Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anthony Weiner at today's gay day parade in NYC

Go ahead. Make up your own headline. Grand Marshal was Edie Windsor, who probably wouldn't be allowed to pay for a drink in a gay bar anywhere in the USA, okay? Photo by Joe Jervis.

Nebraska Catholic Conference: 'Fortunately' Supreme Court didn't molest NE law denying marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships to gay couples

Fr. Wetovick: looks
harmless but watch out
(Parish photo)
Not directly related, but fun: Here's some recent news that neither the Omaha Archdiocese nor the Nebraska Catholic conference has issued a press release about — Grand Island priest (Rev. Michael E. Wetovick, left) charged with making terroristic threats, attempted second-degree assault and using a large piece of wood to commit a felony

From NCC's press release:
Fortunately, the Supreme Court’s rulings are also highly significant because of what the Court did not do: it did not hold that there is a constitutional right to legally recognized same-sex “marriage;” it did not hold that the U.S. Constitution imposes a redefinition of marriage on the states (other than the impact of the procedural ruling on California); it did not rule that sexual orientation is a protected classification. Importantly, the the Supreme Court’s rulings do not have any cognizable impact on Article I, Section 29 of the Nebraska State Constitution, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prohibits state and local governmental recognition of civil unions, domestic partnerships or any similar same-sex relationship.
Below: Fr. Chris Kubat, (at the 1:40 mark) in May of 2012 before the Lincoln City Council, accusing other people of "intellectual dishonesty" for truthfully pointing out the Nebraska Catholic Conference's efforts to allow mental health professionals to deny gay people referrals to other counselors after they refused to treat them.

Against backdrop of anti-gay St. Petersburg violence, Putin signs vague, draconian antigay bill

St. Petersburg antigay assaults, via Box Turtle Bulletin
Russian President Vladamir Putin, who American billionaire Robert Kraft says stole a $25,000 diamond ring from him, has signed into law an anti-gay bill so draconian and vague that critics say it will almost certainly be used as a catalyst for hate crimes and be used arbitrarily against LGBTs.
The law introduces fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($166) for citizens who disseminate information "directed at forming non-traditional sexual setup" in minors or which may cause a "distorted understanding" that gay and heterosexual relations are "socially equivalent", the publication showed.
Critics have called the bill homophobic and so vaguely defined that it would inevitably be used arbitrarily against gays and stir hate crimes in the country.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chris Christie to gay couples: Drop dead; NJ Gov. says SCOTUS opinion, which Bill Clinton lobbied for and welcomed, was 'insulting' to former president

New Jersey's GOP governor continues to play the electorate for fools in his brazen misrepresentation of facts.
     The Washington Post embedded the video of a recent radio interview of Chris Christie, who claimed that for 2000 years marriage has been "one man one woman" (nonsense; polygamy has been legal in various jurisdictions for 2000 years and even now is legal in several Muslim countries.)
The governor called Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion “incredibly insulting” to the members of Congress who voted for DOMA and President Bill Clinton, who signed it.
The truth is that Clinton welcomed the ruling:
"By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union," said the former president in a joint statement with his wife, the former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. "We are also encouraged that marriage equality may soon return to California."
In fact he wrote in support of overturning the law he signed in 1996 (and cynically used in subsequent campaign ads)
"Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned."

More sleazy revelations about U.S. financial system that Congress has failed to fix

How Tampax sells its wares in Russia
('Puny western ads don't work in our country!')

Update: video has been removed by LiveLeak because it turns out that this ad is NOT a Tampax ad but an excerpt from a recently released anthology comedy movie we won't publicize by identifying.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Yorker now trolling freepers and teabaggers

AKSARBENT thinks the Bert and Ernie cover is cute but it's bothering the American Family Association, etc. or at least the AFA is claiming to be bothered in order to scare up more money from its suckers. Sesame Street claims, of course, that muppets don't have a sexual orientation. We suppose you could say the same thing about Smurfs, but the only one who believed that was Donny Darko — and he was clearly drunk at the time.

Video: aftermath of fatal, fiery crash 'consistent with car cyber attack' of Rolling Stone muckraker Michael Hastings hours after he emailed collegues that FBI was investigating him

     Michael Hastings was working for BuzzFeed at the time, but he became famous for his widely-read Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley McChrystal contained quotes which led to the general's firing by President Obama. He was working on a "big story" when he emailed his BuzzFeed Collegues that the FBI was interviewing his "close friends and associates." Reported the Huffington Post:
     Less than 24 hours later, Hastings died when his 2013 Mercedes C250 coupe crashed into a tree on Highland Ave. in Los Angeles at approximately 4:30 am on June 18... One neighbor told a local news crew she heard a sound like an explosion. Another eyewitness said the car's engine had been thrown 50 to 60 yards from the car. There were no other vehicles involved in the accident.
     Hastings, not known to be a reckless driver, blew through a stoplight at between 60 and 100 mph. His crash was so violent it took the LAPD two days to identify his body.
     Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke, told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack.”
     Pat Dollard noted that in the 2012 book ‘The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan’ Hastings said he didn’t drink and hadn’t had one in 10 years.


