Saturday, March 31, 2012

Advertising: Batchelor's Peas and the best gay ad never broadcast

The Olgilvy museum has been uploading some of the agency's classic ads (including a beautiful, pristeen copy of the gay Guiness ad which was never aired, and which is probably the best gay commercial ever made.)

But first, the ad for Batchelor's Wonderful Peas:

And In Westminster lately one sees
That scaffolding all 'round Big Ben is a sight
But whatever it is that they do at that height
You can be sure that the time's always right
For those Batchelor's wonderful peas

CommercialCloset (now part of GLAAD) had this to say about the Guinnes ad:
Artfully shot with the help of maverick California-based British producer Tony Kaye, the UK tabloid press widely reported the planned ad before it aired, to much scandal. Pubs and consumers were shocked that the traditional brand would air a gay ad.
     Fearing greater backlash by straight consumers, the TV spot was ultimately dropped by Guinness. Later, the company tried to deny that this spot even existed.
     "There was a desire by the agency and Guinness to have a certain ambiguity about it," Kaye told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in 1997 about the ad he created. "So that when you watch the spot, you said, 'Well are these guys gay or not?' These guys are gay -- the storytelling, to me, needed him to give the other guy a little peck on the cheek."
     When asked why the company would deny the existence of the ad he shot, Kaye offered, "Most of them have the vision of a dead rat. I think it was charming and it was very funny and would sell a hell of a lot of beer."
     It is deeply unfortunate that the spot never aired, as it regularly gets standing ovations at live Commercial Closet screenings to gay audiences.

Worcester, MA bishop stops commencement speech by Ted Kennedy's widow

McManus (Diocese photo)
Worcester Bishop Robert McManus has successfully pressured Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts to cancel a commencement speech by Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late senator from Massachusetts.
     The school issued a statement in which it said,  "As a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited."
     Kennedy’s widow said in her own statement that she was “disheartened” by the decision.
“I hold no public office nor am I a candidate for public office. I have not met Bishop McManus nor has he been willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna -Maria College, he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic,”
McManus' Diocese spokesman, Ray Delisle, explained McManus' interference by referring to an eight-year-old statement by the U.S. Conference of Bishops, in which the bishops said "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles." Presumably this refers to Vickie Kennedy's support of Planned Parenthood and marriage equality, now the law in Massachusetts.

Dominica arrests of Celebrity Summit gay cruise passengers: incriminating photo

This is why you can't always jump to conclusions. Yeah, Dominica is homophobic (although not nearly so much as Jamaica, to which gay North Americans should never venture) but as a photo published yesterday in Queerty shows, happy couple John Hart and Dennis Mayer, fined in court earlier this month, stepped way off the curb. Geez.
(Via JMG.)

HRC: Mitt Romney funded National Organization for Marriage through obscure Alabama PAC

From the Human Rights Campaign:
Financial documents obtained by HRC reveal that Mitt Romney donated $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage in 2008 – essentially funding NOM’s strategy of using racial division and unfounded scare tactics to attack LGBT equality, at the same time that NOM was fighting for Prop 8 in California.
     The money came via Romney’s “Free and Strong America” PAC during a time when NOM was heavily engaged in passing Proposition 8
     HRC reviewed copies of Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC’s filings with the Federal Election Commission – and no contribution to NOM was disclosed in those documents. The filings are available from the FEC. But, HRC did discover an Alabama-based “Free and Strong America” PAC that in 2008 does disclose the $10,000 contribution to NOM.

Friday, March 30, 2012

And no respect, no respect...

Former Jay Leno gag writer Brad Dickson wrote about a stolen vehicle and a robbery at the same Lincoln Airport rental car agency in his Wednesday Omaha World-Herald "Breaking Brad" column:
You know the best thing about stealing something at the Lincoln Airport?  No witnesses.

Fred Karger vs. Maggie Gallagher on MSNBC live

GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger was the first person to really look into the secretive finances and lack of adequate financial disclosure by NOM.
     The best part of the video is when Gallagher attempts to explain NOM's strategy of recruiting "non-cognitive elites" (translation: beauty queens like NOM's airhead flameout Carrie Prejean and football players) and only digs herself in deeper. "Whether you're smart people like Professor Robbie George or impressive athletes like David Tyree."


Lloyd Guerrero describes homophobic cane attack by grandmother of his roommate

(Video may take a few seconds to load.)

(Via Towleroad)

Paul McCartney's new release, 'My Valentine':
a video tailor-made for NPR

AKSARBENT listened to Teri Gross' Fresh Aire interview with Paul McCartney yesterday and we really like the song McCartney was promoting better than anything he's done in years. But the video... ugh. Do a 1/2-performance 1/2-concept video and hire some actors, Sir Paul. Spend some of your vast hoard.

DNC rips GOP budget

(Via JMG)

Hy-Vee bows to pressure from Iowa Gov. Branstad and Ag Sec'y Vilsack; will keep selling 'pink slime' to its customers; McDonalds, Kroger (Baker's) will not

Watch here.

