Recently, I spent two weeks in Tijuana working with Al Otro Lado (AOL). I’ve written about that experience here, here, and here.
AOL is a legal defense service for refugees seeking asylum mostly from gang-rule in Mexico and Central America. The emigrants want escape from countries whose police forces and allied power holders are controlled by ruthless drug rings whose only goal is accumulation of money and social dominance.
As I did my work helping clients fill out endless forms concocted by those who would illegally exclude them, everything seemed so hopeless. I wondered how those gangs achieved such power? Isn’t it a shame, I thought, that entire countries are now controlled by criminal mobs with names like “MS 13,” “Nueva Generacion,” and “18?” How sad for these people!
Then, during my flight home to Connecticut, I happened to watch the documentary “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” (WMRC). It introduced viewers to the dark and criminal mentor of Donald Trump.
On its face, the film illustrated the absolute corruption of the U.S. government as the unwavering servant of the elite as the only people who count. But in the light of my experience in Tijuana, it made me realize that our country too is literally controlled by shadowy gangs to an extent even worse than what’s happening south of our border. I mean, the United States of America now has the most prominent protege of Roy Cohn, an unabashed mafioso, actually sitting in the Oval Office! Both Cohn and, of course, his disciple turn out to be absolute nihilists without principle or any regard for truth.
The film made clear how both men tapped into a similar nihilist strain within huge numbers of Americans who identify with the Republican Party and ironically with the Catholic faith and Christian fundamentalism. Nonetheless, WMRC wasn’t explicit enough in probing either Cohn’s corruption, that of Donald Trump or of our reigning system’s complex of government, education, church and mainstream media.
It failed to show how the phenomena of Roy Cohn and Donald Trump represent mere surface indications of a profoundly anti-democratic coup d’état that has gradually unfolded in our country over the last 40 years. The actuality of this takeover was revealed most clearly in the recent impeachment proceedings. They provided a kind of last straw undeniably exhibiting how nihilist “Christians” have seized power in perhaps irreversible ways.
To see what I mean, begin by watching “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” for yourself. It not only details Cohn’s life as an infamous New York mafia consigliere. It also shows how he started his career in crime as the 23-year-old advisor of the equally villainous Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. (McCarthy, of course was the force behind the nation-wide communist scare of the early 1950s.)
However, most importantly WMRC describes the film’s subject as the mentor of Donald Trump. By both their admissions, each recognized in the other a kindred spirit. Each used mafia and friends in high places (from Ronald Reagan to New York’s Cardinal Spellman) to enrich himself in terms of power and money. In the end, the alliance brought Trump to “the highest office in the land.”
To that point, here’s the way the film’s (highly accurate) preview-teaser reads: “Roy Cohn, a ruthless and unscrupulous lawyer and political power broker, found his 28-year career ranged from acting as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist-hunting subcommittee to molding the career of a young Queens real estate developer named Donald Trump.”
In the course of the film, witnesses testify that Cohn taught Trump his basic approach to life. To wit: here are Cohn’s (and by extension, Donald Trump’s) implicit Ten Commandments. They also summarize the guiding principles of perhaps the majority of the most prominent politicians in the U.S. and across the world:
- Value money as the highest good.
- Manipulate the law to enhance personal wealth and privilege
- Put your own interests above everyone else’s
- Bully opponents mercilessly
- Wrap yourself in the flag while you do so
- Never admit wrong-doing or failure
- When accused change the subject and make vigorous counteraccusation
- Lie unceasingly with great confidence and bluster
- Declare even the worst defeat a victory
- Win at all costs
All of that was actually Cohn’s personal ethos. It worked for him throughout his life. It is reaping at least short-term benefits for Donald Trump as well. In fact, with Cohn as his mentor and as the man’s protege, Donald Trump would seem to merit all the adjectives on the film’s cover envelope: ruthless, unscrupulous, powerful, flamboyant, notorious, despicable . . .
Unmentioned however in the film is Cohn’s connection with the very way our country (and the world) is run. It’s largely a blackmail game connected not merely with money and power, but with sex, pedophilia, blackmail and complete disregard for truth or moral principle. In fact, Whitney Webb’s four-part study of pedophile-racketeer, Jeffrey Epstein is called just that: “Government by Blackmail.”
And right at its heart, we find Trump mentor, Roy Cohn, listed prominently among figures like the Mafia kingpin Myer Lansky, and Lew Rosenstiel (of Schenley distilleries). For decades following World War II, they were real powers behind mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, presidents, and (yes) behind the world’s remaining kings and potentates, along with assorted church officials.
In fact, according to Webb, all during the ’70s and ’80s, Rosenstiel, Lansky’s close friend, regularly threw what his fourth wife (of five) called “blackmail parties.” The photos and recordings gathered there long kept Lansky out of trouble from the federal government. They also delivered entire cities to Mafia control in the post WWII era. In the end, Lansky blackmailed numerous top politicians, army officers, diplomats and police officials. He had photos of FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover in drag and performing homosexual acts.
Again, according to Webb’s research, Rosenstiel’s protegee and successor as blackmailer-in-chief was Roy Cohn himself who was closely associated with the Mafia bosses referenced prominently in “Where’s My Roy Cohn,” as well as with J. Edgar Hoover and the Reagan White House. (Nancy Reagan even phoned Cohn to thank him for enabling the election of her husband.)
Simultaneously, Cohn took on the central role in the blackmail pedophile hustle Lansky and Rosenstiel had started. As usual, its main targets were politicians often interacting with child “prostitutes.”
That was the real source of Cohn’s power. So were his dear friends in high places including (besides Clinton, the Reagans and Trump) Barbara Walters, Rupert Murdoch, Alan Dershowitz, Andy Warhol, Calvin Klein, Chuck Schumer, William Safire, William Buckley, William Casey, and top figures in the Catholic Church.
It’s those latter figures that connect Cohn’s pedophile ring as inherited by Jeffery Epstein even with the Church’s child abuse scandal. It directly involved the aforementioned “American pope,” Francis Cardinal “Mary” Spellman of New York, and Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Teddy” McCarrick of Washington D.C. Father Bruce Ritter’s Covenant House (a multi-million-dollar charity for homeless and run-away boys and girls) was also deeply implicated. In fact, when Ritter’s involvement in sex acts with his underage wards came to light, it was secular powers more than ecclesiastical forces that rallied to his defense.
Right-Wing Coup and Presidential Impeachment
All of that leads me back to where I started – to the right-wing coup d’état whose final straw debunked any pretense of democracy that may have been persuasive to some before impeachment proceedings put them completely to rest. “Where’s My Roy Cohn” showed the profound extent of the take-over in question – never far distanced from predominantly male sexual perversion.
Yes, we all know about such depravity within the Catholic Church – all the way up the chain of command. But the Cohn film along with the ancillary Epstein revelations it ignores reveal the centrality of that debauchery to standard operating procedure among government officials in the United States and across the world. It’s evidently what they do.
Am I exaggerating? Go back to the above list of Cohn’s and Epstein’s “friends.” See for yourself: they include presidents, princes, prelates, professors, pundits, pushers, and publishers. All of them have always had a lot to fear from the tapes and videos made by Cohn. But the same holds true for the ones confiscated from Epstein’s special safe, and from the still unpublished manifestoes of passengers on Epstein’s “Lolita Express” to the man’s “Orgy Island.” Additionally, there’s remains a lot to learn from the testimony of Epstein’s procurer, Ghislaine Maxwell. Inexplicably the latter remains at large and allegedly unlocatable by international agencies possessing the world’s most sophisticated technology.
In other words, what we know about connections between Cohn, Epstein, the Mafia, CIA, DOJ, White House, and church officials represent the mere tip of an iceberg whose continued submersion seems assiduously assured by the agencies involved, by Britain’s royals, and other powerful entities — all aided and abetted by an entirely cooperative MSM.
