Early Morning Open Thread: Whitey in (His) Winter

Now, more than ever, I regret the premature death of George V. Higgins. The hacks and wanna-bes at the local papers are taking their various victory laps. The local teevee newscasters were literally giggling on-air about the potential for future drama, with the leading themes summarized by the top-ranked VSP Obnoxious Jackass of Every Troll’s Aspirational Dreams (Jon Keller, for you locals):
(1) Bulger was living a mere five miles from the local FBI office because that’s as far as his FBI handlers would trust him — or he them.
(2) Why now, after almost 17 years? Because continuing public-image irritants (like the Pakistan ambassador’s jibe comparing Bulger to OBL) finally gave “a new generation” of FBI agents enough ammunition to out-vote those among their elders who either took Bulger’s bribes; ‘handled’ him as a supposedly valuable ally in the War Against Some Drugs, as represented by the Mafia; or were golfing-and-fishing buddies of the guys in those categories.
(3) Was this week’s expensive roll-out of those ‘Have You Seen This Gun Moll?’ PSAs just a method of “protecting a sensitive asset, a/k/a informant“, or is that ‘informant’ a face-saving figment of the Bureau’s never-very-creative imagination? In either case, how much did it cost the taxpayers? (one of Keller’s favorite catchphrases)
(4) What are the chances that Bulger will either die before going to trial, or be found incompetent to stand trial at all? He’s 81 years old, and the newspods are already collecting clips of his little-old-lady neighbors from the apartment complex using words like “Alzheimers” and “sudden changes of mood” and “increasingly reclusive over the last few years”. Between the pride Whitey took in never testifying, and the embarrassing things he could say about his relations with LEOs from the Southie street-level up to the highest national networks (sure, lots of those guys are dead by now, but most of them had families), it would not come as a total surprise were it to be announced that his final disposition would be a nice quite hospital room somewhere in the less public precincts of the correctional services. Sorry, no — he’s not available for visitors. Health reasons.
(5) And, finally, who gets the $2million reward? “Maybe his girlfriend turned him in,” suggested Everybody’s-Favorite-Uncle Anchorman (Jack Williams), “that’s what some people are saying.”
I can’t think of a writer, other than the man responsible for both The Friends of Richard Nixon and Style versus Substance who can do justice to this particular chowder.

36 replies
  1. 1
    Cliff in NH says:

    it says open thread…

    What do you think of this corperation?

    From their 10k:

    Replacing the 7.5% senior notes, which were scheduled to mature on May 1, 2011, with the 7.75% senior notes, which are scheduled to mature on June 1, 2017, extended our nearest debt maturity to December 2012. Although the current downturn in the economy has increased the level of uncertainty
    in the demand for prison beds in the short-term, we believe the long-term implications are very positive
    as states defer or cancel plans for adding new prison bed capacity. Further, certain of our customers have expressed an interest in pursuing additional bed capacity from third parties despite their budgetary
    We believe our 2009 debt refinancing provides us with more financial flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that may require additional capital. These opportunities also include stock repurchases through our stock repurchase plans as described above. We have the ability to fund our capital expenditure requirements, including the aforementioned construction projects, as well as our facility maintenance and information technology expenditures, working capital, debt service requirements, and the stock repurchase program, with cash on hand, net cash provided by operations, and borrowings available under our revolving credit facility.

    Bleck, they make me Sick.

  2. 2
    Cliff in NH says:

    We are compensated for operating and managing prisons and correctional facilities at an inmate per diem rate based upon actual or minimum guaranteed occupancy levels.The significant expansion of the prison population in the United States has led to overcrowding in the federal and state prison
    systems, providing us with opportunities for growth.
    Federal, state, and local governments are constantly under budgetary constraints putting pressure on governments to control correctionalbudgets, including per diem rates our customers pay to us. These pressures have been compounded by the recent economic downturn. Economic conditions remain very challenging, putting continued pressure on state budgets. Although all of our state partners have passed balanced budgets for their 2011 fiscal years, some states may be forced to further reduce their expenses if their tax revenues,
    which typically lag the overall economy, do not meet their expectations. Actions to control their
    expenses could include reductions in inmate populations through early release programs, alternative sentencing, or inmate transfers from facilities managed by private operators to facilities operated by the state or other local jurisdictions. Further, certain states have requested, and additional state customers
    could request, reductions in per diem rates or request that we forego prospective rate increases in the future as methods of addressing the budget shortfalls they may be experiencing. We believe we have been successful in working with our government partners to help them manage their correctional costs while minimizing the financial impact to us, and will continue to provide unique solutions to their correctional needs. We believe the long-term growth opportunities of our business remain very
    attractive as insufficient bed development by our partners should result in a return to the supply and demand imbalance that has been benefiting the private prison industry.

  3. 3
    Cliff in NH says:

    I’m glad they finally caught Whitey, He is one of those that should be stuck in a box.

  4. 4

    if his girlfriend turned him in, that is her out money, and her way of fending off an aiding and abetting. why not assume that he was allowed to live out most of his remaining years, then when he was too old, or needed medical attention that required access to his medical and family history, to sustain his last few years, he finally had to go inside.

    it does sound, like the fbi wasn’t looking too hard.

  5. 5
    stuckinred says:

    Mornin Joe is overwhelmed by Christie this morning.

  6. 6
    Bruce S says:

    A bit of a deficit hype roundup – the craziness is killing us…


  7. 7
    Bruce S says:

    “Mornin Joe is overwhelmed by Christie this morning.”

    Hey! What’s your name? “stuckinred”? Listen, “stuckinred”, it’s none of your goddam bizness!

  8. 8

    i’ve been reading up on this howie carr dickpunch, what a piece of shit

  9. 9
    wormtown says:

    Great post…great assessment of the local reportage. Jon Keller…heh heh.

  10. 10
    SFAW says:

    VSP Obnoxious Jackass of Every Troll’s Aspirational Dreams (Jon Keller, for you locals)

    “Biggest F’ing Twit” would have been shorter, and probably as accurate.

    Early Morning Open Thread: Whitey

    WBL and Michelle Obama kindly ask that you leave such epithets to them, TYVM

    “sudden changes of mood”

    Nothing new for him.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    IMO.. He won’t go to trial. Whitey still has a lot of secrets that the fed wants to keep buried.

  12. 12
    Bruce S says:

    Reading this and looking back on some of the coverage from last night’s cable p-f**k, I’m thinking this was the easiest way to get an 81-year old guy into a “nursing home.”

    That said, Bulger was quite a piece of work. Apparently Mike Barnicle was a Whitey apologist, which doesn’t surprise me…

  13. 13
    SFAW says:

    howie carr dickpunch, what a piece of shit

    Did you mean Howie, or Whitey? Or both?

  14. 14
    Lesley says:

    I doubt he has, or can get away with persuading anyone he has, alzheimer’s.

    Their apartment — an 1,000-square-foot two bedroom on the third floor — was rent-controlled and cost them $1,145 a month, which they always paid in cash. Joshua Bond, the building manager, said they had lived in the building since at least 1996 and had given him a cowboy hat. By many accounts, they did not resemble the photos on the F.B.I. posters. “They look like they had a lot of work done,” said Julie Craig, 55, who lives on the same floor of the building. Barbara Gluck, a neighbor, described Ms. Greig as a “lovely person,” but added: “He, on the other hand, when we talked too long, would shout, ‘Stop talking, let’s go.’ ” Janus Goodwin, 61, said she visited them in the apartment. “When I would be invited in, he would always be lying on the sofa, watching TV,” she said. “He was very proud of his little art pieces, which were cheap knockoffs of Monet and Van Gogh.” Ms. Goodwin said Ms. Grieg had blond hair and was always nicely dressed; Mr. Bulger would appear in dress shirts and dark pants, and had dark hair, which she assumed was dyed. Inside the apartment, [the FBI] found more than $800,000 and more than 20 firearms, including handguns and several longer guns. They also found knives and false IDs, according to the F.B.I. Carmen Ortiz, the United States attorney in Boston, said that Mr. Bulger could get life in prison in the federal case here but that he could face the death penalty in two separate pending cases in Oklahoma and Florida. Within hours of his capture, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the Miami-Dade state attorney, said she was eager to try him on charges of orchestrating a 1982 murder of a gambling executive at Miami International Airport. If convicted, Mr. Bulger could face the death penalty. – New York Times

    The fact that he strangled the girlfriends of two of his henchman back in the day doesn’t help his case either.

