Chris’ note: Chris Reilly here, managing editor of the Dispatch. Today, we have a brand-new Conversations With Casey for you.
As longtime readers know, our founder Doug Casey is a best-selling author and world-renowned speculator. He’s also a rare independent thinker and a walking encyclopedia. Best of all, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. It’s no surprise that these interviews have been a favorite among our readers.
That’s why I recently called up Doug to get his thoughts on one of today’s biggest stories: the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. You can read our conversation below…
Chris Reilly, managing editor, Casey Daily Dispatch: Doug, the Jeffrey Epstein story is dominating the news. From his controversial plea deal in 2008… to his most recent arrest… and now his mysterious suicide in his Manhattan jail cell earlier this month.
It’s a crazy story with a lot of moving parts. What do you make of all of it?
Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research: First, although his death is mysterious, I sincerely doubt it was a suicide. But let’s address that momentarily.
There are an immense number of problems regarding this Epstein matter. Where to start? It’s alleged he was running a sex ring featuring girls 14-17 years old, using them as party favors for very rich and famous people. Why were the girls so young? Frankly, it’s disturbing and a turn-off for a normal man to encounter a girl that young in a sexual situation – in addition to the fact the participants would know they were violating some serious laws. It seems likely, therefore, that Epstein would have represented them as being 18. But then videotaped the proceedings for possible future blackmail purposes – which would have been much less effective if they were over 18. If they were over 18, it just would have been sleazy, but not illegal. In other words, it’s possible Epstein was running a blackmail operation at his houses and on his airplane.
But let’s go back to this whole idea of why he was using under-aged girls, which is the essence of the crime in question. There are two basic possibilities. One is what I’ve already mentioned: he was purposefully using them in order to blackmail the rich and powerful. The other is that not only is he a pervert, but so, it seems, are most of his many, many friends who visited with him.
It’s possible. What about the now widely circulated painting in Epstein’s New York house of Bill Clinton in a blue dress with red high-heeled shoes? It seems stranger than fiction, but could it be true that the top levels of society are so drunk on money and power that they’re as totally degraded as a Roman emperor? Of course. Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Elagabalus, and the rest appear to have been more-or-less normal people until they were filthy rich and powerful.
It could be that society isn’t just degraded financially, economically, and culturally – as I’ve been holding for some years – but it’s totally degenerate morally as well. We really are like Rome as the empire went into collapse…
As for what the facts are, all we think we know is what we read in the papers. And what we read in the papers is just what reporters are told. Who knows how much of what they think they’ve learned is true or false? Who knows how much of what they’ve learned, their editors actually allow them to report? Making a judgment based upon what you read in the papers is very foolish and dangerous. Rather, it amazes me that the rich and powerful would take risks knowingly dealing with girls under 18. How degraded are these people? How young do they want their sexual partners to be, and why?
Related to this is a question that I haven’t heard anybody ask so far. Exactly who are these girls, that they’re flying all over the world, partying with older men? What’s going on where 14- to 17-year-old girls have passports, and their parents allow them to run around the world for weeks at a time with middle-aged men? Who are the parents, and why is nobody interviewing them as to what happened?
To be fair, what constitutes an underaged girl is a floating concept. In earlier times and today in backward countries, it was and is commonly accepted that once girls were 12, past the age of puberty, they could be betrothed or married. It was a constant in the American West even in the 19th century. It happens all over the world today in backward countries, especially in the Muslim world.
My view is that it’s disreputable and unseemly for a middle-aged man to have a relationship with a teenage girl. But apparently these girls weren’t being kept as sex slaves. They were there voluntarily. Why? Because they were hoping to elevate their status in the world by meeting rich and powerful men. They were apparently being paid a lot of money to hang around. They were living high off the hog and seeing things and meeting people that thrilled them.
There’s no question Epstein is a slimeball and a criminal personality on several levels. But the girls’ parents are culpable for not giving them good counsel. In fact, I don’t doubt the parents encouraged them to join Epstein. Most are said to come from poor families in Eastern Europe. When the civil lawsuits are filed I’m sure it will come out that it seemed like the best option for these girls. In fact, if the option were offered to many American girls and their parents, many would no doubt jump at it.
No doubt when the coming legal wrangles are played out, it will be pointed out that Plato, in his Republic, recommended that middle-aged men should be mated with girls. Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita in 1955. Even though it was about a middle-aged man’s affair with a 12-year-old, it became a huge best seller, and Stanley Kubrick made it into a movie. I doubt that either the book would be published or the movie made today. Which is rather odd, in that the ’50s were supposed to be puritanical…
Epstein’s plane was called The Lolita Express. It seems that society is becoming more puritanical on the one hand and more sexually depraved on the other hand. It’s a paradox, but it’s a hot button subject, and society is very confused about these things.
Chris: Doug, as you know, the FBI is currently investigating this case. But considering its track record… including its recent debacle with Trump and Russia and wiretapping… what makes us think it’ll get to the bottom of what really happened here? Why should we have any faith in this organization?
Doug: The FBI is a highly political organization; it’s run by political hacks. Notwithstanding that, I’m sure most new agents are of good character, who joined the FBI because they thought it was a stand-up organization – if only because, since the days of J. Edgar Hoover, PR has been of critical importance to the FBI. If Hollywood, the press, or TV wanted any cooperation they knew they had to present the Bureau in the best possible light.
For instance, “The FBI,” starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., was a very popular TV show that ran nine seasons in the ’60s and ’70s. It looked like a paid ad for the FBI. A viewer might think it was actually sponsored by the FBI to show agents are always good guys who always did the right thing. The Bureau had to approve every script, blacklisted guest stars it disapproved of, and Hoover took a personal interest in it.
The FBI’s image is as important as its actual competence. Which is over rated. It’s a highly politicized police bureaucracy. A kinder and gentler version of the KGB or the Stasi. A praetorian agency that competes for power and territory with the CIA, the NSA, and a dozen others. It’s a self-perpetuating and self-aggrandizing bureaucracy. Like any bureaucracy, the older it’s gotten the more concrete bound and corrupt it’s become. And the higher you rise in it, the more corrupt and politicized you become.
There’s no reason to trust the FBI. There’s little reason to believe that an FBI agent has a higher moral stature or better character than the average American. But they have lots of reasons to justify their existence by adding scalps to their belt. At this point, they may be less upstanding than the average American, prosecuting all kinds of victimless crimes, and arbitrary political offenses.
Chris: Let’s get back to Epstein’s death… What do you think really happened? Was it a suicide? Was he killed? Is he possibly still alive?
Doug: Was it a murder or a suicide? It seems to me almost certain that he was a dead man walking as soon as his trial was set. He would inevitably have squealed on all these people because, at least in the current MeToo!/Harvey Weinstein environment, he wasn’t going to get off like he did before without naming names. I would’ve been surprised if he hadn’t died in jail.
It’s true that suicide is the leading cause of death in prisons, although there was apparently only one previous suicide in the history of the place he was being held. That said, faking a suicide is the preferred way to take someone out. It’s always best in these circumstances to make it look like the person’s committed suicide. Then there’s nobody to blame, and it’s basically the end of the story.
We’ve all heard the supposed facts, which are highly suspect. Even though he was about the highest profile prisoner in the world, the cameras in his cell weren’t working, the guards fell asleep, and he found a way to hang himself while breaking bones in his neck. The autopsy, even if it was both competent and honest, proves nothing except that it was a violent death. This isn’t the place to go into the many other factors that make suicide unlikely, apart from the fact that all we have is unreliable second and third hand speculation.
Is it even logical he would have done himself in? No. Because Epstein skated back in 2005 on similar charges, maybe he’d think he could do it again. Perhaps just serve a couple of years in a country club, knowing that the threat of releasing the videos that certainly exist would get him a commutation after the news cycle drove on. It was way too early for him to consider suicide, with all the dirt that he had on all kinds of people. Perhaps hundreds of famous names are involved.
I’d say the odds of his having been murdered, regardless of what the coroner or the investigators say, are almost 100%. Somebody in his position just has to be killed once the cat is out of the bag, considering all the goods that he had on perhaps hundreds of the rich, famous, and powerful. The only questions are what will happen to all the videos, and what will come out in the numerous civil actions that are being filed by the women involved.
My guess is that strings are being pulled to disappear at least the most damaging tapes. But, then again, Epstein almost certainly has back-ups sequestered with trusted parties. Both to use for blackmail, and ready to be released if something like this happened. The problem is that they’d be dangerous to release, and dangerous to publish.
Civil actions by various women could shed a lot of light on this. But will the Epstein estate, and various miscreants, bribe or exert other pressure on the victims? If, in fact, they are victims. And how will we know who to believe? Who did you believe in the recent “he said, she said” events surrounding the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh? In that case, I thought his accusers were lying. In the Epstein case, I’m probably prejudiced in favor of the women. But prejudice should be over ruled by the facts, and we haven’t heard many proven facts yet, although we’ll certainly hear lots of lies, imaginings, and fabrications on all sides. Will the numerous women who will come out of the woodwork here be of higher character and more credible than Kavanaugh’s accusers? Will some of the most vocal ones also commit suicide?
You asked if he’s still alive. I doubt it, although that might be the case with Ken Lay. I’m talking to you right now from Aspen, Colorado, which is where Ken Lay was supposed to have died back during the days of the Enron scandal. Here in this little town where one girl tells another, tells another, and tells another, there’s some suspicion surrounding the Ken Lay case. As rich as he was – even though it was all stolen money – some locals believe he’s alive and well. The case has many strange loose ends. These things happen, but there’s no reason anybody would work to keep Epstein alive.
Anything is possible where world-class money and power is involved. All we think we know is what we hear on the news. I’m cautious even about what I see with my own eyes, and I certainly don’t believe what I read in the popular press.
Chris: Interesting stuff, Doug. Any final thoughts?
Doug: Scandals like this are always destructive, and not just for the people involved. Since the accused are going to be some of the so-called “best and brightest” in US and world society, it’s going to shake or even discredit the moral foundations people live by. Society is basically held together by peer pressure, social opprobrium, and moral approbation. Not laws and police. When the average guy feels his leaders are unworthy, hypocrites, and not to be trusted, the civil society can fall apart.
Especially now, with the US on the ragged edge of what seems like a civil war, the Epstein affair is not just another sordid sex scandal. It could be much farther reaching.
Chris: Good points, Doug. Thanks for speaking with me today.
Doug: You’re welcome.
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