Tuesday, June 23, 2020

KFAB airs claim that 11-Worth protester tried to extort $500,000 from cafe; Omaha Mayor mets with Caniglia, cops & prosecutor to see if protesters can be charged with felonies

Note: the twitter video below contains edited (for time and emphasis) audio from KFAB.
To hear the unedited, broadcast version go to KFAB's web site podcasts,
at the link provided in this post's last paragraph

Until this month, the 11th-Worth Cafe, a greasy spoon at 24th and Leavenworth had, for 44 years, served food to blue collar denizens of one of Omaha's poorest neighborhoods.
     That some of that food was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee (a decades-long "fuck you" to black people) never seemed to bother owner Tony Caniglia Jr., until black (and white) Omahans appeared on his sidewalk last weekend, fit to be tied, and not only about Tony's menu-naming preferences.
     Tony 2's son, Tony 3, recently drew rather attention when he apparently reacted to news about scattered vandalism during police brutality protests by urging, on Facebook, that cops' rubber bullets be replaced by real ones. "It's time to go lethal," he alleged wrote, adding that target practice be practiced.
     Tony 2 (who isn't very good at do-it-yourself damage control) tried to social-media-distance himself from any racism in his restaurant or his child-rearing by protesting that protesters were "trying to link Tony Caniglia, owner of the 11-Worth Cafe to a negative post on face book that was not made by him."
     This didn't impress many black Omahans, but KFAB's Gary Saddlemyer seemed to buy what Tony Caniglia was selling..
     Saddlemyer is Omaha's rightwing version of Radio North Korea; on Monday he made it his AM drivetime mission to nail the 11-Worth Cafe to KFAB's Konservative Kross and canonize the Caniglias, with the help of always-available (to KFAB) Mayor Jean Stothert.
     Without telling KFAB's gullible listeners why the Caniglias provoked so much revulsion that people took to the streets, Saddlemyer laid on the victimization narrative with a trowel.
     (For a much more honest look at what happened, look to KMTV, the OmahaWorld-Herald or virtually any mainstream local news source.)
     Saddlemyer went so far as to repeated the accusation, on air, accusations that David Mitchell, a protest organizer, tried to extort $500,000 from the Caniglias.
     Mitchell has denied this, saying that another activist suggested that the Caniglias make a donation, and not to any individuals, but to the Malcolm X Foundation, which has emphatically denied any role in any of this. (Anyone who didn't know better could be forgiven for concluding from Saddlemyer's toxic insinuations that Mitchell was involved in a personal stick-up.)

     As an aside, we think Gary Saddlemyer should read the only part of Nebraska's Theft by Extortion statute that could possible apply in his fictional scenario:
(1)(e), Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
     The above applies only, one assumes, if whoever allegedly asked the Caniglias for a donation actually posed as an rep of the foundation, which is about as likely as Gary Saddlemyer apologizing for habitually broadcasting half-truths and/or rumors and then vowing to leave the state.
     The Omaha Police Department, for its part, aren't taking the Saddlemyer/KFAB trash talk seriously, much to the likely dismay of Mayor Stothert who seemed very excited about the prospect of charging Mitchell with extortion on Monday's KFAB morning program.

    As for Stothert, she expertly shone as the Mistress of Innuendo. ("If some — not ALL, of course, but some! — of the black protestors have stabbed, burned and buried any of the Caniglias in their North Omaha back yards, I certainly would want to get to the bottom of it!")
     But seriously, Stothert vowed to "confer" with the police chief, Tony Caniglia, and the city prosecutor to see if they could gin up any felony charges against people who are sick and tired of people like the Caniglias and are willing to say so on the sidewalk.
     Anyone who doesn't already know how brazenly disingenuous Mayor Jean Stothert is should consider this: during Gary Saddlemyer's puffball interview, she recounted how abused she was when she met angry protesters on City Hall Plaza (who were demanding that she have club owner Jake Gardner charged for killing protester James Scurlock.) Video of Stothert shows her explaining that she as mayor cannot charge anyone with a crime; only prosecutors can do that.
     That was then. Now, her hands don't seem to be as tied. Tuesday Stothert met with Tony Caniglia, Jr., the police chief, and the city prosecutor to see if any 11-Worth protesters can be charged with felonies. 
     At the top of this post is exclusive, but boring, video of the scary(!) protests Mayor Stothert and KFAB are so concernstipated about.
     It is a highly edited (condensed for Twitter) version of some of the most disturbing parts of KFAB's 10-minute Monday broadcast. To hear the entire thing, go here, but don't listen while you're eating.

Friday, April 3, 2020

How to make hand sanitizer with 91% Isopropyl alcohol if you don't know any algebra

Note: This post has been substantially written, for clarity. The information in the earlier version is correct, but difficult to absorb.
     We tried it. It's runny and it stinks— but only for a few seconds; after which the odor completely disappears and your hands feel fine: smooth, not too dried out from alcohol and no hand lotion stickiness. Aloe rocks, but some of the gel tends to sink in the alcohol so shake before each use!
     You can make this stuff and you may have to if you live in Omaha, where hand sanitizer is almost impossible to find as of this writing, weeks into the American coronavirus epidemic.
     We found some isopropyl alcohol at Walmart Neighborhood Market and snagged the last two bottles of a very nice Walgreens-branded "After Sun" aloe gel (on sale if you buy two!)
Omaha is the home of Marianna, a world-wide supplier of hair products, which has 145,000 square feet of FDA approved production space in Omaha but isn't making any hand sanitizer, even though other cosmetic companies (like L'OrealUSA) here and in Europe have stepped up to the plate. GOP Mayor Stothert praised an Omaha brewery making hand sanitizer (for first responders) but apparently hasn't bothered to ask Marianna, which could really crank out the stuff, to do something for the wider local community. Neither evidently, has GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Pencils ready, class?

How to make hand sanitizer with 91% isopropyl alcohol

     The ratio is simple: Mix aloe gel with 100% alcohol, which must constitute no less than 60% of the total mixture. (Most commercial hand sanitizers are 70% alcohol.)
     That's straightforward: 60-40 alcohol/aloe or 3 parts alcohol and two of aloe.
     But most drug store alcohol (DSA) is 91%, not 100%, so what's the correct ratio, to get to say 70%?
     Here's the math, set off with rules, which you can skip, if you wish:

My 8 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer was nearly empty, so I emptied it into the 3 oz. travel bottle in the truck. Then I washed it out to be refilled.
     I needed to make 6 oz. of mixed hand sanitizer in the 8 oz. bottle (room to shake).
     70% of 6 oz. occupied by 100% alcohol is 4.2 oz, but you bought Drug Store Alcohol (DSA), which was only 91% alcohol.
     So how much more DSA do you need to get to 4.2 oz of pure alcohol?

     The answer is about 1/2 an ounce more, or 4.6 oz.

Here's the equation (involving some very simple algebra.)

.91 x DSA = 4.2 oz.
(4.2 oz. is the 70% of 6 oz. that must be 100% alcohol.)

You solve the equation for DSA, the volume of Drug Store Alcohol you need, by dividing both sides of the equation by .91

.91 x DSA            4.2
----------     =     ------------
    .91                    .91

which simplifies to:

DSA   =  4.6 oz, the same amount of alcohol as 4.2 oz. of 100% alcohol

4.5 is close enough, since you're aiming for 70%, more than you need.

Now all you need do is:
  • Pour exactly 4.5 ounces of water into the empty 8 oz. bottle, and mark it.
  • Then pour exactly 1.5 more oz. of water, to make 6 oz., and mark it again.
  • Pour out the water.
  • Pour in the 91% DSA up to the first mark.
  • Add aloe gel up to the second mark (no higher!)
  • Close the bottle, and shake.

You're done and you're welcome.

No-algebra cheat for using 91% Isopropyl alcohol to make hand sanitizer:

3 parts 91% isopropyl alcohol
1 part aloe gel
Three-to-one (75/25) makes hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 68.25%, comfortably above what you need and close to the 70% in commercial preparations.


...And don't drink isopropyl alcohol (yuck, have you smelled the stuff?) or leave it unsecured around desperate alcoholics or senseless teenagers who will do anything on a dare.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Fracking/oil shale radioactive waste: Rolling Stone magazine vs. what the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission told the Unicameral

Rolling Stone magazine just published a shocking expose, America's Radioactive Secret, about hitherto-ignored amounts of radioactivity in oil/gas industry waste brine. Some excerpts:
Many industry representatives like to say the radioactivity in brine is so insignificant as to be on par with what would be found in a banana or a granite countertop, so when Peter demanded his supervisor tell him what he was being exposed to, his concerns were brushed off; the liquid in his truck was no more radioactive than “any room of your home,” he was told. But Peter wasn’t so sure.
     “A lot of guys are coming up with cancer, or sores and skin lesions that take months to heal,” he says. Peter experiences regular headaches and nausea, numbness in his fingertips and face, and “joint pain like fire.”
     ...Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500.
    ...Tanks, filters, pumps, pipes, hoses, and trucks that brine touches can all become contaminated, with the radium building up into hardened “scale,” concentrating to as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram. With fracking — which involves sending pressurized fluid deep underground to break up layers of shale — there is dirt and shattered rock, called drill cuttings, that can also be radioactive. But brine can be radioactive whether it comes from a fracked or conventional well; the levels vary depending on the geological formation, not drilling method.
Oil shale / fracking brine is saline enough that the salt content alone can ruin surrounding farmland near spills. It is usually dumped into "injection wells," specifically Class II injection wells — the only such class not regulated by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Control, to wit:
Class II wells are associated with oil and gas production, and are regulated by the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. NDEQ has authority over and manages Class I, III and V wells.
And what does the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission think about radioactivity in the Class II injection wells containing waste brine from Gas/Oil operations? Below is what it told the Unicameral, reiterated here, on page 11.

Hardly what the EPA said about radioactive brine in class II wells last year, is it?
Extraction of oil and gas usually produces large amounts of brine. Often saltier than seawater, this brine can contain toxic metals and radioactive substances. Brines can damage the environment and public health if discharged to water or land...
In that year, 2015 there were already 115 such injection wells in Nebraska when Terex proposed a facility accepting "upwards" of 80 trucks/day of waste brine from Wyoming.
     You really should read NetNebraska's excellent story about panhandle opposition to the project, linked in the paragraph before this one.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

After stonewalling Tucker Carlson, Sen. Sasse finally responded. Carlson mocked him some more.

Yesterday, Tucker Carlson briefly recapped his Tuesday Fox News show about how hedge fund (Elliott) manager (Paul Singer) wrecked Cabela's and its home, Sidney, NE with typically rapacious, predatory business practices, destroying 2,000 Cabela's jobs there.
     Carlson suggested that NE GOP Sen. Ben Sasse's stubborn silence on the Sydney economic apocalypse (1/3 of the town lost its jobs) might have something to do with the fact that Paul Singer gave him the maximum allowable contribution for his senate race.
     Though Sasse ignored Carlson's attempts to speak to him before the episode was shown, he released 77 words of pandering, evasive drivel a statement after the fact:
     Melissa and I know the families in Sydney and I've constantly told companies, including Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shops, that nobody outworks or outhustles Nebraskans. Sydney hasn't given up and neither have we. There's a real problem with American communities coming apart, and it's going to require creative policymaking. But this problem isn't going to be solved by the easy overpromising big government advocates on either the left or the right.
     Back to Carlson:
     Creative policymaking is what Senator Sasse says we need. And of course, we agree with him. Here are three creative policies the U.S. Senate ought to consider in response to what happened in Sydney and Nebraska. First, call it what it is. This wasn't creative destruction. Nothing was created. It was just destruction. Destruction for the enrichment of a tiny number of people at the expense of many others. You don't have to make this illegal to call it disgusting, because that's exactly what it is. So, our first creative policy ought to be to tell the truth.
     Second, return the money. We're not saying Ben Sasse, or any other senator is doing Singer's bidding purely for the cash, but why not remove all doubt about it? If one of your biggest donors turned out to be a pornographer or a mass distributor of OxyContin, you'd send back the donation. You wouldn't want to be associated with someone like that. You'd want to be clear about your own values. Senator Sasse should be clear about his.
     Third, and finally, Republican senators ought to resolve to speak to the rest of us like adults. No more baby talk. Stop with the bumper sticker phrases from 1986. It's a different country now... Wake up. We're almost out of time. If we don't rein in the excesses of our system, and soon, we could very easily lose it.
     Elliott Management, which refused to respond to Carlson, posted a response on Medium, denying responsibility for the Cabela's sale. The company was exploring a sale before Elliot bought a stake, Elliott said, adding that it did not exert "direct influence on the Cabella's board to pressure them into that decision."
     Carlson then noted that SEC findings contradict Elliott Management's claim:

