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We have so many insightful and powerful diaries written here at Daily Kos. Within these passionate, informative and entertaining diaries are many strong voices and an even stronger will to promote progress in this country.

It's these voices, their knowledge and perspective, their personalities and humor, that we seek to share with you every night in Top Comments. Some comments the diarists pick. Other posts are nominated by your fellow Kossacks at topcomments at gmail dot com.

And we always welcome your participation - as a reader, as a nominator, or simply as a new and valued voice in our conversations.

First I want to welcome everyone to the 3rd Anniversary Edition of Top Comments, the series Carnacki created on 6/14/2006. He hoped to shine a spotlight on comments in the way Diary Rescue brought much-needed attention to diaries that deserved it. Here is a link to that historic first diary.

Since then TC diarists have posted umpteen hundred TC diaries, with thousands of comments submitted by Kossacks like yourselves - indeed, without doubt those attending tonight’s diary have submitted thousands over the months and years.

For me one of the greatest values of Top Comments hasn’t been the incredible snippets of brilliant writing found in the comments, though I have loved those. No, it has been the role Top Comments has played within the Daily Kos community, a diary in whose comment section Kossacks could gather and socialize and find friends, Cheers-like, each and every night (with almost no exceptions) in that three year span. I know there are areas on the Daily Kos where more hostility has been unleashed than supportive energy, but for me Top Comments contributes more to the solid foundation of the Daily Kos than perhaps any other series on the blog.

I do not intend that critically. I don’t think there is a finer series on the Daily Kos than IGTNT, and perhaps not a more important one. Even so, you can’t really socialize much there, and it wouldn’t respect the purpose of the series to do so. There are many other fine series, The Grieving Room, Mark H’s brilliant and informative Marine Life Series, pootie diaries and oh so many more. I like and enjoy and patronize them all, but Top Comments will always hold a special and unique place in my heart, because of all of you, because of the great energy you each bring to the diary every night.

As the motto of this diary I have chosen Jonathan Larson’s brilliant lyric from the song La Vie Boheme, in RENT, his hit Broadway show. His characters are singing a rousing anti-authoritarian toast, but this lyric contains, for me, a special power.

“... to being an us for once, instead of a them.”

Isn't that remarkable?

I think about psychologist Henri Tajfel, who wrote extensively on in-groups and out-groups, the mechanics and manifestations of such groups.

One of the ways in which members of an ‘in-group’ express and demonstrate loyalty to that group is by expressing or showing hostility to an ‘out-group.’ This tends to be a human thing, not a conservative or liberal thing. You can see it all over, even on the Daily Kos, when people gang up on individuals expressing ideas incompatible with what most accept to be progressive values. ‘Trolls’ are bashed unmercifully, whether they are diarists or commenters or trolls at large in the society (like Limbaugh or Gingrich or Coulter). It almost never happens here that there is a hidden comment without bashing or ridiculing commentary within the comment threads. One reason, according to Tajfel, may be that people feel the need to demonstrate their loyalty to the in-group which most of us here belong to through such bashing. I am not contending that those of us who love the Daily Kos behave worse than other people in our society - I don’t believe that at all! I just mean we are not immune to the behavior. It can also be seen any time there is a diary on the Arab-Israeli question, and it was strongly in evidence during the Primary Wars on the Daily Kos, in which supporters of any candidate other than ours were in an out-group relative to those who supported the same candidate we did.

I don’t know to what extent in-group/out-group dynamics can be overcome, but I know it isn’t behavior that MUST be indulged in, if only because it is rarely evident in the TC community. Too, I know important role models on the Daily Kos who set standards of good, balanced, highly effective political behavior without resorting to the hysteria and histrionics of ... some others.

Even so,  where in-group loyalty plays a role in behavior even among progressives, what I do not see is organized political philosophy (on behalf of progressives) that plays on in-group loyalty for dramatic political advantage. With conservatives we see that all the time, in their campaigns of divisiveness. They love nothing more than to inflame their voters with opportunities to bash and discriminate against gays or the gender community, for example, or those who support reproductive choice. Any measure is fair game, in their view, for exercising their vicious in-group loyalty, even amendments to the US and state constitutions to enshrine discrimination in documents which were intended to guarantee, not restrict civil rights.

I don’t think we progressives are guilty of that approach, of that abuse of in-group/out-group dynamics and tensions, for political advantage.

To close I would ask you to view a video from my beloved West Wing. In this little video we see Ainsley Hayes, a Republican strategist Bartlet hired to help the administration. Hayes was not merely a Republican, she was a beautiful, intelligent and highly dangerous political adversary. Two attorneys in the White House counsel’s office, perhaps to demonstrate their in-group loyalty, send Ainsley Hayes a wicked looking flower arrangement to let her know what they think of her. Sam and the regulars realize how wrong that is, and they throw this small party to welcome Ainsley Hayes into the larger, more inclusive group they hope to form in the world. This episode brought tears to my eyes, when I first saw it, as a ‘better way,’ and it brings the same tears to my eyes tonight.

Here’s to the better way. And here’s to ALL of us being an us, instead of thems.

As Edwin Markham said:

He drew a circle that shut me out —

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

Thank you all for a superb three years, and I hope to see you in this diary on 6/14/2010!

On to comments!

From Jill Richardson:

This graphic comment from JekyllnHyde tells the tale! (Read and recommend this one early, folks, it goes out of recommendability soon!)

From marykk:

For those who fear the Supreme Court bases its rulings on the dictates of the Vatican, musing85 explains that Justice Roberts is just another cafeteria Catholic.   That comment is in response to this one, which isn't nearly so good.

Fom llbear:

Please read noweasels' prayer to conclude your weekend. If there be angels among us, noweasels is one.

My selections:

The Raven asks why anyone should respect 'beliefs.'

I have always liked well-written comments which could be diaries in themselves. Moderation (that is the dkos name of the author of this comment) provides an example, about atheism, theism and agnosticism.

Economics is not my forte, but when I read comments like this one, by DBunn, my interest and curiosity only grows.

Here is another fine diary-length comment by mntleo2 on the problem of being poor.

Top Mojo tonight, courtesy of brillig! Please thank her when you get a chance!

Top 30 Comments excluding first comments, tip jars, and other stuff:

  1) Better not by Guest from EU — 111
  2) If you were to ask Scott Roeder why he killed by nicweb — 94
  3) A thousand recs. by Chicagoa — 89
  4) yo electronicmaji, important: by G2geek — 82
  5) How Dick Cheney deserves to be treated by nailbender — 81
  6) I wonder how long by MadRuth — 77
  7) Sometimes the best help one can give by Clem Yeobright — 76
  8) It's a great column. by vernonbc — 74
  9) what does barbara ehrenreich know? by Christopher Preston — 72
10) IMO - it can't happen often enough. by Chicagoa — 67
11) Areyou NUTS!! by ctkeith — 66
12) Surplus people by DBunn — 66
13) Bless the Blogs by hilltopper — 66
14) Marching to Khomeini's Shrine by timewarp — 66
15) No, we need to get past the notion that we can't by nailbender — 66
16) About 1,000 times more info hear than on the... by BenGoshi — 65
17) You obviously don't understand most of his diary by Ezekial 23 20 — 64
18) Gotta give it up for Nico Pitney at HuffPo by bosdcla14 — 59
19) And the answer is... by Fake Virginia — 58
20) it being late in the day... by jessical — 58
21) I don't have any issues tonight, but by blue jersey mom — 56
22) Twitters claim Mousavi says not to go by moon in the house of moe — 55
23) Returning to the source of the Islamic Republic by arthura — 55
24) foreign intervention would be disastrous now by Stroszek — 54
25) People who win legitimately by socratic — 52
26) I have never imagined by noweasels — 50
27) O Hai, Happy Sunday Everybody..... by ebbinflo — 50
28) Disagree option. by raf — 50
29) The GOP wants to use it as a way to say by MinistryOfTruth — 50
30) Both are sociopaths by Cali Techie — 49

Top 30 comments with no exclusions:

  1) Tip Jar by electronicmaji — 539
  2) Tip Jar by snkscore — 438
  3) Tip Jar by Clifflyon — 384
  4) Tip Jar by Jill Richardson — 321
  5) Tip Jar by Fake Virginia — 315
  6) Tip Jar by Setrak — 293
  7) Tip Jar by bobswern — 264
  8) Tip Jar by I said GOOD DAY sir — 255
  9) Tip Jar by MooingChoir — 207
10) Tip Jar by Meteor Blades — 189
11) TJ by FrankCornish — 161
12) Tip Jar by DParker — 153
13) Tip Jar by AndyS In Colorado — 116
14) Better not by Guest from EU — 111
15) Tip Jar by DrSteveB — 109
16) Tip Jar by TXsharon — 106
17) If you were to ask Scott Roeder why he killed by nicweb — 94
18) Tip Bank by Trix — 94
19) Tips for having humor by Colorado is the Shiznit — 90
20) A thousand recs. by Chicagoa — 89
21) Tip Jar by bgblcklab1 — 83
22) yo electronicmaji, important: by G2geek — 82
23) How Dick Cheney deserves to be treated by nailbender — 81
24) I wonder how long by MadRuth — 77
25) Kibbles/Quibbles by FlCarat — 77
26) Sometimes the best help one can give by Clem Yeobright — 76
27) It's a great column. by vernonbc — 74
28) Sorry. by NCrissieB — 72
29) what does barbara ehrenreich know? by Christopher Preston — 72
30) IMO - it can't happen often enough. by Chicagoa — 67

Please submit your choices below! :)

Originally posted to BeninSC on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:00 PM PDT.

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