The Local Crank

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

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Dead

Now there's a fourth for bridge in hell with Nixon, Agusto Pinochet and Pol Pot. And while it is satisfying that this ruthless, murdering bastard finally faced justice, it won't make a damn bit of difference in the civil war that is ripping to pieces the country he brutalized for decades.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Speaking Ill of the Dead

Unsurprisingly, the RW Noise Machine is turning against Gerald Ford for his posthumously-published criticism of the Iraq War, and support for gay marriage. I tend to be somewhat less sympathetic to Ford as a war critic; this is, after all, the same guy who was ready to intervene militarily in Angola and go to war with Cambodia over the Mayaguez Incident (which I inititally kept confusing with North Korea and the Pueblo Incident). Nevertheless, its interesting to see how quickly the RW turns against any who dare to criticize this Administration, especially fellow Republicans. One thing I had not known about Ford until the coverage of his death was that he was a progressive internationalist pro-United Nations Republican specifically recruited by Senator Arthur Vandeberg to run against an old isolationist GOP Congressman. In that light, and especially considering the RW's pathological need to portray that bucolic old fascist Nixon as some sort of beloved elder statesman, it's not hard to see why they are turning on Ford now.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Freedmen Win Ruling

A Federal judge has ruled that the Freedmen can sue the Cherokee Nation (and Principal Chief Chad Smith) over efforts to write them out of the Tribe. Normally, of course, the Constitution does not strictly apply to tribal governments, since they predate the existence of the United States, but Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. made an exception, noting that the Freedmen were descendants of Cherokee slaves and that the Thirteenth Amendment, and the 1866 Treaty that freed them, waived the Tribe's sovereign immunity in this regard. This ruling, or rather the need for it, makes me sad, because it unquestionably diminishes Cherokee tribal sovereignty. But don't blame the Freedmen; blame the Principal Chief and others who insist on ignoring history in an effort to shove the Freedmen out of the Tribe. They have brought this on themselves, and the Tribe will suffer for it. It didn't have to be this way.

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Stupid White Man of the Week: Virgin Trains

For this appallingly racist piece of crap. Honorable mention to the British Government for signing off on this appallingly racist piece of crap. Perhaps they confused "American Indians" with the type of Indian the British are more accustomed to treating like dirt.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tort Reform Works!

That is, if your goal is to slam the courthouse door shut in the face of the poor and powerless injured by the negligence of the rich and powerful. Remember these statistics the next time someone on your local Chamber of Commerce regurgitates the talking points about the "lawsuit explosion." Shakespeare got it all wrong; the first step to tyranny is not to kill all the lawyers, it's to destroy the jury system.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Can't Fight the Stupid

North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes says the key to victory in Iraq is converting them all to Christianity. Quick! Someone make this guy ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee!

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Column for 24 December, 2006

