Morning Feature is a year old! Wow. And what a year it has been…

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We’ve learned a lot over this past year — sometimes from the diaries and sometimes from witnessing that sausage-making of real life politics (can anyone say healthcare reform?)

But we’ve made it through the year, a little older, hopefully a little wiser… And today we gather to pay tribute to Morning Feature; its creator, one NCrissieB; and the entire MF community. Coffee and cake for all!

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I’m totally dating myself here with a Beatles reference, but whenever I scan through the comments and see a quick succession of three “Good Morning” subject lines, I always expect the fourth comment to read “AH!”  (erm, listen to the song, embeded below for your listening pleasure… There are always plenty of comments that begin and end with “good morning” so that ditty is on endless loop in my brain most mornings.) But it was another line in that song kept popping into mind as I prepped from this morning’s diary… I read through the blogrolls, read a ton of scattered comments, and corresponded with a few regulars and there was one overriding sentiment. We come here for the intelligent diaries and erudite discussions, yes – but there are plenty of well-written, interesting diaries. What brings us here on a regular basis is community.  You know, “MF” means something entirely different in other diaries and you do not wander into the middle of some of the Obama is a sellout/give the man a chance flame wars. No matter how depressing the news or how vitriolic the rest of DKos may be, Morning Feature is a safe haven. However bad your mood may be before coming to MF, once here “after awhile you start to smile, then you feel cool…”

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Crissie’s profile in Cheers and Jeers, I’ll give the brief highlight on why Crissie writes Morning Feature (but it’s worth reading the entire profile when you get a chance! My favorite part is Crissie’s answer to “In the kitchen I make a mean…”)

Morning Feature’s mission is to invite civil, informed dialogue on political issues, where we can learn from each other and disagree without being disagreeable. Blogistan Polytechnic Institute began as a self-referential joke about how everyone in the blogosphere is an “expert,” and grew to be part of the Morning Feature patois. BPI’s motto—Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”)—gave birth to our faculty –wine cellar– library. The rest of the BPI legend grew organically in asides and reader comments.

I think glendaw271 testified to the success of Crissie’s mission of “civil, inforned dialogue… where we can disagree without being disagreeable” in her comment the other day: “As a long-time lurker of many sites, it’s hard to overcome that first feeling of ‘No one cares what I think.’ I want to thank morning feature for easing the way into becoming a commenter here at Kos.”

As an occasionally diarist here, I had one question for Crissie that was not covered in the Cheers and Jeers profile: just how do you write so well so fast!?!?

Simply, I treat it like a job. (Once we get the BPI/MF website up and running, maybe it will be.) I have a regular daily schedule, and a regular weekly schedule. That and over 20 years of professional writing experience really help. The rest is mostly a blend of curiosity and caffeine. ::winks::

I contacted a few of the Krew to comment on why they return here morning after morning and I’ll list their answers next. But I’ll start with my own thoughts on why I love Morning Feature… I remember reading the first Morning Review and I thought it was amazing. Kula picked out great articles to highlight, the comments were insightful and often very funny and Kula herself has a pretty good wit. The Morning Review was my go-to diary during the election and coasting towards inauguration. But Morning Review was about yesterday. Morning Feature is about tomorrow. How do we change the conversation; move away from the conservative frame and towards a progressive mindset? How do we reach the independents? Morning Feature is something you can take with you everyday, making you think about how you glide through our mission of being and electing better Democrats.

Years ago, I needed to become certified in Myers-Briggs and during the seminar, we had to tell the group about our personality type, including one thing we learned in our research. I told about how I discovered I wouldn’t need endless therapy to figure out why I cannot make a phone call – it’s a quirky INFP thing. (phonebanking from this gal? NOT happening!) At the end of the seminar, we had our kumbuya moment where anyone could step forward to tell what they will take away from the experience. One woman, a college professor, told this poignant tale about her student that was about to get kicked out of the doctoral program because she couldn’t do the research – and she now knows that INFPs can’t make phone calls, so she’ll revamp the research study.  That silly little detail changed someone’s life…

I love the comments in MF because those “silly little details” that make up our lives put a human story into everything we fight for. It isn’t about policy, it isn’t us versus them. It is real people who have real problems that need to be solved. And we have to tell these stories. We have to tell why these things matter to us. I’ve had less and less time to spend here lately – and the next few weeks will probably be worse, but I do read the diaries and try to read through at least the first set of comments. I still get a lot out of just being a lurker (“I’ve got nothing to say and it’s okay. Good morning, good morning, good morning AH!” Really, I’ll stop that now…)

And moving on, here are some others’ thoughts on Morning Feature…

kktlaw was an active participant in Kula’s first Morning Reaction and despite the time difference, continues to participate in MF in real time. I’m barely functioning at 7:00 a.m. I don’t know how (or why) she does it! (okay, I actually do know why…) kkt is the official recruiter for the MF “convention” in Las Vegas this summer. I’m sure she’ll be happy to recruit throughout the comments this morning!

kktlaw:

 

I’ve seen Morning Reaction develop into Morning Feature, and watched the development of Blogistan Polytechnic Institute with all its various and colorful characters. I’ve watched the Kula Krew develop ourselves into a thoughtful, kind, intellectually challenging, caring community. It feels like a family. There is a spirit here that I’ve seen no place else on DKos, and that I don’t even feel in my local Democratic organization, even though I see those people in person often. In the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person Crissie, winterbanyan, and theKgirls. All have been even greater in person than I could have ever known. This is a place of enduring friendships and closeness.

I’ve learned more about politics on MF than I’ve learned in my 50+ years. It seems our combination of political intelligence, maturity, and friendship can’t be matched. NCrissieB is the anchor of all of this. She declares humbly that she only starts the discussions, and that the rest of us are the “meat”. She has set the tone (along with winter and others) for what Morning Feature is. And her Pulitzer-quality essays have drawn in hundreds of new MF’ers. Several times, we’ve heard Crissie’s diaries echoed in the MSM.

Our guest diarists are wonderful also. Caractus, Kgirls, FarWestGirl, Minerva in NH, JanF (who has come out of her diary shell), KV, and so many others have provided variety on essential topics with information we never would have never learned, but for their knowledge and expertise. So, what’s not to like? How could anyone NOT come back here to stay?

Most memorable series or topic:

Well, this is difficult. Between all Crissie’s thoughtful diaries and the guest diarists (I’m pointing at you, Caractacus!), it’s pretty hard to pick a favorite. I really enjoyed Crissie’s series on narratives. I loved her Lakoff series. I remember and liked the Overton Window diaries. I just can’t pick a favorite. Crissie has got to be one of the most intelligent political writers we have. Her humor is unmatched, also. If anyone here hasn’t joined in on a Sunday “Ask Ms. Crissie” (every Sunday)…. Well, you just must. All the BPI players come out from their respective hiding places (the poker table, the  library wine center, the hot tub, etc.) and Chef cooks up her best recipes for us too.

Hugggggs for our one year Morning Feature. And special Hugggggs to Crissie!!!

LI Mike has been very active in local politics and, just through his comments, has taught me a lot about politics in the real world (no ponies or rainbows for anyone.) He’s so committed to the Democratic party and local politics, he gives up golf! In retirement!!!!! (And a special round of applause and hugggggs for MrsLI Mike for her contributions as well.)

LI Mike:

  1. What is your earliest memory of Morning Feature?

I can remember being impressed with the tone and how Crissie was so soliticitous of Kula. So the tone attracted me along with the quality of the conversation. I remember how surprised I was with the warmth of MF signified by the ubiquitous hugs. I think Winterbanyan giving me my first MF hug.

  1. What keeps you coming back?

Such a great blend of erudition, good cheer and humor. Hard to come by. It’s like being at Cheers only closer to Harvard sensibility. Great way to start the morning. Ms LIMike watches the Today Show and I read MF.

