The big “talk” these days—on the front pages of newspapers, on all the Sunday news shows, and all over social media—is about the effort to “defund” Obamacare as part of a Continuing Resolution, and the possibility (now likelihood) of a government shutdown come Tuesday (the old fiscal year ends, and the new one begins, at midnight on Monday night).
Sen. Ted Cruz’s valiant effort of a 21 hour filibuster-that-wasn’t-really-a-filibuster-but-really-just-a-long-speech, brought great attention to the “Defund” effort. He was joined by several senators—most notably Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Jim Inhofe and Marco Rubio. Those senators came to the floor and asked him extended questions (presumably to allow his voice a chance to rest, and perhaps to get a drink of water—although Senate rules are not only arcane but draconian—he would lose control of the floor if he had sat down, left to use the restroom, etc.).
Cruz showed himself to be quite impressive in his holding of the floor. Had it been most people (well, at least me and many I know) they would have been drooling, babbling, crossing their legs, and generally making little logical sense toward the end. Senator Cruz, however, in the last couple of hours, was answering questions posed to him cogently, and seemed ready to go longer, had the rules allowed.
The occasional Democrat who came to the floor to ask questions (and later expressed their own opinions) struck a far-from-reasonable tone. Rather, they sounded more like 7 year olds who weren’t happy that their friend wanted to play with Legos while they wanted to swing. The rhetoric devolved into name calling (“Tea Party Anarchists” was my favorite) on the Senate floor.
Sen. Cruz’s effort was intended to convince primarily the Republicans in the Senate—but any friendly Democrats, as well—not to vote for cloture on the consideration of the House Continuing Resolution 59 (which defunded Obamacare but fully funded the government otherwise), as it was, because Majority Leader Harry Reid had already filed an amendment to remove the “defunding” provision from the CR. If cloture was invoked, then all amendments and the final version of the CR could be approved in the Senate with a simple majority, which the Democrats have.
Nineteen Republicans stood against cloture, and ultimately, against funding Obamacare. Twenty-five Republicans voted with the Democrats (although many of them later voted against the CR, presumably so that they could say (as John Kerry once did) that they were for it before they were against it.
The Resolution returned to the House, and somewhat surprisingly, the House has now taken a bold stand—a bit of a compromise, but not one that will likely win in the end. They voted against Reid’s amended CR, and have sent over a new one to the Senate—one that would (among other things)—delay implementation of Obamacare for another year. Senator Reid has indicated that the Democrats won’t buy that, and given the time constraints, it seems likely that there will be no money to authorized to fund the government come Tuesday morning, and we’ll see a shut-down of some sort.
I understand the problem of military pay, Social Security payments, and so on. I also understand that federal government employees—whether I like their jobs and functions or not—are workers who likely depend on a regular paycheck. But I tend to think that the Republicans are right in drawing this line in the sand, and it’s encouraging to see them show some guts (well, except for the 25 in the Senate who didn’t…).
The problem is staggering. I frankly am not sure how it’s possible to dig ourselves out. The video above suggests the only answer: we have to seriously reconsider what we expect government to do.
In my quest for a more realistic understanding of liberty's place in history and the contemporary world, I have come to appreciate Michael Oakeshott as a resourceful, inspiring and like-minded fount of insight.
The best conversationalists, Oakeshott maintains in “The Voice of Poetry,” have the elements of self-restraint required by nomocracy: they observe certain conventions of moderation and humility, they listen to the contributions of others, and they are generally less concerned with advancing their own interests than with facilitating the conversation itself. Of course, all we have to do is to reflect on our own conversations to realize how rare such qualities are in actual human beings. They are just as rare, if not more so, in political life, where the attractions of power, honor and wealth are infinitely greater.
The Free Democrats (FDP) are considered the most liberty-leaning party in Germany. In my view, this is however only insignificantly true. Admittedly, the very few seriously liberty-leaning people of the country tend to support the FDP, but the party and most of its adherents and voters are CDU = SPD = FDP = social democrats pretty much in the mold of the Democratic party in the US. Which is why Obama is worshipped in Germany. The Green Party and Die Linke ("The Left") offer more authoritarian socialism for those who are offended by milder forms of dirigism.
The traditional and nominal social democrats (SPD) have been faring not so well recently, simply because there is such a variety of social democratic flavours available from the other parties. Social democracy is the great winner in postwar Germany, but not the social democratic party.
The good thing is that civil society is very strong in Germany. The rule of law is adhered to by the people and the state organs in every day life quite conscientiously, which is the country's strength. Thus, I love the German police, being an outstanding example of the soundness of the rule of law - an experience quite alien, it appears, to many Americans.
Practically, Germans are pretty fond of the rule of law, while it is the privilege of politics to undermine that liberty-anchored substratum of society. And only if called upon to do some cheap talk and vent some sentiment in terms of Weltanschauung, i.e. in their capacity as politically (half-)conscious citizens, Germans tend to be pretty gleichgeschaltet along the lines of a leftist creed. Talk to them about politics and you get a graphic idea as to what the term rationally ignorant means, or rather does to people.
The political spectacle is really a bombastical side show in which rationally ignorant voters regurgitate what the media and the educational system condition them to say. For the time being, the resulting cheap talk is less significant than everyday behaviour, which is of a far more sensible nature.
In a variant of Professor Higgins' verdict on the French, who, he feels, don't care what they say as long as they pronounce it properly, the Germans don't care what they say as long as it is what they have been TOLD to say.
As a member of the German parliament explained to me in great detail recently, actual policies are made not by the legislative but by the bureaucracies behind it, a world in its own right.
So for the time being (i.e. until this fragile system tilts in favour of some serious fanaticism), the people support the politicians - thinking they are more important than they actually are, feeling comforted by the idea of being safely governed; and so the politicians can play their game in front of and behind the stage of public self-importance rather than ruling too much, while effective policies are made by an inert administrative stratum, and ordinary citizens simply lead decent lives.
I don't understand the difference between Right and Left that the commentator refers to, he probably refers to different degrees if leftism, but his remarks will give you a rough idea of the outcome of the election, which I decided to take part in as it gave me a rare opportunity to see my elementary school from the inside after several hundred years.
Merkel will almost certainly be Chancellor as her conservative bloc
scored 41.5 percent of the vote, way ahead of anyone else. But in
another important sense this is not a victory for Angela Merkel or the
German Right at all. Her Free Democrat former partners in coalition
failed to cross the five percent threshold necessary for parliamentary
If you add up the votes among the parties that made it into parliament
-- Social Democrats on 26 percent; Greens on 8.4 percent; Left party on
8.6 percent -- the Left has actually beaten the Right.
St. Thomas was a huge heavy bull of a man, fat and slow and quiet; very mild and magananimous but not very sociable; shy, even apart from the humility of holiness; and abstracted, even apart from his occasional and carefully concealed experiences of trance and ecstasy [...]
It was the outstanding fact about St.Thomas that he loved books and lived in books; that he lived the very life of the clerk or scholar in The Canterbury Tales, who would rather have a hundred books of Aristotle and his philosophy than any wealth the world could give him. When asked for what he thanked God most, he answered simply, "I have understood every page I ever read."
Edward Feser is a philosopher whose blog I tend to follow. His latest post brings you in contact with the intellectual world of Aquinas - fascinating.
A reader asks how I would “answer [the] challenge that it
appears the Bible suggests our souls in communion with God are better
off than those of us here alive in this ‘vale of tears.’” After all,
St. Paul says that “we would rather be away from the body and at home
with the Lord,” and Catholics pray to the saints, who are obviously in a
better state than we are. Isn’t this clearly incompatible with the
claim that the soul after death is in a “radically diminished state”?
Furthermore, wouldn’t the conscious experiences that Christian doctrine
attributes to the saved and the damned after death be metaphysically
impossible on an Aristotelian-Thomistic conception of the soul?
Wouldn’t a Cartesian view of the soul be more in harmony with
Christianity? Do we have here a case “where Aristotelian philosophy is
just at odds with revealed Christian truth”?
While the paleo-diet definitely does me good, neither do I avoid junk food (I love it, but do not eat it excessively) nor do I choose and judge diets that work for me on ideological grounds - see more at the bottom of the post.
Increasingly, I begin to feel that large numbers of libertarians are in some vital respects no different from followers of other political movements: they have a strong desire to be part of a group that takes care of their need to be morally anchored in rigid ground and part of a superior social whole. Therefore they are prone to develop their own standards of political correctness, that is: they let themselves be led by cues and symbols, fetishes and taboos.
Interestingly, I find some of his criticism can be applied to libertarians, in as much as they have become "symbol-oriented" or "auto politically correct" (my terms, should posterity care) as opposed to being critically rational.
Uneconomic and economistic at the same time
Too Little Economics
For instance: The libertarian criticism of the state, in so far as it is (crypto-)anarchist in orientation, i.e. (unconsciously) taking a world without the state for its ideal, is renouncing basic economic wisdom ("there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs"), and like left thinking, ignores the realism of the incremental (the perfectibility of the state) in favour of the illusion of the categorical (the absolutely evil character of the state).
Too Much Economics
At the same time, politically correct libertarianism is in other respects economistic, i.e. it perpetuates the attitude described by Tom Bethell in his The Noblest Triumph thus:
"Starting with Adam Smith, all the leading economists came from just those countries where the essential legal preconditions for real economic advance did exist. So they took them for granted" (p.26)
And impalpably developed assumptions about an ideal world, a free world in which the market can regulate all human affairs, making fuzzy extra-economic struggles, negotiations and imperfect coercive, yet violence-reducing, welfare-enhancing arrangements look unnecesary.
The Freeman: Why do you think so many libertarians seem to be attracted to a paleo lifestyle?
Durant: First of all, the established food
movement—organic, plant-based—has been heavily influenced by liberal
progressives, with that ideology being most pronounced among vegans and
vegetarians. But there are many people who want to be healthy yet find
progressive ideology off-putting. So there’s demand for an alternative
approach and identity.