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Andy Ostroy
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Andy Ostroy is a New York City-based political analyst and blogger who's appearances on various television and radio programs including MSNBC, ABC and Fox News. His blog The Ostroy Report is at www.ostroyreport.com. Twitter @AndyOstroy

Entries by Andy Ostroy

An Open Letter to Independents: Can You Really Be That 'Undecided'?

(73) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 9:59 AM

Oh, you independents! For decades now you've been the hot girl at the party. Those highly coveted "undecided" folks who at the last minute will finally figure out who you prefer and become the critical votes that tilt an election to one candidate or the other. According to polls, as many as 43% of Americans are political independents.

But this phenomenon confounds me. In fact, I think it's 100% bogus. I find the concept of "undecideds" fundamentally disingenuous. Sorry, but I think you're nothing more than a bunch of attention-seekers who drag candidates, the media, your friends, family and co-workers into one very long ass-kissing marathon until election day. And you love every minute of it.

With the exception every couple of decades of a grass-roots, doomed-from-the-start third-party run at the White House, America operates under a two-party system: Republican and Democrat. And at no time in history has our political system been more dysfunctional, more polarized and with the two parties further apart on just about every single domestic, global and social issue. Given these diametric differences in core beliefs, is it really that hard for you guys to choose sides?

You either believe that all people, including gays, have a right to love and marry, or you don't. You either believe that a woman's body belongs to her, and that it's her choice to have an abortion, or you don't. You either believe in the separation of church and state or you don't. You either believe that guns kill people and that we need more regulation, or you don't. You either believe in climate change or you don't. You either believe in immigration, including Muslims, or you don't. You either believe that no one should work for less than $15/hour or you don't. You either believe in affordable health care and education for all, or you don't. You either believe in government helping the needy, or you don't. You either believe that America's role in the world is one of isolationism, or you don't. I could go on.

So why the meandrous internal debate? Why all the protracted soul-searching? Are you guys so out of touch with your own core beliefs and values that you really can't decide between Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders... and Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or the other Republicans, even if ideologically the two sides are in different galaxies? Are you really going to wake up November 8, 2016 and think, "Ya know what? I was gonna vote for Cruz, but I really am for aiding the poor, the sick, the needy...and believe in a woman's right to choose and same-sex marriage, so, I'm actually gonna vote for Hillary!"

Grow up. Pick a side. Stand for something. For someone. And then spend this year helping that person get...

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It's Official: Donald Trump Is a Loser!

(26) Comments | Posted February 2, 2016 | 11:12 AM

Donald Trump, the New York billionaire seeking the Republican nomination for president, achieved something monumental in Monday night's Iowa caucuses. He became the very thing he most despises: a loser. With Texas Sen. Ted Cruz winning 28% of the vote, Trump's 24% narrowly beat Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for second place by one point. So much for all the polling, which Trump had obsessively been citing every three seconds.

To be sure, voter turnout was huge, at record levels. About 50% more Iowans braced the nighttime cold to get in on the action. That's a good thing for our Democracy. The more people who engage in our political process the more effective and inclusive it will be. And yes, as in-the-tank-for-Trump conservatives like MSNBC's Joe Scarborough have been pointing out, he garnered the most votes in the history of this state's caucuses save for Cruz himself. But Cruz won, not Trump, and Rubio essentially also achieved "the most" votes except for Cruz. So in the context of the totals, Trump achieved nothing special except grab a proportionate slice of the record turnout as did his more viable opponents.

And why was there record turnout? The conventional wisdom prior to Monday held that Trump was so wildly popular that he would be drawing tens of thousands of Iowans off the couch and into the caucuses for the first time. People so angry, so fed up, so ready for "something different" that this would be an election like no other. Quite the opposite could also be said though. That Trump so angered and offended the collective intelligence of the good people of Iowa that they got off that couch, alright, but to ensure that he wouldn't win.

As I've been saying for months, Trump is an embarrassing sideshow. A modern day Morton Downey Jr. A carnival-barking agitator, spewing hate-filled racist rhetoric, not a mainstream politician with substantive policy proposals. And while it's been fun for Iowans and others to pack arenas to experience The Donald Trump Reality Show, as evidenced last night, it's not translating to victory.

So what about New Hampshire? Unless Jeb Bush pulls off a miracle and rises up from the ashes (which I still believe is a strong possibility), the smart money's on Trump fading into oblivion from this point forward, with Rubio taking the Granite State's contest next week. From there, Cruz will win South Carolina, and then it'll be a tough battle between the two "non-establishment" Senators thereafter.

Trump will soon figure out a way to exit the race -- based on some typically self-aggrandizing, truth-stretching gibberish -- and go back to doing what he does best: borrow the shit out of other people's money to slap his ubiquitous brand on gauche skyscrapers, ugly clothing and anything else he can license. Maybe even file a bankruptcy or two and get divorced again. But no matter the spin, he's still a loser. The thing he hates most. There's nothing more delicious than a Trump concession...

