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."

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tom Tancredo: Crazier'n A Shithouse Rat

At least now we know he hates all brown people, not just Mexicans.

UPDATE: And now it's official.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Caucus Strikes Back, Part 2

HR 3002, with its provision denying funds to the Cherokee Nation, could be voted on as early as this week. I had previously thought the amendment eliminated all federal funding until the Freedmen are reinstated, but actually it only prevents CN from participating in this particular program. A separate bill, HR 2824, which would cut off all funding to CN, is also pending.

UPDATE: Cong. Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma) claims to have cut a deal to put the Housing bill on hold (thereby depriving all other tribes, apparently) while the Freedmen issue is hashed out in court. We'll see.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Profiles in Courage?

All Republican Presidential candidates (except for Ron Paul, John McCain and Tommy Thompson, not exactly the top tier) are too chicken to handle a YouTube debate like the Democrats. They can't risk even getting that close to a live, unfiltered audience. I will say it again: any candidate for any office unwilling to answer live, unscreened, unfiltered questions from a live unscreened audience is a snivelling, pulling coward unworthy of a single vote for dogcatcher, let alone President of the United States.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Peace Through Superior Firepower

My Right Honorable Colleague Remembering deTocqueville points to this disturbing article (also blogged by the Quaker Agitator) concerning the Deciderer's plan to ship $20 billion worth of weapons to the medieval religious thugs in Saudi Arabia, the country that brought us Osama bin Laden and most of his murderous 9-11 crew and which continues to support terrorism against both the US, our troops in Iraq, and Israel. That'll learn 'em!

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Friday, July 27, 2007


I listened to this story on NPR the other day about the alarming increase in sexual assault in Indian Country, overwhelmingly Native women being raped by white men, and how convoluted and contradictory Federal law ensures that the perpetrators will almost never be caught, let alone prosecuted. Even though the facts were all well-known to me, I found myself growing so angry I had to sit in my truck for awhile in the parking lot and cool off. Part of the reason for my anger was that NPR was far too genteel to mention the real reason for the crime explosion on Native lands: the institutional racism of Congress and the Supreme Court that has castrated Tribal Sovereignty, stripped tribal courts of the jurisdiction to hear felony offenses, and (most unforgivable of all) granted white people extraterritoriality (essentially, immunity from prosecution) in Indian Country. Every single one of these women who have had their lives shattered can lay the blame at the feet of the Federal Government for turning Indian Country into the Wild West.

UPDATE: The House has voted for increased funding to "protect Native women." Fairly typical liberal response-chunk money at the problem without addressing either the real problem (racism) or the real solution (restoration of tribal sovereignty).

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis

A series of relatively short vignettes on various members of the "Revolutionary Generation" (Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Washington, Burr, Franklin & Madison) and their relationships with one another, particularly their rivalries, friendships and (in some cases) hatreds. The first chapter deals with the long, bitter political rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that culminated in their famous duel in 1804. The last chapter, fittingly, details the rise, fall and rebirth of the remarkable friendship between Jefferson and Adams, ending with their mythic deaths only hours apart on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. In between, we see how James Madison was the Karl Rove of his day, how even mentioning the slavery issue in Congress nearly destroyed the Republic, that George Washington (and only George Washington) could have led the nation after the ratification of the Constitution, and how the French Revolution almost ended the American Revolution. All in all, this short work (248 pages) is a reminder of how human, frail and fallible the Founders really were, and what a delicate and fragile creation the early Republic was, nearly collapsing several times into civil war or military dictatorship. It's length correctly reflects that this is not a very deep volume, but the stories are engrossing, some of the details remarkable (Hamilton's plot to lead a military coup; Washington's dream of bringing Native Americans into the nation instead of forcing them to the margins) and the writing brisk and clear. Recommended, possibly as a companion to actual full biographies of the Founders.


The Caucus Strikes Back

Cong. Mel Watt of North Carolina has successfully attached an amendment to H.R. 3002, the "Native American Economic Development and Infrastructure for Housing Act of 2007," which will cut off all funds to the Cherokee Nation until or unless the Secretary of the Interior confirms that CN is in compliance with the Treaty of 1866 and recognized Freedmen citizenship.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What If Bill Clinton...

...asserted executive privilege in response to a Congressional subpoena? Why, John Yoo would denounce it as grounds for impeachment!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Republican Efficiency Watch

Apparently, it is simply impossible to trust the Republic Party to control any portion of state government that deals with the poor, the powerless or the helpless. Can we please now retire that sad pathetic and empty slogan that the GOP will "run state government like a business"? And while we're at it, the trope that Rick Perry is anything more than a pathetic shill, an empty suit with all the leadership skill of a mollusk?

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

John Edwards' Hair = the New Al Gore

"Liberal media," my ass. So, apparently, the media-ocracy that helped Ralph Nader bring you George W. Bush have now decided to hate John Edwards in a group slam-book worthy of any roving gang of 12 year old girls. Because he's rich. Or relatively young-looking. Or because of his hair. Who really knows? The point is, clearly Edwards is History's Greatest Monster, much worse than Mitt Romney (who looks as though he was assembled from a kit).

In other news, hard-hitting investigative journalism reveals that Hillary Clinton has boobs. President urges calm.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Column for 22 July, 2007

“He changes times and seasons, He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”
--Daniel 2:21

The only thing really surprising about President Bush commuting the sentence of Scooter Libby is that anybody who’s been conscious in America over the last six and a half years is surprised by it. Hasn’t this President made it abundantly clear that he believes there are two types of law, one for him and his cronies and another for the rest of us? Like most aristocrats, the new robber barons of America, Bush knows that the law is used as a tool for the powerful and is certainly not for the poor, the unwashed and the powerless to dare threaten their betters. Tort “reform,” secret trials, torture, secret prisons, mass spying on American citizens on American soil: all tools by which those who rule keep those who don’t in line. Bush thought Libby’s sentence was “excessive”? This line was said with a straight face by a man who could not even be bothered to spend five minutes reviewing the three-by-five cards Alberto Gonzales prepared for him on prisoners condemned to death row while he was Governor; the same man who actually mocked Karla Fay Tucker before she was executed, then later hypocritically claimed it was the hardest decision he ever had to make. Please. And I’ll make another prediction for you: January 19, 2009 will see a wave of pardons the likes of which will make Bill Clinton’s shabby departure from the White House look like a prayer breakfast in comparison. Bush will pardon everyone from himself and Cheney down to the guy who empties the trash cans in the Oval Office. Much to the annoyance of liberals everywhere, neither Bush nor Cheney will ever face any of the consequences of their disastrous rule. They’re not going to be impeached; there was never any real chance of that happening and frankly it’s a waste of energy for the Left Wing Blogosphere to be constantly demanding it. What possible good would a failed impeachment accomplish? To shame the Administration? Sorry, but you have to have a conscience in order to feel shame. And right about the time the White House claimed executive privilege on the details of the tawdry cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire, it became painfully apparent that any conscience this Administration might have once had has long since been shipped off to an undisclosed location. Sometimes, of course, losing battles have a point and Harry Reid forcing the heretofore spineless Senate GOP to actually man up and filibuster might be one of those occasions, if it helps the American people to understand that the Democrats simple don’t have enough votes in Congress to overcome Republican intransigence, never mind the threat that President Bush will veto any bill he doesn’t simply ignore. Certainly, there is no chance that Congress can do anything to force an end to Bush’s catastrophic war in Iraq; he has no intention of bringing the troops home, he doesn’t care that he is slowly but surely obliterating his own party, and he will continue to pour blood and treasure into the desert meatgrinder up until the moment he climbs on Marine One for the last time and is whisked away to the ignominious retirement he so richly deserves. The only comfort we can take is the knowledge that given his inability to write or speak coherently, at least we won’t have to endure years of “rehabilitation” of George W. Bush’s image, the way that contemptible, vicious old fraud Nixon, the previous contender for worst President in history, was magically transformed into some sort of revered “elder statesmen,” regularly excreting books detailing how he would have handled current events, when he should have really spent his golden years in Fort Leavenworth making large rocks into small rocks. No, the best we can hope for is a stalemate in the time between now and when a Democrat takes control of the White House and begins the horrific task of cleaning up Bush’s toxic waste dump of a legacy. However, given the GOP’s Congressional record of flagrant corruption, shameless hypocrisy, and obsequious toadying to the Bush agenda of imbuing the Presidency with the Divine Right of Kings, a stalemate wouldn’t be all that bad if not for the hemorrhaging of a generation that will continue in the Middle East. Pity whoever’s hand rests on the Bible the day Bush leaves office; he or she will be handed the keys to a house on fire and when the Iraq War inevitably ends badly, the Right Wing Noise Machine will be sure to deflect the blame onto him or her, using some variant of the slogan “Who lost Iraq?”; already, they are test-driving the “stab in the back” argument, used by defeated dictators to justify their own cupidity since the end of the First World War. More to the point, pity the country. Our prestige abroad is ruined, our military strained to the breaking point, our freedoms trampled at home, and the steady looting of our national economy from the inside out, aided and abetted by both Democrats and Republicans for the last quarter of a century, continues unabated. The Liberal Blogosphere is right in one sense; George W. Bush does have much to answer for. Sadly, he never will.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Speaking of Great Religions Hijacked by Extremists...

...the Texas Observer has an excellent article on bloggers and the war within the Southern Baptist Convention. This is one of the few articles in a secular publication that correctly notices that the battle has nothing to do with theology (everyone involved is conservative and, to at least some degree, fundamentalist) and everything to do with raw power. The extremist faction that has dominated the SBC believes, contrary to two centuries' of Baptist teachings, that the Convention is really a medieval papacy, complete with Inquisition and doctrinal enforcers. It remains to be seen if the denomination can actual survive this civil war intact.

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This Week In Totalitarianism...

"Executive privilege" (another of those phrases like "right to privacy" or "separation of church and state" not found in the Constitution, but one which Republicans like, at least when invoked by Republican presidents) apparently means never having to say you're sorry. Or anything else, for that matter.

I'll be interested to see how long these broad sweeping assertion of pharoanic powers for the executive branch last for Republicans during a Clinton, Obama or Edwards presidency.

UPDATE: Dubya has signed an executive order allowing him to seize everything you own if you criticize the war. No, seriously.

UPDATE 2: More thoughts on the executive order and its implications from Orcinus.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

This Just In...

The "George W. Bush" Monster that has been terrorizing Washington, DC and scaring off tourists for years was recently revealed by a group of plucky amateur sleuth Congressmen to be none other than...Arlene Wohlgemuth, the amusement park owner!

"And I would've gotten away with it, too," groused the so-called "chief executive" as he was led away in handcuffs by the sheriff. "If it hadn't been for those meddling sick kids!"

A spokesman for Senator Max Baucus, one of the fearless young detectives who cracked the case, said only, "Zoinks!"

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nativist Americans

Orcinus has a typically-thoughtful piece up about Tom Tancredo, the heir to the Millard Fillmore crown of fear-mongering and thinly-veiled race baiting. Dave, however, thinks that instead of the hapless Fillmore, Tancredo is more reminiscent of Barry Goldwater, mounting an insurgent, below-the-radar campaign that resonates with a certain segment of the electorate but is missed by the elites. I have actually been surprised at how poorly Tancredo is doing, given the hide-under-the-bed fear levels the rapidly-dwindling GOP base has about the Horde of Brown People. Maybe he is positioning himself for a surprise showing in Iowa, but then again maybe it's because the other candidates don't mind exploiting this issue a little themselves and they all have way more money.

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President Kennedy by Richard Reeves

Reeve's book is really a policy wonkish nearly day-by-day case study of JFK's Presidency, focusing less on the events but how they were managed (and in some cases stage managed) exclusively from the perspective of the White House. Though somewhat prissy and snarky concerning Kennedy's mistresses (and even offering a rather far-fetched medical explanation for his behavior), the book is more about Kennedy as a leader. His famous "collegial style" of leadership, for example, actually comes across as ad hoc and chaotic, and very limited by Kennedy's unwillingness to trust many people outside of a close circle of family (i.e., Bobby) and friends. Although, given the problems he had with military leaders (verging on outright mutiny in the case of Curtis LeMay) and the CIA (which evidently regarded him as an amiable dunce at best), JFK's suspicious nature is maybe understandable. Kennedy also had weaknesses due to his lily-white, rich, comparatively sheltered upbringing, such as his utter bewilderment at the Civil Rights Movement ("What do these people want?" he exclaims in frustration at one point). I was also surprised to read just how heavily involved the White House was in orchestrating the March on Washington, which JFK had initially opposed, even going so far as to pay for it with funds raised and laundered by Bobby. There are modern lessons to be learned; Kennedy owed his presidency to one emerging media (television, which he worked hard to master) muscling out older media (newspapers); today's politics sees the eclipse of broadcast television and the surviving newspapers by the Internet and cable news, though we don't yet have a president who owes as much to the Internet as JFK did to teevee. Vietnam is even more of a cautionary tale for Iraq than I had thought, with the White House trying to maneuver through a recalcitrant, corrupt and dictatorial local government that seemed determined to doom itself; and American policy hopelessly ham-handed due to a near-total ignorance of local culture (it's truly frightening to consider how much of US policy towards Vietnam was shaped by a work of fiction, The Ugly American by William J. Lederer). Overall, it's an excellent read, though 1963 feels rushed and glossed-over compared to the lavish detail shown to the first two years of Kennedy's abbreviated term.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wherein I Piss Off Liberals

See comments...

UPDATE: Creek Running North makes an excellent point that made me realize that I need to clarify my position. My problem is not with liberals who insist on supporting candidates that I find, frankly, to be pretty ludicrous. No, my problem is with liberals who either a) don't participate in electoral politics at all, content to sit in the cheap seats and chuck tomatoes; or b) cannot seem to grasp that the only point of an election is to WIN. It's not to "make a point"; it's not to "stimulate debate"; it's not to "take a stand." It's to pound the living crap out of the other guy. And to do that, inevitably, you're gonna have to support candidates who don't agree with you 100%. There's just no way around that. If you'd rather be right than win, stick to blogging. Ideological puritanism has no place in electoral politics, especially American electoral politics which are specifically Constitutionally rigged to require compromise. Could Abraham Lincoln have run on an explicitly abolitionist platform in 1860? Sure he could've; and he would've lost, and slavery would have stuck around for another generation (or more). Could FDR have run on a flat-out, anti-fascist platform in 1940? Sure, and he would've lost and Europe would likely still be run by the Nazis. Could JFK have run on a Civil Rights plank in 1960? Yep, and he would've lost (to, God help us, Nixon) and there would've been no Civil Rights Act of 1964, and no Voting Rights Act of 1965. Politics, to quote from Evita, is the "art of the possible." Sometimes, events come together in such a way that the IMpossible can be achieved, but your candidate has to first be in office to take advantage of it. Winners make history; losers whine about history.

UPDATE 2: Xanthippus sent this, which more or less tracks my views on the subject.

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Yet More Proof...

...that Capitalists don't really believe in capitalism. Just wait 'till Jonah Goldberg gets ahold of him!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Conservative Hypocrisy Watch

"Frivolous lawsuits" are bad. Unless Republicans file them.


Lady Bird Johnson, 1912-2007

A good friend of mine chatting with Lady Bird Johnson (who still dominated a room even from her wheelchair) at a fundraiser in Austin last year.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Do-Nothing Republicans

GOP strategy in Congress appears to be block everything, then go on TV and whine that the Democrats aren't getting anything done, relying on the fact that most Americans don't understand how many votes it takes to pass anything.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Stupid White Man of the Week: Peggy Noonan

For this inspired combination of racism, condescension and breathtaking ignorance in relating her witty and charming encounter with an Actual For Real Brown Person. My favorite part?

She is short, about 5 feet tall, and stocky, with a broad brown face. She is, I think, Latin American, maybe of Indian blood.

An actual INDIAN? My God, Peggy, however did you escape with your LIFE? Weren't you SCARED?


Conservative Hypocrisy Watch

It's not really "perjury" and "obstruction of justice" unless Bill Clinton does it.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Our Lives, Our Fortunes & Our Sacred Honor...


Monday, July 02, 2007

What If Bill Clinton...

...pardoned people as transparent political payback? Oh, wait!


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Senator John Cornyn...

...still Jack Abramoff's trained poodle. And still only slightly more popular than heat rash.

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Edward R. Murrow Is STILL Dead

Watch how Scarborough and whoever that other smirking jackass is react to Mika Brzezinski's unexpected attack of professionalism. They're like two morning drive-time DJ's from a mid-market station. Idiots.

Hat tip to Echidne!