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.
- Name: The Local Crank
- 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, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
A conservative website claims that Dick Cheney will resign after the midterm elections. This seems ludicrous to me. First, Cheney would never leave unless the President asked him (and maybe not even then) and Bush is not going to ask him. If there is one thing Bush respects (and no, it's not the Constitution) it's loyalty. Second, it makes no sense politically. If Cheney resigns before November, it looks like desperation. If he resigns after November (especially if, as seems increasingly likely, the GOP does VERY badly), it looks like a sign of weakness. Third, the only reason for Cheney resigning would be to replace him with someone who would then be the Republican front-runner for 2008. But are there any Republican presidential hopefuls dumb enough to climb aboard the sinking ship of the Bush Presidency? Doubtful.
Labels: Dick Cheney
In the latest installment of "insane power-mad theatre" we find Tom DeLay ordering Cong. Sam Johnson (last seen hysterically screaming insults at fellow Vietnam veteran John Kerry) to sic the IRS on Texans for Public Justice, a special interest group that has dared to displease the Emperor Tom.
Labels: Tom DeLay
A CBS News Poll has the President's apporoval rating at an all-time low of 34%. More ominously, for the very first time, a majority of Americans (51%) think Bush "does not care much about people like themselves."
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Cleburne Times-Review Column for 26 February, 2006
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
We’re coming to the end of Black History Month, that annual occasion for school children to color pictures of peanuts while studying George Washington Carver and write essays about Bessie Coleman or Garrett Morgan. Some might argue it is mere tokenism, but sometimes even tokens have their value. For the first two hundred years of the Republic, American history was almost exclusively the history of white America. The contributions of non-whites were glossed over or ignored, the horrors of slavery were watered-down, and the history of North America didn’t begin at all until 1492. Until history is fully integrated, and all Americans regardless of race, are recognized for their role in the development of this country, I think we will need a Black History Month, and a Native American Heritage month, for that matter.
Black History Month makes me think of two things: first, it is truly amazing how far this country (and particularly the South) has come in terms of race relations in just one generation. We of the post Civil Rights Era tend to forget just what a horrific place Apartheid America was, where as recently as 1955 a teenager named Emmett Till could be tortured to death merely because somebody said he whistled at a white woman. From the end of the Civil War, as many as 5,000 people (85% of whom were African-American) were lynched (that is tortured to death and their bodies horribly mutilated by white mobs) for allegedly assaulting white women, acting “too uppity,” or even just for being more economically successful than whites. At the peak of this reign of terror, in 1892, 161 African-Americans were murdered in this fashion. Not only did these killings go unpunished, a cottage industry grew up for postcards commemorating the murders. Nor were lynchings confined to the South; lynchings occurred in, among other places, Port Jervis, New York in 1892 and Duluth, Minnesota in 1920. So, yes, the struggle for racial equality in America is far from over, but to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.”
This brings up my second point about Black History Month. We have, since about 1970 or so, entered a new era in the Civil Rights Movement. De jure discrimination (that is, using the law to discriminate based on skin color) has been abolished. That in itself is a remarkable achievement, given the vast weight of Apartheid laws that governed America for a hundred years following the end of Reconstruction. Not only can the government not discriminate among its citizens, it will not (since the 1948 Supreme Court decision in Shelley v. Kraemer) allow the courts to be used to enforce private racism, such as racially restrictive covenants in real estate sales. And yet, de facto discrimination still exists from disproportionate sentencing for black defendants in criminal trials, to the declining but still extant problem of informal housing segregation, and the growing problem of re-segregation in public schools. Make no mistake: we cannot truly be equal if blacks and whites don’t feel comfortable enough with one another to live in the same neighborhoods or send their children to the same schools or if juries base their decisions on unconsciously racist notions. And overcoming this lingering reluctance, this underlying mistrust, will take not litigation or legislation, but a change in our hearts.