  15. 15
    IP Strategist says:

    Annie Laurie:

    # 2 is very astute–and true. My father, who passed away last year, was part of Whitey’s protector generation in the FBI. The Miami connection Rachel mentioned last night on her show was where my Dad worked for almost 20 years. John Connelley’s Miami connection, Paul Rico, was someone who I used to see around all the time as a kid, and he even got my younger brother a job in the 1980’s parking cars at the Miami Jai Lai. These people are still around, and still connected–many of them retired to run security at banks, large corporations and the like, and although somewhat aged, will still be well-liked by a number of power brokers. Things were either dirty or kept quiet with the J.E. Hoover era FBI or those who came in the generation afterwards. This always bothered me, and I expect it bothered my Dad and exacerbated the emotional and physical problems that plagued him as long as I can remember. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and gratitude to know that the f*ckers in the FBI who through “fidelity bravery and integrity” out the window are now going to be thrown under the bus by a new generation of Feds without the attachment to the oldsters. And, don’t feel sorry for these old guys when you see them trotted out in front of the cameras: they were not just dirty cops, they were dirty Federal cops with unbelievable power that they abused to the max who are still living off of us with generous pensions to enhance their retirement years.

  16. 16

    @sfaw howie carr specifically. it makes sense now, when i was working with some folks from boston area, and they had some wild theories, that they must have been listeners or fans of his.

    as far as whitey goes, yeah, in a different category though.

  17. 17
    Cat Lady says:

    Great post AL, but I would transpose hacks and wannabes. Scott Lehigh is a nobody, and Howie has been a hack forever. George Higgins came from the era in Boston that I remember as a small child, that my father grew up in. There was no charm about it, anywhere, and the characters in Higgins’ books wouldn’t recognize anything now. The West End and Scollay Square were torn down, the waterfront was all rat infested warehouses, and the only moneyed folks were the Brahmins who were all holed up in Back Bay (and the North Shore). The South End into Roxbury was an immigrant ghetto no one could have imagined being what it is now (thanks gay guys!). There was one “good” restaurant, and that was Pier 4. The only local writer I can imagine doing justice to the Whitey story, besides Charlie Pierce, is Brian McGrory. I love the way he’s filleted the denizens of Hingham over the years (he’s from Weymouth) about the commuter train – he’s got a decent eye for character details. YMMV.

  18. 18
    FlyingToaster says:

    Oh Jeebus, not that bloviating fool (Jon Keller). I change the channel or station when ‘BZ lets him talk.

    The local reporting is wall-to-wall, with “endless background” at the Glob and “endless CT” at the Herald. TV news is either Whitey or whatever televised singing contest is on. And even NECN is spending 20+ minutes an hour on this crap.

    I don’t care where Whitey was, I don’t care that he was likely being protected by people now retired (or dead), I’d just like them to put him on trial and get him out of the news cycle once and for all.

    ‘Bout damn time. Now can we report on the crazy-ass GOOPers like Fattman?

  19. 19
    OzoneR says:

    You all need to see this and then tell me “messaging” is the problem.


    “I’m terribly disappointed,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “It appears they are giving up.”
    “One thing that would take a fragile economy and break it would be for the United States to default on its obligations,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

    there’s your messaging “They gave up and now they could cause us to break our fragile economy.”

    The oracle of politics Bob Scheiffer says;

    “I mean, stop and think about it: Congress has been in session since January, and it is yet to do anything,” Schieffer said on CBS’ “The Early Show.”

    whose fault is that?

    Schieffer said the real problem is “no one in either party is willing to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done because they’re worried that if they do, they won’t get elected in the next election.
    “And that’s what this is all about. Somehow, they’ve got to find the political courage to get this done. And right now, I don’t see it.”

    That’s right, Dems need to “find the political courage” to cut Medicare. Eric Cantor walks out of negotiations and somehow that’s “both sides'” fault.

  20. 20
    pablo says:

    One thing Susanna Hoffs will never do…
    ..look you straight in the eye!

  21. 21
    Patrick says:

    a nice quite hospital

    Their/There and To/Too get all the publicity, but I see more problems with Quite/Quiet and Lose/Loose than the first two. It is almost like people know to look for the hard ones and miss the easy ones. Or in other words, Its almost like people now too look four the hard wons and miss the easy wons.

    Unless it was supposed to be, “a quite nice hospital”

  22. 22
    burnspbesq says:

    Off the prevailing topic, but tell me if you think the isn’t the smartest thing Brad DeLong has ever written.


  23. 23
    burnspbesq says:

    @Cliff In NH:

    “What do you think of this corperation?”

    I think it’s well-managed.

    Look, if (1) the prison population is continuing to grow because of stupid policies like three strikes and overzealous prosecution of recreational dopers and (2) the states can’t afford to add prison capacity and (3) the Federal courts will intervene when prison conditions become intolerably bad, then there is inevitably a business opportunity. If you don’t like the idea of private prisons, then deal with (1) and (2), or you’re just talking to hear your own voice.

  24. 24
    charles pierce says:

    Mention of George V. — he of sainted memory – always demands that I post the greatest first sentence of any novel that’s not called Moby-Dick.

    “Jackie Brown at twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get some guns.”

  25. 25
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Yeah, the War on Drugs sucks, blah blah blah. But Bulger is still an atrocious piece of shit, the old ethnic club from South Boston aside.

  26. 26
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I remember back in 2000 — Carr was on WRKO- him volunteering to ‘throw the switch’ on Dedrick Owens, the 6-year old in Michigan who killed a classmate with a gun he brought from home, on the grounds that hey, given the kid, and his background, if they didn’t do it then, they’d only have to do it later.

    A truly vile human being. And he was born and raised in Portland, ME, so he’s not even an echt Bostonian, he’s From the Ice.

    And Pierce is right, except for the Moby Dick part.

    When I was young, and single, and unbelievably homesick, a first-year teacher hundreds of miles from all my friends and family in Boston, (BC High, Holy Cross, what the f*ck I was doing in Atlanta?) I went to the bookstore and bought every George V. Higgins book that was out in paperback, and read them out loud to myself of an evening.

    I made it through the year. George Higgins saved my life.

  27. 27

    Maybe I’m reading this post incorrectly, but it seems there’s more criticism of the people celebrating his arrest than of the perp himself.

    So let’s be clear: whitey bulger is a piece of shit, a murderer, rapist, extortionist and mobster. This is the kind of person whitey is:

    There was also Deborah Hussey, who had been sexually abused by Bulger’s associate, Steven Flemmi, as a teenager. Hussey ended up living with Flemmi, but soon he and Bulger got tired of having her around. And so, according to court documents: “They murdered her in much the same way they murdered their other victims, by luring her into a house and strangling her. Here again, Bulger grabbed Deborah Hussey from behind and scissored her neck between his forearms to crush her windpipe. Hussey fought desperately for her life and knocked Bulger over. When the two fell to the floor, Bulger jack-knifed his body to work his legs around Hussey’s body to crush her torso. The Court infers Hussey lost consciousness from asphyxiation and died within a few minutes.”

    So yeah, Howie Carr’s a noted dickhead. I’ll give him this though: he also didn’t commit murder and extortion. Read “Black Mass”, it’s one of the best books on Whitey, the Winter Hill Gang, and the FBI.

  28. 28
    SFAW says:

    So yeah, Howie Carr’s a noted dickhead. I’ll give him this though: he also didn’t commit murder and extortion.

    Wow, that bar’s set pretty high.

    And besides, you don’t know for a fact that Howie didn’t do those things. In fact, I think he needs to prove that he didn’t.

  29. 29
    Max Peck says:

    Whitey was a bogeyman growing up. You always were told to stay away from that house, Whitey owns it or if you see three guys in the middle of the park talking close don’t go near, it’s Whitey and his boys talking. They don’t trust phones. To some he was a hero. He kept crack out of the hood. His rep should have taken a bigger hit when we found out he was a rat and that he betrayed Flemmi and Weekes but heroes are hard to let go of I guess.

  30. 30
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Bulger played the FBI like a cheap violin. Consequently, the DOJ will bleat that “This is a complex case and it may take years to prosecute,” until Bulger is either dead or incoherent. The nineteen people in whose murders Bulger is complicit are just collateral damage in the War on Crime.

  31. 31

    @SFAW: Frankly, I could give a flying fuck about Howie Carr. Bulger’s a monster.

    @max peck: actually, “he kept crack out of the neighborhood” is a myth. Whitey made out quite well overseeing the drug trade.

    Now, however, based on extensive interviews, previously secret documents, and recent testimony from law-enforcement agents during federal court hearings, a picture emerges that explodes the myth. South Boston spent much of Bulger’s heyday — from his recruitment as an FBI informant in 1975 to his indictment 20 years later — awash in drugs from Broadway to Castle Island, with Bulger allegedly swimming in the proceeds. It wasn’t that Southie was worse off than other parts of Boston during the 1980s, but neither was it an island apart. The new information reveals in detail how Bulger allegedly made dealers pay “rent” on every gram of “Santa Claus” — a Southie code for cocaine.… To claim Bulger was antidrugs because he didn’t personally deal cocaine would be like saying he was a Prohibitionist because he didn’t personally bag six-packs at his liquor store. When it came to both alcohol and drugs, he set aside personal distaste and found an equal opportunity to profit.

  32. 32
    Max Peck says:

    Not a myth. I’m from southie. There was no crack in that neighborhood. I didn’t say there was no powder or that he wasn’t a dirtbag. I said he kept out crack and some looked at him as a hero for doing it. A lot of people think he legally bought Stippos liquor store too so people see what they want. Let’s not even get started on when he “won” the lottery.

  33. 33
    4jkb4ia says:

    Nate : Handicapping The Republican Field, Part II: The Wild Cards Worth reading just for the Palin discussion– “Ms. Palin, however, may be viewed as such an unmitigated disaster that you could see a floor fight at the convention, or threats from Ms. Palin or a moderate candidate to run as an independent.” Cain is at 35-1.

  34. 34
    Anne Laurie says:

    Maybe I’m reading this post incorrectly, but it seems there’s more criticism of the people celebrating his arrest than of the perp himself.

    For the record, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger is a very, very bad man. Probably not quite so bad, in legal terms, as Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, but he would’ve been comfortable in their social club. And now that Bulger is in custody, a lot of Very Serious law enforcement / media people who’ve spent the last many years either providing aid & comfort or making excuses for Bulger are throwing themselves a circus… as long as the man’s safely dead behind bars. Y’ever heard the expression “History repeats itself — first as tragedy, then as farce?”

  35. 35
    SFAW says:

    Bulger’s a monster.

    No argument from me. Too bad he’ll have to go to FLA to get fried (or whatever method they use down there).

  36. 36
    Xenos says:

    Bouncing off the WPR discussions and the discretion of Treasury when the debt ceiling is exceeded, a new idea seems to be circulating courtesy of Bruce Bartlett and DDay: that the debt ceiling law may violate the XIVth amendment. This had never occurred to me, but makes a fair bit of sense.

    After the build-up over the debt ceiling over the last year it will be a huge fuss if Obama just says, when the GOP walks away from negotiations, ‘who cares?’

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