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Sometimes I like to read my old Diaries. I am a writer, and have that amount of vanity that seems to sit comfortably with the idea that if I thought it worth writing, then surely it is worth reading.

Alas, it is not always the case! At least my own brand of arrogance does not stretch so far that it completely impairs my critical appraisal, even of my own Diaries.

So before we get onto the main feature, which is a look back at the Diaries of others, here are the two that I consider my best, and my worst. I leave you to judge which is which.

Can John McCain be remembered as one of the greatest American Patriots?

Conversations in a Liberal household

I'm not entirely sure that "Best" and "Worst" are fair descriptions, but they are probably my favourite and least favourite. What I found curious is that both are from my early time on this site. Maybe there is a message in that!

The search engine, and presumably this incarnation of the database only appears to go back to 2003. Since that time there have been in excess of forty two thousand* Diaries published on the site. I guess Markos has the earlier writings hidden in his bedside cabinet, or somewhere, but what this does mean is simply that ANY retrospective can be but a tiny pimple in the greater kososphere.

Actually the search misses out many Diaries, even when you try to search for ALL Diaries. The Diary List pulls them all up, but doesn't give a total count so I have no idea how many have been published - twigg

And not so much the bedside cabinet. By dint of some sleuthing, and before we look at anything else, we really should pay tribute to the origin. So I give you:

The first entry on Daily Kos

This entire Diary is built on the simple premise that I enjoy reading old Diaries from time to time. While reading one of my own, a meta Diary about the Rec List, several commenters recommended this fabulous offering from skymutt, himself still a regular contributor. Anyone, and I repeat ANYONE who is a regular, or even occasional Diarist will surely relate to this:

Ten minutes in the life of a struggling DailyKos diarist

I offer here but a morsel. Please do yourself a favor, go read it all you will not regret it:

WTF?? Only 4 recommenders??

Why don't you fucking get a fucking normal-sized fucking name, people??? Clive all hat no horse Rodeo??? Are you kidding me???

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Sometimes folk are not so much bemoaning the bagillion miles per hour scrolling speed of the Recent Diary List. They are past all of that and are more intent on leaving in a blaze of incendiary glory.

This next will be familiar to many, but completely new to some and I take no small amount of pleasure in introducing, to a younger membership, the glory that was the departure of ErrinF:

Delete my fucking account, Kos

Kossacks come, and Kossacks go. Many slip quietly away in the night, others feel the burning desire to let us all know just why we suck so badly, but few leave an indelible community memory as sharp as did Errin:

You all suck. A lot of you wouldn't know what a progressive thought was if it bit you in the ass. To you, a progressive thought is whatever the Democratic party line spoonfeeds you. A tremendous amount of you are Democrats because mommy and daddy were Democrats. ...

...  DELETE MY FUCKING ACCOUNT, KOS. You don't want me hanging around, and neither do I.

In an effort to move us from the ridiculous to the sublime, I felt it appropriate to take this opportunity to introduce "snark" into the proceedings. I have never considered a poll on the matter, but I would be surprised were there to be much disagreement that the title of "SnarkMeister" should go to anyone other than our very own Bob Johnson. Bob clearly suffered not from the Clinton Wars, the Dean advocacy or any other of our less glorious episodes. But he did have trouble with the change to DK4, the current version of the site:

Why I refuse to move up to DKos3.

The Diary is brief, but beautifully formed and the comments are a study in the humour we have all become so familiar with. I especially liked the deeply ironic Hide Rate in the Tip Jar, and this comment from Seneca Doane:

We'll miss you, Bob, most of the time (17+ / 0-)

but I'm sure that a decent amount of the time, we'll hit you.

Setting aside snark, the meta of the Goodbye Cruel World and other ancillary matters, I am minded that this is primarily a Political Blog. We have some talented writers who combine to bring a depth of insight and knowledge that is second to none. I do feel though, that we are also a community and we are never better than when the political and personal come together in a Diary that is a perfect storm of the two.

This magnificent rant delivered by Susan from 29 surely represents one of the best of the breed:

That was my brother's death you were cheering, you a$$holes

The morphine and the cancer combined to cause psychotic breaks from reality.  Worse, he knew they had occurred.  He was so intelligent, so very caring that these breaks wherein he would roundly curse the staff that cared for him, throwing whatever was handy at the walls, were incredibly shaming and emotionally devastating to him.  Cancer is so very cruel, but not half as cruel as the cheers you uttered last night.

The county nursing home where they finally had to warehouse him as the cancer weakened him to the point where chemotherapy would have killed him, looks like a minimum security prison.  Half of the staff did not understand English which further frustrated him as the morphine clouded his mind.  It was dirty and depressing and I was so grateful that he often did not even know he was there.

He hated it there and was actually glad when an infection sent him back to Highland for treatment.  He only lasted a few more days at Highland.  I was holding his hand as he drew his last breath.  Have you ever seen a man die, you bastards?  His fingertips turn grey, his breathing becomes shallow.  His grip weakens.  And he simply stops breathing.  

And all of the laughter and love goes away with that last breath.  The intelligence, the creative beauty, the caring compassion.  They all disappear.  But that probably wouldn’t matter to you since I doubt you would recognize any of it.

Love, compassion, beauty.  Laughter, intelligence.  And the ability to realize a dream.  A dream that never included cruelty or indifference to the suffering of others.  

And I cannot, for the life of me fathom why he is only ashes today and you are walking this earth.  

But then, I am not the hero my brother was.  He would have forgiven you.  He would have understood the source of your fear that caused those cheers.  I don’t want to.  

I think you are scum.

I apologise to Susan should she read this, and the reading cause her painful memories, but the message herein should not be hidden. It should stand testament to the heartlessness of those who oppose social justice. It should be carved on their tombstones as a perpetual reminder of the inhumanity they represent, and the power of a single Kossack, one of us, to expose it.

I would never presume to second guess Meteor Blades. There did come a point where he felt that his writing was suffering due to other pressure of this place. Whether he had lost his "mojo" or not, he had certainly found it by the time he returned. There is a fire and a passion in this piece, a depth of feeling that never overshadows the message, yet clearly inspires it. Would that we all could construct work like this:

Forever calling the Iraq War a 'mistake' won't make it one

Don't feed the delusion. Just as was the case in Vietnam, none of these dead lost their lives because of a "mistake." Not the Americans, not their allies and not the Iraqis. That untruth will, unfortunately, continue to be the way the Iraq war is characterized by much of a traditional media that failed to yank off the faux-patriotic mask concealing the motives behind the propaganda assault the Bush administration (and its allies across the truncated American political spectrum) promoted to get the war under way. Two and three decades from now, our grandchildren may well be reading that this assault was a terrible "mistake."

With the war officially over come year's end, how often must it be repeated? Invading Iraq was not a friggin' mistake. Not an accident. Not some foreign policy mishap. The guys in charge carried out a coldly though ineptly calculated act. They led a murderous, perfidious, pernicious end run around international law founded on a dubious "preventive" military doctrine piggybacked on the nation's rage over the 9/11 attacks. An imperial, morally corrupt war ramrodded past the objections of those in and out of Congress who challenged the fabricated claims of administration advisors who had been looking for an excuse to take out Saddam Hussein years before the Supreme Court plunked George W. Bush into the Oval Office.

We have come to expect the highest standards of reporting and commentary from Meteor Blades, but sometimes even he rises to a level rarely seen elsewhere.

The Front Page frequently hosts some of the best writing, as indeed it should. Those writers are often contributors who, by dint of their own efforts and talent, have been raised from the right side of the page to the acclaim of us all.

One of my favourites is Denise Oliver Velez. Back in the days when we knew her simply as Deoliver47, she brought us a deeply personal memory of 9/11. Published seven full years after the event yet written in such a way that the words take you right back to ground zero:

Why we had to put an American flag decal on our car

At one point, while I was still in the cellar,  my husband hollered down the stairs to me saying "Denise, you aren’t going to have to go to work this morning."  Aggravated with the damned pump that I was still cursing, I asked , "Why?  Did Sherry (my boss) call?"   "No", he replied, and then said "An airplane just hit your building."  I laughed.  Very funny, ha-ha, and picked up yet another bucket to hand up the steps . He looked grim,  and said somberly, "Come up here and look at this."  I wiped the mud off my shoes, trudged up the steps and walked into the living room where the TV was on.  I normally put it on to NY1 to figure out how bad the traffic would be for the morning drive.  There was a picture of smoke and flames and the Twin Towers and a hysterical announcer reporting that a plane had struck the North tower.  As I stood and watched reports came in of a second strike and the rest is history.  
Denise now graces our Front Page, where she writes regularly on matters of race, and racism. She is also more than capable of using her keyboard to smite other foes too. Take a look at her Diary List, and prepare to lose a few hours of your day. It will be time well spent.

There is a very long list of Kossacks who are no longer with us. Their passing has brought pain to their families, and friends both online and out there in the real world, yet they have left us a legacy here that we cherish. There are so many, and I imagine that as the site stretches into the future, there will be many more. I could fill a Diary or twenty with wonderful examples of the work they have left us, but am choosing only one.

Charlotte Lucas was loved by us all. Her grace, in the face of her own mortality, was a state of mind we might all aspire to and she never demonstrated that better than she did when she wrote this:

Getting Along In Years

 Now here am I, a doddering old woman who, when she goes outside the house, must use a walker so she won't take an ignominious spill. I can take care of my personal needs like laundry and meals. Once in a while I even cook dinners for the family. In the sharp reversal that all aging  parents experience, I am however, dependent for many things on the children who once depended on me. They treat me with respect, deference  and TLC. I am never scolded but on rare occasions I receive a gentle but firm reprimand for a mistake. This I accept meekly but with an inward snicker.
Godspeed Charlotte, and the many that we miss.

Finally, and before this Diary fills the room, and the room next door, I decided to take a look at the KOscars. The KOscars seems to have stopped in 2010, unless the search engine is rather worse than I thought, and that is a pretty low bar. The tricky thing here is that this Series was a Kossack Voted series of "Best Diary", voted by us. Picking one to represent that which Users voted "Best of Breed" is never going to be easy.

Fortunately, KOscars is a searchable Tag, so you can go find your own. The Diary I have chosen was nominated for "Diary of the Year". It is, despite the title, an unapologetic statement of core progressive values. Sometimes we have to accept the "good" rather than lose that in our quest for the "perfect"; but we do not have to like it, and LaFeminista makes it very plain that we do not have to sit quietly on the sidelines while we struggle for better.

* I Apologise*

Having read many comments, I have to admit it, as a progressive liberal I am prepared to accept all the blame for yesterday.

I should never have asked for what I wanted let alone pushed and fought for it.

I should have listened to the 'moderate' centre and just accepted the situation as it was and not forced Lieberman, Landrieu, Nelson, Baucus, Stupak etc into difficulty.

They could have cut a decent HCR Bill with President Snowe in no time at all.

Below the break is my full apology for everything and for causing so much hassle in the process.

You will miss both the point, and the passion, if you simply read the above quote without actually clicking through to the Diary.

This Diary started because I was reading an old piece of my own. I went to the comments and saw another Diary suggested there and realised that the site has a breadth and scope that few of us are able to wholly appreciate. We can't see and know everything, and we all miss things we would have loved to read.

So I went and found a few that I enjoyed, and I commend each and every one of them to you all.

The comment section would be a very good place to put your own recommendations, which I can't promise to read, but surely someone will, and for those people you gave them a gift they cannot buy.

The scope of this is limited by the format of the site, and for that I apologise to all of those I didn't include. And this is a real apology, not like the one above, ironic, snarky, and a must-read for all.

Have a wonderful 2013 from all in the Twigg household

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