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."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Color of Money

Chris Bell is steadily gaining on Rick Perry in the polls (mainly at Strayhorn's expense) but he's having a hard time keeping money in the pipe to stay on the air. To every trial lawyer that gave Strayhorn money: think about your decision when that pissant Rick Perry is signing yet another round of "tort reform."

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This Moment of Feigned Moral Outrage Brought To You By...

Your liberal media at work again, as the MSM obediently parrots Right-Wing talking points about a Kerry comment that is clearly being twisted out of all resemblance to its original context, which was a cheap shot at George W. Bush. At least Kerry knows to fight back now. If this does nothing, it should remind Democrats of the vital importance of GOTV. Let's just recognize this artifical "controversy" for what it is, yet more evidence that the GOP's death throes.

Meanwhile, Senator George Allen (R-Wannabe Redneck) has graduated from tagging those who displease him with obscure West Africa French colonialist racial slurs to having his goons beat the crap out of them. The MSM had no comment.

UPDATE: Media Matters has a compilation of Your Liberal Media regurgitating the GOP line.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Dumber'n He Looks

If the GOP loses control of one (or especially both) House of Congress, the biggest loser will be Bush's designated Evil Genius, Karl Rove. Joshua Micah Marshall, however, takes the position that Rove was never the All-Powerful Minion of Darkness Democrats and Liberals made him out to be. Marshall isn't the first to suggest this, of couse; but if true, then we might say that Karl Rove, in the final analysis, was nothing but a convenient excuse for Democrats' electoral incompetence.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz at WaPo on Turd Blossom, the man who is all things to all people.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Some Free Advice

I have been arguing for some time now that if the Democrats do manage to take one or both House of Congress, they should resist the urge to pay the GOP back for what happened after 1994--a legislative, investigative full-scale attack on the presidency, culminating in the impeachment debacle. I argued this for purely practical reasons: it doesn't work. Bill Clinton used his political judo against Congress and ended up more popular on the day he was impeached than George W. Bush has been in over a year. Now, via the Carpetbagger Report, Paul Krugman has a different perspective. Krugman's thesis, in a nutshell, is that Republicans are inherently, intrinsicly evil and no matter how bi-partisan Democrats try to be, the GOP will stab them in the back at the first opportunity. Given the Republic Party's fixation with racism and other despicable campaign tactics, and dangerous militarist fantasies, I have a hard time disagreeing with the basic premise. On the other hand, the GOP has at least two things the Democrats don't, namely total dominance of the media and huge piles of special interest money. Even if a subpoena war was in the best interest of the nation, I'm not sure we could win it. Yes, there should be investigations, definately; Bush and Cheney have turned the White House into a political chamber of horrors. And, of course, this revamped, retread Nixonian version of the Imperial Presidency will reject any effort by Congress to dare infringe on its apparently god-like powers. In fact, it may well be that, whether or not Democrats want a war, Bush will force one by continuing to systematically ignore the checks and balances of the Constitution.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Rich Get Richer

Yes, yes, all terribly shocking news, of course. But you can't blame just the Republicans. Only Nixon could go to China; only Clinton could've passed NAFTA. NAFTA (and the entire cult of "Free" Trade) are systematically destroying the US economy. I have said it before, and I will say it again: you canNOT be a global economic superpower if you don't make anything. You canNOT be a global economic superpower if the only available jobs in your country are delivering pizza and repairing consumer electronics made in other countries. You canNOT be a global economic superpower if all you do is sell resources to other countries to make things to sell in your country. In fact, that makes you the Belgian Congo.

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George W. Bush supports same-sex civil unions!
In fact, he's supported them for at least the last two years!
Not that there's anything wrong with that...

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Column for 29 October, 2006

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
--Matthew 7:15-16

Of all the myriad sins of this venal, incompetent and brutal Administration, likely the worst is its subversion of the church to camouflage its true agenda, a radically anti-Christian and un-American economic philosophy based on the disgraced ideology of Social Darwinism, or “survival of the richest.” Of course, any subversive movement requires help from within. The Republic Party did not batter down the doors of the church and take over by force. No, they were invited in by false prophets, those who have sold out the Bride of Christ for thirty pieces of silver and whose lust for worldly power gives them much more in common with Dick Cheney or Tom DeLay than Christ and His Apostles. There are, sadly, many false prophets, nearly all of whom can be seen regularly on television, perverting the Scripture and hawking their snake-oil, but three of the worst offenders are the Unholy Trinity of James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. These three have, since the late 1980’s, worked diligently to transform the Church into a mere propaganda arm of the Republic Party, tossing aside doctrine in favor of the party line, much like the “official churches” established by Communist dictatorships and run by traitors and collaborators. The odious strategy of these religious Quislings has been to act as mouthpieces for the GOP strategy of shouting “homosexuals!” or “abortion!” every election cycle, to strike fear in the hearts of the faithful and encourage them to support “God’s Own Party.” These issues have the added bonus of allowing the false prophets to completely gloss over the New Testament, with all its’ embarrassing concern for the poor and downtrodden, in favor of the Old Testament, where damnation and hell-fire are called down upon sinners. Another example, and probably the most grotesque, of the misuse of the Church involved disgraced Republican bag-man Jack Abramoff and his fleecing of several Indian tribes. First, he was enlisted (and paid handsomely) to help the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw Tribe with their casino gambling operation. In order to prevent competition, Abramoff used his connections (including then-Congressman Tom DeLay) to prevent the tiny, impoverished Tigua Pueblo in Texas from opening their own casino. He then accepted money from the Tigua to fight for their right to open gambling parlors, thus playing both ends against the middle. The Church was dragged in when Abramoff called upon Ralph Reed, former executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, to mobilize Evangelical Christians against casino gambling, at least casino gambling by tribes that Abramoff disfavored. In this way, Church leaders took advantage of their flock, manipulating people with sincere religious convictions against gambling to serve the ends of Washington power-brokers. Sadly, of course, this was not the first time Christianity has been used against the Indians.
Now, however, there are some hopeful signs that the scales are falling from the eyes of Evangelical Christians and they are beginning to learn how the Tele-Pharisees have sold them out. Ralph Reed went down in flames in the Republican Primary election for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, due mostly to his ties to Abramoff. Some Evangelicals are daring to ignore the GOP script and learning that environmentalism is not only compatible with Christianity, it is a commandment. Bill Moyers recently had a fascinating PBS special on this very topic. Other Evangelicals, such as David Kuo, former head of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in the Bush White House, are speaking out about the manipulation of people of faith by the Republic Party. In his book “Tempting Faith,” Kuo outlines how Karl Rove referred to the very Evangelicals Bush assiduously courted in 2000 and 2004 as “the nuts,” and cynically exploited them for votes. Even conservative pundit and bad dancer Tucker Carlson has acknowledged that Republican elites hold Evangelicals in “pure contempt.” Perhaps the obvious boot-licking of the GOP by the tele-Pharisees has simply become too much for Christians of conscience to stomach, such as James Dobson playing down former Cong. Mark Foley’s repulsive digital seduction of teenage boys as mere “pranks.” Dobson, you may recall, is normally so hyperbolically homophobic that he has accused Sponge-bob Squarepants of promoting what he ominously refers to as “the homosexual agenda” (no doubt Spongebob and Tinky-Winky are planning a civil union if the nefarious Nancy Pelosi gets her way). But even “gay bashing” must give way to marching orders from Republic Party headquarters, just as it did when Dobson meekly obeyed when directed to stop obstructing Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Perhaps the rank stench of hypocrisy wafting from the pulpits of the tele-Pharisees is why religious whites, who normally favor the GOP over Democrats by twenty percentage points or more, are now evenly divided between the parties, though it should be noted that not all Evangelicals’ faith in their partisan masters has been shaken.
However, Liberals should not fool themselves into thinking that Evangelicals will be flocking to the Democratic Party anytime soon. Their effect of the 2006 elections will likely be due more to their absence than their presence, but they could easily return to the Republic Party in large numbers once the worst hypocrites are cleaned out. Abortion and sexual morality are still important issues to this committed block of voters. Many have felt alienated and marginalized by the media and Leftists who belittle and mock their faith, portraying them as ignorant buffoons crowded together in the “Flyover States.” The politicization of Faith has as much to do with Liberal arrogance and militant secularism as it does with Conservative cynicism and exploitation. While religion in America has never been completely non-partisan, the levels of polarization today cannot be healthy for a democracy. There is a reason why America has avoided the kind of bloody religious wars that even today blight Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia. It is high time that both parties heeded the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”


Friday, October 27, 2006

Conservative Hypocrisy Watch, Part IV

I'm not sure which is worse; a bloated, drug-addled loudmouth like Rush Limbaugh mocking the disabled, or all the mealy-mouthed Right-Wingers offering lame "yes, but..." justifications for such behavior. Republicans issuing calls for "civility" in politics is like Al Capone offering lessons on crime prevention. If there is any divine justice in the world, we will all get to enjoy the look on Rush's mush on November 7 when the GOP goes down in flames.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Indian Freedom

Americans are, as a general rule, a rather disrespectful, unruly bunch. At our best, we ask too many questions, insist upon our inalienable right to mock and belittle our leaders, and have the temerity to belive that our liberty comes directly from God. That attitude is, in fact, much older than the United States, and is probably, ironically, the greatest gift Native Americans gave to the nation that ultimately would betray them. The Founding Fathers, particularly Jefferson and the wily Dr. Franklin, recognized the democratic culture of the "savage Americans." Today, every American, black, white, brown or red, is the ultimate beneficiary of the Indians' instinctual sense of freedom and aversion to coercion and tyranny. Indian givers, indeed.

Hat tip to Rob @ Newspaper Rock

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Republicans STILL Hate Children

The political ghost of Arlene Wohlgemuth continues to block thousands of needy children from easy access to affordable healthcare due to bureacratic barricades in the CHIP program. And if Perry and Craddick stay in power, you can expect more of the same.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Down the Tubes, Part VI

It's common wisdom that the big losers in the 1994 GOP blowout were not "liberals," but rather centrist to conservative Democrats, primarily from the South, resulting in a much more bitterly divided Congress. So will the same dynamic operate in 2006? Will moderate Republicans lose to extremely liberal Democrats? I don't think so; true, in some cases, like Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island, moderate Republicans are endangered, but so are hard right-wingers like Mike DeWine and Rick Santorum. The Bull Moose sees this as a counter-surge by moderate Democrats. Donklephant points out that the published Democratic agenda ain't all that radical, really, unless you are a plutocrat. And even the Cato Institute (!) is discussing the virtues of divided government. Of course, this is likely to mean that Nancy Pelosi will have her work cut out for her as Speaker, as the much more liberal netroots push loudly for an immediate pull-out from an Iraq, followed as soon as possible by the impeachment of everyone from Bush down to the White House cleaning crew. Be careful what you wish for...

UPDATE: More on the new breed of centrist Democratic congressional candidates from the LA Times and their centrist agenda from USA Today.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Down the Tubes, Part V

Listened to part of a rare interview with Karl Rove on NPR--he came across as snappy and peevish, insisting that he had secret polling data that proved the GOP would hold both Houses. And this was during a softball NPR interview!! Charlie Cook respectfully disagrees:

In the House, Republicans are most likely to see a net loss of 20 to 35 seats, and with it their majority. In the Senate, the GOP could lose at least four, but a five- or six-seat loss is more likely. A six-seat change tips the chamber into Democratic hands.

In short, in four of the five diagnostic indicators, the situation is significantly worse for Republicans today than it was for Democrats in 1994. And in the remaining one, this year is marginally better.

So, does this mean it's all over? Time for Aragorn to return to Minas Tirith (ask Santorum; he'll explain that one to you)? Sadly, no. The Forces of Evil still have an enormous bankroll and they will stoop to anything--and I mean anything--to cling to power. I'll believe a Democratic victory when I see it on November 8, and not a moment before.

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I Deny Your Reality and Substitute My Own

Glenn Greenwald on a phenomenon I've noticed since college: the ability of certain groups (primarily on the Right, but also some on the Left) to completely deny any fact that doesn't fit their preconceived reality or to assume the existence of any fact that does support it. For example, the apparently sincere belief in some Neo-Conservative circles that Iraq is really a success story, if only the perfidious liberal media would tell the "good news." Or the cottage industry of Clinton Conspiracy Theories that flourished in the 1990's, with all sorts of half-baked claims of drug-running and serial murder accepted as gospel despite the lack of any supporting evidence at all. Greenwald discuss the prevailing "conventional wisdom" (which is neither conventional, nor wise) that the "mainstream" is conservative and that Democrats are always out of it.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Told Ya So!

Republicans get nasty. And that paragon of virtue, Dick Morris, tells them to get even nastier. Yeah, I'm surprised, too...

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


The first New Moon of Autumn is the traditional date of Nuwatiegwa, the Great New Moon Ceremony of the Cherokee. This holiday celebrates the creation of the world and marks the traditional start of the New Year under the Cherokee lunar calendar. Since I'm feeling under the weather, we skipped jumping in the river seven times this year and instead talked about the creation story. Wa do!


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Separated at Birth?

Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and the Mouth of Sauron (R-Mordor).
Courtesy of the lovely and talented Kvatch at Blognonymous.


Column for 22 October, 2006

“Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness—and the fool multiplies words.”
--Ecclesiastes 10:12-14

As part of our never-ending commitment to you the reader here at The Local Crank, your intrepid columnist attended the “debate” between Cong. Chet Edwards and his opponent, millionaire carpetbagger Nicholas Vancampen Taylor at Cleburne High School on Sunday, October 14th. I put the word “debate” in quotations not just to be cute, but to emphasize that this wasn’t really a debate in any forensic sense of the word, more like a joint press conference where the candidates spouted pre-formulated answers to questions they were allowed to review in advance. The format, of course, is not the fault of the debate sponsors, the League of Women Voters and this paper; no, the fault lies rather with politicians in general, fearful of anything not pre-scripted. In my opinion, any candidate for any office who can’t handle live questions from a live audience is not worthy of my vote, whether it’s for dog-catcher or President of the United States. If you ever get bored enough to watch C-SPAN, try to catch the Prime Minister’s Question Time before Parliament and observe a politician like Tony Blair who is actually expected to think on his feet. But back to the debate; there were approximately 200+ in attendance, all partisans, of course. Based upon the t-shirts and lapel stickers, the crowd seemed to be fairly evenly divided. The candidates wore virtually identical charcoal-gray suits and the requisite Texas politician cowboy boots. Rather than regurgitating my notes from the entire debate, let me just quickly summarize everything the candidates had to say:
Vancampen Taylor: I am a Marine! And a hero! There’s too much partisanship in Washington and it’s all the fault of liberal cut and run terrorist appeasers like Nancy Pelosi, whom my opponent loves and plans to marry. America faces many challenges, and they are all the fault of gay terrorist illegal aliens who want to adopt. Get rid of the tax and spend Congress by electing yet another Republican like the ones who have been doing all the taxing and spending over the last twelve years. Grover Norquist loves me, even though I didn’t bother to read his survey before I signed it, so you should love me, too. Taxes are the work of Satan. The key to victory in Iraq is doing the same thing over and over and over again and hoping for a different result. If you hate Jesus, vote for my opponent.
Chet Edwards: I am the only grown-up in this race. The Dallas Morning News says my opponent is an arrogant, self-absorbed nitwit. Veterans love me and I have already forgotten more about veteran’s issues than my opponent will ever learn. Right-Wing special interest groups love me, which shows how bipartisan I am. I support the Bush Administration’s plans to dismantle the Constitution in order to protect freedom. Not only will my opponent privatize Social Security, he doesn’t even know what “privatize” means. I will do a much better job than my opponent of keeping illegals aliens from taking over the land we stole from the Indians. All taxes are not necessarily the work of Satan, but the national debt is. I have no idea who this “Nancy Pelosi” person is my opponent keeps yammering about. Plus, I bring home the bacon for Johnson County.
And now a few highlights. Vancampen Taylor answered every question except his name with “Illegal Aliens!” or “Homosexual Adoption!!” or both. It was pretty transparent, desperate shameless pandering that Arlene Wohlgemuth does much better. And she does it without the whining. Plus, she really believes it. Just as he did during the first debate in College Station, Chet asked Taylor if he would’ve voted for his own party’s budget proposal. And, just like he did in the first debate, Vancampen said he hadn’t bothered to read it and was offended that Chet would even suggest that maybe he ought to. Now, granted, I’m no expert on how Republican campaigns work, but I’d be willing to bet that if Taylor called up to Washington, DC, someone would’ve faxed it to him. Or perhaps someone on his crack campaign staff should’ve come up with a better answer for Taylor than, “There are too many bills to read!” I lost count of all the shallow Republican clichés Vancampen trotted out, ticking them off one by one like he was on a high school debate team: frivolous lawsuits (which means any lawsuit against a Republican donor); the invading Brown Hordes; evil gay people; abortion; Free Trade is good, unless it means getting cheap drugs from Canada, then it’s bad. I noticed members of the audience starting to nod off after awhile. Fortunately, Vancampen was able to wake them up towards the end by asking Chet point blank why he hated Jesus. Well, actually, he demanded to know why Chet was against forcing teachers to ram their religion down children’s throats (i.e., mandatory school prayer). Chet, apparently genuinely irritated, twisted off on him, gathering a couple of outbursts of applause and one loud “Amen!” It was such a lame, badly orchestrated “attack,” you’d almost think Chet was paying Taylor under the table. In short, while Taylor acted more like a grown-up during this debate, and seemed to finally grasp that his opponent is Chet Edwards and not Nancy Pelosi, it’s likely too little, too late. He has already systematically alienated Republicans all across the county with his arrogance and condescension, his campaign is a train wreck, and even the National Republican Campaign Committee has written him off, canceling a planned $1.5 million television ad buy. Chet Edwards, by tacking to the right of center on crucial issues, focusing on constituent service and spending more time in this county in two years than Joe Barton or Kay Granger combined did in ten, has built a bipartisan base of support that cannot be overcome just by screaming “homosexuals!!” or “illegal aliens!!” or, even more ludicrous, “liberal!!!” And while I certainly do not agree with all of Chet’s votes, particularly for the bankruptcy “reform” bill and the loathsome PATRIOT and Legalized Torture Acts, he has clearly won over most of the opinion-makers in this county; it remains to be seen, however, how many actual votes this will translate to. Two years ago, with the George W. Bush tsunami at the top of the ticket, Edwards didn’t even break 40% here. Now, with Bush unpopular even in Texas and facing a MUCH weaker opponent, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Chet carries the county.


A Good Sign?

From the Carpetbagger Report, the new head of the Christian Coalition is an Evangelical Ecologist and appears to be non-partisan.

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Vladimir Putin to Run for Governor of Texas

Russian Leader Claims "Women's Issues" Are His Number One Concern.
Texas GOP Chairlady Tina Benkiser proclaims, "Vlad is our kind of capitalist! Plus, he has old-fashioned traditional family values."

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The Republic Party supports slave labor and forced abortions. Does this bother you in any way whatsoever?

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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Bureau of Caucasian Affairs

A lovely little bit of ironic humor by Ann Little Running Deer.


Scalia vs. Indian Country

Supreme Court Justice defends his votes to gut Native American religious freedom and denigrate tribal sovereignty. Also takes time to threaten the ACLU.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Uh, Thanks, But No Thanks

Today, jailed Indian-casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff discovered that he is not, in fact, Jewish. “Actually, I’m Native American,” Abramoff reported. “You know, a member of the tribe.”

From the Jewish Press (with tongue planted firmly in cheek). H/T to

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Watched the one debate KBH has graciously agreed to attend and Barbara Ann, after a shaky start, was great. "Feisty" sounds like a condescending term, but BAR is clearly a scrapper; I wouldn't envy anyone who has to face her in a debate on the Senate floor. She was very direct, blunt even, and not afraid to give straight answers to questions most candidates would tapdance around. She also showed a firm knowledge of the issues, and KBH's record, and managed to work a bite-worthy zinger into almost every answer.

It's also obvious that KBH is not much of a politico and likely could never have been elected but for the incredible weakness of the Bob Krueger debacle, combined with the Republican landslide in 1994. She is stiff and patrician, with a faintly hectoring delivery and body language that makes it pretty obvious she thinks all this is beneath her dignity. Probably her worst moment was defending earmarks, and then hautily asserting, "I don't do pork-barrel." Barbara Ann quickly shot back that KBH was even lousy at bringing home pork, underscoring how Texas is used as a giant ATM machine by the federal government.

BAR is a great candidate with a tough race. Go over to her site and giver her some love.

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Sadly, This Is Probably the Best Solution Yet Proposed

U.S. Cedes Control of Iraq to Jerry Bruckheimer
Megaproducer to Guide Nation's Transition to Disaster Film

From the Borowitz Report

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Habeas, Shmabeus

Ken Olbermann and some whiny liberal lawyer complain about some kind of writ or something. Don't they know there's a WAR on?

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Conservative Hypocrisy Watch, Part III

Proving once again that irony is not only dead, but its dismembered corpse has been buried in the desert somewhere outside Las Vegas, the Right-Wing Blogosphere is SHOCKED! SHOCKED AND APPALLED! that someone would use the private sex lives of elected officials for political gain.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One Rick to Rule Them All

Pennsylvania Senator places all his hopes for victory in the War Against Terror on one plucky hobbit and his trusted companion, Samwise.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Meanwhile, On the Barricades...

Fat, white Canadian computer programmer leads protest against "mean ol' Indians" who have mildly inconvenienced him with all their whining about "stolen land" and "treaties." Vows neverending vigil until the Canadian government calls in the Army or the donuts run out, whichever comes first.

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Republicans Hate Jesus

Well, that's a bit of an exagerration. Rather, Republican leaders hold in visceral contempt the very con-artists and blasphemers they use to convince Christians to support the GOP's fundamentally anti-Christian (not to mention un-American) political agenda. This should really surprise no one--why do you think that no serious attempt has been made to completely outlaw abortion in the six years the Republic Party has controlled all three branches of government (four if you count FOX News)? Because it's too valuable an issue to lose. And, sadly, the Church has made itself completely subservient to Caesar by blindly following false prophets like the unholy trinity of Dobson, Robertson and Falwell.

UPDATE: Kos has the Tele-Pharisees' latest abomination, a Colorado television ad where (I kid you not) God and Moses speak out against raising the minimum wage. Un-frickin'-believable.

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Why Is This Man Smiling (er, Smirking)?

Does he know something we don't?