     Capella's did consider selling itself before Paul Singer arrived, but in August 2015, they rejected that path. Suddenly, after Singer's purchase, they reversed course."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Trump may still be hiding his taxes, but WaPo found out where he gets his face concealer

It's sold by a Swiss firm which calls the line Bronx Colors... and who would be more Bronx streetwise than Zurich Huenenberg chemists, we ask you.
     The president's makeup is not listed among the products "For Men" on the manufacturer's web site, but the Trump administration has no policy so far penalizing the transgender application of concealer.
     Shady Trump's shade is Orange BHC06 Boosting Hydrating Concealer and it isn't removed from his shirt collars easily. Just ask the minion Trump yells at for failing to do so. Or Melania, whose clothes go into a separate washing machine.
     Unlike Trump, Bronx Colors are a cruelty-free cosmetic.

Tucker Carlson just ripped Ben Sasse apart, directly and maybe in between the lines too, on his Fox show

Update: Senator Sasse and Elliott Management have responded to Carlson's piece;
he found their answers lacking.

Pete Ricketts and Don Bacon both took money from vulture capitalist Paul Singer, whose firm, Elliott Management destroyed Cabela's and devastated Sidney, Nebraska.
     Tucker Carlson just did a piece about this on his Fox show:
 "One of the last thriving small towns in this country went under. We recently sent 2 producers to Sidney, NE to survey the wreckage there and to consider what happened. Our producers talked to more than a dozen former employees. Almost all of them refused to speak to us on camera, fearful of legal retribution from the famously vicious Paul Singer. But off-camera, they told us their story..."
After the segment, Carlson did an interesting thing. Behind him, he put up a picture of Senator Ben Sasse (If you're in third grade and reading this, say Ben Sasse 3 times, quickly). Then Tucker looked into the camera and said this:
As we were doing that story, we were warned repeatedly by people around Washington, "Don't criticize Paul Singer. That's not a good idea," and as that package played I got a text from a very well known person in Washington: "Holy smokes! I can't believe you're doing this. I'm afraid of Paul Singer."
     Blind item! If you have any idea who Carlson may have been talking about, tweet us at @aksarbent, won't you?
     Anyway, then Carlson continued, as the picture of Sasse stayed up behind him.
     "You might think that the death of a town in his state might be of concern to Ben Sasse, again, U.S. Senator from Nebraska. But so far, it doesn't seem like he's ever commented on what's happened to Sydney. We looked hard. Then we called Sasse's office to see if they could point to a time when he commented on the destruction of Sydney or simply supply a statement to us about what happened there. But Ben Sasse's office didn't even respond to our producers. Huh! That's odd. But then, here's one possible explanation for that: During his senate run, Ben Sasse received the largest possible donation from Paul Singer."

