Vox Populi

Posts Tagged ‘red state’

Super PACs $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Donors, Get the Ca$h, medical malpractice, propoganda, Think tank on March 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Super PACs $500,000-Plus Donors Account For Majority Of Money.

I was reading an article about the top 49 donors to Super PACs, seeing familiar and expected information.  49 donors have contributed $500,000 or more, making them the 1% of the current election cycle.  Again, expected and not surprising.

Then, as I was clicking through the slideshow of top donors (their pictures and a little blurb about who they are and to whom they contribute), when I came across slide number 5: Cooperative of American Physicians.  Let that sink in.  With the mega-rich donors (Harold Simmons from Dallas, funder of Swiftboat, giving to Romney; Sheldon Adelson prodding Newt Gingrich to the next state; etc.) and typical lobbying groups (AFL_CIO) appears an insurance company that specializes in medical malpractice coverage.  Interesting.

What interests a med mal insurance company in the Presidential Election to the point that they contribute $2,470,292 to their own super PAC?  In business, every investment demands a return, and this is a sizeable investment from a firm that supports, purportedly, a niche market.  The company states on its web site that it is physician owned and governed.  Its mission: “We support  and protect California’s finest physicians.”

“Support and protect” sounds like a security firm…which I guess it is.  By heading off potential litigation before it is able to come to verdict, the “finest physicians” need not worry about paying for mistakes.  Purchase access and influence to the lawmakers and erect enough barriers and hooks to dismissal, then litigation swings in favor to the Defendants.

Does the Cooperative of American Physicians wish to extend its reach outside of California?  Their name seems to indicate such, but the website lists only coverage for California physicians.  Their FAQ page may be found here.

2.4 million can buy a lot of law.

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The Players: a Scribe to produce content: Mr. Patrick J. Wright

In broken tort reform, buying elections, ideology, MI Supreme Court, propoganda, Think tank on December 8, 2009 at 11:41 pm

We have already identified that a good, and inexpensive way to lobby the highest state court is to align, enlist or adopt an advocacy group (PAC, special interest…all really just IRS labels). We have also seen how one, lone writer can wrap up ideology in the form of editorials.

It is one such scribe which will be today’s focus: Mr. Patrick J. Wright.  He is:

is senior legal analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, where he directs the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. He joined the Center in June 2005 after serving for three years as a Michigan Supreme Court commissioner, a post in which he made recommendations to the court concerning which state appeals court cases it should hear.

We have heard about the Mackinac Center as an arm for “free market” legislation.  That is fine.  It is a free country.

I would note that when filling ones staff with experts, it is a good idea to find ones whose legal experience mirrors ones ideological profile.  That is, hire the ones who have said what you wish to say.  Assure pedigree.  Mr. Wright is the right person for this Right job.  In fact, if one is looking to influence the highest state court, find a person who worked for them, at a lower-level job (reading through the cases and making recommendations on which ones to take up) during the time that you wish to match ruling-wise (the 2003 court was very  conservative, pro-business and all about upholding “tort reform”).

Once on staff, free him up to write to his heart’s content.  You might even get him to land editorials for national news outlets.  His opinion, because it is just that, need not be grounded in fact.  In fact, facts may even begin to muck up a good argument, so be wary in employing them.

Once you have the right man for the job, produce the content, influence the vote, and let the right party win.

The Methods: viral e-mails: Health Care example

In buying elections, Get the Ca$h, ideology on December 2, 2009 at 7:02 pm
viral happens
Image by Will Lion via Flickr

One effective means of distributing ones agenda is to have random people do the distribution for you.  With the web 2.0’s social nature, a document, screed or set of talking points can easily “go viral” in that one person sends it to their friends and family, a sub-set of which sends it to theirs…on and on until an exponential distribution has been made, for free.

One such example landed in my inbox this morning.  An unnamed member of my family sent what was purported to be a letter from a doctor to his congressman outlining the deficiencies in the debated health care overhaul bill.  By ascribing the author as an authority on the matter (a physician, one assumes, would know the business of healthcare), the e-mail carries as much implied weight as an editorial (see yesterday’s note).  By presenting the note as a template, there is the implied, if not outright desire, for the recipient to copy/paste the letter to her congressman.

However, the problem/trick/tool (depending on your use of this method) is that the information provided in the viral e-mail may not be accurate.  In fact, viral e-mails are often ideological talking points that pass themselves off as “fact” or, in this case, learned opinion.

The e-mail reads, in part for it is rather long:

Senator Bayh,

As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the health care bill before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government’s proposed involvement in the patient-physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a health care system that works for all. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our health care system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed.

I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens.

Page 22 of the HC Bill:

Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self-insure!!

Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill:

YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!

Notice that a good viral e-mail has a liberal use of capitalization–gets one excited.

Once the information/talking points is placed in its final form (extra points for extensive punctuation, exciting rhetoric and apocalyptic portents), it may not only be e-mailed around, it will also be posted on blogs and other web-sites by the true-believing choir.

In essence, the viral message (it can be e-mail, video, etc.) uses crowd-sourcing technologies to disseminate an ideological group’s propaganda.

Was the e-mail sent by a real doctor?  There is a physician of the same name (a link provided by a helpful re-blogger), but even if the physician is real, and even if he believes his points (two large assumptions when dealing with viral media), that really only comes into play if what he says is true.

Here is a portion of a site that has taken the time to refute, point by laborious point, the entire e-mail.  I give only a snippet:

• Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure! False: Section 113  of the bill requires the Health Choices commissioner to conduct a study to make sure health reform does not unintentionally create incentives for businesses to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of insured plans. There is no mandated audit.

• Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! False: Section 122 outlines broad categories of benefits that must be included in an essential benefits package. It prohibits cost-sharing for preventive care and limits annual out-of-pocket spending to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family, indexed for inflation. It says nothing about rationing or limiting treatment.

So, quick-format follows:

  1. gather your talking points,
  2. attribute them to an “expert,” wise person or some other authority,
  3. send it to your friends and family,
  4. encourage them to pass it along, and soon, you will be viral.
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The Methods: get your ideas out–editorials

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, ideology, Think tank on December 2, 2009 at 3:49 am

Once you have identified your friends (think tanks, special interests groups, etc.), let them get your agenda out in front of the voting public.  Like the guy at the right, James M. Hohman, who works for the Mackinac Center for Policy (advocates of “free markets”–whatever that may be other than very conservative, Glenn Beck-esque ideologies).  His job/bio, as stated on the center’s web site, reads as such:

James M. Hohman is a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center’s fiscal policy initiative. He holds a degree in economics from Northwood University in Midland, Mich.

Part of his duties as a “fiscal policy analyst” is to write policy papers (like this one where he argues that Michigan’s economic crisis is not tied to the automaker’s decline–he fails to note to what it is tied–but the tax system is working just fine).   Once a paper is written, it is posted to the center’s web site (like this one: Site Selection, Jennifer Granholm [Mackinac Center]).

The article, though, lives on in other forms.  For instance, that very same article appears as an editorial in the small town newspaper The Big Rapids Pioneer in their News and Opinions page.  Couched as an editorial, this position paper now commands, at least for some readers, the respect of a newspaper’s editorial blessing.

If you, with your agenda, can pull this off often enough, your message, like a drum-beat, will be heard often, with tacitly coded authority granted just by being printed in the editorial page of the local newspaper.  For many voters, those who read and think about things, this may be enough to slide them to your position.

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The Players: Think Tanks: Mackinac Center for Public Policy

In buying elections, Campaign Finance, Get the Ca$h, ideology, Think tank on December 1, 2009 at 10:26 pm

If you are wishing to position yourself for the 2010 elections–and you know you are–you first need to identify (or establish) a “think tank.”  Ignore the thinking part of the name, as your tank will produce news articles, editorials, opinions, studies, etc. that, systematically, advance your agenda.  You also need to establish these tanks as “non-partisan,” which is a nifty way to denounce anyone claiming partisanship–it is not affiliated with any party…[wink, wink].

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (named after the island–an internal state reference–that will only confuse a poor speller) presents itself as “the Mackinac Center provide incisive, accurate and timely analysis of critical policy issues.

Of course, “non-partisan” doesn’t mean that your donor list isn’t comprised of one party/ideology over another…birds of a feather and all that.

Once you have a think tank(s), or a few dozen, then the business of ideological spamming may commence.

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What have others said about the Mackinac Canter for Public Policy?

  • The Mackinac Center is the largest conservative state-level policy think-tank in the nation. The Michigan-based organization promotes market-driven policies on a wide range of issues and espouses limited government principles. The Center’s success in influencing Michigan policies has served as a model for other state-level think tanks.  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mackinac-center-public-policy
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