Thursday, September 19, 2019

Faron Young gave Willie Nelson a square deal — but wasn't exactly prepared for Nelson's effusive thanks

Willie Nelson
Ken Burns didn't acknowledge any LGBT stars in his histories of Baseball, Jazz, or, so far, in Country Music. The closest he has come was in an anecdote last night about Faron Young and Willie Nelson, who was always critically short of money in his early years. From Country Music:
"I hawked my guitar so many times," he said later, the pawnbroker played it better than I did. Once, strapped for cash, he sold his writing credit on two songs for only $200, giving up all future royalties. One of them, "Family Bible," became an immediate hit on country radio when someone else recorded it. The other, "Night Life," would later go on to sell 30 million records. In Nashville, Nelson offered to sell country star Faron Young his writing credit to "Hello Walls" for just $500.
Faron, not the wheeler-dealer sharpie that other country stars like Gene Autrey or Buck Owens were, instead offered Nelson a $500 loan if he promised not to sell the song to anyone else, and let him keep the rights.
Young's recording topped the country charts, then became a top 20 pop hit, and soon was covered by Perry Como, Lawrence Welk, and Willie Nelson's hero, Ernest Tubb. When his first royalty check arrived — for $14,000 — Nelson found Faron Young at Tootsie's and in front of everyone, gave Faron Young a big kiss, square on the lips. "I ain't never had nobody, Young said, "kiss me that good in my life."

Cosmo Jarvis shows you how to play the Gay Pirate Song

UK film actor Cosmo Jarvis has performed his "Gay Pirates" song for about 10 years, It is known virally (about 2.5 million YouTube views) in large part because Steven Fry jump started its spread by  tweeting an early video performance. We were going to embed the youtube-unlisted Amsterdam Version (collect them all!) but the one at the bottom of this post is better.
     There's a 2012 full-costume theatrical extended version, also unlisted on Jarvis's  channel (He reputedly got tired of people asking if he is gay, which he isn't.)
     BBC Radio 1 refused to play the song due to the term 'gang-rape’. But Radio 4 and 6 had no issues, letting him play it live.
     Jarvis also posted a tutorial on how to play the song, (you'll need a mandolin) in which he briefly takes a time out to show you his air rifle and is distracted when he spots forgotten money in his room. "Oh, a quid!" But the chords are there, pickers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

NeGOP Exec. Dir. tried to bully a Republican for telling the truth about racism and the GOP; now he's trying to hide from the Internet

The other day, Nebraska (motto: "We're too cheap to have a House of Representatives!") State Senator John McCollister, whose family is prominent in state GOP politics, tweeted criticism of the GOP, saying that it was "complicit in obvious racist and immoral activity." (
      McCollister's tweets went viral via attention in HuffPost and CNN, which must have been terribly embarassing to the Nebraska GOP, so its Executive Director, Ryan Hamilton, decided to try to bully McCollister, who was probably attending GOP meetings when Ryan was in diapers.

     Evidently, the Internet was not amused by Hamilton's tantrum, because today his Twitter account is locked down, according to gay journalist @ChrisGeidner (We love our people!) and Hamilton also has apparently 86'd his LinkedIn account.
    Sen. John McCollister's twitter account, on the other hand, is still accessible and today has TWENTY THOUSAND FOLLOWERS, up from about 640 a few days ago. This is almost four times the number of people who follow the @NEGOP, if you're keeping score.
     But back to Hamilton. Why did he delete his LinkedIn account? Is it because it had his picture (he's kinda hot, for a dick)? Or is it because it had details of his stint in Nevada working to TORPEDO BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR GUNS?
      Who can say, really? But this would be a terrible time for the head of the Nebraska GOP to get busted for a history of trying to sabotage efforts to prevent assault rifle massacres, wouldn't it?
     And anytime is a bad time to remind voters how extremist your party's core is, when you're trying to attract more of them to the fold.
     We think Ryan Hamilton should resign or be fired, but if not, we're good.
     Shoot — he might turn out to be that loose cannon gift that keeps on giving.

Friday, July 5, 2019

NE attorney who drove 110 miles to bait Buttigieg in Iowa is offended that he 'dismissed me as a racist'

Gee, all Omaha, Ne. lawyer David Begley did was to troll Buttigieg by driving deep into Iowa to crash his Carroll, Iowa appearance and lay what he must have thought was a gotcha query on Pete:
Buttigieg is way too smart to be successfully ambushed by a 3rd-rate gadfly, so he did comment. The entire exchange is in Politico. This followed:
     Buttigieg didn’t allow a follow-up question, and Begley spent the rest of the event looking at his phone.
     Begley said he was not a member of the Carroll County Democratic Party but he came to the event because he writes for the conservative Powerline blog and there would be a "full report on this."
     Begley told reporters after the question-and-answer session said he resented Buttigieg’s response. Begley said he didn’t think his comment was racist.
      “I just urged him in order to resolve the racial controversy in South Bend, is to urge the blacks in South Bend to obey the law so they’re not going to have confrontations with the police, and he dismissed me as a racist which I resented and he knows he’s wrong,” Begley said.
Powerline, where Begley writes and posts selfies with such free thinkers as Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, is a dopey, doctrinaire, denier of global warming and a reliable mimic of hollow GOP bullet points. In his time off from being a reactionary dilettante, Begley posts to his own elder law blog where he ridicules Mr. Aretha Franklin, a dead person.
Screencap retrieved at noon, 7/5/2019. Highlighted emphasis added.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Antigay IA Sen. Chuck Grassley now using dead gay artist to pander to Iowans

Self-styled art critic Grassley (who is much better at personally slopping at the trough of government subsidies to gentlemen farmers) wants everyone to remember that Grant Wood is from Iowa and no one to know Grant Wood was gay. Grassley, after posing in front of the house Wood made internationally famous, told Fox News this:
"I think it brings attention to the artist number one, Iowans are proud of him. He’s made a big impact on agriculture... It also reminds people of one of the outstanding examples of his paintings is the husband and wife in front of this home, and it’s a tourist stop as well."
Here's what the Smithsonian said:
     Discussion by David C. Ward, co-curator of "Hide/Seek" and Historian at the National Portrait Gallery:
     After a tumultuous three decades during which America looked outward, Americans began to look inward in the 1930s, emphasizing traditional virtues instead of cosmopolitan modernism.
     Grant Wood, painter of the iconic "American Gothic" (1930), became the best example of this school of home-grown realism. Wood had had a difficult time as an art student in France, and he returned to his native Iowa in 1926 with relief.
     But it would be a mistake to see his working in an American style as a retreat from modernism. Instead, he took traditional subjects and updated them with an understanding of psychological complexities; he was a notable satirist of American pieties, and his landscapes are so stylized that they become abstractions.
     In "Arnold Comes of Age," the wistful youth set against the homoerotic scene in the background suggests the tension and difficulties faced by gay men, such as Wood himself, who stayed in Middle America.

Below is the video the Smithsonian made, using a Wood painting in the Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. (H/T: @AustinFrerick)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Pete Buttigieg: I may attend forum sponsored by Iowa's #1 homophobe; Beto: Kick rocks, Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa's #1 political hustler, who herds evangelicals and delivers them (or tries to) to the highest Republican bidder (see video 2, below), has invited seven Dem candidates to his forum on faith and politics. He wants to find out "what makes them tick."
     What makes Vander Plaats tick is duplicity, greed and character assassination. Watch him trash Iowa Supreme Court Justice Dave Wiggins in the 2012 AKSARBENT video below:

     Vander Plaats mounted a scorched earth campaign to oust every judge (all 9 of them!) on Iowa's Supreme Court after their 2009 decision ruling that banning gay marriage was a violation of the equal protection provision in the state's constitution. After Vander Plaats convinced Iowans to dump three of them in rentention votes, the Iowa Bar Association had enough, and HIRED A TRUCK WITH A BULLHORN to follow Vander Plaats across the state when he tried to do the same thing to Justice Wiggins. It worked. Vander Plaats hasn't ousted any more judges.
     The Advocate reports that an aide to gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told NPR the mayor would consider attending. Beto O'Rourke was having none of it; he basically told Vander Plaats to kick rocks.    
A spokesman for O’Rourke said the former Texas congressman would not participate. “Vander Plaats and the Family Leader have unapologetically provided a forum for dangerous anti-LGBTQ hate speech on numerous occasions,” Chris Evans said. “They are the antithesis of the unifying, inclusive, welcoming atmosphere that our campaign prides itself on in Iowa and across the country. We will not be participating in this forum.” Other campaigns would not comment on the record.
     How shameless a liar is Vander Plaats? Watch the other video AKSARBENT made about him.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mueller report doesn't exonerate Donald Trump, but it does exonerate Omahan Seth Rich

Libeling a dead Omahan: Fox News. Fairly imbalanced.
Page 56 on NPR's .pdf of the Mueller Report, flatly states that Julian Assange and Wikileaks "falsely implied" that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, of Omaha, was the source of the DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks.
     This is a startling local angle on the biggest story of the day. You'd think that KETV, which calls itself Omaha's "news leader" would be reporting that, but you'd be wrong. As of this writing, neither are any of the other Lincoln or Omaha TV stations. Nice work ya rummies. All you had to do was download and read the damn thing.
d. WikiLeaks Statements Dissembling About the Source of Stolen Materials

As reports attributing the DNC and hacks to the Russian government emerged, WikiLeaks and Assange made several public statements apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing. The file-transfer evidence described above and other information uncovered during the investigation discredit WikiLeaks's claims about the source of material that it posted.

Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails. On August 9, 2016, the @WikiLeaks Twitter account posted: "ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich."180
Likewise, on August 25, 2016, Assange was asked in an interview, "Why are you so interested in Seth Rich's killer" and responded, "We're very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged Wikileaks sources." The interviewer responded to Assange's statement by commenting, "I know you don't want to reveal your source, but it certainly sounds like you're suggesting a man who leaked information to WikiLeaks was then murdered." Assange replied, "If there's someone who's potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious circumstances, it doesn't necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter. . .that type of allegation is very serious, as it's taken very seriously by us."181

After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking. According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an "inside job," and purported to have "physical proof" that Russians did not give materials to Assange.132

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Don Bacon at town hall: FRC not an antigay hate group. Southern Poverty Law Center: they've been one for decades

So one of our friends went to see Ben Sasse at his town hall and discovered that it was really a Don Bacon town hall. We're surprised that, at 8:30 on a Saturday, he was able to find the venue at all.
     When he showed up with his camcorder, Bacon's Communications Director asked him who he was "with." He didn't like that, so he gave us a copy of the video he took. HE'S WITH AKSARBENT NOW, DON BACON!
Tony Perkins (right) heads the Family Research Council, an
antiLGBT hate group located in Washington, D.C. Perkins
has a sordid political history; he once purchased Klansman
David Duke’s mailing list for use in a Louisiana political
campaign he was managing. In 2001, Perkins gave a speech
to a Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative
Citizens, a white supremacist group
     Our attention was got when the very first constituent question Bacon fielded was about his scurrilous association with the antigay Family Research Council, which gave Bacon a small, cheap-looking trophy for good behavior in 2017. We figured Bacon's questioner must have been gay hisself to have been so incensed, but our spy found out he has a very pregnant wife, so, no.
     This must be a nightmare for poor Don. His buddy, Tony Perkins, is now so radioactive than even heteros are starting to yell at Bacon in Middle School auditoriums.
     Anyway, Don upbraided "Mark" for calling the Family Research Council (FRC) a hate group:
There's people who have Christian faith, traditional Christian faith, and those who disagree with them... You're trying to say Christians should be hated. And that is wrong... We should also be able to have the faith we also believe in and not call them hate groups, Mark.
Southern Poverty Law Center doesn't care if you call the  FRC a hate group, Mark. It has, since 2010:
"FRC was designated an anti-LGBT hate group in 2010 for decades of demonizing LGBT people and spreading harmful pseudoscience about them. Over the years, the organization has published books, reports and brochures that have linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claimed that LGBT people are dangerous to children and claimed that LGBT people are promiscuous and violent."
     If you find the SPLC's facts about the FRC disgusting, you certainly won't want to read what the HRC says about it.
     Rep. Don Bacon believes that a D.C. pressure group that has been engaging in class slander for decades is owed civiilty and should not be called what it obviously is. You can believe that if you like.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nebraska state senator cites new Google data center as reason to oppose LGBT job protections

Despite having been served with FOUR HUNDRED SUBPEONAs by the Nebraska Attorney General February 26th and going to court to complain that it can't comply with the AG's 3-day deadline, the Catholic Church and its minions still found time to help the Nebraska Family Alliance kill yet another LGBT employment antibias bill, LB627, debated March 4th and 5th in the Nebraska Unicameral.
     Lincoln senator Senator Suzanne Geist, who exploits the fiction that LGBT job bias protections are a burden to business growth, (despite contrary positions by both the Lincoln and Omaha Chambers of Commerce), actually invoked Google to justify her opposition to LGBT job bias protections in LB627 (at 26:59): "One company that has recently announced that they will be coming to Nebraska is Google. They will be opening a data center in Nebraska. With all of these great things happening in our state, we need to continue to support business growth."

     Senator Megan Hunt (at 19:30) was pissed. "So saying you oppose this because you believe you're concerned about small businesses is bull hockey. Saying you oppose this bill because you support small businesses is really a joke... It makes me think that you think... Nebraskans are really fools. This is not going to be forgettable for me. Because this is personal... I'm going to remember... So I'm going to remember where some of you were on employment nondiscrimination when you want my vote on things."
     At 22:39, Senator Joni Albrecht speaking on behalf of the right of employers to fire people solely because they are gay, cited a survey claiming Nebraska (notorious for low wage jobs) is 4th in the nation as a state "where you would find good-paying jobs."
     Senator Adam Morfeld wasn't having any of the antiLGBT arguments. At or near 30:34: "This is nonsense... Stop reading the Nebraska Family Alliance and the Nebraska Catholic Conference talking points and let's have a real discussion about this. A real discussion about right and wrong, and why we want to use religion in this state as an excuse to fire people for who they are... That is sick. I'm very frustrated right now... Can there be frivolous lawsuits? Absolutely. I could go sue Senator Halloran tomorrow. I could do it today! I could walk down to the courthouse!" Morfeld then explained that if lawsuits are really frivolous, (a frequent scare tactic raised by opponents of LGBT antibias job laws) court fees and damages can be awarded.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The outrageously funny, in-your-face ad GM is airing to sell new Sierras with amazing transformer tailgates

These commercials are as delightfully disruptive as advertising gets. Anything that can get us to root for GM is astonishing, though part of the credit probably goes to Ford's own ad agency, responsible for a recent TV avalanche of humorless, unpersuasive and, above all, obnoxious hard sell hectoring. Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey-ay. Go-od-bye!
     The ads probably cost a fortune to make and are worth every cent. Some deets from ispot:
Creative Agency: Engage M-1
Soundtrack: Steam's Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.
Actors: Anderson Davis (tailgate holder), Barrett James (guy with red tailgate), Christopher Allen (guy raising pointer finger), Elando Baltimore (grey sweater guy holding red tailgate. Voiceover: Will Arnett

Ford's dreary ad offering: salesmanship with a lead pipe

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A rough day in Nebraska: hired gun for antiLGBT Alliance Defending Freedom gets openly mocked in Judiciary Committee hearing

Sen. Chambers (r) wasn't buying much of what the Alliance
Defense Fund's Matt Sharp was selling last week
NE Unicameral twitter hash tag:  #NeLeg

Last week saw the hearing for LB167, Senator Megan Hunt's bill to ban commercial conversion therapy in Nebraska. It lasted longer than 3 1/2 hours and included disturbing testimony from several survivors of so-called conversion or reparative therapy, including Adam Witte (40:33 in the hearing video below), who described the practice as "damaging-to-barbaric, as well as ineffectual" and recounted his experiences, in Nebraska in 1998-9, at a "treatment facility" which waived parental authorization and subjected him, over 15 months, to shock treatments so severe that at one point he passed out and discovered, upon regaining consciousness, that part of his tongue was missing.

Above: the film "Boy Erased" loosely recreated a mock funeral staged by the Memphis, Tennessee group "Love in Action" as punishment for Aaron Aupperle, of Lincoln, who recounted his time in conversion therapy at the 48:15 mark in the hearing video below

Matt Sharp, of the virulently antiLGBT Alliance Defending Freedom swooped into Lincoln last Thursday to testify against LB167, Senator Megan Hunt's bill to ban commercial conversion therapy in Nebraska. (ADF is a very well-heeled organization. It has raked in over a million bucks in Arizona alone from specialty license plates.)
     Sharp got three minutes to make his case, like everyone else, but senators then peppered him with nearly half an hour of questions ranging from  skeptical to outright mocking.
     AKSARBENT published a short wishlist of questions it wished the Judiciary Committee had asked Sharp about his organization, but nobody listens to us.
     Sharp's testimony, (at 2:27:25 in the video below) centered largely on a recent Florida case, argued that LB167 infringed the (commercial) free speech of counselors. It also engendered a lot of tilted-head skepticism.

Senator Ernie Chambers: First of all, Florida law is not binding on Nebraska. An injunction is not a decision by the court on the merits of a case. Have you ever heard of the term "false advertising"?...Well is that protected by the first amendment, to allow you to say anything you want to about any product that you're selling? [An obvious reference to the debunked practice of conversion "therapy" to alter sexual orientation or gender identity.]
...This is based on the exchange of money for a service. I'm sure you know enough about federal requirements when it comes to regulation of medicines, as opposed to these quack items that they sell in these stores called "supplements." They're not subject to regulation by the FDA because they don't profess to be medicine. They cannot make any medical claims. It would seem from what you're saying that that violates their right to free speech because they should be free to say anything about their product they choose and if the public accepts it they should be allowed to do it but that's not the law. So when you read this law, you see that it's talking about a deceptive practice. Is that what you read in the law that we're talking about?
Matt Sharp: I do understand that... this is putting these conversations under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. That's correct...
Senator Patty Pansing Brooks: So you keep mentioning this Florida case, but the Supreme Court, right?, has twice decided not to rule on gay conversion therapy and one was in 2014 and ... the most recent one was less than a year ago, so you're conveniently not talking about that fact, so would you like to respond to that?
Sharp then cited a Supreme Court case ruling that California unconstitutionally burdened an unlicensed pregnancy crisis center's free speech. (You can read the court's decision — and the dissent of four justices — here:
...Senator Chambers: Counselor, I'm concerned about children. I'm concerned about people with power torturing weak people. Have you ever had electrical shock applied to your testicles?
Matt Sharp: No I have not.
Chambers: How do you think you'd like that?
Sharp: I think anyone would be very opposed to that.

Testimony time marks for people mentioned in this post:
Witte: 40:33;     Skinner 1:41:10;     Sharp/Chambers: 2:27:25;     Aupperle: 48:15

Chambers: Are you aware that that is considered torture?
Sharp: I'm not familiar with the international laws but I believe that is abusive.
Chambers: I don't just mean international law — in America. If somebody was found to have put a person in a position to electrically shock his or her, well, his, testicles, that would be considered torture.
Sharp: And that's what the court in Florida said. When you're looking at that, if that's what you want to address, do a targeted law towards that. You do not do a broad proscription on all constitutionally protected speech.
Chambers: I'm not talking what you said the Florida court ruled. I'm talking about conduct that is embraced in what these people want to do to children — unless you think those testifiers were lying. Do you think they were telling the truth when they talked about what they experienced?
Sharp: I do.
Chambers: When one said that he was shocked with such a large jolt that he was unconscious and when he woke up, a large chunk of his tongue was missing. You approve of that being done to children, don't you?
Sharp: No.
Chambers: Do you have children?
Sharp: Yes I do.
Chambers: Would you agree to let some people in a church tell you they should be allowed to apply electrical shock to your child's testicles?

Sharp: I love my children and would protect them with my life.
Ernie Chambers in the 1966 Oscar-nominated documentary,
A Time For Burning. Except for a 4-year term-limit time-out,
Chambers has been a state senator since 1970, the longest-serving
lawmaker in the history of Nebraska's legislature.
Chambers: And if somebody did that to my child, they wouldn't be here talking now. I'd be on trial someplace and I don't think a jury would convict me. Here's what I'm getting to. All of these side issues mean nothing to me. They can be handled in court. But when I know there are children right now with parents so foolish, preachers so lacking in concern, that these children will be tortured for the sexual gratification of adults, then I'll do all I can to stop it. And see, I'm not going to be around to push and play. The schools that were in black communities used corporal punishment against our children, so I got it outlawed in all the public schools in the state of Nebraska. I got a law that made it — even before the U.S. Supreme Court said it could be done — that if somebody was under the age of 18 when they committed a murder, they could not be executed. I didn't wait for the U.S. Supreme Court. I care about young children and I know how adults abuse children. Sex trafficking goes after children because they're vulnerable and a lot of these things happen in churches... Do know what the letters — to get in your territory — do you know what the letters "FCC" stand for?
Sharp: I believe Federal Communications Commission.
Chambers: Bingo. Now what is communication? Does that involve speech?
Sharp: Yes it does.
Chambers: And the FCC regulates that, doesn't it?
Sharp: And the Supreme Court has also recently called into question some of those regulations, on the idea that commercial speech is entitled to less constitutional protection.
Chambers: Counselor, if you don't mind answering the question, you don't have to obfuscate me. I understand the law. I don't dress like a lawyer but my brain operates like one. Just so — in the interest of disclosure — I have a law degree. Now, are you aware of why these big pharmaceutical firms who advertise their medications on television tell you all the side effects, some of which are fatal? Do you think they do that voluntarily? They were told by the FCC that they cannot advertise products unless they tell all of the side effects.

     The entire hearing was recorded and uploaded to YouTube (above video) by John Skinner, who also testified before the committee (1:41:10 in the video) in a sharply-worded, factual excoriation of the Nebraska Family Alliance (formerly, the Nebraska Family Council), a virulently antiLGBT organization about which which AKSARBENT has written here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Bill Maher to Howard Schultz: You're not a sage.
You're really too lazy to tell shit from Shinola

Without actually articulating Ann Landers's famous dictum, Bill Maher tells Starbucks's political dilettante Howard Shultz to wake up and smell the coffee...
New rule: Instead of saying both parties are equally to blame for the mess we're in, just admit you haven't really followed politics for the last 20 years. Now, everyone is made at Howard Schultz for thinking he can be the Barista-in-chief, but nobody is attacking his central premise, that we need an independent because both sides have become equally extreme...
Maher goes on to provide example after example of GOP fiscal irresponsibility contrasted with Democrat examples of paying down the budget and insisting on paybacks for bailouts. Maher concludes:
When you say they're both equally bad, just know that doesn't make you a sage. It's a stupid person's idea of a smart thing to say. It's a cheat that says you're above it all when you're really just too lazy to tell shit from Shinola.

Friday, February 8, 2019

3 questions we wish the Unicam Judiciary Cmte had asked Matt Sharp yesterday during the LB167 hearing

Dear Sen. Steve Lathrop, Sen. Tom Brandt, Sen. Ernie Chambers, Sen. Wendy DeBoer, Sen. Adam Morfeld, Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, Sen. Julie Slama, Sen. Justin Wayne:

     Here's what we at AKSARBENT wish all of you on the Unicameral's Judiciary Committee had asked Matt Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom yesterday during his testimony opposing LB167 which would prohibit professionals from practicing debunked sexual orientation conversion therapy:
     1. Your organization is now called Alliance Defending Freedom, but it used to be called Alliance Defense Fund. Did you change your name before or after one of your attorneys, Lisa Biron, was sentenced to 40 years in prison as a convicted child molester and child pornographer after being indicted on federal charges related to the sexual exploitation of her 14-year-old daughter, including taking her to Canada to have sex with a man there?
     2. Did your organization pay for false Internet ads accusing the ACLU of calling for porn filters to be disabled in classrooms when actually the ACLU was mounting a Don't Filter Me campaign warning schools not to selectively censor gay-themed NON-SEXUALLY EXPLICIT sites like The Trevor Project, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)?
     3. Did your organization tell the IRS that you didn't engage in lobbying in 2013 when you opposed LGBT legislation at least twice that year?
     4. Bonus Question! Is it really true that you got on the Arizona Department of Transportation specialty license plate gravy train and raked in over a million sweet bucks from that state's government?

Kill Bill: ADF swoops into NE to take out 2 bills targeting conversion "therapy"; one is withdrawn

WOWT's coverage is here.
KETV and KMTV are reporting that Senator Megan Hunt withdrew a bill (LB168) defining conversion therapy as child abuse, which it certainly is. From KMTV:
Today, Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt filed to withdraw a bill that would classify conversion therapy as child abuse. Hunt said she chose to withdraw the bill with support of LGBTQ+ advocates.
     Though she has withdrawn one bill, another is still up for discussion which would prevent licensed medical providers from administering conversion therapy.
Here's the statement from Senator Hunt:
Lincoln, NE— 2.7.19 — Today, with the support of LGBTQ+ advocates, Senator Megan Hunt filed a motion to withdraw LB 168, her bill to classify the provision of conversion therapy as child abuse. “With the support of many LGBTQ+ advocates, I have made the decision to withdraw LB168, my bill to classify conversion therapy as child abuse,” Hunt said. “Conversion therapy, of course, is child abuse, and I believe in protecting children by holding the institutions and providers of this abuse accountable. “From survivors of conversion therapy and their advocates, I learned that parents are often tricked, lied to, and misled into placing their children into faith-based counseling without the knowledge that they are subjecting their children to conversion therapy. I share the position of LGBTQ advocate organizations like The Trevor Project and Born Perfect that our focus should be on those who administer these treatments, not on parents. “I believe in educating parents about the effects of conversion therapy, the predatory nature of many faith-based counseling centers, and helping parents realize that being LGBTQ+ is not a choice and that their children should be loved as they are and do not need to be cured. For that reason, I am withdrawing LB168. I ask supporters to focus on LB167, my bill to prohibit licensed medical providers from administering conversion therapy.” LB 167 is scheduled in the Judiciary Committee today at 1:30pm in the Warner Chamber at the Capitol.
KETV's coverage is here.
     The well-financed ADF, which used to be known as the Alliance Defense Fund and is now known as Alliance Defending Freedom, swooped into Lincoln in the person of Matt Sharp to oppose any restrictions on conversion "therapy." The ADF has been to Nebraska before; in 2012 it failed to kill LB912 (banning municipalities from passing gay rights laws unless such legislation exists in Nebraska statutes (which would make local laws unnecessary)) and it failed later that year to kill an amendment to the Omaha Charter protecting LGBTs from arbitrary bias.
     Sharp said this to KETV: "What this does is kick the client out of the driver's seat and tells them what goals are permissible and which are not, which conversations you can have, and which you cannot."
     Megan Hunt said her bill doesn't tell counselors what they can promise unhappy gays, it just doesn't allow them to charge for "therapy" that has been widely debunked by the professional organizations of both psychologists and psychiatrists.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Sen. Sasse: LGBTs should thank Karen Pence for helping kids learn about art at school that bans gay students and parents

     Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) thinks "everybody" (which most people assume includes LGBTs) should thank Karen Pence for going to "help kids learn about art" at a school that bans gay students and parents, according to CNN WIRES. Here's what Sasse indignantly told Martha MacCallum on Fox's the story:
“I can’t understand why these people don’t have more to do. Karen Pence is a lovely woman and she is trying to help and serve kids and she is doing it at a Christian school,” Sasse responded.
     “She doesn’t need a job, she’s doing this to love her neighbor. She’s doing this to help kids learn about art. People have decided to attack her because it’s a Christian school. This is a fundamentally un-American way to think,” he continued. “I think that everybody should be saying Mrs. Pence, thank you for trying to serve people and help kids learn about art.
     Since Christian education can only go so far, Mother Pence probably won't be telling her students about Michelangelo's famous Genius of Victory sculpture, modeled on one of his boyfriends, Tommaso dei Cavelieri, a lover also referenced in Michelangelo’s homoerotic poetry as his cavalry man, according to historian Rictor Norton.
     Michelangelo famously liked to “sign” art in his later years by including his own image in his work, and Victory was an example where Michelangelo depicted himself between the model’s legs.
     Please don't tell any of this to our Sasse source, Gary Sadlemyer of right-wing KFAB, who was foaming at the mouth again this morning at "radical lefties" who dare criticize Mother Pence.
     We wouldn't call Sadlemyer "old," but he is squarely within that Fox demographic that Roger Ailes himself called "60-to-dead."
     After venting, Sadlemyer told his audience to go buy a vehicle at Woodhouse, a huge local car and truck dealership which used to support anti-gay Grace College in Omaha, before a lack of sufficient interest by those students who could afford its tuition forced it to shut down.
     AKSARBENT recommends that you get your art education from Sister Wendy, not Mother Pence.

Friday, January 11, 2019

3 bills from NE legislature's youngest atheist would: outlaw conversion "therapy," define it as abuse if inflicted on children and ban "gay panic" criminal defense

Megan Hunt, the younger of the Nebraska Unicameral's two progressive atheists, has introduced 8 bills this session, two of which relate to so-called LGBT conversion therapy. A third bans the so-called "gay panic" criminal defense. They are LB166, LB167 and LB168. You may read the introduced texts here.
     As recently as last year, a man in Austin, Texas avoided the death penalty by invoking a gay panic defense, legal in about half U.S. states. Jason Miller, who got drunk and stabbed his neighbor to death "for no good reason," according to prosecutors, was sentenced to 10 years of probation after killing his neighbor — a jury recommendation the judge was required to honor after the jurors found the defendant guilty not of murder but of criminally negligent homicide. The judge added six months of jail time (all he could).
     The New York Post:
     Miller’s lawyers argued that he acted in self defense when Spencer made a pass at him while the two were playing music and drinking.
     In a 911 call, Miller told dispatchers, “I think I killed someone,” according to police
     “We were playing back and forth and everything and I just let him know — Hey, I’m not gay,” Miller later told police, according to an affidavit. “We been playing. We’re musicians and all that kind of stuff, but I’m not a gay guy. Then it seemed like everything was alright and everything was fine. When I got ready to go — it seemed like [expletive] just started happening.”
     Prosecutors argued that the blood evidence contradicted Miller’s narrative...
Here's the text of the Hunt's gay panic bill:

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Senator Ben Sasse visits CBS's Late Show
Colbert: So you're counting on the president to do the right thing? Sasse: I get the joke

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) was on Colbert Tuesday, to flog his book, "Them," which we presume refers to the constituents he has repeatedly betrayed with his confirmation votes for Trump's herd of misfits, incompetents, bigots and thieves.
     His makeup was terrific.
     Sasse slickly evaded Colbert's attempts to get him to criticize Ivanka Trump's email abuse as forcefully as Sasse has condemned Hillary's transgressions.
     Sasse pretended not to know the well-deserved nickname of the NE State Capitol, Penis of the Plains, bestowed by Ernest Hemingway during a lecture at UNL. The Art Deco building, which does everything but vibrate, is likely the most phallic governmental edifice in the USA: a 40-story shaft topped by a golden dome, topped by a statue of a sower flinging seed from a pouch slung from his, um, bathing suit area.
     Colbert said he has driven to Lincoln, as he once had a Nebraska girlfriend. Sasse wanted to know her name. Colbert said it was "immaterial." Sasse said: "Why did her parents hate her? That's a weird name."
     The headline of this post refers to the tension between Donald Trump and those senators who think Matthew Whittaker, Trump's acting AG appointee, should have a confirmation hearing.
     Here's the interview, which we don't expect to stay up long, as it is not from CBS.

Monday, November 5, 2018

OPPD Board: who to vote for

In December of 2015 the OPPD Board of Directors voted 6-2 to triple service fees on residential and small business customers. The 2015, $10.25-per-month fee increased to $15 in 2016, $20 in 2017, $25 in 2018 and will rise again, to $30, in 2019. This hits apartment dwellers, energy conservers and the poor hardest, according to the World-Herald:
But the restructuring plan has drawn sharp criticism because it penalizes low-use customers: apartment-dwellers; customers who generate their own power; people who conserve energy; and poor people. Six in 10 low-income customers would pay more under the new rate structure, according to OPPD estimates.
SUBDIVISION 1 (West/NW Omaha): Amanda Bogner vs. Kristine Dungan

Neither is an incumbent, so neither voted for the recent fee increase. Sierra Club Nebraska endorsed Amanda Bogner for her support of renewable energy. That's good enough for us. Vote for Bogner.