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Best Buy's Black Friday $90 5TB hard drive:
quite a deal, considering it holds the the data
of nearly 46 billion punch cards

A nearly 1-ton IBM 5-megabyte hard drive
being fork-lifted into a plane in 1956. It would
take 1,048,576? of these to equal a $90
5-terabyte Black Friday external hard drive
that a toddler could hold in his hand.
So Best Buy is selling a Black Friday Western Digital 5-terabyte portable hard drive for 90 bucks.
     Such a device holds the equivalent of almost 46 billion IBM punched cards (120 bytes each), which would have set you back (in 1996) $800 million dollars (at $42.085 for a box of 2000) and some change (that being $3,349,771.78)
     Forty-six billion punched cards would have taken IBM's 1930s Endicott factory more than 12 years to make (10 million per day, 7 days a week).

     In 1956, IBM introduced a 5-megabyte hard drive weighing nearly a ton; it had to be fork-lifted onto a truck or plane. Best Buy's portable hard drive, which fits a jacket pocket, stores as much data as a mere million of those.

Bits in an 80-column 12 row IBM punched card: 960
Bytes: 120
Bytes in a Terabyte: 1,099,511,627,776
Bytes in a 5-terabyte hard drive: 5,497,558,138,880
Number of IBM punch cards required to hold 5 terabytes: 45,812,984,490 2/3
Size of IBM punch card: ?7 3?8 by ?3 1?4 inches (187.325 mm × 82.55 mm)
Height if stacked: 5,056 MILES (143 per inch)
WD Easystore 5TB External USB 3.0
Portable Hard Drive: Width: 3.2"
Height: .8", Weight 8.1 oz.
Length if laid end-to-end: 5,332,556 miles
Cost of IBM punch cards (UC Davis 1996 Central Stores Online Catalog): $42.085 per box of 2,000
Cost per byte of above: 1.75354166666667
Cost to store 5,497,558,138,880 bytes on punch cards: $803,349,771.78


Friday, November 22, 2019

Donna Reed: "The easiest 50 bucks I ever made"

John Barrymore, the villainous Mr. Potter in 1946's It's a Wonderful Life, didn't believe that Donna Reed (25 when she costarred in Frank Capra's most enduring and endearing film) was really the country girl she made herself out to be
     One day, when a cow was on the set, Barrymore saw his chance to bust Reed, so he offered her $50 if she could milk it. After doing so easily, Reed, who grew up in small town Dennison, IA, said it was the easiest 50 bucks she ever made.
     P.S. The basketball court that slid apart to reveal a swimming pool in It's a Wonderful Life was not a studio set. It was Beverly Hills High's "Swim Gym" and is still in use. The cinematic Bedford Falls, 75 buildings in four acres in RKO's Encino Ranch was demolished in 1954.
     Also, and this is VERY IMPORTANT: the bird in the office of the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan was Jimmy the Raven, who appeared in every Frank Capra film after 1938.

Monday, November 4, 2019

PBS streaming smash London 42nd Street revival this month

Gay Christmas is early this year the presents are free, and you can unwrap them almost all month.*
     PBS's Great Performances is streaming 42nd Street RIGHT NOW (Billed as "Broadway's Best" even though the production is London's 2017 West End revival of New York's 1980 production.)
     From Wiki:
     The show is a jukebox musical of sorts, in that, in addition to songs from the 1933 film 42nd Street, it includes songs that Dubin and Warren wrote for many other films at around the same time, including Gold Diggers of 1933, Roman Scandals, Dames, Gold Diggers of 1935, Go into Your Dance, Gold Diggers of 1937 and The Singing Marine. It also includes "There's a Sunny Side to Every Situation", written by Warren and Johnny Mercer for Hard to Get. A 2017 revival added the song "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", written by Warren and Dubin for Moulin Rouge.
     Nearly nothing compares to the Brothers Warner Busby Berkley movie versions of the songs in the stage version, although we have to say that the PBS's West End version of We're in the Money outstrips the Gold Diggers of 1933 film version, which was sung a little off-key by Ginger Rogers, and her Pig Latin went on a bit too long. (Oh yes it did.)
     In Dames, Berkeley cut a hole in the roof of a Warner's sound stage to get the camera higher for an overhead shot. In the stage version, a huge mirrored surface is ingeniously lowered at an angle to give the audience a similar perspective.
     *Several Broadway shows will be presented on Fridays in November. A PBS Passport will allow you to stream all of them during the month. 42nd Street is streaming now without a passport. It may be replaced Friday or Saturday with the next performance in the series or be available all month.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Dave Chapelle is probably more homophobic
than Mark Twain or JFK, but the Kennedy Center
just gave him a prize anyway

Before leaving Virginia City
for San Francisco, Twain wrote
in his newspaper: "Dan De Quille
and Mark Twain are to be
married shortly. About time."
      At the doings mentioned above, Chappelle, humbly blowing cigarette smoke from the stage, accepted his trophy, bravely steadfast against those killjoys who won't praise clever homophobic jerkwads like himself.
     Unlike Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schift, Mark Twain did not attend the love fest because the rumors of his death are no longer rumors.
     America's cleverest gay basher is an odd choice for an award given in a building named for John F. Kennedy whose lifelong best friend, Lem Billings, was gay.
     As for Twain, he may well have had liaisons with other men in the mining camps and newspaper offices of the early 1860s American West.
     The argument, as restated by telephone Thursday by Andy Hoffman, 37, a visiting scholar at Brown University who is working on a Twain biography, is this: During Twain's Western years — primarily between 1861 and 1866 — he developed strong friendships with men such as fellow journalists Dan De Quille and Clement Rice.
Lem Billings and JFK
     In both cases, the friendships ended abruptly and acrimoniously — resembling romances scorned. "It seemed to me they had passionate endings because they were passionate relationships," Hoffman said. (Twain came East permanently in 1868, married Olivia Langdon in 1870 and moved to Hartford in 1871.)
     Western humorist Artemus Ward, who Hoffman says was homosexual, once wrote a letter to Twain that opened, "My dearest love ..."
     "Whether it's simply a joke or whether it is more significant about the nature of the relationship is anyone's guess. My guess is that it's more about the nature of the relationship," Hoffman said.
     In a newspaper squib a few weeks before Twain left Virginia City for San Francisco, he wrote: "Dan De Quille and Mark Twain are to be married shortly. About time." "Which seems kind of blatant, even for frontier humor," Hoffman observed.
     In addition, Twain's San Francisco crowd included a group of writers who called themselves the Bohemians. They were, Hoffman said, quite tolerant of homosexual and bisexual behavior. [The male/female ratio in San Francisco in 1860 was 158/100; and most women were married — AKSARBENT]
     We note the above not because we care a fig about casting Samuel Clemons as gay, bisexual, or Adventurous When Drunk, but rather to contrast his lack of interest — as opposed to Herr Chappelle — in flinging invective at LGBTs.
     In Chappelle's current streaming Netflix special, "Sticks and Stones," he claims that he loves everybody and everybody loves him (just like Anita Bryant!) before going on to shout FAGGOT into his mic twice, mock the looks of Chinese Americans, pronounce 36-year-old women beyond their expiration date and tell feminists they're not going about their mission correctly.
     He indulges in enough self-pity to allow that the "T" component of the "alphabet people" hate his guts, which sounds plausible, and only ungrateful if you buy Chappelle's assertion that he ran his trans jokes past a genuine transexual, and that she "was laughing hardest" at them. (You have to take Chappelle's word for it, because Daphne Dornan committed suicide earlier this month in San Francisco.)
     Just because you're funny doesn't mean you're not an asshole, and disingenuously nailing yourself to the cross of blowback from being a dick, don't, as Shania Twain says, impress us much.
     There are a million ways to mine humor from the existence of LGBTs without impersonating a rattlesnake, but Chapelle seems not to know any of them. His pick ax is for grinding, not for digging for better ways to be funny.
     Maybe he should watch an old episode of Friends, which was more woke about these things decades ago than Dave Chappelle shows any promise of ever being.

