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, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween

Sean: Friday, October 31, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, October 30, 2003
It Burns, It Burns!

I've taken the expected amount of flak for my insensitive posting on the California Wildfires. And, as I said, I expected that.

The first blush response for most people is to immediately sympathize with the victims of such a catastrophe... and I do too. But my aim on this site is not to offer the "usual response" to anything. And I didn’t flinch from this one either.

Listen, I have all the standard human emotions and what is happening in California is just horrible for those involved. But I'm not involved. And I am here to tell you that these fires expose a lot more than tragedy, there is more than a little bit of farce here too.

I've had a conversation with a Portland couple, a working family of four who live in a $50k house and work two jobs and have no insurance, as they watched footage of these fires down South and cried. But the saddest thing is that these sympathetic eyes might well end up footing a Federal bill to rebuild the million dollar vacation homes of LA media moguls.

No, I'm not kidding. Bellow is a very representative sampling of area homes... check ‘em out.

$800k, 4k sq dt, 4 baths, brand new all-wood construction, large trees against building

$500k, 2500 sq ft, 3 baths, new wood construction, large trees.

$300k, 2 baths, new wood, large trees.

These are horribly inappropriate homes, built out of the wrong material and surrounded by lots of trees and shrubs, and they are trophy homes, not the domiciles of working people.

This article puts exactly the spin that I was going for on this same issue.

"Here in the Pacific Northwest and in the Sierras, the fire issue focuses on whether or not fire suppression and human management of the system have created a more fire-prone environment," Starkey said. "We haven’t harvested trees; we haven’t allowed prescribed burning; we haven’t allowed wildfires, so we have a lot of deadwood that is fuel for wildfires."

[But when you consider the California fires...] "When you think of the chaparral system that is burning, one response might be, 'Since humans have suppressed fires and altered the system in forests like the Sierras or the Cascades, then it must be the case in Southern California that we have done something that is causing this to happen. But research shows the opposite. Fires have burned with this kind of vicious intensity from the beginning of time," he said.

A study by Jon Keeley of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center in Sacramento found that since the start of record keeping in 1878, there has been no increase in the average size of wildfires in southern California.

But the number of fires per decade has increased with increased population density and human activity in southern California.

"The reason the situation is worse today is because we have more houses, people and resources in harm’s way than we did 50 years ago," Starkey said.

Or as Keeley characterizes it, the problem is not so much the fire – the fires have always been there – the real problem is urban sprawl.

Starkey said. "The best way to make public policy is not in the heat of moment."

Keeley’s study suggests creating large buffer zones between urban lands and wild lands to minimize the human impact of wild fires. Effective use of zoning and land use policies are a key component.

"But we are going to continue to allow people to build in these high-risk environments, much like flood plains," Starkey said.

It is folly to have too much sympathy for these folks, as a group. But of course I have sympathy for them as individuals, even the rich ones, but especially those who do not fit the mold that I have explicated on this site. We need to correct our habits as a species, and not try to force nature to meet our every needs. In cases like these fires we are shown the reality that Nature bends to no man.

Sean: Thursday, October 30, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Freedom For Enad

I kludged this from sources.

The men in the photo are a UN inspector (in blue, pretending to be busy) and Adnan Abdul Karim Enad (in black, pleading). Enad is begging for assylum while the UN man waits for Saddam's police to haul Enad off to prison. Here is how the story appeard in most news outlets.

Around 8:30 a.m., as a convoy of inspectors was departing the compound and merging into a busy expressway, a young man dressed in a black leather jacket and clutching a notebook jumped in front of the lead vehicle.

When the driver got out of his car, the man jumped into the driver's seat and refused to leave, sparking a dramatic confrontation with Iraqi authorities assigned to guard the compound.

As a green-uniformed soldier attempted to pull the man out of the car by grabbing his neck and then his arm, he screamed in Arabic that he did not want to leave the car. With the inspector sitting in the passenger seat looking on impassively, the man began shouting in English .

"Save me. Save me," he wailed. Then, a few moments later, he repeated the refrain: "Save me please. Save me please."

The UN guards turned him over because the incident occurred outside the compound, where "the U.N. has no jurisdiction."

(ed: why look on "impassively"? No I mean it, why? Why not look on "very concerned"? Why not get a bit tough with the Iraqi police, get a badge name and precinct number, advise that you will be "following up" on the fate of the man. You are wearing a blue cap, not a straight jacket!)

Amnesty International was asked to look into the fate of Enad but had some difficulty at first.

Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, appeared flummoxed when questioned about the case this week but said that he would consider raising it in his talks tomorrow in Baghdad.

He said the inspectors did not know the identity of the man pulled from the vehicle and were awaiting a report on the incident from the Iraqi authorities.

The UN had not taken any other steps to ascertain whether the man might have been an Iraqi scientist or otherwise in possession of information he wanted to share with inspectors about Iraq’s secret weapons programs.

“I’ve just talked to our security chief in Baghdad . . . and he said there was nothing in the booklet he seemed to be carrying,” Dr Blix said. He added that Iraqi scientists could find “more elegant ways” of approaching UN inspectors.

(ed: nice one Hans, in typical European fashion he complains about the style of a defector as if to excuse their turning their backs on him in his momment of need)

And then the US and the UK invaded the country and viola!

Amnesty International has learned that 'Adnan 'Abdul Karim Enad is safe and free.

He and other detainees were said to have escaped from a prison in al-Ramadi, about 80 miles from Baghdad, after it was abandoned by prison guards in mid-April.

He was allegedly accused of having links with the opposition (ed: like that's a bad thing) through relatives living abroad.

According to reports, he had been sentenced to death, though it is not known whether he faced any kind of trial.

Are you suprised by the above story? You shouldnt be. Read here about the UN’s history of peacekeeping.

Hat tip to miniluv's Court Schuett.

Sean: Wednesday, October 29, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
LA Is Burning, Again

I don’t mean to be an insensitive jerk, but...

These fires raging out of control in California are completely natural. What isn’t natural are the million dollar homes, the big box retailers, the miles of fresh black top and the fire suppression efforts - heroic though they might be.

I wrote about this recently regarding my home state of Oregon. My friend Gordie pointed out that not all the homes at risk of fire deep in the woods were million dollar estates. Fine, maybe not all of them. But check out this photo.

These fires read like a “Who’s Who” of upscale suburban communities: Claremont, Descanso, Glendora, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Henshaw, LaVerne, Palomar Mountain, Ramona, Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas, and Simi Valley. This is the in-club of moneyied Californians living in commute distance of Los Angeles or San Diego.

“Here in Los Angeles, fire crews set up an outpost in a hillside development in Porter Ranch, one of the city's newest and most vulnerable neighborhoods, where new $1 million homes were being carved into the parched hillsides on Tuesday even as firefighters scurried to protect hundreds of those already built.”

The problem is not that California is on fire. This is a natural, regular occurrence for the area, or it should be. Pests are cleared from the grasses and tree seeds germinate with wildfires. They are a good thing.

The problem is that humans insist on living in leap-frog developments... each looking for the next, next "unspoilt wilderness" within a reasonable drive of the human sprawl they work in, but wish to avoid on the weekends.

Ok, so you live 40 miles out into the scrub brush on barely enough well water to keep your patch of lawn green. Ok, so in your efforts for a "tax revolt" you have stripped city, county, and state coffers bare. Some of you have even disincorporated just to avoid the tax man.

But now the hills are alive with the sound of... fire. And you want to be declared a Federal disaster. Oh, yer a disaster all right. Excuse me while I get my checkbook out.

Quick, save the Walmart!

Ah, shucks. I sound insensitive again.

Sean: Tuesday, October 28, 2003 [+] |
Monday, October 27, 2003
Iraqi PatriotsThugs Attack The Red Cross In Baghdad

On Monday, October 27, 2003

The NY Times reports that Iraqi militants drove carloads of explosives into five buildings around the capital today, killing an estimated 30 people and wounding more than 200 others.

They attacked the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and four Iraqi police stations. A sixth attack, also on an Iraqi police post, was foiled.

The attacks seemed intended to punish and warn those, like the Iraqi police officers, who are cooperating with the American occupation and those, like the Red Cross employees, who are coming from overseas to ease the struggles of Iraqis.

The bombs this morning produced scenes of carnage and fire, sending panicked and wounded people streaming into the city streets.

The deadliest attack was on the Red Cross headquarters in central Baghdad, where a suicide bomber plowed an ambulance full of explosives through a protective barrier before setting off his payload. At least 15 people died there, most of them Iraqis living in neighboring buildings.

As black smoke billowed from the Red Cross headquarters groups of young Iraqi girls ran down the street in their navy blue school uniforms, eyes wide, screaming in terror.

"Oh my God, help me, Oh my God, help me," an elderly Iraqi woman cried, her face and clothes spattered with blood, her arms extended for two family members who led her away from the Red Cross building here.

Although the Red Cross, one of the few western organizations still operating here, had drastically scaled back its foreign staff in recent months, at least one Red Cross employee was killed - an Iraqi man named Suhair, who worked as the office receptionist.

Today's attacks coincided with the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that commemorates the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. As Ramadan neared, Iraqi and American officials had been girding themselves for a wave of attacks.

"They think they are going to paradise," Alaa Ibrahim, an Iraqi police major, said, looking at the burning wreckage of the suicide attacker's car in front of the Red Cross compound. "They're crazy. They are not going to heaven."

UN Sec General: Kofi Annan, called the attack on the ICRC "a crime against humanity" and said that all terrorist attacks were "morally repugnant and indefensible."

(Gee, I'm so glad he didnt call them "freedom attacks".)

Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani was shocked: "Maybe it was an illusion to think people would understand after 23 years [working in Iraq] that we are unbiased," Doumani said. "I can't understand why we've been targeted."

(Duh, because you are "easing Iraqi suffering". These people want Iraqis to suffer. They are trying to build up a base of support. Isnt that the way you do it?)

And CNN reports that the Pentagon sees a “new pattern” in these attacks:

Hertling said the military did not believe that there was a connection between Monday's bombings and an attack Sunday on the [heavily fortified al-Rashid] Hotel in Baghdad where Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.

On Sunday, Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division, said the rocket attack did not target Wolfowitz, because his travel itinerary was not revealed far enough ahead to allow the necessary planning.

Hertling said "foreign fighters" appear to be behind the wave of bombings, noting that the mode of operations did not fit loyalists of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime.

"We have not seen any attacks that we could directly attribute to foreign fighters (in the past)," Hertling said. "We have seen those today."

"There are indicators that these attacks seem to have the mode of operations of foreign fighters," he said. "They're not something we have seen in the past from the former regime loyalists."

Unfortunately, this assessment is B.S.. The attack on the Red Cross comes hard on the heals of the UN bombing and the attack on the Jordanian embassy. The attack on Wolfowitz in the Al Rashid was dress rehearsed in another such attack in mid September (sorry, lost the link).

Newsday reports that the US forces were not "surprised".

The attack, at 6:30 a.m., "woke us up with a bang," said Charles Heatly, a spokesman for the occupation administration. But it caused only minor damage to the hotel's 14th floor, where one of the rockets struck. Later in the morning, U.S. troops tipped off by local residents found rocket launch tubes and a motorcycle battery. "Frankly, a lot of us have been wondering that it didn't happen before," said the officer. "The Al-Rashid is a big, tall target, and everybody knows who's staying there."

One of the most annoying things that I hear said about 9/11 is how “clever” those "A-rab boys" were. B.S., these kinds of attacks are “easy”. A plane is a large missile and America is “the land of the free”. It was bound to happen given enough time.

Not even the "level of grievance" or any other malarkey you might hear from a leftist was important. The man who shot Ronald Reagan did it to impress Jodi Farking Foster.

You don’t need smarts and you don’t need a good reason, all you need is access. Today the conflux of technology and freedom is what enables people to kill other people in huge and horrific ways.

These Iraqi thugs tied grenade launchers to a sled and left it in a park aimed roughly at the Al Rashid… heck, they might not even have aimed at the hotel, just the area where US forces are highest. It was the lamest sort of hack-job ever.

That it was effective at all owes more to the technical prowess of the Russian made rockets than to the “cleverness” of the assailants. And in the end they mainly hurt nearby Iraqi residents and workers.

NPR reported this morning that the assailants wore masks. These men are not part of an army, they do not seek to take and hold ground, and they are not even trying to wear down the “occupation forces”. Rather, they are fighting their own people, hence the masks.

These militants seek to influence a political outcome (who will rule Iraq) through inflicting terror on civilians. They are only one thing: terrorists. And any other language use when reporting the news of their evil deeds is… well… evil. Keep that in mind ABC, CNN, NPR, and the BBC.

Sean: Monday, October 27, 2003 [+] |
Friday, October 24, 2003
Defensive Nationalism

This article at Europundits almost perfectly explains my own tolerence for Zionism and support for the Jewish State. And I'm an Irish-American lapsed-Catholic.

(A Refutation of Tony Judt’s “Israel: The Alternative”)

By Nelson Ascher

While the French or Hungarian or Latvian or Basque or Irish nationalisms were, so to say, first degree nationalisms that had been born of the will to keep an identity, Zionism was a second degree, reluctant nationalism born of the impossibility, after having tried to do it, of giving up an identity.

A Jew could learn his country’s language, write great books in it, get a Nobel prize, compose operas, lose a limb or two for his monarch, pay his taxes, help develop the national economy, win a gold medal in the Olympics, convert, change his name, marry a non-Jew, take his kids to the church, even become a nun (like Edith Stein) etc. Still, he wasn’t allowed not to be a Jew.

Zionism, thus, wasn’t nationalism as a first or preferential option, but as a last resort, and it was resisted by the majority of the Jews until the Holocaust. This makes of Zionism not a late-coming traditional European nationalism, but something absolutely new in the world-scene, actually a pioneering movement. While most earlier nationalisms were, in some measure, fundamentally aggressive, Zionism was the first totally defensive project to create a nation-state.

The Jewish national movement was the first of its kind because its goal wasn’t foremost the survival or self-affirmation of a certain group, but a matter of life and death for millions of individuals.

Zionism is not a continuation of classical nationalism: it is already a defensive reaction to it, its consequence, and also a historical novelty the trouble of which is, it arrived too early.

Hat tip to Roger Simon.

Sean: Friday, October 24, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, October 23, 2003
New Money For Iraq

New money is flowing into Iraqi banks this month. The exchange of old Saddam notes for new/old notes was expected to be completed by Oct 15th. Here is a sampling of the new/old notes. (You will see why I say New/Old).

50 Dinar

Front image: the grain silo At Basrah. A modern contraption. Working at full capacity the facility can off-load and process 60,000 tonnes of grain per hour.
Back image: date palms. Iraq used to be the world's largest producer and exporter of dates. Over 600 vairieties are grown in-country.

250 Dinar

Front image: the astrolabe. Able to measure the time of day or night and the altitude and latitude - conceived by the Greeks it was further developed by medieval Arab astronomers, who used it to help determine the time for fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Back image: the Spiral Minaret in Samarra, built 848-849 a.d. Samarra was then the Abbasid Empire's capital city.

1k Dinar

Front image: a gold dinar coin, used in this region until superseded by more modern coins and notes.
Back image: Al-Mustansirya University, Baghdad. Built in the mid-thirteenth century it was the most prominent university in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages.

5k Dinar

Front image: Gully Ali Beg and its 800m waterfall. The 10km gully passes between Mount Kork and Mount Nwathnin, some 60km away from Shaqlawa.
Back image: the second century desert fortress of Al-Ukhether, Hejira.

10k Dinar

Front image: Abu Ali Hasan Ibn al-Haitham, b. 965 a.d., gave the first correct explanation of vision, showing that light is reflected from an object into the eye, invented the camera obscura, and developed analytical geopmetry by establishing linkage between algebra and geometry.
Back image: Hadba Minaret, at the Great Nurid Mosque, Mosul, built 1172 a.d. by Nurridin Zangi, the then Turkish ruler. The 59m-high minaret leans 8 ft off the perpendicular. That is how it earned its Arabic name AL-Hadba ('the humped').

250k Dinar

Front image: Kurdish farmer holding sheaf of wheat. Tractor in background.
Back image: King Hammurabi. Credited with writing first code of law in human history. He founded the First Dynasty of Babylon in 1700, leading to a period of great prosperity.

Sean: Thursday, October 23, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Mahathir Is An Idiot

...but then you should already knew that.

Mahathir, is a former medical doctor and scientist as well as one of the Islamic world's most successful and prominent statesmen, with 22 years as premier of his country. He doesn't get ignorance as an excuse. And it isn't some recent aberration cause by old age either. He's just a bigot.

Mahathir’s history of making anti-Semitic remarks didn’t take more than 5 minutes of Google searching, [and I found] this article detailing Mahathir’s long-time hatred of the Jews. It extends all the way back (at least) to his 1969 autobiography in which he wrote “The Jews ... are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively." - David Hogberg, Cornfield Commentary

The World Jewish Congress site carries this old ananlysis:

In a 1986 speech at meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, Mahathir claimed: "the expulsion of Jews from the Holy Land 2,000 years ago and the Nazi oppression of Jews taught them nothing. If anything at all, it has transformed the Jews into the very monsters that they condemn so roundly in their propaganda material."

In 1994 the Malaysian film censor refused to license the screening of "Schindler's List" because of the film's apparently excessive sympathy towards Jews. The censor wrote that "its seems the illustration is a propaganda with the purpose of asking for sympathy, as well as to tarnish the other [German] race."

And when Malaysia's "Asian Miracle" collapsed in 1996, the stock market plunged some 50% and the value of the Malaysian currency fell by over 30% to its lowest value since 1973, Mahathir again blamed the crisis on the Jews.

"We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, coincidentally Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that Malaysians are mostly Moslem. Indeed, the Jews are not happy to see Moslems progress. If it were Palestine, the Jews would rob Palestinians. Thus this is what they are doing to our country."

This was followed up by the Asia Times commentary on the latest speech in which he declared that Jews are anti-Muslim and therefore must be taken to task.

"Many newspapers are owned by the Jews ... only their side of the picture is given now," he said. "The Muslims, we are pictured as terrorists, unreasonable people, unable to administer our countries, unable to develop our countries. That is the picture that is being given," he told the paper.

"We fail to notice that our detractors and enemies (The Jews) do not care whether we are true Muslims or not. To them we are all Muslims, followers of a religion and a Prophet [who] they declare promotes terrorism, and we are all their sworn enemies," declared Mahathir. "They (The Jews) will attack and kill us, invade our lands, bring down our governments whether we are Sunnis or [Shi'ites], Alawait or Druze or whatever. And we aid and abet them (The Jews) by attacking and weakening each other, and sometimes by doing their (The Jews) bidding, acting as their (The Jews) proxies to attack fellow Muslims. We try to bring down our governments through violence, succeeding to weaken and impoverish our countries."

Remarks in the speech about how Jews "have become a world power", though laced with harsh words difficult to misinterpret, backed up his plea to fellow Muslims to think and plan their own revival as a great civilization: "We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also. Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people, will make mistakes, will forget to think. They are already beginning to make mistakes. And they will make more mistakes. There may be windows of opportunity for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities. But to do so we must get our acts right."

"In dealing with terrorists, you have to find out why they want to crash a plane into a huge building," he said, referring to the September 11, 2001, attack on New York. "Yes, you can apply military pressure, but you must also find the root cause, the political cause."

"The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir told the Islamic meeting. "They get others to fight and die for them," he added.

"They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so that they can enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power."

Mahathir cheered the OIC by predicting that "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews".

Taiwan News carried this angle, in which Mahathir actually blames Democracy and its advocates for terrorizing the world. He apparently cannot tell the difference between professional citizens soldiers trying to avoid civilians casualties and non-voting suicidal teens brainwashed and taught to kill as many as possible.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday accused the "great exponents of democracy" of "terrorizing the world" after the September11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Mahathir did not specify any country by name in a speech in this central Javanese town, but his comments appeared to be aimed at two of the outspoken leader's favorite targets, which include Australia, the United States and Israel.

"We see states launching vicious, massive retaliation, not just to kill suspected terrorists but (also) his family, his home, his village and his town," said Mahathir, who is under fire for comments last week in which he maintained that "Jews rule the world."

Mahathir said that after September11 "the great exponents and practitioners of democracy believe that the way to spread doctrine and to break down resistance is by terrorizing the world."

"The basic teachings of Islam are very good," he said. "For 1,400 years people have been interpreting and misinterpreting Islam so that today it's almost a different religion. It's a religion of violence, backwardness and instability."

Then I love this throwaway line: "I have friends who are Jews," Mahathir said in the Bangkok Post interview, also published on Tuesday. "We don't want to kill them."

Yeah, I even have friends who are gay… just because I said they deserve aids doesn’t mean that I have anything against them. Oh yeah? Why dont you just Shut The F-ck Up!

What an idiot... too bad Jews DONT run the world and the media... if they did they this man would have never come to power or at least we'd never hear about him. Idiot!

Sean: Wednesday, October 22, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Group Hugs

There is this amazing site where people can go and confess their transgressions. I cant stop reading, even thought it feels "wrong". So, um, why don't you check it out?

"Once when I was in junior high, while lighting fire crackers in the woods, I started a fire. It got out of hand. fire trucks came. Nobody knows it was me. It was dumb."

"When I was in middle school I broke into a neighbors house by throwing a rock through the window and then undoing the lock. We stole his liquor, and read the love letters that his now dead wife had written to him."

"I used to be friends with a very popular, very pretty girl. I once slept with that friend's boyfriend just so that I could feel better than her. (As in prove that I could get any guy she could get.) She never found out but it gave me sick satisfaction."

"I have been telling people since I was 16 that I was raped and I wasn't. I suppose I first did it for attention... and now I want to tell everyone that I wasn't raped in Disneyworld by an imaginary family friend at Thanksgiving. [But] i'm afraid to tell my boyfriend or my family because I think they'd hate me for it... "

"When I was about 15 I ended up flirting with this girl at a Baptist convention that was at the hotel my parents ran. We ended up fooling around later that night in a room, under the covers. Worst part is her Pastor's wife and two young daughters were in the room at the time. Later that morning we had sex. Later I heard she became really loose and said it was because of what happened with me. And funny part is, I don't feel bad about it at all. "

"I secretly hate men. Every free minute I have I plan how to hurt men emotionally, financially and mentally. I have picked out men randomly and started relationships with them for the sole purpose of hurting them. I spent a year on one man to break him completely. He proposed to me and I cleaned out the joint bank account I had coerced him into getting with me and then told him I had never loved him. I made another man think I was pregnant and then told him I had an abortion because I felt that he did not love me enough and would not be able to love the baby as well. He still blames himself. I've never been found out and it gives me pleasure each time I've hurt them. I don't think I will ever be able to stop my hobby."

This site is just awful; even if only half the confessions are true. But you will hit "next" more times than you will feel good about. And you will probably tell someone about this site. You might even be tempted to make a post. You will feel better about yourself once you do. And this will spread to others. And it is all your fault. Click here now.


hat tip to Lele.

Sean: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 [+] |
Monday, October 20, 2003

"We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease." - John Dos Passos, Life Magazine, 1946

No one likes to be pulled out of their Matrix(tm).

Comment: (from Jessicaswell) : "This is incredible. At first I thought it was a parody, similar to others I've seen inserting Germany or Japan in place of Iraq into the defeatist hand wringing we've seen so much of in the press. From my limited knowledge of Dos Passos (reading his USA trilogy) my recollection is that he was decidedly on the left end of the political spectrum, so his pessimism here is to be expected. What a great find. Mark Twain (I think) said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. This sure looks like a rerun to me."

Second Comment: "John Dos Passos was a highly respected novelist of that time (and to some extent still is). His politics are difficult to categorize, other than to say that in general he moved from left to right over the course of a lifetime. Of course being a great novelist has nothing to do with being a great reporter, and it seems that here he lets his experiences after World War I get in the way of clear analysis. He recalls that the post-WWI Europe was a better place than the (at the time) current post-war Europe, which no doubt it was as most cities were intact. The task of rebuilding Europe after WWII was enormous, and nothing like it had ever been tried before. Dos Passos had no perspective on the situation, he only thought he did."

Update: Many people asked "Who is John Dos Passos?".

Dos Passos was born in 1896 in Chicago. He was the illegitimate son of a successful corporate lawyer and a New England lady of society. Later his mother married and John got a last name.

To avoid embarrassment to his parents he was educated in Europe. He spoke English with a French accent and wore thick glasses. He was thus teased horribly in prep-school (illigit or not he got the best of everything) and became a cynic and a radical concerning his upperclass colleagues. He later went on to study at Harvard, where he became an editor for the Harvard Monthly.

After college he went to fight Franco's fascists in Spain. He then worked as an ambulance driver and witnessed both World Wars. Watching Americans dive right back into "business as usual" with the Roaring Twenties after WWI and the post WWII boom he came to see the triumph of the Allies as simply the triumph of the Captains of Industry over the worker.

He became famous for writing the "USA trilogy" of faked news sketches which detailed the "American Scene" of the 30's and was quite critical of Capitalism. He was hailed by the leftist literati and was even invited to visit Stalin's Russia. However, deadly staged riots by American Communists turned him away from any mass social organization as a means of correcting society's ills.

Instead, Dos Passos dove into a re-studying of American History, especially the Founding Fathers and President Lincoln (Republican). Eventually he underwent a profound change of heart and became a determined 'apologist' for 'the establishment', even writing a forward for William F. Buckley's "Up From Liberalism". This tarnished his earlier reputation, by the left, as "the greatest American writer".

He died in 1970.

Hat tip to Michael Totten.

Sean: Monday, October 20, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, October 16, 2003
A Star Is Born

Alexander was born at 5:44 in the evening on October 15th, 2003, at Providence hospital in Portland, Oregon, USA. He was one week early and thus weighed only 6.07 lbs and was 18 ¾ inches long. He has brown hair and blue eyes (for now, might turn green later).

He took 45 hours to reach us and Angie lasted through 40 of those with out any medication. She made it to 8 cm in dilation (out of 10) before asking for an epidural. Unfortunately that seemed to mess up her contractions and we had to turn it off. So she ended up doing the whole thing “natural”.

She was in the final stages of labor for 5 hours (they call that “complete”). Turns out the baby hadn’t made the last turn of his body and so his head was at an off angle as it came through. Angie, being a trooper, just squeezed him out (especially when she overheard a nurse talk about a c-section).

So, baby ‘Xander’ is with us now and both mother and baby are doing just fine. We are thrilled to finally have him with us. Thanks for everyone’s concern and well-wishes.

Sean: Thursday, October 16, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Baby Time!

Angie is going into contractions. So, it looks like we are off to the hospital tonight. So, um... "blogging will be light," as they say.

Cheers, Sean

Sean: Tuesday, October 14, 2003 [+] |
Monday, October 13, 2003
Israel's Nuclear Armed Subs

A so-called recent controversy has been stirred by the LA Times. The West Coast's "rag of record" carries an unconfirmed and unvetted (by self admission) article asserting that Israel has armed three German made Dolphin diesel subs with American made Harpoon missiles. Supposedly this news strains the Bush administration's handling of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Lets put this latest piece in perspective...

London Sunday Times
June 18, 2000
Israel Makes Nuclear Waves With Submarine Missile Test
By Uzi Mahnaimi and Matthew Campbell

Just as President Bill Clinton is engaged in a bitter public debate about how best to defend America from missile attacks launched by "rogue" countries such as Iran, Israel's intensely secretive military preparations against the same threat have gone a stage further.

Israeli defence sources claim the country has secretly carried out its first test launches from submarines of cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The launches last month from German-built vessels in the Indian Ocean were designed to simulate swift retaliation against a pre-emptive nuclear attack from Iran.

According to Israeli sources, the three Dolphin-class submarines will give Israel a crucial third pillar of nuclear defence to complement the country's already much-vaunted land and air ramparts.

While the Israelis' intention of using the German submarines as roving nuclear launch platforms had long been suspected, few experts had expected them to develop the capability to fire submarine-based cruise missiles so soon.

Planning for a submarine-launched nuclear deterrent was accelerated after reports in the early 1990s by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, that Iran would be capable of staging a nuclear missile attack against Israel by 2000.

Washington Post
June 15, 2002
Israel Has Sub-Based Atomic Arms Capability
By Walter Pincus

The U.S. Navy monitored Israeli testing of a new cruise missile from a submarine two years ago off Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, according to former Pentagon officials.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, confirmed that his country had recently acquired three submarines from Germany but would not comment on whether they were being outfitted with nuclear weapons.

The Carnegie Endowment book said Israel "is believed to have deployed" 100 Jericho short-range and medium-range missiles that are nuclear-capable. In addition, it has nuclear bombs that could be delivered from U.S.-made F-16 jet fighters and U.S.-built Harpoon missiles that could be launched from planes or ships.

Israel's nuclear-capable, sea-launched cruise missiles were tested in May 2000, the book said, and might have a range of more than 900 miles.

"Such a survivable deterrent is perceived as essential because of Israel's unique geopolitical and demographical vulnerability to nuclear attack, and one that no potential enemy of Israel could ignore," it said.

The U.S. government "favors" Israel's preserving the ambiguity surrounding its nuclear force, just as it has since the late 1960s, a former senior U.S. diplomat said. "It gives it a strategic deterrence," he said, adding, "If [Israel] were being explicit, that would create problems with its neighbors like Egypt and Syria . . . whose leaders years ago agreed that [ambiguity] did not pose an offensive threat to them."

Iraq and Iran, he added, are different because "they are destabilizing" countries and could launch a first strike against Israel or U.S. forces in the region if they succeed in developing and deploying nuclear weapons.

July 4, 2002

In a report entitled "The Third Temple's Holy of Holies: Israel's Nuclear Weapons," U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr said Israel's nuclear arsenal has grown from an estimated 13 nuclear bombs in 1967 to 400 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. Farr said Israel's navy could deploy nuclear weapons on the fleet of three German-built Dolphin-class diesel submarines.

October 12, 2003
Israel Adds Fuel to Nuclear Dispute
By Douglas Frantz

Officials confirm that the nation can now launch atomic weapons from land, sea and air. The issue complicates efforts to rein in Iran.

Israel has modified American-supplied cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads on submarines, giving the Middle East's only nuclear power the ability to launch atomic weapons from land, air and beneath the sea, according to senior Bush administration and Israeli officials.

Since 1969, Washington has accepted Israel's status as a nuclear power and not pressured it to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

A secret agreement with the French government in 1956 helped Israel build a plutonium nuclear reactor. France and Israel were natural partners then; they had been allies with Britain in a brief attempt to seize the Suez Canal after Egypt nationalized it and had shared concerns about the Soviets and unrest in North Africa.

Israel's parliament was dragged into the nuclear debate briefly on Feb. 2, 2000. Issam Makhoul, one of 10 Israeli Arabs in parliament, got the item on the agenda by petitioning the Supreme Court after being rebuffed seven times.

"The American administration decided to destroy weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and they are threatening Iran," he said. "They cannot continue giving a blind eye to what is going on in Israel."

"We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France," a senior administration official said. "We don't regard Israel as a threat."

NY Times
October 12, 2003
Experts Dismiss Israel Nuclear Report
AP Wire

Israeli and foreign defense experts Sunday dismissed a report that Israel had modified submarine-based missiles to carry nuclear warheads, saying such an alteration was technically impossible.

Former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Efraim Sneh called the assertion that Israel had made the Harpoon nuclear impossible.

Ted Hooton, editor of Jane's Naval Weapon Systems in London, echoed Sneh's assessment, saying problems with payload weight would put the Harpoon out of balance, limiting its range and accuracy.


Der Spiegel reported that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency was developing a plan to attack the alleged nuclear weapons sites in Iran. Iran acknowledges that it has a nuclear development program, but says it is designed only to generate electricity.

NY Times
October 13, 2003
New Rules for Israel and Syria
By Neil MacFarquhar

The first Israeli air raid inside Syria in three decades undermined a crucial convention of the Arab-Israeli conflict; that these two enemies would not attack each other directly.

"The proxy game is over," said a senior Western diplomat familiar with all sides in the conflict. "There is a new Middle East game that we are just seeing beginning."

"The question is whether another Israeli attack on Syria is just a suicide bombing away," said a second Western envoy. "Will they attack here again because the threshold has been raised by the Israelis? The answer is almost certainly yes."

I think we should keep in mind that Israel's nuclear capabilities have been openspeculationn since the 60's, affecting Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

We should also note the involvement of both France and Germany in supplying Israel with arms.

And we must resist the now established Leftist chestnut of pretending that we are confused as to why the US is allowed WMD, or Israel, and Saddam, Syria, and Iran are not.

"We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France," a senior administration official said. "We don't regard Israel as a threat."

The reason that brutal military dictatorships should not be allowed the ultimate weapon should be more than obvious. Similarly, the reason why Liberal Democratic allies are allowed such weapons should be equally plain.

So long as organizations, like the UN, and nations, like France, choose blur these issues they should be considered America's enemies.

Sean: Monday, October 13, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, October 09, 2003
City Liberals

In a reply Gordie writes:

The U.S. overall has more forested land now than it did when white man arrived, but the numbers in the west are down and are up in the east and south (and it's mixed in the midwest). The longer unmanaged forests lie fallow in this over-dense small tree stage, the more likely it is to burn, and to burn too hot. If we sterilize large chunks of land in a major conflagration, no one wins...well maybe except the radical environmentalists who want everyone off the land anyway. Incessant legal challenges and a slow-moving Forestry Service have effectively stonewalled the efforts of local companies to harvest the deadwood from the burned public lands. We have unemployed and unemployed timber folks who would love the work and can't get it. [Meanwhile] in smaller logging operations, land owners typically sell only their "money trees," the ones big enough to turn a profit for the logging effort. Even most of the larger selling landowners don't clearcut because of both financial and PR issues.

Much of Josephine County's timber is not old land burned in a huge fire in the 1920s and is going through the typical local progression of timber varieties to try to return to an old growth ecosystem balance. A few very scattered large pines and cedars (not high enough for douglas fir) survived. In the drier, hotter climate here, the seedlings rarely survive in an unshaded seedbed. So, oaks and madrone take over the sunny areas. They eventually get big enough that they create some decent shade. Then with a few wetter years, the pines and cedars that germinate all over the place every year can survive until they don't need the protection of the seedbed. Then they grow strong and tall through the oaks and madrone and eventually shade them out to death. As we haven't been here long enough to observe the entire process, we can only theorize how many centuries it will take until the forest would be considered truly old growth again, if ever.

If you think it's just vacation homes, you don't understand the rural demographics here in wooded Oregon. Look at the population of the towns for instance in Josephine County, then look at the total population of the county...a goodly percentage [are] people living in the woods. And while some of the houses are certainly indicative of money (many from fleeing Californians), more are the trailers and shacks of the landed poor, our imitation of West Virginia. The land they live on just happens to have trees as its most successful crop/weed. We accept fire (and big animal) risk like folks accept tornado risk in the Midwest...but we also expect our tax dollars to translate into some disaster response.

I think most people would have few problems with “thinning” or “salvage logging” if they could trust that this is really what would happen. But the Forest Service is not charged with protecting America’s wilderness, it is charged with putting timber to “use” (and they have a history of losing money at it). Many timber companies have been caught illegally stripping land that they were paid to “thin” with the Forest Service looking the other way. Essentially the FS is a government subsidy for loggers, not an oversight agency (for fun you can look up the many heads of the service who have resigned in disgust). The Cubs would win a pennant before Oregonians accept the Bush “forest plan”!

Some of my family’s friends have been real life examples of private loggers. Our experience is that it costs more money to selectively log land, especially a steep hill (at least this is what everyone believes). People prefer to bring in a backhoe and chains to simply strip the land bare. Most private landowners who allow logging on their land do so out of economic desperation or sheer greed, stewardship is rarely a concern.

People have been here long enough to observe both natural recovery processes and the unnatural destruction of forests. There has been significant logging in Oregon for more than a century, while bear and deer have returned to New England woods and 300-year-old farmsteads have been swallowed into the trees. Meanwhile the largest timber company in Oregon, Louisiana Pacific, sold its tower in Portland and moved to Memphis (full circle once again?). Logging is a “deluge” business model that doesn’t work even by its own measures. While nature is an old hand, slow and steady, and very effective with out human oversight.

A wildfire in an un-managed forest clears the ground, forces open cones, and prods seeds to germinate. A natural fire not only poses little risk to the forest, but is vital to successful propagation. But logging and extreme fire damages the soil, destroys seed cones, and kills large trees outright. In this setting there is no “progressive recovery,” but rather a permanent invasion of sun loving deciduous trees that don’t give ground. They establish wide surface root systems; suck specific soil nutrients dry; alter the PH of the soil; and can even effect the temperature and rainfall of the area.

Local environmental problems are compounded by larger phenomena such as global warming. A year after the Biscuit fire a ranger went looking for seedlings as a sign of recovery. NPR recorded her disappointment as she realized that a day’s hike failed to turn up any conifer seedlings. She explained that every winter evergreens must go into a state of hibernation in which they do not put out new shoots. The trees rely upon predictable patterns of fall cooling to tell them when to “sleep” and arborists are finding that the trees are being confused by our changing climate. In desperation, the FS is considering replanting southern Oregon with redwoods from California! The successful recovery in the Rogue got its start about 70 years ago, but times have changed and it would be folly to count on a natural recovery when we are so busy “managing” and wrecking nature itself.

True, probably the majority of homes in rural Oregon are not vacation homes. Many are what we city folk unfairly call “poor white trash” living in trailers and old farmsteads. But these people didn’t sprout out of the soil. They came west from company towns in W. Virginia, the chaos of post war Dixie, or the dust bowl of Okalahoma - the “Okies”. They came looking for work in mines, logging camps, and farms. Their very lives were probably saved by government-assisted development of the West. And this is precisely why they are so threatened and upset by changing policies. However, just as with poor rural Southerners, also living in trailers, these people are not paying significant taxes upon which they predicate disaster release (if they are laid off mill workers they are receiving government assistance instead of paying taxes). Their existence in the woods and deserts is artificial and parasitic upon mostly East Coast urban taxpayers (this is the old dirty secret of the “independent” West), not to mention the inevitable environmental consequences of the wholesale teraforming needed to maintain their “neighborhoods”.

It doesn’t make economic, social, or environmental sense to maintain this system. If these people truly “accepted the risks” of living in the backcountry (such as wildfires) they would change their lifestyles and expectations. For starters they would clear the land around their homes, build with stone, and never expect fire fighters to risk their lives (when I say this I keep in mind that a few people do just that, which only points out the unreasonable expectations of the remainder). These people need to face the unpleasant music of new rules to protect their own habitat and the larger environment that even city folk rely on.

I don’t mean to be callous. I grew up in the “mixed company” of rural country families in addition to a professor’s more urbane friends and I believe that I have a pretty good understanding of the priorities, good and bad, and the pressures, natural and man-made, upon our rural communities. I also believe that much that is positive about American culture comes from farmers and woodsmen as well as from businessmen and city folk. Something definitely needs to be done to re-balance our society and I have my eyes and ears open for any and all possibilities. I am open to ideas that help family farmers keep agribusiness at bay and I would love to be comfortable again with recreation in our wilderness areas. But I am not sure what would do this for me… perhaps it would help if people from the State Of Jefferson™ stopped fighting urban legislators and if our next Governator™ campaigned south of Lane County!

Truly, I don’t think you and I are too far apart on our views or proposals. I don’t think this situation is beyond resolution, but both sides will need to compromise. The city cant have unlimited economic growth while limiting the country, and neither one can survive or succeed ongoing with out some limitations.

Sean: Thursday, October 09, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Rural Republicans

On a blog comment thread at Michael Totten's place Gordie wrote:

[Rural] Folks feel they are being driven [to the] right by the economic impacts of the social policies supported by liberals in Portland. Environmental laws have really hurt rural economies, and most of the promised replacement jobs were located in the Willamette Valley. [Therefore] much of the conservative leaning is really a protest. [They] want fiscal conservatism and less intrusive government. The [Oregon] governor… never campaigned once south of Roseburg. [And I] think folks are really frustrated with the legislature, but one can't recall other districts' legislators.

I think Gordie misunderstands and over-sympathizes with this “rural plight”. Rural folks are not “driven to the right,” they have always been there and always will, at least in the West. And this is not a new battle, but a very old one. It is a battle to maintain a destructive and parasitic way of life.

The West is an artificial human environment. There is abundant land, but little usable water. Without Eastern tax dollars and the Federal government larding out development projects, such as damns and roads, very few people would be living in the West and even fewer farming or logging.

Thanks to massive government assistance it became possible for people who couldn’t make it in the crowded and rule oriented society of the Northeast or the South to come west, to tame the land and each other, and to live by the strength of their will alone. This is the myth of the "rugged individualist" which epitomizes the Rural Republican's self image.

But these programs have environmental costs. Putting out forest fires for over 100 years has led to forests clogged with fuel (and I don’t mean healthy trees, but dead underbrush, and no Bush logging plan will help with that). Hydro projects, ranching, mining, and logging have all led to soil erosion, polluted streams, and dead fish.

Certainly, laws that reverse this trend of government subsidy and privilege to resource industries are going to be painful for those who rely on them. But while I sympathize with plight of many rural Oregonians, I wouldn’t want politicians to simply cave in and keep enabling the same destructive lifestyle and economy.

These laws are not “liberal social policies,” heck they aren’t social at all, they are practical economic rules. And they do not benefit only the Portland hippy. As Gordie noted much of Oregon’s economy relies upon our "green" image with the wider public, from sport fishermen to Intel’s relocating executives and manufacturing programs.

Meanwhile, the claim that rural conservatives want “less government intrusion” is as false as any similar Republican polemic. They don’t want less government when it comes to irrigation programs or farm loans. But they don’t want to be told when they can and can’t open the irrigation spigot, let their cattle roam free, or drive their Honda ATV's through sensitive endangered species habitat.

Mainly, they don’t like being reminded that the only reason they can live 40 miles into the “back country” is because city folk pay taxes to maintain their irrigation, fire fighting, and national defense bills. The myth of the “rugged individualist” needs to die, and with it any sense of entitlement by farmers, loggers, miners, et al. We must hope for the victory of the Portland liberals because the changes they advocate are vital to protecting our entire environment, that in which we all live, work, and play.

For more on the forest issue, see here.

Sean: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Arnold Terminates Davis


CNN projects that California's electorate will recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and choose actor-turned-politician, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as the state's next governor, based on statewide exit polls.

Celebrate or drink yourself to sleep as appropriate.

These Arnold watchers are doing both.

GRAZ, Austria --
"Governator" and "Stars and Stripes" cocktails were the drinks of choice as hundreds of partygoers in Arnold Schwarzenegger's home region packed bars into the early morning as they cheered on their native son's bid to become California governor.

Newspapers carried "Good luck, Arnold" banners and elsewhere, paraphernalia of the famous bodybuilder-cum-actor-cum-politician littered store windows and bar interiors in the southern Austrian city of Graz -- just a few kilometers from Schwarzenegger's boyhood home village of Thal.

Schwarzenegger is a favorite son of Graz. There is a museum dedicated to him and the city's main football stadium is named in his honor.

With Schwarzenegger still a part of Austrian memory, it is no surprise he has garnered much support in native country, from celebrities such as former Formula 1 driver Nikki Lauda to politicians Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser to local business people.

"Arnold has done a lot for this country and this town -- and our economy," Urs Hanik-Lauris, CEO of Energy Graz, the local electricity provider told The Associated Press.

"Because of him, we can show the world that our region is linked to the bigger world."

"He's an idol," 17-year old school student Thomas Sutter told AP.

"He comes from a poor background and he made it big -- and he remains a real human being."

It seems that though Schwarzenegger left Austria 35 years ago and became a U.S. citizen in 1984, his home region will now find it even harder to forget the once shy young man who became an American state governor.

Bartender, I'll have another Governator... make that a double.

Sean: Tuesday, October 07, 2003 [+] |
Monday, October 06, 2003
Reports From The Front

This site kindly links to audio reports from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Iraq.

This site collects emails from a soldier in Afghanistan.

And from the Kay Report:

A clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi intelligence service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research."

"A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN."

"Clandestine attempts between late 1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300km range ballistic missiles, probably the No Dong 300km range anti-ship cruise missiles and other prohibited military equipment.

Iraq was not, and never was going to be, in compliance with its UN obligations.

And from the Torygraph:

Those who opposed the war counter that the failure to find WMD has made Mr Bush and the Prime Minister look stupid. In fact, it is Saddam himself who looks stupid. By his failure to abide by UN resolutions for 12 years and his refusal to co-operate with Hans Blix's inspectors, the Iraqi dictator established a pattern of behavior which suggested to any reasonable person that he had something - quite a lot, in fact - to hide.

Doubtless, it was vital to his internal repression of his own people to be able to threaten to repeat the horrors of Halabjah - where 5,000 Kurds were killed with chemical weapons in 1988. The perception that he was, or would soon be, armed to the teeth with WMD also helped to define his role in the region.

It was a stupid perception to encourage, whether or not it was true; sooner or later, the belief in the West that the Iraqi dictator was building up a deadly arsenal, or already had one, was likely to lead to his downfall, especially after the World Trade Center holocaust. But then Saddam, contrary to his orthodox image as a man of consummate cunning, has generally acted stupidly. The war against Iran, the invasion of Kuwait: these were not the acts of a master strategist.

It may one day emerge that the "45-minute claim" was not a myth hatched in London but in Baghdad, by Iraqi generals eager to tell Saddam what he wanted to hear, feeding his delusion - if such it was - that he was still capable of unleashing untold horrors upon the world at the flick of a switch.

The Hutton Inquiry has indeed revealed much about the workings of the British Government and BBC, not all of it palatable. But we should not forget that the cause of war was the unhinged behavior of a dictator who, at the very least, was deliberately nurturing the West's worst fears. In the end, if anyone "sexed up" the dossier, it was not Mr. Blair or Alastair Campbell: it was Saddam Hussein.

Hat tip to Andrew Apastalou.

Sean: Monday, October 06, 2003 [+] |
Friday, October 03, 2003
Solar Power Competes

CNN reports that STMicroelectronics, Europe's largest semiconductor maker, is developing new solar cells which will generate electricity twenty times cheaper than today's solar panels.

The French-Italian company expects cheaper organic materials such as plastics to bring down the price of producing energy. Over a typical 20-year life span of a solar cell, a single produced watt should cost as little as $0.20, compared with the current $4. The new solar cells would even be able to compete with electricity generated by burning fossil fuels such as oil and gas, which costs about $0.40 per watt, said Salvo Coffa, who heads ST's research group that is developing the technology.

If solar power could truly be competitive with oil the world as we know it will be forever changed. Consider a future in which Mongolia becomes a major exporter of environmentally safe energy. Consider a future in which the Saudis are no longer welcome in Texas.

Sean: Friday, October 03, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, October 02, 2003
More On The Real Iraq

Front Page Magazine is running a letter written by a Marine in Iraq. The soldier tries to set the record straight on the local scene. His reporting is VASTLY different from CNBC. Is anyone shocked?

More and more [Iraqi civilians] see that the GIs don't start anything, are by-and-large friendly and very compassionate, especially to kids and old people.

I saw a bunch of 19-year-olds from the 82nd Airborne not return fire coming from a mosque until they got a group of elderly civilians out of harm's way. The Iraqis saw it, too.

A bunch of bad guys used a group of women and children as human shields. The GIs surrounded them and negotiated their surrender fifteen hours later.

And when they discovered a three year-old girl had been injured by the big tough guys throwing her down a flight of stairs, the GIs called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital.

The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasn't been a problem in that neighborhood since. How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, ever get reported in the fair and balanced press?

The civilians who have figured it out faster than anyone are the local teenagers. They watch the GIs and try to talk to them and ask questions about America and now wear wrap-around sunglasses, GAP T-shirts, Dockers (or even better Levis with the red tags) and Nikes (or Egyptian knock-offs, but with the "swoosh") and love to listen to AFN when the GIs play it on their radios. They participate less and less in the demonstrations and help keep us informed when a wannabe bad-guy shows up in the neighborhood.

The younger kids are going back to school again, don't have to listen to some mullah rant about the Koran ten hours a day, and they get a hot meal. They see the same GIs who man the corner checkpoint also help clear the playground, install new swingsets and create soccer fields. I watched a bunch of kids playing baseball in one playground, under the supervision of a couple of GIs from Oklahoma. They weren't very good but were having fun, probably more than most Little Leaguers.

Our young marine is not trying to gloss over the very real problems that exist, but he does appear to understand the importance of his mission and he has more hope than most Americans back home.

The place is still a mess, but most of it has been for years... It's going to be a long haul (remember it took 10-15 years in Japan and West Germany) but if we don't stick with it, nobody else will, and we'll have some other loony running the place again.This place has greater potential than Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Sean: Thursday, October 02, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
World's Largest Big Things

World's Largest Cruiser

The world's largest, longest and tallest transatlantic liner "Queen Mary II" leaves its dock at the Alstom shipyards in St Nazaire, western France, September 25, 2003 for a three-day engine test in the Atlantic ocean.

World's Tallest Building

Cars speed past the Taipei 101 building in a well-heeled district in Taipei, September 18, 2003. The 508-metre skyscraper is expected to replace Malaysia's Petronas Towers as the world's tallest building in early October, when a 60-metre spire is added.

World's Largest Dam

Syncrude Tailings Dam in Canada is currently ranked number one by volume of construction material at 706,320,000 cubic yards (540,000,000 cubic meters). These are mine tailings so the more they mine and add to the tailings the larger the structure will grow. In contrast, Hoover Dam contains 3,250,000 cubic yards (2,600,000 cubic meters) of concrete, which is much less.

World's Tallest Dam

The tallest dam in the world is currently located on the Vakhsh River in Tajikistan and is called Rogun. It is 1099 feet (335 meters) tall. Hoover Dam is 726.4 feet (221.3 meters) tall.

World's Largest Mall

The world's largest shopping mall has been unveiled and it is in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Berjaya Times Square is an integrated retail, entertainment and leisure complex which also boasts the country's biggest indoor theme park. It took nine years and RM1.8 billion or over US$473 million to build.

If you send me info on others I will include them too. (I need a usable picture though)

Update: Reader Lumir writes in with the following entry:

World's Largest Bridge

Nasa photos reveal what may be a man-made bridge between India and Ceylon as seen from the orbiting Gemini 11 spacecraft at an altitude of 410 nautical miles. The Indian Ocean is at bottom of picture; at left center is Arabian Sea; and at upper right is Bay of Bengal. The Maldive Islands are near nose of spacecraft.

Sean: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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