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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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Scooter Gets Booted

CNN reports that Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was indicted by federal grand jury Friday on charges related to the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name to the media.

Libby was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements, court documents show.

Libby was charged with:

Obstruction of justice -- 10 years in prison;
Making false statements and perjury -- each 5 years.
Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

Scooter is not being charged with a crime related to the revelation that fmr. Amb. Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, but because he may have lied to the grand jury about whether anyone in the Whitehouse revealed this information. He has now resigned from the Bush administration and will be spending most of his future in court.

Two things are certain in my mind about this case... First, Joseph Wilson was the wrong man. He should not have been sent to "verify" the French reports that Niger had been approached by Saddam regarding a sale of nuclear materials. He was a former diplomat and not an intelligence expert. Reportedly he simply sipped sweet mint tea with the former Prime Minister and asked him if the French document was real. Of course the fmr PM said "no" as it would have been an admission of an international "crime" if he had said yes. But this denial should never have been taken as proof by Wilson. The very idea that the CIA chose Wilson (not an employee and not a spy) is a bit preposterous... until one realizes that his wife worked in the very department of the CIA that did investigate international WMD issues.

Which brings us to the second thing I think I am certain about, and which is actually news to me until today, Valerie Plame WAS a covert agent when Robert Novak outed her! According to a fellow CIA operative, Larry Johnson, Valerie apparently was a NOC operative (non-official cover agent- i.e. spy) investigating WMD and nuclear proliferation world-wide. Not even her closest friends and neighbors knew her secret (although her husband, as an ambassador, had high enough clearance that she did tell him). And since Novak's article she was pulled back to Langley and sentenced to a desk job.

The third thing that I think I know is that there was no crime in Cheney or Libby telling Novak that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, but there should be. This editorial explains that the existing law is so weak as to not even apply to this case... but when you read about Cheney telling Novak that Plame's CIA job would "be declassified soon" and "I've already said too much", you realize that he certainly did say too much. He did so for rather obvious and even reasonable reasons... he thought that Novak shouldn't take Wilson's now famous editorial "debunking" the Niger story too seriously and he wanted Novak to dig around and discredit Wilson. While I understand Cheney's interests his actions clearly destroyed Plame's career- relegating her to a desk-job forever. He should have known better and there ought to be a law!

Sean: Saturday, October 29, 2005 [+] |
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The City Club

Here on the west coast of North America we are only just beginning to get a handle on how we build our cities and why.

Largely all our major cities are ports, manufacturing centers, high-tech zones, and service economies. Although we have a history of dependence on single industries such as defense, lumber, and high tech, through hard knocks we probably have this fixed. Meanwhile we have abundant natural resources and a small population.

Being a land settled by immigrants of immigrants we have diverse ethnic populations in every city except Portland (which, for a variety of reasons, is mostly white, for better or worse). Our cities include sizable Hispanic, black, and Asian populations and more Russians and Indians lately. The food scene is reflective of this diversity.

We value our environment and began the bottle recycling programs adopted everywhere else. And we have learned to love mass transit, except for Seattle which still cant figure out how they feel about it (despite voting to spend $9 billion to get on the bandwagon). We also bike and jog often and we spend a lot of time and money on outdoor sports.

We have well attended libraries, symphonies, and theatre. But we don't support these groups with taxes (they cost more to attend than in the Midwest, but have strong attendance anyway) and we don't care if you wear jeans to the opera. Dining is similarly laid back, we even have easy chairs and drink micro brews at the movies.

People seam to appreciate this lifestyle and are moving here in droves (as opposed to the North East, the Midwest, and the Gulf Coast). Portland was prepared to have 500k people move into our metro region in the last decade, but we got more than a million!

New people put strains on all our services and threaten our forests and farms, but they also charge up the economy and bring new skills and knowledge. We want people to move here, but we need to figure out how to accept them with out their ruining what they are coming here for... our quality of life.

Sean: Thursday, October 27, 2005 [+] |
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As of 2004 Vancouver had a population of 583,296 in 44mi² for a density of 13,256/mi². The metro area is 695mi² and has 2.1 million people for a density of 3021/mi². Vancouver has 600 buildings between 295ft-450ft, most more than 300ft. Vancouver's median household income is $43,652.05 (US) and median family income is $57,926 (US). Estimated from 2004 data Vancouver's median home price was $159,000 (US).

As of 2004 Portland had a population of 550,560 in 134mi² for a density of 3939/mi². The metro area has 575mi² and 2.5 million people for a density of 4347/mi². Portland has 139 buildings between 190-500ft, most less than 200ft. Portland's median household income is $40,146, and median family income is $50,271. Portland's median home price was $204,000 in 2004.

As of 2004 Seattle had a population of 571,480 in 84mi² for a density of 6803/mi². The metro area has 1088mi² and a population of 3.8 million for a density of 3492/mi². Seattle has 249 buildings between 400-937ft, most around 400ft. Seattle's median household income is $45,736, and median family income is $62,195. In 2004 Seattle's median home price was $293,000.

As of 2004 San Francisco had a pop of 776,733 in 47mi² for a density of 16,885/mi². The metro area has 3424mi²and 7.1 million people for a density of 2073/mi². San Francisco has over 400 buildings 300-800ft, most around 350ft. San Francisco's median household income is $55,221, and median family income is $63,545. The median home price in San Francisco was $576,000 in 2004.

As of 2004 Los Angeles had a pop of 3.9 million in 465mi² for a density of 7876.8/mi². The metro area has 5200mi² and 17.5 million people for a density of 3365/mi². Los Angeles has over 524 buildings 300-1000ft tall, most around 400ft. Los Angeles has a median household income of $36,687, and a median family income of $39,942. The median home price in Los Angeles was $418,000 in 2004.

Sean: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 [+] |
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
How we measure up to non-western cities...

As of 2004 Boston had a pop of 569,165 in 48mi² for a density of 11857/mi². The metro area had 5.4 million people in 4466mi² for a density of 1221/mi². Boston has over 305 buildings most around 500ft. Boston has a median household income of $39,629 and a median home price of $386,300.

Detroit had a population of 900198 in 142mi² for a density of 6339/mi². The metro area had 5.2 million people in 2026mi² for a density of 2560/mi². Detroit has 242 buildings around 400 ft. The median household income was $29526 and the median home cost $163786.

Houston had a population of 2.1 million in 579mi² for a density of 3476/mi². The metro had a pop of 5.2 million in 8376mi² for a density of 630/mi². There are 387 buildings around 700 ft. The median household income was $36616 and the median home cost $135943

Atlanta had a population of 419122 in 132mi² for a density of 3175/mi². The metro area had 4.7 million in 6207mi² for a density of 758/mi². There are 261 buildings around 600 ft tall. The median household income was $37385 and the median home cost $189000.

Jacksonville had a population of 777704 in 757mi² for a density of 1027/mi². The metro area had 1.3 million people in 3371mi² for a density of 385/mi². There are 73 buildings around 300 ft. The median household income was $40316 and the median home cost $159000.

Sean: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 [+] |
Monday, October 24, 2005

Our architecture program at the Universpil of Oregon (Portland Center) makes a semi-annual pilgramage to Vancouver, BC. We go up there because they represent what Portland aspires to be, even as Portland represents what America aspires to in urban planning.

We were lucky to enjoy a lecture and guided tour by Gordon Price, urban planning professor at the Univecouncilorritish Columbia and former Vancouver City Councillor from 1986 to 2002. He made a poinsuccessfully the position of Vancouver as a model of successfull growth and conservation for other West Coast cities, like Portland.

Vancouver has breath-taking physical setting. It is on the delta of the Fraser River to the south, there are 5,000 ft mountains to the north (they did build new suburbs here, as high as water pumps would let them), ocean to the West, and prime agricultural land to the east (protected by law since 1973). This forms a natural UGB that home builders simply cannot argue with.

This means they can only go up. Due to looser regulations (fire stair codes and disability access) they can build thinner and taller buildings )which maximizes views) and get funding for mixed uses (such as groceries and schools) that help residents do away with their cars.

Vancouver has managed to squeeze more people into a smaller area than all West Coast cities but San Francisco. Yet they have a lower median home price and a far better skyline. More importantly they have less urban crowding and traffic than any West Coast city and perhaps the strongest inner city tax base... which means they have better schools and parks (and universal health care).

This means that Vancouver has been able to attract and accept over 30,000 new residents a year. While they do attract economic and political refugees who need government assistance they also attract Hong Kong billionaires and American retirees. The The result is a vibrant, multi-cultural city with all the trimings - including the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile Vancouver contains the largest forested urban park in North America, more sheltered waterways than San Francisco, ski runs within sight of downtown, island paradices within a 30 minute drive, and acre after acre of protected and productive farmland within minutes of urban markets.

According to Wikipedia: "Vancouver consistently ranks in the top five in worldwide rankings of quality of life. Most recently, the city ranked first (2002, 2005) in a worldwide quality of life survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. In a similar survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Vancouver ranked second (2002, 2003) and third (2004). Vancouver has tied for first with the cities of Salzburg and Oslo among the UN chosen cities for highest living standards the last 4 years running. The city generally ranks first when compared to its Canadian and U.S. peers."

Sean: Monday, October 24, 2005 [+] |
Sunday, October 23, 2005

It is interesting how many people are scratching their heads over the vote totals in Iraq. It appears that the Sunni dominated provinces are not voting uniformly "no" on the new constitution, even though they told reporters that they were definitelty going to vote not, as their imans ordered them too. BBC reports...

Nineveh has a religiously and ethnically mixed population, dominated by Sunni Muslims.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, election officials in the provincial capital, Mosul, were quoted by an international news agency as saying the "Yes" vote had won by a huge majority.

Most impartial observers were perplexed and perturbed, the BBC's Richard Galpin reports, as the word on the street seemed to be that the majority had in fact voted "No".

Nineveh is one of the provinces under investigation by election officials. They are looking at voting procedures, the ballot boxes and the ballot papers to ensure there were no mistakes or fraud.

I am not sure why people are so stuck on this... if you asked a voter in Chicago during the 1920's if they were going to vote for strict new anti-mob laws they would probably tell a reporter "no" as well and then in the privacy of the voting booth vote an enthusiastic "yes".

The new Iraqi constitution is their only hope for peace and most Iraqis probably know it. The only thing keeping anyone from voting yes is fear itself. We should be happy when some of them can get over their fear and vote yes.

Sean: Sunday, October 23, 2005 [+] |
Friday, October 21, 2005
Nelson's Ratings

Friday marks the 200th year of Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets off Trafalgar in 1805. This victory ended Napoleon's plans for an invasion of the British Isles and essentially sealed his fate [defeat] at the hands of a British led alliance ten years later. The English celebrated aboard the still floating HMS Victory with a dinner for the Queen. The three chaps pictured above are the descendants of Lord Nelson and yes they are all Navy men.

Sean: Friday, October 21, 2005 [+] |
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
New Towers In Portland

Over the next 10 years Portland is going to look and feel totally different. Below are a listing of the newest towers on the downtown skyline. This building boom is going to bring thousands of people into the central city. This means a higher tax base, a livelier streetscape, safer streets, higher transit ridership, and eventually less crowding and traffic - believe it or not - see below. And we can save our single-family-home neighborhoods and the farms and forests for which Portland is rightly renowned.

John Ross Tower
325 ft, 32 stories

Benson Tower
250 ft, 26 stories

Oak Tower
250 ft, 26 stories

The Meriwether
Two towers, 21 and 24 stories

SoWa - Block 34
247 ft, 23 stories

1300 Park
230+ ft, 22 stories

Alexan South Waterfront
230 ft, 22 stories

Roosevelt Tower
apx 250, 21 stories

The Metropolitan
225 ft, 19 stories

Broadway Jefferson Tower
Apx 18-22 stories

The Elliot
220 ft, 18 stories

St. Stevens
18 floors

The Civic
apx 200 ft, 16 stories

The Casey
16 stories

Two Main
16 stories

Butler Block
16 stories

16 stories

Robert Ball Tower
16 stories

Cronin Block
15 stories

The Elizabeth
15 stories

24th Place Condominiums
150 ft, 14 stories

Station Place
14 stories

The Pinnacle
14 stories

10-15 stories, LEED Silver, $180,000 lofts, condos starting $340,000

The Strand
Three buildings, each 11-13 stories

Waterfront Pearl Four
Two towers, 10 stories each

Nearly our entire Portland architecture student body took a field trip up to Vancouver, B.C. over the week end. We were lucky enough to enjoy a lecture and guided tour by former city councilman Gordon Price.

One of the lessons that he imparted to us was that the buildings were not as important as all the planning and politics that made them happen. This was perhaps hard for architecture students to take, but I appreciated the comment nonetheless. Another lesson was that increasing the housing towers downtown actually led to less crowding and less traffic - counterintuitive as that may be.

He noted that thousands of people were previously crowded into subdivided singlefamily homes with very little square feet. When the towers went up some people moved from these homes into the towers, others moved out of downtown, and newcomers came in - but all these people moved into more square feet in their own private residences.

Meanwhile, as density increased services such as groceries and schools, not to mention other businesses, moved in and allowed these inner city residents to do with out their cars. Thus today Vancouver has more foot traffic than auto traffic in its inner city.

Portland and Vancouver have similar populations, about 500k central city and 2 million metro, and similar growth rates, about 20% a year. But Vancouver is hemmed in with mountains and the sea and has only about 1k sq miles to work with, compared to Portland's 5k. And yet Vancouver is a better city today for its growth. Portland should be so lucky... it really should.

UPDATE: Cascadian Tower back online?

Old article on Chinese investment in Portland...

Sean: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 [+] |
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
300lb Predator Kills Man

A New Jersey highschool football player is free after killing a man with two punches to the head following a road rage confrontation.

Authorities said the teen cut off Munter on a Camden County highway, and Munter angrily followed the boy to his home in Lindenwold.

The teen, 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, jumped out of his truck and ran across the street toward his family's Lindenwold home.

When he was in the street, Munter crashed into him. The boy rolled off the hood of Munter's car, landed on his feet and reached through the man's open window to deliver the two blows.

The boy isnt just a football player, he's Batman!

"The teen was freed after his arrest but required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, except during his football games."

They should leave the braclet on during games, it would scare the crap out of the other team. "We got this guy out of prison just for the game."

BTW, this is what 6'6" 300lbs looks like.

Sean: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 [+] |
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Pakistan Quake Leaves 3m Homeless

CNN reports that Tuesday's 7.6 magnitude quake has left more than 3 million people without shelter just before the winter storms hit... or rather, AS the winter storms hit.

One bit of good news...

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told CNN the international response had been "overwhelming" and "transcends" religion and politics.

"We have had over 20 countries sending rescue teams," he said. "There is hardly a country in the world that has not spoken with me."

Along with $50 million in relief, the United States sent military helicopters from neighboring Afghanistan to help with relief efforts.

One of the main problems with these types of disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, floods) is their very infrequency and the poor standards of construction in the effected areas. People build willy nilly, often with out any kind of government oversight (permits, inspections) and in vast numbers. When these disasters hit scores of buildings fall down, killing thousands of people and leaving many more homeless. When I finish school I want to work with Architects Without Borders and try to help re-raise some roofs.

Sean: Tuesday, October 11, 2005 [+] |
Monday, October 10, 2005
Smurf Bombing

The Ottowa Citizen publishes this report on the recent activities of UNICEF. You used to buy stamps from them... to save the children. Now they're scaring the bejeesus out of the children.

The people of Belgium have been left reeling by a public service commercial featuring the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The 25-second commercial is the work of UNICEF, and is to be broadcast on TV across Belgium next week as a public fundraiser. It is intended as the keystone of a drive, by UNICEF's Belgian arm, to raise about $145,000...

The ad pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.

Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children.''

Maybe you think that Belgian audiences are tough enough to take this kind of imagery... you might be right.

Philippe Henon, a spokesman for UNICEF Belgium, said his agency had set out to shock, after concluding that traditional images of suffering in Third World war zones had lost their power to move television viewers.

The advertising agency behind the campaign, Publicis, decided the best way to convey the impact of war on children was to tap into the earliest, happiest memories of Belgian television viewers. They chose the Smurfs, who first appeared in a Belgian comic in 1958.

Julie Lamoureux, Publicis' account director for the campaign, said the agency's original plans were toned down.

"We wanted something that was real war -- Smurfs losing arms, or a Smurf losing a head -- but they said no.''

Reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw the episode by accident, wailing terror.

Hendrik Coysman, managing director of IMPS, agreed. "That crying baby really goes to your bones.''

Recently Amnesty International published a report citing Britain for child beatings, er, spankings. They picked on Britain primarily because Britain might actually listen, as opposed to say Uganda where children really are being abused but whose people cannot be reached in 25-second ad spots.

And now UNICEF has targeted Belgian children with the message that war, against the Smurfs no less, simply has to stop... why do the Belgian children allow such horror?

This is the kind of facile thinking behind the depiction of the war in Iraq as some sort of carpet bombing attack on the city of Baghdad. Even though we know that didn't happen, the assumption remains that if you are not anti-war then you are PRO WAR. As if you WANT smurfs to be blown to bits!

The anti-war side takes two seconds to say out loud, but the "pro-war" argument takes a small dissertation against the horrors of national popular enslavement and the mental damage of living in a society that constantly faces violent abduction, torture, and death.

Being for the ending of such regimes necessitates one being "for" some wars. Which might actually harm children, it is sad to say, but the harm that comes from not acting, from being anti-war, is a miserable past and present and a horrible future... which it seems to some of us is just as bad or worse than loss of limbs or even of life.

The question must be "Is life, at its minimum, worth any cost?" or in some cases might the quality of that life come into question? Many wild animals, such as wolves and bears, have been known to die in captivity or to chew their own limbs off to gain freedom (even limbless, and even short-lived). Have humans tamed themselves out of this instinct? Are we smurfs?

Sean: Monday, October 10, 2005 [+] |
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
My Supreme Court Nominee Has A First Name...

George Bush's pick for a Supreme Court nominee feels like grade school picking teams for dodge ball. He says she was the best nominee he could find... in the room?

When Bush picked John Roberts he scored big time. Roberts was a nominee who was nearly impossible to oppose on technical grounds. He was a high level judge who positively gleamed under Senate investigation. Roberts knows the law like an encyclopedia and seems to have a genuine respect for the role of the Supreme Court in American governance. You may not like his politics, if you can ferret them out, but you cant say he is not qualified.

But I was appalled when Bush pushed Roberts into the Chief Justice slot. I understand that the position is rather ceremonial, with little real power, but it should mean something, at least to the other justices. It seems like it shouldn't go to the "freshman" justice on the bench. I can hear the other Jedi's now... you cant make him a master right away, I didn't get to be a master the first time on the bench! It really seemed like Bush was shoving him to the head of the line just to see if he could.

And now Bush has topped himself. By nominating Harriet Miers, a woman who has NEVER been a judge, to the highest court in the land he seems to be just daring someone to stab him on the Senate steps. What next? Why not require that we all worship his terrier as a god?

If you want a reason to distrust her, how 'bout this... she worked for Microsoft and helped the big software monopoly successfully argue that it should not be held responsible for selling flawed software to consumers and then selling them the fixes later. Way to go Harriet, sticking it to the man! Er, I mean, sticking it for the man! Hey, wait a sec... this is a good enough reason for many people on the left to be against her.

On the other hand... she used to be a Democrat. At least she gave a bunch of money to Al Gore and the DNC in 1988 and didnt donate to a Republican until Pete Sessions in 1994. She is also a woman and she isn't very old, both qualities are connected to a history of political moderation, she might very well grow to a sympathetic Liberal grandma. Which thought shouldn't please anyone on the right.

This time I think that Bush might have made a losing pick for his bench. Harriet Miers tastes like bologna.

Sean: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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