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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Friday, April 04, 2003

Who Armed Saddam?

We have all heard, until our ears rang, that "We armed Saddam" or "We put him in power" or one or another Leftist canard that is supposed to somehow serve to excuse Saddam, leave him in power, and put all the blame for the last 40 years on the US. Well, its crap. I know because I have researched it to death.

Yes, the CIA might have been involved in one of Saddam's many coup attempts in the 70's. They were involved in the same business in Iran at about the same time. Nefarious? Maybe. But one must consider that the region was literally falling apart and falling into either Soviet or Islamist hands. Oh, and they sit on the oil that keeps the "Free World" Free. Why is it ok for an Ayatollah living in Paris, or the Russians and their pawns, to take over the region's oil. But it isn’t ok for the West to play the same game?

Yes, it is true that the US did very little to dissuade Saddam from starting his ill-fated war in Iran. But come on, both regimes in these countries were our enemies. One was a Soviet pawn and the other an Islamic fascist pawn (with Communist elements, until the Ayatollah purged them). So, why should we care if they beat themselves against each other for a while?

Yes, it is also true that when it looked like Saddam might lose this dumb war we offered him some minor assistance. It is said that the US Air Force offered Saddam some command and control assistance via a roaming AWACS plane. It is also said that some US Navy Seals took out some Iranian ships in harbor. And it has been said that the US offered Saddam some WMD.

First off, the WMD is a red herring. The UN looked into Iranians claims that Iraq used chemical weapons. The Iranians sent their wounded to hospital in Europe and these doctors sent their data to UN inspectors. Neither the UN, nor Iran (our sworn enemy at the time), ever accused the US of supplying material to Iraq. The soldiers' wounds gave evidence as to the precursor agents and production methods of the Iraqi Mustard, Serin, and VX gas. The inspectors concluded that US and UK production methods and precursor agents were NOT USED by Iraq. They did, however, identify over 130 different German companies that sold precursor agents to Iraq and they matched production methods with known NAZI methods. This even caused quite a stir in domestic German politics when the info came out, because the government had signed off on each sale.

Meanwhile, of course we helped Saddam out of his pinch. No US government wanted to see Iraq AND Iran in the hands of a homicidal Ayatollah. But we did not help him to win either. Who wants to see Iran and Iraq in the hands of a homicidal dictator? So, we helped them to reach a draw. You can complain about the death toll in the war, but the US would be even more to blame if either of these men won.

The truth is that the Soviets, Europe, and China created and armed Saddam. Saddam himself identifies his ideology and method of rule with his two heroes, Hitler and Stalin. Saddam's Baathist Party ideology is in synch with secular China, Russia, and Europe. And it was these players who saved his butt in '91, demanding that the US stay out of Baghdad. And it was these players who tried to save his but today.

This graph makes it all clear:

The people who point to US meddling in world politics, but ignore Soviet, European, and Asian meddling are simply Red. They want the West to fail. They still have tired dreams of a Socialist future, even after the collapse of every communist regime worldwide. Why? Because these people (rightly) see that unfettered Capitalism leads to drilling for oil in ANWAR, oil spills in the Med, and clear cuts from BC to Maine. And they see the collapse and failure of the West as the only means to halt this abuse. True, W and Crew didn’t offer them much hope when they scuttled the Kyoto Accords. But the US is not one administration alone. And no matter how much you hate Bush and Son you have ZERO right to excuse Saddam or argue for ANY future that leaves the Iraqi people in thrall.

There ARE other ways to control capitalism, but allowing it to crash and burn in hopes of some Soviet future dream world is not the answer. Come on, look around. Russian Communism collapsed utterly. China "reformed" itself right into Capitalism, they even bought Hong Kong just so that they could play in the WTO leagues. Cuba uses the US dollar as "official" currency. And Scandinavia has given birth to cell phone companies, pharmaceutical giants, and sold its auto industry to Detroit. The biggest issue in Socialist Europe is how to improve their capitalism. Meanwhile the US is not nearly as purely capitalist as anyone thinks, from HMO's to Airlines, we blur the lines as much as anyone.

That is the economics of the thing. Meanwhile, on the political end... Europe and Russia have more political parties than the US. Even China, which appears as a monolithic Communist Party, really has multitudes of interest groups within the Party that function as well as any political parties in the West. Frankly, the US could use a good swift kick in the direction of everyone else when it comes to politics, our two parties have turned to one uniform gray.

Wishing for the "defeat of the West" in one war or another, or in one UN debate or another, is the same as wishing for a natural disaster to improve the architecture of your home town. It is simply inhumane and grotesque. If you are unhappy with America's hyper Capitalism... get off your duff and vote! Support the Green Party, or any number of smaller independent parties, and forget about voting for a Democrat just to keep a Republican out of office. If the 50% of the American public that doesn’t vote would support even two other parties equally we would have some serious Democracy going on this country. And if people like the Greens caught even half the attention that they deserve you would see serious social breaks being applied to our economic engine.

Meanwhile, I am still unemployed, of military age, and I have a child on the way. So please stop wishing for a military "quagmire", an "economic collapse", and the "death of the West". Ok?

Sean: Friday, April 04, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere