Monday, June 29, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate who is able – in a single rhetorical flourish – to turn South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s infidelity into an attack on same-sex couples.

On the heels of Sanford’s now-infamous Argentinean disappearing act, many talking heads are opining on whether or not the Republican Party can still call itself the “family values” party without people laughing.

While many GOPers are clinging to the “family values” myth, Romney just couldn’t help himself and took it all one step too far. On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Romney told moderator David Gregory:

“I don't think there's any question but that we aspire to the highest standards of ethical conduct and that we aspire to values that'll make America stronger. There's no question. But the best thing you can do for raising a child is to have a mom and dad love each other in a home. And to say that and to say we want to see marriage between men and women, that we want to see families raised with the benefit of people who are married, that's a very important part of our culture.”

Wait a minute. A bunch of self-righteous Republicans reveal that they cheated on their wives, therefore GAYS shouldn’t be allowed to marry?!?!?

But it gets worse. Romney continued:

“It's part of what our party believes. We believe in life.”

What? These same self-righteous Republicans talk about their infidelity, therefore women shouldn’t have reproductive freedom?!?!?

Then he couldn’t help but return to his anti-gay conclusion:

“I'd rather be talking about the truth and indicating that sometimes people fall short than not saying what's true. And what is true is that America is a stronger nation if we have a culture that includes the creation of families with moms and dads and marriage and sacrifice for the next generation.”

All this comes from the flip-flopper who once called himself pro-choice and who, when challenging Sen. Edward Kennedy back in 1994, said he would be more pro-gay than Kennedy – one of the most liberal liberals in the U.S. Senate!

Romney is nothing but a disingenuous hypocrite who will say anything for political gain.

Need further proof? Gregory also asked Romney if he was considering running for president again in 2012. Romney’s response? “Well, that's way beyond my horizon at this point, to think about what's going to happen in 2012.”

Well Mitt, no one’s buying that!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FREAK OF THE MID-WEEK: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford

Usually, the FredBlog presents its Freak of the Week on Sunday. But freakiness knows no timelines. Therefore, the FredBlog presents its first-ever Freak of the Mid-Week.

On this special occasion, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Mark Sanford, yet one more Republican “family values” hypocrite to reveal that he’s cheated on his wife. (What, did he get jealous of the press coverage John Ensign was getting?)

Not only did he admit to the affair, but Sanford also disappeared – yes, disappeared – for almost a week. No one knew where he was. He didn’t tell anyone he was leaving. He just up and left.

Let’s address the hypocrisy first. Sanford is your standard “pro-family” social conservative who, whaddya know, was a big critic of Bill Clinton’s during the Monica Lewinsky affair.

At the time, Sanford called Clinton’s affair and the subsequent cover up "very damaging stuff.” He then noted, "I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally [to resign] ... I come from the business side. If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."

So will Sanford follow his own advice and resign? Of course not – it’s not the Republican “family values” way.

Sanford also told CNN back in the ‘90s: "The issue of lying is probably the biggest harm, if you will, to the system of democratic government, representatives government, because it undermines trust. And if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything."

And Sanford’s lies were doozies. But he seems less concerned about his own attacks on democracy. Special rights for one’s own indiscretions – that’s the Republican “family values” way.

That brings us to Sanford’s disappearing act based on lies and deception. For a full account, see But here are some highlights:

* Last week, state officials realize Sanford is missing and unreachable.

* The governor’s office issues a statement that Sanford is in a secret undisclosed location in order to recover from a brutal legislative session.

* The governor’s office later says Sanford is hiking on the Appalachian Trail. This, of course, means spending time away from his family over Father’s Day weekend as well as hiking on National Naked Hiking Day (really, it was Sunday).

* The governor’s office issues yet another statement saying Sanford has contacted his office and says he is surprised that his disappearance has caused so much reaction. (He really thought people wouldn’t wonder where he went?)

* Once reappearing at Atlanta’s airport, he said that he considered the Appalachian hike, but instead went to Argentina to experience something more “exotic.” He also said he spent his time alone.

* At a Wednesday press conference, he said he was in Buenos Aires with his mistress. He cried, too, but don’t cry for him, Argentina.

Perhaps the worst part of the whole thing is that he never took the necessary steps to ensure that Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would act as governor in his absence. So in essence, while Sanford was doing his disappearing Evita act, NO ONE WAS RUNNING SOUTH CAROLINA.

And to think, this guy wanted to run for president in 2012. Then again, does the GOP have much better to offer?


Like the cherry on the sundae, the topper of this scandal is the swath of emails traded between Sanford and his lady friend, who goes only by Maria. To read them all, go to

But here’s one highlight from Sanford: “I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that!”

Sexual details at the steakhouse? That Sanford is a class act.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on John Ensign, the latest in a long line of Republican hypocrites who love to talk about “family values” while gettin’ a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side.

Ensign, a “pro-family” Nevada Republican, came clean this past week by admitting to an extramarital affair. But not only did Ensign cheat on his wife, he did so with a woman who was a campaign staffer at the time. Even better, the woman’s husband was also a campaign staffer!

Frankly, I don’t give rat’s hoo-ha about Ensign’s sex life, but his recent revelation certainly doesn’t sound like the act of someone who professes to uphold so-called “family values.” In fact, he is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage because, as he sees it, gay couples being legally wed undermines the sanctity of marriage.

But cheating on your wife with an employee, right under the nose of the other woman’s husband? That’s A-OK!

Worse, Ensign is a member of the Promise Keepers. That’s the Denver-based men’s Christian evangelical ministry. And according to its own website, “A Promise Keeper is committed to building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.” Good job keeping THAT promise Ensign.

Ensign has also been quick to publicly flog other politicians who have cheated on their spouses. He was one of the Republicans who vociferously went after then-President Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky affair. In 1998, he told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper that Clinton “has no credibility left.”

Well, Mr. Ensign, now neither do you.

Ensign also went after fellow Sen. Larry Craig, a Republican from Idaho, who had his own sex scandal after being arrested in an airport men’s room in 2007 – around the same time Ensign was having his affair.

At the time, Ensign didn’t call on Craig to resign, but said, “I wouldn’t put myself, hopefully, in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that’s what I would do.” Well then, Mr. Ensign, feel free to follow your own advice.

Then again, Mr. Family-Values-Anti-Gay-Promise-Keeper doesn’t seem very good at following his own advice.


As if all this weren’t enough, the press conference Ensign held to say, “I had an affair,” took place at an odd locale. It was outside of a men’s room, with the “restrooms” plaque hanging over Ensign’s left shoulder.

Was this an homage to Sen. Craig’s cheatin’ restroom woes? Was he planning on meeting Craig there to get some sex-scandal advice? Was Ensign hoping to get some foot-tapping action of his own? We will never know.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama the marriage-equality hypocrite

Many gay and lesbian Americans feel double-crossed by President Barack Obama – and rightly so. After all, it was Obama’s clear stance against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that led many to side with him over Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton.

Let’s travel back to the summer of 2007, a time when no one was expecting the battle royale to come between Clinton and Obama. In fact, Clinton was all but assumed to be the next president.

Logo, the gay cable network, held a gay-focused presidential primary debate along with the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay civil rights organization. Inevitably, the issue of marriage for same-sex couples came up.

While both Obama and Clinton agreed on separate-but-equal civil unions over full marriage equality, they differed on DOMA. That legislation, infamously signed into the law under dark of night by then-President Bill Clinton, does two critical things:

1.   It says the federal government does not have to recognize a legally wed same-sex couple, even if they are legally wed in their home state.

2.   It says that other states don’t have to recognize a couple legally wed in their home state. (This is clearly unconstitutional because of the U.S. Constitution’s full faith and credit clause, which means – among other things – that if a straight couple elopes to Vegas, when they go home to Idaho, their Nevada marriage must be recognized.)

At the Logo debate, Clinton – ever the pragmatist – said that as president, she would advocate repealing part of DOMA, but not the portion dealing with full faith and credit. She explained that it would not be politically feasible to repeal DOMA fully over the next presidential term.

Obama, however, went all in. He not only called for the full repeal of DOMA, but also noted that this has been his position since he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

After that exchange, many LGBT Americans took a second look at the race – and while many still sided with Clinton, more and more jumped to Obama.

DOMA, therefore, was a decisive issue for a large number of gays and lesbians looking at the presidential race.

It’s no wonder so many are angry with Obama right now.

Not only is he dragging his heels on high-priority LGBT issues such as repealing DOMA and the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (which he promised to overturn), but his administration’s recent defense of DOMA is nothing but despicable.

In a brief submitted in the case of Smelt v. U.S. challenging the constitutionality of DOMA and California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, the Obama administration argues that DOMA is a “cautious policy of federal neutrality.” What!?!?! During the campaign, Obama called DOMA “abhorrent.”

As pointed out by the New York Times in a June 16 editorial, this “neutrality” argument is “an odd assertion since the law clearly discriminates against gay couples. Under the act, same-sex married couples who pay their taxes are ineligible for the sort of federal benefits – such as Social Security survivors’ payments and joint tax returns – that heterosexual married couples receive.”

Then there’s the brief’s comparison of same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia. As the Times put it, “The brief insists it is reasonable for states to favor heterosexual marriages because they are the ‘traditional and universally recognized form of marriage.’ In arguing that other states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages under the Constitution’s ‘full faith and credit’ clause, the Justice Department cites decades-old cases ruling that states do not have to recognize marriages between cousins or an uncle and a niece.”

And to top it all off, the brief argues that DOMA does not discriminate against gays; it merely limits federal benefits to those in opposite-sex marriages. So the Obama administration is saying that a gay man isn’t being discriminated by DOMA because he could go off and marry a woman to get the benefits!

This is twisted and shows ignorance and the kind of wedge-issue politics that Obama spoke out so strongly against during the campaign.

Then after all this odious offense, Obama has the nerve to throw crumbs in the form of partner benefits for federal employees only.

This is hypocrisy and anti-gay demagoguery worthy of George W. Bush. Is this really the change we can believe in that a majority of Americans voted for?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Sarah Palin, who earns the distinction of becoming the first person ever to be named Freak of the Week twice! Are congratulations in order? You betcha!

Making Palin’s achievement even more impressive is just how much freakiness she was up against.

There was Canadian Transport Minister John Baird, who was forced to apologize after telling the city of Toronto to “f--k off.”

There was Canadian Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, who was forced to apologize after saying that people potentially dying of cancer is a “sexy” political issue.

And there was now-former Miss California USA, who was unapologetically told, “You’re fired,” by beauty pageant owner Donald Trump.

But the freakiest of them all was Palin, who refused to apologize for calling David Letterman a pedophile, even after the “Late Night” host apologized for a joke that he really didn’t have to apologize for.

It all started with Letterman telling a joke. (Really? Letterman tells jokes? News to Palin!)

In talking about the Palin family’s recent trip to New York, Letterman said there was “an awkward moment … during the seventh inning when her daughter was knocked up by [New York Yankees third basemen] Alex Rodriguez.”

Anyone who has been paying attention to the Palin Family farce would know that the joke was referencing daughter Bristol. It was Bristol Palin, after all, who was famously “knocked up” by her high-school hockey-playing now-ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston.

This became a legitimate story since now-18-year-old Bristol Palin seemed to be living the kind of life her mother campaigns so strongly against. It pointed to the hypocrisy of preaching abstinence-only to teens while your own teen daughter isn’t listening.

But post-joke, Sarah has been trying to argue that since it was not Bristol who attended the Yankee game with her, but her 14-year-old daughter Willow, Letterman was saying that it was Willow who got “knocked up” during the game. Therefore, Sarah Palin says, Letterman was promoting statutory rape.

What!?!?!? She can’t be serious. But oh yes, she is!

On its face, this criticism is ridiculous. Who even knew that Willow was at the game? The joke was obviously, without a doubt, about Bristol. So on that front, case closed.

But Sarah was also trying to make the case that all of her daughters should be off limits when it comes to this kind of ridicule. After all, she and her supporters said, no one would make fun of Obama daughters Sasha and Malia.

Again, is she serious?!?! Bristol Palin is not only 18, and thus an adult, but she has put herself in the public spotlight. She chose to do a round of media interviews once she was hired by the Candie’s Foundation to be a spokesperson for teen abstinence (a joke in and of itself).

So to spell this out – Bristol Palin is not a minor AND she is a public figure. Therefore, it is fair that she be a target by the likes of Letterman. Again, case closed.

Despite there being no need for Letterman to apologize, he did anyway. He even invited the Palins on his show. That should have been the end of it, right?

Oh no, not when it comes to the Palins.

Sarah not only refused to appear on Letterman’s show, but added on her Facebook page: “It would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”

You know, because, according to the Palins, Letterman might knock up Willow. Even if the Palins were really offended by Letterman’s initial joke, this insinuation is sick.

And if all that weren’t enough, Sarah ended the week by going on the “Today” show and telling co-host Matt Lauer that what Letterman said not only hurt her and her family but, “I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country” for contributing to a culture “that says it’s OK to talk about statutory rape.”

So when the American people didn’t buy that Letterman was disparaging Willow, she decided to make this about ALL teen girls. Classy move.

And when Lauer asked her about the comment insinuating that Letterman is a pedophile, Sarah said, “Take [the comment] however you want to take it. It was a comment that came from the heart.”

So Sarah, it’s not OK for Letterman to make a joke about your adult public-figure daughter, but it IS OK for YOU to call Letterman a pedophile because it “came from the heart”?

Well, here’s a comment that comes from my heart: You’re a freak!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

F off John Baird

Allow me to be the first to say “f--k off” back to John Baird in response to his anti-Toronto tirade over the weekend.

You see, Baird – Canada’s federal transport minister – was overheard by a Toronto Star reporter at a Whistler convention of Canada’s mayors saying that Toronto “should f--k off.”

Baird doesn’t like that Toronto only submitted one application for federal infrastructure stimulus money – to help the city replace its aging fleet of streetcars. Other cities submitted multiple applications for a whole host of infrastructure projects.

Toronto Mayor David Miller says that the proposal meets federal criteria. Baird disagrees. Disagreeing is one thing, but does Baird really think he should be telling Canada’s largest city to “f--k off.”

After all, Toronto has a special place in Baird’s heart. It’s his gay home away from home. It’s the place where he can sip cocktails at hip and trendy martini bars and stroll through the gay neighborhood, before returning to his Parliament Hill closet back in Ottawa.

He’s been seen on Church Street, the gayborhood’s gay strip. People wave at him, stop to say hi, and tell him what a good job he’s doing – this, despite being part of a regressive and anti-gay-if-it-could-have-its-way Conservative government.

And now, it seems Baird – this Canadian answer to Mark Foley – has joined his fellow Conservatives in thumbing its collective nose at Toronto.

Fine, Mr. Baird, turn your back on Toronto, the city that welcomes you and accepts you, despite your political faults. Flip Toronto the bird – just don’t be surprised if Torontonians flip it back.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Republican Jewish Coalition leader Matthew Brooks

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a man who, when it comes to Middle East peace, lives in a parallel universe where playing fair is considered unfair.

Truth be told, there was much freakiness reacting to President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech this past week, in which he tried to strike the right balance between power and contrition.

But no one’s freakiness was more succinct than that of Matthew Brooks. In response to the speech, Brooks issued a statement that included this oxymoronic gem:

“President Barack Obama, in his major speech in Cairo this morning, struck a balanced tone with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that's what was wrong with this speech.

“American policy should not be balanced – it should side with those who fight terror, not those who either engage in it or are too weak to prevent it.”

Where to begin with how wrongheaded this is?

Firstly, a balanced tone is EXACTLY what is needed right now. If the U.S. – and other Western democracies – want peace in the Middle East, they must play fair. They cannot be seen as always siding with Israel, especially when Israel breaks the rules.

In fact, just this week we learned that the Dubya Administration was saying one thing to Israel in public about settlements in the West Bank, but privately sending a message allowing Israel to continue expanding those settlements. If the goal is peace, such one-sided duplicity cannot continue.

Secondly, Brooks paints both sides with very broad brushes. He implies that all Israelis are peace-seeking freedom lovers, and all Palestinians are terror-toting evildoers. That’s as helpful as the rest of the world hating all Americans because they disagreed with the policies of George W. Bush. Many Americans disagreed vehemently with Bush and his brethren, and the same can be said for Middle East residents and their respective leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for one, will not endorse the so-called “two-state solution” backed, in writing, by previous Israeli governments. And yet many Israelis have no problem with a solution that creates a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. (Officials in Netanyahu’s government also voiced their concern this week that Obama will no longer allow Bush’s two-faced duplicity, but that’s a whole other issue.)

As for Palestinians, characterizing all of them as terrorists – or too weak to fight terrorism – is counterproductive. Americans didn’t like being called evil by those around the world who disagreed with the invasion of Iraq, so why would average Palestinians tolerate it?

And if there are those who want to fight terrorism, but are too weak to do so, let’s help them – not insult them.

The truth is that people like Brooks aren’t interested in peace in the Middle East. They are only interested in what they believe to be biblical prophecy, which disregards current political boundaries, secularism, 21st century multiculturalism and the goal of global cooperation.

People like Brooks are stuck in the past – sometimes an ancient past – that will not lead to harmony in the Middle East. Obama, to his credit, is advocating a peaceful vision for the future.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Court could use a “wise Latina woman”

Some social conservatives can’t stop complaining about how Judge Sonia Sotomayor is unsuitable for the U.S. Supreme Court because she had the audacity to point out that different perspectives, life experiences and identities can lead to different judicial opinions.

In 2001, Sotomayor gave a speech in which she said that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.” She compared the judicial opinions of a “wise Latina woman” to those of a white male judge.

And for that, the conservatives call her a racist, a bigot and someone who puts identity politics above the law.

Enough with the handwringing already. Of course, a different point of view can lead to a difference of legal opinion. That’s so much of a no-brainer that even those with no brain should be able to understand it. After all, how else do you explain judges coming to completely opposing conclusions regarding the same case?

Take the recent California Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality for same-sex couples. Six of the seven judges ruled that gays and lesbians would still get “equal treatment under the law” even after the word “marriage” was taken away from them.

Most gay Americans, however, understand that this is completely wrong. You are not equal under the law unless you are treated equally by the law. Taking away the word marriage – and all that the word confers – results in a clear inequality under the law.

And creating a parallel system of civil unions or domestic partnerships – “separate but equal” arrangements – is not “equal treatment under the law,” either. Many African Americans – as well as other minorities who have suffered unfair discrimination – understand this.

But many straight white men – people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh – don’t get it, because they haven’t had the life experiences that allow them to understand it.

This is one of the reasons why we need more diversity – and more “empathy,” as President Obama put it – on the bench.

But the Limbaughs and Gingriches of the world hold onto this idea that all judges have to do is apply the law, without any interpretation. Either they are arguing this because it sounds good and they score political points with the hard right, or they don’t see most of the interpretation that goes on because they agree with it. After all, the grand majority of the federal bench is made up of straight white men.

Only two women have served on the U.S. Supreme Court so far. Only two African Americans. No Latinos. None have been openly gay.

Does being a Latina woman alone qualify Sotomayor for the Supreme Court? Absolutely not. But if she is indeed qualified based on the requirements that count for such things, being a Latina woman can only help.

Monday, June 1, 2009

FREAK OF THE WEEK: Conservative commentator Mark Krikorian

This week, the FredBlog shines its freaklight on Mark Krikorian, head of the Center of Immigration Studies and the man who argues that Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee isn’t qualified because she pronounces her name in an un-American way.

Ever since Obama chose Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, the fringe of the Republican Party has gone nuts.

Talk-show blowhard Rush Limbaugh called her a racist and compared her to a former head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo – who once famously called Miami a third-world country because of the number of Latinos in the city – called her a radical.

And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter: “Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman' new racism is no better than old racism. White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

But perhaps the strangest and most offensive attack came from Mark Krikorian, whose anti-immigration views are often showcased in the National Review and the magazine’s online feature, “The Corner.”

This past week, Krikorian wrote that Sotomayor was not qualified to sit on the highest court in the nation because of how she pronounces her last name.

You see, she pronounces it the way it is in her native Puerto Rico – with the accent on the last syllable (so-toe-my-OR), instead of the first syllable (SO-toe-my-er). In fact, Krikorian calls hers the “unnatural pronunciation,” because that’s not how he would say it in English.

“This may seem like carping, but it's not,” wrote Krikorian. “… Conformity is appropriate [in] how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch. And there are basically two options – the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there's a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.” (

So there ya go. In Krikorian’s us vs. them world, Sotomayor shouldn’t be confirmed because the way she pronounces her name doesn’t conform to his language standards.

But really, this has nothing to do with the Supreme Court, and everything to do with xenophobic fearmongering. He even makes a point to say that English is superior to Spanish because “English dropped gender in nouns, what, 1,000 years ago?”

The most ironic part of Krikorian’s blather is that he’s trying to make a subliminal link between Sotomayor and the whole issue of illegal immigration. But Sotomayor is from Puerto Rico – which has been part of the U.S. since 1898.

Sotomayor is NOT a foreigner. And Puerto Rican culture has been part of American culture for 100 years!

If Krikorian’s attack is really among the best that conservatives can come up with, then the Republican Party is even worse off than we thought.