Monday, November 20, 2006

Uncle Charlie Wants You

Hey, want to return to the good old days of a draftee army? Vote Democratic.

Wasn't the story going around in 2004 that young men needed to vote for Kerry because the Republicans were going to reinstate the draft, and the Democrats would make sure that didn't happen? Now it's a Democrat, Charlie Rangel, who's introducing legislation to restart the military draft.

Actually, though, I don't think Rangel really wants a draft. In fact, he introduced a similar bill a couple of years ago, but, when the Republicans called his bluff and put it up for a vote, he voted against it.

So what's he up to? My guess is that he believes most people won't have any idea where the impetus for this bill comes from, but they will hear all the draft talk which will cause them to think the administration is behind it. That'll get people much more energized, maybe Rangel hopes, to oppose "Bush's war".

That would be a pretty cynical ploy, and maybe that's not Rangel's real objective, but what else could it be? He explains that if we have a draft the government will be less likely to engage in foreign adventures because they won't be using volunteers, but if he really thinks this why did he vote against his own bill two years ago?

The only explanation that makes sense is that Rangel actually wants draft talk in the air in order to arouse people's passions against the war.

Generous Conservative Orthodoxy

The left is fond of portraying conservatives as mean-spirited Scrooges eager to cut back on benefits to the needy. Because conservatives argue that throwing money at problems rarely solves them they're often accused by liberals of being niggardly and selfish. Now comes a book by Syracuse professor Arthur C. Brooks who documents in Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism that precisely the opposite is the case.

BeliefNet has the story, excerpts from which are here:

Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America -- and it's making him nervous.

The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.

In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals.

When it comes to helping the needy, Brooks writes: "For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."

For the record, Brooks, 42, has been registered in the past as a Democrat, then a Republican, but now lists himself as independent, explaining, "I have no comfortable political home."

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.

"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

In an interview, Brooks said he recognizes the need for government entitlement programs, such as welfare. But in the book he finds fault with all sorts of government social spending, including entitlements.

Repeatedly he cites and disputes a line from a Ralph Nader speech to the NAACP in 2000: "A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity."

Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard University and 2004 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, does not know Brooks personally but has read the book.

"His main finding is quite startling, that the people who talk the most about caring actually fork over the least," he said. "But beyond this finding I thought his analysis was extremely good, especially for an economist. He thinks very well about the reason for this and reflects about politics and morals in a way most economists do their best to avoid."

I hope Brooks isn't too hard on liberals in his book. After all, they are indeed very generous people, especially with other folks' money.

Dump Pelosi

Timothy Noah, a liberal Democrat, no less, who writes for Slate is calling on Democrats to dump Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, or at least get ready to:

I'll admit my timing could be better, since the incoming House Democrats, on a unanimous voice vote, just made Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaker of the House. But I think her party should give serious thought to dumping her.

The proximate reason, of course, is that she tried (and, thankfully, failed) to install as House majority leader Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. It's bad enough that Pelosi promoted Murtha (over the perfectly acceptable Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who won the caucus vote) in spite of Murtha's having once been named an unindicted co-conspirator in Abscam, a 1980 FBI sting operation in which G-men posing as representatives of an Arab sheikh offered $50,000 bribes to members of Congress. Even worse is that Pelosi persisted even after a videotape of Murtha's Abscam performance ("I'm not interested ... at this point") turned up on the Web, and Democrats began fretting that they were about to erase all distinctions between themselves and the Abramoff-tainted Republicans from whom they'd only just wrenched a House majority. Almost before it began, Pelosi's honeymoon is over.

Murtha was the first strike, Alcee Hastings, the impeached corrupt judge who is Pelosi's pick to head the intelligence committee, will be the second. Read the rest of Noah's thoughts on it at the link.

Bush Go Home, But Send Money

How much money did private charities in this country send to Indonesia in the wake of the killer tsunami that devasted their coastlines? Over a billion dollars, wasn't it? What did George Bush do to relieve the suffering of those most profoundly affected by the disaster? Almost another billion, I think it was, but it doesn't matter. Gratitude is evidently not very high on the list of Muslim virtues.

See here for a glimpse of how America is thanked for its largesse by at least some Indonesians.

The next time there's a calamity like a tsunami in the Muslim world maybe we should just let the oil-soaked Saudis pick up the tab. They are, after all, noted around the globe for their magnanimity.