The top 6 bloggers &/or personalities that are smart

The Daily Caller dailycaller.com

To commemorate this week’s launch of the news blog Eye Street here at the Daily Caller, we’re ditching the blogroll for something more personal — a quick recap of some of our favorite political hotspots, and why we love them. (Note: Some readers have emailed asking whether this is an entirely exhaustive list of smart bloggers. The answer is yes.)

6. ezra klein

Why we love him: 25-year old wunderkind Ezra Klein shares more than a few similarities with The Office’s Ryan Howard. He works for a struggling paper company. Men chase him. And if you squint, he even kind of looks like Ryan Howard. Three strikes, we’re in love.

First, though, it’s necessary to get some dirty laundry out of the way. Back when he blogged in between final exams and keggers (circa 2007), Klein made waves for arguing that the Nazis, for all their bad press, did a “pretty good job” increasing economic growth. Just a year later, he tweeted that the late Tim Russert should be “f—ked with a spicy acid-tipped dick.”

We reached out to Klein to see if he wanted to clarify those comments for an unrelated hit piece we were working on, but he directed us to his already public explanation: It was a private Twitter account. Would you like it if someone revealed what was on your private Twitter account? (We had our editorial staff check their private Twitter accounts, and sure enough, there were acid-tipped dicks pretty much everywhere. Point for Klein.)

But the big reason to read Klein’s Washington Post blog is that he doesn’t work for himself. He works for you. If you’re a single-mother without health insurance, for example, just shoot Klein an email and he’ll head to an online calculator that you could probably head to yourself and tell you just how much President Obama’s recently passed health-care legislation will help you turn your life around. As anyone who’s asked Markos Moulitsas for directions knows, that’s the kind of dedication most bloggers just don’t have.

Probably the only thing about Klein that gives us pause is his almost unfailing defense of the recently passed health-care reform bill,  to the point that he overlooks flaws in some sinking ships like the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) – the “good kind of market” that he says is working as a “cost control” for federal employees. The FEHBP’s premiums have risen substantially faster than premiums in the private insurance market, and we’re not afraid to point it out.* Even if it means we’re probably racists.

*To be fair, neither was Klein. Last October, anyway.

5. glenn reynolds

One-line blurb that doesn’t really make it clear where the hell the link will take you.

4. nate silver

We reached out to Nate of fivethirtyeight.com and got no response, probably because our e-mail subject was “Hey numberz guy” and our body text consisted entirely of a Sudoku puzzle that, when solved, would have provided Silver with our office telephone number.

Per the Fairness Doctrine or something, here’s some dirt everyone already knows. For all his hiding behind the apparent impartiality of big numbers, Silver occasionally lets his leftist impulses run amok. In a political piece claiming to be a statistical count of Tea Party protesters last year, for example, he repeatedly referred to Tea Partiers as “teabaggers,” which Urban Dictionary defines as “one who slaps another person in the face with his nad sack.” Silver also simply refused to include in his tally several Tea Party gatherings – including one in Indianapolis that drew over 10,000 attendees – in order to reach his made-for-retweets conclusion that a typical “Michigan football game” is more popular than the National Tea Party movement.

Alas, the only time Silver doesn’t like using big numbers is when he’s describing tea party crowds.

3. matt yglesias

Why we love him: Anyone looking for insight into American politics and foreign policy should look no further than Yglesias, the twenty-eight year old who made a name for himself when he started blogging at HARVARD. Where he studied PHILOSOPHY. And graduated MAGNA CUM LAUDE.

In fact, it seems anyone looking for insight into anything should look no further than Yglesias’ blog. A commenter once asked Yglesias what he thought about water shortage issues in Colorado, a complex local issue that he undoubtedly understands well after two decades of living in New England cities and fuming behind his laptop. Here’s how The Oracle responded, c/o David Appell:

I’m far from an expert on this, but normally, when you see shortages you’re looking at an effort to allocate a valuable resource by regulatory fiat (and therefore special interest political clout) rather than price. Thus, I was strongly predisposed to favor this proposal for tradeable water rights from Michael Greenstone at Brookings when I read it months ago and reading it again it still seems right.

In: An ill-advised question posed to a blogger with no expertise on the subject matter. Out: A half-hearted link to a proposal with questionable relevance to said subject matter that “still seems right,” without any critical assessment of the implications that proposal would have for Coloradoans. Or anyone.

There’s at least a tacit acknowledgment from Yglesias at the beginning that the whole post is a waste of time, but it’s not clear why a writer would pen something he knows and readily admits is a waste of time before he even puts the pen to paper.

There’s a simple answer, which is that bloggers aren’t really writers in the first place. In fact, that’s how Yglesias responded to Appell’s criticism: I’m just a blogger; I’m not supposed to delve into issues, learn all the facts, or say anything with a hint of relevance or substance; I’m just supposed to hit the “post” button ten times a day and tweet even more.

The trouble’s that, when young Yglesias isn’t reading Brookings articles and looking erudite in-between posts, he’s sneaking in some MSNBC Olbermann-hour rhetoric that just kills the pretense:

“Bigotry is an integral element of the conservative movement,” Yglesias wrote on Sunday of the Tea Party health care protesters on Capitol Hill, adding that racism is “the dark cancer at the heart of modern American conservatism.”

You might ask how a philosophy major can diagnose cancer, but Yglesias is no ordinary philosophy major. He graduated from Harvard. Magna. Cum. Laude.

2. generic media matters

drone

When not busy trying to disprove the very true fact that Rachel Maddow is a man, the interchangeable pseudo-intern drones that comprise Media Matters for America watch thousands of womyn hours of television and scour hundreds of Web sites to expose the media for its deep-seated conservative biases.

But if that sounds depressing, note that there is one major perk of working for MMfA, and it’s the reason we love them: literally everything they post, no matter how devoid of thought or originality, is considered “research.” Just watched twenty minutes of Glenn Beck and heard the word “Marxist?” That’s some mighty fine researching. Just heard Rush Limbaugh raise his voice to make a point? Look for it on the front page. This is the stuff of true scholarship.

It’s a wonder that MMfA, in its humility, has never called out far-right outlets like the New England Journal of Medicine or the Harvard Law Review for peddling their work product as “research.” For whatever reason, those agents of the conservative cabal, as well as countless educational institutions across the country, seem to think that research involves something other than spending days on end compulsively scanning blogs and talk shows for hints of bias.

They’re mistaken, of course, but just to reassure the doubters, it’s worth noting that MMfA’s research is also peer-reviewed to ensure maximum accuracy:

“Modern, American Right-Wing ‘Conservatism’ truly is a mental disease,” wrote one commenter in response to a clip of Fox News’ Red Eye, sounding for all the world like a trained psychologist.

Replied another expert in the field: “Conservativism? More like conservitardism.”

We contacted Media Matters for comment, but the researcher who authored the post in question was on sabbatical, likely finishing his doctorate in Sean Hannity Studies at one of those liberal arts schools that only started admitting men in the 1970s.

1. whoever runs ace of spades

Why we love them: They’re good at the aggregation game. A bit too good.

We realize those figures don’t quite add up to 100 percent. What do we look like, Nate Silver?