Sunday, November 1, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: U.S. Sen. Joe “Can you believe I used to be a Democrat?” Lieberman

File this one under: Still freaky after all these years.

Hard to believe that Sen. Joe Lieberman was once the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential candidate back in 2000. But the years have not been kind to Lieberman. And in return, Lieberman has not been kind back.

Things really came to a head in 2006, when Democratic primary voters in his home state of Connecticut gave him the heave-ho, choosing the much more liberal Ned Lamont over the incumbent. But Lieberman did not go gentle into that good night. Instead, after losing, he launched an independent campaign – and won (with much Republican support).

Democrats were willing to play nice, however, and allowed Lieberman to keep his seniority as long as Lieberman caucused with the Democrats, becoming an “Independent Democrat” (whatever that means).

Then what did he do? Endorse Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama last year, even speaking at the GOP convention.

And yet, he still wanted to be welcomed back in the Democratic fold.

Now …. oops, he’s done it again.

Lieberman announced this past week that he would break ranks with the Democrats and not try to stop a Republican filibuster of health care reform if said reform included a so-called “public option.” (His support is particularly important since the Democrats need the entire 60-member caucus to block a filibuster.)

Strangely, his latest decision comes after years of voicing support for health care reform, including universal coverage. He has even called health care reforms “centrist” (a favorite buzzword of his).

Now, Lieberman argues that the public option is a bad idea because it would raise the deficit and increase taxes (which is false, but that’s a whole other issue).

Of course, Lieberman hails from the state that is the insurance capital of the country. So he was willing to say he supported health care reforms when it wasn’t a reality, but now that push is coming to shove, he is backing down and undermining the principle of universal coverage.

Nice to know that the older Lieberman gets, the freakier he becomes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Stephen “I really love Fox News” Harper

If Sarah Palin is the Queen of Freakville, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the King. Yes, once again the FredBlog shines its freaklight on the head honcho of the Great White North.

As you recall, Palin once made headlines for not being able to name newspapers she supposedly reads. While Harper can indeed name Canada’s news outlets, last week he publicly admitted that he doesn’t watch Canadian news. Instead, he watches American networks.

This is what the Conservative told a Toronto business audience: “I watched the last several elections in the United States very closely. I tend to watch mainly American news because I don’t like to watch Canadian news and hear what … everybody else is saying about me. So my hobby is to watch politics elsewhere.”

No surprise Harper watches the American networks. He has appeared on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, among others. And no one would fault Harper for watching networks like CNN – most Canadians do.

But shouldn’t the Prime Minister of Canada be following the news IN CANADA!?!?

Then again, this isn’t the first time Harper has leered lovingly at the United States, instead of paying attention to his own backyard. He blindly followed the policies of George W. Bush, has praised the Republican Party as something the Canadian Conservatives should emulate, and once told a U.S. think tank that Canada “is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term.”

Given his disdain for his own country, it’s no wonder he chooses Fox News over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Jack Layton, leader of the far-left New Democratic Party, said it best when he told the Toronto Star, “Perhaps if [Harper] watched Canadian news more often, he would understand the negative impact of his policies on Canadian families. And if he actually likes Fox News better than Canadian news, then Canadians ought to be concerned.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: “Balloon Dad” Richard Heene

Sometimes, the FredBlog has to dig deep to award its “Freak of the Week” honor. And then sometimes, freaks crawl out of the woodwork, clawing their way to victory.

“Balloon Dad” Richard Heene is one such freak.

If you’ve been living under a rock, then you probably missed last Thursday’s worldwide fascination with a runaway flying-saucer-looking homemade helium balloon that made its way more than 50 miles across the Colorado skies, temporarily closing Denver International Airport – and presumably carrying a 6-year-old boy ironically named Falcon.

Turns out the boy wasn’t in the balloon – so the media calling him “Balloon Boy” is just plain wrong. But was that the end of the story? Nope, the freakiness didn’t end there.

The boy was hiding in a cardboard box in the attic of the family home, even though parents Richard and Mayumi Heene said they had searched the house and couldn’t find their son anywhere.

Talk of a hoax began almost immediately.

The Heenes, as it happens, had appeared on two episodes of the trashy reality TV show, “Wife Swap.” So, they weren’t at all camera shy when it came to talking about their balloon buffoonery on the air.

But that didn’t go well. First, during a group interview with all three of their sons on CNN, when Falcon was asked why he didn’t come out of hiding during the balloonery, he turned to this father and said, “You said we did this for a show.”

Then, sadly and strangely, on Friday morning show interviews on both NBC and ABC, Falcon puked. You’d think that after the boy blew chunks on the first show, the family wouldn’t put him on the second! But they did. In fact, they didn’t even blink when he upchucked on ABC, with host Diane Sawyer showing more concern for the boy than his parents did.

Then on Saturday, Richard Heene called a press conference in front of the family home, only to tell the media that he would only be answering questions submitted in writing and placed in a cardboard box (the same one Falcon was hiding in?).

Through it all, the Heenes insisted this was no hoax.

Then on Sunday, police announced that it was indeed a hoax – and that the couple could face felony charges.

According to Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, the stunt two weeks in the planning was a marketing ploy by the couple, who met in acting school in Hollywood. The Heenes have also been working on a reality TV deal in Los Angeles, reported the Associated Press.

The sheriff said that the couple could face charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities and attempting to influence a public servant. Federal charges were also possible. The most serious charges reportedly carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

So where were Richard and Mayumi Heene while the sheriff was making this announcement? Shopping for snacks at Wal-Mart. (Insert your own white-trash joke here!)

Sheriff Alderden noted that Richard Heene claims to be a storm chaser and inventor and has described himself as an amateur scientist. But Alderden said Heene has only a high school education.

"He may be nutty, but he's not a professor," Alderden said.

A good line for a bad balloon trick.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

FREAK(S) OF THE WEEK: Joe “You Lie” Wilson, Carrie “Opposite Marriage” Prejean, and Jack “Hypocrite” Layton

After a week off to attend the annual convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention in

Montreal, the FredBlog is back with a bag full o’ freaks. So let’s get the party started as the FredBlog shines its freaklight on this week’s Freaks of the Week:

1. Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina

Joe Wilson was freaky enough for shouting out “You lie” during President Barack Obama’s address to Congress. But piling freakiness upon freakiness is this past week’s revelation that Wilson, um, LIED!

If you recall, Wilson raised the roof during Obama’s healthcare address over the issue of illegal immigration. And what makes him such as expert on the issue? Here’s how he explained it during a press conference: “I’m for immigration, legal immigration. I’m an immigration attorney.”

However, as revealed by the website TPMmuckraker, he is nothing of the sort. In fact, he is a real estate lawyer. It even says so on his own website.

TPMmuckraker interviewed a number of South Carolina attorneys as well the American Immigration Lawyers Association. No one knows Wilson as anything but a real estate attorney.

So please join the FredBlog in shouting out to Mr. Wilson, “You lie!”

2. Former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean

Carrie Prejean is full of catchphrases. First, she made headlines by giving props to “opposite marriage.” Now, it’s all about, “God chose me.”

You see, this past week Prejean spoke at the right-wing Family Research Council’s so-called Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. (Sarah Palin wasn’t available, so they went with someone who I’m guessing can’t even find Russia on a map!)

In her speech to the Value (if hate is a value) Voters, Prejean discussed her pageant moment when celebrity judge Perez Hilton asked her about same-sex marriage. She told the crowd, “As I saw my goals and aspirations flash by me, I knew God had a plan for me. … He chose me for that moment.”

Yes, Ms. Prejean, of all the people in the world, God chose a dumbass beauty queen. Donald Trump may have chosen you, but God certainly did not.

3. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s far-left party, has made a career of bashing the center-left Liberal Party over the head for not voting down the ruling Conservative Party and its Bush-alike leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In fact, in the last election campaign, Layton puffed himself up as the only true opposition leader. And Layton’s disdain for Harper goes so deep that he didn’t even bother reading the last Conservative budget before deciding his party would vote against it.

But finally, the Liberals have had enough. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced this past week that his party would indeed vote to bring down the Conservatives, forcing a federal election.

Oh, but wait, the polls don’t look good for Layton and the New Democrats. So instead of siding with the Liberals, something he has been waiting for, Layton engineered a reason to prop up the Conservatives. Worse yet, Layton says he will continue to support the Conservatives on a number of upcoming confidence motions.

So on a dime, Layton has switched from damning the Liberals for propping up the Conservatives to doing it himself. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to describe Layton’s freakiness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FREAK(S) OF THE WEEK: Tom Ridge, Jack Layton and Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins

It was another week full o’ freaks on both sides of the border, with a repeat performance by Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins. So without further ado, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on this week’s Freaks of the Week:

1. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

Tom Ridge, the very first Homeland Security Secretary, makes a stunning assertion in his new book, “The Test of Our Times.” In it, Ridge says he was pressured by others in President George W. Bush’s administration to raise the national color-coded terror threat level just prior to the 2004 election in order to scare the American people into voting Bush back into office. (As we all know, sadly, the tactic worked.)

But then Ridge went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show and not only changed his tune, but disavowed what’s in his own book.

Under Maddow’s questioning, Ridge said, in part, “Well, I think you are suggesting that it was only driven by, quite obviously the people who made the decision knew more about the threat than you and I do. And again I think it is a pretty radical conclusion to suggest that men and women entrusted with the safety of this country would predicate a decision upon any other basis other than to keep America safe.”

This is the exact opposite of what he just wrote in his own book. Did Dick Cheney get to him before Rachel Maddow did?

2. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Apart from the Liberals and Conservatives (much like the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S.), Canada has four parties in the House of Commons. There’s the separatist Bloc Québécois, but there’s also the New Democratic Party (NDP), which is the far left party that sees the Liberals as too centrist (much like many progressives in the U.S. see the Democrats).

For months, the NDP and its leader – Jack Layton –said there is no way they would support the ruling Conservatives, so if there were an opportunity to dissolve the government and have a new election, the NDP would do it. In fact, Layton has pilloried the Liberals for voting with the Conservatives, allowing them to stay in power. Layton has long said that his party was the real opposition.

So finally, the Liberals and its leader – Michael Ignatieff – are talking about voting down the Conservatives. But wait? What is this? Layton says that he may finally be willing to work with the Conservatives and keep them in power.

Why the change of heart? Because Layton looked at the polls and saw that they don’t look good for his party. So now, all of a sudden, with a real threat of an election looming, Layton is willing to do what he criticized the Liberals for doing for oh-so-many months. Hypocrite!

3. Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins

Last week, the FredBlog surmised that Lynn Jenkins is either incredibly stupid, racist or both. Either way, it just gets worse.

Initially, Jenkins got in trouble for saying, “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope” to go up against President Barack Obama.

When it was pointed out to her that the phrase “great white hope” is a racist term dating back to the early 20th century, Jenkins said she had no clue about the phrase’s racist overtones. (The phrase “great white hope” came into general usage after boxer Jack Johnson, who was black, won the heavyweight title – a victory that didn’t sit well with whites. So many then worked to find a white fighter – a “great white hope” – who could snatch the title away from Johnson.)

Now it turns out that Jenkins voted for a congressional resolution back in July that posthumously pardoned Johnson of a racially motivated conviction back in 1913.

So how could Jenkins say she didn’t know what “great white hope” referred to? Her press secretary happily reports that Jenkins didn’t read the bill! That’s right – Jenkins readily admits that she votes for things she doesn’t read. Yeah, that’s a great way to make yourself look good in the eyes of voters.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

FREAK(S) OF THE WEEK: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins, and (yet again) Stephen Harper

It was another week full o’ freaks on both sides of the border, with a repeat performance by Canadian Prime Minister to top it all off. So this week, the FredBlog turns its freaklight on a freak trifecta aka a “freak-fecta.”

1. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist

If you’ve seen the documentary “Outrage,” you already know that this Republican closet case has earned his freak stripes. But he added more freak merit points this past week when he said that the reason Florida hasn’t been hit by major hurricanes since 2007 is that God likes him.

Crist reportedly told a group of real estate agents, “In 2007, I took my first trade mission. Do you know where I went?” He went to Israel, where he placed a written request in the cracks of the Western Wall that read, “Dear God, please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie.” Crist then implied that God read the note and followed through to the gov’s request. “Time goes on – May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December – no hurricanes.”

Maybe Gov. Crist needs to realize that his last name does not have an “h” between the “C” and the “r.”

2. Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins

Lynn Jenkins is either incredibly stupid, racist or both.

While speaking to her constituents at a town hall meeting last week, Jenkins said, “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope” to go up against President Barack Obama.

Here’s the problem: The phrase “great white hope” is a racist term dating back to the early 20th century. It came into general usage after boxer Jack Johnson, who was black, won the heavyweight title – a victory that didn’t sit well with whites. So many then worked to find a white fighter – a “great white hope” – who could snatch the title away from Johnson. And the phrase is certainly not obscure. Johnson’s story inspired both a play and a movie – both called “The Great White Hope,” both starring James Earl Jones.

So according to Jenkins, the Republican Party is looking for a “great white hope” to take on America’s first black president.

Ms. Jenkins, would you like a hood with that?

3. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

The leader of Canada’s Conservative government just can’t keep himself away from freakville. This time, it’s due to a grand case of hypocrisy (Harpocrisy?).

First, the background: Canadian senators are not elected, but appointed by the prime minister of the day (without even hearings like they have for Supreme Court justices in the United States). And senators serve until they are 75 and are currently paid an annual salary of $132,000. The Senate, therefore, is ripe for political patronage.

To Harper’s credit – yes, the FredBlog does give credit where credit is due – he ran on a platform of changing the Senate so that it would be more accountable to voters. And he promised – repeatedly – that he would not appoint senators not directly elected by voters.

In fact, during the 2006 election, Harper’s party promised: “A Conservative government will not appoint to the Senate anyone who does not have a mandate from the people.” And in 2004, before becoming Prime Minister, he blasted the Senate as “a dumping ground for the favored cronies of the Prime Minister.”

So what did Harper do last week? He appointed nine – count ‘em – nine new unelected, unaccountable senators. That’s after appointing 18 unelected, unaccountable senators only days before last Christmas (so no one would notice).

And who did Harper appoint? The latest group includes the party’s director of political operations (Doug Finley), a former Harper leadership campaign co-chair (Judith Seidman), the president of the Conservative Party (Don Plett) and the director of strategic communication for Harper’s office who also once served as Harper’s press secretary (Carolyn Stewart-Olsen).

So glad Harper isn’t in a favor of political patronage and cronyism.

Monday, August 24, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

** This week’s FREAK OF THE WEEK is brought to you by the letter U **

It was a week full of freakiness on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. To the south, right-wing freakiness continued spreading lies about “death panels” while the Obama administration started downplaying pieces of its own healthcare reform plans.

To the north, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued to insist that he had no idea that Canadian citizen Suaad Hagi Mohamud had been held against her will and abandoned by Kenyan and Canadian officials in Nairobi – even though Canadian media had heavily covered Mohamud’s plight for 3 months!

As freaky as Harper can be, you would think the Prime Minister would at least know how to spell the names of major cities in his own country.

However, that seems not to be the case.

You see, Harper put out a press release detailing his five-day tour of the Canadian Arctic, which included a stop in the capital city of the territory of Nunavut.

What is the capital? It’s Iqaluit, which in the native Inuit (Eskimo) language of Inuktitut means “many fish.”

But Harper spelled it “Iqualuit,” with an extra U after the Q. Not only is this incorrect, but it also changes the meaning of the word in Inuktitut.

“Iqualuit” – with that extra U – means “people with unwiped asses.”

Not only did Harper get it wrong, but his spokesperson then tried to turn his mistake into a public good by telling the Canadian Press news service, “Hopefully this unfortunate typo, which we have corrected, will inform the greater public that there is no [extra] ‘u’ in Iqaluit.”

Typo? Couldn’t someone have looked this up in a book or online beforehand?

Mr. Harper, before you try to teach everyone else a lesson, you should learn to get it right yourself.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Canadian abondoned in Kenya, while gov't officials go MIA and do nothing

The story of Canadian citizen Suaad Hagi Mohamud trapped in Kenya is shameful enough, but the pathetic reaction of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan simply adds insult to injury.

Here’s what happened.

Back in May, Mohamud – who lives in Toronto – was visiting friends and family in Kenya. When it was time for her to come home, airport officials in Nairobi said that Mohamud’s passport photo did not look like her, claiming that she was an imposter.

Even after Mohamud showed all of her ID – including other government documents, even a drugstore loyalty shopping card – Kenyan officials said Mohamud’s lips in person didn’t match those in her passport photo. (Some reports say the photo issue was a ruse, and really, Kenyan officials wanted a bribe. The silliness of the claims even had Kenyan officials ruminating that Mohamud was her own twin sister.)

When Mohamud’s case was then handed over to Canadian officials in Kenya, they did nothing. Mohamud’s Canadian passport was cancelled, she was charged with criminally falsifying her identity, and thrown in jail.

In order to end the ordeal, Mohamud volunteered for a DNA test to prove her identity and to show that she is indeed the mother of her teenage son (who was back in Toronto).

Even after the DNA result, Mohamud wasn’t free to come home, since her passport was cancelled. So she remained a woman without a country.

Finally last week, she was issued an emergency passport and allowed to travel home.

During this entire ordeal, the Canadian government did nothing – NOTHING – to help a Canadian citizen held hostage in a foreign country.

Van Loan – who as public safety minister is the Canadian equivalent of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – dodged reporters and did nothing. Now, he has the nerve to announce a study to determine what went wrong. What went wrong? Mr. Van Loan, YOU are part and parcel of what went wrong.

Cannon – who as foreign affairs minister is the equivalent of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – then commissioned his own inquiry. Are these people serious? Just look in the mirror – there’s your answer.

Worst of all was Prime Minister Harper who, instead of aiding a Canadian in distress in a foreign land, gave this advice to all Canadian would-be travelers: “The Government of Canada does not control affairs in other countries. We do our best to aid those who are in various forms of difficulty, but ultimately we're not the sovereign government once people leave our territory.”

In other words, you are SOL. And this was the same week that former U.S. President Bill Clinton went to North Korea to rescue two American journalists. The contrast is startling.

This week, Harper not only said that his government would not apologize to Mohamud, but that he only learned of her case last week – even though it’s been making news for three months! This is as sad as Bush getting that memo about Osama bin Laden plotting to bomb the U.S., and then deciding to go golfing.

So what happened here? No need to wait for CYA government commissions. Either the Canadian government, as run by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, doesn’t care about Canadian citizens once they leave the country, or the Canadian government, under Harper’s Conservatives, only cares about some Canadians. Mohamud, after all, is a woman of color who was born in Somalia.

A letter to the editor in the Toronto Star even put it this way: “If hyphenated Canadians decide to go to obscure places in the world, they should do so at their peril.” (Ironically, the letter writer’s last name was McKenna, pegging him as a hyphenated Irish-Canadian.)

This is a sentiment that seems to permeate the highest levels of the current Canadian government. And a government that is so willing to toss one of its innocent citizens aside like this has clearly lost the right to govern.

Monday, August 17, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Christopher Plante of the National Organization for Marriage

This past week was full of freakiness between anti-gay-marriage activists and Canada’s iconic coffee-and-donut chain. In fact, the FredBlog’s freaklight shined brightly on Sunday’s “Celebrate Marriage and Family Day” in Rhode Island (an event a friend of the FredBlog dubbed “Marriagestock”). But even after Tim Hortons pulled out of sponsoring this anti-gay extravaganza, Christopher Plante – head of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Marriage – couldn’t stop being so freaky.

First, Plante had this to say to the group of news websites. “[Tim Hortons] rescinded the offer today as a direct result of the hubbub in Canada. This is an issue only north of the border.”

Wrong, Mr. Plante. This was not only an issue in the Great White North, but among many fair-minded and clear-thinking people in the United States as well, particularly in New England. In fact, it was an activist in Boston who alerted the FredBlog.

Secondly, this was not “hubbub.” This was Canadians standing up for Canadian law, society and values, leading to a company realizing it had violated its own corporate sponsorship policy.

In subsequent interviews, Plante said he didn’t understand all the fuss since his event was not political.

Just how is holding an event that promotes keeping gays and lesbians as second-class citizens NOT political? Plante didn’t say.

He did say, however, that the event wasn’t religious in nature. Huh? As another friend of the FredBlog pointed out, the event was held on property owned by Catholic Church, the vows were in a Christian format, prayer was part of the event, and there was live worship music.

But then Plante said something that surprised the FredBlog. He said that the event was “open to all,” including same-sex couples, to celebrate the institution of marriage.

Well, that’s a-mighty Christian of Plante. But that didn’t last long.

Plante soon issued “last minute instructions” to his minions. “It is not a political event; its purpose is to celebrate and affirm the value of marriage in Rhode Island, which remains by law a union between a husband and wife. The vow renewal [ceremony] is for couples who are eligible for marriage licenses under current Rhode Island law.”

Plante’s note continued: “Sunday August 16th is going to be a fun and safe time as we gather together to celebrate the goodness and wonder of our marriages to our husbands and wives.” How fun!

Oh, and here’s another special instruction: “No posters, signs, displays or booths except those previously approved by the event sponsor.”

The Providence Journal, the local daily, reported that “100 couples … renew[ed] their marriage vows flanked by a large sign that read, ‘Marriage = 1 man and 1 woman.’” Guess THAT sign was “previously approved.”