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If I were to ask you when you started reading FDL, I’d probably get all kinds of answers, from the Lamont primary against Joe Lieberman, the outing of Valerie Plame, the trial of Scooter Libby, the battles over FISA and warrantless wiretapping, the 2008 or 2010 elections, the health insurance reform fight, the Prop 8 trial, and so on.

But if I were to ask you  why you started reading FDL, and why you keep coming back, you’ll probably give me variations on a single answer: FDL makes me think. FDL engages me. FDL tells me something I didn’t know. FDL helps me analyze what I already knew. Most of all, FDL pushes me to act on what I learned. FDL makes me think; it changes how I view and live in the world.

I can think of a lot worse things to be accused of than that.

FDL gives you news. Not horse-race speculations or the spin-of-the-day, but real news. (You want horse-racing commentary? Try the Sunday Talking Head shows.)

FDL gives you analysis. Not simply “here’s what happened” but also “here’s what it means.”

FDL takes a stand. You won’t see posts here that say “Is the earth flat? Opinions differ . . .” (unless it’s Eli with his tongue buried in his cheek).  Instead, you get “The earth is not flat, and those who say otherwise are trying to sell you something.” You won’t see “he said, she said.” Instead, you get “He said, she said, and this one is lying because . . .”

And best of all, FDL does all of that with a flair and style that is infectious. Perhaps it is a well chosen metaphor, or a visual image paired with the post, or the snark and satire and humor. One way or another, FDL writers grab your attention and make you think.

For example . . . personally, I love TBogg and his very astute theological acumen. With one well-chosen (or well-invented) word — Godbotherers –  TBogg sums up volumes and volumes of theological scholarship on prayer, idolatry and violating the first commandment (see his thoughts in this vein on Sarah Palin, Franklin Graham, or Rick Perry and his friends), and Tbogg has a lot more flair and style than most academic theologians. Also. Too.

But he’s just one writer. Look at the “About Us” page, and you’ll see an amazing collection of people who write for FDL. As a group, it’s an enormously educated bunch, both in terms of advanced degrees and professional credentials, as well as lots of “real world” experience in all kinds of fields. We don’t live and work in a bubble, or aspire to become DC Villagers, but we involve ourselves in our communities, listen to those we meet (in person and online), and bring that experience to our writing. We are lawyers, medical people, law enforcement professionals, clergy, business people, entertainers, and activists, and we write on economics, law, health care, sexuality, pop culture, politics, religion, international affairs, the military and more. We are urban, suburban, and rural; east coast, west coast, corn belt, rust belt, sun belt; tech lovers and semi-luddites; we have a variety of family configurations, sexual orientations, and financial situations.

And yet, despite all that variety, there is one thing — one very important thing — that we share: passion. We see injustice, and name it for what it is. We see abuse, and we call it out. Most of all, we see those who perpetuate these things, and we demand accountability.

One way or another, we want to make you think.

Last year, the KC Star’s cartoonist Lee Judge came out with a book titled The Stuff They Wouldn’t Print: A Collection of Rejected Political Cartoons. In one of the essays with the cartoons, he says:

Political cartoons aren’t just cartoons about politics. They’re cartoons that are political. They have a motive. They’re trying to persuade, to push public opinion in a certain direction. They are, as someone once said, “art on an errand.”

Political cartoons should express opinions and, if possible, offer insight. . .

Bad political cartoons, says Judge, don’t say anything and don’t take any kind of stand, which leads to this:

There’s only one problem: it’s boring. It’s not engaging. You didn’t make anyone mad, but you also didn’t make anyone think. . . Disagreeing with something forces you to use your brain, figure out why you disagree, and marshal your arguments. In short, you’re thinking, and that’s involving.

Judge is talking about political cartooning, but it sure sounds like political blogging at FDL. We’re not afraid to get you to think, and to get you involved.

FDL is independent. We aren’t in anyone’s Veal Pen, and we don’t get big checks from George Soros, someone’s trust fund, corporate PR accounts, or anyone’s campaign coffers.

Instead, we have members. We have readers who see all that FDL provides, and want to see to it that this kind of independent media continues to thrive. Some members kick in $45/year, $120/year, or $1000/year, so that FDL can keep kicking ass and taking names. Some provide memberships to those who can’t afford even $45/year.

To those who are already members, let me say thanks. To those who are not, now’s the time to become one.

Think about it.

News. Analysis. Passionately taking a stand. Flair and style.

Where else do you get all that FDL provides?

*crickets*

Independent Media. Kick ass activism. That’s FDL.

And you help make it happen. Thanks.