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."
Monday, July 31, 2006
Blood Will Tell
The ongoing debate in the Cherokee Nation over the Freedmen descendents continues to be portrayed in the mainstream media and by tribal leaders as an argument simply over whether enrollment should be limited to "Cherokee by blood." However, this ignores some inconvenient facts. First, the Cherokee Constitution limits tribal membership to those who are direct lineal descendants of someone on the Final Dawes Roll. Cherokee Freedmen did NOT have blood quanta listed on the Dawes Roll, due to the prevailing racist belief at the time that "one drop" of "black blood" made you black. So if the current proposal becomes law, even Freedmen who are "Cherokee by blood" will never be able to legally prove it! And that's not even addressing the fact that the "blood quantum" requirement is in and of itself a white invention and a relic of a violent and racist past. Relying exclusively on the Dawes Roll already leads to the absurd result of persons who have extremely low blood quanta, have never lived in the Cherokee Nation and are almost completely ignorant of the culture being able to enroll, while those with high blood quanta, whose families have lived in Oklahoma for generations, and are deeply immersed in the culture cannot, all based solely on which person's great great grandparents signed the Roll. Now, the Cherokee Nation is poised to exclude the descendents of Cherokee slaves, based on a classic Catch-22 of bureacratic double-speak.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Real American Heroes
See if you can pick them out. From Jesus' General.
When Did This Happen?
AmericaBlog has a thoughtful post about morality and war as it relates to the current fighting in Lebanon. What caught my interest though were the bizarre, rabid, over-the-top comments made by readers (one actually referred to Israelis as "Jewzis" and said "Hitler would be proud" of them). So, my question is, when did American liberals become so virulently anti-Israel? The founding of Israel in 1948 was widely supported by progressives all over the world (including the Queen Mother of American Liberalism, Eleanor Roosevelt); the original state was even fairly socialist in its economic organization. Israel's enemies are certainly not "liberal" by any definition--they are either secular, violent and corrupt (such as the Fatah Party in the Palestinian Authority) or theocratic and as contemptuous of Americans and Christians as they are of Israel (Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc.). In all other respects, the Left in America is extremely wary of using code-words for racism, yet their most overblown rhetoric against Israel comes close to (and sometimes pole-vaults over) the line into anti-Semitism. So what's the story? When did knee-jerk opposition to Israel (as opposed to legitimate complaints about specific areas of Israeli policy) become such as defining feature of the American (and European) Left?
God & Mammon
Conservative evangelical preacher stuns congregation with news that Jesus Christ is not necessarily a Republican.
Alert the Rhetoric Police!
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) compared those who support the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is real and is caused in large part by human activity to Nazis. Yes, that's right. Because, you know, Hitler was totally Green. Hermann Goring was a fanatic for recycling.
Once again, I urge Congress to pass a comprehensive ban on the use of overblown Nazi references in contemporary political speech.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Standing Their Ground
Hundreds of Native Americans and non-Native supporters have been camped out near Mato Paha (Bear Butte) in South Dakota since July 4 to protest plans to open a bar (featuring wet t-shirt contests and live music) near this sacred site.
In his famous work God Is Red, Vine Deloria, Jr. describes how Christian American culture has become unhinged due to its greed and its (in my view heretical) belief that Christians are completely divorced from the natural world. The fight at Mato Paha (highlighting the inability of many whites to understand Native American's spiritual attachment to the land), sadly, is a perfect example of this critique.
A Drop In The Bucket?
Senator John McCain and others in Congress are trying to build momentum for an $8 billion settlement to the Cobell Trust Lawsuit. This is, of course, only a fraction of the estimated $100 billion various tribes are owed due to gross mismanagement of Indian trust funds by the Federal government over the last century or more.
The Sound of Silence
Despite heroic efforts by many tribes, Native American languages are slowly but steadily dying off. Sadly, there is nothing new about this story. Nor is there anything new about the various moronic and racist comments posted by readers at the end of the article (from the Bismark Tribune). I can find them, without exception, on every single story written about Native Americans, and they are almost always the same, almost as though copied from a script.
