Thursday, May 28, 2009

California high court got it wrong on marriage

Most know by now that the California Supreme Court this week upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. And many are angry because the decision halts the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But if you want to be really angry, understand how six of the court’s seven justices were able to find a rationale to uphold the now-infamous Proposition 8 – and understand the anti-gay bias behind that decision.

One of the arguments made by the lawyers seeking to overturn Proposition 8 as unconstitutional was that the ban took away the right of same-sex couples to due process and equal protection under the law. But the majority opinion, written by Justice Ronald George, ruled that Proposition 8 does “not entirely repeal” or “abrogate” the aspect of a same-sex couple’s state constitutional due process – that is, the right to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.”

Instead, the court ruled, “the measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights” by reserving the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples.

That is to say, since California has strong domestic partnership laws, same-sex couples can do whatever they want regardless of whether or not the state confers the word “marriage” upon them. In essence, according to the ruling, denying the word “marriage” does not diminish the right to equal protection under the law.

This is nothing but a legal tango to rationalize that separate-but-equal is not only equal, but also constitutional.

Haven’t we been through this before? Separate but equal is NOT equal. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized this.

Thankfully, at least one of the justices on the court understands this.

The lone dissenter, Justice Carlos Moreno, wrote in his opinion that denying “the designation of marriage to same-sex couples cannot fairly be described as a ‘narrow’ or ‘limited’ exception to the requirement of equal protection. … Even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment. … Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment for all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights.”

Despite the survival of Proposition 8, all is not lost.

The good thing is that this is far from the last word on the issue. The other good thing is that all seven justices ruled that their decision was not retroactive, so the 18,000 or so same-sex couples who married in California before Proposition 8 passed last November are still legally married.

The downside to that, of course, is that it creates an even crazier patchwork of laws. It used to be just that same-sex couples were only legally married based upon what state they were in. Now, same-sex couples in California are only legally married based upon the date on their marriage certificates.

This is untenable – and it’s just one of the reasons why eventually marriage equality will be the law of the land from sea to shining sea.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Former Vice President Dick Cheney

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who slithered out of his secret undisclosed location to frighten the American people into opposing President Obama.

I know, Dick Cheney is an easier target than a friend’s face while duck hunting. But his national security speech this past week was nothing more than a desperate and transparent attempt to rescue his flagging image by using 9/11 imagery to scare Americans into submission.

Dick used his speech to defend Bush administration policies that even George W. Bush isn’t defending anymore. He rehashed all the failed arguments of the past administration, but puts them forward as factual and credible.

Dick warns of weapons of mass destruction. You know, the ones that were famously never found.

Dick warns about the dangers in Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. In truth, going into Iraq only emboldened the terrorists and created a power vacuum that allowed Al Qaida to flourish there.

Dick talks of the abuses of power at Abu Ghraib as a problem of only “a few sadistic prison guards [who] abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulation and simple decency.” Again with the “few bad apples” defense? This kind of abuse is a systemic problem and those who were prosecuted were pawns in a greater game that goes far up the chain of command and needs to be investigated. But also Dick, if the military shouldn’t be violating American law, military regulation and simple decency, why is it that you continue to defend torture?

Worse, Dick promotes the practice of waterboarding/torturing alleged detainees, even though it doesn’t work. Even sensible Republicans like Sen. John McCain agree that waterboarding is torture. Conservative radio personality Erich "Mancow" Muller even allowed himself to be waterboarded, thinking the exercise would prove that waterboarding is not torture. Instead, he lasted only six seconds and concluded, “It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke. It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back. … It was instantaneous, … and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

Most notably, Dick said the country is less safe today because of Obama’s policies.

But even Tom Ridge – the Bush administration’s original Homeland Security Secretary – doesn’t agree. Regarding Cheney’s criticism that Obama’s decisions to close the Guantanamo Bay military detention camp and release the so-called torture memos made the country less safe, Ridge told CNN’s John King, “I disagree with Dick Cheney. Waterboarding is a matter of debate, but it’s no longer an issue. Debate around memos and waterboarding don’t make us less safe.”

In his speech, Dick said, “To make certain our nation never again faced such a day of horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with a far greater homeland security to make the United States a tougher target.” So why is it, Dick, that your first Homeland Security Secretary disagrees with you?


Dick also lashed out at Obama for wanting to close Guantanamo Bay, “The president says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system.” Dick added, “Attorney General [Eric] Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept terrorists here in the homeland.”

There is so much wrong with Dick’s statements, but what’s worse is that many Democrats are buying Dick’s illogic.

First let’s examine what Dick said. He makes it sound like the detainees will be brought to U.S. to carry on with their lives and live among us, like a paroled sex offender. In truth, the detainees would be brought and held in high-security prisons that can indeed handle them. After all, we already incarcerate serial killers, child rapists, and all other evildoers, (to use a word Dick enjoys). Theodore “The Unibomber” Kaczynski, Richard “The Shoe Bomber” Reid, Charles Manson and Oklahoma City bomber co-conspirator Terry Nichols are all adequately housed in American prisons.

Omar Kadhr is one of those being held at Guantanamo Bay. He was captured by American forces at the age of 15 after allegedly throwing a grenade in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. soldier and has been held there for six years. Does Dick really think American courts and prisons couldn’t handle Kadhr?

Actually, Kadhr’s situation is exactly the reason so many don’t want to bring the detainees to the “homeland” – because the case of them is so flimsy, so many laws were broken in their detainment, and many have not been charged with a crime, that the real fear among Dick and his adherents is that the rationale for Guantanamo Bay will be exposed as a charade and sham.

But for Democrats, the real issue is allowing the fear mongering to take hold. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters this week: “We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” This is cowardly and pathetic.

And then came the vote on Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo. With 90 of the 100 senators voting in opposition, Democrats and Republicans joined together to allow NIMBYism (the sentiment of “not in my backyard”) to rule the day. Democratic senators have been lining up to say they don’t want the detainees brought to their states.

As for Obama, in his speech he said that since some of the detainees haven’t actually committed a crime – but may pose a threat to America – it would be illegal to incarcerate them. So, he wants to make new law that would make prolonged and indefinite detention legal.

Was this really the change we were supposed to believe in?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Conservative ads don’t add up

If you thought the Conservative Party of Canada couldn’t go any lower than the trashy character-assassination campaign they ran against former Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, think again.

The Conservatives – led by I’ll-never-get-a-majority Prime Minister Stephen Harper – have launched This time, their target is current Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Unfortunately for the Conservatives, they are making the same mistake many marketing people make. They are taking a tactic that worked once and laying the same template over a different product and audience under a different set of circumstances.

Even though there is no election going on, the Conservatives launched their campaign-style campaign last week, including a website – as silly as the one they did last year showing a puffin pooping on Dion’s shoulder – and TV ad, which are spewing up all over Canadian television.

The ads criticize Ignatieff on a number of fronts, but most notably, they make the argument that he is not a real Canadian because he lived and made a name for himself in the U.S. and Britain. This is just plain silly.

Did Harper & Co. not get the memo that Canada has become one of the most diverse, multicultural and globally aware nations on the planet? Isn’t it a good thing for Canada that Ignatieff has political connections throughout the world, particularly in the Obama administration? Do Harper & Co. not know that a large number of successful Canadians were born and raised elsewhere? And Ignatieff is hardly the first Canadian to leave his home and native land to gain experience and fame, but then return to utilize those skills learned abroad. (If you must, you can watch the ads for yourself at

But if all that weren’t bad enough, the French version of the ad – airing in Quebec – is even worse. In that ad, the Conservatives criticize Ignatieff for speaking Parisian French instead of the “joual” French heard on the streets throughout La Belle Province. And by doing so, argue the Conservatives, Ignatieff is looking down on the Quebecois people.

First of all, since when is it evil for an Anglophone to speak non-Quebec French? For the most part, Francophones are more than willing to give Anglophones a break so long as they try to speak the other official language. And Ignatieff is fully bilingual, so his lack of Quebec colloquialism is irrelevant. The truth is that the Liberals are gaining strength in Quebec, and the Conservatives will try anything to stop this.

But also, this is the same Conservative Party that criticized the Liberals last year for assembling a coalition with “socialists and separatists.” At the time, Prime Minister Harper accused the Liberals of getting to close to Quebec nationalists. Now, Harper seems to be saying the exact opposite. Which is it?

The truth is that it is both – and neither. Harper and the Conservatives are willing to play with the fire of Quebec nationalism either way, so long as they think it will get them ahead politically. This is a cynical and dangerous game in which Harper is using separatist sentiment as a political pawn.

In the end, what the Conservatives don’t seem to realize is that Ignatieff is NOT Dion. Ignatieff is much more politically savvy and a much better communicator. While Dion was hesitant to fight back against disingenuous Conservative attacks, Ignatieff is taking them head on – and rightly dismissing them.

As he said last week, “When you're down in the polls, when you're presiding over the worst collapse in employment in recent memory, when you've got record bankruptcies everywhere you look, the thing you're going to do if you're in government and responsible for this mess is change the channel and that's what they're trying to do. Is that serious government? Is that serious politics? That's the kind of government we've got." (

Ignatieff is right. Harper and the Conservatives are out of ideas as the Canadian economy crumbles around them. They are scared, and this latest campaign show it. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Washington, D.C., on-air host Doug McKelway

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Doug McKelway, a TV anchor in Washington, D.C., who makes us wonder if thou doth protest too much.

I know, you’ve never heard of this McKelway guy. I hadn’t either until I learned about his interview on NewsChannel 8’s “Let’s Talk Live” with fellow blogger Mike Rogers. The interview caught my attention at first just because Rogers is talking about the documentary he appears in, “Outrage,” about gay-but-closeted U.S. politicians. (The film is well worth seeing, by the way.)

Although McKelway is on Washington’s ABC affiliate, he was obviously influenced by the Fox News Channel school of interview techniques. He rants at Rogers from the get-go that he is opposed to Rogers’ work exposing closeted-yet-anti-gay politicians. And it escalates from there, with McKelway seemingly taking the whole issue very personally. McKelway even threatens to take Rogers outside and punch him in the face.

This is well worth watching:

But that was only the beginning. The next day, when co-host Natasha Barrett (very weakly) tries to take McKelway to task, he very pointedly says he will not apologize. Here’s that video:

First off, there is an issue here that McKelway clearly does not get, which is that reporting on someone’s sexual orientation is NOT the same thing as gossiping about someone’s sexual behavior. It’s pathetic if McKelway holds to the outdated stereotype that sexual orientation is the same thing as sexual behavior.

And I’ve said it before, but I guess it needs to be said again. Sexual orientation, if relevant to a story, is not a matter of invading privacy – it’s a matter of reporting truth, which is what journalism is supposed to be about. In an age when politicians’ and celebrities’ divorces, remarriages, affairs and sex tapes are fair game, why is it unfair to ask Florida Gov. Charlie Crist if he is gay?

Secondly, regardless of your personal bias, no respectable journalist has a right to be so disrespectful to an interview subject – and you certainly shouldn’t be threatening a guest with physical violence. McKelway should be suspended or fired – not allowed to use his show to make a point that he won’t apologize.

But lastly, Mr. McKelway, why is it exactly that this issue hits such a nerve? Just asking.


Since when can’t former Vice President Dick Cheney carry his own water? Well, this week, it seems, since the Republican Party has trotted out his daughter, Liz Cheney, as a “Republican strategist” to defend her father’s apocalyptic blubbering.

Since when is Liz Cheney a “Republican strategist”? All of a sudden, she is showing up on news chat shows, perhaps because the GOP is finally realizing that Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney is a terrible messenger for whatever ridiculous argument the party is now making.

ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” even put Liz Cheney on its round table to be part of the discussion of Dick Cheney’s dire predictions about national security under the Obama administration. Yeah, because, there was really a possibility that Liz Cheney would break out of the Cheneyland spin.

And while the party is forcing one Cheney daughter upon us, where’s the other one? That would be Mary Cheney, the public-when-she-wants-to-be lesbian daughter of Dick who famously worked for her father’s team but would not challenge her father on gay issues.

Then again, Mary Cheney has proven that she has a revolving door on her closet, and while the party has no problem with Liz Cheney, Mary is hiding in the shadows once again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama: Move along, nothing to see here

Once upon a time, President Barack Obama promised open government and

 transparency. He pledged to overturn the pattern of cover-ups and secret undisclosed locations that plagued the Bush administration. He promised the American people that he would end that paternalistic Bush-Cheney sense of, in the words of South Park’s Officer Barbrady, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

There was a time when Obama promised to get to the bottom of all the prisoner abuse that occurred at the hands of U.S. soldiers. After all, such abuse is counterproductive in the fight against terror. Not only that, but what kind of moral high ground can the U.S. have when it allows such activity as what happened in Abu Ghraib to occur?

There was a time when Obama slammed the Bush-Cheney administration for its “a few bad apples” defense.

How quickly all that got thrown out the proverbial window.

More photos of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers were supposed to be released by the end of the month, a move that was dictated by a court order. And initially, the Obama administration said it would not challenge the courts on this.

But Obama has changed his mind and will now ignore the court order, citing national security. Haven’t we heard this before – over the past 8 years?

He now reportedly says that releasing the photos is “of no benefit” and may inflame anti-American sentiment around the world. But he’s just plain wrong.

Releasing the photos would prove that the U.S. is a nation based upon the rules of democracy, transparency and open government. It would show that the U.S. is a nation that takes the rule of law seriously and does not tolerate abuse and torture.

The U.S., if it wants to win the so-called war on terror, must be a beacon for the rest of the world to follow, not an example of how to cover up wrongdoing in the shadows.

As the ACLU put it, Obama’s flip-flop “makes a mockery of President Obama’s promise of transparency and accountability.”

When Obama starts agreeing with Dick Cheney on issues of national security, you know we are in trouble.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Palin & Spears: role models?

So Bristol Palin, the famously unwed teen mom who is the daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is now the spokesperson for teen abstinence.

If that’s not ironic enough, she’s also been chosen as a Teen Ambassador for The Candie’s Foundation, which educates teens about the consequences of teen pregnancy. But this foundation is part of Candie’s clothing and shoes. And who is the current spokesmodel and “Candie’s girl” for the company? BRITNEY FREAKIN' SPEARS! Yet another paragon of virtue and role model for teenage girls everywhere.

Can we say mixed messages?

And as if it were some cruel joke, when ABC’s “Good Morning America” interviewed Bristol Palin last week about her new abstinence-only activism, the bottom of the screen read: “Bristol Palin one-on-one.”

I thought “Bristol Palin one-on-one” is what got her into this mess in the first place!

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, who is neither a plumber nor named Joe, but IS sure how he feels about the “queers.”

Wurzelbacher made a name for himself during last year’s presidential campaign after John McCain and Sarah Palin began using him as a symbol of the average American. Because, you know, the average American has a publicist, a book deal, a record deal, AND a gig as a pseudo-journalist in the Middle East.

But his freakiness hit a new high – or low – this past week when he gave an interview with Christianity Today magazine.

Showing where the social conservative movement is still oddly focused, the second question the magazine put to Wurzelbacher was about marriage equality for same-sex couples. The magazine asked, “In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?”

His answer: “At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary – it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do – what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing” (

OK, fine. You want to think that being gay is wrong, go right ahead. But at least know what you are talking about if you are going to try to make some sort of point.

In fact, God is NOT explicit about, as you put it, “what man and woman are for.” Please point to any explicit statement by God that says that civil societies should treat gay and lesbian people like second-class citizens.

And if you think you are going to point to anything in the bible for proof of God’s word, then I’m sure you also never wear clothing of mixed fabrics, you approve of slavery, you support the death penalty for adulterers, and you “give to everyone who asks of you.” After all, those rules ARE explicitly stated in the bible.

And some of your best friends are gay. But you won’t let your children near any “queers”? Given all the people your children come into contact with over the course of a day, do you spot check all of them just to make sure your kids don’t catch the gay? (And are these people REALLY friends of yours? If so, I’m not sure why.)

Lastly, you are right, Mr. Wurzelbacher, the word “queer,” in its purest form, means strange and unusual. But what planet do you live on that you don’t know that the word “queer” is used as a slur? You love saying how liberals and Democrats are out of touch – but you have just shown how you and your ilk are the ones who are truly out of touch with reality. Walk into any high school and you tell me how “queer” is not used as a slur.

But if you insist that “queer” is merely a harmless word meaning strange and unusual, then you, Mr. Wurzelbacher, are the queerest of them all.


I can’t put it any better than the lead paragraph in a story from The Canadian Press news service: “The United States is in the midst of a devastating recession, mired in two overseas wars and grappling with a swine flu outbreak, but conservative critics are assailing President Barack Obama on another pressing issue: his choice of burger topping” (

The latest manufactured controversy even has a name – Dijongate.

You may have seen the video footage this past week of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden going out for a burger at a Washington, D.C., fast-food joint.

One could argue that this was a pointless photo-op. But instead, conservatives are taking offense at Obama’s choice of Dijon mustard as his condiment of choice, calling putting mustard on a burger un-American.

Fox News Channel loudmouth Sean Hannity not only refers to Obama’s lunch as a “fancy burger,” but also alleges that rival network MSNBC purposefully edited out Obama’s Dijon choice in order to save the president from seeming too effete. (Yeah, all MSNBC has to worry about is Obama’s condiments!)

William Jacobson, a conservative blogger, also wrote that Obama’s Dijon ways have “a very John Kerry-ish quality about it.”

Wow, this is desperate stuff. You want to go after Obama for his economic policy? Go ahead. His bailout plan? Be my guest. His ideas on healthcare? You have that right. But his penchant for mustard? Pathetic.

And some wonder why the Republican Party is in such a pickle.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu Tip #29




Sunday, May 3, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Vice President Joe Biden

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who demonstrated that swine flu can lead to foot-in-mouth disease.

I’ve been hearing from readers who are concerned that too many Freaks of the Week are Republican and/or Conservative. Well, rest assured that the FredBlog does not discriminate. A freak is a freak regardless of ideology or political party.

That brings us to Vice President Biden, who has a history of saying the most stupid thing ever. This past week, he did not disappoint.

While being interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show, Biden raised the swine flu alert to red. In a fit of swine flu madness, Biden said, “I would tell members of my family – and I have – I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico in a confined aircraft where one person sneezes, that goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me.”

As if that weren’t bad enough – grammatically and otherwise – he continued: “I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway. From my perspective, this relates to mitigation. If you’re out in the middle of the field and someone sneezes, that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft, a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, that’s another thing.”

That’s right, folks. Listen to your vice president and DON’T take the subway – even if you live in a big city with no car and use the subway to go everywhere, including work. Better to go without a paycheck than have someone at the other end of the train sneeze.

Oh, and – according to Mr. Biden – don’t send your kids to school, either. All those “closed classrooms” can be tricky to navigate. And it’s a good thing Biden said something because parents had NO IDEA that their kids could catch something from other kids at school.

Can we please get some perspective here? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has confirmed about 135 cases of swine flu in 18 U.S. states – and most of the cases have been mild. The World Health Organization estimates about 800 cases globally, most of them in Mexico.

Now let’s look at the normal regular everyday flu. Again according to the CDC, every year approximately 5 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications. About 36,000 Americans die on average each year from the complications of flu.

So, Mr. Biden, can we please stop the fear mongering?

Of course, politics being politics, various members of the Obama administration went on the air to tell the American people what Biden MEANT to say.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I think … what the vice president meant to say was the same thing that again, many members have said in the last few days, that is, if you feel sick, if you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms – coughing, sneezing, runny nose – that you should take precautions, that you should limit your travel. … I’m telling you what he meant to say.”

Reporters laughed, with good reason.

That didn’t work, so the administration brought out a bigger gun – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (no stranger to freakiness herself). She said, “I think the vice president, if he had, if he could say that over again, he would say if they’re feeling sick they should stay off public transit or confined spaces because that is indeed the advice that we’re giving.”

That’s all well and good, Ms. Napolitano. But that’s not what Biden said. In fact, he specifically said in that interview that he was not talking for the administration, but for himself and his family. So all of this handwringing doesn’t take away from the fact that the vice president speaks before he thinks.


While I’m on the subject, another freak move this past week was the decision of some organizations and governments to change the name of “swine flu” to “Mexican flu.”

One of the reasons for the change was that pork producers were offended that the name unfairly targets their products. Still others – like the Israeli government – changed the name because any reference to pigs is offensive to both religious Jews and Muslims.

So we don’t want to offend the pigs and the religious, but it’s fine to call it “MEXICAN flu”? I guess it’s OK to offend Mexicans.

Also, pork producers want to make it clear that you cannot get swine flu from eating swine. But can you get Mexican flu from eating a Mexican? No one is saying.