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Here's What Could Finally Bring Down Trump

(848) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 10:07 AM

Donald Trump likes to call people "stupid." Whether he's referring to President Obama, Congressional leaders, the media or his opponents, the Republican front-runner has so far delighted his supporters these past eight months with an unprecedented flurry of demeaning ad-hominem attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.

But now he's calling these very same supporters stupid, claiming there's nothing he can do to lose their backing, not even if he committed a horrific act of violence.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay?" Trump said at a rally over the weekend in Sioux Center, Iowa. "It's, like, incredible."

Well, Trump's narcissism is, like, incredible, okay? Think for a minute about what he said, and perhaps the underlying disdain for his supporters. His ego is so gargantuan, his rapacious Id so deprived, he's convinced himself that he's so important and desirable that he could literally kill someone without political cost. The level of "they'll-love-me-no-matter-what" presumption here is astounding.

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of his supporters' intelligence or ability to reason. It's pretty insulting, in fact. That Trump thinks his "fans" are mindless morons who will blindly follow their Pied Piper like rats into the drowning pool is quite telling. But will they care? Will they finally turn all their "anger" on him? Will this insult -- one that's aimed squarely at them instead of one of the bloviating billionaire's enemies -- be the long overdue final straw that brings down this vulgar house of cards?

It's one thing to sit at a rally and be entertained by a modern-day Morton Downey Jr. as he mercilessly rips into his opponents. It's quite another to be the target of his...

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Is This Why Trump Won't Release His College Transcripts?

(404) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 5:09 PM

"I went to the Wharton School of Business," Donald Trump routinely brags at his campaign rallies. "I'm, like, a really smart person."

And I'm, like, really? We don't believe you. We think you're full of it, just like you grossly exaggerate and lie about virtually everything else pertaining to your personal and professional life (note the Politifact study illustrating he tells the truth just 1% of the time).

On paper, Trump's educational background appears impressive. He first attended Fordham University and then transferred in 1966 to the real estate studies program at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree.

But contrary to his self-aggrandizing over-the-top embellishing, Trump's two years at the prestigious business school, from all public accounts, seem mediocre at best. His fellow students have no recollection of him. No Dean's List, no Honor Roll, no notable extra-curricular accomplishments. A completely unmemorable academic existence, including continuing rumors that his grades were unimpressive.

So is the Republican front-runner--the man who questions President Obama and Sen. Ted Cruz's citizenship, and who calls everyone in government "stupid," an academic fraud? Is his self-purported "smarts" as mythical as the Muslims he claims were dancing in the streets following the 9/11 attacks?

The "Transcripter" movement demands that Trump release his full Fordham and Wharton transcripts. It's time for him to prove just how smart he is, or isn't. Let's see the grades. I suspect his GPA never cracked 3.0, which is why the transcripts remain a hidden...

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The Reason Why Trump Draws Huge Crowds

(380) Comments | Posted January 5, 2016 | 9:23 AM

Donald Trump's rallies are true political phenomenons, drawing the kind of crowds normally reserved for rock stars. But the reason why 10,000-20,000 people wait in line to see him isn't because they're hungry for a detailed policy speech by one of America's great thinkers.

Nor are they coming to see him, contrary to much speculation among the punditry, because they're so "angry." MSNBC's Jacob Soboroff interviewed Trump supporters at a recent rally but these 'great American patriots' couldn't even intelligently articulate why they're so enraged. One exasperated woman sighed, saying she's "Tired of all the lies we've been told... and I believe everything Donald Trump says..." I guess she missed the Politifact study illustrating that Trump tells the truth just 1% of the time.

So what is it then that's driving this unprecedented attendance? It's simple: Trump's rallies are as hot a commodity as Jerry Springer tickets. His "fans" are there for the spectacle not the substance. They want the hockey fight, not the game itself. The game bores them. They just come for the brawls and bloodshed. And Trump gives 'em plenty of both. "Don-ald, Don-ald, Don-ald!"

It's the same reason why MSNBC, CNN and the rest of the mainstream media lavishes so much free airtime on Trump, hanging on his every word and covering his rallies live like they're U2 concerts. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and all the other GOP hopefuls are lucky if they get a 20-second clip, while Trump's on the tube 24/7. He's a ratings bonanza, guaranteed to do or say something so outrageous and offensive that it would make even a train wreck wince. Racism? Sexism? Xenophobia? Bullying? It's all part of the daily Donald Trump Road Show.

To be sure, the media can't get enough of Trump. And neither can the simple-minded citizens of Smalltown, USA, for whom Trump is likely the biggest celebrity they'll ever see up close. Let's face it, when you're in Ames, IA, Hampton, NH or Hilton Head, SC, going to a Trump rally just might be the most exciting thing you can possibly do.

But bracing the November weather to vote, however, is an entirely different commitment. History and statistics show that come election day these fired-up Trumpites will likely stay home, click the remote and simply switch to another salacious reality...

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What if Donald Trump's Campaign Was All About This...

