Grifter-watching in an Age of Propaganda.

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This article in the Smithsonian magazine is an oldie, but a goodie, but then again, I have always been a fan of magic.

But this applies to other areas of life.

Like what to look for when you don’t want to believe that you are being played.

In my life, I have been courted by grifters. I have always been a disappointment to them. I look like an easy mark. I don’t pretend that I can’t get played — everyone can get played.

The difference is I study the dynamics of the grifter-pigeon relationship while others don’t.

Grifters are interesting. As Donald Trump said, they are smooth. Cute and cuddly with charm. They remember your name. They have a very good memory for names, faces, and events. They are warm. Some are endearing and sympathetic.

And they often have tragedy or some other trauma and act wounded. There is always some sort of scam going on, usually a combination of a greed scam (show your love by believing in me — and invest in my dreams) and pity scam (save me from myself because I had a bad childhood) where, if you are foolish enough to get on the hamster wheel, will suck you into a vortex of saviour and social worker wasting your resources on the con artist instead of yourself.

It is a bad deal.

Grifters always see themselves as being the most cunning person around. They leverage their bad childhoods into collateral to be used to gain things. They think they are entitled and owed something — that’s the fuel that makes them seething, petty, spiteful, and vindictive.

They always look chipper and upbeat. They seem polite until you cross them, then they blame you and won’t let go of a grudge. There is always a scam, a mask, a script, and an angle.

They are very snazzy dressers. Nothing but the best for them. Clothes are props, but so are people. They are to be paraded out to reassure people that they are very nice people who care and can be trusted.

They are always apologetic. They always have an entourage clean up their messes. They bank favours and pull strings. They know all the gossip and can exploit people with ease.

They use people as pawns, and they can size you up. They can secretly maneuver people on their game boards. They can play chess or pool with ease, and there is usually some little smirk on their face as if they are in on some private little joke.

They will often seemingly bring other people into their confidence — and those are the dupes and pigeons they exploit by turning them into faithful lackeys. People feel honoured to know the “real” person — and they think they are in on the ride, not being taken for it.

Nothing ever gets done with them, however. They are big talkers and dreamers, but they never actually deliver — or plan to deliver. They just want to get things and coast.

When they are young, they get away with a lot — a baby face will get you a lot of goodwill. People are protective of grifters who know how to play the part. You cannot save them: that’s all part of the act. They will give you sad doe eyes pretending to submit when things go awry.

Right now, we are in an Age of Propaganda, and that means we seek grifters by default. This penchant for taking style over substance has damage the Left’s brand and severely so. Urbane sophisticate is not going to prove you superior to the Right. The other side has political mastery — and they brawl, not bawl.

The biggest mistake women in Canada made was allowing the privileged white boy to call himself a feminist without actual cred. You want a feminist, get the angry woman who launches her campaign at the battered women’s shelter and demands to know why we have concentration camps for abused women.

But that’s real. It’s reality, truth, and uncomfortable. It is not polished. It’s raw. It’s not snootily having some delusion that we are enlightened or progressive.

Once we allowed a non-feminist to ride on the coattails of feminism, once he was exposed as a poseur, he didn’t just damaged his own brand or just his party’s brand, but the feminist brand. If your psychographic is incapable of knowing who is real and who is fake, you lose face.

You don’t just desperately try to take anyone who’ll have you in order to exploit you. You cannot settle for anything or anyone.

There are too many brutes in suits exploiting people who never study their ways or ask hard questions. Dreams for the future cannot come true unless you face the nightmare of reality. The path of utopia never came following grifters or buying their hype, and the sooner that truth is grasp, the more likely a better world can be built.

But it all depends on whether people truly want freedom — or merely wish to pretend that they do…