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, August 29, 2004

French Twist

CNN reports that France has been offered the chance to try its hand at negotiating with terrorists.

The Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera broadcast videotape Saturday showing Radio France International's Christian Chesnot and Le Figaro newspaper's Georges Malbrunot, who were reported missing the morning of August 21.

The militants behind the kidnapping have called for France to overturn a law banning Muslim students from wearing headscarves in state schools. The group gave France 48 hours to respond to its demands.

According to Al-Jazeera, the kidnappers are part of the group Islamic Army in Iraq, the same group that claimed to have kidnapped an Italian journalist and killed him after Italy refused to withdraw its troops.


Far too many lefties, both in the US and the EU, conflate the attacks of islamic nutjobs with their own anti-Americanism or anti-capitalism. Islamists are not WTO protesters from See-at-al. They do not want "fair trade coffee" at Starbucks or a shorter work week. They dont care about baby seals or old growth forests. They want you women to cover your darned heads! France now gets to learn a valuable lesson. Let's hope it doesnt cost these two journalists their heads.

Sean: Sunday, August 29, 2004 [+] |
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Civil War In Iraq

CNN reports that three rockets/mortars were fired into the mosque at Kufa, killing dozens and wounding perhaps hundreds, as Shiite followers of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gathered to march to Najaf to take back the Imam Ali Mosque from the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Oddly, sadly, and somewhat understandably, the victims are blaming the Iraqi police and the US for the attack... even though we use much more deadly firepower when we attack and regardless of the fact that we undoubtedly would welcome Sistani's intervention in Najaf.

We should also keep in mind that Sadr's Rebellion began when the Iraqi government tried to arrest him for murdering a rival cleric. And we should keep in mind that someone fired mortars at Iraqi police in Kufa hours earlier.

It seems obvious that the mortars were fired by Sadr's people in an attempt to derail and deflect the followers of Sistani from marching to Najaf and ending his uprising.

And this would mean the beginning of the civil war that so many have feared for so long.

UPDATE: It looks like Sadr has agreed to save his own ass, again. And it looks like the Iraqi government feels the same way. If Sadr does not follow through this time and "rises up" once again, his "Wiskey Rebellion" could very well signal to all parties in Iraq that "might makes right" and the guns will never be silent.

Sean: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 [+] |
...
Monday, August 23, 2004
Rooting For A candidate

My "clever" sidestep of the looming election debacle has been torpedoed. I can't vote for poor Ralph because he has lost his ever loving mind over Israel and da joos. So now my protest vote (against having only two lousy parties to choose from) would be tainted by voting for a bigoted lunatic (all that hatred from his fellows on the left appears to have broken the man).

Now I am back to making an actual decision about the Draft Dodger and the War Hero*.

On the one hand... John Kerry is the Flip-Flop-King and he also lied about his experiences in Nam. Oh, and he has more money than god... I just can't see swapping out one rich bastard for another.

But then there is the Supreme Court and four justices who want to retire... and I couldn't forgive myself for letting Georgie choose their replacements.

Come on America, just one election, can't I have a win-win choice in November?

*may not have actually been much of a hero, void if prohibited in your state.


Sean: Monday, August 23, 2004 [+] |
...
Friday, August 20, 2004
Olympic News Round Up

American Gymnist Snatches Gold

American Women Volley Past Czhechs

French Athlete Doesnt Surrender!?

By linking to the Olympic homepage I in no way accept their legal bs regarding their "link policy" nor accept any other limitations, responsibilities, or other mumo jumbo, in short Athens 2004 webmaster - screw you!

No one owns the internet. No one can control hyperlinking. By merely providing the address to one website on your own site you do not utilize their page, their services, or in any other way make yourself beholden to them... the same as if you mention or quote the NY Times or CNN. If they dont want to get linked, they can pull their website. By putting yourself on the WWW you make yourself the most public of public affiars.

The World Wide Web... by geeks, of geeks, and for geeks.

Thanks for the head's up Ken Layne and Michael Totten.

Sean: Friday, August 20, 2004 [+] |
...
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Venezuela Election Fraud

Following the money has long been a tried and true method of uncovering scandal after scandal.

Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela, just beat a recall referendum that he was widely predicted to lose, by pre-election polls and exit polling.

Tricks used by Chavez to guarantee this victory included...

Giving citizenship to half a million illegal aliens in return for their votes.

Removing opposition voters from the voting records or moving their polling locations to Sweden.

And, of course, sending gunmen to shoot up polling locations in opposition neighborhoods.

But these methods are not foolproof. Just to be sure... Chavez purchased the electronic voting machines from a company that he owned and was run by one of his presidential campaign workers from his 1998 takeover. The scoop is here.

The Herald reported last month that the government purchased a 28 percent stake in Bizta, through a venture capital fund, in June 2003 -- just a few months before the company bid for the elections contract. The Herald also reported that a top official in Venezuela's science ministry, Omar Montilla, joined Bizta's board of directors in December to represent the government's three million shares. Montilla, the Herald learned, was an ally of Chávez who had an intricate role in his 1998 election campaign.


Show me tha' money!

The price of opposition. Hat tip to Michael Totten.

Sean: Thursday, August 19, 2004 [+] |
...
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Building Community

Cityyear.org is a new community involvement program that started in Boston and has now reached the West Coast. It was founded in 1988 by Michael Brown and Alan Khazei, then-roommates at Harvard Law School, and is based upon the formula of trading one year of community service for help with college tuition. City Year boasts major national business, education, and political leaders on its board of directors and is linked to the endangered "Americorps" program. Check it out and lend a hand ($).

Sean: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 [+] |
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Monday, August 16, 2004
Venezuelans Take Dictation

The Guardian reports that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez cheated his way to "election victory" this week. His government claims that barely more than half the voters offered to let him complete the last two years of his "term".

Chavez made his national name by leading a failed coup as a lt. colonel in the special forces back in 1992. He spent three years in jail before being released. He then took control of an existing revolutionary leftist political party and recreated himself as an icon of popular discontent.

When Chavez won the presidency in 1998 he dissolved Congress, rewrote the constitution to increase his powers, and re-appointed a Supreme Court that would be loyal to himself. He then seized the nation's oil assets, only to hand operation back to foreign investors on terms more favorable to... well, himself, naturally.

Since the latest boom in oil prices Chavez has used his loot to buy the favor of the lower classes with massive government assistance. Yet he still faced an internal coup in 2002 and the recall attempt has been struggling to dance his "legal" hoops ever since. Finally allowing the referendum, Chavez vowed to run to replace himself if ousted.

Even facing the ominous threat of a disgruntled ex junta leader/president with a grudge... it still looked as if Venezuelans would recall him this week. The Guardian and the Telegraph, left-wing UK papers, actually called this election against Chavez with a predicted 60% voting to remove him. However, at the last moment, his government announced a miracle, come from behind, "victory" at the polls - by 60%.

Not all on the left back Hugo Chavez. Teodoro Petkoff, once leader and presidential candidate of the MAS, opposes Chavez as a social democrat. Douglas Bravo, a guerrilla leader in Falcon in the 1960s, now opposes him with his Third Way movement. William Izarra, a Harvard-educated air force lieutenant with Trotskyist leanings, leads the Direct Democracy Movement.

Sounds like another "banana republic".

UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun, of all papers, has a good article with insight into how Chavez has maintained his grip on power over the last few years.


Sean: Monday, August 16, 2004 [+] |
...
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Seperated At Birth?

Sean: Thursday, August 12, 2004 [+] |
...
Nuclear Castration

Stephen Green of Vodkapundit fame has a view ideas on our "game plan" for winning the WOT. Check out his article at Tech Central Station. While I harrumphed at a view lines, one stuck in my memory for the foreseeable future... Stephen says he worries about "nuclear castration".... jebus, those two words rank right up there with the international biohazard symbol as frightening at a root level. Let's all hope it doesn't come to that Stephen.

Hat tip to Michael Totten.

Sean: Thursday, August 12, 2004 [+] |
...
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Johnny Walker Appreciation Fund

Winds of Change is running a campaign to "Buy Christopher Hitchens A Drink" as a means of supporting and showing appreciation for the "Socrates of our times". Click over and check it out. Hitchens is probably the best writer of commentary and criticism in the English language today. He also tacks a clear course through moral waters despite the political winds of the day. Cheers Hitch!

Buy Sean A Drink. I just finished summer studio for my Masters In Architecture program at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Since I live in Portland this meant being away from home for most of each month. I missed my wife and baby boy greatly. However stressfull, it was period of necessary academic growth. But I sure am glad to be done and homebound as of tomorrow. Yeehaw!

UPDATE: Crap, my Jeep brokedown on me for the first time ever on the freeway onramp! Cant... get... out... of... Eugene. Awwww!

Now I need a drink! Barman, red on the rocks please.






Sean: Wednesday, August 11, 2004 [+] |
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Friday, August 06, 2004
Tired Of Terror

It looks like Iraqis have had it with their "militants" and terror.

Hat tip to Michael Totten.

Sean: Friday, August 06, 2004 [+] |
...
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Terror Scare

For all of the moonbats out there who think that the Bushies use terror alerts merely for political ends... try doing a wee research before opening your mouth (yes, this means you Dean).

CNN reports that the terror alert was not due to information that we had prior to 9-11 or based on the activities of suspects from that far back in time (I know, but that's what their title says... and I know, people are saying it was - it wasn't).

In fact, CNN informs us that Al Queda has a known mode of operation in which they build up a significant dossier on a target, hold off for a while to let the target go "cold", and then do more surveillance just before they attack.

Finally CNN drops the bomb that we just picked up a new suspect in Pakistan in July. And this guy had a batch of recent photos of NY City financial targets (as well as a host of other "targeting information"). Sure, these targets were put on their list years ago and cased around 9-11, but the more recent photos were from just last month.

So, based on how we know Al Queda operates, it is not too silly to guard against a new attack on the city. It might be shocking to some, but it actually looks like the guv'ment was doing its job this time.

Note to self: avoid NY City for a while.

Sean: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 [+] |
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Monday, August 02, 2004
Moore Caught Doctoring Newspaper

Well, whaddayaknow? Moore is being sued (for only $1) by a Bloomington paper over charges that he photoshoped their newspaper in his attack film on Bush The Younger. Shocked, shocked I am!

Sean: Monday, August 02, 2004 [+] |
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