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, May 29, 2008

Supremes Uphold Overturning of YFZ Removal Order

Grits, as always, has the full story. It is not, however, the end by any stretch of the imagination. The DFPS suit continues, the agency can and no doubt will proceed on their safety plans, and they can still seek termination though the likelihood of that being granting without removal is pretty remote. Nor does this foreclose the possibility of criminal prosecutions, even with the investigation in a shambles and the evidence hopelessly contaminated. FLDS lawyers should make sure their clients are aware that DFPS will be watching them like a hawk, and can still try to remove the children if they are exposed to "alleged abusers," even though no such abusers have been positively identified to date.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I initially resisted comparisons between what the YFZ families are going through and the Indian experience of the last two centuries. Tim Giago's column makes a good case, particularly in the context of Indian boarding schools, however I still think the comparison is a strained one. An argument can be made that both the FLDS and Indians were targeted by the government due to their religion and culture, true, but one raid, however mismanaged and ham-fisted, hardly compares to 200 years of cultural genocide. The FLDS lived on that ranch because they wanted to, not because the Federal government seized their homes and herded them there. The FLDS are considered human beings under the law, a distinction not bestowed on Indians until 1879. Family members who objected to the removal of their children were not indiscriminately mowed down by Army howitzers. So, while I continue to believe the FLDS families have been treated badly by the State of Texas, I cannot concede that their level of suffering has approached anything like that which Indians have endured since the founding of America.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Just In!

Rest of the nation astonished to learn that Phil Gramm has no morals, no scruples, and no reflection! Film at eleven!
In other news, John McCain is totally a maverick and not a low-rent George W. Bush clone.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

"Military Dictatorship" Is Such An Ugly Phrase...

...I prefer "Unitary Executive." Bush Administration lawyerbots claim the President has the unfettered authority to send in the military to arrest US Citizens on US soil and lock them up forever without charges, much less a trial. And of course, none of this reviewable by any court. Now, here's the challenge: I challenge Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to publicly declare that they denounce this position and will never assert it in court. Get cracking, you two!

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

News Round-Up

  1. Reaganism is dead, and Dubya killed it;
  2. Do white people have a problem with Obama? Or just Appalachian white people?
  3. McCain's campaign "organization" is starting to scare an already-jittery GOP;
  4. And speaking of John McCain, he can't even be bothered to vote on a GI Bill he opposes;
  5. Obama took note of this;
  6. Fortunately, John Cornyn was available to wallow in his own crapulence;
  7. But Saint McCain drove the tele-Pharisees from the Straight-Talk Express!
  8. Handicapping the Veepstakes;
  9. New York Governor concerned that allowing the Oneida to get a small portion of their stolen land back will work a hardship...on those who benefitted from stealing it;
  10. And, lastly, where has the ACLU been during the YFZ fiasco? Inquiring minds want to know!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Column for 25 May, 2008

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
--Psalm 103:13-14

On an occasion such as Memorial Day, I usually find my own meager words inadequate. Others with far more talent have eloquently captured the spirit of this day, and of the sacrifice of those we remember on this day.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Abraham Lincoln, 1863). Perhaps the most famous and familiar American words on the sacrifice of veterans, Lincoln succinctly invoked humility, pride, and inspiration.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses, row on row; That mark our place; and in the sky; The larks, still bravely singing, fly; Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago; We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie; In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe:To you from failing hands we throw; The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow; In Flanders fields.” (John McCrae, 1915). McCrae, a surgeon with Canadian forces during World War One, never returned home from his war; he died of pneumonia in France in 1918.
“They went with songs to the battle, they were young. Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. Lest we forget.” (Laurence Binyon, 1914).

“Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo, Shovel them under and let me work--I am the grass; I cover all. And pile them high at Gettysburg; And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. Shovel them under and let me work. Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: What place is this? Where are we now? I am the grass. Let me work.” (Carl Sandburg, 1918). One of America’s greatest poets and authors wrote these words, somewhat bitter and perhaps cynical, at the end of what was then grandiosely titled “The Great War to Save Mankind,” a phrase inscribed on a medal presented to my paternal grandfather, Ross Edward Barkman, for his service in that conflict. There is an old photograph of him from that time, wearing his high-collar Army uniform, peering out at me, his features uncannily reflected in the face of my oldest son, the great-grandson he never met. Another portrait, this one in my maternal grandmother’s house in Midland shows my other grandfather in the Navy uniform he wore during World War Two. He preferred not to talk about the things he saw during that time. Now we are engaged in another war, one which has already lasted longer than either of the two world wars my grandfathers fought in. More than 4,000 young men and women have died to date, with some 30,000 officially acknowledged as wounded to varying degrees. In the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” Reasonable minds may differ about the necessity or rightness of this war, though most of them do so from the comfort and safety of their air-conditioned homes or studios; surely, though, everyone can agree that we owe more to the veterans, living and dead, and their families, than magnetic yellow ribbons mass-produced in China and sold without irony at gas stations to be affixed to monstrous gas-guzzling SUVs. Surely, if young people are willing to put on uniforms, take up arms, and travel halfway across the world to risk their lives, we at the very least can guarantee to them the best health care in the world for the rest of their lives and the chance for a college education upon their return? Isn’t that the absolute minimum we who have sacrificed virtually nothing can do to honor the memory of those who “gave the last full measure of devotion”?


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eldorado Removal Order Reversed

In an amazing development, the Third Court of Appeals has reversed the trial court's decision to remove children from the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. What makes it remarkable is that the appeal was reviewed on an "abuse of discretion" standard, the standard most favorable to the trial court.

UPDATE: More cogent analysis from my Right Honourable Colleague Guy Murray over at the Messenger & Advocate. And from Grits as well.

UPDATE 2: The latest on the legal manueverings in the YFZ case from the Common Room.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Stupid White Man of the Week: Kathleen Parker

...for her stirring defense of ignorant crackers who can't vote for Obama because they prefer to have a "full-blooded American" as President. By "full-blooded American" I naturally assumed Ms. Parker was referring to Ben Nighthorse Campbell or (God help us all) Tom Cole; but no. Evidently, being a "full-blooded American" is no mere accident of DNA, no. Not only must you arrange for both your parents to have been born in America, you must also hate/fear immigrants and love guns and Jesus. But it has nothing to do with race. Ms. Parker says so.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Supporting the Troops?

McCain and Dubya continue to work against a new GI Bill for veterans of the War on Terror.

Sorry, I was just waiting for all the Right Wing Outrage. Carry on.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

In the Immortal Words of Pogo...

..."We has met th' enemy and they is us." Excellent opinion piece from Indian Country Today on the moral (as opposed to merely legal) wrong of the Freedmen disenfranchisement. EBW at Wampum uses the article as the jumping-off point for a wider discussion of internalized self-colonialism, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome whereby the victims become victimizers themselves.

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Column for 17 May, 2008

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
--Proverbs 29:11

Barring a miracle (or a catastrophe, depending on your point of view), the November presidential election will be between Barack Obama and John McCain. There will be some excitement, at least among the talking heads, over vice presidential picks, but keep two things in mind: first, vice presidential candidates have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the election. Don’t believe me? Two words: Dan Quayle. Second, both candidates’ choices will be driven by internal party politics. McCain will pick a running mate acceptable to the tele-Pharisees, Flat Earth Society members and tin-foil hat-wearing conspiracy-theorists that comprise the shattered remnants of the Republic Party. Mike Huckabee? Maybe, though the Huck seems to be planning ahead for 2012 with the apocalyptic fringe that, according to Robert Novak, are resigned to an Obama presidency as God’s inevitable vengeance on a fallen nation. Yeah, drama much? Obama will pick someone acceptable to the Clinton wing of the party, though very likely not Hillary Clinton. Wesley Clark is a name that springs to mind. Obama may feel pressure to select a running mate with alleged appeal to ethnic Catholic and white rural Rust Belt voters, a constituency where he is notably weak. But, again: Dan Quayle. When Michael Dukakis selected Lloyd Bentsen in a bid for Southern votes, it was remarked that he could be running with Robert E. Lee and still lose everything south of the Mason-Dixon Line. As the real election season heats up, John McCain, who has done everything short of being adopted by George W. Bush in order to secure the nomination, will suddenly be stricken with a form of selective amnesia that obliterates any memory of the man who has been president for the last seven years. Instead, McCain will make a mad dash to the Left, or at least the Center, trying desperately to rekindle his largely media-fabricated image as a “maverick,” while Democrats attempt to hang the politically-toxic Bush around his neck like the proverbial albatross. We’re already seeing the first stages of this makeover, such as McCain’s condescending “whistle stop” tour through “poor America” and his rhetorical, if not actual, discovery of environmentalism. Be prepared for even more fawning, sycophantic “coverage” by the Mainstream Media claiming that McCain is “breaking with the Bush Administration.” Also, be prepared for this election to get real ugly, real fast. Your inboxes will be jammed to overflowing with anonymous emails claiming that Barack Obama is a Muslim or a communist or a homosexual or all of the above. Protestant Evangelical churches will be dutifully flooded with propaganda from James Dobson or other similar troglodytes, “non-partisan” “voting guides” that show in a “non-partisan” manner that Obama is a Muslim, communist homosexual. And also possibly French. Be prepared for repeated instances of minor Republican flunkies making outrageously offensive public pronouncements, only to provide McCain with the opportunity to righteously denounce them. No attempt will be spared to appeal to that nasty, hidden underground strain of our national life that equates “American” with “white.” Rush Limbaugh singing “Barack the Magic Negro” will seem subtle and understated by comparison. Trying to frighten voters with Obama and/or the feckless self-aggrandizing blowhard Jeremiah Wright has failed spectacularly in several recent special Congressional elections, but no matter. And woe be unto anyone who claims that such tactics are “racist”; they will be lambasted and denounced for their “divisiveness” from every television screen, computer and radio in the land, since in Bizarro world it is a far worse sin to accuse someone of racism than to actually be racist. Also, there’s no such thing as racism anymore. And it’s the blacks who are racist anyway. That’s what’s going to pass for political dialogue. That and seeing John McCain covered head-to-toe in American flag lapel pins at every photo op. The Democrats, meanwhile, in addition to pointing out that a McCain Presidency would be like a third term for George W. Bush only without the restraint or competence, will try to subtly suggest that McCain is as old as Methuselah or Dick Clark with the disposition of a cranky rhinoceros in the national china Shoppe. Obama enthusiasts have pushed the case that their man changes the entire electoral landscape, putting states like Virginia or even Texas in play. I remain respectfully skeptical. It could be potentially disastrous for Obama to spend time fighting for Red states in which he has polled reasonably well, such as North and South Carolina, Virginia and Nebraska, to the exclusion of more reliably blue states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Polling in Ohio is incredibly contradictory, with Obama tying McCain but Clinton trouncing him by ten percentage points. Given the fact that nearly every single Republican elected official in Ohio is currently under indictment, I have a hard time seeing those figures as too reliable. In Texas, two recent polls have put Democratic Senate candidate Rick Noriega within striking distance of John Cornyn, who remains only marginally more popular than heat rash. The Rasmussen poll (which tends to skew Republican) shows Obama within five percentage points of McCain. Does this mean Obama could be the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to carry the state? Probably not, but the mere threat of it could force McCain to expend scarce resources here. I hate to make a habit of agreeing with Karl Rove, if only because his crystal ball has been seriously cracked since 2006, but I tend to think he’s right that the 2008 election will be fought mostly in the same battleground states as 2000 and 2004 (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa) with a possible expansion into Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Now all we have to do is wait and see just how wrong I turn out to be.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Magic Number

A hard-nosed and sober analysis of Obama's electoral chances from Slate. Bottom line: Ohio may decide it again; mostly the same battleground states as in 2000 and 2004, with a couple of others (North Carolina, Virginia) that Obama could bring into play.

UPDATE: An analysis of Republican weakness throughout the country from the Great and Powerful Kos.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

And So It Begins...

From the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus that brought you "Aaaiieee!! It's Barack Obama's Scary Black Preacher Who Is Black and Racist and Hates America!" it's "Michelle Obama: Traitor or America-Hater?" The Republicans HAVE to make the campaign about Barack Obama being a Muslim, a communist a homosexual or possibly all three and French to boot, because if it's about the issues, they're toast.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan (of all people) writes the GOP's obituary. I have to say, "butts in the butter" is one of the better faux home-spun analogies I've read this year.

UPDATE 2: Mike Huckabee is an asshole. Film at eleven.

UPDATE 3: And Cong. Tom Davis is an idiot.

UPDATE 4: And Michael Medved is a moron of cosmic proportions. Also, a racist, pandering tool.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Watson on Obama on the Freedmen

From my Right Honorable Colleague, Wampum: Cong. Diane Watson responds to Barack Obama's recent dodge on the Freedmen case. While I generally agree with her comments, I wish she had mentioned that the Cherokee National Council actually abolished slavery before the 1866 Treaty, in fact before the Emancipation Proclamation. This should be a matter of historical pride for the Nation; instead, the whole Freedmen debacle has exposed a nasty, virulent strain of racism among (primarily thin-blood) Cherokee.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

Yet another heavily Republican Congressional District, this one in Mississippi of all places, is won by a Democrat, thanks to very heavy turnout in a special election. Meanwhile, Obama's polling lead over McCain continues to expand. A look at the cross-tabs shows heavy Democratic advantages on nearly all issues, with the notable exception of "combating terrorism." Obviously, it's still WAY too early to draw too many conclusions from this, but it's probably safe to say that the GOP is at the very least looking at a serious drubbing at the Congressional level. And if, as opined by Robert Novak(!), the trend on the Political Christian Right is seeing an Obama Presidency as an inevitability, that could flatten the last tire on the Straight Talk Express. Don't let it go to your head, Barack; the Christianists also consider you in the nature of a Biblical plague.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

It Became Necessary to Destroy the Children... order to save them. The Common Room on several MHMR worker's scathing criticism of DFPS in the YFZ Ranch case. I can't ever recall a time I've seen MHMR caseworkers level this kind of accusation at any other agency, even DFPS. Or vice versa.

UPDATE: Grits has the actual statements from Hill Country MHMR. It is some of the most wrenching testimony I have ever read and is a damning indictment of the State of Texas. One worker's commentary stands out: "I have worked in Domestic Violence/Sexual Abuse programming for over 20 years and have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner. It makes us all wonder how safe anyone is who has children."


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

The US Military has been carrying on an illegal, covert, and widespread system of deliberate propaganda in support of the war (and of course torture) for years now. Oh, and the MSM refuses to so much as breathe a word about it now that the story has broken.
Yawn...oh what? Sorry, were you talking? I was busy reading about Obama's bowling score and his really scary black preacher who hates America.

UPDATE: Reid promises hearings, bless his little heart.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Republicans Against Motherhood

Minority Leader John Boehner pledges future votes against apple pie, puppies, kittens, and little girls eating ice cream cones in the park.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Freedmen Case Before DC Circuit Court of Appeals

From, via Wampum who caught it before I did. I tend to agree with Judge Steven Russell (who comes from a long line of Cherokee Judges) that the panels' questions indicate they don't necessarily believe the Cherokee Nation has to be sued by the Freedmen in order for the Federal Gov't to enforce the Treaty of 1866. So, if that's really what the panel is thinking, does that mean the BIA would disallow the 2003 Constitution? Sever the government-to-government relationship with CN until the Freedmen are guaranteed citizenship? Both of the above? And, of course, we shouldn't get too excited that this will all be resolved anytime soon; whoever is on the losing end of the three judge panel's decision will move for a rehearing en banc (before the entire Court, including the virulently anti-Indian Judge Janice Rogers Brown); whoever loses that will likely appeal to the US Supreme Court. And if it gets into the hands of this Supreme Court, God help us all. If there's anyway for the Freedmen, CN AND tribal sovereignty to ALL lose, this Supreme Court will find it.

UPDATE: And speaking of threats to tribal sovereignty, the Smith Administration has succeeded in having the Delaware Tribe stripped of its Federal recognition (and funding), the first time this has happened since the end of the Termination Era.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

John McCain's Greatest Hits

From Crooks & Liars, a rundown of McCain's top ten most bizarre public utterances. I'd also add this from his foreward to David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest: "No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone." That's not bizarre, of course; it actually makes a lot of sense. what's bizarre is that McCain has abandoned his own common sense in order to remake himself into a clone of George W. Bush.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What's the Matter with Texas?

Dubya's popularity is a scant 39%, though that still makes him more popular than Landslide Perry who is now hovering at 34%. And Cornyn holds only a four point lead on Rick Noriega. And both Obama and Clinton are polling at 43%, to McCain's 48% (against Obama) and 49% (against Clinton). Given that Rasmussen has always had a tendency to skew Republican, this is potentially very explosive stuff. Texas hasn't really been in play in a Presidential election since 1976, though the potential was there in 1996 had Bill Clinton not blown the state off. If even Texas is looking a little purple, then McCain is in serious, serious trouble.

UPDATE: A Research 2000 poll seems to confirm the Rasmussen results. So what gives? Neither Cornyn nor Kay Bailey Hutchinson have gotten just huge amounts of coverage lately, yet her approval ratings leave his in the dust, so it's hard to write this off as the Dubya anchor dragging down all GOP boats. Could it be that after a decade-long deathgrip on statewide office and the Legislature, the Republican brand name has fallen so far that it's Hutchinson who's the exception and Perry and Dubya the rule?

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Today in History...

...a poorly-armed Mexican militia force, comprised primarily of Indian peasants loyal to the President of Mexico Benito Juarez (himself a Zapotec Indian), defeated a much larger Imperial French Army at the Battle of Puebla (1862). Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Viva Mexico!


Obama Punts on Freedmen Issue

Shorter Obama: let the courts decide (so I don't have to).

H/T to John Cornsilk

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Wright Stuff?

Rev. Jeremiah Wright's narcissistic, self-absorbed media rant seems to have had the opposite of its intended effect, giving Obama a "Sister Souljah Moment." He and Hillary have now opened up double-digit leads in the national popular vote against John McCain, though obviously the electoral college picture is different. And, of course, there are still several million years between now and November. Still, it seems amazing to me that after months and months of hagiographic coverage of McCain on the one hand and Obama and Clinton pounding each other on the other, McCain is actually losing ground. This, combined with yet another Democratic pickup of a very Republican House seat, suggests that things are only getting worse for the GOP.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Column for 4 May, 2008

“Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all My decrees, he will surely live.”