Racism, sadly, is deeply embedded in American history. In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (the first poster child for white America’s ambivalent attitudes about race) wrote, “he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain.” This condemnation of slavery was later removed due to the objections of Southern delegates, who indelicately pointed out the complicity of New England in the slave trade. Yet even Jefferson’s original writing was hypocritical, suggesting as it did the image of a cruel King George III forcing slaves on unwilling American colonists. And yet, if anti-slavery delegates had insisted that this clause remain, the Southern colonies would not have joined in Independence and the American Revolution would surely have failed. A decade later, the Constitutional Convention nearly collapsed over slavery, before finally settling on an odious compromise where African-Americans were each counted as three-fifths of a human being for purposes of assigning seats in the House of Representatives. But here again, without this morally-reprehensible compromise, there would’ve been no Constitution at all, and no United States as we would recognize it, only a bickering collection of weak states, variously under the domination of one European power or another.
The point, I suppose, is that we are all, white, black, Native American, Asian, bound together by history. The United States as we know it today could never have existed without the contributions of all her people. Our fates are inextricably woven together; we each of us cannot survive without the other. As Abraham Lincoln said, “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
Saturday, February 25, 2006
In an incredible move, the Bush Administration proposes to cut $3 million out of the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget to help pay for $7 million in attorneys' fees that were awarded to the plaintiffs in a ten-year legal fight that proved grotesque mismanagement of the various Indian Trust programs! In other words, the White House is going to punish Indian Country for daring to prove that the federal government squandered BILLIONS of dollars that should've gone to various tribes under a number of treaties going back overe 100 years. I know nothing this Administration does should surprise me anymore, but this does.
Labels: Native American
Port Insecurity, Part VIII
From The Moderate Voice, Al Qaeda claimed THREE YEARS AGO that it had inflitrated the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). And it turns out that, in a rare display of competence, the Department of Homeland Security initially objected to the deal that would turn over operation of 21 American ports to Dubai Ports World. And yet the White House absolutely refuses to reconsider, despite the fact that Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey and head of the 9/11 Commission, says the deal "should never have happened."
How, exactly, is the Bush Administration keeping us safe?
Labels: Al Qaeda
Friday, February 24, 2006
John Dean, who knows a little something about the dangers of a President who thinks he's above the law, writes about the reasons why innocent Americans should worry about the NSA's warrantless wire-tapping program.
It gets worse. Dubai Ports World (DPW), the company owned by the government of the UAE, will actually take over operations of 21 American ports (including Corpus Christi), not just the 6 that have been reported. Of course, this begs the larger question: is it REALLY a good idea to put America's vital infrastructure in the hands of ANY foreign government, whether it's the UAE, the United Kingdom or Upper Volta?
Meanwhile, Back At the Lincoln Bedroom...
...then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad paid Jack Abramoff $1.2 million for some face-time with President Bush in the Oval Office in May of 2002. This would be the same Mahathir Mohamad who used the "war on terror" as an excuse to jail his political opponents, and blamed the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 90's and his own political downfall on a "Jewish cabal" including George Soros who "ruled the world."
Lovely company we're keeping in the "Coalition of the Willing," huh?
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Port Insecurity, Part VI
People It's Hard to Feel Sorry For
Cong. Jean Schmidt is upset because an anti-tax group mocked her with a cake. Could've been worse; at least they didn't, oh, say, call her a coward on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Once again revealing its complete and utter contempt for the rule of law, it now comes out that the Bush Administration cut a secret deal with the state-owned Dubai Ports World company where they promised in writing to cooperate with US authorities but were not required to keep records on US soil, where they would be subject to US courts! Sad and pathetic, but not particularly surprising.
Via TomPaine.com, an essay on the Republican cult of loyalty.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Texans Smarter than Governor, Lege
From the Burnt Orange Report, a recent poll sponsored by the TSTA shows that Texans believe improving education is more important than cutting property taxes by a 3-1 margin. Memo to Rob Orr: now might be a good time to stop representing Highland Park and actually represent your district.
Democrats are having trouble recruiting someone to run against Bob Ney? BOB NEY? Does the guy have to be cuffed and stuffed on the floor of Congress? Unbelievable!
