On Wednesday, Jan. 27, our own Mark Sumner summed it up.
Is this what good feels like?
This week’s Rescue roundup reflects our shifting time, with some of our writers grappling with current events while others turn to celebrate the little pleasures that make life in lockdown not just bearable, but downright pleasant. Here are our picks for the week.
23 RESCUED STORIES FROM 4P.M. EST FRIDAY JAN. 22 TO 4P.M. FRIDAY JAN. 29, 2021
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. This week’s 23 rescues are grouped by general topic, to make them easier to find.
AAAMCWB (An Average, American Middle Class White Boy) graphically juxtaposes the two visions of America from Jan. 6 and Jan. 20 in Bruised. Battered. Beautiful. “Fourteen days in America. The scene at the U.S. Capitol 14 days prior was vastly different from the scene at that same location on Wednesday. One reflected an America consumed with rage, a country being ripped apart at the seams, rupturing with hatred. The other, an America filled with hope, a land of inspiration, the people united in its promise. Yet somehow, both of those images are real.” Watching the inauguration ceremonies on the 20th, AAAMCWB hears echoes of the chants on the 6th, and resolves “never again.” AAAMCWB has been a Kossack for six months. This is his first rescue.
In 21st century schizoid man, dsooley traces the political history of Trumpism from its roots in racism, and observes that, “After live-streaming themselves committing sedition, [Trump’s adherents] learned why grandma and grandpa wore hoods.” Republicanism has evolved through the phenomenon of “fusionism,” which unites many disparate causes under one big grievance umbrella. Despite its ugliness, however, Republicanism is headed for a fracturing of its coalition. “Politics, as messy and corrupt as it is, is about one thing: Math. It should not be surprising that a party that has prided itself on anti-intellectualism, anti-science and anti-reason would also be really, really bad at math.” Dsooley has authored 28 stories, this being their first rescue.
TheCriticalMind discusses the double standard the Republican Party has been using in its call for “Unity” in Jesse Watters and the GOP’s ‘unity’ cynicism: ‘Joe Biden is trying to refight the Civil War.’ Noting that reconciliation is worthless without accountability, TheCriticalMind notes that conservative media’s spin about Democratic victories is more than a little disingenuous, taking “Jesse Watters, Fox News zealot and blunt knife” as an example; Watters listened to Joe Biden’s inaugural speech and, instead of hearing a call for national unity, complained that Biden was issuing a call for a second Civil War. Really. TheCriticalMind, whose biographical statement reads, “The truth is the truth. It doesn’t care what you think it is,” dismisses right-wing obfuscation and messaging and calls for a full accounting of Republican misdeeds before reconciliation is possible. TheCriticalMind has authored 261 stories on Daily Kos.
This is only a test reminds us of the power of framing and the consistent use of terminology in “Relief,” not “stimulus,” and so on. Frank Luntz is not a genius, the author says, but the Republicans put real thought into the words they use. Although we shouldn’t copy them, “we can at least discuss wordings (that) are more effective at communicating our goals and policies. Some word choices are better than others at cutting through the fog of lies.” Plain English, not “SAT words,” are more effective in exposing craven Republican hypocrisy. A Kossack for 11 years, this is only a test has written 36 stories, with seven rescues.
In The best thing I’ve seen or heard this week, NWTerriD praises President Biden and the Democrats for message discipline. While the author is “dumbfounded by how good Jen Psaki is at her job,” their enthusiasm centers on Biden’s “re-labeling of the “COVID-19 relief package” as the “American Rescue Plan … It tells me that, for the first time in my adult life, Democrats are finally showing some interest in, and competence at, branding.” NWTerriD joined in 2008 and has written 197 stories.
Smjhunt continues the theme of consistent message discipline in What we have here is a failure to communicate. Noting that Republicans are masters at selling packaged “truth,” even when it’s untrue, the author calls upon Democrats to adopt similar strategies especially since, without reinforcement, the public won’t understand the benefits of any given legislation. In response to, for example, the widespread charge that cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline will kill jobs, “all those activists and environmentalists who fought so hard for this should have had Biden’s back. They should have had a press conference pointing out the benefits of cancelling this project and the positive impact it can have on climate change and the environment. The Biden administration should have made sure that these people spoke out and that their comments were circulated to the same media and social networks. They should also have a team of respected people ready to appear on the news channels (including Fox) ready to explain the reasoning and defend the action.” It’s not enough to hope people will figure it out; we have to be our own best messengers. Smjhunt has authored 33 stories in five years, this being the first rescue.
New Kossack Brondum writes In praise of ‘election irregularities.’ In forming any new policy, part of the planning must involve considering how the policy will be abused. Our justice system is ideally predicated on the preference that 10 guilty people escape justice than that one innocent person is unjustly convicted. Brondum applies that ethic to the question of voting rights, and posits that “The goal of all election laws should be to capture the maximum number of eligible votes,” and “if the outcome of a [restrictive voting] law is to prohibit more eligible votes than it does fraudulent votes, it is self-evidently a bad policy.” Therefore, expanding the franchise, even if it yields a slight increase in “election irregularities,” is a good thing. In fact, Brondum writes, “if the new Congress does its job, and passes meaningful election reform, I sincerely hope that the 2022 election will see a small uptick in election irregularities and even a small uptick in actual election fraud, accompanied by a significant increase in the participation of eligible voters.” The gain in eligible voters’ participation, and their direct involvement in democracy, is more than worth a slight increase in screwed-up ballots. Brondum has written two stories for Daily Kos; this is the first one rescued.
Before 1970, the filibuster was a rarely-used legislative delaying maneuver that was inconvenient for both parties, but in 1970, a rules change rendered a costly form of disagreement into a tool for obstruction. Publicolalocke advises Don’t eliminate the filibuster: Fix it with this simple rule change. In addition to eliminating blue slip holds for judges, two track legislation, and the theoretical filibuster, while taking other measures to preserve minority rights, we can strengthen democracy’s guardrails and encourage bipartisanship. Without comity, “the filibuster has become a weapon that the minority party can use without consequence to kill bills and nominations that have the support, not just of the majority party, but of the majority of the country.” This is publicolalocke’s first rescue out of seven stories.
AceDeuceLady takes a page from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats to encourage President Biden to educate the country about the climate crisis in A plea to President Biden: Address the nation on climate change. Playing to Biden’s strengths as a plain speaker, the author suggests a few important topics that are vital to climate mitigation, saying “the public needs to be addressed directly, in layman’s terms, explaining the science, the consequences, and the urgency of global warming.” AceDeuceLady has been a Kossack for 15 years and written 17 stories, this being their first rescue.
Disinterested spectator uses the review of a Hitchcock film as a springboard to talk about earlier generations and their popular taboos about widows in Movie review: Shadow of a Doubt (1943), a film about serial killer Charles Oakley and his niece’s incestuous obsessions about him. Drawing from sources that range from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind to the Marx Brothers’ Horsefeathers, the author unpacks a history of social condemnation of women for the dual crime of both outliving their spouses and possessing (now unlicensed) sexual experience. “In 1942, Alfred Hitchcock made the movie Saboteur, in which good people appear to be good, and evil people appear to be evil. Perhaps it was in reaction to the simplistic casting of that movie that he decided to make Shadow of a Doubt the next year, in which appearances, instead of being dependable, turn out to be deceptive.” Disinterested spectator often reviews old films with an eye toward their inherent social criticism. He has posted 286 stories, 45 of which have been rescued.
Mindful of the perils of spiritual life today, a politically rigid and regressive right-wing Evangelicalism on one side and a left focused on good works above all else, MattC46 reviews the life of writer and monk Thomas Merton, in Remembering Thomas Merton. Merton’s life’s work fused social justice with contemplation, Eastern philosophy with Christian religion, and work with study to achieve a life lived in balance: “Merton understood that the contemplative cannot just hide out in meditation but must at times look outward, lest they use meditation as a tool of avoidance. He also understood that the activist must at times be still and look inward, lest they burn out, give in to hatred or despair, or perhaps worst of all, allow their ego to take the action rather than their selfless love. Merton’s life is a case study in searching for the sweet spot between raising his voice and keeping his silence, the balance point between action and being.” MattC46 has authored 18 stories. “Remembering Thomas Merton” is his first rescue.
In There is something wrong with this photo—and we still have time to fix it, ARodinFan points readers to a problem “that can’t be fixed with Photoshop”: Five photographs of prominent Black figures, all recognizable, but all the luminaries are with one person who most readers can’t name: Fred D. Gray, who “never sought the limelight, but the lack of public awareness and recognition for his vast contributions to the civil rights movement needs to change.” Fred D. Gray, lawyer, a brilliant and tireless advocate and Civil Rights hero, who worked with Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, Rep. John Lewis, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., took the gains activists made in the streets and protected them in the courtroom. ARodinFan, author of 223 stories, 11 of them rescued, in an anthropologist who shares an alma mater with Gray: Case Western Reserve University.
Riffing on a PBS regional special about the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, AMC258 celebrates Hank Aaron’s year in the Eau Claire Bears, the farm team for the Milwaukee Braves. Aaron developed into a major leaguer during his year with the Bears, and Eau Claire, despite segregation and racism, embraced him as a team member. “In a way you could argue that Eau Claire played a positive support role. (M)ost of us encounter too much negativity around us. The latter are dream-killers and who knows how many lives have been ruined by such negativity? It’s just so nice to hear and read about instances where a person, or people, or even an entire region, play a positive role in someone’s life. All the more so when it’s an early period of influence in that person’s life. And even all the more so when it’s someone who went on to achieve and be all that a man like Henry Aaron was and was able to accomplish in his life.” Thank you, Eau Claire (Hank Aaron and the Bears) is the first rescue of AMC258’s seven stories.
Taking inspiration from Carrie Newcomer and the memory of tables laden with food at the family reunions of his youth, wayneonly reminds us in There’s room at the table for everyone that America’s plenty is plenty for all, if only we will share it. “America is a nation blessed with abundant resources, most important is the talent of its people. Everybody has something to bring to the table. But you see, the table has to be for everybody, and everybody needs to bring something. And everybody needs to share. There can be no conviviality if some want to bring nothing, or some want to take what others bring without allowing those who bring something to have any.” The author calls for a reunion of Americans. Mindful that the white supremacists, racists, and fascists are in the minority, he tells us to spread Joe and Kamala’s message: America is for everyone. A Kossack of seven years and an infrequent writer, this is wayneonly’s first rescue.
Librarian, artist, atheist, gardener and Democrat Scribal uses a review of China Mieville’s dystopian novel to discuss the metaphor of unseeing in Review of China Mieville’s The City and the City. In the novel, two cities occupy the same physical space, with inhabitants of each required by law and custom to ignore, or un-see, the other. The author observes that we do this every day. “As an example, I’ll use the unhoused (people who) live on the edges of the business district near my house. I make a choice. I can look to see if the tent by the on-ramp survived the weekend, or I can let my eyes glaze over, listen to the radio, and focus on my needs for the day.” Often, science fiction and fantasy operate by metaphor to discuss current real-world dilemmas, but rarely is the comparison so direct. A new Kossack, this is Scribal’s second story and first rescue.
Robert W Holcomb reveals the callousness of both the Tennessee legislature and too many grocery shoppers in Grocery workers of Tennessee are at the bottom of the vaccine waiting list. Classified as Category 3 in line for vaccination, grocery workers are still considered essential workers, even as vaccines remain out of their reach. While most shoppers are courteous, the ones who aren’t are the memorable ones: “I can point to a customer a couple of months ago who accosted me over my store being out of the particular flavor of LaCroix she wanted. Her exact words were ‘Don’t you know I risked my life just coming to your store!’ Then there are the ones who treat you like furniture when they are reaching for a can of peas, while you are stocking peas, and lean right in and over you. There is no distancing in a grocery store.” No surprise when grocery workers are infected. Democratic activists are working to change the Republican status quo, here and elsewhere. This is Robert W Holcomb’s first story for Daily Kos, and his first rescue.
COVID-19 long-hauler bilboteach has been writing a series about the pressures the pandemic has put on the public school system. Under pressure: School boards and admin during the year From HELL (Part 6), about the multi-faceted vise that school boards and administrators find themselves in. Between pressures to open and simultaneously close, pay for all the additional costs that COVID-19 has imposed upon school districts, and how to fund the shortfalls, mask non-compliance from students and their parents (“Expect a group of parents to be enraged no matter WHAT you rule. It is a no-win situation”), layers upon layers of standardized tests to be administered, the loss of students and their attendant funding when parents keep their children home, and finally, a critical shortage of staff and teachers, without significant help, schools are truly in a no-win situation. Compounding the dilemma, bilboteach writes, “Do (you) know that most school board members and even some superintendents do NOT have much of an education background? This exacerbates the difficulties of making sound educational decisions this year. Almost NONE of them are epidemiologists, so making sound scientific decisions on what saves lives is difficult. What they are is the lowest rung of the vast federalist political ladder, and they are most open to local pressure and liability based upon circumstances.” The author promises two more installments to this series. Bilboteach, a Kossack of two months, has authored 13 stories. This is the fourth one rescued.
Long-time Kossack MoDem describes an efficient process and positive experience in Getting my first vaccine shot. Signing up and navigating the notification process, however, was entirely different, and very opaque. MoDem also notes the overwhelmingly white number of people there for their first shots and examines the disparity in equity, not only in physical access but virtual access. “I’m well aware of my privilege. It is not just that I’m white and live in a big city, but I can afford to have access to very reliable internet access and a very reliable computer. Just as importantly, I am computer literate enough … to jump through all the hoops to get my forgotten sign-in name, password, and navigate to the right location to make an appointment.” MoDem hopes with more access to vaccines, those without her advantages will also be immunized soon. MoDem has published 161 stories in 13 years.
Since we’re in quarantine and hoping to inspire others to write about their travels, foresterbob starts a series about his travels, beginning with A Forester’s Adventures in Chile, Part 1, his journey to Tierra del Fuego. “Packing for the trip was more involved than an ordinary vacation would be. Not only would I be away from home for two months, I would stay in remote places with unpredictable weather. And I needed all of my forestry equipment.” Of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure if things didn’t go wrong, even from the start. A popular contributor to Daily Kos, Foresterbob is a professional forester who often retells his adventures wandering the country with his spectacular cat, Noble Fur.
Enoch Ro0t tackles the age-old question “what is the purpose of art?” and finds beauty in utility, specifically in old hand tools in Can tools be works of art? The author has taken readers through a number of wood plane restorations, the latest being a century-old infill plane, “so called because the metal body is ‘infilled’ with wood. Infills are regarded by many as some of the most beautiful hand tools ever made. Infill planes were mainly produced in the U.K. from the mid-1800s until shortly after WWII.” A quick tour of other hand planes, or “artwork disguised as tools,” completes an essay that celebrates simplicity, utility, and satisfaction with a job well done. A retired engineer, Enoch Ro0t has written 36 diaries, 20 of which have been about tool restoration. This is his ninth rescued story.
Repurposing materials is the soul of conservation. In Old to new III, MDGluon16 takes us step-by-step through the process of rebuilding a wood rack out of some scrap lumber and basic woodworking processes, turning leftovers into something beautiful and useful. The author has published 16 diaries, with 2 rescued.
In It’s not drinking…It’s brunch! I’m feeling shellfish… former chef Abinold celebrates the tradition of brunch in a jaunty tour of Eggs Benedict. Even though a “Bene” is traditional overpriced restaurant fare, in our pandemic-driven reality, Eggs Benedict is not hard to make. To prove it, Abinold walks us through variations and options, settling on a step-by-step recipe for Crabcake Eggs Benedict and Im-PeachMint Mojitos. “All the world is not made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. A nice portion of the world is made of eggs-n-things on toast with sauce. It’s what God made on the eighth day to reward herself for all her hard work.” Abinold has authored 18 stories, with three rescues.
The Goose with a thousand names is a neighborhood bully, and an expert extortionist of bread crumbs. “But she’d (hang) with a posse of mallards. They’d often swim behind her in tight formation, like ducklings. She was the lone, abandoned Greylag goose on the Lake; sort of a Lost in Space vibe.” When she got into a jam, though, tangled in a fishing line, the whole community, human and avian, turned out to help. That’s when they learned that everyone had named her something different. The Daily Bucket is part of the Backyard Science community, and features carefully observed natural phenomena from members like 6412093 (RedwoodMan to his fans). Of his almost 450 stories, 75 have been rescued.
Finally, the Rescue Rangers are in shock and mourning for the loss of our team member, Kitsap River. River was a longtime ranger and a friend to us all. We will miss her greatly, and will miss her workroom stories about her pets and her beloved spouse, Charles. Her departure leaves a void—in Rescue, in Daily Kos, and in the world.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
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).