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

B(F)logging the Debate

Small crowd at the Don Smith Special Events Center, maybe 200, all partisans of one side or the other. Seemed to be evenly divided, based upon lapel stickers and t-shirts. Both candidates wore virtually identical charcoal-gray suits. Van Taylor grips the podium for dear life and has a perennial deer-in-the-headlights look.

Shorter Van Taylor: I'm a Marine! And a hero! There's too much partisanship in Washington and it's all the fault of liberal cut and run Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, whom my opponent loves and plans to marry. America faces many challenges, and they are all the fault of gay terrorist illegal aliens who want to adopt. Grover Norquist loves me so you should, too! If you hate America, vote for my opponent.

Shorter Chet Edwards: I'm the only grown-up in this race and I've actually done my homework. Plus, veterans and normally Right-Wing special interest groups love me, thus showing how bipartisan I am. And I bring home the bacon for Johnson County. The Dallas Morning News says my opponent is a nitwit.

My observations: Van Taylor looks even younger in person, maybe 25. When you consider that Chet (at 51) could easily pass for 40+, it just emphasizes his immaturity. Vancampen was considerably better behaved than at the first debate, except towards the end, when he started to get cranky. Perhaps he missed his nap. You would've thought that sometime between the first debate and now, Vancampen would've bothered to read his own party's budget resolution, given that Chet has been relentlessly flogging him with it. Or at the very least, someone on his crack staff might've come up with a better response than "I didn't read it. There are too many bills to read." Yeah, and math is hard. Taylor answered "illegal aliens!" or "homosexual adoption!" to every question but his name. He is opposed to free health care for illegal aliens (i.e., the emergency room) but he wants them to have "dignity." Presumably, he'd like them to die with dignity in the hospital parking lot. Taylor also hates runaway government spending. Voters should send a message to stop runaway government spending by electing...more Republicans like the ones who've been writing the budgets for the last twelve years? The only applause of the evening came when Taylor made the mistake of claiming Chet was against Jesus. It was such an incredibly bone-headed manuever, you'd almost think Chet was paying him off.

Further impressions later on. In the meantime, Somervell County Salon has some interesting bits on Vancampen's pedigree. Let's see, a thin-skinned, arrogant trust-fund baby who owes everything in life to family connections? Does this sound familiar?

UPDATE: Capitol Annex has more fallout from the debate.

UPDATE II: Via BOR, the NRCC raises the white flag and cancels its ad buys for CD-17.

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The White Man's Medicine

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) on the common thread in nearly all political scandals: a lust for power, or even just the proximity to power. I think her point is well-taken, and it emphasizes why I cannot let the late Cong. Gerry Studds off the hook for precisely the same offense as Mark Foley. Yes, Foley was more hypocritical, but both of them abused their positions of power to gain influence over children and both deserve condemnation for it.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Column for 15 October, 2006

“At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ! or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”
--Matthew 24:23-24

These are good days to be a Democrat, or so you might believe from the polls. Recent data gives Democrats a historically large lead over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot, anywhere from 21 points (according to CNN) to 23 points (according to Gallup). The mean of these polls (all taken after the disgusting Mark Foley scandal broke) would have the Democrats getting 53.7% of the Congressional vote total and Republicans an anemic 38.1%. Putting this in perspective, in 1994 Republicans got 52.4% of the total vote and Democrats 45.2%, which translated into 230 seats for the GOP (and control of the House for the first time in 40 years). Approval of Congress is at a ten year low of 32% and voters say they trust Democrats over Republicans by 54% to 35% to deal with the biggest problems facing the nation. The well-respected political prophet Charlie Cook ranks 43 seats currently held by Republicans as “competitive” (bearing in mind that the Democrats only need to pick up 15 seats to take control of the House). At the same time, President Bush’s numbers are again getting worse after a slight uptick, now as low as 34% according to a New York Times/CBS Poll. The same poll had an astonishing 83% of respondents agree that Bush was “either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going.” The Senate is somewhat more problematic; the Democrats need six seats to take control, a tall order, even in a year when the Republicans are saddled with pathetic racist wannabes like George Felix “Macaca” Allen in Virginia. Finally, there is some indication that self-proclaimed conservative Christian Evangelicals, at least some of them, are starting to lose their affinity for a party that not only shelters online child sex predators, but holds Evangelicals in what conservative pundit Tucker Carlson called “pure contempt,” with Karl Rove privately referring to them as “the nuts.” In a tight election year, it wouldn’t take many Evangelicals staying home on November 7 to make a big difference.
Sounds great for the Dems, huh? Time to break out the white wine and brie. Nancy Pelosi, Van Taylor’s worst nightmare, should start getting used to hearing “Madam Speaker.” Hillary can prepare to move the furniture she and Bill stole back into the White House. Not so fast, liberal commie terrorist-appeasers! There are a few things to bear in mind as we lurch closer and closer to Election Day. First, this is Congress, not parliament. Representatives are elected by districts, not proportionally, and the Republicans drew the maps, particularly here in Texas and in Georgia, where Tom DeLay’s lickspittle minions used scientific, computerized redistricting to abolish democracy and punish rural voters for daring to defy the will of the Great and Powerful Tom. So winning a large number of the total votes cast nationwide doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats would win a correspondingly large number of seats, especially when you factor in lopsided races (such as in heavily minority districts where Democrats always win by big margins). Second, “generic” doesn’t appear on the ballot. In other words, voters may say in general they prefer Democrats for Congress, but that doesn’t automatically translate into preferring the Democrat in their particular district over the Republican in their particular district. Also, Democrats historically do better on generic ballots than they do in actual votes cast, going back as far as 1946. Third, Republicans have a LOT of money and the will to spend it. GOP officials have been indicating since September that they are ready, willing and able to dump as much as $50 million, most of it on attacks ads. Now, granted, this attack was supposed to start a month ago, but you can easily imagine that Karl Rove’s electoral machinery of evil has had to work overtime dealing with numerous scandals. Money is, of course, the mother’s milk of politics, especially in US Senate races, where candidates have to spend huge wads of cash just to be heard over an entire state. Fourth, for the paranoid among you, more and more states are using Diebold voting machines, which are ridiculously easy to hack. Fifth, Republicans are good at getting their people to the polls. John Kerry actually won nearly nine million more popular votes in 2004 than Al Gore did in 2000 (and, of course, Al Gore won the popular vote, then), but he still lost, because the Bush campaign increased his vote total by nearly 12 million. And, sixth and finally, as I have frequently said, never underestimate the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Good poll results are like beer; a couple are okay, but a few too many and you start to feel ten foot tall and bulletproof. If the media stories all seem to indicate that Democrats have it in the bag, their voters are less likely to be motivated to come out and vote.
On the fence, you say? Darn right! In 2004, I read all the tea leaves to indicate that George W. Bush was in for a whupping and I bragged all about it in this column, only to end up with egg on my face come election day. As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Right now, I am still cautiously optimistic that Democrats will take the House, likely with less than a 25 seat gain. I am much less sure of the Senate. But, again as I have said before, it’s a million years between now and Election Day.


Down the Tubes, Part IV

Evidence continues to mount that the Republic Party is imploding all across the country, so much so that the GOP is switching to a desperate Siegfried Line-style defense strategy and even the perennially reality-challenged Right-Wing Blogosphere seems ready to don the sackcloth and ashes. At the same time, however, there are signs that the exodus of Religious Whites from the GOP is not as pronounced as first thought. Of course, this attitude of "personal responsibility" for sin is exactly the opposite of some Evangelicals' attitudes, where they refuse to vote for Democrats they like simply because of the "sin" associated with the very name "Democrat." How people, particularly self-proclaimed Christians, can continue to support a party of domestic abusers, racists and pedophiles is frankly beyond my ability to comprehend, particularly since you know-YOU KNOW-if any of these politicians had been Democrats, their names would be thundering from pulpits all across America as reasons to vote for "God's Own Party." It may well be there is some truth to the idea that "conservatives" are psychologically inclined to follow authoritarian leaders, with potentially disastrous consequences.

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Friday, October 13, 2006


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chet Up, Van Down!

Chet Edwards has now racked up endorsements from both the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and polling data suggests he has a commanding lead. Significantly, the usually reliably Right-Wing DMN went out of its way to not only praise Chet, but bash Vancampen as a rich, carpetbagging, arrogant, light-weight doofus willing to stoop to naked racism to get elected. I will be extremely curious to see how well Chet does in Johnson County, and whether he'll have any coattails for downballot races.

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Is God Green?

Excellent, excellent Bill Moyers special on PBS the other night about the rise of evangelical ecologists. It was very uplifting spiritually to see other people of faith who recognize that to pollute the environment is to literally spit on God's benevolence and generosity in providing humanity what is (for all we know) the only habitable planet anywhere in the Universe. Likewise, it was disheartening to see the power of the False Profits (particularly Dobson the Apostate) to cow and bully Christians who fail to kowtow to his immoral, anti-Christian and un-American Social Darwinist agenda. Make no mistake, however; these eco-Christians have not been suddenly transformed into tree-hugging liberals. They are still opposed to abortion and still oppposed to gay marriage. But, as with hunters (another powerful and potentially pro-environmental constituency) environmentalists should not be so blinded by single issues (the same sin they accuse the Right of) that they fail to embrace allies where they find them.

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White Flight

Gallup indicates that religious white people are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, an incredible shift from June through September when the GOP ("God's Own Party") held an average 23-point advantage. Even if this trend is grossly exagerrated, a shift of only a few percentage points among religious whites (the group that put George W. Bush over the top in 2004) could translate into huge gains for Congressional Democrats. Could it be that at long last the scales are falling from the eyes of at least some Evangelicals? Are they now learning that Dobson, Falwell and Robertson are false "profits" and the Republicans hold them in "pure contempt"?

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Land? Yes. Trust? Not So Much.

The difficulties faced by the Prairie Band of the Potawatomi Nation in the humiliating land-into-trust process wherein tribal governments must beg permission from the Federal government to pay inflated prices, and agree to various conditions and stipulations, for land that was theirs to begin with. Hat tip to the Angry Indian at Voice of a Native Son.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Down the Tubes, Part III

Chris Bowers over at MyDD offers more reasons why Democrats should refrain from popping open the bubbly just yet.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Down the Tubes, Part II

Polling numbers are making things look incredibly bad for Congressional Republicans (and here, here and here) and for the President. But, as the Great and Powerful Kos points out, incumbency and money (not to mention utter ruthlessness) are powerful tools. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Democrats should get ready for a flood of raw sewage, the worst, most personal, most negative attacks imaginable, between now and November 7. The GOP is scared, and they will do anything to cling to power.

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The March of Progress

Columbus Day protest at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. But that's not the story. Read the comments; there's the story. I'd like to say this kind of screaming ignorance and racism suprises me. I'd like to say that, but it would be a lie.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

In Honor of Columbus Day...

...the Bush Administration continues to screw over the Indians.
Mary Annette Pember (Ojibwe) says it better (and shorter) than I could.
Tribes in Denver march to "transform" Columbus Day, but Scott Richard Lyons (Ojibwe) believes the holiday cannot be transformed or redeemed or recovered.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Down the Tubes

Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly on the GOP's electoral "death spiral." Pandagon notes that the "base" is apparently starting to have problems with Republican Congressmen who choke their mistresses. Who knew?

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Column for 8 October, 2006

“The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.”
--2 Kings 17:5-6

On October 12, 1492, Cristoforo Colombo, a Genoese mercenary in service to the King of Spain, arrived with his small task force of three ships at the island of Guanahani in the Caribbean. In the mistaken belief that he had reached China, Colombo named the island San Salvador and took prisoner several of the native Arawak or Taino people, shipping them back to Spain with the notation that they would make “good servants.” Of course, he had actually reached the Western Hemisphere, soon to be called “the New World.” On that fateful day, North and South America had been continuously inhabited, by some estimates, for 30,000 years; there were likely more human beings living there than in Europe; and the cities of Tenochtitlán (capital of the Triple Alliance, also referred to as the Aztec Empire) and Qosqo (capital of the largest empire on Earth at that time, Tawantinsuyu or the Inkan Empire) were larger than any comparable cities on the continent of Colombo’s birth. In search of spices and gold, Colombo brought with him smallpox. When he arrived at Quisqueya (Hispaniola), its total population was perhaps as high as eight million people. Through disease, not to mention Colombo’s policy of forced slave labor, nearly the entire population was wiped out within a few years. As more Europeans arrived and invaded the mainland, the plague spread, depopulating large areas of North and South America. The total population of Earth in 1500 was approximately 500 million, with between 90 and 112 million living in the Western Hemisphere. Within a century and a half of Colombo’s arrival, 80 to 100 million Native Americans had been claimed by disease, roughly one out of every five human beings on the planet. An excellent recent work on this subject, and the re-revisionism of Native American history, is 1491, by Charles C. Mann. Whereas contemporaries of Colombo, like Bartolomé de las Casas, described a land that was a “beehive of people,” the next generation of explorers found emptiness, leading to the enduring myth that North America was virgin unclaimed territory. De las Casas first came to the Americas as a conquistador himself, but was sickened by the brutality he witnessed and, repenting, entered the priesthood. His posthumous work, Apologética Historia Sumaria, was the first attempt by Europeans to write truthfully about Native American culture. In fact, the “discovery” of the “New World” had led to a crisis in Christianity, since these lands and people were not to be found in Holy Scripture. De las Casas’ famous debate with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 was over the blunt issue of whether or not Native Americans were human beings. De las Casas had a somewhat romantic view, arguing that Indians were naturally innocent, living in paradise; a patronizing and offensive position, to be sure, but certainly better than de Sepúlveda’s contention that Indians were essentially animals who only looked like men, natural slaves created to serve white men and incapable of self-governance. King Charles V (grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella) was persuaded to de las Casas’ point of view; one can only imagine how things could have been worse for Indians had he gone with de Sepúlveda instead.
Once white American society began to care about the opinions of Indians, several rationalizations have sprung up to defend Colombo and his holiday, Columbus Day. One holds that Colombo and Europeans weren’t morally culpable for the Smallpox Holocaust because it was a disease, and they had no control over it. This overstates European ignorance; while they were not aware of germ theory (and neither were the Indians) they did know about diseases and de las Casas wrote of the incredible destruction smallpox inflicted on Indian societies. And, of course, centuries later, smallpox would be used as a weapon of mass destruction, with first the British then the Americans deliberately passing along infected blankets. Another excuse is that the Indians “weren’t using” the land and therefore it was morally right for whites to take it. The breathtaking ignorance displayed by this “argument” almost defies explanation. It is true, as Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote, that no Indian ever conceived of the notion of dumping so many chemicals into a river that it would catch fire, but it is a condescending myth that Indians did not shape their environment. In North America, various tribes used controlled burnings to alter forests and the Great Plains to support wild game, since they did not domesticate food animals. In South America, Indians turned large areas of the Amazon Basin into orchards to support large populations with fruit and nut-bearing trees. Indians only failed “to use” the land by the white standard, sadly still prevailing, that nature exists only to be consumed. One justification popular when I was in school was the “inevitable conflict” theory, the idea that yes, it was really sad what happened to the Indians, but it couldn’t be helped; both groups of people couldn’t live on the same land. But why not? Not all Indians were nomadic hunters like the great Plains tribes; many Southeastern tribes were farmers. Some, like the Cherokee, were landowners, and even slaveowners, just like their white neighbors. No, the conflict was not “inevitable,” because there was never an attempt made in American history by whites to live alongside Native Americans for any longer than was necessary to assemble the power to shove the tribes further and further west. The only inevitability was in the greed, racism and brutality of the majority of white settlers. So, as Columbus Day comes, it would be more fitting to take at least a brief moment to reflect on the results of that landing in 1492: a mass loss of life virtually unequalled in human history; the theft of two continents; the near-destruction and marginalization of whole cultures in the name of greed. While it is true that these tragedies occurred centuries ago, we continue to live with their consequences today and we perpetuate them by continuing to teach our children a white-washed, fictionalized history that glosses over brutality and mythologizes cruel and vicious men.


The (Not So) Great Debates

Chris Bell: boring, yet earnest and the only grown-up on the stage. Had a couple of good lines about running against three Republicans and how Texans should be horrified that Rick Perry is already planning to run again in 2010. Extra credit for knowing that the Battle of the Alamo was in 1836.
Kinky Friedman: Ignorant beyond all belief, unfunny and pissy when asked questions, sort of like Bill Clements with a moustache. Endorsed DECLARING MARTIAL LAW on the Border within the first 5 minutes of the debate, thereby putting him to the right of the Minutemen. Will white liberals finally figure out this guy is a joke and a bad one at that?
Rick Perry: As prepackaged as Velveeta. Slick, smarmy, arrogant and condescending, especially when talking down to farmers who oppose the Pave Texas Corridor.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn: Her godawful attempt at impersonating Ann Richards is wearing thin. Manages to work the word "grandma" into every single bloody sentence that she shouts out like a tourist trying to make the locals understand English. Badly flubbed a simple question: who is the President of Mexico?

