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Since the first settlers hacked their way into the mangrove tangles and drained much of the swampland, sunny South Florida has been virtually synonymous with shady deals and scams.
The endlessly creative crooks come up with fake Jamaican lotteries, false marriages for immigration purposes, mediocre seafood marketed as better seafood, insurance rip-offs from fake accidents and fires — even foreign substandard cheese passed off as domestic top shelf. But the big money is in a trio of major fraud trends: Medicare, mortgage and identity theft-tax refunds.
By almost any measure, South Florida is the nation’s organized fraud capital, although authorities say it’s not entirely clear why.
“Is it the weather? Is it because it’s beautiful and the fraudsters want to live here? Is it because it’s such a melting pot and you have organized crime from all ethnic groups?” said Kelly Jackson, top agent in the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigative division in South Florida. “Any fraud, it always seems to start here.”
Paul George, a Miami-Dade College history professor who specializes in South Florida, noted that the region’s reputation as a haven for schemers dates to the land speculation boom of the 1920s, when alligator-infested swampland was marketed to Northerners as a slice of tropical paradise. Today, with the area such a melting pot, it’s no wonder South Florida is also a cauldron of creative crime, he said.
“It goes back to the roots of Miami. It’s always been a place for starting over again,” George said. “People move here either from the north or the south. People have some anonymity, maybe they think they can pull off something here.”
They love us, they really love us.
Juan Cole identifies the Top Six Signs ISIL/ Daesh is Doomed. His blog, Informed Comment, has a good track record on the Middle East, so I tend to think it’s more reliable than my daily scare sheet. Here’s how he starts:
It has been over a year since Mosul fell to Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). In some ways the organization has continued to make advances since then, taking Ramadi and Palmyra in the past few months. It isn’t as important as FBI director James Comey says it is, though. People in government security agencies feel they have to hype threats so as to ensure next year’s budget.
I maintain that the Daesh menace has been exaggerated from day one. I doubt four million people live under its rule, not the 9 million often alleged. Most of its territory is barren desert and lightly populated. It has no obvious purchase in the United States. And, it has lost key assets in the past year in the Middle East.
Today’s top quote on President Obama’s tour of a federal prison:
As David Maraniss reported in his biography, Mr. Obama and his friends were so enthusiastic about their marijuana that they called their group the Choom Gang. Unlike the men he met on Thursday, however, Mr. Obama escaped that life and ultimately ended up at Harvard Law School, the Senate and now the White House.
He, too, has security around the clock. But they work for him.
Bonus quotes, not from today, in James Fallows’s Obama’s Grace, a very fine essay about President Obama’s eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. It contains many sharp observations including this one:
Obama, certainly on purpose, “code switched” with regularity through the speech. Sometimes he spoke almost as if he were an A.M.E. preacher, and certainly as if he was so comfortable in this setting as to know its stresses and pronunciations and styles. Listen for the words “Shout Hallelujah!” about 12 minutes into the speech to hear this tone. …
In other places—including, fascinatingly, his most explicit discourse on racial justice late in the speech—Obama sounds as neutrally professional-class-white-American as he does in most speeches from the Oval Office.
It also includes this sharp aside, which is not about the President:
Political writers wonder when the Republican party will produce its next really shrewd strategist, the one who knows how to pick his battles rather than getting mired in obstructive pandering to the base. Such a figure already exists. His name is John Roberts.