The Moderate Voice » MARK DANIELS http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Wed, 29 Oct 2014 01:34:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Thrilled by Francis’ Call to Mission http://themoderatevoice.com/178723/thrilled-by-francis-call-to-mission/ http://themoderatevoice.com/178723/thrilled-by-francis-call-to-mission/#comments Fri, 15 Mar 2013 01:52:10 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=178723 Words spoken by the new Roman Catholic leader, Pope Francis 1, in an informal homily delivered to the College of Cardinals today, thrilled me. (Thrilled is not one of my usual verbs. But that’s exactly how I felt.) From The Los Angeles Times account of the Mass at which Francis preached: Stressing the power of [...]

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Words spoken by the new Roman Catholic leader, Pope Francis 1, in an informal homily delivered to the College of Cardinals today, thrilled me. (Thrilled is not one of my usual verbs. But that’s exactly how I felt.) From The Los Angeles Times account of the Mass at which Francis preached:

Stressing the power of prayer, Francis told the cardinals, “He who does
not pray to the Lord prays to the devil. When we don’t proclaim Jesus Christ, we proclaim the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.”

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and
when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the
Lord. We are worldly.”

He added, “We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord.”

Francis issued a strong warning to the cardinals, telling them the
Catholic Church risks becoming a compassionate nongovernment
organization unless it sticks to its spiritual path.

Building a solid Church, he added, was vital to stop it from crumbling like a “sand castle” built by children.

[To read the remainder of the post, go here. Be warned that what I write there as a Lutheran Christian pastor is overtly Christian. Just a loving warning.]

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The 3 Things Holding Up John Brennan’s Nomination http://themoderatevoice.com/177693/the-3-things-holding-up-john-brennans-nomination/ http://themoderatevoice.com/177693/the-3-things-holding-up-john-brennans-nomination/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 22:59:16 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=177693 Here. One wonders how long a shadow these three things will cast on history’s evaluation of the Obama Administration, not to mention policy decisions taken by future administrations. [My personal blog is here.]

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Here.

One wonders how long a shadow these three things will cast on history’s evaluation of the Obama Administration, not to mention policy decisions taken by future administrations.

[My personal blog is here.]

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The Inspiring Story of ‘Curiosity’s Landing on Mars http://themoderatevoice.com/175672/the-inspiring-story-of-curiositys-landing-on-mars/ http://themoderatevoice.com/175672/the-inspiring-story-of-curiositys-landing-on-mars/#comments Sun, 10 Feb 2013 03:53:41 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=175672 NASA’s compelling video about Curiosity‘s final seven minutes before landing on the surface of Mars is exciting to watch! Here’s a Spencer Michels’ report on the Mars lander as presented on this past Friday’s PBS News Hour. Watch New Discoveries From NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ Rover’s Mars Mission on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour. [For the [...]

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NASA’s compelling video about Curiosity‘s final seven minutes before landing on the surface of Mars is exciting to watch!

Here’s a Spencer Michels’ report on the Mars lander as presented on this past Friday’s PBS News Hour.

[For the rest of my take on Curiosity and government-funded space exploration, go here.]

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That Dodge Ad http://themoderatevoice.com/175172/that-dodge-ad/ http://themoderatevoice.com/175172/that-dodge-ad/#comments Mon, 04 Feb 2013 04:44:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=175172 Here’s a video of the Dodge truck ad shown during the Super Bowl. Here, from this Christian’s perspective, is what I think of it. Quick summary: I don’t like it.

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Here’s a video of the Dodge truck ad shown during the Super Bowl.

Here, from this Christian’s perspective, is what I think of it. Quick summary: I don’t like it.

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Meet George Jetson http://themoderatevoice.com/175027/meet-george-jetson/ http://themoderatevoice.com/175027/meet-george-jetson/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2013 03:08:53 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=175027 Twelve concept devices we can only wish were for real. Very cool!

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Twelve concept devices we can only wish were for real. Very cool!

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Long-Time Users of Violent Video Games More Aggressive http://themoderatevoice.com/175024/long-time-users-of-violent-video-games-more-aggressive/ http://themoderatevoice.com/175024/long-time-users-of-violent-video-games-more-aggressive/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2013 02:59:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=175024 Previous research has shown a link between extended use of violent video games and increased aggression and anger by players. But now a new study conducted at The Ohio State University confirms it: [Read the rest of the post here.]

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Previous research has shown a link between extended use of violent video games and increased aggression and anger by players. But now a new study conducted at The Ohio State University confirms it:

[Read the rest of the post here.]

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Did You Hear the One About the Angry Pastor and the Restaurant Server Who Went Viral? http://themoderatevoice.com/175021/did-you-hear-the-one-about-the-angry-pastor-and-the-restaurant-server-who-went-viral/ http://themoderatevoice.com/175021/did-you-hear-the-one-about-the-angry-pastor-and-the-restaurant-server-who-went-viral/#comments Sat, 02 Feb 2013 02:53:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=175021 My buddy, Steve Sjogren, first alerted me to the image of a receipt on which a pastor refused to leave a tip because she already gave 10% to God. He suggested I might want to blog on the story. Since then, I’ve learned more of the details: A Friday night meal at Applebee’s resulted in [...]

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My buddy, Steve Sjogren, first alerted me to the image of a receipt on which a pastor refused to leave a tip because she already gave 10% to God. He suggested I might want to blog on the story.

Since then, I’ve learned more of the details:

A Friday night meal at Applebee’s resulted in more than either the
customer or a waitress working that night bargained for after a pastor’s
refusal to pay a tip was shared online.

Though the embarrassed patron has apologized for her actions, the old
adage of the customer always being right may have some truth to it, as
the waitress who posted photo evidence of the tip snub lost her job for
doing so.

The trouble began last Friday, when Pastor Alois Bell went to the
local chain restaurant with several others following a service at Truth
in the World Deliverance Ministries.

When the bill came, she did not include a tip on the signed copy of her receipt. She did, however, include the reason why.

“I give God 10 [percent],” the note on the receipt read. “Why do you get 18?”

The waitress, who has been identified only as Chelsea by The Consumerist,
posted a picture of the note on the popular user-powered news site
Reddit, along with the caption, “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay
for my rent and groceries.”

“I originally posted the note as a lighthearted joke,” she told The
Consumerist. “I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical.
I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it
entertaining.”

Her post instantly got the attention of other users, and eventually
the news media. The popular story also got back to its source – Bell –
on Wednesday, though she was less amused than others who had seen it
before her. She called the Applebee’s where she had eaten to voice her
frustration over the sharing of the image, which includes her signature.

Chelsea was fired by managers at the restaurant following the call,
despite reportedly being a model employee before this incident…

In an interview with The Smoking Gun,
Bell apologized for her actions, which she described as “lapse in [her]
character and judgment,” adding that she did leave a $6 cash tip on the
table for the waitress who served them that night – who was not
Chelsea.

“My heart is really broken,” she was quoted as saying. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”

Is billing customers 18% for tips a good policy? Probably not and probably not smart either. While many restaurant patrons are no doubt cheap, inconsiderate of the hard work done by servers and other restaurant personnel, a customer alienated because of a set charge for tips is not likely to return, meaning no business and no tips.

Was Applebee’s right in firing the server? Probably. Whether it was in the company manual or not, she seems to have willfully violated the privacy of another person for what she characterizes as a lighthearted prank. It hardly seems that.

Was the pastor wrong to refuse to pay the tip and to do so invoking both God and her calling as a pastor? I feel so. I also think that she was right to apologize.

Here’s a look at the receipt and Pastor Bell’s note.

The entire incident evokes all sorts of thoughts and feelings from me.

[Read the entire post here. Warning: The rest of the post is overtly Christian, based on my reactions as a Christian pastor to an incident involving a Christian pastor.]

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That “Presidential Grub” is Resilient Stuff http://themoderatevoice.com/174864/that-presidential-grub-is-resilient-stuff/ http://themoderatevoice.com/174864/that-presidential-grub-is-resilient-stuff/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:36:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=174864 Ann Althouse makes it plain that she thinks departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was shooting less than straight when she said that isn’t presently inclined to run for the presidency in 2016. Althouse asked her readers to “assess the degree of [baloney]” (my translation) in Clinton’s statement. But I don’t think one can assess [...]

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Ann Althouse makes it plain that she thinks departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was shooting less than straight when she said that isn’t presently inclined to run for the presidency in 2016. Althouse asked her readers to “assess the degree of [baloney]” (my translation) in Clinton’s statement.

But I don’t think one can assess Clinton too much blame for being disingenuous about her White House ambitions.

For one thing, even in this era of “it’s campaign time all the time,” it’s not “nice” to admit wanting to be President when crews are still cleaning up after the most recent Inauguration, even though those who run without craving the office like cocaine are dismissed for lacking “fire in the belly.”

[To see the entire post, go here.]

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Do You Get Facebook Envy? http://themoderatevoice.com/174341/do-you-get-facebook-envy/ http://themoderatevoice.com/174341/do-you-get-facebook-envy/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 17:18:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=174341 Have you ever trolled through your news feed on Facebook, observed the seemingly perfect lives of your “friends” and felt that your own life wasn’t as fulfilling as theirs? If you’ve had such feelings, it appears you’re not alone. A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world’s largest [...]

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Have you ever trolled through your news feed on Facebook, observed the seemingly perfect lives of your “friends” and felt that your own life wasn’t as fulfilling as theirs?

If you’ve had such feelings, it appears you’re not alone.

A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant
envy on Facebook, the world’s largest social network that now has over
one billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social
comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after
visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people
who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

If you attach much credibility to the postings of those Facebook friends who seem to use most of their posts to brag about how wonderful their lives, children, parents, spouses, children, and vacations are, I could understand how you might develop a case of “Facebook envy.”

But my experience suggests that the postings of some on Facebook are the…

[To read the whole thing go here.]

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Any Thoughts on This Ad? http://themoderatevoice.com/174200/any-thoughts-on-this-ad/ http://themoderatevoice.com/174200/any-thoughts-on-this-ad/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 01:50:29 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=174200 Let me know in the comments.

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Let me know in the comments.

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One Congregation’s Prayers for President Obama’s Inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend http://themoderatevoice.com/173997/one-congregations-prayers-for-president-obamas-inauguration-on-martin-luther-king-jr-weekend/ http://themoderatevoice.com/173997/one-congregations-prayers-for-president-obamas-inauguration-on-martin-luther-king-jr-weekend/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2013 03:10:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=173997 Here. To the extent you may want to, I hope that you can join in this prayer. God bless our President.

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Here.

To the extent you may want to, I hope that you can join in this prayer.

God bless our President.

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Seinfeld Was Wrong; I Was Interested in This http://themoderatevoice.com/173153/seinfeld-was-wrong-i-was-interested-in-this/ http://themoderatevoice.com/173153/seinfeld-was-wrong-i-was-interested-in-this/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 14:47:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=173153 Despite his prediction at the beginning, I was interested in this interview Jerry Seinfeld gave to The New York Times. I’ve always found his bits funny, but confession time: I’ve never watched a single episode of the Seinfeld sitcom. [Read the whole post here.]

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Despite his prediction at the beginning, I was interested in this interview Jerry Seinfeld gave to The New York Times.

I’ve always found his bits funny, but confession time: I’ve never watched a single episode of the Seinfeld sitcom.

[Read the whole post here.]

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“Can You Limit Your Sitting and Sleeping to Just 23-1/2 Hours a Day?” http://themoderatevoice.com/173133/can-you-limit-your-sitting-and-sleeping-to-just-23-12-hours-a-day/ http://themoderatevoice.com/173133/can-you-limit-your-sitting-and-sleeping-to-just-23-12-hours-a-day/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 04:41:55 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=173133 That’s the question Dr. Mike Evans asks at the end of this 9-1/2 minute video which, in a compelling, fun, and content-rich format, gives us all plenty of “food” for thought and may incite us to get off our duffs to walk for a half-hour a day. Watching the video is required for members of [...]

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That’s the question Dr. Mike Evans asks at the end of this 9-1/2 minute video which, in a compelling, fun, and content-rich format, gives us all plenty of “food” for thought and may incite us to get off our duffs to walk for a half-hour a day.

Watching the video is required for members of the insurance plan to which clergy who wish to get some health discounts. (Good idea, huh?)

But I’d have watched the video anyway.

Watch it yourself: It really could change your life!

[This was cross-posted over on my personal blog, where I occasionally post about health matters.

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Swonk Summarizes Latest Jobs Numbers http://themoderatevoice.com/172629/swonk-summarizes-latest-jobs-numbers/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172629/swonk-summarizes-latest-jobs-numbers/#comments Sat, 05 Jan 2013 20:01:01 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172629 If you caught Diane Swonk’s appearance on CNN earlier this afternoon, you caught most of this. But, here, on her company’s blog site, she gives a good snapshot of the latest jobs numbers and their implications for the overall economy. She’s very good at doing this. Her bottom line: The labor market continues to heal, [...]

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If you caught Diane Swonk’s appearance on CNN earlier this afternoon, you caught most of this. But, here, on her company’s blog site, she gives a good snapshot of the latest jobs numbers and their implications for the overall economy. She’s very good at doing this.

Her bottom line:

The labor market continues to heal, but at too slow of a pace to reengage the long-term unemployed and the young. This, along with the battles yet to be fought on the budget front, will keep the Fed doing all it can to support growth in the first half of the year. Long-term asset purchases are likely to continue through the end of the year, unless some sort of miracle comes out of Washington by March.

[I blog regularly at my personal site here.]

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“They could spend seven hours a day doing that?” http://themoderatevoice.com/172566/they-could-spend-seven-hours-a-day-doing-that/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172566/they-could-spend-seven-hours-a-day-doing-that/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 22:54:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172566 This video is from a few years back, but it’s worth viewing again. McCullough’s response to the last question is the clincher. By the way, The Greater Journey, the McCullough book which occupies most of the attention in this interview is fantastic! Thanks to my son for sending out the link to this video.   [...]

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This video is from a few years back, but it’s worth viewing again.

McCullough’s response to the last question is the clincher.

By the way, The Greater Journey, the McCullough book which occupies most of the attention in this interview is fantastic!

Thanks to my son for sending out the link to this video.

 

[This has been cross-posted at my personal blog.]

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Who Are These “Celebrities”? http://themoderatevoice.com/172494/who-are-these-celebrities/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172494/who-are-these-celebrities/#comments Fri, 04 Jan 2013 02:04:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172494 Saw this magazine cover while shopping today at Costco. The cover says it has the scoop on, “What Tore Them Apart.” My first thought? “Who are they?” I wasn’t interested enough in learning who they are to do a Google search. It just struck me what our celebrity culture has come to. Once upon a [...]

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Saw this magazine cover while shopping today at Costco.

The cover says it has the scoop on, “What Tore Them Apart.”

My first thought? “Who are they?”

I wasn’t interested enough in learning who they are to do a Google search.

It just struck me what our celebrity culture has come to.

Once upon a time, there were a few people who were celebrities: leaders in government and other institutions, a handful of entertainers, writers, and artists, and that was about it.

[To read the whole post, go here.]

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3 Lessons Learned from My Recent Health Issues http://themoderatevoice.com/172441/3-lessons-learned-from-my-recent-health-issues/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172441/3-lessons-learned-from-my-recent-health-issues/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 18:37:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172441 [This was prepared to be shared with the people of the Logan Cancer Recovery Group this evening.] Since my last visit with you several years ago, a few things have happened in my life. In 2010, I suffered a heart attack that took out 40% of my heart. Since then, a stent was implanted in [...]

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[This was prepared to be shared with the people of the Logan Cancer Recovery Group this evening.]

Since my last visit with you several years ago, a few things have happened in my life.

In 2010, I suffered a heart attack that took out 40% of my heart. Since then, a stent was implanted in an artery that had been 100% blocked and in 2011, as a precautionary measure, I received a defibrillator/pacemaker.

Also in 2011, a small spot of melanoma was found on my left leg and I underwent an outpatient surgical procedure at the James Center at Ohio State. A biopsy showed that there was no cancer in the surrounding area.

In 2012, I developed a stubborn rash that ultimately proved to be a symptom of Celiac Disease, a genetic condition that may or may not show up in he course of a person’s life. The thinking is that all that whole wheat I was eating to keep my heart healthy triggered the activation of the Celiac Disease. Because I still had a rash and both my wife and I were getting acclimated to the new gluten-free, wheat-free diet that is the only treatment that exists for Celiac, we had to cancel a planned visit with friends who live in France.

Shortly after the Celiac diagnosis, I told an old high school classmate: “It’s no biggie. Heart, cancer, and Celiac were all on my bucket list.” We laughed and he said, “Man, you gotta get a different list.”

Now, I’m doing well. Most days I do several miles of brisk walking. My heart is steady at about 60 beats per minute. My blood pressure, which has never been an issue, is, my doctor says, “perfect.”

There’s been no hint of skin cancer on any other part of my body.

And I’m actually enjoying the gluten-free diet.

After my last physical, my doctor declared that I was in “great shape.”

I can’t claim to have experienced anything like what many of you have gone through. But I have learned some things I either didn’t know or didn’t pay much attention to before my last visit with you. They’re probably things all of you know from your experiences. Nonetheless, they’re worth remembering.

So what are some of these lessons I’ve learned?

First: Any time we receive bad news about our health, we should remember that it isn’t always our faults. We know that smoking leaves us at heightened risk for heart attack and cancer. We know that not exercising and not getting immunized leaves us susceptible to all sorts of diseases. We know that it’s not wise to drive without securing our seat belts. There are common sense precautions we all can take to reduce our risk for diseases or accidents.

But sometimes bad things happen even to cautious people.

[To read the whole thing, go here. Be warned that the last lesson I learned is overtly Christian. If this may offend you, you may want to take a pass on reading the entire post. However, I will tell you that when I made this presentation to a diverse group of people last night, nobody appeared offended.]

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Any Questions? http://themoderatevoice.com/172408/any-questions/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172408/any-questions/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2013 22:22:02 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172408 This from the Harvard Business Review‘s Daily Stat. Draw your own conclusions. JANUARY 2, 2013 Fatal Heart Attacks Decline When Workplaces Go Smoke-Free U.S. states that impose workplace smoking bans covering the entire population can expect to see about 70 fewer fatal heart attacks annually, on average, among workers ages 25 to 54, in comparison [...]

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This from the Harvard Business Review‘s Daily Stat. Draw your own conclusions.

JANUARY 2, 2013
Fatal Heart Attacks Decline When Workplaces Go Smoke-Free
U.S. states that impose workplace smoking bans covering the entire population can expect to see about 70 fewer
fatal heart attacks annually, on average, among workers ages 25 to 54,
in comparison with states having no workplace smoking bans, says a team
led by Scott Adams of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Put another
way, heart attack fatalities for that age group fall by 17% when states go from having no bans to total workplace smoking prohibitions, the researchers say. Some 36 states have workplace smoking bans of some kind, but many of the laws exclude restaurants and bars.
Source: The short-term impact of smoke-free workplace laws on fatal heart attacks

[This has been cross-posted at my personal blog.]

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Congress: Govern http://themoderatevoice.com/172276/congress-govern/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172276/congress-govern/#comments Tue, 01 Jan 2013 23:16:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172276 In the early chapters of their book, The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America, James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn explain how Theodore Roosevelt came to be the first Rooseveltian “traitor to his class,” by descending from the lofty heights of inherited social position and entering the rough world of elective politics. According to [...]

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In the early chapters of their book, The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America, James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn explain how Theodore Roosevelt came to be the first Rooseveltian “traitor to his class,” by descending from the lofty heights of inherited social position and entering the rough world of elective politics.

According to Burns and Dunn, the impulse to reform was shared by many other members of the Knickerbocker gentry from which Roosevelt came. Some even engaged in politics.

But they did so in a way that was condescending toward the lower social classes and of their partisan political organizations, always with an eye toward re-establishing the ruling status of those with proper “breeding,” who, they were sure, could overcome the social ills and undeniable corruption of machine politics.

These patricians, known as “Mugwumps,” were appalled by the waves of eastern European, Jewish, Catholic, and Irish immigrants, people they deemed too ignorant to be entrusted with the responsibility of managing the corporate structure of government. In the late nineteenth century, many of TR’s class even advocated rolling back voting rights as the sole prerogative of those who owned property.

In the end though, the Mugwumps and their class recoiled from politics. They refused to dirty their hands by doing the one thing that governance requires. They would not compromise.

As I write this, the Republican caucus of the US House of Representatives is meeting. If reports are to be believed, the caucus will be unwilling to pass the Senate fiscal measure passed early this morning, the result of a deal between Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican leader of the US Senate, which won by a vote of 89-8.

The fifty or so House Republicans, evidently including the number two man in the House, Eric Cantor, are not, like the Mugwumps, old money patricians.

But they do appear to have a similar aversion to compromise. Some do, it seems, informed by the same vanity that rendered the Mugwumps politically impotent: They would rather be critics who remain ideologically pure than participants in governance who take tough choices and taint their political virginity by meeting the other guy halfway.

Other Republican caucus members may torpedo the deal because of their well-founded fears that compromise will bring heavily bankrolled primary challengers to them in the 2014 elections.

But they–along with intransigent liberal Democrats–need to remember that people don’t elect them to perpetually campaign, to function no more as pundits with offices in the Cannon, Longworth, Ford, and Rayburn buildings.

Ideological purity may, in America’s severely gerrymandered US House districts, ensure re-election in districts that don’t reflect the political sentiments of the American people. But when will the ideologues of both parties, with particular emphasis on about four dozen Republican House members at the moment, reach the same conclusion that TR reached, that compromise, getting one’s hands dirty according to one’s own ideological lights, is the only way governance can happen?

We don’t elect people to public office just to give them permission to keep on campaigning. We elect them to govern.

Members of both Congress: Get your hands dirty. Make deals. Govern. That’s what Americans do.

[UPDATE: The House passed the Senate's modest fiscal bill on January 1, around 11:00 PM. There's still a lot of work to be done for the new Congress, which will be sworn in today.]

[I blog usually on entirely different subjects, here. I hasten to add that this post reflect only my opinion and isn't intended to reflect a religious conviction based on my faith or calling as a pastor.]

Congress image via shutterstock.com

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Snow in the Church Garden http://themoderatevoice.com/172026/snow-in-the-church-garden/ http://themoderatevoice.com/172026/snow-in-the-church-garden/#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2012 18:53:29 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=172026 Like many others last night, we got snow here in southeastern Ohio, our first significant accumulation of the season. I took this video of the church garden at 7:30 this morning. To me, it’s beautiful enough for you to ignore the creaking of the wood floor as I shift my weight around and the sound [...]

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Like many others last night, we got snow here in southeastern Ohio, our first significant accumulation of the season. I took this video of the church garden at 7:30 this morning. To me, it’s beautiful enough for you to ignore the creaking of the wood floor as I shift my weight around and the sound of my wife busily washing a pan in the kitchen downstairs. Enjoy!

[My personal blog is here.]

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Do Tote Bags or Charitable Deductions Help Giving? http://themoderatevoice.com/171999/do-thank-you-gifts-or-the-charitable-deduction-cheapen-the-giving-process/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171999/do-thank-you-gifts-or-the-charitable-deduction-cheapen-the-giving-process/#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2012 04:03:08 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171999 Here’s yesterday’s installment of The Daily Stat from the Harvard Business Review: DECEMBER 27, 2012 Why You Don’t Like Donating to Charities That Offer Thank-You Gifts Research participants were willing to donate 38% less, on average, to public broadcasting if the U.S. nonprofit offered a thank-you gift, in this case a pen, say George E. [...]

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Here’s yesterday’s installment of The Daily Stat from the Harvard Business Review:

DECEMBER 27, 2012
Why You Don’t Like Donating to Charities That Offer Thank-You Gifts
Research participants were willing to donate 38%
less, on average, to public broadcasting if the U.S. nonprofit offered a
thank-you gift, in this case a pen, say George E. Newman and Y. Jeremy
Shen of Yale University. A promised gift of a tote bag brought intended
donations down 17%.
A thank-you gift creates ambiguity in the donor’s mind about whether
the donation is supporting the charity or is a quid-pro-quo, the
researchers say.
Source: The counterintuitive effects of thank-you gifts on charitable giving

Frankly, thank you gifts have never enticed me to make a contribution to a not-for-profit organization.

In fact, they act as a reverse incentive on me, making it less likely that I will give.

Rightly or wrongly, I have a visceral reaction that goes something like this: If they can afford to give me something for my contribution, maybe they don’t need my money. Maybe, I think, they could save a few bucks and lower their cost of operation by not buying thank you gifts.

Now, I’m sure that at least some of the thank you gifts offered by not-for-profits are donated by corporate sponsors who, in turn, are able to write the donations off on their taxes.

But that raises another issue. Even though taxpayers, individual or corporate, would be crazy not to take advantage of the charitable deduction of our tax laws, I’m not a fan.

There are several reasons for this.

[To read the entire post, please go here.]

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Anger + Popcorn= A Mess… http://themoderatevoice.com/171961/anger-popcorn-a-mess/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171961/anger-popcorn-a-mess/#comments Fri, 28 Dec 2012 20:03:12 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171961 Anger + Gun= A Tragedy. Rev. Dr. Dwight Moody, a Baptist pastor and a professor, wrote several years ago of how people taking guns into their misunderstandings and disagreements elevates the stakes in conflict situations. Here, anyway, Moody doesn’t touch the subjects of gun control or people’s Second Amendment rights. He objects to the “gun [...]

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Anger + Gun= A Tragedy.

Rev. Dr. Dwight Moody, a Baptist pastor and a professor, wrote several years ago of how people taking guns into their misunderstandings and disagreements elevates the stakes in conflict situations.

Here, anyway, Moody doesn’t touch the subjects of gun control or people’s Second Amendment rights. He objects to the “gun culture,” which means, I take it, our culture’s attitudes about guns.

Agree or disagree with Moody’s request of gun owners, his contrasting equations are undeniably accurate and leave us all with something to think about.

[My personal blog is here.]

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Got Any Unused Gift Cards? http://themoderatevoice.com/171754/got-any-unused-gift-cards/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171754/got-any-unused-gift-cards/#comments Wed, 26 Dec 2012 15:40:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171754 If you’re like me, just one day after this Christmas, you may have realized that you still have holiday gift cards left over from last year that you haven’t used fully. Holiday gift cards can be a sweet deal for retailers since, in some states, after the sale, recipients leave hundreds of redeemable dollars unclaimed [...]

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If you’re like me, just one day after this Christmas, you may have realized that you still have holiday gift cards left over from last year that you haven’t used fully.

Holiday gift cards can be a sweet deal for retailers since, in some states, after the sale, recipients leave hundreds of redeemable dollars unclaimed and in the retailers’ coffers.

Other states however, don’t let retailers get off so easily.

In any case, use your gift cards! The money’s been spent already. So, you may as well take advantage of it.

Check out the following, from today’s Harvard Business Review Daily Stat:

DECEMBER 26, 2012
Americans Carrying Around Big Money in Unused Gift Cards
The typical American home holds an average of $300 in unredeemed gift cards, according to an estimate reported by Rocky B. Cummings and Joseph Carr in the Journal of State Taxation. These cards are often misplaced, accidentally thrown out, or only partially redeemed. Between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unused, the authors say. But retailers don’t always benefit: Many states require issuers to report unclaimed balances as abandoned property after a prescribed period of time.
Source: Holiday Gift Card Season is Upon Us—Has Your State Been Naughty or Nice?

[Crossposted at my personal blog.]

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Remembering Valley Forge http://themoderatevoice.com/171746/remembering-valley-forge/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171746/remembering-valley-forge/#comments Wed, 26 Dec 2012 11:05:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171746 The Valley Forge National Park has a tremendous set of web posts delving into the history of the critical, life-threatening encampment of the fledgling United States Army under the command of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. You can read the first profile of the people involved in this encampment, which began on December 19, [...]

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The Valley Forge National Park has a tremendous set of web posts delving into the history of the critical, life-threatening encampment of the fledgling United States Army under the command of George Washington during the Revolutionary War. You can read the first profile of the people involved in this encampment, which began on December 19, 1777 and continued through a bitterly cold winter, here.

If you’ve never been to Valley Forge, I recommend a visit highly. It helps make vivid all the sacrifices made and hardships endured by Washington and his army in order to keep the fledgling American republic alive and to pursue the war of survival and attrition needed to make independence from Great Britain possible.

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Happy Second Day of Christmas! http://themoderatevoice.com/171743/happy-second-day-of-christmas/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171743/happy-second-day-of-christmas/#comments Wed, 26 Dec 2012 10:58:41 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171743 Happy second day of Christmas! Or, if you like, Happy Saint Stephen’s Day.  Each December, one of the most-played and sung tunes is The Twelve Days of Christmas. What exactly is that all about? Well, Christmas is actually not just one day for Christians, but a twelve day season, culminating in Epiphany, a day reserved [...]

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Happy second day of Christmas! Or, if you like, Happy Saint Stephen’s Day

Each December, one of the most-played and sung tunes is The Twelve Days of Christmas. What exactly is that all about? Well, Christmas is actually not just one day for Christians, but a twelve day season, culminating in Epiphany, a day reserved for the remembrance of the coming of wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. (And the precursor for our society’s annual custom of wretched gift-giving excess. But I’m getting ahead of myselfe.

Since on the Christian calendar, Christmas just began yesterday, I thought that it might be helpful to re-run an old tried and true post I first wrote at least seven years ago, explaining the Church Year. Hope you find it helpful.

The Church Year is a human invention. Observing it won’t make us better than anybody else. Nor does keeping it “save” a person from sin and death.

But the Church Year is one of those customs or traditions designed to help people know the God we meet in Jesus and also help believers to grow in their faith.

The Church Year is built around three great festivals: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.

Christmas, of course, is the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Easter is the day remembering Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Pentecost remembers the occasion fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection and ten days after His ascension into heaven when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ praying disciples and gave birth to the Church.

Historically, Easter was the first holiday (that word, by the way, contracts two words: holy day) that Christians began to celebrate.

This only makes sense, as it’s Jesus’ resurrection that gives Christians hope for this life and the one to come. While early Christians did seem to remember Easter on a Sunday falling at the beginning of the Jewish Passover, the practice of the first Christians, all of whom were Jews like Jesus, was to worship on the traditional Jewish Sabbath–from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday–and to celebrate every Sunday as a little Easter. (Some echo of this can be found in the Gospel of John’s occasional references to an “eighth day,” a new beginning in a new week.)

[To read the entire post, go here.]

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What If the Newtown Shooter Had Been Black, Muslim, or Latino? http://themoderatevoice.com/171385/what-if-the-newtown-shooter-had-been-black-muslim-or-latino/ http://themoderatevoice.com/171385/what-if-the-newtown-shooter-had-been-black-muslim-or-latino/#comments Sun, 23 Dec 2012 04:26:02 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=171385 Would the reporting of the story have differed? The provocative thoughts of a young blogger have me thinking…and praying.

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Would the reporting of the story have differed? The provocative thoughts of a young blogger have me thinking…and praying.

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Britain’s Police Are Still Unarmed: Why? http://themoderatevoice.com/170866/britains-police-are-still-unarmed-why/ http://themoderatevoice.com/170866/britains-police-are-still-unarmed-why/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 16:29:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=170866 And, despite the dangers, overwhelmingly wish to remain so. This is interesting to consider. George Bernard Shaw once called the US and Great Britain two countries divided by a common language. Despite the intense interactions between us, to this day the cultures of the two most prominent English-speaking lands are very different. In coming days, [...]

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And, despite the dangers, overwhelmingly wish to remain so.

This is interesting to consider. George Bernard Shaw once called the US and Great Britain two countries divided by a common language. Despite the intense interactions between us, to this day the cultures of the two most prominent English-speaking lands are very different.

In coming days, there will be debates regarding what legal measures regarding guns, assault rifles, mental health spending, and school security may need to change in the US. But it seems to me that the biggest factor contributing to the periodic occurrences of tragedies like the one in Newtown this week is cultural.

Beyond the use of guns for sport or protection, there is a glorification of gun violence that seems endemic to US culture. It’s seen in our films and our video games. It appears to have its roots in our “Wild West” facts and myths, in which firearms played an important role in the descendants of European colonists subduing the Native Americans who previously occupied this entire continent. And of course, the mythic Western lawman who was “quick on the draw,” employing guns, the “great equalizers,” to impose order on chaos, has to have played its part in our faith in guns as our protectors.

The culture of gun violence in the United States is something that cannot be addressed by laws alone. Attitudes about life will also need to change. And that, I believe, is a profoundly spiritual matter.

But if Britain’s bobbies can go about their work unarmed, can’t we dream of a culture whose attitudes about gun violence have shifted sufficiently to allow our own officers to work without guns?

[I also maintain a personal blog site here.]

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Where Was God Last Friday? http://themoderatevoice.com/170864/where-was-god-last-friday/ http://themoderatevoice.com/170864/where-was-god-last-friday/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 16:10:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=170864 One pastor’s perspective here. Also: What people need from Christians most in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. (By the way, it’s authenticity.) Warning: If you don’t want a Christian’s faith perspective on the tragedy in Newtown, please don’t read either of the linked posts. Out of respect for those of different perspectives, I haven’t [...]

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One pastor’s perspective here.

Also: What people need from Christians most in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. (By the way, it’s authenticity.)

Warning: If you don’t want a Christian’s faith perspective on the tragedy in Newtown, please don’t read either of the linked posts. Out of respect for those of different perspectives, I haven’t crossposted the pieces on The Moderate Voice. But I thought some of our readers might be interested.

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Agatha Christie, Ian McKellen, Michael Jecks, and ‘Democratic Art’ http://themoderatevoice.com/170766/agatha-christie-ian-mckellen-michael-jecks-and-democratic-art/ http://themoderatevoice.com/170766/agatha-christie-ian-mckellen-michael-jecks-and-democratic-art/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 09:32:35 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=170766 Ian McKellen reprises his role of Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings films in The Hobbit, projected to be the first of three films chronicling the prequel time before the Rings adventures. In an interview with TIME, McKellen pronounced that the one playright in whose plays he’s acted that he hates to be Agatha [...]

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Ian McKellen reprises his role of Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings films in The Hobbit, projected to be the first of three films chronicling the prequel time before the Rings adventures.

In an interview with TIME, McKellen pronounced that the one playright in whose plays he’s acted that he hates to be Agatha Christie, the noted mystery writer. McKellen claims, “I’ve done a couple of plays–misery, rubbish. No sense of what human beings are at all.”

Coincidentally, in a recent Twitter exchange with contemporary British mystery writer Michael Jecks, we agreed that Christie’s characters are somewhat thinly developed. I tweeted Jecks:

…have you read much of Agatha Christie? I just finished one of hers. She writes puzzles…
…People seem more like caricatures. Yet I find her mysteries addictive.  

In the meantime, Jecks wrote back:

Hah! You beat me to that one! Yes, but they are fun and entertaining. Turn off mind etc…
…Yes puzzles: no characterisation really, which is why actors love her. They can stamp their own mark very easily! I enjoy ‘em…

Jecks and I may seem to be saying the same thing as McKellen about Christie’s work. But I don’t think that’s entirely so.

You see, the lack of deep character development, at least in the supporting cast of characters–suspects, mainly–in Christie’s stories doesn’t necessarily denote “no sense of human beings at all.”

Clearly, she had a tremendous understanding of the human beings for whom she wrote her novels, stories, and plays.

She understood that in a workaday world of confounding mysteries, there’s nothing more appealing to our egos or to our desire for order than a mystery in which we join the hero in resolving matters and setting things right.

The proof of how well she understood these things about us is in the enduring popularity of her work, even though much of it takes place in a Jeeves and Wooster world long gone.

Christie, like Alfred Hitchcock, also understood something primal in all human beings: Our terror that, at any moment, our well-ordered world could come crashing down on us.

So, while Christie’s characters may be plastic, her understanding of the characters of those who read or viewed her works was anything but. In this, she remains lastingly insightful.

And this is why her work is more vital, more infused with character, than McKellen’s dismissal of Christie would have it.

Years ago, I remember reading an essay by Ralph Gleason in Rolling Stone about the music of Bob Dylan. Much of Dylan’s work is filled with Dylan’s penchant for, in a phrase by Joan Baez in a song about her relationship with Dylan, “keeping things vague.” Cryptic language, the meaning of which is ambiguous, can initially drive a hearer away from Dylan, not to mention the thinness of Dylan’s voice and the usual sparseness of his arrangements. But those who stick with listening to Dylan are rewarded richly. Dylan’s music, Gleason said, represents a “democratic art,” work to which each listener brings her or his experiences, fears, and hopes. Dylan, at his best, doesn’t tell you what to feel. He takes you to a place and lets you feel what you feel. That, asserted Gleason, is democratic art.

In a way, this is precisely what Christie did and still does. Actors in Christie plays or in scripts based on her stories, as Jecks pointed out, love the freedom of infusing the characters with whatever meaning or quirks they can. Readers are given the same freedom when they sit down to read a mystery by Christie.

In essence, Christie invites us to become her co-authors, to flesh out the characters she trots before us in our imaginations.

I read other authors to find fully realized characters in more realistic life situations. But that doesn’t mean, as McKellen says, that Agatha Christie had no sense of human beings at all.

I find, in fact, that she knows me, anyway, very well.

[This has been crossposted at my personal blog.]

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Major Media Purveyors: Don’t Give Mass Killers The Fame They Crave! http://themoderatevoice.com/170551/major-media-purveyors-dont-give-mass-killers-the-fame-they-crave/ http://themoderatevoice.com/170551/major-media-purveyors-dont-give-mass-killers-the-fame-they-crave/#comments Sat, 15 Dec 2012 01:49:09 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=170551 I would love for all the major media outlets–conventional network news departments, cable news channels, and internet news publishers–to engage in an act of collusion behind an idea mentioned on this evening’s PBS NewHour by David Brooks. When tragic events like today’s Connecticut shooting happen, don’t identify the alleged killer, don’t display that person’s image, [...]

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Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

I would love for all the major media outlets–conventional network news departments, cable news channels, and internet news publishers–to engage in an act of collusion behind an idea mentioned on this evening’s PBS NewHour by David Brooks.

When tragic events like today’s Connecticut shooting happen, don’t identify the alleged killer, don’t display that person’s image, don’t dig up their Facebook page, don’t track down people who know them, don’t publish any of their rants.

Refuse to give killers, like the one alleged to have perpetrated today’s rampage, publicity.

Perpetrators of the sort of horror we’ve seen today often desire a kind of dark fame for their evil actions. When some see that mass murderers get saturation coverage, seeming to hold an entire nation hostage for days, it likely incites them to go for their own twisted glory, too.

There are undoubtedly many factors contributing to the number of mass murders we have experienced in recent years. But, I beg the major news outlets to stop one of those factors in its tracks: Don’t give mass killers the fame they crave.

[This has been crossposted at my personal blog.]

LEGAL NOTICE ON CARTOON: This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to run on TMV. Reproduction elsewhere without licensing is strictly prohibited. See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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The Home Front After Pearl Harbor http://themoderatevoice.com/169949/the-home-front-after-pearl-harbor/ http://themoderatevoice.com/169949/the-home-front-after-pearl-harbor/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 14:40:09 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=169949 Fantastic pictures, accompanied by a short essay on the immediate aftermath of the December 7, 1941 attack by the forces of Imperial Japan on US military installations at Pearl Harbor, can be found here on life.time.com. Worth the short time required to read the essay and go through the slide show composed of many pictures [...]

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Fantastic pictures, accompanied by a short essay on the immediate aftermath of the December 7, 1941 attack by the forces of Imperial Japan on US military installations at Pearl Harbor, can be found here on life.time.com. Worth the short time required to read the essay and go through the slide show composed of many pictures that never were used in Life magazine, the eminent pictorial chronicler of the world before television became the force it became (used to be) and long before the Internet.

[This has also been posted on my personal blog site.]

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Corporate Political Activism May Not Be Good for Companies’ Bottom Lines http://themoderatevoice.com/169708/corporate-political-activism-may-not-be-good-for-companies-bottom-lines/ http://themoderatevoice.com/169708/corporate-political-activism-may-not-be-good-for-companies-bottom-lines/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 16:56:24 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=169708 That’s suggested by data featured in today’s Harvard Business Review Daily Stat: Big U.S. corporations that created political action committees and made other forays into politics bounced back with less bounce from the financial crisis, according to a study of S&P 500 firms by John C. Coates IV of Harvard Law School. The post-2008 increase [...]

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That’s suggested by data featured in today’s Harvard Business Review Daily Stat:

Big U.S. corporations that created political action committees and made other forays into politics bounced back with less bounce from the financial crisis, according to a study of S&P 500 firms by John C. Coates IV of Harvard Law School. The post-2008 increase in these companies’ industry-relative shareholder value was 8% lower, on average, than increases registered by politically inactive firms. Political engagement may dilute a company’s strategic focus and lead it to make wasteful investments, Coates says. (Source: Corporate Politics, Governance, and Value Before and After Citizens United)

Find the article which reveals the findings to which the Daily State refers here, in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

[My personal blog is here.]

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