  1. What is the most memorable series or topic you can remember?

I remember Crissie providing her unique insights built around a TED talk given by the psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Haidt asserts that our political choices are formed by 5 moral values possessed by all with different emphasis placed on each value depending on placement on the political spectrum. I didn’t know about Haidt until MF and Crissie brought it to my attention. I brought these ideas to a group I belong to as we discuss how to change the world.

Caractacus recent discussion of the Political Brain by Westen was a useful MF discussion. Southampton Town’s special election town board candidate recently asked — out of the blue — if I’ve read the Political Brain. No, but I’ve read about it on Morning Feature.

FarWestGirl’s recent diary reminding us to respond to rightwing baloney and to not forget about low information voters was a helpful diary for all of us.

So many diaries are very useful and I have been able to bring this information to my Democratic and other activist endeavors. A number of times I’ve said to a group “I was reading on Daily kos the other day” — meaning something that came up in MF. I actually did it just the other night relating a comment that passed between me and Deoliver47.

BlueStateRedHead is volunteers a lot of her time in local politics, in “town of the bean and the cod” and as the Professor of Analytical Linguistics, she loves “word play, and words in general, in several languages.” (I confess that on many mornings, BSRH’s word play is my signal that I am way under-caffeinated. I. Must. Have. Coffee. I need another cup to get those brain synapses firing…)

BlueStateRedHead:

  1. What is your earliest memory of Morning Feature?

I remember the transition with the paragraph to dedication to Kula and getting a sense that the new form was going to be even better than the first.

  1. What keeps you coming back?

MFers, of course.

  1. What is the most memorable series or topic you can remember?

There were many I thought worth forwarding to my daughter. There are too many. The early series using game theory and poker — I always cite it when describing MF to others. Fear and Loathing in MA — tell the kgirls that with approximately 300 diaries on MF, their mom’s was the only title I remembered. The blogroll records the dates that I thought were personal high points, like the day I committed myself to word play….and maybe when we formed BPI.

JanF is somewhat of a latecomer to MF, but quickly became an integral part of the community. Her Top of the Morning feature and the Coffee Spew awards (a personal favorite of Meteor Blades, no less) has been a great addition to the morning banter. And you may not realize this, but no matter how late in the day you make a comment on MF, you’re likely to get a tip and response from Jan — she reads it all. Well done, I’m in awe.

JanF:

Like many Morning Feature denizens, I came here for the brilliant analysis and writing of NCrissieB and stayed for the conversation. This is the only place I know of on DailyKos where one can actually discuss a topic with a back and forth conversation, not only with the diarist but with other thoughtful people. Prior to that time, I had been a drive-by commenter happy satisfied to leave a nugget of wisdom and move on to the next topic du jour.

When I sat down to write this and to answer the question “What is your earliest memory of Morning Feature?” I had it wrapped in a warm, gauzy memory that, like many warm, gauzy memories, was not based in fact. Ironically, it was a comment on August 19 by NCrissieB about reverse-engineered journalism (whereby the facts are shaped to fit the conclusion) that led me to Morning Feature. After finding that comment in a diary about a WaPo article I spotted a Morning Feature diary a couple of days later where the first confluence of JanF and Morning Feature occurred. The rest is history. (Brings a little tear to your eye, doesn’t it?)  

And in a moment of synchronicity, my first “hugs” (being an extremely reserved person they did not occur until 9/13) were to kktlaw when she invited me to a Morning Feature birthday celebration in September (perhaps after losing her calendar?): “Your comments are wonderful, and I hope you’ll participate as a loyal MFer in our birthday celebration, whatever it is.

Now, on the actual birthday celebration, all I can say is: Thanks for the warm welcome, the hugs, the brilliant diaries and the conversation.

Oh, and one last thought as we all praised Crissie’s brilliance. I don’t mean to tarnish the image, but sigh, I did uncover one instance where Crissie was hopelessly wrong. She believed that Sarah Palin would fade away. That will teach you to underestimate the gullibility of the American public!

Now let’s all sing along — Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning Ah