Robert DeNiro, Michelle Obama, and racist bumper stickers

At a recent presidential fundraiser, with Michelle Obama in the room, Robert DeNiro made a remark about America not being ready for a white first lady. That comment caused the spit to hit the fan.

Some on the left said his comment was inappropriate. Some on the right called it racist. Hey, lighten up people. It was a joke. Granted, it was not a very funny joke, but still a joke. There was really no need for him to act contrite but, as a gentleman, he took the high road and apologized. I don’t think DeNiro would ever intentionally make an insulting racist remark. His ex-wife and his current wife are African-Americans. Enough, everybody. Leave it alone.

If you really want something to get worked up about, you might want to check out the disgusting, racist, anti-Obama bumper sticker that features half the N-word. That surely reasonable folks on both sides of the aisle angry.

I haven’t actually seen one nor do I know anyone who has, but that’s one inflammatory bumper sticker that is guaranteed to have windshields broken.

• • •

Wow. Time flies. We just enjoyed the Christmas-Hanukkah season and it’s now time to celebrate Easter and Passover. The folks who run charities know that we tend to be a bit more generous at holiday time. Therefore, they send us heaps of solicitations for donations. My mailman brings me two-to-four a day, and I can’t send money to them all. With my checkbook in front of me, I whittle the list down by going to CharityNavigator.org. To those of you who are not familiar with the Charity Navigator, it is an institute which ranks not-for-profit organizations on the strength of their finances, their control of administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the transparency of their operations.

The Charity Navigator was selected as the Best Charity Review Site in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s “The Best List 2011.” Charities are rated from zero to four stars, with the four star rating being the highest. Before you write that next check, take a few minutes to investigate and make sure that you are supporting an organization that is worthwhile. I was shocked to learn that certain charities were taking my money and not delivering the goods. In fact, some of the most popular charities are not what you think.

For example, everybody has been asked at one time or another to support the United Way. The United Way of New York City is only a two-star organization. And just because it has the word “cancer” in its name doesn’t necessarily mean that the charity is worthwhile. Look up the Cancer Federation in California. This organization is only one star.

The word “children” in the name touches our heartstrings, right? Not when it’s the Children’s Charity of Sarasota, Florida. This group was awarded the lowest possible rating of zero stars. How about the Goodwill Rescue Mission in New Jersey? The name sounds good, but the company only garners one star.

Then there are loads of organizations that make the most of your donations. The National Kidney Foundation, Breastcancer.org, and Boystown, Nebraska all earned four stars. So did several of the Make-A-Wish Foundations.

So how does your favorite charity rate? Go on. Look it up and let me know how you make out. Some of those not-for-profit groups may hate me for talking about the navigator, but you just may wind up thanking me.

I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net wishing you all very safe, happy, and sweet holidays.

Reach reporter Joanna DelBuono at jdelbuono@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2523.

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