SUBDIVISION 6 (NE Omaha): Tom Barrett vs. Eric Williams

Two Democrats here. Barrett voted against the service fee increases and is not a bad choice. But of all the candidates, Eric Williams has the most bona fides in support of renewable energy. An engineer, he is the president of Nebraskans for Solar, past president of Earth Day Omaha, past chair of Dundee Community Garden, and past vice president of Green Omaha Coalition. We recommend Williams.

SUBDIVISION 7 (W. Douglas, Washington Co., and parts of 5 other counties around Omaha): Mick Mines vs. Janece Mollhoff

Mines, the incumbent, didn't bother to answer questions in the League of Women Voters, Voters Guide. He also voted to triple user fees. Here's how Janece Mollhoff answered the Voters Guide question about renewable energy:

Right now OPPD does not have a long-term strategic goal for energy production. The first step is to determine not just a short term goal (2020), but also to set a long term goal (2040 to 2050) and strategy to meet that goal. Increasing use of renewable energy has to be done in tandem with energy efficiency, peak load reduction and other measures that keep our bills low, provide reliable energy and create good-paying jobs in our communities
Vote for Mollhoff, who also is endorsed by the Sierra Club.

SUBDIVISION 8 (SW Omaha): Mike Cavanaugh vs. Linda Duckworth

Two Republicans here. Cavanaugh, the incumbent, voted to triple your service fees. His challenger, Linda Duckworth, impressed the Sierra Club with her approach to renewable energy more than did Cavanaugh and got their endorsement, so she gets ours too. Vote for Duckworth.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

LoessFest Lip Sync Lollapalooza: AKSARBENT saw Frankie Valli in CB!

Leaving Council Bluffs on the Bob Bridge
LoessFest brought Frankie Valli to Council Bluffs, IA along with whatever incarnation of the frequently-reconstituted Four Seasons is currently shaking.
     Nobody with any sense believes that Valli isn't lip synching these days. There's even a clip on YouTube of Valli's digital helper going into a loop and of him finally walking off stage—no one, apparently, could shut the thing off.
     Said Barry Lewis in New York's Hudson Valley Times Herald-Record:
      "A story in the Columbus Dispatch in 2011 also had concertgoers accusing Valli of faking it on stage. In that same story, his manager denies the charge, saying “Frankie Valli sings every note of the show.”
      Sure, but what year did he sing those notes?"
     But we don't care about alleged lip synching at a free concert. (What would we do? Sue for the cost of our tickets?)
      We came to see tweaked arrangements of our Top 40 faves and were not disappointed. Live (the backup Four Seasons replicants were live, anyway) the Four Seasons' evergreens are fresh and just as infectiousness as the first versions.
     Whoever tastefully re-arranged these hits absolutely know what s/he was doing. In fact, the original Sherry recording would be improved by the exquisite accent of the brief a Capella harmony in the opening bars of the live performance. The live version of Stay now includes a wild jazzy instrumental passage that is terrific.
     We love Four Seasons songs. So does America. BMI says Can't Take My Eyes Off You is the fifth most broadcast song of the 20th Century. (Technically it's not a Four Seasons song, but Bob Gaudio (a Season; maybe he was summer) wrote the music and the group's record producer extraordinaire, Bob Crewe, wrote the lyrics.)
The Can't Take My Eyes Off You singalong in The Deer Hunter
     Longstanding rumors say Crewe finished the lyrics while watching his boyfriend sleep. (Please don't tell that to any Joey Six Packs like those in The Deer Hunter, where blue collar etiquette dictates that if you've had too much Bud and plant one on on a bud during the "I love you baby" refrain, he is obligated to respond by calling you "faggot.")

     The New York Times asked Crewe's brother, Dan, about the sleeping boyfriend/muse rumor, in a roundabout way, and got shut down:
     Mr. Crewe was gay, and his brother, his only survivor, said he was discreet about his sexuality in many of his social circles. He noted that in “Jersey Boys” Mr. Crewe was portrayed as overtly gay, but in real life that was not the case, Mr. Newman said, particularly during the period when he was working with the Four Seasons. Promotional material for Dynovoice Records quoted a female singer fawning over Mr. Crewe’s handsomeness.
     “Whenever he met someone, he would go into what I always called his John Wayne mode, this extreme machoism,” Dan Crewe said.
     That fact that Mr. Crewe wrote so many songs about women reflected the complicated culture of his era as well as his shrewd professionalism, his brother said. Asked if some of his songs had been inspired by male romantic interests, Dan Crewe said: “It wasn’t motivated by anything, except he had an intense love affair with words. He told stories.”
Bob Crewe, right
    Crewe, reputedly, was not happy about being stereotyped in Jersey Boys by the authors of the musical's book, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, or having director Clint Eastwood extend the caricature in the movie version, which probably needed something festive since Eastwood's cameras sucked most of the energy out of a very lively theatrical play. The last time Clint had anything to do with a musical was in 1969 when, as an actor, he made Paint Your Wagon.  
     His big number was I Talk to the Trees. Roger Ebert called it whining, not singing, but we like Eastwood's not-terrible-at-all rendition. Octogenarian Eastwood no longer talks to trees of course, just an empty chair at the occasional GOP Convention.
     As for queening up Crewe, we're not sympathetic to false characterizations by cynical writers who sell the prejudices of a patronizing audience back to them for fun and profit.
     Neither do we have a surplus of empathy for Crewe, who died, dementia-riddled, in 2014.
     He was, evidently, a political reactionary. His lyrics to Gaudio's Beggar's Parade, a crude class libel of 60s protesters, are truly revolting, even after all these years:
...Who needs the truth? Feed 'em lies.
They're all hungry for alibis.
Oh They're all the same,
Bowery bum, banker's son

...Your skin is thin, mine is too
What's so special about you?
Make excuses 'cause you just can't make the grade
Look in the mirror, yeah, it's true
Pitiful soul that's you
Oh, they're all the same

...Hungry for bread, plant a seed
Satisfy your evil greed
No, you'd rather collect that unemployment check
Why should you work, like the rest,
When it's easier to protest?
Oh, you're all the same,
      Beggars Parade never became a hit and isn't performed by Valli, so our reverse-karaoke experience was not ruined and we didn't have to throw fruit at the stage to register our political disapproval. Instead, we had a good time and TOOK PICTURES!

From The Bob Bridge
Ken Doll backup singers
More Mattel
Not everyone can do this: Walk like a man  in place while
singing falsetto.
Only the guy on the left looks like he could be from Jersey. You!
Hand claps! No 60's hit recording worth anything lacks them!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Andrew Rannells flips out on woman taking pictures during his Lincoln Center concert

Call it the Patti Lupone Cellphone Annoyance Syndrome. In his Live From Lincoln Center concert, televised last Friday but recorded in December, Rannells waited for a break and then firmly encouraged a shutter-obsessed woman to cease and desist, here, at the 17:00 mark.
I have to say — someone's taking photos over there.
What are you making? A [god]damn flipbook?
It's like you keep takin' em and takin' em.
You can just watch it at home!
You don't need to take photos, girl.
It's ok. It's gonna be on the TEEVEE.
So let's knock it off, shall we?
Rannells's show was quite wonderful, starting with Lonely Boy and including Sondheim's No More, a song Judy Garland sang in Meet Me in St. Louis, The Boy Next Door, and even Born to Run, which substituted an accordion(!) bridge for Clarence Clemons's sax solo in the Springsteen version.
     Born to Run is Rannells's go-to audition song; it got him the lead in Book of Mormon and a role in Hairspray, but not one in South Pacific. To anyone who might think a Boss anthem to be a strange choice for a Broadway audition song, Rannells notes that since Springsteen has a show on Broadway, Born to Run is now, technically, a show tune.
"And then I die..."
     Not to be missed was an intentionally-over-the-top It Must Be Him, a song Rannells's mother liked (Vikki Carr Live at the Greek Theatre) and which little Andrew was shocked to discover was not also a favorite of other little boys in his neighborhood. (Here at 41:10 but it's pirated and probably won't last long on YouTube.)
     Also performed was arranger/accompanist Todd Almond's beautiful Moonlight over Nebraska.Though Almond is busy, Rannells had the best possible "in" in snagging him: his agent is Todd's husband. From Lincoln Center's podcast:
"Todd and I are from opposite ends of Nebraska.
I am from Omaha, where the steaks are from. Todd is from Alliance, and
Todd, would you like to tell everyone what Alliance is famous for?"
"We have an exact replica of Stonehenge, made out of cars."
"And what's it called, Todd?"

Kristie Geslain: So, let's talk about your relationship with Todd.
Andrew Rannells: Yes.
KG: Because you two have been so close throughout this whole process. How do you know each other? How did you select him for this? What was your working relationship like?
AR: I was just a fan of his. I was doing Jersey Boys with this great guy named Matt Bogart, and Matt said, he was like, "Oh my friend has a band, The Todd Almond Band, and he wrote this song called 'Moon Over Nebraska.'" And he sent it to me because I'm from Nebraska, and I completely fell in love with it, and then I got Todd's album, and then I got his second album, his solo album that he did.
     And he's just so talented. And then my friend Laura Benanti did a show at 54 Below with Todd, and it turned out real well. And Todd's just one of those people that I've always admired but never worked with. So when this opportunity came up, it just so happens, his husband is my agent, in a show business stroke of luck. So I asked my agent, I was like, "Do you think your husband would want to do this with me?" and he's like, "Well, ask him."
     So I emailed Todd and he very sweetly said yes right away.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bob Dylan contributes a track to gay wedding EP commissioned by MGM; a Beatles cover is also included

Benamin Gibbard
MGM Resorts, a company with an exemplary record of LGBT+ inclusion, has commis­sioned a same sex wedding album, from which it will not profit, as a thank you to the 20-30% percent of the ceremonies performed at the company’s 15 hotels in Las Vegas, said the company’s chief executive, Jim Murren to Variety.
     Included is the Beatles hit And I Love Her, which Sony (which bought the rights to most Beatle songs from Michael Jackson) allowed Ben Gibbard of (Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service) to change to And I Love Him.

Below, the Beatles' version with Ringo on bongos, from their 1964 film A Hard Day's Night (the title was something Ringo blurted out during filming after staying up all night.) The film version runs a bit slower than the version on their double-sided hit single (flip side: If I Fell).

Mr. Tambourine Man: Dylan and The Byrds' Roger McGuinn (1990)
     Bob Dylan’s contribution to the six-song EP is the 1929 song “She’s Funny That Way” changed to “He’s Funny That Way.”
      We think Dylan needn't have bothered. Though he didn't have a gay couple in mind when he wrote it, Mr. Tamborine Man would work fine as a piece in a ceremony of two guys getting yoked. Below is a cover by American duo, The Helio Sequence.