The Local Crank

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

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Genius That Is John McCain

  1. Endorsed by batshit crazy tele-Pharisee John Hagee;
  2. Has thus really charmed the Catholic vote;
  3. Greeted with a thunderous round of indifference by his own party faithful;
  4. Financial knickers all in a twist;
  5. Still not too sure about all this "economy" business;
  6. Pre-pwned;
  7. Hasn't been following the news much about "Al-Qaida in Iraq";
  8. Is apparently now cribbing easily-refuted conspiracy theories about Obama;
  9. Evidently wants to be considered "the good cop";
  10. If only liberals expended half the energy on McCain that they currently focus on Clinton.

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My Infamy Spreads

A little late, but here is another article from the Tahlequah Daily Press wherein my wisdom is sought, this time on the superdelegate question. Read and be amazed.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

...Kay Bailey Hutchinson is still an idiot.

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Legends of the Fall

Some musings on a McCain vs. Obama line-up in November, including some worrisome poll-numbers that show McCain ahead on every issue but healthcare and with a slight (within the margin-of-error) lead overall. Part of this clearly has to do with the "experience" meme and it lines up with how the general election will go; McCain will flog experience over and over and over and tut-tut about how Young Barack doesn't understand "the Real World" (though to his credit, Obama seems to be pretty quick on the draw at pushing back). Meanwhile, under the radar, the RWHMMC will be screeching that Barack is a "mooslum," a commie, a Nazi or all three simultaneously (aided and abetted by Your Liberal Media), and below that will be the less thinly-veiled racism. I need to see less silliness from the Obama Campaign about carrying Kansas and other delusions and more confirmation that they realize this, like 2000 and 2004, will be a tough, brutal campaign, probably very close, and that they understand just how tough McCain will be to beat.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Congress

A fascinating and informative law review article on a seldom-discussed matter: the right of the Cherokee Nation under treaty to a delegate in the US House of Representatives. I had always thought that some other tribes (for some reason, the Delaware stuck in my head) had at least been promised a delegate at some point, but apparently CN is unique. If not for all the negative feelings generated over the Freedmen Issue, now would seem to be a good time to push for this delegate, given Speaker Pelosi's efforts to increase the power of other delegates.

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Texas Blue?

A good column from Paul Burka on the outstanding turnout in the Democratic Primary and the possibility of renewal for Texas Democrats. Put me in the "cautiously pessimistic" column on that. If we see a new Blue trend, it will have less to do with Democratic competence than (as at the national level) GOP incompetence, cupidity and arrogance. Also, Democrats will have to depend on a high level of Republican ennui, which isn't really a strong foundation for a re-alignment. In decreasing order of likelihood, I could see A) winning a statewide judicial race; B) winning control of the State House; or C) Rick Noriega beating Cornyn.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Expanding Indian Country

In a rare bit of good news, it appears very likely that the Oneida Nation will succeed in converting 13,000 acres out of a requested 17,000 in Oneida and Madison Counties in New York into trust. This is not, of course, the end; the decision will almost surely face litigation from those forces who have struggled to uphold the cherished legal principal that if you just steal something for long enough, you get to keep it. And they will continue to do so by arguing "fairness" and "equality" with a straight face.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nader Tosses Gigantic Ego Into Ring

Prissy, self-absorbed, megalomaniac annouces new bid to doom America to a further eight years of War, Pestilence and Famine.

UPDATE: TBogg crowns Nader the Official Genital Herpes on the Body Politic. If only there were some sort of electoral Valtrex (TM).

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stupid White Man of the Week: Bill O'Reilly

The terminally obtuse O'Reilly gets this week's coveted Stupid White Man award not just for his casual use of the term "lynching party" when referring to Michelle Obama; no, here at SWMOTW, we know using loaded racist language is easy (especially on FOX). Bill gets the nod for his clumsy, "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" non-apology. Congratulations, Bill!