More about Twain from playwright Larry Kramer in The Guardian:
“Most histories are written by straight people who wouldn’t know, see the signs that a gay person does when they look at a person’s life,” Kramer said. “I mean, how could you write the life of Mark Twain without realising that he was hugely, hugely gay? The way he lived, who his friends were, and how his relationships began. And what he wrote about! I don’t know how you could avoid the assumption that he’s gay.” (Kramer is not the first to raise this possibility, but it is not a view accepted by most Twain scholars.)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Gay NY Rep. Sean Maloney on GOP invasion of closed impeachment inquiry hearing: They let the yahoos in

Rachel Maddow talked to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney Thursday. (Fun fact about Maloney: he was raised with his six siblings in what he describes as a "small Irish Catholic family.") Here's how he described GOP members storming a closed  impeachment inquiry hearing room (with prohibited cell phones).
The circus came to town in a space usually reserved for serious work... They let the yahoos in. I mean Steve King, who they've kicked off every other committee because he's a racist. Remember that? He was in the room, so is it their position that now they want Steve King involved, that it's not enough that 45 of their members have every right to be there for every deposition, that their lawyers get equal time, that their members get equal time, and of course the funny part is that very few of them have taken advantage of that because apparently they don't want to do the actual work... Ask yourself why no facts favorable to the president have leaked from the other side.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Netflix's Laundromat: 80% documentary,
100% rollicking good time

Do not rip off Meryl Streep if you know what's good for you
Once again Meryl Streep proves that it's her world, one that you and I are only allowed to cohabit by her gracious dispensation.
     Laundromat is a terrifically informative romp through the maze of Caribbean tax avoidance* that ends with a boffo double reveal by Streep who reminds you how much fun and risky it is to gasp and laugh simultaneously, as she effortlessly jerks your perceptions like a yo-yo.
     This gun hater even liked the scene in which Streep (sort of) peppered an office with the buckshot of righteous wrath from a woman whose insurance settlement has been grievously wronged.
     Along the way Antonio Banderas (as the suave rationalizing Latino crook), Gary Oldman (as the funny, rationalizing Kraut crook) and Sharon Stone as a carnivorous realtor with no loyalties, expertly try to steal the movie from Streep, as task as hopeless as trying to boost the Hope Diamond from the Smithsonian in a gift shop bag.)
     Enjoy, Netflix subscribers.
*The film reminds you that it isn't just Switzerland and the Caribbean that shelter the money of the rich: "1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware is home to 285,000 companies."

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Omaha World-Herald left out a lot in Sunday's full-page piece on trailer park tenant exploitation

On Sunday, the World-Herald devoted a full page to an AP story on how Big Money has invaded mobile home parks, the last refuge of heretofore affordable housing in America.
     (We suggest you skip the Herald's edited version, and go directly to the source.)
     One of the cuts was the highlighted part below:
Rolfe’s training academy has been widely criticized — including on “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver — for teaching people how they can reap profits from homeowners whom Rolfe has referred to as held “hostage.” In defense, Rolfe said local owners have kept rent “unsustainably low” and that many are “held together with chicken wire and duct tape.”
      Maybe that deletion was for reasons of space — or maybe it was removed because the referenced video didn't exactly flatter the Herald's owner, Berkshire Hathaway or its founding tycoon, Warren Buffett.
     Besides the Omaha World-Herald, Berkshire owns America's biggest builder of manufactured homes: Clayton, which finances its houses with chattel loans of up to 15%.
     The Herald did not disclose that, but we suppose it wasn't ethically obligated to, unless Berkshire owns mobile home parks too.
     Oliver's video (below) vividly documented that Clayton Homes collection agents are not above suggesting that buyers donate blood to make make things right with Warren Buffett's Berkshire subsidiary, if they are unfortunate enough to have fallen behind in their payments of principal and hefty interest.
     (Pssst. Don't tell anyone at World-Herald Square, but Al-Jazeera and The Guardian have also made videos about the scurrilous business practices of the biggest mobile home park operator in eastern Nebraska. Maybe if Fox News blows a gasket, someone who assigns stories at the Herald will notice.)
     Frank Rolfe, mentioned above, became the biggest player in Omaha-area mobile home court acquisitions via his various companies, such as RV Horizons, Impact, Strive, Mobile Home University and various other partnerships of him or his partner devoted to separating from as much of their money as possible those tenants trapped by the immobility (structural or financial) of their trailers.
     Rolfe once memorably and stupidly told a Bloomberg reporter that owning a mobile home park is like owning a waffle house in which all the customers are chained to the booths. The segment on Rolfe, a capitalist piece of work for the ages, begins at 9:10.

