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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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Global Warming Debunked?

A good friend of mine points out that there are still people arguing about global warming. However, I find that most scientists agree that global climate is warming and humans contribute to this change. Regardless, we should be concerned about our environmental impact even with out consensus about the consequences.

In 1999 NCPA, an Exxon backed Dallas think tank, released an article by political economist H. Sterling Burnett attempting to refute the original 1988 global warming fears of NASA's Dr. James E. Hansen.

Burnett sites a series of articles in the journal Science in 1998. He notes that scientific opinion of the extent and cause of climate change vary widely. He even suggests that the regrown forests in the eastern US will absorb more C02 than we produce.

However, two years late Science published an article by Colorado researchers showing that carbon uptake by US forests is far less than our production, that C02 uptake lessens with warmer temps, and warning that the regrown forests might be cut again.

In 2003 Capitalism Magazine ran an article in which James M. Taylor, of Exxon backed Heartland Institute, sites Science in 2001 claiming that the polar ice caps were actually growing, rather than shrinking.

The BBC's Paul Rincon, author of dozens of articles on science news for major publications, explains that while interior ice may be growing due to warmer and wetter weather, it is not growing nearly as much as the edges are melting.

In his article Mr. Rincon notes that a US research team writing in the Journal of Glaciology about satellite data from 1992-2002 shows a net loss of ice to the Greenland and Antarctic ice fields.

Another scientist, from NASA, used radar altimeter data from two EU satellites and NASA's airborne topographic mapping plane to confirm the conclusion that Antarctic ice is in decline.

In 2003 NASA released satellite images from 1979 to 2003 showing sea ice shrinking by 9% per decade and that in 2002 summer sea ice was at record low levels.

In 2001 David Tenenbaum from the Why Files quotes Ohio State geologist Lonnie Thompson who finds that tropical glaciers have lost nearly a third of their ice in the last decade.

Thompson examined tropical glaciers and found plants frozen for more than 5,000 years now being exposed. “This means that the climate at the ice cap hasn’t been warmer than it is today in the last 5,000 years or more,” Thompson said. “If it had been, then the plants would have decayed.”

Mt. Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap over the last 88 years, in another 20 years ALL the ice will be gone. The last of the ice in North America's Glacier National Park should be gone by then as well. Even the Himylayas are melting.

The loss of these glaciers will release massive amounts of trapped methane gas and removes a major reflective surface from the globe (bioth would further increase global warming).

Changing salinity levels in the north Atlantic and North Sea may shift the Jet Stream, removing the warm current that keeps Northern Europe inhabitable, even with global warming these areas may revert to frozen wastes.

Global warming will bring other areas more droughts, expanded desertification and increased sand storms. Roads and infrastructure are a risk, along with coastal flooding of urban areas. More than 70% of the world lives in areas at risk.

Why would any good scientists try to spin the facts on global warming? Money.

In 2003 Jeff Nesmith of COX News Service wrote for the Seattle Post Intelligencer regarding the recent "controversy" sparked by a study claiming that global warming was higher in the medieval warm period from 900-1300 ad.

Nesmith quotes a former Republican congressional staffer and current president of the Climate Institute, who notes that "this study illustrates the strategy adopted by energy companies in the late 80's to attack the credibility of climate science...

By relying on the news media's inclination to include both sides of a story, [and the scientific process that itself encourages debate] the industries were able to create the impression that scientists were deeply divided over climate change".

Nesmith traces the ties of the scientists and journalists who have contributed to the contrary side of the global warming debate.

He found that while some researchers are affiliated with organizations like the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, many of the same scientists are also supported by the likes of the George T. Marshall Institute, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Exxon Mobil Foundation.

While major news organizations have largely avoiding running these biased and junk science papers they have been unwittingly distributed by quasi-science outlets such as the Discovery Channel or openly fronted by conservative think tanks and congressmen.

Nesmith quotes Ross Gelbspan, a former Boston Globe editor, who notes that the conclusion that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to heat up are the result of the "most rigorously peer-reviewed scientific collaboration in history. [While] the contradictory statements of a tiny handful of discredited scientists, funded by big coal and big oil, represent a deliberate -- and extremely reckless -- campaign of deception and disinformation."

Big Oil's bestfriend H. Sterling Burnett suggests that since the scientists cannot agree on a single truth public policy should ignore them entirely.

The constant rise and testing of new ideas is how science works, it does not suggest a lack of confidence in current theories.

Other sources of global warming exist, but we know that humans are the largest single environmental factor today.

Failing to act until all the world comes to a single conclusion is like refusing to get out of the way of a train until all bystanders can agree on a speed estimate.

Sean: Thursday, September 14, 2006 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


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