(234) Comments | Posted December 30, 2015 | 11:39 AM

Thanks to Donald Trump, the 2016 presidential campaign is like no other in the history of American politics. It's certain to be studied in colleges and universities, and analyzed by consultants and pundits, for decades to come.

The old rules, as well as conventional wisdom, have been tossed aside...

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The Reason Why Trump Gets Away with Saying Anything He Wants

(9) Comments | Posted December 21, 2015 | 11:56 AM

Ever since he entered the presidential race in June, Donald Trump has offended women, gays, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, refugees, immigrants and just about every ethnic and religious group in the world. He's recently called for an all out ban on Muslims from entering the United States. He's mocked people with disabilities. He's lied about 9/11. He's attacked the war hero status of John McCain. He's sucked up to Russia's President Vladimir Putin. He's called President Obama "stupid" and continues to question his citizenship. And he's relentlessly spewed ignorant, incendiary, racist rhetoric to incite his rapacious devotees. Yet he continues to rise in the polls. Why?

The answer is simple: because no one, not even his most loyal "supporters," take him or his candidacy seriously. He's simply entertainment. A show. A modern day Morton Downey Jr., whose pugnacious, hockey-fight persona appeals to the lowest common denominator; the "angry" folks with a voracious appetite for reality television-style confrontation. And Trump's giving them one helluva brawl.

To be sure, Trump's candidacy is unprecedented in the annals of political history. He defies conventional wisdom at every turn. Every time you think he's finally done himself in, his popularity grows. He appears untouchable. Teflon Don. But that would only be worrisome if he was a legitimate candidate.

Trump's base is addicted to his bombastic bluster. They lap it up like a stray cat with a bowl of milk. And that's why they don't seem to care that he somehow manages to reach new heights of loathsome and un-presidential behavior each day. Because these Trumpsters know that, while they adore the spectacle that has become his speeches and rallies, they will never actually vote for him. He's their fun party girl, but he's not the one they'll be bringing home to mama.

Trump appeals to the disaffected and disenfranchised because he's the Larry David of politics, speaking much of what they think and feel, but could never say out loud themselves. But even these loyalists know that he's woefully unprepared and ill-equipped to be president. And they know he could never win. But they like that he's stirring up some serious shit. That, at least for now, he's serving as their advocate. "He's my mouthpiece," one fired up Trumpite said at a recent rally.

But winning presidential nominations requires a lot more than bluster and bravado, as the New York Times reported over the weekend, citing Trump's anemic ground game in the critical early caucus state of Iowa. And it refers to one Trump volunteer who's "sipping white wine" while she's canvassing for votes by phone. The way things are going for Trump in her home state, it's likely his volunteers will be switching to hard liquor pretty...

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What a Debate!

(2) Comments | Posted December 16, 2015 | 2:43 PM

Ok, America, you now have a clear choice between the party of hope and optimism and the party of gloom, doom and fear. The most surprising thing at Tuesday's night's 5th Republican presidential debate was the absence of Chicken Little himself. This event could've been called The Sky is Falling Show.

For over two hours, the overriding message from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and, to a lesser degree, Chris Christie, Ben Carson and Rand Paul was that the United States is unsafe, unrespected and a disaster. Only Jeb Bush and John Kasich presented a positive message about America's standing and the expectation of a greater future. It was all fear, fear, fear...

The biggest takeaway, as in all the previous debates, is how woefully unprepared and ill-equipped Donald Trump is to be president and commander-in-chief. His inability to answer a question about which components of the nuclear triad need the most attention should be an immediate disqualifier in and of itself:

"Well first of all, I think we absolutely need someone we can trust who is total responsibility who knows what he or she is doing that is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was against going into Iraq because you are going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it, I called it very strongly and it was very important. But we have to be extremely vigilant and careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. I would have said get out of Syria, get out. If we didn't have the power of weaponry today, the power is so massive that we can't just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn't care, it was hand-to-hand combat. The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he's saying. The biggest problem we have today is nuclear proliferation anding are some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. In my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now....For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me.

Jibberish! The way I tried to blabber-bluff my way out of tough 8th grade science questions. He might as well have thrown up his hands and said, "Hell if I know!"

When you toss in Trump's incessant sighing, eye-rolling, mocking and scornful faces, dismissive hand-waving, bullying and audience-berating, it's truly hard to fathom how anyone with even a half a brain can support the candidacy of this empty-suited blowhard fraud. He is without question the most unqualified presidential candidate in the nation's history.

We witnessed Trump's implosion last night. While I suspect his poll numbers will drop as a result, they may for a blip even rise first. But make no mistake: Republican voters saw a man who, as Bush recently claimed, is unhinged. And there's nothing uglier and more embarrassing than an old, angry, insulting megalomaniac pathetically vying to utter an intelligent thought without sounding like a nasty junior high schooler. As I've been saying for a couple of months, it's over. Forget the polls. His reality show primary campaign popularity will not translate to actual votes when it's time to pull the curtain. And he'll likely not even be around by then to find out.

