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I raised my two grown kids in Southern California and was always hypersensitive, as a single working Mr. Mom, to things that could make me lose custody -- aka the "awesome power of the state."

I consider myself sensitive and deferential to what parents want, to their rights as parents to control the lives and environment of their children while these kids are growing up as minors.

When my kids and I used to discuss it and they were very young, I explained that if they wanted to dump me as a dad that would NOT be hard -- they would just need to speak up and explain some reasonable reason other people would support. I felt it was always my job to convince and reassure them that I was considering their welfare and living-breathing-thinking-feeling lives in a way where we could work as a team and maybe do better than the alternatives. I never thought I'd keep custody the WHOLE time!

But we also discussed whether children really do have any rights of their own or whether for all practical purposes they are just the property of their parents until their majority. Like women used to be the property of their husbands and could not be beaten with a stick thicker than the "Rule of Thumb." Scary stuff, but the point was that if their welfare was being decided by others, other relatives or judges or teachers, then this would ultimately be the same as having their lives controlled by that person's judgements (and/or judgments in actual cases).

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Anywhere you go today on, they are asking:

It's time for a change. Are you in?
The submit button reads "GAME ON." Gotta love that.

My question for us, here, pre-Thanksgiving, is whether we want to send some of our hopes and dreams their way during these earliest days of the 2016 election. Personally I have a lot of love for this group because their work has been SOOO grass-roots. Two recent messages from the org really got to me.

Nov. 11: A letter to Battleground texas supporters, by Jenn Brown, Executive Director
Nov. 21: Just getting started: a statewide debrief tour, by Grant Fuller, Deputy Digital Director

So theeeese guys, they seem to be doing everything pretty much the way we like, esp. people-powered. They have a fresh ground game full of Spanish-speakers, who could really continue reaching out over the next two years. I know we all got into BGTX one bounce from the Wendy Davis excitement, but I'm still excited to try to make a difference, win the next round, and keep pushing for progress here and now. Mobilizing grass-roots in Texas seems like a good thing for me to support while I weep and cough out the occasional despairing laugh.

How about it? Please add your name to the list or tell me why. I'm happy to hear dirt about this org if anyone has good criticism or anecdotes. That's sort of the point, right now. HOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT BATTLEGROUND TEXAS?


BGTX: Are you in?

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An accident happened to my son. He proceeded through a yellow light in an SUV pulling a trailer going 35 mph. An approaching vehicle attempted to make a left turn and struck his SUV on the side. The initial claims adjuster was persuaded by an eye witness' testimony that (a) the light turned yellow 30 feet from the intersection, and (b) the light was red by the time my son's vehicle entered the intersection.

My math says a car traveling 35 mph is travelling 51.3 feet per second. We just timed the traffic light. The yellow lasts more than a full 4 seconds.

In my opinion the initial claims adjuster should lose his job. My son has a perfect driving record. Started at 15-1/2. He turns 22 in September. He has also worked as a part-time pizza delivery driver. He is very proud of his consistent daily driving and is always alert to it. You can imagine how wounded he is emotionally by this.

Driver rams him while he is confident he had had the right of way. Eye witness says he ran a red light when he is certain he didn't. And mathematically he would have to have been going a lot less than 51.3 feet per second to not have entered the intersection from 30 feet away in 4 seconds.


I think you have a good case against the insurance company

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Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:31 PM PST

Christina Gagnier for CA-35

by philipmerrill

Since our CA-35 Dem Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod is not running for reelection, I think you'll be pleased to consider Christina Gagnier as a likable possibility. She recently launched and is trying to raise $50k to explore a run. Some of you may know her from her HuffPo presence, and since getting to know her I've been following her on Twitter. If you like Lessig, you should definitely check her out and consider donating (she used to work for him). She would definitely be one of the most digitally savvy additions we could possibly send to Congress. But what do you think? So many of you are much more knowledgeable than me!

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Producer Dan Efram has launched a petition: "Create a Pete Seeger Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC." He also has an extensive description of why this matters published by entitled "A Petition For a Pete Seeger Memorial on the National Mall: Guest Post by Dan Efram." He says:

Pete Seeger’s life had a profound impact on millions. He had a deep belief in being able to change the world through song. His idealism, fierce independence and courage should be honored, treasured and used as an inspiration for generations to come by establishing a permanent memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Recent diaries with over 100 recs about this iconic figure are:

Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955 by BOHICA

Breaking, NYT: Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94 by camlbackerFollow

RIP, Pete by zenbassoon

President Obama's statement on the passing of Pete Seeger by Transcripts Editors

As the president said, Seeger reminded us where we come from, showed us where we need to go, and "always invited us to sing along." Having him and his guitar on the National Mall is a cause I'm sure many progressives here would want to sign on for.


I'm hoping some of you who are more knowledgeable might help me dig in to where our future national conversation about the federal budget can target agency departments that bring in revenue through dinging  folks and companies for irregularities.

I know this has been discussed regarding sequester cutbacks of the IRS or Medicare fraud investigations, and obviously the Department of Justice has gotten some pretty big fines from banks. But my question is how to develop a really decent list of areas of the government that could self-fund expansion based on producing revenue.