In other FBI news, the New York Times reports that its investigation of "subject" killings revealed that the Bureau deemed itself faultless in 150 shootings of subjects over almost two decades. The Times quoted a very suspicious Sam Walker, of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a noted expert on law enforcement practices and policies, who took issue with the FBI's self-investigations and conclusions.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stephen Colbert mourns death of Prop 8

How Omaha TV covered yesterday's Supreme Court gay marriage decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA

WOWT did a nice job of pegging the Supreme Court decisions to the practical reasons gay people want to marry, ticked off by reporter Jacki Ochoa, using yesterday's rally in Memorial Park as a backdrop. Mallorie Maddox's introduction clearly and accurately explained the ruling, which was a credit to whoever wrote the copy, although she probably shouldn't have marred her introduction with editorializing ("People are reacting — and sometimes overreacting — to a major decision from the Supreme Court...") although AKSARBENT would not take issue with the opinion she expressed.
     Channel 6 never lost sight of the reason for the DOMA lawsuit by Edie Windsor — an inheritance tax bill approaching $400,000 handed her by a federal government that refused to recognize her legal marriage (in Canada) to a woman. Good work by WOWT, which generously allows embedding of its stories by bloggers, but doesn't offer them options to size the video to fit their layout. You can see the video at WOWT's website here.
     KETV's coverage, (at 5) by Natalie Glucklich was just OK (unlike her terrifically compelling piece about the abuse and vindication of a gay couple in CB who got a $147,000 ruling against a property management company that literally terrorized them, then evicted them under false pretenses) but her report was way better than her piece's truly idiotic introduction by co-anchors Adrian Whitsett and Melissa Fry: "For the first time in our nation's history, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California's ban on gay marriage."
     Huh? Prop 8 is/was about five years old and DOMA was passed in 1996. And generally, the Supreme Court doesn't strike down laws more than once. We've no idea what Whitsett and Fry were trying to say, but they should probably try harder.

     Glucklich's reportage included gay people in Memorial Park singing the national anthem a capella (wince) but had a good quote from Ann Boyle about tax injustice meted out to LGBTs (another reason we love Boyle). Glucklich checked with a constitutional law professor about the status of gay couples in Nebraska married in Iowa. He wasn't able to offer much clarity because such things are up to states, which define marriage differently. See KETV's 5 pm coverage here.
George Thompson: "We oughta do what the constitution says,
more than what personal opinion or one particular group does."
     At 6, KETV's introduction by Todd Andrews and Melissa Fry was different and made sense.
     Glucklich's report also was different and better, including cogent comments from Shelly Kiel of Citizens for Equal Protection as well as an interview with the gay owners of Council Bluffs' Dixie Quicks retaurant, who, Glucklich significantly revealed, moved their business from Omaha, NE because of the gay-friendlier climate of Iowa.
     Also interviewed at Dixie Quicks was one George Thompson, who tried to disguise his heterosexual supremacist tendencies by cloaking them in what he probably hoped would sound like a fair-minded appeal to the Constitution, evidently ignorant of the fact (he probably watches Fox) that the DOMA ruling was decided on the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
     The injudicious Mr. Thompson clearly enjoys eating at a gay-owned and operated restaurant but thinks neither the owners nor any other gay couples should be allowed to marry because evidently gay couples getting stuck with enormous inheritance tax bills that straight couples escape is just fine by Mr. Thompson.
     He should count among his blessings that Iowa's sexual orientation antibias laws cover uppity heteros like himself, as well as gays; this prevents the owners of Dixie Quicks from telling him to take his bigoted ass to dine elsewhere, not that they would ever be rude enough to do such a thing.

     KMTV's report at 10 pm took an approach similar to WOWT's: a nuts-and-bolts approach to the economic and legal benefits of marriage that were/are denied to gay couples. Just-the-facts Kim Foley did a conscientious job of illustrating those benefits by profiling yet another gay couple who left Omaha for Council Bluffs to get them, after one of the couple lost his job.
     (Earth to antigay Jean Stothert, who insisted last year that Omaha didn't need an antibias ordinance: the 21st Century is on the line, irked, and increasingly unpersuaded by your preposterous, delusional, self-serving bullshit.)
     Foley's report was preceded by a good background explanation by anchor Craig Negrelli, although he left out the reason that the Supreme Court sent the Prop 8 case back to California — the plaintiffs who challenged the reversal of Prop 8 by the appeals court did not have standing to do so, so the merit of the case wasn't addressed by the court.
     Fox42: Who really cares how they cover anything? They don't even have a Saturday newscast, the freaking cheapskates.

Highlights of Justice Scalia's dissenting rant against yesterday's 5-4 DOMA ruling

You can see more excerpts and a link to his entire screed at Mother Jones here, but we found this gem most appalling and revealing of Scalia's hostility toward the legitimate aspirations of gay Americans:

[T]o defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions.
Really? Socking an elderly woman with a $300,000+ tax bill who was legally married to the spouse she had been with for decades doesn't demean that woman and her relationship? Scalia, who Rachel Maddow once labeled (with cause) a "weird troll" proved once again what an injudicious jerk he really is.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CBS broadcast network TV's first scripted gay wedding nearly 20 years ago on Northern Exposure

It was on the season 5, episode 21 installment of Northern Exposure, entitled 'I Feel the Earth Move,' broadcast May 2, 1994, that the two bickering ex-Marine proprietors, Ron and Erick, who ran a bed and breakfast in mythical Cicely, decided to get hitched. A couple CBS affiliates refused to air the show.
Synopsis: After eight years of sharing, Ron and Erick are making wedding plans, complete with a gourmet menu, classical music, and a full guest list. While all of Cicely is excited over the first wedding of the season, Maurice is dumbfounded and feels they are making a mockery of marriage. Throughout the preparations, the tension builds as the lucky grooms constantly bicker over music, guest list, seating arrangements, caterer, and so on. The night before the big day, they get into a fight and Erick shows up on Maurice's doorstep with a black eye asking to borrow $500 to leave and go to Seattle. Against his better judgment, Maurice calms him down and convinces him to sleep on his rash decision to call off the wedding. With a new day, everything looks brighter and the hitching goes off without a hitch.
     Holling gets caught up in the wedding excitement, as he underbids Cantwell Catering to prepare the gourmet fare for the day. Hoping to use the profits on a new sump pump, Holling is crestfallen to discover that the delicacies on the menu are much more expensive than he anticipated. He decides to alter the ingredients ever so slightly to keep costs down, substituting honey-baked ham for prosciutto and apricots for melon. As they wedding draws near, and it dawns on him that he is cheating the couple on such an important day, Holling starts from scratch with all the right ingredients and everyone raves about the food.

