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.
- Name: The Local Crank
- 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."
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Movin' On Up
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Column for 21 September, 2008
I Deny Your Reality and Substitute My Own
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
I don’t really argue politics that much anymore. No, really. As the Republic Party continues to shrink into a smaller and more fanatical core, it’s getting harder and harder to have any kind of realistic political discussion with them. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously observed that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. But the remnant of the conservative movement has retreated into some kind of bizarre alternate reality, utterly impenetrable to facts, logic or the truth. I first noticed this trend in the 1990’s, when Bill Clinton-haters (and I mean haters, not people who disapproved of his policies, but those who loathed the very mention of his name) insisted that he was guilty of everything from drug-running to murder. There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back up these ludicrous fantasies, but it didn’t matter. Republicans would tell me with a straight face, “You can’t prove he didn’t kill all those people!” leaving me to sputter incoherently about logic and not being able to prove a negative. And these weren’t just some fringe weirdoes wearing tin-foil hats, either; Congressman Sam Johnson took to the floor of the House to proclaim that Clinton was a KGB agent because he “felt it in his gut.” At the same time, it became accepted Republican gospel that Ronald Reagan had cut taxes but increased government revenues. You still hear Republicans chanting this mantra, but it simply isn’t true. The numbers do not lie. When Reagan cut the top marginal tax rates, revenues plummeted, causing the deficit to explode. The rapid expansion of Right Wing talk radio, and the utter domination of cable news punditry by ultra-conservatives, has fed this monastic trend, allowing the faithful to live in a hermetically-sealed environment where the only voices they hear are those that reinforce their beliefs. The culmination of Spiro Agnew’s crusade against the “liberal media” also helps, since any news that strays from the latest propaganda bulletins can be dismissed as “biased.” The propaganda ministry regularly cranks out pre-fabricated talking points to be faithfully regurgitated by the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus. Religious propaganda is handled by the Sanhedrin of tele-Pharisees, Dr. James Dobson, Pat Robertson, the late unlamented Jerry Falwell and others, preying on fears of evil secularists, homosexuals, pro-choice activists and feminists. On the international front, the neo-Conservatives (really just old-fashion priggish Victorian imperialists) could take the (wholly justified) public fear of radical Islamic terrorism to justify an invasion of Iraq based on completely fraudulent grounds. With the rhetorical foundation now in place for ignoring the real world, John McCain and Sarah Palin feel comfortable in running a campaign based pretty much exclusively on lying through the teeth. Palin in particularly lies so much, I’m beginning to wonder if that is in fact her real name. Day in and day out, the Governor repeats the long-since discredited claim that she “told Congress no thank you” on the Bridge to Nowhere. In fact, she campaigned for the Bridge. Republicans decry any criticism of her whatsoever as sexist and have the unmitigated gall to complain that Democrats are launching personal attacks, this from the same crew that continues to promote transparently nasty attacks on Barack Obama’s religious faith, patriotism and loyalty. The McCain campaign states with a straight face that Palin never asked for earmarks, when in fact she sought hundreds of millions in earmarks both as Governor and Mayor. McCain has gotten to the point where he even lies to himself. His public response to the ongoing financial melt-down on Wall Street, the most serious since the Great Depression, is to call for the creation of a “blue-ribbon panel” as though the source of the problem were some unfathomable mystery akin to discovering the Unified Field Theory, as he blasts Wall Street’s “greed.” In reality, of course, we know exactly what happened; McCain, along with that old troglodyte Phil Gramm deregulated the banking industry in 1999 and again in 2000. The result was what always happens when industries are de-regulated—an orgy of fraud and corruption with the taxpayers left holding the bag. He claims he warned about problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when just ten months earlier he claimed no one could have anticipated the sub-prime mortgage crisis. McCain blasts lobbyists when his campaign is run by some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington. He promises to “shake up Washington” as though it was some other John McCain (perhaps an evil twin) who has been comfortably ensconced on the Potomac for the last 25 years. Under those circumstances, where the truth is discarded so casually, how exactly am I going to have a meaningful political discussion with a Republican? Frankly, it’s not my idea of a good time to debate people whose only response is to stick their fingers in their ears and shout “I can’t hear you!” over and over again. To be sure, I am eternally grateful for the Republicans I know who can have a calm and reasoned discussion on the issues of the day, but at this stage in my life, I no longer have the energy or the patience to argue with a fencepost over how deep in the ground it is.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Palin & White Privilege
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Why This Election Matters...
Sunday, September 14, 2008
God Help Us All...
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Column for 14 September, 2008
“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”
When John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, my first thought was that he had taken a big gamble that wasn’t likely to pay off; namely, that Hillary Clinton voters would abandon just about every stand Clinton has ever taken on any issue just because another woman says to. My opinion has evolved, or maybe become intelligently designed, over time. Yes, it seems clear that Palin, someone McCain had only met twice briefly, was a last-minute pick. And yes, media coverage at that time was pretty much obsessed with the idea of disgruntled Hillary supporters who would supposedly refuse to support Obama. But why Palin? She is certainly not the most experienced or well-known of Republican women leaders. One simple reason: all of the other Republican women, including Kay Bailey Hutchison, are pro-choice. The GOP would never have tolerated a pro-choice candidate; it is only slightly less likely that a pro-life candidate would ever receive the blessing of a Democratic Convention. And if McCain was going to pick a pro-choice running mate, he would’ve gone with Tom Ridge or his real favorite Joe Lieberman. Thus, Palin; as far to the right as it is possible to be on social issues, which are the only issues that matter to the increasingly dwindling GOP base. Despite all the fluff and hot air, she was never intended to appeal to Hillary voters or Democrats or Independents; Palin’s function is to energize the social conservatives who have, at least until now, been tepid at best in their support of McCain. Energizing the base is the only hope McCain has, because his campaign at least recognizes something that Obama is only just now learning: the electoral map for 2008 will be just about the same as it was in 2004. Put aside all the giddy talk of Obama taking Mississippi; it’s not going to happen, increased African-American turnout or not. If black voter registration and turnout were both at 100%, it wouldn’t shift a single state in the now Republican Solid Deep South. Obama will almost certainly get every electoral vote John Kerry did four years ago (252); he seems likely to pick up Iowa and New Mexico, which brings him up to 264 electoral votes. To win he has to pick off just one of the 2004 battle-ground states, Colorado, Florida, or Ohio, or the only new battleground state Virginia. There are some variables, of course. Ron Paul has qualified for the ballot in Montana on the Constitutional Party line; that could be enough to throw the state to Obama and take him to 267, just three electoral votes shy. It’s also possible that Obama could win Nevada’s five electoral votes. If that’s all he won over Kerry’s total, the result would be a 269 to 269 tie, but such a scenario seems pretty unlikely. Of the battleground states, I would personally rank them in terms of Obama’s chances, from most likely to least likely, as 1) Colorado; 2) Ohio; 3) Florida and 4) Virginia. McCain’s job, therefore, is to prevent Obama from carrying any of these states, a tough job to be sure, but one that would be utterly and completely impossible without the assistance of the religious conservatives who are apparently besotted with Palin. Since the polling margins in all four of these states are tight and they have flopped back and forth several times, a relatively small number of additional voters could be the difference between winning and losing. And so, tossing aside old “reach across the aisle” rhetoric, McCain has sharpened his tongue, attacking the “liberal media” in a shockingly cynical example of biting the hand that feeds. If there’s one thing that can get Republicans all riled up, it’s a good rant about the “liberal” media, a line of attack that dates back to Spiro Agnew and his condemnation of “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Since reality has a well-known liberal bias, any news that contradicts the party line can then be dismissed out of hand as “biased.” This bashing of the media has had the additional strategic benefit of shielding Palin from press scrutiny. Evidently, the governor who has the experience to be commander-in-chief on day one can only handle live questions from a milquetoast apple-polisher like Charlie Gibson. Unfortunately, all this means yet another Culture War campaign, where important issues like America’s long-term environmental and economic health will be pushed off to the sidelines. Republicans will continue to smear Obama’s patriotism. Nitwits like Cong. Lynn Westmoreland will continue to drop thinly-veiled racist code words like “uppity.” Fortunately for the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not in fact want four more years of George W. Bush (only this time less competent), Obama seems to have learned a lesson from his long intense war with Hillary Clinton for the nomination and from John Kerry’s failure: fight back.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Today in History...
Labels: Today in History
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Total Bastard Theatre
- Michigan Republicans are planning to challenge voters who have received notices of foreclosure;
- As Mayor of Greater Wasilla, Sarah Palin proposed to charge rape victims for the rape kits used to investigate their cases;
- As part of his effort to get away from nasty partisan attacks, John McCain accuses Obama of favoring sex education for kindergartners;
- Getcher oil for nothin' and yer chicks fer free, and most repulsively;
- The GOP's shameless branding of 9/11.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Why This Election Matters...
Gallup notwithstanding, the GOP Convention appears to have had a lukewarm effect at best. My completely uneducated guess is that most of it can be attributed to increased enthusiasm among the Republican social conservative base over Sarah Palin, though there is scant evidence that they will turn out in numbers anywhere near what George W. Bush got in 2004. To the contrary, there is much to suggest a heavy turnout for Democrats in the fall, particularly in some key states.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
About that Magical "Executive" Experience...
...if your claim to fame is being mayor a city with 7,000 people, would it be too much to ask that you not have screwed it up? And the tough-talking Governor can't bear to face the Evil Liberal Media unless they show her proper "deference"? Also, apparently it's okay to dare to question the Sacred Surge What Has Absolutely Succeeded...if you are John McCain.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
So Much for Bi-Partisanship
Column for 7 September, 2008
“But our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The only thing worse than a bunch of whiny liberals is a bunch of whiny conservatives acting like whiny liberals. In recent years, I’ve noticed the annoying trend of conservatives adopting one of the liberals’ least-appealing characteristics; an overblown sense of victimization. So, for example, after eight years of accusing Bill Clinton of everything up to and including being a drug dealer and a murderer, Republicans complained with a straight face that critics of George W. Bush were “deranged” and “haters.” Perhaps we were supposed to imagine President Bush crying himself to sleep each night because the mean people said nasty things about him. John McCain got into the act, as virtually any criticism of him was loudly denounced as an insult to all veterans. When tweaked for not remembering how many houses he owns, was it really a valid response to refer to his time as a POW? And now, any suggestion that Sarah Palin’s micron-thin resume might not necessarily qualify her to be one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency is “degrading to women?” Please. The slightest hint by Barack Obama supporters than some of the attacks on him were racist (even the ones that pretty obviously were) have been loudly and derisively hooted down by the Right Wing Howler Monkey Media Chorus. Of course, it is sad to see Governor Palin’s children drug into the mess and to be forced to endure self-righteous idiots from both sides of the political spectrum pontificating on whether she is making the “right choices” in how she chooses to care for her infant son. That is sexist; no male candidate would ever be subjected to that kind of questioning. If anything, the father of a special needs child who chose to stay on the campaign trail would likely be praised for his “courage,” much as John Edwards was (generally) praised for continuing to campaign (among other things, as it later turned out) while his wife was undergoing cancer treatment. Palin, governor of an under-populated and remote state might be forgiven for underestimating the level of scrutiny she would face; McCain’s people should certainly have known better or learned better during their perfunctory vetting process. Being surprised that the media is vicious and intrusive is like being surprised that wild dogs will bite you if you rub yourself with pork chops. And, obviously, the GOP would be singing a completely different tune if we were talking about a female Democratic candidate. With all that out of the way, though, picking Sarah Palin represents a pretty gutsy gamble on McCain’s part; trading away his most effective argument against Obama (experience) on the hope that disaffected Hillary Clinton voters will be induced to support positions 180 degrees opposite of hers just because they are presented by a woman (a strategy which, at least so far, appears to be an epic failure). And let’s be honest; the experience debate is over. When your number two candidate admits on live television that she doesn’t really know what the Vice President does and that she doesn’t follow the news in Iraq (which at least gives her something in common with her running mate), and when you are reduced to claiming she has foreign policy experience (despite never having left the country until last year) because “Alaska is right next to Russia,” then yeah, the debate is over. Not even the professional Republican punditocracy can put a happy face on this; despite writing a column promoting the party line that liberals are “scared” of Palin, Peggy Noonan was caught on an open mike proclaiming “it’s over.” And it’s not sexist to point out, experience notwithstanding, Palin’s narrative is a little, to be charitable, inconsistent. McCain touted her opposition to earmarks as a reason for choosing her, but she seemed to have liked them well enough as mayor and McCain himself denounced some of her earmarks in at least three of his annual lists of outrageous pork. It’s not sexist to point out that she did not, in fact, say “no thanks” to Senator Ted Stevens’ infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” She campaigned for it, and only turned against it months after Congress had already cut the funding. It’s not sexist discuss her atrocious environmental record, something that should concern hunters more than her bag limit of moose, including a belief in the outrageous political fiction that the climate change that threatens her state more than many others is apparently caused by gremlins, not pollution. It’s not sexist to wonder why an ostensibly mainstream politician would as governor lend her voice to a radical fringe group dedicated to the secession of Alaska from the Union and founded by a man who stated, “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.” If Obama is to be pilloried for Jeremiah Wright, then surely Palin at least owes us an explanation for collaborating with the Alaskan Independence Party? So let’s have an election. Let’s have a debate, let’s have a bench-clearing political brawl. But enough with the politics of feigned moral outrage. You can dislike McCain without hating veterans or denigrating POWs. You can vote against Barack Obama and not be a racist knuckle-dragger. And you can decide that Sarah Palin is just not up to the task and not be a sexist.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
More Convention Fun!
- Obama knows how to defend community organizers!
- Paging the commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard!
- Lindsey Graham occasionally gives the appearance of having a soul. Nice to have him confirm that he's still the same old vicious lying little turd;
- Jon Stewart dissects the Palin Hypocrisy as only he can;
- Yeah, media? John McCain? He's just not all that into you anymore. Sorry;
- Nice to see them finally abandoning all pretense;
- Would you buy a used moose from this woman?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Experience and Double Standards
EJ Dionne has an excellent piece on why the same conservatives who embrace Sarah Palin and her paper-thin resume denounced Harriet Miers for lacking the experience to be a Supreme Court Justice. And while we're at it, what mainstream political figure gives an (albeit recorded) address to a bunch of lunatic-fringe secessionists? This is good judgment?