Who’s the real Lex Luthor?

While watching Superman Returns again tonight on HBO, I was once again reminded that the producers should have just asked Gene Hackman to return as Lex Luthor. Kevin Spacey’s a great actor, but Gene Hackman will always be Lex Luthor to me. (Doesn’t it give you a shudder of electricity through you just to be in the same room with me?)

Read my original review of Superman Returns. Thinking more about it now, I’d rate the movie lower than when I wrote that originally. I’m bothered by the way one subplot was left: Lois chooses Richard over Superman! That’s not the way the story works. Lois’ true love is Superman!!!!

Book Review: Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks

I decided to continue my reading this evening and read Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, undertook a study of American charitable activity to see who gives time and money, not just to organized charities but also in informal methods such as helping out neighbors or loaning money to friends and family. To his surprise, he found that across the board, conservatives are far more likely to give money and time to others than are liberals. He had bought the commonly accepted belief that liberals are more generous than are conservatives. So strong was his belief in this that he rechecked his figures from multiple times from multiple directions but could not escape the ultimate conclusion: conservatives are more generous than liberals.

In many ways, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: all the major religions promote charity as a positive obligation and, in America, religion is increasingly associated with political conservatism while irreligion is an increasing on the political Left. Similarly, survey after survey shows that those on the Left believe government has the ultimate responsibility to help the poor, while conservatives believe is falls to the community and charity. The conservative point of view is that we share a common responsibility where we must give our own time and money to help those less fortunate. Liberals prefer that the government, and by extension government employees, take care of the poor. This makes assisting the poor someone else’s job. I think Brooks missed this point when considering why liberals don’t give as much as conservatives: they believe it’s the government’s job to do so, so they don’t. Just as no one who isn’t paid to do so cleans windows at a McDonald’s, liberals don’t give as much money to help poor for the same reason: it’s somebody else’s job.

When discussing this book’s thesis on the Internet a while back, liberals trotted out some claims that, had they actually read the book, they would have found disproven. For example, it was claimed that liberals are just as generous as conservatives, they just do it differently, through the government rather than through charity. There are (at least) four problems with this. By this standard, they are generous… with someone else’s money. Second, is it really charity when it’s forced? Third, conservatives still give more even after taxes are accounted for. Fourth, taxes and government welfare spending both seem to have a negative effect on charitable giving.

Additionally, liberals claimed that conservatives only appeared to give more money to charity because they were giving to their churches. Again, Brooks disproves these claims with multiple facts. First, most churches also engage in assistance to the poor so why should the fact they give out of religious motives be held against them? Second, it turns out that religious people give more to non-religious charities than do non-religious people.

This book explodes a number of commonly held myths, and even shattered a few beliefs I had held. Definitely worth a read, and at less than 180 pages (if you skip the statistical appendix), not a time-consuming one.

Book Review: Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks

I decided to continue my reading this evening and read Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, undertook a study of American charitable activity to see who gives time and money, not just to organized charities but also in informal methods such as helping out neighbors or loaning money to friends and family. To his surprise, he found that across the board, conservatives are far more likely to give money and time to others than are liberals. He had bought the commonly accepted belief that liberals are more generous than are conservatives. So strong was his belief in this that he rechecked his figures from multiple times from multiple directions but could not escape the ultimate conclusion: conservatives are more generous than liberals.

In many ways, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: all the major religions promote charity as a positive obligation and, in America, religion is increasingly associated with political conservatism while irreligion is an increasing on the political Left. Similarly, survey after survey shows that those on the Left believe government has the ultimate responsibility to help the poor, while conservatives believe is falls to the community and charity. The conservative point of view is that we share a common responsibility where we must give our own time and money to help those less fortunate. Liberals prefer that the government, and by extension government employees, take care of the poor. This makes assisting the poor someone else’s job. I think Brooks missed this point when considering why liberals don’t give as much as conservatives: they believe it’s the government’s job to do so, so they don’t. Just as no one who isn’t paid to do so cleans windows at a McDonald’s, liberals don’t give as much money to help poor for the same reason: it’s somebody else’s job.

When discussing this book’s thesis on the Internet a while back, liberals trotted out some claims that, had they actually read the book, they would have found disproven. For example, it was claimed that liberals are just as generous as conservatives, they just do it differently, through the government rather than through charity. There are (at least) four problems with this. By this standard, they are generous… with someone else’s money. Second, is it really charity when it’s forced? Third, conservatives still give more even after taxes are accounted for. Fourth, taxes and government welfare spending both seem to have a negative effect on charitable giving.

Additionally, liberals claimed that conservatives only appeared to give more money to charity because they were giving to their churches. Again, Brooks disproves these claims with multiple facts. First, most churches also engage in assistance to the poor so why should the fact they give out of religious motives be held against them? Second, it turns out that religious people give more to non-religious charities than do non-religious people.

This book explodes a number of commonly held myths, and even shattered a few beliefs I had held. Definitely worth a read, and at less than 180 pages (if you skip the statistical appendix), not a time-consuming one.

Book Review: Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks

I decided to continue my reading this evening and read Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, undertook a study of American charitable activity to see who gives time and money, not just to organized charities but also in informal methods such as helping out neighbors or loaning money to friends and family. To his surprise, he found that across the board, conservatives are far more likely to give money and time to others than are liberals. He had bought the commonly accepted belief that liberals are more generous than are conservatives. So strong was his belief in this that he rechecked his figures from multiple times from multiple directions but could not escape the ultimate conclusion: conservatives are more generous than liberals.

In many ways, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: all the major religions promote charity as a positive obligation and, in America, religion is increasingly associated with political conservatism while irreligion is an increasing on the political Left. Similarly, survey after survey shows that those on the Left believe government has the ultimate responsibility to help the poor, while conservatives believe is falls to the community and charity. The conservative point of view is that we share a common responsibility where we must give our own time and money to help those less fortunate. Liberals prefer that the government, and by extension government employees, take care of the poor. This makes assisting the poor someone else’s job. I think Brooks missed this point when considering why liberals don’t give as much as conservatives: they believe it’s the government’s job to do so, so they don’t. Just as no one who isn’t paid to do so cleans windows at a McDonald’s, liberals don’t give as much money to help poor for the same reason: it’s somebody else’s job.

When discussing this book’s thesis on the Internet a while back, liberals trotted out some claims that, had they actually read the book, they would have found disproven. For example, it was claimed that liberals are just as generous as conservatives, they just do it differently, through the government rather than through charity. There are (at least) four problems with this. By this standard, they are generous… with someone else’s money. Second, is it really charity when it’s forced? Third, conservatives still give more even after taxes are accounted for. Fourth, taxes and government welfare spending both seem to have a negative effect on charitable giving.

Additionally, liberals claimed that conservatives only appeared to give more money to charity because they were giving to their churches. Again, Brooks disproves these claims with multiple facts. First, most churches also engage in assistance to the poor so why should the fact they give out of religious motives be held against them? Second, it turns out that religious people give more to non-religious charities than do non-religious people.

This book explodes a number of commonly held myths, and even shattered a few beliefs I had held. Definitely worth a read, and at less than 180 pages (if you skip the statistical appendix), not a time-consuming one.

Book Review: My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas

Taking it easy today, I read Clarence Thomas’ memoir My Grandfather’s Son, which covers the time period from his early childhood until his swearing-in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He describes his journey from poverty in Georgia to becoming a radical while in college and law school to returning to the conservative roots of his grandfather, who raised him from his youth.

Much of the book is taken up with incidents showing the lack of respect most liberals have for blacks, while claiming to be their stalwart supporters. His philosophy that blacks can succeed through hard work and taking responsibility for themselves drew harsh reactions from liberals throughout his career, even leading other blacks to shun him for his views. He was reminded time and again that liberals are fine with blacks who mind their place on the liberal plantation.

While reading his first experiences of this sort, I was attributing it to liberal racism which Thomas notes he experiences much more frequently than racism from conservatives, although conservatives aren’t completely innocent in that area either. But upon further reflection, I realized that it’s not necessarily racism, although racism and condescension towards blacks does inform much of the liberal view on race relations; rather, it’s arrogance. We see it all the time from liberals as they attack those who disagree, no matter their skin color.

