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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Thursday, November 20, 2003

Stick A Sock In It

Tim Blair takes on a "brave" annonymous emailer who took time out of their day to disrespect the memory of our fallen soldiers in Iraq.

[It should be noted that Tim is Australian, so this is another Aussie Ally who's got our back in a time of need. Much thanks, and yes, notes are being taken for that day when China thinks outloud about an invasion.]

From an anonymous reader:

"Hi Tim. Hear about the 17 less Americans? I hope they had families!"

This person will be delighted to learn that, yes, the 17 soldiers killed in Mosul on Saturday did have families.

Let's meet them, via various news reports:

"All I can say is that I couldn't ask for a better [grandson]," said Bitha Heidelberg. 21-year-old Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg, a Shubuta native, was among the 17 killed Saturday in Iraq when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.

Warrant Officer Erik C. Kesterson spent eight years in the Marines as a crew chief and gunner on helicopters. He was awarded the Marine Corps Medal of Heroism for pulling seven men out of a burning helicopter crash. He left the Marines, but after Sept. 11 he re-enlisted in the military, joining the Army's warrant officer program. "He was very patriotic and believed in this country," his father, Clayton Kesterson of Independence, said. "He's a good man."

Two dozen long-stem roses remain in bloom on a dining room table inside the Federal Way home where a 28-year-old widow tends to the 2-month-old twin sons that a husband, father and soldier gone to war will never see. Katrina Sullivan knew immediately the roses were from her husband, 26-year-old Army Spc. John Sullivan, when they arrived last week commemorating both her Nov. 7 birthday and the birth of their sons.

Rick Hafer lived for two things: football and his two half-sisters. Hafer joined the Army to get his life together after poor high school grades kept him from entering college to play football, family members said. Also, he wanted to fight to keep his country safe for his younger sisters, Holly and Heather Strickland. "His sisters were his whole life," his former stepmother, Sherry Barclay, said Monday from her home in Nitro, a suburb about 15 miles from Charleston. "He said when he left that he wanted to keep our home ground safe for them to live in. He wanted to prove to everybody that he could be somebody."

Pfc. Joey Whitener spent his childhood wanting a military career. But the birth of his son on Sept. 13 changed Whitener's priorities. "He was so happy to be home with his friends and family and his son," Whitener's wife, Beth, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, recalling her husband surprising her by taking leave to be home for Tristan's birth. "His son was his pride and joy. The first time they put him in his arms, he cried."
Anyone "on our side" who can make light of the loss of fellow citizen servce people, or even use them as political fodder, is a loser.

Ok, ok, you have to leave the dissidents room to complain about our policy...

Maybe you think the war was wrong, maybe you think that none of our boys should be "thrown away" like this, or maybe you meant to underscore how evil Bush is for taking these men and women from their families...

So how do you say that with out sounding like a heartless bastard? Mmmm. Maybe you dont.

Sometimes dissent is not automaticaly noble. This is NOT Vietnam. Speaking out against the efforts in Iraq is not the moral high ground.

Anyone who thinks that we should leave Iraq now is actually calling for the murder of thousands in the chaos, reprisals, and bloody infighting that would follow.

Anyone who thinks that we never should have invaded in the first place must believe that leaving Saddam in power indefinitely as his people starved was "moral".

... that, or they believe that the sanctions should have been dropped, that Saddam should have co-chaired the UN disarmament commission, and that he should have been allowed to begin again his WMD program.

Its all well and good to say that you are "merely" against US imperialism or dominance. But the flip side is to say that you are for someone else being dominant. Who, Russia, China, or France?

Standing against the US is not done in a vacuum. If we lose, someone else gains. And right now those someone elses are the thugs who drape women in tents, mutilate the sex organs of girls, enslave blacks in Africa, and desecrate the graves and holy places of those they disdain.

Ok, so that was simplistic. You can point out that not all Muslims support or practice the above crimes. And you can point out that the West has its own skelletons in the closet.

But it is close enough to be relevant. And at least most of our crimes are in the past. No reasonable person can doubt that Coalition soldiers are under strict orders to safegaurd civilians as much as possible. While "resistance" fighters have obviously sought to maximize "colateral damage".

So, those are the sides. Now, who do you root for and why?

Yes, Bush's famous line is childishly simple... but sometimes, from the mouths of babes... "You are either with us, or against us."

If the death of a single US soldier advances your cause, then I'm against you.

NOTE: We should keep in mind that an interview on NPR last night explained that the 101st Airborne has a "unique personality" and a high level of professionalism, commpassion, and success in Iraq. All 17 killed were from the 101st.

UPDATE: Lileks appears to agree.

Sean: Thursday, November 20, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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