Flimsy Sanity: Comments on Common Dreams

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, April 18, 2008

Comments on Common Dreams

I like many of the essays on Common Dreams, but sometimes the comments say it even better. Here are a couple that I liked:

To understand the history of the 2nd Amendment, you have to understand some of the fundamental concepts of democracy as defined by the people who had just fought a long a bloody war to obtain it.

The key bit of this is that they did not want the government to have a monopoly on force. They wanted neither a well-armed and permanent police force, nor a permanent standing army. They viewed, correctly in my mind, both as essential threats to their liberty. We’ve lost that idea along the way, and today’s near-police state prison-industrial complex and the military-industrial complex show the dangers of which they were afraid.

The society they created then worked differently. There was a sheriff, but he and maybe his few deputies didn’t have the power or the force to act directly. When they needed to use force, they’d call out a ‘militia’ or a ‘posse’ of armed citizens.

What this did was keep a very democratic check on the use of force by the police. If the community thought the sheriff was out of control, they could restrict his ability to use force simply by not showing up when he tried to call for a posse. This meant that the citizens in the community always had a veto on the use of force by the police.

The same for the military. There was either no standing army, or a very small standing army. In times of national crisis, there would be callups of the militia and calls for volunteers to come serve the country. Again, this gave the citizens of the country essentially a veto power. If the country thought that a war was illegal or pointless or bad policy, then the call for militia or volunteers would be met by non-participation.

The key part to understand when looking at the second amendment is that the entire design of the society at that time was to keep the ability to use force in the hands of the citizens and not in the hands of the government. Thus, the existence of the 2nd amendment where citizens can keep and bear arms for use in these militias.

Me, while this would need some adjustment for a modern age, to me I’d still like to see us move back to something closer to this system. What I see around me in police forces and the pentagon using the monopoly on force that they’ve acquired scares me more than my fellow citizens do.
COMarc comment on Common Dreams.

Poorly informed liberals never tire of pointing to the fact that the federal govt had a surplus at the end of Clinton’s second term. This means almost nothing, particularly when one looks at how this surplus was achieved. It would have been admirable, had it been achieved by cutting defense spending, or by taxing the hell out of the rich.

But that’s not how they did it. They did it through one simple device: the stock market boom. This fed billions of capital gains taxes into the federal coffers, making the “surplus” magically appear. And the market boom grew directly from some special bits of Clinton corruption: they let Wall St insiders like Greenspan & Rubin control policy, while Wall St prostitutes like Lieberman & Schumer pushed to further deregulate the financial industry.

In other words, take away the stock market boom (itself a product of big-business corruption & deregulation), and there was no “surplus.”

And apart from the surplus, you’d be hard pressed to find a single thing Clinton did, that deserves any credit. He slyly passed the 1996 Telecom Act, which directly strengthened the media conglomerates. (Back in 1996, there was no coverage of this at all. It was literally passed behind the backs of the public — and Clinton never said a word to the public, by way of warning.) Clinton also presided over punitive cuts to welfare benefits in ‘96 — something that any good Republican would have happily done. He FAILED to cut military spending, even though the USSR had disintegrated just before he came to office. He bombed Kosovo, in a move quite similar to bombing Iraq. (Admittedly, he did this in a way that was a lot slicker than GW Bush’s clumsier but basically similar aggression). He passed NAFTA. And as independent investigative journalist Robert Parry (www.consortiumnews.com) thoroughly documents, Clinton failed to pursue investigations of several major Republican crimes — Iraqgate, Iran-Contra, Passport-gate, & the “October Surprise.” Instead, he just let the Republicans off the hook, giving them time to regroup.

Basically, Bill Clinton stood to the right of Richard Nixon. As he was just leaving office, Bush was busy stealing the presidency — and Bill didn’t say a word against it. In the years that followed, he failed to criticize the invasion of Iraq, as he was busy making millions in speaking fees, & gallivanting around the world being best buddies with Bush’s daddy.
RichM comment on Common Dreams


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