So who won the debate? Bush finally demonstrated some impressive cajones as he battled Trump on foreign policy and personal qualifications, calling the bloviating businessman "a chaos candidate." For the first time since Trump entered the race with his infamous "Mexican rapists" speech, it was Bush who quite visibly got under The Donald's skin, not the other way around.

It won't be a surprise to start seeing Bush's heretofore anemic 3-5% numbers begin climbing appreciably. I disagree with almost everything he stands for, but he's an adult. Mature. Respectful. Smart. Knowledgeable. And get this...presidential. Honestly, the way Trump acts like a whiny, petulant, belligerent narcissistic buffoon I wouldn't want him on my kid's PTA let alone sit in the Oval Office.

Cruz? He'll probably win Iowa, but like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum before him he'll disappear after that. Keep an eye on Chris Christie, whose likable 'every man' persona, reputation as a 'straight shooter' and reasonably moderate positions keeps him in the running as the dark horse. But despite what the polls say, it's still Jeb's race to...

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Another Open Letter to Jeb Bush

(40) Comments | Posted December 14, 2015 | 9:44 AM

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Dear Jeb:

Tuesday night could be the biggest night of your political career. The fifth Republican debate, live from Las Vegas, will likely be the moment you either reignite your comatose presidential campaign or you fade into the sunset. So if you...

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The Political Bullet Trump Won't Dodge

(4) Comments | Posted December 9, 2015 | 9:11 AM

"It goes against everything we stand for and believe in," said former vice-president Dick Cheney, referring to Donald Trump's proposed ban on all Muslims entering the country. And when you've lost Cheney, the nation's chief fear-monger, you're in serious trouble with conservatives.

Speaking at a standing-room-only rally aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C. Monday night Trump, the Republican front-runner, may have finally gone too far in his incendiary, hate-filled racist rhetoric. He called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

In his fiery speech Trump suggested the ban could be temporary, "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" in terms of the relationship between Muslims and terrorism.

"Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life," Trump quoted himself from a written statement.

This latest Trump controversy appears to be the tipping point in his unprecedented presidential campaign, finally bringing both Republicans and Democrats together in soundly denouncing his outlandish, bigoted rhetoric.

On the right, Trump's been harshly criticized by prominent GOP leaders including RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Sen. James Inhofe, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, MSCBC's Joe Scarborough, Bill Kristol and countless others.

Bush called Trump "unhinged."

Graham called Trump a "xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot."

Ryan said "this is not conservatism," adding that Trump's rhetoric "is not what this party stands for... more importantly, it's not what this country stands for."

"I don't agree" with Trump's call for a ban, said Priebus. "We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values."

McConnell said Trump's plan is "inconsistent with American values."

Kristol said he loathes Trump for "soiling the robe of conservatism and dragging it through the dust."

McCain said "It's just foolishness. It's been a long series of statements like this that have been just foolish."

Through a spokesman, former President George W. Bush coyly refused to comment on "Trump's bluster."

And a clearly irritated Scarborough became the first major political talk show host to essentially tell Trump to shut the fuck up or I'm shutting you down. Which he did on Tuesday's "Morning Joe" broadcast when the bloviating billionaire refused to stop talking over him and co-host Mika Brzezinski. Scarborough shouted "Donald, Donald, Donald, Donald!" before cutting to a quick commercial when Trump challenged him to do so following the visibly angry host's threat.

The condemnation from the left was equally severe, as was the reaction from the Muslim community.

"Donald Trump sounds more like a leader of a lynch mob than a great nation like ours," said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"The fact is that what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president, and for Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Both Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid criticized the entire GOP pack of hopefuls in their rebuke of Trump.

"They are all driving the exact narrative that Jihadists want to advance," said Clinton. "That we are at war not with barbarous, violent, murderers but with an entire religion. This is a grave mistake."

"Republican candidates condemn Trump's remarks and then adopt his racist policies as their own," said Reid.

But perhaps Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter put it best, calling Trump an "asshole" a "madman" and a "danger to society."

To be sure, Trump's unconscionable, unconstitutional, rabble-rousing ban rhetoric won't lose him any support among his fervent base. They'll loyally follow him like automatons no matter what he says. But Trump is now for the first time in the campaign uniformly reaping the wrath of the party's hierarchy, which has to-date allowed him to rant like a racist maniac unchallenged. Besides pissing off every ethic and religious group except white Christians, he's likely lost whatever support he had from independents, moderates and even some hard-liners.

Rep. Peter King, said "Donald Trump always takes it to the extreme, and takes it to the extreme which really goes beyond American values." But more telling was when asked on CNN if he could see himself voting for Hillary Clinton if he felt Trump wasn't qualified to be president, there was a noticeably awkward pause (it actually seemed as if he was about to say "yes" and then caught himself) before going into spin mode.

In the wake of his latest shameful, flame-throwing diatribe, Trump is the object of massive scorn all over the world. He's become a threat to the nation, providing constant fodder for ISIS recruiting videos. At home he's become a divisive lightening rod, pitting American against American. An embarrassment and a joke. An hysterical buffoon. Detested. The man who for decades has been called a marketing genius, in just a few short months running for president, has forever tarnished his reputation (or what little of it is left) and his precious brand while creating what is sure to be a lasting, and brutally ugly, new...

