Scam PACs ignore facts for fat stacks, then slack
July 26, 2019 4:53 PM   Subscribe

 
Eponysterical? Sure, why not.
posted by sigma7 at 5:05 PM on July 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


Well, I guess one way to defeat the forces of darkness is to just straight-up rob them? This seems to be legal, so I wonder if a set of suitably aggravated leftists could really weaponize this scam and systematically loot the right-wing base.
posted by aramaic at 5:07 PM on July 26, 2019 [15 favorites]


This is my shocked face.
posted by Splunge at 5:29 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


To loot the right wing properly, you’d have to advertise on Fox News. So do your trolley problem math.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:32 PM on July 26, 2019 [11 favorites]


I dunno that you’d really need to advertise on Fox so much as simply watch it every morning and adapt your pitch scripts accordingly. Indeed, if you were careful with your wording you could probably imply you’re working for/with Fox “on matters of concern to all patriotic Americans”.

Between this and the problem of corrupt non-profit fundraising you may be able to walk away with quite a lot of money that formerly belonged to right-wing folks. Legally.
posted by aramaic at 5:47 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Is there a better mark than a stupid self-interested person? No. No there is not.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:51 PM on July 26, 2019


A liberal version targeting conservatives is an interesting thought experiment, at least. They had a donor list they called directly, rather than advertising. Presumably you'd have to buy/create the list of people to call and phone numbers.

I think you'd want to avoid outright fraud, but you could probably frame it in any call scripts as sending a message to some liberal group with dangerous ideas or lobbying about photo ID initiatives for voting to protect American's right to vote, and just not mention that it's a message of support, or that the lobby is against the ID requirement.
posted by gryftir at 6:06 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, the real influence is from large donors who are going to be keeping tabs on how the money is spent, no?
posted by jzb at 6:31 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


weaponize this scam and systematically loot the right-wing base.

Glenn Beck called and would like you to quit publicizing his business plan.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:58 PM on July 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


weaponize this scam and systematically loot the right-wing base

When Trump was elected, I realized how many suckers there truly were among my fellow Americans, and I started brainstorming scams to take advantage of them. I didn’t follow through, due to a combination of having some ethics and being busy with other things.

This is a good angle, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:19 PM on July 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


10 cheers to those grifting the idiots. A billion jeers because how many of the fuckers did they radicalize.
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


Whatever wealth InfoCision is generating, through legitimate means or otherwise, is going to finance some really destructive things in Ohio and the surrounding area. Their level of influence at the University of Akron alone--a school that draws its student body disproportionally from marginalized groups compared to other regional schools--is so gross. Yeah, they don't spend it directly where they say they're going to spend it, but it's not like they aren't still spending it to wreck the planet and their communities.
posted by Sequence at 8:49 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Oh man I need to get on this grift. make those checks out to MAGAPAC2020BABY, the mainstream media doesn't want you to do it.
posted by dis_integration at 8:49 PM on July 26, 2019


It really is grifters all the way down
posted by bigbigdog at 8:51 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have actually though a LOT about doing this. It seems like taking candy from a baby.
posted by Slinga at 8:51 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


It really is grifters all the way down

All the way down, and all the way up to the top. It's worth remembering Trump's con is nothing new to the GOP.

Back in the late 2000s, I was helping my mom with sorting and monitoring her husband's mail since his dementia-addled brain wanted to write checks to almost anyone who asked. He received multiple FedEx envelopes from the RNC demanding immediate contributions to fight for Bush. To fight against terrorists. To fight against the complete destruction of the American Way of Life. They once fradulently threatened to revoke his party membership (which isn't really a thing in the US) if they didn't get a check right away.

And then there was the barrage from the groups which had purchased the RNC's (or whoever's) mailing list. My personal favorite was the group that wanted $50 immediately to stop Sharia Law before your wife was forced into a very unsexy burqa.

There was a deluge of phone calls as well. Telling the callers, and writing letters to the RNC, with news of his dementia did not stop the flow. If anything, I think it increased. It finally reached the point where my insanely honest mother resorted to lying. "He's dead. Go away" was the only thing that finally worked.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:16 PM on July 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


the modern right wing movement is largely based on direct mail scams and access to mailing lists. How many people got emptied out for televangelists back in the day? It's not even the same scam, it's frequently the same people
posted by The Whelk at 9:39 PM on July 26, 2019 [7 favorites]


When I really think about it, really ruminate for a while (as it were), what I want more than anything is to be able to say, when confronted by a TV crew, is “yeah, I totally ripped you off, you ignorant racist fucks! I ripped you off, and it’s all perfectly legal, thanks for the money! And you know what? You’re so ridiculously ignorant you’re gonna get ripped off again, next month! I’m gonna rip you off, and you’re gonna thank me for it”

...which pretty much reinforces The Whelks’ point above.

We have arrived at a point in history where the best we can hope for is that an unprincipled scammer will deprive fools of their money before an even less principled scammer can do so.

The money, the savings, the hard work, that was all already doomed. It’s just a matter of whether it’s lost to a bastard, or a rat bastard.
posted by aramaic at 9:46 PM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Richard Viguerie was the founder of the conservative direct mail empire and he worked for an evangelist at one point, so yeah.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 PM on July 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Fractal social division theory indicates the scams will adapt and adapt, until each of us has our own personalized scam, and identifies socially and politically with a social group that is so alike to oneself as to be twins
posted by bigbigdog at 10:40 PM on July 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


I just dropped in to say that "Scam PACs ignore facts for fat stacks, then slack" is probably the Post Title Of The Year.
posted by Optamystic at 5:18 AM on July 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


In the unlikely event that anyone interested in right-wing grift hasn't already read it, Rick Perlstein's The Long Con is great.
posted by Jeanne at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


> I have actually though a LOT about doing this. It seems like taking candy from a baby.

immediately after the election, in the time period after the general population noticed that there were a ton of fake news sites catering to republican persecution fantasies but before the dictator changed the meaning of the term "fake news," i recall seeing a number of news stories about the small independent operators running these grifts, who claimed to have initially developed both right-wing and left-wing fake news conspiracy sites but to have dropped the left-wing ones when they realized they weren't getting very many social media shares or making any money.

and like as a person who likes free money i appreciate the impulse to set up scams to fleece right-wingers but on the other hand scamming them from the right simply reïnforces their right-wing views. when they receive demands for money from scammers, they don't think "i am being scammed." instead, they think something like "this important organization agrees with me and is asking for money to help support the things i believe in, and so therefore that must mean that my beliefs are correct."
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:12 AM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


tl;dr: shining them on makes them more enthusiastic for trump, even if you're ripping them off at the same time.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:10 AM on July 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


The modern right wing movement is largely based on direct mail scams and access to mailing lists. How many people got emptied out for televangelists back in the day? It's not even the same scam, it's frequently the same people

Well, when you worship the primacy of capitalism, it makes sense that you believe money fixes everything you think is wrong in the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:57 PM on July 27, 2019


So many grifts that they're getting in the way of the other grifts.
posted by ckape at 3:02 PM on July 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


The quotes from them... for people so easily stoked to outrage, they appear to have none left for people who swindled thousands of dollars out of them.
posted by Selena777 at 4:51 PM on July 27, 2019


First, fraud is illegal. Second, even if it isn’t, what makes you think that you can’t scam liberals as easily as conservatives? To coin a phrase, two wrongs don’t make a right. If it’s not illegal, it should be, because nastiness can be used against any side (see free speech restrictions).

I have an extremely conservative officemate, whose stated opinion is “if people are too dumb to protect themselves, it should be legal to steal from them.” No shit. I can’t wait to mention this to him next week, since motivated reasoning is so fun to watch when it suddenly goes into reverse.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:49 PM on July 27, 2019


So pleased someone took my suggestion.
posted by whuppy at 5:06 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Second, even if it isn’t, what makes you think that you can’t scam liberals as easily as conservatives?

I do think that conservatism is built on grifts in a more fundamental sense. It's grifts all the way down. There's a lot of crossover in the venn diagram of people who show up to Trump rallies and the folks who buy miracle water from a televangelist.

But sure, liberals can also get grifted, and some people sure do make a killing at it.

But the grift is not fundamental to left wing politics the way it is to right-wing politics. There's a con in the very nature of conservatism, which requires you to believe that the wealthiest and most powerful elites in fact have the interests of the average person at heart, so we should just get rid of all these things that restrict their power and wealth, like taxes and regulations, so that we can all finally benefit from their largesse.
posted by dis_integration at 7:38 AM on July 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


> But the grift is not fundamental to left wing politics the way it is to right-wing politics. There's a con in the very nature of conservatism, which requires you to believe that the wealthiest and most powerful elites in fact have the interests of the average person at heart, so we should just get rid of all these things that restrict their power and wealth, like taxes and regulations, so that we can all finally benefit from their largesse.

Well said. Kevin Drum first asked the question of why these scams are so much more common on the right, and recently came to the same conclusion you did:
Part of the problem, sadly, is that the right trends older than the left, and the elderly have always been prime targets for scammers for reasons having nothing to do with politics. But I think there’s something more fundamental at work: namely that the modern right is a scam at its core. I don’t mean this in the sense that the Republican Party doesn’t always deliver what it promises. No political party does that. What I mean is that since at least the late 70s, the cold, hard nugget at the heart of the conservative movement’s electoral strategy is an attempt to win working-class votes for a party that’s dedicated to the interests of corporations and the wealthy. [...]

This means that the success of the entire movement is intimately tied to a huge, relentlessly repeated lie. Tax cuts boost the economy and are good for the working class. Light regulation of Wall Street frees up money and is good for the working class. Right-to-work laws provide job opportunities for the working class. Social Security is a scam that won’t be around by the time the working class retires. “Dangerous” chemicals are just a left-wing myth designed to strangle the economy and hurt the working class. Allowing more oil drilling and more coal mining provides lots of jobs for the working class. Etc. Every policy designed to benefit the rich has to be deliberately twisted into a fraud for public consumption.

This is inexorably corrosive. It’s impossible to base an entire movement on a working-class scam and not create the conditions for other working-class scammers to ply their trade. As long as this is the case, scammers are simply the price modern conservatives have to pay for the way they conduct politics.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:25 PM on July 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


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