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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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Road Trip

I needed to drop my portfolio off at the admissions office in Eugene. That's over 100 miles from home in Portland, OR. So why not go all they way down to Vegas for the week end? Lucky for me, Michael J. Totten offered to co-drive.

Oregon's high desert near Bend.

The Oregon outback is normally overlooked when people talk about or visit the NW. Although the Willamette Valley and the Puget Sound are nearly as wet as their reputation (and beautiful ta'boot) the majority of Oregon and Washington is really a vast desert caught in the rain shadow of the Cascade mountain range. Meanwhile us western Oregonians often forget that it snows out there in the hinterlands and warm rains do not come to wash it away. Heading east was truly a climate shift for Michael and I.

Christmas Valley, OR

This site forced us to pull over and gawk. So, that's how trucks reproduce! I think someone stacked these and left them for exactly this effect. Still, it set the mood nicely. For the next hour we heard "Deliverance banjos" playing in our heads.

[S]Hell Gas Station in Paisley, OR

Back when full service meant someone pumping your gas and checking your oil, this place was a Shell.

Blizzard Pass, OR

... or something very like it. We pulled off the road to take a picture of a snowstorm rolling into the valley behind us. Unfortunately the gravel pull-out was really just a "soft shoulder," it really should be called quicksand, we managed to get a 4whl drive Jeep stuck in it. Having chosen to take the backroads we had no one to blame after not one car passed us during an hour of frantic maneuvering. After hiking to the top of the hill, signed as Blizzard Pass (elev 6000 ft), and looking out on another 200 miles of empty scrub, we returned to the Jeep to dig our way out. Amazingly, just as despair began to seep into our gloves, a semi tractor pulled over (actually Mike leapt in front of it, nearly to his death) and pulled us out with a pair of "Hellraiser chains". The next day we did not pull over for the view at Deadman's pass (elev 8000 ft).


The blizzard detour threw us behind schedule and we finally had to pull over and sleep. Looming out of the night sky was this welcoming sign... "What do you mean you're out of rooms with two beds?".

County Courthouse - Lovelock, NV

This building, the court house in Fallon, NV, and the school in Paisley, OR all prove that small towns still had their pride 80 years ago. Actually it proved that we didn't have a "tax revolt" going on. Truly, America was far poorer during the era when these buildings went up. But today we couldn't even think about actual architectural detail on a public building - the wasteful spending!

The Dead And The Dying - Hawthorne, NV

The severe storms wrecked havoc with trees in the West this year. And some just cant take the abuse. This one gets the support of a neighbor.

Yosemite, CA from the Nevada side.

Obviously the 10k foot pass was closed. So this was as close as we got. Still it was very impressive - our own little Andes or Himalayas.

Descent Into Death Valley, CA.

Death Valley View.

Mike on the dunes.

Tell us about sandstone Prof. Totten.

Death Valley was really worth the detour. In January it was actually pleasant weather down there and the views were unearthly. The tourists were kept to a minimum and we had these dunes pretty much to ourselves until our parked vehicle attracted Japanese tourists (really, no kidding).

Las Vegas Come On - Gilley's at the Frontier.

Gilley's BBQ appears to offer the best of Vegas. The sign reads "Bikini Bull Riding", "Steak and Shrimp Only $4.99", and "Free Party" on Sunday. I'm so there next trip.

The Lion King(s) - Remembered.

Paris, Nevada Style

Las Vegas truly is Disneyland For Adults. You've heard that before and I am sure they meant the play aspect alone. But on an "architectural" basis that is true as well. All the buildings are in some sort of "scale" and most columns, arches, and lintils are hollow - just hit them with your fist (not the knuckles you idiot, that spray stucco hurts even after four whiskies). Apparently Vegas is run by men, the faux French waitresses are dressed, well, less than in Paris. Drinks are actually much harder to come by, not enough waitstaff per floor space, and they certainly are not free. But hey, Mike won 14 bucks at nickel slots in one hour!

Mike and I hob-knobing with the stars in Hollywood (thanks Roger).

Mike and I met up with Roger L. Simon in Hollywood. Roger was nice enough to "do lunch" with us at Wolfgang Puck's little bistro in the new Academy Award hosting mall... Where we did in fact see some stars. Amazingly, some "Hollywood people" remain human after their brush with fame. Roger is an excellent fellow who nicely ignored my spilling a glass of water on him (I plead roadtripitis) and stoically accepted the advances of a producer "in the biz" who came over to make a connection - all while having a real conversation with us. Meanwhile, that unnamed starlet behind Mike's shoulder managed to keep a warm smile for all 8 dinner guests as they each came by for some "face time". The real surprise was that downtown Hollywood has some really nice architecture and the scale of the place was cozy by LA standards. Add to this an historic home clinging to the Hollywood hills enjoying splendid views and I sure could get used to the life style.

Me, in San Francisco, CA

We made it from LA to Frisco in 6 hours and wonderful relatives put us up for the night with no notice. Good Times were had by all. Thanks!

Civic Oasis - Sausalito, CA

Mike had never visited this little gem. Sausalito is a swell hideaway with a killer view, urban access, and a nice little town strip of its own. If you want to write, and are already a millionaire, move here.

End Of The Line... Back in Oregon at an English-style pub in the college town of Ashland, OR.

Sean: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere