Sunday, 3/23/14

    1. Orchestral March Madness
    2. How much is that Congressman in the Window?
    3. Douthat Answers Reader Questions
    4. Politics as usual: mutual supporter outrage


It’s March Madness time, but not all of us care all that much about college basketball. So for the Rest of Us, there’s orchestral March Madness.

In Region 1, I’m picking the Faure Requiem (12) to pull an upset over Sibelius Symphony #2 (5).

And if anyone from Region 4 makes it to the finals, I’ll be stunned.  Holst – The Planets at the top of the bracket? C’mon!


If you’ve been curious about just how much it does take to buy a Congressman, they’re working on an empirical answer.

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, of UC Berkeley and Yale University respectively, partnered with CREDO Action, a left-leaning advocacy group to conduct their measurements in the midst of a real-world lobbying push. In this experiment, CREDO had affiliated donors request meetings with 191 Congressional offices, but only mentioned their history of donations in a random third of the initial requests. The meeting requests were identical, except for referring to the senders as either “local constituents” or “local campaign donors.”

The advocates were five times more likely to meet with either the Congressperson him or herself or the Chief of Staff when the initial request mentioned donations. There was no discussion of explicit quid pro quo dealings in the message or at the meeting, but prior donations had, in essence, bought access to senior, decision-making staff.


Q: It’s clear that, as a Christian, you disagree with the ‘New Atheists’ about many things. But you seem unaware about how out of touch your particular version of Christianity is with the vast majority of those who claim to be Christian.

Why don’t you write a blog post condemning the theology/philosophy/ethics of the Christians with whom you obviously have little in common? (I think you’ll discover that you have more in common with most irreligious people than you do with fellow Christians.)

—Mark B., Toronto

A: I’m actually quite aware that many of my fellow believers don’t share all of my opinions! But I’d make two points in defense of the subjects I take up on the blog and in the column, and then throw one point back at you.

First, I think it’s a good idea for a writer to try to be useful to his audience, in the sense of provoking interesting arguments, and raising points his readers might not otherwise consider. And mystrong impression is that the Times’ readership (and I’m including religious as well as secular subscribers) does not need regular instruction about the intellectual problems with, say, premillennial dispensationalism or “name it and claim it” prosperity theology, and that it’s a far better thing — especially in an era when fundamentalism’s political influence is waning rapidly — for me to challenge and discuss ideas that actually have a strong purchase among the audience that reads my work ….

(Ross Douthat, Your Questions, My Answers, Part III) I thought that was an interesting question and a very good beginning of an answers. The rest of the answer was good, too, but one can only copy and paste a limited amount of copyrighted stuff.

Douthat also answers this question:

Q: Why do you think George W. Bush turned out to be such a bad president? I’ve heard a lot of character/personality explanations over the years (he’s stupid etc) but do you think there might be a structural reason why the GOP nominated him, or how his presidency functioned that might explain it? Or is it basically just his fault after all?

And in Part II, he fielded this one:

Q: Name three conservative criticisms of President Obama that you think are unfair.



I had a Facebook exchange with a friend from 45-50 years ago, now living on one of our left coasts. He claimed that Democrats “supported” Eisenhower and Dubya when they declined to intervene militarily in Hungary and Georgia, respectively, but now the GOP is “outraged” that Obama didn’t “launch an attack” on Ukraine.

Having decried hawkish nonsense almost daily during the Ukraine and Crimea kerfuffles, I can’t deny a grain of truth to that exaggeration, but there’s more (and less) to it than that.

The GOP thinks it has an edge over Democrats on toughness of foreign policy. They’re going to give grief to Democrat Presidents over inaction on foreign goings-on just to promote the Republican brand. That’s true. But the Democrats do the same sort of thing to Republicans on domestic policy when they think a Republican President is soft on [racism, sexism, poverty, etc.]  Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal has an example from Monday, when Obama decried the evil heartlessness of Republicans in Miami.

In other words, it’s politics as usual, with both sides amply hypocritical. And I’m not letting either side bug me.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

About readerjohn

I am a retired lawyer and an Orthodox Christian, living in a collapsing civilization, the modern West. There are things I'll miss when it's gone. There are others I won't. That it is collapsing is partly due to calculated subversion, summarized by the moniker "deathworks." This blog is now dedicated to exposing and warring against those deathwork - without ceasing to spread a little light.
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