If you want to be great at something, it helps to have great role models. This was my inspiration for researching and releasing my picks of the 24 best conservative blogs. Why 24? Well, it was 25 until late last night when the Green Bay Packers traded my favorite player of all time to the New York Jets. So in honor of #4, Brett Favre, I made it my top twenty-four.
Since graduating from Arizona State University a couple months ago, I've never second-guessed my decision to pursue blogging as a career over work in the mainstream media. While I might be earning more than my current two-figure-per-year income if I had chosen otherwise, I decided three years ago that the future of real journalism is in blogs. The quality of content I read at the dozens of political blogs I visit daily far exceeds most of what I read from mainstream publications.
I spend nearly thirty hours per week perusing blogs that interest me in an effort to continue my education, remain informed on current events, find interesting stories to pass along and add my two cents to, and improve my own writing abilities. This list will be a valuable source for anyone who wishes to remain up-to-date with the best in conservative political analysis. I urge you to visit these blogs and let me know if you agree. I don't view any of them as my competition, fighting for our little pieces of the same pie. I view them as my ideological friends, the people who are going to (along with me) help build a bigger pie for everyone to share in according to the value each blog adds.
I decided to adopt a somewhat scientific method of rating each blog, but obviously any list of one person's favorites will be influenced by personal opinion in many ways, so it's important that you know what criteria I used to reach my conclusions. I rated each blog that I regularly read from 1-10 in ten different categories. Here are my criteria:
1. Quality of posts and analysis: How useful and informative is the material in general? Is the analysis unique and in-depth, or do I leave with unanswered questions or feeling like I've read the same thing elsewhere?
2. Quantity of posts: How regularly does the author post? Do I visit the site many times a day because I don't want to miss anything?
3. Authoritativeness/trustworthiness: Is the blogger an authority in his field? If not, do the posts show an obvious knowledge of the subject at hand?
4. Originality of content/analysis: Will I find original work, or does the blogger simply rehash other people's opinions? Does he bring a unique viewpoint that, while conservative, makes you think about something in a way you haven't before?
5. Humor/wit: Politics, like almost anything, needs to make us laugh sometimes or we'd just be pissed off all the time. Bloggers who can make me laugh are golden in my book. Incidentally, some of the funniest bloggers are the ones who provide the most serious and in-depth posts. You can do both, and do both well.
6. Interaction/Community: Do you feel like part of the discussion, or is the blogger preaching to you? I awarded high marks for either high visitor comments, good forums, or if the blogger actively responds to people who comment. You rarely find a highly-commented blog where the blogger still responds, and that's understandable. But I rewarded the blogs that personally respond to comments. This is a big goal of my blog. While I haven't received a ton of comments to this point, I do make a point to respond to nearly everyone who takes the time to post a worthwhile comment. Still, I would have scored low in my own ratings because the quantity of comments is just too few right now.
7. Newsworthiness/ease of use: I combined two criteria here to keep it down to ten. Could I visit the blog once a day before bed and be up-to-date on most of what is going on in conservative politics, without having to ever visit another site? For ease of use, I downgraded sites that make it difficult to find what you are looking for.
8. Variety of topics: Does the blogger post on a vast array of sub-categories of conservative concerns, or is it mainly focused on one aspect of conservatism? Tightly-focused blogs will rate lower here, but are often very authoritative and trustworthy.
9. Likability/beer factor: When I read a post do I feel like I know the blogger? If so, do I like him? How much would I enjoy going out with the blogger for a beer or six? This includes humor, wit, outspokenness and intelligence.
10. What Would Reagan Say? This is numero uno for me. If Ronald Reagan were alive, I'd want him to support the content and message of my blog. So Reagan Conservatives rank highest here.
These are my criteria. With no further ado, here are my picks.
24. Atlas Shrugs
Pamela Geller had a fine career in the mainstream media before the attacks of 9/11 forced her to rethink her viewpoint. Now she authors Atlas Shrugs, and (I just learned) has a local radio show here in Phoenix that I will be sure to check out. Her blog is full of high-quality, original content that you are unlikely to find elsewhere on your own. She mainly focuses on the War on Terror, and does so from her religious point of view. Still, she is a great source for information on the ongoing war, on foreign policy, and on Islamo-fascism. From time to time she focuses on other conservative concerns as well. I check in a couple times a week to see what's new.
Donald Luskin runs this site, one of my all-time favorite blog names. (When is that book coming out, Don?) You may know Luskin from his frequent guest appearances on the CNBC show Kudlow & Company. Luskin posts less-frequently than many of my favorite bloggers, but is consistently dead-on in his analysis and the stories he links to. He seems used to being the smartest person in the room at any given time (giving off a vibe of friendly, good-humored arrogance) and has fun ripping liberal ideology. He also posts clips from his TV appearances, which inevitably feature him tearing apart some hapless liberal on the economic and political issues of the day.
Many fans of conservative blogging will be surprised by this choice, but I have been working on increasing my knowledge of economics as it pertains to conservative politics, and he's kept me informed and entertained. He will do the same for you.
22. Little Green Footballs
I no longer endorse lgf. I saw what was good about the site, and missed what was not. What is not is not on the side of individual liberty and limited government, and I apologize for those who I have wrongly steered there.(4/18/09)
The primary author of TigerHawk (who goes by the same name) has one major problem in my book: he's an Iowa Hawkeyes fan. Sorry, I'm a rabid Wisconsin Badgers fan. But at least we mostly see eye-to-eye on politics. This blog neither excels in any of my criteria, nor does it rate poorly in any area. It features pretty regular, fairly-high quality posts, and is pretty entertaining. The community seems pretty intelligent and loyal, and I check out the blog pretty regularly. So should you, but don't forget to give him a hard time about his Hawkeyes.
In my arrogant opinion (that's what IMAO stands for) Frank J. of IMAO is easily the funniest conservative blogger around. He is our version of Stephen Colbert, but funnier because we agree with him. He pushes the stereotypes of the left to the extreme, while also pushing the left's stereotypes about us to the extreme, and it's equally funny either way. Because most of his work is totally made up out of thin air, his authoritativeness is not high, but I consider him a great authority when it comes to humor. You can spend days lost in his archives, and learn a great deal about how to make your own writing funnier.
A good example of Frank J.'s brilliance is his legendary "Nuke the Moon" piece. Even if you've read it before, it never stops being hilarious. I just read it again and had take a few minutes to regroup so I could finish writing this.
19. Five Feet of Fury
Canadian Kathy Shaidle (why does my previous viewing of South Park make me envision her with a flip-top head?) brings her unique viewpoint to this wonderful blog. Much of her material is original to most Americans simply because we don't pay much attention to our neighbors to the North. But Canada has already embarked on many of the adventures in socialism that a President Obama would help bring to America, which by itself would make her blog valuable reading for conservatives living in any of Obama's 58 states (plus Alaska and Hawaii). Shaidle's blog is known for its large quantity of posts and variety of subjects, and anyone who is being sued for her conservative beliefs is doing something right.
A number of bloggers contribute to this site, but the primary one goes by the name of (not surprisingly) doubleplusundead. The blog features numerous regular posts, boatloads of snarkiness, and is full of originality. The community is not that active, and my hero Reagan might find his humor a little bawdy (damn, that word makes me sound old) at times, but then Reagan could be bawdy himself when he was around the right people. Apparently we are the right people for doubleplusundead. And apparently, doubleplusundead is the right person for John Hawkins of Right Wing News (who will be appearing later on down the list), as Hawkins has added him as a guest contributor. It is a good choice, as is this blog.
Another guest contributor to Right Wing News, Bruce "McQ" McQueen heads this excellent blog devoted to free markets and free people. It rated well above average, if not spectacular, in nearly every criteria I used. The community is solid, the various authors are clearly well-informed on their subjects, and the analysis is excellent, original and often in-depth. With so many authors it lacks a certain voice and personality, but the content is good enough that QandO has risen up this list dramatically in the short time that I've been reading it.
16. The Volohk Conspiracy
The Volohk blogging team focuses largely on law, but also regularly touches on nearly every aspect of life. Brilliant almost to a fault, this is the place to go whenever a legal issue hits the news. Occasionally us mere mortals who didn't major in law find that some of the discussion goes over our heads, and past posts get buried quickly by the sheer volume produced by the various bloggers, but anyone who spends time at this site will quickly become a more knowledgeable person. That's about as high praise as I can offer to a blog, and I am thankful to have this site as a resource. If I spent more time here, it would surely rate much higher than #15. But then I'd have no time left over to view anything else.
15. Right Wing Nuthouse
When I'm institutionalized for my conservative views, I only ask that Comrade Obama allows me to serve my time at the Right Wing Nuthouse. Rick Moran writes a daily essay that is almost always wholly original and thought provoking. Very few daily columnists come close to Moran, and those who do are not bloggers. I don't always agree with him, although I usually do, but I have to read what he's written every day. He writes with unquestionable authority (even though some lefties continue to question him in the comment section, to their own detriment) and is quite witty. Moran is near the top of the list of people I'd like to have a beer with, but I'd probably have to go to his home state of Illinois to do so. Eewwww. As I mentioned earlier, I'm a Cheesehead (although I transplanted myself to Phoenix a decade ago (hmm, a Grilled Cheesehead, maybe?). Still, he's probably my favorite FIB, aside from my family members who have cursed themselves by living in that godawful state. If you click that link, definition #3, usage #3 pretty much sums it up. Despite his unfortunate place of residence, Moran's blog is a must-read.
14. Sister Toldjah
Sister Toldjah writes a nice, well-rounded site that has been a favorite with many conservatives for quite some time. Her posts are high-quality, informative and her analysis is generally superb. The community at the blog is fairly active, and Sister weighs in on the comments of her readers with regularity, which is a big plus in my book. Like QandO,Sister Toldjah rates well in all categories, across the board. Her more active community gives her a slightly higher ranking in my view. Excellent blog that I visit regularly.
13. Patterico's Pontifications
Patterico is a Los Angeles County Prosecutor known for his frequent criticism for the LA Times, (or the LA Dog Trainer, as he calls it) among many other things. I have only come upon his great blog in the last month, but it has quickly become one of my favorites. He offers excellent analysis and is very authoritative in his analysis. The posts are plentiful and feature a greater variety than I would have expected. His guest bloggers are high-quality also, so if Patterico is busy, don't expect to see much drop-off in the content. The community here is also quite active. As I said, this one is moving up the rankings. If you were unaware of it until now, check it out. You'll thank me later.
12. American Thinker
Rick Moran makes another appearance here. Given the large daily column he writes for Right Wing Nuthouse, he would be excused for simply doing that and calling it a day. But no, Moran posts multiple posts daily at this blog as well, and while they aren't column-length, they are in-depth and high-quality. He is joined by a number of other quality posters, including Ed Lasky and Thomas Lifson, two other favorites of mine. Expect to find a good variety of quality, intelligent, and authoritative posts each day. Here is a good recent example, offered up because it's a history lesson that all Americans should know and all conservatives should be able to spout off the top of their heads: Recycling Jimmy Carter
Longtime conservative mainstay PoliPundit has been a favorite of mine for as long as I've read political blogs. We've seen a decrease of activity since PoliPundit himself stopped posting in June, and now the work is done by Michael "AJ" Sparxx and W.C. Varones. As a result, the product has suffered a bit, not due to any fault of Sparxx and Varones, but due to a decrease in quantity of posts. The site is still highly respected and well worth visiting on a regular basis, and has a very strong community. It is not rare to see 100 comments on a given post. The blog rates well in every other category except quantity, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here in the months ahead.
On to the top ten! (Thank God, this is Day Three of me writing this, and now we step things up a bit.) Eking its way into my top ten is Commonsense Political Thought. Dana Pico is the most regular contributor to this blog, and has quickly become one of my personal favorites. Mr. Pico is definitely a solid conservative, but we do not always see eye-to-eye. When I disagree with him, I usually feel like I've gained something of value from the discussion, or from the debate playing out in my head. With this blog you will always find original, quality analysis. The bloggers, especially Pico and Art Downs, do a great job of interacting with the community through comments. I visit this blog a couple times per day and hope to see you there some time soon.
9. Gateway Pundit
This blog scores well across the board with me also, but excels in quality of posts and analysis, quantity of posts, and authoritativeness. It features a solid community as well, typically receiving about a dozen comments per post, but often getting much higher. Gateway covers a broad range of topics and comes off as well-informed on all of them - a difficult thing to do. This is another blog that I only tripped over within the last couple months, but it has quickly become a favorite. Gateway Pundit unfortunately does not offer tell us much about himself on his about page (which is difficult to find), but spend some time there and you'll feel like you know him.
8. Patriot Room
Bill Dupray shows, as others on this list have also, that you don't have to be liberal to be a lawyer. His blog rates high in my criteria for every category. He has quality, entertaining posts on a regular basis, he brings humor to his analysis, and is someone I'd definitely like to have a beer with. I appreciate the smallish but loyal community he has built up through his excellent interaction with readers in the comments section. He also accepts submissions from other writers who hope to gain an audience for their own blogs, and does a good job selecting only the best, except perhaps when he accepts mine. I visit his site a few times each day, and the only thing that bothers me is that it loads pretty slowly. I hope to see you there soon as well.
7. Ace of Spades
I'm really starting to love this blog. As a relative newcomer to Ace of Spades, I've found myself getting lost in the archives on a regular basis lately. Ace and his contributors post numerous high-quality posts daily. He rates high for a site that can keep you up to date on conservative politics all by itself. The posts are often very funny, but contain solid analysis as well. Judging by the size of the community and all the good stuff to be found in the archives, you already knew about this blog long before I did. In the past month, I have been visiting it early every day, and the addiction is growing. I am continually impressed with the blog's grasp of the issues of the day and ability to craft an entertaining read. When I do this list again next year, I am nearly certain that I will be rating this blog higher than I have it currently.
This blog benefits from having many excellent thinkers and writers contributing to it. I have been reading it regularly for only the past three months, but was quickly impressed by everything about it. It rated at least a nine out of ten points in more than half of my criteria. Superb quality of posts and analysis, great quantity, original, full of variety, and an excellent community. One of the highest compliments I can pay a blog is that I'd be honored to be asked to contribute at the site. That holds true for all of my top ten blogs. Wizbang is a daily must-read for me.
When I have to know what the zany left is up to in the world, I go here. Van Helsing's blog exposes daily the latest liberal schemes to endanger freedom and mocks them, usually brilliantly. Van Helsing, by the way, is another contributor to Right Wing News, which will be covered further on down the page. The blog features high quality posts with tons of variety and originality, despite all fitting the common criteria of exploring the idiocy of the left. Really, this is such fertile land that Van Helsing never seems to have any shortage of material. Moonbattery ranked very high in the "What Would Reagan Say?" category, as he basically does every day what Ronald the Great did every day in his radio rants and later in his speeches as President. Truly a superb blog.
4. Power Line
Three more conservative lawyers (John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson and Paul Mirengoff) team-up to write this mainstay of conservative blogging excellence. Power Line solidified its reputation by helping expose Rathergate (along with the previously-mentioned lgf). This blog rated at a "9" or better in nine of my ten criteria, and scored the rare perfect marks in quality of content and analysis and in authority and trustworthiness. The posts are highly original in content and are always very intelligently written. It also features possibly the single best forum for conservative discussion the internet has to offer. You could probably spend most of your blogging time here, exclusively, but then you'd be missing out on so many other quality voices.
Perhaps you know Michelle Malkin from her appearances on Fox News, or from her syndicated newspaper column, or even from her books. But judging by the number of visitors she gets to her blog each day, most of you probably know her for her blog, first and foremost. And it's no wonder why she has so many happy visitors. She is outspoken, she has a sharp wit, and she is highly intelligent. Malkin's blog is the first on this list to score a "9" or higher in all ten criteria (the two coming up did also). She scored perfect for being both authoritative and trustworthy, and her loyal community of followers scored a ten as well. Her comments section may be the most active in terms of sheer numbers. Malkin is also the founder of another blog that you will be seeing shortly. She is easily one of the most talented and most enjoyable writers in the business.
John Hawkins of Right Wing News has probably been my favorite individual blogger since I started heavily reading conservative blogs. Hawkins has been doing this for years, and the experience shows in his ability to get quality interviews across the spectrum of conservative politics. The posts are a of very high quality, Hawkins is authoritative, the analysis is original, and he touches a wide variety of subjects, including some things that are not political in nature. Recently, Hawkins has taken on some guest bloggers to add to the coverage of the site, including the aforementioned Van Helsing and McQ. While this adds to the content, and all of his guest writers are very good, I found it easier to use when it was just him. So be it, I continue visit the site at least once a day and never fail to find plenty of worthwhile content. Hawkins probably comes closer than anyone to having the blog I plan on having for myself someday. You might as well aim big, right?
1. Hot Air
Michelle Malkin's "other" site is my pick as the best conservative blog today. The layout is awesome, it's very appealing and easy to find what's new. A conservative could get all his news from Hot Air and not miss anything of major significance. At any given time, nearly everything that has happened in politics that is of note to conservatives can be found on the front page. Ed Morrissey, the former Captain's Quarters blogger puts this thing over the top. Morrissey is brilliant and puts out a bus load of well-researched, often in-depth material each day. Added with the quick-blogging skills of Allahpundit, and the occasional Malkin post, and this site has almost everything you could ask for. It rated perfect scores in quantity of content, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, and in its community which rivals Malkin's.
This is the first place I visit when I get up in the morning. I probably check it at least another five times almost every day. The team often is the first of the majors to "break" stories of interest, and as I said before, it's easy to find what's new. I would ask you to check it out, but every blogger and most readers probably already do.
Incidentally, Conservatism Today would have ranked somewhere in the teens under my rating system, which is not bad to me considering I've only been at it a little over two months. Then again, it's my criteria, and something would clearly be wrong with my efforts if I ranked poorly using the very goals I have with this blog. If you are a new visitor to this site, I humbly ask that you check out my "most-read posts" located on the right sidebar, and consider adding me to the list of blogs that you view on a regular basis. I promise my continued best effort to try make it well worth your time.
Your turn: What sites did I miss, and why should I add them to my radar? Where do you agree or disagree with my analysis? What criteria do you use to decide how enjoyable a given blog is to you?
If you are interested in the spreadsheet where I ranked all 24 sites by each of the criteria, email me and I'll provide you a copy. This took a great deal of time to rank and then post (especially after I accidentally deleted what I had already written on Monday and had to start all over again). I'm sure it took you a decent amount of time to read it if you made it this far. Thanks for your time.