Thursday, May 18, 2017

Women banned from Toby Keith's concert Saturday

It will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, of 9/11 fame. The kingdom wants to impress Donald Trump, so Toby Keith will give a concert at which women will be barred because of the country's strict social segregation of men and women. The Hill tried to get Keith's rep to comment but no dice.
     Keith goes where the money is. From Newsweek in February:
He played an event for the Republican National Committee in July but stopped short of offering the party his support. "It was just a paid party for the sponsors, just a private party for 1,200 people," he told the Tribune. "When I start catching shit about it, I just say, 'Look, I'm not a registered Republican, and they paid me a butt-load of money to play this thing. And if the other side calls, I'll go play theirs for that much too.'"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mean, angry, hard-left AKSARBENT deplores Mayor Gravel's reelection!

In the wake of Jean Stothert's poll victory, her occasionally inept digital campaign manager, Jerry Kratochvil, has favored the Omaha blogosphere with a stupendously rambling political analysis of why Mayor Gravel decisively (but not overwhelmingly) beat Heath Mello on her cratered road to reelection.

Kratochvil's piece takes a while time to slog through. We preferred Erin Grace's account of the election in last Sunday's World-Herald. It was shorter, sharper, funnier and got to the point: Dems didn't get out their vote.

(After the Obamas deservedly retired to fat book contracts and speaking fees, private planes, and vacations in Palm Springs with gay friends, many in Omaha's District Two (and elsewhere) evidently took to hiding under the covers and from Twitter, even on election day.)

Kratochvil mentioned AKSARBENT (in order to take a swipe) but not where he should have: the part in which he implied that it was Kyle Michaelis, rather than us, who first mentioned that a twitter handle professionally picked by Jerry hisself for hisself was the hilarious moniker "JerkRat."

We're pretty sure we were the first to mention it on Twitter; Jane Kleeb, who has a sense of humor, immediately retweeted our giggly revelation, where it was seized on by other amused Dems, including Michaelis

Kratochvil quickly ditched "JerKrat," much to our disappointment, once he discovered that trying to paper over his screwup with a cute Ratatouille rodent wasn't going to fly.

In his opus, Kratochvil went on to deplore the lack of civility on Twitter, which is like breathlessly discovering that the Pacific Ocean tastes really salty. He started a screenshot file of people who wrote "Fuck the mayor" and said that file was chock-full. (What is it, a paper file?) He went on:

Of course I’ve also never seen so many new accounts created with nom de plumes either. Now you can laugh that the guy who was only known as “Street Sweeper” is complaining about this. But my blog was up for over 3 years before I got a Twitter account. For instance, I don’t mind the anonymous angry, hard-left leaning “Aksarbent” blog’s posts or tweets If you want to find out what else they have to say, there’s a trove of posts over years. (For instance, I’m sure they see themselves as middle-of-the-road.)

Point one: AKSARBENT DOES NOT CONSIDER ITSELF MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, if for no other reason that the middle of any given road in Stothert's Omaha can be a risky place.

Kratochvil would disagree, of course. He said that mayoral issues are cyclical and that in the Omaha spring, roads are on everyone's mind.

That's easy for him to say. He lives in Overland Park, in fabulous Kansas, home of the Koch Brothers and and Kris Kobach, he of the GOP voter elimination databases which strike black voters from the rolls by the hundreds of thousands whenever their first and last names match someone else's, even if their middle names don't.


No, we are righteously indignant.

You, know — like when you get when Jean Stothert smiles into a television camera and says she told her pet LGBT Advisory Board (concocted for her reelection, though she denied it) that there was no reason to address LGBT housing bias because they are covered under "federal law".

Lies told that cheerfully and unscrupulously could make a boy very indignant.

But angry? How could we be angry after writing so many tweets and posts about the Nebraska and National GOP clown car, at times so gut-bustingly funny that it could replace abdominal crunches—or Bill Kintner?

Angry would better define some of the raw nerve fringe groups that Stothert pandered to during her campaign, like that local gun nut contingent that is boycotting (seriously) MAT, the zoo, OPPD, the Holland Center, PayPal, Brewskys and even Chuck E. Cheese for not allowing firearms on their premises.

As for anonymous, we like anonymous!

We never suggested that Kratochvil should be outed from the comfortable secrecy of his virtual LeavenworthSt kennel, even when he was using a pseudonym, although that brings up an interesting point.

When Kratochvil took his sabbatical to reelect Helen Wheels, he said he was turning over the keys to his blog to somebody who called himself "I Am Spartacus." (Please!)

Spartacus, you will recall, violently attempted to overthrow an oppressive oligarchy. — as if someone so named would write, (or type, as Truman Capote might say) for LeavenworthSt — never a champion of proles, though often a bridge over troubled trolls.

In respect of anonymity, let's ponder the following, shall we?

A number of LeavenworthSt posts during Kratochvil's supposed absence sure looked a LOT like stuff he wrote before and after. When Kratochvotil returned from the Stothert GOP plantation, he wrote this: "As part of the deal, I did not have a byline on Leavenworth St."

