The Grift Giveth, the Grift Taketh Away

grift

While there is something to be said for ignoring certain types of folks, and not punching down and lowering yourself to a level you do not wish to be at, there is something also to be said for teachable moments. What we have here is the latter.

Consider, if you will, one Laura Loomer, who has added PayPal to the list of sites that have disassociated from the internet personality and “provocateur”:

Daily Beast and intrepid chronicler of all things Alt-Right Will Sommer:

A PayPal spokesperson confirmed that Loomer had been banned from the site. Asked for comment, Loomer told The Daily Beast to “Fuck off.”

In an Instagram post about the PayPal ban, Loomer blamed her expulsion from the platform on a Right Wing Watch story that detailed her connections to United West, an anti-Muslim group that’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In her post, Loomer complained that she’s been banned from Uber, Lyft, and Uber Eats — bans she received after complaining that Muslims were allowed to work for those companies.

Since being kicked off Twitter in November, Loomer has turned to a series of eye-catching stunts in order to get her name mentioned on social media.

Shortly after her Twitter ban, Loomer chained herself to one door of two-door entrance of a Twitter office in New York City. Last month, Loomer tricked several men who had entered the country illegally into trespassing at a home owned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), even telling them to try to open locked doors at Pelosi’s house. Pelosi was not there at the time.

Loomer was arrested for trespassing last week on the grounds of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) mansion while dressed in a sombrero and poncho as part of an attempt to make a point about illegal immigration.

“But,” a discerning person may ask, “is not de-platforming a real issue?”

“Powerful companies can collude to silence voices, can they not?” honest seekers of truth might wonder.

“There are two sides to every story,” some might rightly point out.

Fair enough. Let us get Laura Loomer’s side:

I plan on suing all of the Left wing terrorists and tech tyrants who are trying to shut me down simply because I am a Conservative Jewish woman who speaks truth about Islam. I have nothing to lose anymore, so trust me when I say I will stop at nothing to make sure justice is served for the way Silicon Valley has disenfranchised me, falsely accusing me of being a white supremacist, a Nazi, anti-Muslim, a racist, a bigot, and every other smear in the book. I am banned everywhere. I am banned on Twitter for exposing Jew hatred, I am banned by Uber an Lyft, I am banned from Go fund me, I am banned from Venmo, I am banned from Uber Eats. Essentially I can’t even exist in society because the actual Nazis in tech and on the left constantly ban me because I post facts. How am I supposed to pay my bills? I can’t get a regular job because I have been accused of being a Nazi. Am I supposed to be homeless? I guess these people won’t be happy until I reach a breaking point and just die. Let’s be honest. That’s what these people want. They want me to die from all of the pressure and stress of not being able to live freely in America. They are evil and will stop at nothing to ruin people’s lives. Even the people from Right Wing watch retweet videos and articles posted by people who say they want me to commit suicide. They actively call for me to be assaulted and support people like Montel Williams who advocated for me to be tased to death simply for existing.

My word, that sounds bad. Ominous. Surely the next sentence will reveal how this great wrong can be righted:

In the meantime, If you’d like to support my journalism so that I can just pay my bills on top of paying off some of the nearly $40,000 of credit card debt I’ve acquired from trying to pay for my investigations & videos which expose these people and their hypocrisy, you can do so here by sending me a check to this address:

Laura Loomer
(Address removed)

They want me to be homeless & die!

Oh, good hell. Those quoted parts are directly from her Instagram, which shortly after being reported on was taken private.

There is always an outrage, because there is always a cause, because there is always a victim, which always requires your financial assistance to make the great big bad thing turn out right. For the grifter at the center of it, that is. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There very well may be a grand conspiracy, or at least embedded bias, among social networking platforms. But we should also understand that professional grifters know exactly how to operate in that space so they can work their cons under the cover of a more legitimate issue. Victimhood always makes a better sob story to elicit funding from the marks than does having to lay out a grander cause. Martyrdom is even better, and more lucrative. And most of the time the “spontaneous” outrages are well planned.

Considered the aftermath of her pre-planned stunt to charge the stage of a “Julius Caesar” performance in New York in 2017. The stated issue at hand was Caesar was being portrayed as a version of Donald Trump. For those who may not be up on their history or Shakespeare, the assassination by mass knifing of the likeness of a sitting president brought some attention. And it brought the grifters. Loomer live-streamed on Periscope her charging of the stage during the stabbing scene, being escorted out by police, and taken to the local precinct for booking. Upon being released later, she used the station as background for another live video. But her next move, less noticed, is the one that reveals the template for all her stunts since. She met up with some fellow grifters for a meal, and Andrew Marantz of the New Yorker caught up with them:

Thirty minutes later, I met up with Loomer at a restaurant a few blocks from the station. She was at a table with Posobiec and Franklin Wright, a member of a “pro-Western fraternal organization” called the Proud Boys, whom she had hired earlier that day to act as her cameraman and personal security detail. “In the police precinct, a bunch of the cops were pulling up articles about me on their phones,” she said. “One of them told me, ‘We’re not supposed to say this, but we support what you did.’ ”

Posobiec and Wright ordered cheeseburgers; Loomer ordered a bowl of chili. There was silence as they scrolled through their Twitter timelines.

