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Charities that Do Good Work Without Oversoliciting

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:42 pm - December 18, 2009.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

Every year at this time, I, like countless other Americans, review my finances and figure out how much to give to the various charitable causes I support.  As per my previous post, I am often annoyed that some groups which do good work show little respect for their contributors (and potential contributors) by regularly sending appeals for donations, sending unsolicited gifts and asking for more money in letters confirming a contribution.

In this post, I’d like to single out three groups which send out only a handful of solicitations each year (in the case of one group, no more than two) and whose thank-you notes are just that, thank- you notes and not appeals for contribution.  They do good work by respectively, helping injured service members across the country, providing housing for the mentally ill homeless in Los Angeles and promoting free market ideas in our nation’s capital.

I encourage you to support these organizations:

  1. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions for Marines, Sailors and other military personnel assigned to Marine Forces, injured in post 9-11 combat, training, or with life threatening illnesses, and their families.”  Click here to donate.
  2. The Lamp Community helps “people living with severe mental illness move from streets to homes. Lamp offers immediate access to affordable, safe and permanent housing without requiring sobriety or participation in treatment.”  Click here to donate.
  3. The mission of the Cato Institute is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.”  They’re doing yeoman’s work on healthcare reform, promoting free market alternatives and challenging what was once the conventional wisdom on global warming.  Click here to donate.

Of course, there are many groups out there which do good work.  In my experience, these groups combine the good work they do for those in need of medical care, housing or an education in freedom while respecting those who want to help them meet those needs.

If your finances allow, be generous at this time of year, indeed, strive to be generous throughout the year.  Even if you don’t support these groups, please find a worthy cause to support.  Or a lonely friend to visit.  It’s not just through our donations that we can show our generosity.

How Charities’ Overzealous Solictations Discourage Giving

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:18 pm - December 18, 2009.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

Today, I received a letter confirming a contribution I made to a charity I have long supported.  Attached to this letter of gratitude was a solicitation for an additional contribution.  Other charities send me regular snail mail, often in thick envelopes, marked with reminders to the Postal Service to handle the package with care as “free gifts are enclosed.”

Fancy writing on other packages indicates “Your FREE 2009 Wrapping Paper & Gift Tags Are Enclosed.”  Others are marked “Urgent” while I received two solicitations from the same charity on one day.  In many cases, I receive regular solicitations, often in thick envelopes from organizations I have never supported.  One particular think tank in our nation’s capital regularly sends me 8 1/2″ by 11″ envelopes asking for my money.  Some send me “gifts” they want to send back to them so they can send them along to soldiers or schoolchildren.  It might save some expense if they didn’t first send such things to me.

I wonder how many trees were cut down for the regular 8 1/2″ by 11″ mailings I receive from the National Resources Defense Council (a group I never supported).  Oddly enough, organizations I have never joined send me reminders to renew my membership while my apartment is cluttered with gift cards I never ordered, books I have yet to read, CDs I have yet to open and DVDs I have yet to watch, all sent to me, free of charge by groups about which I know little.

In one case, I received regular mailings from an organization I was convinced was a fly-by-night operation, using the stories of children with facial deformities in the third world to enrich scam artists on the East Coast.  I later learned that group does very good work; they just have a very bad group of fundraisers.  Indeed, I’m sure that many of these groups do very good work; it’s just that those in their Development Office (or those to whom they farm out fundraising) don’t have much respect for their potential donors. (more…)

Hey, Ma’am, Can You Find 742,600 jobs in 11 Months?

Ten months ago, California’s junior Senator praised the Senate for passing the so-called “stimulus,” noting that the “$787.1 billion economic recovery legislation” was “designed to save or create millions of jobs“.  She cited a White House prediction “that the legislation will save or create approximately 400,000 jobs in California.”  Well, since her vote for the bill, the Golden State has lost 342,600 jobs.

That means that before Ma’am again faces the voters, she’ll have to find a way of creating nearly three-quarters of a million jobs, 742,600 to be precise.

Wonder what plans she has to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses, you know, those enterprises which create the most new jobs.

DCCC Largest Recipient of HRC-Pac Funds

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:30 pm - December 18, 2009.
Filed under: Gay Politics,Hypocrite Rights Campaign

Looks like there’s something to our contention that the supposedly non-partisan Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is really just a gay auxiliary for the Democratic National Committee.

Checking out “HRC PAC records at OpenSecrets.org for the 2010 election cycle,” principled left-wing blogger Michael Petrelis finds that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) “is the largest recipient of HRC PAC money so far this year“.  Scanning the HRC’s donations, I founds lot of donations to Democrats.  Well, they did donate to one Republican, but practically the first thing that DIABLO did after dropping out of her special election contest in Upstate New York was to endorse a Democrat.

And HRC seems heavily invested in Ma’am’s re-election, donating $4,000 to “Friends of Barbara Boxer.”  HRC and Ma’am do have a lot in common.  They can raise a lot of sound and fury (and a huge chunk of change to boot), but don’t seem able to accomplish much.  For her 17 years in the Senate, Ma’am has only seen three of her bills become law, while HRC has little to show for their bowing, scraping and fundraising for the Democratic Party.

There is something about Oklahoma!

There must be something good in that wind that comes sweeping down the plain. Not a single county in the Sooner State went for Barack Obama in last fall’s election.

And while Oklahoma’s senior Senator is in Copenhagen trying to bring some sense to a politically correct multitude gathered there for the global warming conference, his junior colleague is manning the fort back in Washington, standing firm against the Democrats’ press to overhaul one-sixth of the American economy.

Time to sing a rousing salute to the state which gave us two men willing to stand athwart conventional wisdom yelling, “No.”

Tom Coburn Channels Albert Camus

In one of the great works of the last century, the French Nobel laureate defined “un homme révolté” (translated into English as a “rebel”) simply as a man who who says “no.”  In saying “no” to one thing, he says “yes” to something else:

Apparently negative since it creates nothing, this revolt is profoundly positive because it reveals what is always to be defending in each man.

And so today, in rising on the Senate floor to defend the Party of “No,” the junior Senator from Oklahoma channeled the Algerian-born writer/philosopher from France.  For, in saying “No” to Obamacare, he affirmed the values for which America’s founders fought over two centuries ago:

We’re accused of being the party of no. . . .  no is a wonderful word. When your child is misbehaving, you say no. When someone’s stealing liberty, you say no…Saying no at the right time saves lives. Saying no at the right time saves money…Saying no at the right time saves liberty.

Let the Democrats call us the Party of “No.”  And we’ll tell them, as Tom Coburn has, what that “No” affirms.

Not Quite Adult Supervision in Senate Democratic Caucus
(more like grownup grousing)

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, and not on the Senate floor
Was Harry Reid’s Health Care Bill available, nor its CBO score.
The Senators were pretending to ponder the issue with care,
With Democrats promising the legislation soon would be there.

Finally some Democrats are are taking Reid to task (though ever so slightly) for his failure to produce a bill. Politico reports that “Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jim Webb and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman” signed a letter, calling on ” Senate Majority Leader Reid [D-Mount Crumpit] to increase the process’ transparency”:

Every step of the process needs to be transparent, and information regarding the bill needs to be readily available to our constituents before the Senate starts to vote on legislation that will affect the lives of every American. The legislative text and complete budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the health care legislation considered on the Senate floor should be made available on a website the public can access for at least 72 hours prior to the first vote to proceed to the legislation.

Wonder if these eight will refuse to vote for cloture until those 72 hours have passed after the release of the bill.

While now rousing ailing nonagenarians in the dead of night, wheeling them in to vote on bills that should have been debated long ago, Reid and his Democrats can hardly expect Senators to have clear heads with they vote on legislation increasing government control over one-sixth of the American economy.

The letter of these eight Senators is not quite the tongue-lashing that Reid needs, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.

Harry Reid’s Delaying Tactics

If Washington Democrats weren’t trying to nationalize one-sixth of the United States economy while giving government a greater say in the most personal decisions we make about our health, the current shenanigans in our nation’s capital would make for a fine farce, you know, to borrow a title, a real comedy of errors.  The latest comes to us via Michelle.

It seems that while inveighing against Republicans for their delaying tactics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mount Crumpit) arrived “more than an hour later than he told other Senators to come to the floor, [saying] ‘other business’ prevented him from being on time.

Other business, Harry?  What’s more important than health care?  Didn’t you say we needed to pass something right away?  Please let us know what you were doing that was so pressing.

Remembrance of Jennie (-fer Jones)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:18 am - December 18, 2009.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV

Among the quirky films that have found the way to the top of my list of favorite movies is a little known (save to film buffs) 1948 picture, Portrait of Jennie, about Eben Adams (Joseph Cotten), a struggling artist, finding his muse, a woman (or is she just an image?) who helps him turn his raw talent into real accomplishment. Jennifer Jones, that muse, the subject of that portrait, died yesterday at her home in Malibu.  She was 90.

Most obituaries mention the film only in passing (if at all).   To be sure, her body of work was most impressive.  She was nominated five times for an Academy Award, winning for her portrayal of Bernadette Soubirous in 1943′s The Song of Bernadette.  But, I’ll always remember her portrayal of Jennie:

She plays the character with the same innocence she played Bernadette, but with an entirely different energy.   There is something haunting about her appearance on screen, entirely appropriate because, if she is a real, she is a ghost, appearing only to the artist who will paint the portrait that will capture her beauty and secure his fame.

Those who warm to this movie find that her presence lingers long after the images have faded from the screen.  Her presence is this movie is like a face in a painting that remains with you even when it (or a reproduction) is no longer in front of your eyes.

This is not to diminish the rest of her work, but only to draw to your attention to a too often neglected film.  Hollywood has lost a legend this week.  A truly talented actress has passed on, leaving us a number of great films and one particularly unusual one which really resonates for those of us fortunate enough to have seen it at turning points in our lives.

Will Harry Reid Steal (Senators’) Christmas?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:40 am - December 18, 2009.
Filed under: 111th Congress,Holidays,Movies/Film & TV

While Ben Nelson may well have saved Christmas for most Americans, Harry Reid is bound and determined to take it away from his Senate colleagues, threatening around-the-clock votes through Christamas if the GOP continues to act in the spirit of Obama’s campaign promises.  You know, they don’t want to rush passage of legislation spending hundred and billions of taxpayer dollars and regulating a whole sector of the U.S. economy.  They want to read it first.

But, Mr. Reid would rather keep Senators in Washington than allow them to return home to celebrate with their families.

For the following song, remove the “G” from the name of the song’s subject.  Put a “E” between the “R” and the “I”, then replace the “NCH” with “D” and it works quite well.