“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
--Micah 5:2

Jesus of Nazareth was born a peasant, the son of peasants. Peasantry is a condition of enforced poverty sadly common in the world today and throughout human history where large masses of people are literally one failed crop, one drought, one swarm of locusts away from starvation. Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, were both descendants of the royal House of David, but that hardly mattered in an age where the throne was occupied by Herod, a ruthless stooge of the Romans, not even Jewish. Judea was a conquered province, liberated from the brutal Seleucid Greeks by the Maccabees, only to be subjugated again by the Roman Empire. You can almost imagine the look of surprise on the face of the Roman general Pompey as he marched into the Holy of Holies, expecting to “see” the Jewish God, only to find it “empty,” but only because he was incapable of seeing. In this occupied territory, under the heel of the puppet ruler in Jerusalem, a virgin named Mary, already engaged, discovered she was pregnant. Mary was likely very young at the time, maybe fourteen. Traditionally, Joseph has been imagined as older, but that’s not really supported by Scripture. He could easily have been only a teenager himself, a carpenter (or maybe a stonemason, the Greek word used in the Bible could mean either) not because he chose the profession, but because it was the trade of his father, and grandfather and probably great grandfather. Peasants didn’t get to pick their careers; they were born to them. We know that Joseph was an observant Jew (“a righteous man”), but when he found out his fiancée was carrying someone else’s baby, he decided to give her a get (divorce) quietly. This seems like a nice gesture on his part, sure, but what we don’t immediately realize from that verse is that Joseph could legally have had Mary put to death for adultery (Deuteronomy 23:23-24). By sparing her life, a decision he made before being visited by an angel and told of the circumstances of the conception, he disgraced his own family and may have very well risked his own life. In fact, it may have been more than a census that persuaded Joseph to run the serious risk of taking Mary on a long journey right as the baby was due; Nazareth was a very small village after all, and word gets around. Joseph may have wanted to avoid the same sort of self-righteous mob Jesus would later shame in John 8:1-11. Bethlehem was a small town, too; it may have been for more than a crowded inn that Joseph and Mary were forced to sleep outside, or maybe in a cave (the Scripture says nothing about a stable). The historical context of Jesus’ birth is all-important to understanding His ministry on Earth and the ultimate significance of His life and death. Jesus was born, literally, dirt poor, to poor parents, in a poor town, in a poor province in the extreme backwater of a world empire. The greatest city in the Old World in those days was certainly not Jerusalem, only recently smashed by Pompey and his Legions; it was Rome. The Jews were certainly not a military or spiritual power in the world; they were considered minor subjects of the Roman Emperor, an annoyingly quarrelsome people with a bad habit of rebellion. The story of an arriving god was not new, of course. Gods were said to have come to Earth before; the Greeks and Romans had legends of it. Sometimes these gods even pretended to be humble; this was different. Jesus was God made man. God voluntarily took on human flesh, not as a king or even a high priest, but as a peasant carpenter in the hind end of nowhere. He could have been born as anyone, even Caesar Augustus, or anywhere, even in the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill, but instead Jesus was manifested in a place and manner that most emphasized His humility. And throughout His brief Earthly ministry, Jesus continued to live among the poor, lived as a poor man Himself; there is no record that He ever owned anything beyond the clothes on His back and the sandals on His feet. His parables reflected the lives of poor people and were told in terms they could understand, a context which is oftentimes lost to us today. When He did mention the rich and powerful, it was to berate them as hypocrites and idolaters. Those preachers who today spin the blasphemous “Health and Wealth” doctrine, the obscene notion that God wants us to be rich, would do well to remember Matthew 19:23-24 and reflect that God is not mocked. Likewise, in a cosmic irony, we purport to celebrate the humble birth of Jesus with a sickening orgy of mass-consumerism and Mammon-worship. You want a War on Christmas? It has nothing to do with what the checkout clerk (making nearly minimum wage with no benefits) says to us as we run up our credit cards buying more crap than you or anyone else you know really needs. It has nothing to do with whether or not a crèche or a menorah or a stone idol of the Ten Commandments is displayed on the courthouse lawn. Those are just talismans, good luck charms, designed to make us feel better as we buy and spend, and eat up and pollute the Earth that is God’s gift to us, as far as we know the only habitable planet anywhere in the eternal universe. Please, for the love of God, and I mean that literally, take some time this season to turn away from the fever of materialism and consider the life the holiday is supposed to celebrate. Do something. Buy a toy for a Christmas angel. Have the kids gather up the toys they don’t play with and the clothes that don’t fit anymore and give them to charity. Put money in the Salvation Army can. Donate food. Donate blood. Donate your time. Think; when we face the Great Apportioner, how likely is it that we’ll get extra points for dying with the most toys? God bless us everyone. Merry Christmas. Da ni s da yo hi hv.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Latest Polling Results

From the Borowitz Report, "Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to admit that they were naughty, while Republicans were more likely to claim that they had been nice, only later to be found out to have been naughty." Figures.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

You Only THINK You're A Christian!

The Right Wing Blogosphere's jihad against Muslims finds its next, if predictable, target: Barack Obama, who they now apparently think is some kind of Islamist Manchurian Candidate. Or maybe he's controlled by his late father's sinister telepathy. Or--hell, I don't know. Their "logic" makes my brain bleed.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Goode: Rhymes With "Horse's Ass"

Virgil Goode (R-Virginia, circa 1951) manages to combine religious bigotry, ignorance (Keith Ellison is from Detroit, you twit!) and xenophobia all in one letter.

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Monday, December 18, 2006


The sad, strange story of Navy veteran Donald Vance, who was either arrested, detained and borderline tortured by "accident" or because he was a whistle-blower.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's the Conquistadores! We're Saved!

I haven't seen Apocalypto and have no intention of doing so. I loved Braveheart, but gave up on Mel Gibson's fetish for bloody torture at The Passion of the Christ, a truly revolting misuse of Scripture that convinced me that Mel is one deserted cabin in the woods away from becoming a serial killer. Apocalypto isn't just hyper-violent and wildly historically and culturally inaccurate, though; it's also a two hour racist apologetic for the genocide of North American Indians. The Indians had it coming, you see, because they were violent (where have I heard this argument before?) and the kindly Christian missionaries "saved" them from themselves. And, lest you yo ne gv think you are getting off easily, it's apparently also a metaphor for how modern civilization is doomed unless it embraces Gibson's crypto-falangist, Twelfth Century Catholic dogma.


The Two Minute Hate Continues

Wow! I had deliberately ignored recent news stories about the inquiry into Princess Diana's death because, frankly, I really just don't give a damn. I was under the mistaken impression that the events of 1776 had eliminated the need for US Media to obsess over the peccadilloes of the dumpy, inbred German family on the British Throne. I had also apparently forgotten just how rabid and over-the-top Clinton conspiracy theorists in the Mainstream Media could get, never mind the fringe. Fortunately, Glenn Greenwald reminds me. How they manage to not work in an accusation that Bill was sleeping with her is beyond me.

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Newt Gingrich: Pandering, Bigoted Jackleg

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Learn Your History!

A wonderful, in-depth article from the Cherokee Phoenix by Dr. Dan Littlefield, Director of the Sequoyah Research Center, on the history of the Freedmen. Dr. Littlefield, who is obviously infinitely more qualified in this area than me, makes several of the points I have stressed in this blog, concerning the history of the Freedmen within the Cherokee Nation and the inherent racism of the Dawes Commission. He also argues that the historical Cherokee Nation was "a multi-racial, multi-cultural constitutional nation, whose citizenship was based not on blood or culture but on either birth or adoption," a perspective I had never really fully considered. It's a great piece and I urge everyone interested in this issue to read it. The editors of the Phoenix should also be commended for objectively presenting all points of view on a highly controversial matter; it shows Indian journalism at its finest.

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Don't Let Cheney Hear About This!

Robert Mugabe, the repulsive, crypto-fascist, racist kleptocrat of Zimbabwe has decided to save money in the country he has repressed into economic collapse by CANCELLING THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.

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Bill Zedler: Paying for My New Pool

A bill to dramatically increase the income of divorce lawyers (such as yours truly) has been introduced in the Texas House by my new favorite State Representative, Bill Zedler (last seen living in an unoccupied trailer home in Burleson in order to "prove" residency and having his legal bills picked up by TRMPAC). Thanks, Bill! And when abused women have to scrape up ten times the money they would normally need to pay me to get a divorce thanks to your legislation, you can rest assured there'll be a little something extra in your Christmas stocking, just from me. Keep up the good work!

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

In the last Congressional election of the year, Ciro Rodriguez has defeated Henry Bonilla (who I was beginning to think was invulnerable) in the TX-23 runoff. This caps off a truly remarkable season for Texas Democrats and almost, but not quite, gets rid of the bad taste in my mouth over William Jefferson. Speaker-designate Pelosi is apparently going to keep him off the Ways & Means Committee, but frankly that's just not good enough. She needs to kick him out of the Democratic Caucus entirely until or unless he is cleared of wrongdoing. Is that a double-standard? Of course it is, but Democrats have got to be, as the saying goes, more Catholic than the Pope on the ethics issue, since that's what got them the majority that Ciro Rodriguez just added to.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

It Shouldn't Surprise Me...

...given how some on the Right cheered bloodthirsty terrorists as "freedom fighters" and a psychotic child-molesting cult-leader as a martyr to the Second Amendment, to see these same people gush over a bucolic old fascist like Augusto Pinochet. It does make me wonder, though, if there is any exercise of executive power (by a Republican President) that would disturb these folks at all.

UPDATE: Apparently not.

UPDATE 2: Your Liberal Media Conspiracy in action.

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And Throw Away the Key

Kvatch over at Blognonymous discusses the truly appalling incarceration rate in this country, which dwarfs that of communist dictatorship in both per capita and real numbers! It would be one thing if all this lockin' 'em up was actually making us safer, but America remains the most violent of all the Western Industrialized Democracies, even after a 30 year decline in crime rates. And, to be fair, European crime rates seem to be increasing.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

That's Just Wonderful...

Democratic Cong. William Jefferson of Louisiana easily won re-election yesterday after 90,000 ballots were found stuffed in his freezer. Said Jefferson, "I am grateful for this opportunity to continue to serve as a propaganda tool for the Republican Party." His opponent, State Rep. Karen Carter, told reporters, "C'mon, man. It's Louisiana for God's sake! What did you expect?"

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Letters From Our Readers...

Harry C. Kennemer, Jr. of Burleson writes:

"Dear Editor:

My condolences to the family, especially the children, of Patrick Barkman for his embarrassing and despicable remarks in the Times-Review on Nov. 26. For those who did not read the column, here is the exact language: 'I am thankful...That both of my kids know karate and can now beat up other parents' honor students.' Does he really advocate his sons beating up honor students? What does this remark imply about his sons? If this was meant to be funny it wreaks of a sick sense of humor. This man gives lawyers a bad name. What do the principals, teachers and parents of school children in Cleburne think of this type of despicable comment? There is enough violence in our society without this kind of attitude. Like most of you readers I have tolerated Barkman's ridiculous opinions and remarks. This is a free country and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, even if they are uninformed, misguided and dead wrong. But this type of remark in Barkman's column speaks to the character of a man who has repeatedly and maliciously maligned those who are far more honorable than he. I hope that responsible citizens would join me and urge the Times-Review to ban Barkman's column from future issues after he has published an apology to the readers. You have an obligation to your readers to not publish such callous remarks that essentially advocate violence in our schools and our community. Oh, and by the way, shame on you for publishing his remarks in the first place."


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blood Will Tell, Part 2

A good article from Wired Magazine about the Freedmen controversy, and one of the few that gets it right by discussing the random, capricious and racist nature of the Dawes Rolls. It also points out the shortcomings of using DNA testing to determine Indian heritage, something that seems to be all the rage lately to judge from my GoogleAds. However, the author does imply, unfairly, that this is all about money, mentioning how much the Five Tribes are raking in from casino gaming. That's a cheap shot; it might be true for small tribes in California or New England (several of whom are currently engaged in nasty purges of their membership), but Cherokee citizens don't get any kind of allotment or dividend from gaming operations. All that money goes to fund the tribal government, making it self-sufficient. There are plenty of legitimate complaints to make about the anti-Freedmen faction, but money isn't one of them. As the saying goes, a white (CDIB) card and fifty cents will get you a cup of coffee.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Asking For It?

Excellent, thoughtful article in The American Lawyer on the precipitous decline in power and influence of plaintiff's lawyers, and why it may well be the fault (at least in part) of overly greedy mass-tort lawyers who grew fat and happy on asbestos litigation in the 1990's. Hat tip to The Tortellini.

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The Voices Remain...

Congress has finally passed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act. The Act is named for Esther "Poe Tsawa" Martinez (Tewa), better known as Ko'o (Aunt) to her many admirers, a tireless advocate for Indian languages who died in a car crash at age 94 earlier this year. At last, the "do nothing" 109th Congress manages to actually do something.

