Monday, January 31, 2011

Red vs. Blue at Iowa House HJR 6 hearing

Iowa House HJR 6 Public Hearing 1/31/11 (Aksarbent)

Depending on whose account you favor, 50-70 speakers (Blue=progay, Red=anti) alternately (by house arrangement) urged, then decried the passage of HJR 6 in tonight's house chamber hearing before an overflowing gallery crowd. Many who signed up to speak weren't able to. HJR 6 will, if adopted by the Iowa House and Senate twice in succeeding sessions, allow the public to vote to amend Iowa's constitution to ban same sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Iowa House HJR 6 Public Hearing 1/31/11 (Aksarbent)
Oneiowa sent out tweets throughout the hearing. Some of the more interesting:
One Iowa's exec director Carolyn Jenison with partner Angela in the House Gallery.

Anti-gay Sen. Kent Sorenson [and quite an all-round jerk — AKSARBENT] goes to introduce himself during the #HJR6 public hearing and the mic goes out. #ialegis

Ken Sager IA Federation of Labor against #HJR6: "What does this bill have to do with jobs?" #ialegis

Cindy Powell, with spouse Gayla Snook, says Cindy: "I had to wait until 53" to get married. #ialegis

Opposition: "Serious medical risks" apparently associated with "alternative lifestyle" aka being gay #ialegis

Cindy Jones worked w/Gov Vilsack, Culver-"Bring focus of legislative session back to the real issues-jobs, healthcare." #ialegis

William Schulte lost husband Rob in CO; b/c CO didn't recognize his marriage, he didn't get partner's death certificate. #ialegis

David Selman claims civil rights doesn't apply to gay rights, to give "special rights to sin is an abomination." #ialegis

Liz George speaks of losing her partner of 21 years, how her final wishes were not protected without marriage. #ialegis

Opposition: "Marriage did not receive fair representation in court because they (lawyers) did not cite the Bible." ?!? #ialegis

Iowa House HJR 6 Public Hearing 1/31/11 (Aksarbent)
"We do not seek to take away, we seek to protect," marriage "redefined" takes away the home, claims opposition. #ialegis

Rabbi David Kaufman, "I do not believe that the state should dictate" to faith traditions who they may or may not marry." #ialegis

"Don't give into the emotional bullying" of gay people, says one supporter of #HJR6 #ialegis

Rich Hendricks, pastor at Quad Cities Metro Comm. Church, & partner, "We give into this bigotry...where will it stop?" #ialegis

Jeff Angelo, Ames Former GOP State Senator, on #HJR6 "I have changed my position on this issue. I urge a 'no' vote." #ialegis
Marvin Smith claims the "devastation of 'gay lifestyle'" is "attack on our society." #ialegis

Jane Erickson, moved to Ames w/partner, "Moving out of the state meant giving up our marriage, we couldn't do it." #ialegis

Jane Green says #HJR6 "uphold the law of nature and nature's God" be denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. #ialegis

Suku Radia, CEO and President of Bankers Trust, Uganda native: "Iowans have no history of being intolerant." #ialegis

Suku Radia, CEO and President of Bankers Trust, Uganda native: "I know well the tyranny of intolerance." #ialegis

Iowa House HJR 6 Public Hearing 1/31/11 (Aksarbent)
Speaker # 3 for opposition claims he had to pull kids out of public school because of "activist teacher." #ialegis

Zach Wahls: "The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character." #ialegis

Zach Wahls, 6th generation Iowan--"I was raised by a gay couple and I'm doing pretty well." #ialegis

We're only on speaker #2 with the opposition before the "unintentional consequences" come up--"polygamy, schools." #ialegis
Danny Carroll of the IFPC opens opposition remarks, claims to speak for the people of Iowa. #ialegis

JasonClayworth Republican and former senator to speak in favor of same-sex marriage

Spotted: Married gay man Dean Genth having a conversation with anti-gay Sen. Kent Sorenson. Awkward! #ialegis

Pro-equality speakers filing in. Among them: Rev. Paul Johnson - Ames, Dean Genth - Mason City, Kim Jones, mother - Urbandale #ialegis

At the #HJR6 hearings. One Iowa blue well represented! #ialegis

Tonight: Iowa House hearing on HJR 6 to ban legal recognition of same-sex couples

With the right PC and software you may be able to listen to the Iowa General Assembly hearing live tonight. (Aksarbent can hear Iowa General Assembly audio streams with windows/internet explorer but not windows/firefox,) Go here to check. Aksarbent is arranging to dispatch someone from Omaha to get photos and possibly video from Des Moines.

Oneiowa has this advice:
Please join us at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, in the Iowa State Capitol House Chambers for a public hearing on House Joint Resolution 6 (H.J.R. 6), a resolution that would not only overturn the Varnum decision, but would slam the door on civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.
The hearing starts at 6:30 p.m., but we are asking supporters to get to the Capitol early to make sure we get seats in the Chamber gallery. This will be an extremely well-attended meeting on both sides, and we want to make sure we get as many seats as possible.
Wear blue, come early, and pack the House with supporters of equality!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Video: Iowa Senate Majority Leader Gronstal digs in his heels to defend gay Iowans; 'My wife says if I'm a dictator she's going to get a heck of a lot more shoes.'

Imelda Marcos, who is
NOT Mike Gronstal's wife
Interviewed on Iowa Public Television Friday evening, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal absolutely refused to back away from his vow to block any senate move to put same-sex marriage to a state-wide vote.
     On Monday from 6:30 to 8:45 pm,  the Iowa house will hold hearings on HJR 6, which would ban any legal recognition of gay couples in Iowa. Depending on what PC and software you use, you may be able to listen to the hearings live. (Here at Aksarbent, Windows/Internet Explorer works, but Windows/Firefox doesn't.)

Excerpt from transcript published by Iowa Public Television:
Henderson: One reason there are three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court is that voters, many of whom were reacting to the court's 2009 ruling on same-sex marriage, voted three members off the court. This past week there was a scuffle over rules in the Iowa Senate but at the heart of that was the gay marriage issue. You've been accused of being a dictator and running the Senate like monarchy. Are you guilty as charged?

Gronstal and his clever wife, Connie (oneiowa)
Gronstal: My wife says if I'm a dictator she's going to get a heck of a lot more shoes. Listen, I was elected, I've been elected I can't even count the number of times from my district. Is this my sixth or seventh -- this is my seventh term in the Iowa Senate and I had one term in the House, that is not exactly a dictator that gets elected by the people in this district. So, I've campaigned repeatedly in my district, I get elected and then I get elected by my fellow members to be the majority leader.

Glover: But gay marriage opponents are going to find some way to bring this up every week and every time you have to fight it, block it, you spend a little political capital. How much political capital are you willing to spend? And how much political capital are you willing to ask your members to spend?

Gronstal: I don't give up what I believe in.

Glover: But what if it means you don't get elected or you go into a minority?

Gronstal: I accept that. I accept every vote I take up in that chamber can result in my defeat in the next election. It can result in a defeat by my fellow members to be their leader. I accept that reality. I think you've got to stand for something in politics and putting discrimination -- if I can vote to take away your rights by majority vote of the people of Iowa then I can vote to take away anybody's rights and maybe today one group feels like, well, we're the majority. Well, tomorrow they very well may be the minority. So, you know, what I tell people is, yeah, I worry about politics, I campaign hard to win my seat in Council Bluffs, I worry about that but I also shave every morning and I have to be able to look myself in the eye.

Glover: So, you're willing to accept the possibility of going to the minority?

Gronstal: Of course, I'm willing to accept the possibility of me losing and everybody else, these are 50 senate districts, everybody else has got to make their calculation as to how they win their races, how they campaign, everybody else has got to make that measure. This particular election, across the country, this was a nationalized election and it was more about Washington, D.C. than it was about Iowa. So, we're going to go through these campaigns and a year from now we're going to start the campaigns, I'm not interested in campaigning right now. I'm interested in governing and governing well and we're going to work with the new Governor and with the republican House and try to govern well.

Henderson: How intense is the pressure on Senate democrats? This past week you accused opponents of what you're trying to do in the Senate of lying which seemed an extraordinary step to take, to accuse your political opponents of lying.

Gronstal: No, I did not make any comment about any senator.

Henderson: I said your political opponents.

Gronstal: I said there will be people that will characterize a vote on the rules as a vote on something else and it was not a vote on something else, it was a vote on the rules, it was a vote on the traditions, the written rules and unwritten rules of the Senate that goes back for decades. That is what the vote was yesterday.

Video: Gay USA—Jan. 25-31, 2011
with Andy Humm and Ann Northrup

Click here to watch
Program Topics: Out gay student Daniel Hernandez, who saved the life of Congress Member Gabby Giffords, is guest of the Obamas at the President's State of the Union address. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development bans discrimination in its housing projects on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  A federal judge in California is letting a challenge to DOMA go forward over the objections of the Obama Administration. The New Hampshire same-sex marriage law may be safe for this year as the House Republican leader delays any repeal effort. Maryland may get same-sex marriage by April as polls show majority support. Anti-same-sex marriage measures advance in Iowa and Wyoming. A 2006 suit charging the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority with anti-transgender discrimination is allowed by a court to go forward. The leader of the Smithsonian defends his decision to censor the gay-themed "Hide/Seek" exhibit in Washington. There will be a demonstration outside the Smithsonian to protest censorship on Monday, Jan. 31 at 1 PM in Washington. For more information, go to France's Constitutional Court is due to rule on opening marriage to gay couples while Spain's law could face a repeal effort under a conservative government

Friday, January 28, 2011

Set for Monday: Iowa House public hearing on HJR 6, banning all legal recognition of gay couples in Iowa

From the Iowa Independent:
The Iowa House will hold a public hearing on legislation to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples on Monday from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m.
     The bill, House Joint Resolution 6, cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Monday with the support of 12 Republicans and one Democrat. In order to amend the constitution, the legislation would have to pass this year and again in 2013 before going on the ballot for a popular vote. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to never allow such an amendment to come up for debate. Democrats still have a 26-24 majority in the Senate.
     Persons wishing to speak may sign up at the Legislative Information Office, Room  G16, located in the Iowa State Capitol, or call 515-281-5129. If unable to  attend, you may e-mail written testimony to the LIO:  Please type “Testimony” in the subject line.

Nebraska judge denies divorce to same-sex couple
but rules on parenting plan, custody and
child support anyway

Bridge, Arbor Lodge, Nebraska City, home of Arbor Day
Dan Swanson of the Nebraska City News-Press reports that District Judge Randall Rehmeier denied a divorce Tuesday to a same-sex Nebraska City couple married in 2003 in Vermont because the Nebraska Constitution provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”
     He said since the state does not recognize the marriage, he does not have jurisdiction to dissolve it.
     But he nevertheless granted custody of a four-year-old girl to the plaintiff, the girl’s biological mother, and ordered child support as well as weekend and holiday visitation.
     We at Aksarbent would love to see the look on homophobic Nebraska Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning's face when he hears this! Unless, of course, he isn't too preoccupied with his new effort (LB226) to stigmatize HIV positive people...

UPDATE: The blog of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Mormon front group which peddles half-truths and outright lies about gay people, has picked up this story (ripping off the Nebraska City News-Press photograph without even a photo credit or a link) but, true to form, NOM deleted the part which makes the story most newsworthy: the fact that the judge ruled on child custody, visitation and child support even though he had to deny the couple a divorce because of Nebraska's draconian prohibition of same sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships (constitutional amendment initiative 416, passed in 2000 in large part because of an LDS campaign fueled by hundreds of thousands of out-of-state dollars.)

Fred Karger zapping NOM in New England election ads

Karger, the ex-GOP operative (and current GOP presidential candidate) who has more than redeemed himself by single-handedly causing more trouble for the Mormon church and NOM than one would think possible, is now going after NOM again in his election ads. Killing two birds with one stone certainly saves money...

Karger has made ads before. Here's one in the 70s for Edge shaving cream.

Email from Fred Karger:

“Brian Brown, NOM’s President, threatened in a video on November 3rd — the day after the election last fall — that NOM was going to repeal gay marriage in New Hampshire just like it has done in California and Maine. Brown also said that NOM was going to qualify a Constitutional Amendment in New Hampshire to end marriage equality by writing a ban into the state Constitution.”
     “NOM is relentless and stops at nothing to hurt and demean people,” added Karger. “I want to let the citizens of New Hampshire know exactly what they are up against. This is the group that spent $1.5 MILLION to try and defeat Governor Lynch in the November election with their nasty commercials. NOM spent millions more in direct mail, robo calls, radio and TV commercials to overthrow the statehouse. NOM recently hit a roadblock, however, when Republican House Majority leader D. J. Bettencourt said that the Marriage issue would have to wait until 2012. NOM’s response: a direct mail piece viciously attacking him to all the voters in his district.”
     “NOM plays hardball and will not stop. I know better than anyone, I have been tracking the National Organization for Marriage since they began in California in 2008 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

Confirmation: Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)
violated law while Secretary of Agriculture reports extensively on this today. In full spin mode, The Omaha World-Herald has already buried the story, Johanns: I followed the rules, on its web site. This morning's print edition shoved the story (Johanns fires back at report's criticisms) to a 1-column space to the left of a HUGE dog picture, underneath a memorial story about a 25-year-old event.
      It would seem that Harold Andersen's legacy of running interference for Republican politicians lives on at the Herald.

Murder of LBGT Ugandan activitist David Kato: Obama, Clinton issue statements, as does Giles Muhame, of Ugandan newspaper which villified Kato

LGBT activist David Kato of Uganda
David Kato
On Wednesday, Ugandan LGBT  activist David Kato was fatally bludgeoned with an iron bar at his home in Kamapala.

President Obama: I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.
     At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate.
In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
     LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness and equality for all.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.
     David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda’s LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda’s draft “anti-homosexuality bill” and the Ugandan High Court’s January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans’ right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda’s LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.
     Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists — people like David — who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensible to achieving the progress we all seek.
     This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us — and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.
     Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.
Giles Muhame, editor of Uganda's
Rolling Stone (Carolyn Dunn/CBC)
    Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone, a virulently homo­phobic news­paper founded in the wake of antigay initiatives by American evangelists like Rick Warren and Scott Lively, urged the hanging of Koto and others.     Rolling Stone had a circulation of about 2,000 before being shut down by Ugandan authorities.
     The tabloid had no connection to the American magazine founded by Jann Wenner, who never copyrighted his publication's name in Uganda.

     Giles Muhame, the managing editor of Uganda's Rolling Stone tabloid continued to make unproven, inflammatory accusations in the following statement issued after Katos' death:
     Rolling Stone newspaper has just learnt from the media about the murder of David Kato.   This gentleman is said to have been a human-rights activist, according to Human Rights Watch.
     According to the organization, witnesses told police that a man entered Kato’s home in Mukono at around 1 p.m, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. And that Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato’s lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.
      “Kato featured in a case between Rolling Stone and homos.” The latter had sued the investigative newspaper, which will soon metamorphose into a daily online newspaper, for outing their pictures thus invading their right of privacy.
     They won the court case. Rolling Stone was ordered by Justice Kibuuka Musoke to pay the three complainants shs1.5 each, including Kato, as compensation. The newspaper early this year tendered a notice of appeal in the Court of Appeal. The lawyers are working on the submissions.
      Earlier, during the high court hearing, a former homosexual, one Kagaba, told High Court in a sworn affidavit that  Kato was seriously recruiting kids into homosexual circles. He further stated that Kato had been fired from a Christian-founded school in Nkoni, Masaka district where he was a head teacher.
    He said it could have been because of sodomizing kids including one Douglas whom he stayed with.
     Kagaba, who said he was recruited into homosexuality, intoxicated with drugs and then sodomized by Kato, later took another bold step and provided evidence to the government-controlled Media Council in December at the Prime Minister’s office. He said Kato had been chased from Nansana, a suburb of Kampala, by the area security officer over sodomy allegations. He was residing there.
     Kagaba told the council chaired by Dr. Gorreti Nassanga that the security man who chased Kagaba is a retired low-ranking army officer. That the officer had received a huge chunk of complaints from concerned neighbors that Kato was terrorizing the boys in the area.
     Kato, according to evidence provided to the Council, later fled to Mukono, where he has been staying before the attack.
     Mukono has of recent been a sanctuary of iron-bar wielding men. In the past two months alone over 15 people have been attacked and others killed in cold blood.
     Rolling Stone feels sorry for the family of Kato and prays that his soul rests in eternal peace.
     In a play A Man For All Seasons, Thomas Moore says: “Death comes to all of us”.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

USA Today: Influence of special interests felt in courts

Iowa Supreme Court Building

Clint Brewer and Grant Schulte of USA TODAY looked at efforts to recall judges in Iowa, Illinois, Alaska, Kansas, Florida, Colorado and Michigan, a source of growing alarm for the national nonpartisan Justice At Stake campaign.
     Special attention was paid to the successful right-wing hit squad attacks on three Iowa Supreme Court Justices (largely propelled by two alleged Mor­mon front groups, NOM and Iowa Family Leader, an organization whose leader, Bob Vanderplaats, assures us has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the national group whose board is dominated by LDS members and whose name is IDENTICAL to the the Iowa organization, capiche?
A group of 60 candidates, interviewed this week by a non-partisan state commission, waited Thursday to learn which nine of them will move on to meet with Iowa's Republican governor, Terry Branstad.
     The candidates — including trial and appellate court judges, private attorneys, former federal prosecutors and law professors — sought to succeed Iowa Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit, who were ousted in November's retention election held in the face of heated opposition to the ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
     Branstad will decide which three to appoint, without legislative approval.
     Bob Vander Plaats, who led the successful campaign to oust the three Iowa justices, is calling on the remaining four to resign and has launched a bus tour through Iowa to build conservative support. "Even people against our movement, more than half a million people voted no confidence to this court," Vander Plaats said.
     Some Republicans in the Iowa House have pushed to impeach the remaining justices, but Democratic leaders have vowed to block all action rather than allow that. "We'll try to shut the place down," said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Des Moines Democrat. "You'll hear a debate like you've never heard before."

Video: Hysterical Brett Favre fake Wrangler ad
— What should I do?

Quotes from the video:
What should I do?
Should I remind you that I've done this before?
What should I do?
Should I show my dick to people?
What should I do?
I am not a role model. I'm a jeans model.
Should I be who you want me to be?
Should I accept my role as the creepy old guy?
Should I just leave voice mails?
Maybe I should google "big dicks." Just text them.
Say it was mine. Yeah. That'd probably work!
If I end the video now, would you watch it again?
Keep me in the spotlight a little longer...
Wanna see my private jet?
My Peyton Manthing?
Wanna see my Danny Woodhead?
That's not even a joke — I just think he's a good player.
I named my penis after him.

Video: Greatest putt-putt shot of all time — easy if you use a fountain jet as a tee

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jon Stewart offers James Franco
some advice on hosting the Oscars

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
James Franco

"Let me tell you what they love. Go at it with the attitude
that you're above it all, with an ironic detachment
bordering on contempt. They will EAT IT UP! "

GOP-led attempt to recall Omaha Mayor Suttle fails; After squandering almost 1,000,000 special election tax dollars, organizers still won't admit defeat

Yesterday's special mayoral recall election (the first in Omaha since 1987) to recall Jim Suttle appears to have failed. With all precincts reporting, 51.1 percent of voters nixed recall and 48.9 percent voted in favor. Suttle's campaign manager David Dover doesn't think the 4,000 provisional and early ballots yet to be counted will be enough to erase Suttle's 1,652-vote margin of victory. About 81,000 ballots were cast — a very low turnout, indicating that the body politic wasn't as inflamed as the right-wing activists said they were.

Jeremy Aspen, a recall spokesman, refused to concede until all of the votes were tallied.

Over at, Kyle Michaelis has started a little push poll which allows you to pick the biggest loser in the Recall Suttle imbroglio. Snork.

Who is the biggest loser in the failed effort to recall Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle?

Jeremy Aspen, on behalf of local landlords
Dave Nabity, for revealing ignorance and extremism
Tom Becka & KFAB, after 19 months of attacks
David Sokol, who showed his true colors ($50 K)
Hal Daub, who couldn't pull enough strings
Pete Ricketts & GOP (including Gov. Dave Heineman)

Mayor Suttle explaining the importance of Omaha's AAA bond rating.

Today is Iowa Pride Network's 5th annual Gay-Straight Alliance Day

Wednesday, January 26, 2011, the Iowa Pride Network (IPN), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied students (LGBTA) will celebrate its Fifth Annual Day to honor and recognize Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) —a group of gay and straight students working to end homophobia and transphobia in schools and colleges) on high school and college campuses across Iowa.

According to recent Iowa School Climate Surveys, nearly 38% of gay and lesbian students are physically harassed (pushed or shoved) and 21% are physically assaulted (kicked, punched or injured with a weapon) in Iowa schools because of their sexual orientation.

However, students with a GSA in their school are 23% less likely to be assaulted.

Video: Iowa Rep. Steve King's ugly race-baiting and stereotyping on House floor

This video, which we inexplicably missed, is from last month. The "slavery reparations" to which the shameless Rep. King refers is loan money out of which otherwise-qualified black farmers were cheated due to racism admitted to by the USDA.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Michele Bachmann explains to America the victory of U.S. Marines ('GIs') 'over the incursion against the Japanese'

"The perilous battle that was fought during WWII in the Pacific at Iwo Jima was a battle against all odds [60,000 Marines vs. 20,000 dug-in Japanese], and yet this picture immortalizes the victory of young GIs over the incursion against the Japanese." — Tea Party Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

How did they do this Michele? Oh wait! We get it! They hid in the caves with the Japanese and shot at imaginary Australians!!!

Are straight men kissing each other more?

More men are openly kissing in public
Eric Anderson, a sociology lecturer at Bath University's department of education, notes in a Guardian piece by Lucy Tobin that the game "gay chicken" (when two male students go in for a kiss and the first to pull out loses) had almost died out in the UK in the last few years "because nobody ever loses."
     A survey of his showed 89% of the polled men saying they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship. And almost 40% added that they had engaged in "sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now just for 'a laugh'."
     ...Anderson, 43, now believes homophobia is dying out on university campuses... these kissing behaviours are happening all over the country. I have also found it occurring in a fifth of the 60 university soccer players I interviewed in the US, and have a friend who is beginning formal research into male kissing in Australia after recording it there."
     ..."When I say that homophobia is in retreat, people often point to one case and think every gay person is oppressed," he says. "One academic said to me last year, 'what about Matthew Sheppard?' I replied, that was 6,000 miles away, and 11 years ago...
     "Last week, I was talking to my second-year students about two straight men cuddling; they laughed, 'what's the big deal about that'," he says. "I polled them, and found that 14/15 said they had spooned another man, in bed, sleeping all night long. Gone are the days in which men would rather sleep on the floor or head to toe; not only do they share beds and cuddle, but they are not homosexualised for this."

Jon Stewart Invites 'brother man' Glenn Beck on the Daily Show with chalk holder as well as other enticements

After Glenn Beck, during a rare main­stream TV appearance on the "Today Show" mentioned Jon Stewart in the same breath as "The Simp­sons," Jon protested: "I think Glenn Beck thinks I'm a cartoon character!" and invited Beck on his show.

Take that Oprah! Craig Ferguson introduces 'long-lost half sister' Peg Blerguson to audience

Apparently, "Peg" was played by one of Ferguson's writers, who, unless CBS is now pixelating underwear, wasn't wearing anything under his dress.


Geoff: "Two words: Tweets and Emails. Damn that's three."

Iowa House Judiciary Committee advances process to put gay marriage ban to vote

A Iowa House subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee voted 2-1 to begin the long process of putting a gay marriage ban before voters.
     Republicans Dwayne Alons (chief sponsor) and Chris Hagenow voted for and Democrat Beth Wessel-Kroeschel against.
     The full committee followed suit, voting 13-8 along party lines (except for turncoat Rep. Kurt Swaim, the sole Democrat to vote with the Republicans) to advance the resolution to amend Iowa's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
     The amendment would deny state recognition to arrangements such as civil unions and domestic partnerships as well as prohibiting same-sex marriages.
     Drake University constitutional law scholar Mark Kende told the Des Moines Register Monday that banning gay marriages raises deep constitutional questions and almost certainly ensures that the measure, if approved, would be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
     A public hearing is scheduled for next week in Iowa's General Assembly before the measure is voted on. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block any vote on an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

KCCI video is here.
Des Moines Register: Scope of marriage debate disputed.

Bite us, Lincoln
Daily Beast: Omaha 7th drunkest city in America!

Delgoff, Flickr
Update via Omaha World-Herald, 8/12: Trulia, a real estate trend-watcher, created maps that divide the U.S. into restaurant cities and bar cities, and Omaha pops up as the city with the third-highest bar density: 8.3 bars per 10,000 households.

The stats:
Average drinks, per person, per month: 12.09
Percent of adults who are heavy drinkers: 7.3
Percent of adults who are binge drinkers: 19.7
Deaths per 100,000 residents from alcoholic liver disease: 3.8

Oh, c'mon, Daily Beast. You don't fool us. We live here. We know that out-of-towners during the College World Series are distorting our numbers. And then there's Connor Oberst...

Full list here. By the way, no one here at Aksarbent was surprised at the winner. We get around.

Monday, January 24, 2011

National Organization for Marriage launches email campaign targeting key Iowa House members

The National Organization for Marriage is pressuring the following Iowa House Democrats to advance a repeal and ban of same sex marriage and civil unions in Iowa:

(District precedes name of representative.)

13: Steckman, Sharon (Democrat) - Representative,
15: Quirk, Brian (Democrat) - Assistant Minority Leader,
22: Berry, Deborah (Democrat) - Representative,
24: Thomas, Roger (Democrat) - Representative,
28: Murphy, Patrick (Democrat) - Speaker of the House,
43: Smith, Mark (Democrat) - Representative,
46: Heddens, Lisa (Democrat) - Representative,
49: Miller, Helen (Democrat) - Representative,
64: Petersen, Janet (Democrat) - Representative,
66: Abdul-Samad, Ako (Democrat) - House Assistant Majority Leader,
67: McCarthy, Kevin (Democrat) - House Majority Leader,
77: Mascher, Mary (Democrat) - Minority Whip,
81: Thede, Phyllis (Democrat) - Representative,
94: Swaim, Kurt (Democrat) - Representative,

If you live in Iowa (find your house district HERE) and any of the above members represent you, email them now to let them know you support the unanimous decision of the Iowa Supreme Court and that you want your representative to solve problems which affect all Iowans and not make thousands of Iowa's families strangers to the law.

Remember, NOM's efforts and those of the Iowa Mormon front group "Family Leader" would make not only marriage, but civil unions AND domestic partnerships unavailable to gay Iowans, details that the National Organization for Marriage doesn't bother to mention in its email alert.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Critical Iowa subcommittee hearing on amendment to ban same-sex marriage to be held Monday, 1/24/11

From oneiowa comes an alert that Monday, an Iowa House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee will discuss House Joint Resolution 6, which seeks to deny any legal recognition to gay couples. The proposed amendment would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, harming thousands of Iowa families.
We need supporters of equality present at the hearing demonstrating the positive effect of marriage in the lives of Iowans, and showing this bill will harm thousands of real Iowan gay and lesbian couples and their families. Please join us!
Subcommittee Hearing on Marriage Ban (HJR6)
Monday, January 24, 2011, at 12:30 PM
Iowa Capitol - Meet on the first floor by the USS Iowa Battleship Replica
WEAR BLUE to signify your support for equality!
The hearing will start promptly at 1:00 PM and is likely to run late into the afternoon.
We know our opposition will be out in force, and that’s why it's so important to have you there. This is a critical opportunity to show collective opposition to writing discrimination into the constitution. Please join us!

Truth Wins Out winter tour to include Des Moines and Lincoln

Wayne Besen

The 2011 winter tour of Truth Wins Out will stop in Lincoln February 7, 2011 at UNL at 7 pm in the Nebraska Union Auditorium. Details of other dates, including three in Des Moines, are here.

Press release, January 19, 2011:

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Author and activist Wayne Besen will kick-off an eleven state speaking tour this week to discuss the harm caused by programs that claim to turn gay people straight through prayer and therapy. At each stop, Besen will show a multi-media presentation pointing out the psychological damage caused by these unscientific religious programs.
     “The message of this tour is that you can’t ‘pray away the gay’ and LGBT people are fine just the way they are,” said Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out. “Organizations that claim they can change one’s sexual orientation are committing consumer fraud and harming a great number of people.”
     Truth Wins Out aims to educate local communities, counter misinformation, and help LGBT people find self-acceptance and freedom. Truth Wins Out organized the tour after the nation’s largest “ex-gay” organization, Exodus International, announced it would focus on youth in 2011.
     “We were outraged that Exodus would target vulnerable and desperate teenagers who need genuine love and self acceptance,” said TWO’s Besen. “The last thing young LGBT people need is scientifically bankrupt misinformation that tells them they are sick and sinful.”
     Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen will visit: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Alabama.
     Truth Wins Out meets ex-gay conferences and symposiums on the ground where they are actively preaching disinformation. Across America, TWO joins its local partners and allies to hold media events and protest actions to counter the destructive messages the ex-gay ministries put forth. We work to ensure that the media and public are aware of the facts, prevailing psychological opinion and that they can hear the powerful stories of people who have been harmed by ex-gay groups.

The Thinking Atheist updates 'The Story of Suzie'

Originally released in 2009 in a more basic form by The Thinking Athiest, "The Story of Suzie" now has a leaner script, updated (and many brand new) graphics and HD resolution. Suzie, a devoutly religious girl free of critical thought, sees divine love and intervention everywhere.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Awesome Aussie TB Patient (The Fully Sick Rapper) turns lemons into lemonade

You can do a lot with the webcam in a Macbook, iMovie, Garageband, and 180 or so days of time on your hands caused by being quarantined with a rare form of multiple drug-resistant TB. And yes, this man DOES work in advert­ising. (Aussie+Adman+CoopedUpForMonths=WhatTheHellDidYouExpect?)

After 55 days...

After 150 days...

Canadian Broadcasting System story

It's official: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is the biggest liar in the U.S. House

Minnesota Public Radio (audio here) reports Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact's conclusion that Republican Congress­woman Michele Bachmann has made false statements more often than any public official. “We have checked her 13 times, and seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false,” Politi­Fact editor Bill Adair told Minnesota Public Radio.

He added that no other politician had been fact checked as often as Bachmann without saying something that was found to be true. “I don’t know anyone else that we have checked, more than a couple times, that has never earned anything above a false,” Adair said. “She is unusual in that regard that she has never gotten a rating higher than false.”

Michelle Bachman's Minnesota District

Some facts about Michele Bachmann, from wikipedia, of which you may not be aware:

  • From 1995 through 2006, the Bachmann family farm has received $251,973 in federal subsidies, chiefly for dairy and corn price supports.
  • She received her law degree from Oral Roberts University
  • From 1988 to 1993, Bachmann was a U.S. Treasury Department attorney in the US Federal Tax Court located in St. Paul. According to Bachmann, she represented the Internal Revenue Service "in hundreds of cases" (both civil and criminal) prosecuting people who underpaid or failed to pay their taxes.

Michele Bachmann on light bulbs

Bachmann introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, to repeal the ban on conventional light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent light bulbs. She argued that the government has no business telling consumers what kind of light bulbs they can buy: "By 2012, incandescent light bulbs will be no more," and "Fluorescent bulbs are more polluting because of their mercury content. We are working on a light bulb bill. If the Democrats can hose up a light bulb, don't trust them with the country," Bachmann said.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association responded to Bachmann's environmental assertions by explaining that because a large percentage of power plants in the United States are fueled by burning coal, the reduced energy consumption of fluorescent bulbs typically results in a significant overall reduction of mercury emissions, as well as greenhouse gases. "That's not just the industry talking," said Mark Kohorst, "That's an accepted aspect of these products, and that's why they've been promoted so heavily." Julia Bovey of the Natural Resources Defense Council also commented that "There is 200 times more mercury in each filling in Congresswoman Bachmann's teeth than there is in a compact fluorescent light bulb. Although no known source has cited Bachmann quoting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on their policy in handling broken fluorescent bulbs, the EPA has been quoted that it recommends the room be aired out and that contaminated articles should be thrown away.

MSNBC fires Keith Olbermann; Olbermann's goodbye on Countdown's farewell show; Maddow's reaction on Real Time with Bill Maher

Rachel Maddow reacts to Olbermann's firing on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Keith Olbermann signs off last edition of Countdown.

Rumors are rife; one says Olberman will be paid $30,000,000 to stay off TV for the remainder of his contract.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Privacy: wikileaks' Julian Assange
(top) vs. facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

( via

Today, the L.A. Times reports another facebook attempt to expose the private information of its users (including mobile phone numbers and home addresses) to corporate America by quietly expanding the scope of the data you agree to allow developers access to when you add an app.

(Note: Aksarbent wearily reminds its readers that to be named Man or Woman of the Year is not an honor or an accolade, as Time has said repeatedly. It is recognition of a person's influence or power without regard to how said person has wielded such clout.)

Miss America to gay wikileaker
Bradley Manning: Drop dead

Seventeen-year-old Teresa Scanlan of Gering, Nebraska (in that state's rural panhandle) became 2011's Miss America last Saturday night in Las Vegas.

The politically-charged question posed to her was asked by SFC Chad Momerak, Bismark, ND: "Everybody's talking about the Wikileaks. How do we balance people's right to know with the right to government security?"

Scanlan answered: "You know when it came to that situation, it was actually based on espionage, and that when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people's right to know, because it's so important that everybody within our borders is safe and so we can't let things like that happen and they must be handled properly and I think that was the case."

Accused WikiLeaker Bradley Manning, incarcerated in a military prison, faces the spectre of decades in prison for, among other things, leaking the video of U.S. helicopter pilots killing two Reuters journalists and wounding at least one child when they machine-gunned a group of pedestrians in Iraq.

Said video was not released by the Pentagon despite Freedom of Information Act requests to do so. Manning is also accused of releasing classified war logs in Afghanistan including one recounting
how a convoy of US Marines, hit by an explosives-rigged minivan outside the city of Jalalabad, escaped, then opened fire with automatic weapons as they tore down a six-mile stretch of highway, hitting almost anyone in their way – teenage girls in fields, motorists in their cars, old men as they walked along the road. Nineteen unarmed civilians were killed and 50 wounded.
Two hours later Americans returned to the scene of the bombing to conduct an "exploitation of the blast site with pictures/grid cords as well as debriefing ANP leadership on scene". Journalists on the spot gave a more detailed account. They said angry marines tore their cameras from their hands, insisting they delete the pictures they had taken of bullet-pocked vehicles on the roadside. Rahmat Gul, a freelance photographer working for the Associated Press, said two soldiers and a translator came up to him and asked: "Why are you taking pictures? You don't have permission." Then they deleted his photographs.
Later, Gul said, one of the soldiers came up to him and raised his arm, as if to hit him. Taqiullah Taqi, a reporter for the private Tolo TV channel, said the Americans told him through a translator: "Delete them, or we will delete you."

New poll: Iowans not amused by gay marriage: (52-41) or impeachment of judges: (55-38) or incoming Gov. Branstad: (46-41)

Public Policy Polling just surveyed 1077 Iowans about gay marriage, impeachment of Iowa's Supreme Court Judges, and their approval of Iowa's incoming governor. Here is the press release:
Majority of Iowans oppose gay marriage but also impeachment 
Raleigh, N.C. – After successfully campaigning to get three of them ousted from office by election last fall, Republicans in Iowa are now campaigning to get the remaining four justices who voted to legalize gay marriage in the state booted by impeachment.  But a majority of Iowans think that move inappropriate, despite the fact that a majority also do not favor same-sex marriage itself.
     52% think same-sex marriage should not be legal, as it is now in the Hawkeye State, with 41% supporting the new status quo. It is mainly Republicans driving the animosity.  82% of them think same-sex marriage should be illegal, but two-thirds of Democrats are on the legal side, with independents splitting just 46-44 toward it being illegal. 
     On the impeachment issue, however, Republicans are not as gung-ho as some of their state legislators are. Still twice (60%) as many of them favor impeachment as oppose it, but that is far below the 82-10 margin of Republicans who oppose same-sex marriage itself.  
      Overall, 55% of Iowa voters oppose impeachment, and only 38% support it. At 54-38 against, independents mirror the overall electorate, while Democrats’ 79-16 margin against impeachment approaches Republicans’ fervor against equal marriage rights. 
     “This is one of those classic issues where voters agree with Republicans but don’t want the party to overplay its hand,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.  “They’re on the same page with wanting same sex marriage to be illegal, but they think it’s going too far to impeach the judges who made the ruling to legalize it.”
     Despite defeating Chet Culver and returning to office by a 53-43 margin in November, Terry Branstad is no more popular than his predecessor. Iowans disapprove of Culver’s four-year record, 41-46, but they are also down on Branstad, 40-44.  The two post almost identical numbers with independents, and are equally polarizing across party lines.  
     Chuck Grassley is now the sixth most popular of 74 senators whose job performance ratings have been gauged by PPP in the last year, with a 54-31 approval mark. Junior colleague Tom Harkin is far below Grassley, but still quite healthy, at a 48-38 grade. 
PPP surveyed 1,077 Iowa voters from January 7th to 9th, 2011.
The survey’s margin of error is  +/-3.0%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

Virtual reality gets bitch-slapped by the material world

The practical fascist in me has decided that this security video alone provides enough evidence to compel the state to revoke this chick's driver's license from now until the sun burns out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shopping and F**cking to run 1/14-23/11 in Omaha

Lilyhorn/Martin Productions presents Shopping and Fucking, a 1996 play by English playwright Mark Ravenhill, in Omaha 1/14/11-1/23/11. Tickets are here.

The play, as described by the producers:

The lives of a gangster obsessed with "The Lion King," a junkie stockbroker trying to kick the habit, a teenage male prostitute with a death wish and two club kids dealing X crash head-on in this disturbing black comedy. WARNING: The play contains nudity, violence and very explicit sex.

From Wikipedia: When first produced, Shopping and Fucking received mixed reviews. Some were shocked by the play's sexually-violent content, which includes the pseudo-rape of an underage male by other males. Other critics were drawn to the play's black humour, and its mixture of Sadean and Marxist philosophies. Along with Sarah Kane's Blasted, it was a prime exemplar of British in-yer-face theatre of the 1990s.
     The sexual violence of Shopping and Fucking explores what is possible if consumerism supersedes all other moral codes. To this effect everything, including sex, violence and drugs, is reduced to a mere transaction in an age where shopping centres are the new cathedrals of Western consumerism.
     Aspects of consumerism and sexuality rampant in popular culture recur throughout the play: drugs, shoplifting, phone sex, prostitution, anal sex, and oral sex in the London department store Harvey Nichols.
     The characters' names (Mark, Robbie and Gary) are taken from the Manchester, England boy band Take That, and from the singer Lulu who collaborated with them on their hit single Relight My Fire.