Sunday, March 29, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Gary Goodyear, Canada’s science and technology minister

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Gary Goodyear, who can’t seem to decide whether or not he believes in evolution.

Here’s how it all started. Goodyear, who is not a blimp but a parliamentary minister, gave an interview with the national Globe and Mail newspaper. The interview was supposed to be about the federal government’s budget cuts targeting scientific research.

But then he put his foot in it when he refused to tell the newspaper’s reporter if he believes in evolution.

“I am a Christian,” is how he responded, “and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate.”

Now, he wasn’t asked about his religion. No, as the minister responsible for science, he was asked about his views on science. He is the one who put this in a religious context.

Having geared the interview toward religion, the Globe and Mail then asked Goodyear if he is a creationist. Then he really had something to say – if you can understand him.

Here’s his quote: “I do believe that just because you can’t see it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could mean we don’t have a powerful enough microscope yet. So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”

So is he referring to his faith? Goodyear would only say that the interview was going off topic.

Frankly, if he thinks we don’t have a powerful enough microscope to see what we can’t see, maybe the government should be putting funds into building said microscope, rather than cutting funding for research!

And I’m so glad he’s not “fussy” about “this business.” I hate it when a government official is “fussy” about the issues he’s in charge of. Don’t you?

After that mess, Goodyear was in full damage control. So he went on television the next day to say that he does indeed believe in evolution, at least as he defines it.

And how does he define evolution? "We are evolving every year, every decade. That's a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to … walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment.”

So evolution is not really about apes developing over a very long time into human beings, but about your feet getting used to walking in high heels. Thanks for the science lesson, Mr. Goodyear.

This is the man responsible for the federal government’s science strategy? And this comes at the same time U.S. President Barack Obama finally reversed George W. Bush’s draconian funding ban on stem-cell research.

Americans, however, shouldn’t get too smug. Remember, ALL of the Republicans who ran for president in 2008 do not believe in evolution.

Of course, Canada’s ruling Conservatives are doing what all good conservatives do – blaming the media. In a closed-door meeting, the party – led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper – was reportedly trying to figure out how to handle media “traps” targeting “Christian” politicians. (Oh, that darn liberal media.)

Instead of blaming the media, maybe the Conservatives should admit the truth – that Goodyear is a bonehead who shouldn’t be deciding the government’s policy on science.

Then again, maybe Goodyear proves that evolution didn’t happen. After all, HE certainly hasn’t evolved.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

AIG is hungry for more of our $$$

Just when you think this whole AIG mess couldn’t get any worse, it does. Believe it or not, the brain trust that is the American International Group is now suing the U.S. government. This would be the same government that bailed the company out with taxpayer money.

Now, AIG is using that same money to sue the feds for over $300 million!

Apparently, the $144 billion - that's billion with a B - in government bailout money wasn’t enough for these money-grubbing corporate parasites.

Keep in mind that the total amount of “bonuses” paid out to AIG honchos earlier this month was $165 million. So the amount AIG is suing the government for is nearly double that figure.

And why is AIG suing? Because it claims it overpaid taxes related to deals that were reportedly made using offshore tax havens (in places such as the Cayman Islands and the Dutch Antilles).

That’s right. AIG used loopholes in the law to avoid paying taxes, and now it’s claiming it paid too much and wants money back.

AIG has revealed itself to be nothing more than an insatiable money-eating beast. Feed the beast, and it still wants more.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York City about a month ago, but was only reported on last week. (And for some reason, the mainstream media hasn’t really run with this story. I guess journalists have an easier time explaining “bonuses” than tax law.)

AIG also tried to keep this story quiet. Wonder why?

Maybe it's because the bright lights at AIG knew that they would look pretty bad suing the majority owner of their own company. Remember, the U.S. government now owns 80 percent of AIG thanks to all of the bailout money.

Worse yet, the arm of AIG involved in this whole tax mess is the financial products unit, the same division that brought AIG to the brink of financial ruin.

This is so sick and twisted, if AIG were a person, it would be committed to a mental institution.

Interestingly, one of AIG’s offshore entities involved in this tax-and-sue hocus pocus is a private Panama company called the Starr International Company, known as SICO for short.

Sicko, indeed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


If you thought he was gone, think again. This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on former U.S. President George “Dubya” Bush, whose malapropisms are following him on his post-presidential lecture circuit.

Not only that, they follow him across the border.

Last week, Dubya gave his first post-presidential speech in Calgary, Alberta, Canada – no surprise since the province of Alberta is basically the Texas of Canada. And it was there that he reportedly revealed his plan to write a book about the “12 toughest decisions I had to make” as president. (Decisions which, I presume, included, “What country should I invade next?”)

But he also said this about his book: “I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.”

Read that quote again. He said “authoritarian”! I can only assume he meant to say “authoritative,” meaning, “having the sanction or weight of authority.”

But he said “authoritarian,” meaning, “of, relating to, or favoring a concentration of power in a leader or an elite not constitutionally responsible to the people.”

Then again, given how he became and subsequently acted as president, maybe he didn’t really make a mistake.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Note to AIG: Pretty please ain’t good enough

American International Group chief Edward Liddy told Congress yesterday that he asked his employees to return half of their controversial “retention bonuses.” Wait a second. He asked, not ordered? And just half, not all? This is the corporate equivalent of saying, “Pretty please, with sugar on it.”

And this is from the guy who also told Congress that he has “heard the American people loudly and clearly.” What a joke!

Liddy and his AIG brethren still have corporate cotton in their ears. He may be testifying on Capitol Hill, and he might be seeing the protesters with their signs screaming, “Give our $ back,” but Liddy is still surrounded by his cone of silence – paid for by American taxpayers.

The culture of corporate America is beyond sick. What is a “retention bonus” anyway? Isn’t a multi-million-dollar salary enough of a retention to stay in your job and do it well? The fact that such bonuses are considered normal should have been clue #1 that something was wrong.

Additionally, Liddy wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that such bonuses are necessary to “retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG business.” Is he serious? Liddy’s supposed “best and brightest” are the same people who brought AIG to the brink of bankruptcy. If these guys are the best and the brightest, bring on the worst and the dumbest.

And Liddy’s “pretty please” plea only went to those whose bonuses were over $100,000. So if your bonus is $99,999, you could keep the whole damn thing? Again, this is nonsense.

As if all that weren’t enough, Liddy is trying to make the case that he is mandated to hand out these bonuses because they are built into employee contracts. While true, those contracts would have been null and void if AIG went into bankruptcy. Ironically, it was the federal government that saved AIG’s ass. The feds should have just let AIG and its corrupt contracts fall into the ninth circle of hell, where they belong.

Speaking of the government’s ownership of AIG, President Barack Obama is right. Institutions like AIG, which is an insurance company, should be subject to the same rules as banks. Regulate, regulate, regulate!

Barney Frank is right, too. The Massachusetts Democrat who is chair of the House Financial Services Committee wants AIG to submit to Congress a list of AIGers who received bonuses. If names are not provided, he would seek to subpoena them. Since the feds own 80 percent of the company, that only seems fair.

Cough up that list, Liddy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stephen Harper shows his nasty, but true, colors

Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, ate up all the attention he received when President Barack Obama came to visit him in Ottawa last month. And this was on the heels of Harper’s middle-of-the-road, bipartisan budget to deal with the economic crisis. So has Harper finally realized the errors of his past ways and turned over a new political leaf? Not a chance.

Harper talks a good game in public and in front of the media, but behind closed doors, he is as rabid a conservative as ever.

Last week, he gave a fundraising speech at the Manning Institute for Democracy, a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one. The speech was closed to the press – thank you, Mr. Accountability – so it took a few days for the substance of his speech to finally make its way out.

According to the Toronto Star (, Harper showed his true colors during that speech. Most notably, he dissed Obama, the most popular politician in the world, for being too liberal.

He dissed the Canadian Senate, judiciary, and federal bureaucracy for being full of “ Liberal insiders and ideologues.” And what are you, Mr. Harper, but a Conservative insider and ideologue?

He dissed Wall Street for being too “unconservative.” (If only Wall Street had been more conservative!)

He dissed Canada’s public broadcaster for being too liberal. (If only the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were more conservative!)

He dissed Parliament, in which he is the head of government, and name-called the opposition parties as “a toxic coalition brew.” (By the way, there is no official coalition among opposition parties. In fact, the Liberals voted WITH the Conservatives on the budget.)

Then he made the most bizarre statement of all. In comparing conservatism to liberalism, he said, “Unlike various forms of liberalism, conservatism is a value system, not an ideology. … I like to summarize my idea of conservatism in the three Fs – freedom, family and faith.”

George W. Bush anyone?

