And now, great moments in the annals of direct mail.
The new Alliance for Retired Americans, a labor/Democratic front group set up to fight privatization of Social Security and Medicare, sent a fundraising letter to retiree Herbert Kaiser. We've altered the street address for privacy reasons, but otherwise, here's how the letter was addressed:
_____In the Loop_____
Trouble Bubbling Up? Nautical Nonsense! (The Washington Post, Jan 28, 2005)
What-If A-Bomb Postulator Ascends (The Washington Post, Jan 26, 2005)
Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now? (The Washington Post, Jan 24, 2005)
The Other Right Hand (The Washington Post, Jan 21, 2005)
Lowering the Boom (The Washington Post, Jan 19, 2005)
More In the Loop
Mr. Herbert Kaiser
201 Main Street
Palo Alto, CA
Even had his Zip-plus-four. As a bonus, the group gave him nine return-address labels, with the same handy address.
"Please accept these address labels as a small token of our thanks for reviewing the enclosed materials. Of course we do hope we have convinced you to at least return the enclosed Official Petition today. Again, thanks!"
Fat chance. "I am astonished, outraged and alarmed by your identifying me -- and presumably all your addressees -- by religion, race or ethnicity," wrote Kaiser, a former World War II submariner and retired foreign service officer. "Under no circumstances would I willingly subscribe to, or endorse, an organization that does so."
Alliance Executive Director Edward F. Coyle, in a letter Friday apologizing to Kaiser, said that "the United Farm Workers provided your name to us, and we never saw that the label provided included this information." Coyle said the Farm Workers have been apprised and "they are in the process of writing all of their contributors to apologize."
The Farm Workers also "had nothing to do with this screw-up," said Alliance spokeswoman Patti Reilly. "The list broker was the key party responsible," she said.
But are there other categories? Democrats? Bowlers? Sunnis? Southpaws? Hispanics? What's going on here?
"Jews were not singled out," Reilly said. "I know for a fact that people of other religions, Catholic and Hindu, for instance, were labeled." Unclear about bowlers.
Last week's announcement by Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, that he is leaving this summer to spend more time with the kids may set the record for longest lame-duck period for a federal official.