The Patch

May 29, 2007

Folks you should read.

Filed under: Miscellany — freshlysqueezedcynic @ 6:44 pm

Hi kids, it’s definitely been a while. But I’ve been busy doing that thing where they make you sit in a room for three hours and force you to remember everything you’ve learned in the past year or so. (But a rant about exams and their actual effects will come another day.)

To date, my political education, especially of the nuances and underlying problems of American politics, has been helped immeasurably by American blogs, some of which you definitely should read at any cost, because for reasoned commentary, awareness, and simple not-sucking, unlike the plethora of mainstream “wisdom” you tend to get in American op-ed pages, there are none better.

Glenn Greenwald – Starting his blog on October 2005 as a mere blogspot blog, which can still be found here, Glenn is an attorney who has consistently hammered the Bush administration on its’ attack upon basic civil liberties. The guy rose meteorically from humble beginnings in the blogosphere (dear God, I hate that word) – from that blogspot blog; he got credit from the Washington Post for breaking a story about the Bush administration’s illegal wiretapping program,got quoted on the floor of the Senate by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, wrote a bestselling bookabout Bush’s abuse of power, and is now a blog columnist for the online magazine Salon (which is pretty good in itself, despite carrying the profoundly stupid Camille Paglia. But again, another rant, another day). His latest post is a takedown of Tony Blair’s whinging, crybaby “Why do they hate us so much?” editorial in The Times. And it is goooooood. So good I feel rather redundant in sneering at it myself.

Digby – Digby and his/her co-blogger Tristero are awesome. Consistently, wonderfully awesome at digging into what makes the conservative movement in America a) exceptionally scary and b) exceptionally incompetent. Unfortunately, nobody outside the blogosphere (there’s that damn word again) has picked up on our dearest Digby, whilst completely poisonous morons like Ann Coulter still get major columnist and speaking gigs.

Ezra Klein – A self confessed “policy wonk”, Ezra also writesfor the American Prospect and occasionally op-eds for some of the more progressive papers in the US. Ezra’s big focus is health care in America – why it sucks, how it sucks, and what can be done to change it. His “Health of Nations” series (scroll down to the bottom), comparing and contrasting 5 countries with universal health care and America is more or less required reading if you want a basic induction into health care policy. Also he likes Captain Planet.

Daily Kos – The Big Dog of the Blogosphere (seriously, can we get a better name?), a mass-blog of epic proportions containing every single possible subject you could possibly think of from virtually any person from all walks of life. As such, it’s pretty variable, but kos himself, as well as the other “front-pagers” do a pretty good job, although kos is a bit more focused upon electoral politics than the others (not a bad thing per se; but it tends to focus on the more arcane regional issues, due to the regional way American politics works).

Crooked Timber – I know I said I was focusing upon American blogs, but I lied. Crooked Timber is mostly Anglo, but loosely connected to the large and bloated American “Left Blogistan”, and contains a range of opinion (left-leaning, of course) on matters economic and social from all over the place by some seriously intelligent folks mostly from around academia, as well as more fun matters such as why dsquared is intensely wrong about Budweiser.

Deltoid and Pharyngula – the two science blogs I frequent, Deltoid focuses on statistical matters, with a frequent focus upon the faulty methodology and reasoning of deniers of anthropocentric global warming (or in layman’s terms, the fact that it’s our fault the world’s getting so hot so quickly), and smart defenses of the controversial Lancet studies, who are only controversial because we don’t want to admit we might be responsible for the deaths of over half a million Iraqis, whilst the awesome PZ Meyers of Pharyngula focuses on evolutionary biology, specifically upon why it is fundamentally the right way to interpret the data we have about the world around us and why the people who try to pick holes in it are the worst kind of dribbling morons (my apologies to readers who do believe in Intelligent Design or even Young-Earth Creationism for the crude terms in which I describe you, but you are. Deal with it.)

Orcinus– Journalist Dave Neiwert’s main focus is the darker side of the right wing conservative movement. “What d’you mean, darker?” I hear you say. “It’s pretty damn dark as it is.” Well, true enough, but it gets worse. Dave’s been reporting on right-wing extremists, racists and neo-Nazis for a hell of a long time now, and he’s also continually noted the links between the extreme right, the conservative media machine and punditry, and the Republican party. He also looks at right-wing domestic terrorism, and how it gets ignored by the US government over the “Islamist threat”. It’s his argument that right-wing commentators like the aforementioned Coulter or Rush Limbaugh take basic tropes of the extreme right wing and “transmits” those tropes into the mainstream until they’re in the public view, and also notes extensively some of the more fascist impulses of that extreme right wing. Not for the faint-hearted.

Sadly, No! , Jesus’ General and Jon Swift – For those severely dispirited by the state of American politics mentioned above, some more light-hearted fare comes in these blogs. Sadly, No! takes the piss out of the more… insane members of the right-wing blogosphere (Gaaah!) and does it with aplomb, panache, and numerous dick jokes. Occasionally there is a rant by the peerlessly angry HTML Mencken, which are also hilarious, if only for the sad tale of American imperialism we all know and love. Jon Swift and Jesus’ General are simply the finest parodies of the right wing possible, and after reading bone-headed opinions for an hour, it’s good to see that satire truly isn’t dead.

Go, read. I’ll be trying to add these to our blogroll. And failing, natch.

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