BBC: reaction to SCOTUS gay marriage rulings

San Franciscans react jubilantly to Prop 8 ruling

Defense of Marriage Act struck down in suit by 2013 Pride Magazine covergirl, Edie Windsor, 83; enormous nationwide repercussions, okay?

President Obama congratulates Edie Windsor from Air Force
One on her Supreme Court victory against DOMA, which his
administration already had stopped defending
     Edith Windsor sued the federal government for overcharging her $363,000 in estate taxes, and, in the process, has now dismantled DOMA, which the Obama administration stopped defending but on which GOP House Majority Leader John Boehner has spent millions of taxpayer dollars in court because he's an overreaching political partisan who panders to bigots and reputedly drinks too much.
     Windsor was represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
     The SCOTUS decision could not have been narrower, with the usual suspects, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia (who threw a fit nailing himself to the cross in a petulant dissent) siding with the proposition that the federal government should be able to pick the marriages it chooses to recognize from among those recognized by states.
     Here's a wonderful profile of Edie Windsor by the best Supreme Court broadcast reporter in America, NPR's Nina Totenberg, whose story on today's decision AKSARBENT will link to when it becomes available.
     The World-Herald explained, generally, what the decision means to gay Nebraskans and Iowans, in a article accompanied by a nice picture of a rainbow-flag-waving dude in a tank top. NPR had more details about how the decision will affect gay couples.

David Boies on Supreme Court's Prop 8, Defense of Marriage Act rulings: 'This is a great day for America'

President Obama calls to congratulate Prop 8 victors from Air Force One

The Supreme Court ruled that opponents of the lower court decision invalidating Prop 8, the law banning gay marriage in California, did not have standing in the case.

Chuck Hagel's confirmation about-face on gay rights appears to have stuck

Given Chuck Hagel's votes as a Senator and his long history of opposition to gay rights, many were suspicious of his confirmation hearing change of heart, but he seems to have really changed. Here's his press release following today's SCOTUS decision on gay marriage:

Statement by Secretary Hagel on DOMA Ruling
Now-Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel in Vietnam with brother
Thomas (left).
     The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act.  The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies.  The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible.  That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.
     Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment.  All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so.  Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.

100 days after GOP's election loss self-autopsy, has it changed? Nah

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tony 'Captain Cholesterol' Koulakis, beloved owner of Montreal greasy spoon, Cosmos, is stabbed to death; son charged

CBC has the story.

"Man of Grease" Trailer from Man of Grease on Vimeo.

NSA again caught lying; two senators send Gen. Keith Alexander a letter; lie disappears from NSA web site

Mother Jones quotes Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who said the letter illustrates the fundamental problem with excessive secrecy.
"This is a perfect example of why this secrecy is so bad for the country, that the NSA or [director of national intelligence] or executive branch can issue misleading statements or outright falsehoods and it's impossible for the American people to fact-check them," Timm said. "If it wasn't for Ron Wyden or Mark Udall, the NSA possibly could have kept this up forever."

R&B/Disco Goddess Thelma Houston at Omaha gay day festival: 'The change comes about... when you support people who support your cause...'

Unlike bigger star but lesser talent Donna Summer, for whom she did a performance tribute, Houston has been an unwavering ally of LGBTs all her professional life.

  • 1:50 — Popular out Omaha radio personality Dave Wingert has a good-natured perv onstage with with Eckophonic vocalist Annette Eckleberry's husband, Brian;
  • 3:21, 7:39, 8:45 — an, um, ecstatic fan enjoys the concert at her own special pace;
  • 3:55 — Houston urges, without "being preachy" that her audience listen to the message in her music;
  • 5:23 —The perspective of a 70-something about the growth of gay pride over the years and a reminder to her audience that "the change comes about when you become active in your community and when you support people who support your cause"
  • 11:52 — Introduces her tribute to Sylvester and explains to kids in a shitkicker state who were born after Sylvester died, who he was. Turns the stage into a dance floor and does a turn with Rodney Houston, her son;
  • 18:55 — "Anytime I'm asked to appear at a Pride Festival it means to me that you must know that I support you and so I'm glad that you know that."

