Honorable Pundits on the Left?

 

My morning routine, for years, consists of going through posts on Ricochet, Instapundit, Powerline Blog, etc. I’ve felt that I need to read intelligent commentary from the Left, but haven’t found it yet. I know it’s out there, so I appeal to the Ricochet Hive Mind to enlighten me — who is worthwhile reading on the Left?

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  1. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    This will be a very short comment section.

    • #1
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    If you’re a geek, Slate Star Codex (SSC) is great. The author, pen name Scott Alexander, is a young psychiatrist with a healthy interest in scientific-study error, and he vacillates between centrist libertarian impulses and leftish technocratic impulses.

    What’s truly remarkable about SSC is the diversity of viewpoints in the comments, from technocrats, to libertarians, to religious social conservatives, to SJWs, the odd socialist, some neoreactionaries, some folks from the Manosphere and human biodiversity fans. David Friedman (Milton Friedman’s son) and Steve Sailer (yes, that Steve Sailer) comment there. The amazing thing is that all these people are generally civil to one another.

    The code of conduct at SSC isn’t exactly the same as the one here (for example all swears seem allowed at SSC, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the sole “whim” of Scott Alexander. Scott will conduct “reigns of terror” if necessary to get rid of problematic commenters. The result, though, isn’t ideological narrowness, but ideological breadth.

    Windows have both height and width. If, in measuring the Overton Window, height is heat of rhetoric and width is the breadth of ideas which can be expressed, SSC keeps its Overton Window panoramic by not letting it get too tall.

    Some great SSC posts, for those interested in politics:
    I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup
    Conflict Vs. Mistake
    and one which, if not great, is at least interesting:
    Right is the New Left

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    It’s impossible to answer this without the use of question marks.

    Jonathan Chait?

    Maybeeee Andrew Sullivan?

    Writers who were associated with the “old” New Republic of years back have a degree of perspective to go with their leftism.

    • #3
  4. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    I sometimes watch Jimmy Dore who is a hard left Progressive. He’s entertaining and hates Hillary ( for mostly the right reasons) and criticizes Obama for bombing innocents and not passing full-on socialist health care for all. If you can wade through all that, he has great insights into how phony most Democrats are. He doesn’t even bother to go after Trump.

    He validates many of my observations about Democrats and there’s a definite shadenfreudish appeal there.

    • #4
  5. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Depending on how much you want to deep dive. Take a look at the vast assortment of other blogs linked to on Scott’s site. It covers the gambit, except in terms of quality. They’re all very intelligent and unique. Maybe a little too much techno-utopian, post-humanist stuff, which isn’t my cup of tea, but plenty of other stuff too.

    I personally find Nate Silver to be about as objective as someone can be with his obvious innate biases.

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I have no knowledge on sensible Progressives, but I would like to suggest that everyone like the post to get it to the Main Feed. There is a different audience there who might also have thoughts.

    • #6
  7. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Writers who were associated with the “old” New Republic of years back have a degree of perspective to go with their leftism.

    I can’t name specific writers, but once in a while, when I google something, I run across an article from the New Republic, the Nation, or some rag like that and curiosity gets the better of me. Of course I can stop reading as soon as it gets lousy. But sometimes I finish an article and it’s surprisingly not-bad. I learn something non-cartoonish about the worldview of the other side, how its members reason among themselves when they can assume we’re probably not looking. Same thing happens at the Atlantic, which is more centrist, but still center-left. 

    So if folks don’t mind an algorithm rather than the name of a particular writer, it’s “sometimes click on interesting-looking links coming from the other side”. You can always stop reading whenever you’re disappointed, after all.

    • #7
  8. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Hey I’ve got one. How about Bill Kristol?

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    cdor (View Comment):

    Hey I’ve got one. How about Bill Kristol?

    Aw, man. You went there. Before I could.

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):
    You went there. Before I could.

    I refrained from posting it, but did laugh when that trigger was pulled.

    • #10
  11. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Percival (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    Hey I’ve got one. How about Bill Kristol?

    Aw, man. You went there. Before I could.

    Yea, but I think we forgot the part about “worthwhile reading”…maybe we should reconsider.

    • #11
  12. Quake Voter Member
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    It’s impossible to answer this without the use of question marks.

    Jonathan Chait?

    Maybeeee Andrew Sullivan?

    Writers who were associated with the “old” New Republic of years back have a degree of perspective to go with their leftism.

    Fred Barnes started out providing some fair criticism of one Republican president amongst the oppositional howls and virtue preening of the writers at the New Republic and is now doing the same at the Weekly Standard.

    Lot of common sense from Mr. Barnes over the past 40 years.

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    cdor (View Comment):

    Hey I’ve got one. How about Bill Kristol?

    Depends on whether you want the journey to leftwing punditism to take the Establishment road or the Populist road.  

    • #13
  14. Quake Voter Member
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Mickey Kaus is an independent, honest and fearless center-left writer.

    • #14
  15. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    OK! OK! I got a real one this time. Mark Penn

    • #15
  16. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Quake Voter (View Comment):

    Mickey Kaus is an independent, honest and fearless center-left writer.

    Agreed.  Of course he’s persona non grata with the current lefties, since he’s not an open borders fan.

    • #16
  17. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Robert Kaplan probably counts as left of center, and I admire his willingness to ‘go there’ in calling out cultural issues driving global conflict.  He was one of the few warning of the coming conflict with Islam before 9/11.

    • #17
  18. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    cdor (View Comment):

    Hey I’ve got one. How about Bill Kristol?

     

    He said “honorable.”

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Glenn Greenwald is far left, but has been spending the last several years calling out Democrat perfidy.

    • #19
  20. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    You went there. Before I could.

    I refrained from posting it, but did laugh when that trigger was pulled.

    George Will?

    • #20
  21. HeavyWater Member
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Here is an interesting discussion featuring Glenn Loury and John McWhorter.  In it they debate President Donald Trump’s intelligence, President Barack Obama’s legacy and Clarence Thomas relative quietism.  

    I found the conversation very entertaining.  But I admit that even though neither Glenn Loury nor John McWhorter are Republicans or conservatives or even libertarians, I find them honest and insightful.

     

    • #21
  22. HeavyWater Member
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Steven Pinker is a left of center public intellectual.  I have recently read two of his books:

    Enlightenment Now

    The Better Angels of Our Nature

    Here is Steven Pinker and Heather MacDonald (and unfortunately, Howard Dean) talking about censorship at our Universities.

    • #22
  23. HeavyWater Member
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Sam Harris has a very good podcast.  In this episode, Sam Harris interviews Sarah Haider, the co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America

    They talk about how the Left often sides with the barbarism of Islamic fundamentalists instead of the enlightened secularists who attempt to exit Islam.  

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Here is an interesting discussion featuring Glenn Loury and John McWhorter. In it they debate President Donald Trump’s intelligence, President Barack Obama’s legacy and Clarence Thomas relative quietism.

    I found the conversation very entertaining. But I admit that even though neither Glenn Loury nor John McWhorter are Republicans or conservatives or even libertarians, I find them honest and insightful.

    Thanks for the link! (I already knew about John McWhorter on linguistics, where he is good.)  

    • #24
  25. HeavyWater Member
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Here is an interesting discussion featuring Glenn Loury and John McWhorter. In it they debate President Donald Trump’s intelligence, President Barack Obama’s legacy and Clarence Thomas relative quietism.

    I found the conversation very entertaining. But I admit that even though neither Glenn Loury nor John McWhorter are Republicans or conservatives or even libertarians, I find them honest and insightful.

    Thanks for the link! (I already knew about John McWhorter on linguistics, where he is good.)

    Here is an article by John McWhorter regarding the anti-Asian-Americanism at Harvard.  It’s an excellent (and relatively long) column arguing against “affirmative action.”

     

    • #25
  26. Gil Reich Member
    Gil Reich
    @GilReich

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    If you’re a geek, Slate Star Codex (SSC) is great. The author, pen name Scott Alexander, is a young psychiatrist with a healthy interest in scientific-study error, and he vacillates between centrist libertarian impulses and leftish technocratic impulses.

    What’s truly remarkable about SSC is the diversity of viewpoints in the comments, from technocrats, to libertarians, to religious social conservatives, to SJWs, the odd socialist, some neoreactionaries, some folks from the Manosphere and human biodiversity fans. David Friedman (Milton Friedman’s son) and Steve Sailer (yes, that Steve Sailer) comment there. The amazing thing is that all these people are generally civil to one another.

    The code of conduct at SSC isn’t exactly the same as the one here (for example all swears seem allowed at SSC, but misgendering someone is not) and is in fact more subjective than our CoC, enforced at the sole “whim” of Scott Alexander. Scott will conduct “reigns of terror” if necessary to get rid of problematic commenters. The result, though, isn’t ideological narrowness, but ideological breadth.

    Windows have both height and width. If, in measuring the Overton Window, height is heat of rhetoric and width is the breadth of ideas which can be expressed, SSC keeps its Overton Window panoramic by not letting it get too tall.

    Some great SSC posts, for those interested in politics:
    I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup
    Conflict Vs. Mistake
    and one which, if not great, is at least interesting:
    Right is the New Left

    I second (or third, given Mike H’s comment) this recommendation. SSC is consistently brilliant, unusual, and enjoyable. Though brevity is not his strength. I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup is particularly remarkable.

    I was going to say Jen Rubin but I see others beat me to some version of that joke.

    Also I’m obsessed with Real Clear Politics which often gives the best left and right perspectives on the same topics. I’m wondering if that’s where @cdor found Mark Penn’s latest column. I don’t know if it says more about their changing readership or the articles’ quality but their most popular articles section is now usually overwhelmingly right wing.

    • #26
  27. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gil Reich (View Comment):
    I was going to say Jen Rubin but I see others beat me to some version of that joke.

    Again, the key word is “honorable.”  ; )

    • #27
  28. HeavyWater Member
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    This is a good example of a discussion that doesn’t completely break down on the Left versus Right ideological spectrum.  

    Ben Affleck, Sam Harris and Bill Maher debate radical Islam.  

    What I like about Sam Harris especially is that he is willing to say openly what many people think but will not say, that religious superstition is bad for society.  

     

    • #28
  29. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Gil Reich (View Comment):
    Also I’m obsessed with Real Clear Politics which often gives the best left and right perspectives on the same topics. I’m wondering if that’s where @cdor found Mark Penn’s latest column.

    I thought it was a Powerlineblog link. But now I see it at the beginning of the recommended articles. It has been too long since I posted that to still be at the beginning. So, I do not remember, but it wasn’t at RC Politics. That’s a good site though. Maybe it was at FoxNews??? 

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Gil Reich (View Comment):
    I was going to say Jen Rubin but I see others beat me to some version of that joke.

    Again, the key word is “honorable.” ; )

    Oh, Jen is honorable. Crazier than a crack rat in a coffee can, but honorable.

    • #30

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