More on the Grift

Rick Perlstein has a nice history of the foundation of grift underneath the modern conservative movement, and how that connects with Mitt’s constant lying. Perlstein details the history of direct mail conservatism, dotted with PACs that spend 99% of their take on administration, and also details some of the solicitations that your average Newsmax or Townhall reader gets for spammy cons.

Back in our great-grandparents’ day, the peddlers of such miracle cures and get-rich-quick schemes were known as snake-oil salesmen. You don’t see stuff like this much in mainstream culture any more; it hardly seems possible such déclassé effronteries could get anywhere in a society with a high school completion rate of 90 percent. But tenders of a 23-Cent Heart Miracle seem to work just fine on the readers of the magazine where Ann Coulter began her journalistic ascent in the late nineties by pimping the notion that liberals are all gullible rubes. In an alternate universe where Coulter would be capable of rational self-reflection, it would be fascinating to ask her what she thinks about, say, the layout of HumanEvents.com on the day it featured an article headlined “Ideas Will Drive Conservatives’ Revival.” Two inches beneath that bold pronouncement, a box headed “Health News” included the headlines “Reverse Crippling Arthritis in 2 Days,” “Clear Clogged Arteries Safely & Easily—without drugs, without surgery, and without a radical diet,” and “High Blood Pressure Cured in 3 Minutes . . . Drop Measurement 60 Points.” It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA—and to get her candid assessment of why conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.

The whole thing is worth a read.

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107 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    I read it out loud this morning to Mr. Aimai. Like all of Perlstein’s writing it was a revelation. I accidentallly got on National Review’s email list at some point and I noticed that a very high proportion of their email updates–like half–are actually paid advertising for a specific “charity” or political figure. They “forward” it to you as a “favor” to you but I’ve never received solicitations like that from any other journal, certainly not from a political journal. And, of course, Glenn Beck and the others notoriously make money off the pants pissingly scared between the gold buggery and the seed stockery, the gun hugging and the end of the world paranoia. Frankly you could probably make money selling these guys a combo gun pack and suicide pill for after Obama gets elected.

    aimai

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA…

    That reminds me; what happened to Paul Ryan? Do we need to put his picture on a milk carton?

    I’ll guess on my first cuppa caffeine this morning that he’s either poison in Florida over Vouchers…

    …or he’s working his ass off not to lose twice on Tuesday. Now, THAT would be sweet.

  3. 3
    Robin G. says:

    @The Dangerman: FSM does not love me enough for that.

  4. 4
    Poopyman says:

    @aimai: About a year and a half ago I somehow got on the Tea Party mailing list (and if I ever find out who ….). I noticed the same thing. Not only the obvious Jerome Corsi book pimping and apocalyse preparation junk, but quack cures for ailments those of a certain Tea Party age are likely to have. A real grift-fest.

    I wonder if it bugs the Tea Party Faithful, or if they just dutifully send in their hard-earned Social Security money?

  5. 5
    PreservedKillick says:

    @The Dangerman:

    He’s in OH, then a touch-and-go in Harrisburg, PA and Richmond, VA and ends the day in Panama City, FL.

    Seems busier than Romney, just very low-key. I don’t think they want people seeing much of him after he got humiliated by Biden.

  6. 6
    Mark S. says:

    Here was my favorite part:

    Another source familiar with the conservative direct-mail industry wondered to Crawford, “How anyone of any sensitivity can bear to read those letters scrawled by little old women on Social Security who are giving up a dollar they cannot afford to part with . . . without feeling bad is unbelievable.”

    How anyone could be so naive to think these assholes have any conscience at all is unbelievable.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    I’ve been watching Leverage, the back seasons, while I cook or clean. One of the scams they describe is the classic pyramid boiler room scam where you call 1000 marks and offer them a chance to buy a stock on the promise that it will go up in value. Meanwhile you call 1000 other marks and offer them the reverse deal, to short a stock which you tell them will lose value. Whichever way the stock moves you call back the 1000 people you “made” money for and you offer them another binary style deal. Half of your marks will always benefit, just as half will always lose, and by the time you’ve done several iterations you have a core of marks (small in number) who really believe you know what you are doing with stock picking.

    I’ve always thought that Rush’s style is premised on the same theory. He throws out a lot of explanatory and predictive shit and some of it “sticks” in the sense that his loyal listeners then are attuned to picking it up in the wide world around them, thus confirming in their minds that Rush is a genius. People who receive discomfirmation, or who don’t by his line, stop listening. But those who do are offered just enough stuff that seems reflected in reality–like a Dan Brown novel that has you seeing the triangles in a gothic church as a coded message–that everything operates as a confirmation of whatever Rush says.

    aimai

  8. 8
    aimai says:

    @Mark S.:

    Oh, this reminds me of exactly what happened with the College Republicans in Washington State? last time around. Didn’t the entire chapter basically get shut down for grifting through the entire savings of hysterical, ill informed, old people and then appropriating the money?

    aimai

  9. 9
    The Dangerman says:

    @Robin G.:

    FSM does not love me enough for that.

    First a Romney concession speech and then a Ryan concession speech; I’m not sure which one would be more classy and introspective. Probably Ryan; he still has a future in politics. I expect Romney to go out with bile and spittle (I have to go read up on this new strategy of saying the Hostage gets whacked if Romney isn’t elected; is there anything that says LOSER like that level of mendacity?)

  10. 10
    Mike G says:

    @Mark S.:

    Reminds me of that televangelist scandal from a while back, who was encouraging people to mail money along with prayer requests; his mail-processing operation was just pulling out the checks and filling a dumpster with the prayers.

    Authoritarian-followers of the right wing set the standard for gullible and stupid. Ideologies that encourage obedience and magical thinking are like catnip to scammers.

  11. 11
    22over7 says:

    The utter naivete of the “greatest generation” boggles my mind. I could give you example after example of elders I know needing to be rescued or put right or talked out of something after some grifter latched on.

  12. 12
    meander says:

    This election has seen massive spending by the campaigns, super-PACs and various dark money operations, with numbers in the billions. I’ve been wondering about the economic impact of the spending. What are the economic positions of donors? What fraction of the money came from the top 1%, what fraction from the top quintile, etc. And, then, who gets that money? How much is skimmed off by rich consultants? How much to middle-class advertising grunts? How much to admin assistants and on-the-ground organizers? Might this campaign have been a transfer of wealth from the 1% (or, in the case of Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs, the top 0.0001%) to the middle class?

    Has anyone made attempts to estimate how the money travels across the economic universe?

  13. 13
    Mudge says:

    The powerful conservatives worship at the altar of money these days (job creators, etc.). There are many different denominations (what a delightful word to use when discussing the churches of money), Grifters, Safety Net Destructers, No Rules for Bankers, Inflate that Defense Budget, No New Taxes for Me, and others. All are characterized by fleecing the suckers, who tithe to all these churches in various ways. They are, as we all note, living in a fantasy universe, untouched by logic and science. A 3 minute blood pressure cure is every bit as believable to them as climate change denial, evolution denial, or trickle down economics.

    They are the rubes and conservatives are virtuosos at fleecing them.

  14. 14

    Looks like the Black Panthers a temp worker hired by the Clackamas County (and a Republican) is being investigated by the DOJ for Ballot Fraud. I can already see this being twisted to confirm that we unquestionably need stricter voter ID laws to keep the people who count the ballots honest. Spin, spin, spin. To every season …

  15. 15
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Cult leaders for Romney! Master Ryuho Okawa, founder and president of Happy Science has endorsed Romney (or so the ad on the front page of BJ tells me). He will fulfill the US destiny.

    For some reason I found this inspiring on this laid-back weekend morning.

  16. 16
    pillsy says:

    I always had a different theory for why the ads at Newsmax and WND and whatever are all for snake-oil cures for arthritis and heart disease and the like: Republicans are old as hell.

  17. 17
    Redshift says:

    @aimai:

    I’ve always thought that Rush’s style is premised on the same theory. He throws out a lot of explanatory and predictive shit and some of it “sticks” in the sense that his loyal listeners then are attuned to picking it up in the wide world around them, thus confirming in their minds that Rush is a genius.

    That’s also punditry in a nutshell (other than that pundits don’t have as many hours to fill.) I can’t remember where I read it, but the best thing I ever read about pundits was a piece that pointed out that punditry is a “hit-based” profession; pundits don’t become successful by being generally accurate, they become successful by making unlikely predictions.

    If a pundit makes middle-of-the-road predictions that “anyone” would agree with, and is always right, no one takes any notice. But if he/she goes out on a limb and makes outrageous predictions, the pundit class will forget the numerous times he/she has been wrong, and see the one lucky guess as evidence of some special insight, and boom! Gravy train.

    Which is probably another reason they hate Nate Silver — if they make a prediction that would in the past have been outrageous because it defies conventional wisdom, but it matches one that Nate has made, it’s automatically “boring” and not career-making.

  18. 18
    Gwangung says:

    @aimai: “let’s steal an election campaign, people!”

  19. 19
    Palli says:

    @The Dangerman:
    If Rovian ballot tabulation “correction” fails, Rob Zerban will representing the 1st district of Wisconsin in January. (I am sure, there was a Rovian pre-nominee acceptance clause contracted before Ryan accepted the VP nomination.)

  20. 20
    Aredubya says:

    To be fair, DKos has hosted its share of “Miracle Acai Treatment!” ads. But indeed, the GOP’s fervent followers seem to have an affinity for get-rich-quick schemes and miracle curse.

  21. 21

    Romney’s lying, in fact, was so richly variegated that it can serve as a sort of grammar of mendacity.

    I’ve only begun to read the Perlstein piece, but had to stop just to admire that sentence.

  22. 22
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mark S.: This is what destroyed the conservative movement and what’s destroying the evangelical churches. If the marks ever see what’s behind the curtain–and given the attrition rates in evangelical churches, sooner or later they do–it’s all over.

    Part of the No Longer Quivering blog is given over to recollections of the blog owner meeting her Quiverfull movement “heros” and facing disillusionment (while still deep in the grip of evangelical Christianity, which made such feelings difficult to process).

  23. 23
    Tokyokie says:

    @pillsy: Old and gullible are not mutually exclusive. My mother was both, and yes, hard-core Republican.

  24. 24
    Amir Khalid says:

    @TaMara (BHF):
    “Happy science”? What the fish is “happy science”?

  25. 25
    Peregrinus says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    It’s like science, but with more nitrous oxide.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The “conservative” movement is made up of criminal grifting swill, on both the secular and religious sides of the coin.

  27. 27
    Peregrinus says:

    Remember Niall Ferguson? He’s claiming to respond point-by-point to his critics, accuses them of ducking the argument and then, of course, completely avoids responding to theirs.

    Here, have a look. Some fucker I know posted it today on FB because he wanted people to “vote for Peace,” meaning against Obama.

  28. 28
    Palli says:

    Wish the number of new rich republicans could be determined after the campaign & superpac monies have been re-distributed among the loyal corporation/people.

    This is just like the monetary re-distribution that occurred with the Cheney/Bush Iraq War.

  29. 29
    catclub says:

    @aimai: “combo gun pack and suicide pill for after Obama gets elected.”

    make sure not to allow installment payments.

  30. 30
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @meander: As long as it travels efficiently from one big bank account to another, there is no stimulative effect.

    It remains to be seen if some of these local stations do anything cool with the super PAC windfall, like hire some people for a year to do special projects, or if it just goes to rent and lights staving off their now inevitable end.

  31. 31
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    The Wikipedia article on “Happy science” is not very enlightening. Can’t tell if master Okawa is a grifter like L. Ron Hubbard, or just soft in the head.

  32. 32
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @22over7: #11

    The utter naivete of the “greatest generation” boggles my mind.

    Yes. It’s been that way for a long time and I’ve never figured out why it’s so.

    I’ve asked, “If you agree that some people will lie to get sex, what makes you think that people won’t lie to get votes or money?” No answer.

  33. 33
    Schlemizel says:

    @Redshift:
    I remember back in 96 that McLaughlin ass appeared on TV 4 separate times that I saw within a week or 2 of the election. Each visit he made a wildly different prediction for the outcome. The Saturday after the election he played the one clip that most closely matched the results.

    I have said it before – I dabbled in magic shows as a kid & know I could pull off these guys act. So simple an idiot can do it, and many do

  34. 34
    Jay C says:

    @The Dangerman:

    (

    I have to go read up on this new strategy of saying the Hostage gets whacked if Romney isn’t elected; is there anything that says LOSER like that level of mendacity?)

    Unfortunately, this is probably (THE) one part of Mitt Romney’s campaign spiel that isn’t mendacious. Sadly enough. If one assumes the by-now-standard outcome of the election (Obama wins reelection, Senate stays mainly Dem. House stays Repub by lower margin), I imagine that Congressional obstructionism, anti-Obama hysteria, obsessive “investigations” and general extremism is only going to get worse. Given today’s extraordinary level of gerrymandering the House into “safe” districts nationwide (and those buckets of UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH available for the taking), there is virtually NO incentive for compromise or cooperation by Republicans on any issue. And remember, these are professional Republican politicians: they don’t take losing very well….

  35. 35
    KCIvey says:

    This would be a better point if half the political blogs of any ideology, and even the “real” news sites, weren’t overrun with spammy ads for “weird tricks” and other snake oil.

  36. 36
    JustRuss says:

    Did Perlstein really use the words “Ann Coulter” and “candid” in the same sentence?

  37. 37
    Redshift says:

    The other point (which Perlstein may make, haven’t gotten to read the whole thing yet) is that this explains the rise of conservative talk radio and the relative lack of success of the liberal version. It’s not because America is so much more in tune with conservative ideas, it’s that wingnut radio is more profitable because it delivers a supremely gullible audience for advertisers, much in the same way that Nigerian spam emails are deliberately misspelled and badly written because the only people they want to respond are people who can’t figure out that there’s something wrong there.

  38. 38
    Schlemizel says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Its not just the ‘gratest’ generation – its old people. Something happens to the thought process and I’m sure brain scientists can explain it.

    My dad was a lifelong Dem and a union guy but somewhere around 75 his thinking went to hell. He got sucked in by the anti-Clinton healthcare BS and became convinced the Dems wanted to kill off old people so they wouldn’t have to pay SS & Medicare. No amount of reality could change his mind.

  39. 39
    Mark S. says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    If the marks ever see what’s behind the curtain—and given the attrition rates in evangelical churches, sooner or later they do—it’s all over.

    Do you have any links? Is attendance at evangelical churches down, or do they just keep finding new marks?

    I’m just a little skeptical because I thought movement conservatism was on the decline 4 years ago, but it seems like a certain percentage of white people hit 60 and start drinking the Fox kool-aid.

  40. 40
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Amir Khalid: I’m loathe to include a link, but since I could NOT resist clicking on the ad, I have the link available.

    Happy Science and your vote for Romney will save the world.

  41. 41
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @22over7: I have to disagree. Not all people who are that old are that gullible. Hell, George Takei is a member of the Silent Generation whose earliest childhood memories are the inside of a Japanese Internment Camp and he isn’t on TV shilling reverse mortgages.

    My great aunt was getting newsletters about the Red China Menace when she died but my Grandmother never fell for the stuff and was a proud Obama voter. She liked to watch that Scottish guy on late night TV but had come around to TDS. And she still watched Univision news every day to keep her Spanish fluent.

    I wonder if it’s health or youthful priming. My great aunt was a card-carrying Communist in the 1950’s and ended up very far to the right. I wonder if that was priming.

    And some of my older relatives and inlaws who are in poor health are more wingnutty or at least prone to believing strange things.

    I know there’s a connection between diabeetus and Alzheimer’s syndrome.

    Certainly there are older people who suffer diminished brain function to the point that they become marks. And any frightened person is a mark. Any isolated person. My grandmother always had family around her while my great aunt lived alone.

    Just thoughts.

  42. 42
    Schlemizel says:

    @Redshift: it delivers a supremely gullible audience for advertisers, much in the same way that Nigerian spam emails are deliberately misspelled and badly written because the only people they want to respond are people who can’t figure out that there’s something wrong there.

    BINGO!

  43. 43
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mark S.: Young people leaving the church is an obsession these days. They don’t talk much about the drop in numbers, but it is real. The evangelical movement of the 70s, 80s, and 90s depended on constantly drawing in new people as the existing members would steadily get burned out and leave. Eventually, you run out of people in the country to evangelize to. The hope was that the children raised in the church would stay. But they don’t. Some prominent research about why the kids leave has come out recently.

    http://www.barna.org/teens-nex.....ave-church

    http://www.crossexamined.org/problem.asp

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_new.....hurch?lite

    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....27.40.html

    I still can’t find the survey that came out where young Christians who had left the church cited “church people” as the number one reason for getting disgusted with organized religion (gay-baiting was #2). I thought there was a write-up in Christianity Today but it’s hard to find one article among dozens about young Christians leaving the church.

    Also, too, the 70s church drew heavily from the ranks of druggies. Since then, the drug counterculture has all but disappeared. One of the most committed evangelicals I know was a coke fiend in the 70s. Church is now his drug.

  44. 44
    22over7 says:

    @Another Halocene Human: @Another Halocene Human:

    You’re right, of course. I would never argue that all seniors are gullible Fox News rubes, and my post argued that. Yikes.

    How about this? I’m at the age where I’m dealing with a lot of very old people, and an alarming percentage of them, even those who are extremely well-educated and bright, have shown themselves to be easy marks for all manner of lies and grifts.

  45. 45
    the Conster says:

    @Redshift:

    This article was a revelation in a way that I’ve only experienced two other times (while not taking LSD) – the time I came to understand that TV programming was not just an exercise in creativity to entertain and inform the viewing masses, but rather the way to deliver eyeballs to advertisers – their only source of revenue (duh!) – and, the time when I had to read a book called The Power Elite for a polisci course that introduced me to a concept called interlocking directorates. The leftist associate professor MADE us understand the implications of that concept, and from that time forward I’ve never read another non-fiction book or news article without finding out who the author/s were. Everything about this article, although I “knew” it anyway, has been laid out beautifully in that “connect the dots” way Perlstein has.

  46. 46
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Schlemizel: #38

    Its not just the ‘greatest’ generation – its old people. Something happens to the thought process and I’m sure brain scientists can explain it.

    I don’t think I’m that naive, although I was fooled by John Edwards. Dunno. Sigh.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Joel says:

    My grandmother was no conservative, but she was a very religious Catholic. She got hooked by an entirely different breed of swindler – the Catholics do their televangelism as well – but fortunately my mother was able to “deliver” the checks with a big VOID written on the front.

  49. 49
    dmsilev says:

    @Amir Khalid: Interesting. Not what I thought it was. I once came across(*) a bizarre pseudo-scientific movement which claimed that if you let drops of water freeze in a freezer and thought happy thoughts at them during the process, you’d get prettier ice crystals. Because of Quantum.

    (*) By ‘came across’, I actually mean ‘was interviewed by local TV station doing a story on this phenomena, who needed a scientist to comment and I didn’t run away fast enough when approached’.

  50. 50
    Joel says:

    @Peregrinus: I say, let him wither. His moment in the sun is gone.

  51. 51
    Tokyokie says:

    I’m not sure if Perlstein touches on this or not because I don’t have time to read his piece right now, but I remember reading about a study in the wake of the unpleasantness in the former Yugoslavia that found that extreme nationalism served as a convenient cover for criminal enterprises in nearly every situation in which extreme nationalists gained political power. Seems like this is all part and parcel to authoritarian belief systems.

  52. 52
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mark S.: I’m just a little skeptical because I thought movement conservatism was on the decline 4 years ago, but it seems like a certain percentage of white people hit 60 and start drinking the Fox kool-aid.

    But four years ago those guys were embarrassed. It took them awhile to rebrand and distance themselves from GWB and all that implies.

    As for ‘new’ marks, GWB’s failures finally drove it home to a lot of people that Republican cures are worse than the disease, but some of those same people were just waiting for the Black Sheriff to disappoint them and he did. There’s no helping such people. Many of their children will not share the same attitudes.

    My elementary school principle was a tall Black man named Mr. Andrews. As a kindergartner I perceived his as very kind and generous with his time. I think he genuinely loved kids (and not in a Pedobear way, okay?), as did our school custodians–no more custodians any more, never mind that they weren’t just the floor cleaners, they were also school security and they knew every adult and child who was supposed to be on the property on sight. Try getting that from a rent-O-cop.

    Anyway, my point is not that Obama reminds me of Mr. Andrews (lol) but that I was conditioned at a young age to accept Blacks as authority figures over whites. Children are building their heuristics for how they perceive the world which is why they perceive things as they are–they don’t yet have the weight of all their prior experience and adult impatience to take only a few factoids and create their own image of a person.

    Some parents will probably succeed in separating their kids enough from Obama that they get a distorted view. After all, it’s not as if they get that personal interaction that I had with the school principal. But most parents are not that obsessive. At the same time I was studying for First Confession and First Communion in Sunday School there were hearings on Iran-Contra every night on TV.

    If this is honestly the worst backlash we get for Obama being president we’re actually really, really lucky as a nation. For reals. (Read about the Mendelsohn family for a little perspective.)

  53. 53
    trollhattan says:

    @Poopyman:
    I don’t think the tea party has ever been anything other than a branding and marketing exercise. From their first coordinated national event (April 15, 2009) ’til now, it’s been an aggregation of previously dispersed marketing efforts.

    Local doood and longtime douche Sal Russo knew a grift when he saw one and trademarked Tea Party Express to cash in. How’d that work out for him, Wikipedia?.

    Russo Marsh and Rogers has been a financial beneficiary of Tea Party Express’ success. According to Federal Election Commission filings, more than 75% of the money spent by the PAC, about $1 million out of $1.3 million spent, went to Russo, Marsh or King Media Group, which has close ties to Russo. Kaloogian and Russo also founded the conservative group Move America Forward.

    Those grassroots extend all the way to the eighteenth green.

    Nevertheless, thank your lucky stars for Sal. In 2010 he backed Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle and Joe Miller. Losers all, they prevented a Republican takeover of the senate. Thanks a lot, Sal, now go spend your bucket of cash before it’s refilled.

  54. 54
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Redshift: Not knowing all the details of hate radio’s financials, I can’t give you this for sure, but I do know that quack stuff has always been in the back pages of most print publications because that stuff is ALWAYS there and ALWAYS pays. It was in the back of American Mercury.

    When publications were doing really, really well, they could refuse such advertising, but when times got tough, back to the well.

    It’s more of a statement on how poorly media is doing when they run scam ads, whether it’s your local cable company, the newspaper, or a magazine.

    As for Rush, apparently there was a sort of advertising bubble with his show based on ginned up listener figures and some sort of weird cross promoted incestuous corporate structure (that guarantees revenues to Mr. Limbaugh). When the mainstream advertisers pulled out, he was left with the Glenn Beckistan goldbug and miracle cure stuff.

    That said, I completely agree with you on the synergy between scams and marks.

  55. 55
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Okay, I’m lost. How did I get moderated? The word sçam? The word inçest? Help.

    ETA: $ynergy? I mean, I would blacklist that.

  56. 56

    Interesting. I’ve noticed that a gateway to Glibertarian conservatism seems quite often to be holistic health & wellness centers. Several in my neighborhood sported Ron Paul signs, for example. And I know several far-right, fundie Christian holistic medical practitioners who say they “saw the light” after being indoctrinated in left-wing universities. It’s all a big conspiracy, “what aren’t they telling us” etc. etc. etc. Somehow liberalism/science/educaiton is always to blame.

    For example, here’s a local vet a friend of mine suggested I visit when my dog couldn’t be helped by traditional medicine (I went once but haven’t been back.) Good guy I suppose but this is a weird thing to see on someone’s bio:

    Being a good student in school he graduated as an agnostic from high school and as a full blown atheist from the University of Alabama. He did not have the background to fight the scientific attacks against his faith.

    It’s that “us vs them/we’re so oppressed” mentality one sees so often in right wingers.

    Much as I’m sympathetic to holistic medicine, the idea that it’s all one or the other bothers me. If holistic medicine is right it’s because of a big conspiracy by the traditional medical profession, etc. Ugh.

  57. 57
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Save us Grift Griftie!

  58. 58
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Anoniminous: And they would know.

  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    God Damn WordPress!

    –Jeremiah Wright, speaking for we, the many, the voiceless.

  60. 60
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I don’t think I’m that naive, although I was fooled by John Edwards.

    Don’t feel bad. His shows were heavily edited. Peter Popoff, years ago, used a hidden wire. A lot of thought goes into fooling you. It’s only transparent if you’ve come across the con before and know how they do.

    JREF.org has a lot of information on cold reading.

  61. 61
    PurpleGirl says:

    @the Conster: How long ago did you read The Power Elite? (My copy of it is in storage currently, but I read it back in the early 1970s.)

  62. 62
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @the Conster: I came to understand that TV programming was not just an exercise in creativity to entertain and inform the viewing masses, but rather the way to deliver eyeballs to advertisers – their only source of revenue

    I believe MSNBC has gone liberal solely because big business wants to corral the liberals in one place to air greenwashing ads non-stop.

    Tell me you haven’t noticed.

  63. 63
    Maude says:

    @Another Halocene Human:
    heuristics, this is a family blog.
    52, you have got it right. Obama has a profound effect on kids.

  64. 64
    trollhattan says:

    WordPress is hating on Dr. Wang’s ban-guage, so instead of me quoting him, go read the thing. Trust me, you’ll feel better.

    http://election.princeton.edu/

  65. 65
    gf120581 says:

    Of course the modern conservative movement is full of grifters. How else do you think Ralph Reed keeps rising Rasputin-like from the political dead?

  66. 66
    the Conster says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Yes, that was then – around 1975 or 1976 I think. It’s one of the few textbooks I can still remember, and I read a bunch of great stuff during my indoctrination into liberalism. That was the professor – a young woman – who insisted that we were going to leave her class with better critical thinking skills than we came in with, and we did. Her name escapes me, but she scared me a little bit.

  67. 67
    Hob says:

    @Mark S.: My totally unscientific opinion is that the number of people who have literally no conscience isn’t high enough to account for the number of people employed in scams like these. I can easily believe that many of those people can spend all day swindling with a smile, and then go home and feel uncomfortable about it– just not enough to stop. Of course the longer they spend doing that, the more their sanity depends on pushing that discomfort as far from their awareness as possible.

    There’s a memorable fictional portrayal of this near the end of the movie The New Age (Michael Tolkin’s follow-up to The Rapture). Peter Weller plays a yuppie who, after various failures, starts working for a telemarketing outfit selling shoddy crap to confused old ladies. Though he wasn’t a nice person to start with, at first he’s horrified at the work and inept at it. Then, while still being horrified, he becomes good at it– the scene where he makes his first sale is really disturbing. His personal life finishes going completely to shit and he responds by going all-in on the scam job; by the end, he’s managing the place and has achieved Glenn Beck levels of manic dead-eyed charisma. The movie’s pretty uneven but Weller is great in that role.

  68. 68

    @Linda Featheringill: Were you fooled, or just pleased that he was the only one talking about poverty and how we really have turned into Two Americas?

  69. 69
    lamh35 says:

    OT, but what a douche!

    @TheReidReport
    Wow. Mic’d up ex-Sen Judd Gregg just bailed on his @AlexWitt interview bc “he didn’t want to sit and listen to the president.” @msnbc #p2

    https://twitter.com/TheReidReport/status/264766198800072705

  70. 70
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @catclub: make sure not to allow installment payments.

    Oh, ye of little faith. You can autoding people’s bank accounts and credit cards now. Good luck getting the family to cut off those lines quickly after the family member dies. Bank account drafts are the hardest to reverse.

    Also, too, apparently you’re unaware that most installment plans make back their money on the first payment. The rest is gravy. Rent-a-center and buy here/pay here auto lots work this way. (AND they have a device in the cars to shut them down so they can repo the car when you fail to make payment, RINSE. REPEAT.)

  71. 71
    Cynthianne says:

    @Schlemizel: Sorry about your dad… I was lucky- my mom was a lifelong Democrat, and stayed a liberal, even through advancing dementia, up to her dying day (at 92). Not all old people are gullible, and not all of them are Republicans.

  72. 72
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @lamh35: Good sign. He was nearing his point of cognitive dissonance.

  73. 73
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Phil Perspective: Oh shit, I just realized she was talking about the candidate, not that Jon Edwards (not his real name) cold reading (not really) show.

  74. 74
    Hill Dweller says:

    @lamh35: I revel in Gregg’s and the rest of his wingnut buddies’ despondency.

  75. 75
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Southern Beale: Yup. I wonder if anyone has ever unpacked this in detail.

    The “primal” food movement is absolutely crawling with libertarians.

  76. 76
    grandpa john says:

    @Poopyman: Well grifters are gonna grift and they recognize easy marks when the find them.
    Anybody that buys into the Teabagging crap is bound to be gullible enough to be an easy mark.

  77. 77
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Interesting. I’ve noticed that a gateway to Glibertarian conservatism seems quite often to be holistic health & wellness centers

    There’s a solipsism, self-indulgent quality about a lot of alternative health, and an undercurrent of anti-guilt because the jackbooted thugs of the FDA insist on trivial things like scientific proof that the snake oil works.

    But yep, there are wingnuts that have profitable businesses selling to granola liburals – While Foods and Lululemon spring to mind.

  78. 78
    Yutsano says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I think you mean paleo, and the whole concept is ridiculous. A true paleo diet would be barely surviving on whatever you could find or catch period. Eating a huge steak with just salt because supposedly cavemen did is both unrealistic and silly. Just don’t eat so damn much. It’ll fade in a few years like most diet fads.

  79. 79
    McJulie says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I like to think of myself as an early adopter of that trend, as somebody who left the evangelical church in the late 1980s, as a college student, over its right wing politics.

  80. 80
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Mike G:
    Apparently Utah is a fertile playground for scammers and con artists. I’m sure the fact that the population is overwhelmingly Mormon is a coincidence.

    http://www.pyramidschemealert......State.html

  81. 81
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Regarding gullibility and age, I have wondered if the issue is that everyone gets more impressionable and susceptible to confusion as we age — or, on the other hand, that a goodly proportion of the current crop of oldsters hasn’t quite adjusted to a world full of cynics and scammers and possibly never will. Because my feeling about Fox News is that it works best (i.e., most harmfully) on people who spent their whole lives accustomed to the idea that The News was trustworthy. It’s the information equivalent of never locking your door when you go out–you’re just not on guard because you never really needed to be for most of your life.

  82. 82
    handsmile says:

    @lamh35:

    It should be recalled that Judd Gregg was nominated in February 2009 to serve as Commerce Secretary in President Obama’s cabinet. At that time, Gregg was a Republican US Senator from New Hampshire. Initially accepting the nomination, he withdrew less than a week later citing “irresolvable conflicts” with administration policies.

    Yet another example of the Kenyan Muslim Socialist’s implacable refusal to work in a bipartisan manner.

    Perhaps the former Senator wished to avoid explaining that particular episode. Traitor to his party and all that.

  83. 83
    Cermet says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Hate to tell you but its the name that gives away the whole game – greatest generation?! Please, what a joke – the very people who had their asses’ saved by Russian foot soldiers, came home and made sure that their own soldiers who were nig … I mean black who were then brutally kept in their place by the law and murderous local force, while they then worshiped a nazi Jew killing rocket scientist, are every bit as stupid now as they were in the fifties and sixties; a time when they threw away over 50,000 amerikan lives in a worthless effort to ‘stop dominos’ from falling – what stupid, stupid crackers.

  84. 84
    quannlace says:

    and then a Ryan concession speech

    Nah, the VP candidate doesn’t get to make a concession speech. Remember in 2008, Palin wanted to make her speech but was smacked down by the McCain people.

    Unless you mean his congressional seat.

  85. 85
    McJulie says:

    @Yutsano: Also, real paleo eating would probably include more insects than your typical North American diet obsessive is willing to chow down.

    I’ve actually had sauteed grasshoppers at a Oaxacan restaurant in San Jose. They weren’t bad.

  86. 86
    the Conster says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Good question – I think the world has slipped away from them in every way possible, and the only ones that seem to be able to keep from going down that shithole a/k/a Fox (Foxhole?) are the folks who remain actively in communication with younger people who can present a whole different reality to them now. They need to see “counterprogramming”, if you will.

  87. 87

    @aimai: The Boiler Room Job is one of the best. I envy you getting to watch them for the first time, its splendid fun with a lot of grounded humility and life-lessons, without getting preachy or saccharine.

    Ann Coulter and her ilk are incapable of such introspection. To be honestly self-aware is to be forced to admit that it’s all about grifting and marks, conveniently wrapped in an ideology of hatred. It is, literally, *too* *easy* to make a fuckton of cash appear in your bank account with this shtick. See also Rove, Karl.

  88. 88
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @McJulie: This. And ditto for vegans. I have a problem with diets that haven’t been tested on humans for centuries. I mean, we kinda know what an Ayurvedic diet looks like (note: don’t look at contemporary Indian diet because they replaced Ghee with vegetable fat, some of it hydrogenated). The vegan diet has no precedents. Sure, there are some who THINK they’ve found a vegan diet “in the wild” but they’re really pointing at insectovores, or people who eat meat a couple of times a year (which presumably would provide them with the B12 they’re missing, unlike the strict Western vegan diet).

    I’ve seen a lot of ridiculous claims about getting B12 from tempeh. The only way that happens is if it’s tainted with some very toxic bacteria. (Another aside: plenty of traditional diets, such as that of Alaska Natives, featured frequent, deadly outbreaks of food poisoning.) And Indonesians, who invented the thing, eat bugs! So your so-called vegans (by vegan activists, they are not soi-disants) are eating insects and grubs and shit all over the place while your vegan extremists won’t eat honey and who knows what else because of insect slavery/slaughter.

    Most v*g*ns I’ve met DO eat yeast products. WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST MONOCELLULAR ANIMALS?

  89. 89
    Peregrinus says:

    @Joel:

    Well, to be fair he’s not converting anyone – the guy who brought him up isn’t exactly a swing voter. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it brought up more often because he makes smart conservatives feel like at least there’s one Ph.D. who believes in what they believe in.

  90. 90
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Seems like this is all part and parcel to authoritarian belief systems.

    What’s the point in having power over people if you don’t use it?

  91. 91

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Interesting. Must be that distrust of institutions thing. I noticed a lot of the homesteaders from back in the ’70s became libertarians too. It’s just so weird, because I feel like I have so much in common with homesteaders, holistic medicine people, primal food people. But a belief that government is too big and has no function in a democracy? Nope, didn’t swallow that pill.

  92. 92
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @aimai:

    I accidentallly got on National Review’s email list at some point and I noticed that a very high proportion of their email updates—like half—are actually paid advertising for a specific “charity” or political figure.

    The guy who tweets images of the wingnut scare-letters that his grandfather receives in the mail — that’s an insight into the somewhat hidden world of wingnut welfare, which is, to a fair degree, just a political iteration of the Great American Con Trick.

    The definitive book on wingnut welfare has yet to be written David Brock hinted at its contents, but there’s plenty there for someone to do drudgework with a database and a stack of Form 990s to show just how much grift and self-enrichment underpins the conservative movement.

  93. 93
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @KCIvey: I think you can blame Google for some of it, the other blogger necessity. A blogger can have ads that don’t even come within the zip code of their beliefs but feel that every nickle diverted to them serves their cause well. As long as it pays the hosting fees, so be it.

  94. 94
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @CarolDuhart2: If you go with Google I’m not even sure how much control you have over the ads they serve.

    Few blogs in my experience have been able to solicit their own ad impressions and in a sense control who advertises there. And since it’s been years since I frequented a blog like that (not counting FaceBook, and they have no soul, so they don’t count) so I don’t even know if the money works these days.

  95. 95
    gwangung says:

    @BruceFromOhio: We could reference every single grift we’ve been mentioning on the blogs with an episode or two. For example, “The Future Job” for reading marks….

  96. 96
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Southern Beale: I think there’s legitimate frustration with regulatory capture.

    However, even from here I can see the difference between the Bush and Obama FDA and USDA.

    Impotently railing that the gubmint should git out of food and drug safety is kind of ridiculous. What does that accomplish? Sitting out another election or actively backing another conster who will make things worse?

    Of course, it’s whipped up by, say, “supplement” industry reps (one is posting, having had to admit who employs him, on Science Based Medicine blog, for example) who are freaking out that the Great Eye of Government is about to be fixed on their heretofore extremely profitable little scam.

    (The industry as it stands today was created by DSHEA, a bipartisan piece of legislation put forward by a Dem who is a true believer in herbal crap and Orrin Hatch, R-Pyramidschemesylvania.)

  97. 97
    Chris says:

    @Redshift:

    The other point (which Perlstein may make, haven’t gotten to read the whole thing yet) is that this explains the rise of conservative talk radio and the relative lack of success of the liberal version. It’s not because America is so much more in tune with conservative ideas, it’s that wingnut radio is more profitable because it delivers a supremely gullible audience for advertisers, much in the same way that Nigerian spam emails are deliberately misspelled and badly written because the only people they want to respond are people who can’t figure out that there’s something wrong there.

    Shorter Redshift: conservative media attracts tons of viewers because conservatives are gullible morons who want to be lied to.

    I concur…

  98. 98
    Bill Murray says:

    @meander:

    Might this campaign have been a transfer of wealth from the 1% (or, in the case of Sheldon Adelson and the Kochs, the top 0.0001%) to the middle class?

    Mostly not — it’s a transfer to TV station owners who aren’t likely to be middle class. I guess commercial makers are in there too, which would have some middle class people in the ranks

  99. 99
    kuvasz says:

    The GOP is nothing but a nationwide grift that uses the same approach as Amway. Scratch the surface of a Republican politician and under the surface is a soft-soap salesman who lies out of hand to close the deal.

  100. 100
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kuvasz:

    And Amway is basically a tent revival meeting where the object of worship is not Jesus, it’s money.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    “It’s not Amway. It’s better than Amway!”

    Go was not a great movie, but it had some funny stuff in it.

  102. 102
    Helen Bedd says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Utah is also the home to a lot of dietary supplement companies…a highly unregulated industry with major companies run by Mormons who back Rmoney in a big way

    google this from the latimes

    Romney made lasting supporters with 2002 Olympics supplements deal

    and this from usatoday

    Supplement industry boosts Romney campaign by $4.5M

  103. 103
    nitpicker says:

    Just heard the director of the anti-Obama movie Dreams From My Real Father give away the game on Weekend Edition. He told the reporter that sending the DVDs out to swing states wasn’t intended to influence the election, but to get him publicity, so he could maybe get a TV or radio show. Amateur. The first rule of Grift Club…

  104. 104
    pr says:

    @PreservedKillick:

    Seems busier than Romney, just very low-key. I don’t think they want people seeing much of him after he got humiliated by Biden.

    Gosh, and to think that just a couple months ago the Republican Party was ready to “deitize” him for having written out an economic manifesto. They were just so excited to have something in writing to point to when asked to explain how their plans would make everything OK that they were gushing about how Ryan was gonna be the new “intellectual” guru of the party. That is, until the tome was scrutinized by Non-Kool-Aid sucking experts and deemed totally implausible.

    I think Mitt sent him out this weekend to work on his Marathon time.

  105. 105
    pr says:

    @22over7:

    How about this? I’m at the age where I’m dealing with a lot of very old people, and an alarming percentage of them, even those who are extremely well-educated and bright, have shown themselves to be easy marks for all manner of lies and grifts.

    My Dad started to show signs of slippage and increased gullibility for crap he would have immediately seen through a few years before, but thankfully never enough to vote for a Republican. I think some of it was wanting to believe something Magical would restore his physical health and resharpen his thought processes. The thought that he might have Alzheimer’s totally freaked him out, and although I don’t have a medical degree research I did on the symptoms led me to believe he was in Early Stage, but his 80+ year old Primary Physician told him he wasn’t, which served to upset Dad even more, since something was clearly wrong.

  106. 106
    pr says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Because my feeling about Fox News is that it works best (i.e., most harmfully) on people who spent their whole lives accustomed to the idea that The News was trustworthy

    Yeah, This. Quite a bit.

  107. 107
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Up the Baffler

    Rick Perlstein, smart tacks will remember, wrote a very very right piece early in the primaries about how Romney was going to win no matter what (which dull tacks believe was always what they themselves said, really, honestly!)

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