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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Monday, February 09, 2004

Death In Denio

Serial Fiction: Repentless

Part One: Death In Denio


"It was January in northern Nevada and the temperature outside was about 20 degrees. The small trees were bare and the brush faded to gray. And although it was dry at the desert floor, there was a blanket of snow on the mountains around Denio Junction.

Standing in her bedroom, the room once painted pink, Miranda pulled an old sweatshirt over her thin frame, put on tight fitting blue jeans, and a pair of long black boots. She checked her reflection in the white wicker frame mirror and patted her strawberry blonde curls. Then she made kissing lips, winked her green eyes at her reflection, and laughed at herself.

She walked down the shadowed hall, her boots clicking on the hardwood floors. She stopped at her mother's bedroom, her hand raised, chipped red nails resting on the panel door. She knocked but heard no response.

"Momma, I'm going to work... Momma?" A radio was playing band tunes softly. She spoke louder, "It's my last shift before they close the tavern next week. I can't be late. Momma?"

Still, there was no reply from behind the door. She knocked again, harder, but again there was no reply. Finally she opened the door and peered inside.

Fading light seeped into the small room from a tall skinny window on the far wall. When she flipped the switch the marbled glass bowl at the ceiling illuminated a faint circle in the middle of the room. Blue and green floral wallpaper with a yellow background soaked up the weak light.

A cherry wood bedroom-set crowded the small space. A tall bureau stood next to the window and a lowboy against the long side. A large four-poster bed with two nightstands pressed against the interior wall.

The tops of the bureaus were covered with cut glass bottles, clothes, and photographs of Vegas stage shows. A bouquet of roses had dried and was tacked to the wall over the mirror. The faded cutout of a Wisconsin bearcat mascot was stuck to the glass.

The little black terrier dog had ruined the green shag carpet years ago, before he died and her mother had him made into a pillow. Now the pet smell was mixed with carpet cleaner and incense. And the odor of cigarettes and cheap perfume clung to the walls.

At the foot of the bed her mother's blue sequined dress was laid out smooth and straight. A pair of long white gloves lay parallel to the dress. Her mother's tallest silver heels were set at the foot of the bed.

On the bureau a strand of imitation diamonds was coiled into neat pile, matching dangling earrings on top. A shiny little change purse sat next to the jewelry. And a long blonde wig was propped on a Styrofoam head on the lowboy.

Her mother lay in the middle of the bed, her long body barely veiled by a thin white sheet. Her short-cropped hair, gone gray, stood prickly against the pillow. Her hands clutched the cotton fabric in fists at her sides and her toes pointed straight ahead.

She could see that her mother was smiling, faintly. Her lipstick and eyeliner were on heavy. And her pale blue eyes were open, staring out the window at the empty desert highway, and they did not blink.

Miranda noticed the blue kidney shaped ashtray sitting next to the black digital clock radio on the nightstand. She could see a few yellow pills in tinfoil wrapping in the dish. There were only a couple left.

"Oh momma! Your show, your comeback show..." her voice trailed off to a whisper. She switched off the light and pushed the radio button to off. Then she stood in silence.

She had her hand to her mouth, her knuckles pressed against her teeth. She made a faint silhouette in the natural light from the hall. She looked down at her mother for a long time.

Then she spotted her mother's white purse hanging from the open door. It glowed softly in the fading light. She took the bag and retreated to the living room.

She sat on the faded brown couch in front of the big window, hidden from the highway by an old sheer curtain. She sat furthest from the curly black pillow. The tin starburst clock over the red brick fireplace ticked the seconds into the darkening room.

She held the bag tight to her chest, realized she had been holding her breath, and exhaled. She watched the shadows move across the floor as the sun finally set. Then she reached inside to find the letter from the casino.

Miranda took the letter out and held it under the cone lamp in the corner of the room. She noted the address on Virginia Street in Reno and the date and time about 5 hours out. When she looked up at the clock her head nodded and her lips moved as she counted.

She stood, walked down the hall, and darted into her mother's room with the light still off. She gathered her mother's dress and the jewelry and shoved them into the purse. Then she took the shoes in her left hand and got out of the room.

She took the keys out of the purse and stepped through the front door to the narrow concrete stoop. She stood for a moment under the porch light, her hand on the keys in the lock. And finally she turned the deadbolt and it latched with a click.

"One of us is gunna have this show Momma," she said.

Then she stepped out into the desert air. Her boots crunched in the gravel and her breath formed clouds as she walked. It was dark and clear and there were stars overhead.

She got in the old white Ford Galaxy and started the engine. She drove slowly to the junction, paused, and looked north towards the tavern. Then she pointed the car south and hit the gas."


Next Week: Reno Baby

Sean: Monday, February 09, 2004 [+] |
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