Cleburne Times-Review Column for 30 July, 2006
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
--1 Corinthians 13:11
By the time you read these words I will (hopefully) have survived my twentieth high school reunion. It’s a cliché to wonder how the time flies, but it literally hadn’t occurred to me until I started getting emails about the reunion that more time has passed from the time I graduated until now than from the day I was born until graduation. Maybe I should have gotten a clue when I went with my wife to a Teacher Appreciation Banquet and realized that (besides her) the only teachers I recognized were the ones getting their 30 year service pins. Or maybe when VH1 started running “I Love the 80’s”. Or maybe when I found myself actually watching VH1. Somehow, at some point, we all went from mullets, parachute pants, beer and trucks jacked up so high your girlfriend needed a stepladder to get in, to gray hair (or receding hair, or no hair), “relaxed fit” jeans, high blood-pressure medicine and SUVs that make us look WAY cooler than our parents in their minivans which made them look WAY cooler than our grandparents in their station wagons. Younger readers (i.e., those under 26) may have a hard time relating to such a long ago and fabled era as the 1980’s. What was life like in Cleburne in that distant and primitive time? Well, gather ‘round, dear children, and you shall hear. Most people did not have cable TV, which meant a grand total of 4-5 channels (fewer than that in bad weather). Satellite TV was even rarer and involved dishes large enough to track a manned spaceflight to Mars. MTV was brand-new and actually played music videos (there were only three of them; “Video Killed the Radio Star” and two by Rod Stewart). Michael Jackson looked like a young black man, not an unwrapped mummy. Real men wore make-up, wigs and skin-tight spandex. Loud equaled good. Ozzy Osbourne was—well, he was pretty much incoherent then, too. Prince had a name instead of a symbol, but he was still creepy. The Rolling Stones were merely old, not as ancient as dinosaur footprints. Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the internets. Computers were something in labs and college campuses, were the size of refrigerators and almost always involved switches and reel-to-reel tape. “Home computers” were expensive toys you got at Radio Shack, they used 8 track tapes and had the memory capacity of an average gas pump today. Pong was state-of-the-art. Mobile phones were the approximate size and weight of a brick and no one had one. Only doctors and drug dealers had pagers. “Text messages” were written on notebook paper, folded into airplanes and flung across the classroom when we thought the teacher wasn’t looking. There was no Tivo; if you wanted to watch something on TV later than when it was broadcast, you bought a VHS (or, God help you, a BetaMax), then left it on top of the television to gather dust because no one knew how to program them. There were no CDs; cassette tapes were the new means of pirating music by recording songs off your records (like big black CDs, only flimsier and scratchier). No ipods, either. You could wear giant plastic earmuffs if you wanted to listen to the radio fade in and out and liked having sweaty ears. Either that, or you could carry a “boom box” roughly the same size and weight as a Volkswagen. The drinking age was 18, not that it mattered since there was no place anywhere in Johnson County where you could buy booze until the Beer Barn opened in Rio Vista. There was, I kid you not, a smoking area FOR STUDENTS at the high school. Seriously. More people dipped, though. We all had guns. Every single one of us. Shotguns, deer rifles, sometimes pistols. Sometimes they got left in the back of your truck in the high school parking lot on Mondays during deer season. And no one EVER shot anyone. Ever. If someone stole your girlfriend, the worst that happened would be them (or you) getting their teeth knocked down their throat. It was a drive in the country from Cleburne to Burleson and a long drive in the country from Burleson to Fort Worth. There were two movie screens in the whole county and they were both located in the same theatre in downtown Cleburne. Five dollars was enough to get you in and buy popcorn and a coke. Girls had big hair. Really big hair. Big scary hair, shellacked into place with two or three entire cans of hair spray. Per day. Coaches (and band directors) sometimes yelled at you or made you run laps or do sit-ups. And you took it, if you wanted to stay on the squad. You did not picket the school board or threaten to sue the school. Neither did your parents. Everyone did not get a trophy or a ribbon. We kept score. Everyone was not a winner. No one gave a crap about your “self esteem.” If you got in trouble at school, you got in worse trouble at home. If you got a bad grade, it was because you weren’t working hard enough and your parents yelled at you or grounded you. “Attention Deficit Disorder” was cured with a flyswatter or a wooden spoon. During the summer, you were out of the house from the time the sun came up until the streetlights came on. Most of the time, your parents only had a vague idea where you were and they weren’t worried. You could ride your bike across Henderson. We rode our bikes without helmets. Most people didn’t lock their cars or their houses. We knew everybody who lived in our neighborhood. We cruised the park. We tipped cows. Nearly everything was closed on Sunday. The teachers we thought were so old then were younger than we are now. Members Only jackets were cool. So was anything with an alligator stitched on it. So were ratty deck shoes, the rattier the better. You stayed at prom just long enough to obtain photographic proof you had been there. We were all going to live forever and after graduation, we were all blowing this Podunk town and never ever coming back.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Evidently, throwing billions of dollars at large corporations with no oversight may lead to waste, fraud and abuse! What are the odds?
