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:

 

Conservative:

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.

 

Liberal:

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.

 

Reactionary:

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

 

Radical:

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

 

Capitalism:

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

 

Socialism:

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.

 

Communism:

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.

 

Democracy:

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.

 

Republic:

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

 

Fascism:

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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Sunday, November 30, 2003

This Iraqi Gets It

New Iraqi blogger Omar writes from Iraq to tell us there are more than just terrorists "over there".

This morning I was discussing the tragic accident of yesterday where seven Spanish officers were killed with my friends (Zeyad and A.Y.S). We were all angry, distressed and frustrated. I felt ashamed to face my readers again. I even was thinking about giving up the whole blog. thing, but I decided to write, not for any purpose, but to relieve the pressure in my chest…

[…the meat. Go read it]

This is not a USA vs. Saddam battle and this is not an Iraqi people vs. Ba’athists battle; this is the war of the free world against terrorism. This is a war between all the good and all the evil. If this is what they call resistance, and if this is what they call patriotism, then I am the first betrayer. People of the world: you can not stay neutral, we're all on the (list).


He was so frustrated at the latest violence, and the reaction of some of his countrymen, that he almost gave up bloging. So give him a hit and a comment, would ya?

Hat tip to Jill at Jill Speak.

Sean: Sunday, November 30, 2003 [+] |
...
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
Talking Turkey

Maureen Freely on Turkey's response to "the Bombs":

This was Istanbul's September 11. They thought they were safe from the war on terror because they thought all Muslims were brothers.

Now they know otherwise, and are unified in their condemnation of the terrorists, who cannot be "true Muslims".

The fact that the terrorists staged this attack in the last days of Ramadan has added to their outrage. But no one is in any doubt why the city has become a terrorist target.

How its residents respond to their new status depends very much on how much support they get (or fail to get) from the allies who dragged them into this.

As one shopkeeper put it, "Surely, now that we have suffered this, the EU must open its arms to us." If it doesn't, or if the US gives the impression, as it has sometimes done in the past, that it is taking Turkey's "sacrifice" for granted, the sense of betrayal could be huge...

As we sit drinking coffee around the corner from the British consulate, gazing calmly at yet another high-sided vehicle that could be carrying 500lbs of cheap explosives.

My brother has difficulty keeping up the front. No matter how hard he tries, his memories of the first and nearest bomb keep crowding into his mind. The worst part was seeing the dead in the street and recognising their faces.

He tells me about the disembodied hand he saw sticking out of a mound of broken glass. He can't help wondering if this was the hand that detonated the bomb that killed his neighbourhood.

"It's not just politics," he says. "They're attacking our way of life."
Yes, they are. And the fight back has just begun.


Yes, they are attacking our way of life... all of us. Anyone who believes that races should/can mix freely, that different cultures combine to add diversity and spice to our lives, and that religion and politics are seperate spheres of our lives. Yes, Im talking to you Lefties.

Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

Sean: Wednesday, November 26, 2003 [+] |
...
Monday, November 24, 2003
Day of Defeat

I might be the first Hawk to predict America’s defeat in the Iraq War of 2003. Actually, I've held off for weeks now. Instead I wrote about the costs of losing. But today I feel the weight of the media bearing down on me, forcing me to cry uncle. Yes, even though we won all the major battles, we are losing the war and it really is Vietnam all over again - no, not because of it, but because of us. And the price of our failure will be extreme. Is there any room left for hope?
_

Why do I think say we are losing? Because I hear too many accounts of Iraqis who used to support us speaking against us. And too many of those Americans who once supported the war now calling for the troops to come home. We have lost the hearts and mind campaign, both in Iraq and at home.

We could turn things around. We could redouble our efforts, and our funds, to support democracy in Iraq. But the lack of direct threat over the last two years, a direct result of our campaigns abroad, has made us complacent. Congress will most likely not act in time and all the hard work, all the past victories, will dissolve.

So, it looks like we will have most of our troops out of Iraq by June of ’04. We’ll put together another couple of “donor conferences” to promise money to the new government. Then we will hand over “authority” to Chalabi (porbably) after a “by the motions” election (which may well be rigged). There will be no spinning this "phased withdrawell" into a victory, and the "democracy" that we leave behind will collapse, just like Saigon.
_

It is the nature of civilizations to clash. A sociologist once said that when two cultures end up side by side for any length of time they will either have intercourse (trade) or fight (war). It isn’t a condemnation of mankind, its the same in the animal world.

Islam came up face to face with the West more than a thousand years ago and has mainly done the latter. From the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, to the siege of Vienna, the East tried to overcome the West. And from the Crusades to the Persian Gulf War of 1991 the West has had its run of success in this contest.

But it has always been close, closer than anyone in the West either realizes or wants to admit. Vienna wasn’t saved by the diplomacy of the French lords of Christendom, but by a haughty young Polish prince who arrived at the very last minute spoiling for a fight. In the end it is a personal and desperate contest and men like Saddam and Ossama have been itching for a rematch.
_

Military strength is respected in Islam. When a Muslim has it he is considered anointed by God to rule. When the enemy has it, Muslims are allowed to strike a temporary truce. But this respect only lasts as long as the might does.

The attacks on the Kobar Towers, on the Cole, and on NY and DC were meant to probe our defenses and our response. When we responded by attacking Afghanistan and Iraq we had their respect. The Palestinians suspended operations, the Syrians held back Hizbollah, and the Iranians offered to talk about discussing things. And we have been spared a direct attack on our soil for the last two years.

But as we begin pulling out of Iraq this winter and spring the terrorists will simply follow us home. And because no free society can provide absolute security, and because technology makes a superman out of a moron, we must expect that they will attack and they will succeed. Sometime in my lifetime we will see a million dead in either LA or NY, or both.
_

The only end goal that would satisfy the terrorists would be complete surrender on our part. We would pull out of the Middle East and allow government after government to fall to an Islamic revolution. There would be a wholesale redistribution of wealth and power world-wide.

"Hey", say a dozen Lefties, "it’s about time", but they are morons. The Islamists do not want to set up a worker's paradise. Ask an Afghan what kind of world these people are after. No kite flying, no poetry, no soccer, and then let’s blow up your culture's most revered icons with AAA guns.

They want nothing less than the subjugation of our entire people and the destruction of our very way of life. No, this isn’t me being right-wing. The Left likes to scoff about absolutes, but militant Islam is based on nothing less. And they have been telling us this from the beginning.
_

Our only hope may lie in a haughty young prince who saves us all for his own aggrandizement


UPDATE: Great Orson Scott Card essay found via Winds Of Change.

Sean: Monday, November 24, 2003 [+] |
...
Friday, November 21, 2003
Apparently You Play A Game Better Without Threat Of Torture (Who Knew, Udday?)

Chirstian Science Monitor tells us that now that Udday isnt beating his star soccer players, they are winning again. Go figure.

"It's no longer a secret: We played every match with the fear of punishment, an intense psychological pressure,'' says Mowafak Nuri, a defender for the national side and top Iraqi club Al Zawra, who retired last year. "The Olympic Committee chairman [Udday Hussein] destroyed the performances of the national team."


Russia Gets A New Saint, Its A Soldier

New York Times relates how a Russian soldier is quickly becoming an icon, literaly.

Portraits of this young man, Yevgeny Rodionov, are spreading around Russia — sometimes in uniform, sometimes in a robe, sometimes armed, sometimes holding a cross, but always with his halo.

He is Russia's new unofficial saint, a casualty of the war in Chechnya who has been canonized not by the Russian Orthodox Church but by a groundswell of popular adoration.

In pamphlets, songs and poems, in sermons and on Web sites, Private Rodionov's story has become a parable of religious devotion and Russian nationalism. The young soldier, it is said, was killed by Muslim rebels seven years ago because he refused to renounce his religion or remove the small silver cross he kept around his neck.


Saudia Arabia Buys A Clue

Andrew Sullivan tells us that after recent bombings in Saudi Arabia, of a Muslim neighborhood, support is begining to dry up for Al Queda.

The bombing of a housing compound whose residents were almost entirely Arab and Muslim late on Saturday has appalled Saudis far more than other terrorist attacks, evaporating expressions of support for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.

"They lost their support on the street," said Ehab al-Khiary, 27, a computer security specialist, standing on a broad avenue packed with cars during the typical 10 P.M. to midnight rush hour of Ramadan. "They are killing people with no cause."

"The street was divided before," he added, talking about similar attacks against three compounds in May that killed 34 people, including 8 Americans, 2 Britons and 9 attackers. "At that time it was seen as justifiable because there was an invasion of a foreign country, there was frustration."

Many Saudis say they recognize that their government has supported some dubious Islamic causes over the years in its zeal to promote itself as the guardian of the faith. Exporting radicals by sending them off to jihad in Afghanistan was also a popular move.

"We were supporting all these extremists thinking we were safe from them, and suddenly they turn on you," said Mr. Sowayan, the professor.


Great Britain, Still Our Friends, And The Tip Of The Spear

Andrew Apostolou reminds us that our "special relationship" is real.

The British government understands the uncomfortable position of the U.S., simultaneously blamed for the world's ills and called upon to solve them. Blair has cruelly underlined the absurdity of the anti-Americanism of those whose security is guaranteed by the U.S., mocking those who want "the luxury" of being able to criticize the U.S.: "so if the U.S. acts alone, they are unilateralist, but if they want allies, people shuffle to the back." That British awareness that dependence on the U.S. for security can be dangerous for both sides is what drives Britain to be at the forefront.

Sean: Friday, November 21, 2003 [+] |
...
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 [+] |
...
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
And So We Surrender...

Boy wont the French want to hear this one?

The independent announces that Europe thinks that Bush is going to Buckingham to surrender.

The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international control and speed the handover of power, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, has said. Decisions along these lines will be made in the "coming days", Mr Solana told The Independent.
A recent interview with one of CNN's pet generals included the question that Lefties love to hear... "Isn't this Vietnam?"

The person asking the question expected to slam-dunk that the US losses of a dozen a day in the deserts of Iraq, with polls showing 50% of the locals support us, was exactly the same as the losing 50k in the hostile triple canopy of Vietnam (nevermind that Vietnam had China and the USSR backing it while Iraq has only Syria).

But the general threw a curve ball... "If we set an exit strategy that got us out in a year and announced the timetable to the world, [thereby emboldening the enemy and leaving us trying to spin how an organized pullout was not a defeat], THEN it would be like Vietnam."

Michael Totten wrote a longer article on this in TechCentral.

And to crossquote FDR: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Or in this case, the fear of looking despicable in the press. The more we hear that we are losing, and the more we believe it, the closer we come to actually throwing in the towel.

If we do, then it will be both the Iraqi people and the American people who will really lose. All the reopened schools, hospitals, and democratic town councils will come to mean nothing. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, far more than lost their lives during our invasion, will die in the ensuing chaos. And America will FOREVER be crippled with "Vietnam Syndrome".

Some whacked out Lefties believe that this would be a good thing. They see the US as merely one giant corporation and would cheer like a Palestinian crowd if we took it in the chin this time. But this is a horrible misunderstanding.

The US is far more than just a business venture. Aside from being our home, it has been the most powerful and consistent force for good in the world, stopping wars and sending billions in aid to all comers, not to mention being a haven for refugees. This would all be finished. No more nation building for the losers of Vietnam.

The US is huge, with pourous borders, and a weak civilian police force. There is little that the we can do from a military standpoint to stop anyone from flying, driving, or boating any kind of weapon anywhere in the country at any time. Therefore the best defense for the people of this country has always been a strong offense.

The only thing stopping attackers in the past was fear that we would come looking for them on their home ground. That fear has been fading and it was this tattered rag of a reputation that enticed Osama to try his worst. If we flee Iraq we will never see the end of the attacks, not until Washington takes away our freedoms and slams the door shut on immigration and travel. No more open society for the losers of Iraq.

If that happens, what flag will Lefties wave then?


Sean: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 [+] |
...
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Kevin Sites Tells Us How Live Reports Are Filed

Kevin Sites is the macho solo journalist that you might have seen covering the War In Iraq from the Kurdish zone. He was the one with a pirate's goatee and a black turtleneck. Kevin favors us all with a brief lesson in how go-it-aloners like himself make the news.

Adjusting the camera. See that dirt berm? That's Syria on the other side. See that guy with a gun? That's a new Iraqi border guard. Nice pose, huh. See that guy in camo -- that's Lt. Col. Arnold (he's going to be bummed because he wanted to take off his cold weather gear before going on camera -- too late. It's an Army macho thing). See that guy behind the camera? That's me. See that tripod? It's a piece of crap -- one of the legs fell off en route to the border and will never be found. See that box of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat)? That's my new tripod leg. See the Colonel's helmet? That's the counterweight that keeps the camera from tipping over. It's amazing how desperation can push you to new levels of creativity in the middle of the desert.


I owe someone a hattip for this, but cant recall whom. If anyone else remembers, please leave a note here.

Sean: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 [+] |
...
Monday, November 17, 2003
Michael J Totten Only The Beeb Doesnt Get It

Michael Tooten assures us that the Beeb is out of step, that most Brits are still our solid allies and loyal cousins. Good.

Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world.


Only 15% hate us. Wait, 15% hate us?! What fer? Do you think they maybe hold a grudge about all that spoilt tea?

Sean: Monday, November 17, 2003 [+] |
...
Friday, November 14, 2003


This is your spider on acid, dont do acid

NASA is dosing spiders, for science, no, really.

Sean: Friday, November 14, 2003 [+] |
...
Thursday, November 13, 2003
The Truth About The War On Terror

Both the Left and the Right have the War On Terror all wrong, at least what they say in public.

The Right tells us that we are in a war with "terrorists", terrorists being akin to The Sundance Gang, they don’t have a point beyond getting what they want, riches or power. The Conservatives tell us that if we send troops here and we send troops there then they can "clean up the breeding grounds" of these bad guys. And if we give our own police more powers and more "leeway" over us, then they can protect us here at home.

The Left tells us that we are not in any kind of war, that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and furthermore these people have a just gripe in that we are too powerful and morally bankrupt. They tell us that if we pulled our troops out here and there, if we reigned in our corporate profit machines, if we spent more on foreign aid, if we better respected the rights of various minorities at home and abroad, then they wouldn’t hate us anymore and we would all live free.

As this applies to Iraq we get to choose between turning over authority to the Iraqis and running away or hunkering down and taking our casualties as the come.

But both are wrong.

The truth is that if Iraq where to form its own democratic government and we were to leave Dodge the shooting wouldn’t stop. Nothing short of victory, the overthrow of democracy and the establishment of a theocratic state, would satisfy the terrorists in Iraq (or Afghanistan, or the Philippines, or anywhere else).

It is equally true that so long as we stay in Iraq, no matter how many schools are rebuilt, the bombings and rpg attacks will continue.

What neither side is discussing is the truth that Freedom is never free. You don’t fight a revolution, sign a treaty with your former masters, and then melt down your guns. We actually tried this after the Revolution in 1776 and we had The War of 1812, where our former masters returned and burnt our new capitol to the ground.

We tried this again after the Mexican American war, we didn’t keep a standing army (only an officer's corp), and then we had the Spanish American War, (where ground troops weren’t sufficiently mustered until after the Navy won the war). Then we had WWI and WWII. Now we keep a small standing army and pretend that we have sufficient troops, then we muster up the gaurd every other year or so. We are still avoiding the truth that we will never fight our last war.

The truth is that so long as you have ANYTHING of value, from natural resources to personal liberties, someone will be waiting to take it from you. If you have more of everything or if you are the closest target, you don’t even have to do anything to get anyone's attention, the bad guys will seek you out.

This means that both the US and any future democratic Iraq will be forced to face the reality that Europe gets to ignore (cause we are their protectors) that there is no future with out war, that there is no end to history, that we face perpetual war for perpetual peace (Gore Vidal be darned).

The Italians had a harsh reminder the other day, 19 dead from a car bombing, a shame. I wonder if they will turn tail and flee now? Or if they will keep in mind the fact that the people of Nasiriyah have been rather welcoming and frankly need them regardless. If they wish to "do the right thing" (protect and assist in rebuilding the city) then they will have to risk both their sense of moral rightousness (they may need to do some harsh things whilst occupying the country) and their perosnal security (at home and abroad), like we do every day.

And lefties... it doesnt matter if the other guy "has a point", do you let some one mug you just because they are demonstrably poorer than yourself? How about if he wants more than your wallet (like your wife)? You simply MUST learn to defend yourself.

And righties... I dont care if it makes it easier for the cops to defend me if I give them unlimited power. Sure, it would be easier, it also wouldnt be me or my country, thank you very much. The truth is that in order to remain free we will have to accept remaining vulnerable as well.

And THAT is the tough truth.

Sean: Thursday, November 13, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003
The Winning Ticket

Thanks to Liquid Courage, I might have finally found a campaign sticker that I can get behind. Michael Totten quotes Msr. Blair on America's (and Britain's) true colors in Iraq. The accomplishments that he touts are just what I want for my home state.

A free press, over 170 (individually owned) newspapers in circulation, open access to the internet and the ban on satellite TV lifted.

Nearly all schools and universities are open, as are hospitals, and they are receiving medicine and supplies not on the basis of Membership [in an HMO or a charter school] but on need.

The power and water supplies are being re-built [cleaned of cronyism and put in local ownership].

And the (rivers) are being cleared [and the wilds safeguarded].


While the Seven Dwarves (is it nine now?) of the Democratic Party stir nothing in me but a queasy belly (and I have voted either Democrat or Green my entire life). The embattled Liberal of Britain(tm) can still manage to light my fire. As the man says... "Cant we vote for him?" And isnt a "vote for Bush really a vote for Blair"?

And then the creepy crawlies set in. (No one left to vote for) Sigh.

Sean: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Our National Radio Loses Heart

Friday night NPR did an interview of 5 "average women" (who hate Bush) discussing the occupation of Iraq.

The first woman decried the one-a-day casualty figures (but would probably not have had a significant reaction to double the current 400 killed if the this had come during one day of the invasion, I mean, honestly).

The second woman noted that the bombings, shootings, and other attacks (by a small minority of the minority Sunni, Baathist Iraqis and foreign terrorists) "proved" that "they don’t want us there" (despite the recent polls from Baghdad showing just the opposite).

And the third woman called for us to immediately turn over rule to the Iraqis to create "whatever form of Government they want" (despite the fact that they have never lived with democracy, having been ruled by military strong-men for generations).

The fourth woman chimed in with "maybe we shouldn’t force our way of living on the Iraqis, maybe it’s a shoe that doesn’t fit" (as if Arab’s feet didn’t also have ten toes).

And the last line from the evening’s talk was "maybe Democracy isn’t for everyone".

Our Friends at the BBC

Then, on Monday night, I listened to a report from the BBC on America’s involvement in an Azerbaijani oil pipeline. The slant was that the US "forced" BP to put the pipeline through a route that cut out Russia and Iran. The main idea for this was that the US wants to improve and maintain its hegemony (in the region and in the world).

As the interviews progressed, subject after subject, from American diplomats to BP executives, denied the reporter’s assertion. But it hardly seemed to matter. In fact the denials seemed only to encourage the reporter's theory.

The Quote of the Hour was from the Azerbaijani president’s translator. He revealed that his boss once told him "The Politburo used to be in Moscow, now it is in Washington". To the BBC reporter this "proved" that the US was no better than the Soviet Union.

What struck me was the fact that this report was from the national media of our closest ally. We fought with them to free Europe from the Krouts, twice. We stood shoulder to shoulder against the Red Menace during 40 years of Cold War. James Bond, the fictional British super-spy, is more popular here than there.

And now the Brits (or at least their national radio) appear to question whether it is even a good thing that the US try to maintain its apparent world supremacy!

***

What is common to both reports is the lack of confidence in Western ideals. Lefties on both sides of the pond appear to have lost confidence that the West has values worthy of protecting. Most surely they have "gone squishy" as to whether those values have worth and applicability world-wide. Liberty and Democracy have been reduced to merely one of many “flavors” of human values and political arraignments.

And it is a slippery progression (slope). First we doubt the universal application of participatory government (maybe Democracy is a shoe that we cannot force Iraq to wear). Then we place human rights on the shelf, just another bobble to bargain with, but not an issue to be pushed too hard (with China). And now we are actively wondering whether the West (America) should try to win wars (Iraq) or even try to maintain military supremecy and diplomatic leverage in the world.

If this were a football game, and we were a football team (say, the Seahawks), and we were playing this badly in the first half, I’d say we didn’t “deserve to win” this one. Unfortunately, this is the fate of the world, not a sports match. It is not just a game that we can afford to lose. That being the case, we best get our game face back on for the third quarter.

Say it with me folks: "Democracy is the very best form of government, Liberty is a universal good, and Human Rights are not optional." Those who think alike are our allies and those who disagree are our enemies. The Brits,as one of the paragons of The West (to say nothing of the European or American hard Left) had better get behind Bond’s mission or the world wont be worth saving.


Sean: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, November 10, 2003
Time Waster of the Month: HALO

Well, thanks a whole lot Microsoft, for buying one of the best gaming companies and burying one of the best games of the last few years on your precious X box. Finaly, however, HALO: Combat Evolved has landed on the home PC screen. And it looks and plays a heck of a lot better than on that darned black box. . While the plot, concept, and even the graphics are by now derivative (they would have been quite original if the PC had got this game when Bungie intended), lack of novelty hasn't stopped me from playing. I enjoy the mood of the snowy out door settings and the dark menace of the facility interiors. It plays like a zombie movie, and again, one that you have seen before, but you will end up the zombie at the end of this one. Pick it up and enjoy, but be prepared to kiss your week ends and evenings good buy

Sean: Monday, November 10, 2003 [+] |
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Friday, November 07, 2003
Patrick wants "Tort Reform". Why?

Patrick Laswell is sold on the idea that the nation’s largest problem is the legal profession costing corporations money. He probably read about enormous class action lawsuits and the huge chunks paid out to the lawyers who try them. And then he heard Conservative websites, pundits, and politicians tell him that these judgments are “unfair”, “only harm the consumer” by driving up prices, and “hurt the workers” by forcing layoffs when insurance gets prohibitive.

But this is all hooey.

The people who are the “class” in these “actions” are generally people who are too poor to hire legal representation. They are factory workers, people on medication, and people living in the shadow of industrial plants, mines, and dumps. While the targets of these suits are usually governments or enormous industrial conglomerates that can afford to string along such cases until the plaintiffs die, literarily.

It takes a lot to challenge Big Tobacco, Big Pharmaceutical, and Big Petrol-Chemical. Thus these suits largely rely upon some interested and ballsy lawyer taking a HUGE gamble, putting up SIGNIFIGANT sums of money, and most often LOSING. So, if you are upset that sometimes the awards can be enormous and these lawyers take quite a bite themselves, well, boo hoo.

Not only has the current scheme not harmed the American economy; the US economy has never been better, specifically for these big businesses. Most are chartered in business friendly States (some not in the US), hide most of their assets offshore (like the Caymans), and have solid political protection for their CEO’s and principles.

In many cases, as soon as judgments actually add up to anything with a bite these companies turn to the US government, which they know and work with much more closely than the average consumer/citizen, for protection and get it.

And lets not forget the super plummeting tax rates, from a high of 48% in the 30’s to just under 15% today (assuming again that they aren’t successfully hiding their income via Corporate and Private Banking at CitiBank Bahamas).

Seriously Pat worries that doctors are fleeing due to malpractice insurance costs… he probably heard this about Oregon, his home state, via National Partisan Radio (NPR to you lefties). But what he must have missed was the follow up story that unraveled this claim.

In fact all that we are seeing is the reversal of a Boomer trend in which many doctors moved to the country and to small towns to pursue “the good life”. Now, as they age and retire, more doctors are staying in the big cities, where the money is. Canada has a similar problem, where their best doctors move south to the prestigious and lucrative institutions of America’s more populous states (John Hopkins).

But lets think about his worry logically again… if it "costs too much to be a doctor" in the US and doctors are fleeing… where are they going? Who has a higher standard of living and more old people with money in medical need? No one. Doctors, like all professions, MUST go where the work is. So they certainly are not leaving the US, but they are going to leave their low income country offices. This is economics, not a plot of the trial lawyers.

Cap damages? You mean like the latest Bush plan where people can sue their HMO’s but only in Federal court, where damage awards are low? Or where they can only sue for lost coverage expenses, not damages? Sure, this led to a women being forced out of the hospital directly following a hysterectomy. Are you certain that you want to worry about the conglomerate, not the individual?

Do you recall Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club? He worked for an insurance company, helping to determine whether paying lawsuits cost more or less than recalling hazardous products… like those exploding Ford Explorers a while back… yeah, he actually put a price on everyone’s heads and then told “Ford” whether just letting people die and paying their families was cheaper than a recall. You want Tort Reform? Great, you just made his job that much easier.

The first rule about Tort Reform is…

Sean: Friday, November 07, 2003 [+] |
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Thursday, November 06, 2003
Today's Issues


Michael Totten, Roger Simon, and Joe Katzman have been entertaining a helthy debate on the political issues of this day and age. The War In Iraq, or the Global War On Terror being one of them. I've been talking about Wildfires and the Social Contract. Others, Patrick Laswell included, have talked about Fiscal Responsibility, Tort Reform, and the Race/identity Politics. But I wonder aloud.... What ARE the major issues of the day?

Leave me a comment and tell me, what issue(s) bother you the most? Give a domestic and a foreign policy issue, if you would. And then I will leave you mine. A rough draft of which might be found in the comment section of this post.

NOTE: Comments are magically back, after some server work by Ennetation. Please, please, do comment.

Sean: Thursday, November 06, 2003 [+] |
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Wednesday, November 05, 2003
The New/Old Anti-Semitism

For millennia we have blamed a small community of harmless people forced to live in our midst as a result of Roman ethnic cleansing for our every failure. And we STILL love to do just that. Victor Davis Hansen points a bright light on the new anti-semitism of the world inteligencia:

There are certain predictable symptoms to watch when a widespread amorality begins to infect a postmodern society: cultural relativism, atheism, socialism, utopian pacifism. Another sign, of course, is fashionable anti-Semitism among the educated, or the idea that some imaginary cabal, or some stealthy agenda — certainly not our own weakness — is conspiring to threaten our good life.

Well apart from the spooky placards (stars of David juxtaposed with swastikas, posters calling for the West Bank to be expanded to "the sea") that we are accustomed to seeing at the marches of the supposedly ethical antiwar movement, we have also heard some examples of Jew-baiting and hissing in the last two weeks that had nothing to do with the old crazies.

* The Malaysian premier's racist rants.

* An EU pol proclaiming Jews the biggest threat to the world.

* A Scottish newspaper claiming that Jews were involved in 9-11.

* A college chat room filled with anti-semitic slurs in Norway.

* A crowd of Lieberman jeering Arabs in Dearborne, Michigan.

Such is the nature of the new anti-Semitism that everyone can now play at it — as long as it is cloaked in third-world chauvinism, progressive thinking, and identity politics.

What links all these people is a growing unease with hard questions that won't go away and thus beg for easy, cheap answers. [After all,] slurring "Israel" or "the Jews" involves none of the risks of incurring progressive odium that similarly clumsy attacks against blacks, women, Palestinians, or homosexuals might draw, requires no real thinking, and seems to find an increasingly receptive audience.

You see, in our mixed-up world the Jews are not a "people of color." And if there really is such a mythical monolithic entity in America as the "Jews," they (much like the Cubans) are not easily stereotyped as impoverished victims needing largesse or condescension, and much less are they eligible under any of the current myriad of rubrics that count for public support. Israel is a successful Western state, not a failed third-world despotism.

This fashionable anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism among purported intellectuals of the Left reveals a deep-seated, scary pathology that is growing geometrically both in and outside the West. For a Europe that is disarmed, plagued by a demographic nightmare of negative population growth and unsustainable entitlements, filled with unassimilated immigrants, and deeply angry about the power and presence of the United States, the Jews and their Israel provide momentary relief on the cheap. So expect that more crazy thoughts of Israel's destruction dressed up as peace plans will be as common as gravestone and synagogue smashing.

For the Muslim world that must confront the power of the patriarch, mullah, tribe, and autocrat if it is ever to share the freedom and prosperity of the rest of the world, the Jews offer a much easier target. So expect even more raving madness as the misery of Islamic society grows and its state-run media hunker down amid widespread unrest. Anticipate, also, more sick posters at C-SPAN broadcast marches, more slips by reasonable writers, and more anti-Israeli denunciations from the "liberals."

In this depressing age, [we are told that] the real problem is our support for democratic Israel and all those pesky Jews worldwide, who seem to crop up everywhere as sly war makers, grasping film executives, conspiratorial politicians, and greedy colonialists, and thus make life so difficult for the rest of us.


What was old is new again.

I wrote about this before here.

Sean: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 [+] |
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Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Iraqi Resistance Wearing Out Its Welcome

Hiwa Osman reports for the Institute For War And Peace that the Iraqi resistance is losing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

The series of car bombs earlier this week that killed dozens of civilians on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan seems to have inexorably altered the view of Iraqis about the resistance to America's occupation.

An angry Iraqi street generally feels that the recent spate of attacks are intended to keep the country unstable and on its knees. An oft-heard refrain runs, "They cannot bear to see us stand on our feet"; a reference to the foreign Islamic militants - supported by former Ba'athists - who are assumed to be the perpetrators of the attacks.

In the working class Bayyia district west of Baghdad, a bustling market lit by a bank of fluorescent lights heaves with people out shopping after breaking their Ramadan fast.

Some were testing new and second-hand cars brought from Jordan and Syria. "They are not just exporting cars," said a salesman who did not want to be named. "They are also sending suicide bombers and criminals."

Earlier in the month, a vendor came and sold CDs with songs of praise for Saddam to many of the car dealers, said Ahmad Hussein, a ministry of trade employee who sells cold cans of soda pop in the car lot after his normal office hours.

Referring to Saddam's war with the Americans, one song goes, "You just start it and your men will do the rest." Until last week, many of the salesmen were playing the song in their shops. "They even had Saddam's posters in their offices," said Hussein.

But the mood in the car lot recently changed. "They used to openly support the resistance, but not anymore," he went on. "The new waves of attacks have silenced them all."


Oddly I think that the Iraqis know who their enemies are better than the Democrats!

Hat tip to: The Argus.

UPDATE: Iraqi Cabbies Give Their Opinon.

Sean: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 [+] |
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Monday, November 03, 2003
Winds Of War Debate

Armed Liberal and Mathew Yglesias have been discussing the nature of Liberals and the support of some for the War In Iraq. Matt has some questions for Liberal Hawks. And lucky for him I have some answers.

Matt: Take a deep breath. Look in the mirror. Take another deep breath. Look at some photos of your liberal friends and family. Ask yourself: Do you really believe that they opposed the Iraq War because they wanted Saddam Hussein to stay in power; do you really think they don't care if your hometown gets destroyed by terrorists?

Sean: Be careful assuming that you know the answer Matt.

Some anti-war people that I know agreed that Saddam was a bastard and that life will be better for the Iraqis with out him. But these same people refused to even let me voice these arguments, insisting that I discuss the lives and pain of others while adhering to strict rules of rhetoric and debate, which naturally centered on the fact that this was a BUSH war, above all else.

And don’t underestimate the animosity of Leftists rejectoids; people who can’t make it in America can turn against it with vigor. I heard plenty of Lefties express both admiration of the 9-11 boys and sincere hope that we would “get the message”, which included a desire to see the stock market collapse (which would mean the loss of livelihood, if not life, of millions of Americans) as a means of “proving” that Capitalism sucked.

What else can I do but eventually take these people at their words? They say they really wouldn’t care if my hometown gets blow’d up! I believe they believe that (I also believe that they would change their tune in a heartbeat if we actually got attacked way out here in “average America”).

Matt: Try reading some actual policy statements put out by Democratic foreign-policy hands, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and members of the Armed Services Committee. Ask yourself: Do the views expressed therein really sound like the characterizations of them you've read on NRO and the hawk blogs?

Sean: Ok Matt, here are some news quotes from the day:

"The SFRC Chairman, a Democrat, also favored a go-slow approach and pressed for an open debate to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a war with Iraq, especially on issues like post-Saddam arrangements in Iraq. To the Bush administration's satisfaction, some other prominent figures, including House Minority (Democrat) leader Dick Gephardt, House Majority (Republican) Whip Tom DeLay, and Democrat Senator Joseph Lieberman, a former vice presidential candidate, are rallying behind the administration and calling for a military campaign to topple the Iraqi government led by President Saddam. Speaking on the record, Gephardt and Lieberman recently issued statements strongly advocating an earlier US military attack on Iraq."

John Judis in Third World Traveler comments:

Most Democratic senators and House members, intimidated by Bush's popularity, are afraid to discuss, let alone criticize, administration foreign policy. [Just] try to find out whether the United States should invade Iraq from the Web sites sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the Campaign for America's Future, or the Progressive Caucus.

The Democratic presidential candidates are no help either. Former Vice President Al Gore's address in February to the Council on Foreign Relations was a model of equivocation. In a recent interview Massachusetts Senator John Kerry desperately tried to position himself to Bush's right without committing himself to any substantive proposal. A few Democrats, including Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, have [even] advocated ousting Saddam Hussein as part of the "first phase" of the war against terrorism.

The person who has most tried to articulate a distinctly Democratic foreign policy is Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has been joined periodically by Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former President Bill Clinton, and some former Clinton administration officials. [True,] their statements have not produced a clear and unambiguous doctrine. But underlying what seem like purely tactical disagreements with specific Bush policies is a dramatically different way of understanding foreign policy.

Biden and other Democrats want Bush to build a coalition against Saddam. [They claim that to go it alone] could sow instability in the countries neighboring Iraq. They also want the United States to attempt to restore UN sanctions, even if they believe-as Biden and Fuerth do- that Saddam will resist admitting inspectors and continue to seek weapons of mass destruction. They worry that Bush is determined to go after Saddam even without the support of other countries.


More news quotes bring out this theme further:

"Senator Joseph Biden is chairman of the SFRC. He said during a television interview on 4 August that the United States will 'probably' go to war with Iraq. Biden said it is clear that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons but that it is unknown if it has the means the use them effectively. Biden said the U.S. has 'no choice' but to eliminate this threat. He called Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an 'extreme danger to the world.'"

But now that the war is a done deal Biden turns:

"Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the SFRC, accused the administration of concealing the plan because it does not want to be held to any deadlines. He said Bush's 'failure to tell the American people the truth' reminded him of the Vietnam War era."

And now the Dems are all about scoring political points with a policy position that they failed to seriously address back when it could have been changed:

"Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing why Congress hadn't been regularly updated on Iraq plans, he was infuriated that the Bush administration would not commit to any benchmarks (by which it could be judged and convicted in the court of public opinion)."

"Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Floridians are unhappy that the United States is building roads and schools in Iraq when those things are needed in Florida too."

"Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, sought to embarrass the administration during the SFRC hearing by reading statements made earlier this year by top officials, including Rumsfeld, who predicted the oil-rich nation of Iraq could finance its own reconstruction without U.S. aid."

I don’t know what a defender of the Democrats has to go on here. Most of the big-shots in the party went along with the war plans. They are only now making hay out of the issue because they were impressed by the vocal minority that organized against the war. And Since the peaceniks appear to be the only energized and organized group with in the party, maybe they are right to fear them. But they still win no points for conscience from me.

Matt: Look again in the mirror, focusing this time on your hairline and that little space next to your eyes that gets wrinkly when you squint. There's no easy way to say this, but . . . you're getting old. I am too. It's scary, it happens to us all. Ask yourself: Has the left really changed, or am I just that cliché guy who stopped really caring about the poor as I aged?

Sean: No, the left has not changed. The left still sees global politics in the light of a battle between the haves and the have-nots. It is still all about Communism vs. Capitalism, the white man vs. all others, and good vs. evil.

But the world around them has changed, and me along with it. Communism failed back when I was in High School. It failed to create a system in which people were treated any better or where class distinctions disappeared. The Soviet Union had all the same shades of poverty and privilege as The West, they were just less honest about it.

So I adjusted to the reality that Capitalism is how things have always been run and always will. And I have set myself to the goal of succeeding in it. But I also recognize that Capitalism is not a moral system, just an economic one. If we wish there to be any compassion or justice within it we will need the political system to get it.

Meanwhile I still care plenty about the poor. I regularly gave handouts to beggars this summer… even while I was unemployed! My wife and I have always contributed to school funds, firemen’s funds, nature conservation efforts, etc. And yet I STILL thought that removing Saddam was a good idea.

Remember Matt, we Liberal Hawks remain Liberals. We still believe in a "compassionate social contract" here at home, even while also believing that the extension of these benefits to the rest of the world is a liberal ideal. We haven’t picked up and changed camps just because we agree with a hawkish foreign policy. I think this is precisely why we are called Liberal Hawks instead of Republicans.

Matt: Take a look at the transcript of the latest White House press conference. Find some other examples where the president had to respond on-the-fly to questions. Ask yourself: Given the perilous international situation, am I really comfortable with the fact that a total moron is president of the United States.

Sean: I have said from day one that Bush is a moron. Michael Totten disagrees with me, but I pointed out Yale college profs who admitted that they only gave Dubya a pass because he was a Bush. But this brings to mind a few counter points.

One, Bush isn’t smart enough, nor a good enough actor, to participate in much subterfuge, especially on camera, as you noted. I rather like that.

And two, if he’s a moron, why did Gore split the American vote with him? If Bush is a moron, how come the Democrats haven’t been able to block his political appointments or stop his tax cuts? If he is such a moron, why cant they beat him this next election?

Could it be because the stated Bush paradigm of an "average guy CEO" surrounded with quality appointments (like Rummy, Wolfy, and Condi) actually works?

Then I guess it doesn’t much matter how smart George comes off during press conferences, eh?

Matt: Read this post again. Consider the condescending tone, the cheap psychoanalysis, the refusal to confront your actual arguments. Ask yourself: Isn't this exactly what I've been doing all this time

Sean: I hate personalizing arguments, especialy among strangers. I dont know why you have a problem with Liberal Hawks Matt. But I think that I confronted your arguments case by case. And argument by argument I disagree with you... on this issue at this time. But there have been plenty of issues upon which you and I agree. If we are both smart, sane people, who otherwise agree on social issues... well, maybe you SHOULD pychoanalyze your foreign policy position. Mmmm?

Sean: Monday, November 03, 2003 [+] |
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Saturday, November 01, 2003
My top three un-pc but true gripes about wildfires:

1) They give Bush&Co. an excuse to push new logging plans.

Here in Oregon Bush wants to help out-of-state logging companies like Weyerhaeuser and Louisiana Pacific get their hands on our old growth forests. His “Salvage Logging” plan would allow loggers to build new roads into previously wild forests. They would be allowed to pull out giant virgin timber as payback for clearing out some of the underbrush.

Most troublesome, it would limit law suits from environmental groups trying to watchdog existing Federal Endangered Species Act and conservations issues. Specifically it would limit the length of judicial "stays" blocking cutting while the issues go through the courts. This could potentially lead to a situation in which the court finds that the Federal sale was illegal but the trees have already been cut.

The worst b.s. about al this is that the main excuse for this bill is the "danger from wildfires" and the argument that a lack of logging has led to dangerous levels of trees in our national forests!? What a crock! The main reason we are in the situation of underbrush thick forests is that we have tried to put out every natural wildfire since 1850 (most likely out of a desire to "save" the trees for logging).

The other truths are that fires clear out dead and diseased trees, trigger the seeding of new trees and their germination, and open up the forest floor to wildlife and other plant species. Fires are good.

The problem is not that we have fires, but that people live in harms way. And even that isn’t exactly the truth either… Plenty of humans have lived in the forests. The real problem is that some people only “live” there a few months out the year, their homes are built out of fire susceptible materials and have too much landscaping, and because they specifically chose to “live in the woods” they leave too many large trees too close to the house.

2) They cost us all money.

When the victims of these fires file their insurance claims your homeowner’s and renter’s insurance premiums will go up. When those with out insurance file FEMA claims to the government your taxes will go up. And given the average home price in Bend and Big Bear the people who are costing you more money already make more that you, own more property, and live at a higher standard of living (and probably pay little or no taxes if they have a tax attorney and/or accountant worth their salt).

3) They expose how we have mangled the idea of community and social responsibility.

Many of these houses are either off by themselves or in a small (exclusive, and gated) subdivision. They are built here, rather than in a city, to avoid paying local development fees or taxes. These are also the same people who fund and vote in the periodic state “tax revolts”. And many of them are business people who amortize, write-off, and hide off-shore as much of their income and assets as they can. These people have rejected the social contract and any kind of civic responsibility; the Greeks would have called them “barbarians”.

And yet, when the fires close on their homes they expect LA City Firemen to truck water from Colorado 40 miles into the woods to come save their homes, and they do. Disasters like these, and the wonderful and heroic response of some, make me cringe… because “we don’t deserve each other”. The firefighters are champs. I just wish that the cell phone carrying, police scanner listening, loudly demanding homeowners (hopefully only a well publicized minority) that they are serving “get it” when these people do their duty… THAT is what taxes are for.

Fire fighters and police are not free, neither are state and federal emergency services, the Red Cross, and all the other heroes of the day. People first gathered together in groups to live millions of years ago, the first cities appeared thousands of years ago, and the greatest cities of our history, London, Rome, Paris, etc grew as they did for one very simple reason… it was safer to live in communities like these. Be they the threat of invasion or fire, soldiers and bucket brigades are how we take care of each other. In San Diego city proper these latest wildfires were licked in a day. Which is good, because those city funded emergency services are STILL needed out in the woods.

The myth of the Rugged Individualist of the West needs to die. Back east homes are made of stone for a reason, houses are clustered around a town square for a reason, and people pay attention to local politics for a reason. We need to reinstate our Social Contract.

And THAT is why I get so cheesed about wildfires.

Sean: Saturday, November 01, 2003 [+] |
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Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere

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Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere