Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020
News Every Day |

Scams Large and Small

A couple of decades ago, there was a knock on the door of my third-floor apartment in an Upper West Side townhouse. Opening it, I encountered a skinny guy, around 20, who said he was staying downstairs in the apartment of my landlady, a friend of mine to whom he referred respectfully by surname prefaced with “Mrs.” He spoke fast, had gotten locked out of her apartment, needed a small cash loan to pay a car service or something; he’d tested HIV-positive, now might have full-blown AIDS, he said with rising panic. I gave him $20, feeling smug at assisting this hapless stranger, and wrote down the phone number he offered; he rushed off.

A minute or two later, my suspicion stirring, I dialed the number; it was non-working. My landlady and I later pieced together that this guy had gotten both our last names from the townhouse’s intercom directory and bluffed his way into the locked building by telling her he knew me. We both felt stupid. Also perplexed: was this something he did all day, bamboozling duos of townhouse residents one after another, for small gains each time? But it had worked.

We live in an era of pervasive scams. Phone calls, emails and text messages offer urgent tech support to remedy undetected computer viruses; warn of impending action by law enforcement or creditors; tell you to click here or your package will be returned to its sender; announce your legal eligibility for previously unknown funds or real estate parcels; or otherwise play on your fears and hopes to elicit a response that short-circuits rational analysis. On social media, you can argue about things that never happened, with people who don’t exist.

Donald Trump has been the perfect president for this age, a career con artist and deadbeat, whose talents for self-aggrandizing publicity and shadowy financial manipulation have enabled him to escalate his scamming onto a world-historical stage. In this, he was vastly aided by the intellectual and ethical deterioration of the Republican Party and conservative movement, decay that both preceded and was accelerated by his career as a right-wing politician.

A major advantage that con artists have in their depredations is their victims’ reluctance to admit they’ve been scammed, to others or themselves. Even now, long after I was hoodwinked in Manhattan, I recall it with embarrassment, making sure people see I was only taken for a small sum, fooled for a limited time. The New York Times’ revelations about Trump’s taxes—his extreme deductions, massive losses, looming debts to entities unknown—may dent Trump’s support, being contrary to its founding myths of a patriotic, successful businessman. But it can also lead to doubling down, as with professed admiration of his tax avoidance acumen.

Among Trump voters, there are many who recognize his dishonesty but see greater purposes at stake: conservative judges, low taxes, limited government, party loyalty, defiance of the “woke” left. Such supporters might shrug off further evidence of his con artistry as a distraction from their priorities. But separating the corrupt president from his party and movement is not so straightforward. Undermining the rule of law is a high price to pay for a conservative judiciary. Massive deficits are a steep cost of tax cuts. Limited government has gone by the wayside, with intervention taking on an extortionist quality. Party loyalty, as such, makes no sense when the party shows incapacity for independence from the president, even disclaiming having a platform stating positions that might not mirror his agenda. As for the left, as long as it can point to Trump as its nemesis, it’ll gain adherents who wouldn’t gravitate there otherwise.

I recently read Michael Cohen’s Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump. It’s worth reading, with many telling anecdotes. Trump’s onetime “fixer” clearly has genuine regret about that role, particularly regarding its impact on Cohen’s family. Then again, Cohen’s penitence came only after he was caught and prosecuted. I read with a guarded attitude: What might he not be telling us? If there’s any substantial deception in Cohen’s confessional, I just don’t want to fall for it.

—Kenneth Silber is author of In DeWitt’s Footsteps: Seeing History on the Erie Canal and is on Twitter: @kennethsilber

 



Read also

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education launches ‘Path of Excellence’ scholarship program

Alton Towers, Legoland and Peppa Pig World reveal their Christmas events this year with Santa sleepovers and free gifts

Lauren Goodger moves boyfriend Charles Drury into her home after 3 weeks of dating as pals say she’s ‘head over heels’



News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro




Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here