[And no: it’s not baseless “conspiracy reasoning” to implicate the deep state officials just mentioned – not in the face of Jeffrey Epstein’s mysterious “suicide” whose suspicious circumstances (within a specifically federal prison) include transgression of standard protocols for prisoners on suicide watch, missing surveillance tapes, sleeping guards, unexplained screams reported by fellow inmates as coming from Epstein’s cell, and lack of follow-up by the MSM.]
In other words, it’s not just that our country has been taken over by right-wing mobsters. No, it’s much more than that: our very world is run by gangsters, pedophiles, blackmailers, and their enablers – with Donald Trump its most recent and blatant evidentiary manifestation of anti-democratic policies.
Ignoring the rest of the world for a moment, consider what we’ve learned from the impeachment process about the extent of America’s de facto coup under Donald Trump whose criminal actions have gutted the Constitution of the United States at its core. Thus:
- There no longer remains a separation of powers.
- An indicted executive can control his own trial.
- Subpoenas mean nothing to the reigning executive. By his decree alone, he can override summonses, forbidding those receiving them from appearing in court.
- Impeachment “jurors” can embrace unmitigated bias with impunity announcing their judgment well before the trial’s commencement.
- The presiding judge – even as he acknowledges the appearance of his court’s politicization – can with straight face permit a “trial” without evidence or witnesses.
- Thus, prosecutors (i.e. the very House of Representatives) are left entirely impotent.
The hell of it is that these are all merely the latest developments in a criminal, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic process that has been in motion for nearly half a century. It has attacked the very pillars of democracy including the Supreme Court, Public Education, the mainstream media (MSM), and the Catholic Church – not to mention the Christian fundamentalists who constitute the heart of the Republican Party. It’s no wonder that Noam Chomsky has identified the latter as the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.
To be more specific, its “Christian” base hold firmly to tenets like the following that can only be described as “Cohnistic,” Trumpian, nihilistic, or (in religious terms) heretical:
- There are no basic ethical principles (except that abortion is immoral).
- Human life has no value except in its fetal stages.
- The concept of truth is completely meaningless. This is because the public’s attention span and memory are so limited that repeated deceits make no lasting impression and will soon be forgotten.
- The U.S. Constitution (except for the Second Amendment) is entirely insignificant.
- There are two sets of laws, one for the elite and another for the rest of us.
- As legal persons, corporations have more rights than living human beings.
- International law applies only to U.S. enemies, never to the United States or its allies.
- While the United States has the right to assassinate, bomb, drone, invade and occupy wherever it wishes, defense or retaliation against such aggression is criminal and liable to maximum punishment.
Do you see what I mean in describing our situation here in “America” as worse than our neighbors to the south?
It’s a truism to observe that whatever imperial governments – from Rome to Great Britain to our own – do abroad eventually returns to haunt them at home. My experience in Tijuana coupled with watching “Where’s My Roy Cohn” underlined the veracity of that terrible axiom. It all made me realize that our government has been taken over by cynical nihilists – and more than that by mobsters, pedophiles, blackmailers and heretical religious fanatics.
So, my take-away from border work in Tijuana is not only dismay, sadness, and despair for refugees at or border. It’s the same sentiments for ourselves.
With elections on the horizon, it’s also the question, what are we going to do about it? We have to determine which available candidate is freest from the sick contagion I’ve just described.
2 thoughts on ““Where’s My Roy Cohn?”: A U.S. Coup D’état by Nihilists, Mobsters, Pedophiles and Blackmailers”
Thank you for this very enlightening essay. Most scary.
Recommend reading American Oligarchs by Andrea Bernstein. Heard her being interviewed on NPR several Sunday’s ago. It’s her reporting on “The Kushners, the Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power”. Also very scary information.
Also, recommend reading Matthews Fox’s Daily Meditations beginning with January 29, 2020 thru February 8, 2020 at https://dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org/2020/01/29/from-generosity-to-evil-remembering-the-holocaust/
I agree. It’s all frightening and quite discouraging. It seems our democracy is lost. They don’t even want people to vote.