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."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Supporting the Troops

The US Army has banned the use of privately-purchased body armor, allegedly out of concern that it might be substandard. Because, you know, obviously NO body armor is much better than "substandard" body armor. I expect next the Pentagon will ban the use of "hillbilly armor" on humvees because it "looks tacky."

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Turning of the Tide?

More Americans now identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans. So, is 2006 REALLY 1994, or just 1998?

The Most Powerful Man In Washington...

...Jack Abramoff was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison. He will remain out while helping prosecutors trace the money. In a related story, the entire Republican Party announced that it was relocating to Bahrain to "relax."

Halliburton Still Screwing Taxpayers

In other news, General Andrew Jackson is still dead.

Abortion and Indian Country

As if the debate over abortion couldn't get any more bitter and divisive, now tribal sovereignty gets thrown into the mix. In response to South Dakota's ban on virtually all abortions, Oglala Sioux Chief Cecilia Fire Thunder is considering opening a clinic on the reservation. This is a pretty blatant challenge in one of the most Indian-hostile states in the Union.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

Thank to The Memory Hole. In October, 2001, the State Department's Future of Iraq Project gathered Iraqi exiles and international experts to plan a post-Saddam future for that nation. They completed their work in March/April of 2003 and their findings were promptly classified and then ignored by the Administration. Among other things, the Project foresaw widespread looting immediately after the invasion and warned of the dangers of disbanding the Iraqi Army. Yet more proof of this Administration's pig-headedness and willful ignorance.

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Spreading Democracy (or Manure, whichever)

This is a story about Abdul Rahman being sentenced to death by a court in Afghanistan for allegedly converting to Christianity. This is President Bush expressing outrage over the sentence. Aaaand this is President Bush praising the Afghani constitution which enshrined Islam as the state religion, making it possible for Abdul Rahman to be sentenced to death by a court in Afghanistan for allegedly converting to Christianity.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Citizens Can Sleep Safer Tonight...

...knowing Congressman Tom DeLay is doing his part to keep potentially dangerous indicted felons from carrying concealed weapons. Link thanks to Brazos River.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Republic Party (1855-2006) Rest in Pieces

On March 16, 2006, the Republic Party, the Party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party, died in a Wahington-area hospice facility. According to a preliminary political autopsy, the cause of death was massive ideological hemorrhaging, caused by the unexpected abandonment of the Party's last remaining principle. Though the death of the Party was a shock to many nationwide, pundits had long suggested that the GOP had been on life support since 2000, when it lost the popular vote in a third straight Presidential election and was resucitated only by a massive infusion of judicial activism. After a brief rally in 2002 and again in 2004, the Party's fortunes began a steady decline, first into impotence, then senility, and finally, death. No notice of funeral services have yet been announced, but they are expected in early November. The Party's two surviving children, the Christian Reconstructionists and the Plutocrats, have already retained counsel for a protracted legal battle over the estate that is projected to continue well into 2008.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Chief Smith's Official Statement on the Freedmen Case

Cleburne Times-Review Column for March 19, 2006

“Therefore, my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst. Therefore, the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.”
--Isaiah 5:13-14

In May of 1838, seven thousand US soldiers (the bulk of the American Army at the time) arrived in New Echota in northwest Georgia under the command of General Winfield Scott. The troops scoured the hills and valleys of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, arriving at small log cabins and tidy farms. There, they forced families from their dinner tables at bayonet point, captured children at play and men in the field, separating them and herding them into concentration camps. The prisoners (for that is what they were, even though none had committed a crime) were not allowed any but a few meager possessions, what they could carry on their backs. Behind the soldiers came a drunken mob of looters occasionally called the “militia,” to steal what remained, burn down the cabins, and even dig up the graves of ancestors to strip the corpses of gold and jewelry. In the camps, women, children and the elderly slept on the cold ground. The food was scarce and the water, tainted. Disease soon spread. These refugees, victims of the first, but sadly not the last major ethnic cleansing in American history, were the A Ni Yv Wi Ya, the Principal People, better known as the Tsa La Gi—the Cherokee. They were about to walk Ge Tsi Ka Hv Da A Ne Gv I, the Trail of Tears, solely because they had the temerity to be Indians living on land white people desired.

The Cherokee, along with the Muscogee (Creek), the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole, other victims of Removal, are sometimes referred to as the “Five Civilized Tribes,” a particularly galling term, given what was done to them. “Civilized,” in this sense meant “acting like white people.” The Cherokee gave up traditional hunting for farming and herding. Some (like James Vann) became wealthy plantation owners and bought and sold black slaves. While they backed Britain during the American Revolution, the Cherokee actually fought for the United States during the War of 1812. Had they listened to the great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh in 1811 and joined his alliance with the English, American history would have been very different. Legend has it that at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, a Cherokee chief named Junaluska saved the life of an obscure backwoods Tennessee lawyer and politician-general named Andrew Jackson. Junaluska said later that if he had known what Jackson, known as Sharp Knife, would do later, he would have killed him himself. In 1821, the Cherokee genius Sequoyah did what no Indian, indeed no single person in history, had ever done: invent a written language. A written constitution was adopted in 1827, one which required belief in the Christian God as a prerequisite for office, but which was otherwise modeled on the US Constitution, which had in turn been modeled on the Iroquois League, the ancestors of the Cherokee. The first-ever Indian language newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, began publishing in 1828; it is still published today.

Sharp Knife (who was elected President in 1828, thanks to the fame the Cherokee brought him at Horseshoe Bend) and Georgia didn’t care. They wanted the land, especially after gold was found, and they wanted the Indians gone. Georgia in particular was willing to do anything to get it, including abolish democracy. Freedom of speech was done away with; anyone who argued that the Cherokee should be allowed to keep their homes would be imprisoned. Freedom of religion was denied; Samuel Worcester, missionary, was arrested for daring to minister in the Cherokee Nation. Bands of white “surveyors” and bandits roamed freely, dividing off land already owned and occupied to be given away by government lottery to white men. Unlike the Creek and the Seminole, the “civilized” Cherokee did not fight. They did what “civilized” people do; they hired lawyers. William Wirt, former Attorney General of the United States, argued the Cherokee’s case before the US Supreme Court. The Cherokee won; Georgia’s actions, wrote Chief Justice John Marshall, were “repugnant to the Constitution.” It still didn’t matter. For the first time, but unfortunately not the last, a President decided he was above the law. Marshall has made his decision, Jackson said, now let him enforce it. The lawful, duly-elected government of the Cherokee Nation refused to sign a removal treaty, so the government found a group of Cherokee who would, despite their lack of authority. The “Treaty of New Echota” was signed in 1835. Major Ridge, the greatest orator of the tribe, who fought beside Sharp Knife at Horseshoe Bend, and who had insisted on a new Cherokee law that mandated the death penalty for those who gave away tribal land, said at the time that he was signing his own death warrant. He, his son John Ridge, and his nephew Elias Boudinot, editor of the Phoenix, would all be assassinated for their part in the treaty.

And so the Cherokee were driven like cattle through Tennessee and Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas to the Indian Territory, where land was granted to them “forever” (or until 1907, when the US government would unilaterally abolish the tribal government and give most of their land to white people). Weather, disease and starvation killed at least 4,000, perhaps twice that. The Trail is littered with their unmarked graves. And yet, like the literal translation of Cherokee Phoenix, Tsa-la-gi Tsu-le-hi-sah-nuh-hi, “the Cherokee will rise again.” Today, the Cherokee (in Oklahoma and in the hills of North Carolina, where through the efforts of the white man William H. Thomas, a remnant never left) are the second largest tribe in America. On March 11, my family and I were at Pea Ridge National Military Park in northern Arkansas. There, with maybe 200 others, led by Principal Chief Chad Smith, we walked part of the Trail of Tears. A threatened storm blew in and the rain began to fall on us as we walked the path through the bare trees, gently at first, then more insistently. By the time we reached the park headquarters, rain and hail came in blinding horizontal sheets. The doors blew open and the panoramic window quivered ominously. And then, in an instant, it stopped. The sun shone through for the first time all day. The Cherokee will rise again.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Shortsighted and Wrong

I am a big admirer of Chad Corntassel Smith, the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. When he stood up to the corrupt dictatorial former Chief Joe Byrd in 1997, defying his attempts to overthrow the Cherokee Supreme Court, I saw Smith as a Cherokee version of Boris Yeltsin, standing on a tank in Red Square. But now he's dead wrong. The same Supreme Court he saved recently ruled that the Freedmen, the descendants of black slaves formerly owned by Cherokee who were granted tribal citizenship in 1866, must be allowed to enroll as members of the tribe under the current 1975 constitution. Chief Smith is now supporting amending the constitution to exclude the Freedmen or even calling a constitutional convention to reverse the Court's decision. Chief Smith's comments that the Freedmen "haven't helped to build the nation" sounds dangerously close to racism, not to mention an unconcious repeat of arguments made by white Americans against making Indians US Citizens. Moreover, his attitude ignores the ugly and often overlooked fact that wealthy Cherokee landowners not only owned slaves, but brought them with them on ge-tsi-ka-hv-da a-ne-gv-i, the Trail of Tears. The Freedmen froze in the winter and burned in the summer, slept on the ground, were starved and beaten and cheated along the way to the Indian Territory, just like their Cherokee masters. After the Civil War, the freed slaves were granted Cherokee citizenship, admittedly on the orders of the Federal Government, angry that Cherokee leaders like Stand Watie and (reluctantly) John Ross had supported the Confederacy. Through their suffering, both as slaves and as fellow victims of the Trail of Tears, the Freedmen have earned the right to call themselves Cherokee. Chief Smith and Tribal Council should honor that.

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What If Bill Clinton Had...(part 257 in a series)

...attended not one but two fundraisers with a porn star?


Big Law Firms Do NOT Speak for All Lawyers

I don't particularly want to pay more in taxes either, but it's ludicrous that law firms worth literally billions now pay practically nothing to help fund education. Unlike normal businesses, all lawyers pay an occupational tax (also known as the "Thanks for being a lawyer" tax) but if and ONLY if they are a professional corporation, do they have to pay the franchise tax as well. And this is why the biggest law firms are still partnerships. These rich crybabies who have shirked their fair share for years due to a loophole created by lawyer-legislators are giving the rest of us a bad name. And don't believe their cover story about the pain of "passing the tax burden onto our poor benighted clients," either. Big law firms represent big clients. These guys don't make millions and millions of dollars per year by representing misdemeanor criminal defendants or single mothers seeking child support, believe me.

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Send In the Clowns

The long-dreaded special session has been called for April 17. Given the fact that four out of the "Leininger Five" went down to defeat, I expect yet one more legislative quagmire, especially as I respectfully doubt the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court has the huevos to actually shut down all public schools on June 1.

You Tell 'Em, Newtie!

Apparently, the big fear amongst Republicans is that if Democrats accidentally gain control of Congress, they will use their power to investigate, harass and embarass the President. You, kind of like the GOP did after the 1994 elections...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sharp Knife Recognized

The Hermitage, plantation home of Andrew Jackson, has been added as an official site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Jackson, known as Sharp Knife to the Indians he betrayed, was a con man, a racist (even for his time) and an ethnic cleanser long before anyone ever heard of Slobodan Milosevic. Recognizing his brutal obsession with driving the Southeastern tribes from the homes is an important first step in gaining peace for the thousands whose bones litter unmarked graves from Georgia to Oklahoma.

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If the President Does It, It's Not Illegal (For Him, Anyway)

Anyone reporting that the President of the United States is violating the Constitution would be punished by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of $1 million, or both, under proposed new legislation. For you Republicans out there who continue to defend this shameless Administration, riddle me this: would you be comfortable with Hillary Clinton wielding this kind of power?

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Speaker Pelosi?

The Last True Republican, Bull Moose, suggests that the GOP's best chance is to lose the House and hope the Democrats drown in a sea of wretched know, kind of like the Republic Party did after 1994.

Free Falling...

President Bush's approval rating sinks to 36%.

Doomed From the Start?

Yet another recently leaked British memo indicates that Tony Blair was aware three years ago of major problems with the US strategy for Iraq. Everyone who's surprised by this, spontaneously combust.

When All Else Fails, Change the Rules

Faced with the risk of an actual investigation of the Bush Administration's program to spy on American citizens without a warrant, Senator Bill Frist has threatened to change to non-partisan rules of the Senate Intelligence Committee to strip all power from the minority.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

House Republicans Want To Poison Your Children

In yet another stunning blow for State's Right, the GOP House has passed (without a committee hearing that might've introduced pesky facts into the debate) a bill to overturn any State food safety label standards that are more stringent than the federal government's. Thanks to this money-saving measure, lobbyists will now only have to purchase the US Congress, instead of the more expensive route of purchasing up to 50 state legislatures. And if some kids happen to become ill or die because of poor labelling on food, well, that's just the magical "invisible hand" of the Free Market at work!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Great Sell-Off

Here on the North Carolina slope of the Great Smoky Mountains, folks are up in arms about the Bush Administration's proposal to sell off 200,000 acres of US Forest Service land, 6,500 acres of it in the nearby Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Democrats and Republicans, environmentalists and hunters are angry about seeing these beautiful vistas put on the auction block solely to benefit the President's campaign contributors and to make the voodoo math of his budget work out. The issue is starting to dominate the local congressional race, with incumbent Republican Charles Taylor hemming and hawing and his Democratic challenger Heath Shuler hammering away at him on the issue. I'm particularly glad to see fellow hunters beginning to realize that, at least on some issues, they have much more in common with "tree huggers" than they do with a Republic Party wholly beholden to big business.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls...

...hopefully Rick Perry come November. Chris Bell wasn't my choice in the primary, but now he's our standard-bearer and now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. Sam Houston must be spinning is his grave at the thought of Perry becoming the longest-serving Governor in Texas history. Actually, Perry never served anyone in his life but wealthy special interests; let's say longest squatter in the Governor's Mansion. Give 'em hell, Chris! God Bless Texas!

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Monday, March 06, 2006

America for Sale: CHEAP!

From the lovely and talented (Liberal) Girl Next Door, an overview of just how bad foreign ownership of America's economy has gotten. This has nothing to do with Dubai; it's just as bad to have Britain or France or Outer Slobovia controlling this country's infrastructure. We can NOT be an economic superpower if we don't make anything; and if foreign countries control our economy, and all we do is export raw materials, how are we any different from the Belgian Congo?

The Suprene Court and Military Recruiters

The Daily Kos explains (more cogently than I could) why the Supreme Court was right in ruling that universities that refuse to allow military recruiters in campus (as a protest against military policies regarding homosexuals) risk losing their federal funding.

Line-Item Veto (No Democrats Need Apply)

From the Moderate Voice, a thoughtful analysis of President Bush's line-item veto proposal and how it would allow a President with a majority in Congress to further gut the power of the minority party by systematically targeting THEIR pork while leaving the majority's pork intact.

Cue The Golden Calf

Missouri state legislators are proposing to name Christianity the "official majority religion" of their state. Quick! Who can name BOTH the Constitutional Amendment AND the Commandment this assinine scheme clearly violates?

(Yes, I know I said no updates this week, but this story was just begging for it)

Saturday, March 04, 2006


The Local Crank will be on vacation next week, so no updates for awhile and no column for March 12.

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Cleburne Times-Review Column for 5 March, 2006

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,’ be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.”
--Deuteronomy 17:14-15a

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 7, so it therefore behooves us to review some of the major races.
Governor: It is no secret to long-time readers of this column that I consider Rick Perry the single greatest waste of oxygen ever to occupy the Governor’s Mansion. Carol Strayhorn, who changes parties, philosophies and positions (and last names) as often as most of us change our socks, seems to have as her only major guiding principal her own self-promotion. Judge Bob Gammage is, I believe, the Democrats’ best chance to win in November. Chris Bell, despite voting for the Bankruptcy “Reform” Bill, seems a nice guy, but I don’t think he has the chops to handle a brutal general election campaign.
Lieutenant Governor: Another Dirty Thirty Alumnus, Ben Z. Grant, should be the Democrats’ standard-bearer in this race. I am all for newcomers like Maria Luisa Alvarado getting involved in politics, but they should start a little further down the ballot.
Congress: Two Republicans are competing to become the person Chet Edwards beats in November. Van Taylor wins the Sheer Brass Monkeys Award for running television ads highlighting his concern over the budget deficit, considering that every single penny of the deficit is there because of a Republican President and a Republican Congress. Electing another Republican to reduce the deficit is akin to asking Mike Tyson to teach an anger-management class. I’m also curious as to how Taylor, the only Iraq War Veteran running for Congress as a Republican this year (the other dozen are Democrats), justifies supporting an Administration with such an abysmal record on veterans’ issues. As for Tucker Anderson, a word of free advice: if you want to run against a senior member of Congress, it’s probably not a good idea to draw attention to the fact that your “Congressional experience” comes from being an intern. If we need someone to pick up the dry cleaning or make coffee, we’ll call you.
County Judge: On the Democratic side, my money is on retired fire-fighter, long-time local businessman and National Guard veteran Robert Calahan. On the Republican side, I have frequently disagreed with Judge Roger Harmon on a variety of issues. Surely, though, Randy Sheridan has more to recommend him than being Rob Orr’s campaign manager. Given Orr’s track record of reprehensible election tactics and vicious smear campaigns, not to mention his shameless toadying to Tom Craddick and his apparent belief that he actually represents Highland Park, associating with him would not, in my humble opinion, be a plus with Republican voters who have even a short-term memory.
Judge, County Court at Law Number Two: Judge William Anderson, a gentleman lawyer if ever there was one, is retiring. There is no Democrat running and this race will probably affect me directly more than any other. Having said that, I have known all four Republican candidates for years and since any endorsement by me would likely be the proverbial kiss of death, I will chicken out by saying I would be hard-pressed to be disappointed in the results, no matter who wins.
District Clerk: another race with no Democrat running that will affect me personally. Other than to note that attempted character assassination is not a sign of competence, I’ll just keep my opinions to myself on this one.
County Treasurer: I have frequently criticized Barbara Robinson, as well, but a bit of free advice to her opponent, Judy Ward—take a chill pill! You’re running for County Treasurer! If you want to engage in mudslinging and personal insults, run for state representative.
County Commissioner, Precinct 4: Although I don’t live in this district, it’ll be interesting to see who emerges from the high-dollar Republican brawl to lose to Democrat Jackie McCaslin or Janet Thomas in November.
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1: Doesn’t really matter to me who wins the Republican slug-fest on this one. Businessman Ray Torres is the Democratic candidate and he will make a fine Judge.

If you haven’t voted early, please take the time to vote on Tuesday. In several of these elections, the winner of the primary determines who gets the office, so it’s important. And don’t take my word on who to vote for. The Johnson County Elections Office web-site has info on all the candidates and links to their web-pages. These are the people who want to govern your lives and spend your money: you should get informed as to who they are and what they intend to do.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Brownie May Have In Fact Been Doing A Heckuva Job

Contrary to all the jokes, it appears former FEMA head Michael "Brownie" Brown was the only one from the Administration that seemed to grasp the scope of the New Orleans disaster. In recently released tapes, he is practically begging for Federal assistance. If so, this guy who has become a scapegoat may have actually been an unsung hero.

Your Concerns Addressed

Despite this supposed "45 day review" of Dubai's takeover of 21 American ports, the deal is still going forward in a couple of days.

Fundamentalist Bantustans?

The extremely conservative Catholic founder of Domino's Pizza is building his own town in Florida, where no pornography, abortions or birth control will be allowed. This reminds me of a TV news program years ago where the host was interviewing parents in a Mississippi town that was flagrantly ignoring court rulings on teacher-led school prayer. The residents generally expressed the opinion that if "atheists" didn't like it, they should move somewhere else and said they would never live in a town where their views weren't the majority. Does this sound like Bosnia to anyone else?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Divide and Conquer

The White House is using an old strategy, turning Indian tribes against one another, by threatening cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget to pay for attorney's fees awarded against the government in the ongoing lawsuit over gross mismanagement of billions of dollars in Indian Trust Funds.


OK, Big Boy

The Last True Republican, Bull Moose, discusses the coming civil war in the Republic Party with his usual trenchant and surly brilliance.


Truly Astonishing

Turns out that when President Bush said "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" in New Orleans following Katrina, he had forgotten the briefing he received BEFORE the hurricane struck that specifically referred to the danger of the levees breaching. Though, to be fair, perhaps the President was asleep, since he didn't bother to ask any questions. In response to the recently-released tapes, the latest damning evidence of the Bush Administration's penchant for incompetence and mendacity, a Homeland Security spokesdrone said, "There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes." And on that, we are in agreement.