When the news dropped this week about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. suing Daily Kos to learn the identity of a Community member, site founder Markos “kos” Moulitsas’ fiery attempt to draw the attack onto himself triggered a memory: Haven’t I seen this before?
After tracking down that elusive memory in the bowels of the site’s search system, I realized that two events illustrate how much Daily Kos has grown in authority and presence—and how surreal and unhinged our culture has become.
My search success dumped me into the “hate mail-a-palooza” series kos initiated in 2010, featuring the best of the worst messages he received each week. In 2013, he officially ended the series because the quality of hate mail had shriveled, but some spectacular specimens led him to rekindle it in 2014. One of those 2014 messages was about “a Fraudulent, Defaming, and Slanderous listing.” It warned kos “if this listing is Not removed we will be taking ALL action available to us. If you continue to be evasive I assure you I WILL FIND YOU!!”
It all started with a Community story about Manny Favela, whose company sells exactly one kind of lamp. The crux of the issue was one of these lamps, which Community member Charles CurtisStanley had ordered online and couldn’t assemble … because it was defective. Frustrated by his attempts to resolve the complaint directly with Favela, he wrote a Daily Kos story about his outrageous interactions with the company’s owner who, among other flamboyant invectives, declared, “It is clear you do NOT possess the Mental Fortitude nor the Mechanical Aptitude to assemble this Lamp.” Favela contacted kos and insisted the story, which he called a “listing,” was “unfounded,” and that “much of the information has been deliberately altered and or eliminated in an attempt to support this individual’s self-serving agenda.”
kos relished the opportunity to engage in debate with the Flagrant Capitalizer Favela and responded to the attempted takedown by laying out legal facts that dismissed the viability of each of Favela’s fraud, defamation, and slander threats. Six minutes later, Favela replied: “OK, I got it! The truth is NOT provided, and it is NOT my place to prove anything to you! So, we will proceed and I assure you the day will come when you are standing in front of me! We’ll see then if you assert your self as you have in an e-mail. I WILL SEE YOU SOON!”
kos never mentioned this incident again and, as far as I know, has yet to “stand before” Favela.
The “hate mail-a-palooza” series ended because kos decided it was no longer amusing, but I’m now nostalgic for that more innocent, mellow era when rabid Republicans scrawled messages to kos, screamed “DEMONAZI TRAITORS” as if it were the harshest insult possible, and claimed Barack Obama used silver nitrate and “unmarked military planes” to cause Hurricane Sandy in order to win reelection.
Six years ago it was a letter from Manny Favela in Chino, California, raging about a story that exposed the difficulty faced by a customer trying to return a defective torchiere lamp. This week, it’s a legal suit from someone kos described as an “anti-masker and anti-sound health policy scion of the famous (Kennedy) family.” The filing claims defamation and demands the identity of DowneastDem, who reported on Kennedy’s participation at an anti-mask rally in Berlin—alongside neo-Nazis with Reich flags.
Back then, Democrats were called “Nazis” and “commies” by people who claimed to be Republicans; now Republicans embrace white supremacy and march alongside Nazis. The hate mail writers’ favorite insults, fueled by their violent animosty for the LGBTQ community, Black people, and Jews, have gone mainstream and are in our faces every day.
As Onomastic wrote in her story about Kennedy’s demand: “We are all at risk, all under attack. What Kennedy is doing with his lawsuit is part of the larger war being waged against facts, accountability, and free speech … We either come together and stand up against them, or we’re going to see our rights taken away one by one.”
Let’s come together.
Nine RESCUED STORIES FROM 1 PM PDT MAY 21, TO 1 PM PDT MAY 28, 2021
On Daily Kos, discussions in story comment sections often expand on the topic, correct errors, and detour into corollary subjects. The comments on this week’s rescued stories offer lively examples of Community members complementing authors and adding their personal expertise.
Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome 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 at 7:30 PM PST. We also look at an author’s Community participation to see if they comment on their own stories and comment on or recommend other stories. Our rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
Through photographs and life history details, OceanDiver welcomes and says farewell to birds making their seasonal shifts in Dawn Chorus: Coming & going by the seashore. Some birds are leaving. “Waterfowl are the most obvious winter residents who have decamped now … Undoubtedly some of the ducks around at the tail end of the season are just passing through en route to their northern breeding grounds. They don’t have name tags so I can’t know for certain if those late buffies and mergansers are the same individuals who have been my neighbors all winter long, or different ducks stopping by my local bays for rest and fuel.” Others are arriving, “A variety of passerines have been arriving for the summer breeding season where I live, a quarter mile from the seashore.” Meanwhile, permanent residents are shifting gears: “The first sign of the shift comes in early spring for some birds when their plumage changes into brightly colored patterns.” OceanDiver has written 702 stories since joining in 2012, with dozens rescued.
It was “a massive pickup truck, suspension raised to where you’d need a ladder to get in, festooned with gun stickers on the rear window” that inspired Major Kong to write Go tell the Spartans. “The first thing I think of when I see this is, ‘this is probably not a person I want to interact with …’ The second thing is, ‘if it were me, I wouldn’t advertise to would-be thieves that I have expensive toys in my house.’” Using personal experience and historical information, the author goes on to explain the development and functions of assault rifles. Major Kong has written 218 stories since joining in 2004, with 32 rescued.
In How the GOP ignores the West’s water crisis, drought, and climate change, writer SocialEntrepreneur dissects a recent report in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News about the growing water issues in the western U.S. The author rebuts the article’s statements that Utah state government is “taking steps to address drought,” and adds a personal analysis fleshing out their thesis that most Utah officials, from the governor on down, “incongruously tend to blame their own government for growing water shortages. I argue that it’s not state policies or the weather, but climate change causing much of the crisis. We’re now seeing what experts warned would be ‘the worst on record,’ yet the Utah legislature has merely hoped there would be more rain over past decades.” SocialEntrepreneur, who joined in 2019, has written nine stories. This is their first rescue.
Sue in Oregon imagines President Joe Biden and former President Obama reconnecting in a hypothetical strategy session to manage public perception of UFOs in POTUS and Obama: Doin’ the UFO shuffle. This snippet of script is heavy on snark and deft with light humor, capturing the vibe between two old colleagues doing what they do best: serving the public. “POTUS: We don’t say ‘UFO’ any more. It’s UAP, Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. Remember the estate taxes that everyone used to support? When you call it ‘death taxes,’ you don’t get so much support. So we’re renaming UFOs and hoping the crazy will go away. Might work.” This is Sue in Oregon’s first rescue, having joined and published a story the same day.
In Techie Green Deal #1: How big a grid is needed for the Green Deal?, Ironwoodedward, a mechanical engineer, looks at implementation of green energy, starting with the North American energy grid. “From where I stand, the key issue in the Green New Deal is reducing carbon dioxide emissions … That is the linchpin that everything connects to. And almost invariably reducing those emissions entails using electricity to do whatever needs doing. So the first question that has to be asked is ‘how much electricity will be needed?’” The author’s analysis translates policy rhetoric to what’s needed on the ground for green energy to take hold and reduce both fossil fuel reliance and CO2 emissions. A member since 2019, this is Ironwoodedward’s first story and first rescue.
Dratler assesses aspects of the increasing human population in Too many of us, beginning with the media’s alarm over what they call “population stagnation.” This is due to “the second-slowest U.S. population growth on record, second only to the low growth rate during the Great Depression.” Dratler says that pundits are predicting “the decline of whole societies, including economic vibrancy and new ideas.” However, the author contends that “not only are these predictions based largely on unfounded abstract speculation, they miss the big picture by a mile.” Dratler elaborates on direct and indirect side effects of an increased population—pollution, human disease, extinction crisis—and the role of immigration in addressing the issue. Dratler joined in 2016 and has written 106 stories, with seven rescued.
Fberry, a member of a family whose dogs and cats are as loved as the people, tells stories about their joys and heartbreak in Brother Nick makes a move (and finds his cat). Animals live in the moment, wholeheartedly, which is echoed in the writing style. “For Mom and Dad that house came with three things: a mortgage, a five-year-old, and a dog named Lady. Seems whoever my parents bought the house from had only one real stipulation: The dog comes with it. … But Lady was a sweetheart and the doggiest of dogs no matter her ownership, and she became my best of friends, my first step into a ‘humans suck, pets not so much’ world that I would eventually gravitate to and live in.” Fberry joined in 2016 and has written 34 stories, with two rescued.
You’re missing out if you’re not familiar with the amazingly talented musician Olivia Rodrigo, featured in jazzmaniac’s story And a young woman speaks the truth. They’re not OK. The 18-year-old just released her first album, SOUR; and when her “deliciously angry pop-punk song ‘Good 4U’” debuted at #1 on Billboard, she became the first female artist to ever have two songs debut in that position, and the first artist of any gender to have two #1 hits from their debut album. But the song jazzmaniac really wants you to listen to is the single “I hope ur ok,” in which the artist sings to people in her past who had been rejected, hurt, and lonely—and wonders what became of them. Listeners’ comments on YouTube make it clear that Rodrigo’s generation faces far too much bigotry and closed-mindedness from their elders. “The song serves as a stark example of the reality that while today’s young people are perhaps the most tolerant and inclusive generation ever, older generations … their parents … are often still brimming with hatred.” jazzmaniac joined in 2003 and has written 169 stories, with 11 rescued.
Trespekes, an expat living in Austria, found horror after deciding “to take a trip to a part of Austria I hadn’t seen yet: the lake area in Upper Austria … Ebensee, a small town at the base of the Traunsee … (beautiful) lakes surrounded by mountains.” In The price of denial; The price of inaction, the author uses photos and narrative to describe visiting the site of the “most horrific Nazi concentration camp,” and reflects on how this experience relates to what is happening right now in the U.S. “For me, the horror was compounded by the neighborhood that has taken over the rest of what was the concentration camp property. Neat, well-maintained homes with carefully landscaped yards. The lilacs were blooming, tulips everywhere, everything carefully cultivated. Everything in its place, as though the obsessive control of plant growth could wipe out the memory of the suffering and anguish of the men who lived, worked and starved to death there. The people living in Ebensee today are the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the Austrians who closed their eyes and hearts to the abject suffering right in their midst. Besides, it was good for business! Think of all the companies that profited from the slave labor provided by the Nazis.” Trespekes joined in 2019 and has written nine stories. This is their first rescue.
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 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).