US House, District 17
Nicholas Vancampen Taylor: Came across like the preening, self-important College Republican he is, with the delivery of some weenie on a high school debate team. I lost track of how many times he managed to sneer the words "liberal," "San Francisco," "illegal aliens" and "Nancy Pelosi." Painfully obvious that he is being prepped with flash cards and is incapable of forming a complete sentence without bullet points. Spent a large amount of time bashing the "out of control" spending in Washington, DC. Uh, Nicky? Which party has been in control of Congress since 1994? Also, probably not a good idea to trumpet your ignorance in not being "at all familiar" with the most recent budget resolutions.
Chet Edwards: Earnest, friendly and obviously well-prepared while still maintaining his usual "aw shucks" demeanor. Managed to look genuinely hurt and disappointed that Vancampen wouldn't agree to stop the negative ads. I'll be interested to see how much he improves his vote total over 2004.

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Book Review: "1491" by Charles C. Mann

An excellent new work by non-Native American, non-archaelogist Charles C. Mann. Aptly subtitled "New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus," 1491 is a compendium of new (and not so new but underreported) research on the history of the Western Hemisphere before the European Conquest. Among the more fascinating discoveries: human beings likely began arriving in the "New World" some 30,000 years ago; the population of the Americas before the Conquest was greater than that of Europe (making the Smallpox Holocaust all the more horrific; perhaps one out of every five human beings on the planet died in the century-and-a-half after Columbus); In 1500, Tentochtitlan (capital of the Triple Alliance or Aztec Empire) and Qosqo (capital of Tawantinsuyu, the Inkan Empire, the largest empire on Earth at the time) were larger, more advanced and more populous than any cities in Europe; pre-Conquest American history was a fascinating tapestry of empires that rose, achieved greatness and fell, only to be replaced by others; that Indians had a profound impact on their environment, from the genetic engineering of maize to the use of controlled burns to maintain and expand the Great Plains as a vast hunting preserve and to turn large areas of the Amazon Rainforest into orchards to support large population centers in the jungle. Along the way, Mann also discusses how racism and paternalism clouded archaelogical research on Native American culture and history, all presented in a brisk, enjoyable style. I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in history or Native American issues.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Dr. James Dobson Thinks Pedophilia is a "Prank"

Well-know hypocrite and apostate Dr. James Dobson once again shows his credentials as a shameless hack for the Republic Party by attempting to slough off Mark Foley's sexual predation of young boys as merely a "prank" gone awry. Disgusting.

UPDATE: A lawyer representing one of the pages now says some of his client's IM's with Foley may have had the "element of a practical joke" about them. Not sure exactly what that's supposed to mean; even if the page was joking, Foley was not. There are plenty of guys in prison right now for arranging liasons with undercover officers they imagined were minors. Nor does this let Dobson off the hook; was Foley's drunken raid on the page dorm a "prank" too?

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Prepare the Standard "Rich and Famous" Contract...

Long-time visitors to this blog (both of you. Hi, mom!) will be pleased to know that I have today inked a contract to syndicate my newspaper column through CNHI (Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.), the fine folks who own the Cleburne Times-Review. Yes, now readers from North Andover, Massachusetts to Americus, Georgia, to Ottumwa, Iowa can thrill to my smart-alecky commentary and lame jokes. Since it seems likely that the good people of Mankato, Minnesota aren't particularly interested in the fact that Rob Orr is a bootlicking sycophant devoid of the common sense God bestowed on the lowly grubworm, some weeks I will be writing two columns, one on local or Texas issues for the Times-Review and another on national or international events for the syndicate. Both, of course, will be uploaded here for your edification and amusement. All of you trolls here on the blog, please don't frighten the Midwesterners. And before y'all ask, no, they still aren't paying me anything. Further updates as events warrant.

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Hastert Political Deathwatch

Glenn Greenwald does his usual thorough job updating Foleygate and Speaker Denny Hastert's march to political oblivion.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Pot Calling the Kettle White

Joseph Farah, whose "ancestral heritage" includes "American Indian or native American blood," is deeply wounded because he thinks this t-shirt slogan caricatures white people based on the color of their skin. Wow, that must be rough! I feel your pain there, kemosabe.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Republicans Want Your Children!

As human shields apparently! This is just repulsive on so many levels, like watching Saddam Hussein pat that little kid on the head right before Gulf War I. More from the thoroughly disgusted shores of Firedog Lake.

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My Infamy Spreads

A recent column of mine gets blogged by the League of the South. And one of their local members drops by to reassure me that they are not, in fact, racist.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Like Sharks in a Tankful of Chum...

...Conservatives are turning against Speaker Denny Hastert for coddling pedophiles. Bay Buchanan is pissed. Meanwhile, Tony Snow and Matt Drudge are belittling the case and blaming the victims. Now there's some "traditional values" for you.

UPDATE: When Michelle Malkin and the Right-Wing Blogosphere are turning on the Republicans, you know things have gone off the rails. And incidentally, those on the Left should be quick to praise those on the Right who are putting principle (and children) ahead of politics.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Turd Blossom's Secret Weapon

It's all about the turnout.

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Welcome to the World of Tomorrow!!

From our "Be Careful What You Wish for Department," addressed to Congressional Republicans.

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Why is the House GOP Leadership Covering for Pedophiles, Part II

Glenn Greenwald, as usual, has more, including the spurious moral-relativism of Speaker Denny Hastert's defenders. This scandal, repulsive enough at any time, is fast becoming a symbol for a morally bankrupt Republic Party whose sole purpose in existence is preserving its own power, by any means necessary.

Tearing Down the Wall

In the latest round of their war against the Establishment Clause, minions of the Tele-Pharisees in the House have voted to deny attorney fees to parties that prevail in religious discrimination cases. The idea behind this is clear: make it so prohibitively expensive to sue the government for violating your religious freedoms you just don't bother.

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