Saturday, January 31, 2015

Four-alarm fire burning at biggest gay club in Lincoln, NE

KLKN says 20 firefighters are battling the blaze, which started near or on the stage of Karma, which replaced Q (in the same location) as Lincoln's main drag/show bar almost exactly one year ago. From the Daily Nebraskan:
The Q was home to Lincoln’s gay culture and drag scene for 20 years before its closing, and when news spread about the shutdown, many regular clubgoers were devastated.
     The fire started at about 7:15 pm and by 8:25 firemen had formed a collapse zone around the club, at 9th & N. The roof collapsed minutes later.
     From the Lincoln Journal-Star:
     The fire caused a power outage that set off other fire alarms in the area.
At 9:10 p.m. street and traffic lights in the area were not working.
     There were no immediate reports of injuries. Only two patrons were inside the club when the fire broke out.
     A group of performers and frequent patrons gathered across the street from the club, hugging and wiping tears. 
     "It's like watching a part of my life burn away," said Brian Ruhs, who DJ's for the club.
If there's one thing you can count on after an inferno, it's the resultant scurrying of rats on the street and on Twitter:

What atheist Stephen Fry would say to god at the Pearly Gates

Never try to trap Mr. Fry with a gotcha question.

AKSARBENT found possible kin of Michele 'Crazy Eyes' Bachmann; he seems to have lived in Lincoln

Hall may be faking his nutso persona, judging from his laughter at Groucho's putdowns, so maybe he isn't really crazed. Come to think, given Bachman's inability to laugh at herself, they may not be related at all.

Bette Midler still has the cease-and-desist letter Mae West sent her

Interesting fact: bilingual dualisms in law, like null and void, assault and battery, and cease and desist date from the French-speaking Normans and their conquest of Anglo-Saxon England.

Here's a young Bette accompanied by Barry Manilow:

At left is Mae West in her 50's beefcake revue. She was a pretty good jazz singer, but she also liked rock and roll, and even recorded a cover of Light My Fire. West NEVER had an unlisted number and used to practice the drums in her apartment (!) about which other tenants seemed not to have complained, presumably because she owned the building, although she later sold it for a very good price — and continued to live there.

Michael Hill to air gay-inclusive Super Bowl ads

(Via JoeMyGod)

The ad for jeweler Michael Hill depicts gay couples but doesn't mention marriage. Mined diamond profits are down — due in part to cheaper manufactured diamonds and by the fact that many potential recipients of jewelry would rather have something more practical — like an iPhone — than finger ornaments.
     The expanded internet video tacitly acknowledges that and attempts to spur sales by encouraging gem sales to celebrate, among other things, "brotherly love" and even love of one's self. Sons of Narcissus and daughters of Shirley MacLaine will probably go for this but we just don't see much sales to dudes buying rings for their brothers:
Wally: What's this, Beav?
Beaver: Open it!

Friday, January 30, 2015

NE ACLU files another brief in response to AG Don Peterson's attempt to stall gay marriage cases

Free-spending ultra right-wing Nebraska Attorney General Don Peterson first tried to stay proceedings in Nebraska's gay marriage suit until June, when the the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on marriage equality in four cases outside Nebraska's Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals District.
     Judge Joseph F. Bataillon denied the Nebraska Attorney General's office stalling tactic, ruling that AG Peterson and his staff have "not made a sufficient showing that a delay in the outcome is necessary" and, therefore, said delay is "not warranted."
     Below, the ACLU refutes arguments advanced by AG Doug Peterson's office against its motion for a preliminary injunction while the case proceeds.
     AKSARBENT recommends that if you're reading this, you tweet @GovRicketts to find out how much the state is spending to delay gay marriage in Nebraska, which is now surrounded by gay marriage states.

Maddow's hilarious punchline that you won't see coming

The worst-named car rental agency in the Middle East

The Syrian who owns this UAE company says it refers to the Egyptian goddess, that he's been in business for two decades, and he's not changing his name.
     This reminds us of Ayds diet candy and of the Jeffrey Martin, Inc., official who bravely said (in 1986) that his company would not rename its Ayds product.
     "Let the disease change its name," was what the press was boldly told about the fatal, homophonic illness.
     Eventually Ayds diet candy was withdrawn from the market.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

T-Mobile snags world's most preposterous personage to flog its service

It's funny because you're supposed to think it's self mocking, although the subject probably has convinced herself that it's the viewers who are being mocked.

Idaho newspaper disavows anti-gay sticker on its front pages

Jim Romanesko reports that after Wednesday's publication of the ad in four Idaho newspapers, "a House committee voted 13-4 to reject adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act."
     Publisher Mike Jung clarified that it was all about the money it was all about freedom of advertisers to espouse varying viewpoints and that his papers had, in fact strongly supported the rejected legislation.
The ad included the URL to a website with a post claiming that “the essential nature of homosexuality, ‘transgenderism,’ and other forms of sexual deviancy is, ultimately a form of rape.”

U.S. Senate celebrates 5 major pipeline leaks and/or explosions this month by approving Keystone XL

Every GOP senator who voted, voted for Keystone XL and so did nine Democrats: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.
      Mitch McConnell (R-Agitprop, KY) said the Canadian export pipeline would create 42,000 jobs, citing a ridiculous State Department estimate:
An appendix to the State Department report, for instance, says that 634 people would be employed in the “arts, entertainment and recreation services” in the United States as a result of Keystone — and only 138 of those jobs would be in the construction states.
McConnell's most shameless whopper was his assertion that "Constructing Keystone would pump billions into our economy" when TransCanada's own email revealed that the company thinks the pipeline could increase what U.S. Midwesterners pay for oil BY ALMOST TWO BILLION DOLLARS per year.

Matthew Shepherd's classmade has made a new documentary about him

One supposes it might be considered a sort of answer to  The Book of Matt, a critical look at the killing of Shepherd, whose sourcing has been called lacking, but which has been embraced by gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who opposes hate crime laws and who has repeatedly promoted Stephen Jimenez' book. Judy Shepherd's reaction to the film is here.

Our Throwback Thursday tweet: Jethro in drag

Max Baer, Jr., the son of the famous boxing champion, occasionally played a dual role in The Beverly Hillbillies: sister Jethrine in addition to Jethro Bodine at the Clampett's hacienda.
     Baer, who held a bachelor's degree in business administration from Santa Clara University, where he minored in philosophy, was as shrewd a businessman in real life as Mr. Drysdale was on the show. From Wikipedia:
     Baer wrote and produced the drama Macon County Line (1974), in which he played Deputy Reed Morgan. It was the highest-grossing movie per dollar invested at the time. Made for just $110,000, it earned almost $25 million at the box office. This record lasted until The Blair Witch Project broke it in 1999.
     ...He then had the idea of using the title of a popular song as a movie title and acquired the rights to the Bobbie Gentry hit song and producing Ode to Billy Joe (1976). Made for US$1.1 million, it grossed $27 million at the box office, plus earnings in excess of $2.65 million outside the US, $4.75 million from television, and $2.5 million from video.

     ...Since the success of Ode to Billy Joe, the motion picture industry has produced more than 100 song title movies. Baer decided to pursue the rights to the hit song "Like a Virgin," recorded by the singer Madonna in 1984. When ABC tried to prevent him from making the film, he sued and won a judgment of more than $2 million.

IA Sen. Joni Ernst borrows, restyles hair of NE Rep. Jeff Fortenberry to lie about Keystone XL

Having surfed to the Senate on a wave of Koch Brothers-orchestrated dark money interests, Joni Ernst obviously no longer cares how ridiculous her whoppers sound.
     She actually called Keystone XL a "jobs" and "infrastructure" project, which is a funny way of describing an endeavor which will create fewer than 50 permanent jobs, threaten North America's biggest water supply, and menace landowners with eminent domain condemnation not for a public work, but for a private, for-profit project for a foreign oil company.
     Nice work, GOP.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's good for Apple isn't necessarily good for U.S.: manufacturing to China, huge profits to Irish tax shelter

Like Apple, Google is no slouch at U.S. tax avoidance, but at least it builds phones in the USA, unlike Apple.

Bathroom Humor

Compilation excerpt cribbed from the daily Dish, from which Andrew Sullivan announced his retirement today.

American Family Association demotes rabidly anti-gay mouthpiece Bryan Fischer

Today, on the very date that the American Family Association's loosest canon, Bryan Fischer, had to walk back yet another attack on LGBTs, he was fired as the organization's so-called Director of Issue Analysis.

AFA president Timothy Wildmon cited a years-old, over the top attack on LGBTs when asked about his reasons for demoting Fischer, who will still host, for now, his AFA radio program.

Many people think there's more to the contretemps than this. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been sharply critical of the AFA and wants the Republican National Committee to disassociate itself from the AFA.

Tonight, Rachel Maddow seemed to favor the all-expense-paid trip to Israel over the wildly anti-gay history of Bryan Fischer as a reason for the AFA's actions:
If the United States is a country for Christians only and the purpose of the United States is specifically to advance the faith of Christians — and incidentally, not Jews — how does that fly in Israel, let alone among American Jews — and Muslims, and anybody else who's not Christian, anybody? What is the Republican Party advertising about itself to be taking this kind of a trip, with this kind of a group, and do they really think that the firing of Bryan Fischer is going to end this story?

LB472 would close Nebraska's medicaid gap; one woman's experience

Iowa nice

Our eastern neighbors seem to have abandoned the self-described moniker (and you can see why, in the video below, taken at the Davenport, Iowa Chicken Shack.)
      Meanwhile, a modified version of Iowa Nice is now being used by Nebraska's Tourist Agency (@NebraskaTourism.)
    Frankly, AKSARBENT doesn't know who to side with here. One dude is accused of being a registered sex offender and the other (with the knife) was ID'd by a YouTube commenter as a burglar on parole. Maybe we should flip a coin.
     An Illinois Quad-Cities denizen called out Davenport as "the Chicago suburbans of the Quad Cities.  You're almost guaranteed to get shot and stab there" but an Iowa partisan said the skid row of the Quad Cities is actually Rock Island, on the Illinois side. We are now very confused,
     Once we went to two gay bars in Davenport on our way back from Massachusetts. Both were insular and dull, but not as dull as driving across the plains to that metropolitan pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is Omaha.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Judge unimpressed by Nebraska AG office's poorly reasoned attempt to stall gay marriage case

