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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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Willfully Obtuse

I grew up believing that Republicans were cheats and liars. But I can't help noticing that currently it is Democrats and Lefties who blatantly distort the truth and beg out of serious discussions. Those on the right, for whatever reasons, have been more willing to talk - and more polite about it.

Last night Jim Lehrer interviewed former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Henry "The Killer" Kissenger. In many ways I have always admired Secretary Albright, a woman and a democrat and the Secretary of State! But last night she proved not to be immune to the latest Democratic/Leftist disease... she was willfully obtuse (and only slightly clever in her use of Kissenger's first name as an insult).

Sec. Albright:

I think the major difference is that Senator Kerry has made it clear that we don't want to have bases in the area.

For one, not leaving bases in the area, as a political stump, is idiotic. One of the major benefits of fighting these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was to remove the last bits of Soviet detritus from the Cold War and firmly ensconce our own presence and influence upon the region. Moving our troops from Europe to Asia is the natural conclusion to the last war and a necessary preparation for the next one.

And the other major difference is that the things that are now in some way being done in Iraq are things that Senator Kerry suggested a year and a half ago: Making sure that we have-- are actually training some of this military, trying to get ready for elections.

It is silly to suggest that only Kerry wanted to retrain an Iraqi military and hold elections. I could say more, but why? We all know what a successful conclusion to the second Iraq war means and what it takes to get there, a civilian controlled military and free elections are only a start, the only start, duh.

But I think the thing that has to be pointed out here is Senator Kerry is not conflating Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a different war, and we cannot and should not be persuaded that what we're doing in Iraq is fighting the same kind of terrorism that caused our Twin Towers to be destroyed. But I believe that, in fact, this was a war of choice, not of necessity and that we should have been paying much more attention to what happened in Afghanistan, because, after all, those who attacked us, did not come from Iraq, they came from Afghanistan.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

As Elizabeth Farnsworth pointed out in February of last year on the Lehrer News Hour: "Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11th were Saudis who cited their religion as justification for what they did."

Al Queda is the rump of a much larger Pan-Arabism from the 1970's conflated with radical Islam of the 90's. Al Queda plots have been uncovered in Asia and Africa... 10-20 of the "Chechen" terrorists who attacked the Russian school were Arabs.

We know for a fact that money, men, and material traveled freely through Iraq to supply Al Queda wherever they were. Abu Nidal, a top associate of Bin Laden, was headquartered in Baghdad. Medical equipment labeled for shipment to Al Queda in Afghanistan was found in Iraqi warehouses. And a major training and operation arm of Al Queda, Ansar-Al-Islam, was based in northern Iraq until our invasion.

I think that is what is very clear is that [Kerry] would be in a position to get a wider group of people to help us, not just the NATO allies, but go into other countries to help so that the coalition would be greater.

He has also said that he would let those in the region or invite those in the region to be part of the discussion, to have them at the table, a contact group so to speak, or try to bring them in also.

The U.N. in order to do its job needs to have security. In order to have security, some forces other than the Americans have to be there to protect the U.N. -- and so it is vitally important that we get some international help for this.

As Henry "The Killer" Kissenger pointed out... the only nations not on board our coalition were France, Germany, Russia, and China. These nations have all, by the way, led military efforts to conquer their neighbors and the world, have had fascist or commie totalitarian governments (or both), and currently are guilty of selling arms and negotiating on behalf of tyrants and dictators.

Invite others from the region to the table?! Do you mean Iran, Syria, or Saudi Arabia? Or maybe one if the gulf state autocracies, or a particularly powerful Shiia or Sunni warlord, or one of the radical clerics from Egypt or the West Bank?

The UN? Are you serious? The UN being the same organization that shone spotlights (so that Serb snipers could shoot them in the back) on fleeing Muslim refugees in the Balkans? The UN was offered US security during the early stages of the the Iraqi operations but refused, was bombed, and then pulled out. Who should be sent to protect them now, the French?

Com on, Madame Secretary, would we really have gained anything that we needed from having these players "on board"?

Well, I personally do not feel safer. I think that the people of Iraq are probably-- I'm glad that Saddam Hussein is gone... And I do think that Saddam Hussein was awful and I personally did believe he had weapons of mass destruction programs... But I did not think it was an imminent threat and I do think that we had other things that we should have been working on, which was Afghanistan.

Again with the Afghanistan feint. Do these people think that we forgot that they were against that war too? By the way, nice slip of the tongue and inadvertent admission there... so, Madame Secretary also believed that Saddam had WMD, so was Bush lying or not? Also, note that Albright also believes that the people of Iraq are better off with out him.

When the president says that we have destroyed three quarters of the known al-Queda leadership or terrorists, how many more have been created? Those are the questions, and the extent to which Iraq in many ways is a training ground or a magnet for everybody who hates us.

Way to answer your own question. Do you really doubt that you are safer? How long ago was 9-11 and when was the latest follow up attack on US soil? Uh huh. I thought so. Maybe having all the thugs in one place, facing US armor instead of stockbrokers, is an alright alternative?

And the other part here is I fully believe in democracy and in the fact that everybody in the world would prefer to make choices about the way they live. But you can't impose democracy. Imposing democracy is an oxymoron. You have to offer it.

Offer it to whom? To Saddam, to Osama? What is this fetishment of Democracy lately? Do we Americans really believe that the 13 colonies were uniformly behind self-government in 1776?

Let's not kid ourselves here... Democracy was a radical form of government which most autocrats feared and most citizens knew nothing about. Democracy was forced upon us by our forefathers and it was forced upon Germany by the Allies. Sometimes it is "ok" to be a little "culturally imperialist". Real Liberals used to understand this in their bones, and if Kerry or Gore had been the one forced to respond to 9-11 we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

Maybe the Democrats are running scared and are willing to accept whatever means, even lying and hurling insults, to reach their end of "getting George Bush out of the Whitehouse". But wasn't that a Republican foible, the "ends justify the means", what are the Dems doing with it now? It has been rightfully pointed out that Liberal and Conservative are not political designations but tactical descriptions, when Liberals win the revolution they naturally become Conservative defenders of the new political order. Mmmmmm....

UPDATE: Still think that these are separate battles, wars of choice? Ask Russia, but first read this.

UPDATE: If you forgot about the strident Leftist warnings against the war in Afghanistan, browse this list as a reminder. Example: The Wrong Battle Plan, Robert A. Pape, Washington Post (10/19/01). "Bombing rarely convinces or coerces, just angers; just as US has been angered by 9/11 attacks".

UPDATE: Madeliene Albright once said "we will act multi-laterally when we can, and uni-laterally when we must". She was talking about our bombing of Kabul, Afghanistan... but she might as well have been referring to the Balkans, Clinton bombed Slobo with out UN approval. It seems that it is important to be "multi-lateral" only when Bush isnt.

UPDATE: And When asked on US television if she thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children (due to sanctions, instead of outright war) was a price worth paying, Albright replied: "This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it."

How can one take Mdme. Secretary as a moral authority on this war after those two priceless quotes?

Sean: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 [+] |
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