Meanwhile, however, the taxpayer-funded war on tribal sovereignty grinds on.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Raj of Baghdad

Matthew Yglesias has a good post up likening the ISG's proposal to embed thousands of American military "advisors" in the Iraqi Army (and thousands more civilian administrators in all strata of the Iraqi government) to the old British Indian Empire. I might be tempted to think this could be a good idea; after all, it ultimately worked for India. The Indians (much like America) adopted the British institutions that served them best (not to mention the vast infrastructure) and modified them to suit their culture and situation. Now India, though certainly not without faults, is a stable democracy, as opposed to Pakistan, which is an authoritarian basket-case. BUT Britain did not attempt to conquer India all in one gulp; and they expanded by subverting local princes as much as military might, and there wasn't a persistent, widespread, violent ethnic civil war and resultant terrorism (not until around independence, anyway). With that history in mind, the ISG plan just sounds like setting up the worst kind of "client state": an open-ended commitment of blood and treasure from which (to be brutally cynical about it) we get nothing in return.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blood Will Tell

I think it's astonishing that neither this USA Today story, nor Principal Chief Chad Smith's rebuttal to it, make mention of the central fact in this dispute: most of the Freedmen were not given a blood quanta on the Dawes Roll (due to the prevailing racist belief at the time that "one drop" of "black blood" made one "black") and therefore they cannot prove their eligibility for tribal citizenship, no matter how much "Indian blood" they have. Since we know the Freedmen were discriminated against, why can't the tribe simply allow them to register if they can show "Indian blood" from a source other than the Dawes Roll, such as one of the other rolls, the Cherokee census or so forth? This would allow Freedmen who are of genuine Cherokee ancestry to retain their citizenship, while weeding out those who have no "Indian blood," but are the descendents of those granted tribal membership on the order of the Federal Government in 1866. I hardly think I'm the smartest person watching this controversy; surely this solution has occured to someone else? Chief Smith is absolutely right; determining citizenship is a fundamental right of any sovereign Nation. But, as a dispossesed people, victims of ethnic cleansing, scattered into diaspora by the cruelty of a racist federal government, does not the Cherokee Nation have a larger moral duty? The duty to preserve the Nation by ensuring that ALL members of the tribe are ackowledged as citizens? Particularly those whose ancestors were subject to the first and largest termination in the whole sad history of that failed policy, the Dawes Commission?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Can't Be Good

The ongoing meatgrinder of Iraq is causing the US Army to slowly but surely run out of equipment. Doesn't anybody in this Administration know how to run a war?

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Standing Tall

Trevor Miller, a Mohawk man, arrested during the stand-off in Caledonia, refuses to acknowledge to jurisdiction of Canadian courts over him.

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Son of Right Wing Amnesia...

...that strange congenital condition whereby Conservatives' memories are selectively erased, seems to have struck Powerline! Fortunately, TPM Muckraker is here to help.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Greg Abbott Full of Hot (Polluted) Air

Without bothering to check with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Attorney General has filed a brief SUPPORTING the Bush Administration's decision to do nothing to control the emission of greenhouse gases. Had he bothered to check with the TCEQ, they could've patiently explained to him that global warming is, in fact, a bad thing. Particularly if you live in Houston and have grown fond of breathing. Hat tip to Norbizness.

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Joe Biden Channels George Allen By Way Of Trent Lott

I don't know what this screams more loudly, that Joe Biden is an idiot, or that the Republic Party should just go ahead and officially rename itself the League of the South. Hat tip to Atrios.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hi Yo, Silver!

Joshua Micah Marshall at TPM has some misgivings about Silvestre Reyes as Chair of the Intelligence Committee.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Solid South

Interesting piece from the Economist, via The Moderate Voice, concerning the shrinkage of the GOP down to its Deep South base. If this trend continues, it would mark a fascinating reversal of history. From 1865-1964, the Democratic Party was defined almost exclusively by "The Solid South," and not very competitive anywhere else, certainly not nationally (the Democrats won a grand total of four Presidential elections from 1860 until 1932, and even then had only two winning candidates; and you could well argue that 1912 was a fluke).

UPDATE: Kevin Phillips, via Washington Monthly, calls this the "Texification" of the Republic Party. That hurts, but it's probably sadly accurate, given the paleolithic nature of the Texas Republican Party Platform.

UPDATE 2: Matthew Yglesias respectfully dissents. Good, thoughtful comments, too.

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