Hey @GovRicketts!
     We hear you want to save Nebraska money!
     Is preparing a 45-page brief against gay marriage which pretends that Nebraska doesn't discriminate because it doesn't ask men or women their sexual orientation before allowing them to marry only the opposite sex really your idea of a good legal argument and money well spent?
     Now that Nebraska is surrounded by gay marriage states, do you think this argument will fly?
     Do you think that citing the Regnerus study as evidence against gay marriage is a good use of taxpayer money when the auditor hired by the journal that foolishly published it called it "bullshit?" When 200 MDs and PhD's denounced it in a SCOTUS brief? When the American Sociological Association excoriated it?
     You've said you intend to "defend" straight marriage in Nebraska.
     How much did this AG brief cost to prepare?
     How much do you want to see spent to "defend" straight marriages? $100,000? $500,000? $1,000,000?
     Will you hide or disclose how much the state is spending to stall gay marriage?
     We're gonna keep asking you!

Below: Judge Bataillon's ruling, which you may read in its entirety at Equality Case Files. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gay AL Rep: Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Harper Valley hypocrites

Alabama's only out state representative, Patricia Todd, a Birmingham Democrat, posted a warning on her Facebook page to fellow lawmakers resisting a federal ruling overturning Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage:
     “I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’ when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have,” she wrote. “I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out.”
     Todd was responding to comments from her fellow lawmakers after Friday’s decision by a federal judge to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.
     “It is pretty well known that we have people in Montgomery who are or have had affairs …” Todd told the TimesDaily this morning. “I just want them to be careful what they’re saying, some of it might come back to stick on them.”
     Todd said she hurt and angered by some of the remarks and backlash she has heard since Friday.
    “But I know I’m on the side that is going to win and I’m sorry they’re so ignorant,” she said.
     Several high-profile GOP leaders have spoken out against the ruling, and Attorney General Luther Strange asked the judge to stay her order until the U.S Supreme Court considers gay marriage later this year.

East Coast snowstorm more accurately predicted by European weather model — again

The Washington Post's weather editor warned months ago that U.S. investments in computer technology necessary to forecasting are not keeping pace with European efforts:
     ...since 2013, the NWS has doubled its operational computing capacity, substantially upgraded its HWRF hurricane model (leading to immediate improvements in forecasting), and put into operation a high resolution model for forecasting thunderstorms (known as the HRRR).
     Some additional upgrades are right around the corner. In December, the Global Forecast System (GFS) model will be upgraded to a higher resolution and, in January 2015, NWS is slated to triple its current overall computing capacity.
     ...There is no question that the NWS is making a legitimate effort to advance its supercomputing and forecasting abilities, and that progress is being made. But two important realities emerge from the current state of affairs: 1) Bureaucratic and policy obstacles have slowed the NWS effort to obtain more supercomputing power 2) Europe is — as of this moment — investing vastly more resources in supercomputing technology (per my post last week: Congress authorized approximately $24 million in forecasting equipment and supercomputer infrastructure following Superstorm Sandy, whereas the NWS’ European counterparts the ECMWF and UKMet Office, recently invested $64 million and $128 million, respectively).

A video that busts the fiction that 'Redskins' is integral to Washington football

If you hadn't already read this, how long do you think it would have taken you to realize that all Redskins insignia had been digitally removed from this clip?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Antigay pastor trolls Bono to list 5 reasons Ellen Degeneres' marriage is morally wrong

...Now, in his song, Mercy, Bono, he stated that love is charity and brings with it a clarity. So let me close, but just submitting to you with charity and clarity, that marriage is, and throughout history has always been the union of a man and a woman, regardless of what the courts say and regardless of how much you and Portia genuinely feel affection for each other. Now let me give you five of the many reasons why gay marriage is morally wrong...
— Pastor Larry Tomczak

Quote of the day

Q: Who's your LGBT hero?
A: The Supreme Court
        — Major Brian Dix, retired director of the
            United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps

Quoted in the Washington Blade

Netflix streams The Interview

Available now, for instant viewing.

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The battle for Nebraska's Sandhills

We missed this Toronto Star mini-documentary, which brings into sharp focus the proposed export pipeline from the perspective of those affected by it most.
     Don't call this ultra-high pressure, carcinogenic solvent-laced, 160-degree thing an "oil" pipeline. Even TransCanada maintains (to the government) that it isn't oil, but rather diluted bitumen (dilbit) and has said it therefore won't pay even a measly eight cents per barrel to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for the 830,000 barrels it would like to pump daily through the northeast extremity of the Ogallala aquifer.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Your taxes at work: while plaintiff dies of stage IV cancer, new NE AG uses discredited Regnerus study as 'evidence' to stall gay marriage suit; auditor of journal that published study called it 'bullshit'

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach shows up in Lincoln, Nebraska to pimp GOP Voter Supression bill 
Three bills addressing anti-LGBT bias introduced in Nebraska Unicameral
The office of Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson Office has filed a motion to put a federal lawsuit challenging Nebraska's gay marriage ban on hold pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which the ACLU has answered.
     In the mean time, as Equality Case files reports, Senior Judge Joseph F. Bataillon has cancelled, pending further order of the court, next week's hearing on the ACLU motion for a preliminary injunction that would require the state to recognize same-sex marriages while the lawsuit proceeds.
     Nebraska's 45-page attempt to stall the ACLU's preliminary injunction contains such gems of compelling persuasion as its insistence that the state does not discriminate in marriage due to sexual orientation because it does not ask men restricted to marrying women what their sexual orientation is or women restricted to marring men what their sexual orientation is. All done!
     Well, not quite — we forgot the first exhibit's affidavit — evidence supporting the Nebraska Attorney General's office brief from Catherine Pakaluk an assistant professor of economics at Ave Maria University (seriously) in Naples, FL. She also describes herself as a Senior Fellow (in Economics) at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture in Austin Texas.
     That would be Mark Regnerus' outfit.
     Pakaluk's affidavit, submitted by the Nebraska Attorney General's office, contains dozens and dozens of pages of the so-called Regnerus Study.
     Here's what federal judge Bernard Freidman scathingly wrote about the Regnerus study in his decision overturning Michigan's ban on same sex marriage:
 ...The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 “study” was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it “essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society” and which “was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.” ...In the funder’s view, “the future of the institution of marriage at this moment is very uncertain” and “proper research” was needed to counter the many studies showing no differences in child outcomes. Id. The funder also stated that “this is a project where time is of the essence.” Id. Time was of the essence at the time of the funder’s comments in April 2011, and when Dr. Regnerus published the NFSS in 2012, because decisions such as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Cal. 2010), and Windsor v. United States,-13-833 F. Supp. 2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. 2012), were threatening the funder’s concept of “the institution of marriage.” While Regnerus maintained that the funding source did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged. Additionally, the NFSS is flawed on its face, as it purported to study “a large, random sample of American young adults (ages 18-39) who were raised indifferent types of family arrangements” (emphasis added), but in fact it did not study this at all,as Regnerus equated being raised by a same-sex couple with having ever lived with a parent who had a “romantic relationship with someone of the same sex” for any length of time. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this “study,” he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general and reaffirmed the aforementioned APA position statement. 
Below: Newly appointed Nebraska Chief Deputy Attorney General Dave Bydalek touting the discredited Regnerus Study in 2014 as evidence to defeat LB380's adoption reforms when he worked for the Nebraska Family Alliance. If Bydalek didn't know the study was bogus then, he surely knows it now, as the study:
  • was shown to be engineered and funded by right-wing groups to influence SCOTUS gay marriage deliberations
  • was discredited by 200 PhDs and MDs in a U.S. Supreme Court brief in support of the reversal of California's Proposition 8
  • was excoriated by the prestigious American Sociological Association
  • was called "bullshit" by Darren E. Sherkat, an editor of the very journal that published it, after he was assigned to audit the study following the uproar it caused

Anderson Cooper mocks that anti-gay pastor who has been trolling Ellen

Along the way, after ridiculing conservative fantasies of a coherent 'gay agenda,' he takes a couple swipes at the execrable new TLC 'reality' show My Husband's Not Gay and the desire of one of the show's characters, who is either deeply confused or a very cynical fame whore:
By the way, if you're a gay guy who wants to be called 'Daddy,' you don't necessarily have to get married to a woman. I'm just saying.

AKSARBENT has a recommendation for the podcaster about to be excommunicated by the Mormon church

The disciplinary council hearing for Mormon Stories podcaster John Dehlin (reason: apostasy, because he supports gay marriage and ordination of women) has been delayed, but his expulsion is all but certain.
     Dehlin says he won't appeal a ruling to oust him from the church, as that is LDS' prerogative.
     AKSARBENT has always been fond of the story about the gay Mormon who went to his disciplinary council hearing in drag and we recommend that Mr. Dehlin do that, even if he's not gay and even if he doesn't particularly like dressing up in women's clothes, although one of Brigham Young's (many) sons, Brigham Morris Young, certainly did.

More evidence that Bill Cosby the comedian has become Bill Cosby the punchline

George Takei mocks TLC Salt Lake City 'reality' show, My Husband's Not Gay

 The parody is about as creepy as what it lampoons.

KS Sec'y of State shows up in NE to push GOP voter supression bill

Anti-gay Kris Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State, turned up in Lincoln Thursday to plug a voter suppression bill (the worst of two pending), sold in the guise of Voter ID legislation to help solve the nonexistent problem of fraudulent voting. Here's how Kobach blocks votes via software.
     Such initiatives have already been beaten back twice in the Cornhusker state, but the GOP is still trying.
     And you thought Kansas was too broke to send its officials on voter disenfranchisement search-and-destroy missions to sell initiatives furthering the GOP agenda, didn't you?

 From Fred Knap at NET
     Among those testifying in favor of the idea was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach said similar legislation passed in Kansas in 2011 had not suppressed voter turnout. "It actually went up from 2010 to 2014. You’re comparing two nonpresidential election years. Our turnout in 2010 was 50 percent; our turnout in 2014 was 51 percent," Kobach said. "We also exceeded the turnout in our surrounding states. Here in Nebraska your turnout was 47 percent; our turnout was 51 percent, again, with photo ID."
     But Bri McClarty of Nebraskans for Civic Reform cited a report from the Government Accountability Office that found, after controlling for varying degrees of competitive elections, turnout declined by 1.9 to 3.2 percent in Kansas and Tennessee.
From Legislative Update:
     ...Bri McLarty, director of voting rights for Nebraskans for Civic Reform, testified in opposition to both bills. The ID requirements disproportionally would impact rural voters, she said, adding that some rural DMV offices are open only once a month or are not open over the noon hour.
     In addition, she said, increasing the number of provisional ballots will increase the cost of elections.
     “Other states are spending millions on this kind of legislation,” McLarty said.
     Amy Miller of ACLU Nebraska also testified in opposition to LB111 and the voter ID provisions of LB121. She said the courts repeatedly have ruled that vague concerns about voter fraud cannot justify placing burdens on the constitutional right to vote.
     “The burden is on the government to prove that the voter ID law is necessary,” she said, adding that there have been “zero examples” of voter fraud in Nebraska.
     “Until you have a record of fraud, this bill should not be advanced forward,” Miller said.
     The committee took no immediate action on the bills.

Friday, January 23, 2015

An important announcement to AKSARBENT readers

No customer service guarantees are made here in respect of reader requests or outrage, but if you are a woman who is subject to untoward and unwanted advances by a gent like the one below while reading this blog, AKSARBENT will gallantly take your place and give the ill-mannered interloper a taste of his own medicine. Chin up.

Hillary Clinton: 'You won't get me to talk about Keystone XL'

In Winnipeg at a Q&A, Clinton refused to take a position on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project her State Department secretly encouraged, colluding with TransCanada in emails obtained by Friends Of The Earth and in Wikileaks documents released by Chelsea Manning, now in prison.
     The Clinton State Department twice issued white-washed environmental reports about Keystone XL, both of which were criticized by the EPA.

Alabama gay marriage ban overruled in just 10 pages, with no stay, by judge appointed by George W. Bush

From the Washington Blade:
     In a 10-page decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued summary judgement in favor of a plaintiff same-sex couple, finding Alabama marriage laws violate the couple’s right to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
     “There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples,” Granade writes. “In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama.”
Here's the conclusion of the (relatively) terse ruling which turns the table on "for the children" arguments of gay marriage opponents:
If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples. Such a law “humiliates [ ] thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2694. Alabama’s prohibition and non-recognition of same-sex marriage “also brings financial harm to children of same-sex couples.” id. at 2695, because it denies the families of these children a panoply of benefits that the State and the federal government offer to families who are legally wed. Additionally, these laws further injures those children of all couples who are themselves gay or lesbian, and who will grow up knowing that Alabama does not believe they are as capable of creating a family as their heterosexual friends.
     For all of these reasons, the court finds that Alabama’s marriage laws violate the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stewart skewers GOP SOTU peanut gallery responses

Joni Ernst response has been compared to a flight attendant performance; Ted Cruz was mocked by Stewart as akin to a hostage video retake.

Aussies cheer indefatigable seagull at cricket match

And AKSARBENT thinks it should get a point or two for not using the word "plucky" in our headline.

The cheap GOP semantics Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer are using to deny the human cause of global warming

On Wednesday the Senate voted 98-1 that climate change is real and not a hoax — a shabby scam by the GOP to con voters into believing that the party isn't denying science. Republicans will doubtless point to this when critics lambaste it.
     What the GOP won't point to are the two previous votes on the propositions that "Climate change is real; and human activity contributes to climate change" and "climate change is real (and) human activity significantly contributes to climate change"
     Senators Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse and Joni Ernst all voted for the not-a-hoax pronouncement and against the statements acknowledging human complicity in global warming.
     None of them — not even Joni Ernst — is that dumb. All of them are that dishonest, that reckless and that corrupted by Big Oil and the Republican Party's deepest reserves of lethal amorality on a global scale.
     The civilization whose destruction they hasten will be one of hunger, strife and desperate misery.
     As Agnostics, we dearly wish there really were an eternal hell to which Sasse, Ernst and Fischer could be dispatched at the end of their conniving lives, but even that would not indemnify the billions of futures they are helping to wreck.

Nebraska: 3 bills addressing LGBT bias now pending

ConAgra Foods (brands here) sent one of its VPs to support
LGBTs in its home state and among its 33,000 employees.
NET (PBS) and KETV (ABC) said hundreds of gay rights supporters turned up at the Capitol rotunda today to support legislation addressing LGBT bias statewide. KMTV (CBS) said "dozens."
     WOWT (NBC) and KPTM (Fox) aired no estimates because they didn't show up. (WOWT might still be mad at Teh Gays because of the terrible thing Andrew Rannells did to the poor station this week on Seth Myers.)

Freshman state senator Adam Morfeld,
of Lincoln, who defeated openly gay
James Michael Bowers last fall with
68% of the vote, has introduced LB586,
a bill to outlaw LGBT employment bias.
The bills are: LB648 (Howard) Provide for adoption by two adult persons; LB586 (Morfeld) Prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity; and LB647 (Nordquist) Prohibit discrimination in foster care against qualified LGBTs who pass HHS screenings.
     Nebraska is home to some of the most well-known companies in America: Union Pacific, TD Ameritrade, Mutual of Omaha and Berkshire Hathaway, the Warren Buffett behemoth, but only one, ConAgra, (HRC rating: 100%) dispatched a representative to appear on camera to support its LGBT employees and customers.
     Speaking of HRC, it issued a statement from Nebraska Field Organizer Drew Heckman:
     A welcome mat must be dropped at Nebraska’s front door step to tell the nation our state is a place for all people; it is imperative that LGBT people have legal protections and a fair chance to reach their goals and desires, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
     Fred Knapp, of NET, had this to say (you can hear him here):
     Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks was one of several senators to address a crowd of several hundred gay rights supporters in the Capitol Rotunda. She referred to a proposal that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to other characteristics, like race and religion, that could not be used to discriminate in hiring or keeping employees. Pansing Brooks said with businesses needing more workers, not having such protections doesn’t make sense. "For us as a state to discriminate and limit part of the working pool that’s available to us is purely shortsighted and stupid," she said, to laughter and applause.
     Another bill would prohibit the state Department of Health and Human Services from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity when placing state wards in out-of-home care. A third would allow two people, regardless of their marital status, to adopt children. Similar bills have been unsuccessful in the past, but Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld, introducer of the employment bill, said he thinks this year will be different. "I think that this issue’s time has come. Personally, I think it’s past, in the sense of we should have taken care of this a long time ago. But I think the issue’s time has come and I think the crowd that we see in the Capitol here tonight (sic) displays that," Morfeld said after the lunchtime gathering.

KOLN, Lincoln's CBS affiliate, published the following, from Jeff Beck, Finance Director of Saddle Creek Records (the ConAgra of Indie Rock!), on its website:
Saddle Creek and Slowdown support the workplace equality legislation because it mirrors our commitment to providing a diverse, creative and vibrant community in which everyone feels open and able to focus on their jobs.

NE GOP's zombie voter disenfranchisement bill, LB111, introduced by Tyson Larson

NE State Sen. Tyson Larson
Larson, a 27-year-old GOP state senator representing O'Neil, is trying to revive voter ID legislation, already killed twice in Nebraska, in a newer, even more draconian form: his bill, LB111, not only requires picture ID, it disqualifies any voter who has moved to a new polling precinct and not gotten new ID.
Larson (@TysonLarson) refused to cite a single example of voter fraud in Nebraska when asked to by UNL's Daily Nebraskan, saying it was not the issue.
Nebraskans for Civic reform will be fighting this — again.

The Defeat of Voter ID in Nebraska from Adam Morfeld on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1969 recording of Bill Cosby joking about drugging women

The Denver Post reports that 40% of the tickets for Cosby's recent appearance in the mile-high city were returned for refunds and that in a letter, attorney Gloria Allred said witnesses saw security representatives for the Buell throwing money in the donation bucket for a pair of brass players, who she claimed were drowning out the protestors "freedom of speech."

John Boehner's worst nightmare introduces law yanking Keystone XL eminent domain options in NE

Also: Should pipeline companies have eminent domain rights?

In none of the seven states atop the Ogallala aquifer has opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline been more militant than in Nebraska because no state has more pristine water at risk in the event of a spill. (Keystone 1 leaked 12-14 times in its first year of operation.)
     This month's 4-3 Nebraska Supreme Court decision agreed with landowners that LB1163 was unconstitutional in granting the governor pipeline siting authority instead of the Public Service Commission, and only failed to overturn the law because such action requires a supermajority of 5 votes in the state. Plaintiffs have refiled the lawsuit to resolve a "standing" issue. (Some were no longer in the pipeline's path after TransCanada moved the route.)
     Nebraska's Unicameral is the only single-body legislature in the U.S.A. and storied Senator Ernie Chambers is its only black member, but when he, the emperor of Cornhusker filibustering, hates a bill, it rarely gets passed. Or, if he really wants a bill passed, he'll hold another one hostage.
     Remember the legislator who sued God? That was Chambers and he's not crazy. (He was protesting constitutional provisions that preclude banning certain kinds of frivolous lawsuits.)
     This week Chambers introduced LB473, which will cancel the authority of TransCanada to file eminent domain proceedings in Nebraska as it has elsewhere.
     Deena Winter of Nebraska Watchdog recalled a memorable filibuster by Chambers in 2005 against legislation which later passed anyway, via referendum:
...He famously blocked a constitutional amendment in 2005 protecting the right to hunt and fish by introducing amendment after amendment protecting the right to do things such as create, recreate, converse, procreate, sit on the porch and drink lemonade, laugh, cough, itch, scratch, shear and “hunt for the link between Noah’s Ark, Joan of Arc and Archimedes.”

     Here's Chambers in 1966 in the Oscar-nominated documentary A Time For Burning.
     Below, in 2013, he got wound up over LGBT rights, which he vigorously defends:

Disclaimer: subtitles may not exactly reflect thoughts of subjects in video below:


3:30 Mail-order minister and self-declared atheist Chambers trolls for lawyers to help him find a gay couple to marry so he can sue Nebraska for not granting a marriage license

3:44 Calls Nebraska backward, among other things

4:38 Recounts his lawsuit to get chaplain out of legislature

7:18 Sen. Christensen takes the bait, expounds on "homersexuals"

10:26 Chambers talks about Thomas Jefferson and statutory rape, notes that like Washington, Jefferson and Patrick Henry, he also likes black women. (Chambers is black.)

13:22 Chambers drops the gay F-bomb

16:14 Chambers gets the tax employee benefits attorney to crack a smile by characterizing Catholic Church's indulgence of Michelangelo's same sex tendencies by claiming their position was "We got a little sugar in our britches sometimes also; we understand things like that."

17:37 Sen. Christensen gets some payback from Chambers, who never forgets anything, over a stray comment he made at a previous hearing about a gay neighbor

22:20 Impatient heterosexual supremacists revolt, fearing that they won't get to testify by the 2 pm cutoff of the five-hour hearing, as there is no end in sight to Chambers' monologue; Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Ashford quells the insurrection

Unpublished, personal Alan Turing notebook left to intimate friend may fetch seven figures at upcoming New York auction

Robin Gandy
Upon his death in 1954, Alan Turing left many of his personal papers to his former student and, later, colleague and intimate friend, Robin Gandy. Most of the papers are now in the King's College Cambridge archives, but a 56-page handwritten notebook that Gandy, who died in 1995, kept will now be auctioned by Bonham's in New York.
     From the auction house's press release:
     In 1977, Gandy deposited the papers at the Archive Center at King's College, Cambridge, Turing's old college – where they have been available to scholars for research ever since. He did, however, retain one item – this manuscript. In the blank center pages of the notebook between Alan's writing, Gandy wrote his dream journal. The contents of the journal are intensely personal, so it is not a surprise that he would want to keep the journal private, and in fact, it remained hidden amongst his personal effects until his death. As he wrote at the beginning of this journal, "It seems a suitable disguise to write in between these notes of Alan's on notation, but possibly a little sinister; a dead father figure, some of whose thoughts I most completely inherited."

Deb Fischer: Obama 'clinging to a reactionary foreign policy that has shaken the faith of our allies'

We won't even try to figure out what the hell Senator Fischer was talking about.
     Suffice it to say that for Fischer to accuse any Democrat of being reactionary is like Bill Cosby accusing Bill Clinton of disrespecting women.
     Maybe she just doesn't know what the word reactionary means to most people who speak English.
     Maybe she meant reactive. 
     Fischer's video response to the SOTU address had washed-out highlights and a rumble in the audio (maybe she lets TransCanada drill for oil under her office). It had been viewed a whopping 189 times when we looked.

Orange is the new black: Boehner now darker than Obama

Boehner's childish faces during the SOTU address are now inspiring much mockery.
     Repubs apparently are now pissed at Obama's unscripted snark about beating them twice in presidential elections, which is just too bad, since they trolled Obama in the first place by clapping when he said he had no more campaigns to run.

Nebraska drug dog traffic stop case to be heard by U.S. Supreme Court today

 The constitutional question is how long someone must wait for a drug dog after a traffic citation has been issued, which usually constitutes the end of such a stop, after which the recipient of a citation should be free to go.
     If even half the anonymous accusations on the Internet about him are true, then officer Struble, who made the stop at issue in this case, has a very interesting personal life and/or some serious ex-girlfriend issues.

Non-gun enthusiasts visit a shooting range and some find an inner Ted Nugent they weren't looking for

I get it. I didn't get it and now I get it.
Guns are really fucking fun.
AKSARBENT's sum total of gun experience was being handed a shotgun by a pheasant-hunting dad, pulling the trigger, handing it back to him and ignoring firearms ever since.
     Nonetheless, the allure of shooting inexplicably pulls many dudes, including those who thought they would loathe the experience.
     Not every experimenter's view of firearms improves,
     One nonshooter said: It changed me. I don't think that I am as pro-gun as I used to be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Superman's hero is a sniper?

Seth Rogen critized American Sniper in a tweet, which got him on the wrong side of Dean Cain, who played Superman on television some years after the George Reeves first portrayed the man of steel on TV, and then shot himself (or was murdered.)
     We're not fans of the right-wing Cain and were about to describe him as the cad who bragged about being the first to bag Brooke Shields at Princeton, but then we found out it was Shields who first wrote about their affair and described Cain as a nice guy, so now we can't diss him on that score.
     Below is an excerpt from Laura Miller's piece in Salon about sniper Chris Kyle. Miller is somewhat less impressed with Kyle's character than easier-to-impress Cain, who once went shooting with Kyle and seemed totally enthralled by the experience, which was televised.
     In “American Sniper,” Kyle describes killing as “fun” and something he “loved” to do. This pleasure was no doubt facilitated by his utter conviction that every person he shot was a “bad guy.” Fallujah and Ramadi, where he saw the most action, were certainly crawling with insurgents and foreign Islamist militants, and Kyle swears that every man he picked off with his sniper rifle was manifestly up to no good. But his bloodthirstiness and general indifference to the Iraqis and their country don’t suggest that he was highly motivated to make sure.

GOP claps when Obama says he has no more campaigns to run, gets one-upped by uncapped
POTUS snark

Poor John Boehner wasn't able to enjoy any of this. He looks like a miserable, angry schoolboy in detention.

Watch live: President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address

Play State of the Union Bingo! Download card here:

Are mean ABC co-anchors trying to throw shade on that nice John Travolta?

We think that TJ Holmes and Reena Ninan of World News Now, and/or writer Michael Rothman of Good Morning America, just might be trying to make some sort of scurrilous insinuation here.

 TJ Holmes: We've all had our celebrity sitings, but how many can say it was a celebrity that wanted to chat us up?

GMA's Michael Rothman:
     Two days ago, he [Justin Jones] was at the gym and a familiar face walked up and introduced himself.
      "'Hi I'm John [Travolta],' he said. That's exactly how it happened," Jones told ABC News.
     ...Jones has been watching some of Travolta's classic "Welcome Back, Kotter" episodes and he told him he was a fan.
      "He seemed very flattered by that," Jones added.
     "He asked a lot of questions about if I was married and If I had kids. The time just flew by..."
      "I went on my Facebook and posted it as my profile pic," he said. "She [Jones' wife] asked, 'What the hell happened last night?'"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Distaste for politics of American Sniper grows as film makes huge box office haul

ALSO: The Real American Sniper Had No Remorse About The Iraqis He Killed;  
American Sniper Complaints Grow in Hollywood;  
The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer. Why are simplistic patriots treating him as a hero?

Ed Schultz interviewed Robert Greenwald, director of Brave New Films, and Patrick Murphy, the first veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress:
Ed, this movie has a strong political agenda. It's a neocon fantasy and there's no good Iraqi except the dead Iraqi. And I think what we will learn from this, why the movie is in fact dangerous propaganda, is that we gotta go to war, we gotta kill people and and that's gonna make democracy safer. Well it's nonsense. It's not true. It hasn't been true. And the concern I had after watching the film was the number of people who said "yeah, we did the right thing. We went out and killed a bunch of killers, including the only good children are dead Iraqi children, which is portrayed in the film. — Robert Greenwald

Slate explains why Two and a Half Men gay-married Walden and Alan

Chuck Lorre explained the dramatic ruse to Slate writer June Thomas at the Television Critics Association winter press tour:
“We all believe that people should have the freedom to marry who they love, but there is that wonderful wrinkle. ... It's a new era we're living in, and we got a chance to play with that,” he said.
Walden explained to Alan that even though he had nine of the 10 things Walden wanted in a wife, one aspect of married life was off the table: “We will actually be a same-sex married couple, and like most married couples, we will not have sex."

Anti-gay activists losing on marriage, so they're attacking gays via public accommodation and employment in state after state

But the prospect of certain defeat on marriage hasn't stopped state attorneys-general from running up big legal fees to delay the inevitable. 

Hollywood idiotically snubs acclaimed documentary bio of man whose life was devoted to cinema

Inexplicably, Academy voters did not even nominate the acclaimed Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, an appreciative (but clear-eyed) valentine to a life devoted to cinema. How fucked up is that?
     The Oscars are, at the end of the day, a PR exercise for a movie industry which now can't be bothered to recognize an honored biography of a man who championed cinema art via television in ways no previous critics had ever done. What is wrong with these people?
     They did gave Charlie Siskel — the nephew of Ebert's movie reviewing partner, the late Gene Siskel, a best documentary nomination for Finding Vivian Maier, which he co-directed with John Maloof. Said The Hollywood Reporter:
Chaz Ebert, the legendary critic's wife, on her blog site Thursday said she was "sad and disappointed" Life Itself failed to secure a nomination. But she added "a particularly affectionate congratulations" to Charlie Siskel for his Oscar nod for Finding Vivian Maier.
Her gracious statement:
     While I am sad and disappointed that "Life Itself" was not nominated for an Academy Award, I take comfort in knowing that anyone who has seen the movie knows what an achievement it is, and what a great job Steve James did in making it.  This is a movie for the ages; Roger's messages about love and living your life with passion no matter what challenges befall you will resonate for a long long time.
     What Roger found in his 46 years of championing the movies and in his 71 years of life itself, is that it is not divisions or fear that push us forward, but love. Love in the face of all the unforeseen challenges is the binding force that brings people together, and helps us develop empathy and compassion for each other.
     I congratulate all the nominees in the Documentary category, as I see the documentary filmmakers and the people and issues they bring to our attention as needed heroes in today’s world.  And I send out a particularly affectionate congratulations to Charlie Siskel, Gene Siskel’s nephew, for his nomination for “Finding Vivian Maier.”
     And I express one sadness, that Ava DuVernay was not nominated for her amazing achievement in directing “Selma.” I applaud its inclusion in the Best Picture category.
     Finally, as I reflect on the nominations, I am actually smiling as I know that the person most proud of “Life Itself” has no need for trophies these days. On his deathbed, Roger spoke of visiting this beautiful place where the past, present and future exist simultaneously and where there is a divine oneness that binds us all together, more vastly beautiful than we could ever comprehend. I think he has all the trophies he will ever need.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

John Oliver examines police civil asset forfeitures; a NE deputy who teaches cops how to seize motorists' cash

In the video below Oliver mentions an influential Washington Post examination of civil asset forfeitures. In that WaPo expose was a video of a lawyer analyzing the outrageous behavior of a Seward, NE deputy who teaches police how to seize cash from motorists.