Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hope For Kids; Warner and Webb; My Stoopid Email

Hope for Kids

Patrick Hope told me that he’s always been a little uncomfortable with the name of the charity he helped found:
Hope for Kids. He said he doesn’t remember who came up with the idea for the name back in law school (Catholic University) about six years ago, but he really doesn’t want it to be about him.

Still, he’s the president of the group, a friend of mine, and a Buckinghamster (he’s the president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association—while I’m at it, he’s also the Buckingham Captain of the Arlington Democratic party, works with and coaches for the Special Olympics, has been on any number of county-wide citizen task forces or committees (I lose count), and he is a new dad to Emma. I feel mildly lazy when I talk with Pat.)

So anyway, when the note came in the mail inviting me to HFK’s latest fund-raising art and memorabilia auction (this Thursday Oct. 19—admission $20 per person or $35 per couple; see details below), I thought to call Pat and sit down with him to talk about the organization.

donations go to the kids, Pat told me. Invite printing, web site maintenance, postage and other overhead expenses are all covered by the HFK board so that all donations go directly toward buying clothes, books and toys for the region’s disadvantaged and homeless children. HFK has no paid staff or even an office to maintain.

“I think the concept is solid,” he said over coffee at the Ballston Common Mall Starbucks. “If more charities operated like this, they’d get more done.”

Although the group had been around a couple years before 2001, it was after 9/11 that they turned themselves into a 501(c)(3) corporation so that
donations are tax deductible. (It was a bunch of attorneys, he said, they just couldn’t help but get all legal.) They’ve raised $50,000 in donations over the past five years.

The group lets needs-based agencies find what and where the need is and then HFK does what it can to fill the need. The group has worked with D.C.’s Child and Family Services Agency, House of Ruth, The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network and other organizations. They bought encyclopedias for four DC elementary schools that didn’t have libraries, he said.

“You don’t have this problem in Arlington,” he said.

He said they’ll walk into Target and just buy up the coats. HFK also provides the gifts at the annual Lubber Run holiday party, gifts for 40-50 kids each year for the past four years.

“There’s nothing like going to…KB Toys where we went last year [in the Ballston Mall] and piling up the toys,” he said, $5,000 or $6,000 worth from them or Target. He said last year they just kept filling his car with toys and driving “back and forth between here and my house.

“I don’t know how Santa Claus does it,” Pat said, but then he remembered: “He’s got Rudolph and can stop time.”

Some other details about how you can help:
Their web site:
Giving via the “Network for Good”:

For tickets and Info regarding HFK’s Live Auction, contact:
Helene Slavin (301)530-0438.
$20 per person or $35 per couple (all door receipts go to HFK)
Fine Art, Sports Memorabilia, Music Memorabilia and More
Wyndham Washington, DC Hotel
Vista Ballroom A
1400 M St., NW
Washington, DC
(Near McPherson Square Metro stop)
Preview 6-7:00 p.m., with a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and door prize.
Credit Cards Accepted.

Just Like the Rest of Us

I was up in Glens Falls, N.Y., my hometown, over the summer talking to a former editor of mine. It was a nice sunny day, the day after his weekly deadline, so we took time to stroll the block to Crandall Park to sit under the trees at a table like a couple of old geezers; we should have pulled out dominoes or a box of checkers, but we didn’t.

Mark Frost, the editor, at some point told me about the tight race in his district (what’s now New York’s 20th) for the Congressional seat once owned by Gerald B.H. Solomon—staunch conservative Republican and supporter of all things said by the Leadership (from before Reagan until after Gingrich).

Although things looked good for the Democrat running there and for Democrats in general, Mark said (and he’s Republican), that he thought the Dems would pull defeat from the jaws of victory this November. [*See my other short piece, below.] I said that was well within the realm of possibility. This led to his surprise at how well Hillary Clinton does in northern New York and how strong he thought a presidential candidacy of hers might be. I told him that’s OK, she won’t win, but Mark Warner will.

“Who is he?” Mark Frost asked, and when I told him who, he followed up, “Why will he win?”

That’s when I hit him with my litany: Warner’s a photogenic, white man from the south; a governor not a Senator; who brought the state from a huge deficit to a huge surplus during a mediocre national economy in just four years while working with a legislature of the other party; at the same time, he’s a businessman.

“Unstoppable,” I said. In hindsight that may have been a tad premature.

News of his leaving the race shocked me (he didn’t call!). I thought he was just saying “I’m not sure” because he didn’t want to announce until he officially announced. I thought he was running superbly.

We all know that Hillary really is running (she won’t pull out for family reasons), and the press—by continually treating her like the darling front-runner in a race that hasn’t really even started—is setting her up for the big fall. McCain’s in the same boat.

I thought Warner was playing it great, staying in the shadows until Hillary makes a blunder, and then step forward and become the new darling of the media. Alas, he wasn’t lying in wait, he was thinking.

He’s gotten mainly favorable coverage of why he left. It looks like a good man got out of the race—( said that this proves the rule that only megalomaniacs run for president, not good people. The right-leaning Instapundit said, since he wasn’t leaving under scandal, that it was too bad an honest politician was leaving).

But be prepared for it, people, it may still be that Warner has a skeleton he doesn’t want out (and now that he’s leaving, people will start looking for it). I doubt it’s there, but it might be.

When the Foley fiasco lit up the front pages recently, my brother-in-law called and asked just when the Republicans were going to realize that they’re just like everybody else. They’re gay, or wife-beaters, or heavy drinkers, or smart, or conniving, or hard working and honest, or soccer moms and fans of heavy metal, just like the rest of us.

Not Playing It

That Jim Webb’s campaign is doing as well as it is, amazes me. In today’s Washington Post, they said Democrat Webb and Republican Senator George Allen are in a dead-heat, so what did Webb’s people say:

"We are extremely encouraged by these numbers," said Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd. "We've always maintained that the more people learned about the real George Allen, the more they would feel he's wrong for Virginia. We will build upon this momentum, and we know we will win."

Granted, this might just be the quote the reporter used, and I haven’t had time to see if anyone else picked up this story, but that shouldn’t be what’s said. Learn to spin for Pete’s sake (you’re running for U.S. Senator, jeez). Try any of these:

"We've always maintained that the more people learned about the real Jim Webb, the more they’d come to his side.”


"We've always maintained that Jim would make his biggest impressions late in the race, and here he’s done it.

Or, you can always steal from the “Bull Durham” playbook:

"We gotta play it one day at a time."

Just make sure the response focuses on your candidate (Allen’s people know this very well—their quotes are much more on the money). In some ways, Webb really doesn’t deserve to win.

Stoooopid Email
I've been having trouble with my Verizon account lately, and tonight apparently I've sent the same message three times. I'm terribly sorry, and I'm not trying to fill your inbox, I swear.


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