That's not the same thing as not secretly writing for it, is it?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How the GOP uses crooked lists of "duplicate" registrations to disenfranchise voters

Here's an excerpt of Greg Palast's expose, from Reader Supported News.
     Kobach is the GOP mastermind behind this secretive system which purged 1.1 million Americans from the voter rolls.
     When Trump said, “This election’s rigged,” the press ignored the second part of his statement: “People are voting many, many times.” Trump cited three million votes illegally cast.
     The White House said Trump got this information from Kobach. Indeed, it specifically comes from a list of 7 million names—or, as Kobach describes it, a list of 3.5 million “potential double voters.” How did Kobach find these three million double voters?
     He matched their names, first and last. And that’s it.
     Here’s an unedited screen-shot of a segment of his list:
[The damning photo, taken by Palast, is here, at RSN.]
     Note that not one middle name matches.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Al Capone of voter registration
"reform," testifying at the Nebraska Unicameral in favor of  LB111, introduced
by O’Neill Sen. Tyson Larson, which would have required voters to provide a
government-issued photographic identification before being allowed to vote.
Photo by Fred Knapp, NET.
     ...“Crosscheck” is not marked on the victim voter’s record. It’s a stealth hit.
     And it’s deadly. Doubtless, Crosscheck delivered Michigan to Trump who supposedly “won” the state by 10,700 votes. The Secretary of State’s office proudly told me that they were “very aggressive” in removing listed voters before the 2016 election. Kobach, who created the lists for his fellow GOP officials, tagged a whopping 417,147 in Michigan as potential double voters.
     And not just any voters... the list was so racially biased that fully one in six registered African-Americans were tagged in the Crosscheck states that include the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and more.

Omaha's Fox42 gets daily "must run" orders to air right-wing propaganda. But the edicts aren't from Fox

Fox42's content copyright notice reveals its ownership
Although the network affiliation of Omaha's KPTM (Fox42) is with Fox, the station is actually owned by Sinclair, the ultra-right wing broadcast behemoth.
     Sinclair is in the process of acquiring Tribune Media properties and soon may challenge Fox as a right-wing media power center.
     The New York Times has revealed that "must-runs" arrive every day at TV stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.
     In 2004, Sinclair fired its own Washington, D.C. bureau chief for telling the Baltimore Sun that a 45-minute film the firm planned to air on its stations, "Stolen Honor: Wound The Never Heal" was "biased political propaganda" targeting then-candidate John Kerry.
     The Times noted that since November 2015, Sinclair has ordered its stations to run a “Terrorism Alert Desk” daily segment that the company provides, and that during last year's presidential election, Sinclair distributed video that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery.
     There was more:
      In late 2013, for instance, after The Seattle Times wrote an editorial criticizing Sinclair’s purchase of KOMO, Sinclair ordered KOMO to do a story critical of the newspaper industry, and of The Seattle Times in particular, according to two of the people interviewed.
     KOMO journalists were surprised in January when, at a morning planning meeting, they received what they considered an unusual request. The station’s news director, who normally avoided overtly political stories, instructed his staff to look into an online ad that seemed to be recruiting paid protesters for President Trump’s inauguration. Right-leaning media organizations had seized on the ad, which was later revealed as a hoax, as proof of coordinated efforts by the left to subvert Mr. Trump.
     Only after reporters had left the room did they learn the origin of the assignment, two of them said: The order had come down from Sinclair.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Don't Go Back Omaha 'committee' behind last minute anti-Mello attack ads? Aimee Melton and Gwen Aspen

Melton and Aspen, the girl gang of two, appeared on KFAB, recently. We listened to as much of Chris Baker's interview with them as we could, dear readers.
Baker: It is a truly transparent committee... A lot of times this is all hidden and we always have to hear about "Oh we gotta get donors lists to find out who these people are so we can go throw eggs at their house or something like that. These two fabulous women are out in front, saying this is who we are...
Gwen Aspen: Our committee is just trying to highlight all her (Stothert's) accomplishments in the last four years...
Aspen & Melton: Look, Omaha: Heath Mello killed Leo DiCaprio!
          Don't throw eggs at or TP Bauer's house, people. He also was the campaign manager of Retain a Just Nebraska, the group that fought Nebraska's death penalty.
     Chris Baker, a KFAB right-wing propagandist just clever enough to fool his audience, inverted what any sensible person would really want to know about Don't Go Back Omaha —its financial backers — by telling KFAB's gullible listeners that the transparency of hood ornaments makes the identity of the donors behind them unnecessary!
     We assume the paymasters, if they are revealed at all, will be disclosed well after last Tuesday's vote.

Click to embiggen
     Want to have some fun readers? Guess how long the above YouTube video, with the home address of Melton-Aspen's fund raiser, but not either of theirs, will last on YouTube after this post.
     The DC political consulting firm which made and placed the ad, according to KETV's invoice, was Sandler-Innocenzi Advertising, 705 Prince St, Alexandria, VA 22314, which brags on its website about making ads for former Governor Dave Heineman.
    Invoices! AKSARBENT has the invoices!

P.S.: Maybe Melton and Aspen aren't as transparent as you claim, KFAB! Here's what you see if you click on the "Non-Profit Organization" link of Don't Go Back Omaha's facebook page:

The National Assoc. of Broadcasters wants you to know that ads praising Don Bacon for porking your healthcare do NOT communicate a political matter of national importance

Add caption

The ad in question (on KPTM Fox 42's air now, but not yet on American Action Network's YouTube channel) is identical to this ad supporting Paul Ryan, except for the representative's name and photos. The ad is full of half-truths and deception. A more accurate ad follows.

KMTV, WOWT and KETV are running a $50k ad blitz praising Don Bacon for porking your healthcare.
Here's what they aren't airing

The three Omaha NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates are airing nearly $50,000 worth of dishonest ads running interference for Don Bacon's attack on affordable health coverage and nearly $1,000,000,000,000 in Medicaid cutbacks over 10 years. Here's what you're not seeing on those stations, from

Like this post? Share it via social media icons below.