The publicly articulated worries of Heartland Pride Honcho Beth Rigatuso and KETV's Ryan Luby about tangible displays of "disrespect" during Jean Stothert's appearance to read a Mayoral Proclamation about Gay Pride Day were much ado over nothing. (Even if the fears had materialized it's hard to imagine that Stothert could have encountered more overt disrespect from Omaha LGBTs than she got on TV from dark money groups in her own party during her recent campaign.)
      Pressing affairs of state regrettably prevented AKSARBENT from attending the appearance, whose time both the Mayor's office and Heartland Pride steadfastly refused to disclose. Evidently they expected those gays anticipating a meaningful change in Stothert's opinion about gay rights (good luck with that!) to wait around all day in hot humid weather, although any such gluttons for disappointment probably would have deserved it.
     Her mayorness arrived at 12:45. (Some rumors are dead on!)
     A witness to Stothert's performance told us she was "warmly" received, but that Ben Gray was "more warmly" received.
     Less enthusiastic was this pointed commentary (link added) in Progressive Oasis:
I think  anyone who objects to Jean Stothert’s presence at Pride truly understands what this Pride is all about. Pride started out to remember the Stonewall Riots. It's also about celebrating the gains we made. Its also about holding politicians who opposed us accountable.  If a politician can just ride into Pride after spending the past year working against us, what is the point to having pride?
     Politics notwithstanding, Heartland Pride's idea to bring a R&B/Disco legend to Omaha was a brilliant idea. Houston has never performed in Nebraska, so HP gave younger audiences and older fans a chance to see a Motown Grand Dame — and steadfast supporter of LGBTs — up close and personal for the very first time.
     We saw Beth Rigatuso at the side of the stage during Houston's act with her head hunched over her work, taking care of business and not able to completely enjoy the fantastic performance she helped make possible. Too bad. She richly deserved a break to revel in the unalloyed joy she and Heartland Pride gave to Omaha during the show it put on last night at a price that was the best bargain in town.
     Rigatuso worked hard to keep down admission and other prices. She will be the first to tell you this, but no matter — the difference between price-gouging at the CWS and her organization's efforts to keep its event affordable were like night and day, and for that she and HP deserve a pat on the back from themselves and every else in the gay community and beyond.
     Below are scenes shot Saturday after Stothert left. (Too bad she didn't return to take in the show, but it was her loss and, AKSARBENT hopes, not her last.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fox News radio host Todd Starnes, ever on the prowl for a Obama vs. soldiers story to gin up, canonizes another martyr

The military has thrown the book at Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers for tweets and bumper stickers attacking the commander in chief, but Starnes told his followers the discipline is religious persecution.
     You can read more here, but what caught our eye as an even greater example of Starnes' phoniness was a link on his Fox News page, also about Sommers (whose plight Starnes has milked repeatedly) entitled "Soldier Told Not to Read Levin, Limbaugh or Hannity in Uniform"
     Gee, Todd, maybe said soldier could listen to Rush on Armed Forces Radio, which broadcasts his show daily day but didn't serve up liberal counterparts, like Air America, at all.

A meditation on traffic lights in the wake of today's Omaha storms

The fierce microstorms which ripped through North Central Omaha today (see social media pictures posted by KETV below) left thousands of homes, businesses and many traffic lights without power.
     AKSARBENT, which had to do some errands in the aftermath, was astonished at how much faster its provisions foray became when traffic lights became defacto four-way stop signs.
     Granted, only a fool would suggest that lights be vanquished from busy intersections of double and triple-laned streets where, even if every driver were attentive (a improbable assumption), it would be difficult to for any sane person to sort out a first-in-first-out order, leading to confusion, road-rage incidents and inevitable fender-benders.
     Nevertheless, our trip dramatized how much better and more efficient human beings still can be when compared to comparatively crude, once-sequence-fits-all automation.
     Safety first, of course, but there's no free lunch: those soulless red light commissars exact their price: throughput and the background frustration you sublimate so deeply that your unexpected relief at its departure comes as a happy surprise.

Daily Show: Intolerance of Christians a huge problem

Scottish marriage equality ad with great soundtrack

(Via JMG)

JoeMyGod's readers have identified some of the celebrities, politicians, etc in the above ad.
Cal: For those non-Scots among you, the last 5 people holding up placards are the leaders of all the political parties in the Scottish Parliament, including the First Minister. The bill has majority support in parliament, it's just a question of doing it now.

Well, I did recognize Billy Boyd at least. B-) Great video.

Helen in Ireland
I saw Sylvester McCoy and Alan Cummings as well :-)
Go for it, Scotland!

Does lawsuit-happy Apple hold its industry back or move it forward?

From Tek Syndicate:

     Again, we're not trying to bash Apple here. We truly want Apple to stop harassing all the other companies out there.
     I was talking to one of my other friends and he said, "You know, this is just what businesses do — they try to protect their investments."
     Uh no. This is absolutely insane. Samsung does not do stuff like this. Other companies, Intel, they work together. They want to move things forward. Apple is holding the industry back by arguing [about] rectangles with curved edges and wedge-shaped laptops. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Buzzfeed: the invention of your clothes — in 55 seconds

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is this normal?

At 9 pm it was 78 degrees in Omaha, as opposed to 85 and 83 respectively in Fairbanks and North Pole, Alaska (where it was 6 pm.) Must be the extended daylight...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

AKSARBENT respectfully visits 2013 Heartland Pride on Friday, finds poor attendance


The Omaha/Council Bluffs/Fremont/Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area has in excess of 885,000 people. An average of 23% of Americans are children under 18. Kinsey said back in the 50s that 4% of males and 2% of females are exclusively homosexual their entire lives.
     Assuming (for the sake of convenience) a 50/50 male/female split, that would leave a potential local pool of up to 20,000 or so adult gay attendees at Heartland Pride last Friday, not including bisexuals and straights looking for a (rather sedate) party.
     AKSARBENT still-framed the video above, taken between 9 and 10 p.m., and counted fewer than 100 people in front of Heartland Pride's stage. Perhaps another 50 were browsing the booths, probably a generous reckoning.
     150 attendees out of a potential 20,000.

Friday, June 21, 2013

KETV covers Mayor Stothert's forthcoming appearance at Omaha Gay Pride tomorrow — and the lingering resentment of her politics by many LGBTs

The source of that lingering resentment is directly traceable not only to Stothert's anti-LGBT vote, but to her remarks about the gay community (see AKSARBENT video below) before voting against its interests in March of 2012.
     Ryan Luby, who interviewed Rigatuso but not LGBTs still furious at Stothert, said this:
Luby: There's a sense of pride here, you can't miss, can't overlook so for someone to try to hurt that and to hear about it...
Rigatuso: Yeah, unfortunately we did...
Luby: to know they may send a negative message, Heartland Pride president Beth Rigatuso has strong words...
Rigatuso: It's disrespectful, absolutely disrespectful...
     Beth Rigatuso might do well to remember Jean Stothert's sly use of a vociferous anti-gay activist, Femi Awodele, in her recent election campaign commercials in order to send a dog whistle to homophobes, before accusing members of her own community of "disrespect" on television.
     Rigatuso's advice to the gay community to "come together and let bygones be bygones" (Luby's words) ignores the fact that from last year's opposition to LGBT legal protection to this year's election campaign, Stothert's attitudes toward the gay community do not seem to have changed a bit.
     Why should LGBTs dissatisfied with Stothert ignore that, simply because Rigatuso is willing to do so?

Tweets AKSARBENT likes

We'd like to say that every time AKSARBENT-on-Twitter gets a new follower we pour another half-glass of Malbec, and the constant subsequent buzz is to blame for typos, bad grammar, etc.
     We'd like to say that.
     The sad truth is that even if we opened a bottle every time we got a follower, we'd be mostly stone cold sober. Nevertheless, we love getting followers who aren't selling something, especially if their tweets are fun to read and have occasional typos because then we get to feel superior - for about 12 hours until AKSARBENT's next fuckup.
     Here's one (evening=even):

Black twitter on Paula Deen like white on rice

Paula Deen, who admitted in 2012 that she had concealed her Type 2 diabetes for three years while continuing to promote the kinds of recipes that undoubtedly gave it to her, has admitted to making racial slurs of the sort attributed to her in a lawsuit:
     Deen's racial statements came to light as part of a deposition in a lawsuit brought by a former manager of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House [a Savannah, restaurant co-owned by Dean and her brother], who claimed to be sexually harassed and said the restaurant was rife with innuendo and racial slurs.
      Deen was asked in the deposition whether she had ever used the N-word.
      "Yes, of course," Deen replied, though she added: "It's been a very long time."

The aggressively religious agenda of Heartland Pride's 'Harvey Milk Candlelight Vigil'

    AKSARBENT went to the first event of Gay Pride Weekend Thursday, the one fancifully called the Harvey Milk Candlelight Vigil in Stinson Park, put on by Heartland Pride. It was much more a revival meeting led by Christ hustlers than it was a remembrance of Milk. (You may already have guessed that AKSARBENT's bent is toward the agnostic.)
     Heartland Pride's website promised: "There will be speeches by local leaders in the community."
(Emphasis added.)
     All three community leaders turned out to be
preachers, at least one of whom was not a member of the gay community, and all of whom hammered home a gay spin on Christianity, the invisible Christian God, and the Christian Bible.
     AKSARBENT cannot begin to tell you how fortunate it felt to be breathlessly lectured to about the revelatory discoveries a straight preacher made regarding the rational underpinnings of gay rights when he was in college — stuff we knew at age 16. Paraphrased example: "Straights say homosexuals choose their orientation but none of them can say when THEY chose to be straight."
     Wow — heavy! Johnny-come-lately insight into the heterosexual double standard! Pass the bong, man!
     Evidently, the trio thought selling religion hard, as solace, would work to a crowd often jerked around by (religious) homophobes. (Hey kids: Christianity is the solution to the problem of Christianity!)
     As for dearly departed Harvey Milk, not once did we hear any of the Stinson Park Holy Trinity speak his name and neither did anyone we were with. (If we missed an acknowledgement, it must have been spectacularly perfunctory.)
     As do homophobes on the flip side of the Christer coin, the trio associated righteousness, love, concern for humanity, etc. with their god and their religion, with the clear insinuation that said faith is the only font of such traits worth mentioning and perhaps even the patent-holder on such behavior.
     Anyone who expected to find much philosophical diversity among the speakers in Stinson Park yesterday was barking up the wrong tree — not that there are many at that venue under which one might seek shade on a hot day.
     If yesterday's production was Beth Rigatuso's twisted idea of a paean to Harvey Milk — hijacking the legacy of a gay rights icon known neither for piety nor religiosity and repurposing that legacy to push those ends — then we'll give future Heartland Pride "tributes" a miss.     
     One thing Heartland Pride did right was its fantastically well-executed map of the Council Bluffs parade route. We love a good map here at AKSARBENT and whoever "KRC" is, she, he or it did a great job of producing an attractive model of color-coordinated clarity. Kudos. 
     Perhaps Heartland Pride should stick to maps and not force-fed religion via speaker after speaker after speaker to a community in which agnosticism/atheism rates are almost three times that of the general population and in which 48% choose not to be affiliated with any religion at all. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Florida Congressman pushes back at NSA by floating Mind Your Own Business act

Rep. Alan Grayson has started a petition in support of the following legislation:

Artful video of DC's 38th gay day parade

Fans soaked at 2013 CWS opening ceremony

Friday's 2013 College World Series opening ceremonies included a downpour which sent many fans to neighboring bars and restaurants and AKSARBENT to a McDonald's 10 blocks away where our video camera had a good view of the fireworks in pyrotechnics-mad Omaha. The show was upstaged by stroboscopic flashes of lightning. Very little snark at #CWS or #CWSOmaha except for this, which nonOmahans will not get at all:

Click to enlarge
Above, in red, Nick Ratajczak of the University Of Louisville (which plays Indiana at 8 p.m.); UCLA players Grant Watson, Nick Vander Tuig and Pat Valaika (photo 47, here) and two unidentified Oregon State players (who will face Mississippi St. at 3 p.m.) All games on ESPN.

Nazi shocker: former SS commander found
hiding out in Minneapolis and not Bellevue

(Andy Rooney voice) Don't you hate it when dudes pose as gay-friendly to impress hot chicks on twitter, then reveal what they're really about two weeks later?

An ad slogan becomes literally true: In Columbia some bottles of Coke really are ice-cold because that's what they're made of

Friday, June 14, 2013

Meet Giles Muhame, a grinning, violence-inciting, Ugandan tabloid terrorist who plays murderous homophobes like a Stradivarius

An interview with one of the most contemptible humanoids on the face of the earth, via Towleroad, from the new documentary about Ugandan gays, Call Me Kuchu.
     As Rolling Stone was, regrettably, never trademarked in Uganda by Jann Wenner, this execrable rag has nothing to do with his distinguished and respected rock/political journal known throughout the world.

ABC's Brian Ross: Ed Snowden took four laptops full of NSA secrets with him to Hong Kong; more disclosures coming

Guess Gen. Keith Alexander's hugely expensive NSA fiefdom isn't as airtight as it used to be... J. Edgar Hoover is undoubtedly NOT amused.
     AKSARBENT is guessing that now would be a good time for Glenn Greenwald to start detaching from Edward Snowden.
     On another note, when did journalists, including Ross, become educational credential fetishists? Every other report on Snowden condescendingly rips the NSA for hiring a high-school dropout, when it's obvious from interviews that Snowden has a first rate, inquisitive mind that is extremely well-read. Is the point more education = less subversion? Good luck with that implied premise.
     Maybe the college graduates in the journalism fraternity/sorority have already forgotten that Peter Jennings, who was actually classier, wittier and more erudite than even Walter Cronkite (no, we're not saying he was a better reporter) was a high school dropout too.
     Newspeople should know better than to get on a high horse about education, on which journalism is probably less dependent than any other "profession." Any slob with smarts and moxie can be a great reporter; no degree required.

Today Show decides semi-nudity without 'campy' self­awareness is tacky; Kraft is spanked; NBC cohost with rapier wit cracks stunningly inventive 'undressing' pun

John Oliver does Daily Show's first non-Jon Stewart Gaywatch

Omaha's divisive new mayor gets an upgrade to her viciously funny fake twitter account

Woodhouse Ford will match your contribution to a college that kicks out gay women, ransoms their transcripts and seeks thousands in repayment for the semester they 'withdrew'

Also: KETV reveals shocking new details in $147k Iowa gay housing bias settle­ment: death threats, lost rent and deposit and a three-day eviction notice after New Life Multi-Family Mgmt., LLC of Edina, MN accused victims of being a clear and present 'danger'; KMTV and WOWT ignored story

Backing Grace University is creepy, but it isn't the only creepy thing Nebraska's biggest Ford Dealer does.
     Remember Queen for a Day, back in the 50s?
     Of course you don't, you're too young. Even AKSARBENT is too young, for Christ's sake.
     Queen for a Day was a cruel television sob sister spectacle of hard-luck housewives who competed for prizes, like washers or dryers, which they would win by a vote of the audience for the most pathetic story.
     Guess what? That's rather like what Woodhouse Ford does in the 21st Century!
     They retail poverty in a prize parade that truck buyers and the public get to vote on.
     They let viewers voyeuristically click Internet ballots for the MOST DESERVING of the poors.
     Everybody wins — Woodhouse gets business from beating the ad drums and probably harvests a pantload of demographic tracking data on all the suckers who clicked. Voters get to feel good about themselves, and some of the um, "less fortunate" GET NEW CARS!!!!!
     Ooops, guess not everybody wins... Some of the "contestants" don't get the car even after surrendering their dignity on the commercial altar of one of the nation's (not just Nebraska's) biggest Ford franchises. (Not to imply that poor people are the only ones robbed of their dignity by television, a fact reinforced every time Donald Trump sneers into a lens, although to be fair, Donald Trump never had any dignity to begin with. Or hair.)
Above: Michael James, of Grace U.
His photo appears to have been recently
removed from the web page from which the
above was cached by Google. We don't
know why. He's a handsome guy!
No homo.
     Beyond all that is the revolting reality that Woodhouse funds Grace College as it jerks around and humiliates a gay student, "interviews" her acquaintances (like the military used to do during witch hunts), outs her to her family, refuses to release a usable transcript for her, just a worthless, unofficial "student" copy (according to Danielle Powell), though Grace University's Executive Vice President Michael James claimed otherwise to the Omaha World-Herald.
     Why, all this makes AKSARBENT nostalgic for the day, some years ago, when we bought our new Ford — at Atchley.

Below: Danielle Powell, expelled from Grace College, proposing to her now-wife (they're Iowa-married) Michelle Rogers at Sokol hall on South 13th at a Macklemore concert in in December 2012. Rogers has started a petition to persuade Grace University to cancel the amount it is billing her wife.

Below, some signs/omens from the universe, which has been trying its best to discretely tell gay people not to go to college at Grace University, in Omaha. AKSARBENT drove over yesterday, took pictures, (well, the first two) and even annotated them with digital crop circles, so to speak. Pay attention gay peeps.

Outraged at Obama! Sean Hannity's flip-flop pandering on NSA surveillance; a cheerleader when Bush did it

FBI/NSA domestic spying: how Microsoft tricked customers into complacency about Skype security

Slate doesn't think Microsoft was very above-board in its description to users of Skype's security:
...Microsoft portrayed Skype communications as totally beyond the reach of the government. Indeed, the company apparently chose to claim that it handed over the content of zero communications in 2012—while at the same time complying with a FISA surveillance program that enables the NSA to sift through Skype communications. If reports of Microsoft’s participation in secret FISA-PRISM surveillance are accurate, the company disingenuously created a false sense of security by implying that users’ communications were not being turned over to the government. Following the revelations about PRISM, Microsoft has joined forces with other Internet giants to call on the U.S. government to be more transparent on FISA surveillance. But Microsoft—like Google, Facebook, and others—cannot claim to be a passive victim in this story. Unlike Twitter, it did not push back against excessive U.S. government surveillance requests until the leaked documents were disclosed, and in some cases may have been complicit in misleading the public over the extent of the snooping.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

1930 film shows why CB never overtook Omaha

When we at AKSARBENT first heard about this riveting flick, we thought it might have given CB an edge in its efforts to, um, outstrip Omaha, as the film's title, Man's Work, sounds totally like gay porn to anyone with any sense.
     Chamber of Commerce Rule #1: always proof-read the title cards of a promotional film made by a neighboring community that competes with you for economic development because the bastards might slyly but deliberately misspell the name of your newspaper — any pretelevision city's biggest booster.
     Also, Words Into Print says that the period at the end of a sentence goes inside the quote (title slide one) not outside it (title slide two), like AKSARBENT would know.
     The past aside, no one can say that Council Bluffs doesn't respect its heritage; even today, it remains a shining, reflective beacon for the spelling-challenged, except in the late afternoon, when the taller, newer and more attractive  buildings of Omaha begin to block out the sun.
     At AKSARBENT we never ever misspell anything although occasionally our staff (LOL) may make a typo, like — and this example is strictly theoretical — maybe typing "sulfer" instead of "sulfur" in a freaking headline!

Omaha's new GOP mayor, Jean Stothert, issues gag order to more than 4,000 city employees; internal memo is immediately leaked to KMTV

Effective immediately, all interaction with the news media by any Department directors or any staff mem­ber of any city depart­ment regarding matters of City govern­ment will first be reviewed and approved by the Mayor's Chief of Staff or the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications
           — Stothert memo

     Steve LeClair, president of Omaha's Fire Union, cc'd some reporters on a memo asking for "clarification," in which he also opined:
Omaha Fire Union President Steve LeClair (left, KETV)
and Fire Chief Mike McDonnell (City of Omaha).
McDonnell recently fired Jean Stothert's husband
"I have immediate concern that a Mayor who campaigned on a platform of, among other things, transparency in government has taken the position of 'circle the wagons and everyone keep your mouths shut' within 48 hours of being sworn in."
     Omaha Fire Chief Mike McDonnell, whose inability to be easily fired by Stothert is probably eating her alive and may have driven her to find a way to muzzle him, bailed on a scheduled interview with Nebraska Watchdog; KMTV, which was set to interview McDonnell about a new fire class that Stothert said had not been budgeted for, said he canceled on them too, and they haven't been able to contact him since.
     AKSARBENT suggests they look in Hong Kong.

Mother Jones: Why is gay porn so popular in Pakistan?

We're guessing the frigid stare of these two Pakistani men
typifies the reaction most randomly-selected gents would
offer if asked why gay porn searches are unusually popular
in their country. Photo: losttravel, flickr
Alex Park reports that while only 2% of Pakistanis say society should accept homosexuality, the country is by volume the world leader for Google searches of terms like "man fucking man" and second for "gay sex pics."
     Farahnaz Ispahani, an expert in Pakistani minorities at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former member of Pakistan's parliament, says "... even highly observant Muslim males often have physical relationships with men without considering themselves gay, she says.
"The real love they can have that most of us find with a partner, they find with men," Ispahani says.
     "They mostly see their wives as the mother of their children."
At the same time, she says, persecution of minorities, including gays, has reached an all-time high in Pakistan, and discussing homosexuality openly in public is virtually forbidden. "Religious extremism is at a height today," she says. "Hindus are being forced to convert, Christians are being burned alive—there's very little personal safety for those seen as 'the other.' So what do [gay Pakistanis] do? They turn to pornography because they can't live their lives openly."
     Shereen El Feki, author of the recent book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, says "...the Middle East and India had a literary tradition which celebrated gay love, but in recent years, that openness has been forgotten.
     "You find in most civilizations in the Global South a much more open approach to homosexuality—irrespective of its status in religious and theological doctrine—than you find today," she says. "So very often, any attempt to open a dialogue in the Arab region is branded as some 'Western conspiracy' to undermine traditional Arab and Muslim values. The reality is that long before the West was talking openly about homosexuality, Arabs in particular were writing about this very frankly. Our history has come to be rewritten by Islamic conservatives."

Mussolini's gay island

Reader Karen points us to this BBC piece:
Seventy-five years ago in Fascist Italy, a group of gay men were labelled "degenerate," expelled from their homes and interned on an island. They were held under a prison regime — but some found life in the country's first openly gay community a liberating experience.

IRA terrorism supporter, GOP Rep. Peter King (NY) said Glenn Greenwald threatened to expose CIA agents but won't answer Anderson Cooper's request to prove it

Serial liar King is actually the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Nothing would please AKSARBENT more than for King to step far enough off the curb to be moved from Fantasy Island to Riker's Island.
     In the mean time, Greenwald recommends you read ThinkProgress' Zack Beachamps' post about how Michel Foucault offers a better explanation than even George Orwell for the FBI/CIA/NSA tactics of intimidation through secret surveillance in Why the NSA's secret online surveillance should scare you.

Wired: Why 'I have nothing to hide' is the wrong way to think about surveillance

Wired has published an op-ed by "Moxie Marlinspike," (apologies for the quotes if that's his real name and not a nom de plume) which explains in stark terms why none of the information that the govern­ment collects about you in the name of terrorism is truly harmless:
     ...For instance, did you know that it is a federal crime to be in possession of a lobster under a certain size? It doesn’t matter if you bought it at a grocery store, if someone else gave it to you, if it’s dead or alive, if you found it after it died of natural causes, or even if you killed it while acting in self defense. You can go to jail because of a lobster.
     If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.
     ...Almost everyone carries a tracking device (their mobile phone) at all times, which reports their location to a handful of telecoms, which are required by law to provide that information to the government. Tracking everyone is no longer inconceivable, and is in fact happening all the time. We know that Sprint alone responded to 8 million law enforcement requests for real time customer location just in 2008. They got so many requests that they built an automated system to handle them.

     Combined with ballooning law enforcement budgets, this trend towards automation, which includes things like license plate scanners and domestically deployed drones, represents a significant shift in the way that law enforcement operates.
     Police already abuse the immense power they have, but if everyone’s every action were being monitored, and everyone technically violates some obscure law at some time, then punishment becomes purely selective. Those in power will essentially have what they need to punish anyone they’d like, whenever they choose, as if there were no rules at all.
     ...And that’s exactly what we’re dealing with. Not a balance of forces which are looking for the perfect compromise between security and privacy, but an enormous steam roller built out of careers and billions in revenue from surveillance contracts and technology. To negotiate with that, we can’t lead with concessions, but rather with all the opposition we can muster.

VA voters revolting against radical Republicans? Dem underdogs in two statewide races won primaries by attacking state GOP's War on Women

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rachel Maddow recaps NSA's lifelong history of overstepping its bounds to spy on innocent U.S. citizens and getting caught over and over again

Author James Bamford says that at the C.I.A., Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA for nine years, is referred to as "Emperor Alexander." He has, for nearly a decade, arguably wielded more power over Americans than anyone else in government, including the president. How? Read this.

Fred Karger goes to Iowa, rips NOM's John Eastman as he files first of two new complaints against National Organization for Marriage: 'They’re a crooked organization. They defy the law willingly.'

Karger fills out complaint, with Megan Tooker of
the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board.
(Via Radio Iowa; listen to his presser here.)
According to The New Civil Rights Movement:

“A second complaint will be filed by Karger the following day, this one with the Federal Election Commission (FEC),” the release adds:
The 65 page sworn and notarized complaint is against former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum, the National Organization for Marriage and Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats.
Karger’s FEC complaint will request an investigation into the “Pay for Play” question surrounding Mr. Vander Plaats’ highly controversial eleventh hour endorsement of Rick Santorum for President. Several other candidates sought Vander Plaats’ endorsement just two weeks before the all-important 2012 Iowa Caucus, but he went with Santorum. Governor Rick Perry said at the time that Vander Plaats’ endorsement cost up to $1 million.
Mr. Santorum who received the coveted endorsement on December 20, 2011 had no money in his campaign bank account. Our complaint will show how the National Organization for Marriage and its consultants played a major role in paying for and securing the Vander Plaats endorsement of Rick Santorum for President.
Here's an excerpt from the Radio Iowa audio of Karger's press conference at the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board in Des Moines, earlier today, starting at the 8:40 mark:
This group constantly feels that it's above the law... last week, you may have seen the Ways and Means Committee hearings in Washington. John Eastman, who is the chairman [of NOM]... he's a former law school dean at Chapman Law School in California, a professor there now, has defied the Supreme Court ruling on their disclosure of their donor names in Maine, yet he stands before the Ways and Means Committee last week complaining that the IRS released documents — which they admitted they did, inadvertently — which showed their donor names... eleven names, including Mitt Romney, showed that they had not reported those in California on Prop 8... They had selectively reported some donors — most donors —  but not this $345,000 worth. So they're a crooked  organization, they defy the law willingly, and then have the gall to stand up before the Ways and Means [Committee], grandstanding, not talking about any of the problems they have had, and the laws they've broken and blaming the IRS and blaming President Obama... citing them in the release of these IRS documents.
Below is the hypocrisy and bombast on the part of NOM's John Eastman, to which Karger referred, at a recent IRS hearing in D.C., in which an enraptured GOP Rep. Thomas Price, of Georgia's 6th Congressional District, ate up with a spoon Eastman's performance depicting the nailing of NOM and its enablers to the cross with unspecified acts of oppression by marriage equality supporters:

One of the organizations associated with Bob Vander Plaats, who is named in Karger's FEC complaint, is Iowa's Family Leader. Its vice president, Chuck Hurley, said, in a written statement:
“In considering the source (a notorious attention-seeker) and motive of the false allegation, we won’t dignify it with any comment, except that the public record is clear, and we will respond if election officials request additional clarification,” Hurley said.
Here are two of AKSARBENT's videos about the tactics of Chuck Hurley's organization, Iowa's Family Leader, which failed in its latest attempt to unseat an Iowa Supreme Court Judge, Justice David Wiggins, whom it smeared in a laughably out-of-context quote it plastered on the side of a bus (see second video for the anatomy of their defamation.)
     The Iowa Bar Association was so disgusted by the behavior of Hurley and Vander Plaats that it took the extraordinary measure of renting a truck to follow the Family Leader bus all over Iowa to set the record straight before media at every stop: