Thursday, March 5, 2015

Optimistic NE LGBTs hold pre-marriage reception party; hope state won't win appeal before March 9th, when marriage equality ruling takes effect

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has slapped Judge Bataillon down before on this issue, in 2006, though the legal landscape for same sex marriage has dramatically changed since then.

Lawyer of man arrested for burning Lesbian couple's rainbow flag in front of them: No proof my client knew it was a 'gay pride windsock'

That's what James Martin Davis told the Omaha World-Herald in a videotaped interview and who is AKSARBENT to say this line of reasoning wouldn't be entirely plausible to a very stupid jury?
      How in the world was Mr. Davis' client supposed to know that totally straight leprechauns didn't inhabit the house and it was their rainbow flag and the two women who came outside to watch him torch their multicolored banner weren't just the cleaning ladies?
"There's no showing that my client even was aware that that was a gay pride windsock. ...I just think there's a presumption that everybody and their brother knows somebody is gay when most of the time people don't. I mean this is just a minor criminal mischief case and they're trying to elevate it to a, you know, a felony. I mean, this kid's in college, a hard worker and you know just because he got drunk and did a little vandalism doesn't mean that his life should be ruined for the rest of his life... I just think that he's unfortunately caught up in a crusade to advance a political agenda"

Langenegger, left, and assailant Duncan
     Last month James Martin Davis defended another man arrested for a gay hate crime.
     You'd think he would have won that one, as his client, who sucker-punched Ryan Langenegger for standing up for two gay friends, was not gay and no one claimed that the assailant, Gregory Duncan, uttered any homophobic slurs.
     But, alas, attorney Davis failed to convince a jury. He said he will appeal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Not just Hillary: Scott Walker and Jeb Bush conducted gov't business from private email servers too

Republicans making hay about Hillary's too-clever-by-half email accountability evasion should be aware than when when they point the finger at her, three are pointing back at their own Scott Walker.

Scott Walker's private email server (from the Daily Beast — wow!):
    ...Before Walker was elected governor, when he was Milwaukee County Executive, Walker’s staff kept a secret email system and set up a secret wireless router in Walker’s government office that commingled government and campaign business on private Gmail and Yahoo email accounts.
     ...On top of that, county employees were doing campaign work on government time and, by extension, on the taxpayers’ dime—in violation of state law. As the story goes, one of Walker’s aides, Darlene Wink, copped to a misdemeanor guilty plea, and got off with probation for doing campaign work during office hours. Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker’s deputy chief of staff when he was county executive, pleaded guilty to a single felony count for spending “significant time” working as a fund-raiser on government time for Brett Davis, Walker’s running mate.
     But it didn’t end there. Brian Pierick, one of the secret website’s webmasters, was convicted of enticing a minor. Another Walker webmaster, Timothy Russell, was sentenced to two years in prison and five years’ probation for stealing from a veterans group, using the money for trips to Hawaii and the Caribbean, and for meeting with Herman Cain’s presidential campaign on the veterans’ tab...
Jeb Bush's private email server (From MSNBC):
     ...The existence of Bush’s private email address was widely known to the public and to the press when he served as governor, and he routinely fielded public and press inquiries himself using the address.
     Under Florida’s sunshine law, Bush was required to release the emails that related to conducting state business. Those emails are available online. A Bush aide said there was a process in place to decide which emails fell into that category and that Bush staffers and his general counsel’s office decided which ones to release.
     On Thursday, Bush on his Twitter account urged Hillary Clinton to release her emails. “Transparency matters. Unclassified @HillaryClinton emails should be released. You can see mine, here,” he tweeted, including the link to his emails...
3/9/11: Madison reacts to Scott Walker / GOP sneak attack on public employee union in Wisconsin legislature:

Atheists, Agnostics need not apply!

Nebraska Heart Institute at Midlands Hospital

Job Title:
Supervisor Volunteer Services 4p-7p Mon-Thurs Midlands Hospital-1400030787

Additional Responsibilities:
Reverence: God...

Bullshit Disclaimer:
Catholic Health Initiatives and its organizations are Equal Opportunity Employers

Additional Information:
Nearly 15,900 employees comprise the workforce of this network

Vaguely related: In Omaha, religious liberty also appears to trump admonitions against politicking at polling stations, at least in the judgement of the ArchDiocese (@ArchOmaha).


Omaha Archdiocese using gay marriage as Internet bait to attack LB586, LGBT workplace antibias bill

It goes like this: first the Archdiocese puts a splashy teaser on its website about its disapproval of evolving CIVIL marriage policies, which it feels must meet Roman Catholic approval:

The teaser has a "more" link which sends you to another part of the Archdiocese website with part of the statement by Nebraska's three bishops:

Lucas, in professional drag
If you want to see the entire statement, you have to point your browser at "" at which point Archbishop George "Star Wars" Lucas yanks the Christer Carrot to a different website, that of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, at which point you can click on a link to read the complete bishops' statement, but while you're finding the link, you see a different come-on, to kill LB586!, a bill to ensure job protection for LGBTs:
Click on that and the Catholic Mafia gets your email address and puts you on record of opposing a bill regardless of what carve-outs are made to satisfy the clerics! How's that for take-no-prisoners animus, huh? (We wonder what would happen if you changed the message to one of support for LB586, made a screenshot before you sent it, and then asked your state senator if s/he got it. Wouldn't that be fun to try, kids?)

Along the way, you get to read hypothetical horror stories about what would happen to Nebraska if it made gays a protected class like Catholics. (Spoiler: it might become more like that hell-on-earth, Iowa.) Here's a dark scenario:

NEGATIVE PUBLICITY FOR THE ONE TRUE CHURCH? Gee, that sounds terrible. But they didn't say what school or what teacher or what city or state!!!
     Why, it's like the Nebraska Catholic hierarchy doesn't want you to find out more about this terrible injustice it says was visited on its religion.
     Well, that's what Lucifer's tool, Google, the English Pointer of Internet porn, can also be used for, so we did. Here's what we found:

     Wow, the court says teach (who taught for 32 years) got screwed over by the Catholic school. And his or her current and former students got almost FIFTEEN THOUSAND PEOPLE to say so in a petition.
     One of the teacher's former students, Chris DeNicola, actually ranted for 20 minutes in a jeep (here are the last three) about the whole thing, saying:
It's the administration that made the decision to fire Mr. K. You're fucking disgraceful. You're morons. You're assholes. Teachers should be evaluated, like I said, based on their record as a teacher. If Mr. K was employed there for 30 years, I think he must have been a decent teacher, at least. And like I said, my experience with him was nothing but positive.

Oh look! The Archdiocese is on Twitter (ArchOmaha)
and also using YouTube to sucker people into thinking
it might be self-critical. Hah! Bet you know where
THIS video, is going, don't you?
     The Nebraska Catholic Clergy is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that LGBTs don't get workplace, housing, medical or marriage rights guaranteed where it counts — in law.
     Below is a Catholic priest that we busted on-screen for blatantly lying to the Lincoln City Council in 2012 during a hearing for a proposed city ordinance similar to the statewide law, LB586, that the church is now attacking.
     After Father Kubat's false testimony, Brad Chapin, of PFLAG, got up to tell the council (at 10:08) what it's like trying to stop gay kids screwed up by Catholic religious doctrine from offing themselves.
     On its website, the Nebraska Catholic Conference claims that LB586 would hurt businesses, but does not explain why the measure is supported by the Omaha World-Herald, ConAgra, First National Bank, Greater Omaha Young Professionals both the Lincoln and Omaha Chambers of Commerce, and many other business groups.
     Contact your State Senator today to support LB586 and help balance the Archdiocese's toxic political influence.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hey married gay couples! Want to simplify your taxes? Leave Nebraska

Pete Ricketts' alleged concern about the burden of government paperwork, like so many other of his other empathetic pronouncements about the vexations of that middle class that he left so long ago, do not apply to gays because he is, of course, a hard-core heterosexual supremacist who has never met an antigay policy, that he either didn't like or at least couldn't contentedly live with, to our knowledge.
     One specific area of Ricketts' overall lack of concern in respect of Nebraska's 50,000 LGBTs, are the 1,947 words of state income tax instructions in two documents that they must contend with that heterosexuals don't (provided the gay couple married in one of the dozens of non-Nebraska states that value them).
     (We shall charitably forget about how much it cost Nebraska to write and publish those instructions.)
     Take a look at the following (click to enlarge) and remember it, boys and girls, the next time Pete Ricketts smiles at your from your television, blows pandering smoke at you about Nebraska Values, and then asks for your vote.

History's first photo of quantum mechanics in action

In 1921, Albert Einstein won his Nobel Prize not for the General Theory of Relativity, but for his assertion that light existed as particles simul­taneous with its existence as a wave — a pivotal step in Quantum Theory's evolution.
     Now for the first time, that dual embodiment of light has been photographed. How the picture was made is explained here, and in the video below.

Defiantly antigay county clerk in Arbor Day hometown being treated with kid gloves

If you think Janene Bennett's bald animus toward gay couples discredits Nebraska City, home of Arbor Day, then you probably don't know that J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day was a notorious racist. In her own way, devout Cafeteria Catholic Bennett is preserving tradition.
     (We accuse Bennett of convenience Christianity because we assume that if she really observed all the biblical marriage traditions and enforced them, she would be in the Otoe County Jail or the penitentiary in Lincoln and not in a position to insultingly stiff-arm gay couples seeking civil marriages in what is presumed to be a government office, not a church.)

NE AG Don Peterson on gay marriage ruling:
'I don't think we can dictate our laws based upon the emotional arguments of a certain class of people'

While the headline quote (6:51 in video) may have been Peterson's most offensive, as it casually dismissed the legal, social and monetary damage directly visited by the state's gay marriage ban on the 50,000 (conservatively reckoned) gay people who call Nebraska home, his most cringe-worthy assertions (at 9:47 about law-unto-themselves county clerks) seem to have been lifted from the Roy Moore Alabama  Cookbook of Jurisprudence & Civil Disobedience, and might even be interpreted as a subtle invitation to Nebraska county clerks to engage in obstructionism, should proceedings in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals not go Peterson's way and gay marriage were to become a reality in Nebraska sooner rather than later:
Well, I think each county clerk has to speak with their county attorney and take counsel. We in the Attorney General's office are not in a position to advise county clerks. They have to rely upon the counsel of their county attorneys. The other thing that's somewhat difficult about it, if you want to get into the weeds... Rule 65 of the federal rules, basically [says] that an injunction applies to those parties identified in the lawsuit and in this particular case, certainly they have not identified all 93 county court clerks, so there's a question of whether or not the court's injunction, ah temporary injunction, would apply to those not identified as clerks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Nebraska gay marriage ruling brings out the ugly side of Gov. Pete Ricketts

During his campaign for governor, Pete Ricketts was relentlessly positive, smiling constantly through an avalanche of ads that only a scion of the $1.5 billion TD Ameritrade fortune could afford.
     The dirty work — the attack ads — were done by outsiders that Ricketts claimed not to know.
     Today, in a joint press conference with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, Ricketts' mien matched what many have long suspected is his genuine nature.
     He was tunnel-minded, dismissive and relentlessly on point, by which we mean repetitive, as he had only one point.
     At times he looked just plain angry, presumably at the impertinance of Federal Judge Joseph Bataillon, who dared to sock it to a state which has been denying due process and/or equal protection to its gay couples for fifteen years, under the color of the law resulting from Initiative 416, which in 2000 inserted the following language into Nebraska's Constitution:
Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.
     Ricketts' answers to questins about the dubious legality of Nebraska's so-called Defense of Marriage Act all were variations of this pronouncement:
The appropriate way to address this is through the constitutional process and that's the way we addressed this in 2000. We passed a constitutional amendment. It's the law of our state. And that's what we're going to uphold.
     And there was. The "A" word, used by Arrogant Asses the English-speaking world over.
     Ricketts may think that judicial review of laws which attract lawsuits like wet floors is not "appropriate" but judges aren't the only people who think the law he embraces, stinks.
     Ricketts may not think anyone else remembers the disdain for Initiative 416 among many thoughtful people at the time it was passed, but the Internet never forgets.
     Here's part of what the Omaha World-Herald, neither a fan of gay marriage 15 years ago nor now, said about Ricketts' beloved constitutional sop to bias, masquerading as guardianship of The Family.
Tuesday, October 17, 2000
The Problem of the Second Sentence

     ...Initiative 416 , if approved, would amend the Nebraska Constitution to say that only a male - female marriage would be valid, but the Orr - Ramsey statement ignores significant other issues pertaining to the initiative.
     Chief among those issues is what is becoming known as the problem of the second sentence.
     ...Civil unions would not be authorized. Domestic partnerships could not be established.
     ...Lawyers, in a Sunday World - Herald story, discussed a second question posed by the appearance of the initiative. Could the amendment, reflecting the punitive spirit of denying any accommodation to the targeted group, be used in court to attack contracts with which gays and lesbians attempted to secure protection for their relationships? Could an estranged parent barge into probate court, waving the amendment and demanding to break a will in which one partner attempted to make the other partner his heir?
     ...Any society that loses its respect for private contracts is a step closer to tyranny. That's something about which voters, no matter how they feel about homosexuality, ought to think deeply.
     We're not saying that people like Pete Ricketts embrace a small lurch toward tyranny. The state's biggest paper did it for us.

     Actually, it dissed 416 twice, fricasseeing it a few days later, in an op-ed endorsement (or lack thereof) recap:
Whether marriage, as an institution, ought to be opened to some combination other than a man and a woman is a legitimate cultural and, yes, religious concern. However, whether accommodations that have a similar legal effect should be perpetually banned without the opportunity to consider them in any future circumstances is another matter entirely. Opponents say this vastly overreaching proposal is motivated by bigotry. We would like to believe that it isn't true. But we sense from listening that, at least in some cases, it is true. 
 Hey, if the shoe fits, Governor, wear it.


Reddit weighs in on the anti-gay marriage Governor of Nebraska and his gay sister

A glum Pete Ricketts at a press conference after Nebraska's ban
on same sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional
CombustiblePanda 37 points 6 hours ago
wow pete rickets really is an asshole

[–]jaysbanker 62 points 5 hours ago
What's amazing is that Ricketts' sister, Laura Ricketts, is a lesbian and is a key supporter of gay marriage.

[–]cysun 39 points 5 hours ago
Wow, that only shows how big of an asshole he is.

[–]liquidpig 15 points 4 hours ago
Either he's captain of the ss douchecanoe or he is siding with the 70% of people who will get him re-elected and is just along on for the ride.

[–]BigSwami 2 points 2 hours ago
The popular vote doesn't matter here. If the federal court does as it has repeatedly already done, it is inevitable. He's just wasting taxpayer money building horseless carriages.

[–]liquidpig 1 point an hour ago
For that particular issue sure, but saying he upholds the traditional definition of marriage will get him re elected.

[–]TeslaIsAdorable 15 points 5 hours ago
That must make Thanksgiving fun...

[–]sprucenoose 2 points 3 hours ago
They could share a table with the Cheney's.

[–]tall_liberal2 6 points 5 hours ago
Sibling rivalry is getting in the way of protecting the rights of all Nebraskans. Nice. No wonder mom likes her best.

Nebraska Catholic bishops not happy that gay families are on track to gain civil marriage protections

Nebraska's Catholic Bishops, James Conley of Lincoln (above, left), Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island (above, center) and Omaha Archbishop George J. Lucas, aren't happy that gay families in the Cornhusker state are on track to receive civil marriage legal protections and they've issued a joint statement:
We are disappointed that Judge Joseph Bataillon granted an injunction today that presumes to nullify what God has written on human hearts since the beginning of time — that marriage is between a man and a woman, and has as one of its principal purposes the procreation and rearing of children. Marriage was established by God before the state and before the Church, and the vitality of both depends on the fruitful union of husband and wife.

Video: NE gay marriage ruling; dueling post-ruling pressers — Gov./AG vs. ACLU

Maybe if anti-gay marriage GOP Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts keeps repeating the 1999 election results for Nebraska's Defense of Marriage Law, people will forget what polls say in 2015.

Jon Bruning Hitler finds out Nebraska gay marriage ban was overruled

Hitler can't spell Nebraska very well. 

Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse welcome Bibi to Congress!


We welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu to Congress and look forward to hearing his perspective on the nuclear negotiations and their implications for the future security of the Middle East.”

Maybe after Senators Sasse and Fischer have finished representing Israel's interests, they could devote some time to representing the interests of Nebraska farmers and ranchers being threatened with emininent domain condemnation by a foreign oil company which doesn't have a pipeline permit.

Peoria, IL Rep. Aaron Schock stonewalling new questions about his government-funded lifestyle

Via CNN: 
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the congressman hired Siilats to fly him from Peoria to Chicago for a Bears-Vikings football game on Nov. 16. The paper says Schock chartered an aircraft to take him from Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, to Peoria, Illinois, that Friday, Nov. 14. The return trip to Reagan National Airport was set for the next Monday and he tucked in a side trip to Chicago to attend the game. Siilats told the Sun-Times that he attend the game with Schock and that the only invoice he submitted was for government payment.
     "That whole weekend was paid by the government," Siilats told the paper.

Nebraska Gov. denounces 'activist' gay marriage ruling; his sister, wealthy co-owner of Chicago Cubs really IS a gay activist

Peter and Laura Ricketts
Peter Ricketts, the TD Ameritrade scion and newly-elected Nebraska governor, plans to spend more of your taxes stalling gay marriage.
     If you'd like to find out how much he and his antigay attorney general, Doug Peterson are squandering to delay gay marriage in Nebraska, there's a way to do that.
     Oh, Ricketts' sister, part owner of the Chicago Cubs, unlike the judge Ricketts slammed, really is a gay activist.
“Today, a judge took steps to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by 70% of Nebraskans that defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.
     The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people. I will continue to work with Attorney General Doug Peterson to uphold Nebraska’s Constitution and the will of the people of our great state.”

Bataillon calls Nebraska AG's anti-gay marriage argument 'irrational' and 'repugnant'

Irrational and repugnant! Oh wait, the judge was only talking about Don Peterson's arguments.

Nebraska 1st District Rep. Brad Ashford reacts to ruling against state's gay marriage ban

Ashford, formerly the Chairman of the Unicameral's Judiciary Committee, represents Omaha in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also a former Republican.
    “Discrimination against anyone based on their sexual orientation has no place in this country. Courts across the country are demanding equal treatment under the law, and today, Nebraska took a major stand against inequality in this country. This decision does not ask individuals to abandon their principles on the issue, but rather, to accept that this country is overwhelmingly diverse, and we must embrace those who might not hold our same beliefs. The many differences of individuals are what make this a great nation, and today’s decision recognizes that same-sex couples deserve equal rights under the law. I applaud this decision and commit to continue working for equality for all Nebraskans in the future.”
     Congressman Ashford is also a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, legislation that ensures that legally-married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law. Currently, the legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of 139 members of Congress in the House of Representatives.

Nebraska's antigay AG, Don Peterson, files notice of appeal within minutes to stop decision overruling state's gay marriage ban

Nebraska Attorney General Don Peterson
Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, who in 2006 was the first Judge in the U.S. to strike down a gay marriage ban (Nebraska's, but he was overruled by the Eighth U.S. District Court of Appeals), has ruled the state's ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional, but has given the state a week to file an appeal. Attorney General Don Peterson asked him not to make his order immediate, to avoid what he called "chaos" and Bataillon complied.

Robynn Tysver writes in the Omaha World-Herald:

     Today’s decision means there is now a good chance Nebraska will be one of the last states in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.
     ...The 8th Circuit may fold the Nebraska case into a May 11 hearing on same-sex marriages scheduled to be heard in Omaha. Federal judges in three other states — Missouri, South Dakota and Arkansas — have all ruled their respective gay marriage bans unconstitutional. The 8th Circuit has consolidated those cases into one.
     In the end, it may all comes down to timing: will the 8th Circuit act before the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue once and for all?
      Nebraska Attorney General Don Peterson has already filed a notice of appeal, even though Bataillon's ruling is minutes-old. Here it is.
     Judge Bataillon's order is here. His injunction is here.

Nebraska's ban on same sex marriage struck down, effective March 9, 8 a.m.

KETV reports that Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon has overruled Nebraska's ban on same sex marriage, effective next Monday:
"all relevant state officials are ordered to treat same-sex couples the same as different sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage."

AKSARBENT reluctantly confesses to a grudging admiration for the filthy rich who are loyal to their servants staff

The most elegant of the summer "cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island, The Elms, was built for coal baron Edward Julius Berwind, in 1901, its design a ripoff of the Château d'Asnières in Asnières-sur-Seine, France.
     Unfortunately, because the carriage house was built for horses, whose future as transportation was dim in turn-of-the-19th-century America, it soon needed a makeover.
     After the stables and carriage house were converted to an automobile garage, the head coachman was allowed to keep his job by becoming the family driver, but he could not, according to Wikipedia, ever learn to back up.
To a family of lesser means, retaining such a retainer might have become an insurmountable problem, but the Berwind family easily solved it by resolutely waving their checkbook at the dilemma, causing an enormous automobile turntable to appear inside the garage.
     More evidence that the appallingly rich (like Mitt Romney, whose cars don't have a turntable, only an elevator) are not like you and me, and neither are their problems.
     Or, as we would refer to such trifles were we both gay and rich: problemettes.

Photo: Preservation Society of Newport County
Incidentally, that humble stable conversion was later replaced by a more suitable structure, a "purpose built, two story 125-foot (38 m) × 70-foot (21 m) building of limestone. Constructed beginning in 1910, it was the largest private garage in America, and featured a central indoor track, and two integral gas tanks."

Video: another Omaha antigay hate crime ends with a suspect in custody

Langenegger (left) and convicted
assailant, Gregory Duncan
The Omaha Police Department appears to be taking anti-gay hate crimes quite seriously. Last month, prosecutors got a conviction on the Missouri man who sucker-punched Ryan Langenegger in 2013 at an Old Market PepperJax after he stood up for his gay friends, even though neither Langenegger nor his assailant, Gregory Duncan, is gay and even though no one at trial accused Duncan of uttering any antigay expletives, as did his companion.

(Via Nebraskans for Equality via KETV)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

American Family Association nearly broadcast a true fact!

Amid a series of truly ridiculous lies about net neutrality on Sandy Rios' program, guest Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government said (at 1:36) "Under the Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaugh couldn't exist."
     Actually, under the fairness doctrine, Rush Limbaugh's show would have to be balanced on each station by a non-troglodyte liberal, but the underlying truth, that Limbaugh is a shameless partisan, shone through.

Benham Bros. cure gay man with Cubs tickets! This should almost all the Ricketts very happy

The Benham Brothers with Texas Gov. Rick Perry,
who did not receive any Cubs tickets from them
     Gov. Pete Ricketts, who opposes gay marriage and was the biggest contributor to the Unicameral's most dedicated homophobe, Sen. Beau McCoy, should be over the moon about this. His sister Laura, not so much.
     The dubious fable straight conversion anecdote was told at a religious broadcasters convention by David Benham, who, with his brother Jason, flips houses in Charlotte, N.C. and almost got a show on HGTV until the cable network found out about the Benham family's extremist, homophobic views and punted.
     Ever since, the Benhams have been nailing themselves to the cross — they even have a new book, Whatever the Cost.
     We saw this first on JoeMyGod, which now has over 350 comments on the Benham Brothers, many of them filthy (and funny) because, speaking biblically, most homosexuals are completely incorrigible.
     Unless they go to Cubs games, of course.
     Before leaving the subject of incorrigibility, let's watch a Rachel Maddow piece about the Ricketts family itself, shall we?

NE official who illegally banned gay foster parents protected subordinate who beat 6-year-old daughter
34 times with belt

I'm sure that you've never spanked your child,
but if you had, you would know that they wiggle,
and you will hit everything but the back end."

— UNO alumna Mary Dean Harvey, quoted by
Fayette, Georgia Division of Family and Child
Services Director Mary Davis
Correction: the daughter of Mary Dean Harvey's subordinate, Cylenthia Clark, was 8, not 6 when her mother beat her severely enough to cause her school to report her to child protection authorities. Said Clark:
On the day of the spanking Caiyah was never hit 34 times.  This number I have no idea where it originated.
She received 10 licks with the belt.  Why were there marks?—because I must admit in the hurry of the day I picked up a belt I had never used before.  It was thicker than the one I had used in the past...
     Twenty years ago, during the administration of Governor Ben Nelson, the then director of the Nebraska Department of Social Services, Mary Dean Harvey, unilaterally decided, via a now-infamous memo, that no gay individuals or couples, no matter how qualified or experienced at raising children, were good enough to pass muster with her, and by extension, the State of Nebraska:
      "It is my decision that, effective immediately, it is the policy of the Department of Social Services that children will not be placed in the homes of persons who identify themselves as homosexuals...”
     Since then, countless Nebraska children have been stashed in group facilities and countless otherwise-qualified gay individuals and couples have wasted their time going through hoops for the state, only to find out that they had no real chance in the first place.
     In 2013, the Nebraska ACLU filed suit on behalf of three gay couples turned down as foster parents.
     This Unicameral session, Omaha Senator Jeremy Nordquist has introduced LB647, a bill forbidding the state from discriminating against otherwise qualified gays in foster care placement or in the licensing of foster care homes. During the Judiciary hearing for that bill, Senator Colby Coash said (at the 2:55 mark in the video below) to Nordquist:
Are you aware, Sen. Nordquist, that HHS currently does make placements of  with men and women who are gay? ...HHS has violated the very memo that we seem to be operating under.
     After that (at the 3:45 mark) Senator Bob Krist added:
I'm gonna bet you that this [Dean's 1995 memo] was not done in compliance with the APA [Nebraska's Administrative Procedures Act]. I'll bet you that this didn't have a public hearing. I'll bet you that it didn't have public feedback. And I'll bet you that it's illegal. This thing isn't worth the paper that it's written on.
     Well, maybe not to Senator Krist, but that would be small comfort to the gay couple in the video who testified that they were denied a foster care license anyway, legally or not, solely because they were gay.
     During the hearing, Amy Miller, of the Nebraska ACLU, testified that the gay ban was still on the website of the Nebraska Department of Human Services.
     That was Feb. 4th. The Omaha World-Herald reports today that the administration of newly-elected GOP Governor Pete Ricketts, a foe of gay marriage, removed the ban from HHS' web site sometime in "mid-February."

