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: This week’s stories remind us why Daily Kos is more than a political website

Daily Kos publishes about a thousand stories each week, many written by Community members like you and me. It’s easy for stellar stories to get lost in that volume, which is why the Rescue Rangers assembled 14 years ago—to elevate good writing that deserves a bigger audience. The Rangers are a team of volunteers who read every single story that gets published. If you post a story, know that at least two sets of eyes will review it.

With the shift to the new front page, rescued stories are a bit trickier to locate, so we’ve created this roundup. You can also see the list of our stories as they are rescued day by day. Bésame’s introduction to this series was published last Saturday; it contains some history, some description of rescue criteria, and a lot of great conversation in the comments.

This week’s collection covers all rescues from Sept. 18 at 7PM ET through 7PM Sept. 25. These stories offer a broad range of topics, including polling, health care, and citizen action, along with some culture. That breadth is a unique strength of the Daily Kos Community.

Teachers, COVID-19 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 by LeftOfYou, a lawyer with decades of experience with the ADA, who shares insights into the complex issue of "reasonable accommodation.” Teaching in-person classes places people with certain health conditions at higher risk amid the pandemic, but the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides them with significant legal rights. 

La Mesilla by Desert Scientist explores the author's favorite small town in New Mexico. He writes: "My well over 50 years along the border I think qualifies me to be a certified desert rat. Unlike many Southwestern desert towns, which often look like they died somewhere around 1950 and are quietly melting into the ground, Mesilla was a fascinating place to visit." Details of the town's history and people make this a fascinating story to read.

Movie Review: Scream (1996) And Its Antecedents by disinterested spectator is a trip through the nuances of character development in horror movie remakes and sequels, Warning: It is an amazing collection of spoilers that analyzes the interactions of the people who populate movies in this genre. We get snippets from different movies, including Invasions of the Body Snatchers, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and An American Werewolf in London as we journey through what characters do and know about themselves and the world—and how that impacts some characters’ fates.

Dawn Chorus: One yard, two worlds (worlds apart in 100 feet) by The Lipsticked Pig is a cheerful exploration of the two different worlds on opposite sides of the author’s mountain home. Photos and words illustrate how the wildlife in the backyard is different from the wildlife in the front, and the author asks “why.” Is it the feeders? Is it the plants?

"Doubt" and "A Wilderness of Error" by GrafZeppelin127 examines the 1970 story of Jeffrey MacDonald, a brutal murderer, through the ideas presented in the play/film Doubt. Can we ever really know what happened? Or is this story so embedded in our collective consciences that none of us can escape our own preconceived opinions?

Tzadik by guavaboy is a personal story inspired by reading a tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsberg that called her a tzadik—a Hebrew word for “a righteous person.” The author recalls an Israeli song which takes on new meaning, now that he understands a tzadik as RBG.

Mozilla Foundation takes a look at political ads on streaming platforms by Alonso Del Arte ponders the dilemma of targeted advertising. If you thought cutting the cable cord and paying to stream content would protect you from unwanted political advertising, think again. Your data could be used, according to the Mozilla Foundation, to target you for particular ads, including deceptive political promotions, on streaming platforms … with virtually no transparency.  

Let’s Blow Apart This Right Wing Talking Point Right Now by Bring the Lions is a rant that indeed does blow up whatever shred of logic underpins Sen. Mitch McConnell's position that the Senate had the right to deny a vote on President Obama’s SCOTUS candidate. The author considers how this kind of authority can extend into even more ludicrous positions.

The Beat Goes On by Jacks Grandpa considers the long-term effect of Supreme Court decisions in a historical context, such as the Dred Scott decision. Public opinion later changed legal decisions like that one, and that may happen again, even with a new hardline conservative Court.

A Democratic Party strategic plan for the next half-century by vjr7121 notes that the GOP race to replace RBG is not a surprise. The big task of progressives going forward, the author argues, must be to strengthen government institutions. Taking back the Senate is key, for several specific reasons.

Using the Dornsife Tracker to Demonstrate how Confidence Intervals Work by Denver11 gets into the details of how the USC Dornsife tracking poll for the 2020 election creates a more realistic view of public opinion than any single poll on a single day. The author illustrates this by “creating a real life, real time demonstration of how ‘margin of error’ or ‘confidence interval’ works in real life.” 

Lest we forget, here’s a partial list of Republicans endorsing Biden or who won’t vote for Trump… by O C Patriot delivers a startlingly long list of GOP defectors. Associated info, such as their government role and when they held it, adds weight and context to their disapproval of Trump.

Diary of a Phonebanker by iLuvReading is a personal essay on how phone banking has changed during the pandemic. The author explores their own questions about the effort, including “Why would I call people I’ve never met, knowing that they might say nasty things to me?  Why would I reach out to voters in states that I’ve never visited?  And why would I call for candidates who might not win?”

Return to the Partisan Divide Cafe by Grey Panther offers an uplifting piece of original prose that begins by focusing on the first sip of a good morning coffee, and ends with this pearl: "Living in the moment of a good thing, and not losing it to fret is a great start to any morning."

Isabel Wilkerson Takes a Deeper Look by Toddlerbob gives a personal dive into Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wilkerson’s analysis of how caste impacts our society in her newest book Caste, the Origins of Our Discontents. He makes connections to other books and media, while highlighting how well Wilkerson provided “lots of examples that the thinker can distill into concepts.”

Counting the Cost by ruleoflaw, who is scheduled for a kidney transplant soon, says "I am one of the fortunate ones. I get health insurance through my job and my employers have been very supportive and understanding … I am presently drawing short-term disability (paid) through them. All this is good news, but before I go under the knife, I’d like to show you the dirty underside of our health care system." He then delineates what his treatments cost and likely why his insurer quickly approved his transplant.

SCOTUS, Civ 4, and Spy Spam by Risen Tree considers what congressional Democrats can do to stop the confirmation of a third Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice. Adapting what he has learned from a game he calls "spy spam," the author suggests different stalling tactics. For example, the House can impeach Trump "over and over and over again" and for good measure, impeach others like AG Bill Barr and the postmaster general. The opposite tactic is needed in the Senate, where the transition of the articles of impeachment should be stalled.

Moody’s Analytics: A Democratic election sweep would be best for the economy by voidstuff discusses a new economic analysis showing "Democratic presidents outperform Republican presidents by every economic measure ... the economy always does better under Democrats because Democrats invest, Republicans cut … Obama’s worst year was better than Trump’s best year. “

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.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1PM ET (10AM PT).