Norris Chamber05
If no one is there to hear a filibuster, does it really ever end?

The Weary Former Staffer is a new contributing writer to Leavenworth St.


Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we were treated to one of the more pointless and irritating filibusters in the Nebraska Legislature this year, waged in a particularly grating fashion by Senators Ernie Chambers and Patty Pansing-Brooks.

If you enjoy unwarranted arrogance and ill-informed statements delivered with maximum condescension, this was the filibuster for you. If not, then not so much.

The bill in question is LB 821 —- a fairly simple measure that keeps employers from requiring employees to reveal their social media passwords for monitoring. Fair enough. The bill defines “employee” as one employed by an employer—as broadly as possible. However, Senator Pansing-Brooks is still smarting from the failure of a LGBT discrimination bill recently, and Senator Chambers is still (some say…) nuts. So, the two of them sought to add “including discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity” to this otherwise unrelated bill, and promised to talk it to death to get it done. And off they went.

Senator Pansing-Brooks is apparently an attorney of sorts in real life. How do we know? Because Tuesday night she informed the bill’s sponsor, “Well you have two lawyers standing up . . . “ telling you you’re wrong (Pansing-Brooks, and Chambers). The Legislature always has attorneys in the body — though fewer than the public assumes. I don’t recall in my time working here anyone (not named Chambers) standing up and saying, “I’m a lawyer so I’m right!”

But let’s look at the record. The word in Lincoln is that Senator Pansing-Brooks has in her career simply worked at her husband’s securities law firm. This is not a securities question. And it was Senator Pansing-Brooks last year on a Medicaid bill who assured her colleagues that people don’t transfer their assets away to qualify for Medicaid (despite the fact that EVERY lawyer knows there are some who specialize in advising people on how to do just that — and many people do just that). We probably shouldn’t defer to her as an attorney on that one!

And even in the area of general knowledge, we have reason to be wary, as it was Senator Pansing-Brooks who gained some notoriety earlier this year when she “bravely” stood up for all of us women by chastising her colleagues at the mic as sexists for using the term “gangbangers” in debate — apparently unaware that the most common meaning of the term is the non-sexual “member of a gang”. So let’s just say the jury is still out on how much deference Senator Pansing-Brooks’ positions are due. (Senator Pansing-Brooks, a “jury” is something attorneys who go to court sometimes encounter.)

Never willing to be outdone, of course, Senator Chambers was worse. It seemed that by Wednesday morning, it had occurred even to Senator Pansing-Brooks that filibustering a bill that protects all workers to make a point about LGBT rights was particularly asinine. But, as this is a bill that regardless of the outcome will do little to help Senator Chambers’ most neediest of districts, of course he’s all in and has nothing but time.

And, while it’s reasonable to be suspect of Senator Pansing-Brooks’ blanket claim of legal expertise — it is doubly so of Senator Chambers, who could never be bothered to sit for the bar exam, does not try cases, and simply does not know what he’s talking about. The bill in question provides that a successful Plaintiff can get attorney’s fees. Chambers questioned whether this would entice attorneys (even though it always seems to in real life otherwise), and questioned whether an attorney would take on these civil suits at all, as they’d usually be of the “he said, he said” variety. Which makes them exactly like sexual harassment suits, age discrimination suits, or the gay discrimination suits Chambers wanted to create last week. You don’t always or even often get it in writing or on video. An actual attorney would know this. A rambling old man at the mic—apparently not.

All of this was delivered with the usual insults, slurs, digressions, feigned outrage, etc. by Senator Chambers (but oddly without casually demeaning women, as he often obliviously does), with Senator Pansing Brooks as a willing enabler/co-conspirator. All in the pursuit of, well, who really knows what?

Welcome to your Nebraska Legislature.


There will be a new post this Thursday afternoon.


  1. Anon says:

    Krist and Morfeld also play the lawyer card. Also earlier Morfeld went outside the Chamber to confer with D. Conrad who assured him Ernie and Patty’s move was not needed. It would have saved the old man from stumbling around. It was good to watch Mello-Yello ranting in the background yesterday with Crawford selling out for Sarpy county

  2. Sparkles says:

    NYT’s reports that corporate America is increasingly feeling the need to distance themselves from Republicans and much of their agenda.
    “Corporations Grow Nervous About Participating in Republican Convention”


    First is was right wing radio who corporate America abandoned. The only advertisers remaining on hate radio are selling gold coins, survival seeds, home security systems (’cause Obama’s brownshirts) – and a new one I heard just the other day – legal insurance, in case you’re required to shoot someone dead with one of your beloved guns.

    The next leg of the stool to fall was right wing policy mill ALEC (who Pete’s stink tank, Platte Institute, models itself after). ALEC has been thoroughly decimated by dozens of high profile defections. In the last few years losing the support of companies like: Google, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Amazon, VISA, Merck, McDonalds, Walgreens, Pepsi, Kraft, Wendy’s, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Proctor and Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, John Deere, Hewlett Packard, Millers/Coors, Amgen, General Electric, Sprint/Nextel, General Electric, 3M, IBM, Intel, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, General Motors, Microsoft, Facebook, NewsCorp (yes! even Rupert Murdoch!!), Wells Fargo, Union Pacific, Northrup Grumman, BP, T-Mobile, Ford… any many, many more.

    Now it’s the GOP politicians themselves and their Republican party these corporations are finding too toxic for association.

    How delightful, watching this much deserved dissolution.

    • Dems are so cute. They’re such goofy little optimists. They’ve been predicting the imminent demise of the Republicans since, ooh, about 1854. They write books and articles with titles like “The Emerging Democrat Majority” and “The Permanent Democratic Majority”( The latter shortly before the Republcians regained House and Senate control). Then they get smacked down by reality. But do they learn? No, sir, that’s their particular charm.

      Because you never know: sooner or later they might get one right.

      I suppose if you are of the leftist paranoid strain, you might interpret state-level government reductions as being entirely due to ALEC. Because there are no other donors out there, and no one would have thought of this until ALEC came along.

      Here’s a counter prediction: Trump ends up well short of a majority of delegates. The Republicans coalesce around a ‘unity’ candidate. Granted, a few of the Trumpkins stay home, but they’re people who’ve historically usually stayed home anyway. The GOP candidate’s unfavorables are far lower than Hillary (because only Trump is higher). He runs a short, optimistic campaign; the Democats simply don’t have time to jack his negatives up.

      And that’s how Paul Ryan became president, kids.

      • Sparkles says:

        I can only assume you forgot to don your protective mask as the kiddies cooked up sundry chemicals in the lab this morning.

        I predict your Ayn Ryan prediction is certain to go as well as your recent prediction that the Foamtastic Marco would rule in his home state of Florida.
        Or your much longer assertion of RubiNo’s inevitable ascension to the Presidency.
        Or your prediction last fall that Trump was certain to quickly fade.
        Or your proclamation at that same time that 2016’s GOP slate for POTUS was replete with men of remarkable wisdom and political prowess.

        And Ryan, really? That’s the best you could come up with?
        What, did Reince and company lose former GOP Congressman and perennial whackjob Steve Stockman out in the backwoods of Texas again? Cause the only thing Stockman would have to overcome on the road to the Presidency is a conviction of felony possession of diazepam, also known as Valium, which he had neatly tucking away in his underwear. Then again there’s that time he spent as a street vagrant, but I digress.
        Stockman still has a leg up on Ryan, because unlike with Ryan, at least there are no pictures of Stockman, covered in sweat, machete in hand, with the tattered shreds of America’s safety net piled up around him as the smiling Charles and David Koch shovel money into his pockets.

        Yep, you’re right Harbison, there’s no easily accessible. highly resonant truth to be told about Ryan’s motivations.
        It’s not like he’s put out a budget every year that spells out in gory detail exactly how America’s elderly, poor and infirmed are about to be sacrificed at the alter of Charles, David and Aunt Ayn.

  3. grow eyes says:

    Lawyers parse law like car painters paint cars. Law makers design cars and must bring to the creative process a wealth of life information from beyond the cloistered incest of the narrow technical.

    This isn’t to say a well painted car isn’t valuable. When you need a lawyer, you need one. And he’d better paint your case persuasively else it is your neck. In lawmaking, lawyers are technicians playing at being engineers. Sometimes techs make good engineers, mostly they don’t.

    When you find a car painter who has never painted a car, like a lawyer who never passed a bar exam, that braggart stands an even poorer chance of passing for a design engineer maker of laws.

    So whose fault is it that Ernie gets to blather on in the Senate as a race card playing barber?

    We might ask the same of those who allow Obama to blather on as if a poor victim while he’s the most powerful man in America? In Obama’s case, he could perform impeachable acts and get from Republicans weak protest and a free pass. The GOP DC establishment thinks PC is real. NE political leaders, including most Unicameral Republicans, think PC is real too.

    Asses like Ernie will always arise. Don’t blame the ass for being an ass. It’s the rest who need to open their eyes and grow balls.

  4. Unisham says:

    And they only have themselves to blame as if it never occurred to them to use the rules, band together and keep shutting Ernie down. Even Kim Robak used to call him out of order and shut off his mic. The way they accommodate him is disgusting. Like no one has the smarts to do anything but wring their hands and say, ” But Errrnnniie will retaliate if we do that!” Seriously, grow a pair.

  5. Johnny Appleseed says:

    The bill does broadly define employee. The bill states the employee is protected from discrimination. Yet discrimination in Nebraska does not include protection for all types of people. I would believe this is what would be considered a loophole.

    • anon says:

      Adams Morfeld, legal scholar, and hardest worker in the legislature, scurried outside the chamber and was assured by Danielle Conrad it was covered, you know- A.C.L,U, even Brooks. another legal master dropped it, Howard voted for it, what do you want? Do you know how much knowledge that is, or do you need Krist to tell you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well thanks Johnny. Sometimes, “Ernie just being Ernie,” is really another of his vendettas.
    And since none of us bother to read the bill or the proposed amendments, we don’t realize the loopholes.

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