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, July 28, 2005

The Third Sex

The other day Michael and I were sitting on the front porch talking about lesbians... No, really. He thinks there are many "lipstick lesbians", you know the kind in Penthouse. I told him that was a straight male fantasy, but probably not statistically accurate. For many gay women the reason they like other women is that their biology is wacky and this can cause them to a) look different and/or b) not care so much about their appearance (to men). Gay men can spot each other because they are looking for each other, as opposed to looking for women and dress and act accordingly (if however apparently similar, the difference is large enough to create "gaydar" that even straight people can develop). Similarly, gay women probably don't look "just like straight women". But I don't know of any polls on the subject. If you do, please leave a comment. Meanwhile... a little survey of how society has seen the Lesbian from pulp fiction cover art.

Sean: Thursday, July 28, 2005 [+] |
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Dems Want To Stand For Something

"Democratic Party to be firmly for something, as soon as the polls telling them what."

I thought that was just a clever Fark headline, but no, its real. Fox news happily carried this article...

We've got to be for something, and it is pretty clear that America is waiting for us. They are desperate to know what we are for," Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"Too many of our fellow countrymen and women out here in the heartland have concluded — inappropriately, but they've concluded nonetheless — that we don't have the spine or the backbone to use force even in the face of the most compelling of circumstances, and that must change," Bayh told the group.

"I think anybody that's going to run for president in 2008 needs us to develop a good, solid, positive agenda as a foundation for that run," said DLC Founder Al From.

Sean: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 [+] |
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Monday, July 25, 2005
Dukes of Porno

I just watched Jessica Simpson's latest video. It appears that she just needs to bite the bullet and do porn. Quite obviously she is confident in her assets and craves exposure. Maybe it was the rigid Christian upbringing that created her lascivious desires. But she needs to get out and exercise those demons... um I mean exorcise.

Sean: Monday, July 25, 2005 [+] |
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Friday, July 22, 2005
Aussie PM's Response To Terrorism

Roger Simon points to an excellent exchange between leftwing journalists and the Australian PM over the proper response to 7/7 and other attacks.

Once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism it's given the game away. No self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. All the evidence suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life... I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that.


Italy appears to have taken the British lesson to heart... they voted today to keep their 3,000 troops in Iraq despite multiple threats from terrorists.

Sean: Friday, July 22, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, July 21, 2005
New London Bombings

A failed copycat attack struck London today as four small blast struck three subways and a bus this morning... no casualties reported. More...

Sean: Thursday, July 21, 2005 [+] |
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Nuke The Security Council

I have long been in favor of expanding the UN Security Council to recognize the newest successful Liberal Democracies and to give the group a more global flavor.

On my short list for new permanent seats were India, Brazil, and Japan. On the other hand I wanted Europe to decide... one seat for the EU or should we start ignoring that Treaty of Rome thingy... that is I would not give Germany a seat with out taking one away from France (and England if it seriously wants to be in Europe, ie dumps the Pound for the Euro).

However, recent news linked by Roger Simon has me concerned.

It appears that the US has now "accepted" India as a "Nuclear Power". This after we hit them with sanctions for violating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and after Pakistan proved the importance of that treaty by going nuclear in suit.

Hezbollah pointed to the problem when they ramped up rocket attacks ahead of Israel's pull out of S. Lebanon so that they could claim to have "pushed" Israel out... they are doing the same now in Gaza.

Then Saddam and Kim Jong Il raced to go nuclear fast enough to avoid being deposed. Saddam failed and was toppled, while Kim succeeded and has remained in power.

If we give India a Security Council seat this will make the case that going nuclear can also get you a seat at the grown-ups' table. This would send the world into a nuclear arms race the likes of which not even God has seen before.

Therefore... sadly... I must suggest that we should scrap the entire idea of Security Council expansion. Kapput.

Unless... India were to renounce their nuclear arms and agree to US/UN certified disarmament... if this was done after they were denied a seat because of their nuclear status... well it could do a lot for repairing the worldwide effort to contain nukes and keep Security Council expansion on the table for everyone else.

Sean: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 [+] |
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Super Trooper, w/Irony

US Army medic shot by terrorist sniper in Iraq, bounces back to feet, locates enemy position, shoots sniper, tracks him down, handcuffs him, and offers him first aide.

Video of shooting, taken by insurgents, confiscated, released by Army.

Sean: Tuesday, July 19, 2005 [+] |
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Sunday, July 17, 2005
Insurgent Confessions

NPR's All Things Considers reports that the NY Times will print an article Monday detailing insurgents confessions that are being broadcast by Kurds in their portion of Iraq. As one Sheikh Mohammed admits the "insurgents" gained "recruits" by having (gay) sex in his van with young boys and then using video of the encounters as blackmail to force the boys to "run errands" such as driving a van to the US Embassy. Suicide bombings? These "freedom fighters" are simply the Iraqi version of the Mafia in 1930's Chicago.

Sean: Sunday, July 17, 2005 [+] |
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Friday, July 15, 2005
Englishman in NY

Ripped from the pages of AndrewSullivan.com comes this confessional by an Englishman in NY...

So, after 12 months of living in New York is it any surprise that Israel starts to look a little less evil? And that Europe starts to look a little more parochial? That the US starts to look a little more like it is trying to solve some of the world’s problems, and that it is doing so despite the sometimes unfair criticism of its allies? If in England it always looked like the US was the playground bully. Then from the US it looks a lot more like an embattled headteacher in a problem school.


Read the whole thing, this blog looks excellent.

Sean: Friday, July 15, 2005 [+] |
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Scotland Yard Makes Arrests

It looks like some progress is finally being made in the investigation of the London terror bombings...

Police hunting the July 7 London tube and bus bombers have made a number of arrests in Leeds.

Anti-terror officers hunting the London bombers were led to six properties in West Yorkshire today by links to a suspected bomber who died in the bus blast.

And Scotland Yard says that they were led to the Leeds addresses after identifying the body of a suspected bomber thought to have been responsible for the bus blast in Tavistock Square.

Reports have previously quoted eye-witnesses on the bus who said they saw an "agitated" olive-skinned man rummaging repeatedly in a rucksack.

Sean: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 [+] |
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Thursday, July 07, 2005
London Bombings

Al Queda struck London at 8:51 this morning. Three blasts in the subway and one on a double-decker bus closed the city's mass transit system for the day. More than 30 deaths and hundreds of wounded have been reported thus far.



A web site claim of responsibility by a self-proclaimed and previously unheard of al Qaeda group in Europe said the blasts were "in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"Here is Britain burning now out of fear and horror in its north, south east and west," the statement said, translated from Arabic by CNN. "We have often and repeatedly warned the British government and people."


The attack was undoubtedly timed to impact the G-8 summit being held in Scotland this week. The logic of Al Queda must be that this attack will motivate the leaders of the Free World to pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines and "surrender" to the Islamists as Spain did after the Madrid bombings. However, I don't think that Al Queda understands the English speaking world, even now...

Blair, flanked by fellow G-8 leaders, including President Bush, read a statement from the leaders. "We shall prevail and they shall not," he said.

"Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world," he said earlier.


CNN is running a quick poll on whether or not the G-8 summit (and life in the West in general) should go on as scheduled or be put on hold... result? 90% say "keep on truckin". Stocks are already rebounding and the US dollar has recovered from a quick hit this morning. The most likely response from the Anglosphere will be greater resolve and an increased manhunt in Eastern Afghanistan.

Just before leaving for London, Blair made a second statement, surrounded by the other leaders present at the conference.

"All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism," he said. "Those responsible have no respect for human life. We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation, but all nations and on civilized people everywhere."

U.S. President George W. Bush was among the somber leaders who stood behind Blair as he spoke.

"We will not yield to these people, will not yield to the terrorists," he said in a short statement after Blair departed. "We will find them, we will bring them to justice, and at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate."


Apparently Chirac's response was a stern lecture to Tony about not upseting the terrorists anymore and getting out of Iraq.



Remember, you are either with the terrorists or against them (thanks Mike).

Sean: Thursday, July 07, 2005 [+] |
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Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Oil Shortage

The 1990's saw many dire predictions from a variety of energy experts, including former oilmen, geologists, and economists suggesting that the world would soon run out of usable oil. In 2000 the Dept of Energy commissioned its own study, funded and backed by the petroleum industry, and released its report in 2004. This study gave a "worst case scenario" showing oil production peaking in 2026 and per barrel prices topping $35 by 2025. However, their own historic data reveals that production actually showed its first drop back in 1976 and only just recovered to 1975 levels around 2000. Meanwhile, as of July 2005 prices have already reached $60 a barrel and Bloomberg is predicting $80 in the coming year... so their worst case scenario wasn't bad enough soon enough!

Many issues effect the price of oil by the barrel and at the pump. US oil production has fallen since the 1980's largely due to the cheap price of oil, it simply hasn't paid for US companies to drill when we can import oil cheaply from Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East. Meanwhile "experts" either funded by the oil companies, by environmental groups, or the government argue over the size of our domestic oil reserves, which again can be seen in various lights depending on how profitable drilling and exploration might be. However, the drop in domestic production puts more pressure on the supply chain of foreign imports and local refineries. Now, whenever an international crisis or a local weather event threatens the supply prices jump at the gas stations. The bottom line remains supply and demand and while the issue of supply might be debated, demand is certainly increasing exponentially. China, with another billion potential consumers, is rapidly developing its own auto production facilities and paving new freeways at record speed. This month the Chinese government even put out a bid to purchase Unocal, one of the world's largest oil companies.

Although past studies have predicted oil supplies to peak between 2026 and 2050, a Swedish research team from the University of Uppsala says that world oil reserves are actually 80% less than previous assumptions and that oil production will peak as early as 2010. This study asserts that some countries in the middle east have exaggerated the size of their reserves (for obvious reasons) and thus distorted past predictive models. This study was first published in the magazine New Scientist and summarized in October 2003 by CNN. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, of the University of Vienna, who headed the IPCC team said it was standing by its figures. On the bright side, the Swedish team says that it will not be possible to damage the world's climate as much as previously feared because we simply do not have enough fossil fuel to do the damage!

Sean: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 [+] |
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Sunday, July 03, 2005
War Of The Worlds

Spielberg pulled off a fairly good adaptation of the classic HG Wells story. The special effects were solid throughout the film, even the aliens themselves. Their "tripods" were cool and I appreciated that the "architecture" matched the physiognomy of the creatures. Some of the wide-shot scenes were actually beautiful, if morbid. The plot wasn't horrible and there was even some attempt at characterization, although not much. As an "end of the world" film it was pretty good.

Spoilers ahead: I must say that once we learn that the aliens are invincible and unstoppable I became bored, kinda like watching a man go through his kitchen with a can of Raid. Also I didn't buy Cruise's idea of driving from NY to Boston when the country is under attack. And I was a bit put off by the ending, I mean we humans were soooo ineffectual, you have to kinda already dislike mankind to not be bothered by that.

Sean: Sunday, July 03, 2005 [+] |
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Friday, July 01, 2005
Un-diplomatic

It turns out that the Iranian government has chosen two former hostage takers to head their new administration (let's face it, this was no "election" in the Western sense).

The President-elect(appointed), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been identified by five former hostages as an interrogator and abuser during the 1979 US embassy takeover in Tehran. He has been quoted as suggesting that the American embassy workers were "dogs and pigs" who should be tied up until slaughtered.

The Vice-President-elect, Massoumeh Ebtekar, was the chief spokesperson for the terrorists during the embassy takeover. Sister Mary, as the US press calls her, proudly admits her role: "The generation that is in executive and policy-making jobs is a revolutionary generation that played an active role in every stage of the revolution."

Meanwhile the incoming government vows that they will continue to pursue nuclear technology of all kinds (despite having the some of the world's largest oil and natural gas fields). They will also continue to support Hezbollah and international jihadists of all stripes (including Ossam Bin Laden according to US Representative Curt Weldon's latest book, Countdown to Terror ).

Despite this aggressive and hostile political situation, the vast majority of Iran's population today was born after the 1979 revolution and has little love for a government that repeatedly beats them and restricts their rights, freedoms, and opportunities.

How can the US, the UN, or the IAEA do business with people who wantonly violated one of the oldest and most cherished rules of international diplomacy - the security of embassy personnel? In these current conditions what should be the US posture to Iran? Are the Marines doing anything this Sunday?

Sean: Friday, July 01, 2005 [+] |
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