America’s most wanted is behind bars. The FBI captured James “Whitey” Bulger, who spent more than sixteen years on the lam, in California on Wednesday. His brother, the most powerful politician in Massachusetts for more than a decade, remains at large and unindicted.
Arrested outside his rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, Whitey Bulger, once estimated to be worth $50 million, demanded a court-appointed attorney in Massachusetts. You can take the octogenarian out of Boston. But you can’t take Boston out of the octogenarian.
Bostonians marvel at the gullibility of their Pacific coast countrymen, and of Bulger’s earlier neighbors in Louisiana, who took a brutal murderer as a kindly old gentleman. But the on-the-run Bulger, presumably, masked his behavior along with his looks. The real rubes are in Massachusetts, where the politically-connected serial killer brazenly gunned down rivals on the streets and the gullible locals, including Democratic Party powerhouses and their allies in the media, portrayed him as a lovable rogue, a misunderstood Good Samaritan even.
Boasting a rap sheet dating back to the Roosevelt administration (Franklin’s, not Teddy’s), Bulger claimed to have served as an incarcerated LSD guinea pig and was one of Alcatraz’s last inmates. But hard time didn’t make his colorful legend. Getting away scot-free did.
Mysteriously, Bulger’s involvement in murders, the narcotics trade, Irish Republican Army gun running, and fixing horse races went unnoticed for decades as law enforcement pinched his criminal confederates.
In 1987 at Logan Airport, Bulger, after getting stopped by security, tossed a satchel full of $100 bills to a fleeing accomplice and successfully obstructed the pursuers. Bulger faced no charges. Transferred, harassed, denied overtime, and passed over for promotion, the state trooper who detained Bulger subsequently killed himself.
Four years later, Bulger, along with several confederates, “won” the state lottery. The preposterous circumstances strained credulity. But his political and media boosters insisted the $14.3 million prize was on the level.
“So, lay off Jimmy Bulger,” Mike Barnicle counseled his Boston Globe readers. “For the first time in his life, he got lucky, legitimately, and won the lottery. Knowing him, he probably already has handed out money to St. Augustine’s, figuring that when he goes—and the odds on that are better than winning Mass Millions—there will be some people left behind who will say, ‘Not a bad guy.’”
Speaking truth to power became sucking up to power. Even the Boston Globe eventually rid itself of the sycophant Barnicle. But not every news outlet has the scruples of the paper that ran images from an American porn site that they suggested showed GIs raping Iraqi women. Bulger’s booster currently calls MSNBC home. Check your local listings.
When you shoot people who stand athwart your designs, you usually get your way. When you also own the cops, the media, and the politicians, you always get your way.
Bulger’s miraculous streak of staying ahead of his pursuers wasn’t an act of God. It was an act of government.
He ratted on fellow mobsters to the protecting feds to clear the playing field. He bribed Boston policemen, Massachusetts state troopers, and the Boston FBI office, which shamefully witnessed two of its agents face murder indictments. His brother, president of the state senate, handed out hack jobs to family members of his brother’s criminal associates and even suggested that the mayor of Boston appoint John Connolly—the incarcerated FBI agent convicted of second-degree murder—as the chief of police. The mayor passed, but Senate President Bulger helped place his brother’s criminal accomplice at Boston Edison.
It’s hard to differentiate between gangsters and government when they hold the ends of pilfering ordinary people in common.
With the brother of the state’s top crime boss rewarding friends and punishing enemies through patronage, is it any wonder that even today Whitey Bulger faces federal charges? Like the three consecutive speakers of the Massachusetts House of Representatives convicted of federal felonies, Whitey Bulger’s crimes escaped the interest of local district attorneys and state attorneys general for political reasons. Democrats don’t do Democrats that way in a deep-blue state.
One-party government kills. It does so in Libya, where the son of the local strongman feared no judicial repercussions after machine-gunning soccer spectators chanting unflattering slogans. It does so in Massachusetts, where the brother of the local strongman murdered, raped, dealt drugs, expropriated businesses at gunpoint, and fixed sporting events with impunity for nearly three decades.
How could this happen in America?
“We weren’t in America,” testified Bulger murder accessory Kevin Weeks. “We were in Boston.”