Thursday, January 19, 2017

Keith Olberman calls "bullshit" on NE Sen. Sasse's plea for John Lewis to attend Trump coronation

"Bullshit! If you think, Senator, that handing over this country to the puppet of Vladmir Putin should be celebrated and should be a peaceful transfer of power, you are not only not loyal to this country but you know nothing about John Lewis. If you think Senator, that we will let you or anybody else normalize the transfer of power to a racist, seemingly psychotic Russian plant, perhaps you should look again at how heroes like John Lewis responded the last time the white supremacists of this country insisted this was about power and that we must all accept its use, and its misuse, peacefully."

Watch the articulate and persuasive Dem rebuttal to NE GOP governor's state of the state address

No more backward signs, Jane! If necessary use title frames inserted into the video or subtitles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Omaha's most active twitter account busts Mayor Stothert's spin on ice storm communications meltdown

Mean Streets Omaha (@MeanStreetsOMA) wasn't fooled by Jean Stothert's blatantly false disinformation about the consequences of outsourcing to an out-of-state answering service calls to Public Works requesting salt or sand to trouble spots during Sunday/Monday's ice storm. (@MeanStreetsOMA now has more than 90,000 followers.)

Here's how Mayor Stothert tried to pull the wool over Omahans' eyes:

Here was@MeanStreetsOMA's response:

Here's what was really happening, behind the scenes:

Skid Row, NE: Sheridan Co. Commissioners back renewing licenses of 4 stores selling millions of
cans of beer to residents of dry SD reservation

From @JaneKleeb of BoldNebraska we learn that all three Sheridan County, NE Commissioners voted to recommend renewing liquor licenses of four stores which sell the equivalent of 3.5 million cans of beer per year in Whiteclay, NE, population, 12.
     South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which is dry, is 24 miles away. After the hearing, Commissioner James Krotz (308 327-2110) thanked everyone for their civility. The other commissioners are Jack Andersen (308 762-1784) and Loren Paul (308 360-1397)
     From the Sheridan County Journal Star:
     “We have tribal laws and we do not allow alcohol. It is a dry reservation,” said Bryan Brewer, president of the Oglala Lakota County Schools school board and former tribal president. “We know what it does to our people. Yet right on the border of the state of Nebraska sells alcohol, which is tearing our people up.”
     ...Another testifier compared selling Native Americans beer to giving a suicidal neighbor a razor blade, noose or gun.
     ...Beyond the alcoholism occurring in Whiteclay and the Pine Ridge reservation, murders and prostitution also happen. Kim Greager of Rapid City, S.D. told the commissioners how people sell their bodies for five dollars to buy four cans of high octane beer. “If it was happening to white people, would you guys let this happen for so many decades?” asked Greager.
      From the Lincoln Journal-Star 
     To be sure, the tribe needs to and has tried to address alcoholism and related problems on the reservation, but arguing that prohibition in Whiteclay would not be a step forward toward a solution is reprehensible.
     In making their decision, the commissioners also ignored indisputable evidence that adequate law enforcement is absent in Whiteclay, where there has been a handful of unsolved deaths in recent years. Instead, they argued that county taxpayers shouldn’t be required to pick up the tab for more and better policing.
     ...The [Nebraska] Liquor Control Commission should do the right thing, what Sheridan County refused to do: Deny the licenses, shut down the stories and cut off the easy flow of alcohol onto the reservation.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

South Dakota: Rep. Lust kills bill prohibiting sexual contact with interns

Photo: South Dakota Public Broadcasting
The rationale: South Dakota's legislature, through Joint Rule 1A-4, already prohibits "sexual harrassment."
     The counter argument: Senator Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) said that if the code of conduct can spell out sexual harassment, it can spell out sexual contact.
     From the Dakota Free Press:
Rep. Lust (R-Rapid City) moved to kill the sexual contact prohibition. Rep. Mike Stevens (R-18/Yankton) seconded. The roll call vote was 9–5 in favor of killing the proposal:
  • Aye: Curd, Frerichs, Haverly, Hawley, Langer, Lust, Maher, Novstrup, Stevens
  • Nay: Greenfield, Don Haggar, Mickelson, Peterson, Qualm

Unicameral Update: 1/11/2017 — new bills introduced

New bills would address vacant property registration, schoolbus seat belts, human trafficking and MotorVoter Registration

From Unicameral Update:

LB243, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, which would require reporting of certain information concerning assaults that occur in state institutions;
LB251, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, which would redefine agricultural and horticultural land for revenue and taxation purposes;
LB256, sponsored by Albion Sen. Tom Briese, which would adopt the Vacant Property Registration Act;
LB267, sponsored by Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, which would change provisions relating to onsite vaccinations;
LB277, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, which would change population requirements for election precincts;
LB279, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Robert Hilkemann, which would require lap-shoulder belts on school buses as prescribed;
LB289, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, which would change provisions and penalties relating to pandering, human trafficking, labor trafficking and sex trafficking and prohibit solicitation of a trafficking victim;
LB290, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Tony Vargas, which would provide for voter registration upon application for driver’s license, state identification card or certain benefits;
LB291, sponsored by O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, which would adopt the Special Economic Impact Zone Act; and
LB294, sponsored by Papillion Sen. Jim Smith, which would provide for a reciprocity agreement with a foreign country for mutual recognition of motor vehicle operator licenses.
A complete list of bills introduced thus far is available at New bills may be introduced for the first 10 legislative days, or until Jan. 18.

CBS: Science now knows how stress stresses your heart

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Unicameral Update, 1/10/2017

From Unicameral Update:
Among the 67 bills introduced were:
LB167, sponsored by Crete Sen. Laura Ebke, which would include cannabidiol as a Schedule V controlled substance;
LB169, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, which would exempt social security benefits and retirement income from income taxation;
LB178, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Kate Bolz, which would provide for sexual assault protection orders;
LB181, sponsored by Grand Island Sen. Dan Quick, which would provide for reimbursement to employees for certain medical examinations under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act;
LB197, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski, which would provide for electronic application for an early voting ballot;
LB202, sponsored by Kearney Sen. John Lowe, which would create the offense of obstructing government operations by refusing to submit to a chemical test authorized by search warrant;
LB212, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, which would adopt the In the Line of Duty Compensation Act;
LB214, sponsored by Hastings Sen. Steve Halloran, which would terminate the Master Teaching Program;
LB216, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Burke Harr, which would adopt the Redistrict Act; and
LB227, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, which would create the Brain Injury Council and Brain Injury Trust Fund.
A complete list of bills introduced thus far is available at New bills may be introduced for the first 10 legislative days, or until Jan. 18.

Seth Myers refuses to let Trump Spox Kelly Conway snow his audience

Oh, this is 13 minutes of choice.
From Vanity Fair:
     When Meyers asked Conway why it’s taken so long for the incoming commander in chief to hold his first press conference.
     “The president-elect has been very busy forming his government,” Conway replied.
     Meyers pressed: “But every president who ever puts together a government is busy.”
     “But they haven’t had—”
     “They haven’t had to meet with Kanye?”
 From the Daily Beast:
     Later in their interview, Meyers cornered Conway in regards to a widely-ridiculed comment she made on CNN earlier this week about how the media covers Trump. "You always want to go by what's come out of his mouth rather than look at what's in his heart," she told New Day host Chris Cuomo. "So you think it's not important to listen to what he's saying?" Meyers asked her. "How can we know what's in his heart?"
     "He expresses it—" she began, at which point he interrupted her. "He expresses it how?" Meyers asked. "Out of his mouth."

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Farm Bureau: Trump's immigration plans could cost US farms $60 BILLION (raising food prices)

Last night's Nightly Business Report, hardly a beacon of liberal agitprop, contained several shocking statistics about how dependent the farm economy is on undocumented labor and what Donald Trump's deportation plans could do to farm production. Below is a transcript excerpt, highlighted. Go to NBR to watch the show (skip to the 21:43 mark):
...ROY: The Aiellos don`t have enough workers to harvest crops. They`re not alone. Across the country, farmers are facing a labor shortage that some are calling a crisis.
     AIELLO: Of course, it`s a financial burden. You have to make difficult

decisions sometimes as far as having two fields to harvest but only being
able to harvest one of them.
     ROY: Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan immigration reform group, reports between 2002 and 2014, the number of full time agricultural workers has dropped by 146,000 people, resulting in a loss of about $3 billion in crop productions. And the American Farm Bureau Federation has come out with videos showing farmers forced to destroy crops or let them rot in the fields because they simply don`t have enough workers to pick them.
     UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year, I had to do something I had never done before. Destroy ten acres of good squash.
     ROY: And now, some farmers are worried the problem will get even worse if Donald Trump makes good on his campaign promise to deport undocumented workers.
     DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We are going to triple the number of ICE deportation officers.
     ROY: More than half of the country`s agricultural workers are undocumented, according to the USDA. The American Farm Bureau estimates an immigration policy that focuses solely on enforcement could cost the country $60 billion in agricultural production...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Aristocrat problems: Swedish edition

The royal Palace of Norway only has 172 rooms and, presumably, is not haunted.

Tweet/s of the Day 1/5/2017

AKSARBENT will not be following up on this.

Unicameral Update 1/5/2017

GOP takes over 'nonpartisan' NE Unicameral

Every committee is now chaired by a Republican, except Laura Ebke, the new Judiciary Committe Chair, who left the GOP after Gov. Ricketts attacked her in a speech for voting to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska.
Following the 2016 legislative session, Ricketts addressed a state Republican convention, criticizing several Republican state legislators for failing to support his position on various issues, and calling for the election of more "platform Republicans" to the legislature. Ebke was one of thirteen legislators who signed a letter criticizing Ricketts for conduct that they described as placing partisanship ahead of principle. Shortly thereafter, Ebke changed her registration from the Republican to the Libertarian Party. She was thought to be the first Libertarian member of the Nebraska legislature.

How Palestinians (and even Jews) are resisting unconstitutional attacks by states like IA and KS
on boycott of Israel

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that boycotts are an expression of free speech. Yet state after state, pressured by Israel-firsters, has passed legislation denying government contracts (via blacklists) to private businesses which refuse to do business with Israel until it stops its illegal settlements in occupied territory. Depending on who you believe, these settlements already house 300,000 to 600,000 Israelis. Recently, the Obama administration, for the first time, refused to use its Security Council veto to prevent the U.N. from condemning Israel's longstanding policy.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's first broken promise of 2017

Less than a month ago, Stothert loudly proclaimed that she was appointing an LGBT "Advisory Board" whose members would be finalized by the end of the year and would issue an executive order regarding LGBTs. (Which would be what? Move across the river to Council Bluffs, IA where LGBTs have housing rights?
     Because Stothert voted against Omaha's ordinance mandating equal employment opportunity for LGBTs in employment (but not housing) and supports antigay Gov. Ricketts as well as antigay Attorney General Doug Peterson and has towed the Nebraska GOP's party line of blocking every legitimate attempt by LGBTs to attain fair treatment in housing, employment and marriage, some people say the LGBT "Advisory Board" is just a reelection year ploy.
     Anyway, it's 2017. So who are the LGBT "Advisory Board" members and what's in the executive order, Jean?

Anti-gay Omaha mayor, a BS genius, claims SCOTUS marriage ruling "allows" city to offer health benefits to gay couples
Covergirl Jean Stothert
Now that the Supreme Court has forced her to, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert will finally "sign an executive order Tuesday that will provide health benefits to the same-sex spouses of eligible full-time employees of the city," reports KETV.
     Stothert, who is a disinformation genius, said:
The Supreme Court decision allows the city to offer these benefits to all employees and their same-sex spouses without negotiating. I believe it is important to act quickly and appropriately following the Supreme Court decision.
     Translation: If I stall any longer, the city will be sued by married gay couples, so it's important to act quickly, now that my little con is up.
     The World-Herald put it this way:
     The City of Omaha will offer health insurance benefits to all married same-sex spouses of city employees after being one of the last local holdouts on the issue.
     Mayor Jean Stothert previously argued that city employees should bring up the issue during contract negotiations if they wanted such benefits.
     Translation: Even though my administration could have done this unilaterally, like La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton, University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent/Creighton/CHI, and even though Blue Cross Blue Shield changed its definition of spouse to include same-sex couples last year after the DOMA/Windsor decision, it was more fun to me to ransom benefits for gay employees in exchange for other concessions in labor negotiations because that's how homophobic, divide-and-conquer GOP politicians roll!

Below: Mayor Stothert when she was a City Council member, opposing a gay rights ordinance in Omaha shortly before being outvoted.
     Hey kids! Here's how to rip off the Jean Stothert video below from AKSARBENT for your facebook page or blog: Just cut and paste the YouTube code below to your facebook page or website (no autoplay or ads):

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds dead at 84, a day after death of daughter, Carrie Fischer

Debbie Reynolds, one of the last studio system stars, passed away yesterday following a stroke suffered while making funeral arrangements for her daughter, Carrie Fischer, who died Tuesday after a heart attack aboard a plane. Both mother and daughter became stars at 19, the former for her role in Singing in the Rain and the latter for hers in Star Wars.
     Reynolds was the first big star to raise money to fight AIDS, even before Elizabeth Taylor, at a time when virtually no celebrities wanted to be associated with the issue.
     Reynolds, born in El Paso, Texas, went to school on the MGM lot with Liz Taylor, who later broke up her marriage to singer Eddie Fischer after her husband, Mike Todd, died in a plane crash. From People:  As Reynolds later put it, Taylor “liked [Eddie] enough to take him without an invitation.”
     Taylor and Reynolds became friends again when each booked passage on a cruise without the other knowing.
     Reynold's second and third husbands (respectively, a gambler and an inept businessman) left her in financial ruin. At one point she kept up appearances (and contacts) by attending Beverly Hills parties while living in her car.
     She was discovered at 16:
     She had planned to be a gym teacher but at 16 won the Miss Burbank beauty contest doing an imitation of her idol Betty Hutton performing. Reynolds had entered for the free blouse and scarf promised each entrant.
     The contest judges — studio talent scouts — were so impressed with her naturalness that they flipped a coin to see who got to interview Reynolds first. Warner Bros. won, and she rode her bike to the screen test.
     In 1996, Reynolds received some of the best reviews of her career for her stint in Mother playing opposite Albert Brooks:
In her review, Janet Maslin wrote that Ms. Reynolds played the role “divinely,” and showed off “both acting expertise and apparent training at the International Mothers’ School for Passive-Aggressive Bedevilment of Children.”
     Here's Reynolds in Singing in the Rain and Tammy and the Bachelor (costars: a young Leslie Nielson and Fay Wray!) and at Victoria's Secret in Mother:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bill Moyers explains how Art Pope bought NC for the GOP

 You gotta hand it to the GOP. It will try anything. It ended voter pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds in the Tar Heel state by claiming that it exposed teenagers of that age group to pedophiles. Jesse Helms would have been so proud!

North Carolina: Battleground State from on Vimeo.

Monday, December 26, 2016

NE's drinking rate jumps as national rate levels

The number of Nebraskans who drink each month jumped nearly four percent — to 57.43 in 014-15 from 53.59 in 2008-9. The Washington Post says the national rate is virtually unchanged.
     AKSARBENT did a post about this subject in 2013:

NYT: opera about Florida 50s gay witch hunts among 2016's best classical efforts

From the gray lady, herself:
     “Fellow Travelers,” by the composer Gregory Spears and the librettist Greg Pierce, is the most romantic new opera I have seen in years. It’s also one of the most successfully political. Its premiere in June at Cincinnati Opera proved uncannily timely, coming days after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The opera’s story, adapted from Thomas Mallon’s novel, follows the love affair of two federal government workers in the 1950s, under the shadow of the “Lavender Scare,” the gay witch hunt whipped up by Senator Joseph McCarthy. As one character notes, going to the wrong bar back then could lose a gay man his job. Today, more than half a century of presumed progress later, going to the wrong club could cost him his life.
     But what makes “Fellow Travelers” such a satisfying operatic experience is the old-fashioned combination of a swift-flowing and deft libretto and gorgeous music. Mr. Spears has the rare gift of artful plunder, knowing how to pluck stylistic elements from earlier centuries and weave them into a sleek and propulsive score that is accessible but unmistakably modern. With his light touch, Mr. Spears has created a tender study of innocence and the rewards and risks that lie on the other side of its destruction. [Read the review] — CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

USA Today: world-famous Red Army Choir aboard doomed plane

USA Today reports that 64 members of the world-famous Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, were aboard the Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 which crashed two minutes after taking off from Sochi for a military base in Syria for a New Year's Concert.
     The Russian Defense Ministry said all 92 passengers apparently died in the crash.
     Below: the Red Army Choir backing the Finnish group Leningrad Cowboys performing Sweet Home Alabama.

If you want a drink in Pottersville, you better be straight-acting, buddy

In A Wonderful Life, director Frank Capra went just about as far as 40s Hollywood censors would allow in explicitly depicting aggressive homophobia (directed toward wrongly-suspected heteros, of course). He associated it with the downward spiral of a community in the clutches of Big Money. Remind you of anything?
     Below, Drunk Jimmy Stewart admonishes his bud, "Clarence" (!) about making fairy-type references to wings "around here" but he didn't help his cause much by putting his arm around Clarence and asking him if he had anywhere to sleep, in front of an increasingly hostile and suspicious barkeep, who had alreadyreminded Clarence that "we don't need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere."

Capra reveled in the depiction of a broad pastiche of humanity in his pictures. (Nowdays America calls it diversity and includes black people.) Note the flamboyant, devil-may-care gay sailor in the bus scene of Capra's 30s smash, It Happened One Night at the 1:15 mark:

Read the complaint: first-ever EEOC ND lawsuit over harassment of gay worker filed against oil field services firm, Rocky Mountain Casing Co.

 Also: Gay life in the small towns and man camps of North Dakota's oil boom

Above: life can be grim for LGBT oil workers
in sparsely populated North Dakota
The complaint was filed over the outrageous treatment of Michael Allyn, a driver for Rocky Mountain Casing Co., the main office of which did not provide anyone willing to comment on the lawsuit to the Williston Herald:
     Multiple allegations about harassment by other employees and a supervisor are made in the suit, including claims that another employee attempted to sexually assault Allyn, that Allyn was called homophobic slurs by other employees, that he was given pornographic magazines, that his supervisor made offensive jokes about gay people and that his supervisor gave him a hat with the Spanish slang word for homosexual on it.
     "Employers must realize that harassing someone because of his or her perceived sexual orientation violates the law just as does other types of harassment based on sex, or harassment based on race, or harassment based on religion," Julianne Bowman, director for EEOC's Chicago District Office said in a news release. "This kind of abuse is unacceptable and illegal."
     The EEOC attempted to reach an agreement with the company before filing a lawsuit, according to court records, but was unable to do so.
Courtesy of Equality Case Files

Hat Tip: LGBTQ Nation

Jon Stewart salutes White House incoming with a repurposed anecdote!

You may also like:
Rufus Wainwright's extraordinary musical rendition of Shakespeare's 29th sonnet,
When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes, performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company's extravaganza commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

An airplane was about to crash. There were four passengers on board, but only three parachutes. The first passenger said, "I am Steph Curry, the best NBA basketball player. The Warriors and my millions of fans need me, and I can't afford to die." So he took the first pack and left the plane.
     The second passenger, Donald Trump, said, "I am the newly-elected U.S. President, and I am the smartest President in American history, so my people don't want me to die." He took the second pack and jumped out of the plane.
     The third passenger, the Pope, said to the fourth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolboy, "My son, I am old and don't have many years left; you have more years ahead, so I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute."
     The little boy said, "That's okay, Your Holiness — there's a parachute left for you. America's smartest President took my school bag.
                                                               —Via Margo Howard (@Margoandhow)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

If President Trump puts a stop to this before he's impeached, AKSARBENT won't bitch

From the YouTube description: Ambassador [Caroline] Kennedy and U.S. Mission Japan staff in Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha got into the holiday spirit and showed off their dance moves. Check out our rendition of the "Koi Dance" (Love Dance) from one of the most popular TV shows in Japan this season.

David Sedaris reads his account of stint as fed-up department store elf

Nobody reads The Night Before Christmas like Whoopi Goldberg

Rufus Wainwright SANG a stunning rendition of Sonnet 29 at the Royal Shakespeare Company

They say that in Italy, the home of the sonnet, rhymes are easier, but Shakespeare made a good account of himself in When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes, (#29) which gay performer/composer Rufus Wainwright set to music beautifully (Don't try setting a Shakespeare sonnet to music at home, boys and girls.) and performed in April at the Royal Shakespeare Company's 400th anniversary commemoration of the death of William Shakespeare.
The Sanders Portrait, said to be the only true
likeness of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime
     Dame Judy, Sir Ian, Prince Charles, Benedict Cumberbatch and other luminaries performed (yes, Prince Charles had a part in a skit), but we thought Wainwright's stunning performance of his ingenious melody was absolutely, positively, hands-down, the best thing in the show.
     Rufus's musician father, Loudon, now deceased, would must have been so very proud of his boy. You can see the whole thing on Great Performances (telecast two days ago on PBS) with Rufus's performance at about the 1:16:45 mark, but the karaoke version below, with the emphasis on Shakespeare's lines, is at least as affecting, if less majestic, without the backup singers and orchestra.
    It is Sonnet 20 that is almost universally acknowledged to have been addressed to a young man, but many critics think #29 was, too. If you're skeptical, AKSARBENT invites YOU to argue with Camille Paglia. We're way too chicken.
     Fortune and Men's Eyes, which took its name from this sonnet, was a shocking prison drama written in the late 60s by Canadian playwright John Herbert and produced off-Broadway in 1967, just before the greater on-Broadway success of Mart Crowley's The Boys In The Band.
     Dustin Hoffman workshopped Fortune and Men's Eyes at the Actor's Studio, with Jon Voight as Smitty, the character raped behind bars, and Don Johnson played the same role in the L.A. version, directed by Sal Mineo. In the film, Wendell Burton (who played Liza Minelli's boyfriend in The Sterile Cuckoo) was Smitty.

Friday, December 23, 2016

What's that song in the Dior J'Adore TV ad?

The mesmorizing soundtrack to the Christmas Dior J'Adore TV ad (below) is Woodkid's I Love You, (below below). You're welcome.