The Local Crank

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

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Location: Cleburne, Texas, United States

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Column for 31 August, 2008

“Then the Lord said to me. ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.’”
--Jeremiah 14:14

Despite the best efforts of John McCain’s swooning cheerleaders in the mainstream media, the Democrats have managed not to screw it up at their convention (of course, they’ve only gotten as far as Joe Biden’s excellent acceptance speech as I type this, so there’s still time). The broadcast and cable network coverage of Denver has consisted pretty much exclusively of trotting out an endless stream of pre-packaged GOP talking points to toss underhand back and forth between insipid “journalists.” What’s the likelihood that liberal pundits will be called upon by CNN and MSNBC (much less FOX) to dissect the Republican convention in Minneapolis? Yeah, I got a full-color, glossy, laser-quality picture of that happening. Hillary Clinton is going to wreck the convention, they breathlessly announced. Then she gave a heartfelt speech endorsing Barack Obama and they said she secretly hated him because of their expert analysis of her “body language.” She personally made the motion to nominate Obama by acclamation and all the punditocracy could chatter about was a handful of embittered delegates whose sense of personal insult is so great they have forgotten their candidate, let alone the issues she champions. I haven’t yet seen the parsing of Bill Clinton’s rip-roaring address, but no doubt the Mainstream Media has secret telepathic evidence that he really wants Obama to lose so he, Michael Moore and Osama bin Laden can seize the White House in 2012. The Media’s fawning obeisance to John McCain has grown to such an astonishing, embarrassing degree that “the Maverick” and his surrogates now feel emboldened to simply lie with impunity, secure in the knowledge that he will never be called on it. “Not a single drop of oil was spilled after Hurricane Katrina,” went one blurb. A lie. Millions of gallons were spilled. Has he been called on it? No. “The troop surge led to the Anbar Awakening,” the McCain Campaign continues to trumpet. No, it did not. The Awakening, a true success story in Iraq, happened months before the surge. McCain is lying. Again, he is not called on it. The media continue to slather McCain with glorious accolades for his “straight talk” and his alleged refusal to change in response to politics, ignoring his wholesale abandonment of virtually every position he held on virtually all issues before he started running for President. McCain went from voting with George W. Bush only 77% of the time in 2005, to a slavish 95% a mere two years later. When Democrats do that, they are called “flip floppers.” McCain has said Obama wants to increase the size of the government by 23%. A lie. He stated that Obama opposes nuclear power and electric cars. Lie. He claimed Obama called for bombing Pakistan. Lie. He stated to Katie Couric that Joe Biden wanted to break Iraq up “into three different countries.” Another lie, and of course Couric failed to call him on it. McCain has said that lobbyists don’t come to his office, when his campaign is run almost exclusively by lobbyists, including a former lobbyist for the Republic of Georgia who opposed efforts to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. McCain stated that Obama tried to prevent funding for the troops, or funding for the Surge. Both statements are lies. McCain claimed that Obama called Iran a “tiny country” that “doesn’t pose a serious threat.” Another lie. McCain claimed that Obama would raise taxes on “everyone earning more than $42,000 a year.” Lie. I could go on and on. The fact is, the Republic Party is now so morally bankrupt, so devoid of ideas, their strategy to defeat Obama consists of attacking him for being a “celebrity” in Europe—as though it is now somehow un-American to want our allies to like us—and screaming “communist!” and “Muslim!” at every opportunity. It’s gotten so bad, the standard attack talking points, regurgitated in this very newspaper, consist of despicable, cowardly contemptible slanders against Obama’s deceased mother. Is this really what has become of the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan? Pathetic. And it’s only going to go deeper into the gutter from here. The only thing worse than Republicans when they are winning is Republicans when they are losing. McCain would be much better off, at least in terms of preserving what’s left of his dignity, by sticking with the “lack of experience” line, and hope people don’t realize that if “experience” was the criteria, Al Gore would be President.


On the Pow Wow Highway

The boys and I are in Tahlequah, Indian Territory for the Cherokee National Holiday. Apparently, there's been some news...McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin strikes me as a huge gamble, trading his best argument against Obama (experience or the lack thereof) for the hope that disgruntled Hillary voters are A) still disgruntled; and B) are disgruntled enough to vote for ANY woman, even one who is Hillary's complete polar opposite on nearly all issues. So, far, seems not to be working too well. I'm not the only one who thinks Palin was picked because every other viable Republican woman was unavailable or uninterested in deck chair duty on the Titanic. Interestingly, one of my most trusted political pundits (who has been EXTREMELY pessimistic about Obama) had this first impression: "McCain just lost."

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Thursday, August 28, 2008


It was a good speech. Not a soaring or flowery speech, but then it wasn't intended to be. Obama has shown one of the most important characteristics for a successful candidate: flexibility. Realizing that he hasn't polled well with working-class whites whose primary concern is the economy, he re-tooled his message to focus on precisely those issues. Having a number of working-class white delegates warm-up the crowd was a great touch. Barney Smith for Secretary of Labor! Obama systematically hit every single one of the criticisms that the Republicans have levelled at him--that he's elitist, that he's a celebrity, that he's not "one of us." He hit McCain, though it could be argued not hard enough, while careful to pay tribute to his war hero status, a courtesy certainly not afforded John Kerry by the GOP in 2004. Overall, I was impressed, as I have continued to be impressed (and surprised) by Obama since he first entered the race. I feel much better about November 4 than I did just a few days ago.

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Today in History...



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good One, Bill

Excellent speech by Bill, seemingly made point-for-point to refute hyper-technical criticism by the GOP and their lapdogs in the MSM.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

PUMA Overload

It's becoming increasingly clear that the "Angry Hillary Supporter" meme is being overhyped and driven primarily by the MSM and the McCain Campaign, as clearly demonstrated by Our Man in Denver, Hilzoy.

UPDATE: Damn good speech, damn good. Of course, the punditocracy is already on about how she didn't go far enough, with one idiot I watched on PBS even saying she should have explicitly taken back everything negative she ever said about Obama. Please. You couldn't ask for a more unequivocal endorsement. If it's not good enough for the MSM, screw 'em. Nothing that might be positive for Democrats will ever be good enough for the corporate MSM. And if it wasn't good enough for the PUMAs, then they were never really Hillary supporters and they aren't really Democrats and to hell with them, too.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama Thoughts, Part 3

  1. Good piece on Obama's tax policy in particular and how he is hard to pigeon-hole generally.
  2. Democrats are apparently planning to fight this time. Good.
  3. Good on Hillary.
  4. McCain's lobbyist/campaign staffers are scary. If this isn't an issue, it needs to become one. And fast.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama Thoughts, Part 2

EJ Dionne says the worst of it is over for Obama, and the "Guess how many houses the Maverick owns" issue may be getting some traction.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama Thoughts

Should Obama be less technocrat and more populist? Obviously, I agree (and there is some evidence he is starting to do so); it may be the only way for him to broaden his appeal to working-class whites. Meanwhile, the Georgia Crisis may not be the incredible boost to McCain the MSM seems to think. And, of course, Dubya the Lame Duck continues to screw the environment. And adopt Barack Obama's plan for Iraq. Some legacy.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

News Round-Up

  1. Alert WV Bonds! The Middle-Class has gone commie!
  2. As expected, the Great El Dorado Polygamist Fiasco leads to very few actual cases of abuse;
  3. John McCain: Foreign Policy Sooper Genius!
  4. Texas: Bluer than you might think;
  5. John McCain and...Ralph Reed (Abramoff's old pal. Remember him?);
  6. More commentary on the horrific San Francisco Peaks case. If someone poured massive amounts of urine on a white Christian church, would the "...only effect..." be on the parishioners' "....subjective, emotional religious experience" and therefore unworthy of court protection?


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Column for 17 August, 2008

National Insecurity

“Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, O Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me.”
--Psalm 35:23-24

It’s difficult if not impossible to exaggerate just how badly George W. Bush and America have been humiliated by Russia’s intervention in Georgia. An American ally, with an American-trained army and an American-educated democratically-elected president, has been blatantly invaded and forced to accept a permanent Russian military presence within their internationally-recognized borders. Russia’s thuggish strongman, Vladimir Putin, chose to deliberately embarrass Bush by launching an operation that had to have been planned weeks or months in advance, while they were both publicly schmoozing at the Olympics, held in the capital of another brutally repressive regime that Bush unaccountably has chosen to grace with his presence. Georgia, you may recall, is so devoted to President Bush they committed 2,000 troops (out of only 42,000 active duty personnel) to his “catastrophic success” in Iraq. In one of the weirdest utterances of a President who often seems to think he is a Saturday Night Live cast member lampooning the President, Bush famously described how he had looked into Putin’s eyes and seen his soul. Perhaps he didn’t recognize Joseph Stalin staring back at him. In any event, Putin’s soul got exactly what it wanted: a message. Georgia was only the instrument of that message; its’ intended recipients were first and foremost the former Soviet Republics Russia refers to ominously as the “Near Abroad,” especially Ukraine. See, Putin is saying, no one can protect you. It doesn’t matter what deals you may have made with the Americans. We can invade you anytime we want and all the US President will do is stand by impotently and sputter. So watch your step! To America and Europe, the message is: hands off! The Near Abroad is ours; we’ll do whatever we want with them whenever we want. Reasonable minds may differ on whether it was ever a good idea to invite Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, an organization that might have become a true permanent international peacekeeping force but has since been doomed to irrelevancy by the Bush Administration’s sheer bone headedness. It hardly matters now; the future of NATO will be dictated in Moscow, not Brussels and certainly not in Washington, DC. If the abject surrender of Georgia doesn’t make that clear enough, the next crisis, when Russia forces Ukraine to cede the Crimea, will.
Which brings me to my second point; just why is “national security” seen as a winning issue for John McCain? Oh, sure, it’s the only issue where McCain currently and consistently outpolls Barack Obama, but why? Obviously, the mainstream media’s unrequited man-crush on McCain goes a long way towards an explanation. It is also likely that McCain’s years of occupancy in Congress are seen as roughly equivalent to competency. After all, surely he must have learned something relevant after twenty-five years? And yet, for starters, McCain has enthusiastically endorsed America’s greatest foreign policy debacle in the last forty years, Bush’s war in Iraq. Not only has he endorsed it, he’s vowed to continue the quagmire for another century. Much more troubling, however, is the fact that nearly every single time McCain has opened his mouth on foreign policy or national security, he’s been dead wrong, the kind of spectacular wrong that makes you seriously wonder if he has any idea what he’s talking about at all. He doesn’t know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, a distinction critical to understanding Iraq, even after being repeatedly and publicly corrected. He either doesn’t know that the so-called Anbar Awakening (Sunni sheiks in Anbar Province turning against Al Qaeda) started before the Surge, or he’s just continuing to lie about it because he thinks it sounds better that way (reality having a well-known liberal bias). He thinks the Iranians are training members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (an organization, by the way, that did not exist before the US invasion). Demonstrating that geography, too, has a liberal bias, McCain has stated that Iraq and Pakistan share a border, that Darfur is in Somalia and that there is still such a country as Czechoslovakia. With regard to Georgia, McCain was reducing to plagiarizing Wikipedia, a sort of digital MadLib, and clearly fails to grasp that America failed at this crisis before it even began; our credibility is so dissipated after years of Bush’s incompetence that Russia is not even in the slightest deterred by the prospect of angering us. McCain, with his foreign policy advisor and Georgian lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, then went on to blunder right into the problem with increasingly hysterical public pronouncements, accusing Putin of wanting to restore the Czarist empire (Putin wants Alaska?), calling for kicking Russia out of the G-8 (an idea denounced as “impossible” and “dumb” by even the Bush Administration) and restating his loopy plan for a “League of Democracies.” Perhaps Czechoslovakia could be invited to join, along with Siam and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Given all this, I would respectfully suggest that Barack Obama borrow a page from Karl Rove’s playbook and hit his opponent precisely where he is supposedly the strongest. If Rove can attack a decorated war hero on his war record on behalf of a draft-dodger, then surely Obama can remind the electorate that McCain’s foreign policy is Bush’s foreign policy, only not as smart.


Friday, August 15, 2008

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Now, they're threatening to nuke Poland. You're doing a heckuva job, Dubya!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Skinny

From Wampum (new and improved!), a debunking of the myth that the Cobell plaintiffs were offered $7 billion to settle the case and rejected it, the implication being they got what they deserved for being greedy. Never happened. The government never offered a dime to resolve the Cobell suit. And now you know. Also, Cobell is definitely appealing. I wish them luck, of course, but unless Obama wins and appoints one or two new justices before this hits the Supreme Court, I won't be holding my breath.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not A Bad Idea, Actually

Arianna Huffington suggests Obama turn up the heat on McCain...on national security. She makes a convincing case. National security is the only area where McCain currently and consistently outpolls Obama, yet his pronouncements on the subject have been nothing but one long string of gaffes and misstatements (including most recently plagiarizing from Wikipedia and accusing Putin of wanting to restore the Czarist empire). The only reason McCain has gotten a pass is the MSM's man-crush on him. Obama should call McCain on it. It's a Rovian strategy, hitting your opponent where he's strongest. Maybe it can work for good instead of evil this time.

UPDATE: MSM continues to carry McCain's water on the Russo-Georgian conflict, even as it becomes more and more apparent that he has no idea what he's talking about.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Everyone Loves Chet!

Yes, everyone! I still think he's a long shot for Vice President (especially given that he is the only living Democrat who could hold this district), but still, it's nice to be courted.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Great Moments in American Foreign Policy

Russia (headed by the thuggish dictator with the soul-transparent eyes) invades and beats up on a small neighboring country that happens to be a valuable US ally. Using all of his diplomatic skill, President Bush...uhm, gives Putin another big hug. Sigh. Is there anything else that can go wrong between now and January 20, 2009? Will Dubya get us into a war with China through some maladroit bungling in Beijing? Has Canada invaded yet?
UPDATE: As Georgia desperately tries to surrender, it becomes more and more apparent that the whole invasion was in reality Putin's clumsy warning against NATO expansion.
UPDATE 2: Never fear! Dubya is on the case!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

The More Things Change...

Judge James Robertson awarded the paltry sum of $455.6 million to the Cobell plaintiffs for a century of mismanagement of Indian trust funds by the Federal government. The legal equivalent of a penny tip, as noted by Wampum. Discussion at John Cornsilk's Place. An appeal will surely follow, but given the anti-Indian attitude of the current Supreme Court, this case could very well end up being yet another example of the one overriding principle of Indian Law: Indians always lose.

In a related story, the 9th Circuit has ruled that pouring massive amounts of urine on the sacred San Francisco Peaks does not violate the religious freedoms of the Navajo. I won't hold my breath waiting for the same sort of outrage that erupted at Andres Serrano's famous work in the same medium.

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Column for 10 August, 2008

Beer and Presidents

“Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest, in fertile pasturelands. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days long ago.”
--Micah 8:14

America has always had a deep anti-intellectual streak. Maybe it’s a product of our revolutionary origins, a reaction against the idea of rule by our “betters.” Maybe it has something to do with America’s Protestant religious heritage. Even today, you can find conservative commentators who sneer at the Enlightenment. Or it could be a function of the cherished national myth that ours is a “classless society” where anyone can rise to greatness based solely on the content of their character. Of course, there’s a fine line between anti-intellectualism and the worship of outright ignorance, and naturally that line tends to get pole-vaulted over in politics. The repulsive Andrew Jackson, despite his fortune made on slaves and stolen Indian land, nevertheless portrayed himself as the hero of the common frontiersman, in contrast to the “stuffed shirt” image of John Quincy Adams. Later, William Henry Harrison, a Virginia aristocrat, used the same tactic against Jackson’s Vice President, Martin Van Buren. While some Presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were admired for their intelligence, the 1950’s saw Adlai Stevenson vilified (though, to be fair, he tended to bring it on himself) as an “egghead” and by the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies, the poster-child for ignorance Spiro Agnew could rail against “pointy-headed liberals” and “East Coast intellectuals” while Richard Nixon smirked beneath a hardhat. The same election that inflicted Nixon upon a hapless nation saw the rise of George Wallace who firmly cemented populism, exuberant ignorance and racism. In 1988, the dour colorless Michael Dukakis was excoriated by the geeky aristocrat George H.W. Bush for advocating a farm plan that called for planting Belgian endive, in contrast one supposes to more mainly crops such as corn or wheat. Of course, none of this is new to Texas, where stupidity has always been trumpeted as a political virtue. Maybe it’s not surprising then that Texas gave the nation (sorry, nation!), George W. Bush, a wealthy son of privilege with an intellect a mile-wide and an inch deep, nevertheless portrayed as a “guy you could have a beer with,” which I suppose is ironic given Dubya’s abstemiousness. Thus, the 2000 election was reduced to a student council race between the captain of the football team and the president of the chess club. Al Gore came across as prissy and nerdy; Bush wore his monumental ignorance on his sleeve. We now know from that little experiment that the guys you drink beer with will, if given half a chance, wreck the economy, trash the Constitution, and embroil the country in a grinding war of attrition based upon half-truths and outright lies. Who knew? Four years later, a decorated war hero with frankly middle class roots was portrayed as a rich, cowardly elitist by a man who used his millionaire family’s political connections to avoid combat service in Vietnam. Al Gore and John Kerry both contributed to their own character assassination by inexplicably refusing to defend themselves until it was too late. Small wonder then that John McCain is using the same tactic against Barack Obama. McCain, who is rich for precisely the same reason John Kerry is rich (marriage), a man with five houses and a private jet considered indispensable for getting around the evidently unpaved wilds of Arizona by his second wife, is trying to paint Obama as Michael Dukakis with a better speaking voice. When Obama made the point that offshore drilling (a position, like many, only recently embraced by McCain) would generate less oil than would be saved by all Americans keeping their cars serviced and their tires properly inflated, the McCain campaign, in a frankly brilliant piece of political judo, turned it into a riff on how dorky Obama is. Real Americans don’t inflate their tires! McCain’s descent into desperate pandering may have reached rock bottom (though that is probably too much to ask) with his recent appearance at the infamous Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally where he (one hopes jokingly) offered his wife in a beauty contest which ESPN genteelly noted is “topless and frequently bottomless.” What’s next? A guest-shot on pro-wrestling? The danger to Obama, of course, is that while he is relatively unknown at the national level, the general public’s residual memories of John McCain are “war hero” and “maverick.” If, as polling suggests, voters are primarily interested in Obama’s qualifications, he cannot afford to allow himself to be indelibly branded as an earnest yet naïve dork. At the same time, McCain can tap into a rich vein of racially-charged subtext that Obama is “uppity.” And such attacks are hard to fight back against. Americans can spot a phony; Obama bowling and Hillary Clinton downing shots looked exactly like what they were—contrived, condescending pandering photo ops. Obama is clearly a very smart guy; he shouldn’t play dumb. He needs to realize that most Americans don’t know him and aren’t likely to read his books. Without claiming he was born in a log cabin on the prairie, he should emphasize his humble roots, growing up with a single mother. Americans do not, I think, insist on having a president who isn’t smarter than them; they do, however, prefer presidents who can relate to their problems. Obama won’t do that by riding in NASCAR. He seems to do well in town-hall settings; he needs more of those to be seen talking to ordinary Americans about the issues actually on their minds-gas prices, mortgages, the economy. And above all, he needs to fight back. While defining himself, he also needs to remind Americans that the “maverick” of 2000 is, in fact, a Republican and has completely subordinated himself to Bush’s agenda, in some instances taking positions that are even more extreme than Bush’s. If as it seems apparent this is Obama’s race to lose, he cannot afford to fight it on McCain’s turf. Or to put it another way, never wrassle a pig. You only get muddy and the pig enjoys it.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Wanted: Arabic Speakers!