We've heard of "running government like a business" and we've heard of "law and order" usually in ways we don't like. But as we approach the coming budget talks it seems to me there are a few ways to approach making a positive difference on not hampering agency departments that go after wrongdoers and bring in more money than their department's budget. Shouldn't these be allowed to expand?

So what oversight should departments like that have in order to prevent them from becoming greedy secret police? Also, what positive incentives are already in place for whistleblowers or tipsters? How could this possibly be expanded to include crowdsourcing datasets that have been anonymized? I'll bet there are all sorts of housebound intellectuals with data-crunching skills who would have fun trying to find hidden irregularities if there was a chance they could make $thousands (tax free?).

And there must be some really good nonprofits already doing things like this.

Tell me to just go on the Internet and look up: [WHAT?]. (Please do tell me.)

Tell me it's ridiculous that this sorry excuse for a diary doesn't already include [WHAT?] or link to [WHICH?] other diary.

If nothing else I feel this is a very contrary approach to face spending-cutting conservatives with as we approach the next set of talks. Who are our hunting dogs in the federal government and how should they be permitted to bring game home to our collective federal coffers?



It would really surprise me if more than a handful of you remembered my three diaries about John Cote in 2010:

April 24, 2010, By the time he gets to Tucson...

April 25, 2010, Walking for Fisher House - Day 24 out of 110

May 11, 2010, Day 41 for Fisher House got gritty

His edited journals have now been published on Amazon: A Walk for Warriors [Kindle Edition]

This guy is my ex-brother-in-law and I helped him edit this, he has also helped me in a variety of ways over the years, so I'm partial. But I also want to get the word out. And what's worse! I want you to help me.

This book is 99 cents and it's good. It could use word-of-mouth and you can see for yourself that it deserves it.

Sorry to be pimping, but pimping I am. This just came out! Since it's Kindle, you can easily "look inside" and get a taste without spending anything.


They had our back. Their Protect Our Future petition is a great next-day action to put pressure where we need it during the lame duck. So don't duck out. Sign:

...some legislators and their friends on Wall Street are set on reaching a “grand bargain” during the post-election "lame-duck" session of Congress that would cut the benefits that we and our children will depend on. They want to cut our Social Security COLAs, raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare and cut Medicaid, which could force families into bankruptcy when a loved one needs long-term care. Why? They say it’s to reduce the deficit, but that’s obviously not true. If they were serious about reducing the deficit, they would not be insisting on extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans. What should Congress do? The most important two things are:

1. Congress should let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

2. Congress must make no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.

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Wed Oct 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM PDT

Romney is an avian-basher

by philipmerrill

Debate #1 it was wanting to fire Big Bird. Debate #2 it's indifference to dozens of birds dying.

CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

ROMNEY: Well, let's look at the president's policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we've had four years of policies being played out. And the president's right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters. So where'd the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis. Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix. But what we don't need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal.


I'll confess that I'm a bird-lover, but I don't go out of my way over birds or own one at the moment or recognize many different species. But Romney's bird-directed dickishness means something. 2 debates. 2 avian-bashing shots.


Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 09:28 AM PDT

Rummie's crusader comics for W.

by philipmerrill

While the quality of presidential daily briefings is under discussion, I wanted to remind folks about the crusader comics Donald Rumsfeld added to his Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Updates. This is not meant to be a decent diary. GQ seems to have broken this in June 2009:

The slideshow that accompanied the article is poignantly childish:

Someone who has it in them to write a decent diary about this should. I was moved to diary this because I think my comment to this diary is a little buried.

That diary said, "Not only did George Bush require the PDB to be read aloud to him, he didn't respond to threats appropriately when he did. It makes you wonder if Bush needed his PDB to be illustrated with cartoons, too." Well, that's pretty close to what happened! And the GOP wants to talk about PDB's???!!! There's a comparison??? The contrast favors Obama.


"I voted straight Republican ticket."

For those of us who are not of the authoritarian mindset, I think we view and can't understand the serious realpolitic of being stuck in an intolerant right-wing community. I've been hearing anecdotes for ages about this and I'm confident that it's just not safe for millions of possible voters to admit that they vote for D's. We should encourage them to lie. At least this November.

I'm endlessly critical of Obama but grateful and relieved about him overall, and I'm confident he can win this fall, but we are all united in needing a Congress that can take care of this country's business. Every downticket vote is so critically important. I believe we should encourage people in unsafe environments to protect themselves but vote Dem.

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Have you heard about the snag that United Nations activities through UNESCO hit after admitting Palestine as a member? Our country has to stiff them the $65 million they were expecting because of the old law prohibiting involvement in organizations that recognize Palestine. Oh well, too bad, I'm not arguing about it. But here's something CHEAP you can do.

UNESCO set up an online donation site and the press release from Thursday announcing it only had 1 puny Facebook rec. Wish I could contribute (can't). But I figured at least I could encourage others to follow up on my 2nd Facebook-rec for it.

Go here to Facebook-rec => Press release (text over the flip) is at

Donation site is


tally here if you Facebook-rec it, OK?

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