Community Spotlight: Taking the temperature of the Daily Kos community

Reading the Daily Kos’ Community's stories through the whipsaw events of the past few months has been enlightening. As Besame has noted before, when a crisis hits, we tend to come together to share and reflect on the events that are shaping history even as we live them. When a crisis resolves, especially when the resolution benefits people, our attention moves quickly to new challenges. After all, we're a community of activists, and it's the role of the activist to push change.

The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris signaled a deep sigh of relief, like a breath held so long that the lungs burn. We gave ourselves permission to feel good, and to enjoy that feeling while knowing that there's a lot more work to be done before democracy is secure. Violent fascism continues to threaten us, and we have the chance to turn our country—finally—toward the path of fulfilling the promise of America for all our citizens, redressing past sins, and extending equality to all.

That's how this week started. But if you want to know how it's going, I have three words for you: Senate impeachment trial.

When the Senate gaveled into session and the trial began, you could sense the mood shift and the tension ratchet up on Daily Kos. I doubt that last week most of us were really aware of the level of violence, the intimate involvement of the former president in both planning and execution, or the terrible trauma inflicted on all the people who found themselves under attack. But we know now. And we're watching—still watching.

This week's rescued stories are presented chronologically. See if you can spot when the trial started.


Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover great work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition, “Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.” You also can find a link in Meteor Blades’ “Night Owls” series, which publishes daily between 10-11PM EST.

"Alone with his thoughts, he felt a rising sense of rage and fear, combined with a feeling of helplessness.  He tried to suppress it, but it kept coming back." In “Changes,” Bankshot writes of Mr. Finley, an elderly widower who is grieving, worn down by time, habitually angry, and casually racist, yet clueless about the socialism that brought him the Social Security and Medicare that his life depends on. Bankshot has authored 17 stories, this being their first rescue.

In “Occult & Psychical Sciences: The Tragicall Hifstory of Dr. John Dee, Part 1 of 2,” Clio2 weaves the story of John Dee, whom history remembers mostly as a counselor of Elizabeth I. Dee was a magician and alchemist around the history of his time. "No solid career path existed for learned men in Elizabeth’s England, outside of the clergy. Dee’s activities earned only fees for particular projects, inherently unreliable. He was continually petitioning the Queen for a pension, or for some ecclesiastical position, to provide a solid, steady income." In her carefully researched biography, Clio2 explains the practices of alchemy and divination as precursors to the scientific method as well as the tools of the charlatan and fraud. The story of Dee's precarious career as court magician and queen's counselor concludes next week. “Occult and Psychical Sciences on DK” explores all phenomena spooky and occult. Clio2 has authored 190 stories for Daily Kos.

Through text and illustration, skralyx explains the natural science behind why “The Big Dipper rises, heralding the approach of Spring.” The Big Dipper has been important throughout history because it points the way to Polaris, the North Star, pointing the enslaved toward freedom as surely as it gave mariners a steady reference point in the early nights of navigation. "The North Star can tell us a lot more than simply which way north is. It’s directly above the Earth’s spin axis, so if you’re at the North Pole, it’s directly overhead, and if you’re at the Equator, it's right on the horizon. But if you’re in between those two, you can measure the angle from the horizon to the North Star, and voilà!  That is your latitude." Skralyx, who writes often about science, joined the Daily Kos Community in 2005 and has published 408 stories, with 39 rescued.

Bisleybum celebrates “Tiny things” that grow in the shadow of bigger things. A trip to the University of Tennessee Forest Resources Research and Education Center is an opportunity to meander down trails that feature their "own ecological niche, whether an oak-hickory population or a rhododendron cove. These weren’t your everyday suburban trees. In just over the span of a year I learned to identify almost four dozen trees by bark or leaf. Bit by bit though, my eye would be caught, as the seasons changed, by other patches of green." These patches of green led the author to look for "the tiniest of plants, the ones you would easily overlook unless you are specifically looking for them." Bisleybum has been a member of the Community for 10 years. Of their 102 stories, 12 have been rescued.

Enoch Ro0t, a retired engineer who restores antique tools and often writes about their craftsmanship, explains the working and operation of an unusual brand of block plane in “Forgotten tools: Chaplin's patented planes, 1872-1914.” While sharing the beauty and utility of the tools, the author points to the diversity of tools available from many companies in the past, now narrowed due to corporate buyouts and mechanization. "I’ve been intrigued by the ingenious ways some of the smaller 19th-century plane manufacturers worked around the patents held by the major players of the day." Enoch Ro0t takes these unusual planes apart to display their utility as tools and their beauty as works of art, and compares their relative strengths as essential to a woodworker. The author has published 37 diaries. This is his 10th rescue.

Laurel in CA explains how Davis, California, is marshaling community resources and town/gown cooperation to combat the pandemic in “Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic: a campus-community partnership in Davis, CA.” She writes that thanks to the Healthy Davis Together project, "Our efforts have worked so far to keep Davis’ case count low relative to other nearby communities. Even our nursing homes and retirement communities have escaped major outbreaks, with only a handful of cases reported. The university is adding vaccine capability to its testing sites and mobile vans as fast as vaccines become available." Davis offers a model for other blended communities to pool resources and achieve better coverage for everyone. A retired medical school professor, Laurel in CA has authored 52 stories, with nine of them rescued.

“Faster than a public bus, more persistent than a carpooler, able to leap long traffic lines in a single light. Look! Out in the street—it’s a dog, it’s a lawn chair; no, it’s the Iron Tortoise! Yes, (a) strange cyclist from another consciousness, with powers of perseverance far beyond those of ordinary bikers; and who, disguised as a mild-mannered seismic analyst astride his trusty steed, fights a never-ending battle for road space, justice, and a less motorized way of life.” In this the first installment of an adventure, solo-biking 480 miles around the Nevada Test Site to raise support for the ban of nuclear testing, Iron Tortoise recounts the “Iron Tortoise origin story --- 1989 Nevada Peace Ride, Part 1.” A prolific writer since joining the Community in March 2020, Iron Tortoise has authored 301 stories.

Psychusa identifies an overlooked source of inspiration for Donald Trump's peculiar brand of fascist showmanship in “Trump, Republican lies, and wrestling bad guys.” A fan of professional wrestling in childhood, "as I grew up, like most of us, I realized that it was all a put on fantasy and violence in real life was no joke." Still, the author observes that many adults fall into the easy good/evil soap opera drama in which professional wrestling traffics, and further, that Trump is a master of the negative face of that soap opera. "Make no mistake about it, Trump and his Republican enablers hold a monopoly on organizing around the dark side of human emotions, and would make even (Vince) McMahon jealous. In that respect, it still compares in many ways to the appeal of wrestling." Psychusa has authored 43 stories for the community, this being the first rescue.

In a Spanish-language book club of Latinx readers, plus one Spaniard and a Kiwi, Senorjoel relates how two members brought into the discussion Black writers who changed their lives. Weaving together Amanda Gorman and Langston Hughes, "Song of Spain," and the impeachment trial, the author meditates on how some can be “Waving a flag and mouthing rot,” and asks us to remember "our compatriots who have stood for the greater good. People like policeman Eugene Goodman. Like John Lewis and Cori Bush. And our artists, writers, and poets." Senorjoel writes on a wide variety of topics and has published 52 stories since joining in 2016.

Manny Payne takes us down a personal Valentine’s Day path with humor and pathos in “A smile, a laugh, a chuckle on me as I go SEARCHING FOR VALENTINE'S DAY.” The vignettes range from cajoling a boyfriend who thought the event was politically incorrect into “getting swept away by capitalism just this once,” to delivering a card to another boyfriend only to stick it under the door of the wrong house and get irked with him for not responding. The days, over the years, have been bittersweet, but the accumulation of them and lessons learned along the way remind us that even secret attempts at thoughtfulness can have long-lasting impacts. Manny Payne has been a Kossack for just over a year, and this is their first story and first rescue.

In “45 words,” outsidethelines closely parses Donald Trump's tweet on Jan. 6 telling his supporters to go home. The analysis reveals Trump's mastery of rhetoric and consistent use of religious language to incite outrage and justify violence, ultimately explaining why these 45 words are a "message which straddles that day, Jan. 6, from the four to five years of Trump and right-wing messaging before, and for many years to come." Outsidethelines has published seven stories, with this being their first rescue.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE or using the link in Meteor Blades’ Night Owls open thread that publishes daily between 7-9PM Pacific time.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 6:30PM ET (3:30PM PT).

Community Spotlight: The Daily Kos Community reacts to history in real time

We haven't gotten the chance to celebrate the victories of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Georgia runoff elections that, against the expectations of most pundits, delivered the Senate into Democratic hands and demoted Mitch McConnell to head of the minority. That great good news was immediately swallowed by the attempted violent overthrow of Congress.

In the earliest aftermath of any emergency, it's almost impossible to make sense of exactly what happened. This attack is no exception—what appeared at first to be a disorganized mob has, in the space of one short week, been revealed to be a coordinated attack, with elements reaching inside law enforcement, the military, and possibly the Congress itself. All of those threads will have to be traced and the perpetrators held accountable, starting with the President and Inciter-in-Chief himself.

Like the world's worst Polaroid, the full picture will take time to appear.

Fortunately, we have that time. The coup failed, but the price was high. We are only now learning that our government came within a hair's breadth of murderous collapse. The aftermath has left a revanchist Republican party in near-collapse and its malevolent leader howling as, first Twitter, then party support, then business and grifting opportunities and finally—and most woundingly—his treasured golfing creds were stripped from his grasp.

As Besame noted last week, the Daily Kos Community is acutely responsive to the news cycle, and when a crisis shakes the country, the Community pivots to analysis and reflection. Of the 14 rescued stories published this week, 12 focus in some way on the attack or its fallout.

There will be time to take account of it all. And time for the other paradigm shift to sink in: Senators Warnock and Ossoff will change the Senate, not only because their presence gives the Democrats the majority, but because of who they are—the legislation they will shape, the leadership they will assume, the moral force they will bring to bear. A better day is coming for the nation because of their victories. We'll have the chance to celebrate, even in the midst of crisis, exactly how monumental their victories were. Because they will likely be sworn in about the same time as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the Biden administration will have the power to hold the planners and perpetrators of this attempted coup to full account, no matter where they are, or how powerful they think themselves to be.

And there'll be time to savor their victories. Let's not let that get lost.

Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover outstanding work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: ”Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.” You also can find a link in Meteor Blades’ “Night Owls” series, which publishes daily between 10-11PM EST.


Why Impeach Again Now by dratler observes that President Trump’s first impeachment didn’t catch the public’s interest because Ukraine is a distant country and obstruction of justice requires some knowledge of the law. The attack on Congress, on the other hand, is a visceral and visible attack that can’t be explained away. “As time goes on, we are attending places of worship less and less often. The seat of our government—especially the Capitol—is our common secular temple. You can see the awe and reverence in the faces of tourists who visit our capital every day.” The attack on the Capitol was an attack on all Americans, and it demands a commensurate response. Dratler joined the Daily Kos community nearly five years ago and has authored 85 stories, five of which have been rescued.

In The Coming Crisis, Treats writes, “I’ve never wanted to be wrong about anything more than now.” Treats examines rise of American authoritarianism and warns that its power won’t wane when Trump is gone from public life. “We face in this country right now a long-term, vicious, and ruthless insurgency that will inflict all the terror they can on this nation in order to destabilize it to the point where in the chaos they can take permanent power.” Although its success is not assured, the author warns that we cannot ignore or minimize the dangers this faction poses. A nine-year Kossack “(s)till searching for that tidbit of truth and knowledge to be found here and there,” Treats has authored 31 stories, eight of which have been rescued.

In If you want the wound to heal, take the knife out of it first, LimeyExpatDave likens the United States to a wounded patient in a trauma ward. The assault on the Capitol, he argues, is not the knife-in-the-back moment for democracy, but is instead a deepening of the wound the country sustained the first time we did not demand accountability for a lawless government. “If these actors, the politicians and their followers, who lied, cheated and violated the law  to stab American democracy in the back, are allowed to escape consequences then the wound cannot heal. America has swept these people under the rug so many times that the rug is now within three feet of the ceiling and you’re crawling around on it on your hands and knees, dodging the light fixture!” A prolific commenter, LimeyExpatDave is the author of 43 stories. This is the first time the nearly 13-year Kossack has been rescued. 

Driving through a deep-red farm country on the way to Walmart and Tractor Supply, where Trump support is deep and stalwart, first-time writer and new Kossack YoniL notes a lack of Trump signs and Trump flags, and a proliferation of clean rectangles on vehicles, visible signs “indicating where bumper stickers had been removed. ‘Blue Lives Matter’ stickers were still there, but next to them you could see the tell-tale signs of newly exposed adhesive.” Republicans Denying Trump Faster than Peter Denied Jesus (not equating the two) is a grassroots peek into a new reality in Trump Country. It appears that his ardent supporters are now ready to say “Trump who?”

In The first lies … the ones we tell ourselves, vjr7121 reviews the lies that the media and punditry have told to soften the threat that the Trump regime posed to the country, and argues for a full investigation, accounting, and justice, on behalf of the public and the rule of law. The founding lie, however, is the one we all accepted: American exceptionalism, and the attendant idea that “we owed our ‘home teams’ support for even bad decisions and poor policies … The sickness is not a foreign pathogen and is not based on party affiliation, it is rooted in beliefs (of our nation’s founding).” Vjr7121, a retired educator, sometime writer, and full-time liberal, has written 164 stories for Daily Kos, 23 of which have been rescued.

Whytewolf explores the limits of free speech in the United States in Now More Than Ever: Why We Need the Exercise of Free Expression. Noting that free speech limits are more clearly defined in other Western democracies than they are in the U.S., and that we are unlikely to impose legal restraints on free speech without amending the Constitution, whytewolf considers the ways that absolutists abridge the right to free speech, and how those abuses can be countered. This is whytewolf’s eighth story, and the fourth to be rescued.

In The Road to Hell, A Pagan in Arizona recounts growing up in an evangelical church that always mixed right-wing politics with faith, and how after leaving the church, the author “didn't think about it much. Until 2016, when I started hearing Pastor What's His Name's rhetoric being repeated very often and very loudly. As if someone had exhumed his ideas and repeatedly dosed them with meth.” In a region where Trump flags are still flying, A Pagan in Arizona wonders whether the evangelical neighbors will agree that it was God’s will that Biden was elected. A new Kossack, A Pagan in Arizona is a “Flaming Liberal hedgewitch and artist” who has authored eight stories. This is the first one rescued.

Woodworker brings a change of pace and a somewhat change of subject in The transformative power of the arts. Realizing that “the Republican party has been the sanctuary for some time now for those we excuse as ‘harmless crazed folks’ when they come to the dinner tables of the sane,” Woodworker offers the example of an uncle who found healing in art, and counsels that, “When we craft useful beauty, we are also crafting something within ourselves. The transformation that can take place in wood (or through work in other materials) is also a transformation of self.” A 12-year member of the Daily Kos Community, Woodworker has authored 26 stories, three of which have been rescued.

New member and first-time writer Europeananalyst argues that Trump supporters are not delusional, but are instead determined to hold power at all cost in MAGA Mob does NOT believe in Election Fraud, they’re dishonest traitors.  Drawing from two Italian political mottos to explain what is happening with Trump supporters, the author speaks from the perspective of someone who "learned at an early age, dealing with the communists in my home country, that is pointless to argue with dishonest people." 

In the first true break of subject this week, Brecht captures that lightning-in-a-jar moment in writing in Write your own Bookchat in 2021. While encouraging other Kossacks to write about the books they love in the long-running series Bookchat series, he revisits his first crafted and polished story and its effect on him: “Writing offered me a physical toolkit to test and shape my ideas into more complex stories. A fine novel can be a grand loom, to lay out subtle and interwoven truths, in a rich tapestry of life,” and asks others to do the same. A member of the Daily Kos Community since 2005, Brecht has written 95 stories, 45 of which have been rescued. He resides in Los Angeles with extensive literature and music libraries.

In The House Members Who Voted in 3 Presidential Impeachments, billyleeblack16 takes a dive into impeachment history and finds that “nine House Republicans who voted to both impeach Bill Clinton over a blowjob ... voted against impeaching Donald Trump over inciting an armed insurrection against Congress,” to the astonishment of few indeed. One GOP congressman back in the day—Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan—voted to impeach Clinton, passed on Trump the first time, but voted to impeach the second time, ensuring Upton will be a piece of presidential trivia someday, as the only congressperson to vote to impeach two different presidents. Billyleeblack16, who is neither Billy, nor Lee, nor Black—nor 16 —has written 17 stories, four of which have been rescued.

Taking the aphorism “We are all the hero in the movie of our life” as a starting point, new CCommunity member theghostofjohndewey connects Frodo, Luke Skywalker, and the archetypal QAnon conspiracist under the umbrella of Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces. The "hero’s journey" is a three-part process that repeats in both modern stories and ancient myths. Theghostofjohndewey explains how the structure of Departure, Initiation and Return act in the monomyth of a QAnon conspiracist. It's not about what is real, but what that person believes is real. Q and The Hero’s Journey (A Shared Delusion) is the author’s fourth story and first rescue.

JenMerrill and her 21-year-old son Lucas rented a hotel and a car, and beat the pavement in Georgia for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, door-knocking and contacting voters face to face. What My Son and I Discovered When We Dipped Our Feet into Georgia Politics recounts their adventures talking to voters in Greene County, where they discovered the power of meeting voters where they live. In the end, they “decided we loved the African Americans of Greene County — the white people we encountered, not so much.” On Election Day, Lucas served as a poll watcher—the only Democratic poll watcher in a sea of Republicans who “almost managed to keep him out” but, in a nail-biter, didn’t. This is proud mom JenMerrill’s second story and first rescue.

Joe Biden will not be inaugurated Jan. 20 announces that, thanks to 100,000,000 write-in votes, the author comeaug will be president instead, and expects to hold office for about three weeks. If you hadn’t heard about the real election because the corporate media is in the bag for Biden and Harris. Extolling the benefits of being an outsider, comeaug promises “to use the Trump method to MAGA. First, I will make America really crappy, and then it will be easy to bring it back (I think).” Comeaug has authored 11 stories with this first-rate parody being the first rescue.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by Community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE or using the link in Meteor Blades’ Night Owls open thread that publishes daily between 7-9PM Pacific time.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 6:30PM ET (3:30PM PT).