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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Long Con

There's a dictionary definition for a confidence man, or in its more-oft used form a con man: One who gains the trust, or "confidence", of his victims (often called marks) in order to manipulate, steal from, or otherwise predate upon them.

The confidence game comes in many forms, and has been used with varying degrees of success for centuries.  But it always contains some form of "trust me" and results in giving up money or something of value.  

Most people think of con men as the old door-to-door salesman, used car salesmen, or a street hustler. 

But they can be stock brokers that run a pyramid scheme, a televangelist, people who do fake charity work, people offering services that turn litigious, panhandlers, relatives or friends that take advantage of a situation and contribute nothing in return, and yes, even politicians

We've all got stories about the time we were conned, or nearly conned, or met someone we knew was conning people.

Good con men are tough to spot.  Great con men are truly convincing and almost impossible to pick out.  Except when you stop to think about it - which is hard in the moment  If they are asking you to trust them for the promise of something fantastic, in exchange for something you can easily give ... then it might very well be a con.

But with a little intuition, there are some things you can be on the lookout for, and spot a con man.  Here are s few:

  • They're very charismatic, and often compliment others
  • They exaggerate their credentials (or their wealth)
  • Their stories don't quite "add up" or have inconsistencies
  • They pressure you to make a quick decision to join them
  • Eye contact is intense, and feels a little uneasy
  • They try to separate you from others, so you feel isolated

Now here's the broad point: there's a certain wanna be politician who wants to make America Great who exhibits many of these "qualities"

He's a con man.  And I think many that have followed him or worked with him would agree. 

And you may say that's all fine and well, and people work with him and it generally isn't harmful, or justify his behavior in some way.

Except that it is harmful, and on what is arguably the worlds largest stage it will impact all of us.

It seems what he's doing is pulling what's known as the long con. Here's the definition, from

The long con refers to any of a variety of cons which require more planning, preparation, a longer window of interaction with the con's target and a longer period of time to execute. The long con may also require a large crew or a larger number of involved people to pull off the deception needed to relieve the mark of their cash or other valuables. Unlike a short con, the long con requires time to slowly draw the mark or marks into the con, but often results in very large pay-outs. Because of the difficulty in organization and execution, long cons are considered to be for experts, not the province of new, young con men.

Traditionally, the term "long con" has referred to an elaborate con of one or more marks which ends with the payout, when the marks surrender their money or valuables. Long cons play on one or both basic human frailties: greed and desperation. A classic example of a traditional long con is "The Wire Scam", as shown in the film The Sting. Contemporary long cons such as boiler rooms, cash-for-gold, or Ponzi (pyramid) schemes involve multiple marks, often in sizable numbers, and a gradual payout, but are able to stay in place for long periods of time because of their seeming legitimacy. The line between a genuine long con and garden variety fraud may be a fine one, such as in the case of Bernard Madoff's elaborate security fraud

The real-estate-investor-reality-tv-star-turned-candidate is perpetrating just such a con.  What's in it for him?  Money? Power?  A combination?  Its hard to say, but you have to believe he would find a way to help himself through specific policies, or perhaps international trade, or intelligence.  He has an opportunity for insider trading on a whole other level.

Have you heard him say he'll give up a business?  Not promote his own interests?  No, I'm sure you haven't. 

The payoff for him surely is to make us think of him the way he thinks of himself.

Think its ridiculous?  How about this article about Mitt Romney in 2012, which asserts the same thing.  And I would argue that his con was on a much smaller scale:

So the problem is that we can't allow this man to make it to the White House.  He must be stopped.  He is conning everyone....think he cares about you?  Or any issues he claims to care about?  Yeah, about that, no.  He's using you to get what he wants, what's good for him.

With con artists, the only way to stop it is to not give them what they want.  Go ahead and disappoint them.

As we've seen with him, when he is rejected he gets enraged.  He calls people names.  And tells us we don't get it or are no good.  Right.  It must be our fault.

What I am suggesting is you reject him, especially at the polls.  Vote against him. 

You may not love Hillary, but here's where you shouldn't believe the hype.  Show me a specific time where she did lie, especially with intent. This is part of his strategy - don't trust her, trust me...

I admit that I may not particularly like her, either, but I can't think of a reason she isn't qualified or would be particularly bad for the country.

And she's adopted some of Bernie's ideas, which isn't all bad.  So Bernie supporters, why would you EVER vote for Trump?  You're better off with Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party Candidate Jill Stein (

Just don't let the orange man with the goofy hair con you, or really con all of us.

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The lame list

Stupidity is something I can not tolerate. Here is my current list of dopey attitudes that chafe me. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be one of these:

  • Anti-science
  • Flat earther
  • Faux patriot
  • Blind supporter of anything, or anyone
  • conspiracy theorist
  • Doubt the Moon landing, or call it a hoax
  • Anti-vaxxer
  • Believe in a deep state
  • Pretending to understand something that is enormously complicated, and just oversimplifying it