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When I was a kid, we cousins drew names to decide who we would buy Christmas gifts for. Two names each, with a $5 price limit. Since there were a lot of us, more than 50, the process helped prevent hurt feelings and kept our small kid budgets in check. Problems with getting a gift we didn't like were resolved through barter. It worked so brilliantly that we kept it up until we were in our 20s and 30s and started drifting away, creating families of our own and losing touch with each other. But I know that at least two of those cousins have continued the process in those new families of theirs.

This year, I'm going to draw two names from the list that you, my political "cousins" here at Daily Kos, put together. And I'm going to give those two people lifetime subscriptions to this site. Happily, because of inflation, those subscriptions fall within the budget guidelines my step-grandmother set for us way back when. Five dollars then is worth about $40 now. So not so far from the $100 a lifetime subscription will cost. And my budget has improved since 1960, too.

But, in fact, that hundred dollars amounts to far more. Because, as you may have heard in the past few days, lifetime Daily Kos subscriptions won't be offered after Dec. 31. Going away permanently. Starting in 2012, annual subscriptions will cost $40. That will still be a fantastic deal. But there is something special about being a lifer at the best on-line political community in the blogosphere. Yes, I said best. Yes, I said community.

When I landed here a century ago in Internet time, nearly a decade ago as the calendar determines it, Daily Kos was one of a handful of such sites. Talking politics and, on a good day, attracting maybe 50 comments. Passion, vision, serendipity, persistence and the brains and hearts of its founder and thousands of people have transformed it since into what it is today, a strong and vital and, let me say it, awesome community that has no equal anywhere. Yes, I said no equal.

daily kos quilt closeup
From the Daily Kos Community Quilt
Of course there are other sites worth visiting every day (and I do), good sites run by good people, including some who don't always agree with the mission of Daily Kos. But there is nothing that quite compares. Some folks bristle at the word "community." After all, we fight, we get entangled in meta, we slip into nastiness, we argue about the most fundamental aspects of where progressives/liberals/leftists and Democrats ought to be heading. We challenge whether some of our fellow Kossacks are truly "reality based."

But that's how communities behave. How families act. My cousins (and their parents) often raised the decibel level in their interactions with each other, especially when the subject was politics. That didn't make them less a community. That didn't stop them from nurturing each other whatever their differences. That didn't stop them from standing together in crunch times.

When the Bush administration was exposed for engaging in torture, one of the most prominent members of this community made torture a Front Page issue for more than a year. When a Kossack recently seemed suicidal, 20 others stepped in to talk him down and take action. When public workers in Wisconsin found themselves under assault by the Republican governor and GOP-dominated legislature, we became among their staunchest allies and a megaphone for their views and actions. When the Occupy movement sprang onto the scene just three months ago, the surge of diaries—yes, some of us can't quite get ourselves to call them "posts" yet—was phenomenal. And it remains so, even though some Kossacks believe they have no place here. When a member falls seriously ill, s/he may soon find herself or himself the recipient of a quilt put together with the love and skills of its maker and the dollars of other Kossacks. When a great candidate for Senate stepped forward in Massachusetts, we raised tens of thousands of dollars for her even though some Kossacks are suspicious of the benefits of electoral politics altogether.

I don't need to say that we don't all agree about everything. We never will. And sometimes in our disputes with each other, with our cousins here, we are going to get loud. We're going to wrestle. But we're still going to be a community. Again, I say, the best political community on the Internet.

So, this Christmas—sorry, calling it that is a long-time habit that has nothing to do with Bill O'Reilly—I am going to give two life-time subscriptions to a couple of Kossacks. I will draw them from among the choices of whoever reads this diary and passes names of potential recipients on to me. You can do that in the comment thread. Or you can send me an email. I'll announce the results of the drawing next Sunday at this time. Anybody whose name I receive who gets a life-time subscription from somebody else before next Sunday will be removed from the list ahead of time.

I hope those of you who can afford to do so will follow my example. Or forget having your own drawing and just give the gift of a lifetime subscription to someone who you think deserves, needs or would like one. Tell her or him you did it. Or keep it a secret, as several subscription-givers have already done in the past few days.

But, remember, my cousins, if you are going to do it, the deadline is rapidly approaching. After Dec. 31, this will be a gift you can never give again.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Sun Dec 11, 2011 at 11:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, Progressive Policy Zone, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, DK GreenRoots, Street Prophets , DK Grants, Barriers and Bridges, DKOMA, and Team DFH.

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