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at any headline that begins, "Bush unaware..." The fact that the White House is threatening its' first ever veto on this issue, allowing a company owned by a foreign government (the United Arab Emirates) that we know has at least laundered money for terrorist organizations (including the 9-11 hijackers), just shows again that nothing--not even national security--trumps this Administration's commitment to big business.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
From the New York Daily News, ties between Treasury Secretary John Snow and David Sanborn (Bush's appointment to head the US Maritime Administration) and Dubai Ports World, the UAE company slated to take over operations at 6 major US ports.
Port Insecurity, Part II
From the the Daily Kos, President Bush is now threatening to veto any attempt by Congress to prevent a United Arab Emirates company from taking over security at 6 major American ports. Guess I'll have to wait a little longer for my grass-powered car...
Already famous for "town hall meetings" of specially-screened fawning sycophants, President Bush has taken additional steps to strengthen the bubble of unreality in which he lives. Just before he visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the government managed to scrape up $5 million to rehire the 32 employees IT HAD JUST LAID OFF DUE TO BUDGET CUTS. Apparently, I'll have to wait a little longer for my grass-powered car...
Monday, February 20, 2006
And This Is Why We Lose...
I agree that Paul Hackett was treated badly by the DSCC, but for his staffers to leak oppo research on his primary opponent (and now the presumptive Democratic nominee) Sherrod Brown? That is moronic, not to mention self-defeating and childish. Anyone, and I mean anyone, from the Hackett campaign (consultants, staffers, whoever) whose fingerprints appear on this should NEVER be allowed to work on a Democratic campaign again. Idiots.
From our good friend, and the last true Republican, the Bull Moose, his view of Congress' betrayal of conservative principles in enacting the confusing and roundly criticized senior prescription drug bill.
From Ken Mohlberg, former Dallas County Democratic Chairman, current SDEC Member, and one of the greatest chain smokers I have ever met in my life, this excellent endorsement of Judge Bob Gammage for Governor.
In a shocking development, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) have pointed out that it might just possibly be a bad idea to let a terrorist-enabling state like the United Arab Emirates take control of security at six major American ports. Pressed for comment, the White House replied, "You're either with the terrorists or you're with--uh, well. Okay, I got nothing."
In The Interest of Fairness...
Okay, if I'm going to continue to mock Jeff Gannon/Guckert, the fake journalist/male escort (and rest assured, I am), I pretty much have to acknowledge this story. However, it must be said in Tom Malin's defense that he has a better track record with telling the truth than either Gannon or Vice President Cheney.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
The depth and breadth of George W. Bush's unpopularity continues to amaze me. According to the latest Survey USA poll results, the President has a net positive approval rating in only ten states (Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, & Utah). Here in Texas (the only large population state on the list), his approval rating has fallen to 49%, with his negatives up to 46%. It can't be a good sign for a Republican President to have a net disapproval rating in Ultra-Red states like South Carolina (48/49), Mississippi (47/50) and South Dakota (43/53).
Labels: George W. Bush
Cleburne Times-Review Column for February 19, 2006
“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live.”
Let us return once again to those thrilling days of yore, millions of years ago when men were men and giants walked the Earth and Texas was ruled by now mythical creatures known as Democrats. Then, as now, Texas was a corrupt, repressive one-party dictatorship. Of course, not even the names were different, as many of the most reactionary, self-aggrandizing old frauds stepped over to the Republican Party later without missing a beat. In 1971, Texas had a spineless Governor (Preston Smith), a ruthless and corrupt Speaker of the House (Gus Mutscher, Jr.), and a reputation as the kind of state where an “honest politician” was a politician who, once bought, stayed bought. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. And then came Sharpstown. Frank Sharp, a millionaire wheeler-dealer from Houston, rewarded his pet politicians for favors by loaning them $600,000 from his bank, which they then used to buy National Bankers Life stock (another Sharp holding), which was then sold at inflated prices, with a big profit for all. And they likely would’ve gotten away with it, too, despite the foul stench of corruption wafting from the capitol dome in Austin, but for the now-legendary “Dirty Thirty,” a reform-minded gang of Democratic and Republican legislators that demanded an investigation of Sharpstown. Taking their name from an insult by a lobbyist who referred to them as “those thirty dirty (colloquial expression for a person born outside wedlock which we do not repeat in a family newspaper),” the Thirty kept the scandal in the news (despite serious threats and retaliation from the powers-that-be through redistricting) and ultimately led to the conviction of Mutscher and the end of the political careers of Preston Smith and Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes.
