Top Journo References DeCavalcantes in Story on Republican Leaders

Comparing politicians to Mafia members is rote enough to be a cliche, but seldom have I seen it so well done.

They will get behind someone for whom they have no regard
because that’s “the life" they chose....

It's no wonder then that the writer in question here is New Yorker editor/consummate journalist David Remnick.

Displaying a deeply informed knowledge of Cosa Nostra, the DeCavalcante crime family in particular here, Remnick deftly employs mob storytelling to make a larger point.

It's the treasure trove of audio recordings Remnick references in the recent New Yorker story. Some quick background on them:

On June 10, 1969, more than 2,000 pages of conversations between various mobsters and New Jersey crime boss Simone Rizzo DeCavalcante were released to the public. A book was issued as well. Sam the Plumber: The Real-Life Saga of a Mafia Chieftain condensed the voluminous disparate recorded discussions and provided context.


DeCavalcante, who oversaw New Jersey-based gambling, loansharking and labor racketeering from an office in Kenilworth, preferred his mob nickname, "The Count," to the one saddled on him by the press: "The Plumber."

"Sam the Plumber" had never spent a single night in jail, but that changed in March 1968, when he was indicted following his efforts to mediate a dispute among mobsters over a small illegal dice gambling operation. DeCavalcante's mediation helped scale down a necessary tribute payment to $12,000 (from $20,000). Sam pocketed $3,800 for his effort.

DeCavalcante's lawyer (former assistant U.S. attorney Sidney Franzblau) filed a slew of pretrial motions to request any electronic surveillance evidence that law enforcement had acquired during the course of its probe of DeCavalcante. The lawyer counted on his efforts to quash the indictment and get the case against the mob boss dropped as had happened in many major cases of that era. The reason: the bugs planted in the Plumber's office were illegal (and part of a larger FBI intelligence-gathering effort focused on the mob following the televised Valachi hearings) and couldn't be used in court.

However, in this instance, the government decided to make an exception. It released all its electronic surveillance recordings -- and the dozen volumes of transcripts were made available.

"I've never heard of the government releasing such information before," a dazed Franzblau remarked for posterity.

The conversations disclosed many major mob revelations. Sam the Plumber, despite the small size of his South Jersey-based crime family, cast a large shadow in the underworld. He was a mediator in many instances for other Mafia bosses, including those based in New York. DeCavalcante, in fact, had been consulted during the so-called "Banana War," which concluded with the New York Mafia's Commission expelling boss Joseph Bonanno from his position as overlord of the crime family that still carries his name.

Without further ado we present the introduction to Remnick's story, Paul Ryan Keeps It All in the Family:

The old-school Mafiosi are fading into the past, pale imitations of their pharaonic forefathers. As the late Murray Kempton, the greatest of all New York columnists, once wrote, “Where are the scungilli of yesteryear?” In the late nineties, federal agents insinuated an informer into the ranks of the DeCavalcante crime family, of New Jersey, and the resulting wiretaps and transcriptions revealed a dying language of secrecy, petty schemes, and blood oaths gone wrong. Sad old veterans of the Punic Wars of Essex County talked about selling old comic books and Viagra to make money, and yet they knew that they were losing touch with the new world.

“They make money with the computer,” a gangster named Joseph (Tin Ear) Sclafani said incredulously about the young. To which another associate replied, “These [expletive] kids—twenty-five, twenty-six years old—will teach you things you could not ever believe.”

“You know, I’m computer-phobia,” a DeCavalcante soldier named Lenny replies.

“That’s the whole thing,” another says. “In this [expletive] life that we live, every day if you ain’t like a chameleon, if you can’t change, you’re finished.”

I thought of this exquisite sampling of the DeCavalcante tapes after reading the riveting serio-comic report in the Washington Post by Adam Entous describing a meeting in June, 2016, on Capitol Hill, at which Republican Party leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, gathered to talk business. Let’s not be unfair, much less libelous. It’s not that the members of Congress present were involved in crimes or illegal activity of any kind; no, it’s that they seem so craven, cynical, and, ultimately small-time. They have sunk so low that they are willing to get behind a candidate for whom they clearly have no regard. Because, well, that’s “this [expletive] life that we live.”

In the transcript published by the Post, McCarthy speculates that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computers and, in the process, discovered whatever opposition-research materials the Democrats had gathered on Trump.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said, according to Entous, a superb reporter who heard a tape recording of the colloquy. “Swear to God.”...

Read the rest, if you'd like.... (if it's not too shocking for you...)