Above: testimony during a hearing on LB647, beginning with a rather belligerent Greg Neuhaus, father of Joe Neuhaus, an anti-gay civil rights activist and Policy Director at the rather secretively funded and ultra-right-wing Nebraska Family Alliance, which blocked recent LGBT antibias legislation in Lincoln and is currently trying to do the same thing at the state level using the organization's statewide radio network. Neuhaus replaced Dave Bydalek at the Nebraska Family Alliance, after Bydalek was annointed Chief Deputy Attorney General by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson

     Ricketts is nothing if not slippery. Already he has been caught using a private phone to conduct state business.
     His administration seems to be either playing both ends to the middle, or else putting the state's policy of gay discrimination on hold while "reviewing" it just long enough to sabotage a bill that would codify an end to bias, leaving Ricketts free to reinstate the policy if it turns out to be more politically expedient for him to do so later.
      According to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ spokesman, the state’s current procedure no longer considers the sexual orientation of people seeking to foster or adopt state wards.
     Nor does the procedure bar children from being placed with licensed foster parents simply because of the parents’ sexual orientation.
     “The policy hasn’t changed but the Department (of Health and Human Services) has fallen out of compliance with it,” Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said Friday.
     The situation has prompted the administration to launch a review of the policy. HHS removed the policy memo from its website in mid-February.
     However, Nebraska continues to defend the policy against a legal challenge filed by three Lincoln couples. Their lawsuit is pending in Lancaster County District Court.
     ...The disconnect between policy and practice is one reason the Governor’s Office asked HHS officials to review the policy.
     Gage said he did not know if legislation introduced this year by State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha played any role in bringing attention to the situation.
     Oh, we're sure Gage has no idea about any of that and that it was a complete coincidence that the policy disappeared from the Ricketts administration's HHS website within days of being mentioned in the LB647 hearing.
     Three other things in Martha Stoddard's story caught our eye:
     ...Gage said it is difficult to pinpoint when HHS procedures started departing from the policy, except that the changes came before Ricketts took office in January.
      ...Although gays and lesbians have been licensed as foster parents and had children placed with them, one difference remains in their treatment, Gage said.
     ...Gage said he could not comment on when a new state policy might be ready or what it might say. But he said the administration wants to end up with a regulation that “puts the best interests of the child first and protects family values.”
      So Gage knows that gays "have been licensed" as foster parents, but it's "too difficult to pinpoint" when that happened except that HE'S SURE IT DIDN'T START WHEN HIS BOSS WAS GOVERNOR!!!
     But we digress from the issue raised by the headline of this post. Whatever happened to heterosexual supremacist Mary Dean Harvey?
     In 2005 she was hired by Georgia's Governor Purdue to head that state's troubled Division of Family and Child Services. By 2008, she had resigned, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Craig Schneider:
     Months before, 2-year-old Nateyonna Banks was killed after being returned to her home. Her mother, who had mental problems, was charged with killing her. Also, caseworkers complained that Harvey berated them — and caused them to worry they’d be fired — after they confirmed findings that a high-ranking child welfare official had abused her daughter.
      The AJC's Maureen Downey dived deeper into Mary Dean Harvey's outrageously unprofessional behavior in 2008, in an editorial:
     It was bad enough when Fayette County police arrested high-ranking child welfare official Cylenthia Clark for allegedly striking her own young daughter with a belt 34 times on the back, arms, legs and face. Now it appears that Clark's boss, Division of Family and Children Services director Mary Dean Harvey, pressured Fayette child welfare workers to bend policy to protect Clark.
     A damning report by the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate cites numerous interventions by Harvey on behalf of Clark, assistant director of the Fulton County DFCS office. Because it involved a top DFCS employee, this case was fraught with mine fields that demanded that Harvey tread carefully.
     Instead, the report of the child advocate suggests that Harvey thudded through the investigation, pushing the DFCS office in Fayette, where Clark lived, to bend rules and give Clark special treatment. According to Fayette DFCS director Mary Davis, Harvey told her, "I'm sure that you've never spanked your child, but if you had, you would know that they wiggle, and you will hit everything but the back end."
     If Harvey uttered that bizarre statement, she has handed every parent in Georgia charged with child abuse a fresh line of defense: "I didn't mean to strike my 6-year-old's face, but she put her face in the path of the belt."
     AKSARBENT's condensation of NET's coverage of the LB647 hearings was picked up by one of the most widely-read gay blogs in the country, Towleroad. Our excerpt from Nebraska Public Television's live stream of the hearing has been seen more than 18,000 times by people all over the U.S. and the world.
     Interestingly, two of the viewers turned out to be the gay couple who incurred Mary Dean Harvey's homophobic attention in the first place; they sent Towleroad the following account of their unbelievably shabby treatment by Nebraska's Department of Social Services, under Harvey's direction during Governor Ben Nelson's administration:
Ben Nelson, governor of
Nebraska from 1991 to 1999
     My lover and I are the cause of the original ban on gays being foster or adoption parents. Back in the early 90's we both applied to become foster adopt parents. We went to classes in Lincoln after driving from Omaha each Thursday for many weeks. We were approved to become parents. We had been together as a couple for over 5 years at that time. We passed all back ground checks etc. We even passed the home safety check, and following that visit for that check we received a call from HHS in Omaha and were yelled at, called names, told that there should be jails for people like this. Two weeks later the HHS department changed its rules by putting out the memo saying that "No person who is single residing with another person of the same or opposite sex out of wedlock shall not become foster care or foster adopt parents". Needless to say we were heart broken. Today we have been together for over 24 years, we housed several teens, young adults who were homeless, gay, drug abusers and more. Each of them we clothed, fed, saw that they got education by registering in schools and or getting a GED. We have no regrets on this. I just think that there are a lot of single people out there gay or straight who would make a wonderful parent. Do the right thing people. Write to the state senators in Nebr and urge them to pass this bill...
     Posted by: Robert Hershgeer | Feb 8, 2015 11:55:02 AM

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Star Trek's George Takei recounts the generosity of his friend, Leonard Nimoy

Takei said Nimoy refused a voiceover role in the animated version of Star Trek unless Takei and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) were also cast. They were.

ABC bravely points its cameras at Aaron Schock's bright red office walls

     Dan Rather said the camera never blinks, but if you saw ABC's piece on Schock on a big screen TV, you may well have winced at the squint-inducing bordello-red walls of his government office, — complete with pheasant feathers — said to be inspired by Downton Abbey's Red Room, if "inspired" is a synonym for "cut-rate."
     OK. Whatever.
    ABC informs us that Schock is not even among the top ten in Congress in terms of expenses, which is not reassuring. It also turns out that the Peoria, Illinois representative may even less strange than one of his Illinois GOP donors, in whose private plane he took $17,000 worth of rides, at least partially at taxpayer expense.

World News Videos | US News Videos

Patent fight over biological breakthrough of century that could cure HIV and MD

MIT says CRISPR, a new genetic editing technique adapted from bacteria (which are apparently much smarter than you might think), is the biological breakthrough of the new century. In fact, actress Cameron Diaz (who, apparently, is also much smarter than you might think) was on hand to hand over a Silicon Valley "Breakthrough" trophy — which comes with $3,000,000 in prize money. That is, of course, loose couch change compared to the profit potential of the discovery, which is now the subject of a patent fight. From MIT Technology Review:
During the last few months, scientists have shown that it’s possible to use CRISPR to rid mice of muscular dystrophy, cure them of a rare liver disease, make human cells immune to HIV, and genetically modify monkeys

RT: Putin 'immediately informed' of death of rival Boris Nemtsov, shot 4 times on Red Square Bridge

Immediately informed of Nemtsov's death or immediately informed that the deed was done? Inquiring minds want to know. Here's the White House statement: