Don Davis

On Selling Paranoia, Or, Conservative Emails, Examined

Filed By Don Davis | March 20, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics
Tags: Ann Coulter, conservative politics, Democrats, election 2010, Irrational Fear, politics, Republicans

It seems that many of those who are regular guests of this space are committed to a worldview based on some degree of reason and rationality.

That's a handy thing if the "Covert Alarm Locator Apparatus" in your Isaac Daniel® Compass Global 1000 GPS sneakers should happen to fail and you need to find your way back to where the rest of us are; sadly, not all voters are equipped with such a helpful worldview.

Luckily for them, there are lots of conservative "mouth organs" ready to fill the "information gap."

They send out lots of emails every day, spreading their Word, and as a public service I receive several of them; this to help keep track of just what's out there, exactly.

If you ever wondered why otherwise normal people believe some of the craziest things about "Obama's Secret Death Care And National Virgin Sacrifice Program," have a look at some of the things I get every single day, and it might all make a bit more sense.

Pithiatism [G. peithein, to persuade + iatos, curable] 1. Hysteria induced by suggestion. 2. Mental disorder cured by suggestion.

--"Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary", 11th Edition

It is my friends at Human Events ("Leading Conservative Media Since 1944") who seem to be the most assiduous in keeping my inbox full, and every day a weird combination of political missives and "exiting promotional opportunities" are arriving out of the ether.

Who is Human Events?

printing.jpgHuman Events is an offshoot of Eagle Publishing (as is RedState), and they're performing several functions in the Conservaverse: they help spread The Word by gathering all the usual suspects, all in one place (the contributor list at Human Events includes Michelle Malkin, Pat and Bay Buchanan, James Inhofe, "David Feherty, Civilian", and the Wango Tango guy himself, Ted Nugent), they are a daily reinforcer of the Daily Talking Points, as evidenced, again, by my inbox...and they are also one of the reasons Conservative books always seem to jump to the top of some bestseller list or another upon their release, a topic to which we'll return shortly.

Additionally, they're a source for others, both political and commercial, who seek access to a mailing list, which is why, from time to time, I also receive emails from Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris--and why I recently received the insider scoop on how gold is being accumulated by Central Banks and that I better get some too...before it's too late.

Here's what else has been coming in:

The Tea Party Express sent me an email just this morning to let me know they would be "on tour"; this action taking them from Searchlight, Nevada (read: Harry Reid) to Washington, DC:

"...Since the Democrats in Congress are so determined to ignore the will of the voters, and force a government-run healthcare fiasco down our throats - as part of the step-by-step slide towards socialism - then we here at the Tea Party Express will "Just Vote Them Out" one-by-one.

So fellow patriots, here's an update on the launch of Tea Party Express III and the "Showdown in Searchlight."

First, we want to thank you all. You've taken a lot of pressure off. In just the past two days we've raised over $15,000 and now have only $65,000 left to raise by March 27th.

We have just 10 days until the launch of "Tea Party Express III: Just Vote Them Out" national tour, and the kickoff event: the "Showdown in Searchlight" mega rally..."

Fun Fact: The Tea Party Express has apparently been making enemies and influencing people among the Tea Party activists themselves, based on a perception that the group is a front for the Republican Party and that the extreme behavior of some members of the group is bad for the larger Tea Party movement.

My take on this: if they're supposed to be raising money for the Republicans, and they're having trouble raising $80,000 for themselves...well, it would appear that the Republicans are going to need unlimited corporate donations (thank you so much for that, Supreme Court...) if they hope to stay in business.

An Action News Update!

Even as I'm writing today's story, this just came in:

ObamaCare Vote Imminent, Pelosi May Have Votes

He's Pledged To Shove ObamaCare Down Your Throat Even If It Kills Him...

...Barack Obama may have given Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid a deadline to ram ObamaCare through Congress, but knowledgeable sources in Congress are telling us that Pelosi will push the Senate-passed bill to the floor of the House of Representatives the very second she believes she has the votes to shove it down our throats... or maybe even sooner...

...And we don't need to tell you what's at stake. You already know about the extreme cuts in Medicare... the rationing... the crippling taxes... and the long waiting lines that we may all be forced to endure for substandard medical care.

"... bankrupting the insurance industry and undermining the free market is a stated goal of some healthcare reform advocates. ... the goal of healthcare reform is to create a system that bankrupts private industry and leads to socialized medicine. And that is a goal shared by Barack Obama."

(Emphasis is original)

The email goes on to suggest that a donation of up to $1000 would be very helpful to enable the sender to "Blast Fax" every Member of Congress...et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

You may have already noticed a recurring theme in these messages: the fear of things being shoved down throats is ever-present among Conservative Messengers--which, to me, either suggests something about the lack of imagination over there these days...or the lack of a fully-developed sense of joie de vivre; something that may have impacted folks like Larry Craig and David Vitter and John Ensign, all of whom, on certain occasions, have presumably done a bit of throat-shoving themselves.

(For extra credit, discuss amongst yourselves: Is all this throat-shoving talk having an effect on some people's attitudes about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue?)

Ann Coulter wrote me today to let me know that:

I have a plan!

... We can't have a free market in health insurance until Congress eliminates the antitrust exemption protecting health insurance companies from competition. If Democrats really wanted to punish insurance companies, which they manifestly do not, they'd make insurers compete...

We interrupt Dear Coulter's message for a quick Fact Check: the House did indeed vote on February 24th to remove that antitrust exemption, with all 19 dissenting votes coming from...wait for it...Republicans; the bill, known as HR 4626, is now on the Senate's Legislative Calendar.

We now return you to Coulter, still in progress:

The very next sentence of my bill provides that the exclusive regulator of insurance companies will be the state where the company's home office is. Every insurance company in the country would incorporate in the state with the fewest government mandates, just as most corporations are based in Delaware today.

That's the only way to bypass idiotic state mandates, requiring all insurance plans offered in the state to cover, for example, the Zone Diet, sex-change operations, and whatever it is that poor Heidi Montag has done to herself this week.

President Obama says we need national health care because Natoma Canfield of Ohio had to drop her insurance when she couldn't afford the $6,700 premiums, and now she's got cancer.

Much as I admire Obama's use of terminally ill human beings as political props, let me point out here that perhaps Natoma could have afforded insurance had she not been required by Ohio's state insurance mandates to purchase a plan that covers infertility treatments and unlimited OB/GYN visits, among other things.

It sounds like Natoma could have used a plan that covered only the basics -- you know, things like cancer.

Again, a quick interruption: if I had the power to know in advance what diseases I was gonna get in the future...and whether fertility might or might not be an issue one day...why would I waste my money on health insurance premiums when I could do a whole lot better in Las Vegas--and get free cocktails at the same time?

Of course, an insurance company has to be able to refuse NEW customers with "pre-existing conditions." Otherwise, everyone would just wait to get sick to buy insurance. It's the same reason you can't buy fire insurance on a house that's already on fire.

That isn't an "insurance company"; it's what's known as a "Christian charity."...

... Right now, insurance companies are protected by government regulations from having to honor their contracts. Violating contracts isn't so easy when competitors are lurking, ready to steal your customers.

(Emphasis is added)

I assume that that last paragraph will become an important Talking Point for Republicans looking to blame Democrats for recent insurance company behavior, and I'll be looking for this argument to appear in debates from now until November.

cattle sales.jpgWanna hear something even weirder than the idea that Democrats are what's making the insurance companies deny their customers' claims for care related to their pre-existing conditions?

Even as these groups are trying to either reinforce or get me to change my worldview, they're also constantly trying to get me to buy stuff, including the Swivel Sweeper G2, a certain set of "As Seen On TV" knives, and, ironically, EcoCanteen stainless steel water bottles.

"It's Free, But We Make It Up In Volume"

Finally, a few words about Conservatives and their books.

I get, on a regular basis, the chance to have important works of Conservative literature sent to me at rock-bottom prices, assuming I either subscribe to something or join some club that's planning to save Our Great Nation from...most likely, from people like me.

So how can so many people make money giving away books?

It works like this: groups like the Conservative Book Club purchase thousands of copies of a book by [insert name here], using money that appears to be donated from private sources and PACs.

Since the bulk purchases are timed to occur as the book is released, it's possible to create "Number 1 Best Sellers!" more or less on demand...and then I begin to get emails offering me the book for a price far below the cost of production.

A perfect example: Dick Morris sent me an email, just today, to let me know that I have only have a few days left to take advantage of Newsmax's offer to get my free copy of "Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown", a book that seeks to help me profit, as you might have already guessed, from the Next Global Financial Meltdown.

Check out what the Newsmax email says about how bulk purchasing works:

I knew that YOU should have this information too. So at great cost to Newsmax, I purchased more than 10,000 copies of this book to GIVE AWAY - completely free (just pay shipping)!

They were gone in a matter of days . . . so I purchased another 10,000. Those, too, were snatched up just days later. So, I arranged for another shipment.

Only a few copies are left . . . and this is your last chance to claim one for yourself. If you were to go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you would pay around $28 retail for this book. (By the way, both of these retailers are out of copies!)

(Emphasis is almost original: underlined words were changed to italics.)

(Quick Fact Check: As of March 18th, Barnes & Noble and Amazon are both selling the book, new, for $16.34, down from the $27.95 retail price, and both appear to have the item in stock...along with Wiley and Borders and a1Books and papamedia and even the UK's Book Depository.com, who will let you have it for the apparent lowest price anywhere: $15.99--with "free shipping worldwide.")

As you can see, Newsmax acknowledges they purchased more than 20,000 copies of the book, and possibly as many as 30,000...and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that's a big part of the total sales for this title. In fairness, however, I could not locate BookScan or other sales data for this book, so that's just a guess, and I could be wrong.

Sarah Palin added an interesting new twist to the process: SarahPAC (and, yes, Virginia, there really is a SarahPAC) spent more than $60,000 to purchase copies of her own book, allowing her to convert campaign donations into ordinary income that she can spend any way she wants; the books were then given away, at no charge, to donors...and now the cycle begins anew, as a second book has been announced.

All of this is reflected in how book sales are reported, with the New York Times adding a dagger to the description of certain books on its bestseller lists, which:

...indicates that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders.

For the record, Mitt Romney's new book, currently atop the Hardcover Nonfiction list, has two such daggers.

Add all of this together, and what do you get?

How about: a combination of events that are likely associated with a lot of today's...Pithiatism.

A never-ending vicious cycle of self-affirming impending doom and Swivel Sweepers, delivered to your mailbox every day, until you can't remember if Buy One, Get One Free* (*Just Pay Additional P&H) refers to a consumer product or the possibility that a Death Panel will commit you--and your family--to a beyond-top-secret Conservatives-Only Gulag soon to be established at the corner of Castro and 18th; located in a fortress built above the GBLT Historical Society's current offices and staffed by Rainbow Stormtroopers especially chosen by Nancy Pelosi herself.

It's a scary, scary world out there, my friends...and if these folks have anything to say about it, it'll stay that way.


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