The Local Crank

Musings & Sardonic Commentary on Politics, Religion, Culture & Native American Issues. Bringing you the finest in radioactive screeds since 2002! "The Local Crank" newspaper column is distributed by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

Just a simple Cherokee trial lawyer, Barkman has been forcing his opinions on others in print since, for reasons that passeth understanding, he was an unsuccessful candidate for state representative in 2002. His philosophy: "If people had wanted me to be nice, they should've voted for me."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Column for 1 October, 2006

“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”
--Proverbs 30:7-9

If you were taking bets on how long it would take the desperate, flailing, inept Congressional campaign of rich carpetbagger Nicholas Vancampen Taylor to jump the shark, it’s time to cash in. First, his campaign web-site was riddled with juvenile misspellings, and the kind of disjointed slang you might expect from teenagers text-messaging on their cell phones. Next, young Nicholas made the serious mistake of appearing with grownups like Chris Matthews and fellow Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett on Hardball and found himself being cut to pieces as he blandly regurgitated White House talking points on the war with the stunned look of a frozen carp plastered on his face. Even host Matthews, normally a pretty reliable lapdog for the GOP, had to step in and point out that Taylor was only mouthing prepared speech McNuggets with no basis in reality. As Hackett noted, “They (the Bush Administration) have depleted our prestige, they have depleted our strength as a country and, frankly, Mr. Taylor is an apologist for this failed mission, lack of policy, lack of strategy, lack of goal-oriented mission accomplishment. There is no goal. There is no strategy. There is no plan. This administration is floundering on the world stage and you and I are paying the price for it.”
Then, when Johnson County Republican Party Chairman Dan Hunt bizarrely attacked Chet Edwards for supporting improvements to Ham Creek Park, Vancampen Taylor flip-flopped between endorsing the attacks and repudiating them. Coordinate much, Mr. Taylor? Might be a good idea to have everyone singing off the same page in the hymnal before they start attacking the Ham Creek project that was supported by most Republican elected officials, or blasting George W. Bush on the immigration issue.
Speaking of which, now, as the campaign lurches to its inevitable conclusion, Vancampen Taylor is playing the race card, with a series of ludicrously over-the-top, almost self-parodying television ads bemoaning the “Brown Horde” invading our homeland and stealing our precious welfare payments, complete with scary pictures of American citizens who happen to be brown exercising their constitutional rights with the words “illegal aliens” superimposed on them. But as is typical of his amateurish campaign, Vancampen Taylor mis-cites Chet Edwards’ votes to make it seem as though Chet is personally smuggling illegal aliens across the border in his SUV and driving them to the welfare office. For example, the scary voice-over on Taylor’s ad claims Edwards voted to give food stamps to “illegal aliens,” despite the fact that Edwards voted for the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill that specifically denied such benefits to undocumented workers. Scary-voice then says, “Chet Edwards voted to protect illegal aliens who were arrested for a crime from deportation, allowing them to be released on bail. Some have committed heinous crimes including rape and murder.” This is important, because thinly-veiled racist appeals always need to include the threat of evil brown people raping white women to be effective. Of course, this is yet another clumsy lie, as Edwards voted for the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act on Dec. 16, 2005, which mandated that illegal aliens be deported after serving their criminal sentences. In order to justify these falsehoods, Vancampen Taylor relies on bogus amendments submitted by the Chief Know-Nothing of Congress, Tom Tancredo of Colorado, without bothering to mention that even Republicans like Henry Bonilla voted against them. Tancredo is hardly a very effective role-model anyway, as he fantasizes about sinister Hispanic conspiracies to “reconquer” the Southwest, while at the same time rubbing elbows with racist neo-Confederate secessionists like the League of the South.
Frankly, it’s pathetic that the party of Abraham Lincoln has degenerated to the point that pandering to blatant racism has become an accepted campaign tactic, whether it’s Vancampen Taylor’s hysterical “Brown people are coming to steal the land we stole from the Indians!” screed, or redneck wannabe Senator George “Macaca” Allen insulting American citizens with obscure North African racist epithets. Hardly surprising, then, that despite heavy recruiting efforts by (among others) George W. Bush, the Republic Party remains lily-white.
At this rate, I will be very surprised if Vancampen Taylor does even as well as the last Republican candidate in this district, particularly without a presidential ticket at the top. As one conservative blogger put it, “Van Taylor is no Arlene Wohlgemuth.” Yeah, no kidding; Arlene Wohlgemuth at least knew how to run a competent campaign.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Why is the House GOP Leadership Covering for Pedophiles?

Cong. Mark Foley is disgusting enough. The fact that House Republican leaders knew about his activities FOR A YEAR and yet did nothing is even more repellent.

UPDATE: From BOR, House Republican Leaders are now turning on each other trying to deflect blame.

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Yet Another Reason to Despise George Allen:

He was formerly a flack for the Potomac Drainage Basin Racial Slurs football team.

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Sympathy for the Devil

Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly notes outraged Ohio Democrats claiming they won't support Sherrod Brown or Ted Strickland because they voted for the White House Torture and Permanent Detention Act.
We've had a similar meme running through the party here over Chet Edwards, finally culminating in:

Chet is a practically Republican. He votes with Democrats only on the amendments to resolutions, but he votes with Republicans 80% of the time on passage (when it actually counts). This is one of many reasons why I will not vote for him! I am a Democrat, and I will only vote for people that support a Democratic agenda. Chet Edwards and Van Taylor do not meet this criteria thus, I will leave this portion of my ballot blank on November 7th. I encourage real Democrats, and people that believe in the Democratic party principals (not just flag wavers) to do the same.