The Yellow Feather of Courage
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
It's Official: Reaganomics Is Dead
Bush's Treasury Department admits it's really just a big steaming load of crapola.
Drawing A Line In the Sand
From The Moderate Voice, a review of a bipartisan effort to reform partisan redistricting and restore democracy.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Embryonic stem-cell research is murder!
No, wait, I mean it's the intentional taking of a human life...
Except it's okay if the states pay for it...or, you know, private industry...
And it's okay if the embryos all get thrown away, just so long as no one experiments on them...or whatever.
Shut up! No, YOU'RE stupid!
Labels: George W. Bush
About Damn Time!
Monday, July 24, 2006
Authoritarians of a Feather...
Eric's Lyceum has a typically thoughtful piece on Putin and the notion of Law vs. Order. In reading it, I noticed the similarities between Putin's Russia and Bush's America becoming painfully apparent: the fetishizing of authority, the Good Ole Boy Corporate corruption, the downgrading of independent media and the stiffling of dissent, the never-ending "war on terror" as an excuse to erode civil liberties. Of course, Putin is much further along (and is wildly popular in his country), putting me in mind of Lincoln's comment, "When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Cleburne Times-Review Column for 23 July, 2006
“But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance of my son Isaac.’ The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, for he is your offspring.’”
And thus, thousands of years ago in Canaan, the pattern was set for a conflict that continues to this day. The descendants of Isaac are the Jews and the descendents of Ishmael, Hagar’s son, are the Arabs. They, along with the Christians, are the Blood of Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic); and now that blood is being spilled in the latest round of this seemingly endless fratricide. Like most flare-ups in the Arab-Israeli war that has gone on, with brief periods of calm, since 1948, there is more to this one than immediately meets the eye. Hezbollah, the “Party of God,” is a major terrorist organization formed after Israel invaded Lebanon to stop Palestinian attacks in 1982. Hezbollah is best known to Americans as the group behind the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut which killed 241 Marines. Out of the news since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah evidently feared it was losing its position as the leader of the anti-Israeli forces to other groups, like its longtime rival Hamas. If Hezbollah thought they would just grab a couple of hostages and then negotiate for the release of Palestinian prisoners like back in the old days, they sadly miscalculated the Israeli response. Iran, a country now run by a president who may have been one of the radical students who captured the US Embassy in Tehran and who is definitely a screaming anti-Semitic raving paranoid, supplies most of the funding for Hezbollah and apparently wanted to flex its muscles as a regional political power. By striking back with such overwhelming force, Israel is itself sending a message to Iran: see what could happen to you if we think you are anywhere near to getting your hands on nuclear weapons? There is also a domestic political angle, as new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tries to demonstrate the same strength as his predecessor Ariel Sharon, while also handling the Lebanese problem Sharon could not touch due to his involvement in the occupation. Perhaps the biggest victim of this brawl is Lebanon itself, a country that was once the most progressive in the Middle East, then virtually disintegrated in a bloody civil war from 1975-1990. That fighting only really ended when Syria invaded and set up what was essentially a puppet government. The US turned a blind eye to all this, evidently Haffez al Assad’s payoff for supporting America against Iraq during Gulf War One. The Syrian occupiers, though, were brutal, clumsy and oppressive. When it became painfully obvious that Syria was behind the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in February, 2005, the Lebanese had had enough. They took to the streets in massive protests that eventually forced Syria to pull out and left a democratically-elected, though very weak, government in charge in Beirut. In fact, the new Lebanese government was so weak, it invited Hezbollah in, apparently hoping to eventually persuade them to dismantle their huge militia that controls most of southern Lebanon. The Fatah Party in the Palestinian Authority had the same idea about Hamas and you see how well that worked out. Now, with Israel bombing not just Hezbollah but civilian infrastructure throughout the country, Lebanese public opinion is swinging from anger at Hezbollah for starting a war without even consulting the rest of the government, to anger at Israel, ironically making Hezbollah all the stronger. Israel has stated it wants to secure its northern border and “disarm Hezbollah,” but those goals are completely unachievable with air strikes alone, and as Israel learned before, and we are learning the hard way in Iraq, it takes an awful lot of boots on the ground to successfully put down a determined insurgency. It’s hard for many people to fault the Israelis for hitting back as hard as they have; maybe if Ronald Reagan had done something, anything, after the 1983 Embassy bombing, or Bill Clinton had done more than just lob a couple of cruise missiles after bombings in Africa, there wouldn’t have been a September 11. It’s a tempting thought, but likely not accurate. Yes, Israel’s policy means that only the most determined and fanatical terrorists dare attack them, but these are the very ones who are the most dangerous. And yet, you could also argue that by pulling out of Lebanon and Gaza, Israel showed a weakness the terrorists are now exploiting. Some say Israel should negotiate; but it’s hard to negotiate with people who are pledged to kill you. Some say Israel should fight on, but that approach so far has led only to a never-ending war of terror attacks followed by military retaliation. True, it’s not war in the sense of the 1948, 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, but it sure isn’t peace, either. If you skipped to the end of this column hoping for a glib, clever answer that would solve the whole mess, you are out of luck. At this point, all I can recommend is prayer.