And now that Texas is again ruled by a corrupt cabal, the Dirty Thirty (like the Magnificent Seven) are back, at least some of them. Bob Gammage, who later served in Congress and on the Texas Supreme Court, is running for governor, having lost none of the fire he showed as a young legislator thirty-five years ago, referring in a recent interview to Republican education “reform” proposals as, “crap, crap and crap,” and making the theme of his campaign a battle against the Republican “culture of corruption and cronyism” in Austin. Running for Lieutenant Governor is Ben Z. Grant, another Dirty Thirty Alumnus who once rode his horse 286 miles to Austin to draw attention to a constitutional convention called to reform the bloated, antiquated Texas constitution. And Fred Head of Athens is running for State Comptroller.
Of course, just riding in like the cavalry is no guarantee of success. Yes, Texas is burdened with a clueless, ineffectual buffoon of a governor with no legislative respect or clout, despite overwhelming partisan control. The notion that he might become the longest serving governor in state history is surely enough to make Sam Houston spin in his grave. Yes, the Texas House is run by Tom Craddick, a feckless, petty dictator who is propped up by craven lickspittles like our own Rob Orr. Yes, the official state lobbyist is apparently laundering taxpayer money for Tom DeLay. Yes, the junta in charge of the Republican Party plutocracy is hard at work punishing its own members for failing to sufficiently kowtow to wealthy Right-Wing contributors like Dr. James Leininger. But there are some brutal realities for those of us who still believe in democracy: this is a big state and it takes a lot of money to run for office. Assuming all three of these warhorses are nominated, there are few sources of big campaign donations left for Democrats. One of those sources, the trial lawyers, already show signs of drifting towards Democrat turned Republican turned Independent Republican turned Independent Carol Keeton Strayhorn. In order for the good guys to win, in order to repudiate a style of government that seems more at home in Zimbabwe than America, Democrats have to nominate strong candidates, candidates who know how to mine for money as well as votes, and then put aside their usual fratricidal bloodletting to unite behind their candidates. Moreover, liberals in the party need to get over their tendency to attack potential allies for a lack of political purity and comprehend the basic unalterable fact that unless people who have been voting Republican in recent years can be convinced to “come home,” then the Democratic Party while be doomed to perpetually irrelevancy.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about the Dirty Thirty, I highly recommend Shadow on the Alamo by Harvey Katz. It may be out of print, but copies can still be found on the internets.
Friday, February 17, 2006
From HuffPo, a witty little ditty on why now, at long long last, the White House Press Corps is turning on the hapless Scott McClellan like a pack of old hunting dogs who've just noticed the rabbit in their kennel. Or maybe a better analogy would be a pack of trained poodles turning on their handler...
Bad to Worse, Part II
The US is cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority and demanding our money back, to keep it out of the mitts of Hamas. It had to be done, obviously; we can't bankroll a gang of admitted terrorists. A cutoff of foreign aid will hurt the fragile Palestinian economy; but if Israel closes its borders, the Authority's economy will disintegrate. Ironically, of course, a bad economy was part of what led to Hamas' victory in the first place, along with the endemic corruption and incompetence of the Fatah movement. In the past, Hamas (and other terrorist organizations) have been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia. In fact, it was Yasir Arafat's foolish decision to back Saddam Hussein in Gul War I that caused the Saudis to cut their funding to the PLO, bringing them to the negotiations that created the Palestinian Authority in the first place. Now, frankly, I have a hard time imagining a good ending to any of this. Israel is not going to negotiate with Hamas (and who can blame them?) and Hamas is loudly proclaiming that it will not negotiate with Israel. Sadly, it may well be that the best thing we can hope for is a rapid economic downturn that will lead to Hamas being thrown out of the office as quickly as possible.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Killed A Man In Reno Just To Watch Him Die
In all seriousness, I hope Harry Whittington, one of the patriarchs of the Texas Republican Party, fully recovers, but this piece by Tom Burka is hillarious.
