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There's another SNL alum throwing a hat in the ring, running for public office. But not in the tradition of Al Franken, who's a serious guy (Stuart Smalley notwithstanding) and knowledgeable about policy. I learned that listening to him on Air America before he ran for office.

The latest SNL alum? Not so much.

Like iron filings to a magnet, Tennessee attracts bizarro types to the public arena. The latest? Victoria Jackson. She was slightly cute as a faint shadow of Gracie Allen kind of zany. And in recent years, she's been a tea party enthusiast. (There's a guy in Iowa, too, a more serious candidate. But that's beyond the scope of this diary.)

Now, "tired of complaining", she's announced she's running for County Commissioner in Williamson County. That county's already represented by Marsha Blackburn in Congress. It's home to an abundant array of cheaply-built MacMansions, home to lots of Hummers. She's running as an independent, not a Republican.

“I just can’t do it anymore; they just don’t have the values of our founding fathers anymore,” Jackson told The Tennessean. “I am sure there are a few Republicans who do. I want less federal government involvement, lower taxes, smaller government, more public involvement, a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility.”
Her key issues for suburban Tennessee are opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, Agenda 21 and Common Core education standards. (I missed that the Muslim Brotherhood was active in suburban Nashville, but maybe she's onto something that I missed.)
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Fri Dec 19, 2014 at 03:49 PM PST

Good News from Oklahoma

by Land of Enchantment

By now, most Americans are aware of the movement to push the Washington, DC NFL team to give up its obnoxious team name and mascot, "Redskins." I don't need to repeat the arguments here. The same issue is being confronted all over the country at the college and high school level. There's a long way to go before this noxious problem is resolved. For one example, consider the town of Liberal, Kansas:

When it comes to news from Oklahoma, we come to expect it to be harsh and face-palmingly retro, whether it's the governor, the state legislature or the particularly visible and dreadful nonsense spewed and blockages thrown up by Senators Coburn and Inhofe. This time, they've done the right thing. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma City school board voted to remove the "Redskins" mascot from Capitol Hill High School. And it wasn't a squeaker of a vote, either. The tally was 8-0. The vote was met with enthusiastic applause, cheers and hugs.
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Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 11:41 AM PST

Cuba! (in 21 pictures)

by Land of Enchantment

One of my French relations, Lucile Chriqui, is a talented young songstress. She loves the music of Cuba and has taken extended trips there to immerse herself in the culture. I'm sharing some pictures from her most recent trip, being as how we're all talking about Cuba today. Here's Lucile and her friend Cynthia Abraham. The rest of the pictures are below the fold.

I'm no expert on Cuba, so I'll skip adding commentary. Below the fold, please enjoy Cuba through Lucile's eyes. And yeah, it's long past time for the embargo to go.

Here's a video that includes Lucile singing, back home in Paris:

And this is Cynthia (also in Paris):

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She's well known as the Coal Miner's Daughter with bias in favor of the working poor. And don't even get me started on her progressive stands on women's issues:

This won't stand with Andrew Breitbart's legacy website. How dare President Obama nominate Loretta Lynn as the nation's top prosecutor to replace Eric Holder!?!?

Oh wait, sorry. Breitbart was actually upset about Loretta Lynch being nominated:

Indeed, the prosecutor has a long career built of some high profile cases but there is one case Lynch was involved in that few are talking about. Lynch was a part of Bill Clinton's Whitewater probe defense team in 1992.
Well, no.

The reason no one was talking about it is because the nominee had nothing to do with the Clintons. Ever. Turns out there's more than one attorney named Loretta Lynch. The one blew a gasket about is not the nominee, who serves as U.S. Attorney in New York.

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Fri Oct 31, 2014 at 09:16 AM PDT

GFHC: Salem Witches

by Land of Enchantment

Bicentennial envisioning of the trial of Rebecca Nurse at the Salem Witch Trials. Source: The Witch of Salem, or Credulity Run Mad, by John R. Musick. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1893. Link:
Bicentennial envisioning of the trial of
Rebecca (Towne) Nurse from the 1890s

One of my far flung cousins is Clarissa Harlowe Barton, better known as Clara, founder of the American Red Cross. She is a third cousin, four times removed. Our common ancestor is a woman born Hannah Bridges in 1669, at what's now known as Danvers, Massachusetts.

Danvers used to be Salem Village (not to be confused with the adjacent port city of Salem), but they changed the name in 1752, wanting to put some of their unsavory history aside. Danvers (Salem Village) is where the actual Salem witch trials took place in 1692. In this diary, when I say "Salem", it refers to Salem Village, aka present day Danvers.


Hannah's paternal grandfather, Edmund Bridges, arrived from England in 1635 during the Great Migration. His first child, Hannah's father Edmund Jr., was born 2 years later. The immigrant was a blacksmith by trade, an important skill needed in every town. Blacksmiths were sometimes offered incentives to relocate to a town in need of their services; perhaps that's why Edmund is recorded as living in several towns near the coast north of Boston throughout his life. He died in Ipswich in 1685 when Hannah was 16.

Edmund, Jr. was married to Sarah Towne in nearby Topsfield, inland from the coast, in 1660. Their first several children were born there, but they moved in 1668 to a new farm at Salem. Hannah was the first of their offspring born at Salem, 1669. Hannah's father Edmund Bridges died in 1682 when she was 13. Her mother remarried the next year. Sarah & her new husband Peter Cloyes had 3 more children over the next few years. Cloyes also brought 6 of his own children to the marriage. It was a a large family. (The name Cloyes has also been recorded as Cloyce, as Clayes.)

