November 4, 2005

Name the rational, intelligent liberal blogs.

Go ahead. It's a subject that came up in the comments today on another post. I'm not looking for attacks on liberal blogs or facile comments that there is no such thing. Help me compile a list of well-written, insightful liberal blogs, especially to help conservative readers who want exposure to a nice mix of opinion. Maybe we can refine it into a top 10 list.


d-day said...

As far liberal blogs go, the one that comes to mind is Talking Points Memo. I'd argue that it's insightful and well-written, despite being pretty inflammatory about a lot of subjects.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Kausfiles (He calls himself "a committed Democrat".)

The Plank (I assume it's liberal since it's TNR, but they have some conservative editors, so I'm not sure.)


Dogtown said...


My folder of Liberal blogs is rather thin comapred to my conservative one, but here are some of the fav's:

Mark Kleiman

Joe Trippi

Kevin Drum

Mathew Gross

Matt Yglesias

And, lastly, a constant source of wisdom, Fafblog!:

Ross said...

To the above I'll add Crooked Timber ( and J. Bradford Delong's Semi-Daily Journal (

Jacob said...

Mine are very similar to the ones above.

Matthew Yglesias

Kevin Drum

Mark Ark Leiman [sic, but that's how I always read it in my browser]

Mickey Kaus

Brad DeLong

I'm Full of Soup said...

Can't think of any that are rational and try to argue logically. The ones I do visit are all pretty shrill know calling for Bush impeachment and Cheney is the source of all torture.

There is a a very prolific blogger in the philly area called Suburban Guerilla. It is a very well written blog (former journalist) but she has the conspiratorial and anti-business craziness too. It's too bad. You cab see for yourself at

One beef I have about lib blogs is it's all NATIONAL politics all the time. They don't pay attention to nor value local and state issues or try to get those fixed too.

Libs seem they are too big to stoop to that level unless they think it will affect electoral college or SCOTUS.

XWL said...

Kaus is the only one of those listed so far I read regularly, the others will get my interest through links from time to time (though rarely).

The premise that you need to read a liberal blog to get the liberal viewpoint, in my opinion, starts out with a very faulty assumption.

What's wrong with reading the NYT or BBCNEWS.COM, or watching The Situation Room, with Wolf Blitzer?

The reason that reasoned opinionated writers who aren't all screedy and shrill seem to proliferate on the right and not the left is that the left of center viewpoint is well articulated by the establishment press, and defines academic dogma, so why would a moderately left of center speaker compete against them?

(or from the other point of view, if you feel disenfranchised and new media tools give you access to an audience why wouldn't you take adavantage?)

(Prof. Althouse's battle against the misrepresentations of Judge Alito's decisions are a perfect example, the distortions are coming from the established voices, not just the fringe)

Sorry if I've strayed off point, but I defend my actions on the grounds that the frame for this discussion doesn't recognize the full reality of the situation.

What I'm really trying to say is that there isn't a dearth of left leaning argument, it's just absorbed more fully into the herd of mainstream discourse, so the urge to be a maverick is far less than for someone who leans to the right and the few left leaning mavericks who do exist usually do so over a single issue or over a worry that groupthink is damaging the ideas and party that they love (which description fits Mickey Kaus to a T).

Brendan said...

Kaus and Will Saletan at Slate.

James said...

There are some liberal blogs that tackle local/state issues. I don't know how many there are in other states, and I can't speak for their quality or depth, but there's one in Minnesota,, and the one in Massachusetts that had the liberal Alito clerk's perspective,

Matt Barr said...

Meade said...

Instapundit is the only liberal blog I read every day.

I'm Full of Soup said...

btw, I just looked at Joe Trippi's blog and his blogroll is 100% or so far left whackadoodles. It seems to me that right-leaning blogs are a little more generous in their listings.

And I have seen Trippi on TV (many times) and I believe he is one of the most overrated people in America.

Re Andrew Sullivan's blog, he is a one or maybe two-trick pony if you have the stomach to picture that.

Lastly, great topic Ann. Have a nice weekend everyone!

Dogtown said...

Sullivan's blog?!?! Now that's RICH! He's a conservative in name only, so I can see how one would see him as lib, or was the recommendation tongue-in-cheek?

Dogtown said...


You're correct about Trippi. He's a tad overrated. He's a political operative, so he tends to the rhetorical, like Carville, but he's not as much of a flamethrower as the other lib sites.

Honestly, it's hard to find liberal blogs that are readable, with comments where a dialogue can occur without hearing....."WARMONGER!!!"..."BUSH LIED!!". I eventually throwing my hands up in despair or frustration when trying to reason with them.