Yet More Endorsements for Judge Gammage
This time, it's Latinos for Texas.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Another view of Paul Hackett's messy exit from the Ohio Senate race, courtesy of The (Liberal) Girl Next Door. The (liberal)Girl Next Door: About The Hackett Mess In Ohio
Democrats Do Something Stupid
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Just In Case You Were Worried...
...that the oil companies weren't making enough money, comes word that the Bush Administration is giving them $65 BILLION in royalty-free oil and gas from PUBLIC lands. This link to yet another screwjob on the taxpayers is brought to you by the fine folks at The Daily Kos.
Monday, February 13, 2006
When Reporters Attack!!
White House Press Corps discovers Scott McClellan has a tendency not to answer questions! Also, hot things burn!
Red Oyster Cult, Part II
From Unclaimed Territory, a much more elegant dissertation than mine on the declining standards of what it means to be a "conservative" in American politics today.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Abramoff vs. Indian County, Part II
From the Left Coaster, some charming e-mails from Tom DeLay's "dear friend" Abramoff referring to some of the tribal clients he was swindling as "monkeys." I reiterate my suggestion that upon conviction, Abramoff be turned over to tribal governments for punishment.
The Vice President shot a "millionaire lawyer" from Austin while hunting in South Texas. "You're next, Reid," Cheney was heard to growl at startled onlookers.
Labels: Dick Cheney
From the Burnt Orange Report, Judge Gammage endorsed by the Austin Progressive Coalition. Given how heavily Travis County tends to turn out in the Democratic Primary, this should be a significant boost to the Gammage campaign.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
A Veterans Administration nurse is being "investigted" for "sedition" after she wrote a letter to the editor criticizing the war in Iraq. Feeling safer yet?
Red Oyster Cult
An interesting piece from Crooks and Liars about how "conservatism" seems to be morphing into a bizarre cult of personality around George W. Bush, and as a result a growing rift is forming on the Right. As far back as the 1980's, I noticed that "conservative" seemed to mean "whatever Reagan was for," and the trend has only gotten worse with the ascendence of the Right-Wing Howler Monkey brigades to endlessly screech the party line on the internet, radio and television. I honestly think if Bush went on television tomorrow to announce that he was nationalizing the means of production and forming a dictatorship of the proletariat, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Coulter and the rest would rush to their microphones to describe his actions as "conservative" and "patriotic." Except, of course, for the Last True Republican, Bull Moose.
From the Daily Kos, yet more proof that the Bush Administration supports the war but not the troops.
Courtesy of the Burnt Orange Report, an op-ed piece by Judge Bob Gammage.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Chet Edwards vs. The Environment
An alert reader passed this link along and I have to say I'm very disappointed in our Congressman. Long-time readers know that I have been a Chet Edwards fan for years, going back to his days in the State Senate, and I have frequently defended him against some of our more liberal brethren and sistren who can't seem to understand that their only real choices in this congressional district are Chet (who supports them 85% of the time) or someone like Arlene Wohlgemuth (who opposes them 100% of the time). Having said that, it's still sad to see Chet throw in his lot with such a rabid anti-environment blowhard as Richard Pombo of California in his efforts to castrate the Endangered Species Act. Whether you're an environmentalist or a hunter (or both, like me), call Chet at 866-776-6100 (toll-free in CD17) and tell him he has your support, but he needs to clean up his act on the Environment. Preserving the wilderness for our children IS a family value!
It's A Moral Outrage!
It's absolutely wrong to mention something as base and nasty as politics at a funeral, unless of course it's Ronald Reagan's funeral and Republicans doing the mentioning.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Okay, I have to admit, this surprised me. Cheney's former chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, has apparently rolled over on his boss, telling a federal grand jury that Cheney "authorized" him to leak classified information (namely that Valerie Plame was a covert agent). If true, this means the Vice President ordered "Scooter" to break federal law. The ghost of Spiro Agnew can be heard howling around the gates of the Naval Observatory...
