Skip to content

What’s Really New in Boston

Listen up. Here’s the story that the newspapers and networks are missing in all the cute coverage of Boston, the Democratic convention city. Ready? For the first time in almost thirty years, Boston is free of the thuggish Bulger brothers.

James, known as Whitey, is the FBI-licensed serial killer, belatedly on the top of the Most Wanted list but also on the lam now because old friends at the FBI tipped him to run before he got arrested. William is the fallen autocrat who ruled the Massachusetts State House for decades with the fear and the power that came, not least, from his brother’s gun.

Our liberation from the Bulgers gets scant mention in the institutional media–perhaps because the best of them (including “60 Minutes” and “The New Yorker”) were in on the cover-up of our Bulger Imprisonment. But the Rise, Reign and Fall of the Bulger Brothers is the biggest Boston story of our times, maybe the only really important political story since the Kennedys. Ask yourself: in how many places could it have been said with authority that the overlord of the drug cartel and the overlord of local politics were brothers and intimates? Medellin perhaps, but that’s in Colombia. Marseilles, but that was France, upon a time. Yes, and Massachusetts, from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

It seems safe enough now to celebrate the good news, so I went over to the Boston Herald today to record a conversation with one of the very few real heroes of this story, the gloriously disreputable, fearless and funny Howie Carr. Howie is the only writer in Boston with the tenacity to learn the whole Bulger story, and the balls to tell it–not only to relate it in infinite detail (look for Howie’s Whitey Watch here) but to laugh in the Bulgers’ faces with jokes about The Caucasian, The Corrupt Midget and the Crime Family. These were jokes that he had to know could have cost him his life. The Bulgers had jokes, too, like the word passed from Whitey’s liquor store in South Boston that they had a dumpster out back with Howie Carr’s name on it. There was a time when a reporter couldn’t laugh at a threat like that. Most reporters just decided not to mention the Bulgers. But let’s not forget them yet.

Think of Whitey Bulger as our neighborhood version of Osama Bin Laden. Both Whitey and Osama were embraced and empowered by the security apparatus of the US government–Whitey by the FBI, ostensibly to get information on the Italian Mafia; Osama by the CIA and Pentagon, to lead the fighting forces of Islam against the Soviet domination of Afghanistan. Both Whitey and Osama grew out of control into much more dangerous monsters, you could argue, than the enemies they’d been enlisted to fight. And then both of them disappeared!

One big difference between them was that Whitey left his kid brother behind–a politician who inspired much the same dread as Whitey, who exercised power in public office behind a veil not of respectability, really, but of silence. In the words of the late John E. Powers, who preceded Bulger in South Boston politics and the Senate presidency, “it’s as if Al Capone’s brother was president of the Illinois State Senate, and everybody pretended not to notice.”

One reason people could pretend not to notice was that the media conspired in the sentimental absurdity of a good brother/bad brother story, when the record was clear that they were tight little twins in treachery and intimidation.

The people who were duped and demeaned by William Bulger make an amazing list, as Howie and I totted it up informally today. High in the ranks is Michael Dukakis, who as governor signed Bulger’s vendettas into the state budget. Bulger showed his capacity for gratitude and solidarity by encouraging George H. W. Bush in one of the decisive campaign ploys of the 1988 presidential campaign: the floating diatribe, from a boat in polluted Boston Harbor, against Dukakis’s environmental record. Bulger launched John Silber in the 1990 governor’s race with a grant of the convention votes Silber required to make the Democratic ballot. But no sooner had Silber self-destructed in the final race when Bulger married the Republican winner, Bill Weld. Unce upon a time, as the Federal prosecutor in Boston, Weld had wanted to indict both Bulger brothers, but as governor he learned, he said, to love the Senate President. So much for Weld’s “smell test.”

Nothing is more embarrassing overall than the professional commentary on the Bulger story through the years. Bad enough that Mike Barnicle in his Globe column fronted continually for John Connolly, the FBI hack now in prison for fronting for the Bulgers. Bad enough that Brian McGrory continues the Globe tradition: when Bulger, as UMass president, took the Fifth Amendment before Congress rather than detail his contacts with Whitey, McGrory called it an exercise of “brotherly love,” not public contempt. But astonishingly The New Yorker published a fawning, ignorant profile of William Bulger by Richard Brookhiser that was a bad as any of the local coverage. Morley Safer on “60 Minutes” was worse.

There are genuine stand-up heroes in the Bulger story. Judge George Daher was defiant when Bulger, on a personal pique, tried to unfund his Housing Court, and Governor Dukakis went along. “How’s he going to stand up to the Russians,” Daher famously asked about Dukakis, “when he can’t stand up to the corrupt midget?” Federal Judge Mark Wolf made amends for the sins of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in which he’d served, with an exhaustive inquiry into the corruption of the FBI. We have brave, solid books by now on the Bulger reign of terror: All Souls by Michael McDonald, and Black Mass by the Globe’s Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. Alan Dershowitz deserves credit for volunteering to Mitt Romney to serve on the UMass board, if only to hound President Bulger at every trustees’ meeting. Some say this was the threat that persuaded Bulger to quit. But nobody over the years took more chances to tell the story straight than Howie Carr. And nobody gave more people courage and some consolation through the Bulger siege. So here’s to Howie and a hell of a yarn. A piece of it is here.

{ 45 } Comments

  1. cheap drum sets | December 14, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email. I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  2. Best Red White Wines | December 15, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Can you break it down into 3-5 easy steps for me?

  3. Bilan Carbone | December 16, 2011 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Bravo pour votre blog qui est un total plaisir a lire. Amicalement.

  4. guttate psoriasis | December 18, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, very good blog!

  5. marshalls coupons | December 18, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    We stumbled over here from a different web address and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

  6. Cathleen Corea | December 19, 2011 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa? My website goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

  7. info skжrm | December 19, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Cheers

  8. insinkerator revolution | December 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  9. get taller | December 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Excellent blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Cheers!

  10. Best Chardonnay Wine | December 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Your posts certainly isnt boring! Look at how many comments you’re getting.

  11. Really great site! Thank you very much for your effort in writting this.
    I read comments more than the post itself 🙂
    Great, the post is in reality the sweetest on this noteworthy topic.
    I concur with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your approaching updates.
    Just saying thanks will not just be adequate, for the phenomenal lucidity in your writing.
    I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.
    Good work and much success in your business endeavors! Thank you very much.

  12. Best Syrah Wine | December 31, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Can someone break it down into 3-5 easy points for me?

  13. Designer Furniture | January 8, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I was looking at some of your articles on this internet site and I conceive this web site is rattling instructive! Retain posting.

  14. Alex Sadler | January 12, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Very informative price even for a discerning energy broker like me.

  15. link building servic | January 12, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    .It will help readers to take proactive decisions and update themselves accordingly. Thanks a lot for providing so valuable facts.

  16. Medical Research | January 16, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are just too great. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it smart. I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous website.

  17. Brisbane SEO Services | January 17, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome web log!

  18. Brittney Hwee | January 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I would like to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.

  19. training bauchmuskeln | January 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    This site is excellent and so is how the subject matter was explained. I also like some of the comments too.Waiting for next post.

  20. abnehmen am Bauch | January 26, 2012 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    This is very informative post and helpful for those who are searching for it.

  21. toronto seo services | January 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Superb site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

  22. bloons tower defense | January 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I love this article and for more I think that you really have skills and you should continue with your gift.

  23. sexual music | January 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and outstanding design.

  24. Online Career | January 29, 2012 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    You had post some pretty interesting topic here.Thanks for the information.Hoping more posts from you.

  25. Constipation relief | January 29, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.

  26. Custom Landing Page | January 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting subject , appreciate it for posting . “The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” by Paramahansa Yogananda.

  27. steve | February 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    is this site regulary updated???

    i am doing a report on this topic

    thanks

    steve

    custom silk screen t shirt

  28. iphone 5 | February 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    This can be an content that many taught me to be see impartial after again !

  29. Jimmy Elgen | February 5, 2012 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    What i don’t realize is actually how you’re not actually much more well-liked than you may be now. You’re very intelligent. You realize thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. Always maintain it up!

  30. schnell sixpack | February 6, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

  31. steve | February 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    anyone have any ideas of how I can get in touch with te author?? I treied whois and cannot find the information.

    thanks

    steve

    gift ideas for parents/

  32. peinture moderne | February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Some truly good content on this website, thanks for contribution. “The spirit is the true self.” by Marcus Tullius Cicero.

  33. katalog seo | February 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m totally into this blog. It’s great!

  34. raleigh landscaping | February 16, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Very nice!
    Great information for me, many many thanks for this information.
    I visit daily this website. Thanks…..:)

  35. franquicias espana | February 16, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Fantastic website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

  36. Harry Mete explains A spot female orgasm | February 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Howdy! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

  37. Dinabandhu | February 26, 2012 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    In business for over 16 years, Partner One is a national full service marketing firm with a proven track record for success. Partner One offers what no other ad agency offers: to pay for many of its clients’ advertising costs and to guarantee that its clients’ revenues will increase.

    business advertising

  38. Giovanni Poli | February 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Great post. It’s articles like these that will keep me coming back to this blog. I’ll be keeping an especially keen eye on for updates on this one. Great interview!

  39. Vibradores | February 28, 2012 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    I wanna go to Boston!

  40. Diet window | March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Great work once again! Thanks!

  41. John Smith | March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Nice site!

  42. wyposa?enie ?azienek | March 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

  43. Virtualización de s | March 28, 2012 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Servicios y consultoría en el área de sistemas, marketing online, diseño web, redes sociales

  44. volatility factor | April 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for such an interesting article here. I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here. I had been searching on this topic for a long while but I was not able to find great resources like that. Now I feel very confidence by your tips about that, I think you have chosen a great way to write some info on this topic. Thanks for sharing. Please visit for more information –

  45. play kitchen | April 8, 2012 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Excellent read !

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. Cheap Scattante Bikes | January 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Reference to…

    …If you’re thinking about other opinions……

  2. bethlehem pa house cleaning | February 26, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Trackback…

    […] … great article that everyone should read […]…