Harper loves to showcase himself as a blue-sweater wearing, kitten holding, Tim Horton’s drinking everyman. But once again, he proves that he is nothing but a right-wing ideologue and partisan whose “compassionate conservative” rhetoric – like Dubya - is not to be believed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bottled water ban buffoonery

Thank you, Toronto City Hall, for finally getting bottled water out of vending machines and helping to make my point that doing so is just a silly and meaningless gesture.

In fact, a pro-ban city councilor revealed what is really behind all this when he told the Toronto Star last Friday, “The city has made a statement.”

That’s right – this is all about making a statement, not about changing behaviors or helping the environment.

And this is a growing trend in municipalities across North America.

Here is how the Star described the situation: “In one vending machine, Aquafina water has been replaced by Aquafina Plus, a vitamin-enhanced flavoured water. That is acceptable because the city resolution only affects unflavoured water.”

So there ya go. The ban will not decrease the number of plastic bottles. Worse, the move takes away the choice of filtered water, replacing it with a more processed product. Brilliant!

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Florida state Sen. Larcenia Bullard

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Larcenia Bullard, the Florida state senator who really needs to look up the word “husbandry” in the dictionary.

It all started last week when a legislative committee in the Sunshine State decided that the most pressing issue facing Floridians in the middle of the economic crisis is – bestiality! You see, Florida is one of 16 states that does not prohibit what Rick Santorum once famously referred to as “man on dog” sex.

The bill – sponsored by state Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat from a town called Sunrise – would outlaw bestiality, but it would still allow such things as dog shows and animal husbandry.

At that point, Bullard, a Miami Democrat, was REALLY confused.

According to the Miami Herald, here is what she said: “People are taking these animals as their husbands?” (

No, Ms. Bullard, no one is marrying their goats? Animal husbandry is defined as, “the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.” (

Her fellow legislators couldn’t help but chuckle at her stupidity. After all, she’s vice chair of the state Agriculture Committee! Well qualified for her position, eh?

It was then left up to a colleague on the committee to explain animal husbandry to her. But sill, as the Herald put it, “Bullard didn’t get it.”

Referring to the rumors surrounding the recent case of a Connecticut woman’s chimpanzee who went mad and had to be shot, Bullard responded: “So that maybe was the reason the lady was so upset about that monkey?”

No, that was not the reason the Connecticut lady was upset. In fact, the only people who should be upset are the voters of her district who thought they were electing someone intelligent.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Banning bottled water is bad policy

I am as environmentally aware as the next guy, but this latest trend to ban bottled water from public buildings is just plain dumb. This move will have very little impact on saving the environment, and may actually lead to people making unhealthy choices.

Toronto, where I live, is only the latest city to ride the wave of banning bottled water at city hall. In fact, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities passed a resolution earlier this month calling on cities and towns to phase out selling bottled water on municipal property. The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a similar resolution last year.

Why this decision? Federation president Jean Perrault, who is also the mayor of Sherbrooke, Quebec, told the CBC that it has to do with saving energy, because a lot of energy is used in making those little plastic bottles. Also, "Buying a bottle of water costs approximately $2.50. The cost to produce water in the city? I can fill up 6,000 little bottles for the price of $2.50," Perrault added.

So far, 27 Canadian municipalities have phasing out bottled water sales. In the U.S., over 60 mayors have reportedly cancelled bottled water contracts.

The promotion of drinking tap water at home is a fine idea, but the problem with banning bottled water is a complete misunderstanding of how and why people buy the stuff. These pols seem to think that the choice for most people who drink bottled water is between bottled water and tap water. So if you ban the bottled stuff, folks will run to their taps.

But that’s not reality. Most who buy bottled water do so as a healthier alternative to Coke, energy drinks, or any number of other bottled or canned soft drinks. The issue is not about wanting water, but about wanting a beverage on the go or at someplace where tap water is not an option (like a fast food restaurant).

Personally, I hate the idea of buying bottled water. It’s just too expensive for what it is. But recently I found myself in a building where tap water meant using the sink in the public washroom (yuck!). So I looked in the vending machine, and my options were bottled water, Coke, Diet Coke, and sugared iced tea. Given those choices, I opted for the water as the healthiest choice.

If water had not been available, I would have just bought a Diet Coke, costing me just as much and yet ingesting something much less healthy. In fact, many people would opt for sugared soft drinks if water were not an option. That’s a great way to beat back rising obesity rates!

And the truth is, if bottled water is banned, but other soft drinks are still available, not much energy will be saved in terms of reducing the number of bottles and cans used and needing to be recycled.

