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Advice from the Left

Barack, Just Do It.

The Drudge Report says that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is exhorting President Obama to follow the path of socialism. What made him think President Obama would listen?

"Come with us, align yourself, come with us on the road to socialism. This is the only path. Imagine a socialist revolution in the United States," Chavez told a group of workers in the southern Venezuelan state of Bolivar. ..."Nothing is impossible. Who would have thought in the 1980s that the Soviet Union would disappear? No one."

This article from WSJ suggests that other "activist organizations" are feeling their oats. They're not shy about recommending how the rest of us behave. From nongovernment organizing to nongovernment government. Who elected them? Why do they need to be elected?

Nonprofit leaders are reeling from the recent news that President Barack Obama's proposed budget would limit tax deductions on charitable contributions from wealthy Americans. But now the philanthropic world has something else to worry about. Today the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a research and advocacy group, will release a report offering "benchmarks to assess foundation performance." Its real aim is to push philanthropic organizations into ignoring donor intent and instead giving grants based on political considerations....

The report, titled "Criteria for Philanthropy at its Best," advises foundations to "provide at least 50 percent of grant dollars to benefit lower-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups, broadly defined." ... Two years ago, an advocacy group in San Francisco called Greenlining began releasing similar reports. Greenlining's aim then was to pass legislation in California mandating that foundations report to the public the percentage of their dollars given to "minority-led" organizations and the percentage of their boards and staffs made up by racial and ethnic minorities. The legislation was dropped when several foundations promised to donate money to causes Greenlining favored.

Mandating can take several forms. The most effective is mandate occurs when something is only being suggested.  But in the right atmosphere all suggestions become orders. The founder of TaxCheatStamps.com recently received a letter saying he's going to be audited by the IRS. "There is no doubt in my mind that my family is being politically persecuted for making a mockery of our new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the Obama administration." Is he being persecuted? We can't be sure because the IRS audits peope routinely. Will it have a chilling effect? Only coincidentally. This is the problem when a climate of fear begins to take hold. Even mice begin to cast long shadows. Even the perfectly innocent and ordinary takes on the aspect of menace. Fear marks the moment when a population begins to lose its accustomed freedoms and is too ashamed or embarassed to admit it.