An excellent exchange from a Texas Democratic list serv. The topic was berating Chet Edwards for voting for the GOP's dog-and-pony-show Constitutional Amendment to outlaw marriage beween people they don't like:
How can anyone even sugguest that it is ok to barter with someone'sfreedom, liberties and rights, for the purpose of keeping a seat inCongress? Where do we draw the line at bartering one's value's tostay in office? It is indeed a slippery slope. It it easier tobarter someone's freedom, than to take bribes? Is it more ethical?Shame. When did doing the right thing stop becoming what was important as aleader.
Yankees. *shakes head*Ethics don't matter, we live in Texas, remember? God doesn't "hate fags," but Texas certainly does.Deep in the heart of Texas, there is a city called Waco, this is where the Klan lives. I know it is unfathomable for you city folk to figure out how these people think, but my whole family is from Waco, and I do understand. Chet is elected by Waco, not Austin, Houston, or Dallas. He knows his people and what will fly and what will not. That's why he's been re-elected eight times. I am gay, and I would sacrifice my "freedom, liberties, and rights" if it meant that my nephew could go to a decent public school and get healthcare. That's the choice. We can dwell on an issue that will guarantee successive failures, or we can put it on the back burner and put the interests of ALL Texans first.Why can't we put it on the back burner until the old farts die off? Why must we endure failure after failure when we could just wait a few years? Everything takes time (and the death of a generation). Whether you like it or not, Texas has ALWAYS been conservative and always will be. Why not focus on issues that win? Only then can we fix the Texas public education system, and from education will come some form of liberalism.So yes, it is perfectly okay with me that Chet is a adept politician who knows his people. I am perfectly willing to let this issue slide to ensure his re-election, keep the VA open, keep Fort Hood open, keep Tricare funding in line, fight to reduce the deficit, fight to protect Social Security, etc, etc, etc...Why don't you yankees come down from your ivory towers (Dallas, Houston, Austin), put down your starbucks, take off your birkenstocks, and realize that the State of Texas is nothing like you, and that to win here, you must give a little. And yes, winning is everything.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, Part II
From the Moderate Voice. Now Republicans are using doctored 9-11 footage in campaign attack ads. Way to seize the moral high ground, guys!
The War On Public Schools
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tom Craddick's Gold-Plated Crapper
From the Capitol Annex. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Tom Craddick (so far the highest-ranking government official I know I have cheesed off) is a venal, mendacious little creep; a petty, petulant, legislative bully who kowtows to bigger thugs (such as Tom DeLay) with the kind of obsequiousness usually reserved for Byzantine Emperors. If there was ever a perfect symbol for Craddick's hopefully soon-to-be-ended tenure as Speaker, surely it's a $1,000 toilet.
Labels: Tom Craddick
God Smites Ralph Reed
Evidently, Republicans in Georgia have more integrity than Republicans in District 22...
Fire Thunder Reinstated
Oglala Sioux Tribal President Cecilia Fire Thunder was restored to office by a tribal judge yesterday, due to violations of the law by the Tribal Council that impeached her. Fire Thunder had been first suspended, then removed from office for suggesting that a Planned Parenthood clinic be opened on the Pine Ridge Reservation in response to a new South Dakota law that makes virtually all abortions illegal.
Trail of Tears Study
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Help Barbara Ann!
Help the lovely and talented Barbara Ann Radnofsky (who is also a terrific dancer) by voting for her at Sen. Barbara Boxer's PAC for A Change between now and July 21, and help her become eligible for tens of thousands of badly-needed campaign dollars. Then go to Barbara Ann's website and give her some love yourself. Texas desperately needs Barbara Ann in the US Senate.
