I recently saw a diagram (see here) on a friend’s computer and was immediately impressed by the concept. The graph, compiled by some artistically talented individuals from across the pond, is a visual representation of the archetypical “left versus right”. Off the bat the author publishing this graph reveals that he does in fact have a liberal biased, and also acknowledges that it is not a truly representative depiction of political ideology (a representative model being biaxial, see diagram pictured to the right).
I think it is an interesting narrative however, on some of the biases that underpin our individual political leanings. While impressed by the concept of this visualization, I must say I very much disagree with many of the generalizations that are made about left and right. I believe that most of these errors, as I would see them, in the diagram’s classifications stem from the biases we all have towards people of opposing ideology. The remainder is born of ignorance – and by this I do not mean any specific lack of intelligence on the author’s part, but a lack of experience that prevents the author from making a meaningful comparison.
Right now what we are really looking at is one person’s visualization of how they view their own ideology, and a contrasting visualization of how they view people of a factious ideology. I could spend hours deconstructing this diagram and rewriting it to fit my personal worldview, but in the end I fear all I will do is replace one bias visualization with another.
I would like to point out what I believe are a few of the more obvious errors in the model, and would then ask for your input as well. Perhaps by combining multiple viewpoints, we may be able to come to a consensus that creates a meaningful tool.
The diagram makes the assertion that the goal of a government on the left is personal freedom, and the goal of a government on the right is economic freedom. I take exception with this immediately, as the two are one in the same. One would argue that not allowing a person to walk around nude infringes that person’s personal freedom, while taxing someone infringes economic freedom. However, the same people will tell you that it is not an infringement on personal freedom to outlaw guns. The line is not drawn on economic or social lines; it is drawn on what each group defines as acceptable behavior.
The next most obvious flaw in this representation is the depiction of the ideal family on the left and the right. The nurturing parent on the left has a relationship with their child built on respect and trust, where as the strict parent on the right has a relationship build on respect and fear? I come from a family I am certain the author of this diagram would consider to the right, but I would most definitely classify my parents as nurturing, and our relationship based on trust more than fear. At the same time, I know many people who would define their households they were raised in as liberal, and would most definitely not consider them nurturing. This is one of the diagram’s classifications that I believe is born of ignorance and lack of experience. I don’t believe political ideology fosters one parenting style or another – rather, the values on which the family focuses are different. Parents can be both strict and nurturing. Responsibility is really where the difference lies. I would think the family on left would see nurturing a child as the responsibility of the community, not the parents. In contrast, I believe that nurturing the child in a conservative home is strictly a parental responsibility (to the extent that parents often take offense when unsolicited nurturing comes from exterior sources).
Furthermore, the diagram argues the left family teaches children to ask questions. I think this is fundamentally incorrect. Skepticism is a specifically individualistic trait, and from my experience is usually frowned upon in left ideology. If you want to break this down into a more fair representation, it should ask whom does each side teach you to question? The left encourages you to question other individuals, but is less likely to challenge authority or society. On the other hand, the right encourages trust in specific individuals, but is skeptical of trusting society and authority.

Anyway, those are a few of my more relevant thoughts. Again, I could go on for hours, and would love to pick other peoples minds as to what an accurate chart would really look like. Please let me know your thoughts.




By now everyone is well aware of the concerted effort by the White House to marginalize Fox News and other conservative voices of opposition in the media. You know this because the White House has made no secret of it; nay, they have gone out of their way to make sure you know it. In a new strategy to “defend” the White House’s agenda and message, senior aides and officials have been touring the major Sunday news shows (except for Fox News, of course) and delivering cold pricklies about the legitimacy of said cable news network. David Axelrod has characterized Fox as “not really a news station.” Said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in an interview on CNN with John King (a legitimate news organization):

“I suppose the way to look at it, and the way we, the President looks at it, we look at it is it's [Fox News] not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that's a different take. And more importantly is not to have the CNN's and the others in the world basically be led and following Fox as if that what they're trying to do is a legitimate news organization in the sense of both sides' sense of a valued opinion.”

But the most in-depth and telling statements have come from White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who cautioned Americans to “not pretend they’re [Fox News] a news organization like CNN.” Considering the blatantly leftward slant of CNN and its founder, Ted Turner, I would recommend Anita and Rahm link up to compare notes as to whether that statement amounts to a flawed comparison. Dunn took her criticism even further by saying:

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological… what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

This tactic on the part of the White House is doomed to miserable failure, and I disdain it not so much out of any ideological sympathies, but rather on purely intellectual grounds. This strategy is dumb. First, the argument that Fox News is illegitimate because of a partisan slant is disingenuous, ridiculous and just plain whiny. It doesn’t stand up to even the most minute of intelligent scrutiny. Second, the White House can offer no solution to these complaints they’ve raised without sounding like they are suppressing free speech. As even some left-leaning news media outlets have begun to point out, the White House strategy smacks of the sort of hardball played by the Dark Lord of politics himself, Richard Nixon.

To say that Fox News has a partisan slant is not necessarily an earth-shattering revelation. Indeed, most rational people understand that. Just as they understand that most of the rest of the 24-hour news outlets available to them, such as MSNBC and CNN, tend to lean decidedly left. So what is the goal for the White House? To inform the public and steer them away from Fox News? Please. People know what they get when they turn it on, and they still watch in droves, more so than any other news programming out there. All that is accomplished by this blatant, bungling assault is establishing Fox News as the leading voice of opposition to the Obama administration and laying bare the White House’s pathetic inability to cope with that lonely voice of criticism. Furthermore, by Rahm Emanuel’s flimsy definition of what constitutes a “news organization,” every major media outlet save perhaps C-SPAN (sans commentary) is disqualified. The American people don’t mind having their news colored with comment and opinion. In fact, they seem to demand it. Otherwise Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would be penniless.

President Obama, who won election on the promise of bridging the partisan gap, stands to lose a great deal from this confrontation. Fox News isn’t going to roll over and play dead for the White House as other news organizations have. They intend to fight back, and this should concern the president’s political advisors greatly. The president may be the president, but even he can’t saturate Americans with his message 24-7, as Roger Ailes can. And Obama may be antagonizing his biggest ally by bullying Fox News in this undignified fashion: the media at large. The White House’s ham-handed attempt to exclude Fox News from having access to interview pay czar Ken Feinberg with the complicity of ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN backfired when those four news outlets refused to participate in the interviews unless Fox News was also allowed in (see
here). After the rebuke, the White House backed off and has since refrained from overt attempts to deny Fox News access. This event was instructive: President Obama, for once, cannot count on the support of his news media sympathizers to ostracize Fox. In fact, he has succeeded in broadening criticism of his tactic to those very organizations, who are speaking out against the executive branch bullying journalists.

For now it looks like the White House may be pumping the brakes on its attack strategy against Fox, which is wise politically. How they ever convinced themselves that it would work in the first place is beyond comprehension and reflects even more poorly on Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. They have cost their president some serious political capital with this maneuver at a time when he needs just about all he can get.




The Nobel Peace Prize has officially jumped the shark this morning as news comes out that it has been awarded to President Barack Obama. For what, I have no idea. I’ll venture to guess that even some Democrats are left scratching their heads as to what seminal accomplishment this man has yet made to recommend him for such a distinction. Part of the citation from the Nobel Committee is as follows:

“Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

You’ll note that the award seems to have been given despite the fact that none of the items cited have borne fruit. The fact that Obama was awarded the Peace Prize is even more shameful when viewed in light of the other contenders. Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose opposition movement to President Robert Mugabe’s regime was brutally suppressed and who himself was arrested and beaten on his way to a prayer rally. His vocal and courageous opposition led to the creation of a coalition government under Mugabe, the first significant challenge to his autocratic hold on power since he assumed control in 1987. Dr. Sima Samar, another leading contender, fled Afghanistan with her son after the Communist regime arrested her husband in 1984. She began an organization to provide medical care for Afghan refugees while living in exile for almost a decade, returning to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the interim government. She eventually became Minister for Women’s Affairs, until being forced to resign following death threats from Islamic extremists for her challenges to Sharia. She has since fought tirelessly for human rights, in particular women’s rights, in Afghanistan.

And yet the award went to a president who is nine months into his first term with nothing to show for it. It is absolutely outrageous and shameful, and most of all it is insulting to the other potential laureates who suffered imprisonment, torture, and threats of death for years struggling to bring real change and basic human rights to their respective nations. It is a transparent political gesture that, I believe, will seriously backfire on President Obama as the public has the time to digest its implications. Seeing him accept such as award (just days after Saturday Night Live lampooned him for his indecision and lack of accomplishment) will be sure to elicit at least some measure of confusion not only from Americans but the world at large.
Shame on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.