It’s sadly infrequent that you hear a liberal discuss an opponent’s arguments any more; instead they fall back on ad hominem attacks attacking a person’s character or intelligence. Sometimes this is because they lack any ability to argue a position on its merits (think of a local blog with the initials “D.L.”), but other times it’s because they are so convinced of their own righteousness and brilliance that anyone who disagree with them is, ipso facto, corrupt or stupid. The possibility that a person can, in good and informed conscience, disagree with them is incomprehensible to them. I think, in some respects, this informs their philosophy of top-down, controlling government; they’re so sure of the merits of their position that they are willing to impose it on all, regardless of the merits of any arguments against their proposals. It’s why I’m especially looking forward to Jonah Goldberg’s upcoming book Liberal Fascism. (already pre-ordered from Amazon!). The seal with which the Left seeks to impose their “solutions” on people does bring to mind the zeal with which Fascists would impose their will on their subjects.

Thomas does share his opinions of those who he came into contact with in his sojourn through Washington. Many unnamed Reagan Administration officials come off badly as they seemed to care little about improving the state of blacks in America. Reagan himself comes off favorably as Thomas records the sincere hurt that Reagan felt over the accusations of racism thrown his way by those who disagreed with his policies. (See above paragraph.) Thomas similarly has glowing remarks about the first president Bush, describing him as a man of honor and decency. Our own Senator Biden comes off as a self-seeking liar, while he does have warm comments for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his college on the DC bench and later (although not discussed in this book) on the Supreme Court., among many other Democrats. (My favorite comment about a Democrat was when Thomas relates that Gore said he would vote to confirm Thomas if Gore decided not to run for President, otherwise he would vote no. While acknowledging the political calculation and lack of conviction behind such a statement, Thomas grudgingly admired the honesty, especially compared to some of the clear dissembling by some of the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.) He has nothing but praise for Jack Danforth, who gave him his first job out of law school, sought him out to bring Thomas to Washington upon Danforth’s election as Senator and stood by him through the “high-tech lynching” of his nomination to the Supreme Court. Without my going into the deeper details, he describes Anita Hill an ambitious, but lackluster employee, who turned out also to be a liar.

Definitely worth a read if you want to get a sense of the man. (Hube might be interested in his comments on education policy during his time at the Department of Education.) I was disappointed to see he didn’t cover his time on the Supreme Court, but I guess that’s understandable since he’s still there. (It’s especially disappointing since it didn’t cover his return to the Catholicism of his youth after joining the Court.) It’s a quick read, I started it after 9 this morning and finished it by 3:30 or maybe earlier. And that includes making my self some lunch, taking a shower, etc. It’s worth the read.

What’s the Matter With Iowa?

OpinionJournal – John Fund on the Trail

Caucuses occur only at a fixed time at night, so that many people working odd hours can’t participate. They can easily exceed two hours. There are no absentee ballots, which means the process disfranchises the sick, shut-ins and people who are out of town on the day of the caucus. The Democratic caucuses require participants to stand in a corner with other supporters of their candidate. That eliminates the secret ballot.

There are reasons for all this. The caucuses are run by the state parties, and unlike primary or general elections aren’t regulated by the government. They were designed as an insiders’ game to attract party activists, donors and political junkies and give them a disproportionate influence in the process. In other words, they are designed not to be overly democratic. Primaries aren’t perfect. but at least they make it fairly easy for everyone to vote, since polls are open all day and it takes only a few minutes to cast a ballot.

Little wonder that voter turnout for the Iowa caucuses is extremely low–in recent years about 6% of registered voters. Many potential voters will proclaim their civic virtue to pollsters and others and say they will show up at the caucus–and then find something else to do Thursday night.

I was always disappointed that Delaware’s last presidential caucus was in 1992 before I really got involved with politics (and I didn’t turn 18 until later that year). As unsavory as the article quoted above makes the process seem, it would have been interesting to go through it at least once just for the experience.

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not really much for New Year’s resolutions. Self-improvement and growth should be continual efforts, and examination of progress should take place more often than annually. It’s why the Church recommends frequent confession, so you can examine your faults and failing as well as your strengths frequently. But if you’re up for resolutions, you could do far worse than follow Blessed John XXIII’s Decalogue for Daily Living:

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and it my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Taking resolutions one day at a time is, of course, a wise strategy to follow. Trying to go a year exercising every day, or not smoking, or dieting can be overwhelming, but anyone can do one of those things for a day. String together a bunch of single days and all of a sudden you’ve accomplished something significant. Break down your resolutions into manageable accomplishments, then string a series of those manageable accomplishments together, and you’ll really accomplish something.

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

Of course, this is a worthy resolution as well:

Read more Non Sequitur.