I've been a big fan of Barbra Streisand for more than 50 years, since I was in college, and I was thrilled to learn she wants to meet me.
"Dear Douglas, I'm spending an evening campaigning with Hillary in New York City next week, and I would love to meet you there," she wrote to me. "I want you to be right up front when I sing."
I was so excited I began worrying about what I'd wear for such an auspicious occasion. I wonder if my tux still fits.
Jealous? Don't be. You can get invited, too. It's a gimmick for raising money for Hillary Clinton's campaign. I'm not actually a contributor but Babs told me all I need to do was send in $1 and I could get a free trip to hear her sing and bring my wife along free as well.
But there's a tiny catch. That buck puts my name in a drawing for a chance to win the free trip.
Even if you send in your dollar and don't get a free trip to meet Babs, you won't go away empty handed. Click a a button on her email message and you'll go right to her webpage where all you have to do is give your credit card number and other vitals, and slam, bam, pow you're on the list. The mailing list. You are guaranteed to get endless email. And not just from Hillary and Babs.
You can bet that list will be shared with other Democrats, so you'll be hearing from them as well. In fact, you'll be the new BFF for some folks you probably never even heard of. Just make your modest little contribution and you will get endless appeals for more. And more. And more.
Here's a little trick to let to track who got your name because you sent in that little contribution. When you give your name, spell it differently, make up a strange middle name or initial, add a fictitious title and then look how often it returns to you.
Some of your new friends will blatantly and simply ask you for money. Others will be try to be more creative, using the guise of a straw poll or signing a birthday card to the president or the candidate or inviting you to a briefing or community meeting. Or entering a drawing to hear Barbra Streisand sing.
Whether you're sending money to Republicans or Democrats, the messages you'll get in return will all be the same: Gevalt, the sky is falling, send money.
And what do you get for your money? The satisfaction of saving the republic? OK, if that's the way you want to look at it. But what you really get is a deluge of solicitations.
It's so much easier these days with email. It costs virtually nothing to blast out a million emails; candidates who still use direct (snail) mail not only have to pay for postage (maybe that's why USPS is in trouble) but a dollar or more for each glossy color printed appeal inside that usually oversized (extra postage) envelope.
I regularly hear from Barack and Michelle Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton and dozens of politicians, some I've never even heard of.
Recently, Michelle Obama sent several pleas to my wife chiding her for not responding to earlier requests for contributions.
The bottom line is simple: you give money, you get flooded with pleas for more. So give at your own risk.
There's an alternative to this obscene money chase. It's public financing, but that's a story for another day.