Over the decades, many press secretaries have tried to match wits with the indomitable Helen Thomas. It pretty much always ends like this...
...from the lovely and talented Wonkette.
Monday, July 17, 2006
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other...
Sunday, July 16, 2006
...a bunch of Indians showed up in the parking lot across the street from your church and opened a bar? And a tattoo parlor? And then started having wet tee-shirt contests? And the owner of the bar said he originally considered calling the place "Sacred Ground" and was going to have an 80-foot tall statue of Jesus out front? Do you think your Republican County Commissioner would green-light the permit, saying, "There will be some nights that will be noisy, but that's not going to deny them the ability to worship"?
More Redistricting Madness
Emboldened by SCOTUS, and eager to once again punish voters who dare to vote against orders, the GOP has birthed a map explicitly designed to screw Austin even more. The Plaintiffs have responded with their own, more limited and infinitely more logical plan. Republican contempt for democracy doesn't shock me anymore, though I do appreciate it when powertools like Grover Norquist are at least up front and honest about it.
This Is Without A Doubt...
...the single dumbest load of crap I have ever seen excreted upon the printed page.
Here's my favorite part:
Some front-line units continue to operate out of spartan outposts where a hot meal is a luxury and flush toilets unknown. But growing numbers of troops live on giant installations complete with Wal-Mart-style post exchanges, movie theaters, swimming pools, gyms, fast-food eateries (Subway, Burger King, Cinnabon) and vast chow halls offering fresh-baked pies and multiple flavors of ice cream. Troops increasingly live in dorm-style quarters (called "chews," for "containerized housing units") complete with TVs, mini-refrigerators, air conditioning/heating units and other luxuries unimaginable to previous generations of GIs. No one would begrudge a few conveniences to those who have volunteered to defend us. But the military's logistics feats come with a high price tag that goes far beyond the $7.7 billion we spend every month on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. troops in those countries consume 882,000 liters of water and 2.4 million gallons of fuel every day, plus tons of other supplies that have to be transported across dangerous war zones. Centcom has more than 3,000 trucks delivering supplies and another 2,400 moving fuel — each one a target that has to be protected.
Did you catch this gem?
No one would begrudge a few conveniences to those who have volunteered to defend us.
Really? Gee, that's mighty white of you, pal. Say, here's an idea: since you're such the expert, what say we parachute drop you somewhere north of Tikrit armed only with a pair of nail clippers and a bottle of Perrier. Then you can show those lazy, over-indulged soldiers how REAL men handle things.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Stupid White Man of the Week: Rev. William Lawson...
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Tecumseh Would Weep
The Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band and the UKB (who rarely if ever agree with the CN on anything) are united in lobbying to delay or deny Federal recognition to the Lumbee of North Carolina. Why? Casino revenues. What the hell do we need white people for? We can defeat ourselves all by ourselves.
That Rumbling You Felt Earlier Today?
That was Abraham Lincoln spinning in his grave. Special thanks to Sam Johnson, Joe Barton, Michael Conway, Mac Thornberry, and Ron Paul for showing their true commitment to the struggle for civil rights. Honorable mention goes to Pete Sessions, who couldn't even be bothered to show up.
Alabama-Coushatta Sue Ralph Reed
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Here's hoping they have better luck with the white man's courts than the Cherokee did. Or the Oneida. Or, well, just about any other tribe.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Justice Delayed is....pretty much par for the course
van Like Totaly wants you to Add him two Your Freinds list, k?
From the lovely and talented PinkDome...
Cecilia Fire Thunder, first female President of the Oglala Sioux, was impeached and removed from office on June 29 with just five months left on her term for threatening to open a women's health clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation in response to South Dakota's near-total ban on all abortions.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Progressive Punch rates Cong. Chet Edwards 67.57% progressive. This should be food for thought to the handful of folks continually e-mailing me about how he's a "Democrat In Name Only," who votes with the Republicans "80% of the time." Incidentally, Cong. Joe Barton, who one e-mailer claimed was "virtually identical" to Chet, rates 5.17%. At the Republic Party State Convention, Cong. Pete Sessions claimed Chet voted with Nancy Pelosi "75% of the time." Except her score is 93.62%. So what does all this mean? It means, as I have said all along, that Chet is a moderate, and the choice for progressives in November is clear; vote for someone who agrees with you 67.57% of the time, or sit on your hands and help elect someone who will oppose you 100% of the time. Pick one.
Labels: Chet Edwards
Why Does Peter Hoekstra Hate America?
Traitorous "Republican" congressman fails to recognize that President Bush IS the law.
