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     Eventually Ayds diet candy was withdrawn from the market.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.