My response:

Then you are voting FOR Nicholas Vancampen Taylor and if he wins, we will have YOU to thank, just like we have that preening narcissist Ralph Nader to thank for George W. Bush.
And, second, I resent your statement that I am somehow not a "real Democrat" because I choose to live in the real world of politics and not some liberal Candyland. There are several "real Democrats" on this list who were nowhere to be seen when I was running for office and whose sole contribution to the party appears to be sitting in the cheap seats and throwing spitballs. By your standard, we should've refused to vote for Ralph Yaborough because he started out supporting LBJ on Vietnam or refused to vote for JFK because he supported nuclear testing or refused to vote for Ann Richards because she supported the death penalty. If you cannot accept the basic reality that politics requires compromise, then electoral politics is not for you. I recommend blogging, where you can happily spend all day criticizing while the rest of us actually go out and win elections.

Once again, Democrats threaten to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Do you not think that Karl Rove (the evil genius) planned this vote? If Democrats vote AGAINST it, then the GOP blasts them as "soft on terror." If they vote FOR it, then pissy liberals stay home. Either way, Karl Rove wins. Friends, I have said it before and I will say it again: in politics, winning isn't everything, it's the ONLY thing. Unless we win control of (at least) the House, the GOP will continue its agenda of eradicating the Constitution. If you withhold your vote from Chet Edwards, make no mistake: you are voting FOR that weasely, crypto-fascist ankle-biter, Nicholas Vancampen Taylor.

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Small Comfort, But Still

Lawyers, Guns & Money points out that only one Democrat voted to castrate habeas corpus.

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Vote for the Spineless Democrats...

...over the ankle-biting crypto-fascist Republicans. Glenn Greenwald explains why it's important.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Proud Moment for the Republic

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
--Edmund Burke

The only thing worse than the GOP Senate passing a bill that allows the President of the United States to arrest American citizens on American soil and subject them to TORTURE for the rest of their lives with no access to the courts is the number of cowardly Democrats who voted with them. More from Glenn Greenwald.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Once Again...

...the Right Wing proves that there is no governmental wrong so severe that they won't vociferously object to any effort to make up for it. A century of kidnapping Indian children and beating their language and culture out of them in government-funded church schools is one thing, but trying to teach today's children their own languages? The horror! Jim Boulet, Jr., Executive Director of English First, states At a time in life when children of Limited English Proficient parents need to hear the most English in order to develop fluency, H.R. 4766 seeks to ensure they will hear far less, evidently unappreciative of the ironic fact that the overwhelming majority of Indian parents with young children are not, in fact, of "Limited English Proficiency." If they were, and mostly spoke Cherokee or Navajo or whatever in the home, not only would this bill not be needed, most tribes would be turning cartwheels in the halls for joy! To the contrary, unfortunately, Indian children are growing up learning nothing but English while the language of their culture and heritage dies with each generation.

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Your Tax Dollars (Not) At Work

The country is at war (it must be; the President says so on a daily basis and Cassius is an honorable man), we face record deficits (mostly due to ill-considered tax cuts for the mega-wealthy, but put that aside for now) and it turns out that oil companies owe billions of dollars for drilling on public (i.e., our) land. And what is the Interior Department's response? Eh, blow it off. Not surprisingly, this seems to have been the result of political pressure from the White House. Even House Republicans (a normally complacent lot of presidential sock puppets) are having a hard time swallowing the logic here.

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Dick Armey and Me...

Frighteningly enough, we seem to share opinions on Dr. James Dobson and the other tele-Pharisee hacks who have hijacked both Evangelical Protestantism and the Republican Party.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You, Too, Can Be An "Unlawful Enemy Combatant"

Under the so-called "compromise," US citizens can be "detained" as "unlawful enemy combatants." Nothing new, of course; the Bush Administration has always argued that the President can, on his sole authority, not subject to limitation by Congress or review by the courts, arrest American citizens on American soil and lock them up for their rest of their natural lives, with no access to a lawyer or a judge, no charges ever being filed, and no notice to their families that they've even been arrested--I mean, "detained." My only question for my Republican colleagues is: would you trust Hillary Clinton with that kind of power? If the answer is anything other than "yes," then NO president should have that kind of power.

UPDATE: From MediaMatters, more on the President's power to lock you up forever just 'cause he feels like it. And Tom Burka demonstrates the absurdity of negotiating with a President who thinks he's pharaoh.

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Rick Perry is evidently trying to outdo Joe Barton by having the most abominable environmental record of any Texas politician. His latest plan in a state with some of the worst air in the nation? Burn coal. More coal. Lots and lots of coal. And make sure it's the dirty kind, too. And all those kids who suffer and die from asthma? Their tough shit.
Best quote in the entire story:

give him (Perry) enough money and he'll do most anything apparently.

Truer words were never spoken.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Score One for the Osage!

The Osage Nation has won a major ruling in Federal court over the US government's mismanagement of trust assets. Wampum points out that this story is getting precious little media coverage (even given the MSM's normal willful ignorance of Indian Country). Hopefully, this ruling bodes well for the Cobell Trust case.
In other news, Cong. Richard Pombo (R-State of Denial) is still a pompous horse's ass.

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Kay Bailey Hutchinson "Emboldens Al Qaeda"

From Unclaimed Territory, Glenn Greenwald brings us another astonishing case of SRA (Selective Rightwing Amnesia) Syndrome, by pointing out that it was Republicans, including Hutchinson, who were calling for the US to "cut and run" in Somalia. Now would be as good a time as any to hop on over to Barbara Ann Radnofsky's place and give her some love.

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Taking the War to the Enemy?

Turns out, the consensus among US intelligence services is that the war in Iraq has actually INCREASED the threat of terrorism worldwide. I put the word "increased" in allcaps, bold, italicized and in red font so, like John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence, Republicans can read it without their spectacles. The Carpetbagger Report has more.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

It Really Says Something...

...about how far the public morals of this country have fallen after five years under this vicious, mendacious and venal Administration that we are having a serious debate over TORTURE. And it says even more about the utter moral bankruptcy of the Republic Party that some of its more repulsive adherents actually think TORTURE is a winning campaign issue.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Desperately Seeking Nicholas Vancampen Taylor

In case you were wondering how long it would take Nicholas Vancampen Taylor's flailing, collapsing campaign to pull out the race card, wonder no more. Obviously, young Vancampen can't just come right out and say "Boo! Mexicans are coming to steal the land we stole from the Indians! Boo! Be afraid!" so instead, he uses votes on pointless amendments flung by the ironically pro-secessionist race-baiter Tom Tancredo to make fraudulent attacks on Chet Edwards. Pathetic. At least Arlene Wohlgemuth went down in flames with a little of her dignity intact.

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Column for 24 September, 2006

“Rebuke the beat among the reeds, the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations. Humbled, may it bring bars of silver. Scatter the nations who delight in war.”
--Psalm 68:30

Another September 11th has come and gone and the airwaves and the “tubes” of the “internets” are buzzing with reflections and recriminations on the “War on Terror,” which has now lasted longer than America’s war against fascism that President Bush continually refers to. Democrats attacked the President’s September 11 television address as “partisan” and “too political” because he talked about the war in Iraq, trying desperately to link it in a skeptical public mind with the “War on Terror.” This is overreaching; the President is a political leader—everything he does is political. Complaining that his speech was “political” because it reflected ideas Democrats don’t agree with is as asinine as when the Republicans used to complain about President Clinton taking Air Force One to events they deemed “political” (as though he was supposed to get there by bicycle). Expect Republicans in general and the President in particular to be even more outrageous in claiming that Democrats are “soft on terror’; the GOP has nothing else left to run on. But Bush made a couple of good points during his speech; first, he is right that the War on Terror is a war of ideology, specifically the ideology of secular democracy versus totalitarian religious dictatorship. It was a little ludicrous for the President to adopt “Islamic fascism,” a term invented in the Right-wing blogosphere, to describe the enemy, but then he couldn’t use a more accurate descriptor (like “religious fanatics who hate democracy”) without offending supporters like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson, who are con-men making millions by pretending to be religious fanatics who hate democracy. Also, using “fascist” might be a cute way of getting back at Liberals who slap that label on just about anything, but its’ true definition, a political dictatorship advocating corporate rule and opposed to socialism, liberalism and democracy, cuts a little close to home. Second, Bush was correct in comparing the War on Terror to the Cold War, though not to World War II. During the Cold War, another ideological conflict, the two major powers never fought each other directly, for fear of mutual assured destruction by nuclear weapons. In the War on Terror, the major conflict is not state versus state because the Islamists don’t really have a state of their own (though some states, like Iran and Syria, support the movement). Unfortunately, without another country to defeat and occupy as the Allies did with Japan and Germany at the end of World War II, Bush is also likely correct when he says the War on Terror, like the Cold War, is a conflict for the long haul. Americans often have a hard time understanding the motivations of the Islamists; Conservatives like to imagine it’s just because they “hate democracy,” while Liberals try to reassure themselves that terrorism, like crime, is the result of poverty and poor education. They are both wrong. Islamists are opposed to Western secular capitalist culture in general, which they see as decadent, corrupt and immoral (something else they have in common with some of the more extreme political Christian evangelists in this country). Islamists want to destroy Israel and they oppose the United States for steadfastly defending the Jewish state since its creation in 1947. Some Islamists dream of recreating the Caliphate, a Muslim empire that once covered most of the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, with its headquarters in Baghdad. And while it’s true that many rank and file Islamist followers and sympathizers (the “Arab Street”) are poor and uninformed (mostly thanks to the deliberate policies of corrupt and dictatorial non-Islamist governments like Egypt), the London bombers and the 9-11 hijackers were well-educated young men from solid middle-class backgrounds. Osama bin Laden, whom Bush simultaneously compares to Hitler but dismisses as not all that important, comes from a very privileged background as the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian family. So exporting Head Start and Midnight Basketball to the Middle East is not going to end the jihad. So then how do we “win” the War on Terror? For starters, we have to agree on what “victory” means. Does it mean the United States never gets attacked again? Short of transforming ourselves into a police state, that’s not a very realistic goal. Is “victory” creating democratic states in the Middle East? Again, not likely, at least not anytime soon, since the Islamists would almost certainly win free elections if they were held today in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria and many other Muslim countries. It took us well over a century to develop a stable, secular democracy in this country, so how would do we expect people who have practically no experience with self-rule to do it overnight? Does “winning” mean we persuade people to abandon terrorism as a political and military tool? That seems the unlikeliest of them all. While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I think that ultimately in order for us ever to see an end to the Islamists’ war against the West, two things will need to happen: one, America will have to free itself from its addiction to cheap oil that distorts our foreign policy and requires us to kowtow to corrupt bucolic old medieval thugs like the Saudi Royal Family; and two, there will, somehow, have to be an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict that allows fanatics like bin Laden to convince young men and women to blow themselves and innocent civilians to bits to advance the cause. If that happens, and the Arab world can see that the Palestinians are much better off in economic cooperation with Israel, then maybe Radical Islam will lose its appeal and democracy can transform Middle Eastern societies. It’s a long shot, obviously, but the alternatives, either retreating from the region or continuing the spectacular fiasco that is the Bush Doctrine of “imposing democracy,” can lead only to endless war.


Friday, September 22, 2006


Apparently He would call for the torture of prisoners, at least according to the despicable heretics and blasphemers who have hijacked evangelical Protestant Christianity in this country. I know I shouldn't, but I take comfort in the thought of the look of sheer surprise of the faces of the tele-Pharisees when they arrive at the Pearly Gates only to hear, "I never knew you! Depart from me, ye that work iniquity!" (Matthew 7:23)

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It's A Thin Line...

...between anti-casino forces and anti-Indian sovereignty groups, and the rhetoric of both is loaded with racist buzzwords from the past.

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Clinton Strikes Back

Atrios has the transcript. Can you imagine any scenario under which George W. Bush could (much less would) defend himself in a one-on-one interview like this?

And Speaking of Fascism...

...Exxon-Mobil asks the Department of Homeland Security to throw two journalists in jail for filming Katrina evacuees herded like prisoners into one of their facilities. Feel safer yet?

Republicans Love Criminals

After significant budget cuts for law enforcement, shockingly, the violent crime rate has gone up for the first time since 1991. Meanwhile, via Spurious George, Republicans in Wyoming are fighting to allow convicted wife-beaters and child abusers to carry concealed weapons. Keeping America Safe, indeed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Speak For The Trees

Meanwhile, a federal judge in California has overturned the Bush Administration's efforts to gut Clinton-era rules protecting 60 million acres of forest from development. It's a start.

This Land Is Our Land

A federal judge in Western Australia has ruled that the Noongar People, an aboriginal tribe, still hold title to the entire metropolitan area of Perth. Perth is the fourth-largest city in Australia and by far the largest city on the Australian West Coast, making this the equivalent of a US federal judge restoring title to the City of Los Angeles to the Chumash and Tongva.

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These People Scare the Holy Hell Out of Me

From Voice of a Native Son, several good links on "Jesus Camp," a truly horrific documentary depicting very young children being indoctrinated by a cult leader posing as a Christian pastor, and including such fun activities as worshipping a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, being exposed to graphic anti-abortion rhetoric and speaking in tongues. The pastor also expresses admiration for suicide bombers and encourages the children to think about "dying for their faith." As a Christian, this has got to be the most stomach-churning psychological abuse I have ever seen. Islam isn't the only great religion that has been hijacked by fanatics.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

In Memorium

From PinkDome, a sweet moving video montage tribute to Governor Ann.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Senator Averitt to Waco: Breathing Overrated

Senator "Kip" Averitt has magically determined that coal-burning power plants emit, not dangerous carcinogenic chemicals, but fairy dust and jelly beans, perhaps along the lines of Willy Wonka's famed zero-emissions candy factory. Who could be against that? Thanks to Capitol Annex.

What Happens When the Wall Comes Down...

From all-too-recent history, a painful portrait of what can happen when the separation of church and state is erased. In this case, a government-sponsored and subsidized effort by Christian missionaries to destroy Lakota culture.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Republican Guard

Apparently, "loyalty to the President" and ties to the far right wing of the GOP trumped competence, training or experience in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the notoriously inept bureacracy that "governed" Iraq before being abruptly dissolved in June 2004. Twenty-somethings literally got their first jobs restarting the Baghdad stock market or managing the country's $13 billion budget, based soley on political connections. Once again, George W. Bush's paranoid obsession with loyalty leads to disaster. Not to worry, though; we're building a really big moat around Baghdad to keep the evildoers out. Someone needs call Tom Tancredo.

To The Rescue?

Former Secretary of State, and long-time Bush Family consigliere James A. Baker, III, may be working on an exit strategy for Iraq. If true, this would represent just about the only time Bush II has ever listened to any of his father's advisors. Say what you like about Bush I, but if you have to fight a Middle Eastern War, he knew how to do it: through (after some prodding) the UN and with broad international backing. Like many of people, I criticized Bush I for not pushing on to Baghdad and taking out Saddam after liberating Kuwait: I was wrong. It's abundantly clear now that the sequence of events would have played out almost exactly like they did a decade later: an initial flurry of welcoming, then a long, grinding bloody insurgency. I will, however, maintain my criticism of Bush I for abandoning the Shia and the Kurds to Saddam's tender mercies. Doing so cost thousands of Kurdish civilians their lives and pushed the Shia closer to Iran, a mistake that is coming home to roost even now.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cleburne Times-Review Column for 17 September, 2006

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
--2 Timothy 4:6-7

Going to school at Baylor University and being involved in Democratic Party politics, I was fortunate to meet Ann Richards early, before she became nationally (and internationally) famous. Her parents, Cecil and Ona Willis, were regular fixtures at party events around Waco. If you knew Cecil for very long, you instantly knew where Ann got her sense of humor; the man was hilarious. I clearly remember nearly driving off the road from laughing so hard at his jokes as we ferried him around during the 1990 campaign. I still hold that campaign out as the best-conceived political campaign I was ever part of; it was run smart, because there wasn’t any money. Local committees were set up, given a couple of yard signs, and told to just do the best they could. We held a “casino night” and made up signs and flyers by hand. Of course, Ann wasn’t supposed to win in 1990. The Republican Party was on the rise all across the state. Ronald Reagan and then George H. Bush had carried Texas by large margins in three straight elections. The first wave of turncoats were switching parties everywhere you looked. Worse, Texas Democrats were, as usual, badly divided. Ann fought a bitter, nasty primary fight, mostly against former Governor Mark White and Attorney General Jim Mattox. The battle to see which candidate could be most in favor of capital punishment became ludicrous—Saturday Night Live ran a skit featuring the “state executioner” (complete with black hood) in campaign commercials saying he wanted to be “the education governor.” When Mattox accused her of using cocaine, Ann replied that if people had to know the answer to that question, they could vote for someone else because she wasn’t answering it. Not many politicians nowadays would be allowed by their handlers to say something like that. Ann won the primary run-off, with some hard feelings left behind, and faced a nightmare: Clayton Williams, a filthy-rich political novice with a united and determined Republican Party standing behind him. I don’t think any of us on the campaign imagined the national and international publicity the race would generate. It wasn’t as though women had never run for statewide office before, after all. But there was something about the mythology, the symbolism that I think connected with people. For one thing, many in the United States, let alone Europe, still viewed Texas then as the gigantic set of a John Wayne movie. And Clayton Williams, with his millions, his cowboy hat, and his loud mouth seemed like an iconic rich obnoxious Texan. Ann Richards, with her white bouffant, deep drawl and sharp sense of humor (particularly the famous “silver foot” comment from the 1988 Democratic National Convention) symbolized both the new and the old Texas. In fact, her sense of humor was also matched by her temper. I never had to face it myself, but I did occasionally catch some collateral damage. In one instance, late in the campaign, we held a big open-air rally at the famous suspension bridge over the Brazos River in Waco. Ann was stressed, naturally, and not in a particularly good mood. A couple of us unpaid volunteers discovered that a reporter from, of all places, the Economist in London was there to do a story on her. When a hapless campaign aide interrupted her with the news, she turned on him and snapped, “Oh yeah? How many votes we got in England?” Of course, she immediately switched on the charm for the reporter. She was an instinctive politician, with an unfailing memory for names. She seemed to know someone in every little town we stopped in, and usually knew to ask how their mommas were doing, or whether the harvest had been good that year. Entire rooms of people, friendly, indifferent or downright hostile, were overwhelmed by the force of her charm. Most pundits cite Clayton Williams’ infamous “rape is like the weather” comment as the reason he lost; personally, I think it was when he refused to shake her hand at the debate. You don’t treat a lady like that in Texas.
Her single term as governor was problematic. Yes, Democrats pretty much ran the state then, but they were as fractious as ever. Ann was unable to persuade the Legislature to go as far as she wanted in school finance reform, thus postponing the problem to today. It seemed like most of the things she accomplished during her first Legislative Session were rolled back in her second. She had the worst luck with appointments. Lena Guerrero, her protégé, was defeated for Railroad Commissioner when it came out that she had lied about graduating from college. When Bill Clinton insisting on appointing Senator Lloyd Bentsen as the designated grown-up for his new Administration, Ann knew it would be extremely hard for Democrats to hold the seat; nevertheless, instead of appointing herself or Mattox, she went with a third-stringer in Bob Krueger and he was beaten bloody by Kay Bailey Hutchison. On the other hand, appointments are also her greatest legacy. Though it seems hard to imagine now, before Ann Richards, state government in Texas was run almost exclusively by white men. Bill Clements famously appointed Anglos even to judicial positions in South Texas. After her term, no Governor, Democrat or Republican, would even consider making appointments that did not reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of Texas. By 1994, Democrats were in deep trouble all across the country, but especially in the South, due to Bill Clinton’s toxic unpopularity (though he was still more popular then than George W. Bush is now). Ann’s campaign for re-election seemed listless, as though her heart wasn’t in it. By that time, I was in law school and didn’t have time to do much more than watch from the sidelines. George W. Bush ran a smart, well-orchestrated campaign that took hard lessons from Williams’ defeat and he rode the Republican wave into the Governor’s Mansion, setting up a Presidential run six years later.
I will miss Ann Richards very much. As I type these words late Wednesday night, it still hasn’t sunk in that she’s actually gone. She was smart, funny and determined. She was progressive and idealistic, but also hard-nosed and pragmatic. In our current age of blow-dried, poll-tested, pre-fabricated pretty-boy candidates, she had a personality, warts and all; she was an individual. Ask almost anyone who remembers her time in office about Ann Richards, and they can describe her personality. Rick Perry? There’s very little to distinguish him from a mannequin, including the hair. Goodbye, Miss Ann; I fear we won’t see your like from quite some time, if ever again.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tsi-sa a gi ge yu hi*

Blue Gal contemplates religion, torture and the President. Puts me in mind of the debtate James A. Morone discussed in his excellent book "Hellfire Nation," which I reviewed here.

*"Jesus Loves Me"

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Bush to GOP Congress:

"If you won't let me torture prisoners, I won't interrogate them at all."

Way to seize the moral highground, Mr. President; nothing like the time-honored "take my ball and go home" strategem.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why Do Republican Senators Hate America?

Senate GOP refuse to throw down for Bush "torture lite" plan, cite some meaningless liberal Defeat-ocrat drivel about "protecting our troops." What a bunch of appeasers!

Bush vs. Indian Country (An Ongoing Saga)

Bush's Interior Department is dragging its heels, threatening to derail a possible settlement of the Cobell Trust Litigation. Apparently, the White House is having a hard time sending billions of dollars to any organization not named Halliburton...

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

This is Wonderful!

From annatopia, a beautiful, hillarious tribute to Governor Ann.


Pombo Smackdown

Cong. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), one of the most corrupt and virulently anti-environment and anti-Indian members of Congress, suffered a big defeat today as his bill to restrict tribal gaming went down in flames, hoist by the petard of typical Republican parliamentary tactics to eliminate amendments or debate. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Rub some salt in the wound and support his opponent, Jerry McNerney.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goodbye, Miss Ann...

Once upon a time in Texas, we had politicians with personality, dammit; not the poll-tested, blow-dried, pre-fabricated pretty-boys you see today. Once upon a time, the Governor of Texas was someone who stood out in a room, who symbolized the state all over the world. Goodbye, Miss Ann; we will not see your like again soon, if ever. Heaven's gain is our profound loss.

