The Scams Are Winning

American language suggests that grift can be separated from everything else. American life suggests otherwise.



Late last month — shortly after the special counsel’s office delivered the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election to the Justice Department (and shortly after Attorney General William Barr sent his four-page summary of the years-in-the-making report to Congress, and shortly after President Donald Trump summed up the summary by declaringthat report amounted to a “Total EXONERATION”) — the University of Southern California law professor Orin Kerr posted a tweet. “Imagine if,” Kerr wrote, “the Starr Report had been provided only to President Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, who then read it privately and published a 4-page letter based on her private reading stating her conclusion that President Clinton committed no crimes.”

Kerr’s framing of the situation struck a nerve: The tweet was liked more than 69,000 times, and retweeted more than 22,000 times. (One of the retweeters was Monica Lewinsky, who added her own perspective to Kerr’s imagining: “if. fucking. only,” she responded.) Imagine if, it turned out, captured something about a report that continues to hover in a purgatorial place. The thing is done but not really; it is completed but not, as yet, conclusive; it exists in a state of suspended animation. The House of Representatives, in mid-March, voted 420–0 to release the report — a display of bipartisanship that itself typically exists, these days, merely in imagine if terms. On Tuesday, however, Trump described the ongoing calls to share the document as a “disgrace” and a “waste of time.”

But the language of the scam can be misleading, precisely because the logic of the scam has permeated American life so completely that it has found its way to the Justice Department itself. The particular brand of absurdity at play in the report, the one that translated a multi-hundred-page work of investigation into an announcement of “Total EXONERATION,” is a rule much more than it is an exception. For every version of a scam that can be neatly categorized as illegal (or allegedly so) — Theranos, the Fyre FestivalEnron, the latest college-admissions scandal, a portion of the best scammers of 2018, etc. — there are many others that live in the liminal space of the lower-grade swindle. “Scam,” in that way, becomes its own false promise. It is too hopeful. It is overly naive. It assumes a world that does not exist. There’s so much that becomes fair game, after all, within a game that is rigged.

A report that was conducted, ostensibly, on behalf of the public, its full contents kept invisible to the public: It is yet another shock that is thoroughly unsurprising, another outrageous thing that does its angering out in the open, with impunity. It has become a running joke over the past year — the summer of scamScam season. The best scammers of 2018, ranked. Grift in the air; graft in the ether; cons, thriving in times of turmoil, having their way with the weary and the hopeful.


Left Aligned

Recently, the US Federal government banned online casinos from operating in America by making it illegal to transfer money to them through any US bank or payment system. As a result of this law, most of the popular online casino networks such as Party Gaming and PlayTech left the United States.

Theranos, the blood-testing company that went from “great hope” to “great hoax” almost overnight, has recently transformed into something else entirely. Theranos, the blood-testing company that went from “great hope” to “great hoax” almost overnight, has recently transformed into something else entirely