Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:



Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.



Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.


Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.



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



Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.


The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.


The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.


Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income



Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market



Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.



Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.


Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.



Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.



Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.


Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President



Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

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Sean LaFreniere
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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Toxic Bullshit

I realize that this is an election year. Still, the political jockeying over the Kay report, Bush's claims, and the missing WMD has gone a bit too far.

I read David Sarasohn in the Oregonian actually claim Kay "said nothing to hint at last-minute cloak-and-dagger smugglings across borders, or possibilities of vast stockpiles we just haven't discovered yet."

Balloney. Let me quote David Kay directly: "We know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) program," Kay was reported saying in the interview conducted yesterday."

Sarasohn suggests that no WMD have been found in Iraq after the war, even "with U.S. troops and inspectors all over Iraq".

And yet the Sunday Herald reported last month "A Danish team has found only 36 mortar rounds buried in desert about 45 miles from Al Amarah, a southern town. But it added that up to a 100 more could still be hidden at the location. "All the instruments showed indications of the same type of chemical compound, namely blister gas," confirmed the Danish Army Operational Command.

Sarasohn goes on to say that "The Bush administration insists that before the war, everyone agreed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction... But United Nations inspectors in Iraq reported they weren't finding biological or chemical weapons."

And yet exactly a year ago Reuters reported that "U.N. experts searching Iraq for banned weapons drove to a military site Wednesday to begin destroying mustard gas and artillery shells left over from a weapons search more than four years ago. Iraqi officials and witnesses said a U.N. chemical team drove to Al Mutanna, 90 miles north of Baghdad. A U.N. spokesman said Tuesday they would begin destroying 10 155 mm artillery shells and four containers filled with mustard gas."

Attempting to spin scandal gold out this, that, or the other "inspection report" is just plain lame.

Let us be perfectly clear and honest here...

Blix never came out and announced that Saddam wasn't in compliance because he didn't want to go down in the history books as "the man who started the war"... but he also never exonerated Saddam and publicly applauded his removal after the fact.

David Kay also never completed his investigation, nor ruled in Saddam's favor. In fact, he resigned. And he did so, as Reurters and the LA Times reported, because he said that his inspection teams "were being pulled away from the weapons hunt to focus on the insurgency."

This game is getting old. We all know that Saddam had WMD, he used them plainly enough. We also know that he was told to prove that got rid of them. Instead he slammed the door on inspectors and called our bluff. So we went over there and kicked his butt. It doesn't really matter if we find those weapons now or in the future... that really wasn't the point of the exercise.

UPDATE: On the Danish find this month... latest reports now suggest that these shells did not contain mustard gas. But then the same article goes on to point out that, like the earlier positive results, these negative ones are "preliminary" and may be reversed in the near future...

"Both the Danish and U.S. officials told Fox that the latest negative finding wasn't conclusive and said a more final assessment could come in the next three to five days."

Whatever. As with the mobile labs, the 55 gallon drums, and these shells we keep coming up with multiple WMD finds in Iraq since the war, this despite giving Saddam a two year warning to start shipping the evidence out or having men bury it...

Iraqis often turn themselves in, "Some Iraqis have told Danish soldiers that other mortar shells were buried in the area, including a stockpile dumped in the Tigris River that could contain as many as 400 rounds," Gruenberger said.

Why bury "harmless" ordinary shells? Evidently they thought/think they had WMD too. As did the French, the Germans, the Chinese, and the Russians (they should, they sold them to Saddam and taught him how to make/use them against Iran and then the US).

We should keep in mind that NO ONE on the UN Security Council ever stated a public doubt that Saddam had or wanted WMD, they ony disagreed on the time table and method for dealing with this fact.

Again the point is not whether or not your team or my team can "prove" the other one wrong after the fact. The point is that a credible threat was revealed, underlined, and made manifest on 9-11.

Before that date we had plenty of evidence that Saddam, Osama, et al wanted us dead and buried, but afterwards it was undeniable. That left our politicians with a choice, to act to defend us or to wait for another blow to land.

Personally I think that the people of Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago owe the President a debt of gratitude. And I would remind us all that this would be no less true if Gore had been the President and Gore had taken out the Taliban and Saddam in his first term.

Of course, acting to defend us when the preponderance of evidence was overwhelming doesn't get much credit in my book, but NOT doing so, or cutting down the decision after the victory, counts for quite a lot against.

Sean: Thursday, February 12, 2004 [+] |

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