Sean LaFreniere

Independent News And Political Commentary
Welcome to Sean's Blog blog | home | contact
The Blogger
Blogger Bio 
The Archives
Search This Site

Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

Support This Site
Favorite Links
World Trade Center Attacks
Bali Nightclub Attacks
Beslan School Attack
London Underground Attacks
Raddison Hotel Bombing
Katrina Hits New Orleans
Defend Denmark's Free Speach
The Anglosphere
Support Democracy In Iraq
Democracy Whisky Sexy
Chief Wiggles
Anderson Cooper's 360
The Command Post, making CNN look like the school newspaper.
Andrew Sullivan Dot Com
The Argus, Central Asian news.
Winds Of Change Dot Net
Free The Chief's Iraqi Generals
Michael J Totten
Blog Iran
Moderate Risk
Roger L Simon
free iran petition
victor davis hansen
Save Angel
Oregon Trip Check
iraq's election news
The Hitch
Game Of Life
Sponsored Links
Find info on VA loans and watch this video on the VA loan process.
News Links
Arab News Portal
Belfast Telegraph
BBC News
Dublin News
Edinburgh News
French News
German News
Iran Daily
Iran News
Iraq News
Irish Abroad
Irish Emigrant News
Irish News
Irish Quarterly
Israeli News
Jerusalem Post
London Local
London Times
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Pakistan News
Persian News
Roman News
Scottish News
Translated News
World Wire
Magazine Links
The Atlantic Monthly
The American Prospect
The Economist
Foreign Affairs
Front Page Magazine
Mother Jones
The National Review
New Republic
New Yorker
NY Review Of Books
Policy Review
Tech Central Station
Washington Monthly
Weekly Standard
Movie Links
Film Jerk
McMenamins Theatres
Movie News - Trailers
Rotten Tomatoes
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.

Blogging Resources
Technocrati Link Cosmos
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by
Site Meter
Blogroll This Site
(Copy image and hyperlink)
Sean LaFreniere
Support This Site

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I finally decided that the Mel's movie about the demise of the Mayan civilization needed to be seen despite his recent anti-Semitic and sexist ravings. Maybe art should stand apart from its creator to be judged alone... at least this kind of art, one that is the product of many other people. I will still hold Mel personally accountable for his drunken comments when I next meet him.

The movie is set on location in the jungles of southern Mexico with both real temple ruins and recreations. It uses real Indians, in all their naked glory. It also uses tons and tons of fake human corpses, severed heads, and several stunt hearts.

As you have probably read by now, Mel's Mayan movie, like his Jesus film, has a lot of gory violence. The Mayan's culture is portrayed as a massive group hallucinogenic rave (quite similar to a Christian evangelist revival meeting). While the jungle dwelling Indians are portrayed in a kind of Eden-like innocence, there are grotesque and phantasmagoric images through out the urban scenes. One might easily root for the demise of this culture.

I wondered why Mel went to so much trouble to create this epic - it was rather obviously difficult to direct and produce, with many effect shots, loads of extras, and a remote location. Jesus is not present in a single scene, and while the fate of the Mayans is both an enduring mystery and an important part of the heritage of many Latin Americans, it just doesn't seem like Mel's kinda thing.

But the end of the movie, small spoiler ahead, made everything snap into focus. It doesn't effect the plot much and shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who is up on their history... but the final scene of the movie shows the arrival of the Spaniards in their great wooden ships with white sails billowing and emblazoned with giant red crosses. Ahah! Christianity has arrived at last to save the wicked natives from their own civilization.

The wiki article on this movie easily tears it apart for historical inaccuracies. It is noted that the temple styles and art work are a hodgepodge from a thousand years of Mayan history. It is also noted that the human sacrifices portrayed in the film are of masses of slaves, when historically they were limited to Mayan nobles. Also the solar eclipse, which is the key to the plot, would not have shocked the astronomically savvy Mayans.

Mel might argue that he combines the art and culture of different eras in Mayan history to create an amalgam of the entire civilization within the time frame of a single-plot-line movie. Maybe this would be fine if the audience was an anthropology class, but many people who see this film may look no further than this very distorted representation of Mayan history.

I will give Mel credit for his general background premise, stated in the opening scene and then forgotten, that cultures decline from within. This idea has been growing since Gibson's history of the Roman Empire and it seems important to a Western civilization that impacts the entire globe.

If we do not have faith in our own culture and a willingness to defend it then it will be consumed by its neighbors. Similarly, if we do not halt the environmental degradation of our natural world then the civilization built upon it will also collapse.

Apocalypse then, and now.

Sean: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 [+] |
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Electric Sheep

Portland's free wifi system is begining its rollout. Downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Llyod District, Buckman and Kearns neighborhoods are all live. The system will soon blanket the entire city with free internet access.

The provider, MetroFi, has similar, but smaller, systems in six California cities: Concord, Cupertino, Foster City, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale. They also provide some service in Aurora, IL. As far as I can tell, Portland is their first municipal service contract.

Access in these cities originally came with a small service charge, but the company found that it was cheaper to end billing and marketing in favor of ad revenue alone. In January 2006 MetroFi dropped its access fee entirely. So, Portlanders will see a sidebar of advertising as they surf, but get to do it for free.

Hopefully this is the first step in making the internet a public utility such as water and power. A fellow architecture student is working on a mobile computer center to bring computers to poor neighborhoods. Along with free wireless this is the first step towards equalizing access to technology.

Sean: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 [+] |
Saturday, December 02, 2006
American Empire... Not

Westhawk seems to argue that success in Iraq is impossible. I would agreee, because the US is not Britain or France.

Back in the early days of the war, when people knowingly said that we were there for the oil and that we were starting up an empire, some people actually thought that we were in Iraq to stay.

We had a chance of success with our "nation building" efforts then, and only then.

Today everyone knows that we are looking to get out of Iraq, if not now, then soon. And this makes nation building futile.

The Iraq Study Group's recommendations carefully avoided setting a time table for withdrawal. They understood that to do so was to ensure that the sectarian violence, the "civil war", was going to continue or even increase.

But a slow withdrawal with out a time table is just as bad. The problem is that the two major power groups, the Sunni and the Shia, understand that we will be gone someday.

With that in mind each group feels the need to fight from now until W-day in order to secure the best possible position for the beginning of the real civil war once we are gone.

A rather brilliant British (Scottish) historian Niall Ferguson has written some well received books alternately urging the US to pick up the UK mantle of empire or lambasting us for not taking our empire seriously enough.

Niall suffers the same prism lens error as most Europeans. He looks at us from across the pond (or here where he now teaches) and expects that we want to do what all European powers did when they had global dominance... annex territory and teach "civilization".

But we don't. We just want a modicum of global stability so that we can make money. And we are not racially pure or egotistical [self-confident] enough to think that our way of life is really the best, or good enough to export [you know a better one?].

With this in mind we might just need to give up on playing anything more than "globo-cop". Sure, our navy, just like Britain's once, patrols the high seas and keeps the shipping lanes open. Our carriers are always on line world wide to project power and stop ethnic cleansing (as in Kosovo, and as it should, but isn't, in Africa).

But that is as far as it goes. We are not capable, as a nation, of creating or reforming other nations on the ground. And today there appears no one cocksure as Britain once was, except maybe China, and therefore capable of creating the empire that Nial seems to long for.

Would you like rice with your Big Mac?

Hat Tip: Belmont Club

Sean: Saturday, December 02, 2006 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere