Our late and much missed comrade in blogging, journalist and writer Al Weisel, revered and admired across the bandwidth as the "reasonable conservative" blogger Modest Jon Swift, was a champion of the lesser known and little known bloggers working tirelessly in the shadows . . .
One of his projects was a year-end Blogger Round Up. Al/Jon asked bloggers far and wide, famous and in- and not at all, to submit a link to their favorite post of the past twelve months and then he sorted, compiled, blurbed, hyperlinked and posted them on his popular blog. His round-ups presented readers with a huge banquet table of links to work many of has had missed the first time around and brought those bloggers traffic and, more important, new readers they wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed.
It may not have been the most heroic endeavor, but it was kind and generous and a lot of us owe our continued presence in the blogging biz to Al.
If you're not familiar with Al Weisel's work as Jon Swift, his site features a "best of" list in the left column.
Thanks to all the participants, plus a special thanks to DougJ at Balloon Juice for posting an open submission thread every year. (It earns some special consideration in the roll call below this year.)
Apologies to anyone I missed who wanted to participate. You still can, by linking your post in the comments. Whether your post appears in the modest list below or not, feel free to tweet your best post with the hatchtag #jonswift2014. (My goal is to find the right balance between inclusive and manageable.)
As in Jon/Al's 2008 roundup, submissions are listed roughly in the order they were received. As he wrote in that post:
I'm sure you'll be interested in seeing what your favorite bloggers think were their best posts of the year, but be sure to also visit some blogs you've never read before and leave a nice comment if you like what you see or, if you must, a polite demurral if you do not.
Without further ado:
"This Is Not a Solution; This Is the Problem"
Melissa McEwan: "On the criminalization of need, the myth of bootstraps, and what it really looks like when nobody helps you."
His Vorpal Sword
"The End of the Trail"
Hart Williams: "After a successful ten year run (which included attacks ON IT by Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and Brent Bozell on Faux Nooz), the author explains why the blog is ending and some highlights of that decade."
A Blog About School
"School budget cuts are only the beginning"
Chris Liebig: "It's about Iowa's apparent determination to exponentially increase its spending on standardized testing even though the school districts are already struggling with cuts to curriculum."
Mad Kane's Political Madness
Madeleine Begun Kane: "2-verse limerick about executive action and Republican hypocrisy."
I Wish I Had A Watermelon
Dave Dugan: "In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon, I made a comic about my experience as a 9 year old boy in the summer of 1974."
"Pennsylvania State Police Botch Frein Manhunt"
Shaun D. Mullen: "The manhunt for cop killer Eric Frien could not have come at a worse time for the Poconos. Its economy crapped out long before the rest of the nation, and for a while it led all counties nationwide in home foreclosures per capita. This is because local bigs, not content to try to build the tourist industry and brand the Poconos as a special place with beautiful woodlands chockablock with trails, waterfalls, creek and rivers, as well as golf courses, ski slopes and family friendly resorts, climbed into bed with rapacious developers and usurious financial institutions after the 9/11 attacks to sell the Poconos as a safe haven from a world gone crazy."
World O' Crap
"Strong Enough For a Man, But Made For a Really Insecure Man"
Scott Clevenger: "After years of having to share the Bible with women, at last men have their own, super-secret Men's Bible. It teaches important Bronze Age lessons about male friendship and bonding with men usually found only in an episode of My Little Pony. Also, there's porn in it."
David E's FaBlog
"Zero Dark Salo"
David Ehrenstein tackles the Senate's torture report.
"Men Who Hate Women"
Vixen Strangely: "In the wake of Elliot Rodgers' killing spree, I felt the need to write on the connection between misogyny and violence."
Poor Impulse Control
"Of the World, Looking Over the Edge"
Tata: "America’s mental health system is a failure. Being mentally ill may actually prevent you from being able to afford treatment that could save your life."
"Derange Wars: The Cliven Bundy Story"
Ramona Grigg: "Crusty old rancher in Nevada has standoff with the Feds over range rights. Starring the Second Amendment, with walk-on parts by warring militias who don't know what any of it means but it sounds like a party so why not?"
The Way of Cats
"How to Subtitle Ourselves"
Pamela Merritt: "We can bridge the communication gap between cat language (they speak with their body) and human language (we use words, but can "subtitle" with our body). It's like a translation device!"
"New York Times visits Youngstown, discovers huge and nonexistent transformation"
Dan: "The Times reports on how fracking is remaking a region's economy, minus any relevant details."
Simply Left Behind
"The Wages of Capitalism"
Actor 212/Carl: "Because capitalism as practiced in America is in direct conflict with democracy, liberty, and morality, capitalism as practiced in America must go."
Anibundel: Pop Culturess
"Martin Struggles to Explain Game of Thrones' Race Problem"
Ani Bundel: "Martin tries to respond to his fans to explain why the race problems in Game of Thrones is baked into the text from his own novels, with limited success."