Michelle Malkin website admits publishing phony pic of Trayvon Martin; Fox News Queen of Mean busted by tweet sent by Eric Boehlert of Media Matters

Why AKSARBENT loves Pittsburgh: CEO of Highmark, biggest PA health insurer, will use some of his benefits after porch fistfight with husband of mistress

Cropped version of photo by Flickr User brdonovan of
Highmark Bldg. in Pittsburgh wearing a Batman
graphic last July 28th to welcome film crews in town
to film latest installment of the movie franchise.
The square marks the location of the laser projector.
Oakmont Officer David Brankley quoted Dr. Melani saying "It's all about my money," in a criminal complaint... [Brankley also said] Dr. Melani agreed to have paramedics respond, because, he told the officer, "it would be a good idea if he was going to sue."
     Mr. Myler, 49, who had cuts on his face and legs, was not charged.
     ...After the scuffle, police said, an officer overheard Dr. Melani making phone calls to attorneys in which he said "something to the effect that if police hadn't been there he would have killed the Mylers."
     ...Mrs. Myler discovered after living with Dr. Melani for two months that he had hired a private detective to investigate her... Officer Brankley wrote, "He asked me in an emotional voice if I had ever had a relationship that was everything to me, and I declined to discuss that with him."
     ...In her husband's presence, Dr. Melani called Mrs. Myler a "slut" and accused her of "a conspiracy."
Mrs. Myler is a graduate of Slippery Rock University.

Weight Watchers helps Charles Barkley fit into the perfect little black dress

(Via Towleroad)

Outrage in Chile over murder of 24-year-old gay man may cause 'unstoppable momentum for change' despite powerful antigay evangelical Christian groups

A Chilean national outcry over the killing may overwhelm continued efforts by evangelical Christian groups to shut down antidiscrimination laws benefitting LGBT citizens. Elizabeth Flock of the Associated Press reports that "President Sebastián Piñera has promised that the government will not rest until a law that protects Chilean citizens against hate crimes is passed."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

MN Gov. Dayton joins annual gay rights rally in Minneapolis

House Speaker appoints extremist NOM founder and Manhattan Declaration author to U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom

Robert George is the author of the "Manhattan Declaration" which exhorts signers to ignore laws which prohibit discrimination against LGBT people and which was twice rejected by Apple as an iPhone app. He is also a cofounder of the National Organization for Marriage and was appointed by House Speaker John Boehner to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, on the very day that documents unsealed by the State of Maine unleashed a storm of criticism about NOM's creepy behind-the-scenes tactics.

More National Organization for Marriage dirty tricks: allocating $120,000 to find children willing to trash gay parents on camera

National Organization for Marriage President
Brian Brown at NOM/Family Leader rally to
attack gay families in Des Moines, 3/20/2012
The secretive Washington D.C. organization which has so far evaded campaign disclosure laws in Minnesota and Maine wasn't able to prevent Maine from unsealing confidential documents exposing its sinister strategy to pit gays against blacks.
     Even more disgusting was how NOM, which has worked with the Iowa Family Leader to destroy perogatives of civil marriages in the state and to recall three Supreme Court Judges, actually budgeted $120,000 to locate children willing to denounce "speak" about their gay parents on camera. (Page 25 in above-linked PDF.)

Teaser for Broadway Bares XXII: Happy Endings

The Onion looks at the NOM scandal


Antiquarium Bookstore: rumours of its demise greatly exaggerated; lost Orson Welles radio ad touting the shop; a discount for AKSARBENT readers!

Update: Antiquarium founder has passed away. Details here.
AKSARBENT drove a friend back to Missouri yesterday and on the way, stopped to book browse at an old favorite, the Antiquarium bookstore, now in Brownville (an arts community 90 minutes south of Omaha off I-29), where owner Tom Rudloff is discretely having the last laugh on Borders.
     For longer than three decades, The Antiquarium was Omaha's biggest, most popular used bookstore and well enough known to book lovers everywhere to have served as the bait of an Orson Welles-narrated radio ad in Young and Rubicam's "Wings of Man" radio/tv campaign for Eastern Airlines. (Scroll down to play the ad and see video of the old Antiquarium location.)
     Though we scarcely thought it possible, we liked the current venue even more than the former one; the new space (in a converted school's gym) soars, but still offers alcove after alcove, cleverly supporting the catwalks and built by Al Strong (the carpenter in the portrait), who was the King, Queen and Royal Family of construction material recycling, a connoisseur extraordinaire of iridescently loud Aloha shirts and the first person to point out to us how much of a bargain Maker's Mark was when first introduced.
The Antiquarium's new Brownville location, a block south of Main on Fourth Street.
The Omaha Antiquarium wasn't only known for books. It also had a record shop, run by wickedly funny Dave Sink, a local legend in his own right. (He repeatedly insisted that what the Antiquarium really needed was a neon sign on the roof alternately flashing "QUAINT" and "BOOKSTORE.") Sink was regarded as the godfather of Omaha's indie rock scene; his shop was the hangout for musically-inclined kids in Omaha in the 90s, including Simon Joyner and Connor Oberst, who said this after Sink's recent death:
I don’t remember the first time I went to the Antiquarium or met Dave Sink.  It all just kind of happened. I suppose I would have been twelve or so, just tagging along with my brothers and the older kids from the neighborhood.  Whenever that was I know I could not have known then that that place would become the epicenter of discovery for my musical life (and life in general) and probably the single most sacred place of my adolescence.

