By John Ruberry

Manhunt: Unabomber, is an engrossing eight-episode Discovery Channel mini-series, which is also available on Netflix, that dramatizes the search for the man dubbed the Unabomber by the FBI, Ted Kaczynski.

Sam Worthington, best known for his starring role in Avatar, stars as James “Fitz” Fitzgerald, the FBI profiler and linguist who connects what became known as the Unabomber Manifesto to writings by serial bomber turned into the FBI by Kaczynski’s brother, James.

The Unabomber’s attack spree began with the explosion of a device that caused minor injuries in 1978 at Northwestern University and ended the fatal attack with a much more sophisticated bomb that killed a timber industry lobbyist in California in 1995. Two other people were murdered by Kaczynski’s bombs, several more were permanently maimed.

Shortly after the murder of he lobbyist, in what the still-unidentified Kaczynski later dismissed as a prank, he threatened to blow up a jet airliner. Ten months later Kaczynski was arrested in his primitive cabin Montana after a search warrant was issued that was based largely on the FBI’s linguistic analysis. Inside the cabin loads of incriminating evidence was discovered, including a bomb ready to be mailed.

FBI sketch of the Unabomber

Paul Bettany portrays the former mathematics professor in an appropriately enigmatic fashion. Is Kaczynski, who is serving six life sentences at the “Supermax” prison in Colorado, an evil man? Or is he a deeply troubled genius trying to find the elusive balance between creativity and madness, in a manner reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s struggles?

Manhunt explores Kaczynski’s youth in the blue collar southwest Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park. A social misfit, Kaczynski was double-promoted in elementary school but, as his Manhunt character says, “I was still the smartest one in my class.” Entering Harvard at 16, Kaczynski was mentally tortured in cruel experiments conducted by psychiatrist Henry Murray (Brian d’Arcy in the series). In this statue-razing era, I say if there is one of Murray standing somewhere, tear it down now.

Kaczynski gets into the head of Fitzgerald in his many jailhouse interviews with him. But there’s a problem here. This is a dramatization of the Unabom story–there were no meetings between the two. Here’s another: the linguistics professor with whom the married Fitz has a soft romance with in the series, was in real life a man.

Abandoned rail line north of Chicago

On the other hand, Kaczynski gets into the heads of viewers, or at least this one. My degree of separation with the Unabomber is three. A friend of mine who lives in Lombard, Illinois, where Kaczynski’s parents moved to around 1970, used to have coffee at the home of his parents. “A nice and sweet old couple,” she told me. They never mentioned anything about their sons to her. Just a couple of blocks from the Kaczynski’s modest frame house in Lombard is the Illinois Prairie Path, which was constructed in the late 1960s, it was the first trail in America created from an abandoned rail line. After the terrorist’s arrest and conviction, I mused while running on the Prairie Path that perhaps he was inspired by the pastoralization of the old Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway. Perhaps post-industrial society was that not far away, Kaczynski may have reasoned. He lived with his parents in Lombard for a while in the 1970s.

“The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race” is the opening sentence in the Unabomber Manifesto. A few paragraphs later he adds, “We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system.”

Bettany’s Unabomber is a bit too sympathetic of a portrayal for me. Missing are the cold-blooded journal entries recounting his bombings, including one described as “excellent.” In another recounting, Kaczynski expressed “no regret” that his last murder victim was not his intended target.

“People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are,” Kaczynski mockingly wrote to one of his victims who was severely wounded by one of his bombs. “If you’d had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way technonerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit and he is a native of Chicago’s southwest suburbs.

Steve Bannon in Manchester 11-10-17
As I mentioned on Friday Thursday evening Steve Bannon came to Manchester NH for fundraiser for the 603 Alliance.

This event was pricey from $125 for general admission to $750 for the top VIP position yet there were very few tables with an empty seat.

This is a huge contrast to the old days at CPAC when Steve was holding his “Uninvited” events and ignored, also a contrast unfortunately is availability, gone are the days when I was one of the free interested in getting an interview Thursday there was press galore and as soon as his speech was over Steve was out the door and intro a car to the airport and all my running outside and chasing in the hopes of getting an interview were in vain.

However I did get some speeches such as 603 alliance member and former state rep Fran Wendelboe who talked about keeping people in office honest

She introduced Corey Lewindowski who spoke next

Corey was also kind enough to give me an exclusive interview after the event

Steve Bannon followed Corey and he gave a doozy of a speech

despite charging my battery before I left for the event Steve’s speech ran it dry so I had to finish it with Camera #2

and I voiced over what was missed about wanting to be governed by the first 100 people who walked into this room rather than others.

One part of his speech that I suspect will get almost no press was his complementing the 2016 field as one of the best and most qualified collection of pols ever assembled for a presidential race. We’ll likely never see a field of people so full of excellent choices again in our lifetime.

As I mentioned when the event was over Steve was gone pretty quick despite my running outside in the hopes of grabbing an interview but with my newly scalped head there’s always the chance he didn’t recognize me.

(I told my wife she could cut my hair and boy did she)

By the time I got back inside most of the crowd was gone but I lucked into Rep Al Baldarsario who is running for speaker of the NH house and as always he had time for me

I’m fascinated by folks like Corey and Al who recognized the potential for Trump at a time when all of us missed it.

I’d like to close with one little minor insight. The head table where Steve Corey and others were sitting had one empty seat when I got it, that was filled by a lady that I remember from CPAC. The moment she got to the table every single man at the table rose from his seat before she took hers.

Now I know that’s a little thing in the scheme of things but I thought culturally it spoke volumes

The photo gallery follows

My apologies for the paltry number of pitchers as I noted my directions were bad and I got there a bit late