Sean Hannity, of Fox News, had tweeted approvingly about her, and she soon booked an appearance on his show. Laura Ingraham also tweeted her support, adding, “How many wd storm stage if ‘Obama’ was stabbed?” (In 2012, a Minnesota production of “Julius Caesar” did feature the assassination of an Obama lookalike, sparking no comparable outrage.)

Posobiec noted that a thousand-dollar donation to Loomer’s defense fund had just come in. He added, “You’re the No. 4 trending hashtag right now.”

“Amazing,” Loomer said. “Can you screenshot that and send it to me?”

“Of course,” Posobiec said. “You think this is my first day on Twitter?”…

By the end of the night, she had gained twenty thousand Twitter followers and had received nearly ten thousand dollars in online donations. The Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt has argued that “Julius Caesar” should be read as a cautionary tale about the unforeseen pitfalls of political violence. But Loomer provided several rationales for her actions: that she had merely used words, whereas the left engages in actual violence; that she felt it was her patriotic duty to stop the play, which was “a form of terrorism” that would “bring us closer to civil war”; that the Public Theatre is “aligned with ISIS, politically.” The only incontrovertible fact was one that she never uttered aloud: that the stunt would do wonders for her personal brand.

Which it may have, but when your personal brand is Laura Loomer, the problem is you have to sell Laura Loomer, because there isn’t anything else to hang your hat on. So when you tweet out that “I’m late to the NYPD press conference because I couldn’t find a non Muslim cab or @Uber @lyft driver for over 30 min! This is insanity” and “Someone needs to create a non Islamic form of @uber or @lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver,” perhaps there is a very simple answer to why Uber and Lyft banned Laura Loomer: they had every right to. Since Uber and Lyft supply the names and pictures of drivers and not their religion, draw your own conclusion of her “investigative journalistic” bonafides, to say nothing of her prejudices. Why legitimate businesses would want to protect their independent contractors from such a person, and remove their brands from hers, is surely a mystery.

Since that incident, she has continued to fight the power by the aforementioned handcuffing of herself to half of a double door at Twitter headquarters, and trespassing at Nancy Pelosi and Gavin Newsom’s private homes in separate incidents. The police responding to these protests, or stunts, or performance theater -frankly, no one knows what to call these- don’t bother doing more than waiting for the lunacy to end and/or moving Loomer away. Mainstream outlets don’t bother covering her, leaving her to preach to the InfoWars choir on the conspiracy of the day. Wearing a yellow star on her shirt and holding a sign implying Twitter banned her for being a Jew ought to offend, but its execution is so ham-handed and the principle so pitiful that at this point, it seems pointless to muster the requisite emotion.

To add to this sad Greek tragedy of grifter theater, Loomer’s current insistence that she must fundraise to cover the incurred debts from staging these displays of human stupidity speaks volumes. She is the worst kind of grifter; an incompetent one, who in publicly complaining has let everyone in on the con, making it harder and harder for her to run her game. Laura Loomer’s problem is not Google, Lyft, Uber, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, “Big Tech”, or any other malicious forces. Her problem is Laura Loomer, maker of poor life choices, to say nothing of her business decisions.

Loomer

Laura Loomer

Our problem is that for every one of the Loomers who are laughably obvious about their grift, there are dozen more that are much more skilled, using the issues of the day to inflame passions, ingratiate themselves into given ideological/political circles, and to elevate themselves under the cover of current events. But the game is the game, and left unchecked and unidentified they will continue to prey upon folks caught unawares. While our subject has seemingly reached the end of her grifting game, at least for now, other more skilled practitioners continue to thrive. If you don’t believe that, just tune in to the Seb Gorka show on the Salem Radio Network. And he didn’t even have to get arrested. At least in this country.

The teachable lesson is while we should mostly not pay attention to the Laura Loomers of the world, we occasional have too, to make sure we recognize a fraud when we see one. Some flame out in debt and arrest, others gain national notoriety. Some even get national media platforms. Other’s wind up as administration officials in the White House. She is neither the first, nor will be the last, and definitely is not the only grifter at work today.

So what now for our subject? Perhaps a second career would be in order once the donation racket comes to it’s inevitable end. “I redefined Shakespeare tonight,” she had said during that after-theater meal, “A lot of people are doing great work from behind a computer screen, but I’m proud that I actually had the balls to show up and do something.”

