Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This week KFAB and KLIN queer-baited Hillary Clinton and CNN's Don Lemon. List may be incomplete — it's only Wednesday


     First, Glenn Beck got in his licks on Hillary Clinton; Right Wing Watch and The New Civil Rights Movement say he suggested Clinton was a lesbian, and joked that she "came out last year" because it has allegedly become more acceptable:
I’m telling you, Hillary Clinton will be having sex with a woman on the ... White House desk if it becomes popular. She’ll be like, ‘Look, the arc of history wasn’t ready for a president to be a lesbian and have sex on the desk.’

     Mediaite reported Rush Limbaugh was not amused by the comment Don Lemon made after Limbaugh's Monday claim that L.A. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling's overt racism was only causing him problems because he “did not give enough money to Obama.” Specifically, Lemon said:
“If we didn’t know then, that Rush Limbaugh is a stunt king, then we know now.”
     Limbaugh's predictibly fag-baiting (and perhaps racist) response:
Over at CNN, they interpreted that to mean that I was defending Sterling!” Limbaugh said Tuesday. “How did they get there? I don’t know how they get there. Erin Burnett played the sound bite and then went to Mr. Black Hole himself, Don Lemon (who sleeps with men, proudly) for comment.
     Glenn Beck's program airs on Omaha's ultra-right wing KFAB. Rush Limbaugh is broadcast on both KFAB and (in Lincoln) KLIN.

Remember who advertises on KLIN and KFAB when you're shopping, won't you?

American Family Association HQ was in direct path of Tupelo tornado

Also: Another glorious victory in GOP's War on Women!
Rep. Aaron Schock arm-wrestles female MSNBC cohost and wins

Google photo of AFA's Tupelo headquarters
A cynical person might conclude that the god of the antigay hate group, the American Family Association, might have been trying to tell Timothy Wildmon and Bryan Fischer something.
     At any rate, the AFA came through relatively or completely unscathed from Monday's tornado. Unfortunately 138 homes 2,000 residences and 100 commercial structures in Tupelo weren't so lucky. One wonders how much of the nearly $30 million in AFA assets will go toward helping American families in the well-heeled organization's own back yard.
Path of Monday's Tupelo tornado. The AFA's Tupelo headquarters is at 107 Park Gate Drive

Below, homophobic hate-monger extraordinaire Bryan Fischer revealed Tuesday that AFA took the American Family Radio Network off the air Monday at noon, about 2.5 hours before the EF3 twister arrived. Fischer said AFA's headquarters sustained no damage, even though it "should have just obliterated this place." (Video via Billerico.)

John Oliver interviews just-retired NSA Chief Keith Alexander

In response to the NSA argument that "to get the needle, you need the haystack" Oliver said:
"People's concerns, I think, are that you're not just taking the haystack, you're taking the whole farm and the county and the state and you've now got some photos of the farmer's wife in the shower, as well."
Alexander: I've not seen that.
Oliver: That's what you haven't seen. As Director of the NSA, you haven't seen Pinterest.
Alexander: That's right.
Oliver: So that's where terrorists could have been hiding all these years!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dana Milbank on Fox: 'I salute your manhood... Howie'

Dana Milbank to Howard Kurtz (below, at 2:55) after Kurtz weighed in on Fox News' abrupt, jarring silence about Cliven Bundy after he was outed as a racist:
"I salute your manhood for bringing this issue up, Howie."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Louisiana State Capitol: a 50-foot taller, but much uglier rip-off of the Nebraska State Capitol

The original (left) in Lincoln and the cheesy knock-off, in Baton Rouge
Both the Louisiana State Capitol and the Nebraska State Capitol were completed in 1932, but the Nebraska Capitol (in Lincoln) had been under construction for 10 years (it was built only as money became available; when completed, its $10 million cost was paid in full.)
     In contrast, the Louisiana State Capitol was built on the cheap for just $5 million, having been slapped together in 14 months and paid for with a bond issue.)
     From Wikipedia:
The inspiration to reject the traditional "rotunda-dome-and-wing" capitol when designing Louisiana's came from Nebraska. At the time, the Nebraska State Capitol, designed by Bertram Goodhue, was under construction and was the first that was a modern skyscraper instead of traditionally being modeled on the United States Capitol.
     The Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln was hailed as one of the most beautiful government buildings in the world by architects and is a marbled, Art Deco delight on the inside with mosaics and murals in abundance.
     The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge includes architectural details such as a pencil, still embedded after 44 years, in the ceiling of the Senate Chamber after 20-30 sticks of dynamite were exploded there in retaliation for police shootings of three African Americans.
     In 1935, the Louisiana State Capitol hosted the assassination of Huey Long by Dr. Carl Weiss, who himself was shot to death in the ensuing gun fight.
     Below: murals commemorating those working to improve social welfare in the Nebraska State Capitol (top) and the Louisiana State Capitol. Artist Steve Roberts depicted his mother at extreme right in the top mural.

How to land a huge plane in a terrible crosswind

Pilots call it a "crabbed" landing if touchdown is not in alignment with the landing strip. In this example the pilot "de-crabbed" just before the wheels touched the runway. We would not want to do this for a paycheck, no matter how big.
Uh, uh.

Landowner in D.C. protesting Keystone XL pipeline explains why it will be disastrous to North America's biggest, purest acquifer

Dad learns (current) gay slang

Below are two suspiciously similar quizes. The first was published on Youtube on January 7, 2014; the second on Dec. 16th, 2013. The quizmasters in each case obviously are too young to know that "tea" as gay slang has evolved from the meaning in use before either of these two were born.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Honestly, if I had this level of concentration on anything in my life I would be a freaking doctor
right now...

Since AKSARBENT is decidedly catcentric, we decided to see how the
other half lives.

Free the seed! Open source model spreads to farming

Above: statue of "The Sower" flinging
seed from the dome-tipped 400-foot shaft
of the Nebraska State Capitol, which
really must be seen to be believed.
Unlike scientists at the University of Nebraska, who usually play ball with agribusiness, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are doing something about the fact that three big companies  (Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont) own and control about half of all commercial seed sales, maintaining control of a large portion of the seeds responsible for the global food supply.
     They've become active in the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), and on April 17th in Madison, they passed out  seed packets of 36 varieties of 14 different crops that have been developed as open source. From
     In an effort to "free the seeds" from patenting, licensing, and other intellectual property protections, the  aims to restore the formerly common practice of open sharing among growers, by keeping certain vegetable seeds in the public domain and protecting them (and any future varieties derived from them) from being patented in the future.
"These vegetables are part of our common cultural heritage, and our goal is to make sure these seeds remain in the public domain for people to use in the future." - Irwin Goldman, UW-Madison horticulture professor and plant breeder
Some of these open source seeds will be available through two small seed companies, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Wild Garden Seed, beginning this year, and an assortment of 15 open source seed packets of Certified Organic vegetable varieties is available from OSSI for pre-order (delivery in mid-May 2014).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Iowa infant dies in custody of birth father after mom reneged on adoption agreement with gay couple

This cautionary tale may be shared via the Facebook, Google+,
Reddit, Twitter, or email buttons at the bottom of this post.

Despite the junk science proclamations of right-wing churches and antigay "family" associations, children are not better off with a mom and a dad and sometimes they're much worse off: little Gabriel died in the custody of his 17-year-old birth father after his 16-year-old mom went back on an agreement to let two gay women adopt her son.
     Rachel and Heidi McFarland cared for Gabriel from birth until the middle of March, when his birth mother Markeya Atkins, 16, reneged on an adoption agreement, taking the baby back. (Iowa birth mothers have three months plus an additional 31-day probationary period to change their minds about giving up babies for adoption).
     The McFarlands supported Atkins financially throughout her pregnancy, accompanied her to all doctor visits, and Heidi took maternity leave from work.)
     The baby's father, Drew James Weehler-Smith of Des Moines, has been charged with neglect of a dependent person and may face more charges after an autopsy is completed. The child was found unresponsive with white foam around his mouth.
(H/T: Towleroad)

Cowboys and Indians rally against TransCanada Keystone XL export pipeline in DC

The Obama administration is delaying a decision on granting a permit to TransCanada pending resolution before the Nebraska Supreme Court of a Lincoln judge's decision that the law giving Nebraska governor Dave Heineman siting authority over the pipeline unconstitutionally usurps the power of the Nebraska Public Service Commission.
     Speaking of which, you should seriously consider voting for this person, now running for the Public Service Commission.

Photo: Karen Kasmauski / iLCP Via BoldNebraska

Ben Sasse backed by Wall St. group which wants to eliminate farm subsidies

Here's a press release from last June from the Club for Growth, which is backing Ben Sasse and running attack ads against Shane Osborn.
“Now that the House has defeated the Farm Bill, we should finally discuss real reform,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “The time for reform is now. We need to put farm subsidies on a path to elimination...

NE GOP Senate primary circular firing squad: Shane Osborn attacked by group allied with Club For Growth, which wants to eliminate farm subsidies

The group is "ForAmerica" which is paying for web ads proclaiming:
Leading conservative voices all believe Shane Osborn is a bad choice for Nebraska. In fact, ForAmerica is joined by Club For Growth, FreedomWorks, Senate Conservatives Fund, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Mike Lee and Sarah Palin in supporting Osborn’s opponent Ben Sasse.
The group is "chaired" by right-wing extremist/gadfly Brent Bozell, whose syndicated newspaper column was recently cancelled by the Iowa's Quad City Times:
“We’re happy to spend on columnists who bring a wider perspective to readers. But we can’t continue to publish anyone who willfully submits others’ work as his own.”
The ForAmerica chairman's deception was explained by The Raw Story:
     Bozell, founder of the far-right Media Research Center, was exposed by media watchdog Jim Romenesko, who revealed that books and columns that Bozell had passed off as his own work were actually written by MRC employee Tim Graham.
     “The conservative Media Research Center often urges liberal news outlets to TELL THE TRUTH, but the Reston, VA-based press watchdog isn’t telling the truth about its own leader: Brent Bozell doesn’t write the syndicated column that appears under his byline,” Romenesko wrote.
     An MRC employee contacted Romenesko via email, saying that Graham is the author of “almost everything published under [Bozell's] name.”
     The employee — whose identity Romenesko declined to reveal – continued, “That includes his weekly column. Same goes for his books, which at least carry Graham’s name in a secondary billing, but also aren’t written by Bozell (but Bozell keeps 80-90% of the advance and all profits!).”

Why Sean Hannity will never win his feud with Jon Stewart

From Hollywood's Daily Variety, your go-to for political commentary...
As with any host who stakes out sides as vigorously as Hannity does, the tale of the tape is not always his friend – riddled with contradictions that, as Stewart noted, betray his “blind partisan impulses.” And while these sorts of media feuds ostensibly benefit both parties – scoring points with their respective bases – in this case, Hannity is simply preaching to a choir that surely dismisses Stewart for his liberalism every bit as much as Hannity does, while Stewart is painting a broader, more damning portrait of Fox News hypocrisy for a younger audience that almost surely sees Hannity only when his more out-there moments earn him exposure on Stewart’s (or Stephen Colbert’s) program.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The versatility of turntables: they can turn Bruce Springsteen into Dolly Parton

Here's I'm on Fire played at 45 rpm instead of 33.

'False' — Politifact rates claims by Faith & Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed about gay couples raising children

(Via JMG)
On ABC's This Week, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said he opposed gay marriage (video here) and gay couples raising adopted children:
"This is about what's best for children here in the United States. And the social science is irrefutable. And it is that a child who grows up in a home without the mother and father present and they both play very unique procreative, nurturing and socializing role, they're nine times more likely to end up dropping out of high school. They're five times more likely to end up in poverty. And they're three times more likely to end up addicted to drugs and alcohol."
Though Reed peddled specific statistics, he did not name his source. So the Tampa Bay Times investigated his claims. 
The social science statistics Reed called "irrefutable" actually have nothing to do with gay couples raising kids. Instead, they’re focused on the effects of children who grow up without a father in a one-parent household. Put another way, the studies focus on the quantity of parents and not their gender.
The Tampa Bay Times contacted Reed's office, which offered as evidence Reed's book and a Brookings Institution report saying parents who graduate from high school and bear children within marriage have a 2 percent chance of living in poverty. But neither source drew any comparison between gay and straight marriages, and, in fact, neither mentioned gay marriages.
     ...We decided not to investigate further the specific stats Reed cited once we realized they weren’t measuring what he said they were.
     Comparisons like Reed’s are "a complete misuse of the research," said Judith Stacey, a New York University sociologist.
Here's what the article concluded:
     Reed said there’s "irrefutable" social science to show that children are better off being parented by a mother and father. That’s not right. What studies really show is that children are better off with two parents. Those studies do not focus on gender.
     All reputable research so far indicates that children brought up by gay parents are just well off as those brought up by straight parents.
     We rate Reed’s statement False.

Jo Becker responds to withering criticism of her chronicle of marriage equality movement in U.S.

Everyone from Dan Savage to Andrew Sullivan has raked Becker over the coals for omissions, for building up HRC president Chad Griffin and for exaggerating the impact of the Prop 8 case and its legal team, to the detriment of other marriage equality players.

Shakespeare's 450th birthday: the Bard coined some 1700 expressions; here are a few you probably didn't know were his

April 23rd may or may not have been the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, who may or may not have been an atheist, but no matter: much attention is being paid to the rich legacy of phrases the playwright left behind:
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare "It's Greek to me'', you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

WA Pastor responds to Boy Scouts' revocation of her church's charter because it refused to fire gay scoutmaster

The pastor has accused the Boy Scouts of infringing her church's religious freedom, proving LGBTs can also play the Christer victimhood game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NYT writer Jo Becker's new book chronicling fight for marriage equality raises hackles by giving short shrift to everyone except HRC's Chad Griffin and Prop 8 lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies

Andrew Sullivan called it a "troubling travesty of gay history,"  blasting the tome in a long blog post that not once mentioned the title of Becker's book.
     That was only the beginning. Piling on were:
writer-activist Dan Savage (“a bulls--t ‘history’ of the movement for marriage equality”), former New York Times columnist Frank Rich (“For a journalist to claim that marriage equality revolution began in 2008 is as absurd as saying civil rights struggle began with Obama.”), and White House strategist Jim Messina. Bussfeeds legal reporter, Chris Geidner
You can listen to Teri Gross' interview with Jo Becker on NPR here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Boy Scouts have revoked charter of Seattle Church because it won't remove gay scoutmaster

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of Seattle's Rainier Beach United Methodist Church because it refused to fire a gay scoutmaster.
     The United Methodist Church is BSA's second-largest chartered organization, with more than 10,700 units and nearly 350,000 members, according to the Boy Scouts website.
      Disney, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS, Alcoa and AT&T have terminated their partnerships with the Boy Scouts because of its antigay policy, according to Scouts for Equality and the Human Rights Campaign.
     Said Pastor Monica Corsaro:
"It's a part of our values that the spirit of inclusion is also reflected in the Boy Scout Troop we charter. The congregation stands with Geoff, because his work with this Troop reflects the spirit and the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In light of the BSA's decision to infringe on our religious liberties, sending us such discriminatory communication on Good Friday, we have acquired legal council to assess our options."

Typepad blogging platform hit by cybercriminals for fifth day in a row; a demand for ransom; popular gay blogs affected

As this is written, Towleroad, perhaps the most popular gay blog in North America, is down, as is GoodAsYou. Their blogging platform, Typepad, is being hit by on-again, off-again DDoS (distributed denial of service attacks). Typepad's owner, SAY Media is working with the F.B.I.
     That this is happening at all is more evidence that the NSA (National Security Agency) is not doing its job effectively.
     Recently Bloomberg News claimed that the NSA knew about the Heartbleed OpenSSL security breach for two years, quietly exploited it to spy on Americans, but neither said nor did anything to protect U.S. businesses and individuals from having passwords and data stolen.
     More about the TypePad attack from TechCrunch:
     The attack appears to be similar in nature to those which have hit several other high-profile tech companies in recent weeks, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo, and others. Though Typepad has not yet publicly shared much information about its attackers, the typical scenario involves an attacker knocking the victim’s site offline using a flood of traffic, then refusing to stop the barrage until the victim company pays a small amount of “ransom.” The initial amount is usually fairly insignificant, but once the victim agrees, it tends to go up, as they’ve now confirmed themselves as an easy mark.
     While DDoS attacks have always been difficult to handle, many victims today are facing a newer, more powerful sort of attack that exploit flaws in older Internet protocols which were never secured particularly well., for example, fell after being hit by an NTP-based DDoS attack – meaning, an attack that leveraged NTP (Network Time Protocol), which is used to sync time clocks between multiple servers.
     It’s not uncommon for NTP attacks to be in the 10 Gigabits range, which only a couple of years ago would have been a record-breaking size, said Matthew Prince, CEO at CloudFlare, a company which has been stepping in to help get victims’ sites back online. (Meetup’s attack was 8 Gigabits in size, and knocked the site offline for several days in March).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gay Nebraskans: Does your attorney general work for you — or against you?

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, left and Nebraska AG Jon Bruning
Today, 13 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in support of Virginia's marriage equality plaintiffs. Among the signatories was Tom Miller, Attorney General of Iowa. Absent was Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who only spends your taxes to file briefs opposing marriage equality.
     Related: Are you registered to vote yet? Voter registration in Nebraska ENDS THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 24 and FRIDAY April 25th (if registering by mail.) Call or visit your county election commissioner's office for further details.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

#1 homophobe in NE Senate manfully assaults his Obama dolly in new campaign ad

Above: Sen. Beau "I'm on a horse!" McCoy
The bad news: McCoy, running for governor against four other GOP aspirants, is being supported by $50,000 in ads from one of the country's biggest dark money organizations, Iowa's American future fund. The good news: the same group is running $130,000 in attack ads against NE AG Jon Bruning, also a vitriolic homophobe.
     In 2012, McCoy tried to ban all municipal LGBT anti-bias legislation in Nebraska with LB912, which never made it out of the Judiciary Committee. Earlier this month, McCoy and Imperial Senator Mark Christensen led a filibuster to kill LB485, an LGBT employment bill outlawing LGBT bias in hiring by introducing 22 amendments to it.
     McCoy, a homeschooled global warming denier, is regarded by some as not much smarter than the fence post off which he knocked an Obama doll, which did not amuse Nebraska Democrats:
     “Beau McCoy hit a new low in his ad, where he is seen striking the president off a fence post,” said Dan Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
     “No matter what party you belong to, the depiction of violence displayed in McCoy's ad is completely disrespectful to the office of the presidency and sends the wrong message to our children.”
     Vince Powers, state Democratic chairman, called on McCoy to pull the ad.

Unrepentant Putin apologist Franklin Graham attacks gay parents again

The execrable Graham doubled down on recently-made gratuitously and outrageously insulting comments about gay people when he claimed on ABC's This Week Sunday that adoption of orphans by gay parents constitutes “recruiting” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was justified in prohibiting same-sex adoptions.

Evangelistic political influence peddler Ralph Reed piled on, citing junk science statistics from the discredited University of Texas Regnerus Study  as evidence that the social science is "irrefutable" that hetero households are superior for rearing children than gay households; then, as JMG pointed out, when he was challenged, he claimed that the "social science is just simply not in yet on same-sex couples,” though he had said just the opposite a few seconds earlier.
     The 14,000-member American Sociological Association would beg to disagree.
Below Christopher Hitchens debates Ralph Reed after the death of Jerry Falwell. Reed's Faith and Freedom coalition is a bid to win back the allegiance of many of the Christian followers he had duped and double-crossed while working with now-convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

Lincoln, Nebraska elementary school, named for principal of Dick Cheney's alma mater, tells bullied students to suck it up

If you're keeping this story to yourself, you're just damn selfish. Tell your friends via
the Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, or email buttons at the bottom of this post.

NOTE: Though this rogue handout reflects the talking points of an adversary of conventional anti-bullying approaches, it should be noted that Lincoln has produced a national model for anti-bullying efforts, a fact AKSARBENT blogged about in 2011, here.
     Now that an unnamed functionary of Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln has given the place more viral Internet  infamy than it has ever had, by sending the above tips about bullying home with students, the school has called the whole mess a miscommunication.
     The Internet has been more critical. From
    Were these rules written by Kim Jong-il before he died? That's the only reasonable explanation for how this kind of bullshit could exist. "Do not tell on bullies" might be the most terrifying, stupid thing I've ever seen a school try and impose on young minds. I can't even bother with a line-by-line breakdown of what's wrong with all of the points in this flyer, because honestly I think all of you are way too smart for that. Just like I don't have to tell you what a serious issue bullying is and how awful the consequences can be.
     These "rules" shouldn't be labeled as advice for dealing with bullies. They should be called "Ways We Can Get You Goddamn Kids to Act So We Never Have to Deal With Your Problems Ever."
     Lincoln teachers can be badass. Recently, one of them set fire to a box of papers on the desk of a supervisor, subsequently destroying the school district's $20 million headquarters.
     Unrelated but fun fact: Zeman School is named after Anna F. Zeman, who was once the principal of Calvert elementary school, attended by Vice President Dick Cheney after he was kicked out of Randolph School for reasons that, even after half a century, Lincoln Public Schools will NOT discuss, but thank you for asking.
     This is the second time this week Lincoln has been in national News of the Weird accounts. A few days ago, a three-year-old Lincolnite escaped his apartment while his mom was in the bathroom. He was later found across the street in a bowling alley, INSIDE A CLAW MACHINE playing with the stuffed animals. Time reported that the vending machine company had to get the kid out, but that no one seems to know how he got in.
     Don't laugh. Someday that scamp may join the GOP and become Vice President of this formerly great nation.
     Full disclosure: This post was written by a proud graduate of Calvert Elementary School (national ranking: low), who personally met Anna F. Zeman — before she became a building — several times, in the principal's office, for reasons that the Lincoln public school system also is not at liberty to discuss.

Cara Hartmann: 'It was so cool. I tricked 27,000,000 people on the Internet'

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What a gay porn actor does in his spare time

It's musical, but he ain't no discaire. More about the piece he wrote from his husband, also in the business, here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nebraska, 38th in population, is 5th in marijuana arrests

Gee, the sparsely-populated Cornhusker State either reeks of pot heads or of cops looking to make easier busts than they could if they were, say, fifth in the nation in recovering stolen cars or fifth in the nation in catching burglars or fifth in the nation in solving murder cases or fifth in the nation in putting rapists behind bars.
     Massachusetts, with about 4.5 million MORE people than Nebraska, had fewer than 4% of the number of marijuana arrests.

Princeton study:
U.S. is now an oligarchy, not a democracy

Below: study coauthor Martin Gilens discusses influence of the affluent over government policy.

Insights With Martin Gilens from Princeton University on Vimeo.

From Talking Points Memo:
     Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.
     Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.
From the study:
     The failure of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy is all the more striking because it goes against the likely effects of the limitations of our data. The preferences of ordinary citizens were measured more directly than our other independent variables, yet they are estimated to have the least effect.
     Nor do organized interest groups substitute for direct citizen influence, by embodying citizens’ will and ensuring that their wishes prevail in the fashion postulated by theories of Majoritarian Pluralism.
     Interest groups do have substantial independent impacts on policy, and a few groups (particularly labor unions) represent average citizens’ views reasonably well. But the interest group system as a whole does not. Over-all, net interest group alignments are not significantly related to the preferences of average citizens.
     Of course our findings speak most directly to the “first face” of power: the ability of actors to shape policy outcomes on contested issues. But they also reflect – to some degree, at least – the “second face” of power: the ability to shape the agenda of issues that policy makers consider.
     ...Our results speak less clearly to the “third face” of power: the ability of elites to shape the public’s preferences. We know that interest groups and policy makers them selves often devote considerable effort to shaping opinion. If they are successful, this might help explain the high correlation we find between elite and mass preferences. But it cannot have greatly inflated our estimate of average citizens’ influence on policy making, which is near zero.

     What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our Gilens and Page Testing Theories of American Politics findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system , even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.
     A possible objection to populistic democracy is that average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends,when deciding which policies to support.
     But we tend to doubt it. We believe instead that – collectively – ordinary citizens generally know their own values and interests pretty well, and that their expressed policy preferences are worthy of respect. Moreover, we are not so sure about the informational advantages of elites. Yes, detailed policy knowledge tends to rise with income and status.
     Surely wealthy Americans and corporate executives tend to know a lot about tax and regulatory policies that directly affect them. But how much do they know about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance, none of which is likely to be crucial to their own well-being?
     Most important, we see no reason to think that informational expertise is always accompanied by an inclination to transcend one's own interests or a determination to work for the common good.
     All in all, we believe that the public is likely to be a more certain guardian of its own interests than any feasible alternative.

Incredibly successful Imperial, Nebraska family's "Heaven is Real" scam now a movie

The kid, Colton Burpo, who says he visited "heaven" for three minutes and whose dad just happens to be an Imperial, NE, preacher, is now 12 and already incredibly shifty-eyed (see below video from Fox, along for the ride, as always.)
      "Heaven is for real," the book, has sold more than 10 million copies and now hits cinemas as a film directed by the director of Braveheart. Burpo says that in heaven everyone has wings, but you have the option of walking, not flying, if you wish. Oh — and in heaven, everyone is in their prime — late twenties to early thirties, even if they died at 97, which leads AKSARBENT to wonder about people who spent their twenties and thirties as tubs of lard, then exercised, slimmed down, and looked terrific in their forties or even fifties. Um, what age do they appear, Colton?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Evidently, few L.A. men will blame a guy for trying

Years ago, Hugh Hefner confirmed that Stephen Watts' biography of him, Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream "is all essentially true."
     The book revealed that:
Hefner once had a gay sex encounter, which occurred in an unspecified time and an unnamed bar in Chicago... “...He was propositioned [by a man] and, thought, 'What the hell...'"
     Hef was said to have found it “an interesting experience."
     Since Hefner is still alive, so perhaps might be the man who successfully hit on one of the 20th century's most dedicated male heterosexuals and scored.
     AKSARBENT thinks that the International Gay Conspiracy needs to find this man and write down everything he says before it is too late and relay any tips to the dude who made the video below, who might have better luck in his endeavors, unless he really is straight, in which case he may not want to increase his success rate. (Via Towleroad and yes, there is a girl-on-girl version.)

Even more evidence of cronyism, corruption and coercion in Bradstad administration

From Jason Clayworth at the Des Moines Register:
Top staffers of Gov. Terry Branstad pressured the state's employment board to hire a longtime friend of the administration as an administrative law judge in an attempt to stack the deck against public employee complaints, the chairman of the board told The Des Moines Register this week.
     Iowa Public Employment Relations Board Chairman Jim Riordan said Branstad's former chief of staff, Jeff Boeyink, and current staff attorney, Brenna Findley, threatened to cut the office's budget if its three board members failed to comply with their demand.
     To keep the office on stable financial ground, the board hired Robert D. Wilson, a former Polk County district judge, Riordan said.
     Riordan's statements marked the second time in less than a month that the Branstad administration has been accused of interfering with the workings of the state's judiciary system...

Billy Eichner picks the wrong guest to yell at

The segment, featuring Joel McHale competing by himself in the 2014 Mo-Limpics, quickly degenerates into a queer-baiting, insult-swapping screaming match, so what's not to like? Via Towleroad.

New postal service stamps depict drawings of gay bondage porn, at long last

That's the good news (Thank you, Gawker, et al.)
     The bad news is that Finland's post office has issued will issue them — in September — and they're self-adhesive (contrary to a BBC report) so you really don't have any credible excuse to lick them.
     These are suitable for posting letters from Finland to anywhere in the world, but most especially to Saudi Arabia, Beau McCoy, Mississippi, Brunei, Jon Bruning, Oklahoma, Russia, Nigeria, Uganda and Franklin Graham.
     You also can buy Tom of Finland cross-stitching kits and soon you will be able to see Tom, The Movie.
     Unlike Norway, Finland isn't in Fat City due to the North Sea oil bonanza, so it does what it has to do. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

After 5 years of marriage equality, more Iowans say they're proud of their state than disappointed

Radio Iowa reports on an Iowa poll on gay marriage taken by Selzer and Company revealing a sea change in attitude:
 “We found the plurality of Iowans say ‘it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s not my issue.’ And more say they’re proud than say they’re disappointed,” Selzer said.
     The piece included Rob Gilmer and his husband Rene Orduna who left neighboring Nebraska, moving their popular restaurant, Dixie Quicks (tell them AKSARBENT sent you) — and themselves — from Omaha, across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
     Also interviewed were Kate Varnum — the "Varnum" in "Varnum vs. Brien," the now-famous case brought to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009 which unanimously decided that gay couples were denied equal protection. Varnum subsequently married her girlfriend, Trish, with whom she is raising an adopted two-and-a-half-year-old son in Cedar Rapids.

Dixie Quicks: Nebraska's loss, Iowa's gain

Omaha's not-so-progressive mayor, Jean Stothert (back when she was on the city council voting against an LGBT anti-bias ordinance), displays the very attitude that caused the owners of Dixie Quicks to leave her city and state:

Onlookers cheer arrest of professional homophobe, Peter LaBarbera, charged with mischief at U. of Regina after being told to leave

Even though Canada's hate speech laws must have been explained to him during his brief border detention and (by virtue of that detention) he must have known that he would be watched closely, LaBarbera still made sure he was arrested, even sporting a tee-shirt silk-screened in advance, portraying himself as a victim.

From the CBC:
     ...Before their arrival, the university issued a news release saying the pair would be monitored to ensure they did not engage in any activity that would promote hatred.
     At one point, with news cameras rolling, an unidentified university official approached Whatcott, 46, and LaBarbera, 51, and asked them to leave. During that encounter, Whatcott said he had attempted to get permission to set up an information table and, since he was denied, proceeded to set up a table anyway.
     ..."I'm not leaving," Whatcott told the official, "You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it."
     A short while later, several Regina police officers arrived and Whatcott and LaBarbera were handcuffed and taken off campus.
     University officials defended their decision to call police.
     "We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus," Tom Chase, one of the vice presidents of the university said. "We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave."
Bill Whatcott is a well-known Canadian anti-abortion, anti-gay activist who, in his youth, prostituted himself to other males and who once defecated on a document before sending it to Canada's Governor General.

Collabro: What makes you think that after a month [together] you're good enough to win Britain's Got Talent?

It's always good when people underestimate you. Skip to 1:36 if you're pressed for time. From Towleroad.

Six Nebraskans from Astroturf group Americans For Prosperity sign open letter complaining about another Astroturf group, Freedomworks, bankrolling Ben Sasse

How much ultra-right wing hypocrisy can you stand?
     A group including members of the Nebraska chapter of the notorious Koch Bros.-funded front organization, Americans for Prosperity, are mad that another Tea Party Astroturf group, Freedomworks, founded by Dick Armey*, has raised a huge amount of money in D.C. to bankroll Ben Sasse's Senate run. Part of their indignant sputtering:
We are not million dollar Washington DC special interest groups with strong ties to Capitol Hill.
     No, you're extremists working for a different fake grassroots special interest group funded by the politically carpet-bagging billionaire Koch Brothers — of Kansas, not Nebraska.
     Below: Sasse's anti-Washington special intersts ad, bought and paid for by conservative D.C. PACs, lobbyists and special interests. This is 100%, straight-up, unadulterated bullshit evidently aimed at voters whose intelligence Sasse and his backers surely must regard with limitless contempt.

*In 1995 Armey referred to openly homosexual Congressman Barney Frank as "Barney Fag". Armey said it was a slip of the tongue. Frank did not accept Armey's explanation, saying, "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Field near Neligh, in pipeline path, sports a #NOKXL hashtag

Not everyone who will never vote for Hillary Clinton is a tea partier; some people resent her State Department's collusion with a foreign oil company threatening the land of midwestern farmers and ranchers via eminent domain condemnation papers even without a pipeline permit in hand.
     The Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Omaha World-Herald, will not have state-of-the-art leak detection systems to safeguard the largest underground fresh water aquifer in North America, which in large part makes Nebraska's $20,000,000,000 ag industry possible.
     Look at the center-pivot irrigation circles in the photo and consider where the water for that comes from.
     So far, that water has stayed pure enough that people and cattle can drink it straight from the well.
      But after TransCanada gets through with it, who knows?

Open-pit tar sands moonscape in Alberta
From Rainforest Action Network:

Tar sands oil is the worst type of oil for the climate, producing three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil because of the energy required to extract and process tar sands oil. Tar sands consist of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen. Extraction entails burning natural gas to generate enough heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand. As many as five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Video: NE football coach takes cat with him to spring scrimmage; a Lion King moment in front of crowd

Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini is the subject of a very funny twitter parody, Faux Pelini, which depicts him as a cat fancier, among other things.
     He has tried to ignore the account and its snark (samples here and here) but @fauxPelini now has a stadium's worth of followers, so Coach decided to have some fun with his alter ego during Saturday's spring scrimmage. (Check out attendance in video of the stands, shot in football-mad Lincoln, and remember: this isn't even a real game.)
     The cat, that Pelini held aloft a la The Lion King, isn't his.
     More from SportsCenter, which had its own fun with the event:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Solomon Islands; tsunami warning issued for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea

The Solomon Islands, independent from Great Britain since 1976, cover a land area the size of Massachussetts. The capital, Honiara, is on the island of Guadalcanal, scene of fierce WWII fighting.
     U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck at about 7:15 am, tomorrow, April 13th about 62 miles southeast of Kirakira at a depth of 18.2 miles. (The nation is on the other wide of the International Date Line)

Ad promoting civil unions debuts in Peru

Interesting that no gay couples are depicted. Regardless, hope it persuades. AKSARBENT has no idea what the announcer is saying. Via @blabeando.

Silent LGBTs at their school offended Christian haters, so they wore antigay t-shirts. Religious freedom, baby!

Canada briefly stiff-arms entry of U.S. LGBT hate promoter, Peter LaBarbera

LaBarbera has been busy nailing himself to the cross at the border station but in fact it was a group of Canadians who petitioned the government to keep him out. A professor who has examined LaBarbera's inflammatory rhetoric says that because he deliberately, repeatedly and falsely equates homosexuality with pedophilia, his actions do fit the government's definition of hate propaganda.
     Video via JMG, who has dubbed LaBarbera "Porno Pete" because of his penchant for "exposing" various gay sex fetish gatherings by personally (and unecessarily) attending them, camera at the ready, despite the fact that such affairs are usually enthusiastically documented by exhibitionist participants on Flickr, Picassa, Instagram and Twitter.

Practical homosexuality: a gay boxing club in New York

Photo: Martin Fitzpatrick
Vance Garrett and Francisco Liuzzi have started a boxing club for gay men in New York City, because:
"Every man needs to learn how to throw a jab, hook and uppercut, even if he never uses them."
This is probably a very good idea. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."

Bloomberg: NSA knew about Heartbleed OpenSSL security breach for two years, quietly exploited it, but said, did nothing to protect U.S. Internet security

(Via JoeMyGod)

From Bloomberg:
     The Heartbleed flaw, introduced in early 2012 in a minor adjustment to the OpenSSL protocol, highlights one of the failings of open source software development.
     While many Internet companies rely on the free code, its integrity depends on a small number of underfunded researchers who devote their energies to the projects.
     In contrast, the NSA has more than 1,000 experts devoted to ferreting out such flaws using sophisticated analysis techniques, many of them classified. The agency found Heartbleed shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit or stealing account passwords and other common tasks.

From Mashable:
...By not alerting anyone to the bug, the NSA could have left the door open for other intelligence agencies across the world to exploit Heartbleed, provided they found the bug. This revelation also seems to contradict one of the NSA's core missions, which is protecting and defending American cybersecurity.
     "Given the scale of Heartbleed, deciding to exploit this vulnerability rather than fix it, makes a mockery of any claims that the NSA defends the networks of the U.S.A.," an employee on the security team of a major Internet company, who asked not to be named, told Mashable...
     "Utterly, indefensibly shameful," tweeted Kevin Bankston, the New America Foundation Policy Director. "Way to be evil, guys."
     Matthew Prince, the CEO of security firm Cloudflare, tweeted that it's "hard as a tech company today to not feel like we're at war with our own government."

IA Gov. and spiritual leader Terry Branstad's proclamation invites Iowans to humbly repent according to Christian Bible

His Eminence, Terry Edward Branstad, who stoops to rule
Iowa with loving, if partisan discipline and a heart as pure
as the driven slush
Via GoodAsYou comes the just-issued proclamation (below; click to view or enlarge as a jpeg) which specifically recommends the Christian guidance of II Chronicles 7:14 available to all Iowans be they Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, etc.
     AKSARBENT wonders what kind of GOP repentence the very spiritual Branstad will himself offer for soaking Iowa taxpayers for $370,599 (and counting) on a defamation, harassment, sexual discrimination and extortion lawsuit filed after he forced a gay worker's compensation commissioner to resign.
     Or for retaliating against a state trooper who stopped the state-issued SUV in which he and his Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, had been tearing down Iowa Highway 20 at 90 mph last April.
     Or for being pulled over again for ignoring Iowa speeding laws in Franklin County four months later.
     Or for vacationing in sunny Arizona while letting Lt. Gov. Reynolds pretend she had no idea that $280,000 in secret severance payments were made to Democratic Iowa state employees the Branstad administration wanted to get rid of in order to hire GOP cronies.
     Or that such severance payments were accompanied by tightly-worded confidentiality clauses as well as further inducements amounting to thousands of dollars each to at least two employees to sign additional agreements mandating secrecy, all of which caused Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer who was laid off in September 2011, to liken the Branstad administration to “a group of renegades,” adding, “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”
     II Chronicles 7:14 says: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
     AKSARENT humbly recommends that Branstad also open up a can of Luke 4:23 containing the famous exhortation "Physician, heal thyself."

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Guardian: Country music stars still kicking down the closet door

Believe it or not, Lavender Country's 1973, in-your-face, first (and only) album, which includes the astonishing Crying These Cocksucking Tears, was, after its 2000 re-release, ensconced in the Country Music Hall of Fame because of its historic value.
     The aforementioned cut from the album cost a DJ her license when she played it (sample verse: "I'm fighting for when there won't be no straight men.")
     In its piece, The Guardian quoted Chely Wright, who:
...believes the notion of Nashville as a deeply conservative town is simplistic. "People in the industry – studios, labels, radio programmers – are generally open and understanding," she says, "but the fanbase is a different thing." Attending a country concert recently, she looked around and decided it would be unwise to hold hands with her wife Lauren. "I wouldn't call the industry homophobic, but they're afraid of the fear lots of fans have about gay people. So they package us as straight, and we let them." Why? "Because we all want to be part of the big game."
Below: Jerry Jeff Walker (real name: Ronald Clyde Crosby), who is straight, cheerfully slides the apparent subtext of Jaded Lover under the gaydar of a television audience in the early 90s.
I can see you are an angel, whose wings just won't unfold...
Goodbye you jaded lover, you undercover queen for a day...
Well, keep sittin' on it darlin'...

Canada's Get Real makes a fraternity/sorority anti-homophobic video

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Former WY senator Alan Simpson's marriage equality ad to be shown nationally, locally

From Politico:
The six-figure buy, sponsored by the pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, is slated to start airing on Tuesday on national cable channels, as well as locally in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Sen. Danielle Conrad's answer to Beau McCoy's "religious freedom" objection during his filibuster of LB485, bill to extend antibias job protection to LGBTs

From the World-Herald:

...The Nebraska Catholic Conference and Nebraska Family Alliance still oppose the measure. Jim Cunningham of the Nebraska Catholic Conference said the exemptions would not help employers who are not part of religious organizations or schools but who have religious objections to homosexuality.
     Similar laws have been used to punish businesses that assert religious freedom, McCoy said.
     Conrad countered that the First Amendment right of religious freedom applies to individuals, not businesses.
     “Is it his assertion that a Taco Bell or a car dealership has a religion?” she asked.
     Jim Cunningham once argued that psychologists, therapists and other licensed counselors should be able to refuse to treat gay clients because of religious or moral convictions and not have to refer them to another therapist. 

UNL's social media campaign taken in-house after complaints about $40,000 spent on Lincoln marketing firm

AKSARBENT thinks the money NU gave Archrival to increase its social media profile (and Chancellor Perlman's cult of personality) was well spent, considering the newer, lamer videos. If the stack of papers in front of Buffett puzzles you, the explanation is here.

Homophobic TX wingnut, Louis Gohmert, accuses AG Eric Holder of casting aspersions on his asparagus

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Huckabee to Iowa Christer confab: 'I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic'

Because addressing the so-called "Faith & Freedom Coalition" to trash LGBTs after likening homosexuality to polygamy and incest is NOT homophobic. Because complaining about the amount of money spent on AIDS research and calling for a quarantine of the people most affected by it isn't homophobic. Because calling same sex marriage a threat to "stable society" isn't homophobic. Because comparing legalizing same sex marriage to legalizing drug abuse isn't homophobic. Here are five more of Mike Huckabee's shameless (but not homophobic!) lies about LGBTs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

'My gay neighbors can take out my trash and mind my mail when I'm gone, but they don't deserve equality in employment rights'

Here's an excerpt from Objective Conservative's condescending guest rationale (by one "Ted Quick") for denying gay Nebraskans the same protected status in employment (via failed LB485) that other minorities enjoy:

     This bill must be defeated...
     I have nothing against the gay and lesbian community.   My next door neighbors are two of the finest guys you'd ever run into.  They are kind, generous and we watch each other's' homes when we travel.  They have the codes to my house.  They take my garbage can out when I'm gone and take the mail into my house when the box becomes full.  I couldn't ask for better friends or neighbors.  I also have some great lesbian friends who live a few houses away from me.  But now each of them is being forced, by virtue of them being different, into another ridiculous movement.   They are being separated from the rest of us. 
     Many of us are sick and tired of having the LGBT "movement" jammed down our throats...

     AKSARBENT thinks maybe Mr. Quick's gay neighbors deserve better "friends."
     One wonders if they know their lovely neighbor contributes to a blog which describes them in words favored by gutter bigots:

We know our liberal detractors are saying that we are saying the sky is falling.   Well, we think it is or certainly will when it comes to creating special classes for gays, lesbians, transgenders, cross-dressers, aka., queers and perverts..."