My guest today is Ostroy Report blogger, Andy Ostroy. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Andy. What's new since we last spoke?
Thanks. Nice to chat again. Well, on the political front I, like everyone else, am focused on the midterm elections. This is a critical time in American politics, and there's a great deal at stake. Democrats must hold onto the majorities in the House and Senate or the country will fall into the hands of the Tea Party crazies who seek to undermine and overturn the economic, social and racial progress our nation has made during the last 50 years.
What's your assessment of Obama's performance so far?
I know Obama's been
taking a lot of heat these days, mainly from progressives who believe he's let
them down on many a campaign promise. But it's important to keep perspective.
Since Obama took office 19 months ago he's delivered on his promise to end
the Iraq war; reform health care and the financial industry; and
bring about an economic recovery. In the process, he's also had to contend with
the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, the BP oil spill.
I'd say he's had his hands full, yet has still managed to accomplish much of what he promised. Where I find fault is in his inability to connect with voters now on the same sweeping level he did while campaigning. He lacks the folksiness of a George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. While I think he definitely "feels their pain," he just doesn't know how to show it. And that's why his approval rating has plummeted. He's failed miserably at articulating the huge accomplishments of his administration, and has let Republicans define him and Democrats.
You're right about the tremendous disconnect between Obama's charismatic campaign persona and his present one where he often comes off as aloof, wooden and pretty uninspiring. How much of an effect will Obama and his accomplishments, or lack thereof, have on the midterms? And how can such a centrist Democrat continue to be so successfully vilified by the Right as a socialist? "¨
This election will not
be a referendum on Obama as much as it will be on Congress and the electorate's
general disenchantment with the economy. Unfortunately, again, Obama has done a
poor job convincing voters that the economy is far better than when he took
office. As a result, Democratic Congressmen/women may suffer. That said, I
think there's been a bigger anti-Republican (read: Tea Party) backlash, and the
reprise of Gingrich's 1994 "Revolution" this year is more of a
Republican civil war.
I for one am not convinced Democrats will lose big, or much at all. Voters dislike Republicans more than Democrats, and still favor the left when it comes to fixing the economy. And, we have a bunch of ticket-splitters like Charlie Crist, Mike Castle, Lisa Murkowski and Doug Hoffman causing heartburn in the GOP. These write-in/Conservative Party candidates, having lost to Tea Baggers Christine O'Donnell (DE), Joe Miller (AK), Marco Rubio (FL and Matt Doheny (NY), will have a disastrous impact on critical races Repubs hope to win.
Let's not forget the substantial but unmeasurable variables of electronic voting and the activities of some to suppress voter turnout. Regarding the latter factor, there was an article Wisconsin GOP plots vote suppression about efforts by Rove, the billionaire Koch brothers and Tea Party members to do their dirty work in the close Wisconsin race of Russ Feingold vs. milllionaire business man Ron Johnson. As you know, it's easier to affect or flip results in a close race, which this one is. [For what it's worth, an appeal for an investigation has been made to the DOJ.]
Personally, I tend to stay away from the whole voter fraud subject. That's not to say I don't think it exists--because I believe it does and has for a long time--but rather that it's not going to change, and I feel Democrats' time must be spent on campaign strategy and crafting the right message, and on winning elections by wide enough margins.
I know you feel this way. We've had this conversation before. But,allow me an important point of clarification before we move on. The problem is, most emphatically, not voter fraud - voter fraud is when people illegally misrepresent themselves or others in order to cast votes where they're not entitled to. While Republicans are often raising Cain about this, studies have shown it's a negligible phenomenon at best. What we're talking about is quite different. Voting fraud includes voter suppression (keeping legitimate voters from voting through illegal tactics) and tampering with vote counts, including electronically, which is the easiest way to commit large-scale vote fraud.
[If readers would like to see just how easy it is to pull off, they can watch the excellent HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, on the subject. Warning: After delving into this subject, concerned citizens won't sleep so easy knowing just how much our elections and our democracy - depend upon unsecured, eminently hackable, nontransparent, unobserved and unobservable electronic black boxes.]
Thanks. I'm done. On another front altogether, what's new with the Adrienne Shelly Foundation? I understand you have interesting things going on over there at this very moment.
Yes, thank you. The Foundation is named after my late wife, writer/actor/director Adrienne Shelly (Waitress), who was murdered back in November 2006. Our mission is simple: to support women filmmakers with grants and scholarships. Our 3rd annual eBay celebrity auction is currently live and available at www.ebay.com/asfoundation. It's full of amazing items like exclusive lunches with stars like Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm, Cheryl Hines, Michelle Williams, Kevin Smith, Rosario Dawson, Patricia Clarkson, Rachael Harris, Keri Russell, Susie Essman, Bill Hader, Jeremy Sisto, Mark Cuban, Rosanna Arquette, Gina Gershon, and Lili Taylor, among others. We also have VIP tickets and meet and greets at Joan Rivers' new stand-up show, Maroon 5, Dar Williams; VIP tickets to The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Ellen, Rachael Ray and The View; VIP tickets to Jimmy Buffett; TV show set visits/meet and greets for The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Castle, United States of Tara, Nurse Jackie, Rachel Maddow and Stephanie Miller; walk-on extra roles on Community, Hung and Todd Solondz's next film, Dark Horse. So bid now! And if people wish to help us support women filmmakers, they can donate at www.adrienneshellyfoundation.org.
Sounds like there are lots of opportunities to spend some money and do some good. Can you give us an idea of the projects the foundation has sponsored over the past several years?