--Ezekiel 18:19

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (or FLDS) is a splinter faction of the mainstream Mormon faith, that broke off over the issue of polygamy (actually, technically, polygyny, since only men are allowed to have multiple spouses), a practice that was abolished by the Mormon church in 1890. The FLDS retreated to the margins, living in self-sufficient communities along the Utah-Arizona border. For the most part, authorities left the FLDS alone, with the spectacular exception of a botched raid in 1954 that was roundly condemned across the country for its ham-handedness. In recent years, however, the FLDS came under the leadership of the thoroughly despicable Warren Jeffs, a classic cult-leader in every sense of the word. Ruling as an absolute dictator, with the power to condemn his enemies to eternal damnation, Jeffs decided who got married to whom and when. He even reserved the right to punish men by “reassigning” their wives and children to others. Taking advantage of the traditional communalistic lifestyle, Jeffs looted money from the faithful and used church ownership of all real property to threaten dissenters with instant homelessness. He also apparently, astonishingly, managed to wrangle a multi-million dollar, no-bid defense contract with the United States government. The self-proclaimed “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator, President of the Priesthood” also presided over “spiritual marriages” of girls as young as 14, and was accused by his own family of sexually assaulting young girls and boys, and of running off teenage boys from the community to reduce competition for extra wives. On November 20, 2007, he was sentenced to ten years to life in prison by a Utah court for being an accomplice to two rapes. Before then, however, his followers purchased a 1,700 acre ranch near Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas, where a new temple was built and a community established, “Yearning for Zion” or YFZ. As a direct result of the appearance of the FLDS, the Texas Legislature raised the legal age for marriage with parental consent from 14 to 16. Beyond these few established facts, things get rather murky. On March 30, 2008, authorities received a number of hoax telephone calls from a mentally-disturbed woman in Colorado, who claimed to be a sixteen year old girl named “Sarah” living at the YFZ Ranch and abused by her 50-year-old husband, Dale Barlow. Some court testimony and statements by law enforcement suggest that authorities were aware that “Sarah” was a hoax and that Dale Barlow was actually in Arizona. Nevertheless, on April 3, 2008, four days after the authorities were notified of the supposed “emergency,” a search warrant for Dale Barlow was executed by a massive contingent of law-enforcement officers, including armored personnel carriers from the Midland Police Department. In a bizarre reversal of normal Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) policy, caseworkers did not remove the alleged abusers (a relatively small number of adult men) but instead removed the victims, some 450 or more children. The exact number varies, as DFPS contends that some of the girls who are claiming to be adults are actually children. In another strange departure, DFPS allowed some of the mothers to go with the children when they were removed. Normally, a child is not removed from the home at all unless it is shown that being around the parents would endanger the child’s physical or emotional health. The women and children were warehoused in Fort Concho, a 140 year old cavalry fort. They were then shuffled off to a football stadium. Then, the mother’s cell phones were seized, allegedly because of fears the women were communicating with their husbands. I have yet to find any authority cited for this government seizure of the private property of private citizens who aren’t even under arrest. Continuing with the confusion, the mothers (at least some of them) were then separated from their children, in what eyewitnesses described as a heart-wrenching scene of hysterical children and nursing infants physically removed from their mothers. Now, DFPS has decided that some nursing mothers may stay with their children, provided the children are no more than 12 months old. Evidently, the State of Texas will now dictate the age at which babies must be weaned. A batallion of volunteer lawyers from all across the state descended on San Angelo, the nearest large city, for a removal hearing that can be charitably described as a farce. The courtroom couldn’t accommodate even most of the attorneys that state law says must be appointed to represent removed children. Hundreds had to watch the proceedings through an impenetrable and often inaudible closed-circuit television link. Rather than addressing the individual situations of the children, or even of discreet categories of children, the judge decided the whole thing en masse. The testimony was confusing, contradictory and at times incoherent. The state’s expert witness admitted under cross examination that all he knew about FLDS was what he had learned through the media. Unsuprisingly, the removal was granted and the children, some of whom seem to be suffering ill-health from their trauma, are being dispersed all across the state. In several instances, the children’s attorneys have no idea where their clients are and have been prevented from seeing them or speaking with them. Press releases from the state now claim that some of the children between the ages of 14 and 17 are either pregnant or have had children themselves. At least one girl, age 18, has given birth since being removed. Again, no legal authority has been cited for allowing the state to detain adults who have not even been accused of a crime, much less arrested. As someone who has represented children and parents in such cases over the last ten years, I have to say I am appalled by how badly the state has bungled this operation from the very start, particularly in terms of the flagrant violation of the constitutional rights of the children. However, the information we have so far indicates to me that DFPS should not shoulder all the blame. This has the look of a law enforcement operation, evidently planned well in advance of the hoax telephone tip according to the Schleicher County Sheriff, and DFPS (which does not have the kind of clout it takes to summon such an army of police) was left to scramble in the aftermath. As a result, adults who may have very well preyed on children could go unpunished while the children suffer the consequences.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Send Your Tax Dollars to Red China!

Spend them at Wal-Mart, the focus of evil in the modern world. Actually, as I think Bill Maher put it, the only way to help the American economy with your tax rebate check would be to spend it on hookers, meth, or Indian Casinos.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's Official:

George W. Bush is the most despised President in modern American history.

You're doing a heckuva job, Dubya!

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It Could Always Get Worse

The case of Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co. doesn't sound too interesting or important on the face of it. Ultimately, though, it could have a devastating effect on tribal sovereignty if the US Supreme Court limits or eliminates tribal court jurisdiction over civil matters. So far, it doesn't look too promising, given Chief Justice Roberts' ignorant and mocking statements during oral arguments. Sadly, the one constant in Indian Law is that Federal courts in general and the Supreme Court in particular will always, almost without fail, adopt the construction that causes the Indians to lose, no matter how illogical, contradictory or tortured it might be.

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