The Gap Widens
Income inequality in the United States (that is, the gap between the richest and the poorest) is rising to levels approaching that of a Third World country. This is NOT good news for the republic. Polarized societies almost always end up collapsing into either anarchy (as the poor are finally pushed too far and revolt) or totalitarianism (as the wealthy demand an iron hand to preserve their privileges). The GOP is now firmly commited to corporate welfare, a class war against the middle class, destroying unions, and relieving the crushing financial burden on Paris Hilton; where do the Democrats stand?
You Heard the Moose!
The Bull Moose makes an excellent point about the politics of polarization, which relates to my last column. And while we're at it, can anyone explain to me what's wrong with Joe Leiberman's record besides the the Iraq War? Compared to other Democratic Senators who are not facing angry "netroots" backed primary opponents? Can anyone explain to me the difference between Joe Leiberman's position on the Iraq War and Hillary Clinton's position on the Iraq War? I have no real dog in this fight, other than my fear that if Leiberman (who is five of the most boring people I have ever met) loses and runs as an independent, a safe Democratic seat could go Republican, thereby killing any chances to take back the Senate. However, I remain concerned about the rise of one-issue voters in the Democratic Party and my sneaking suspicion that many (maybe even most) of them would rather lose an election and remain ideologically pure than win one with a "tainted" candidate.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Guess Who Said This...
“There is no coincidence that we’re engaged in wars in the Middle East,” he said. “One of the reason we fight these fights is to keep ourselves from being cut off [from access to oil].”
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Cleburne Times-Review Article for 9 July, 2006
“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
Another Independence Day has come and gone and we are left to wonder what the Founding Fathers would make of their baby, two-hundred and thirty years later. Of course, first and foremost, it’s extremely unlikely that any of them would agree on whether we have been good or bad stewards of the Revolution, or what exactly we have gotten right or wrong. The Founders had widely disparate ideas about what America should be, which is why their greatest contribution was ultimately the creation of a political system that demands compromise in order to function. You have to remember that in the 18th Century, the very word “democracy” was synonymous with “anarchy” or “mob rule.” Just about every nation on Earth on July 4, 1776, was a monarchy, some slightly less tyrannical than others. Ancient Athens and the Roman Republic were seen as cautionary examples of how “democracy” eventually inevitably decays into dictatorship. Thirty years after the Declaration of Independence, the same fate would befall the American-inspired French Revolution at the hands of Napoleon. The very idea of a country led by people chosen in free elections based on merit, and not born to the job solely on the basis of their family tree, was radical in the extreme. Sadly, in the wake of the Cold War when the word “revolution” was considered tainted by connotations of communism, the American Revolution has been neutered, the radicalism of the Founders muted. It’s commonplace nowadays for some to claim that Washington, Jefferson and the gang were all Conservative Republicans who would feel right at home in the modern GOP (which, I suppose makes George III some kind of pinko socialist). This is, of course, bunk. During the Revolution, the “conservatives” were the Tories pledging their loyalty to the British Crown and throwing lavish tea parties for the Redcoats and their Hessian Mercenaries. In fact, more Americans fought for George III than against him. The “progressives” were the ones who picked up a musket (progressives had different views on gun control back then) and shivered through the winter at Valley Forge, risking capture and the grim and bloody fate of being hung, drawn, and quartered as traitors to God and King. Gordon Wood’s work, “The Radicalism of the American Revolution,” is an excellent, if sometimes ponderously academic view, of just how cutting edge the Revolutionaries were, and how much they overturned the existing world order. America has seen a “conservative revolution” in the Civil War, where the landed aristocracy of the South nearly destroyed the nation to preserve the status quo of medieval feudalism and an economy built on the backs of slaves. Like Rome before it, America in one country embodies all of the best and some of the worst impulses of mankind. America is a country founded on racism; worse, a cynical political deal over racism (i.e., slavery) to get the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution ratified. And yet, no country on Earth has done more to liberate more human beings from despotism than America. And our nation very nearly, to use Lincoln’s phrase, died by suicide in order to expiate the sin of human bondage. America is a country founded on the brutal theft of land and the suppression and murder of the indigenous population. The Cherokee and Delaware were offered statehood by the Continental Congress, only to be cruelly betrayed when white people wanted their homelands. And yet, no country in the history of the planet has ever done more to champion oppressed minorities than America. Though we often fall short of the ideal (such as in Rwanda), the Kurds and the Bosnians survive today because of the sacrifice of American blood and treasure. In some respect, though, our flaws are part of the American character, as is our constant yearning to overcome them, to make ourselves better, to be more tomorrow than we are today. Most of the Founders were highly critical of “factionalism,” the rise of political parties which in the early days of the Republic were organized primarily around towering personalities like Hamilton or Jefferson. I think nearly all of them would be astonished at the level of factionalism that exists today. The two-party system in America (Democrats vs. Republicans) has existed more or less unchanged since 1856, a record almost unmatched by any other democracy. The reason for this is that both parties have traditionally been broad-based, “big tent” models, with Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats. Third Parties inevitably were absorbed by one major party or the other, sometimes both. That, however, is changing, and therein lies the danger of hyper-factionalism. With fewer and fewer people willing to participate in electoral politics at all, both parties are slowly being dominated by their most extreme wings. For the Republicans, this has degenerated into an all-out political war between the radical House and the more moderate Senate over the issue of immigration reform. On the Democratic side, their Senators fought with each other over the Iraq War, revealing how badly fractured the Party is on that issue, and we have seen the rise of new activists whose first, last and only concern is outdoing one another on who can despise George W. Bush more and louder, revealing a level of vitriol approaching the insane Right-Wing fixation on Bill Clinton. The problem with these extremists of both stripes is that they are more concerned with purging their ranks of those who are insufficiently pure in their ideology than they are in actually winning elections. Thus, Republicans engage in bizarre episodes like the Terri Schiavo fiasco; and liberal activists (particularly those whose primary political participation is behind their computer keyboards) are waging war against Joe Leiberman, a Senator with a voting record that would only be described as “moderate” instead of “liberal” in this day and age, primarily because he doesn’t seem to loathe Bush with sufficient vigor and has been seen to be polite and respectful of the President in public. This kind of “all or nothing, my way or the highway” rigid ideology leads to parties who are unable to make any compromise at all for fear of angering the fuming activists that make up their base. But without compromise, Constitutional government simply cannot function. By giving in to extremism, by hardening our hearts and stiffening our necks, we are turning our backs on the greatest gift of the American Revolution and we are betraying those who risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to liberate us all from tyranny.
Friday, July 07, 2006
The "Tort Reformers" Are Lying...
...yes, I know you're shocked and appalled. From Daily Kos, an excellent and well-supported refutation of the rhetoric being spewed by Big Business, Big Insurance, and others who want to destroy your Constitutional right to trial by jury in civil cases.
Right Wing: Some Leaking A-Okay!
From Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald, evidently classfied information that damages our counter-terrorism operations but supports the latest White House spin is good!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
DeLay Stuck (For Now)
A follow-up to a previous post on the Bush Administration's withholding of $300 million in Federal Indian Housing Funds. The Judge overseeing the underlying case has clarified his order, a decision that tribal lawyers hope will force the White House to release this money, as opposed to this Administration's normal pattern of retaliating against uppity Indians who dare to sue them.
Labels: Native American
Burnt Orange Report says that US District Judge Sam Sparks has ruled for the Democrats on the issue of whether or not Republicans can replace Tom DeLay on the November ballot. Further updates as events warrant.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Bush to Cave on Immigration Reform?
From The Moderate Voice. Apparently, I no longer have to worry about accidentally agreeing with President Bush anymore...
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Down With King George!
If George W. Bush Had Signed the Declaration of Independence...
...from Daily Kos.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Bill Frist: (Literal) Kitten Bitin' Republican
From the serene shores of Firedog Lake.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Pleadings in a breach of privacy case against AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth allege that the Bush Administration was seeking telephone records BEFORE September 11, 2001. Of course, lawyers can plead pretty much anything, but if proven, this would pretty well negate the whole "time of war" justification of domestic spying. Orcinus has a very good compilation of other bloggers detailing how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Vice President Dick Cheney both repeated the claim that this program was instituted in RESPONSE to 9/11.
Attention, Wal-Mart Voters!
Via the Carpetbagger Report. Evidently, voters who frequently shop at Wal-Mart (85% of whom went for Bush in 2004; as opposed to the 88% of those who never shop at Wal-Mart who went for Kerry) are now turning against the President. Yet more proof, as if you needed any more, that certain elitist-minded liberals should come down from their ivory towers and visit the working folks; they're usually at Wal-Mart, and they're not all narrow-minded Pat Robertson lovers who think Democrats worship Satan.
Gotta Love This Guy!