One of my friends runs a site called "Crooks and Liars", and they host video there, so it's good for watching clips that are newsworthy or flameworthy, but the residents there are moonbats to the core.

Thanks for the topic, Ann. You're at the top 3 of my blogs during the day, along with Balloon Juice and Protein Wisdom.


Anonymous said...

The premise that you need to read a liberal blog to get the liberal viewpoint, in my opinion, starts out with a very faulty assumption.



Kausfiles (He calls himself "a committed Democrat".)

Oy yoy yoy.

Instapundit is the only liberal blog I read every day.

Oy yoy yoy yoy yoy.

SippicanCottage said...
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Anonymous said...

Zogby poll: Majority of likely voters support considing impeachment
over Iraq, 51-45 percent
... Among all adults surveyed, the numbers were higher: 53 percent supported impeachment, while 42 percent did not. The poll, which has a +/- 2.9% margin of error, interviewed 1,200 U.S. adults from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. Zogby last polled likely voters on impeachment in June. At that time, 42 percent supported considering impeachment, while 50 percent opposed.

Another poll of American adults conducted in early October by Ipsos, the agency used by the Associated Press, found that 50 percent supported Congress examining the issue, while 42 percent opposed.

You folks reading Instapundit, Althouse, Kaus, and Power line to get your liberal fix may want to ask yourselves why these staunch liberals and moderates haven't been covering Valerie Plame (both Instapundit and Ann Althouse have declared it to be too complex, and something most Americans do not care about.

You may also want to ask yourself why you disagree with what most of America is thinking.

And you may want to ask yourself what your responsibilities to this nation are in terms of your studying this issue.

Mark Daniels said...

Mark Daniels

Stephen Bundy said...

Kaus is not a liberal, though he may have been one once. For several years, he has definitely been trending neocon. The comment identifying him as liberal because he self-identifies as a hard core Democrat implicitly assumes that all Democrats are liberal--an assumption that has never been accurate.

Yglesias, TPM, Crooked Timber are all liberal, all substantive, and not normally inflammatory in tone.

Kleiman, De Long, and the as yet unmentioned legal blogs Balkinization (Jack Balkin, Ian Ayres, Marty Lederman, and others) and Is that Legal? (Eric Muller) are non hysterical (though DeLong's regular "Impeach George Bush" closings are infantile), and they are like Ann's blog in that they are written by well credentialed experts and contain a lot of substantive content.

ca said...

I really like Oxblog. I think they're liberal. They voted for Kerry, anyway.

I'm not sure that they really do hard-core analyses (is that what you were looking for?) but they are rational, intelligent, and a delight to read.

Umm... is Daniel Drezner liberal? Anyway, I like him an awful lot too.

I think part of my problem is that, as I consider myself a moderate, and a libertarian if anything, I am never quite sure which people are the liberals and which the conservatives. Example: I guess my liberal friends think instapundit is totally conservative. I mean, you know, he doesn't hate Bush. But my conservative friends would point out that he's awfully socially liberal. Happily married gay people with bedrooms full of guns, and all that.

The other part of the problem is this: if you don't yell and scream and call the other side names, how are we supposed to know which side you're on?? And I don't read blogs that yell and scream and call the Other Side names. Life's too short.

Goatwhacker said...

You may also want to ask yourself why you disagree with what most of America is thinking.

Quxxo, would you have a link to the hard poll numbers as opposed to a blog? The blog doesn't provide one although they do provide a few tables.

David said...

I'm only barely willing to treat this exercise as done in good faith, as neither Professor Althouse nor her typical commenters seem interested in actually understanding or looking at the liberal blogosphere. But I'll give it a shot regardless.

There is significant diversity among the liberal blogosphere. It roughly breaks down into four categories: activist/community sites, investigative journalism sites, political strategy sites, and "the wonkosphere." All four have very different tones.

The top activist/community sites are those least likely to appeal to Althouse readers. These include Kos, Americablog, Eschaton, Booman Tribune, The Next Hurrah, and a few others. The comments are often group-thinkish and acerbic; this is hostile terrain for most conservatives.

Investigative journalism sites are much more likely to be open to different perspectives. Some of the best examples include Laura Rozen's, Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, Chris Mooney's The Intersection, Tapped, The Washington Monthly's Political Animal, Merrill Goozner's Gooznews, and the bevy of TNR bloggers (Specer Ackerman's Iraq'd was always good, but I'm not sure he's still there).

The political strategy sites are interesting, as they are perhaps a subset of the community/activist category, but they have a very different tone. I'm thinking generally of,, Taegan Goddard's and David Sirota's multiple locations.

It's the wonkosphere that most clearly parallels Althouse's tone. Examples that haven't been mentioned much include Steve Clemons' The Washington Note,, Mark Kleiman, Brad Delong, Angry Bear, Abu Aardvark, Crooked Timber, Jack Balkin's Balkinization, Mark Schmitt's The Decembrist, Mike Froomkin's, and ACS Blog.

Some bloggers are hybrids. At their home bases (meaning outside of their journalistic outlets) Brad Plumer, Ezra Klein, and Matt Yglesias are all exceptionally wonky and quite fair to different opinions.

Some sites are hybrids. combines all the types. Digby at Hullabaloo is basically a journalist, but caters to the activist crowd. Billmon at the Whiskey Bar is similar to Digby.

Thinkprogress doesn't fit neatly into the typology, nor does mediamatters, Talkleft, the Huffington Post or TPM Cafe.

If I had to come up with a list of top blogs for those wanting something different from the Kos/Eschaton crowd, I'd recommend:

1. The Washington Note

2. Bradford Plumer

3. Mark Schmitt's The Decembrist

4. Laura Rozen's WarandPiece

5. Democracy Arsenal

As for local blogs, there are plenty on the left.
(has a bunch of links to Jersey blogs)

All of these are from my RSS reader.

Link said...

The Xoff Files (Wisconsin-based)

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bearing said...

David, that's a really helpful breakdown.

Gerry said...

He is on hiatus right now, but I enjoy Paul Brewer's blog.

Dave said...

I hear there's this lawprof in the midwest named Ann Althouse who is rumored to be a liberal.

vbspurs said...

Many of the ones I frequent, have already been mentioned.

If you consider Michael Totten to be still a liberal (he does, although he's the classic centrist, and therefore, is not to many of his co-progressives' taste), then include his blog. It certainly qualifies under "civilised discussion" too.

Michael J. Totten

And of course, there's Harry's Place, albeit Harry himself left in September 2005.

BTW, do you know that "Harry's Place" has been Wiki'ed?

It's being considered for deletion, since there is a distinctly sour and unneutral tone to the piece.

No Wiki for "Althouse"...yet. I checked. :)


Henry said...

I'm sorry, but Kausfiles is not a liberal blog. Kaus himself might be a liberal, but he's definitely writing to an angle and that angle is "why are liberals such idiots?".

Meade, I like your listing of Instapundit. Strong on the first admendment. Strong on the second admendment. A big advocate for robot humans in space. Now that's liberal.

Under that bill-of-rights umbrella, I'll put in a vote for Randy Barnett at the Volokh Conspiracy.

And I'll add my vote for Crooked Timber. The Timberites have a habit of using impressively complicated arguments to produce the usual liberal bromides, but they sure aren't dummies.

At one point the blog Left2Right was pretty interesting (it had a great unruly comments section for its first few months) but it appears to have died from its own condescension.

Finally there's Centerfield which is a self-labeled centrist blog, but by its very nature has some rational intelligent liberal posters. They don't post quite often enough, however.

* * *

quxxo -- I love the fact that 50% of voters think the Iraqi question should be examined while 51% think the president should be impeached on the same subject. Those must have been some zinger questions.

chuck b. said...

David Corn.

I don't read him that much (a little dry), but noone's mentioned him yet. Apparently, he hooked up w/ the Pajamas Media scene.

Definitely if you think you have some responsibilities to the nation to study the Plame issue, you could turn to David Corn.

vbspurs said...

btw, I just looked at Joe Trippi's blog and his blogroll is 100% or so far left whackadoodles.

I've noticed that about leaning-liberal blogs too!


I once observed to Eddie on his blog, when he mentioned that there was a surfeit of liberal blogs, as compared to conservative ones.

I told him, that cannot be true.

The merest glance at the top 10 Highest Being TTLB Ecosystem tells a very interesting tale: 8 righties led by Instapundit and Malkin, 1 leftie, 1 non-political blog.

Daily Kos does get more traffic, but that's because they're a forum.

I shudder to think the traffic Instapundit and Malkin would get if they were too (including Michelle's racist replies, since that's the reason she and others do not dare -- the vitriol from the other side is frightening).

It seems to me that right-leaning blogs are a little more generous in their listings.

I'm the kind of person who always casts an eye at a person's blogroll, first thing.

It tells me a lot about the person.

And I'm sure it has not gone unperceived that Instapundit and Althouse, as two examples, blogroll such left-leaning blogs as Wonkette, Daily Kos, and Matt Yglesias.

Last time I checked Parakeette and Daily Krass, they did not.

Heck, even I blogroll two progressive blogger sites.


Susan said...

Self-described liberal Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine. Writes about the media. A true believer in the First Amendment.

Ross said...

OK, and although the political tone is often way off the charts, I must credit the Whiskey Bar -- -- as generally well-written and, when it very sharply highlights the prevailing political cant, even insightful.

Alcibiades said...

Norm Geras - Normblog

Harry's Place

Jeff Jarvis - Buzz Machine

Jay Rosen - Press Think

Someone wanted to know about Daniel Drezner. He self-identified right of center at the beginning of the Iraq war, but I believe he voted for Kerry because he disliked the doings in Iraq post war. So, too, I believe, the mildly right leaning writer(s) at Oxblog - Patrick Belton, among them. But iIt's been a while since I read that blog.

By the way, the right side of the blogosphere is reading up on the Plame Game -- tons of stuff, but our narrative involves a completely different factset than yours.

Simon said...

Someone above mentioned Centerfield. I post there, and don't consider it to be so much of a Democratic site, any more than it's a Republican site. As I see it, it's mainly a meeting of minds for a bunch of pleasent well-behaved folks from the moderate wings of both parties, and a few people who consider themselves as centrists apart from either party.

I can only assume that the person who recomended the Huffington Post as an example of a non-shrill liberal blog was being fascetious. It was an interesting proposition for about ten minutes, but the joke ceased to be funny a long time ago.

Jay Currie said...

Who would Scoop Jackson read??

John said...

I'm suprised no one has mentioned Juan Cole. Maybe it's because his blog has a more specific thematic focus (on the Middle East) than the other blogs mentioned?

He's been mentioned above, but for my money Kevin Drum is one of the best liberal bloggers out there. He's not particularly far left, either, and like Althouse, he takes heat from both sides. (Unfortunately, the comment threads on his blog are dismal compared to those here.)

Suggestion for the Top 10 list: The authors of all listed blogs should self-identify as liberal or leftist. That the author voted for Kerry is insufficient to establish this.

John Althouse Cohen said...

The comment identifying him as liberal because he self-identifies as a hard core Democrat implicitly assumes that all Democrats are liberal--an assumption that has never been accurate.

That's a fair point. I wasn't using that quote as conclusive proof that he's a liberal. I just wanted to include some support for putting him on the list, because I was sure that some people would say, "Wait, Kaus isn't a liberal."

I'm sorry, but Kausfiles is not a liberal blog. Kaus himself might be a liberal, but he's definitely writing to an angle and that angle is "why are liberals such idiots?".

I agree that he writes from that angle. I don't agree that that makes him not a liberal. I think he's kind of analogous to a male stand-up comedian who ridicules men. Kaus can get away with mercilessly skewering liberals because he understands them so well—because he's really one of them.

Lonesome Payne said...

Juan Cole is intelligent, but seems dominated by all the most negative consequences of that fact. He's the guy who intimated that Steven Vincent was killed because he was having an affair with his translator, a foolish act he was led to by his lack of Cole-level familiarity with the pride of Arab males. Vile condescension. Just nauseating. Strikes 1, 2, and 3. And there are more available.

David: Yes, good list.

I carry on e-mail conversations from time to time with Josh Marshall, most recently spending much of a day (shh)trying to sort out his insistence that Joe Wilson cannot be justifiably accused of dishonesty or disingenuousness when he appeared on the public scene in 2003.

I don't quite get it; I think he may in the end be backfilling in a rationale for what Wilson said and wrote or "actually meant;" on at least one piece of debate his argument became "I know things you cannot, and I can't tell you what I know;" but I think Josh is basically a straight shooter. I think he's a little unhinged by W, but in a different way than a typical Kos-sack in that before the war, his attitude was similar to many people here: it may have to be done, and so on.

Then he got really pissed by, and spends his time obsessively detailing dishonesty he sees in the administration. Some of it is somewhat convincing, some of it not; he tends to ignore mitigating perspectives and caveats. And I asked him once, aren't your original reasons for thinking the war was maybe worthwhile basically still in place?

David Corn I think tries most of the time too, and has managed to anger his base at times; Roger L Simon's recommendation on top of my own perception that way means something to me. With him, when he writes something dumb, like finding a way to excuse some inane statement from Oliver North, I have a feeling he knows he's defending the indefensible, and just figures oh the hell with it, it's not worth it.

Kaus is good, although based on their own apparent rule that when a guy becomes rational, he's no longer liberal, the liberals here may be right that he isn't really liberal.

I sample a lot of the ones listed here, and the best of them are not bad, but it is still far too frequently that at the nub of whatever argument they're making you'll find a little ignored crucial detail, or something. The kind of thing that makes me say: this guy has to know he's being dishonest here, doesn't he?

Happens a lot.

Robert said...

Nobody has mentioned the lefty feminist blogs. Feministe has good bloggers and a reasonable comments crowd.

Chris O'Brien said...

How did noone mention Altercation over at MSNBC? OK, Nation columnist Eric Alterman drives me up a wall with his mostly knee jerk reactions but he's smart, provocative and - like Ann - has some nifty pop culture insights when he tries. His feud with Andrew Sullivan also makes for fun reading too sometimes.

Chris O'Brien said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Noumenon said...

Brad DeLong is the person who got me thinking, "Hey, there is such a thing as an intelligent liberal! Or a liberal economist!" He's not such a good example now, priding himself on being in the Order of the Shrill, but he's not rabid all the time. His commenters are smart people.

Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly is another good example. Look how he explains the liberal position on WMD. If you're looking for a rational argument from an intelligent liberal, Kevin gives them consistently. Just stay away from the comment threads.

J said...

Majikthise is very smart and well written, focusing on liberal politics, analytic philosophy, and feminism.

Matt Barr said...

No, the Sullivan recommendation isn't tongue in cheek. And yes, I remember when he was almost universally regarded as a conservative.

I love the long comment above that begins "you people don't really want or deserve this, but..." That's a great example illustrating why I don't read as many liberal blgos as I should, the posts tend to have that tone.

Scott said...

My top 10 lefty blogs would definitely include Josh Marshall, Mark Kleiman, TAPPED, Balkanization and Body and Soul.

I also like Moon Over Pittsburgh and sometimes Brendan Nyhan among the smaller ones.

And if you are looking for Iraq or Middle East news - Liberals Against Terrorism, Abu Aardvark and Juan Cole. Cole might be shrill and personally dislikeable - but he's got a wealth of knowledge on the area and usually some great links to a lot of stories you wouldn't otherwise see. Put another way, you can learn a lot there without liking or agreeing with him.

Alcibiades said...

Juan Cole, snort. Yeah, he's a "good liberal". If you like them of the anti-semitic variety. I still remember when he blamed the burning to death of the four contractors in Fallujah on that bridge by the Sunni "insurgents" on some measure that Israel had taken that week.

It is an axiom of thought according to his ideological bent that there is no Muslim malfeasance but that it can be attributed to Israel as a root cause.

Scott said...

Again, in case I wasn't clear - Juan Cole's blog is a good place for news - not necessarily analysis. You can not like what he says, I don't like everything he says, but he does throw together what I find to be an informative set of links to events in the region on a daily basis. And since some people were making lists that clearly equated "liberal" with merely people who don't love all of Bush's foreign policy (like Drezner and the OxBloggers), I just thought I'd note that.

It occurs to me though that I left one of the most impressive "liberal" blogs off my list - David Niewert's Orcinus. I don't visit there very often, but I find his work to be extremely well argued at times. And he's actually gotten me to change (or at least open) my mind on a few points in the last year or two. And his is probably more the type of lefty blog that this list is supposed to be about.

Noumenon said...

Really impressed with the Brad Plumer blog David linked to.

Beth said...


I echo your mention of Orcinus; I just came across it recently and like it. He does his research.

LarryK said...

Josh Marshall is not a hatemonger, but he has never met a conspiracy theory involving Republicans that he didn't like. Let's not forget he was one of the biggest boosters of the CBS fake memos story and still a proponent of the "fake but accurate" defense. He may be the best of the liberal blog bunch, but a truly "rational, intelligent liberal" would demonstrate a capacity for self-correction and not trumpet every nefarious rumor (involving political foes) that comes down the pike.

Tara said...

Some rec's:


Alas, a Blog

Henry said...

Simon -- I comment occasionally at Centerfield and like it quite a bit. Clearly I don't want to imply that it is a liberal blog. However, some posters do make liberal arguments on specific issues. There's a pretty even split on the Iraw war, for example.

Because they are comming from the center, I find these arguments far more compelling (challenging when I disagree) than some of output of the more solidly liberal blogs.

Sam Chevre said...

Liberal blogs that I read regularly:

Crooked Timber
Bitch, PhD
Matthew Yglesias (on TPM Cafe)
Ed Kilgore (on TPM Cafe)

Brad DeLong
Mark AR Kleiman
(Cranks on some subjects, but generally good blogs).

Timothy Burke (Easily Distracted)
Only sort-of a blog--more like a magazine than a newspaper.

I loved Left2Right, but it seems to have died.

I'm not sure how you characterize:
Andrew Sullivan (only sometimes is he conservative).

Nathaniel said...

i'm not sure if it's liberal or extremely conservative, but

is an interesting and funny blog.