KETV, KMTV & WOWT are airing $48,000 worth of dark money ads telling you to thank Don Bacon for slashing Medicaid and raising health insurance premiums

The ads come courtesy of the American Action Network, a right-wing 501(C)(4) "Social Welfare Organization."
     That means it doesn't have to declare its funding sources, boys and girls. You can thank Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, et al., and Citizens United for that.
     Wikipedia says:
Critics of the American Action Network have argued that the organization's advertisements contravene its requirements under its 501(c)(4) status. Malek has stated in response that such claims are "baseless"
     For months, AAN has been running interference for the GOP congressmen who want to destroy Obamacare, including the 2nd district's own former Air Force Gen. Don "F-22" Pork Bacon.
     Below is AAN's latest valentine to Bacon, demanding that you thank him for slashing nearly a trillion dollars from Medicaid to fund tax cuts which benefit billionaires more than any other group.
     (Note: the Bacon ad airing in Omaha isn't on American Action Network's YouTube site yet, so we embedded the Paul Ryan version, which is identical, except for Bacon's name and image.)
     The ads are fast-talking masterpieces of double-talk, half-truths and deception.

     Here's a transcript, with our comments:

It's a bold plan to cut the deficit,
At the cost of throwing millions of people off health care. The previous GOP plan would have thrown 14 million people off health care. This plan is worse, which is why the GOP rushed it through congress before the Congressional Budget Office could score it. That score will be released the week of May 22nd.
and provide 1 trillion dollars of job-creating tax relief.
Most of all for billionaires, who don't necessarily create jobs with that tax "relief," that will come from $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid, which will force the poor into expensive emergency rooms, creating huge hospital losses, which they'll pass on to other patients.
It puts patients and doctors back in charge of health care,
Really? So why did the AMA and hospitals oppose it, along with the AARP, which represents the patients who will be most screwed by Ryan-TrumpCare?
eliminating Washington's expensive mandates, redirecting penalties for not having insurance to insurance companies
empowering states to reduce health care costs, putting people in underfunded high risk pools which cause their premiums to skyrocket
and protecting people with preexisting conditions...
...except really weird things like pregnancy, rape and acne
The Republican Health plan provides families with more choices,
many of which they can't possibly afford
better coverage,
This is almost a total lie. See above.
and lower premiums,
...For the youngest patients, who don't get sick often. Older people should run for the hills
Thank [Paul Ryan / Don Bacon / Darth Vader / Cruella De Ville / etc.] and House Republicans for keeping their word and fighting for the healthcare we deserve.
This is what the GOP thinks you deserve, peasants!
     One group is repeating wonderful benefits from the GOP's AHCA: the large corporations (Hearst, Scripps, and Gray) which, respectively, own Omaha's KETV, KMTV and WOWT.
     They're getting tens of thousands of dollars to air the latest barrage of "Social Welfare" disinformation calculated to insulate Republican Don Bacon's icy betrayal of his Omaha and Sarpy County constituents from their red-hot wrath.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gov. Ricketts's vulgar selfie bud, Erick Erickson, fetes Stothert win with Omaha Steaks, finds out dry ice is the best thing in the box

Erickson got one thing right
Erick Erickson, who boosted Gov. Pete Ricketts's candidacy, once called Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goatfucking child molester," which is kind of a contradiction, unless the alleged goat really was a kid.
     Ricketts paid tribute to Erickson by appearing at his Red State confab and taking a selfie.
     Now Erickson has tweeted his little celebration of GOP Mayor Stothert's Omaha reelection win yesterday with an Instagram celebrating the arrival at his house of a shipment of Omaha Steaks.
     In 2012, Consumer Research looked at a number of reviews of Omaha Steaks (sadly, none reviewed the company's dry ice) and found the other contents of the company's shipping boxes to be sorely lacking:
Omaha meats do not earn the highest ratings in any of the reviews we read. Paul Lukas' review in Money magazine gets right to the point: "While Omaha pioneered the category, it's not a premium vendor." Cook's Illustrated, meanwhile, pans Omaha meat's regular boneless strip as "thin" and "grainy," and the company's Private Reserve strip fares even worse, earning comments like "tough," "stringy" and "chewy." No reviewer rates Omaha beef as the best mail-order steak.

To read, click to enlarge

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Don't blame Heath Mello

Mayor Stothert, whose actions have proven stunningly indifferent to paycheck-to-paycheck Omahans, has once again prevailed in an Omaha election.
     Nothing more starkly illustrated that indifference than when her campaign trotted out Mr. Voter Suppression, Darth Walker, of Wisconsin. Talk about waving a red flag in front of working class voters! But she got away with it.
     If Democrat strongholds like District 2 (North Omaha) had voted in the same percentage as West Omaha GOP districts, she might not have.
     North Omaha is, of course, a codeword for black people and they richly deserve to be ripped for going AWOL on election day. But they have a lot of company in District 2 — and District 4 — white Anglos and Hispanics by the thousands were just as stupidly apathetic about refusing to exercise the franchise that makes democracy work. Their excuses for not voting remind us of the people who will earnestly and idiotically explain to you why they don't wear their seatbelts.
     (Our most dearly cherished fantasy would be a get-out-the-vote ad, aired on election day, with Whoopie Goldberg at 30th & Ames holding a bar chart of voting patterns of district 2 vs. West Omaha districts, and shaking her fist at the camera.)
     We here at AKSARBENT have mildly criticized Heath Mello for being slightly off occasionally in respect of our sacred cow, LGBT rights, and even had some fun at his expense in a cutline to a photo of him at the debate last Sunday. But he, and the Democratic Party, especially Jane Kleeb, apparently heard our legitimate criticisms and responded meaningfully.
     As for Jean Stothert, she continued her new m.o. of LGBT deception, even during the final debate. (Stothert seems to have evolved, in respect of gays, from arrogant hostility to clever hornswaggling.)
     Mello was a good candidate who ran a good campaign and we were lucky he chose to step up to the plate. He didn't let Dems down. Part of his base did, by not showing up to support their champion.

SUMMARY REPORT        Douglas County, Nebraska
                      2017 General Election
                      May 9, 2017

                                                       VOTES PERCENT

           PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 190).  .  .  .  .       190  100.00
           BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL.  .  .  .  .  .  .    96,788

          Omaha Mayor
           Vote For Up To  1
           Jean Stothert .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    51,413   53.23
           Heath Mello.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    44,977   46.56
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       203     .21

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT ONE
           Vote For Up To  1
           Pete Festersen.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    12,190   82.07
           Grant Sturek  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     2,473   16.65
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       190    1.28

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT TWO
           Vote For Up To  1
           Ben Gray.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     5,203   63.43
           Dennis J. Womack .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     2,932   35.74
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        68     .83

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT THREE
           Vote For Up To  1
           Chris Jerram  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     9,973   79.31
           D'Shawn Cunningham  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     2,415   19.20
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       187    1.49

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT FOUR
           Vote For Up To  1
           Vinny Palermo .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     4,372   53.82
           Jim Rogers .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     3,689   45.41
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        62     .76

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT FIVE
           Vote For Up To  1
           Rich Pahls .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    12,131   95.46
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       577    4.54

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT SIX
           Vote For Up To  1
           Brinker Harding  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    11,286   63.53
           Dwite Pedersen.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     6,340   35.69
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .       139     .78

          Omaha City Council DISTRICT SEVEN
           Vote For Up To  1
           Aimee Melton  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     9,446   65.09
           Brian Thommes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     5,008   34.51
           WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        58     .40

Monday, May 8, 2017

Half-truths, phony assurances from Mayor Stothert on LGBT housing protections during final election debate

Yesterday, KETV cohosted the final debate between State Senator Heath Mello and Mayor Jean Stothert, both running (or rerunning) for Mayor in an election that has attracted national coverage here, here and elsewhere, due in part to tension between grassroots Democrats and the DNC and because it is the first significant local election following the GOP overthrow of Obamacare.
     (Last week's elections in Nebraska's capitol, Lincoln, flipped that city's council from a GOP to a Democrat majority.)
     For four minutes (47:31 to 51:31 in the clip above), Omaha's mayoral candidates discussed the hole in Omaha's LGBT protections: housing.
     Mayor Stothert, who voted twice against LGBT job bias protection passed in Omaha in 2012, appointed an LGBT Advisory Board in December of 2016 (during her reelection campaign) and preposterously told KETV that her position on LGBT equal rights was misunderstood.
    Stothert took office on June 10, 2013. Omaha's gay day parade, held later that month, moved to another state (Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the Missouri River) and hasn't been held here since.
     The Omaha World-Herald, a two-time Stothert endorser, proffered this excuse in 2013: "...because of the College World Series — and the police manpower required for it — organizers moved the parade to Council Bluffs." What the World-Herald didn't bother to remind its readers: the CWS and the US Olympic swimming trials overlapped in 2012 and 2016 and will again in 2020.
     Either OPD just can't multitask under a GOP mayor like it used to in Democrat Jim Suttle's administration, or LGBTs have become bigly more rowdy during Stothert's reign.
    During the debate, Stothert deceptively claimed that LGBT housing protections aren't needed in Omaha because they are protected by "federal law." (When she opposed LGBT workplace protections in 2012 she defended housing carve-outs because of religious objections.)
     Her current rationale is a half-truth at best, and stems from a Colorado lawsuit decided by a federal judge in favor of a lesbian couple prevented from renting a townhouse because one was a transgender female whose gender nonconformance bothered the landlord.
     Below is what HUD actually says about the issue on its website.
The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases. However, discrimination against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person may be covered by the Fair Housing Act if it is based on non-conformity with gender stereotypes.
    In other words, lipstick lesbians and butch boys who DO conform to gender stereotypes weren't covered by the decision; HUD's website makes that perfectly clear. Since most LGBTs DO conform to gender stereotypes and are indistinguishable from most straights, they WEREN'T covered by the decision, which makes Stothert's phony assurances a Big Fat Lie.
     (Click on the above HUD link pronto, dear readers, before the Trump administration and/or Ben Carson change the rules or make the web page disappear.)
Click above graphic to enlarge and read
     If it's really true that Stothert's pet LGBTs bought her administration's line that federal "law" (really regulations) covers them, we say this: Do your damn homework before you discuss LGBT housing bias policies with a slick mayor who is a past master at snowing the gullible. 
      In respect of Heath Mello, he seemed unaware that some antiLGBT bias in private housing is addressed by HUD.
     Also, his concern about discrimination against gay couples in buying houses, (as opposed to renting them) may be exaggerated, though not completely misplaced. The National Association of Realtors (to which not all real estate agents belong) bans bias against LGBTs and, where financing is concerned, HUD has this to say, on the page linked to above:
In addition, housing providers that receive HUD funding or have loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as well as lenders insured by FHA, are subject to HUD’s Equal Access Rule, which requires equal access to HUD programs without regard to a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
      These are rules, not laws, and presumably could be changed by Trump's HUD or FHA. They also don't cover transactions not involving FHA loans, FHA-insured lenders or HUD funding.

     AKSARBENT's transcript of yesterday's debate on LGBT housing bias:

Julie Cornell, KETV: Senator Mello, should LGBTQ individuals be a protected class at the city level?
Heath Mello: Julie that's a great question and I believe, yes: I think the lgbtq+ community should be a protected class in the city level and that's why I supported the existing city ordinance back when it was passed in 2012.
You're asking if I know that smiling directly into a TV camera
while talking is allowed during a political debate?
That's a great question!
     I'm convinced — some of my work in the Nebraska legislature — we tried to bring Republicans, Democrats and Independents together to try to craft a compromise to do a very similar approach at the state level.
     Unfortunately, we were unable to build the consensus needed to bring that legislation forward, but luckily the city of Omaha has an ordinance that provides protections to the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to employment.
     The concern I've heard from people across the community is in regards to housing. The city's ordinance is very narrow, specifically only regarding employment in some public accommodations, where housing is something I've heard consistently being brought up where someone should not be discriminated against, whether they rent a property or they try to buy a property, simply because of who they love. I think that's something that [unintelligible] to create a welcoming and inclusive city. Omaha needs to consider moving forward if the legislature is unable to pass a more comprehensive bill at the State Capitol
Greetings, LGBTQ's! Wanna buy a pedestrian bridge?
How about a downtown library in a prime location?
Rob McCartney, KETV: Senator, thank you. Mayor Stothert?
Jean Stothert:
The LGBTQ+ community is a protected class with the city of Omaha, and just recently, when it was being discussed in the legislature, I did support that to — be a protected class.
     Now I will say this: as far as our ordinance that we have now, yes, it does address employment but I have created an LGBT advisory and we have been working with them, with that group, on concerns that they have and in the city of Omaha so that we can address it and their voice could be heard.
     Just the last meeting, our Human Rights and Relations Department was at that meeting and they brought up the issue of fair housing and they were very relieved to understand and to find out that they are already protected. It doesn't need to be added to our ordinance and they are protected as far as fair housing goes under federal law, but after these meetings with this LGBT advisory that I had, they have already made many suggestions to us that we are already acting on — in fact the HRR, Human rights and Relations Department, right now is reviewing and altering and amending a lot of the material that we have, as far as fair housing and other issues to add LGBTQ rights to that and so we are working together; we want to identify what those issues are and we want to address them, but as far as fair housing — adding it to the city ordinance — we just recently found out from our HRR Department that they are already protected by the federal law and that it was unnecessary and our LGBT advisory was happy to hear that.
Rob McCartney: ... Senator Mello, 30 seconds.
Heath Mello: Well I think what the mayor is referring to is the fair housing component, is dealing with public housing, which is true: that public housing at the federal level is protected, but in talking with a number of organizations and concerned citizens around the city, private housing is not protected and I think that is why we've seen an effort in the legislature to expand rights and equality through LB173 this year, but unfortunately that policy did not pass. I believe this city is going to need to consider stepping in if the legislature's unable to pass a more comprehensive state law that includes both employment and private housing, moving forward.
Rob McCartney, KETV: Senator, thank you. Mayor Stothert, 30 seconds.
Jean Stothert: I would just say again that we have an open dialogue with the LGBTQ community and they were informed by our HRR department that they are protected as far as fair housing is, according to federal law but I want to make it very clear again a lot of the suggestions that they are making, we are changing, you know, what our information is that we give out to everyone in the community as far as these types of issues as far as fair housing and we are adding the LGBT community to it, too; we want their voice to be heard we want to hear their concerns and we are working together and together we will make Omaha a better place

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Here's what Nebraska's GOP death panel did to you today in DC

TrumpCare (the AHCA) barely passed the House today, with the unanimous support of Nebraska's GOP representatives, Don Bacon, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith, with:
  • No hearings
  • Content hidden until just before vote
  • Passage before the Congressional Budget office scored it
Above: one thing, a huge thing, not mentioned in Waldman's excellent piece
The bill will kill significant numbers of Americans. Here's how, according to Paul Waldman's piece in the Washington Post's web site:

  • Takes health insurance away from at least 24 million Americans; that was the number the CBO estimated for a previous version of the bill, and the number for this one is probably higher.
  • Revokes the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, which provided no-cost health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.
  • Turns Medicaid into a block grant, enabling states to kick otherwise-eligible people off their coverage and cut benefits if they so choose.
  • Slashes Medicaid overall by $880 billion over 10 years.
  • Removes the subsidies that the ACA provided to help middle-income people afford health insurance, replacing them with far more meager tax credits pegged not to people’s income but to their age. Poorer people would get less than they do now, while richer people would get more; even Bill Gates would get a tax credit.
  • Allows insurers to charge dramatically higher premiums to older patients.
  • Allows insurers to impose yearly and lifetime caps on coverage, which were outlawed by the ACA. This also, it was revealed today, may threaten the coverage of the majority of non-elderly Americans who get insurance through their employers.
  • Allows states to seek waivers from the ACA’s requirement that insurance plans include essential benefits for things such as emergency services, hospitalization, mental health care, preventive care, maternity care, and substance abuse treatment.
  • Provides hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year.
  • Produces higher deductibles for patients.
  • Allows states to try to waive the ACA’s requirement that insurers must charge people the same rates regardless of their medical history. This effectively eviscerates the ban on denials for preexisting conditions, since insurers could charge you exorbitant premiums if you have a preexisting condition, effectively denying you coverage.
  • Shunts those with preexisting conditions into high-risk pools, which are absolutely the worst way to cover those patients; experience with them on the state level proves that they wind up underfunded, charge enormous premiums, provide inadequate benefits and can’t cover the population they’re meant for. Multiple analyses have shown that the money the bill provides for high-risk pools is laughably inadequate, which will inevitably leave huge numbers of the most vulnerable Americans without the ability to get insurance.
  • Brings back medical underwriting, meaning that just like in the bad old days, when you apply for insurance you’ll have to document every condition or ailment you’ve ever had.  
Naturally the GOP bill contained a provision exempting Congress and its staff, as if anyone needed to ask.

KMTV: Abysmally low voter turnout in North Omaha frustates black leaders

In last month's primary, only 4,316 of 36,364 registered voters (12%) in councilman Ben Gray's North Omaha district (purple on the map) went to the polls.In South Omaha's district 4 (blue on the map), the tally was hardly better: 4,823 of 29,499 registered voters showed up to cast ballots.
     Community leaders are disappointed and trying to combat an apathy which disproportionately cedes control of government to the rest of Omaha.
     KMTV's report is here.

Lincoln to be one of 40 sister cities of DC LGBTQ+ Equality March June 11

From the web site:
     The “Equality March for Unity & Pride” is a grassroots movement which will mobilize the diverse LGBTQ+ communities to peacefully and clearly address concerns about the current political landscapes and how it is contributing to the persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals.
     Progress has been made over the past decade in the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ inclusion, access, and justice, but there’s still so much more to be done – especially since the progress we’ve achieved is currently being threatened by increased hostile rhetoric, discriminatory policies, and violence perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our communities.
     We will use the Equality March, and sister events across the country, to give voice to our concerns, and to support, uplift, and bring attention to those in our communities who are targeted due to immigration status, ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender, and disability. We affirm and celebrate that we are a mix of diverse communities. Lack of unity has caused many of our needs to be neglected or ignored. But now, for 2017 and beyond, we are working to learn from our prior mistakes and come together through common belief in inalienable human rights and dignity for all.

Jim Parsons asks Stephen Colbert:
Are you feeling homophobic?

The back-and-forth referenced Stephen Colbert's controversial monday Late Show rant, which stemmed from a Sunday interview with President Trump by CBS's John Dickerson, terminated by Trump when Dickerson dared to insist the president explain his accusation that Obama had wiretapped him.
     Before dismissing Dickerson, Trump cleverly let him know that he calls his show "Deface The Nation" in what presumably was an attempt to prove to America that he can match Sara Palin's wit.

     The next day, Colbert went off on Trump:
     “Donald Trump, John Dickerson is a fair-minded journalist and one of the most competent people who will ever walk into your office, and you treat him like that?” Colbert told the president. Since Dickerson has “way too much dignity to trade insults with a president of the United States to his face,” Colbert decided to do it for him. “I sir, am no John Dickerson,” he said.
     “When you insult one member of the CBS family, you insult us all!” Colbert began. “Mr. President, I love your presidency, I call it ‘Disgrace The Nation.’ You’re not the POTUS, you’re the ‘gloat-us.’ You’re the glutton with the button. You’re a regular ‘Gorge Washington.’ You’re the ‘presi-dunce’ but you’re turning into a real ‘prick-tator.’”
     “Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” the host continued. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head.” And then the kicker: “In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.c
     The last zinger predictably caused the radical right, including Breitbart, to go bananas, relatively speaking, but also rubbed a lot of LGBT people the wrong way.
, who lectures in law and bioethics at Penn Law and NYU Medical Schools, writes on sexuality, and is a former California deputy solicitor general, wrote an indignant Washington Post piece, Colbert may support gay rights, but that doesn’t mean he gets to make gay jokes.
     Some gay people defended Colbert, among them George Takei, who retweeted Jay Kuo's comment,
"People who think Stephen Colbert's comment was homophobic need to say "Putin's cock-holster" out loud and try not to laugh."
     Colbert's first guest on Wednesday, after his Trump insults blew up, was with out gay actor Jim Parsons (the most highly paid actor of any sexual orientation on TV these days, we've heard) and some people wondered if Parsons would call Colbert out or back him up.
     As it turned out, he did the former, then the latter.

Monday, May 1, 2017 named Jean Stothert hottest mayor in the U.S., so the Omaha World-Herald asked challenger Heath Mello to rate his own dude pulchritude

Brad Dickson, the World-Herald's humor columnist, used to write gags for Jay Leno. He's the one who asked Heath Mello to answer the hotness scale question, which is here.
     As for the gay community, you wouldn't have to beat down the door of Gallup's operations center down on the riverfront to surmise a very split decision.
    We asked three card-carrying 'mo's about Heath's Hair:
'Mo #1: Great hair? I dunno. I never ran my fingers through it. (He is a professional hair stylist and wasn't perving on Heath.)
'Mo #2: Oh, right. Any guy with dimples that adorable who brags about his hair is either an idiot or pretending not to be self-aware
'Mo #3: Damn! I just wanna [redacted]. ('Mo 3 was having a perv, but he works in construction and wants to nail every third guy he sees.)
'Mo #3 addendum: No I don't, not as long as 3 out of 5 look like you. Now why don't you go [redacted] a bag of [redacted], blogger boy?
     We gotta say this: Jean Stothert is certainly funnier and we look forward to the day when her wit isn't constrained by her duties as mayor, a day we hope arrives soon.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

On Heath Mello, Jean Stothert, Jane Kleeb and LGBTs

@JaneKleeb, whom we follow on Twitter, advised those of her followers who want to know how progressive really, is, not to read national blogs looking for clicks, but to read this instead.
     So we did. Naturally, given the unnatural nature of this blog (kidding!) we fixated on the following Heath Mello campaign pledge:
Continuing to protect Omaha’s LGBT workplace protections that Jean Stothert voted against
     Oh, c'mon! Even Jean Stothert has said she has no intention of repealing such protections (although that's not what the Omaha Liberty Project said she told them in 2013).
     We know of no serious effort to repeal LGBT workplace protections in Omaha, so Heath Mello's pledge to "protect" it is probably next to meaningless.
     What we would have preferred would have been a commitment by Mello to plug the gaping hole in LGBT protections in Omaha: protection against housing discrimination. Oddly, Mello issued a press release in February, stating just that.
     Every city, town, village and hamlet in Iowa has LGBT housing protection. Think it doesn't matter? Watch this shocking report by KETV:

     Mello is now under attack by conservatives (like they care about pro-choice people) and liberals (DailyKos rescinded its support of Mello) for his vote in 2009 to insist that Nebraska doctors advise women seeking an abortion that they could avail themselves of an ultrasound (!)
     The bill (now law) stank: it condescends to women and unnecessarily interferes with the practice of medicine. What Mello's vote didn't do, however, is force women to have an ultrasound, which many on the Internet have falsely claimed.
     Although we're suspicious of Mello's Catholic baggage and the political triangulations of him (and all politicians) he does support LGBTs when the chips are down. When Senator Adam Morfeld needs a vote for statewide LGBT workplace protection, he gets one from Mello (who supports Morfeld's LB173, which includes housing protection.)
     But we're not impressed by the "continue to protect" pledge pointed to by Jane Kleeb and Nebraska's Democratic Party. LGBTs need more than half a loaf; they need housing protection.
     Are we suggesting that Kleeb and Co. are using cynically using LGBTs? No. Kleeb has consistently supported the 50,000 (at least) LGBTs in the state. We haven't forgotten that it was her group, Bold Nebraska that helped air the TV ad urging passage of Ben Gray's Omaha LGBT workplace protections in the first place:

Equal Employment Commercial (read details) from Yay, You Did It on Vimeo.

(Fun fact: Django Greenblatt-Seay, who shot and edited the above, also did Mello's new campaign video. AKSARBENT would love to know how he combined a fast-motion background with Ben Gray in normal-speed in the foreground. If you wanna tell us, Django, tweet @AKSARBENT!)
     As for Stothert's claim that her opposition to LGBTs workplace protection is water-under-the-bridge and that LGBTs "misunderstand" her, well, that's bullshit. Long after she was outvoted on the Council, she made sure that the city was one of the last entities in Omaha to extend workplace health insurance to the spouses of LGBTs. She will never lift a finger to ensure that LGBTs have recourse when they get jerked around.
     Known by the company she keeps (Hi, Scott Walker!) Stothert has even aligned herself with a far-right gun-nut group in Omaha that is boycotting Chuck E. Cheese because it won't let them bring their guns into the joint (and MAT, the zoo, OPPD, and Paypal for the same reason.)
     Should LGBTs stay home on election day? Certainly not! Should they be disappointed about Mello's campaign pledge? Yup.

     P.S. We sure wish Nebraska Democrats would go after NE AG Doug Peterson for appealing a ruling on the state's antigay adoption policy to avoid $144k in legal fees to the gay couple who were forced to sue the state (said the Lincoln Journal Star.)
    The Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously laughed at his argument (they likened the Heineman/Ricketts policy he defended to a "Whites Only" sign) and now the state (that would be me and you, friend) is on the hook for $174,000. This isn't the only tax money Peterson has thrown down a rathole using state resources to pursue his antigay agenda.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Stothert thanks group boycotting Omaha Steaks, MAT buses, OPPD and a Humane Society for its support

Jerry Kratochvil strikes again! The Leavenworth St. blog
founder,who is now managing Jean Stothert's digital campaign,
shot himself in the foot again with an absurd cutline.
The Nebraska Firearms Owners Association is so whacked it is boycotting businesses like Chuck E Cheese and Brewskys because neither allows Glocks, Rugers and other guns inside, where alcohol is served. (Yes, Chuck E Cheese serves alcohol, and what sensible adult wouldn't need a few belts in a place like that?)
     Also on the organization's hit list: PayPal, The Humane Society, The Holland Performing Arts Center, Goodwill, Woodhouse, OakView and Westroads malls, AMC theatres, Century Link Center, the zoo and the Omaha Children's museum, among many others.
     But that didn't prevent Jean Stothert for thanking the radically right-wing association for its support and money. Stothert reputedly carries a gun in her purse and has been endorsed by the NRA, which killed an amendment in 2013 limiting the size of magazines like the one attached to the 9mm handgun that killed Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco.
     The Nebraska Firearms Association is also sympathetic, apparently, to the gun lobby initiative to make silencers more easily available to the public. The NRA laughably calls the bill the "Hearing Protection Act."
     Silencers will make Omaha's expensive (and questionable) ShotSpotter system far less accurate in detecting illegal gunfire in Omaha.


Oldest environmental group in America rips Gorsuch

Next month the Sierra Club, America's first Environmental/Conservation organization, will be 125 years old.
     When you cross the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco to Marin County you can visit an an enchanting grove of Redwoods, Muir Woods, named for the Sierra club's first President, John Muir.
     Here's what his organization has to say about Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch:
    "As the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court must be composed of justices that are fair, even-handed, and thoughtful. Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, is none of those things and must be rejected. Gorsuch has proven himself hostile to environmental protection, women’s rights, and the rights of workers and cannot be trusted to protect our air, our water, or our communities.
     "The Supreme Court has the responsibility of deciding on the cases that protect everything from our clean air and water to our civil rights and liberties. Gorsuch is not fit for that responsibility. Gorsuch has shown he will prioritize his warped ideological views instead of using our Constitution as a guide. His dangerous views favor polluters and industry over the rights of the people. His record shows that he will limit the access of everyday Americans to the courts and prevent agencies like the EPA from fulfilling their mission and doing their job to protect our air, water, and health. He’s even been described as more extreme than Justice Scalia.
     “As a Supreme Court Justice, Gorsuch could undermine countless safeguards, including those that protect the civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and the health and safety of our environment. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the nation, oppose this nomination, and use every tool in the shed to block this extremist nominee.”

Friday, March 31, 2017

The campaign issue Jean Stothert is probably glad Health Mello missed

You've seen that Mello ad in which he ticks off property taxes, sewer taxes and the restaurant tax, ending with him brandishing a restaurant bill and saying "It's all too much!"
     This is weak, because Mayor Stothert isn't solely responsible for any of those taxes, not even the restaurant tax she deplored when running against Suttle, then ignored when her administration benefited from it — however badly she may be handling their imposition.
     Even the extension of the restaurant tax to food trucks on Stothert's watch is defensible. Why should Whoppers handed out the window of a Burger King be restaurant-axed, but not tacos handed out the window of a food truck?
     What Mello totally missed is the one increased fee, affecting hundreds of thousands of Omahans, that Stothert totally owns: a hugely irritating expansion of parking meter fees.
     We're not historians, but we'd guess that thousands of Omahans who grew up here and are old enough to be on Medicare never in their life had to feed a parking meter on a Saturday or after 5 on a weekday — until Jean Stothert became mayor.
     This is a provocative political issue and something Team Mello is apparently completely blind to.
     Here's how that ad which ended in a restaurant with Mello's disapproval of his restaurant-taxed tab SHOULD have ended:
Family exits restaurant to find a parking ticket tucked under the windshield wiper. Mello picks up the ticket, looks at his wife, and says: "On a SATURDAY?"
Then Mello's wife, instead of being a voiceless political prop in her husband's campaign ads (in this respect Mello is just too, too traditional) should have said, with wry, sarcastic resignation: "Welcome to Jean Stothert's world!" Last image in the ad, with the vote for Mello verbiage, should have been of a parking meter.
     And don't get us started on the fact that in Lincoln, people summoned for jury duty can park in a their own free lot, unlike here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

KETV's invoices show how much it made from false ads touting TrumpCare

We wondered how much KETV and its parent, Hearst, has banked from all those American Action Network Superpac ads propping up Rep. Don Bacon's attack on ObamaCare, so we tried to decipher the various contracts and seemingly overlapping (to us) invoices dumped by KETV into the FCC's political ad disclosure folders.
    They were about as indecipherable as a hospital bill, but we'd guess KETV alone (heaven only knows how much WOWT and KMTV are making from this) has made $20-30,000 since January airing American Action Network ads praising Trump/RyanCare. Here's one contract we found (click to enlarge):

Below is the worst of the ads, showing just how loose KETV's truth-in-advertising standards are. The spot is filled with obvious lies and half-truths. This is broadcasting in the public interest, for which the FCC issues licenses to TV stations?
     The nicest thing you can say about KETV's greedy behavior in this matter is that the ads it ran for fly-by-night Omaha real estate seminars that followed the fraudulent business model of Trump University (bait, switch, upsell) may have been even worse.

Monday, March 27, 2017

3 ways to resist today's American fascism, as told to Bill Maher by a Yale history prof

What the world's best-preserved mummy shares with Madonna, Elton John and Lauren Hutton

Ötzi (not his real name) lived on the Italian/Austrian border 3,300 years ago near the crest of the Ötzal Alps.
     He was 45, plus or minus 6 years and had a 3mm gap  between his two upper front, teeth a condition which Madonna, Elton John, Lauren Hutton and Alfred E. Neuman also have, called diastema.
     Investigators know a lot about his murder, the coldest of cold cases, since he was on (well, in,) ice until 1991, when global warming thawed him and he was discovered by two hikers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump approves Keystone XL; it'll raise midwest gas prices up to 40 cents per gallon

Cindy Myers photo of Keystone 1  leak in S. Dakota.
Donald Trump has given TransCanada a permit denied it by President Obama for its Keystone XL pipeline, an extension to Keystone 1, which leaked 12-14 times in its first year of operation. The pipeline, touted as a guarantee of energy independence for the U.S., will actually raise oil prices in the Midwest, according to TransCanada's own internal documents.

     Keystone XL will raise Midwest oil prices up to 40 cents per gallon, according to Consumer Watchdog.
     TransCanada's own figures show the company expects Keystone XL to jack up Midwest oil prices $2 to $3.9 billion per year:

     Keystone XL isn't actually an oil pipeline; it is diluted bitumen ("dilbit"), an abrasive pipe-destroying goo which won't flow unless thinned with carcinogenic solvents whose exact composition TransCanada refuses to disclose to the landowners it has threatened with eminent domain condemnations.
     Also, the stuff must be pressurized up to 1600 PSI (conventional crude flows at 600 PSI) and heated up to 160 degrees.
     Because unusually toxic dilbit isn't technically oil, TransCanada (and Exxon, for that matter) refuse to kick in eight cents per barrel to the Treasury Department's Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
     The current route of Keystone XL crosses the northeast edge of the Ogallala aquifer, the largest, purest underground aquifer in North America, which, in Nebraska alone, is literally the wellspring of a $20 billion ag industry.

     Apologists have claimed that the pipeline will create lots of U.S. jobs.
     It won't; few of the jobs will be permanent. And despite Trump's repeated promises that he would stand up to TransCanada and insist that all the steel pipe will be made in the U.S., it won't be. From USAToday, quoting White House spox Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
"The way that executive order is written," Sanders said. "It’s specific to new pipelines or those that are being repaired. Since this one is already currently under construction, the steel is already literally sitting there; it would be hard to go back."
      Deena Winter reported that 230 miles of the pipe had been sitting in a pasture in North Dakota for five years. That was in 2013!
     Boosters claim that the pipeline will create energy independence for the U.S.
     That is nonsense; the pipeline is through the U.S., not to the U.S. The product will be refined in Houston and sold on the world oil market to the highest bidder.

How senators voted on S.J. Res. 34 — the bill letting Internet providers sell your browsing history

First, an explanation of what the Senate did yesterday, from PCGamer:
     Well, this is bullshit. Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate just voted to overturn a set of privacy rules that were written in 2016 to prevent Internet service providers from sharing (selling, really) your Internet usage information, including your browsing history, The Washington Post reports.
     Oh, it gets worse. The rules only existed in the first place because the FCC implemented them last year, then under the leadership of chairman Tom Wheeler. As written, ISPs and wireless carries such as Comcast and AT&T must get permission from customers in order to share their personal information, including which websites they frequent. Today the Republican-led Senate voted 50-48 on a joint resolution that would not only rescind those rules, but bar the FCC from passing similar consumer protections in the future.
Who voted how? With two nonvotes (Thank you Rand Paul and Johnny Isakson) the short summary is this: no Dems or Independents voted for this outrage, only Republicans. Two GOP senators didn't vote: