Sunday, December 4, 2016

Would overturning gay marriage make a mockery of SCOTUS stare decis policy?

There are a lot of wonderful writers who read the tea leaves of SCOTUS and explain their motives after the fact. We particularly like Nina Totenberg, NPR's goddess of legal exposition, Slate's Mark Joseph Stern, who is incisive, lively, a good writer, gay and who takes an adorable picture, and Dahlia Lithwick, also of Slate, who always leaves us civilians with a better understanding of the overlords jurisprudence. Now it seems that Slate has added another great explainer to its stable: Lara Bazelon
     Her recent piece explains John Robert's alleged concern about his legacy (which must have been vacationing in Bermuda when he participated in the overtly political SCOTUS decision (unsigned!) to stop the Florida recount in 2000, handing the White House to Bush the Stupid. (Sandra Day O'Connor has admitted she has buyer's remorse over signing on to that and now maintains that SCOTUS shouldn't have taken the case.)
     The court's reliance on precedence, we are told, is called stare decis, latin for "to stand by things decided."
     The Supreme Court, Bazelon informs us, has a policy about when it may chuck stare decis: 
     But if one relic can be overturned, why not others? It is a fair question. The short answer is that the court’s policy is not to deviate from stare decisis except under the most extraordinary circumstances. It is only permissible when the rule has proved unworkable or anachronistic, when so few people rely upon it that its disappearance will not cause a societal disruption, or when the facts have changed so dramatically “as to have robbed the old rule of significant application or justification.”
And how would a reversal of Obergefell, (the court's marriage decision, in which Roberts voted in the anti-gay marriage minority) comport with the above guidelines? Bazelon continues:
     The laws upholding the right to choose and the right to marry are not unworkable in practice and they are anything but anachronistic. Nor has there been a dramatic change in the underlying facts that robs the laws of their relevance or justification. The only reason to overturn these precedents is ideology: that is, a majority of justices who believe that abortion and gay marriage are morally wrong. Should Roberts allow the ideologues to have their way, the consequence will be a terrible disruption to the lives of millions of people who have come to rely on these constitutionally enshrined rights when making crucial life decisions. And the Roberts court would go down in history as having bankrupted the only branch left to stand by things decided.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Well, this looks like a lot of fun: La La Land

The critical buzz so far this season is loudest about two films: Jackie, the Natalie Portman tour de force examining Mrs. Kennedy's assassination ordeal and her canny concoction of a mythological JFk (she first used Camelot as a metaphor for her husband's presidency in a Life interview a week after he died) and La La Land, the giddy, gorgeous and dazzlingly romantic musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Below is the trailer for the latter:

Guest post: How conservatives can address Climate Change

Above: wildfire in Chattanooga, TN, one of several which ravaged the Volunteer State
this week after the longest drought ever recorded in Tennessee.
The author, Frances Mendenhall, of Omaha, is a longtime Nebraska citizen activist and was a leader in opposing the siting of a nuclear waste dump in Morrill County, Nebraska, in the 1980s. Gov. Ben Nelson ultimately scuttled that plan, advanced by both Gov. Bob Kerrey and Gov. Kay Orr. Mendenhall is a member of Citizens' Climate Lobby. She emailed AKSARBENT the following piece today (in rich text format (.rtf) instead of .txt format. Ugh! Grr...)
 
George Shultz, Secretary of State under Reagan, offered President-elect Trump advice including an admonition to take climate change seriously. (OWH 11/20, p. 7B "Shultz to Trump: Remember your friends").
     "People who say the climate isn't changing are in the process of getting mugged by reality," said Shultz, referring to Trump's campaign claim that global warming is a hoax, promoted by the Chinese.  Shultz supports a revenue neutral carbon tax.
     President-elect Trump appears to have softened his campaign position on climate change, most recently promising to have an "open mind" about it (Trump begins backing off campaign vows on Clinton, Climate, Omaha World Herald 11/23).
     In 2009, Trump signed a public letter calling for cuts in America's greenhouse gas emissions, although most of his statements and tweets have not favored carbon mitigation.
     Military leaders are not waiting to get mugged by reality. Chuck Hagel and others now refer to climate change as a threat multiplier, and are incorporating plans for the increased extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and rising sea level.
     Other conservatives  are increasingly open to climate measures.
     Carlos Curbelo, a Republican congressman from the tip of Florida, formed the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus  last March. Curbello acted in response to the presence of sea water in the streets of his Miami. The caucus now has 20 members, 10 of whom are Republicans.
     The Gibson Resolution, introduced by Republican Chris Gibson, which acknowledged the need to address the human causes of climate change, was signed by 15 Republican members of Congress.
     Nonetheless, as reports from the climate conferences indicate, the U.S. is behind most of the rest of the world in reducing carbon emissions.
     Jerry Taylor, founder of the Libertarian Niskanen Center, believes that opposition of many to taking action on climate change is based on the belief that any action to reduce emissions will usher in a kind or regulatory nightmare that would be worse than any threat posed by climate change.  Taylor supports a revenue neutral carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions.
     My organization, Citizens Climate Lobby, has as its main goal, the passage of such legislation.We call it  Carbon Fee and Dividend. Citizens Climate Lobby has identified enough bipartisan support for this measure that they have set their goal to get the bill introduced and passed in 2017. No one imagines that it will be easy. Nonetheless, since the election, interest and support for the organization has spiked, with traffic to our website increasing eight fold, and participation in local events more than doubling.
     Here is how the measure works.
     A small but steadily increasing fee is placed on fossil fuels, i.e., coal, gas, and oil. All of the money collected is returned to American households.
     The result of a carbon fee will be a slow rise in the price of carbon based fuels. As a cigarette tax has reduced smoking, a price on carbon based fuels will reduce their use.
     Investors, utilities, and energy producers will have a predictable market signal that will allow them to make changes and increase profits. Some large companies, inclulding Exxon Mobil, have even begun to incorporate carbon pricing in their long-term plans.
     This solution bypasses regulations, subsidies, and big government.
     The winners and losers will be picked only by market forces.
     Economic modeling shows that It will stimulate the economy and create 2.8 million jobs in 20 years.
     It will incentivize needed technological progress, such as battery development, improved photovoltaics, biofuels to power aviation.
     Most households will bring in more income from the dividend than they have to pay out in additional direct and indirect costs of fuel.
     The air will be cleaner and health expenditures will drop. Our energy sources will be within our borders, and we will not risk going to war to protect them. Those who dream of getting off the grid, will be able to do it. We will move into a future independent of all the risks of mining, transporting, and storing fossil fuels.
     George Shultz regards cutting carbon emissions as a wise insurance policy. Even for those who question whether human activity is causing climate change, Carbon Fee and Dividend, with all its benefits, is, as Trump himself might say, a really good deal.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-reagan-model-on-climate-change/2015/03/13/4f4182e2-c6a8-11e4-b2a1-bed1aaea2816_story.html?utm_term=.f6e8796d4f72

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/us/politics/donald-trump-visit.html?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21710807-or-without-america-self-interest-will-sustain-fight-against-global-warming-climate

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/business/energy-environment/large-companies-prepared-to-pay-price-on-carbon.html

http://niskanencenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-Conservative-Case-for-a-Carbon-Tax1.pdf

http://citizensclimatelobby.org/household-impact-study/

http://citizensclimatelobby.org/remi-report/

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hitler worries that Breitbart's boycott of Kellogs will fail

We add one to the memes that use a brief excerpt from Constantin Films' serious and well-made film about the last days of Hitler, entitled "Downfall."


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Help wanted: U.S. cowboys. Must relocate to Russia

Above: a versatile Russian Lada automobile
transports a load of hay

Russia, which has lots of dairy cows but few others, is looking to beef up its livestock by jumpstarting its cattle operations by importing thousands of cows from America and elsewhere, thereby skipping a hundred years of U.S. breeding to make animals specifically for beef.
     By copying the structure of Western beef operations, Miratorg skipped more steps. Miratorg is single-handedly trying to create an American-style beef industry, but in a very condensed time period. It now has about 400,000 cows, the largest herd in the world. The company has had to build fences in a country without any, to train veterinarians, and to also import everything from horses and grass seed to tractors. But the hardest part of managing this immense operation is not the science or the planning.
     It’s finding workers. Cowboys.
     So the company imported some of them, too.
     One of them, Shawn Weekes, has been in Russia for two years. He’s a fourth-generation, Montana-born cowboy with a great, big mustache, Western boots, a hat, and a tucked in button up shirt. “I grew up doing this,” he said. “A rope was actually my first toy."
More at Newsworks... Or at NPR. Or the New York Times.

HuffPo: Trump pick Todd Ricketts has "a thin resume and a fat wallet"

Donald Trump's never-ending river of bullshit nearly overflowed its banks with his statement about picking the scion of billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts as his #2 pick at Commerce. The Ricketts family, you will recall, is the one Trump savaged in a tweet, warning them to heel as they "have a lot to hide." Here's what Trump released:
“Todd Ricketts is an immensely successful businessman with unparalleled knowledge of the finance industry." Also: Ricketts has “years of hands-on experience in the finance industry,” and “like President-elect Trump, Mr. Ricketts will use this knowledge to fix the broken Washington D.C. system.”
The Huffington Post looked into this specious praise:
According to his professional biography, Ricketts spent his “career as an entrepreneur and investor in the securities industry working at the New York City-based NASDAQ start-up, Knight Securities.” 
     But Ricketts only worked there for 14 months, a spokeswoman for the company told The Huffington Post, from September 1997 to November 1998. And as for Ricketts’ career as “an immensely successful businessman,” it appears to consist of a defunct eco-tourism venture and a local bike shop that Ricketts bought a few years ago to save it from going out of business.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Listen: Cleve Jones, depicted in upcoming ABC LGBT miniseries, When We Rise, is interviewed on NPR

Cleve Jones is a longtime LGBT activist who once told Harvey Milk he wasn't important enough to be shot. He cofounded the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and started the AIDS Memorial Quilt. His new memoir, When We Rise, is also the title of an upcoming 8-hour, 7-episode ABC miniseries written by Dustin Lance Black, directed by Black and Gus Van Sant, and starring Mary-Louise Parker, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Rachel Griffiths, David Hyde Pierce and, as Jones in his later years, Guy Pearce of Memento and L.A. Confidential.
     Jones's interview with Terry Gross, of NPR's Fresh Air, was broadcast today. Below, a trailer for ABC's When We Rise. The miniseries will air in February.





Below: a previously unpublished AKSARBENT slide from either the 1979 or 1982 San Francisco gay day parade:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

An unpublished book by Perry Mason's creator,
Erle Stanley Gardner, (dead 46 years) just came out

Above: Raymond Burr regards Robert Redford in the first
episode of Perry Mason's fourth season, aired 09/17/1960
and entitled The Case of the Treacherous Toupee
In 1970, when he died, Erle Stanley Gardner was the biggest-selling American author of the 20th century (Take that, Margaret Mitchell!), largely due to his 80 Perry Mason novels. But before that, he wrote 29 novels about a fictional private detective agency Cool and Lam.
     The second installment of that series was refused by the publisher in 1939 because of because of the behavior of Gardner's character, Bertha Cool.
     The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas holds Gardener's manuscripts. This year it discovered that second, unpublished Cool and Lam series novel, and it has been published as an entry in the Hard Case Crime series, which previously reissued another Cool and Lam novel, Top of the Heap.
     Gardner attended the Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana — for one month. He was suspended when his boxing interest became a distraction. Two years later he passed the California bar exam after pursuing legal studies on his own.
     He separated from his first wife in the early 1930s. After she died in 1968, he married Agnes Jean Bethell, his secretary since 1930.
     Here's Amazon.com's description of The Knife Slipped:
     Lost for more than 75 years [No it wasn't — it was hiding in plain sight exactly where one would have expected to find it — AKSARBENT], The Knife Slipped was meant to be the second book in the series, but shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to “talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.” But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities—however shocking for 1939—shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue, and delicious plot twists.
     Donald Lam has never been cooler—not even when played by Frank Sinatra on the U.S. Steel Hour of Mystery in 1946. Bertha Cool has never been tougher. And Erle Stanley Gardner has never been better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meet the right-wing hedge fund heiress who pulls more of Trump's strings than just about anyone

Politico has extensively documented the reactionary political activism of heiress Rebekah Mercer here and here. Below, an executive summary of the 42-year-old who home-schooled her children in an Upper West Side apartment she had fashioned from the six adjoining residences she bought.

  • She's a Stanford graduate with a dual degree in biology and mathematics, and a Master's in operations research. Her dad is a billionaire quantitative trading pioneer, whose right-wing foundation she runs.
  • She's on the Trump 16-member transition team executive committee where she recruits appointees with help from the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation 
  • She indirectly funded publication of "Clinton Cash" a far right book that damaged Clinton's image
  • Her family mostly owns Cabridge Analytica, Trump's prescient polling firm
  • Her family invested $10 million in rabidly homophobic, racist, anti-Jewish Breitbart News
  • She convinced the Trump campaign to hire Kellyanne Conway
  • She lobbied hard for Trump to pick racist Jeff Sessions for Attorney General — and  retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn
  • Her family has spent $73.5 million in disclosed political contributions since 2010 to candidates, committees and right-wing nonprofits
  • She's reduced the family's support of the Koch network because she thinks they're not aggressive enough
  • An associate says she want to "beat the Kochs and Paul Singer and the Ricketts”



The real, fundamental cause of Global Warming

Global Warming is defined as climate change caused by human activity. More humans, more change.
Via Slate:
The Global Footprint Network estimates that our global civilization currently uses 1.6 times the resources our planet generates—that it takes 18 months, in other words, to regenerate the resources we use in one year’s time.
 

Seth Rich's Omaha parents hold DC News conference; reward for his killers rises to $125,000

With no breaks in the case, the parents of Seth Rich, the DNC stffer shot to death July 10th in Washington, D.C., have held a news conference to announce that the reward for information leading to the arrest of their son's killers has risen to $125,000, the result of an additional $100,000 contributed by lobbyist Jack Burkman, who had this to say:
"D.C. is like a political fraternity, this could have happened to any one of us, it could have happened to my republican staff, it could have happened to my democratic staff, I have people working for me and often in those same neighborhoods so it's just something that tugs on your heart strings," Burkman expressed. He says he is also working on producing a reenactment of the crime which he will pay for and hinted at the existence of some footage from a private surveillance camera.
Joel and Mary Rich disclosed new information at their news conference: no shell casings were found at the scene, indicating that their son was shot with a revolver. The D.C. police, who evidently have no new leads, have characterized Rich's murders as a robbery, although his cell phone, watch, wallet and credit cards were found on his person.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Food fight? Subway still on the fence about Omaha origin of the Reuben sandwich

In a new ad, Subway generously allows the possibility that Jewish-Lithuanian grocer Reuben (or maybe Reubin) Kulakofsky concocted the famous sandwich for his weekly poker games but didn't mention the location (The Fern Room at the Blackstone Hotel, here in Omaha.) More about that, and why making one with Thousand Island dressing is sacrilegious, here.

Honey badgers: nature's quadruple threat

Honey badgers are known for their fearless ferocity. They even terrorize lions and elephants. Leopards are about the only animals willing to engage them one-on-one. But they have more tricks up their sleeve than sheer lunatic bravado:
1. Snake venom doesn't phase them. The diets of some U.S. honey badgers have been found to be as much as 25% venemous snakes. They're one of the few mammals for whom Cobra venom is not lethal, although it can make them sleepy.
2.  They have truly awful-smelling scent glands, like skunks — powerful enough to make a human's eyes water at 40 paces
3. They're incredibly, unbelievably smart, in part because their mothers spend two years educating them before kicking them to the curb, so to speak. AKSARBENT saw a PBS NATURE documentary (below) about a South African who rescues honey badgers kept as pets. (Seriously.) His charge, Stoffer, kept killing other animals in his private preserve, so he decided to lock Stoffer and his girlfriend up, but they unbolted a double-bolted gate working in concert with each other, simultaneously.
     After various other escapes, their guardian decided to build an expensive concrete Alcatraz for them, but Stoffer climbed trees near the wall and skipped.
So all the trees near the perimeter were stripped of their branches.
     Then Stoffer spend an entire night bending and gnawing a big branch off the sole remaining tree, in the middle of his "pen." He then dragged the branch to the corner of his pen, propped it up and escaped by running up it.
     So that tree got stripped too.
     Next morning Stoffel was nowwhere to be found, but a pile of rocks he dug up during the night were in a corner of the pen.
     So the rocks were taken away.
     That worked for a few days — until it rained. Next morning he was gone again, and in the corner of the pen was a pile of MUDBALLS he made during the night.
     Finally, an electric fence was installed.

Which dogs have the worst bite?

Naturally, "worst" is a product of both bite pressure and tooth sharpness/arrangement, but here are the top four hardest biters among domestic dogs:
Mastiff: 556 Pounds per Square Inch
Rottweiler: 328 PSI
German Shepherd: 238 PSI
American Pitbull: 235
     In the wild, Spotted/Striped Hyenas (which eat bones) can clampw at 1100 PSI,
     Saltwater crocodiles, at 7700 PSI, have the most powerful jaws of any living creature (including tigers, rhinos, grizzlies and sharks) but their jaw opening muscles are quite weak, which is why the crazed humans who wrestle them try to lock down their jaws — not hard to do, if you can ride out the thrashing.
_____________________
Source: http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/the-top-20-worlds-strongest-animal-bite-forces-measured-in-psi-new.2393047/

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A mixed martial arts fighter in a french maid costume

Houston Alexander, a former UFC mixed martial arts fighter, is also an artist talented enough to have been offered admission to the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia during his senior year of high school, which he decided not to attend, as he did not want to leave behind his daughter in Omaha. He appears regularly in various incarnations on Omaha Live! He learned to fight in the rough part of St. Louis, where he spent his childhood.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Forget what Hamilton cast said about Pence. Listen to what Hamilton himself said about Trump

Billboard in Montenegro
Donald Trump took to twitter recently to whine about a Hamilton audience booing his presumptive VP, Mike Pence, and some subsequent advice to him from the stage. Pence supports the use of conversion shock "therapy" to alter the sexual orientation of gays, including, we assume, those who tread the boards of Broadway theatres.
     Trump should worry more about the pithy warning from the grave that Alexander Hamilton has for New Yorkers about people like himself. Via Federalist Paper #68:
These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?
     The quotation is in defense of the electoral system, of course, but only as a better alternative to election of the president by Congress. Hamilton thought an ad hoc body responsible for electing the president would be less subject to untoward pressure than office-holding representatives.
Obviously, an even better means to that end would be direct popular election of the president and the abolishment of  the electoral college or simply short circuiting it via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that ten states have already signed on to.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Son" of Trump jeweler pal who picked out Melania's ring arrested after hockey player who turned down sex in his apt found in shallow NJ grave

Also:
  • Time picks Most Important Gay Photo in History for new collection. It's not. 
  • NE Sen. sends tweet based on fake news story, gets 670 retweets 
  • Antigay IA Rep. hangs up when CBC's As It Happens asks pointed question about his Suck It Up, Buttercup bill


Rackover (right) and Dilione
James Rackover, formerly James Beaudoin, has been named as a suspect in the murder of Joseph Comunale, whose burned body was found in a shallow grave near the Jersey Shore.
     Rackover, 25, and his bud, Lawrence Dilione, 28, are both charged with concealing a corpse, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, but not murder. Police still need to know exactly who may have stabbed Comunale to death and who may or may not have helped.
     Rackover, lived in a floor four apartment in a building next door to Donald Trump Jr. His rent was subsidized by jeweler-to-the-stars (Oprah, Denzel, Trump, etc.) Jeffrey Rackover, who lived on floor 32. The elder Rackover is a friend of Donald Trump who helped him pick out Melania Trump's engagement ring. Neighbors didn't buy the dad/son pose.
'I have seen them working out together in the gym and there is no way they were father and son,' one neighbor told the DailyMail.com.
    Another friend saw them at a wedding and that was definitely not an appropriate father son relationship.
     'The kid moved in about a year ago - Jeffrey decorated it to his liking - and apparently told people he was Jeffrey's long lost son.'And Jeffrey introduced me to him in the elevator as his son. The kid is covered in tattoos. No one thought he was Jeffrey's son.'
Murdered: Hofstra grad and
avid hockey player Joey Comunale
     Comunale reportedly met James Rackover at a Meatpacking District Club, The Gilded Lily, then later went to Rackover's 59th St. condo with another man and three women, who left later, as did Comunale.
     Comunale returned about 7:30 a.m. and was not seen leaving the building after that, although a man was recorded on surveillance video moving two pieces of luggage out of the building. He allegedly asked a building employee how long the condo kept security video.
     Comunale, who is alleged to have turned down sex from one or more men at Rackover's apartment, was found partially burned in a shallow grave in New Jersey near Shore Point roofing, owned by Dilione.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

TIME just posted what it would have you think is the most important gay photo ever published. Wrong

It's that terribly serious Robert Maplethorpe photo of the S&M couple at home. TIME said the 1979 photo "blew open the doors for a range of photographers and artists to frankly examine gay life and sexuality."
     Not on your life.
     Get over yourself, New York.
     Below is the peerlessly subversive photo San Francisco photographer Crawford Barton took three years earlier, which was published in his book, Beautiful Men and which won a prize in a New Times photo contest.
     Maplethorpe's photo forces a straight viewer to confront an inconvenient and unsettling truth, then stops. Crawford's California photo keeps on driving. It reassures an aghast viewer that conventional society is not under siege by sexual nonconformity.
     The unwritten, but clear challenge to the viewer: Look at those squares on the stoop next to the two dudes sucking face! They couldn't care less! Do you have a problem with gays? Well, then you must be even squarer than they look.
    
Or: Look at that successful, well-turned out, middle-aged, middle-class couple who aren't bothered at all by Teh Gay? Do you have a problem with Teh Gay? Well, then, what are you? A low-rent Duck Dynasty cracker, ferChrissakes?
     Crawford's photo nailed homophobia coming or going, raised the Freak Flag, and reminded the rest of America that even San Franciscans who don't look cool, are.
     Maplethorpe's New York photo is an immaculate art gallery depiction of S&M.
     Crawford's rowdier Golden State photo rocked 1976 Americans with a then-edgy boy/boy makeout tableau but it didn't crop out the silent majority, it cleverly enlisted them. This is why it was far more dangerous to Jesse Helms's America than anything Maplethorpe ever did; the old coot could never have attacked Crawford the way he did Maplethorpe.
     Juxtaposition fuels both images, but Maplethorpe's is only 80-proof; Crawford's is White Lightning. TIME got it wrong.


NE Sen. Sasse's tweet on anti-Trump protester payments was retweeted 670 times. It's based on
a fake news story

Fake news writer Paul Horner, one of whose sites impersonates ABC News, says he hates Donald Trump (despite writing content crafted to generate outrage in Trump supporters) and told the Washington Post that "people are definitely dumber... Nobody fact-checks anything anymore."
     Because of that, Horner places some blame on himself for getting Trump into the White House, using the example of a story about paid anti-Trump protestors that fooled former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and, most recently, "Never Trump" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).
     "My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me," Horner said. "His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist."
     Sasse's tweet, based on the phony story, is still up, and the lie he helped spread has been retweeted 670 times as of this writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Antigay IA Rep. hangs up when CBC's As It Happens questions his Suck It Up, Buttercup bill

Update: Kaufmann has been convicted 17 times and was on probation when he was elected to the Iowa house in 2012.
Iowa GOP Rep. Bobby Kaufman has proposed legislation to fine Iowa collages if they spend tax dollars on what he calls "Cry Rooms" for students having trouble accepting the election of Donald Trump, according to WQAD. The bill would cut funding to schools funding election related sit-ins or grief counseling.
     From WOWT:
     Students and faculty at the University of Northern Iowa gathered at three sessions to discuss the election and their fears. University spokesman Scott Ketelsen says no money was spent on those sessions.
     Students and faculty at Iowa State University held a rally and University of Iowa student groups held their own events. Both schools say they did not spend any extra funds on those events.
     Tuesday, the Canadian Broadcasting Company's As It Happens called Kaufmann to drill down on some of his claims, and he hung up on them. They called back, and Kaufmann said: "I don't speak to media outlets with an agenda." Here's the question Kaufmann couldn't handle:
Bobby Kaufman: I'm not ready to point fingers on specifics but I think we've all seen the reports across the entire country. We've seen them live on reports from reputable media sources. I have people reaching out to me from different states saying, hey, my kid, at this particular college today, the professor was actively discussing the possibility of bringing in a pony — a miniature pony so that people could use it to feel better about the election.
Carol Off: Can I ask you where did that happen? Where was the discussion about bringing a pony to school?
Bobby Kaufmann: My job is to be finding this out. I'm not prepared to name names right now. I'm doing an investigation.
Carol Off: I'm not asking you to name names — just where did it happen?
Bobby Kaufman: Okay… [hangs up]
     Twitter did not respond charitably to Kaufman's cut-and-run media strategy... 
     In October, Kauffman accused, without providing evidence, an Iowa Safe Schools LGBT Parent/Teacher/Student antibullying conference of indoctrinating students as young as 12 about "safe bondage" and of promoting an app which allowed them to locate orgies. He claimed he got "dozens" of complaints. The director called Kaufman's accusations "fantasies" and said he was on an antiLGBT witch hunt.

PBS asks some tough questions of CEO behind Dakota Access Pipeline

 From the PBS NewsHour interview:
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You say that it’s very unlikely or very rare that this pipeline might rupture, but some companies’ pipelines seem to spill more than others.
     And your subsidiary Sunoco Logistics has a pretty poor track record when it comes to leaks. According to analysis done by Reuters, Sunoco Logistics spills more crude than any of its competitors, 200 oil leaks in the last six years.
Doesn’t that safety record indicate that the concerns of the Standing Rock Tribe ought to be listened to?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

SNL burns VP Mike Pence as a suspected closet case

Last night Kate McKinnon appeared again as Notorious Supreme Court Justice RBG on SNL's Weekend Update and ripped Mike Pence even more viciously than Rachel Maddow did the other night when she reminded viewers of Pence's long record of Hoosier homophobia.
Colin: There are some people, like Michael Moore, too, who say that Trump might get impeached before his 4 years are even over.
McKinnon, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Oh great, and then we'll get Pence. Then gay people can't get a pizza guy... To me [Pence] kinda looks like the neighbor who kisses Kevin Spacey in American Beauty... And Mike Pence: Sorry you looked at Magnum PI once and got a quarter-chub and you've been haunted by it ever since. And that's a Gay Ginsburg.

Red State Update: watch Jackie and Dunlap go off on Donald Trump. Too bad it didn't help


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Kohler: SNL trashes business of GOP activist / plumbing fortune heir

Kohler
Terry Kohler's deep pockets and dark money machinations helped fuel the rise of Scott Walker's Wisconsin and have kept him in office. It may or may not have been sheer coincidence that SNL trashed his company last night. From PR Watch:
Kohler is an heir to the fortune built by The Kohler Company, a toilet, faucet, and plumbing fixture manufacturer that has long had a contentious relationship with organized labor. In 1934, Kohler security guards fired into a crowd of striking workers, killing two and wounding 43 others, and marking a tragic landmark in labor history. Twenty years later, in 1954, the Kohler Company's refusal to negotiate with the union resulted in the longest strike in U.S. history, lasting nine years.

SNL: Chicago Cubs do some exotic dancing

 Bill Murray, wisely, was not included in this sketch.


Will Montana elect its first gay Native American to U.S. House?

Both the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Missoulian have endorsed Denise Juneau for Montana's sole House seat.
     If elected, she would be the state's first openly gay member of Congress and the first Native American to represent Montana.
     The state's largest paper, the Billings Gazette, has endorsed the GOP candidate, Ryan Zinke, a former Navy Seal who supports Donald Trump.
     Zinke is leading Juneau from the margin of error to 10 points, depending on which poll you believe.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Warren Buffett's biggest newspaper just backed one of the GOP's worst congressmen

Many people don't know it, but Warren Buffett's conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, runs the 10th-largest newspaper chain in the country, with 31 dailies and 47 weeklies in 11 states.
     The perception of Buffett, recently photographed at a rally for Hillary Clinton, is of a "liberal" billionaire. The reality is that his most influential paper, the Omaha World-Herald, is often the editorial equivalent of a voter who pulls the straight-ticket master lever to vote for GOP candidates, no matter how incompetent or troglodyte some of them are.
    The Herald's corrosive political influence includes a large section of conservative northwestern Iowa, across the Missouri River from Omaha, Nebraska.
     On Wednesday, the Herald urged its Iowa readers to return Supreme Court Obstructionist Sen. Charles Grassley to office, as well as Rep. David Young and Rep. Steve King, who is almost certainly the loosest cannon in the U.S. House of Representatives whose name isn't Louie Gohmert.
     Before endorsing King, the Herald acknowledged that King continues to draw controversy, which is like acknowledging that Adolf Hitler was rude to Poland.
     This is the best defense of King that the Herald could come up with:
     Responding to criticism that he hasn’t offered a large number of bills, King told The World-Herald, “It is far more important to be engaged in killing bad ideas than to put your name on a good idea.”
     King has done strong work on the farm bills as a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He has supported renewable fuels and worked to obtain federal earmarks to complete Highway 20.
     King noted that future trade agreements will rest on the trade promotion authority Congress has approved. He said the legislation would not have passed if not for amendments he worked to include.
     Compare the Herald's less-than-persuasive praise of the baldly homophobic, racist and chauvinistic King with the Des Moines Register's tell-it-like-it-really-is assessment of King, a lawmaker it has called "an embarrassment to the state of Iowa" and whose opponent, Kim Weaver, the Gannett paper just endorsed:
     Contrast that with her opponent in the 4th district, Rep. Steve King, who’s infamous for talking. He’s known nationally for making outrageous statements — on the floor of Congress, on cable TV, on talk radio, and anywhere else he can get attention.
     But actually doing anything? King has earned a reputation for being one of the least-effective members of Congress. In seven terms in Washington, not one of the bills he’s introduced have ever made it out of committee. Instead, he’s known for his amendments and resolutions that ultimately go nowhere. He takes pride in obstruction.

    We invited King to meet with the editorial board twice this election season, but his campaign declined.
     The Register instead endorses Weaver, who represents a refreshing voice in Iowa politics. She knows the challenges many Iowans face because she’s heard from them directly. 
     Iowans would be better off listening to their own statewide newspaper and ignoring the GOP-inspired machinations of Nebraska's.
     Below are 20 good reasons to defeat Rep. Steve King (which don't include his latest remarks about the superiority of white culture and his idiot comments about Mexican immigrants with "calves the size of cantaloupes.)



20 Reasons to dump Iowa Rep. Steve King



  • King, a miserably ineffective showboat, sponsored 17 bills in the U.S. House, but, according to Open Congress, not one of them was enacted
  • In 2013 Steve King has been identified as one of the “ten Republicans who shut down the government” (Gawker), costing the U.S. economy $24 billion.
  • Has one of the worst congressional ratings, according to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and avoided the Vietnam draft for three years before he suddenly quit college after being assigned a high draft number which ended the threat of him being forced to shoot at anything that shoots back
  • The Des Moines Register can't stand him: "King seems to amuse himself by being as partisan and vitriolic as he can be. He has had 10 years in Washington to cultivate his inner-statesman, but he has failed to do so. It’s time for Iowa to make a change." (Written in 2012)
  • The right-wing editorial page of the Omaha, Nebraska World-Herald endorsed King 
  • Engaged in deceitful race baiting in the House of Representatives
  • Voted to expand internet surveillance of users by forcing Internet Service Providers to retain customers' temporarily-assigned IP addresses, as well as other information, for 12 months
  • Voted for a $250,000 congressional publicity stunt/nonbinding resolution to encourage public display of "In God We Trust" and to affirm that divisive religious bumper-sticker slogan which replaced E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), the US' original motto
  • Voted to defund your local NPR station, presumably in an attempt to get you to listen to Rush Limbaugh more
  • Voted to strangle Medicare
  • Voted to force a rushed decision to extend the toxic, leaky Keystone XL pipeline through the Ogallala aquifer
  • Voted for the "2004 American Jobs Creation Act" — which cut jobs
  • Accused Iowa marriage equality supporters of following him around and screaming "the worst profanity I've heard anywhere" — but offered not a shred of proof
  • Somehow concluded that the existence of babies in trashcans meant that the Obama's Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional
  • Was endorsed by Wall Street financiers who want to eliminate farm subsidies and were fined by the Federal Elections Commission
  • Played hookey from the House to whine at CPAC about Nancy Pelosi forcing him to use energy-saving lightbulbs in his office while the rest of Iowa's congressional delegation was on the job fighting to protect Iowa National Guard jobs
  • In a legislative passion ploy, showcased Bishop William Lori, a notorious Catholic bully, as Joan of Arc, tied to the stake by marriage equality advocates
  • Claimed he bulldozed throngs of intimidating, profane gays to protect Connie Mackie (but unfortunately failed to provide any evidence whatsoever of this)
  • Was called an embarrassment to Iowa by the state's largest newspaper, in its 2010 endorsement of opponent Matt Campbell. The Des Moines Register added that King was "provocative, not focused on getting results for Iowans... reactive, not visionary" and added that it was time for Iowa voters to replace him
  •  King wants U.S. Intelligence (which didn't see ISIS coming in the first place) to spy on U.S. mosques, despite the fact that virtually every single American Muslim organization has publicly disavowed both the ideology and the practices of ISIS

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ricketts family dumping millions into anti-Hillary attack ads which pretend to care about the plight of LGBTs

As Nebraska's wealthy TD Ameritrade scion, Gov. Pete Ricketts, partied with fellow owners of the Cubs in Chicago (the new headquarters of formerly Omaha-based ConAgra), we noted that his family-funded Future45 PAC is dumping millions into new anti-Hillary attack ads on the Internet and airwaves in at least five closely contested states in order to bolster Donald Trump's campaign. One is a bizarre rap:



One is pitched at Hispanics:



Another one pretends to be worried about the plight of LGBTs — in other countries. As governor, Pete Ricketts has adamantly opposed marriage equality in Nebraska, though not in Illinois, where he attended his sister Laura's gay wedding in Chicago.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2017's most-, least-gay-friendly U.S. colleges

Yale Daily News 2009 photo of gay supportive Yale students
baiting antigay New Haven street preacher 
The new Princeton Review survey is out for 2017, rating virtually everything about colleges, from dorms to libraries to social life to professors to political complexion of the student body to campus radio stations, newspapers and theater.
     Included are student attitudes toward LGBTQs. The rating is predicated on how strongly students agreed or disagreed with the following question:  Students treat all persons equally, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

LGBTQ-Friendly

1. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
2. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME
3. Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC
4. University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, WI
5. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
6. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
7. Emerson College, Boston, MA
8. College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
9. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
10. Brown University, Providence RI
11. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
12. Smith College, Northampton, MA
13. Bennington College, Bennington, VT
14. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
15. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
16. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
17. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
18. Drew University, Madison, NJ
19. Mills College, Oakland, CA
20. Yale University, New Haven, CT

LGBTQ-Unfriendly

1. Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
2. Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA
3. College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO
4. Gordon College, Wenham, MA
5. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
6. Auburn University, Auburn, AL
7. Baylor University, Waco, TX
8. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
9. Grove City College, Grove City, PA
10. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
11. Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI
12. University of Dallas, Irving, TX
13. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
14. Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC
15. Montana Tech of the Univ. of Montana, Butte, MT
16. Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
17. Catholic University of America, Washington, DC
18. University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
19. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA
20 University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT


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