Monday, May 29, 2017

The Myth Of One (Or Two) Bad Apples, Lone Nuts And Lone Wolves

One of my favorite movies is "And Justice For All." I have included the final scene below. If you have not seen the whole movie, you might want to skip the embed. It is a classic and should be viewed from beginning to end without edit or interruption.

When they made "AJFA", they broke the mold. Hollywood has, as far as I know, never made another movie like it. The film lays out the dysfunctional nature of the American criminal justice system and concludes with the most chaotic, anti-Hollywood ending in the history of Hollywood.


Pop culture shatters taboos but an idea that will not die is the meme of institutional integrity. Sure, bad apples come along but there is nothing wrong with the health care/criminal justice/educational/bureaucratic system that an occasional pruning can't cure. TV shows are outright propagandistic in their ongoing portrayal of our social institutions. Nothing here to bother your pretty heads, folks.

I am of the strong belief that the people who adamantly believe that Lee Harvey Oswald (could he be described as self-radicalized?) acted alone and then a second unrelated lone nut (could he be described as a lone wolf?) named Jack Ruby also acted alone less than 48 hours later commit themselves to this belief because they find the idea of institutional corruption too disturbing. Better to believe in lone wolves, lone nuts and bad apples. Sweet dreams.

Traditionally, movies have been more daring than television, due to the different methods of monetization. TV, being reliant on cautious sponsors never wants to rock the boat. So we are served up endless streams of "Law And Order" and other tripe whose central message is, "If only there were more than us." By shelling out cash for a movie, there we could hope for something less insulting to our intelligence. Sadly, Hollywood changed since 1979.

"The Big Easy" was released in 1986. It deals with the systemic corruption in New Orleans. Spoiler. Two bad apples are isolated and punished. Hollywood ending. It could have been a nuanced, thought-provoking film but it was converted into pabulum.

"True Believer" appeared in 1989. I was expecting "AJFA" redux but I would be disappointed. What a difference a decade makes. No nuance or complexity. Bad apple isolated and removed. Roll the credits.

I was tipped off about "The Hurricane" and thus I never watched the movie. It would have made me depressed. There were a lot of facets to the real life story of Hurricane Carter. As I understand it, the movie guys reduced it to the story of a man persecuted by one bad apple. Interestingly, Norman Jewison directed this movie as well as "And Justice For All" nineteen years earlier. Maybe success ruins artistic perspective. Maybe things look different from the top. Hooray for Hollywood!

Which brings us to "Black Mass" and segues into back to the real world. "Black Mass" succeeded at depressing this viewer. They should have called it "White Wash." The Boston FBI field office was corrupt from top to bottom and their evil spanned decades.

While Whitey Bulger was a small time robber and inmate, the Boston FBI worked assiduously to send a wrongly-convicted man to prison in an effort to protect their mobster informants. From Wikipedia (but confirmed by multiple public records)

Edward Deegan Murder[edit]

Within hours of his murder, J. Edgar Hoover had a memo from the Boston field office on his desk accurately identifying all the shooters, the actual shooters, as opposed to the four innocent men who would be convicted of the crime on the false testimony of Joseph Barboza in 1968. The memo never mentioned Salvati or his co-defendants.[7]
Salvati, whose criminal record begins in 1954, was working odd jobs and owed Barboza $400. He refused to pay the debt. Salvati's lawyers believe Barboza, the first in Boston recruited for the FBI witness protection program, set him up "simply to settle old scores.",[8][9]

Many of the uber-corrupt FBI agents who would later serve Whitey Bulger had cut their teeth assisting other mobsters. One of those was H. Paul Rico, who died in jail awaiting murder charges. Rico created a long and storied career in the Boston Field Office. When an honest businessman named Roger Wheeler puchased a jai alai fonton in Oklahoma that had been infiltrated by Boston mobsters, Rico suddenly retired and took a job as director of security at the facility even though he had no known contacts in the Tulsa area.

It might just be circumstantial but Roger Wheeler would be assassinated at his Tulsa fonton by legendary Boston hit man, Johnny Martorano. The movie, "Black Mass" performed acrobatics to delete Rico from the story. They sold the idea of two bad apples, John Connolly and John Morris. Even then, the crooks' lines were written with kid gloves. From the usually-obsequious "Boston Globe":

Disgraced FBI agent John Morris gets off really easy in Black Mass

Like any movie based on a true story, Black Mass was bound to take dramatic license with the story of the FBI’s unholy alliance with James “Whitey’’ Bulger.
But no character is as mispresented as FBI agent John Morris. 
Actually, Rico--being deleted from the script altogether--got off even easier than Morris. Now that Connolly's homicidal accessorization has been established beyond a reasonable doubt, even Hollywood is piling on. For years and years and years, news organizations would take pains to explain that Connolly was in over his head or that he was played by the evil Whitey Bulger. A good kid who had fallen in with the wrong crowd. Reluctantly perhaps, even Hollywood and "The Boston Globe" and yes, even the FBI, has to concede the existence of one bad apple at the Bureau. But there's nothing wrong with the FBI, nosiree.
Which brings us to James Comey, the FBI and the obvious existence of institutional corruption. The best seller, "Shattered..." reveals that Hillary invented the Russian hacking narrative. This falsehood was advanced without a scintilla of evidence all the way to the White House by several corrupted spy agencies. Putting a cherry on top of the sundae of falsity, the crookedest president in US History imposed sanctions on a sovereign nation with information that he knew to be fake.
And we are supposed to rest assured that swamp king Robert Mueller is heading an independent investigation into collusion between Trump and the Kremlin? Remember Ruby Ridge? The burnt-alive children of Waco? The FBI snooze fest during the Obama years where they ignored ongoing abuses of power, blatant criminality involving Hillary Clinton and obvious malfeasance by Obama's DOJ? 
Remember how Jeannine Pirro, et al, described dirty cop Comey in such glowing terms? A straight arrow whose character was unassailable. Insert laugh track here. Now the same horseshit verbiage introduces James Mueller. If we believe Comey was the lone bad apple and his removal will restore the integrity of the FBI, we are probably setting ourselves up for disappointment. This ain't Hollywood, at least not Hollywood, vintage 1979. 
To paraphrase Al Pacino, the entire country is out of order.

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