UPDATE: Listen to her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention and remember.

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What Might Have Been, Part II

In Newsweek, Jonathan Alter explores an alternate history where Bush ignores the neo-cons in his response to 9/11. It's not very realistic, of course; Bush is a neo-con, not their prisoner or their puppet, but it shows how the world might've been a much better place, even without Al Gore in the White House.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Savor the Irony

Anyone else see the humor in a guy whose made his reputation with delusional racist fantasies of Hispanic separatists holding a rally with a group whose avowed goal is the dismemberment of the United States? No? Well, maybe it's just me.

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You May Have Missed the "Pharaoh Clause" in Social Studies

From Glenn Greenwald, John Yoo explains how in times of war the President becomes like unto a god, just as the Founders intended.

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Islamofascists Want Our Stadium Sketches!

From our "too insane to be made up" department, the Dallas Cowboys are refusing to release drawings of their taxpayer-funded monstrosity in Arlington, citing the Texas Homeland Security Act. No, really.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Right For the Wrong Reasons

Chief Smith is absolutely right that the sovereign Cherokee Nation should not have to bow and scrape to the BIA for permission to amend its own constitution. He is absolutely wrong in using this argument as a way to force out the Freedmen from the tribe, by making it impossible for them to prove they meet the racist, white-created criteria of having "Indian blood."

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Back Then

On September 11, 2001, I was in court in the old Civil Courts Building in dowtown Fort Worth. I think I heard on the radio just as I was arriving that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and I was immediately reminded of the Army Air Corps bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1946. It wasn't until much later in the morning that I overheard other attorneys discussing the second plane and the second tower, and then my reaction was, "Please God, don't let it be one of us again!" I was thinking more in terms of Timothy McVeigh than Osama bin Laden at that point. The attorney on the other side of my case said he had a relative in New York. We negotiated a settlement, but by that time the building was being evacuated and we had a difficult time locating a judge to sign off. On the way to the office, I listened to the news on the radio, but I didn't really comprehend how bad it was until I was back. We all crowded around the television in the conference room and I watched the towers collapse with a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I watched members of Congress standing on the steps on the Capitol singing "God Bless America," and I felt proud, but I was already wondering how long that spirit would last. I thought about all my friends in the military and I wondered where they would be going and how soon. That's how my day went, back then.

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Don't Look Now...

...Hutchison, you may smell good, but Barbara Ann is gaining on you. And Bell has closed to within single digits of Perry. From Eye on Williamson.

UPDATE: Kuff has a more sober assessment of the numbers.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Fan Club

I love Barney Maddox. Really, I do. I always look forward to his bizarre, rambling, disjointed flailings and I've missed them lately. His latest diatribe [link to follow] (which is apparently a response to my August 27 column; it's kind of hard to tell) makes a couple of fascinating points: 1) Pro-choice people can't be environmentalists; 2) God loves pollution and hates liberals; 3) taxes are evil; 4) concrete is not evil; and 5) Maddox is not going to read my column unless I live in a tepee, "unplug from the grid" (whatever that's supposed to mean. Maybe it's from The Matrix), wear a loincloth and eat tadpoles.
Get it? See, that's funny, because ALL Native Americans live in tepees, wear loincloths and eat tadpoles. See? Funny, huh? Man, Randy Sheridan's got nothing on you, Maddox.

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Rally On!

Chris Bell, the next Governor of Texas, addresses the annual Johnson County Democratic Party Rally on Saturday. I unfortunately was not able to attend due to a death in the family, but I'm told Barbara Ann Radnofsky, David Van Os, Hank Gilbert (candidate for Agriculture Commissioner), and Dale Henry (candidate for Railroad Commissioner) were also there, along with local candidates Greg Kauffman (state representative), Janet Thomas (county commissioner), Ray Torres (justice of the peace), Michael Tomasic (justice of the peace) and Teresa Bolt Martinez (county clerk). Photo courtesy of Bill Conover, who tells me I was presented with the Earl Pierce Award, a wonderful and unexpected honor. Thanks to everyone who attended and worked hard to make this year's rally such a spectacular success.

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Brace Yourselves!

It's Hurricane Karl! Republicans plan a multi-million dollar slime-tsunami for the last 60 days of the campaign.

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Conservative Hypocrisy Watch, Part II

Glenn Greenwald points out that Republicans are shocked! shocked and appalled! that elected officials would try to censor a political mini-series...unless of course the mini-series is about Ronald Reagan and the elected officials are Republicans.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stupid White Man of the Week: Paul Watson

Paul Watson, of the Sea Shepherd Society. God save us from self-righteous white liberals who presume to lecture Native Americans on what "traditional" means.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Worse Than You Think?

According to Cong. Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee), the REAL 2005 budget deficit was $760 billion, not $318.5 billion as officially reported and the REAL national debt is not $8.3 trillion (which is bad enough) but a staggering $49 trillion!!! Whether these higher figures are accurate or not, folks, remember that EVERY PENNY of this debt was appropriated by a Republican Congress and signed into law by a Republican president.

The Meaning of Sovereignty

From Indian Country Today, an interesting brief history of the legal doctrine of "sovereignty" and how it replies to relations between the Federal Government and Indian Nations.


Conservative Hypocrisy Watch

From Glenn Greenwald, conservatives are opposed to inaccurate, biased mini-series, unless they make Bill Clinton look bad.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Getting Worse

The Interior Department is again raising questions about efforts to amend the Cherokee Constitution to specifically exclude the Freedmen. Unfortunately, this is yet another article that misses the point about the Catch-22 this amendment would put the Freedmen in; denied citizenship because of a lack of "Indian blood" but unable to prove their "Indian blood" because the Dawes Roll was compiled by racists.

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It's Good to be the King!

From (as ever) Blognonymous: if you work for Bush's EPA, better keep your pie-hole shut. King says so! Wampum offers a historical perspective.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Right-Wing Amnesia

From Glenn Greenwald, more of the sad congenital condition of selective amensia in Republicans that prevents them, for example, from remembering anything Bill Clinton ever said or did about Osama bin Laden.


If You Don't Support the Man...

From Blognonymous, the curious case of conservatives' inability to recall the entire decade of the 1990's; or rather, and even more bizarrely, to misremember it as a time of peace, love, and bipartisan civility.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let the Good Times Roll?

A funny thing happened on the way to the Bush economic "boom." From the always-serene shores of Firedog Lake.

Who Does This Remind You Of?

"Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities..."

From the lovely and talented Blognonymous. Damn frog beat me to the punch on this one.

Hey, You People Have to 'Play By the Rules'!

And, uh, by the way, we wrote the rules. Exclusively for our benefit. And we can change them whenever we damn well please. Oh, and we never followed them before anyway. But you people have to. We're all Americans, after all, right?

Thanks for Serving Your Country And All...

...but now that you're done, shut up with all this crap about "your rights." We're all Americans, after all, right? I mean, now that we've taken damn near everything of value you ever had, that is.

Monday, September 04, 2006

All Depends on Whose Golden Calf is Being Gored

From Pharyngula, the fascinating tale of a Christian Conservative family who learned what it's like to be a religious minority in America. The preacher from our Baptist Church in Houston faced a similarly sharp learning curve when his children attended a nearby public school where most of the other students were Jewish. He learned a profound lesson about religious freedom from the experience. Hopefully, others will learn it as well.


Republicans Hate Clinton More Than Terrorists

From AmericaBlog, a quick flashback on the GOP's reaction when Bill Clinton proposed legislation to stop domestic, right-wing terrorism.

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Republicans Hate Workers

Keeping the "Labor" in "Labor Day." More from the lovely and talented Blue Gal and Capitol Hill Blue.

Frivolous Lawsuit Watch

National Republican Senatorial Committee threatens to sue television stations that run Democratic ads saying mean things about their candidate in Tennessee. No, seriously. "Your honor, I fail to see the relevance of this damning testimony!" Supreme Blogo-pharoah Kos, Lord Master of the Tubes, has more.

Just In Case You Think You've Heard It All...

...the world's largest moundbuilder complex, an ancient observatory some 2,000 years old, is being used as a golf course and Native Americans who try to pray there are arrested. Imagine the uproar if a group of Indians announced they were leasing the Temple Mount for a waterpark?

I Reckon They Showed Me

From the Cleburne Times-Review:

Dear Editor:
Guest columnist Patrick Barkman is flat wrong when he writes that Dr. Jim Leininger is “anti-public school.” Most school choice advocates, including Dr. Leininger, believe that competition will help inspire accelerated improvements in public schools, especially in the big cities where generations of children have already been lost. As for Mr. Barkman’s harsh criticism of Dr. Leininger’s politics, the truth is he became passionately involved in helping poor children escape the poverty cycle after having worked as an emergency room physician treating the gunshot wounds of too many children. Dr. Leininger went on to found a medical device company that made him a very successful businessman. He has since devoted a good share of his wealth to what has now become his life-long determination to help children. To date he has personally funded more than $50 million of scholarships to private schools for low-income children in San Antonio and other Texas cities. All but a few of those who have graduated have gone on to self-financed college educations.That Dr. Leininger believes Texas public policy should side with parents who don’t feel that they can wait for “eventual” improvements in public schools is less the political philosophy so clearly disdained by Mr. Barkman as it is simple human compassion and a willingness to stake part of his wealth — and his own reputation — on efforts to make the future better for the parents of promising children desperate to have at least some of the educational choices now only enjoyed by the wealthy.
Ken Hoagland

This is, one supposes, the same Ken Hoagland who is well-known as the "Mouth of Sauron," the official spokesperson for Leininger's Texans for School Choice, something he chose not to indicate in his boiler-plate press-release. Here's a quick question for you, Ken: if, as you say, Dr. Leininger is motivated solely by his love for poor children, how many scholarships to private schools could he have paid for with the funds he has lavished on his pet candidates over the years?

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Good for Business

"This isn't blood money it's a..."

"A fee!"

"A fee, nothing more."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cleburne Times-Review Column for 3 September, 2006

Note: I will post a link to Randy Sheridan's truly mind-boggling editorial as soon as it is available.

“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?”
--Proverbs 1:22

In his August 30 guest column, Randy Sheridan trotted out that old conservative warhorse, the “Vast Evil Hollywood Liberal Conspiracy to Destroy Christian Civilization” for a quick ride around the square. Actually, most riders of this horse stick with “Christian Civilization”; Sheridan was more specific, warning of the danger to White Christian Civilization. As proof, he offers two Kevin Costner movies, both more than a decade old, “Dances With Wolves” from 1990 and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” from 1991. Of course, Costner (the producer of both these movies and one of the writers of Dances With Wolves) was a registered Republican at the time who supported the first President Bush’s re-election campaign before becoming an Independent and more bipartisan with his donations, but hey, too much research (and by that, I mean any research) would’ve spoiled the straw horse of this column. Sheridan’s complaint about “Robin Hood” was that Morgan Freeman’s character Akeem allegedly “demonstrate[d] the superiority of Muslim culture over the flawed Christianity of Crusade-era England” and he cites a scene in which Akeem delivers a baby that would otherwise have died. He might have noted another scene earlier in this fairly awful movie in which Costner’s Robin Hood is astonished by Akeem’s spyglass. Again, a tiny little bit of research, say five minutes with Google, would’ve revealed that technological development in most Muslim nations was in fact superior to that of most Christian nations during the Dark Ages in such fields as medicine and optics. The Renaissance of Western Europe was actually triggered when the scientific achievements of Western Classical Civilization came back to Europe after being preserved and expanded upon by Muslim societies. Of course, technological prowess is not the same as moral superiority, except apparently in the eyes of some whites, but more about that in a moment. Again, only a tiny little bit of research would have revealed this information, which is fairly well-known and certainly not hidden away, but that would’ve interfered with the thesis that only White Christian Civilization is capable of good. Talk about rewriting history!
What really caught my eye about Sheridan’s column, however, was not anything about Costner’s over-hyped, badly-acted, poorly-written rehash of material Errol Flynn did better fifty years earlier; no, what I noticed was his take on “Dances With Wolves.” Here, Sheridan objects to the fact that white people are portrayed as “drunken, insane, perverted or vicious” while the Indians are portrayed as “noble savages.” Yes, that’s right: “noble savages.” Apparently, any movie in which non-white people are portrayed in a positive light while white people are portrayed in a negative light is evidence of the “Evil Liberal Hollywood Plot.” Eighty years of cinema universally depicting Native Americans as vicious, subhuman bloodthirsty savages is evidently no big deal; but one movie in which the Indians are the good guys and the cowboys are the bad guys and Western Civilization is teetering on the brink of annihilation. But wait, there’s more. Sheridan goes on to say, “this movie totally ignores the fact that at the very time depicted in the film the Sioux were the most warlike of all the Plains Indian tribes, perpetrating some of the bloodiest massacres.” Really? The “most warlike”? What exactly is Mr. Sheridan’s definition of “warlike”? Would he also say the Poles were the “most warlike” for fighting back when Germany invaded their country in 1939? Were Americans the “most warlike” for defending themselves when British troops burned Washington, DC during the War of 1812? The Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people were living on their land, land that they had inhabited for centuries before Lewis and Clark, land that was guaranteed to them by treaties signed with the government of the United States. Their land was illegally invaded by white miners, trappers and hunters and the US Army and Mr. Sheridan would blame the victim for acting in self-defense? Did the Indians “have it coming,” Mr. Sheridan? Were they “asking for it” by provocatively living on land white people wanted? “Most warlike”? “Bloodiest massacres”? In the history of the Indian Wars, a “massacre” seems to be any encounter in which one white person is killed, whereas a “battle” is the gunning down of unarmed Indian elders, women and children. But let’s look at “the very time depicted in the film”. In 1860, the Paiutes of Nevada were attacked for defending themselves when two young Paiute girls were kidnapped and raped by whites. In 1861, the US Army tried to take the Apache leader Cochise hostage for a crime he didn’t commit, leading to a bloody conflict that lasted until 1872. In 1862, the Homestead Act allowed white settlers to invade Indian lands in Kansas and Nebraska. From 1862-1864, the Santee and later the Teton Sioux fought against settler encroachment after a treaty negotiated by Taoyateduta (Little Crow) was fraudulently altered in the Senate to delete the section reserving land for the tribe. Thirty-eight Native Americans were hanged by the US Army (the rest of the 303 originally charged were pardoned by President Abraham Lincoln) after show trials that lasted only five minutes each. In 1863, the Shoshone began defending their lands against white gold seekers, resulting in a massacre of 250 Shoshone men, women and children at Beaver Creek by California militia. In 1864, the US Army tried to force the Navajo off their land so it could be taken over by whites. Some 8,500 Navajo men, women and children were herded on the “Long Walk” to a concentration camp at Bosque Redondo. Two-hundred or more died of exposure, disease and starvation along the way. In 1864, the Cheyenne and Arapaho, herded onto reservations where they were left to starve by a government that failed once again to keep its treaty obligations, were attacked by Army units that falsely accused them of stealing cattle. When the Indians defended themselves, driving off the soldiers, a war was declared against them. On November 29, 1864, a unit of Colorado militia led by Colonel John Chivington attacked the camp of Black Kettle, a Cheyenne chief loyal to the United States, at Sand Creek. Despite the fact that the American flag was flying over the camp, and despite the fact that only women, children and elders were to be found, the militia used small arms and cannons to slaughter over 150 people. And we needn’t even mention the Wounded Knee Massacre of the surviving Sioux in 1890 or my ancestors, who were drug out of their homes and prodded at bayonet-point by the US Army into concentration camps, then shipped like cattle across the continent to Oklahoma because Andrew Jackson and white people in Georgia wanted their land. So please, please, please, Mr. Sheridan, explain to me again about the “warlike” “noble savages” who committed the “bloodiest massacres.”


Down Home

An excellent piece from Orcinus about an issue close to my heart: the ability of Democrats to win votes in rural areas, particularly in the South, without selling out their core beliefs.

Republicans Hate Children...

...but love deadbeat parents. Now that's what I call "family values!" From Eye on Williamson.

Rob Orr Accidentally Blunders Into Issue

Spokesflunky ghost-excretes inane, rambling press release promising a government study to discover why repeatedly underfunding the Department of Parks & Wildlife leads mysteriously to less money for that agency. Orr pledges to end the "crisis in our state parks" by paving them over as part of the Trans Texas Cash Trough. Observers voice amazement that Orr appeared to be actually speaking, even though Speaker of the House Tom Craddick was drinking a glass of water!

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More Evidence of the Vast Blogofascist Conspiracy

Somervell County Salon blogs one of my newspaper columns that was inspired in part by a blog entry from...Somervell County Salon.
Yes, Mr. Orr; you were right all along. We ARE all in on this together. Mwahahhahahahahhah!! Oh, and you're also still a lickspittle minion.

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