Late Night Pulped Friction: Whitey Bulger (Probably) Died As He Had Lived

The parenthetical in the title is because the first breathless news reports out of Bulger’s home town said that the corpse was ‘so badly beaten as to be unrecognizable’ — exactly the suspiciously B-movie detail that *would* finish a novelization of Whitey’s career. But the sordid truth seems to be that the old man was killed by a professional thug from the Massachusetts sticks, apparently in the hope that one more murder would bump up his own status among the other lifers.

And just as Bulger survived to be a very old man by playing various law enforcement agencies for a bunch of grubby bureaucrats equally torn between envy of their targets and burning hatred for their interbureau rivals, the circumstances of his death have left many questions that will bedevil the FBI and the US Bureau of Prisons.

The Boston Globe, no suprise, is going all out on Bulger’s life and death. (If it weren’t for the Red Sox victory parade, Whitey would probably have had the entire front page to himself.) And who could blame them, given such material?

James “Whitey” Bulger’s life played out like any number of the violent Hollywood movies it spawned, reflecting a Boston that is no more, when bookmakers and gangsters peopled the taverns of the city’s working-class neighborhoods; when the locals wouldn’t dream of turning in the neighborhood hoodlum; when gangland murders were commonplace; and when the FBI was so hellbent on taking out the Mafia that it helped gangsters like Mr. Bulger kill rivals and rise to the top of the Boston underworld.

Mr. Bulger, one of America’s most manipulative criminals who eluded prosecution for decades because he was protected by corrupt FBI agents, was killed Tuesday in a federal prison in West Virginia. He was 89 and was serving two life sentences for 11 murders.

Mr. Bulger was charismatic and vicious, well-read and heartless. He persuaded a Jesuit priest to serve as his parole sponsor, torched the Brookline birthplace of John F. Kennedy during antibusing strife, kept house with two women in different locations at the same time, and routinely took naps immediately after shooting people in the head. He loved animals, crying over a puppy being put down, yet secretly buried at least six of his victims, denying their loved ones the bodies…

In his teens, James Bulger ran away with the circus, and when he returned home he took up with a much older woman who was a stripper in a traveling burlesque show. The stripper scandalized Mr. Bulger’s mother by sending him postcards from the road.

Mr. Bulger’s propensity for rule-breaking graduated to crime. He was a tailgater — stealing off the backs of trucks that took goods from the freighters on the South Boston waterfront.

In a neighborhood where hardly anyone had a car, he had one. When he wasn’t driving around town with his Jayne Mansfield-lookalike girlfriend Jacquie McAuliffe, Mr. Bulger often scouted for opportunities — not necessarily for crime, but to buff his credentials as a hoodlum with a heart of gold.
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Surefire Intelligence!

Tom has given us one of today’s gems of humor, and I want to share the other one. There are far, far more tweets than I can possibly include here, but I will try to indicate the range and depth of incompetence, which is truly monumental.

First, a narrative account for those of you who prefer such things.

At the center of the scheme is publicity-hungry Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, who has repeatedly dabbled in internet conspiracy theories in the past, including promoting the idea that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed by deep-state government operatives.

….

Burkman has not any offered any evidence at all of his accusations and his previous “bombshell” press conferences on other stories have become notorious flops in Washington media circles.

….

Burkman’s latest gambit has far higher stakes than his previous ones; but it too seems similarly bound for self-destruction. Allegations that he was offering to pay women to accuse Mueller come from an uncorroborated email sent to a number of media outlets, including The Daily Beast, by a person who identified herself as Florida resident “Lorraine Parsons.”

In her emails, Parsons claimed that Burkman and his associates were pressuring her to “make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller” and to “sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.” In exchange, she said, they were offering tens of thousands of dollars. Parsons repeatedly declined to talk to The Daily Beast on the phone, and internet searches have failed to provide any background on her. Parsons didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

….

Jacob Wohl, a right wing Twitter personality and a self-described friend of Burkman, said Burkman had told him he had hired Matthew Cohen, who is a managing partner at the private investigations company Surefire Intelligence, to assist with the investigation.

Surefire is a bit of a mystery. Since-deleted Craigslist advertisements for the company said it “was founded by two members of Israel’s elite intelligence community.” The ads billed services including “counter intelligence,” “private spies,” and “ethical hackers.”

More amusing details at the link. And yet more on Twitter. Stuff is being deleted (although I’m sure copies exist), which Popehat earlier pointed out could be destroying evidence in an FBI investigation.

Bellingcat is ON IT! (disclosure: I have worked with Bellingcat and occasionally write articles for them.)

Popehat and other lawyers are yukking it up.

A friend said this has been the best day he’s seen on Twitter for a while.








Avenatti Drops a Bomb on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Michael Avenatti has released his email correspondence with Mike Davis, who is Senator Grassley’s Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So you don’t have to squint, here’s the email correspondence that Avenatti tweeted:

As I’ve been saying in comments for several days, there is a lot of time between now and when Dr. Blasey testifies on Thursday for more shoes to drop, let alone between now and the following week, which is most likely when Senator McConnell will try to schedule the floor vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. And Avenatti is just beginning his campaign of death by a thousand twitter cuts.

Open thread.








Not So Vast, Largely Conducted Out in the Open, Right Wing Conspiracy: Senate Judiciary Committee Edition

This is Garrett Ventry:

(Image taken from Ventry’s twitter feed)

Garrett’s been a very naughty man…

At 4:39 PM on on Thursday 20 September 2018, Ventry in his capacity as the spokesperson/communications advisor for Senator Grassley’s and the GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Kavanaugh nomination tweeted the following:

There’s only one problem with this. As reported yesterday, Ed Whelan was coordinating with CRC Public Relations on his insane an attempt to exonerate Kavanaugh by implicating Kavanaugh’s classmate via tweetstorm. Do you know who worked for CRC Public Relations while Whelan was coordinating with them about committing a gross, public stupidity? Garrett Ventry. And do you know why CRC Public Relations sent him to work for Grassley to help shepherd the Kavanaugh nomination through? Because Leonard Leo, who controls the Federalist Society, as well as several related organizations like the Judicial Crisis Network through an opaque and largely unknown financing network, and who is a good friend of Ed Whelan’s – another senior Federalist Society member – asked CRC to send Ventry to work for Grassley on this.

But wait, there’s more!!!! Apparently among Ventry’s personal preferences was one for sexually mistreating women.

WASHINGTON — A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.

Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party’s messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past “allegations of misconduct.”

After NBC News raised questions about Ventry’s employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”

And if anyone was still wondering how Whelan got Ford’s name, apparently someone he was in contact at the White House (most likely rhymes with Shill Bine or Mon DcGahn) gave it to him.

If you’re going to conspire to do something dodgy, you should really establish a set of best practices so what you’re doing isn’t 1) SO FUCKING OBVIOUS!!!! and 2) easily detectable by anyone who can trace a simple set of social and professional connections.

Who knew that when Andrew Breitbart, who, like Antonin Scalia, is still dead – unlike Paul Manafort and Mariia Butina who are just still in jail, but will one day die in prison from old age – was caught on video screaming “STOP RAPING PEOPLE!!!!” over and over he was speaking to conservative legal and judicial professional?

Open thread!








The Lajes’ Protocol IV: The President, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Politicization of the DOJ

The President has ordered a selective declassification of a very limited amount of information related to one of the FISA warrant applications pertaining to Carter Page, as well as text messages intended to make Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, and Ohr look bad.

My professional take on this is that this declassification order is part of a preplanned strategic communication strategy to try to get the news media off of reporting that is not positive for the President, his administration, the GOP majority in both chambers of Congress, the Kavanaugh nomination, and the upcoming midterms. Apparently the Man from Lajes, also known as Congressman Devin Nunes, agrees.

Here’s Congressman Schiff’s, the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, statement on what the President ordered:

What’s interesting is that the DOJ and FBI doesn’t seem to have any idea how to proceed.

David Kris, the former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, had this to say:

Also, from Joyce Vance, a former US Attorney, and Julie Zebrak, formerly of both the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Office.

Here’s what I think is going to happen: the selectively unclassified and unredacted material will be released. Like every previous one of these attempts by either the President and/or his allies like Congressman Nunes, it will quickly be picked apart and make them look silly. Even more important, as was the case a couple of weeks ago regarding what Bruce Ohr’s actual work for the DOJ was about, the US intelligence community will selectively leak in order to knock this selective declassification back. And at the end of the day all that will have happened is the President and his allies in Congress like Congressman Nunes will have simply further damaged and weakened the Department of Justice, the FBI, and other parts of the intelligence community in order to protect their own political and/or legal fortunes.

This is a blatant and obvious attempt to try to change the news reporting, but I just don’t think it is going to work. Especially given the track records of the people involved. The Fox News and MAGA on social media crowd will embrace it, Russian bots and trolls will try to amplify it, but there is too much legitimate news breaking right now for this to really break through. The news for the rest of this week is going to be the Kavanaugh nomination meshugas, the trade war, including new competing tariffs, with China, violent, serial criminal activity by Customs and Border Patrol and ICE officers, and the ongoing news regarding the coming mid-term elections.

Stay focused!

If this is what the senior Florida Republicans think is coming, then no amount of chaff is going to distract the news media from the actual targets!

Open thread.