At the age of 21, Hannah Bridges was married in Salem. Her firstborn, named after his father Samuel Barton, arrived October 1691. She was a newlywed, nursing her first baby, when the accusations of witchcraft began. It hit like an earthquake, leaving devastation in its wake.

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Last week, Meteor Blades shared a story of a self-appointed border guard, Kevin Lyndell Massey, arrested in Brownsville, Texas on gun charges. He's part of Rusty's Rangers, a group which has been busy making a nuisance of themselves along the border.

As a convicted felon, Massey had forfeited his Second Amendment right to bear arms. That was the basis of his arrest. (He was apparently not the only person charged in this case.) Turns out that he was more heavily armed than initial reports of his arrest might have suggested:

Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who searched Massey's hotel room in Brownsville after an Oct. 20 arrest, found an AK-47 with six loaded magazines, a loaded handgun, a ballistic helmet and several cameras, as well as the ammunition box filled with suspected ammonium nitrate and fuel, according to court documents obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.
Lest we forget, ammonium nitrate & fuel were key components of the truck bomb Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City back in 1995.
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created by a young man from Moore, Oklahoma, who's working on GOTV in Indian Country
I learned a couple of interesting things from a recent Mother Jones article. One is about why Native Americans don't have much use for former Republican Senator Larry Pressler, currently running as an independent for the open South Dakota senate seat.

The reason Pressler is a former Senator, in a mostly Republican state, is because Tim Johnson, the retiring Democrat, beat him by a mere 524 votes in 1996. Pressler was instrumental in pushing through legislation that limited tribes' abilities to acquire land. Not only did it block the transfer of public lands back to tribes, it also required property taxes for any lands tribes acquired by other means.

This didn't sit well with tribes, with several tribal leaders publicly denouncing Pressler and urging votes for Johnson.

The last county in the state to report its votes was Shannon County, which is mostly comprised of most of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It wasn't until 5am the morning after election day, with the votes from Shannon County in, that Tim Johnson emerged the winner.

Shannon County is poised to play a role again in this year's senate race in South Dakota. And not just because of Pressler's anti-Indian legislative history. (More beyond the squiggle.)

As kos himself says: Now's about as good a time as any. It's either that, or you cede the floor to the NRA.

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Right on! About flippin' time! Next Monday in Seattle, you might as well alder-roast some Fraser River sockeye.

There were a few Italian-Americans who showed up to object, but the City Council resolution passed unanimously yesterday:

The Seattle City Council is replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day in the city.
Photograph entitled
Crossing the Strait
Also up for consideration soon: Nearby Bellingham is considering changing Columbus Day to Coast Salish Day, the tribal group native to the NW coast.

Right on the heels of yesterday's good news court ruling restricting mining around the Grand Canyon National Park comes another today which upholds EPA's authority regarding mountaintop removal. This case is a little bit complicated, but it's definitely good news.

Mountaintop removal mine in Pike County, Kentucky just off U.S. 23. Wikimedia commons:,_Kentucky.jpg
Mountaintop removal mine in Pike County, Kentucky
This case concerns something called Spruce Mine #1 in Logan County West Virginia. Because the litigation centered on regulatory and permitting actions taken by the EPA, the jurisdiction fell to the US District Court in the District of Columbia. This particular mining project has been winding its way through the courts for nearly a decade, with the decisions at hand having more at stake than just whether this particular company, Arch Mining, can wipe this particular mountain off the face of the earth.
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Grand Canyon, viewed from near Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park, south rim
The action was taken by the Interior Department under Ken Salazar, but the industry challenged it:
Mining industry groups say a ban on the filing of new hard rock mining claims near the Grand Canyon is irresponsible public policy, but the federal government and conservationists say it will protect water flowing through the canyon from potential contamination.
The issue is crowding to the edge of the Grand Canyon National Park with large scale mines. The U.S. District Court in Phoenix has just ruled, earlier today. It's not made the newspaper yet, only a few activist groups have posted the news so far, so it's not even "hot off the presses" quite yet.
The ban was adopted January 2012 to protect the Grand Canyon’s watersheds. The withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and development on old claims that lack “valid existing rights” to mine.
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This seems very important to me. Ferguson's gone international. Click through to Vox for pictures.

Chinese democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have taken up the Ferguson, MO approach to demonstrating with their hands up.

Hong Kong's protesters have good reason to put their hands up: police are using what many observers describe as an unprecedented level of force against the demonstrations, which are rallying against the Chinese government for reneging on its promise to grant them full democracy in 2017. While injuries in the protests have been relatively few so far, the clashes have been bad enough that Hong Kongers appear to earnestly fear the police might crack down violently, and that anxiety is showing in these photos.
Very moving, this, however they came to take it up. Here's hoping word gets passed along to Michael Brown's grieving parents. It seems like something they might like to know about.

No, really. Not kidding!!

There's some silliness afoot in the world these days, mocking the authorities' bizarre acquisition and hoarding of excessive military force. The Onion offers up a silly photoshop of Ferguson, Missouri's surplus battleship, and a local outfit in Tennessee does a one-up on that with Chattanooga's recent acquisition of an aircraft carrier. (While the Tennessee River may be deep enough to float an aircraft carrier, it's hard to imagine it squeezing through the locks at the various TVA dams.) But that's all satire.

The State of Wyoming, on the other hand, appears to be contemplating acquiring its own carrier for real. And like the state's famous son, Dick Cheney, there is not a whiff of humor to be found.

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