Virginia Democratic Senate candidate James Webb goes nuclear on his opponent Senator George Felix Allen, Jr. after being hit with the by-now standard GOP tactic of questioning the patriotism of anyone who failed to support the Anti-flag burning wave-the-bloody-shirt amendment. Yet another important example of why you should not screw with Marines.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Cleburne Times-Review Article for 1 July, 2006
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”
--1 Peter 2:1
I recently got to meet Jimmy Carter. He was in Austin for a fundraiser on behalf of his oldest son, Jack, who is running for the US Senate from Nevada. The former President was every bit as warm, gracious and charming as you would imagine, and he was nice enough to sign my copy of his book, “Turning Point.” It details his campaign for the State Senate in the early ‘sixties, when Georgia, like other states, was dealing with the effects of the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Baker v. Carr, 369 US 186 (1962), the famous “one man, one vote” decision. In a nutshell, Baker held that US Congressional districts (and in a companion case, state legislative districts) had to be approximately equal in population. This overturned a long-standing practice in many states of diluting urban votes by giving them fewer representatives than rural areas. It was one of many ways states tried to suppress the political power of blacks and Hispanics. The effect of this ruling, plus the Voting Rights Act of 1964 (VRA; currently held hostage by a variety of nitwits in Congress, including Cong. John Carter of Texas who longs for the days of literacy tests), was to dramatically increase the number of black and Hispanic members of Congress. However, around the time of the 1990 Redistricting, the George H. W. Bush Justice Department imposed a quota system on states as a condition for pre-clearance of their maps as required by the VRA. If your state had, let’s say, a 15% African-American population, then 15% of your Congressional districts had to be majority African-American. This had two effects; first, white Democrats’ districts became harder to hold, as minorities were taken out of their districts and packed into majority-minority districts. This lead to the sharp increase in Southern Republicans in Congress, which makes John Carter’s arguments more ironic, but no less stupid. The second effect was to force the creation of bizarre, twisted, bug-splatter-pattern-appearing districts that were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Vera, 116 S. Ct. 1941 (US 1996). All this lead to Tom DeLay’s 2002 plan to use illegal corporate contributions to win control of the Texas Legislature, then use his pets like Speaker Tom Craddick to re-do Texas’ congressional districts mid-decade to abolish democracy and punish rural voters who tended to vote Republican in Presidential elections but preferred their Democratic Congressmen. Now the US Supreme Court has, for the most part, signed off on this tactic, though they struck down the 23rd Congressional District of Texas for stripping away Hispanic voters who refused to vote for Cong. Henry Bonilla. Justice Kennedy held open the possibility of striking down future maps that showed “excessive partisan gerrymandering,” but frankly, if Tom DeLay’s abomination isn’t “excessive” enough, then nothing is. So what does this mean? For one thing, it means that if Democrats are going to win the House of Representatives in November, they will have to do it without any significant help from Texas. Worse than that, though, it means sheer unrivalled political chaos for the foreseeable future unless something is done to prevent state legislatures from redistricting every time political control of that state passes from one party to another. After all, there’s no reason why Democrats couldn’t get in on this scam, too. Democratic-controlled state legislatures have so far held off on using the DeLay Strategy, but there’s nothing to hold them back now. California, for example, has 20 Republican Congressmen, despite the fact that California went for the Democratic presidential candidate by wide margins in four consecutive elections. If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger loses his bid for re-election, Democrats there could easily gerrymander several Republicans out of existence. The same thing could happen in Ohio, where Democrats are expected to win control of the state government due to public disgust over a variety of Republican scandals. In order to prevent this kind of insanity from spreading, Congressman Chet Edwards is proposing a law that would ban mid-decade redistricting. That’s a good start, but the House Democratic Leadership should also pledge that, if they win a majority, they will use Congress’ power under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution to mandate that Congressional district lines be drawn by non-partisan panels without regard to protecting incumbents. Normally, I’m not a big fan of “non-partisan” panels of “experts” doing anything, but in this case, advances in computer technology, combined with men like Tom DeLay who have all the personal ethics of slime mold, allow politicians to literally pick their voters, and not the other way around. When I worked for the Texas Attorney General during the 1990 Redistricting Litigation, we thought our huge, clunky Unix systems were futuristic; now, much more advanced software than we used to draw districts can be downloaded off the internet and run on a laptop, or even a PDA. We could draw districts down to the block level; now they can be drawn house-by-house, almost voter-by-voter. It’s bad enough that our democratic institutions can be bought and sold on the auction block (another practice recently approved by the Supreme Court); we simply cannot allow politicians this kind of unfettered power to thwart the will of the people.