Friday, January 14, 2011

Spammed by the Speaker of the House

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 speakeralert@mail.house.gov — 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.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same here . . .coincides with a sudden increase in e-mail from NewsMax. Unfortunately, over a year ago, I did fill out the "unsubscribe" form at NewsMax though I refused to give them any further identity info. I used the "Noneofur Business" identity at the time. Guess that didn't make a difference since I managed to confirm my personal e-mail as an active e-address. Sigh.
Oh well, live and learn . . .now in "Blocked Senders" list.

Anonymous said...

I did not skip a word in your account, Mr. B., and I agree entirely that you should not have received the e-mails and then been dragged subsequently through a tedious process to unsubscribe. Yes, I have a 'but' and--to paraphrase a towering intellect and from his first great, adventurous, classic film, Pee Wee Herman--it is a big one.

It's not improbable that Mr. Boehner would agree with you and reverse this policy and, possibly even, hire a new person to handle the significant details of this kind of modern correspondence. I'm saying that I would give him the benefit of the doubt until a very incisive and ominous note describing your unpleasant account and severe reaction were sent to his office and you either do or do not get a reply. It could be done adequately in five sentences. (I would humbly volunteer to give it a try, if you were inclined.)

The 'but' continues: In my opinion, there is too much at stake to let something like this send anyone over the line into Camp Jaded--America is teetering on the edge, over which is the abyss, but we do have a chance to prevail--there is hope.

Anonymous said...

Unless the e-mail is from one of the major e-mail providers (AOL, MSN, Hotmail, etc.), I block the entire domain... just to be sure.

Baron Bodissey said...

scherado --

By all means, complain on my behalf if you like. However, I think this post is more likely to gain the Speaker's attention than any email I send to his office.

As far as there being "too much at stake" -- you know, I've been hearing the same line for twenty-two years, ever since Ronald Reagan left office. We are exhorted to give the Republicans a chance. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate. To fail to vote for Republicans is to enable the ravages of the Democrats to continue, etc. etc.

I'm not buying it anymore.

During those twenty-two years, while I waited patiently and held my nose and voted for Dole or McCain, we got more of the same from the GOP, only worse -- more spending, more debt, more taxes, No Child Left Behind, more taxes, more diversity, the Department of Homeland Security, more taxes, more debt, the "Religion of Peace", more taxes... Need I go on?

The Republicans held both houses of Congress for years -- and increased spending on virtually all the pet projects of the liberals. Sixteen years after the takeover, and NPR is still funded! What indication is there that anything significant is really changing?

Republicans count on people like me to vote for them by default, allowing them to continue their depredations unimpeded. The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the former borrow to spend more, while the latter raise taxes to spend more. And, oh yes, the Republicans also spend more on defense -- to protect Saudi interests, that is, while they sell the country to the Chinese.

Nope, I'm not going to enable this addiction any longer. It's time to pull the conservative binky out of the Republican Party's mouth. Let the party stand up on its own and sell its shoddy product line to America based on the merits.

Or it can go under.

Baron Bodissey said...

GMcCal --

Point taken. However, if I blocked house.gov, I wouldn't be able to get mail from any congressman. And there are a few -- Col. Allen West comes to mind -- with whom I might wish to communicate.

Anonymous said...

"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."

If an email is not bounced back, doesn't that alone indicate there is a warm body at that email address? A bounce back on the other hand indicates no-one lives at that address any more.

I'm not being smart - if I am wrong please tell me why.

oldschool26 said...

Interestingly, many of us Democrats feel that they are marginally better than the Republicans.

retch said...

I just forward all that stuff to SpamCop and have them teach 'em a little lesson.

Baron Bodissey said...

Albatross --

Not all dead email addresses cause bouncebacks. An unattended mailbox may accept mail, or at least seem to accept it, yet nobody ever reads it. I have friends who virtually never read their email, but mail I send to them doesn't bounce.

For example, it takes a lot of email to fill up the storage on a standard gmail or hotmail account. So an unattended mailbox hosted by one of those services can pile up for years without generating any bouncebacks.

Any kind of non-automatic response from the recipient tells the spammer that the mailbox is live and attended.

JamesS said...

To John Boehner Speaker of their House..........surely not ours

RE: Stop the Government Spending Binge that Threatens Jobs

HOW ABOUT WE START WITH CONGRESS FIRST Who put us into this Hole in the First Place; LIKE the SEVEN to
TWENTY MILLION undocumented non tax paying RESOURCE SUCKING Illegal Immigrants

GEE WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!

That's been totally ignored for the PAST 25 YEARS That would surely be a head start on Stopping the Government Spending Binge & add revenue to the Coffers & reduce the DEBT U-HAUL CREATED.

Here is another GREAT IDEA & PLACE TO START

This week the House of Representatives will begin floor proceedings on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. For Financial Year 2008 $4,330,451,000 has been requested - an increase of 14% from 2007. What would this be spent on?

Tighten thy own Belt before you ask the American Public to
shoulder any more BURDEN & COST we can't afford and if we can't afford it How Insensitive can
U-Haul be to think it's OK.

To many of us YOU SOUND LIKE YOU LIVE ON ANOTHER PLANET.

In a message dated 2/27/2011 4:15:29 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, SpeakerAlert@mail.house.gov writes: Stopping the Government Spending Binge that Threatens Jobs


Where the hell have you been for the last 25 years

Was your head stuck in the sand Somewhere???

in 2000 Unemployment was 3.9% or 500,000 Unemployed

in 2009 Unemployment was 10.1 or 15,000,000 Unemployed

You really got some PAIR to talk about JOBS when ON YOUR WATCH YOU LOST 14,500,000 JOBS

Get serious will ya we aren't all
sheep ya know some of really know
the dif between BS & Reality