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Donald Trump Projects Recklessness, Not Strength

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 9:53 AM

The conventional wisdom among the political punditry is that Donald Trump is popular because he "projects strength." When Americans fear terrorism, especially in the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the perception of foreign policy and homeland security weakness is a campaign killer. Just ask Ben Carson.

But Trump's macho reputation among his 25% rabidly loyal base is incredibly misguided, counter-intuitive and, worse, actually a threat to America. Trump is not "tough." He is not "strong." And he most certainly does not have the qualifications, or the temperament, to be president and commander in chief. Rather, his inflammatory, divisive, hate-filled racist rhetoric demonstrates unprecedented recklessness. His "character" is therefore not an asset in these globally challenging times. It's a severe liability.

In his bid for the White House, Trump has grossly offended just about every ethnic and religious group, women, gays, immigrants, refugees, war heroes, people with disabilities and anyone who's raised his ire. He is angry, petulant, belittling, demeaning, polarizing, patronizing, dismissive and a blatant propagandist and liar. A delusional narcissist. Imagine that these are the qualities of the man sitting in the Oval Office. The leader of the free world, whose job is not just to protect America's interests and security, but its respect, integrity, principles and reputation in doing so.

Are we to accept Trump's empty promise that if elected he'd suddenly, after decades of being a nasty, condescending, confrontational, self-aggrandizing, verbal-diarrhea-inflicted, my-way-or-the-highway buffoon, become a consensus and coalition-building diplomat? A statesman who commands respect at home and abroad?

Trump's "strength" is confused with bullying, intimidation and rabble-rousing bluster. This is not presidential behavior. Is this what we could expect from President Trump when he's dealing with difficult heads of state, or U.S. enemies, including Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Bashir al-Assad? His "bomb-the-shit out of-them" cowboy rhetoric could greatly hinder our ability to engage our allies in the fight against terrorism.

And let's remember something about Mr. Tough Guy: when other American young men and women enlisted or were drafted to fight in Vietnam, Trump received multiple student deferments and a medical exemption which kept him from serving. There are many people who believe he was nothing more than a draft dodger. And he has the audacity to attack Sen. John McCain's highly decorated war record?

Sorry, Trump "fans." Your hero is no tough guy. And he's not strong. Don't let him fool you. He's an Ivory Tower-living billionaire whose rich, connected daddy kept him safely at home while your loved ones fought and died in Vietnam. He's a self-serving coward who lies through his teeth and mocks the military service of heroic prisoners of war like McCain. His dangerous 'bring it on' demagoguing would likely alienate our allies, incite terrorists and provoke our...

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Trump's 9/11 Lies Will Bring Him Down

(4) Comments | Posted November 25, 2015 | 8:57 AM

It's here. The moment we've all been waiting for. That highly anticipated point in the presidential primary season when Republican front runner Donald Trump presumably has gone too far. This time his target was not Sen. John McCain, Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, Mexicans, gays or any of the countless other people and groups he's offended since he launched his campaign last June.

No. This time Trump committed the unthinkable in shamefully exploiting the September 11 tragedy for his personal political benefit. Worse, he's lied about it. Blatantly. And he's been doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on his lies.

"I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down," Trump said last weekend at a rally in Birmingham, Ala. "And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

When challenged the next day by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump doubled-down:

"It was on television. I saw it. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good."

As the non-partisan fact-checking organization Politifact concluded, Trump's claim "defies basic logic. If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence."

As usual, rather than apologize for his outrageous behavior, Trump's been repeating his "thousands and thousands" lie ad nauseam, despite a complete lack of evidence.

"Trump is plain wrong, and he is shamefully politicizing an emotionally charged issue. No one in Jersey City cheered on September 11," said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Trump's claims have also been summarily repudiated by Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and John Farmer, Jr, the state's Attorney General at the time of the attacks.

To be sure, there are lots of reasons to utterly despise Trump. The litany of unconscionable racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic comments, as well as his buffoonish behavior, is more than enough. But now he's trampled on sacred ground. He's shown unprecedented disrespect for the 3000 dead and their still-grieving families while offending the entire Muslim and Arab population of Jersey City. It's the apex of his ignorance-fueled, hate-filled campaign.

The conventional wisdom is that Trump will not be able to recover from this latest controversy. It will follow him everywhere he goes. He'll be asked relentlessly to explain how he was the only witness in America to "thousands and thousands" of Muslims celebrating in the streets of Jersey City. It'll dominate his rallies, upcoming debates, tv and radio interviews and press conferences. He will be forced to defend himself from charges of lying. Of not being trustworthy. Of not being worthy of the Office of the United States Presidency.

Trump's 9/11 lies will accomplish the one thing that's heretofore seemed impossible: it will unite both his detractors and supporters. Because there's one thing on which all Americans can agree: you don't exploit the horrific 9/11 tragedy for personal political...