Column for 24 February, 2008

“Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.”
--Ecclesiastes 10:12

Who would have guessed a year ago that Texas would be picking the next President? Who would’ve guessed a year ago that the Texas Presidential Primary would even actually matter? For the last twenty years or so, Texas has been almost completely irrelevant, since the nominations of both parties were usually decided far in advance and the Democrats never even contested the state come November. The only presidential campaign commercials we ever saw were national ad buys on cable. Actually, come to think of it, that was pretty nice. But now, though, the nomination of both parties, and thus the November election, comes down to Texas. Hillary Clinton, after losing 25 out of 36 primaries and caucuses (and ten in a row), absolutely, positively has to win here or her candidacy is pretty much over. And it’s probably not a good sign for her that Obama has the money and the people to open a store-front office with a staffer in Cleburne. John McCain doesn’t have to win Texas since he’s nearly over the top in the delegate count, but a loss to the grossly under-funded Mike Huckabee would be a national embarrassment, and would further highlight the huge divide in the Republican Party between traditional economic country-club conservatives and social Christian evangelical conservatives. McCain already has enough problems with social conservatives and the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus (or RWHMMC for short; Limbaugh, Coulter, the usual suspects) who loathe him with the kind of contempt they usual reserve for poor children, immigrants or Hillary Clinton. As for myself, now that my first choice John Edwards is out, I freely admit to being conflicted over whether to vote for Clinton or Obama. Since they are virtually indistinguishable on the issues, the choice comes down to who is the most electable. John McCain has pledged himself to serving out George W. Bush’s third term (more war, less jobs). I’m not at all certain the country can handle that, even with a Democratic Congress to check his most wretched excesses, assuming the Democrats in Congress remember they have a spine. So, which of the two is most likely to win? Clinton’s main strength, in my mind, is that she comes pre-attacked. The RWHMMC has already accused her of everything short of eating babies, so they’d be hard pressed to come up with any new vicious slanderous lies that wouldn’t be immediately laughed off by the electorate, or at least that portion of the electorate currently willing to give her a shot. Likewise, Clinton knows exactly just how brutal and unscrupulous the opposition can be; she and her husband have been through the meat-grinder. Her negatives are that she lacks Bill Clinton’s charm, inspirational personality, and political acumen. In fact, she seems to have a sort of negative charisma, inspiring those who hate her to work harder for her defeat. And for someone who is widely perceived to be a Machiavellian machine politician, Hillary Clinton has run a Keystone Cops campaign so far. How else to explain the fact that even with her long association with Texas politics (having stumped here for McGovern 35 years ago) and her highly experienced staff, no one bothered to look into the Texas delegate selection process until now? Granted, no one, least of all Texas Democrats, really understands the arcane logarithms and mathematical alchemy that are used to pick delegates here, but surely someone should’ve taken notes or something sooner than right before early voting started. Worse, the Clinton camp has resorted to some of the lamest, silliest attacks ever. Who thought it was a clever ploy to accuse Obama of “plagiarism” for copying a few phrases from his friend and supporter Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick? And is it really a smart move to tell Democratic voters in Red states that their votes “don’t count”? These are rookie mistakes that smell of desperation and don’t augur well for what would happen when the RWHMMC turns up the heat in the fall. Obama’s main positive is his incredible charisma. The man inspires. A lot. Enough to fill Reunion Arena to overflowing on a Wednesday afternoon. As John Kerry found out the hard way four years ago, inspired and energized followers can make all the difference in an election. Also, I think Obama’s youth, as the first major presidential candidate from my generation, Generation X, would actually be a positive contrast to 71 year-old John McCain. As for the negatives, Obama’s rhetoric, with all its flourishes about “radical change” and transformation, doesn’t really match his fairly pedestrian, run-of-the-mill platform. Plus, his previous campaigns have all been in reliably Blue Illinois; his expected opponent for US Senate in 2004 was felled by a sex scandal and Obama instead trounced the hastily-imported and reliably pathetic Alan Keyes. That lack of political combat experience concerns me. In an election season where Rush Limbaugh has already aired a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” and made word plays on “hoes” and “spades” and Bill O’Reilly has dropped the phrase “lynching party” when talking about Michelle Obama, I think it’s safe to assume that the attacks will only get sleazier and more overtly racist if Obama is the Democratic nominee. The fact that he will be attacked does not concern me; the Republicans will ferociously attack any Democratic nominee. What worries me is that I don’t see any evidence that Obama understands just how nasty it’s going to get, or that he has the blood-sport politics experience to push back against it. His frequent invocations of the spirit of bipartisanship make me concerned about his naiveté, considering that GOP guru Grover Norquist once famously likened bipartisanship to “date rape.” At best, Republicans consider “bipartisan” to mean either “do it exactly our way,” or “pause to reload.” To quote an old Texas political hand in describing the kind of bright, eager young Northeasterners who regularly come down here to work campaigns, I wish some of these guys had run for sheriff.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Today In History...

...George Washington, Father of His Country as well as the "Destroyer of Villages," is born at Pope's Creek Estate, Westmoreland County, Virginia (1732)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Bunch of Guys

Texans for Lawsuit "Reform," a Lieninger front group dedicated to slamming the courthouse door in the faces of anyone who dares to sue their corporate overlords, was dissolved by the Secretary of State for failing to keep up with their paperwork. No doubt some unscrupulous liberal activist judge or socialistic rich trial lawyer is behind it.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You're Just Another Brick in the Wall...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Not ashamed to admit that I am having a great deal of trouble deciding between Hillary and Obama. Hillary's bonuses in my mind are that she comes pre-attacked by the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus (what else could they accuse her of? Eating babies?) and she knows exactly how brutal, vicious and unscupulous they can be. Her negatives are that she is basically Bill without the charm or the politicul acumen. There might even be something to the suggestion that she is so loathed by the Right Wing that their turnout will increase in Pavlovian response (something like a Four Minute Hate). Obama's main positive is that he inspires people. A lot. In a battle for turnout (which John Kerry spectacularly lost in 2004), a dynamic candidate can make all the difference. And he seems well plugged-in to both money and people. He even has an office, with a staffer, here in Cleburne, of all places in the universe. On the downside, he strikes me as naive, both about the brutal realities of governing and about the buzzsaw he'll be wading into. His only campaigns so far have been in comfortably Blue Illinois, where he faced such electoral juggernauts as Alan Keyes. Already, the Howler Monkeys have gone from claiming he is a Muslim Manchurian Candidate to speculating that his parents must have been commies, because that's where all mixed-race couples met back then. Seriously. The McCain campaign, fortunately, is being advised to attack Obama essentially by screaming "liberal!" and running away. That, plus the fact that McCain is about as far off beam in terms of the public mood (both for foreign and domestic policy) as possible can only help whoever gets the nod. I just wish I could be more assured that Obama can both take it and dish it out. This campaign is going to be the nastiest (and most expensive) in recent memory; I want the leader of my party ready for it.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

News Round-Up

  1. Like the Great and Powerful Kos, I, too, was wondering how long it would take the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus to invoke the dread spectre of perfidious trial lawyers threatening FISA with their bloodthirsty desire to sue innocent, freedom-loving media conglomerates for, you know, breaking the law;
  2. Don't feel bad, Senator Clinton; nobody in Texas understands the Texas Democratic Primary system, either;
  3. To paraphrase the words of the late, great Sir Winton Churchill, there is some shit up with which I will not put;
  4. If you love Barack Obama so much, why don't you marry him?
  5. Chet Edwards joins the cult;
  6. John McCain's soul has evidently been put up as collateral;
  7. Don't stand so, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me;
  8. In case you were wondering how long it would take some puling Right Wing asshole to blame the victims in the Illinois college shooting, you didn't have to wait too damn long;
  9. Why do the troops hate America?
  10. I guess this means Rush Limbaugh won't be his campaign manager (with the nickname "Whitey") anymore;


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fear & Loathing

The FISA bill fight is about two things and two things only: the government having to get a warrant before spying on Americans and providing retroactive immunity to big telecom companies who broke the law. All the rest is just the usual despicable fear-mongering.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eating Their Own

The Club for Growth, which is starting to appear indisguishable from Focus on the Family, is busily cannibalizing the bloated corpse of the Republican Party. It's like their version of Ralph Nader, only effective.

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Column for 17 February, 2008

“Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.”

--Numbers 35:33-34

As I type this, the new Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, has just publicly apologized for 200 years of racism and brutality by the Australian government against the Aborigines, a policy virtually identical to that of the United States against American Indians. That got me to thinking; do any of the current leading presidential candidates have the guts to do the same on live national television? Even Bill Clinton, who made something of an industry out of presidential apologies and even apologized for the US overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, could not find time for the Indians. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, a former presidential hopeful, has introduced a proposed apology, but that’s as close as it gets. Of the remaining four main candidates (Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Barack Obama), only Obama even mentions Indians (or as he poetically puts it “First Americans”) on his campaign web-site. The omission is particularly glaring in McCain’s case, since Arizona has a very large Indian population and the Senator frequently supported tribes while serving on the Indian Affairs Committee. Only Obama has offered a proposed policy on Indian issues, though like most campaign promises it’s long on florid generalities and short on the nitty-gritty details. When the group INDN’s List organized “Prez on the Rez,” a debate for Democratic Presidential candidates hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, only Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel (the latter two from New Mexico and Alaska respectively, states with large Native populations) could be bothered to attend. So, with that in mind, I have some questions for the candidates:
Recently a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department had failed to account for as much as $100 billion supposedly held in trust for over 100 years for individual Indians for the use of their land. Do you support a fair resolution of this lawsuit and just compensation for the Indians who were swindled by the government that purported to protect them?
A recent study showed that Indian women are four times more likely than any other ethnic group to be the victims of sexual assault and that their victimizers are, in most cases, non-Indians. One of the reasons for this is that the 1885 Major Crimes Act and the US Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Oliphant stripped tribal courts of the power to try felony offenses and prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed on Indian lands. The US Department of Justice has been abysmally slow to prosecute such cases. Will you push for repeal of the Major Crimes Act and the overturning of Oliphant?
In 1871, the US Congress unilaterally and unconstitutionally stopped signing treaties with Indian tribes, instituting instead a policy of “agreements” that wouldn’t make the government feel quite so guilty when they later chose to ignore them. Will you as president reinstate the Constitutionally-mandated treaty relationship between Indian tribes and the US Government?
Current Federal law allows state governments to effectively exercise a veto over what sovereign Indian tribes choose to do on their own land with regard to gaming. Will you support reforms to the land-into-trust process and Indian Gaming laws to eliminate this unjustified intrusion on tribal sovereignty?
Will you support reform of the land-into-trust and tribal recognition procedures that can now take decades to complete?
In 1980, the US Supreme Court agreed that the Sioux Nation had been wrongfully deprived of their sacred lands in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) of South Dakota. The Sioux have refused to accept the judgment award (now about $1billion counting interest) despite crushing poverty on the reservations because they refuse to give up their land. Will you pledge to return the Black Hills to their rightful owners?
Will you sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
Will you support and vigorously defend in court the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, particularly as it relates to sacred sites and the religious rights of prisoners?
In a recent election marred by fairly blatant fraud, the Cherokee Nation voted to strip citizenship from the Freedmen, the descendents of former slaves. Congresswoman Diane Watson has introduced a bill to terminate the US Government’s relationship with the Cherokee Nation if the Freedmen are ultimately terminated. What is your position on this bill?
Treaties between the Cherokee and the Federal Government provided for the right of the tribe to send a delegate to represent their interests in Congress. Other tribes were also given this right. Do you support seating tribal delegates in Congress?
And finally, do you believe the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be eliminated, reformed or left as is?
On the off-chance that anybody responds to any of these questions, I’ll be sure to let y’all know.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't Go Away Mad...Just Go Away

In a bold demonstration of their increasing irrelevancy, House Republicans walked out of the chamber today rather than vote on Contempt of Congress citations for Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers over their refusal to respond to Congressional subpoenas. House Minority Leader John Boehner denounced the citations as a "partisan fishing expedition" contrast to a Republican inquiry back when they were in the majority over who paid for the postage on Bill Clinton's Christmas cards which was clearly a desperately-needed inquiry vital to future of the Republic.
Boehner went on to say that Congress should instead be voting for the President's telecom immunity and warrantless wiretapping bill, because otherwise America is at imminent risk of attack. Except of course that's not true. And, of course, Boehner fails to mention that telecom immunity could be stripped out of the warrantless wiretapping bill and voted on separately if it was really so important.
Assuming that Obama or Hillary becomes President next year and Republicans remain in the minority, I predict many more such walkouts and other similar theatrics.

UPDATE: Showing the sort of taste and dignity for which they are justly famous, House Republicans have interrupted a memorial service for the late Tom Lantos in their latest fit of pique. Now that's class.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maverick, Shmaverick!

John McCain, already acting like a Republican presidential nominee, abandons his last remaining moral principle and votes against a ban on the use of the "waterboarding" torture procedure. Maybe this will make the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus happy.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today in History...

...Abraham Lincoln is born in a one-room log cabin in what is now LaRue County, Kentucky (1809)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Last Legs?

I generally agree with this post from the Great and Powerful Kos; although, even assuming she carries Ohio and Texas, the Clinton campaign has some serious image problems that could dog her in the fall, namely the image that Obama is running circles around her, that she's the past and he's the future, etc. etc. It looks as though an endorsement by John Edwards is imminent, and that should help some; if nothing else it could reassure nervous superdelegates and party bosses. Not sure I agree with Paul Krugman that Obamania is approaching Kim Jong Il levels of personality cultism, nor do I think this primary battle is really as nasty (from a historical perspective) as he suggests, given the large numbers of Democrats who say they'd be happy with either nominee. Bottom line? Democrats need to get a candidate, and fast. The wind may be at our backs, but McCain is no pushover and I would be astonished if the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus doesn't rev itself up to full volume against whoever ends up leading the party into battle.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dubya's Shadow

From the Great and Powerful Kos, a rumination on the legacies of this Administration that will last long beyond January 20, 2009. I agree with much of it, sadly, particularly the part about allowing Dubya's tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1% to expire being portrayed as "the largest tax hike in the history of the Universe." Also, in addition to a pledge to reverse all of Bush's executive orders, I would also like to hear which candidates, if any, will promise to eliminate forever the use of "signing statements."

Also: In light of the foregoing, is John McCain really in as good a shape for November as the sinister liberal MSM would have us believe?

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Republicans Not Only Hate Kids...

...they brag about it.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Keeping Our Word

Judge Steve Russell, Cherokee citizen, law professor, Texas jurist, and all-around fascinating person to talk to over dinner, on the intellectual double-speak of the anti-Freedmen faction.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Signs & Portents

Mitt is out, but the Right still doesn't trust McCain (and the Hard Right despises him), Democrats are still hugely outpolling and outvoting Republicans, once-reliable conservative voices are predicting a 1980-style "sea change" Blue Tide in November, and the Howler Monkeys are reduced to whistling past the graveyard in hoping Hillary gets the nomination.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Righting a Wrong

Washington State, which gave birth to the Oliphant decision giving non-Indians extra-territoriality to commit crimes in Indian Country without fear of arrest or prosecution by tribal authorities, now proposes to at least partially correct that error by giving the Tulalip Tribe concurrent jurisdiction over crimes commited by non-Indians on Indian land.

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Super Duper Tuesday After Action Report

  1. The Huck strikes back. The conventional wisdom was that Huck would drain conservative votes from Romney; turns out it was the other way around. Not sure it's enough to make any difference at this point;
  2. And do we really want the Huck for Veep? Is the chance that he will make it somewhat easier for the Democrats offset by the danger if McCain/Huck wins?
  3. The underreported story-Democratic primary turnout is shattering records;
  4. And despite Conservative wishful thinking about a "divided party," Democratic voters seem overwhelmingly supportive of either Clinton or Obama getting the nod;
  5. Meanwhile, McCain gets a head start on breaking campaign promises by blowing off a vote on the economic stimulus package he had repeatedly pledged to support;
  6. And Dobson asks for a million pledges not to vote for McCain, but does anyone really care what he (or any of the other Howler Monkeys) says anymore? Assuming anyone ever did?

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dubya vs. Indian Country, the Saga Continues

Not surprisingly, Bush's new hundred trillion gazillion dollar budget includes a $100 million cut for the BIA; obviously because that agency is such a model of bureacratic efficiency that it can make do with less. These cuts would devastate, among others, IHS, Indian colleges, and Indian housing programs and would cut ALL DOJ funds to tribes for law enforcement. Nice to see that this Administration, which has been so virulently anti-Indian, is going out with a calculated slap in the face.

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The Canadian Menace!

Excellent post on the reality of the Canadian healthcare system (warts and all), as opposed to the typical Right Wing Noise Machine hype. I have been convinced for years that the only realistic solution to the crisis in health care in America (both for the uninsured and those at the mercy of HMO's) is a Canadian-style single-payer system, administered by the States (as the Canadian system is managed by the individual provinces).
H/T to "Groggie" at Something Awful for this shocking footage of our way of life being threatened by the Forces of Evil.

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Monday, February 04, 2008


From my Right Honourable Colleague Stephen Gustitis over at the Defense Perspective, an excellent post about the Christian imperative for justice (tempered by mercy). I have often said that those of us who are Christians should read Matthew 25:34-46 for what it truly is, not a parable but a warning. This is doubly true, I think, for defense lawyers. "I was in prison and you came to visit me."

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Goodnight and Thank You

From Burnt Orange Report, a note of gratitude for John Edwards' contribution to the political dialogue. I wish things had gone another way and Edwards was the frontrunner, but Clinton and Obama pretty much sucked up all the oxygen too early on.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

I Am the Book

You're Stranger in a Strange Land!

by Robert Heinlein

Most people look at you and think of you as a Martian, even though you
were born on Earth. Silly Earthlings, er, people. Anyway, you've been telling people
about free love and relaxing like it's some radical idea. Most of them want you to go
back to the '60's (or Mars), but others are in your groove. Grok on!

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

News Round-Up

  1. (Some) Republicans like Obama because he isn't teh Hitlery. Who is satan;
  2. Or maybe they like him because he keeps using their talking points;
  3. But whatever the case, they REALLY hate Hillary. And the mysogyny flows like wine when they get going. But it's teh libruls who are fascists. No, really;
  4. John McCain was for his immigration bill before he was against it;
  5. The media is still lying about Bill Clinton. Yes, I was shocked, too;
  6. The Surge is working! = civilian deaths are down but we are nowhere near to achieving the stated goals of the surge, namely political reconciliation. Shut up, librul facist! Teh Surge is working!
  7. The First Superbowl, a heartwarming tale of history;
  8. Also, it's not really entirely clear how well the Surge is working. And McCain gets it wrong;
  9. Not a big surprise, but the US Military is stretched too thin to effectively deal with a serious attack here at home;
  10. Romney: not dead yet?


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Column for 3 February, 2008

“I have seen something else under the sun: the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.””
--Ecclesiastes 9:11

