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Help Brian Aitken

This story has been around for years, but I’m just catching up. Perhaps some of you are, too. It’s a horrifying example of modern-day tyranny. (And, not to plug Chris Christie who is not perfect, but Christie is helpful in it.)

Brian Aitken is a law-abiding citizen who legally bought guns in Colorado, legally transported them to New Jersey when he moved there to be near his young son, never did anything wrong or harmful with them; and was nonetheless arrested on highly questionable grounds, charged with felony possession (an initial charge was non-existent under New Jersey law), convicted under highly questionable jury instructions, and imprisoned under a seven-year sentence.

After he served four months in prison, Gov. Christie commuted his sentence, achieving his release. And the charges have been partially overturned.

But the damage doesn’t stop there. As if to compound the tyranny, a family judge denied Aitken practical access to his son – partly on the convictions, and partly on the supposed grounds that a father who owns firearms (or who might; Aitken actually doesn’t own anymore) is an automatic danger to his family. Never mind that gun ownership is in the Constitution.

This man’s constitutional rights have been severely violated. And when you hear Aitken tell his story, you understand that such things could happen to any responsible parents or gun owners – like, say, gay parents, or gay gun owners.

If you’re inclined, a donation can still help Mr. Aitken to publish his book and continue his legal battle to clear his name. The remaining charge/conviction on him is that he transported ammunition; as Aitken points out, a law that lets you keep a type of ammunition in your home, but not move it when you move your home, is arguably nuts.

The fruits of capitalism can help those in need

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:38 pm - June 5, 2013.
Filed under: Family,Worthy Causes

On matters political, I often lock horns with my sisters. In our family, the men lean Republican, the women Democratic. But, today the elder of my two sisters had a letter published in the New York Times with which I agree wholeheartedly:

I disagree with David Brooks when he says you should travel to Africa if you truly wish to save a dying child (“The Way to Produce a Person,” column, June 4).

You cannot save a dying child simply by being present. To save that child, you need a doctor as well as money to pay for that doctor and the many other components needed to save and maintain a life such as medication, food, clothing and shelter.

I laud Jason Trigg’s decision to earn large sums on Wall Street and donate that money so others can continue their direct services on the ground.

Some of us are firmly committed to helping those in need and willing to battle on the front line, but we need the money that Mr. Trigg earns and donates to continue our work.

She’s right.  Compassionate individuals can better help those in need with the resources of those who have been successful in profitable fields of endeavor.

If you want to help my sister assist the less fortunate of Westchester County, join me in making a donation to the Sharing Shelf, a program she started that provides new and gently used clothing to need children.  (Just type “Sharing Shelf” into the “Designation” Window.”)

Topless protestors to hound Islamists

This article from Femen, the feminist protest group, just came across HotAir’s Headlines section:

For the past five years now, we here at the international women’s movement Femen have been waging an active campaign of resistance to the patriarchy in various corners of the world…

The most obvious illustration of the patriarchy is Islamic theocracy, a symbiosis of political and religious dictatorship…

At the heart of Islamism lies the enslavement of women based on control over their sexuality…

I hereby both promise and threaten to deploy an entire network of Femen activists in Arab countries. We will hound Islamic leaders across the globe, subjecting them to desolating criticism. We intend to hound spiritual leaders who are personally responsible for mistreating women…

Femen stands for “democracy, atheism, and sexuality” (per the article), and famously protested Vladimir Putin a couple of weeks ago (video here).

I do NOT endorse everything they believe or do[1], but what’s interesting here is the phenomenon of a left-wing protest group realizing that Islamism is a major threat to the freedom that they seek to live out, and declaring their intention to confront Islamism. We see that occasionally, but not often enough. Some other leftists go for safer targets (such as Christians who, in reality, pose no great threat to them).

These women may be in for some rough times, if they carry out their declaration. While not necessarily endorsing all that they do, let’s give them some credit for their new-found insight, and wish them health and safety! (more…)

Why does Obama hate private charity?

Easy: As I’ve suggested before, Obama always wants to empower the State.

Howard Husock at Forbes writes about the Obama administration’s continuing attack on private charity. The attack is boringly technical because, naturally, the administration does not want people riled up:

The Administration has, since 2009, pushed unsuccessfully to allow only 28 cents on a dollar donated to charity to be deducted—even though the top tax rate for the wealthy donors who make most use of the deduction has been 35 percent. In the budget released today, the President again proposes to cap the charitable deduction at 28 percent—despite the fact that the top rate on the highest earners has increased to 39.6 percent.

So, a bunch of rich people wouldn’t see as much tax benefit from their charitable donations. “Who cares?”, says the lefty. Well, you should care, because:

When one taxes something more, of course, one gets less of it—and it’s likely that the current $168 billion in itemized charitable giving would decline…The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the reduction in giving could be as high as $9 billion a year.

Husock’s piece is worth reading in full, for its good information. But I don’t think he quite grasps Obama’s motive.

The average private charity helps people better than government does. Usually, private charities are closer to the problem and spend money more efficiently. Leftists quietly hate the competition, in that they would rather see an expanded government program.

When the Left wants to take over (or destroy) something that private actors have been doing relatively well, the Left will propose some governmental program or rule change which seems small, technical, boring and even halfway reasonable, but which makes it harder for the private version to survive, and which sets a precedent for deeper changes to come. The slippery-slope approach.

That is why Obama keeps trying to get this tax change. If he can get this ‘reasonable’ change that only hurts rich people, he will have his bad precedent in place (for further steps to reduce or kill the charitable deduction).

In addition, he will have hurt private charities’ budgets, which means they will do less to help people, which means they will be a little bit less important in our society. I believe Obama prefers that, deep down. Because he always proposes the thing whose effects will make people more, rather than less, dependent on government.

Ted Nugent on Gun Rights

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 5:32 pm - January 16, 2013.
Filed under: Gun Control,Second Amendment,Worthy Causes

I’ve never gotten into the man’s music, but he is a staunch constitutional conservative and has some good points in this rant-y, red-meat interview by Peter Schiff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK-ytv3Jq_o

Here’s a thought: Maybe we should rename our “gun-free” zones as “defense-free” zones. Catchy name? The point being, they’re not gun-free and never will be; the criminals will still have guns.

UPDATE: NRA membership is up by 250,000 since the Left started its new gun-control push.

We Interrupt Our Petty Lives for this Announcement:

Ever since I first heard of Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor held captive in that horrible subnormal nation by its rulers for the crime of apostasy, I’ve had as my homepage at work the American Center for Law and Justice website which had been counting the days of his incarceration.

That count has ended.

While I was out of town this weekend with my partner and away from the news, Pastor Nadarkhani was released by the court that had originally sentenced him to death. The charge of apostasy has been reduced to that of evangelizing, and his punishment to time served.

There is so much to say that if I did would look like gift-horse material. For now, let’s all just say a prayer of thanksgiving that he has been delivered from these savages and is currently back in the embrace of his family.

Let’s also further pray that now that he’s out of jail he will find safety. All to often in places like Iran, prisoners of conscience are released from official bondage only to be torn apart by the mobs that populate such backward countries.

If you’d like to know more about Pastor Nadarkhani and his trials, check out the link to the ACLJ above.

-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from HHQ)

Feeling overwhelmed by charitable solicitations

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:30 pm - July 12, 2012.
Filed under: Random Thoughts,Worthy Causes

Today, in my snail mail, I received yet again a batch of letters from charities to whom I have donated, including some who have sent me repeated missives over the years.  One such outfit, like many others, had printed on the enveloped, “The favor of a reply is requested.”  This is not the first time I have seen such a message.

Now, I believe those of us who can afford to should support the less fortunate — or organizations which promote causes we support, seek cures to diseases or help to those afflicted with said ailments, provide help to veterans and opportunity to children.  I wish I could give each letter the attention its cause deserves.  But, there are only so many hours in the day — and so many dollars in my bank account.

For the balance of the summer, I have (reluctantly) decided to stop reading such solicitations.  As I attempt to de-clutter my apartment, I find such missives scattered around my apartment (saved until today because I did want to consider supporting these groups). As I recycle the paper, I often find duplicates; the same charity has sent me the same letter on multiple occasions.  (Would donors be paying to help their cause or for fundraising efforts?)

Instead I have resolved to respond only to personal solicitations from people I know.   (more…)

Why 2012 won’t be a repeat of 1964

There are a great variety of issues I’d like to blog about today, from the George Zimmerman indictment to Hilary Rosen’s apparent, to borrow language used by the administration and their allies in the legacy media, War on Stay-at-Home Moms (perhaps of particular interest to our readers given that she’s a lesbian, attached to to the former head of HRC), but, am quite busy right now (to be explained in my next post).

I’m actually writing this post from the Sharing Shelf in Port Chester, New York, a charity my sister founded.  For our conservative readers, you should donate because she’s my sister and they do good work.  And for our liberal readers, you should donate because my sister doesn’t share my politics and they do good work.  Click here to support a group which recycles “gently used children’s clothing” and distributes them “directly to those in need”.  (When you donate, please specify that it’s for the Sharing Shelf.)

Now, to the subject of this post.  As I reported earlier today, the president is bound and determined to run against Mitt Romney as if he were the “reincarnation of Barry Goldwater, an extremist extraordinaire both on the economy and foreign policy.”

There are three major problems with this approach, each of which merits a more in-depth exploration–and perhaps that will come out in the comments:

  1. the public mood has changed in the past fifty years, with the American public more skeptical of the power of the government to do good.
  2. government has grown by leaps and bounds since 1964, particularly as a result of that election and Americans don’t want it to grow any bigger; if anything they want to see it scaled back.
  3. Barry Goldwater did a better job of criticizing why government was too big than in offering a positive vision of a world with smaller government.  This time around, it’s the incumbent Democrat, not the out-of-power Republican, who is waging the more negative campaign. (more…)

Let the Cato Institute remain Cato

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:12 am - March 3, 2012.
Filed under: Freedom,Tea Party,Worthy Causes

Most criticism of the Koch Brothers comes from hyperventilating leftists or hyperpartisan Democrats.  Now, we hear some from principled libertarians, concerned that they want to change the focus of one of the nation’s premiere think tanks:

Now, billionaires Charles and David Koch, who are among the institute’s four equal shareholders, are trying to gain full control and remove [Cato President Ed] Crane, for reasons they have not spelled out publicly.

Crane says their goal is to turn it into “yet another political arm of their vast empire.” If so, they will be turning gold into straw. Cato’s value is precisely that it’s not a political entity but an idea factory, where the goal is sound research and intelligent advocacy on important issues. It’s hard for me to imagine that getting rid of Crane, who has steadfastly upheld its mission, will be for the good.

Emphasis added.  Cato is a first-rate idea factory, an institution which owes its strength in large part to its independence from the political “wars” of the nation’s capital.  Its experts offer sound and principled analysis of public policy, showing how statist solutions tend not to solve social and economic problems, but exaggerate them.

There are a number of free-market advocacy organizations out there, a good number which have grown with the emergence of the Tea Party.  Let Cato be Cato.  And let other organizations to do the advocacy work that this successful think tank shuns.

More here.

CNN fails to put US corporate tax rates in complete context

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:02 am - February 29, 2012.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Media Bias,Worthy Causes

The Cato Institute’s David Boaz caught something interesting on CNN:

President Obama and other policymakers have expressed concern about the high U.S. corporate tax rate, but this CNN chart shows that our rate isn’t too out of line with other countries. Indeed, CNN host Soledad O’Brien said to guest Jack Welch, “But when I look at the corporate tax rates around the world, we have a little graphic of this, I’ll throw it up. We see United States is at 35%, France is at 34%, Belgium at 33%, Spain at 30%, Japan at 30%, Mexico at 30%. It sounds like we’re kind of competitive, right?”

“America,” observed Boaz’s colleague Chris Edwards, the Institute’s Director of Tax Policy Studies

. . . is not “kind of competitive” on corporate taxes. Of the 34 high-income OECD countries, your graphics experts compared us with the 5 other countries that have the highest rates. (more…)

Worthy Causes to Support this Christmas

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:54 pm - December 20, 2011.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

Two years ago at this time, I identified three of the charities I support every year and do so again at the end of this post.  In that post and this, I lamented how I am inundated with solicitations from various worthy organizations, often receiving ten solicitations a day in my “snail mail,” many from organizations to which I have never donated, some advocating for causes about which I’d never heard.

Today, as I began the process of making my end of the year contributions, I started sorting through the solicitations I had saved in a pile behind my desk.  What struck me was how certain groups sent out numerous missives (some nearly identical) over a very short period of time.  Many offered free gifts, others defined every letter as “urgent,” a handful told me to renew my annual membership to organizations I had never joined.

Some offered free gifts.  Now, I understand that in this world, a group often needs a gimmick to call attention to itself.  And groups that are excessively aggressive in their fundraising do do good work with the funds they receive.  Once again, I wish to highlight three of the groups I support largely because they, unlike so many organizations aren’t that aggressive.

Each does good work in its own way, so, as your finances allow, please join me in supporting these organizations:

  1. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. We direct urgently needed resources to post 9-11 Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces. .”  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’ve done 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.

Two years ago, I wrote, “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.” I repeat that plea today.

GayPatriot Reader Leah to Address Westside Republicans, Weds. 05/11/11

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 pm - May 5, 2011.
Filed under: LA Stories,Worthy Causes

Please join me to hear our reader Leah talk about Operation Gratitude, a non-profit which sends “care packages contain food, hygiene products, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation” to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines “deployed in harm’s way,” at next week’s meeting of the Westside Republicans, Wednesday, May 11th, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Jerry’s Deli in Westwood Village, 10925 Weyburn Avenue, Westwood Village 90024. Methinks that if we get a good enough crowd of GayPatriot readers, Leah might want to share a bite of dessert with us after her talk.

Sponsor a GayPatriot Reader in AIDS ride

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:26 pm - March 22, 2011.
Filed under: HIV/AIDS,Worthy Causes

Rob Tisinai, One of our regular readers and frequent critics, will be riding in the San Francisco to LA AIDS ride to raise money to fight this dreadful disease.  Please join me in donating to sponsor his ride.

It is a worthy cause and something about which readers on both sides of the political divide can agree!

How to Help Japan

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:01 am - March 17, 2011.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

After going through my budget, I’ve found that I can donate a little more than I had first thought to help Japanese relief efforts and have made a contribution for relief through the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

In response to my blog post, a number of our readers have recommended organizations also working to help Japanese people displaced by this disaster.

A reader and a friend, a formerly left-leaning lesbian (formerly left-leaning, still lesbian) suggests Operation USA, a group backed by the silver-tongued Julie Andrews.

SoCalRobert suggests giving to the American Red Cross via Amazon.

Jennifer tells us Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization backed by Franklin Graham.

ThatGayConservative recommends Shelter Box.

David in N.O. recommends Doctors Without Borders.

Help me help victims of Japan’s earthquake & tsunami

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:45 pm - March 15, 2011.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

“Urgent” reads the print on one envelope I received recently.  “Personal and confidential,” said another.  “Surprise, Mr. Blatt,” I read, on an large manila envelope, “Here’s something you can really use and enjoy for years to come.”

Was the first an appeal for funds to relieve victims of a recent disaster?  Was the second an important letter from a friend, detailing some trying circumstances in his life that he wanted to share with me, but not trust to e-mail, fearing someone could hack into his account?  Was the third a gift from a good friend or family member who wanted to give me something to better remember him.

The answer is “No” to all three questions.  “Urgent” was written on an envelope from a charity who regularly sends out appeals to me.  It seems every other missive I receive bears that word suggesting imminent action is necessary to prevent disaster.  Annoyed with the amount of correspondence I receive from that organization, I have long since stopped giving to that organization.  And the appeals keep coming.

The envelope marked “personal” contained a form letter seeking donations for a political campaign in a different state.  The large manila envelope was from another charity which has sent me enough mail and little “gifts” to cover the cost of the $25 I once sent them.   Just today, I received three small writing pads (of various sizes and designs) from three non-profits and a large fancy envelope with about 15 pages of paper from a group I have never supported.  (This was not the first such such mailing I have received from this outfit.)

I receive all this at a time when I’m trying to find a relief organization which devotes the overwhelming amount of its resources to helping the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  And I’ve pretty much eliminated all those groups which sends me regular mail.  Such costly fundraising solicitations surely take a greater bite out of their budget, siphoning money away from the people truly in need and those we should help.

So, please, help me out here.  What organizations do you feel are doing a good job of directing their resources to those truly in need.  Once I get your feedback, I’ll prepare another post, asking our readers to support these groups.  Thanks!

West Hollywood Fundraiser for Haiti, Thurs. 01/28

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:50 pm - January 21, 2010.
Filed under: LA Stories,Worthy Causes

The American Jewish World Service is holding Fundraiser for Haiti, Thursday, January 28, 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. at Coco De Ville, 755 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood, CA  Click this link for more information and to RSVP.

Members of AJWS’s staff will be on hand at the event to give up-to-date information on relief efforts and how you can help. The charge for admission is $20, all of which will go to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.  And five percent of the bar’s proceeds between 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. will be donated to this cause.

There will be appetizers early in the evening and DJs will be spinning all night.

Another Way to Help Haiti

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:23 pm - January 17, 2010.
Filed under: Blogging,Worthy Causes

Glenn alerts us to the efforts of some milbloggers for an entirely privately funded effort to get medical supplies into Haiti.  Now they’re trying to get a medical team into the nation’s beleaguered capital:

We are seeking more private funding to pay for the plane tickets of a doctor and his 5 assts (3 nurses, one Army reserve combat medic, and a medical asst.) We need to get them to the airport at Port au Prince, where we will pick them up, and bring them to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) mission.  They have a well for fresh water and food provisions, though our teams are carrying in their own.

The total cost for flying in the first med team is about $11,000.  The follow-on team is being led by Dr Maurecio Consalter from Masonic Hospital. Dr Consalter has kindly secured thousands of dollars in medical supplies/medicine from his friends in the industry. All he needs are plane tickets for his crew right now.

I just made a modest contribution and encourage you to do the same.   Click on Donate.

President Unites Nation Behind Haitian Relief

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:24 pm - January 16, 2010.
Filed under: Credit to Democrats,Worthy Causes

Today, we witnessed Barack Obama at his finest, showing what is best about this great country.

As you may know by now, he enlisted his two immediate predecessors, the more recent regularly maligned by the incumbent’s fellow partisans, to spearhead a relief fund for Haiti:

And I’m pleased that President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton have agreed to lead a major fundraising effort for relief:  the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.  On behalf of the American people, I want to thank both of you for returning to service and leading this urgent mission.

This is a model that works.  After the terrible tsunami in Asia, President Bush turned to President Clinton and the first President Bush to lead a similar fund.  That effort raised substantial resources for the victims of that disaster — money that helped save lives, deliver aid, and rebuild communities.  And that’s exactly what the people of Haiti desperately need right now. . . .

Interesting the conservative nature of this liberal president’s policy:  basing it on a model that works.  And the president is thinking long term as well:

But what these gentlemen are going to be able to do is when the news media starts seeing its attention drift to other things but there’s still enormous needs on the ground, these two gentlemen of extraordinary stature I think are going to be able to help ensure that these efforts are sustained.

By enlisting both men, one a Democrat, the other a Republican in relief efforts, President Obama is showing that Americans stand united in helping the victims of this earthquake.  Please join them in giving what you can to help a people in dire circumstances as a result of a disaster beyond their control.  In this post, I offered a list of some groups which are providing relief.

I have since learned that one of my favorite charities, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is also raising money for Hait.

Haiti Earthquake: How to Help

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:23 pm - January 13, 2010.
Filed under: Worthy Causes

In the wake of the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti, the poorest nation in our hemisphere, I encourage you to support efforts which provide relief to the victims of this disaster.

Michelle links a variety of ways to help:

State Department resources and charities.

Relief efforts list via The Anchoress.

Fund-raising efforts via Chuck Simmins.

In past crises, I’ve supported Jewish World Service, so will make my contribution via their Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. I encourage y’all to support at least one relief organization. Any contribution, no matter how small, helps at a time like this.

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.