(The Antiquarium record shop did not move to Brownville. It is now a separate enterprise here.)

AKSARBENT didn't leave empty-handed. We snagged a copy of Phillip Norman's SHOUT!: The Beatles in their generation, the definitive biography of the supergroup. At, the paperback is fetching $11.55, but we paid $4.50 plus tax — for a hardcover.
   Not everything is that cheap, but you can get a discount, dear readers, just for mentioning this blog when paying! (Call the store at 402-917-1300 to verify hours, if you're driving a considerable distance.)

BELOW: a 1970s radio ad for Eastern Airlines which touted The Antiquarium as a good reason to visit Omaha. Your tour guide is the original Voice-of-God narrator, Citizen Kane director Orson Welles (whose name is misspelled in the video accompaniment.)

Huffington Post 'Gay Voices' contributer blames LGBT bloggers for success of NOM's gays vs. blacks ploy, rips Andy Towle in particular

The National Organization for Marriage must be cackling with glee over The NOM Scandal: No One to Blame But Ourselves! Even after being busted for setting gays on blacks or vice-versa, their strategy still seems to be working, at least in the Huffington Post's nasty broadside against virtually every well-known gay blogger, written by David Kaufman, who surely must be trolling for response links to his name, which is why we won't link to either him or his Huffington Post article. Google it if you must.
     Here's part of his ridiculous exaggeration (although we agree that every blogger who blamed blacks for Prop 8's passage without later correcting themselves should be ashamed.) Emphasis added by AKSARBENT, which absolutely cannot understand Kaufman's problem with Towleroad, a blog we read every day, and in which we detect as filterless an observation of black and white gays and homophobes as we can imagine a white person seeing.
     Kaufman's diatribe sticks in our particular craw because no one lionized black Omaha city councilman Ben Gray for his recent repeated and successful efforts to pass LGBT legislation here in Omaha more than did Towle, who gave Gray more space and mentions in his blog than did any other national blogger, black or white or straight or gay. What supposedly racist Andy Towle is this person talking about? Exactly how did his coverage serve an alleged agenda of dishing up racially divisive posts to the gay community?
     As for claims about benign neglect of n-word comments to his posts, we're surprised, given his daily output, that Towle even has time to go to the bathroom, much less examine every reaction he gets. (Towleroad has linked to and credited AKSARBENT at least a dozen times for various things, but we've never received so much as a line from Towle. For Pete's sake, if he doesn't have time to kibbitz with bloggers whose content he occasionally spotlights for his readers, why would Kaufman think he has time to microscopically sift through his feedback?)
     As for Towleroad readers' "love affair" with the n-word, we'd like to see any such Towleroad comment that wasn't slapped down immediately by other commenters. Does Kaufman really think that a blog which gets more hits per day than the population of most small cities won't attract a few racists? Is that a credible excuse to say his readers have a love affair with the n-word?)
Erroneously blaming African Americans for the passage of Proposition 8, attacking our black president for his, well, blackness, denouncing the black church, demonizing black people (particularly black men), and recklessly encouraging anti-black blog sentiment have been a hallmark of leading LGBT figures ranging from David Mixner and John Aravosis to Andy Towle and Dan Savage.
     Meanwhile, there's Towle, who, via his blog Towleroad, frames post after post in the most racially divisive contexts possible while cynically hiding behind a veneer of impartiality.
Towle's readers have a love affair with the word "nigger" -- which Towle apparently feels no need to remove from his comment feed.
     As for African Americans who do appear within the gay-stream (folks such as Pam Spaulding, John Amaechi, and Don Lemon), rather than add much-needed diversity, they
typically parrot their Caucasian patrons while offering little context and scant criticism.

Keith Ratliff, Sr., IA/NE NAACP prez, silent, still in bed with NOM's hate group partner while National NAACP speaks out on National Organization for Marriage's cynical ploy to pit gays against blacks

Keith Ratliff, Sr. at anti-gay rally with Vander Plaats, 1/2010
Keith Ratliff, Sr., president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, is an enemy of marriage equality in Iowa and has repeatedly appeared with Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated heterosexual supremacist hate group, Iowa Family Leader. Vanderplaats organized a joint rally earlier this month with the National Organization for Marriage just before explosive, widely reported disclosures of secret memos from the National Organization for Marriage were unsealed by the state of Maine, which revealed NOM's strategy to set gays and blacks against each other.
Source Too bad Rev. Ratliff doesn't have a thing to say
about NOM's race-baiting. Oh wait. He worked WITH
the NOM/Iowa Family Leader partnership!