Labels: Dick Cheney
Foxes Guarding the Henhouse
The House GOP remain hopelessly clueless. First, they elect as majority leader a "reformer" who is plainly yet another lobbyist tool, now they put Tom DeLay on the Committee overseeing the Abramoff investigation. With this kind of sheer unmitigated arrogance, even the Democrats couldn't screw up this election (maybe).
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
They Eat Horses, Don't They?
Regardless of how you feel about horse meat, how many times do Republicans have to watch this Administration thumb it's nose at the other branches of government in a mad scramble to lick the boots of big business (or create a police state) before they realize that the Bush White House has a fundamental contempt for the rule of law?
Supporting the Troops
The Bush Administration has proposed the smallest military pay raise in 13 years. While there is a modest 6% increase in housing allowances, spending on new family housing remains flat from last year. Once again, this White House demonstrates that it only considers soldiers and sailors as background for photo-ops.
It's a Fine Day for the Republic...
...when the Attorney General of the United States cannot be permitted to testify under oath about whether or not the President of the United States is breaking the law, particulary when the only thing the Attorney General seems to be interested in is whether or not someone broke the law by reporting that the President was, and is, breaking the law.
Monday, February 06, 2006
I'll Believe It When I See It
Okay, sure, there seems to be a growing chorus of media rumbles about the possibility of the Democrats taking either the House or the Senate this year. Even some Conservatives are worried enough to start considering the possible benefits to the GOP if they lost the House. Certainly, losing Congress was in many ways the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party, as the Congressional leadership had grown fat, self-indulgent and stupid. But first, what does the media know? Second, there's still a million years between now and November. And third, Democrats have a penchant for navel-gazing and thumb-sucking that may yet enable them to defeat themselves. MyDD has a similar view on Democratic angst and self-defeatism.
House GOP Not REALLY In Favor of Lobbyist Reform
Surprise, surprise. Also, babies are cute.
While I don't like to see anyone's faith mocked, I submit that the riots, embassy burnings and so forth (apparently fanned by certain political factions for their own reasons) are far more harmful to Islam than a thousand tasteless cartoons.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Profiles in Courage
Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) has the guts to call the NSA warrantless wiretap program what it is: illegal. So much for the idea that only liberals and Democrats have a problem with granting the president this kind of police-state power with no restraints whatsoever, especially considering it doesn't even help keep us safe.
Another alert reader sent me this, regarding the growing frustration of US Bankruptcy judges with some of the more draconian provisions of the Orwellian-named "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act" (surely the most inapt name for legislation since the "USA Patriot Act."
Chickens Coming Home to Roost
An alert reader sent this link to a history of US aid to Saddam Hussein. Now, this is not to suggest that Saddam Hussein is the first petty, two-bit dictator we have propped up in the name of expediency (see, for example, Stalin) but it does illustrate a point: these dogs almost always come back to bite the hand that feeds.
Back In Black!
For reasons that passeth understanding (and certainly not due to any skills on my part), the blog appears to be running normally, or as normal as it ever gets. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Cleburne Times-Review Article for 5 February, 2006
“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”
--2 Peter 3:17
George W. Bush’s recent State of the Union Address demonstrated several defining characteristics of this President. First, he is still, five years into his term, and ten after winning his first office, a lousy public speaker. Probably the worst public speaker to become President since, well, his father. He still sounds pre-programmed at best and insincere at worst. He has only given one really good speech since being appointed President, his famous address from the top of the rubble of the World Trade Center, but nothing since has even come close. Second, Bush, to his credit, has consistently throughout his political career, resisted the temptation to bash immigrants, even back in the early-to-mid 1990’s, when Pete Wilson made it look like the wave of the future in the Republic Party. Maybe he has selfish reasons for doing so; after all, in Texas we know the real benefit of illegal aliens—keeping wages low. Even so, he deserves a pat on the back for sticking by his guns on this issue, even while his own party is cooking up ever more ludicrous schemes to stoke public paranoia over a wave of brown people infiltrating the country. Third, this President apparently wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him. His speech was so full of distortions, misstatements and outright falsehoods; it would take a dissertation to list and rebut them all. Putting aside the verbal chicanery about the economy and energy production and so forth, it was the President’s desperate obsession with using police state tactics and his incredible attempts to justify them that should give most Americans pause.
The President said, “We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to Al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack -- based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute -- I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected Al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America.” Aside from the clever labeling of what is clearly and unequivocally an illegal warrantless wiretap directed at American citizens as “terrorist surveillance,” Bush ignores the findings of the 9-11 Commission, the Commission he opposed. Yes, the government knew about two of the hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, more than a year before the attacks, but it was bureaucratic incompetence, not an inability to receive a warrant to tap their phones, that prevented any action from being taken against them. In fact, the National Security Agency (NSA) successfully intercepted two messages warning of the attacks on September 10, 2001, but didn’t translate them from the Arabic to English until September 12, 2001. Too little, too late.
The “statute” the President referred to is the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress immediately after 9-11. However, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the AUMF does not allow the President to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) that requires warrants from a special, secret FISA Court before electronic eavesdropping on American citizens. Even members of Bush’s own Justice Department such as Deputy Attorneys General James Comey and Jack Goldsmith argued that what the President’s handlers were proposing was illegal and unconstitutional. When, in 2002, Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) proposed a bill that would have specifically lowered FISA standards, the Justice Department claimed such a bill might not “pass constitutional muster.”
The President said, “Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have…” However, the Clinton Administration only argued that physical searches, not electronic eavesdropping, were not subject to FISA, and indeed they weren’t, until October of 1994. Likewise, Executive Order 12139 issued by President Jimmy Carter specifically stated that warrantless wiretaps could not apply to “any communication to which a United States person is a party.” Presidents before Jimmy Carter were not bound by FISA, which was signed into law in 1978.
The President said, “... and federal courts have approved the use of that authority.” However, the Congressional Research Service referred to above specifically noted that “no court has ruled on the question of Congress’s authority to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence information,” referring to the President’s claim that his Constitutional authority allows him to ignore Congressional laws that he believes encroach on Executive Branch power.
The President said, “Appropriate members of Congress have been kept informed.” However, six of the seven Democratic members of Congress who were supposedly briefed on the warrantless wiretaps either objected at the time (but of course could not object publicly due to laws against disclosure of top-secret information) or weren’t told the true nature and extent of the program. Another Congressional Research Service report stated that the Bush Administration’s briefings on eavesdropping were so inadequate as to “appear to be inconsistent with the law.”
The President said, “The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America.” Yet, current and former Bush Administration officials admit that the data mined through this program after 9-11 “led to dead ends or innocent Americans.”
So, it’s clear that wiretapping Americans without a warrant is unconstitutional, has no legal justification, would not have prevented 9-11, and isn’t keeping us any safer. So why is the President so obsessed with spying on us? Maybe it’s because he’s fallen in with the wrong crowd, namely Nixon Era rejects like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, neither of whom seem to have lost their zeal for an Imperial Presidency. Or maybe he’s come to believe that it has become necessary to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.
We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties
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Friday, February 03, 2006
Smells Like Party Spirit
A typically thoughtful piece from my Right Honourable Colleague the Distinguished Gentleman from Austin over at Eric's Lyceum about the two-party monopoly on power and it's harmful effects on the republic.
Run For Your Lives!
Labels: Hillary Clinton
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The People's House? Part IV
The Voters Love A Man In Uniform...
...unless of course he has never earned the right to wear it. What was Beauprez thinking? Who on his staff signed off on this?
Meet the New Boss...
