Showing posts with label cartels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartels. Show all posts

16 May 2024

From the Annals of Unforced Errors: RFK Jr and Kristi Noem

But this is not an unforced error.  RFK Jr. didn't go out and actively seek a brain worm, and he hasn't been bragging about it:  his undisclosed health issues, from the brain worm to the mercury poisoning (10 times the recommended limit in his blood),  - all of these were in a legal deposition and had been available for quite a while to the earnest researcher.  

Why in a legal deposition? Because he was getting a divorce from his second wife, and wanted to show that memory loss and cognitive decline meant his earnings were going to go down, meaning he shouldn't have to pay as much alimony.  

What may turn out to be an unforced error is the article he did for Inside Edition, in which he talked about his daily "fistful of supplements" and testosterone replacement therapy - but don't call them steroids around RFK Jr., because steroids are bad (LINK) - while providing hunky pictures of himself doing pushups and going as shirtless as Putin (all that was missing is the crocodile).  

Why would this be an unforced error?  Because men who take testosterone replacement, a/k/a anabolic steroids, often get "mood swings, runaway irritability, and a general inability to listen to anyone else, but they also tend to find their mental functioning—especially their memories—going through a certain Swiss-cheese transformation. The holes in what they recall keep getting bigger."  (LINK)  Testosterone supplements can also cause heart trouble, heart attacks, and strokes, but details, details... 

Okay I can't resist:  The irony of a man who is 1000% anti-vaccination putting anabolic steroids as well as "a fistful of supplements" in his body on a daily basis...  

But the worst unforced error is the diary that RFK Jr. kept in the early 2000s, with a file called Cash Accounts, "where he recorded the date of the infidelity, the name of the woman involved, and a code of numbers, ranging from 1 to 10, representing the performance of certain sex acts."  And there were a lot of them.  His second wife read them during the divorce proceedings, and it sent her into a literally suicidal depression, but not before she shared them with others. You can read some of the grotty details here:  (LINK)

Look, even Samuel Pepys knew enough to use code to record his philandering.  Granted, it would be better to never have an affair, but today that seems to be impossible for politicians and entertainers.  

 Of course, the Queen of Unforced Errors has been Governor Kristi Noem who has kept the fire hose going at full force:

  • Killing the puppy in the gravel pit. 
  • Killing the male goat in the same gravel pit because it was smelly.
  • Claiming to meet Kim Jong Un and staring him down.  
    • My favorite part of that one is "I'm sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I'd been a children's pastor, after all)."  Since when are Sunday School teachers called "children's pastors"?  And isn't calling your students "little tyrants" just adding more mud to the pile?  Or is it gravel to the pit? 
  • Claiming to have cancelled a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron because of his "pro-Hamas / anti-Israeli comments."
  • Promising that if she got to the White House, she would say "Commander, say hello to Cricket."
  • Going on news media all over the country and blaming the puppy (by the time she was done, Cricket sounded like another Cujo), the he-goat, the "woke" mob who don't have the guts to shoot a puppy in the face, the unnamed ghost writer who wrote it all and got it published without her ever knowing, despite the fact that she posted a publicity still of her reading the audio version.  (How do you record something you don't read?)  

Well, after a number of media interviews, almost all of them scathing (when Newsmax tells you you're not on the VP list anymore, you're in trouble), she did a classic runaway, worthy of Monty Python:  cancelling her appearances on Fox News and CNN because of snow back in South Dakota.  LINK 

 (NOTE:  Some snow fell in the Black Hills May 6-8; they're used to it, and some folks went snowmobiling. By May 12, the weather was in the 60s, and the streets were clear.) 

Oh, and Fox News host Greg Gutfeld responded to her cancellation with a brutal interview of her anyway, with Dana Perino taking Kristi's role.  I think she's toast at Fox, too. (LINK)


And finally - yes, Governor Noem has now managed to get banned from seven out of the nine Native American reservations in this state. Crow Creek, Sisseton-Wahpeton Lake Traverse Indian Reservation and the Yankton Sioux Tribe are the latest three to get thoroughly fed up with interviews like this one:  (LINK)

Kristi Noem and Elizabeth Vargas on News Nation, May 8th, 2024:

“But we have the cartels set up in South Dakota,” said Noem.

“They are set up?” asked Vargas.

“They are set up in South Dakota,” said Noem.

“How do you know that?” asked Vargas.

“Because I’ve seen the pictures, and our investigators have interacted with them,” said Noem. “In fact, we had a cartel member kidnap an FBI officer just last week. You know it is well known, and they are able to operate on those tribal reservations because they are protected.”

Now, granted, it may be top secret and all that (and if so, what is she doing talking about it on national news?), but nobody up here has heard anything about an FBI officer being kidnapped in the last two weeks.  But two weeks before that, a Rapid City judge did sentence three people to federal prison for carjacking/kidnapping an FBI agent (not knowing that he was an FBI agent) in 2022.  Does that count?  (LINK)  Yet another unforced error… 

No, you can't make this stuff up, but I wish you could.


When you have a nice little political career going,
don't take it to the gravel pit.


My latest new story, "At the Dig" is in Black Cat Weekly #138. (HERE)

And let's not forget the wonderful anthologies, Murder Neat, and Paranoia Blues, both available on which have, respectively, my "Bad Influence" and "Cool Papa Bell" in them:



08 October 2015

The First Cartel

Well, probably not the first, but back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the main drug cartels were selling opium to Asia, and shipping the money home to Britain and the United States and the Netherlands. And I'm not talking about little dribs and drabs:  in the mid-1800's, the opium trade provided one-third of British colonial revenues, and those millions of pounds (trillions in today's money) were just what actually made it home to the Crown.
The East India Company was the major player in India, where the opium was grown and processed. It was a private British joint-stock venture that effectively ruled India from 1757-1858.  Raw opium was processed into the smokeable stuff for the China market (in Western Europe, people preferred drinkable laudanum) - chests weighing about 133 pounds each, which went for $1,000 dollars (about $25,000 in today's money.)  The East India Company established a trading post in Canton, China in 1699, but leased out the trading rights to the trading companies, or hongs, which took the opium from Canton and smuggled it into China (via rivers, etc.).  The major players were:

Jardine and Matheson
  • Jardine, Matheson and Company, a/k/a The Honorable Company, was founded in 1832 in Canton with the partnership of William Jardine and James Matheson, both University of Edinburgh graduates. They were always the biggest trading company, or hong, and (having diversified heavily in the 20th century) are still going strong in Asia, even though they're incorporated out of Bermuda.  (Their official website is interesting:  NOTE: Jardine-Matheson was fictionalized - and I would say cleaned up to the point of unrecognizability - by James Clavell in Tai-Pan.)  
  • Dent & Company, another British smuggler under Thomas Dent's leadership.
  • The Dutch East India Company, about which I know tragically little.  
  • And the Americans:  Russell & Company was the major player.  One of the senior officers was Warren Delano, grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  (In case you're wondering where some of the Roosevelt money came from...)  The other officer, Samuel Russell, was filthy rich and left a Russell Trust, which (among other things) is the original source of endowment funding for the Skull & Bones Society at Yale.  
Jardine-Matheson, Dent & Company, and Russell & Company all began - unofficially - as agents of the East India Company, and then for the British government.  They also took on more "official" jobs. James Matheson was the Danish consul for years, Thomas Dent the Sardinian consul, even though neither were from either country.  And they became hugely rich.

You see, up until the early 1800s, there was a major trade imbalance with China (and you thought that was a modern phenomenon!).  There were a lot of reasons:  China wasn't particularly interested in trade, they kept the British and other merchants hemmed into specific treaty ports and didn't let them into the rest of the country, 90% of their population was too poor to buy anything, and finally, the British didn't have much that they wanted.  Except silver.  So, for 130 years, China sold the West silk, porcelain, navigation equipment, firecrackers, and above all, tea.  And since in those days trade involved either hard goods or hard cash, the British were being drained of silver at an alarming rate. And then someone got the bright idea to sell them opium.

Charles Elliot 
The fact that opium was illegal in China didn't matter.  The British smuggled it in, as much as 1,400 tons of opium a year.  And, as the opium flowed in, the silver flowed out (in 1800's dollars, $21,000,000 a year; in today's terms, multiply that by about 25,000, making it $52.5 trillion a year), destabilizing the Chinese economy, not to mention creating a huge number of hopeless drug addicts.  Eventually even the Imperial Court - locked up in the Forbidden City in distant Beijing - launched a war on drugs. The Emperor sent an imperial commissioner Lin Zexu to Canton, where he seized 2.6 million pounds of opium and burned it.  (A lot of boats sailed and held themselves downwind of that fire...)

Now the British charge d'affaires in Canton was Brian Thornton's and my favorite 19th century British agent, Captain Charles Elliot, R.N.  He basically said that that opium (despite being illegal) was the property of the British crown and the Chinese needed to reimburse the merchants.  They wouldn't, Elliot seized Hong Kong for starters, and the war was on.

There aren't too many wars which have been fought for the specific purpose of requiring the losing nation to legalize drugs.  The Opium Wars were about the only ones I can think of.  And, in terms of size and wealth disparities, it was the equivalent of the Colombian government aligning with the Colombian drug cartels to declare war on the United States in order to legalize cocaine in the 1970s. And winning.  And, getting the following results:
Sir Robert Hart
  • China had to open more treaty ports to foreigners.
  • China had to give Britain Hong Kong permanently.
  • China had to pay a $21,000,000 indemnity for all the costs of the war.  (In today's terms, $52 trillion.)
  • China had to give the British the right to set, control, and collect its own tariffs.  NOTE:  The Imperial Maritime Customs Service was manned by British officers from 1854-1950.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Look, it takes a long, long time to extort $52 trillion from any country, much less the additional revenues that Britain consistently expected. Over time, besides collecting maritime trade taxes and managing domestic customs administration, the IMCS collected maritime trade taxes, managed domestic customs administration, postal administration, harbor and waterway management, weather reporting, and published monthly Returns of Trade.  The most famous Inspector-General was Sir Robert Hart, who held the post from 1863-1911.  
  • All foreigners got the equivalent of diplomatic immunity (called extraterritoriality back then); the right to be tried only by its own consul (i.e., whichever Jardine-Matheson-Dent was there). What really stuck in the Chinese craw was that this was extended to any Chinese employees of foreigners, making them suddenly beyond Chinese law.
  • China had to allow foreigners to travel freely into the Chinese interior and live in Beijing.
  • China had to legalize opium.
  • China had to legalize Christianity.  (You may wonder why China was upset about this.  I'll talk more about that, and the one and only Karl Gutzlaff, missionary and opium trader, in another post.)
Opium Den, unromanticized by Hollywood

Imagine the United States having to submit to Colombian rule.  Or any other...  Imagine having a foreign power in charge of our taxes and tariffs for almost a hundred years.  Imagine having our country carved up into "spheres of influence", until there's hardly anything officially Chinese left. And now wonder why the Chinese have viewed, and still view, the West with suspicion.  We think we have excellent reasons to distrust China.  I'd say that if we do, it's called revenge.