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, June 30, 2007

Nice of Them to Finally Admit It

Just so we're absolutely clear on this point: the tele-Pharisees have absolutely no interest whatsoever in "freedom of religion" for any religion but their own narrow, cramped, idolatrous, blasphemous sect.

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Column for 1 July, 2007

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them.”
--Psalm 119:45-47

One of my favorite musicals is “1776.” I’m not sure why; certainly, I like the portrayals of the Founders as real human beings and not demigods—Jefferson pines for his wife; Benjamin Franklin is a sly, savvy manipulator; John Dickinson is a money-obsessed conniver; Richard Henry Lee is a pompous blowhard. Or maybe I just identify with John Adams, who’s “obnoxious and disliked, that cannot be denied.” In addition to showing (more or less accurately) the delegates to Philadelphia warts and all, “1776” also reveals that the Declaration of Independence was a product of something that is in short supply in current American politics, the art of compromise. Each of the delegates represented colonies and factions with sometimes wildly divergent interests. Radicals like Adams and Franklin favored immediate independence; moderates like Dickinson hoped for reconciliation with the Crown. Others, particularly from the Southern Colonies, feared that an independent America would encroach on their “rights,” more particularly, the right to own other human beings as property. And that led to the first (and ultimately most fateful) compromise. It is fairly well-known that Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration included language condemning the King for slavery: He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This passage is, in and of itself, hypocritical, as it conjures the image of the evil King forcing slavery upon unwilling Americans. To Jefferson’s eternal consternation, the entire passage was removed by “representatives” who were all white, all male, included numerous slaveowners and were, if not all rich, certainly none of them poor. Yet, if the section had remained, none of the Southern colonies would have signed. And without the South, the Revolution would have died in its infancy. Even with the colonies united, Britain was only defeated militarily due to the intervention of France. In the musical, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina points out a further hypocrisy, the smug-self righteousness of the Northern Colonies when they too profited from the slave trade. “Hail Boston! Hail Charleston! Who stinketh the most?” All of America was tainted from the moment of its conception by slavery, considered by Abraham Lincoln the nation’s original sin. And, as Adams gloomily predicted, the country very nearly destroyed itself before this fundamental contradiction (a democracy where large portions of the populace were held to be less than human) was resolved on the battlefield. Sadly, there was no real controversy over another passage: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. Of course, at the same time the Continental Congress was adopting this language, they were pleading for assistance with various tribes, even offering statehood to the Lenape (Delaware). None of that mattered, in the final analysis. Tribes that sided with the British (like the Cherokee) were treated exactly the same as tribes that supported the Patriots (such as the Oneida, who carried corn to feed the Continental Army during its horrible winter at Valley Forge). Just as America was founded on Slavery, so, too was it founded on the wholesale theft of land from the original inhabitants. In another irony of history, if the British had made better use of their Indian allies, like the brilliant Mohawk leader Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), they would have won the war. In a very real sense, America owes its existance to the Indians. But, as my old Civil War and Reconstruction professor used to say, history is not written in the subjunctive. For all its moral equivocation, the mere fact of America’s creation and continued existence transformed the world in a still-ongoing global democratic revolution. And so, while the ends do not necessarily justify the means, before we condemn the decisions the Founders made, we should frankly evaluate the results of those decisions. And, to paraphrase Nietzche, as we gaze into history, history gazes back at us. If we arrogate to ourselves the moral authority to judge the Founders, we must also judge ourselves and our stewardship of the Revolution. What have we done to justify their risk of their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor? What have we, personally, done to correct the errors in judgment we can see like motes in the eyes of our ancestors, while ignoring the beams that cloud our own vision. Tellingly, fittingly, “1776” ends with the signing of the Declaration. George Washington has just announced that a large enemy force is advancing on Philadelphia and he is helpless to stop it. As the bells toll, one by one each delegate comes forward and affixes his name to a document that could easily have been his death warrant, the Crown’s Exhibit “A” at a mass treason trial just before the gruesome executions that would inexorably have followed. This is what is so striking about that scene, as the final curtain falls: we realize that the Founders did not know, could not know, that they would succeed. They had no idea if their grand and unprecedented experiment would end in liberty or death. They had only their faith in the future. May we be worthy of their trust. God bless America.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedmen Fallout

Analysis of an analysis of the Freedmen controversy from Three Wise Men (one of whom is a Cherokee citizen).

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why Do They Hate America?

The list grows...

  1. Senator Richard Lugar (the last grown-up in the Republic Party)
  2. Very smart teenagers

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Today In History...


Louie Gohmert: Chickenshit Thief

From The Raw Story. Wonkette's take on it is even better. Gohmert is, to borrow a phrase from Jim Hightower, a toothache of a man and you'd think he'd be getting tired by now of getting his ass handed to him.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

GOP Lurves Illegal Aliens...

...provided of course they are the right sort (Know what I mean? eh? Wink, wink? Nudge, nudge? Say no more?)

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cherokee Election Night Blogging

Courtesy of Wampum. Chief Smith is slightly ahead. It all comes down to approximately 5,400 absentee ballots yet to be counted. There is still hope.

UPDATE: Hope fades. God save the Cherokee Nation.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Betraying the Cause

Rachel over at Rachel's Tavern writes an excellent piece on the romanticized feelings many African-Americans feel towards Indians and their acute sense of betrayal due to the actions of the tiny virulent anti-Freedmen faction within the Cherokee Nation. The lack of solidarity between Indians and other non-whites is not a new topic. Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote in Custer Died For Your Sins that there was a basic disconnect between Indians and blacks during the Civil Rights Era because they were seeking fundamentally different things: African-Americans, he said, wanted to be treated like whites; Indians, on the other hand, wanted to be treated like Indians. He even wrote approvingly of Black Separatism, which is the one thing he could relate to the struggle for Indian rights. I'm not sure I agree with him completely, but that's hardly surprising; part of the reason there has never been a true, broad-based "Native American Movement" is that Native Americans themselves remain divided by tribe, social class, blood quanta, assimilation and yes, even race (and now rich tribes versus desperately poor tribes). The inability to put aside these differences and unite for the common defense has been a (maybe even the) major cause of Indian losses since the time of Tecumseh and beyond. And if we cannot even agree among ourselves, how can we possibly recognize what we have in common with other non-whites? And any potential solidarity between Indians and blacks will only be made more unlikely if the betrayal of the Freedmen is allowed to stand.

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Stacy Leeds on the Watson Bill

A bill was introduced in Congress today to pull our federal funds, close our casinos, and terminate our federal recognition. It's truly a sad day for the Cherokee Nation. The rash decisions and inconsistent legal arguments of our current administration bring us to this point.
Will the bill pass? Doubtful.
Does the introduction of the bill matter? Without a doubt.
In addition to this proposed legislation, a federal court case is pending and there is on-going review by the BIA regarding the legality of the March 3rd Special Election. Now all three branches of the United States government are fully engaged in the fall out of our decision to expel a class of tribal citizens.
Why is this happening? The Cherokee people, although certainly possessing the right to redefine citizenship, were not told the whole story by the current administration. The Cherokee people were not fully advised of the legal and political consequences of the special election. Instead, the decision was rushed and public debate and deliberations were suppressed.
Why was the federal bill not introduced earlier? Principal Chief Chad Smith has been in negotiations to delay the introduction of this bill so that it would not be introduced the week before the election. He didn't want to allow the Cherokee people the opportunity to know the seriousness of our present situation. Instead, he attempted to negotiate some undisclosed deal to keep this out of the media.
My concern is two fold: (1) The Principal Chief does not have the authority to strike a secret "deal" with the Freedmen without discussing it with the Tribal Council; and (2) exactly what were the details of Chief Smith's "offer" to the Freedmen?
The introduction of the bill was delayed for a week based on the Principal Chief's promises. What exactly did he promise? How much would his promise cost the Cherokee people?
I will alway support the Cherokee people's right to make decisions, good or bad. What must end, if we are to be a healthy nation, are the half-truths and secret dealings of our present leadership.
A positive change is just around the corner . . . . vote Saturday June 23rd.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Yesterday Upon the Stair...

...I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today. He must be Vice President of the USA.

UPDATE: Rahm Emanuel calls him on it.

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Some More Cherokee Election News

George Wickliffe, Chief of the United Keetoowah Band, denounces Chad Smith (who is also a UKB member) for endangering tribal sovereignty by violating the 1866 Treaty and disenrolling the Freedmen.

Pre-election rumors are flying around Tahlequah. The latest claims that Chief Smith has held out the prospect of some kind of Freedmen Tribe with gaming rights in exchange for Congress calling off the dogs until after the election. Frankly, while I certainly respect the source, this sounds way too ludicrous to be believed. There is simply no lawful way to fabricate a "Freedman Tribe" out of thin air, and even if you could, they would have no land base and thus no gaming. If Chief Smith won't let the UKB build casinos on CN land, can you really imagine him letting the Freedmen do it?

UPDATE: More to the rumor as Cong. Diane Watson confirms that "negotiations" are going on and Chad Smith, as expected, denies offering the Freedmen their own band. Like Wampum, though, I'm not really sure what these "negotiations" can actually accomplish, given that yet another constitutional amendment would be required to allow the Freedmen back in.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This Just In...

...President Bush is using "signing statements" to completely ignore laws he doesn't want to obey.

Another example of hard-hitting investigative journalism from the pages of Duh! Magazine.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Chad Smith and...Jack Abramoff?

Wampum shows that Chief Smith did more than just talk economic development with Abramoff's shop. How many Cherokee voters will hear about this between now and the 23rd?

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rick Perry: Indian Fighter...

...bravely holding the line against any effort (no matter how small) to show the slightest amount of sympathy, consideration or basic human decency to the pitiful handful of tribes in this state not already eradicated by previous Governors.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

News Round-Up

  1. Cong. Zack Wamp (R-Tennesse and a Cherokee) teams up with Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Illinois) to name the main entry hall on the $592 million boondoggle Capitol Vistors Center "Emancipation Hall," in honor of the slaves who orginally built the Capitol;
  2. E.J. Dionne with some of his usual thoughtful commentary on the ongoing disintegration of the Republic Party;
  3. Hamas captures the Gaza Strip; yet another disaster for Bush's Foreign "Policy";
  4. The Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments are failing mentally wounded veterans. Pretty sad that this just isn't shocking anymore;
  5. And just before the tiger finally devoured him, Trent Lott realized he had made a fatal mistake in ever thinking he could ride it;
  6. Privitizing justice, shockingly enough, seems just not to work;
  7. Turns out legal immigration ain't running too smoothly, either.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meanwhile, Back In Federal Court, Part Two...

Judge Henry Kennedy has refused to block the June 23rd Cherokee tribal election. Frankly, I never thought it was ever that likely he would grant the requested injunction, given Chad Smith's strategic decision to agree to the tribal court injunction. So now, all eyes turn to Capitol Hill to see whether or not the Congressional Black Caucus will make an attempt to cut funding to CN.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Around the Blogosphere...

My guest-post over at Rachel's Tavern on the Cherokee tribal elections.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Only Thing I Will Say About Paris Hilton... that Jon Swift says it much better than I ever could.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Meanwhile, Back In Federal Court...

...the Freedmen are back in front of Judge Kennedy seeking an injunction against the June 23rd tribal election. Chief Smith says that Cherokee sovereignty is at stake. Yes, yes, it is. And you put it there.

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Constitution Partially Restored

Film at eleven. President urges calm.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bush Discovers Country That Still Likes Him

Albania uncovered as the official last member of the Coalition of the Willing.
UPDATE: Jesus' General proposes a trade.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

At the urging of Chad Smith, the Tribal Council passed (in 35 seconds, no less) a new constitutional amendment to again remove the requirement that the Cherokee Nation bow and scrape to the Federal government for permission to amend its own Constitution. So far, so good; but the reason for the haste was to ram it onto the ballot in time for the June 23rd election, because Smith and company are desperate to ensure that the Freedmen only get to vote once. Of course, many absentee voters have already sent in their ballots (without this provision on them, naturally), so new ballots will have to be sent out, leading to even more chaos and confusion. I'm also told that the Tribal government is refusing to even give a list of the Freedmen to their court-appointed attorney!
Meanwhile, it seems increasingly likely that the Congressional Black Caucus will move to cut off funds to the Nation (about 80% of the total budget), leading to a disaster of Seminole proportions.
I'm starting to fear that by the time Stacy Leeds becomes Principal Chief, there won't be any tribe left to govern.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gold Star Families

Since my Memorial Day column was posted, I've noticed several hits on the site from people searching for names on the list. If you came here following the name of a loved one, first, please accept my deepest sympathies for your loss. Even though the column and this blog are occasionally irreverent, I am always mindful of the sacrifices made by those in uniform and I am eternally grateful for their service. After seeing all these hits, it occurred to me that merely listing name, rank and hometown is rather impersonal (though necessary due to space considerations). If you know someone on the list and would like to share something about them, just to help the rest of us know them a little better as human beings, please feel free to do so. Thank you.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Column for 3 June, 2007

Sorry this is going up late...

“There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones.”

--Ecclesiastes 10:5-6

I think it’s safe to come out of the bomb shelters and storm cellars now. It’s over. Our long State nightmare has ended; the Legislature has adjourned sine die (Latin for ‘someone please get these idiots out of here before they cause any more damage!’). Mark Twain once said that America has no distinctly criminal class, except for Congress. In Texas, we have wisely chosen to force the criminals to gather in Austin every two years so we can keep an eye on them. So what did the average Texan get out of this bi-annual running of the fools? Not much. It started with Rick Perry’s arrogance and incompetence provoking a race among Legislators to see who could more quickly prove that girls who might engage in sex should die a long and painful death from cancer as punishment. Things only got worse from there. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst pushed through “Jessica’s Law,” a well-intentioned hope of crime victims turned into a cynical vehicle for his 2010 campaign for Governor, assuming Perry doesn’t intend to inflict himself on us for another four years. An entire column could (and probably will) be written about this law that will actually make Texas children less safe. Next, the Republican majority attempted to pass a so-called Voter ID bill, which was in reality a blatant attempt to suppress turnout by people Republicans don’t want to vote, such as racial minorities, the elderly, the poor and rural voters. Through the heroic efforts of Senator Mario Gallegos, who quite literally fought the bill from his sick bed after liver transplant surgery, this abomination, the most transparent attack on democracy in this state since Jim Crow, went down to a well-deserved ignominious defeat. A fake “moratorium” on toll roads that exempts most of them, including the Pave Texas Corridor was passed in order to muzzle critics of the notion of selling off large chunks of the Lone Star State to foreign corporations who will then charge Texans to drive on roads they have already paid for with their taxes. And since Republicans think it’s perfectly okay to have the government meddle in your most intimate personal decisions, you now have to pay twice as much for a marriage license unless you take a course where the government will tell you how your marriage should be handled. Yeah, the homosexuals don’t know what they’re missing. Retired Texas teachers get a small pittance thrown their way, but our ranking with Mississippi in terms of current teacher pay will remain unchallenged. A small amount was tossed to the state park system, just enough to cover-up the embarrassment of the second-largest state in the Union with parks that would shame a Third-World country. Some of the children that Arlene Wohlgemuth tossed overboard from the Children’s Health Insurance Program will get their healthcare back. The biggest story of the session, however, was the simmering rebellion against the petty tyrant Tom Craddick that finally boiled over into open warfare. The Speaker, evidently copying a page from George W. Bush, announced unilaterally that his power over the House was “absolute” and not subject to challenge from any mere peons. This was too much for the House Parliamentarian, Denise Davis, who quit in disgust. And it was too much for the House as well, even most of the Republicans, who normally have a pretty bizarre fetish for authoritarian fantasies that they really ought to discuss with their therapist. The ensuing midnight walkout, which got so heated DPS troopers had to be called in like United Nations to separate the warring factions, reminded me of the good ol’ days, when fistfights and all-out brawls of the sort normally not seen outside of Taiwan were a regular occurrence. It made me even sadder that Molly Ivins wasn’t around to see it; she would’ve had a blast covering this train wreck of a pathetic excuse for a legislative body. Craddick only barely managed to cling to power through adroit use of a $176 million bribe—excuse me; I mean special higher education appropriations, which he doled out to the faithful, including a small number of Democrats who continue to shine his boots with their tongues. You’ll be relieved to know, incidentally, that our alleged state representative, Rob Orr, continues to dwell safely and comfortably in Craddick’s vest pocket, like the obedient little toady we’ve all come to know and love. So, here’s the question of the day: why do y’all keep electing these morons? Seriously. How much more of this idiocy are y’all going to put up with? Is this the kind of state you really want to pass on to your children and grandchildren? Polluted, paved-over, with crumbling parks, no social services to speak of, an education system that’s falling down around our ears, our infrastructure auctioned off to the highest foreign bidder? That’s really what y’all think you deserve? Or is it that we’ve become so inured to incompetent, corrupt and just plain stupid government in Austin we can’t conceive of anything else?


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Just So You Know...

...I am preparing for trial, so postings are likely to be light to non-existent through next week.