By happy accident, the latest bombshell from The New York Times dropped one day after some nice folks in New York sent along a copy of Without Compromise, a collection of pieces written for the late, lamented Village Voice by the late (and equally lamented) Wayne Barrett, who wrote that newspaper’s “Runnin’ Scared” column for almost 40 years. There is absolutely no point in trying to understand the current president*, the sleazoid New York milieu that birthed him as a public figure, and our immediate peril without having read Barrett’s dogged pursuit of Manhattan’s landshark demimonde and how it put the screws to everyone else. From the Go-Go Gordon Gecko 1980s all the way through Rudy Giuliani’s fealty to developers (and criminal cops) as the city’s mayor, without fear or favor, as the old muckrakers used to say, and using the country’s signature city as his index patient, Wayne Barrett traced the steady corruption that came along with nearly a half-century of shoving the nation’s wealth upwards, a process that, hitched to retrograde politics, made someone like El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago not only possible, but inevitable. That Barrett died the day before this president*’s thoroughly corrupt inauguration is one of those episodes in which history and Providence get together to rob us blind.

Read the rest of Charlie Pierce’s piece at Esquire.