Sean LaFreniere

Independent News And Political Commentary
Welcome to Sean's Blog blog | home | contact
The Blogger
Blogger Bio 
The Archives
Search This Site

Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

Support This Site
Favorite Links
World Trade Center Attacks
Bali Nightclub Attacks
Beslan School Attack
London Underground Attacks
Raddison Hotel Bombing
Katrina Hits New Orleans
Defend Denmark's Free Speach
The Anglosphere
Support Democracy In Iraq
Democracy Whisky Sexy
Chief Wiggles
Anderson Cooper's 360
The Command Post, making CNN look like the school newspaper.
Andrew Sullivan Dot Com
The Argus, Central Asian news.
Winds Of Change Dot Net
Free The Chief's Iraqi Generals
Michael J Totten
Blog Iran
Moderate Risk
Roger L Simon
free iran petition
victor davis hansen
Save Angel
Oregon Trip Check
iraq's election news
The Hitch
Game Of Life
Sponsored Links
Find info on VA loans and watch this video on the VA loan process.
News Links
Arab News Portal
Belfast Telegraph
BBC News
Dublin News
Edinburgh News
French News
German News
Iran Daily
Iran News
Iraq News
Irish Abroad
Irish Emigrant News
Irish News
Irish Quarterly
Israeli News
Jerusalem Post
London Local
London Times
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Pakistan News
Persian News
Roman News
Scottish News
Translated News
World Wire
Magazine Links
The Atlantic Monthly
The American Prospect
The Economist
Foreign Affairs
Front Page Magazine
Mother Jones
The National Review
New Republic
New Yorker
NY Review Of Books
Policy Review
Tech Central Station
Washington Monthly
Weekly Standard
Movie Links
Film Jerk
McMenamins Theatres
Movie News - Trailers
Rotten Tomatoes
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.

Blogging Resources
Technocrati Link Cosmos
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by
Site Meter
Blogroll This Site
(Copy image and hyperlink)
Sean LaFreniere
Support This Site

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Missing Your Own Point, Part One

In Willamette Week, the free weekly from Portland, OR, an interview with confused war journalist, Joel Preston Smith.

Joel traveled to Iraq this year and was overcome by the irony of a warm greeting for him, as an American, and his foreboding for all the coming Iraqi civilian war deaths. Joel is obviously a sensitive guy. I am sure his mother, his wife, and his dog love him. I wish him no real insult. But I have to say, the man has driven right past the billboard on the highway of his life marked "Clue, come and get one".

Joel describe his experiences:

When I would tell people I was from the United States, they -with out exception- would say, "Welcome."

The three things Iraqi people seem to love best about American culture are American music (Britney Spears and Michael Jackson in particular, but don’t hold this against them), American action movies, and blue jeans.

I rarely told anyone that I was against the war. To know that I was an American was enough to give me a ticket to nearly anywhere I anted to go. To even be spoken to by an American is something that many Iraqis seem to treasure."

So far, so good, sounds like Joel Preston Smith had a nice stay in Iraq. The people were friendly to him even though he told them he was an American and even though he did NOT tell them that he was against the war. Ok. But, here is where Mr. Smith seems to drive head long into a brick wall of his own making:

This [warm welcome] was maddening to try to understand. I wanted to grab someone by the lapels and shake them and scream in their face “Cant you see that we are killing you? Doesn’t it bother you that we are going to massacre you?” I was so shamed, so humiliated by their kindness in the face of who I was and what I represented. One day I simply broke down in public [and cried].

I cant believe how thick the shell is around some peaceniks?!

Why does Joel think that Iraqis love Britney Spears, a woman who has shown more skin in one video than the entire Muslim womanhood over the last 30 years? Why do they like American action movies, with the jingoistic heroics? Why do they love blue jeans, that symbol of cowboys and rock and roll? Why did they love him as an American even while facing an American war? Are the Iraqi people as stupid as Joel unwittingly suggests? Or is Joel too self absorbed in his White Man’s guilt?

It seems rather obvious that the reason Arabs tend to love sexy American pop singers is because Spears represents a pure, hedonistic freedom that has some appeal to them. The reason they like American action films is because there is a good guy, who always wins, unlike in their own experience. Blue jeans represent a rejection of strict fashion rules, and thereby strict social rules, this is why they are associated with the Rebel in the West, and I think the Arab people get this.

So why does Joel miss the boat? Because he wants too. Joel worked as a US Army photojournalist, (in Vietnam?), and now works for the Portland VA Hospital. Apparently his tour soured him on the entire service. He says that the greatest threat to the values of the United States is the US military!? Joel searches out people who agree with him and who offer abject proof.

He spends a great deal of time touring with Palestinians and Iraqis and eagerly accepts the nearly government issue line he quote here: “We don’t hate you, we hate the American government. You are not doing this, your government is.” Joel notes that Arabs do not hold individuals responsible for the actions of leaders. “They live at the whim of the government they don’t effect changes, they are affected, they don’t participate in government, they cope with it.”

In another interview in the same publication an Iraqi answers Joel much better. In this interview an Iraqi who fled to Canada in the 9-‘s and has now moved to Portland tells the journal:

"Their polls say that 99 percent of Iraqi people support him? Bullshit!" Said fumes, his normally smiling countenance abruptly slashed with a scowl. "Iraqi people hate Saddam."

Last time, it was a game," Said says of the first Gulf War. "This Bush is serious, though. I want to tell Bush the Iraqis support his war. But please do not hurt the Iraqi people. They do not support Saddam."
Said won't be leaving anytime soon, either. Even if Iraq is released from the claws of Saddam Hussein and made into a democracy--something Said claims the Iraqi people want desperately--he will remain here in the United States, working on cars in his garage.
"This is my home now," he says, his smile returning. "Here, I am free."

If only Mr. Preston agreed.

Sean: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere