Two Years at DailyKos (warning – heavy graphics)

(noon – promoted by ek hornbeck)

What follows is a bit of a recap of my two years here…er, there.  I’m going to drop in some of my favorite illustrations and collages from the past 2 years and they won’t necessarily relate to the text.  I beg your indulgence.

On April 30, 2006 I posted my first diary at DailyKos, The Curse of Big Money and The Pledge.  (Wasn’t a big hit.)

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In my third diary, Senate says No Permanent Bases in Iraq posted on May 4, 2006, I speculated that the neocons planned a permanent occupation of Iraq.  

In my fourth diary, The False Premises of Conservatism I dismantled Conservative philosophy.

In my 20th diary, I Pissed on the President’s Head.

In An American Tale I told the history of the last 50 years from my personal point of view.

Sadly it seems that we have learned very little from our own history.  We are repeating our worst mistakes, much to our shame, and much to our great loss.  Once again politicians are arguing back and forth about whether or not we can just up and get the fuck out, while a deranged administration defiantly vows to “stay the course.”  In the mean time, people are dying.

Toward the end of the war in Vietnam John Kerry famously said, “How do you ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake?”

We face that same question today.  Arguing instead of withdrawing amounts to fiddling while Rome burns.

I’m 54 now and my father is in his 80’s.  Neither of us can quite believe what’s happened to our country.  I figured out a long time ago that, not only does our government not care about the safety and well-being of each and every one of its citizens, but much to the contrary treats us increasingly with open contempt.

It saddens me that my father lived to see the past few years: the stolen elections; the abandonment of the people by their elected representatives; the lies; the secrecy; the corruption; the torture; the erosion of our Constitutional rights; the end of democracy.  He always loved his country fiercely.  He served it for much of his life.  He never suspected it could come to this.

An American Tale

One of my most popular diaries was In Defense of Hippies.

First of all, the stereotype for hippies is about as reliable as the stereotype for any other people, that is to say not at all.  Hippie culture was never monolithic.  It encompassed well over half of every kind of kid there was in the late 60s and early 70s, and spanned every socio-economic strata of American society.  If you weren’t a hippy in those days, what you know and think about hippies is probably wrong.  It’s not your fault. The media has distorted the reality as a part of the conservative culture wars.  They are, and have always been, threatened by hippies who never had any trouble seeing straight through them and who consistently called them on their bullshit.  Progressivism (or enlightened thinking), started well before the age of the hippies, but for that one seminal decade, hippies were its natural home (though not exclusively of course).

In Defense of Hippies

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In The ultimate betrayal of the American People I wrote about the neocon coup-de-tat.

Little did we suspect in 2000, even those of us who opposed them, just how much bad intent the Bush crowd was concealing.  We knew they represented Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Business in general.  We knew they represented the filthy rich, the `haves and the have mores’ as Bush so famously put it.  We knew they represented the forces of discrimination, censorship, bigotry, and avarice.  We knew they were famous for `dirty tricks’, and for criminal and near criminal behavior (see Watergate and Iran/Contra).  We knew they were heartless and uncaring about the poor and the needy.  We knew they were the party of social Darwinism and proponents of an every man for himself philosophy.  We knew they were a throwback to an unenlightened age when gay people were viewed as an abomination and women were regarded as chattel.  We knew they wanted to impose their narrow, wrong-headed yet curiously self-righteous views on all the rest of us.  We knew they represented intolerance, greed, selfishness, hatred, and hubris writ large.

What we didn’t know after the jump.

The ultimate betrayal of the American People

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I wrote about hard realities in Suffering in America.

Many of us have it pretty good in this country – compared to other third world nations that is.  We dwell in a television-based culture, which incessantly promotes the idea that things are mostly pretty good no matter what.  That is especially true now that the press has rolled over and is playing dead.  We see very little coverage of poverty, hunger, homelessness or other issues that involve human suffering.  It’s just not PC.

If you are among the fortunate who are still employed and not facing layoffs, or impending financial or medical doom; if you are managing to make ends meet, pay the bills, and put food on the table; if you have savings, investments, or prospects for the future; you may not be aware of just how many Americans are trying to cope with gut-wrenching realities.

Suffering in America

I wrote about torture and its advocates in Against Humanity.

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Krauthammer, something tells me your moral calculus is more about angels dancing on the heads of pins than it is about either morality OR calculus.  It’s time to be honest about doing terrible things indeed!  How about this for honesty?  Torture is evil, a sin, an abomination, and an affront to the dignity of all mankind!  And it is NEVER justified under ANY circumstances.  PERIOD!  There’s some moral clarity for ya you dickweed.  That is the truth about torture.  And assholes like you who believe it is ever justified missed your place in history.  You all belong in the Spanish Inquisition, and would that I could zap you back there forever because I wouldn’t waste one fucking second banishing you to the annals of history.  Civilized man has no use for you.

And how many times have we heard these same ignoramuses go on and on about how human life is so `sacred’ that we can’t even do life-saving stem cell research?  The word hypocrites doesn’t even do it any more for these imbeciles.  These geniuses are hyper-hypocrites!

Against Humanity

I wrote about the honest use of language in Calling a War Criminal a War Criminal

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Although purple prose is a guilty pleasure (as some of you may know), what I truly admire is economy of language.  I’m also partial to language that is straightforward and unambiguous.  I like language that clarifies and reveals.  I am no fan of obfuscation or spin.  As a writer I believe in honoring language, and hate it when it is abused, as it so often is these days.  Clarity, truth, and understanding suffer when people misuse language, and especially so when the misuse is intentional.

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.

~ George Orwell

I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.

~ George W. Bush

Calling a War Criminal a War Criminal

I wrote about humanity in Humanity.

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As an artist, nothing fascinates me more than the human face and the human form.  At once revealing and mysterious, the human visage tells the history of our race; it sings of our triumphs, radiates our joy, testifies to our struggles, and mourns those of us who are no more.  

(snip)

I grew up an Army brat living in Germany, Laos, Thailand, and France.  I came to be intrigued at how different and yet how similar people from entirely different cultures can be.  Our diversity is profound but at heart we are all the same – at least in our heart of hearts.  We all want a better future for our children.  We all experience love, fear, disappointment, and sorrow.  We all grieve for our dead.  We lose sight of it, but we are truly the family of man.  We all come from the same origin.  That is not only figuratively true, it is literally and scientifically true.  We all ultimately share a common ancestor.  We are truly brothers and sisters.  It is a great pity that we can’t all acknowledge this simple truth – and live our lives accordingly.

Humanity

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I wrote about life in Life on Earth.

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Life on earth, in fact all life (as far as we know) is sustained by the razor thin and fragile atmosphere of a relatively tiny random globe in an obscure and nondescript solar system based on a third rate star hugging the inner edge of one immense spiral arm of a generic spiral galaxy in a far flung region of the vast and only Universe we know (although we are beginning to suspect that there may be others – see Multiverse Theory).

Life on Earth

I wrote about poverty and economic inequality in Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?.

Once widely admired for our egalitarian spirit, America has become a nation of both unbridled wealth and gut-wrenching poverty.  Long thought of as `the Land of Opportunity’, the last thirty years has seen that myth all but vanish as corrupt politicians passed laws giving ever more advantages to the already privileged, and transferring more and more of the meager holdings of the poor and middleclass into the greedy hands of the filthy rich.  There has been a concerted effort by the Republican rightwing to drive down American wages by exporting jobs and importing cheap labor.  Economic inequality in America is greater now than it has ever been since 1929, the start of the Great Depression.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

I wrote about marijuana prohibition in You Can Drink Yourself to Death, But You Can’t Smoke Pot.

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A brief recap of how we got here…

“Thank God the American’s got the Puritans and we got the criminals.”

~ Australian saying

Our Anglo-Saxon progenitors were always a bit uptight (don’t be offended ye of European ancestry, I happen to be among you).  Any Indian or black person could tell you though.  We’ve always been a little touchy at best.  Early American culture was heavily influenced by Puritanism, Calvinism, and a whole host of other isms that have kept us wound tighter than a clock down through the centuries.  

My people have always had a hard time relaxing, what with kings and barons always stealing our barley and running off with our fair maidens and such, religious persecution and whatnot.  It’s enough to make a fella uptight.  We can’t relax – that damned baron could be anywhere, and the church is burning people at the stake again.  The pleasure and refreshment of deep and true relaxation too often eludes us.  That’s why so many of us can’t dance and why when we go bad we tend to drink like fish.  Alcoholism is a long and proud tradition with us (we Irish anyway) – it kills a good many of us.

Our general uptightness and difficulty in relaxation may also explain why it made us so uncomfortable ‘long about 1930 or so when it came to our attention that Negroes (remember it’s the 30s) and Mexicans were smoking weed and communing with the universe and each other in a most relaxed and jubilant sort of way.  They would dance, laugh, make music, and make love, joyfully, gleefully, peacefully, with total relaxation and benign abandon.  It made them eerily calm and peaceful.  White people didn’t know what to think.  It seems that nobody has an inclination to fight or fuss when they’re high on weed – entirely unlike our old friend alcohol.  

Peaceful though it might have been, it worried the white folks, especially when white people started smoking it too.  Such euphoria just wasn’t natural.  No poor folks had a right to that much serenity, or that great a sense of well-being.  That was the jealously guarded purview of rich white folk, so they made a law.  And they did it in a most underhanded and devious way (so like my people – * sigh *).

You Can Drink Yourself to Death, But You Can’t Smoke Pot

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There was much excitement when I called Bullshit on America.

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Our nation, culture, and political system are all steeped in lies, contradictions, distortions, and propaganda – in other words, bullshit!  It has taken me much of my life to shed the misconceptions and outright lies that have been drilled into me from birth, to develop and fine-tune my bullshit detectors, to learn to see anything with any clarity at all.

(more below the fold…)

The government has powerful tools with which to manipulate our views, circumscribe our information, and mold our opinions (including the MSM and all the propaganda arms of the government itself) – and they use them with great zeal.  The full extent to which the ruling class wants to hoodwink the rest of us cannot be overestimated.  Their worst fear is that we will learn the truth.

If the people knew what we had done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us.”

~ George H.W. Bush to journalist Sarah McClendon

Calling Bullshit on America

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Some people took issue with me when in November of 2006 I said:

They don’t give a damn what we the people want.  They have their own agenda and it doesn’t include listening to the democratic majority.  It has nothing to do with what we want and everything to do with the 300 billion barrels of light sweet crude oil upon which Iraq sits.  They’ve never explained the 14 ‘enduring’ bases they’ve been building in Iraq at a cost of a billion-dollars plus…each, and if you ask me, they have no intent of leaving – EVER.

The Surge Option is for SUCKERS!

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I honored poor people and included some of my own poetry in Let’s Drink to the Salt of the Earth.

It’s Hard at the Bottom

There is too much that we ignore;

Important things;

Like children,

And the young,

And the old,

And the sick,

And the poor,

And our prisoners,

And each other.

We don’t do enough to protect our children.

We don’t do enough to help each other.

We don’t do enough to save our planet.

We don’t do enough to save ourselves.

We care way too much about all the wrong things.

We despise the peasants, and worship the kings.

We spit on the angels, and lionize demons,

As the righteous among us are dragged away screamin’.

It’s all upside down,

But smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em,

’cause Lord have mercy!

It’s hard at the bottom.

Let’s Drink to the Salt of the Earth

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What’s This Fool Doing Still In Office? got 729 comments.

If you don’t think Bush should be impeached immediately, and I do mean ASAP, I hope you’re prepared to accept your part of the responsibility for the damage he does over the next two years.

What’s This Fool Doing Still In Office?

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A year ago I wrote One Year at DailyKos.

It’s amazing how much you all have taught me in a year’s time.  I’ve learned from, been informed by, and fallen under the spell of many of the truly great writers and thinkers here.  We represent a wide range of views, temperaments, backgrounds, ages and interests but are united in our love for democracy, truth and justice.  I marvel that we have kossacks from every economic strata, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, sexual orientation, education level, national origin, and so on.  Despite our differences we respect each other’s humanity, and that’s what makes us progressives (IMHO), because we care about humanity and thus human rights, the general welfare, etcetera.

The learning I have experienced here has been sometimes difficult, occasionally stressful, frequently raucous, but always interesting.  This community has challenged me like I haven’t been challenged in many years.  The struggle to both compete (though I don’t really think of it as that) to make the rec list and to deal with the criticism and the challenges issued by others has made me a better writer and a better person…though there are those who will tell you that dealing with criticism is not my strong suit.  I’m better at it than I was though.  I have grown through my participation here.

I’ve also found deep friendship and brotherhood in this extraordinary and delightful community.  What a cast of characters, and what an honor it is to know them all!  I have made many fine friends.  They seem like so many long lost brothers and sisters to me.

One Year at DailyKos

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Remember Where You Heard It First got 1,236 comments.

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Have you ever had an embarrassing friend?  You know, that guy who is deeply cool but a little uncouth or unkempt.  For all his brilliance, insight, and understanding maybe his shoes are sometimes untied, his clothes a bit rumpled, or his shirttails hanging out.  Maybe he goes about with three-days growth of beard, has tattoos, or smells a little funny.

Maybe he’s somewhat indiscreet, has dirty fingernails, or says things like fuck, warpigs, or evil rightwing bastards in polite conversation.  

You’ve come to love and respect him but may wince a little should he appear at an inopportune moment because he’s just not easily explained to your more conventional friends.

Being an unabashed member of ‘the extreme radical left’ sometimes feels like being the embarrassing friend to the rest of the Democrats.  The limousine liberals, the Volvo liberals, the champagne liberals, the moderates, the centrists, and the establishment Dems are all a little or a lot embarrassed by their association with us in the wild-eyed wing of the Party.  Some of them would probably pay good money to get rid of us (though I probably shouldn’t give them any ideas).

Yep, even a lot of left-leaning Democrats would like to pretend like we don’t exist.  After all, it’s hard to be ‘respectable’ when you have friends like us.  You can’t invite us to your soirees; we’re always testing the gravy with our fingers, smoking pot in the bathroom, or chanting ho-ho-ho chi minh at the drop of a hat.

Remember Where You Heard It First

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In Before I Sleep I wrote of my hopes for my son.

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Before I sleep for the last time and forever, there are a number of things I want to be able to say to my beloved son.

I hope to be able to say to him, with a straight face and an open heart, that because of the tireless and courageous actions of liberals, progressives, and yes, revolutionaries, that America has redeemed itself in the eyes of the international community, thrown out the fascists, the oligarchs, and the gutless wonders, rejected its imperialist ambitions, purged its government of corruption, punished the traitors to the people, and brought its war criminals to ultimate justice before the world.

Before I Sleep

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In Eye on the Sky I wrote about working on NASA’a Hubble Space Telescope project.

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All in all I have to say that my time on the Hubble Space Telescope project was a highlight of my life.  I have often wished I could find my way back to that kind of work but it just hasn’t been in the cards.  It’s funny how the universe unfolds sometimes.  But one thing is certain, its wonders are overwhelming and every new discovery leads to even deeper mysteries, and all that we now know is but a miniscule portion of that which there is to be known.

Eye on the Sky

I have posted over 200 diaries here and it’s been a blast.  

To have this outlet, to find such friends, to experience this electronic brotherhood with you, America’s finest examples of the human spirit, has been a mind-blowing experience for me.  I cherish many of you as much as I do my own family – and in many important ways, you guys are my family.

This is a smart, aware, involved, and vibrant community engaged in important work.  The pool of talent, knowledge and intelligence here is nothing less than awe-inspiring.  I feel distinctly privileged to be a small part of it.  I learn from you all and am inspired by so very many of you (you know who you are).

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One criticism I have is that many here are overly concerned with the game of politics and insufficiently concerned with the larger realities.  And that’s fine. This is a site for political junkies after all, but I think raising the consciousness of the community is a worthwhile and necessary endeavor.  Please, when you see a diary attempting to do that, give it a little extra consideration.  And please try to resist the temptation to obsess over the game at the expense of more important matters (like the war, climate change, the food crisis, the water crisis, the healthcare crisis, etc).  Let us not be distracted.  We have important work to do that extends far beyond the realm of politics, and we can’t afford to fail.

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And we have to re-establish the rule of law for the upper echelon of our society, and we can start by arresting the war criminals and holding them to account.  Then, and only then, can we take back our country and start the massive clean up that we must now undertake.  

BEWARE EVERYONE, the Republicans have mastered the black art of electronic election theft.  They stole 2000 and 2004.  They stole the governorship of Alabama from Don Siegelman, and they plan to steal the Presidency for a third time this November.

Are we stupid enough and weak-willed enough to let them get away with it again?  I guess that remains to be seen – but based on past experience, I wouldn’t bet the ranch.

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Thanks for putting up with me for two years kossacks.  I sure do appreciate it.

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67 comments

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    • OPOL on April 30, 2008 at 11:34 pm
      Author

    🙂

  1. This is a tour de force.  All my favorites and more!  I’m bookmarking this page forever.  

    Happy 2nd blogiversary!

     

  2. for your creativity, clarity of vision, intestinal fortitude, rabble rouserness, and a whole other buncha reasons, I can’t muster up the words for.

    You inspire so many people remind us that just keeping our eyes open is crucial, and to take the opportunity to do our little part in the world however large or small.

    • DWG on May 1, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Thanks for the memories (and your heart).

    • brobin on May 1, 2008 at 12:40 am

    shit about all of us.

    That is pretty damned special.

    You rock.

    Don’t stop.

    • kj on May 1, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Guy, Hi.  🙂

  3. Two years … in blog time that makes your work a Classic!

  4. and thought that you would have made a good front-pager, now I think more of you than that.  Good stuff OPOL, Peace.

    • RiaD on May 1, 2008 at 5:03 am

    i’m continually amazed by you…& your work…

    i first saw you in orange & was delighted to find you here…

    i hope your work will change some orange hearts&minds …& in your new wider audeince at the mayday rallies!!

    i still think you should be president… so you’ll get one lonely write-in from me!

    ♥~

  5. doing it all out of love. nothing stronger than that…

    • RUKind on May 1, 2008 at 6:39 am

    The words and the images. You have a gift. Thanks for sharing it.

    It was great to see the two year retrospective. Your work is on a very fine track. The piece you did for us for, whoa, today (EDT) is just awesome. You may want to share that with the night crew here.

    Shanti.

  6. Although I`ve been reading, looking & listening to your essays since I first noticed your arrival on my monitor, it`s great to have your work on one reference page. Simply, an amazing body of work on it`s own, but better yet, a perfect place for referencing ideas & arguments that are as timeless as humanity. It`s a book of your soul.

  7. anywhere near that place.  I wish there would have been a DailyOPOL the last few years instead, but what do I know? I was just an Impeachment porn peddler at Mr. Zuniga’s blog and didn’t realize what a (DELETED BY ELISE) he is.    

  8. Very cool. Have you heard about the OWL (Overwhelmingly Large Telescope) project? Hundred-meter-diameter telescope that the Europeans are supposedly going to build . . . someday.

    Quite a body of work for two years, OPOL. Tres formidable.  

  9. took me quite a bit to read back through, but well worth it 🙂

    You’re still my favorite and of everything I’d like to say…all I can really think of is…thank you.  

    • ANKOSS on May 1, 2008 at 10:46 pm
    • srkp23 on May 2, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Two years already! What a great retrospective. It was my pleasure to meet you during the impeachment flame wars, and then in RL at yK and Washington. Looking forward to long years of friendship and fighting the good fight. Are you and son of OPOL going to Netroots Nation?  

  10. You know this already, but you got me hooked on DKos – you were my favorite from the start.

    Beautiful artwork here OPOL – didn’t see “Sweet Dreams America before” but I love it. Thanks for this retrospective and all that you have given us here. Thanks for putting your heart and soul into your essays.

    It’s nice to be back on-line after some technical glitches here, but now that I know what it’s like to sleep again, I’m afraid I’m addicted – will visit you here once in a while though!

    It is a dark time OPOL, so we have to stick together.  Our efforts seem meager against the forces that would destroy lives for profit, but we cannot give up.  Two things are on my mind right now:

    1. the sit-in we discussed (shamefully I just cannot do it)

    2. Election day exit polls.  We should petition Jimmy Carter to ensure they will be held this time around.  Will diary this when I get a chance – soon I hope!

  11. You’re a youngster….to have lived through those times and to be so young and wise!

    I remember McCarthy, Murrow and Eisenhower. I believed in Gary Powers…..but then the “truth” was revealed. I haven’t believed since…..

    Love yer stuff…

  12. Thanks for posting this here, OPOL, since I don’t go there any more.

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