I really hate “horse race” style coverage of elections, where the empty talking heads on the 24 hours “news” channels endlessly chew their cud over who’s up from week to week, or even day to day and hour to hour. Still, if you’re a political junkie like me, it’s hard not to be fascinated by the most wide-open presidential campaign in decades, with no obvious frontrunner in either party and no incumbent president or vice president running for the first time since 1952. The recent Florida primary has shaken out the field a little, eliminating Rudy Giuliani and his egomaniacal vanity candidacy based solely on a ghoulish exploitation of the 9/11 attacks, and John Edwards (proving once again that my support is the kiss of death to any candidate in a Democratic Primary, including me). I had initially thought that John McCain would do badly in his first real closed-primary contest, considering how much he is despised as a liberal in sheep’s clothing by conservative elites in the media and nearly all Republicans I regularly talk shop with. Turns out we were all wrong. As much as Democrats like to tease Republicans for walking in lock-step, it looks as though Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the other attack dogs are the ones who are really out of touch with the mainstream of their own party. While it’s true that McCain trailed badly in Florida (as elsewhere) with voters who describe themselves as “very conservative,” there were apparently not enough of them to overcome the votes of self-described mere “conservatives” or “moderates.” Nor was it the case that the “very conservative” vote was split in a way that made a significant difference; a majority of those who voted for Mike Huckabee said McCain was their second choice. It may well be that Republican voters are inclined to view McCain’s conversion to the true faith as more sincere that the vertigo-inducing political back flips of Mitt Romney. McCain is probably also helped by his kid-glove treatment at the hands of the non-GOP propaganda machine media, who view him with a love-struck awe that has enabled him to dodge hard questions about his abrupt abandonment of the maverick stances that propelled his run in 2000, his at-times volcanic temper, and his age. Indeed, not even Ronald Reagan got this kind of pass on the age issue, and the media normally treated him with the kind of reverence that even Vladimir Putin might find embarrassing from his retread Soviet-era state-run media. And if you don’t think that the attitudes of individual reporters about a candidate matter, just ask President Al Gore. The media as a whole loathed him and did everything in their power to discredit him eight years ago. I’ve also been surprised at how little the issue of illegal immigration has mattered, at least so far. The one candidate who based his campaign pretty much exclusively on that issue, Tom Tancredo, barely made a ripple. And even though McCain now won’t say if he would vote for his own immigration reform bill, his stance as “pro-amnesty” doesn’t seem to have hurt him at all. So what happens next for the GOP? Super-duper Tuesday is just around the corner. Romney needs to do well in states with closed primaries (Missouri, Oklahoma and especially California) or with caucuses or conventions that are likely to be dominated by more conservative party activists (Colorado, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota). Unless the voters in those states are substantially different from the ones in Florida, it may not ultimately matter if Huckabee drops out or (more likely) stays in. It is generally thought among the punditocracy that McCain as the nominee is bad news for the Democrats, since he is the only Republican candidate who outpolls either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in even some of the head-to-head polls done so far. Huckabee and Romney both get beaten like drums by either Democrat. It is also generally assumed that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Republicans (even the media masters) will rally around McCain because they have convinced themselves that she is, literally, the spawn of Satan. I’m not sure that either of these are valid assumptions. For one thing, we have to bear in mind that George W. Bush, despite very high approval ratings, barely won re-election in 2004 against the hapless John Kerry. His margin of victory was provided by Karl Rove, who was able to turn out four million new voters, nearly all of them conservative Christian Evangelicals, and thereby overcome Kerry’s vote total, which was itself nine million more votes than Bush received in 2000. This year, Republican enthusiasm is considerably dampened, reflected in the fact that in nearly all of the contested primaries so far, many more Democrats than Republicans have turned out. Even in Michigan and Florida, where the Democratic results did not count due to disputes over party delegate selection rules, Democrats turned out in large numbers (though admittedly less than on the GOP side). President Bush’s poll numbers continue to reflect his toxicity, even as McCain and Romney are forced to cleave closer and closer to his most unpopular positions to appeal to the conservative base. Congress is even less popular, but this is mainly due to voter frustration at the Democrats’ inability or unwillingness to confront the President. Some 70% of us say the country is “headed in the wrong direction.” All of these are bad omens for any Republican seeking to follow Bush into the White House.


Stealing History

Pudgy Indian on the dubious history of the Kennewick Man "discovery" and the fraudulent, racist origins and often political agenda of white archaeology. Incidentally, in 2005, Senator John McCain authorized an unsuccessful amendment to NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) that would have definitively given custody of Kennewick Man's remains to local tribes for proper and reverent reburial.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

The Hatred of Right Wing Political Commissars Towards John McCain...

...has now officially collapsed into a black hole and disappeared below the electoral event horizon. So the question now becomes, does this mean the commissars have lost their influence over the conservative lumpenproletariat, or does it mean they never had that much infuence to begin with and were little more than a political freak show?

Hat tip to Instaputz!

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