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[A good friend of mine -- a University of Michigan-trained Social Worker up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (hence the "YOOP"MSW with "UM" implied in the middle) and a really engaging Latina writer -- asked me to publish this story here on her behalf because, essentially, I have a lot of followers.  So please give it a look.  This is Part 2 of a series that, if people seem interested (and maybe if they don't) will contain Parts 3 to however many.]


You really don’t want to have a severe disability of any kind in Michigan. Especially now. This has been an early cold winter for many people. a lot of us were caught unprepared. For some it is hard to return to winter after such a short summer, and after the cold last year.

It will be hard for a lot of people who don’t have enough food. Who are already showing signs of poor malnutrition. No wonder the meth labs are staking out the north woods.  Like in “Winter’s Bone”, aren’t they like the carrion flies that flock to desperation?

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[A good friend of mine -- a University of Michigan-trained Social Worker up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (hence the "YOOP"MSW with "UM" implied in the middle) and a really engaging Latina writer -- asked me to publish this story here on her behalf because, essentially, I have a lot of followers.  So please give it a look.  Part 2 will be posted Thursday morning.]

It costs a lot to be a Latino in Santa Nonama, SoCal, California, Califas. A young man I worked with, whom I'll call "Pedro," had to give his right arm.

He lived in a shack’s garage with his mother and three siblings.  No real incentive to go to school, and his father in jail, Pedro quit school and hung out with his gangsta friends, getting high. Then, strung out on meth, he hallucinated that his dog told him his right arm was poison -- and so he sawed it off.

His mother and younger sister and brother came home to blood seeping out of their garage/efficiency, seeping out from under the garage door onto the concrete driveway pad  in the heart of barrio "La Chupacabra."  This kind of dwelling, its own version of outrageous poverty and squalor, was overlooked by my friend the mayor since so many residents made good extra cash renting out such back yard arrangements.

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I've put off publishing this for what I expect to be a slow day on Daily Kos, because I don't like having to write it at all and, if and when it does its job, I'm happy for it to recede into obscurity.

This is Greg Diamond from Orange County.  As some of you know, since I started focusing on local blogging here (where it is desperately needed, given the dearth of local liberal Democratic voices), I've begun running for office where I can as a way of getting political messages out to the public.  This hasn't led to my getting elected, but it has given a good chunk of the population the opportunity to say "no" to rotten incumbents.

My criteria for running for office so far has been this:

(1) The incumbent has to be rotten.

(2) Without me, the incumbent would run unopposed.

There is supposed to be a third criterion as well: that I can afford, or at least know that I could fundraise the money, to do it.  For this November's election, I broke that last rule -- and now I'm asking for a modest amount of help from those of you who can do so without pain.  I'll tell you more about it after the tear gas cloud.

There is a contribution link after the text, because that is how (wisely or not) I roll!

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No, no, NO -- Democrats should not entirely boycott the #Benghazi hearings.  They should send one Democratic representative -- exactly one, whoever is the funniest and most sardonic in their caucus -- to participate.

That person should:

(1) Serve as the narrator to the madness, speaking directly to the viewing audience and cutting through all the malarkey.

(2) Use their time to take the piss out of the Issaholes whenever possible.  One person can do it better than five, because everyone waits to see what that guy is going to say.

(3) Give any beleaguered unwilling witnesses a chance to say their piece in full. You get the benefit of a "boycott" protest along with the benefit of a "monkeywrench" protest.

Who should it be?  That's a great question.  My advice is: HOLD PUBLIC AUDITIONS!

Have Democrats who want to take this solo role come before a panel of Democrats and show their funniest, more sardonic stuff.  It would be hilarious, would get press coverage, and would be treating this Republican stunt with EXACTLY the seriousness it deserves.

Don't give up this sort of opportunity, Democrats!  In fact, if you need to choose someone right now, make it Mike Honda!


<em>[I don't have time today to revise this post from June 2011, and I'm sure that others are doing a fine job of covering today's awful Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.  I republish it simply to provide some context -- and to reintroduce what I think is a very good metaphor for what the 5-4 supposedly conservative majority is doing to our political system.  While the details of this decision are different, the underlying story is more of the same.]

If you want to do real damage, you want to control the operating system.

In the world of computer hacking, this means that you want to get the users to install a rootkit.

A rootkit is software that enables continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence from administrators by subverting standard operating system functionality or other applications. The term rootkit is a concatenation of "root" (the traditional name of the privileged account on Unix operating systems) and the word "kit" (which refers to the software components that implement the tool). The term "rootkit" has negative connotations through its association with malware.
The top priority of the Roberts Court has been to install a rootkit in our political system.  Control the operating system and you can make any changes you want to down the line.

The operating system of our political system is elections -- campaigns and elections.  Control those, and even the Constitution will bend to your will.

Today [here meaning June 27, 2011], the Supreme Court uploaded another rootkit -- and it is malware of the worst kind.

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Thanks primarily to the generosity of people from this website, I will be able to pay my filing fee this morning.  In return for your generosity, I can offer you -- well, at this point, only an update.

I'm Greg Diamond -- a member of this site since 2005, posting initially as "Major Danby" and since 2008 as "Seneca Doane."  I raised $1,109 from noon yesterday until 9 a.m. today (pacific time) -- and, why yes, that will take you to a page with a contribution link!  (Thanks, by the way!)  Most of that money isn't yet processed, but it should trickle in over the course of the day.  Unfortunately, I need it by 11 a.m, but the excess will be used to repay a $1,500 loan to the campaign coming from ... my rent money.  My overdue rent money.  (I notified my landlord earlier this week that I was going to be late.  Sometimes it's best not to explain why.)

You see, I need to show up at the Registrar of Voters office with a check or money order in hand in order to get the papers -- including the signatures of 20 voters -- that I need to have filled out and filed by the 5:00 final deadline.  I can't wait for processing to be complete -- so hello, rent money!

If you don't know about my sudden campaign for Orange County District Attorney, which came about only when it became clear that an expected candidate with almost $1,000,000 in his war chest was convinced not to run, then please read my diary from yesterday: I'm Running Against the DA Who Blew the Kelly Thomas Murder Trial.

And yes, I still need contributions.  My opponent picked up $419,000 from fat cat donors in one evening in Newport Beach; I'm going to need to do more than just make a bunch of fiery, witty, and learned speeches to downtrodden voters in Santa Ana and Anaheim about what a large county district attorney should do to treat people fairly.

Of course, if you read this story about the acquittal yesterday of a police office who shot an unarmed and young fleeing Latino man in the backside, and then came up to him and shot him once more in the head to make sure that he wasn't a threat to the officer's safety -- you'll know that I'll have plenty to talk about.  I was one of the primary "citizen journalists" (ok, bloggers) to cover this story from the outset from a legal perspective -- and I publicized and attended multiple rallies over this and a subsequent killing of the son of a woman who has since become my good friend.

Should someone with my views on the apparent summary execution of youth -- which had become a bad habit by 2012 -- be running for District Attorney here?  Oh, I THINK SO!

We can't stand -- I can't stand -- the lack of a candidate who will be a strong voice of opposition.  So here I am.  On my way to pick up the rent money.

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I'm running for District Attorney in Orange County, California, against Tony Rackauckas.  

(UPDATE: As some have wisely suggested, I should introduce myself to people who don't know me: in real life, my name is Greg Diamond.  I'm the North Vice Chair for the Democrats of North Orange County (for which I do not speak); a plaintiff's employment attorney and government accountability attorney; Managing Editor of the Orange Juice Blog out here; and involved in advising several progressive non-profits in my county.)

Here is my -- bare bones, for now, but the contribution link works -- campaign website.  Money raised over the next six hours will probably determine what I do.

Rackauckas is probably best known outside of Southern California for his decision to personally prosecute the case against two police officers involved in the killing of non-violent, schizophrenic, and homeless Kelly Thomas in July 2011.  He lost that case miserably -- and some local residents assert, given that he had never before brought a case against police brutality in our county during any of his four terms, and only brought this one (based on a flawed theory) because Thomas's dying screams were recorded and frequently replayed as part of a surveillance videotape -- without much regret.

The worst thing about District Attorney Rackauckas is that that is not even nearly the worst thing about him.  Orange County is saturated with corruption; he's the guy who has been supposed to stand it the way of it -- and he doesn't.  He stands for passing unconstitutional ordinances that cater to the worst impulses of the public.

Essentially, he fails to scare the people whom he should scare -- and he scares people whom he shouldn't.

In a county that desperately needs to watchdog capable of warding off corruption, that first problem is a political tragedy.  That second problem is a social tragedy.

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Get your terms right.  Intentionally snarling the traffic on the George Washington Bridge last September was not a mere act of retribution, political payback, coercion, or whatever else people have been calling it.

It was an intentional act of sabotage.  It didn't destroy structures, but it did destroy the function of those structures for extended periods of time.  If that had just been a matter of incompetence, it would not be sabotage.  But it was intentional -- intended to sabotage traffic flow.

We have another word for that sort of thing under federal law.  That word is terrorism.

And, damn right, people should be prosecuted for it.  That or we should change the relevant laws, because if they don't apply here they are obviously worthless.

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If you really think that in this cartoon artist Ted Rall drew Barack Obama as a gorilla, then I think that we may indeed have a racism problem here -- but that racism is yours.

Rall may conceivably be criticized for exaggerating the African appearance some of Obama's features (notably his nose) for some reason, but drawing Obama with exaggerated African features is not drawing him as a gorilla.

If you think otherwise, then you're saying that Africans look like gorillas -- which is more racist than anything that Rall is accused of doing.  Here, I made you a nice infographic below the fold to help you tell the difference between the appearances of a gorilla and an African.

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Already doing not too badly on Facebook: come join in the fun and share!

(I'd say more, but what else need be said?)

If you know of links along this theme that should be added to the FB page, let me know!


Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 10:13 AM PDT

Drop Paint on Syria

by Seneca Doane

Drop paint on Syria.  Or glue.

Or drop truckloads of cicadas, or barrelfuls of fish emulsion, or rotten eggs, prepared as low-impact omelettes.  Nothing that would kill anyone.

Drop chickenshit, if you must.  (Not pigshit; let's be culturally sensitive.)

Drop used kitty litter.  Drop sand -- tinted brightly, magenta and lime.

Drop something they'll remember.  Drop something that will persist.  Drop something that will make a point.

Do not drop bombs.


What should the U.S. drop on Syria (you answer "nothing" by not replying)

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| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted with edits from The Orange Juice Blog


I presume that most people here are familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates.  He's one of the best editorial writers working today of any age or race, but his presence is especially welcome because he's a relatively young African-American editorial.  His article on the "not guilty" verdict in the George Zimmerman trial is a stylistic triumph that builds on the notion -- which seems to be solidifying into conventional wisdom -- that the verdict was correct under the state's law; the problem is that the law itself is terrible and in effect invites people to provoke others into fights and then legally kill them, a sort of human counterpart of bullfighting.

He has written a brilliant article on the Zimmerman verdict, "Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice that is worth reading from top to bottom.  Unfortunately -- or, actually, fortunately -- it's wrong.  Florida law doesn't allow an aggressor to kill someone and assert that they had a reasonable fear for their own life without presenting evidence of the reasonableness of that fear sufficient to create a reasonable doubt as to whether self-defense justified or excused the killing.  He's right that the jury instructions suggest otherwise -- and they were egregiously wrong.  In fact, if (as I suspect) the judge strong-armed them through based on her own misapprehension of the law, they should provide a basis for appeal and retrial.  If Zimmerman wants to invoke self-defense [as the aggressor], he needs to present evidence.

UPDATE: Actually, there's one situation where the defense doesn't need to present evidence to make a prima facie case for self-defense even under the higher standard applied to defendants who use lethal force in a confrontation in which they were the aggressor: when the prosecution introduces the evidence for them.

This is, amazingly -- and by amazingly I mean "this should be in the teaching materials as a Never Do This example" -- that's what happened here.  Thanks to Armando for the tip; the details are explained in this HuffPo piece.

Ta-Nehisi is still wrong to blame Florida law itself.  It would have worked here, by forcing Zimmerman to take the stand to make his prima facie case and giving the prosecution a chance to tear him to shreds based on his shifting and unlikely stories.  But the blame goes to the prosecutor rather than (as I had thought, because this prosecutorial mistake is almost unthinkable) to the judge who decided on the jury instructions.  That is the actual scandal that we should be discussing today.  Title has been changed accordingly.

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