I guess we can cross out theater critic on possible second acts for Laura Loomer once the grifting game runs dry. Oh well. Maybe she can take a stab at the religiously-discriminatory peer-to-peer ride sharing service she was advocating for on Twitter, before she was banned from that platform too. No doubt that scheme will have her usual level of success.


Senior Editor
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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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13 thoughts on “The Grift Giveth, the Grift Taketh Away

  1. This piece is not linked anywhere I can see on the OT main page, except via your tweet that is embedded in the sidebar. Is something going wonky? Is the piece just scheduled to be published later today?

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  2. To add to this sad Greek tragedy of grifter theater, Loomer’s current insistence that she must fundraise to cover the incurred debts from staging these displays of human stupidity speaks volumes. She is the worst kind of grifter; an incompetent one, who in publicly complaining has let everyone in on the con, making it harder and harder for her to run her game. Laura Loomer’s problem is not Google, Lyft, Uber, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, “Big Tech”, or any other malicious forces. Her problem is Laura Loomer, maker of poor life choices, to say nothing of her business decisions.

    Time will tell, but I don’t share your optimism. People like Loomer are always going to have a long line of morons willing to support her. Hell, this country elected an incompetent businessman that sold himself as a competent businessman despite the extraordinary evidence to the contrary.

    There are too many suckers out there to assume that the worst grifters will fall by the wayside.

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  3. The problem in this case if grifters is that there an audience for them. Shakespeare in the Park is an import event but it is still only seen by a some thousands of people. If the trolls just left it alone, it would be forgotten. But negative partisanship runs so high that grifters can earn good money by “owning the libs.”

    During a Jacob Wohl troll prank going bust, a writer at Vox had a good tweet thread. He theorized that today’s young cons only know the world of trolling and “owning the libs.” They don’t know how to do anything else. Amanda Marcotte theorized that the GOP realized as much of its agenda as possible so owning the libs is the only thing left.

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    • I think the Wohl prank, like O’Keefe’s before him, demonstrate their underlying stance.

      Which is that the claims of minorities of unjust treatment, the claims of women about harassment and trans people of indignity, are entirely bogus, a fairytale concoction of grievance to gain illegitimate power.
      So when they try one of these double reverse gotcha stunts, its always halfhearted, because they themselves don’t really believe it.

      So to them, it doesn’t matter if a claim is valid or not, since its all meaningless gamesmanship.

      Like the way they are treating the Northam scandal, where the underlying issue of white people treating black people with indignity is wholly irrelevant, so they simultaneously condemn Democrats as racists, but scorn the issue of blackface as some sort of silly PC trifle.

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      • I think they are bad-faith actors but this grift feels different than Theranos to me. Theranos was a grade A grift and lots of people feel for something that was too good to be true. But I can kind of see it because who wouldn’t want a huge technological jump in medical diagnostic tests?

        The various right-wing grifts require people who hate liberals so badly that they start to believe all their cliches on snotty latte liberals. Grifters like Loomer and Wohl are also enabled by people who are not fully committed to “owning the libs” but come from right-leaning backgrounds/families and themselves as brought into cliches about latte liberals and snide college students. There are former OTers like this and I think they are smart enough to know better and they often are but they can still fall into stereotype about how all liberals are hypocrites because….

        What is fascinating and hard to parse about people like Wohl and Loomer is how much of their political views are sincere, how much is feigned, and how they figured out how to be the grifter and not the mark. Wohl, Shapiro, and Loomer ostensibly have a background and raising that is more like mine (upper-middle class, largely secular, urban/inner-ring suburban, Jewish) than the heartlanders whom contribute to their funds to “own the libs.”

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        • I don’t think Theranos started out as a grift. It started out as a typical tech startup, with an idea for a product that didn’t pan out. The problem was that Holmes was narcissistic enough to insulate herself from reality, and charismatic enough to suck people in. It evolved into a right wing rich person affinity scam, once the “George Schultz is on the board, so this must be solid” factor kicked in. But even at that late date, I’m not sure that Holmes didn’t believe her own line of bullshit. If so, is is really a scam, or something that is functionally identical to a scam, but with the spice of sincerity?

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  4. Loomer told The Daily Beast to “Fuck off.”

    No idea who Laura Loomer is and haven’t read the rest of the article, but as of this sentence, she seems all right.

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  5. If nothing else, a grift doesn’t buy an office building off Sand Hill Road and fill it with ten-million-dollar medical laboratory machines.

    I think it’s what it looked like: A woman and her boyfriend tried to turn a crack-brained idea into reality and wasted a whole lot of money trying. She’d never been allowed to experience failure, and he was used to the tech-industry method of releasing a broken beta version and calling that success, so they both honestly believed that everything was going to come out all right up until the end when everyone quit.

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