The president of the national NAACP has spoken out on the issue, but Ratliff has said nothing. But then, he didn't distinguish himself or his chapter by loudly objecting (as did others) when the Iowa Family Leader said black children were better under slavery than they are now. AKSARBENT wonders how much this right-wing political operative gets paid to represent the supposed interests of black people in two states, when he'll be replaced with someone more in touch with the current views of the organization, and when he'll stop pretending to know the opinions of Martin Luther King on LGBT justice better than King's own wife.
Here's Ratliff helping the Iowa Family Leader and the National Organization for Marriage try to outlaw gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in Iowa, back in March of last year:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Des Moines Register blasts Iowa Family Leader

Note: The following observation was published by the Register before the Iowa Family Leader's wealthy, but petulant partner in judicial intimidation (that would be the National Organization for Marriage) was caught up in its own paper trail of cynical scheming to provoke gay activists into calling black anti-marriage equality activists "bigots," and therefore set two Democratic constituencies against each other.
A thistle to those who gathered at the Iowa Capitol last week to push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The group says its message is about love and religious truth, but it looks more like a message of hate and intolerance. There are numerous worthy causes activists can dedicate themselves to if they are trying to make Iowa a better place to live. Trying to strip some Iowans of equal rights is not one of them. Yet some of the people involved in the anti-marriage movement seem to have made a life’s work out of discriminating against others. That goes against Iowa’s long heritage of tolerance.

Keith Olberman interviews Brian Moulton about secret National Organization for Marriage strategy to set gays and blacks against each other

NOM was organized at the behest of prominent LDS members to win passage of Proposition 8, banning marriage equality equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in California. Since then, NOM leaders have consulted with Rick Santorum (see photo), have persuaded Mitt Romney to sign their anti-marriage equality pledge, and have joined forces with Bob Vander Plaats, leader of SPLC-catalogued antigay hate group, The Family Leader, to expel three of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of that body's unanimous decision to extend the civil right of marriage to same sex couples. NOM is now using its large, but mysteriously-sourced resources to target Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, who has adamantly refused to play ball with them.
     Gronstal's opponent, Al Riggenberg, appears to be completely on board with the National Organization for Marriage's crusade to end marriage equality in Iowa — and to outlaw civil unions and domestic partnershps too.
Clockwise, from upper left: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Maggie
Gallagher and Brian Brown of NOM, and Bob Vander Plaats.
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post editorial writer, wrote the following, yesterday:
 “NOM’s internal documents are a cynical catalogue of contempt,” Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, told me, “not just for gay people, not just for people of color, but for the Golden Rule of treating others as you would want to be treated.” In a statement provided to the Human Rights Campaign, civil rights icon Julian Bond said, “NOM’s underhanded attempts to divide will not succeed if Black Americans remember their own history of discrimination. Pitting bigotry’s victims against other victims is reprehensible; the defenders of justice must stand together.”
Below: at a DC marriage equality hearing, Brian Brown of NOM is asked (at about the 3:25 mark) questions about his organization's finances and whether it is a front to funnel money from the Mormon community. In a dismissive response, Brown repeatedly claimed NOM was a victim of religious bigotry.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Red State Update: other George Zimmerman 911 calls

On Monday, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, held a news conference, and addressed reports about their son’s suspension from school, and those that have been released by the Sanford Police: “The only comment that I have right now is that they’ve killed my son and now they’re trying to kill his reputation.”

AKSARBENT thinks that even if George Zimmerman isn't charged in the killing of Martin, his reputation, such as it is, will be fricasseed. Exhibit A is below, the first of what are sure to be many more.

Major League Soccer doesn't think you should see one of its players calling the ball boy a 'f*cking faggot'

ESPN reports that Major League Soccer is reviewing an incident at a game last Friday in which Colin Clark, a Houston Dynamo midfielder used an epithet and an obscenity to rebuke a ball boy who didn't make a throw-in fast enough.
Via Towleroad

Fallout grows over National Organization for Marriage's secret strategy to set gays, blacks against each other

Reaction from: MSNBC, NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond, New York Times, Daily Kos, ThinkProgress, The Atlantic, and The Daily Beast.  

Explosive: Maine unseals secret plan by Mormon-founded anti-gay marriage group to pit gays against blacks; Iowa-active National Organization for Marriage: 'goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies'

The National Organization for Marriage, which spent $600,000 in an Iowa partnership with Bob Vander Plaats to recall three of the state's supreme court justices, has been thumbing its nose at campaign disclosure regulations in Maine, Minnesota, and several other states with the help of Attorney James Bopp, who helped litigate the Citizens United case.
     Last week NOM and Vander Plaats staged a rally in Des Moines to call attention to their ongoing campaign to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in Iowa.
     Yesterday Maine unsealed internal NOM communiques that were uncovered as part of Maine's investigation into NOM's finances, and the Human Rights Campaign got copies of them.
     (To maintain the illusion that it is a grassroots-funded organization, NOM fights campaign disclosure regulations at every turn, but its most recent IRS Form 990 (2010) tells the real story: from its revenue that year — $9,197,742 — a whopping 69.1% came from just two undisclosed donors and 88.1% came from five undisclosed donors.)

Buzzfeed Politics reports:
     A spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, which has battled NOM tooth and nail for several years, said the documents showed a darker side of the conservative organization.
     "Nothing beats hearing from the horse’s mouth exactly how callous and extremist this group really is," said HRC's Campaign Media Director, Kevin Nix.
     The documents also makes clear that NOM's plans include the 2012 election.
     In a "$20 million strategy for victory" keyed to the 2010 midterm elections, the group says its agenda "requires defeating the pro-gay Obama agenda."
     "A pro-marriage president must be elected in 2012," the document says, although Obama has offered tepid opposition to same-sex marriage.
     The same document, an update to the group's board, described a $1 million plan through the conservative American Principles Project to "expose Obama as a social radical."
     The section, headed "Sideswiping Obama," suggests raising "side issues" including pornography to attack Democrats' flanks.
     The group also sought to identify "victims" of same-sex marriage — children raised in gay households — and in another document budgeted $120,000 to locate "children of gay parents willing to speak on camera."
To see how, according to John Aravosis, "Mormans bashed gays in Nebraska, too" go here.

From Fred Karger's website,

Who created the National Organization for Marriage?
     The Mormon Church appears to have created the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in the summer of 2007 to qualify California’s Proposition 8 for the November 2008 ballot. They set it up as a Mormon front group, exactly as they did with a very similar organization called Hawaii’s Future Today (HFT) in that state in 1995. HFT was established to pass a constitutional amendment in Hawaii to ban same-sex marriage. Sound familiar? They have now expanded NOM into seven more states, specifically to fight same-sex marriage in those states.
     We are posting official Mormon Church documents on this web site, dealing with significant Mormon Church actives in Hawaii. These documents show just how the Church operates and they illuminate the replication of the strategy in California in creating NOM to qualify and pass Proposition 8.

Organizational Chart to Create National Organization for Marriage
Gordon HinckleyGordon B. Hinckley
President, Mormon Church
Grand Strategist of Mormon Fight Against Same-sex Marriage

Jeffrey HollandJeffrey R. Holland
Quorum of 12 Mormon Apostles, Salt Lake City, UT
Former President of Brigham Young University (BYU)
Father of Matthew Holland
Matthew Holland Jr.Matthew S. Holland
BYU Professor, Salt Lake City, UT
Mormon Connection to NOM, Former Fellow of Robert P. George (2005–2006), Went to Professor George to Create NOM

NOM Board of Directors
Robert GeorgeRobert P. (Robby) George
Princeton Professor, Princeton, NJ
Former Teacher of Matthew Holland (2005–2006), Put NOM Board Together and Recruited Staff, Chairman of NOM, Headquartered in Princeton, NJ, NOM Board of Directors
Maggie GallagherMaggie Gallagher
President of NOM, Westchester, NY
Outspoken and Longtime Opponent of Same-sex Marriage, President of Institute for Marriage and Public Policy,
NOM Board of Directors
Brian BrownBrian S. Brown
Executive Director of NOM, Princeton, NJ
Recruited from Family Institute of Connecticut
NOM Board of Directors

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jennifer Roback Morse, of NOM's Ruth Institute, really hates it when her vitriol is catalogued

In today's post, GLAAD touched a nerve: Jennifer Roback Morse edition, Jeremy Hooper disassembles more of Jennifer Roback Morse's dissembly. Morse heads the Ruth Institute, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Organization for Marriage.
First lie:
According to the GLAAD website, I have held myself out as someone who purports to be an “expert on the lives of LGBT people.” Evidently (and unbeknownst to me) I have devoted my career “making life more difficult for LGBT people.” Although these extreme statements have since been scrubbed from the site, the organization continues to claim that “Bias is Not Balance.”
Bullcrap! Nothing has been "scrubbed" from the GLAAD site! Both of those claims were made in the Politico piece than ran on project launch day, and both are still there now. But saying whatever she thinks will make her look better is par for Ms. Roback Morse's course.
In the following video of Morse's rude testimony to the Rhode Island legislature, she tells so many half-truths, quarter-truths and untruths that it's no wonder YouTube comments were shut off from the get-go. Morse and her enablers certainly don't practice what they preach about shutting off debate.

Hollywood studio threatens to use DCMA to take down website of charity using "Hunger" and "game" in the same sentence

ThinkProgress reports that "Imagine Better, an umbrella group of multiple fan franchises spearheaded by the Harry Potter Alliance, partnered with Oxfam to launch a campaign called 'Hunger Is Not a Game.' It’s a multi-pronged effort, but the main thrust is in support of Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which aims to make food aid more efficient by encouraging local cultivation to reduce shipping costs and waste from spoilage."

Lionsgate, the studio distributing the movie obliquely referenced is not amused. Hence the letter ending thusly:
...We have the ability to take down your sites as a violation of our trademark and other intellectual property laws. We hope that will not be necessary as this is too serious a subject.
All rights reserved. Thank you.
Liat Cohen, Esquire
Senior Vice President Business Affairs & Litigation

Meet Colonel Al, who wants to dump Mike Gronstal and prohibit gay marriage AND civil unions AND domestic partnerships in Iowa, but can't spell the name of the city he wants to represent — or his opponent's name

The GOP, The Iowa Family Leader and the National Organization for Marriage will be spending several small fortunes to defeat Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs. His opponent will be Republican Al Ringgenberg, who just moved into Gronstal's district last year, and apparently didn't have time to learn inconsequential details like how to correctly spell either the name of the biggest city in the district he wants to represent) or his opponent's name.

Blog Under the Golden Dome  noticed last Bastille Day that Ringgenberg spelled "Council Bluffs"
wrong on his website. It was corrected the next morning, but when UTGD noted the correction,
it noticed that "Gronstal" was misspelled too. By 4:07  that afternoon Gronstal's name was

also corrected. Ringgenberg evidently outsources unpaid proofreading to the little people.

"Colonel Al" on marriage equality:
As an attorney, I strongly oppose the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court that redefined marriage under the Iowa constitution. Judges are supposed to interpret law under the constitution. Judges must not rewrite the constitution to meet a political agenda. The voters of Iowa reacted last November not because we’re bigots, but because the constitution belongs to us. I support an amendment to the Iowa constitution that restores marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Senator Gronstal, as the majority leader, blocked that constitutional amendment referendum before the voters. Voters have a right to decide how their constitution will protect marriage and the family.
Former Air Force lawyer
Al Ringgenberg, who pro-
secuted 100 courts-martial,
presumably while not
wearing a flight suit.
(Campaign website photo)
AKSARBENT thinks that "as an attorney," Ringgenberg shouldn't accuse the Iowa Supreme Court of "rewriting" the Iowa constitution to meet a "political agenda" when what actually happened is that a statute was struck because it failed the equal protection test of Iowa's constitution. Every judge on the bench agreed — so much for a supposed "political agenda." Nothing in the constitution was "rewritten." Ringgenberg said judges are supposed to interpret law under the constitution. That is exactly what the Iowa Supreme Court did with the remaining marriage statutes and directed other judges to do as well. And Ringgenberg, who is supposed to be a lawyer, has a problem with this?

If "Colonel Al" is too busy pandering to fundamentalists to have bothered to read the Iowa Supreme Court decision in its entirety, would it be too much to expect him to at least take 15 minutes from his efforts to misrepresent the decision and at least skim the Cliff's Notes 6-page "executive summary" that the court provided to explain why it did what it did — assuming he's as interested in light as he seems to be in heat.

10,000 atheists rally in DC: 'You don't need morals to have ethics'

The Raw Story reports:
In no other Western country does religion figure so highly in society as in the United States, where “In God We Trust” appears on bank notes and “one nation under God” is part of the national Pledge of Allegiance.
     Yet research over the past decade has indicated that Americans with no religious affiliations — “the nones” in sociological jargon — now make up around 15 or 16 percent of the population.
     “That is more than Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists combined — and doubled,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, which campaigns for the civil rights of non-believers.

Iowa's Zach Wahls at GLAAD Media Awards in NYC

It's knowing that a conservative talk radio host in western Iowa felt so threatened that he had to spend 30 minutes of his program going through that testimony line by line by line. It's the reminder of the power that I have, the power that we all have to shape the narrative that describes the human condition.

Above: Zach Wahls, raised by two moms, at the GLAAD Media Awards on March 24, 2012, described the whirlwind year following his testimony to the Iowa House of Representatives against HJR6, which would have advanced a measure to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships in Iowa.
     Although the video of his testimony eventually was viewed almost 17 million times on YouTube, Wahls wasn't able to convince the Iowa House to defeat the measure (see who voted against marriage equality here) but ultimately it went nowhere because Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed never to cooperate in an attempt to put the civil right of marriage to a popular vote.
     Gronstal, adamant in his defense of his gay constituents, said so again in Carter Lake on March 17. For this, Gronstal has been called a "dictator" by right-wing Iowa fundamentalists. (Gronstal's smart wife, Connie, gave the accusation all the respect it deserved by fliply saying that if her husband is a dictator, she wants more shoes.)

The GOP, The Iowa Family Leader and the National Organization for Marriage will be spending several small fortunes on TV, radio ads and robocalls to defeat Mike Gronstal.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Billionaire Koch Bros. astroturf group launches new assault on Kerrey-for-Senator candidacy

Radical right-wing billionaire David Koch began attacking Bob Kerrey in Nebraska even before he announced his candidacy. Now his puppet group, Americans for Prosperity, is spending another $105,000  to trash Kerrey educate Nebraskans about his position on Obama's health care initiative, among other things. The yellow ad at left ran on KETV Sunday night just before Kerrey's own "Step Up" ad. You can find it on YouTube but we're not going to embed it here. AKSARBENT won't give free publicity to billionaires unless their ad is unusually stupid. This one is just one dull, uninventive quarter-truth after another.

In his PR release linked to above, Brad Stevens said he wants to get emails at or calls at 402-310-7897 from people who want more information about the group. AKSARBENT would love to know why Americans for Prosperity is against a health care initiative which would cover millions of people who aren't now covered and save the government billions of dollars. But we won't be calling or emailing Brad about that anytime soon. Call us crazy, but we just don't think he would be that into us.

Below are Kerrey's first two ads. The New York Times said they were at, but when AKSARBENT went there, we were shown the digital door by Kerrey's website when we declined to surrender personal information, so we got the ads another way. Politicians.

Below is some of what is bothering the Billionaire Koch brothers and Brad Stevens (

NC anti-marriage equality ad undermines itself

Alvin McEwen and Pam Spaulding microscopically deconstruct a North Carolina ad supporting the initiative to ban gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships via an amendment to the state's constitution.
The ad exploits economic and racial issues. A young man  at the beginning of the ad gives the impression that if the referendum does not pass, then it will be difficult to combat poverty. And then he uses the “activist judges” talking points and that really bothers me. As an African-American man I bristle when I see another African-American using the talking points of “activist judges overturning the will of the people.” And while I am sure the man in question is reading cue cards (rather well I might add), someone should school him that if it weren’t for supposed “activist judges,” we wouldn’t have the decisions of Loving vs. Virginia (which overturned laws against interracial marriage) or Brown vs. the Board of Education (which overturned segregation laws.)

Homophobic Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King panics; after never debating a congressional opponent, he now wants SIX debates with Christie Vilsack

His congressional district, the fifth, was eliminated, and he's running against the wife of a former governor, Christie Vilsack, in a redrawn, more liberal fourth district, so Iowa GOP Rep. Steve has suddenly done an about-face on refusing to debate opponents. Now he has demanded SIX debates — at venues and times of his choosing, of course. He says Vilsack meets his "criteria" for a debate and wants an answer right away, due to his busy schedule of not getting any of his bills passed.
     Christie Vilsack called his flip-flop "refreshing" but says it will happen only at neutral venues.

Steve King's appalling record:
  • King, a miserably ineffective showboat, has sponsored 17 bills in the U.S. House, but, according to Open Congress, not one of them has been enacted
  • Has one of the worst congressional ratings, according to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and avoided the Vietnam draft for three years before he suddenly quit college after being assigned a high draft number which ended the threat of him being forced to shoot at anything that shoots back
  • Engaged in deceitful race baiting in the House of Representatives
  • Voted to expand internet surveillance of users by forcing Internet Service Providers to retain customers' temporarily-assigned IP addresses for 12 months as well as other information
  • Voted for a $250,000 congressional publicity stunt/nonbinding resolution to encourage public display of "In God We Trust" and to affirm that divisive religious bumper-sticker slogan which replaced E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), the US' original motto
  • Voted to defund your local NPR station, presumably in an attempt to get you to listen to Rush Limbaugh more
  • Voted to strangle Medicare
  • Voted to force a rushed decision to extend the toxic, leaky Keystone XL pipeline through the Ogallala aquifer
  • Voted for the "2004 American Jobs Creation Act" — which cut jobs
  • Accused Iowa marriage equality supporters of following him around and screaming "the worst profanity I've heard anywhere" — but offered not a shred of proof
  • Somehow concluded that the existence of babies in trashcans meant that the Obama's Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional
  • Was endorsed by Wall Street financiers who want to eliminate farm subsidies and were fined by the Federal Elections Commission
  • Played hookey from the House to whine at CPAC about Nancy Pelosi forcing him to use energy-saving lightbulbs in his office while the rest of Iowa's congressional delegation was on the job fighting to protect Iowa National Guard jobs
  • In a legislative passion ploy, showcased Bishop William Lori, a notorious Catholic bully, as Joan of Arc, tied to the stake by marriage equality advocates
  • Claimed he bulldozed throngs of intimidating, profane gays to protect Connie Mackie (but unfortunately failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of this)
  • Was called an embarrassment to Iowa by the state's largest newspaper, in its 2010 endorsement of opponent Matt Campbell. The Des Moines Register added that King was "provocative, not focused on getting results for Iowans... reactive, not visionary" and added that it was time for Iowa voters to replace him

Will lax oversight of homeschooling in NE, elsewhere, mean hundreds of thousands of ignorant, right-wing future voters?

Homeschooling, and its multiplier, quivering (the patriarchal movement of having a "quiverful" of homeschooled kids, trusting contraception to God) can have some rather alarming consequences, says a Nebraska woman who has been there, done that, and started a blog which throws water over the whole idea...
Take Vyckie Garrison, an ex-Quiverfull mother of seven who, in 2008, enrolled her six school-age children in public school after 18 years of teaching them at home. Garrison, who started the No Longer Quivering blog, says her near-constant pregnancies – which tended to result either in miscarriages or life-threatening deliveries – took a toll on her body and depleted her energy. She wasn’t able to devote enough time and energy to homeschooling to ensure a quality education for each child. And she says the lack of regulation in Nebraska, where the family lived, “allowed us to get away with some really shoddy homeschooling for a lot of years.” 
     “I’ll admit it,” she confesses. “Because I was so overwhelmed with my life… It was a real struggle to do the basics, so it didn’t take long for my kids to fall far behind. One of my daughters could not read at 11 years old.”
Here's how homeschool professor Michelle Duggar, mother of 19 and a political prop of Rick Santorum, dismisses overpopulation in the world.

Some pushback on No Longer Quivering
     LG61820 says:
Where I get riled up is the Duggar refusal to consider that they are using more of the earth’s resources than their fair share when they have so many descendents. Their house is bigger, requires more energy to heat and cool than if they had simply replaced themselves instead of trying to dominate their small county with future voters. They require more vehicles than the average family, more beef, more diapers, more everything.
     As a parent of children who were older adoptees (6 years old average) I daresay that the Duggars would have limited the size of their family had they chosen to adopt children & try to indoctrinate them into their beliefs instead of having baby after baby after baby.
I don’t think many viewers of their show realize that this is a political movement as much or more so than a religious movement. . . breed enough conservatives and you can control some elections. Scary.

     Jessica says:
“Kids look to be well taken care of to me”, taken care of by whom? Certainly not their mother. The younger kids are assigned to an older child. An older CHILD is doing the parenting that should be done by Michelle Dugger. She does not have the time to raise her own children because she has so dang many of them.They shop at thrift stores? Good for them! I still want to know how their huge home was pain for, who paid for their outrageous trip to Disney World and everywhere else they’ve gone. And to say the world’s population could fit into Jacksonville is absurd. I don’t see how she can truly believe that. Her girls are being raised to be little more than unthinking, submissive breeding stock.

     Bill says:
The Mother Theresa quote is particularily evil/stupid. I’ve been to India and wish this Duggar fool had to live on the street like millions of children do there. Children are not ‘like flowers’. Flowers require no real resources to survive, Children do. Im not sure if this woman is evil or just so stupid as to be incapable of thought.
The reality of overpopulation is well documented, despite the denials of many Christers. Doubting Thomases can go here or here or here or here or here but below is a fun video which describes the problem with facts not dogma.

Here's an interview with Vyckie Garrison, (Skip the first couple minutes of blah blah):

Listen to internet radio with Snap Out of It on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Departing game park worker says goodbye to lion cubs


Iowa GOP politics explained

Red State Update's Travis and Jonathan explain Iowa GOP politics.  (This was in the wake of the Iowa Straw Poll, but astute political analysis is timeless.)
Now here's a map of Iowa. See all these red counties here in the middle? All these red counties? That's what Rick Santorum won. These are the counties that are most embarrassed by their lesbian aunts. Now if you look at these green counties here, where Ron Paul came in first? Traditionally, Jackie, these are the counties with the most people who want to open a whites-only restaurant. And if you — look at these orangy yellow counties here where Mitt Romney came in first? As you can see, Jackie, these are the counties where people have just given up.

Red State Update bonus: a faux Rush Limbaugh kind of sings "I am woman."

The cost to business of LGBT discrimination

Crosby Burns, a research associate at the Center for American Progress, produced the following infographic:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jon Bruning off to DC on your dime to raise campaign funds and destroy some of your health care benefits

Share this via facebook, email, reddit or whatever. Use the buttons under this post!

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that John Bruning's campaign manager, Trent Fellers, says Bruning will be "sitting should-to-shoulder with his colleagues" to derail President Obama's health care initiative.
     Bob Kerrey's campaign manager called the trip "nothing but a charade and a fundraising trip," noting that Bruning has scheduled four fundraising events in three days.
"In fact, Jon Bruning will not speak one word to one Supreme Court justice during the hearings," Johnson said.
     Said the Journal-Star: "Bruning was one of a dozen state attorneys general to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law and has been a member of the group's five-member executive committee."
     Three days of oral arguments before the US Supreme Court will begin Monday.

     Here is some of what is at stake:

Maddow: Romney campaign unprecedented
in blatant, remorseless lies

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Perp admits viral birdman video was a hoax

Click ‘CC’ for English subtitles.

Gay travel index released; Iowa 14th, Nebraska 30th

Nebraska was 30th, with one point (one point each for having the same age of consent for both heteros and homos and for antidiscrimination legislation (Thank you Omaha) but it lost a point for "hostility of locals." Or, as we like to call it, the Jean Stothert/Franklin Thompson/Hal Daub/Dave Heineman factor.)

Iowa was 14th, with a total of 5 points (two each for antidiscrimination and equal adoption, one each for equal age of consent and marriage equality, but losing a point for "hostility of locals." Or, as we like to say, the Bob Vander Plaats/Chuck Hurley/Danny Carroll factor.)

In last place were Alabama and North Carolina, both -3. In first, New York and Massachusetts, both 8.

Gay Marriage in IowaGrant Wood, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, painted American Gothic, perhaps the most reproduced and parodied portrait in the history of art. In Iowa City, where he taught art classes at the University of Iowa, he was denounced as a homosexual in a formal departmental complaint lodged by five colleagues. The matter was hushed up. He died of cancer brought on by a severe drinking problem.

Nebraska's greatest novelist, Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947) was born on Pearl Harbor Day before it was Pearl Harbor Day. H.L. Mencken, the cynic's cynic, said “No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.”

The Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial ridiculously denied that she was a lesbian, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

Cather left Nebraska to live in Pittsburgh (a great city!) and, later, Greenwich Village in New York City.


Jimmy Carter: Jesus never said a word about homosexuality

Jimmy Carter Library
The Huffington Post's Senior Religion Editor Paul Brandeis Raushenbush interviewed former President Jimmy Carter by phone about the more difficult questions presented in the Bible on the occasion of the publica­tion of Carter's new book, NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.

A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things -– he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.
     I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.