This is outrageous, and I need to complain about it in a public venue. Those who don’t like bitching and moaning are welcome to skip this post.
On the day the new Congress was sworn in, we received a mass email from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. It was similar to a snail-mail that might be sent using a congressman’s franking privileges — the usual rah-rah boilerplate about the wonderful things we could expect from our New Improved Republican House of Representatives.
The message was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org — I checked the raw text of the header, and it came from that address via a string of ad-site relays. That is, from an official government mail server. It was sent to our home email address, so presumably one of the conservative magazines to which we formerly subscribed had sold its email list to the national Republican Party.
I found this annoying, to put it mildly. This was basically Republican Party political spam — better than Nigerian scams or Viagra ads, but not something we asked to receive. I don’t want Republican bragging clogging up my inbox, especially when it’s paid for by my tax dollars.
At the bottom of the message was a “Click Here to be removed from this list” link, so I hit that. Instead of doing the right thing — “You have been successfully unsubscribed from this list” — it took me to a webpage (http://speaker.gov/Forms/EmailSignup/?Delete=true&…), where I was invited to unsubscribe manually (actually, the button said “Sign up”) by typing in my first name, last name, and email address.
This is a classic technique used in blind-spamming to detect “live addresses”. If I filled out that form and submitted it, it would have told the RNC and whoever they sell their lists to that there’s a warm body at the other end of that email address, someone who is compos mentis and has enough initiative to fill out the form — and who therefore should be spammed again and again and again and again, albeit from a somewhat different email address to stay within the letter of the law.
To top it all off…
…while the sucker fills in the form, he is forced to watch and listen to John Boehner in a YouTube video giving a spiel about the wonderful new Republican House and all the nifty things they are going to do to make government smaller and more responsive and etc blah yak; you’ve heard it all before (the video is here, in case you’re enough of a masochist to want to watch it).
Needless to say, I didn’t fill out the form. I told Dymphna that if Mr. Boehner spammed us again, I was going to blacklist his a**.
The second spam email from the Speaker of the House arrived tonight, so I have just added his address to the list of those from whom we refuse to accept emails. It will be interesting to see whether congressional Republicans follow the example of Christian spammers and buy up a series of very similar domain names and use them to spam, and spam, and spam again, therefore outwitting their recipients’ blacklists.
We conservatives are supposed to like John Boehner. He was sold to us as one of the new breed of Congressmen, a Tea Party sort of guy, despite the fact that he’s been around D.C. for quite a while doing the Congressional Two-Step like all the others.
I was ready to wait and see. I would have given him the benefit of the doubt. But spamming people who aren’t even his constituents takes him beyond the pale. That’s low-down behavior. Dennis Hastert never pulled a stunt like that during his tenure. This is further proof — as if we needed any — that the Republicans are only marginally better than the Democrats.
As George Wallace observed more than four decades ago, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.
The technology has improved, but the scam remains the same.