Fraud, American Style

Poor Buncombe County, North Carolina: home to Asheville, mountainous scenery, Vanderbilt’s robber-baron Biltmore mansion—and along the way, the origin of words for chicanery, flim-flam, and deception. Bunkum, bunk, debunk, the Bunco Squads that police forces used to have: We needed a word for the patter, the polished spiel, of confidence swindlers, and the old British cozenage and French fourberie just didn’t seem to have the oomph that Americans wanted. And so (by a strange path that begins with a bit of 19th-century political bombast), we borrowed Buncombe’s name.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations Hamstring Campaign to Oust Feinstein

California lawmakers wrapped up work for the year two months ago, but state Sen. Kevin de Leon isn’t resting easy: A torrent of sexual-harassment allegations in the state Capitol started raining down on top Democrats in Sacramento just 48 hours after de Leon announced his attempt to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) for her seat.

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ Review

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

There are few things in a film that are more annoying than inconsistent characterization. When a writer/director takes a shortcut by making bit players do whatever is needed to further the plot rather than letting them react naturally to the story as it evolves around them, one can easily become vexed. Consider the behavior of George Pierce (Colin Farrell) in Roman J. Israel, Esq.