Brrring-Brrring-Brrring. We are sitting down at dinner, and the phone explodes off the wall. Well not really, but it is seriously unhappy. I get up and dutifully check the caller ID.

It says “Private Caller,” so I figure it is John Beresford Tipton Jr. about to offer me a million dollars, or given inflation, Warren Buffett with a billion. So I pick up.

Surprise, surprise, it is someone wanting my answers to a short questionnaire, but first I have to listen to House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich explain how ObamaCare has led to the conquest of Crimea, the impending rule of America by China, and global warming. Well, not the last one.

Like the reasonably well-bred liberal Republican I was raised to be, I listen and then tell the nice voice that “No, I do not think Newt should run for president again, even if he is offered another gazillion dollars by Sheldon Adelson.”

So much for dinner. I need to be on a diet, and this gave me an excuse to read about campaign financing. Why would anyone give a heap of money to people who run off and act silly by riding in a tank wearing a dumb helmet or forgetting which of three government departments to abolish?

The answers seemed pretty murky, but expensive. They are called Political Action Committees. These committees gather up heaps of money and send it to the media to show scary ads proving our leaders are even dopier than we thought.

The organizations, also known as 527s, are mechanisms for extracting unlimited amounts of money from the pockets of the grumpy as a gift to the media.

The 527s need only eventually reveal who is being grumpy. It’s a good deal for the media unless the donor is shy.

As I probed further, I discovered something weirder called a 501(c)(4) organization. This can do the same harvesting as long as it is in the name of social welfare and education. The big difference is that a 501(c)(4) does not need to reveal the names of the grumps.

Whoa Nellie, that is a license to steal from the rich and grumpy and give to the media. No wonder we do not hear about them. Well, actually we do.

They have discovered direct mail and robo calls. What a deal! They can call you on the phone, natter on about someone who is the ghost of elections past, and persuade you to secretly send them money so they can repeat the process. This reminds me of shampooing: blather, fleece, repeat.

These organizations pay their staff well. Recently, Jim DeMint discovered being a U.S. Senator three days a week was too much work and he had already qualified for a pension with benefits.

When the Heritage Foundation offered him $1 million to think about money making devices he jumped at the chance. What else would you expect a self-absorbed former advertising guy to do?

This is not limited to ginormous corporations like Heritage. Locally, we have groups like Clark Services that help aspiring young Republicans.

The fact that these local services include well paid political consulting, advertising and direct mailing shows that small businesses can make for noisy politics.

Well, back to dinner with the phone off the hook.

Dan Freeman lives in Galveston.

(7) comments

Brian Cann

"liberal republican...". = democrat. Don't deny what you are, you writings give you away anyway. You are just like Sen. McCain, republican in name only.

Freedom speech is not pretty. Campaigning for someone/something is nothing more than an excersize of free speech. That's what these PACs are for. They are from both sides of the isle, funny how you failed to point that out.

"..license to steal from the rich and grumpy", not so!! The rich and grumpy GIVE their money willingly. No theft required. If you want to discuss theft for political donations, let's talk about union dues. Do you really think that every single person in a union agrees on which politician the union should give money?! We have a longer history of unions using free speech and no one said a word. Now that citizens can do the same thing, it becomes a problem??!!

2 guest columns, same day,same paper, both bemoaning the fact that right leaning citizens can use free speech to campaign for right leaning candidates. No complaints about the left doing the same thing in either column......hmmmm.

George Croix

The donors are grumpy, but the complainers about the donors are just exercising their right to an opinion.
I get it.

Raymond Lewis

And rockystrongo seems especially "grumpy". Chill dude!

Mike Leahy

Union members must pay dues, regardless of whom their individual union or the AF of L-CIO endorse politically.

However, dues are not used for political funding, VOLUNTARY Political Action Funds are used for this purpose. If a union member (in good standing because he pays his dues) does not wish to make any contributions to a candidate publically favored by the union, he simply does not make a voluntary political action fund donation. Simple as that and the record-keeping to show the different uses of the mandatory dues funds and voluntary PAF funds is clear, as required by Federal Law, as well as the union's by-laws.

Union busters conflate dues paying and voluntary political contributions to suit their purposes but, do not be lead like sheep; it is not the case.

Dan Freeman

I have been accused of grumpiness from time to time. Thank you.

George Croix

It's been years, but fact is I can recall when not going along with the candidate(s) of choice of a particular local in T.C. got that maverick the opportunity to buy a new set of radials.
There does seem to have been improvement for the better, at least overtly.

Lars Faltskog

I think rockstrongogo misplaced his anti-anxiety meds. Are you related to DottyOA? Now, in regard to political ads, notwithstanding the PACs and such, I often wondered throughout this primary. Why does practically every republican candidate choose a rural theme and wear a cowboy hat? None of them are cowboys and most represent urban districts.

Part of the answer is the exploitation of the mind that these ads bring. It's easy to see that professional advertisers who have studied the best ways to subliminalize their messages so that it reaches the "right" recipient. Political advertising is geared toward the gullible, whether they are liberal, conservative, or "in between" voters.

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