Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:



Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.



Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.


Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.



Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.



Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.


The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.


The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.


Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income



Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market



Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.



Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.


Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.



Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.



Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.


Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President



Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

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Sean LaFreniere
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Friday, January 31, 2003

Latest Comments on War from Around the Country

"However one feels about a US led invasion of Iraq, over the long tem a bullying, go-it-alone foreign policy wedded to a military doctrine of pre-emption is a recipe for destabilization and paranoia around the world." -Bob Herbert, The New York Times

This is simply rhetoric. How can he use the term "US led invasion" and "go-it-alone foreign policy" in the same sentence? The fact is that most of Europe, and even the Arab world, backs the Bush plan to use military force to finish the Gulf War once and for all. We are not bullying anyone either. This man expects us to believe that he doesn’t understand the difference between the actions of a parent or a cop and an alley way mugger or school yard bully? Come on.

The US only brings troops to the Gulf to fend off men like Saddam and leaves small numbers, under 5,000, at the request of regional allies. Saddam masses hundreds of thousands of troops at the borders of his neighbors and clearly announces his intention to invade and conquer. Only Saddam is the bully here. Any attempt to wax poetically otherwise is simply disingenuous.

Not to mention this supposed fear of Liberals that we will "distabilize the region". Since when was it the Left that was ruled by Realpolitik? I thought Liberals were AGAINST maintaining the stability of dictatorships, monarchies, and patriarchial societies? Why would Herbert care if Iran, Syria, or even Saudi Arabia were "distabilized"?

And paranoia? Come on, many of these people have already been raised from birth on "blood libel" and ZOG conspiracy theories about the Evil Jews and their American Protectors. We couldnt possibly make them MORE paranoid, even by invading an "Arab brother". No, rather, in fact, we have a very good chance of completely rehabilitating the region and bringing these people into a much better relationship with us.

Something we could never hope for if we simply "maintained stability" in the region!

"When the next Gulf War is over, Saddam has been removed from power, and mass destruction that everyone knows Iraq still possesses, I am hopeful that America's and Bush's critics will express their profound thanks for his leadership and strength of purpose." -Gary Mendoze, columnist,

Amen amigo, but don’t hold your breath. They still haven’t admitted they were wrong about Afghanistan, and wont take a free plane ticket to interview local women to find out, and they criticize old men for not volunteering to fight in the Gulf?! Hah!

"And you have small, telling, scenes like the one that transpired in Baghdad recently. A man thrust himself into a UN inspector’s car and begged for sanctuary. The UN official pretended to study his papers while the poor man pleaded for his life. The Iraqi guards took the man away, and if what we know about Iraqi prisons in even half right, we can only hope that they killed the man as soon as he was out of camera range. Imagine you are running in fear from Iraqi thugs, and you see a UN car and US convoy. To which would YOU run?-James Lieks, Newhouse News Service

Again, right on man, you have met the head of the nail with your hammer.

"Reports that the administration is contemplating the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in Iraq should set off alarm bells that this could not only be the wrong war at the wrong time, but it could quickly spin out of control. Initiating the use of nuclear weapons would make a conflict with Iraq potentially catastrophic. -Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, writing in the Los Angeles Times

Ok now, I’m and Irish-American, and a Liberal, and even I have to ask how much Eddy's been drinking! I mean, WTF?! No one in the Administration has mentioned "pre-emptive nuclear strikes" as far as I know and I follow DC probably about as close as Eddy can. ;P The talk has been that we are considering a "pre-emptive strike" to remove Saddam's nuclear threat. And the talk has been that we would not rule out a nuclear retaliation for Saddam's first-strike use of WMD, chemical, biological, or otherwise. How did Eddy combine the two into the US nuking Iraq instead of fighting a strategic ground war? What does Eddy expect Bush to do with our quarter million men and women in and around Iraq now? Man, have another martini Eddy, make it a double, then sleep it off!

"The growing body of publicly available evidence offers sufficient proof of Baghdad's mendacious designs to warrant the immediate use of force. President Bush's classified stash surely offers more; it is time for him to use it." -Mansoor Ijaq, New York financier, writing in the Los Angeles Times

Amen. Why cant people think for themselves, why do they NEED a "smoking gun"? Saddam has poison gas, Saddam has used poison gas, Saddam has not proved that he has destroyed this gas... and don’t cart out that old chestnut of "how do you prove a negative?", South Africa also had poison gas (and nukes) they were serious about disarmament and invited UN and IAEC members to come watch and verify its disarmament process. They left arguably more satisfied that poor Hans Blix.

"Bush's foes at least need to be open to this thought: Bush may not be the man to get us on the right long-term trajectory in international affairs. He's demonstrably not the right man to address our domestic woes. But if he rids the world of Saddam - and especially if he manages to pull it off with out a war - he'll deserve our deepest gratitude." -Matthew Miller, syndicated columnist

I have to say that I agree. I agree that Bush is a cudgel on foreign policy. And he is a corrupt, bought and paid for, big business politician who couldn’t address the current domestic problems with a pa system. But I also agree that he may well be the man to solve this current Saddam problem. And I will owe him one for that all the same time I complain about his ham fisted diplomacy and domestic robbery.

"Despite its fixation on Saddam, the administration hasn’t completely forgotten about Osama. The Economist ran an ad this week that said: "For over 100 years Arab-Americans have served the nation. Today we need you more than ever... For additional information and to apply online, please visit our Web site at" The CIA is seeking Arab-speaking agents. Now they get around to it?" -Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

Oh, I agree, the CIA, and other groups, should have been all over all of this like ugly on an ape, years ago. Too bad Clinton signed a Doo Gooder bill that forbade the CIA from hiring anyone with the slightest dirt on their resume. At any rate, for what it is worth, I agree with Maureen that this looks stupid. But I would be much more comfortable in my agreement if I thought she really cared, but I get the feeling that she is simply looking for Administration ducks to shoot, which takes some of the bite off her criticism.

"The question that Bush has not answered is likely to aunt him for yeas: Why are we going into Iraq now - what is the hurry?" -James Klurfield, Newsday

BS! There, I said it. The real issue that one must face is "why didn’t we go into Afghanistan, Iraq, and N Korea sooner? Why do we always have to wait until AFTER tragedy and murder to act to prevent it? It gets kinda old, cleaning up after easily pre-empted attacks upon Americans. Meanwhile I find this entire line of reasoning to be a joke, a disingenuous one. This guy doesn’t even agree with what he is saying. I bet you dollars to doughnuts that if Clinton were leading this war, he wouldn’t even bring this up. I would also guess that as soon as the UN signs off on this, which they will once we offer France and Russia enough oil contracts, this man will not raise this question again.

"The issue is not whether President Bush has "made the case" for war in Iraq, but WHICH Iraq war the president wants to fight. Even after this week's State of the Union Address we don’t know... we don’t know if this war is primarily about taking weapons of mass destruction out of Saddam’s hands, or removing Saddam from power, or brining democracy to Iraq and revolutionizing the politics of the middle east." -E. J. Dionne Jr. syndicated columnist, writing in the Washington Post

You've got to be kidding me Jr! As if these same questions couldn’t have been raised about WWII. Were we fighting to liberate France, bring down Hitler, overthrow the German state, or save the Jews? Who cares? Why cant it be "all of the above"? Why cant it be several other strategic advantages too, hold off the Russians, disarm Europe, democratic Europe, free the Jews, reorder the Balkans, strengthen the Anglo-American bond, etc. etc.? I think the fact that all of these objectives could well be the aim and may well be the result actually helps make the argument for war, thanks Jr.

Sean: Friday, January 31, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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