The Talmud recounts that a Gentile once approached Hillel with the request that Hillel convert him to Judaism. This Gentile did not want to go through a lengthy regimen of learning, so he told Hillel; “I want you to teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot”. Hillel’s response endures as a lesson for the generations.

Hillel taught this Gentile; “Do not do unto others that which you hate done unto yourself – that is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary..."

Meta is a favorite guilty pleasure of Kossacks. Often we get angry at each other for the meta pies thrown around the site spattering up the furniture. And yet the meta debates on dKos are much like the pil pul (Talmudic dialectic) of some branches of Judiasm...the learning is more in the debate than it is in the resolution of a debate.

We are an opinionated and outspoken lot (that is REALLY why most of us are here!) and so we will have our Talmudic debates over the 10% of issues we actually disagree on rather than preach to the choir (to switch religious metaphors) on the 90% we do agree on.

This is healthy. It also can be unhealthy because the left is so prone to (to quote my wife) divide and conquer itself, allowing the rabid right wing to sweep to victory over our factionalized remains.

Why am I here?

If Rabbi Hillel were a Kossack, he might say: "Elect More and Better Democrats– that is the entire dKos. The rest is commentary..."

Mostly that is why I am here. Quite simply to join others in fighting back against the disgustingly greedy, selfish, mean-spirited and destructive right wing in any way I can. I think THAT is the primary reason the vast majority of us are here. And the best way to do that is usually to elect more and better Democrats.

Along those lines I tend to respond to those who, in the immortal words of Denise Oliver Velez, 'hate the "evil corporatist right-centrist oligarchic" Democratic Party"' that they should stop their belly aching and focus on the BETTER Democrats and get busy in primaries (often neglected!) because that is their best chance of electing candidates they DO like. And I generally suggest they direct their attention to Progressive Majority, a fairly successful organization that actually ELECTS progressive Democrats rather than just complain about the lack of progressives getting elected. And they do it WITHIN the Democratic Party rather than through Third Party temper tantrums. (Note: I have been known to vote third party at times but only when there is NO CHANCE that someone to the right of the Democratic candidate will win).

So let's all agree to put aside the slings and arrows of outrageous meta when it comes to defeating the rabid right wing. Let's not divide and conquer ourselves to the point where the right wing greedily sweeps over our conquered corpses. There are Democrats I dislike and distrust but I would STILL fight for them over a right wing candidate who would do nothing but further the destruction of most of what I hold dear. Better someone I agree with 50% than someone I agree with not at all.

Or...even when we can't do that, let's find the candidates, like those on Progressive Majority, that we CAN agree on and focus on them. Or maybe those who can't bring themselves to help out some of the most corporate Democrats can instead spend a little effort supporting the likes of Texas School Board candidates Erika Beltran and Kathy King? After all, electing smart, reasonable people to the Texas School Board over right wing creationists is bound to be a good thing to almost all of us!

So we come here mostly to fight back against the right wing that threatens us all.

But we come here for other reasons as well. We come here because it is a community we mostly feel comfortable in. And like any community there are disputes and disagreements, but we are a community none the less and we have to always remember to treat each other with the respect and care we would like to receive from others (and of course I ALWAYS do this...well, sort of). Much meta could be far less acrimonious if we turned our volume control below 11. If we can.

We come here because we help each other and encourage each other. We do this more than we fight...or at least I would like to THINK we do.

We come here for jbou's diaries...

And finally I think many of us secretly, guiltily come here to enjoy the meta pie fights. After all who DOESN'T like a good pie fight...

Meta on dKos is like the pil pul of Talmudic debate...we learn from it perhaps more than we learn from our points of agreement. Or maybe it is like craning our necks to see an accident along the highway...we disparage others from doing it but do it ourselves. But we shouldn't let our debates get in the way of our primary reason for being here...fighting the greedy, selfish, mean-spirited right wing.

So let me leave you with my personal, "humble," (and unsolicited) advice on what we should and shouldn't do.

First and foremost, remember the essence of Torah:

Do not do unto others that which you hate done unto yourself
Second, let's NOT let our meta games turn us into this (gotta wait til the end for the punch line!)

And finally, let's get to the business of electing the best people we can. Which generally means Democrats.

For those who want to be most focused on electing MORE Democrats, please donate to some of the folks on my most recent Act Blue Page (we're at $400...can we get it to $500 today? Maybe even $750?)

For those who want to focus more on BEST Democrats, please donate to some of the folks endorsed by Progressive Majority.

And for those who want a break from politics and just want to do some good, maybe you'd care to help me in a little project I have going helping the environment and women's health in a small Jewish community in Uganda?


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