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An Open Letter to Trump Supporters ('Fans')

(26) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 12:52 PM

To Supporters of Donald Trump:

Firstly, what the hell is wrong with you people!? Have you, like your hero, completely lost your minds?! Have you forgotten what America stands for and the principles it was founded on? Or have you, like your hero, turned into a vessel for bigotry, hatred and intolerance? Do you really not see the unprecedented ugliness of his campaign and your role in perpetuating it?

When you look at Trump, and you listen to his fiery, rabble-rousing, incendiary rhetoric, do you really see a United States president standing before you? Someone who can handle the intense pressures of the job both domestically and globally? Someone with the diplomatic skills to succeed in difficult negotiations with world leaders? With our enemies? Someone who possesses the character and qualifications to engage, not alienate? To unite, not divide? Do you really see a statesman? A role model for your children? Someone who will make Americans proud on the world stage?

What do you truly think when you hear him talk of Mexican rapists? Or when he calls women ugly, fat pigs and bimbos? How about when he suggests that women who criticize him are menstruating? Or that decorated soldiers like Sen. John McCain are not war heroes because they were captured? Or when he says we should "bomb the shit" out of Syria? Or that we should round up and deport 11-million undocumented immigrants, ripping them away from their children? Or that we should register Muslims. Or that his "fans" were justified in beating a black protester at his rally?

Do you believe that a United States president should make outrageously offensive statements that suggest he's a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe? Should he act like an ignorant buffoon?

Does it not concern you greatly that he offers zero substance and cannot substantiate, with facts and specifics, his outlandish positions? Do you not worry that he speaks in empty, grandiose superficial language? That he believes he can accomplish anything, simply because "I'm Donald Trump, and I'll make it happen." Is this enough for you? Do you not expect more from your candidate? Do you not demand logic, rational thinking and intellectual curiosity?

Have you closed your eyes and contemplated what a Trump presidency would actually look like? How it would grossly cheapen the Oval Office? Is it acceptable to you that a serious presidential contender has no political experience, curses like a sailor, offends everyone who isn't male and white, and incessantly reminds you how rich he is as he tells you that $15 an hour is too much for you? Does it worry and offend you that he boasts of using bankruptcy laws to screw his creditors while he promises to "make America great again." And most importantly, doesn't it bother you that he thinks America isn't great now? That's not very patriotic, is it?

I know you find him entertaining. You probably loved him on The Apprentice. So he's a tv star to you. A celebrity. And Americans are obsessed with celebrity. That's why you flock to his rallies and watch the debates in record numbers. But that's not a reason to elect him leader of the free world, or for him to be commander in chief of the world's greatest military. Especially during such difficult, challenging times at home and abroad.

To be sure, what I've asked you above is rhetorical. I know that you think Trump is amazing and would be a terrific president. Thankfully, you are in a very small minority. Anyone who understands political math knows that The Donald will never win the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency. And no one knows this more than Trump himself. Which is why, after he's done teasing, manipulating and exploiting you, he will break your hearts and abandon you. One thing we know for sure: Trump hates losers. He'll be gone from the race before he is...

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Here's How/Why Jeb Bush Will Win the GOP Nomination

(522) Comments | Posted November 19, 2015 | 10:34 AM

A new poll out of New Hampshire shows front runner Donald Trump gaining momentum while Dr. Ben Carson is losing ground. And herein lies the makings of Jeb Bush's path to the Republican presidential nomination.

The current GOP primary campaign is like no other in political history....

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An Open Letter to Jeb Bush

(727) Comments | Posted November 13, 2015 | 9:26 AM

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Dear Jeb:

Let me establish for the record that I am a passionate, loyal, card-carrying Democrat. As such, you and I differ on virtually every political, economic and social issue imaginable. Furthermore, I consider your brother George one of the worst presidents...

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An Open Letter to Ben Carson

(24) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 9:23 AM

Dear Mr. Carson:

It's certainly been a busy week for you, hasn't it? I bet you never thought you'd be on the proverbial hot seat like you've been. Questions coming at you from the media in rapid succession over several controversial statements you've made about your personal life over the past fifty years. It's been a deluge. Requests for clarification. Demands for the truth. Elaboration. Affirmation. Substantiation. Confirmation. No wonder you seem exhausted, frustrated and just plain fed up.

I'd be too if I were you. Except I'm not you. I'm not running for president, but more importantly, I haven't boasted that I tried to slam a hammer into my mother's head, or that I stabbed someone in the "abdomen." Or that I met Gen. William Westmoreland in 1969 and was offered a full scholarship to West Point (it's a free school). Or that I saved a bunch of white kids during the riots after Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Or that I was the only "honest" kid in a Yale classroom.

I also never suggested that millions of Jews in Nazi Germany could've escaped the Holocaust had they been armed with guns. I've never said that people go to prison straight and come out gay. I've also never said that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery. Or that Muslims should not be president. Or that rape babies shouldn't be aborted. Or that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. But you have.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "Crazy is as crazy does. Mama always said you can't outgrow crazy." Yeah, and you can't run away from it either. Or blame your crazy on the media. No, Dr. Carson, the shitstorm you now find yourself sailing in is completely self-inflicted. It's your outlandish comments, your bizarre behavior, your apparent pathology that's inviting this piercing scrutiny. But in an effort to gain sympathy and raise funds, you stood before the news cameras last week and chastised the media for "piling on" and perpetrating a "witch hunt." And you're continuing to play the victim card.

You're running for President of The United States of America. Leader of the free world. Commander in Chief of the world's greatest militia. Yet you have no political experience whatsoever. Just a very compelling personal narrative of humble beginnings marred by violence; followed by intense ambition; tremendous career achievement; and all made possible by divine intervention. You brag of hurting people with bricks, bats and hammers, and that you stabbed someone. Yet your position is that the media is not supposed to question any of this absurdity. And if they do it's a witch hunt!? Can it be a witch hunt if it was you who brought up all this kooky stuff? And since it was you who brought it all up, isn't it therefore fair game for the media?

Oh how I long for the good old days, when the one thing we could all agree on, whether Democrat or Republican, was that our presidential candidates should never have stabbed anyone. But not you, Dr. Carson. You wear this alleged incident like a badge of courage. In fact, you seem upset that people are doubting the truthfulness of this story. One thing's for sure: should you be elected, thanks to America's racial progress, you won't be the nation's first black president. But you'd definitely be the first to have ever knifed someone in the gut!

The fact that you're now getting battered in the press is no one's fault but your own. I'm sorry Doc, but lies matter. And they matter big time when you're running for president. You're on the hot seat now for sure, but it's not because, as you claim, you're a "threat" to progressives. Or because "there is a desperation, on behalf of some, to try and find a way to tarnish" you. Even the venerable Wall Street Journal, certainly no bastion of the 'liberal media', has questioned the accuracy and legitimacy of several major elements of your biography.

To be sure, you're woefully ill-prepared to run for the highest office in the land. You lack the necessary experience, and worse, you've been sounding like a loon. That press conference last week? You were whining and ranting and appearing unhinged. You think the kitchen is too hot now? I can assure you, Mr. Frontrunner, that it's only gonna get...

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GOP Candidates and "Gotcha": 'Please Don't Hold Us Accountable For Our Outrageous Behavior!'

(42) Comments | Posted November 4, 2015 | 10:46 AM

Wah, wah, wah! That's the collective whining of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and several GOP presidential candidates complaining of unfair, biased, mean-spirited debate moderators and their "gotcha" questions.

But President Obama has it right. How on Earth can we expect these malcontents to firmly and effectively handle a complicated global nemesis like Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un when NBC's John Harwood makes 'em cry?! If the last GOP debate was a litmus test for leadership, well then, there doesn't seem to be a whole lotta litmus here.

What a bunch of petulant little babies! They need to put on their big boy pants for Pete's sake and act like they're qualified to be leaders of the free world. Why the heck should voters make candidates like Ben Carson, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio Commander in Chief when they can't even go toe-to-toe with CNBC's Rick Santelli and Becky Quick?!

It's time these White House wannabes stop all the disingenuous gotcha nonsense. You can't 'gotcha' someone if they haven't said or done anything 'gotcha.' It's as if the candidates are saying, "We're fed up with how the media makes us accountable for our ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, racist behavior!"

And it reprises the deliciousness of Tina Fey's brilliant Sarah Palin: "I just hope the lamestream media won't twist my words by repeatin' em verbatim."

Instead, perhaps Carson should stop making exploitative Holocaust references or saying that convicts go into prison straight and come out gay. And Trump should stop calling people ugly, stupid bimbos. And Rubio should stop saying women should be forced to carry rapists' babies. And Fiorina should stop lying about non-existent Planned Parenthood videos. And Cruz should stop saying Obama's foreign policy has left the world on fire. And Rand Paul should stop telling women reporters to "Ssshhh." I could go on, but the sheer tonnage of mind-numbing verbal diarrhea is simply too voluminous to recount here.

Those in the Republican clown posse need to appreciate that they're running for President of the United States of America, not checkout clerk at Target (although some folks would argue this crew is not even qualified for that job either). And so they need to demonstrate a level of resolve and character worthy of the office. To be able to explain and defend their statements and behavior in a dignified, respectful manner without mercilessly attacking the proverbial messenger.

It shouldn't matter if they believe the questions are unfair, petty and rude. Will they throw similar hissy fits when it's Bashar, Putin or Kim Jong ruffling their feathers? Is their thin-skinned peevishness a window into how poorly they'd handle a tough, challenging, even threatening opponent on the world stage? Having the right temperament is a valid, unconditionally required qualification for the presidency of the greatest nation in the world.

For the record, it's not like the Democratic candidates have gotten a free pass from debate moderators. For example, consider what CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Bernie Sanders: "A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?"

Or what he said to Lincoln Chafee regarding his early votes as a Congressman:..."what does that say about you that you're casting a vote for something you weren't really sure about?" To which Chafee replied, "I think you're being a little rough."

Or how he challenged Hillary Clinton: "Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency.You were against same-sex marriage, now you're for it; you defended President Obama's immigration policies, now you say they're too harsh; you supported his trade deal dozens of times - you even called it the gold standard. Now, suddenly last week, you're against it. Will you say anything to get elected?"

...
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Explaining the Ben Carson Phenomenon

(3) Comments | Posted October 27, 2015 | 8:14 AM

There can only be one reason why Ben Carson is now at the top of three new Iowa polls and a new national poll: Republican voters might be in desperate need of some of the good doctor's brain surgery!

How else do you explain his impressive double-digit surge past the front runner Donald Trump? (or, for that matter, how Trump is the front runner in the first place). It certainly can't be because Carson's put forth innovative, substantive policy proposals. To the contrary, his growing supporter base cites his 'calm, soft-spoken and reassuring' demeanor as the qualities they find most attractive...despite his multiple controversial gaffes.

So here's a little tip for the remaining 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls as they head into the primary homestretch: your party's voters will love you no matter what craziness comes out of your mouth as long as you say it with your eyes half closed and sounding like the anesthesia's kicking in.

German Jews would've fared better against the Nazi's had they all been armed with guns? No problem! Muslims should not be president of the United States? Absolutely! Obamacare is as bad as slavery? Of course! Abortions should be illegal even in cases of rape or if the mother's life is at stake? Yes! Yes! That's why we love you, Ben! Because you make ridiculous, absurd, narrow-minded, outrageously offensive comments like these in such a 'mild-mannered, gentlemanly, user-friendly' fashion!

To be sure, gone are the days when Republican voters demanded logic and reason from their candidates. Or meaningful policy proposals. Or an ability to satisfactorily articulate them. Carson, on Fox News Sunday defending his position on Medicare, sounded like a disingenuous 14-year-old trying to explain why he smells like cigarettes.

Pressed by host Chris Wallace over his desire to eliminate the huge government entitlement program, Carson's feeble response conjured up images of Herman Cain trying to explain his "999" tax plan during the 2012 campaign. Except Carson's Medicare/health care plan is more like "CCC": complicated, confusing, crazy.

So maybe there's hope for Jeb Bush yet. Or Chris Christie. Perhaps one of them will win the war of attrition against the extremists including Carson, Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Maybe the successful strategy is to lie in wait as the clown car careens off the cliff, leaving one of them the last man, the sane man, standing.

If that's the case, Bush, who lately looks and sounds like he'd rather be getting his chest waxed than be on the campaign trail, better start showing some serious moxie and passion before it's too late. And Christie needs to get out of the 'quiet car' and start making the kind of noise that resonates with voters. As inept as the crazies are, these two "mainstream" candidates have been even more inept. The election always has been theirs to...

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"He Kept Us Safe" (Before He Kept us Safe)

(36) Comments | Posted October 19, 2015 | 6:21 PM

It began with the last Republican debate, where presidential hopeful Jeb Bush attempted to defend his brother's war in Iraq by stating, "He kept us safe."

Then there was the GOP front runner Donald Trump subsequently saying in an interview with Bloomberg that "When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time...he was President, OK? Don't blame him or don't blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign."

Then, over Twitter like a couple of 12-year-olds, Bush and Trump called each other "pathetic."

Of course, if you're a Republican like Jeb Bush, and your brother also happens to be responsible for the worst military blunder in American history, the subject of the September 11 attacks can be very confusing and complicated, and certainly a tragedy with a hazy timeline and dubious and disputable blame.

Which is why it would be best for Bush, and extremely helpful to voters, if he would issue a statement of clarification on the subject:

'He kept us safe...er...as of September 12...which is the day after the day something really bad happened when, technically, he was president, but you can't blame him because he had no idea it was coming...er...except for the August 6th 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing whose headline declared, verbatim, "bin Laden determined to strike in US"...ya know, the memo that also referred to bin Laden hijacking airplanes and which also mentions the use of explosives...just the sort of really bad stuff that happened on that really bad day...but that was just a teeny little run-of-the-mill warning that no one took seriously...and it was only a month before that really bad thing happened, so there really wouldn't have been much time to do anything...and besides, no president could've prevented it...except maybe one who maybe paid a little more attention to that August 6 PDB...in which case a month could've been a pretty long time to possibly prepare and prevent...but HEY....even Rudy Giuliani said that no terrorist attacks occurred on George's watch, so THERE! Now can we please stop obsessing over the the worst, most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history which killed 3000 and get back to what really matters....those four people who died in Benghazi because of...

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A Challenge to the Media in Reducing Mass Shootings

(0) Comments | Posted October 9, 2015 | 6:08 PM

It's time to take some action in reducing mass murders in the United States, and it can simply start with the media. I challenge broadcast and cable news networks, local TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines, and news websites to immediately agree to no longer make public the names...

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