The Chamber of Commerce in any local town in America is filled with second-handers who seek to use the thin disguise of “team building” exercises to leech off the truly productive and steer those same minds politically into their desired—collective direction. In my home town it was the Superintendent of Lakota hired by Lynda O’Conner who immediately worked on the members of No Lakota Levy through the Chamber of Commerce to sway them away from any kind of public dialogue that might prevent the public school of Lakota from achieving a tax increase. The goal was to facilitate opinion through networking with Chamber membership and if they could not change their mind about taxing themselves into oblivion—they might at least shut their mouths publicly. At the Four Bridges Country Club in fact on August 12th 2014 Lynda is the emcee for a Chamber discussion about the Affordable Care Act. Members of the Chamber, non members, and walk-ins are welcome of course—and hand-holding is deeply encouraged. After all, what better way to associate with others at the elegant Four Bridges Country Club than through Chamber activity and once there—a subtle stream of collective oriented politics uttered by second-handers permeates the events. (For those not familiar with a popular term I use regarding second-handers—they are people who live off the efforts of other people.) It is not uncommon for local celebrities to speak at such functions so to bring a gravitas of influence that may be used for leverage at a later date—otherwise known as “networking.”
This use of celebrity arranged by Chamber of Commerce groups all over the country is quite common. Many of these members, just as they are in my town, believe they are staunch Republicans—like Patti Alderson whose husband Dick will receive the Everest Award at the Cincinnati Marriott North on August 15th 2014, an event emceed by Clyde Gray of Channel 9, with Archie Griffin as the keynote speaker. (No wonder Channel 9 pulled away from covering the Lakota levy opposition) One of the sponsors of this event is the Cox Media Group who runs the local newspaper……hmmmm, isn’t it interesting how all these things go together. Patti has the ear of the Governor of Ohio as well as the current Speaker of the House and she has her name on virtually every charity event that local Chamber members are a part of, and politics is a big part of these occasions—even though nobody actually talks about politics. They talk around them—but always there is a subtle push to support the collective opinion of the membership leaders—like Patti who supports higher taxes, lame duck politicians (like her good friend John Boehner,) and lots of touchy feely second-hander efforts of community—because she is the definition of second-hander behavior.
On the national stage The Chamber team was scrounging around for ideas, desperate for a silver bullet that might alter the course of the many close campaigns around the country where Tea Party challengers were going up against deeply entrenched Republicans. The national Chamber teams enlisted famous Republicans like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush to star in television ads for their favored candidates. The formula had paid off. In the Georgia Senate race, they looked beyond politics, convincing Herschel Walker, the iconic University of Georgia football hero whose in-state star power is second only to Jesus, to cut an ad supporting Jack Kingston, the Chamber-backed candidate.
They needed something similar in Mississippi. That’s when Pickering, an acquaintance of former NFL quarterback legend and southern Mississippi native Brett Favre, piped up.
“I think I can get to Brett,” Pickering said.
Reed pulled out his cell phone immediately and thrust it across the table. “Call him.”
The idea set off a madcap scramble to locate Favre, convince him to get involved in a political campaign, and produce a television ad compelling enough to pierce the political clutter on TV and sway new voters who hadn’t participated in the primary, which Cochran lost by only 1,400 votes. An initial survey of the runoff, conducted in the days after the June 3 primary by Chamber pollster Tony Fabrizio, showed Cochran trailing McDaniel by eight points.
“We knew the clock was ticking,” Reed recalls. “Our strategy was to grow the electorate. It was the only way to win. We knew if it was a closed primary, we would have lost. So we made a play for Reagan Democrats. Bubba. And who better than Brett? Especially in southern Mississippi where he is an icon, and where Thad had underperformed.”
It took three days to track down Favre, who was out of the state on vacation. The Chamber also sought out Eli Manning, another NFL standout who starred at Ole Miss. But he passed on the idea. By Monday, just eight days before the runoff, Favre agreed to shoot a pro-Cochran ad on his farm near Hattiesburg. Favre’s parents were schoolteachers; they sold him with Cochran’s promise to protect federal education funding.
“Brett is not a political guy,” says Rob Engstrom, who, along with Reed, helms the Chamber’s political operation. “But when we talked to him about it, he looked at it and said, ‘This is about our state.’ It appealed to him. He said yes right away.”
Back at Chamber headquarters in Washington, across the street from the White House, Reed and Engstrom scrambled the jets.
Their go-to film crew drove through the night across the Gulf Coast from Pensacola, Florida, to Hattiesburg. Their creative director caught a seat on the last flight south out of Dulles. Tuesday morning was spent shooting the commercial on Favre’s 460-acre farm.
Satisfied with the footage, the film crew flew back to Washington that night. The ad was in edit the next morning, and by Wednesday night the commercial — which showed Favre sitting on the bed of a truck, telling viewers that “Thad Cochran always delivers” — was shipped to television stations in Mississippi. The Chamber put $100,000 behind the spot every day for the final six days of the campaign.
Brett Favre, who grew up near Hattiesburg, starred in a Chamber-produced TV spot for Thad Cochran in Mississippi that saturated airwaves in the state for the final week of the runoff election. Cochran pulled off a miracle, winning in narrow and dramatic fashion by only 6,700 votes — a result still being disputed by a flabbergasted McDaniel campaign.
It wasn’t the Chamber’s ad alone that did it. The Cochran campaign made a concerted push to grow turnout after the primary, a push that involved recruiting African-American voters and Republicans who might have otherwise stayed home. Other outside allies coordinated to do the same. But the Chamber’s role in helping drag Cochran over the finish line is undisputed.
“The guys at the Chamber are pros,” says Henry Barbour, a veteran GOP operative and Cochran supporter who ran a super PAC supporting the candidate. “They helped orchestrate an overall strategic effort that at the end of the day helped Sen. Cochran close the margins and win the election.”
The Mississippi runoff was a signal moment for the Chamber in what’s quickly becoming the most aggressive political cycle in its 102-year history.
The conservative-leaning outfit, known mainly for its heavyweight policy and lobbying practices — it spent $74 million on lobbying in 2013, according to the Center For Responsive Politics — has emerged as one of the most powerful actors in American political campaigns, with roughly $17 million spent so far on Senate and House races, all of it on behalf of Republicans friendly to the business community.
In doing so, the Chamber has planted itself firmly on the front line of the GOP establishment’s push to extinguish tea party ideologues wherever they threaten business-backed candidates — in Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, and elsewhere.
I can attest to this effectiveness, it was through Chamber membership that many of my members of the No Lakota Levy were convinced to sit on their hands and keep quiet during the Lakota tax increase of 2013. I am not a member of the Chamber Alliance—which is what it is called in my community. At the links below, a quick look will tell why. In their publication called the “The Voice” by reading the March edition we were told by Lynne Rhul and Denise DiStasi that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” which is an enormously stupid statement. Further during their March 2014 luncheon those two brilliant minds of entrepreneurship stated that there are three main problems with false perceptions of observation—the first is the belief that your way is the right way, even though some of your actions are just based on habit. The second is the fear of the unknown, and the third main problem is making assumptions, including those based on looks or cultural stereotypes. All those things can be applied to how we do business. Lynne further stated that “all life has value, otherwise we would feel entitled to treat others poorly–respect should not be earned, but rather given.” Oh, isn’t that so sweet—and when Lynne said it—the heads in the room were nodding—YES. It is in events like that luncheon that much damage is done in politics. What Lynne Rhul and Denise DiStasi were articulating were basic progressive politics uttered behind the perceptual façade of a conservative business oriented organization.
If that wasn’t enough jump up to the June/July edition of a ”The Voice” at the link below and read about the Leadership 21 segment from William Greenwald—the founder and chief “Neuroleaderologist” from the Windsor Leadership Group. He says that the best way to manage stress is to:
- Exercise, exercise, exercise (it’s like “cognitive candy” for the brain)
- Recruit positive emotions (e.g. watch a funny movie, get together with a friend, recruit happy memories.)
- Control your physiological arousal (e.g. deep breath exercises)
- Perform a spiritual activity (e.g. visit your church or take time to say a prayer for someone else.)
- Practice mindfulness techniques and self-reflect on forms of gratitude.
Seriously, have a look for yourself.
So I am not a part of my local Chamber. It is a cesspool of second-handers who want suck off the efforts of those who are actually doing things in the world—taking their money and using their influence gained to manipulate celebrity, finance, politics, and the media to steer society into a progressive direction. The only use that Chamber of Commerce organizations have for their members is to provide a social outlet for people to bang wine glasses together occasionally and feel sophisticated. But what really occurs is that those who are truly sophisticated are used to prop up those who are not and usually it is the ring masters of these events who are doing the leeching. They don’t have a quality event unless the best and brightest from the community attend their luncheons, and ceremonies. So I stay away.
When it is wondered why nothing ever happens in politics and why the status quo seems unmovable—it is because the money that feeds the political machine is either funneled through local Chambers of Commerce or the people who possess such money have their minds encumbered with progressive tripe like the examples provided—spoon fed to them by their local Chamber leaders. All these nice ideas about “all life has value, otherwise we would feel entitled to treat others poorly, respect should not be earned, but rather given,” sound nice while having a luncheon with what everyone thinks are the smartest minds of West Chester nibbling on a catered lunch—but in reality those people haven’t visited a neighborhood in downtown Hamilton recently where crack addicts have destroyed themselves and their children, or the prostitutes on East Avenue continue to spread disease and mayhem to scum bag husbands cheating on their wives—some of which were at that same luncheon. It is reckless, and foolish for Lynne Rhul to preach “no judgment” when everything that one should do in business is make decisions based on judgment—and leadership—not that kind of crap that William Greenwald is talking about—but the kind of leadership that can see things happening for they actually arrive—being at the front of the train instead of in the back—being on the “cutting edge.” Greenwald through the Chamber wastes enormous amounts of productive time steering members toward ridiculous stress management techniques that might as well be taken from an Indian bathing in the Ganges. Following those methods will not lead a community to victory and productive enterprise—it will lead to a dirt road in the middle of a third world country.
But what’s worse than the progressive opinions of these contributors are the hidden efforts to keep the politics of a community from drifting too conservatively away from progressive strategies. I know many of the people who are members of my local Chamber—especially Lynda O’Conner—and even though she sells herself to conservative groups and comes to conservative events—she is not a conservative—not in the way that I am, that’s for sure. And Patti Alderson is of the same mind as Lynda. Those two ladies might be good for arranging a picnic and raising money for some hungry kids, but they have no place “leading” a community to anything with the title “leadership” at its heading—which the Chamber of Commerce groups all across the nation continuously abuse. Chamber of Commerce organizations all across America are simply deployment stations for second-handers who need to suck off the energy of the truly productive. Many people who operate businesses believe that they must take part in these activities—there is a bit of vanity in them which desires to be loved by other human beings for the power and wealth they have accumulated—so they participate because of the social aspects. But they cannot keep second-handers from sucking off of them and then using that looted value to manipulate politics back toward moderate positions contaminated by progressive influence.
If you dear reader really want to fix the world—you should withdrawal your Chamber of Commerce memberships. For those who really want to succeed in business, you won’t learn much from the people who are emcees at Chamber events—and what you do learn will be all the wrong types of things. “Judgment” in business is one of the most important aspects of it—and when it is asserted that judgments should be avoided—you know you are talking to an idiot when it comes to fiscal responsibility, and business enterprise.