit back. The truth is, voters, be they Democratic or Republican, simply don't care anymore who marries who, who screws who, who takes birth control, who gets an abortion or who worships who, if anyone. Except for the remaining few idealogue dinosaurs like Santorum. No matter how many times these morality cops drive their religious DogmaMobiles off the cliff, they never seem to learn.

Which brings us to Romney. They guy nobody likes to like, at this point, seems like a sure thing to win the nomination. He has the momentum, the growing delegate count and, unlike all the others who've run and may still be in the race, a skeleton-free closet and an ability to refrain from the major verbal gaffe. To be sure, the out-of-touch gazillionnaire can't help making minor inappropriate, insensitive and politically inexpedient comments like "My wife has two Cadillacs" and "I know many NASCAR owners." But the Massachusetts moderate-turned-severe-conservative will likely prevail not because he deserves it or because voters prefer him, it's simply because he's the least crazy clown in this GOP circus.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Down with College!



In his quest to win the Michigan and Arizona primaries Tuesday and ultimately the GOP nomination for president, Rick Santorum has found a new target: higher education. Speaking Saturday at the Americans for Prosperity forum in Michigan, Santorum did his best at tossing red meat into the rapacious crowd:

"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!" He cited elitist "liberal college professors" in their "indoctrination mills." And he outrageously charged that the reason Obama wants everyone to attend college is that he "wants to remake you in his image."

Welcome to the new Republican Party. The party of homophobic, xenophobic, racist, anti-science, anti-education invective and hateful demagoguery. The party of mean and nasty and anti-accomplishment. The party that its iconic hero, Ronald Reagan, wouldn't recognize if Santorum himself fell on him.

Santorum, the candidate with undergraduate, MBA and law degrees, believes blue-collar youth should not share his college aspirations. Keep 'em stupid, is his new mantra. Sure, it's easier for the smart college guys like him to manipulate the dummies who don't know any better. Because a stupid electorate is an electorate that'll vote for hate-speaking boneheads like him. Wow. Nothing says "Oval Office" like "strive for mediocrity."

Santorum also criticized John F. Kennedy’s speech that the separation of church and state is "absolute," saying it made him "almost throw up." He also has said that Obama has a "phony theology" and that his policies "don't follow the Bible." One thing's for sure: if JFK were around today I suspect he'd puke knowing that a narrow-minded, ignorant racist ideologue like Santorum was seeking his job.

But Santorum's not the only lunatic in this nut house. There's Newt Gingrich, and his reprehensible comments that Obama's an "anti-colonial Kenyan" who is "the most dangerous president in modern American history." And Ron Paul who, when he's not writing/publishing newsletters with racist rhetoric, is busy sounding like the crazy old grandpa at the BBQ. And Mitt Romney, the Massachusetts moderate who in a flash has become the biggest anti-abortion, anti-immigration, religiously dogmatic "severely conservative" strapped-to-the-roof-dog in the race.

What's that sound you say? That's the sound of a roaring engine as the Republicans drive off the political cliff.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Colonoscopy: Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself


I went for my first colonoscopy this week. I'm 52-years-old, and technically, by medical standards, two years late in taking the examination. The truth is, I put it off out of an absolute dread of the procedure and the preparation.

It's important to understand and appreciate a few facts: The American Cancer Society estimates an annual 141,000+ Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and that roughly 35% of those stricken will die. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Approximately 90% of all cases occur in people over the age of 50, and at a 35-40% higher rate in men. It's a particularly slow growing cancer, developing over a period of 10-15 years. Which is why it's critical to have a screening exam such as a colonoscopy every five years.

So at the aggressive urging of my girlfriend Phoebe, I finally made the appointment, albeit with uber-trepidation. Full disclosure: I'm a really lousy patient. I have obsessive fears of sickness and death (exacerbated by the shocking murder of my wife Adrienne five years ago) and tend to avoid doctors and hospitals unless I am incapacitated.

I'd heard horror stories about the prep part. Guys would tell me how the night before, after eating nothing all day, they had to drink about 42 gallons of a disgusting liquid that tasted like a pasty vomitous combo of chalk and Elmer's Glue, and that that the rest of the night was filled with nightmarish bowel movements and desperate prayers to Jesus. I also made the mistake of watching videos on YouTube that demonstrated in gory detail every single aspect of this hellish ordeal. It literally scared the shit out of me (pun intended).

About a week before the exam my doctor mailed me instructions. I was told to purchase two 10 oz bottles of Magnesium Citrate and a Fleet enema. Leading up to prep day I was an emotional wreck. You'd have though I was going in for penile reconstruction surgery. At 6:30pm I bravely stuck a straw in one bottle, put it in my left hand, and held a raspberry lemonade chaser in my right. I was pleasantly surprised to find the medicine tasting almost like a Sprite. I sipped it up pretty quickly and waited an hour to drink the second bottle.

During this period I felt slight gurgling in my stomach, but little else. I drank the other bottle and naively asked Phoebe around 8:30 "Shouldn't something be happening by now?" Perhaps I did something wrong. Maybe the lemonade cancelled out the Magnesium Citrate? And then it hit. And hit. And hit again. And...then hit some more. And some more after that. Then a lot more. And even more. And even more than that. I basically spent the next ten hours in and out of the bathroom experiencing things no human being should ever experience.

Throughout the night I heard sounds coming from my stomach that I suspect the people of Pompeii never heard even as Vesuvius erupted. My bowel movements had the speed and ferocity of a tsunami. If I could only get a shower head this powerful. And it was like a Great White Shark had been cut open by Roy Scheider. All sorts of things came gushing out, like the pennies I swallowed as a kid, missing keys, beer cans and some small fish.

To be sure, I left my soul, and my dignity, in that bathroom that night. The experience left me weak, utterly exhausted and thirstier than I've ever been in my life. And if that wasn't enough I then had to insert the enema, just to make sure my insides were fully depleted before we left the house. "Lie on your left side and stay that way until you feel the need to evacuate" the instructions read. Evacuation? Is that what we're calling it now? At this point "evacuation" was what I thought my neighbors might be doing to escape whatever the hell they thought was happening in my apartment that might hurt them.

An hour later I was inside the exam room, my horribly dispirited ass exposed by the always-humiliating open-back gown they had me wear. Waiting for the anesthesiologist and doctor, I curiously glanced around the room and immediately spotted the dreaded beast: the seemingly 40-foot black Anaconda-like hose-camera they were going to insert up my now empty canal.

Minutes later, as they were prepping to give me some Propofol, we talked about how this stuff killed Michael Jackson. They assured me my fate would be different than the drug-addicted bizarro King of Pop. "Think of someplace nice for a vacation" they then said and in seconds I was dancing like Dorothy in the poppy fields. I woke up about an hour later. Hadn't felt a thing, and felt pretty good albeit a little groggy. I lay there alone thinking about the events of the past 24 hours and was glad it was over.

In all honesty, there was truly nothing to dread. My intense, almost paralyzing fear had been overblown and unwarranted. Sure, it was a mighty unpleasant experience the night before, but the worst part of that was simply having to go to the bathroom so much. The prep drink was more than bearable and the procedure itself felt no different than had I taken a simple nap in the exam room.

There was one final piece of this story that is a bit nerve-wracking: getting the results. After sitting a few minutes in the waiting room I was asked to meet the doctor in his office. He stood up, smiled (oh God, why is he smiling?) and proceeded to close the door (oh God, why is he closing the door?"). He's smiling, I thought, because he wants to be reassuring that this cancer I now have is a "good cancer." And he's closing the door so that no one can hear me scream "What the fuck do you mean "good cancer!?"

"You're exam went as well as I could possibly hope for," he quickly said. "Everything is perfect. See you in five years."

Music to my ears, and colon...

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Komen Controversy: Enough Already with "The Power of Social Media"


First off let me say that I find the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision to end funding of Planned Parenthood irresponsible and reprehensible. Caving to right-wing anti-abortion extremists is both despicable and shameful. There's simply no place for politics in the on-going struggle to fight breast cancer. But I also have to say I am sick of hearing about the "power of social media to harness protest," as the New York Times reported Friday. While I completely understand, appreciate and accept the benefits the Internet provides, we as a society have to stop making it as important to the story as the story itself or, as in some cases, making it even bigger than the story.

Remember the demonstrations in Iran in 2009? And how quickly the media, and just about everyone else, rushed to give credit for this "revolution" to Twitter and Facebook? Back then I wrote:

What do the American Revolution, the French Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement have in common? They all somehow managed to change history without Facebook and Twitter. But if you listen to our technology-obsessed media this week as post-election unrest unfolds in Iran you'd get the distinct impression that the current opposition rebellion could not exist without these social-networking sites.

To be sure, Demonstrations, protests, boycotts and revolutions have existed since the beginning of time. We all know what the Boston Tea Party protests of the 1700's led to, right? More recent examples include Cesar Chavez's Delano Grape Strike in 1960, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and Anita Bryant's 1977 legislative victory against homosexuality (which, much to her ultimate embarrassment and disappointment, served to fuel a new era of aggressive gay rights activism and protest).

I know it sounds terribly sexy and is highly seductive to discuss social media and its role in major current events, but I fear the "me generation" of the 2000's risks patting itself on the back way too much (which, really, is what Twitter and Facebook is all about, isn't it?) rather than keep the focus on the story. A protest or boycott movement should be about the core issue and not on which medium those who protest are spreading the word. When that aspect starts to dominate, then it becomes more about the protester than what he or she is actually protesting.

If this were the 1960's and we were expressing outrage over Komen's decision, the word would ultimately be spread just as effectively and with the same outcomes...albeit with less speed. Let's not take away from the power of protest, and what we as citizens can achieve, by wasting so much time fawning over technology's role in all of it. At the end of the day, it's the people who use Twitter and Facebook, just as they used other media throughout history to foment dissent and harness protest.

Let's keep the relevance of Twitter and Facebook in their proper perspective. As I wrote in '09:

What would we have without these two sites through which to spread information about the massive protests? We'd have cell-phone cameras, Youtube, digital cameras and email. And what would we have before that? Phones, videotapes, 35mm photographs and underground newspapers. And what would we have before that? Well, we'd have the American Revolution, the French Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, which last time I checked, profoundly changed the course of history without the ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook.