Scam PACs Open Thread

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    No ideas, but I think I’m going to toss my dream of getting rich by starting my own religion, and just fire up a PAC to pander to the disenchanted!Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Like what Willie Sutton got attributed to him about robbing banks but really didn’t say – you scam the Republicans more because that’s where the money is.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Fishing for dollars, the American way

    Nevadan, anyway.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I suspect Drum is on to something with his guess about the elderly.

    I think part of it too is that mass email marketing itself seem to largely be the domain of the right. Over the years I’ve probably received 10+ times the number of emails supporting Tea-Paty-esque causes that I have emails supporting liberal causes, despite the fact that I know far more people in the latter group than the former.Report

    • Avatar aaron david says:

      I think the elderly idea is the right one, at least from casual thought.

      Then again, does it cost money to get a twitter account? ‘Cause there is your scam on the young.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I agree. The sort of scams that target younger demographics have to demonstrate a bit more sophistication. Take, for example.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Dreams of messianic salvation?Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    Could it be as simple as the GOP having a splintered field? Every Democratic party member knows who their candidate is going to be unless she chooses to bow out. If i started a PAC on the left all the people I’d be soliciting would be like “Who? But isn’t Clinton running?” not much money in that.Report

  7. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Pat Robertson’s legacy, perhaps? Didn’t he go on TV a few times and say God would kill him if he didn’t raise enough money. Admittedly, that was for his Church but there’s a pretty huge overlap there.

    The simple answer would be: That’s where the rubes are or that’s where the money is, or both. Con-men flock to the people who can be fleeced — and have the money to take.

    Age is probably a factor, but I’d add in fear — Republicans have been playing the politics of fear for a long time, and scared folks are willing to open their wallets. (There’s Glenn Beck’s end-of-the-world kits, and pimping gold — that’s the same sort of thing. Creating fear then profiting from it).Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I thought that was Oral Roberts. Different specimen, same breed.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        And Oral Roberts’ “vision” inadvertently led us to this:

        Personally, I’m grateful.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Yes, that was Oral Roberts. That was exceptionally embarrassing to folks in my particular church. It was an obvious money grab and people were asking why Oral didn’t want to go “Home”. Bloom County’s “Oral Bill” storyline (where he had a fundraiser saying that if Bill The Cat could raise enough cash then the Good Lord would take the other televangelists “Home”) was a huge hit (though only in whispers).Report

  8. Avatar ezra abrams says:

    Back in the 60s, Pacifica’s NYC affliate, WBAI, held a class one FM license in the middle of NYC
    And they would hold fund raisers where they couldn’t raise $100 in an hour
    15,000,000 potential listeners, and they couldn’t raise 100 bucks
    you would think that they would either (a) conclude on air fundraisers don’t work, (b) no one likes our programming, or bothReport

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      My mom used to listen to WBAI in the 1960s. She liked Julius Lester. I don’t think WBAI was ever super popular but they did seem more original and relevant in the 1960s and the hipsters of the day did listen to Radio Unnaemable and from what I’ve read they were the first American media to report from Hanoi or among the first. They also did a round the clock broadcast of War and Peace that seemed interesting.

      Though the splits started to happen during the Brownsville teacher strike which went into the anti-Semitic.

      I actually worked as a local elections supervisor for WBAI and from what I hear I was only the second person to make it through a WBAI election when without quitting in frustration or being fired. When I was interviewed, my boss told me that there were two factions and he roughly described them as a white faction and a black faction. He meant racially. The factions were each pretty diverse but that is how they were known. As far as I can tell, there was some schism during the late 1960s and the groups could not remember why they were fighting but they knew they were fighting. Neither group could understand why the radio station was not really known among young people or grasp that their cultural moment slipped them by. Now they seem to be dying a very slow death if they are not dead already.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        KPFK, the Pacifica outlet here in So Cal, fits that description exactly.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        And the Far Left wonders why many people do not take them seriously.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:


        Pacifica Radio is to liberals what Fox News is to conservatives.

        Both Sides!Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Did you read the story about the demise of KPFK in La Weekly last year?

        I don’t think your analogy is completely correct. Fox News is all about feeding people to the Republican Party. Pacifica and her listeners always had a strained (at best) and actively hostile (at worst) relationship to the Democratic Party. When I was working at the station, I remember one host talking about his wife’s subscription to the Nation and remarking that he always found the Nation was “too conservative”. My immediate thought was of amazement because the Nation is already on the left-wing of the Democratic Party.

        Of course the number of people who find the Nation to be too conservative is probably too small to influence anything in the United States yet alone sustain five-community supported radio stations that refuse to do NPR type of reliance on grants and corporate donations (attempts to make Pacifica more NPR like and professional are what caused the revolts and the elections and eventually the very slow demise)*.

        WBAI also had a reputation for being the “red-headed stepchild” of Pacifica from what I’ve heard.

        *Ironically the one thing that might be keeping Pacifica alive is how absolutely dysfunctional it is as an operation. Plus the fact that everyone rallies to their defense when it looks like things are getting really bad. I’ve seen this happen in theatre too. There is a theatre in NYC whose prime asset is whole or partial ownership of their theatre in prime Manhattan real estate. They have been a laughing stock for years and usually their good talent goes away quickly. They are also true misfits with making money by being a defacto boarding house as well. Actors sleeping in rehearsal rooms and green room when performances are not happening, etc. But anytime it looks like they are about to close down, the community rallies to their defence because better a theatre than another thing going to big money. When the crisis is averted, they go back to being a laughing stock.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        I didn’t hear about KPRFK dying, but it has been dying since the 1980’s, and is famous for exactly the sort of Trotsky- Lenin feud meets Monty Python antics that you describe.

        And I was attempting a joke- tiny Pacifica which whose entire listener base couldn’t fill a school bus, having the same gravitational pull on the liberals as Fox does on the conservatives.Report

      • Avatar ezra abrams says:

        how do we judge right or left of center ?
        one way is from polling data, which, afaik, says that the American people strongly support increasing taxes on the wealthy to support soc security, and the American people strongly support most of the main provisions of the aca, like community rating, banning a lifetime cap on insurance coverage, etc

        The Nation
        I think it is slightly left of center, but, much more importantly, worse then useless, because it rarely offers a positive program for people
        who do i call, what bill needs to get passed, etc
        that is, after readiing the article, what concrete steps do i take to change the world ?
        think progress is much worse; it is Fox on the left, a series of horror stories with NOT one story about how to do change, just endless horrors of the right
        wish Alex Cockburn were still alive (although the hypocrites at counterpunch gave him a positive elegy, instead of a mean cockburnian obitReport

  9. Conspiratorial mindset can make them more vulnerable to scams that accept the existence of the conspiracy.

    Anti-intellectualism and belief in imminent apocalypse could also correlate with Dunning-Kruger vulnerability to scams.

    Belief that religion can guide all action is another factor. Con artists often prey upon people from their same religion, emphasizing religious contexts and suggesting people “pray over a decision” – arriving at an instinctive answer instead of using cool reason and skepticism.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      There problem is that there are plenty of religious Democrats like the African-American and Hispanic bases, Jews still vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and a good chunk of Catholics and mainline Protestants. Saying this is just religion is too easy.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        Do hasidic Jews still vote Dem? No snark, was just wondering.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        That is complicated. The Hasidic Jews are very saavy political players and good at voting in blocs. Sometimes they vote Democratic, sometimes they vote Republican. It also depends on which variant of Hasidic they are.

        There have always been Republican Jews but generally in small numbers. This might be changing though. Jews who came over from the Soviet Union and former Eastern Bloc states tend to be very conservative or at least disliking of anything semi-welfare state. Though this is still a majority. What Republicans Jews are good at doing is going into historonics about why most Jews vote Democratic. See Jennifer Rubin, Commentary magazine, or the comment pages of Tablet magazine.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        Cool, thanks.

        The Jewish corner of my family was secularized generations ago, so many of these issues are in a way foreign to me. My grandfather would be the last person considered an actual Jew in my family matrilineally, and I don’t think he really cared. (Loved him some ham.)Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    As said above, there’s precedent & parallels from the TV evangelists of the 70s-80s and the megachurches of the present day.

    There’s also (and I thought Vogel had reported on this, but I can’t find the story), a pretty direct nexus between the people that form and fundraise for these PACs, and the people that hatch multi-level marketing schemes and/or other dubious products and services, and the people that buy ad air time on talk radio.

    The ads on talk radio these days (and for at least a decade now) are rife with people that skirt the very edge of what the FTC allows (and are imo, way over the ethical edge). There’s the famous goldsters (though not as ubiquitous now that gold has flatlined), overpriced and underperforming identity theft protection services, doggy treats that are supposed to cure all matter of ailments and maladies (and a human equivalent from Texas), and in addition to all that (and especially in an election year), issue advocacy organizations (e.g. the conservative alternative to those Obamacare loving sell-outs at the AARP) – that complete the circle of life by buying airtime on talk radio to ask for money to buy airtime on talk radio.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The Mega-churches here in town are, for some reason, some of the biggest meat-markets we’ve got.

      Perhaps relatedly, if you want a Christian Cooking Class, they have those at the Megachurch. If you want a Christian D&D group (DRAGONRAID!), they have those at the Megachurch. If you want a Christian Ski Trip, they have those at the Megachurch.

      They’re offering stuff that the televangelists absolutely couldn’t even imagine dreaming of offering.Report