     Rolfe's web of companies and business partners (mostly domiciled in Cedaredge, CO) now manage or own or partly own the following mobile home parks in Omaha, Carter Lake, Bellevue, Lincoln and Plattsmouth: Peaceful Valley, Garden Valley, Lakeside, Contempo and Hi Vue.
     The Herald's Sunday headline was "Investors buy up mobile home parks, imperiling key source of low cost housing" and was based on extensive research into the mobile home landscape in Colorado by several newspapers there.
     Had the Herald wanted to live up to its claim of comprehensive local coverage, it needn't have ventured very far to find cranked-up trailer park exploitation in its own back yard.
     For example, the story the Herald reprinted included a quote from Rolfe claiming he had no "hillbilly" parks or gravel roads. Since two Rolfe parks are 10 minutes or less from the Herald's downtown Omaha offices, that fiction would have been easy to bust, even on a short lunch break.
     Had someone from the Herald cruised up 16th Street, s/he would have found Garden Valley, the north part of which has dirt roads and rutted concrete to make Jean Stothert die for; it's the most delapidated of Rolfe's local properties. There, the Herald could have asked an elderly couple who have lived in the court for 61 years about the park's demand that their home be repainted and about the new 37-page lease they must sign (but were afraid to read), which demands a $1,000 deposit if they want to move their home elsewhere.
     Had the Herald looked at evictions within the last two years, it would have found dozens by RV Horizons, Strive, and Impact. And rent increases of 50%. And water and sewage fees never levied before. What do residents of Rolfe communities say? Go here.
     Had the Herald checked other court records, it might have found out why Omaha sought an injunction against the 2017 sale of Garden Valley  — and about OSHA citations of the contractor engaged to lay new water pipes and city fines of same for exceeding the scope of a permit.
     The Herald could have talked to a man on disability who was told (shortly after moving into it) that he needed to buy his ramshackle trailer (and assume responsibility for repairs) or face eviction, a common Rolfe trick.
     It could have talked to a woman in Peaceful Valley who, outraged by Rolfe's new management, made an inquiry at a different park about moving her home there, without realizing that it, too, was part of the Rolfe corporate octopus.
     It could have talked to Spanish-speaking tenants in Lakeside about their understanding of their new landlord's policies.
     Or the woman slapped with a $50 late fee because she was hospitalized for a few days beyond the grace period.
     Maybe The Reader will investigate. Or a TV station (unlikely, absent a shooting).
     Or perhaps nothing will happen at all.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

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

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

Cosmo Jarvis shows you how to play the Gay Pirate Song

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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

The other day, Nebraska (motto: "We're too cheap to have a House of Representatives!") State Senator John McCollister, whose family is prominent in state GOP politics, tweeted criticism of the GOP, saying that it was "complicit in obvious racist and immoral activity." (https://twitter.com/SenMcCollister/status/1158178237899522048)
      McCollister's tweets went viral via attention in HuffPost and CNN, which must have been terribly embarassing to the Nebraska GOP, so its Executive Director, Ryan Hamilton, decided to try to bully McCollister, who was probably attending GOP meetings when Ryan was in diapers.

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

Friday, July 5, 2019

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

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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

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

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

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

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

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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

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


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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

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

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