I was reading Alexander Cockburn early this morning when I heard he had died.
As a kid growing up in the suburban wasteland of New Jersey, Cockburn's columns in the Nation introduced me to issues, wars, and corrupt politicians around the world I had never heard of.
Through Cockburn, guerrilla war in Eritrea, genocide in East Timor, and deadly conflict in Palestine came into my living room. In college, he was a critical source of information for those of us fighting to end the U.S war on Central America. His evisceration of Reagan and Thatcher, and later Clinton and Blair, generated gleeful satisfaction.To have such fatuous players skewered and filleted by a master was a delight. A more recent column, declaring the death of Occupy Wall Street was much discussed.
In his last "Beat the Devil" column for the Nation, Cockburn covered the Barclays Libor (interest rate rigging scandal) zeroing in on a critical conversation between Barclays CEO Bob Diamond and British bank regular Paul Tucker.
"Diamond said Tucker had relayed concerns from 'senior Whitehall figures' that Barclays's Libor was consistently higher than that of other banks. Tucker is alleged to have conveyed the view from Westminster that the bank's rate did not 'always need to appear as high as it had recently.' In other words, Westminster wanted Barclays to massage its rate to a lower level."
I had read a lot about Libor, but no one laid out the collusion between the banksters and the government as they went to extremes to keep the "too big to fail" banks alive as brilliantly as Alex.
He will be missed.
Read more about Cockburn in the Nation and the New York Times. Go to the essential Counterpunch edited by Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair for more information about his coming memoirs and other writings.