...unless you're teh gay. This is just so stupid it pains me to read it. So when Al Qaeda detonates a dirty bomb in Los Angeles harbor, I can rest easy knowing my government didn't allow any homos to translate the vital clue that might have prevented the whole thing. Because, you know, they might get teh gay all over it. Or something. Idiots.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Today in History...



Defining Obama

Some excellent articles on how voters don't know Obama that well (thereby making the election solely about his competence) and the serious danger that McCain will indelibly mark him as a Michael Dukakis/John Kerry elitist early on, with the added bonus of playing into racially-loaded code-memes for "uppity negro." I agree that Obama needs to go on the offensive, and the sooner the better, especially in linking McCain (who still has a residual public image as a "maverick") with the Bush Administration train wreck. He should resist urges to make him look more like a "regular guy." Obama trying to bowl looked exactly like Hillary downing shots: contrived and insincere. Obama is smart; he shouldn't play dumb. The voters can smell a phony coming from a long ways off.

UPDATE: Speaking of "racially-loaded code-memes," Ezra Klein has a great piece on white privilege and white resentment.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

John McCain vs. Indian Country

John McCain blows off meeting with Indians to hit the real cultural highlight of South Dakota--Sturgis. Pretty sad, really, given that McCain has had a decent record on Indian issues in the Senate, but evidently hundreds of yuppies pretending to be Hell's Angels is more important. That and the topless women.

UPDATE: Does McCain's willingness to enter his wife in a topless (and frequently bottomless) drunken "Beauty pageant" at a biker bar indicate A) he has no idea what goes on at these things and is therefore a latte-sipping elitist; or B) he does know and is just a sexist jerk? For extra bonus points, what do you think the MSM would be doing if Obama had made the same comments in the same venue?

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Changing the Game

If 2008 is to be the kind of transformative, watershed election the most fervent Obamaphiles promise, the key lies with low-wage workers (currently for him by a 2-1 margin) and the 83 million eligible voters who stayed home in 2004 despite the enormous turnout. And to do that, Obama must make these voters aware that not only is John McCain a Republican, he is a George W. Bush Republican.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Anthrax Leprosy Mu

Glenn Greenwald has up a superbly-researched post about the Bush Administration's suspicious and misleading actions surrounding the still-mysterious anthrax attacks and the MSM's complicity in pushing government propaganda. When did the Bush Administration know about the risk of loose weaponized anthrax? Did they deliberately leak false details in order to implicate Iraq?

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

The War At Home

Obviously, not all (or even most) conservatives are violent, murderous lunatics. However, imagine for just one second what the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus would've done if this attack had been a Muslim (or an atheist or even just someone non-religious) going after a conservative church because of their politics. We'd be getting wall-to-wall coverage. And what are we to make of the constant barrage of violent rhetoric from the RWHMMC? Can we seriously doubt it was a contributing factor?

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