"I was the NRA"
Tom (TBogg) Boggioni: "How the gun nuts and cosplaying “great white hunters” ruined hunting for me and turned the NRA into a murder-enabling lobbying group. Fuck those guys."
You Might Notice a Trend
"At What Point Can The Stupidity of Racism End?"
Paul Wartenberg: "My thoughts on the first week of protests in Ferguson over the shooting death of Michael Brown. Also the moment I picked up the Quote of the Year (via a Business Insider article): 'We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone.' "
Real American Liberal
"Stop this Liberal President"
John Sheirer: "Imagine our once great nation's future if we allow this liberal president to continue his attack on our founding traditions. Those who do not share our views could be insane enough to carve this liberal president's face into the side of a mountain, as outlandish as that may seem."
Kathleen Maher's Pure Fiction
Kathleen Maher: "My flash fictions are stories in 500 words or fewer. This one shows a family visiting the husband's grandmother in a nursing home."
enigma4ever offers an end-of-year meditation.
We Are Respectable Negroes
"The Culture of Cruelty is International: From Lynchings to Eric Garner and the CIA Torture Report"
Chauncey DeVega: "America is a society that tortures people as a matter of public policy. The CIA's torture of supposed "terrorists" abroad is part of a continuum of torture and cruelty from the lynchings of blacks in the 19th and 20th centuries to the tortures committed against American citizens in the country's prisons and by its police in the present."
"How Unions Are Unfairly Scapegoated For Detroit's Woes"
Marc McDonald: "There are many reasons for the catastrophic decline of the once-mighty U.S. auto industry over the decades. But it's unfair and inaccurate to point the main finger of blame at unions, the usual scapegoat."
"In Facebook status, Big Stone Co GOP chair calls Muslims "parasites," writes "frag em" at Mecca"
Sally Jo Sorensen: "Bluestem Prairie broke the story about a Republican county party leader advocated murdering Muslims during the Hajj in Mecca. Like many other Bluestem original reports, this story made national news online."
Just an Earth-Bound Misfit
"Quite Possibly the Last Post That You'll See Here on Climate Change"
Comrade Misfit: "Why it may be too late to do anything about climate change, other than 'embrace the suck.' "
Brendan Keefe: "Haven't been doing much blogging this year but I thought this picture from this past spring, and its follow-up, might be of some encouragement in these short dark days."
"10 Lessons from Bush's Fiasco in Iraq"
Jon Perr: "Foaming-at-the-mouth Republicans and their furious right-wing allies aren't just wrong that "Obama lost Iraq." They are desperately trying to evade paternity for a world-historical calamity they birthed and still support because Iraq was lost the moment the first U.S. troops crossed the border from Kuwait."
Bark Bark Woof Woof
"Give Us A Reason"
Mustang Bobby: "It takes more than a little gall for Marco Rubio to shed crocodile tears over discrimination against gays and lesbians and then turn around and explain in detail why he does it."
The Hunting of the Snark
"Those Whiny, Lazy, Greedy Millennials"
Susan of Texas: "After the financial industry gutted the economy they needed a way to deflect the anger of the losers in their economic battle. As always we can depend on Megan McArdle to support the rich, so let's watch her blame our young people for being their victims, claiming that their bleak prospects are a result of their laziness and fecklessness."
"And the boys cat-call, just up for each other..."
Fran Langum/Blue Gal: "A different take on the NYC Hollaback catcalling video."
"Bob Benson's Loveless Erector Set"
driftglass: "How Madison Avenue invented, sold and then destroyed the Idealized Nuclear Family."
The Professional Left Podcast
"Ep. 262: Ferguson, Torture, and The Wish of Angels"
Blue Gal and driftglass: "We discuss the last time the system worked, and what went wrong."
Mock, Paper, Scissors
"The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan"
Tengrain: "As in other years, I think my Anatomy of a Column series on The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan continues to be my favorite work. I especially liked this episode, which features Peggy losing an argument with a cardboard cut out of St. Ronnie."
The Debate Link
"Innocent Until Proven Nazi"
David Schraub: "We lack confidence in our ability to accurately identify something as racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise hateful. Too often, we shy away from these issues unless we have an obvious crutch (like a Nazi connection)."
Last Left Turn Before Hooterville
"Dear White People: a Perspective on White Privilege"
Alicia Morgan: "An attempt to explain to my white friends who claim to be color-blind and not ‘see’ race that the very act of ‘not seeing race’ means that you have white privilege – the privilege to not see racism, and to choose not be around it. White privilege does not mean you are a racist, but it does mean that white folks need to look a little deeper to see that racism is alive and well in 2014, and by acknowledging it you can begin to be part of the solution."
"A very short, true story about a good dog"
Lance Mannion: " 'Golden retriever,' he said. But now he didn’t seem satisfied with his own answer. Her breed was beside the point. It didn’t describe the most important thing about her."
"Fighting A Command Economy With Monopoly"
Tom Sullivan: "I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for "efficiency." Like "shareholder value," when you hear it, prepare for your "betters" to screw you ... again."
"Gigi (1958): A Defense"
Farran Smith Nehme: "In which I argue that the contemporary view of the exquisite, joyous Gigi as somehow endorsing pedophilia is ahistorical, priggish, literal-minded nonsense."
"President Obama's cautious, restrained, responsible leadership on the Ukraine situation"
Michael J.W. Stickings: "Obama's apparent weakness, according to his idiotic critics like John McCain and Bill Kristol, is actually strength, an expression of caution, restraint, and responsibility that is really the only viable option at the present time and that could, over time, lead to a long-term resolution to this crisis. Obama's critics are salivating for war, or something. Thankfully – for America, for the Ukraine, for Europe, for the world – they're not the ones calling the shots."
The Rude Pundit
"Random Observations on a Reaming: That'll Teach That Negro to Be President"
Lee Papa: "The day after the midterm election, the Rude Pundit licks wounds and kicks some asses."
"How Foster Farms Used the USDA, Big Chicken Lobbyists and Lawyers to Avoid a Recall"
Spocko: "In this piece I examine how Foster Farms avoided a recall of Salmonella contaminated chicken."
" 'Journalist' and War Criminal"
Gary, a relative of Mister Tristan: "A former 'Today Show' host obliterates the line between journalists and the people they cover."
"To the Pole!"
Darrel Plant: "The truish story of Roald Amundsen's 1907 plan to achieve the North Pole by polar bear."
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
"Racism and that Boston Herald cartoon"
LarryE: "Some thoughts on racism and (my) white privilege arising from that notorious Boston Herald cartoon about Obama and 'watermelon-flavored toothpaste.' Like most of my posts, this one is drawn from my local cable access TV (and YouTube) show called 'Left Side of the Aisle.' "
"Love is the jewel that wins the world": Inspiration for a birthday, for every day
Ellen O'Neill: "My dear friend Barbara Geach died in August, after 22 years in a locked-in syndrome condition. She kept up a vibrant correspondence with friends around the world, which I share because it is so, very, inspiring."
"The Day That…"
Mark Prime offers a poem.
This Is So Gay
"Laying Layers and the Lays They Tell"
Duncan Mitchel: "Critical thinking for thee, but not for me!"
" Self Evident Truths"
Jim Wright: "Turns out there is nothing 'self-evident' about any of our rights."
"Are Democratic Leaders Already 'Tea Partying' The Progressives?"
Gaius Publius: "If you noticed that Steve Israel, the rest of his ilk, and the DSCC, are willing to surrender the House and the Senate to keep you out of power, would it really be … a bridge too far, a hanging offense, bad manners … to consider returning the favor?"
"Why Tough-Guy Metaphors About Creativity Don’t Work"
Hillary Rettig takes on the trope of the tortured artist.
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"A Suggestion for Heterosexual Men"
Dallas Taylor "wrote this at the height of the #notallmen silliness."
The Cosmogonic Grunt
"To Shoot a Boy"
C. V. Danes considers events in Ferguson, Missouri.
"Time to Move On, Time to Get Going"
Schroedinger's Cat: "A takedown of David Brooks and his half-baked but scholarly sounding ideas on the economy."
Zombieland—Now Brain Free!
Hawes remembers a student.
House of the Dread
Comrade Dread: "Since I slid away from fundamentalism, I’ve been going back and re-examining some of the stories I was taught growing up and I’ve been finding that if they really are read as the ‘literal word of God’ then God is rather monstrous."
"Parkinson's since 2006, Brain Surgery & Stroke 8/13, Heart Attack 2/14, Triathlete Yesterday"
yopd1 celebrates a milestone.
My Ready Room
"Whatchu Talking ‘Bout, Tillis?"
Ben Cisco: "A look at a flaming jackass (and now, sadly, Senator-elect)."
"Bringing a Putty Knife to a Culture War"
Roy Edroso: "It has two of my favorite subjects — libertarians, and culture-war schlemiels; but I repeat myself — and gave me a chance to be playful."
Balloon Juice (best post)
"On Darren Wilson"
Soonergrunt reflects on his four combat tours, police officer Darren Wilson and the notion of a clear conscience.
"The Statue of Liberty Wears Shackles"
Eric L. Wattree: "Little known fact: The original prototype for the Statue of Liberty resembles a black woman with a broken shackle in her hand. The French abolitionist who conceived the idea in 1865 intended to celebrate the emancipation of American slaves, not the American Revolution."
"An Armed Society Is a Bloody Society"
Doctor Cleveland: "When gun-rights advocates say, "An armed society is a polite society," they mean, "I am entitled to kill people for being rude." Doctor Cleveland exposes the twisted logic and bloody consequences of Stand-Your-Ground laws."
"Lucky Duckies and Fortunate Sons"
Batocchio: "Those who benefit from a rigged game are reluctant to acknowledge that the game is rigged."
Thanks again, folks. Happy blogging (and everything else) in 2015.