Long long ago, when we were all much younger and had better hair, Daily Kos ended the staff-written Morning Open Thread. They were Greatly Missed, leading to a Lamentation upon the Land of Kos. Volunteers stepped up, and the feature continued in fits and starts. Then, on a bright morning in June 2011, Kossacks JaxDem and eeff took it upon themselves to rectify the lack, and so began the daily publication of the Morning Open Thread (MOT), which to this day persists. At first, as admin P Carey noted, “it was sort of catch-as-catch-can post and clearly reflected each author’s style and interests and concerns. Many times, it was just an intro and an open thread below.” Joy of Fishes took the reins, recruited editors, standardized the format and, despite having stepped back, still acts as the group’s spiritual leader, according to P Carey.
“Especially during this ongoing pandemic, Morning Open Thread has been an island of sanity and mutual support for us regulars,” said officebss, “but we are also very welcoming when people stop by to check us out.” The group’s daily header invites “thoughtful, respectful dialogue in an open forum.” The morning vibe has made MOT one of the most popular and enduring groups on Daily Kos; it’s built for the long haul and, after many years of continuous publication, it’s still going strong.
“I have shared both the worst of my life, and the best, on Morning Open Thread,” said Otteray Scribe. “One of the most attractive things about MOT is how mutually supportive everyone is. Some of the funniest writing on DKos takes place in MOT. There have been a number of instances when entire comment threads ended up in Top Comments, because they were as funny as anything one might find in a good comedy routine.” Wit, kindness and empathy are considered appropriate accompaniments for breakfast and coffee.
Each of the writers brings their own special sauce to the mix, but as P Carey notes, all of them “specifically attempt to be welcoming and non-political. We know that the comments sections of most posts can be intimidating and even hostile—certainly intellectually challenging—so we try to make sure that ideas are given respect and that kindness and gentleness rules. We have fun conversations, bad and even ribald jokes, and spirited discussions about a number of topics.”
Officebss uses her Monday slot for poetry. “Too many people had unfortunate experiences with poetry in school, and they think they hate it,” she said. “So I ask, ‘Do you know all the words to your favorite song?’ Most people do, so they don’t really hate poetry. After all, Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize in Literature for his words, because song lyrics are just one of the many forms of poetry.”
“What attracted me to MOT in the beginning was the music,” sandbear75 said. “But I soon realized the true magic of MOT is the diversity. I was always being treated to something new or something that I really loved. From Fela Kuti or Charlie Mingus to Ralph Stanley or The Cure, I look forward to each morning. Lurid visual descriptions from Vermont to double spaced opossum poems from west Texas. Internal musings from the Louisiana coast to punk rock verbal sleight of hand in Atlanta. Portland, Oregon, hilarity to Mississippi moral guidance. We have come together and formed closer bonds than anything I have experienced on the internet. Or maybe it’s just the lack of coffee so early in the morning.”
“We have fun,” sandbear75 adds. “We enjoy seeing past the walls that separate us and find common ground. We never know how we are connected until we start following our Morning Open Threads.” And they’re always looking for new MOT-leys, as the regulars call themselves. All of the regular writers started as drop-in commenters who stuck around.
The place grows on you, as they say.
NINE STORIES FROM 1 PM PDT SEPT. 17 TO 1 PM PDT SEPT. 24, 2021
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“Patriotism” is a loaded term in a United States awash in flag paraphernalia. The “patriotism” displayed by the flag-fabric bikini or flag-festooned t-shirt and hat makes BoiseBlue furious. Patriotism isn’t about waving (or wearing) a symbol, it’s about contributing to the well being of your country. “Because patriotism isn’t about the flag. Patriotism is that book of ration coupons that my great-grandma didn’t use just because she could. Patriotism was the coupons she never cashed in. Patriotism was my Grandpa signing up for the Army Air Force (that was a thing) as soon as he turned 18. It was his younger brother lying about his age to get the same role and becoming a fucking paratrooper.”
First-time writer Sandijd54 explains both the process and rationale involved in working polls in the Golden State. A poll working veteran after a decade of elections—moving from clerk to poll inspector, and being entrusted with the exacting and essential work of democracy—this is the first year the author felt hostility at the polls. “Voting should have an atmosphere of comfort and not confrontation,” they write, explaining that the new Texas voting laws are dangerous, because they will put partisans in too close proximity to voters.
Anthony Quinn’s role-of-a-lifetime as Alexis Zorba is really a bit part in a different film but, according to rougy77, Quinn is the best reason to watch the film: “These days, Zorba’s character resembles what is often called the ‘manic pixie dream girl.’ He has a lust for life that the central protagonist lacks, and his presence alone adds zest to every scene. He may not amount to much when you add it all up, but by God he knows how to live!”
Boofdah poignantly describes spending a lifetime trying to fit in, adapting to different communities before receiving an Asperger’s diagnosis and building a successful marriage, family, and life. She worries about what will happen if authoritarianism takes over our government, and autocrats get to decide who is worthy of living freely and who isn’t. She doesn’t worry about her own reaction, though: “I will not be wanting to fit in—I will fight back.”
Baal still contemplates the Democrats’ success in Georgia and wonders why Democrats in Texas, with its strong progressive presence, haven’t been able to break the Republican grip on power as they’ve done in Georgia. The reason, they suggest, may be because Texas is simply too big, and its power centers too dispersed for a single politician like Beto O’Rourke or an organizer like Stacey Abrams to pull the entire population together. “The fact is, people in Houston, for example, don’t know very much about rising progressive political stars in these other cities. Even people like Royce West, who has been in the Texas legislature forever, and who comes from Dallas, are not really well known statewide.” In the comments, Texans (who know the state best) serve as the expert witnesses.
LL Brown says that sheep get a bad rap. “They are so intelligent they have figured out to hide it from the average human, especially the unvaxxed ones.” LL Brown tells us almost everything we need to know about sheep but were too busy to ask, particularly when it comes to their intelligence: Sheep recognize other sheep, they recognize human faces, and they know how to self-medicate. Their herd mentality isn’t dumb–it’s a defense mechanism. In fact, sheep are far smarter than the average southern Republican governor.
Elwood Dowd walks through the steps outlined in John Eastman’s six-point recipe for overthrowing a legitimate election, a story that has been widely ignored by mainstream media. The scheme, presented to Donald Trump before the Jan. 6 Congressional vote certification, required Vice President Mike Pence to disallow Electoral College votes from seven states. “Pence would then call upon the House of Representatives to elect the president according to the 12th and refining amendments to the Constitution. There is near-universal agreement, from Lawrence Tribe to Dan Quayle, that Pence did not have the authority to reject the state vote counts. But who was going to stop him?” Given that so many other backstops of democracy failed during the Trump administration, had Pence gone along with the plot, the Jan. 6 insurrection might indeed have been worse.
Sollace equates the current Republican loyalty practices of spouting misinformation, outright falsehoods and other stupidity with the “Shibboleth” story from the Book of Judges in the Tanakh, or the Old Testament. The Gileadites, who were at risk of being infiltrated by members of the tribe of Ephraimites, instituted a password, “shibboleth,” which the Ephraimites mispronounced, exposing themselves. Since then, to pass a “Shibboleth” test is to say something “correctly” as a passcode into a group. “We humans have always prioritized social cohesion over truth-seeking. The GOP faced such a choice not that long ago.” Today, stupidity, bad faith, and misinformation are Republican shibboleths that weed out purported RINOs and people who prize truth over group identity.
JKam83 chronicles finding and organizing with like-minded parents after their school board voted to apply a “mask-optional” policy to the public schools in their small town. The parents’ group discovered just how many overtly political and partisan decisions were being made in an allegedly nonpartisan, apolitical school board. “The reality here is that there is an abundance of questions regarding the board’s decisions on masking that cannot be answered truthfully because their ‘non-partisan’ decisions are, in fact, based on politics.” The partisanship may have begun with a masking policy, but it touches every corner of the school building and its curriculum; the author’s experience serves as a clarion call for parents to investigate their school board’s priorities before they trust in anodyne reassurances.
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An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).
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