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.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tim Hortons wakes up and smells the anti-gay coffee

Tim Hortons is working double-double time to fix the public relations disaster that was created after the company initially agreed to sponsor an anti-gay event in Rhode Island this coming weekend.

The coffee-and-donut chain – which was founded in Canada in 1964 – angered many after its logo appeared on the flyer for “Celebrate Marriage and Family Day” to be held in suburban Providence on Aug. 16. The Rhode Island chapter of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage is organizing the event, and Maggie Gallagher – one of the most ardent opponents of same-sex marriage in the U.S. – will be the featured speaker.

After the issue went viral over this past weekend, Tim Hortons released a statement announcing it was pulling its sponsorship from the event:

“Recently, Tim Hortons was approached in Rhode Island to provide free coffee and products for a local event, as we do thousands of times a year across Canada and the United States.

“For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.

“For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.

“It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons cannot provide support at the event.

“Tim Hortons and its store owners have always welcomed all families and communities to its restaurants and will continue to do so. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.”

Tim Hortons also acknowledged that a regional representative (wrongly) approved the sponsorship agreement.

The company now needs to ensure that this anti-gay, divisive and hateful organization removes Tim Hortons’ logo from its flyers.

Rhode Island is a high-profile target of the National Organization for Marriage, since it is New England’s lone holdout on allowing same-sex couples to legally wed. But now, this group will have to spread its message of fear and unfairness without the help of Timbits.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

FREAKS OF THE WEEKS: Sarah Palin, Beer Summit-ers and senators against mermaids

The FredBlog is back from vacation – hey, even a blog deserves some rest and relaxation – and the freaks have been piling up. So let’s shine that freaklight where it is most needed.

Now-former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

In her resignation speech at the end of last month, Palin’s freakiness was on full display, but here are some of the FredBlog’s favorite passages:

·     “In the wintertime, … the cold though, doesn’t it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs?” (How about splitting the Pumpernickels from the Sourdoughs?)

·     “Our new governor has a very nice family too, so leave his kids alone.” (Thanks, Sarah, for putting the new gov’s kids in the spotlight as well.)

·     “Hollywood needs to know, we eat, therefore we hunt.” (Yeah, ‘cuz no one gets their food from a supermarket anymore.)

·     “Democracy depends on you [the media], that’s why our troops are willing to do for you. So, how ‘bout in honor of the American soldier, ya quit makin’ things up.” (Um, what!??!?!)

Vice President Joe Biden

He wasn’t supposed to be part of the so-called Beer Summit planned for President Barack Obama, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley. But Biden, who just happened to be in the neighborhood, managed to take part anyway. (Is beer the reason Biden keeps putting his foot in his mouth?)

Obama, Gates and Crowley

The Beer Summit was supposed to be part of a “teachable moment” about racism. In the end, it was a mere photo op – we couldn’t even hear what they were saying. It was just pretty pictures to make Obama et al look like they are doing something proactive.

Sens. Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu

The Kansas Republican and Louisiana Democrat came together to introduce a bill to prohibit the creation of human-animal hybrids, including – yes – mermaids. (They obviously didn’t like the movie “Splash.”) Good thing they are working on such burning issues as mermaids and mermen instead of things like the economy, health care and the job market.

Congressman Todd Tiahart

The Kansas Republican, as part of his anti-abortion rhetoric, ruminated on the House floor what life would be like if President Obama’s mother had had an abortion. Now that’s classy.

Tennessee state Sen. Paul Stanley

Believe it or not, another anti-gay socially conservative Republican has been caught having an extramarital affair. Stanley finally admitted not only to having the affair with an intern, but also taking explicit photos of her. Stanley – who recently introduced a bill to bar unmarried couples, both gay and straight, from adopting children – has since resigned.

Conservative Party of Canada

At the last minute, the ruling Conservatives denied $155,000 in federal economic-stimulus funding to Divers/Cité, the group behind one of Montreal’s gay pride festivals, forcing the cancellation of a number of high-profile events. This move came soon after a similar decision was made regarding Pride Toronto, all because the federal tourism minister had her picture taken with drag queens. The Conservatives just need to grow up.

New Democratic Party of Canada

The far-left party is considering dropping the “new” and changing its name to the Democratic Party of Canada. That’s all well and good, except something gets lost in translation. You see, in French – Canada’s other official language – Democratic Party translates as “Parti démocrate,” making its initials PD. However, PD sounds like “pédé,” which is a slang term for gays in French. Best to stick with the name as it is.