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Starting Monday, you’ll be able to write your own diary on FDL.

Today at the FDL caucus at Netroots Nation, we announced the debut of the Oxdown Gazette, which will launch on Monday, July 21. At the helm will be Ari Rabin-Havt, formerly of Harry Reid’s office. The "recommended diaries" headlines will run in a box on the front page of FDL, and for the first week everyone who writes a diary that gets to the #1 spot will get a free book featured on the FDL Book Salon.

It is sure to be a wild and wooly place. And it is my most heartfelt wish that the first number one diary will be by Rahm Emanuel, entitled "Jane Hamsher is An Asshole."

A girl can dream, can’t she?

There are several reasons we decided to do a diary blog at this time. One, we could. We had a special diary version of WordPress written just for this purpose, and it’s a thing of beauty, the next generation up from most of the diary blog software out there. We’re also opening up our social networking tools so people can join together with other folks in their own community, or worldwide along common interest lines, in order to take action.

Secondly, the conversation in the blogosphere is — I sincerely hope — about to change. Up until now, we’ve been united in opposition to George Bush, and consumed simply with keeping things from getting worse. But with the possibility of an Obama presidency, we’re going to begin talking about what we affirmatively want, and the best way to get it.

That’s what Oxdown is all about.

Even casual observers of Congress can tell you that they spend most of the day naming post offices, and do their serious business at night, away from the prying eyes of the public. Watchdog groups like the ACLU are shut out until the last minute from participation in the ugliest legislation so as to limit their ability to mobilize.

We want to change that.

We want Oxdown to be the place people go to discuss the sausage making process. We’ll be pushing for more transparency in Congress, for bills to be posted online before they can be voted on. We want to create a town square where politicians, lobbyists, interest groups, and concerned citizens collect to discuss how we make change happen. A place where we get to look at where influence is peddled, where spin meets reality. Where it becomes much more difficult for our elected officials to say one thing and do another.

I’ve known Ari for years, and he’s the perfect man for the job. He’s got his fingers in many DC pies, and he’s always the person I call when I want to know what’s really happening on the Hill. His knowledge of congressional procedure is second to none, and he knows where the bodies are buried. But best of all, he’s a true progressive and a natural organizer. He will, I know, work tirelessly to make Oxdown a place where ordinary folks can peel back the curtain and not only see their government in action, but come together to take action.

And where does the name Oxdown Gazette come from?

Hell if I know. Show up Monday and ask Ari.