So unless politicians want to talk about banning all bottled beverages – something I don’t advocate – just shut up about banning bottled water.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Michael Steele

This week, the FredBlog shines the freaklight on Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party who can’t seem to stand up to Rush Limbaugh.

They say that politics loves a vacuum. And right now, the Republican Party in the U.S. has no political leader – after all, Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress. So that leadership role should fall to the chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), the party’s administrative and strategic arm.

Steele is the new chair of the RNC, elected by committee members back in January. He is also the RNC’s first African-American leader and was seen as a moderate who could bring the Republican Party back to big-tent status, rather than the right-wing regional party it has become.

But if Steele isn’t strong enough to stand up to radio talk-show toad Rush Limbaugh, he certainly won’t be strong enough to bring the party back to power.

And his capitulation to the Toad was the biggest political news story of this past week.

First, Steele seemed on solid footing. In response to all this talk about the Toad being the leader of the Republican Party, Steele told CNN, “Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."

So good, so far.

But then the Toad burped back on his radio show, “Why do you claim to lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it President Obama succeeds?”

OK Mr. Steele, ignore the Toad and remain as strong as, well, steel!

That didn’t last long.

After the Toad Show, Steele apologized, saying, “I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership. I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking. It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not."

Just try to diagram those sentences!

As if that ridiculous statement weren’t enough, Steele issued yet another apology, calling the Toad “a national conservative leader, and in no way do I want to diminish his voice. I truly apologize.”

Mr. Steele, if you can’t stand up to some radio loudmouth, how are you going to stand up to the Democrats who, by the way, control everything right now?

At least one member of the RNC is now calling on Steele to resign, citing “eroding confidence.” Got that right!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Earth to BofA: Give the money back

Remember the old Christmas chestnut “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”? It included the line, “Should we open up her gifts or send them back?” followed by the response, “SEND THEM BACK!”

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis should take that same advice.

This week, Lewis told the Financial Times that his Evil Empire should never have taken $20 billion in government bailout money back in January. He is now calling taking the money, which was used to help acquire Merrill Lynch, “a tactical mistake,” one that he says made his Evil Empire look as weak as Citigroup.

So why did he take so much taxpayer money? He called it a monetary “cushion.” Instead, Lewis says he should have taken just $10 billion for the Merrill Lynch buyout.

Bank of America actually got a total of $45 billion of taxpayer money – and Lewis says paying all that money back could take up to three years.

Well, Mr. Lewis, whether or not you even deserved just $10 billion is questionable. But since you now say you should not have taken that additional $10 billion, I have an idea. In the words of Elmo & Patsy, “Send them back.” Now!

American taxpayers could certainly use a “cushion” of $10 billion.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor

This week, the FredBlog shines the freaklight on U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia Republican and House minority whip who really, really doesn’t want to claim Rush Limbaugh as his own.

This past Sunday, Cantor – the self-styled second coming of Republican revolutionary Newt Gingrich – appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” During the interview, Georgie asked The Cantor what he thought about talk-radio toad Limbaugh repeatedly saying how he hopes President Barack Obama fails.

Georgie asked: “Are you worried that the impression that you're not working with the president, you're not trusted on the economy, and you're rooting for him to fail is going be burned in and locked in with the American public?”

The Cantor responded: “George, nobody – no Republican, no Democrat – wants this president to fail.”

Um, Eric, Rush the Toad can’t stop talking about how he wants Obama to fail. Is The Cantor that out of the conservative loop? Or is he just embarrassed by the Toad?

Not one to give up, George tried again. Later in the interview, he said: “So the Rush Limbaugh approach of hoping the president fails is not the Eric Cantor, House Republican approach?”

The Cantor replied: “George, absolutely not. And I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now.”

Yes, yes, someone does want Obama to fail right now. Rush Limbaugh does. So that’s twice – TWICE – Cantor showed either his stupidity or his poor excuse for spin.

And as if Rush was watching, the Toad gave a speech at this past weekend’s Conservative Political Action Convention in Washington, D.C., on the same day as The Cantor’s interview.

What did Rush say in his speech? He said he wants Obama to FAIL! “I want any force, any person, any element of an overarching Big Government that would stop your success, I want that organization, that element or that person to fail. … What is so strange about being honest to say that I want Barack Obama to fail?”

Oh Eric, maybe you should turn on the radio sometime to hear what some on your side are saying.