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Kindly acquired though http://www.freakingnews.com/Insect-Fighting-Pictures–1577.asp

Second, and (as is my style) at far greater length:

This blog went through some dark times last fall and winter.  I had had my stroke in late August as was struggling through it.  (I still am, when it comes to typing with my left hand.  Writing takes me longer than it used to because of the increase in typos.  Out of sheer luck, though, my analytical and verbal abilities were left unscathed.)  Vern, meanwhile, was doing “inpatient” rehab due to a “DUI” that didn’t involve his actually driving an inch — one of the nice surprises one gets once one has been processed through the criminal justice system.  Others among our leading writers were generally unavailable for various reasons, so I had to try to gut it through mostly on my own — and judging from readership numbers I did a pretty poor job of it.

There was some sentiment to just let the blog die — maybe to return, maybe not — rather than trying to keep it showing signs of life.

There are various reasons why I kept on banging my head against the wall to keep it going, and the main one is this: we occupy a niche in the OC political blogosphere — or even in the political journalism community (both professional and amateur divisions) — than no one else does.  First, we run the gamut in terms of the political perspectives of those who write here and those who comment here, but that’s not entirely unique.  Our uniqueness is less in the quality and diversity of our stories — I think that Vern and I do produce some good ones, but we’re hardly alone in that — than in another aspect of this blog in which I take particular pride: our comments section, which is terrific.

We simply have the best comments section of any local politics site site around.  (I’m not including national blogs like Vox or state ones like what’s-his-face’s in Irvine that just happen to be located here; I’m talking about locally oriented ones.)  Most comments sections — including the Voice of OC’s and OC Weekly’s and the Register’s — are excruciating.  Some, like Liberal OC’s and others I won’t deign to mention, are worse than excruciating — cesspits of lying an hatred not by mere neglect, but by conscious design.

This blog has that deep in its history, and I recognize that in some ways it was a lot more fun for some people.  But it came at a cost, one that was being imposed perhaps without realizing it.  Bad commenting drives out good.  The sort of people who can offer good, thoughtful, often laboriously crafted commentary don’t want to share the space with pseudonymous drive-bys accusing others (often in bigoted tones) of perfidy and perversion, and they generally don’t want to have their thoughts dragged into the gutter with a “U SUCK, asshole, HAW-HAW lol” or its like.

The difference here — and it takes hours per month to maintain — is simple: as a general rule, we don’t allow anonymous attacks.  We have some commenters for whom we’ll make slight exceptions — we generally know who they are, we can ask them to clean up their act, and the good they provide far outweighs the occasional bad — but by and large if you want to slag someone here you have to be prepared to own it.  Others (Voice of OC comes to mind) SAY that their policy is something like this — but they don’t much enforce it.  We do.  (Generally, I do.  Well, me and the automatic filters that we’ve set up, which root out most of what turn out to be problematic posts and send most of the rest to moderation.)

The benefits become clear when you look at our election coverage.  Take a look, if you haven’t, at our coverage of the CA-39 race.   Forget the story, for these purposes; just read the comments.

Most of the discussion is between me and our new community member Donovan — and I honestly don’t think that you will find a better or more frank discussion of the relative merits of Democratic frontrunners Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn anywhere.  Both of of acknowledge weakness of our favored candidates — for him, Cisneros; for me, after much agonizing, Thorburn — and spell out how and why we make our decisions.  Of course I’m biased, but this is the sort of public contribution to discourse of which I’m proud to be a party.  And for both of us — compare this to Liberal OC — we’re at arm’s length from our favored candidates.

Then, you have someone we don’t even know, Paul Martin, coming in to offer perspective that I don’t have (and I doubt any other countywide publication has) on Andrew Sarega and his father and fellow candidate (in SD-32 Ion — that volunteer bloom doesn’t happen unless you prepared your garden for it.  And there’s someone calling himself “No Name” — though I hope he won’t remain that way for long — who just weighed in with a spirited defense of Sam Jammal and measured, intelligent, and fair criticisms of Cisneros and Thorburn.  I hope that others like Vern, Ricardo Toro, Ryan Cantor, David Zenger, Paul Lucas, Cynthia Ward, and Ron Winship will eventually wade into the discussion as well, if they’d like, as one of the main features of this blog’s political coverage is that we don’t just agree to stay out of one another’s business.

That last comment is what prompted this short essay.  This is how it’s supposed to be!  This was worth my trying to rouse my tired body and wrack my stricken brain for things to write about over the past eight months.  I want to read such discussion — and someone that means having to build a home for it, like it you want to see hummingbirds.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about whatever, within reasonable limits.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)