From the lovely and talented The Next Hurrah, a quick review of our new and improved House Majority Leader, John Boehner, whose primary claim to fame is being (so far) the only member of the Republic Party from Ohio not currently under indictment. I have to say, though, his membership in a swank "male-only country club" doesn't seem all that damning compared, to say, handing out checks on the floor of the House (note: this is only shocking if you're not from Texas). See also here to find out how the "reform candidate" is REALLY the "K Street candidate."
Shocked! Shocked and Appalled!
Apparently, most Americans don't bother to watch the State of the Union Address. In other astonishing true tales, most Americans don't vote and think all politicians are crooks! Also, puppies are cute. You heard it here first!
Labels: George W. Bush
I am constantly amazed, though I probably shouldn't be, at how casually racist attitudes and stereotypical portrayals of Native Americans are publicly displayed, with apparently no social stigma at all. In fact, I had a personal experience with this attitude recently, though it doesn't compare to this loathesome video game "Gun" where one of your missions is to "scalp" Apache. The family and I went out to eat at a Joe's Crab Shack in Fort Worth. Like most soul-less chain restaurants, this one was covered with kitsch decorations. One of them was a sign featuring a Native American (with a feathered headdress because, you know, ALL Indians wear feathered headdresses) and the caption "Me Like Buffalo." Gosh, how clever! I probably wouldn't have even noticed the thing, except my five-year-old pointed it out to me, which really made me feel good. I bit my tongue and didn't say anything, but I couldn't help but think how offended EVERYONE would be if the sign had shown an African American dressed like a Zulu warrior with the caption, "Me Like Watermelon." That wouldn't have lasted five minutes. So why is it that whatever corporate moron mass-purchased these signs thought this was okay? And if you scroll down to the comments on the Gamespot article I linked to, you notice that the vast majority of them are of the "stop whining!" and "don't be so PC" variety common to snotty white boys who are outraged that anyone would ever dare to be offended.
Now, it's true that I have never been, and probably never will be, discriminated against based on my heritage. And I don't want speech codes, I don't want a law passed banning "Chief Wahoo" or the Washington, DC professional football team named for a racist slur. As I have often said, there is no "Freedom from being offended" clause in the Constitution. In fact, the First Amendment virtually GUARANTEES that you are going to be offended, and on a regular basis. But is it too much to hope that these idiots will give some thought to what they are doing before they plaster crap like that sign up where I have to explain it to my kids?
Labels: Native American
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The People's House? Part III
The State of the State of the Union
Good review of SOTU by the LA Times, particularly the President's increasingly strained quasi-legal justifications for engaging in domestic wiretapping. Remember when Clinton was President and Republicans used to HATE this kind of half-baked legal theorizing? Those were the good ol' days, huh?
Labels: George W. Bush
The People's House? Part II
Apparently, Capitol Police are at least bi-partisan in their fear of t-shirt slogans, though it's interesting to note that (unlike Cindy Sheehan) they didn't arrest Beverly Young, wife of Republican Congressman Bill Young of Florida, for wearing one that said "Support the troops defending our freedom"; they just accused her of "protesting" and escorted her out of the chamber. She called the officer an "idiot," which just goes to show that if a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, then a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested (or, uh, escorted from the chamber).
Labels: Free Speech
Official Decoder Ring!
The People's House?
Am I the only one bothered by the notion that you can be arrested for wearing a political t-shirt in the Capitol Building? As far as the news reports seem to indicate, Cindy Sheehan wasn't causing a disruption, wasn't screaming obscenities at the podium or anything like that, and she was an invited guest of a Member of Congress. Yet she's arrested and charged with "unlawful conduct" for exercising her First Amendment rights to free speech in what is arguably the temple of American democracy? Now, granted, she may have planned this. Certainly, she's been involved in some strange actions lately, particularly her eye-roll-inducing decision to appear with that socialist blowhard and military coup-leader Hugo Chavez. Actions like that don't help her cause at all. But, frankly, even if this was a completely calculated and cynical plan to generate publicity, you still have to ask: if you can't dissent in the Capitol Building, where can you? Are our politicians really so weak-kneed, such slaves to the photo-op they can't bear the thought of a contrary opinion on a t-shirt? Wait, don't answer that...
Labels: Free Speech