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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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo Dies

But most importantly, she was once alive. Please read this excerpted bio on the woman behind the 24 hour news coverage. An may she rest in peace.

Schiavo was born as Theresa Marie Schindler. Her parents named her after Saint Theresa of Avila. She grew up in the Huntingdon Valley area of Lower Moreland Township, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Terri was a chubby and shy girl who loved animals and kept hamsters and birds as pets. By her senior year in high school, Schiavo was overweight, with a height of 5'3" and a weight of 250 pounds. Schiavo went on a NutriSystem diet and was able to lose 100 pounds. Schiavo may have developed an eating disorder around this time in order to cope with her perceived weight problem.

Terri met Michael Schiavo in 1982 in a sociology class at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where they were both students. After dating for five months, the couple were married on November 10, 1984.

They moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in April 1986. Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo's parents, also moved to St. Petersburg three months later. In Florida, Schiavo worked as an insurance-claims clerk for the Prudential insurance company and her husband was a restaurant manager.

Terri Schiavo's friends began to have suspicions about her eating habits. After meals out, she would immediately excuse herself to go to the bathroom. Michael Schiavo was aware of her unusual eating patterns but did not realize their potential danger.

In 1989, the Schiavos began visiting an obstetrician and receiving fertility services and counseling in the hopes of having a child. At this time, Terri Schiavo's weight had dropped to 110 pounds and she had stopped menstruating. However, the physician who examined Terri Schiavo did not take a complete medical history, which would have indicated an eating disorder.

On the morning of February 25, 1990, at about 5:30 a.m. EST, Schiavo collapsed in the hallway of her St. Petersburg apartment. Michael Schiavo awoke out of bed and immediately called Terri's family and dialed 911 emergency services.

Schiavo had suffered a cardiac arrest, and while waiting for the paramedics to arrive she experienced a loss of oxygen to the brain. Attempts were made to resuscitate her, but she remained unconscious and slipped into a coma.

In order to keep her alive, Schiavo was intubated, ventilated and given a tracheotomy; she was also given a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) to provide nutrition and hydration.

Schiavo emerged from her coma two and a half months later at Humana Northside Hospital, but never recovered consciousness nor exhibited any evidence of higher cortical function.


Wikipedia has an excellent account of her medical story here.

One might note that Terri's parents had no objection to Michael being made the custodian of their daughter after she suffered her heart attack and coma. Michael was known to have cared for Terri - taking her to the park and to California for last chance medical procedures. He even studied to become a nurse in an effort to care for her. After 7 years he asked a court to let Terri die, it would take another 8 years before this would actually happen.

It is true that Michael has met another woman and has a new life ahead of him. If you think this is wrong... read this account of the "other woman" and her life with Michael. As noted in this account Terri's parents actually encouraged Michael to "get on with his life" and date. In fact Michael and Terri's parents got along famously until the courts awarded Terri a million dollar malpractice settlement. And it should be noted that Michael has repeatedly offered any remaining balance (after the medical fees) to charity.

This case highlights one of most American's greatest fears, the fear of death, specifically of one out of their control, drawn out, painful, and undignified. This is what makes Terri's case so frightening. Although I sympathize with Terri's parents and their desire to see her body continue to "live" I fear that their religious views have obscured their respect for Terri's quality of life and her right to die. And I think many of us worry that somehow someone will intrude on our own life and death someday. I live in a state that has a "right to die" clause in our constitution. Thank god.
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Sean: Thursday, March 31, 2005 [+] |
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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Democracy Protests In Mongolia

The BBC is reporting that thousands are marching in Mongolia's capitol Ulan Bator.

During Friday's protest in Liberty Square in Ulan Bator, demonstrators waved flags and chanted: "Let's congratulate our Kyrgyz brothers for their revolutionary spirit. Let's free Mongolia of corruption."

Just what has that cowboy from Texas started anyhow?
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Sean: Tuesday, March 29, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, March 24, 2005
Dictators Falling Like Flies

CNN reports that Kyrgyzstan strongman Ashkar Akayev has fled the capital and given up power after several days of massive pro-democracy demonstrations that culminated with popular takeovers of most government buildings.

Sean: Thursday, March 24, 2005 [+] |
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Monday, March 21, 2005
Historical Slander

Victor sheds some much needed light on the leftist meme of Bush=Hitler:

One of their most hackneyed charges, begun almost at the beginning of this war, has been the Bush/America as Hitler/Nazi Germany comparison.

This... wild rhetoric is preposterous. Hitler hijacked an elected government and turned it into a fascist tyranny. He destroyed European democracy. His minions persecuted Christians, gassed over six million Jews, and created an entire fascistic creed predicated on anti-Semitism and the myth of a superior Aryan race.

Whatever one thinks of Bush’s Iraqi campaign, the president obtained congressional approval to invade. He freely weathered mass street demonstrations and a hostile global media... and won a national plebiscite on his tenure.

In a world that is almost uniformly opposed to the democratic Jewish state, Israel has no better friend than Bush, who in turn is a believer in, not a tormentor of, Christianity.

Afghanistan and Iraq, with 50 million freed, have elected governments, not American proconsuls, and there is a movement in the Middle East toward greater democratization — with no guarantee that such elected governments will not be anti-American.

No president has been more adamantly against cloning, euthanasia, abortion, or anything that smacks of the use of science to predetermine super-genes or to do away with the elderly, feeble, or unborn.

There is something profoundly immoral [about] a latte-sipping, upscale Westerner of the postmodern age flippantly evoking Hitler when we think of the countless souls who were systematically starved and gassed in the factories of death of the Third Reich.

[In fact...] The president who is most slandered as Hitler will probably prove to be the most zealous advocate of democratic government abroad, the staunchest friend of beleaguered Israel, and the greatest promoter of global individual freedom in our recent memory.

In turn, too many of the Left who used to talk about idealism and morality have so often shown themselves mean-spirited, cynical, and without faith in the spiritual power of democracy.

Read the whole thing here.
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Sean: Monday, March 21, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, March 17, 2005
Democracy Spreads Like Fire

Iran Press reports that this year's New Year's Fesitval of Fire has once again evolved into pro-democracy anti-regime protests.

In Isfahan, youths clashed with SSF and Bassij agents, as authorities tried to prevent protesters from lighting up bonfires. Hit-and-run clashes continued until midnight, eye-witnesses reported. Anti-government protestors defied the government ban also chanted slogans in support of the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), according to local Tehran residents.

Full-size puppets of high-ranking officials, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the regime's president Mohammad Khatami, were set on fire by youths at numerous locations throughout the Iranian capital. Trucks belonging to Iran's security forces were also set ablaze.

Residents reported that pictures of Maryam Rajavi and Massoud Rajavi, leaders of the Iranian opposition, were being distributed throughout Tehran and other major cities, including Mashad, Tabriz, Isfahan, Rasht, Lahijan, Hamedan, Arak, Sanandaj, Babol, Boukan, Saqqez, Mahabad, and Baneh, as SSF agents attempted to contain the demonstrators.


Iran Focus reports that it is now getting embarassing for the mullahs in Iran.

Among the displays in the capital, residents reportedly placed miniature banners on dogs in the streets of Tehran, mocking Iran's lame-duck president, reading, "Khatami, we love you! Iranian Dogs Association".

It is reported that the local Mullahs in several areas have locked themselves in their mosques fearing the crowds who continually and collectively shout out their slogans.

Protesters chanted "Guns, tanks, the Bassij (Para-military security forces) no longer have an effect" and "Khamenei resign! Get off your throne" and "We need no Sheikh or Mullah, we curse YOU - RUHOLLAH!"

In another area of the city people took to setting the French flag on fire while chanting: "Europe is finished and so are their Mullahs." OR "Bush, Bush, where is Bush?" (In Persian this rhymes: Bush, Bush, kush, kush!).


Mmmm... once again it appears that "Bush may have been right" about the spread of Democracy.

Sean: Thursday, March 17, 2005 [+] |
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Monday, March 14, 2005
Counter-Counter-Revolution

CNN and NPR report that Beirut, Lebanon has seen its largest protest ever today as more than a million Lebanese streamed into the city and into Martyr's Square.

Flag-waving crowds from across Lebanon flooded into Martyrs' Square in central Beirut on Monday, just meters (yards) from Hariri's grave.

They are demanding an international inquiry into his February 14 killing, the resignation of Lebanese security chiefs and a total Syrian withdrawal.

Addressing the massive crowd, Hariri's sister vowed an endless fight to find out who was behind the bombing. "We will never stop searching for the truth," Bahia Hariri, an opposition member of parliament, said tearfully to resounding cheers.

"We will not allow the sacrifice of the Lebanese resistance that gave Lebanon back its dignity."


No response yet from Hezbollah, as it is the score stands at 8 to 1 match point Opposition.
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Sean: Monday, March 14, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, March 10, 2005
White Zionism

Michael Totten excerpts the writing of Chibli Mallat in Lebanon’s Daily Star. Mallat calls upon Arabs to accept a multicultural version of pan-Arabism and the adoption of federal democracy as the means of advancing their culture and economy. Mallat calls this "White Arabism" and contrasts it to the fascist ideology or what he calls "Black Arabism" as exemplified by the Baath party in Iraq and Syria (and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hezbollah in Lebanon, or Hammas in the West Bank and Gaza). If Arabs can accept federalism in Iraq and multiculturalism in Lebanon perhaps this model can work in Israel as well?

I have often worried that the "two state solution" in Israel is no solution at all. The Palestinian economy is non-existent with out the economic engine of Israel. Arab workers need to cross into Israel for jobs not avialable at home and a future Palestine of the West Bank will be landlocked. As an example, when Israel closed the borders in response to the Second Intefadah the nascent Palestinian economy ground to a halt. How can any new Palestinian state survive as two isolated districts within the borders of Israel?

The same issue exists, of course, for Israel. If the West Bank and Gaza become a state then this will shrink the state of Israel to a mere ten miles in width where the two sections of Palestine would nearly meet. This section is already a deathtrap of a highway linking north and south Israel for those willing to risk sniper shots and roadside bombings. And if Israel were to give up the heights over the Jordan Valley or the border crossing with Egypt at Gaza how could they ever feel secure after the history of Arab invasion from these points?

The problem with Israel simply granting the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza citizenship in Israel is that the birth rate in poor, religious societies is many times that of more developed and secular nations (access to birth control being a primary issue). Israel has long realized that integrating the Arabs would mean the end of Israel as a "Jewish state". Retaining Israel as a Jewish nation is vital to a people long dispossessed of their own territory and often abused while living abroad (the similar situation for Palestinians is an artificial one created by their Arab neighbors as a means of continueing their war against Israel).

One obvious solution that Mallat reminds me of is democratic federalism. Instead of a "two state solution" (which I call the "no-state solution") in which two entities, one Jewish and one Arab, both suffer from the realities of an artificially divided region, why not create one new state called "Israel and Palestine" ala "Bosnia and Herzegovina". This state would share a national military, a common currency, and a common foreign policy. Workers could be allowed to travel the region freely in search of work. However, the police, judiciary, and education programs could be run by the provinces within Israel and Palestine and property titles and residency would be restricted (at least initially) to the province of one's birth... Judea, Samara, or Gaza.

The eventual goal of any solution to the problems of the Middle East should be democratic self-rule, but it might be that steps towards peaceful co-existence need to come first. Federalism for the Middle East? White Zionism and White Arabism living side by side? Hey, you didn't think that Iraq could pull off their election either!

Sean: Thursday, March 10, 2005 [+] |
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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Lebanon And The Media

I realize that it must be extremely distressing for any lefty to admit that "the chimp" was right all along. I realize that noticing the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon and Assad (of Syria) declaring that he was "no Saddam" and was willing to talk must have made some stomachs churn.

The response of the media to the events in Lebanon this month is disheartening and disgusting. Listening to the near glee as they reported the apparent "failure" of the democratic revolution as evidenced by the Hizbollah sponsored "pro-Syria" rallies made me ill.

If the media were honest they would take pains to point out that Hizbollah is to Syria what the Viet Cong were to the North Vietnamese, the Chinese, and the Russians. Hizbollah is funded by Iran but is run by "officers" in Damascas, Syria. They have been the Syrian proxy army for continuing its failed offensive against Israel more than 20 years ago.

"The protest follows Tuesday's mass pro-Syrian rally in Beirut, organized by the Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah."

Notice that the reporter tries to put distance between Hizbollah and Syria, claiming that they are simply "Iranian" backed? Clever journalistic balloney. When reports show up that Hizbollah called out its soldiers to "protest" in favor of Syria this is akin to "dictator holds rally for self". This is a non-event next to the real "grassroots" rally of the past few weeks in favor of democracy.

The Lebanese themselves made the connection easy for the media, they say they model themselves on the recent pro-democracy rallies in Ukraine... the media might have easily recalled that the government staged its own pro-self rally in counterpoise to the opposition. It doesnt mean anything that a radical, islamist melitia run by Damascas ralled for Demascas. What really should have been noted was that inside Syrian itself the dictator could barely muster a few thousand "pro-Assad" marchers.

"Meanwhile, demonstrations shifted Wednesday to the Syrian capital, Damascus... Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the city, singing national songs and proclaiming their loyalty to Assad, The Associated Press reported."

So, inside Syria where the tyrant has to be a little more carefull about conscription he couldnt find more than a few thousand people to rally for him, but in the country that he occupies with impunity he was able to muster up hundreds of thousands of "supporters". Mmmmm...

Meanwhile the real point here is that everyone in the West, who currently enjoy freedom and democracy, should be rooting for the spread of these rights to others even if it is politicaly inconvienient. This Schadenfreude is simply horrible.

Sean: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, March 03, 2005
Lame Excuses

CNN reports that Syria is feeling the heat of public protests and responds like a lame middle schooler.


"We lost a lot of soldiers helping the Lebanese or they would still be busy ruining their country." Zouheir Hasan, a street sweeper in Damascus.

"If Syrian troops leave, Israel will use the opportunity to spark a new crisis in Lebanon. That is what the Americans want." air force pilot who gave his name only as Fouad.

"These protests just play into American interests. If the situation stays like this the Israelis and Americans will get involved when Syria has already agreed to go." Rama, who works at a U.S. oil firm in Syria.

"We are in Lebanon so it does not become like Palestine or Iraq. The Lebanese may not like the Syrian army but if it leaves they will have to deal with the Israeli or the American army. Which is worse?" said Mohammad Hafez, 19, a shop attendant.


Amazing how fast the American/Jew card is played by some Arabs.

What a lame sampling of the "Arab street", a shop keeper, a street sweeper, and an American-paid oil "worker". Are these the opinion or policy makers in Syria? Who reported this? Oh, right Rueters.
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Sean: Thursday, March 03, 2005 [+] |
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
What Lebanon Means...

Austin Bay catches the MSM waking up after Lebanon... wait, is democracy spreading from the Indian Ocean to the Med? Mmmm... Maybe the neocons were on to something afterall?

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Sean: Tuesday, March 01, 2005 [+] |
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Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere

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