Trump, Tabloid TV & The Truth

 

I had trouble sleeping last night.

 

I made the mistake of viewing Leslie Stahl’s October 14, 2018, “60 Minutes” Interview on-line, before bedtime, and it gave me a terrible case of agita all night long.

 

Here was Trump, back for the second time in two years, with an A-list TV journalist, Leslie Stahl, who confers credibility upon the subjects of her interviews.  Just appearing on camera with her elevates the Self Made Fraud’s status, and he knows it.

 

Trump dominated his time on the Tube with his endless stream of lies—lies that flow as endlessly as his breath—and Stahl’s comebacks were too little, too infrequent, or non existent. Here are just a few examples:

 

 

  • Trump matter-of-factly lied about the country being more divisive under Obama, and Stahl failed to question the lie, or demand proof;

 

  • Trump bragged about being responsible for the best economy in the nation’s history; Stahl failed to point out that it has been a 10-year long recovery, started under Obama, following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, when unemployment hit 10% as Obama took office;

 

  • Trump made light of getting his Mob during his Mississippi Hate Speech to laugh at Dr. Ford, and despite Stahl’s pushing back on his inhumanity in doing so, she was silent in the face of Trump’s justification that it was payback for the treatment of Kavanaugh.  When Trump voiced the rich, white man’s lament that Kavanaugh’s life was “ruined,” Stahl failed to ask “What about Dr. Ford?”  She also failed to mention the 100,000 documents on Kavanaugh’s background that were suppressed, or the severe limits place upon the FBI’s investigation, or the recently filed formal judicial complaints against Kavanaugh by a number of Federal Judges.

 

  • In the context of Trump’s verbal abuse of Dr. Ford where he openly mocked her before his own angry Mississippi Mob, Stahl failed to bring up the charges of sexual harassment or abuse against Trump by 19 women, all of whom he has dismissed as “liars.”  Stahl also failed to ask Trump why he always sides with men accused of sexual assault or harassment (Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Rob Porter, Judge Roy Moore, and Brett Kavanaugh).

 

  • Stahl failed to question Trump about the in-depth New York Times investigative report about the Trump family’s massive tax evasion scheme going back 30 years, and their scheme of defrauding federal, state and NYC taxpayers as well as illegally raising the rents on their own tenants for decades.

 

  • Stahl failed to ask Trump about the allegations in the new book out by a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter documenting Trump’s decades long relationship with the Russian Mafia, and the Mueller indictments of many Russian Oligarchs and organizations;

 

  • Trump stonewalled about the Saudis murder of a Washington Post Journalist  and American resident, and Stahl failed to ask him the obvious question of whether his own “Enemy of The People,”  Stalin-esque rants vs. journalists and specifically, the Washington Post,  might have emboldened the Saudi Prince to order the brutal murder of this journalist;

 

  • Stahl failed to question the Kushner & Trump financial entanglements with the Saudis, and how that might be impacting Trump’s own response to the case; She also failed to press on the issue of whether US Intelligence officials knew ahead of time of the threats on the journalist’s life, and what information, if any, Jared Kushner may have shared with the Saudis.

 

  • Stahl asked Trump for a”pledge” not to fire Robert Mueller, and when he refused to give it, she failed to follow-up with a question on the guilty pleas, indictments and convictions of his former Campaign Manager, National Security Director, top aides and personal attorney.

 

  • Trump claimed to know more about NATO’s importance to world peace than Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Stahl failed to challenge Trump on that empty assertion.

 

Tragically, Leslie Stahl’s gift of free prime-time television to Trump, reminded me of Meredith Viera’s similarToday Show gift seven years ago, when the Self Made Fraud lied to her about having sent investigators to Hawaii to dig up information on Obama,  “proving” he wasn’t born in the USA.  Viera, a kind-hearted, good soul,unaccustomed to such bald-face lying on national television by the people she interviewed, blinked incredulously a few times—like a deer in the headlights– but did not challenge Trump’s lies, giving him the golden opportunity to launch his pernicious and racist  “birther movement,” during breakfast  to millions of Today’s viewers.

 

Trump, a creation of tabloid tawdriness and fictitious TV over-exposure, intuitively understands the same thing about American television that trial lawyers–like his scummy chum Roy Cohn–understand about juries: say anything, and it cannot be unheard. In a fast-moving TV interview, there is no judge to overrule such lies; only a journalist, overwhelmed by the time constraints of the medium. In fractions of seconds, an impression is made, and when repeated often enough, it takes on the trappings of truth. Trump knows this better than anyone since Roger Ailes—the man who sold a repackaged Richard Nixon to the nation in 1968– and he has Bill Shine—the sex abuse apologist from Fox News—at his side each day to reinforce it.

 

With the stakes so high for all of us who believe in human decency, the importance of truth and the rule of law, the solutions for good journalists and credible media organizations are draconian: deny Trump airtime altogether until he stops lying, or call him out on every single lie, each and every time he or a member of his administration utters one. Only ABC’s George Stephanopolous, CNN’s Chris Cuomo,  and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and a handful of others have shown a willingness to do this among television journalists.

 

Alternatively, we can continue to push hard to have Trump’s lifetime of lies and fraud tested in Courts of law at the national, state and local levels and before Grand Juries, as well as in the court of public opinion at the polls.  Trump knows full well that each of those remedies take more time than a quickie TV interview, and that his constant hate speech, lying, and inhumane public polices can do enormous damage to individuals and institutions before any final verdict comes in, and while his cash flow continues.

 

Years after the public grew tired of The Apprentice, NBC cancelled it, yet the corrosive effect of brainless, low cost/high profit “reality” programming on television—and on public life—is still being felt.   Television adapted and survived, with many viewers changing the channel to other forms of entertainment, like HBO and Showtime, and now Amazon.  The question is, can democracy survive the onslaught of a fact-free universe, fast and obscene amounts of money, and increasing inhumanity, and if it doesn’t, what alternative form of government will we turn to?

 

Enlisting for Life in the Fight for Women

 

The closest Mario Cuomo ever came to running for President was during the United States Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, in October, 1991.

Cuomo was so furious over the timidity of the Democrats, who controlled the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time—Chaired by Senator Joe Biden—and their failure to leap to Anita Hill’s defense, that it almost pushed him into the 1992 Presidential race. Cuomo was outraged over how terribly he believed women—personified by the dignified Professor Hill—were being mistreated by Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee, how the Democrats failed to stop the GOP bullying of her, and how they didn’t make Professor Hill’s war into their own.

I thought of Cuomo’s visceral reaction to the Thomas Hearings while I was watching the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.  I carefully listened to the wrenching testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, sometimes choking back tears at the pain she had endured as a 15-year old girl, and the trauma that haunted her for the next 36 years.  I intuitively understood Dr. Ford’s years of repressing a bad memory, since I had done the same thing for more than three decades concerning a gun-related incident in my own family, that did not involve sexual abuse, only uncontrolled anger.

So when Judge Kavanaugh descended into raw aggression and a toddler-like tantrum from the beginning of his testimony, I again thought of my father’s out-of-control temper as his way of trying to bull himself through any bad news.  Only, my father wasn’t a federal judge, nor a nominee for the highest court in the nation.  He was a working stiff, a maintenance man, with a drinking problem, and all of his children bore scars from his explosive anger.

Instead, here was Kavanaugh, a spoiled, Prep School rich boy, who lived a gilded-life like the President who nominated him, and chose to answer an allegation of sexual abuse and attempted rape with the kind of aggressiveness and uncontrolled behavior some of his high school and college peers remembered about him.  Only this time, he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, which made his ugly un-judgelike behavior even more bizarre.

Kavanaugh’s outburst also stripped bare his inherent partisan hatchet-man role, and his fealty to conspiracy theories.  He channeled Donald Trump when he screamed at Democratic Senators for never getting over Trump’s election, and went after the Clinton’s for a “revenge-grudge” against him.  Odd, since it was Kavanaugh, as an assistant to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Star, who spent two years and three million dollars pursuing a nut-case conspiracy theory that the Clintons were behind the suicide of Vince Foster.

But Kavanaugh’s crazed carrying-on was not the only distressing part of the Senate Judiciary Committee showdown between Dr. Ford and Trump’s mini-me.   The failure of Senate Democrats to get equally emotional and hard edged was just as disturbing.  I could hear Mario Cuomo’s voice in the back of my head, raising the following questions:

  •  Why the hell didn’t at least one Democratic Senator put the bullying Kavanaugh in his place, and tell him that HE was under investigation, NOT them?
  •  Why didn’t the Democratic Senators have a cross-examination strategy?  Why didn’t all the Democrats cede their time to the two female Prosecutor Senators among them, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar—the Senators who made Kavanaugh most uncomfortable—to have a consistent, continuous and coordinated cross-examination?
  • ·Why didn’t the Ranking Minority Member on the Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein, object on Personal Points of Privilege EVERY time any GOP Senator referred to or disparaged her. Feinstein, my own Senator whom I am supporting for re-election,  should have insisted on speaking and correcting GOP lies each time they misrepresented what she did with Dr. Ford’s letter, and should have dared Grassley to shut her up.
  •  Why didn’t Richard Blumenthal use his great quote on “credibility” to bring up Kavanaugh’s lack of credibility in his past testimony and his lying, under oath, about stolen Democratic documents, and the Bush Administration’s torture policy?

 

  •   Why did Democratic Senators quietly sit by and not scream Points of Order, when Senator Lindsey Graham unilaterally took another 5 minutes—after ceding his 5 minutes to Phoenix Sex Crimes Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell?
  •  Why did Senator Mazie Hirono not scream out “Point of Order,” at Judiciary Committee Grassley when the GOP abandoned the use of  Prosecutor Mitchell despite Senator Grassley’s commitment to Hirono and all Senators that ALL GOP Senators had ceded their time to Prosecutor Mitchell to cross-examine Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh?
  •  Why didn’t one single Democrat leap to Senator Klobuchar’s defense when the overly aggressive, nasty Kavanaugh sneered at her and asked if SHE  ever became “black out” drunk?
  •  And why did not one Democratic Senator raise the issue of how Kavanaugh’s aggressive, out-of-control manner, behavior and histrionics were exactly like the aggressive behavior of every out-of-control alcohol driven sexual predator?

I remembered Mario Cuomo’s white-hot anger at injustice on this historic day of testimony by Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh. I could see Anita Hill’s quiet dignity in the face of a cascade of insults from crapulent white men, satisfied in their own self-righteousness.   I thought of all of that, and of the bright, hopeful eyes of my three young granddaughters, and resolved even more to fight with my last breath to repair the world for them.

Humanity & Inhumanity

 

I was not going to write of memories, still too painful to bear, of 9/11.

I was just going to post the picture taken by Carol of me and our son Matt, when he is 5 years old, and we are standing on the deck of the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers are benignly winking at us in the background. I wasn’t going to say any more.

Then my son, asked me to fill in some of his remembrances of that terrible time, and it brought so much rushing back, not counting the six years I spent in Tower Number Two of the World Trade Center, sleeping over in my office during snowstorms, when I worked with Governor Mario M. Cuomo, on the 57th Floor. The most tortuous night terrors I still have are of the days after, with the rubble of the Towers still simmering, bodies melted inside, when Carol and I walked 70 blocks from our Uptown apartment, to get near the mass gravesite and pay our respects.

Stupidly, we stopped at St. Vincent’s Hospital on W. 14th Street, to see the thousands of 8 ½ x 11 “Missing” photos of peoples lovers and children lost in the attack; an entire wall of the hospital, now gone, covered with humanity, incinerated. Young faces smiled out at me from the photos, and in each bright smile, I saw my son’s face, and cried uncontrollably at the thought of losing him, and the unimaginable losses of the parents who lost their children, smiling at them forever, from the walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital, or from the deepest recesses of their hearts.

Then, I read the White House’s website this morning, on the Anniversary of the tragedy, saw the photos of an insanely insensitive Trump raising two clenched fists as he approached the mournful crowd, and saw the news reports of Trump presiding over a Memorial Service, and my unending grief turned to unbridled anger.

In 2001, Donald Trump, New York businessman, took advantage of the deaths of the nearly 3,000 human beings he calls upon us to remember today, by sucking $150,000 out of a 9/11 Emergency Relief Fund meant for small businesses that suffered in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The Trump Organization was neither a small business, nor suffered from the 9/11 attack. This was after the soul-less cipher bragged that his building at 40 Wall Street–now that the two Towers were destroyed–was the tallest building in NYC.

He never apologized for his insensitivity, never gave the money back he stole from 9/11 survivors, never offered to pay for the school costs, or mental-health counseling costs of the chlldren of those damned to death in the Twin Towers that day. Trump used that unfathomable tragedy to his own personal benefit in his typically grotesque way, by profiting from the hardships of others.

A human being, with the faintest heartbeat, would have apologized, paid that money back and redoubled his efforts to comfort the families of those forever lost to us in the attack on 9/11. I am angry when I look at Trump’s smug face, and am reminded of the photos of all the young, beautiful faces, full of life — photos that ripped my heart out 17 years ago. I think of their faces — bright lives I can never forget — and my fury at Trump’s inhumanity, is made even deeper by my despair, which knows no end.

The Fake Mafia Don

 

There is something eerily familiar about Donald Trump’s avalanche of thuggish attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI, the Rule of Law, and standard prosecutorial tactics like getting witnesses to “flip” on bigger criminals, and his rabid ranting about “rats.”

 

The cascade of cringing complaints sound exactly like my brother’s whining, when he was sentenced to prison as a bagman for John Gotti, for not paying income taxes on the illicit money he collected for the Gambino Family crime boss.

 

Trump, who hung around with New York’s mobsters — including Gotti and John Cody, associates of my brother Michael’s — always wanted to be thought of as “tough,” like they were. He never wanted them to know he lived a soft, coddled life, chauffered back and forth to private school in his mother’s rose colored Rolls Royce. He cursed and used Mob lingo, echoing my brother and his friends with their bitter attacks on the “Feds” and the “fuckin’ gov’ment.” But the Mob guys, not bullshit artists like Trump, knew that the make-believe Don was nothing more than a blowhard — a light-haired, lightweight, little rich boy, who pretended that using four-letter words made him a Gangster.

 

Like Trump, the real mobsters of the Gambino and Genovese crime families who swirled around our family for decades, cursed the government and the FBI more intensely as the charges against them became more real, and their prison sentences became a certainty. My brother continued to bad-mouth the FBI and the “fuckin’ gov’ment” even afterhe got out of prison. He spoke as virulently about “rats” and people who “broke” and “stand-up-guys,” with the same vehemence that Trump now does. The more they saw themselves portrayed in “The Godfather,” or “Goodfellas,” or later in the “Sopranos,” the more they felt validated in the Mob life they lived.

 

Trump was, and still is, a punk-wannabe among punks: an amoral actor doing business with amoral peers. My brother’s mobbed-up friends repeatedly demonstrated that they had zero respect for the fake, little Lord Fauntleroy Don. They knew they could squeeze him for as much as they wanted, since all that mattered to Trump was money. That’s a language understood very well by organized crime — whatever dialect was spoken by the Gambino, Genovese, Scarfo or Russian criminal enterprises. It’s also a way of life deeply understood by Robert Mueller, who devoted his stellar law enforcement career developing great expertise — and extraordinary results — in holding such criminal enterprises accountable to the law.

 

Before indictments, convictions, guilty verdicts, and plea deals began tumbling down upon Donald Trump and his associates like a ton of cheap cement — including the direct implication of the Fake Don himself in federal crimes by his former trusted fixer Michael Cohen — many of us were baffled as to how long the ultimate target of several criminal investigations involving the Russians and his own corrupt business dealings, could get away with his lunatic, erratic, racist, fanatical behavior, false claims about “fake” news, and histrionic attacks on the FBI and every federal law enforcement and intelligence agency.

 

That same kind of charade worked for a few other real crime family bosses, until members of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigative team induced Sammy “The Bull” Gravano — a man who murdered 19 people — to “flip” and provide evidence to convict John Gotti of still greater crimes. After the Boss of the Gambino crime family was put away for life, Mueller’s men enticed the same Gravano to come out of the safety of witness protection and testify again; this time, that Mob Boss Vinnie “The Chin” Gigante was totally lucid, and his insane behavior had all been an act.

 

Gigante, like Gotti, was convicted on Gravano’s testimony and sentenced to life in prison, where he died. Mueller, his crack law enforcement professionals , and the FBIwere thus responsible for ending the reign of two of the most feared mobsters in the United States, and they did it by “flipping” others for evidence of crimes committed. Rudy Giuliani, a former organized prosecutor himself, should remember that, even though he now relishes playing the real-life role of the Fake Don’s Mafia consiglieri, as if he’s auditioning for a Mob movie.

 

In my book, Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother(Heliotrope Books, NY) I write about the Trump family’s incestuous relationship with organized crime, and how my brother knew many of the mob guys Trump did business with, who joked that they could make the bleached hair of the heir of Fred Trump’s construction business stand on end, getting whatever they wanted from him.

 

It’s a lesson that was also not lost on Russian mobsters, like Felix Sater, Trump’s partner in his SoHo hotel, and a many of his wealthy, well-connected oligarch friends. As we’re learning, it was also a neon-lighted road map for Vladimir Putin.

 

In Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Wayne Barrett wrote that in addition to attending Roy Cohn-arranged meetings with Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Gambino Boss Paul Castellano to make deals on purchasing concrete for his construction projects, Cohn also represented Trump in meetings with another key New York construction industry player during the 1980’s — convicted labor racketeer John Cody.

 

Cody, another one of my brother’s associates, at the peak of his power in the mid-1970s through 1982, was no small operator. As President of Teamster Local 282, Cody controlled 4,000 drivers of delivery trucks in New York City and Long Island. He had the power to bring to a grinding halt the multi-billion dollar construction industry. He could shut down any construction project in New York, including Trump Tower, by pulling out his drivers. Cody told Barrett: “Donald liked to deal with me through Roy Cohn.” Barrett reported that Trump did, however, have to deal directly with John Cody’s girlfriend, Vernia Hixon, to whom Trump gave a sweetheart deal for several apartments, one floor beneath his own penthouse in Trump Tower.

 

Despite his posturing as a New York power player, Trump cowered in front of John Cody, behaving more like a bagman, than a big man. As recently as October, 2016 — less than one month before the Presidential election — Cody’s son, Michael, told Christopher Dickey and Michael Daly of The Daily Beast how Donald gave Cody whatever he wanted: “Trump was a guy who would talk tough, but as soon as you confronted him, he would cry like a little girl. He was all talk, no action.”

 

John Cody made sure Trump took good care of his special friend Vernia Hixon, who lived directly under Trump’s penthouse. The mobster funneled some $500,000 to Hixon for renovations of her apartments, while he was in jail for racketeering and income tax evasion. When Trump balked at fulfilling some of his promises to Cody’s girlfriend, Barrett reported that “Cody and Hixon cornered him in a nearby bar and got his agreement.”

 

“Anything for you, John,” was Hixon’s recollection of Trump’s comments to John Cody. “Anything for you.”

 

Trump was so terrified of crossing Cody that at one point, when Cody called Trump from prison to complain about construction problems on Hixon’s apartments, Barrett reported that “Trump greeted him nervously on the phone. “Where are you?” Trump asked. “Downstairs?”

My father walked all over Trump.” Michael Cody told The Daily Beast.

“Anytime Trump didn’t do what he was told, my father would shut down his job for the day. No deliveries. 400 guys sittin’ around.”

 

To John Cody and his colleagues, Donald Trump was just another patsy, who did whatever the mob guys asked to keep them happy. He was in business with these guys, had buildings to complete, and they had fortunes to make. Cooperating with the FBI or federal and state law enforcement officials to clean up the mobbed-up NY construction trades industry was not in Donald Trump’s self-interest. Making money was.

 

Nothing has changed in the Fake Mafia Don’s behavior. Although Trump holds the nation’s highest elected office, he acts exactly the same way toward the Russian mob and its’ international criminal empire as he did with the New York and Philadelphia Mob families. See no evil, speak no evil — especially if your business, your addiction to money, power, adulation, and your self-interests, are wholly dependent upon the mobsters under investigation. Anybody threatening your criminal enterprise is labeled an enemy of the people — your people, who, like Trump, have always operated outside of the rules of law.

 

The only question left for the Fake Don is, how much he can get away with destroying before he’s forced to “flip” himself, to stay out of prison — a place my brother and his real-life Mob associates were willing to go for a while, as the price for doing their dirty business. The Fake Don is terrified of jail — especially since there are so many Blacks and Latinos there now — and he’ll use the Presidency, everyone around him, and every American institution, as leverage for self-preservation. It’s all that’s ever mattered to him.

 

No Fear; No Compromise.

 

I never expected that when I was in my 60’s I’d be fighting some of the very same wars we fought in the 1960’s for human dignity, human rights, and against racism, moral and political corruption and the blatant disregard for the Rule of Law by the President of the United States.

But here we are again, and here I am, along with many others who have been there all along as well. Only now, 50 years later, remarkably, I have more energy than the first time around, and am more outraged and more determined than I’ve ever been in my lifetime to fight to my last breath to make this country a better, fairer, more just place, with respect for all.

Oddly, although I have many more financial assets today than I had 50 years ago as a college student, I feel like I have nothing to lose by giving this fight everything I’ve got. In fact, I have everything to lose, if I don’t fight hard, including my ability to look my granddaughters in their pure, innocent eyes and tell them I did all I could to make life better for them.

So, with the entire direction of the US Supreme Court and the Judicial Branch of government for generations now up for grabs, don’t even think of telling me to temper what I say or how I say it, or to be reasonable or “civil.” Being reasonable and “civil” and playing by the rules is what gave us the non-candidacy of Justice Garland, and the election of the Russian tool and kleptocratic Fascist Donald Trump. Being “civil” has put the very existence of civil society at risk.

Being reasonable has led to the forced separation of refugee children from their mothers, the blatant religious discrimination against Muslims, and the continued battering and abuse of young black men. This is a terribly racist nation and it has been since its inception, but now America is teetering on the brink of totalitarianism, or worse, indifference to totalitarianism, aided and abetted by an avowed enemy of democracy—Russia—which has financed nationalist, anti-democratic movements around the world, including in the US Elections of 2016, as documented by every single American & British Intelligence Agency.

I refuse to be quiet or polite or courteous or “civil” or to play by any rules except these:

  • · to preserve what’s left of our democratic institutions;
  • · to save this country and guarantee human rights for my granddaughters.

I will use any means necessary to protect the people I love.

I will settle for nothing less than total obstructionism by the Senate Democrats to stop–in whatever way they can–any and all further nominations by Donald Trump to the Federal Courts, and to the US Supreme Court, now over the next four months, and for the remaining two years of Trump’s term, if he isn’t forced to resign sooner for criminal conduct or conspiring with the Russians to undermine democracy and our national interest.

The mere concept of a President under an ominous cloud of a far-reaching criminal indictment and of conspiring to undermine democratic institutions and the Rule of Law with a foreign adversary, is, on its face, enough to disqualify any nomination for any judicial position, especially the Supreme Court. To do otherwise is tantamount to enabling Gambino Crime Family Boss John Gotti to select his own judges and juries.

I will continue to work as hard as I can, write as much as I can, and contribute as much money as I can afford, to ensure a Democratic take-over of the US Senate and the House of Representatives this fall. There can be no compromise on this and no surrender. Any Democrat who caves in, deserves disgrace and defeat. Anyone calling for moderation, or for making peace with mendacity and extremism, has lost all credibility in this grave new world in which we live.

I’m tired of the timidity of too many liberals and progressives who luxuriate in wringing their hands over how horrible everything is, but are too reserved to wring the necks of the people who are the causes of the horror. Shaming public officials in public places for their shameful behavior as public officials is a perfectly valid form of protest, advocated and practiced by Dr. Martin Luther King, as a form of direct Civil Disobedience. I am committed to doing it even more aggressively, and to make it my mission to ensure that the comfortable find no comfort.

Like Dr. King, I am neither a liberal, a conservative, nor a progressive, but a radical in the truest sense of the word. I am dedicated to rooting out the underlying causes of the inhumane governmental actions and hateful private attitudes which are rotting the very foundations of this society.

I am not intimidated by the current turn of events in the courts, in Congress, nor by the constant ooze of lies, hate, lawlessness and massive corruption flowing out of the Executive Branch, like lava from an active volcano. If anything, my senses are sharper and on high alert, and I am emboldened, and far, far more dangerous than I ever was the first time I fought this war 50 years ago.

I have been through the valley of death and defeat many times, and I fear no man.

Gotti & Trump: They Showed the World Who’s Boss

 

Gotti & Trump: They Showed The World Who’s Boss

This week marks a perfect storm of events relating to John Gotti and Donald Trump.

First, on the biggest mobster in the nation’s history: Trump’s birthday is June 14, Flag Day, and Trump is proving himself to be the most un-American, un-patriotic of US Presidents by undermining the post World War II Alliance of Western democracies. At the same time, the Flag Day Flim-Flam Man is advancing the interests of America’s most viscous, vindictive and dangerous foe, Russia. Trump started dealing with Russian mobsters—in New York and in abroad—after he used up his credit lines with the Genovese and Gambino Crime Families of New York—the crime families that enabled him to build Trump Tower and other New York properties– and the Scalfo Crime Family of Philadelphia—the crime family that helped Trump build the Atlantic City Taj Mahal Casino. In return for the mobs’ bankrolling him when regulated bankers would not, Trump laundered millions of dollars in dirty money, for which his now bankrupt New Jersey Casino paid a $10 million fine.

 

Trump’s well-documented mob associations aside, I’m more furious over the Quisling Trump’s sabotage of democracies around the world.   My father went off to war, leaving his wife and three children to fight to preserve Democracy in WW II. My wife’s uncle, a 20-year old Jew, lost his young life fighting the Fascists in Europe. By annihilating the sacrifices of tens of thousands of US Veterans who fought and died to make the world safe for Democracy for decades, Trump has defecated on their graves, wiping himself with the American Flag in the process.   Imagine how callous Trump would be if he wasn’t born on Flag Day.

 

The following day, June 15, represents milestones for former Gambino Mob Boss John Gotti—now dead 16 years ago this week–and for me. Last June 15, my memoir was published on the 85th Anniversary of Mario Cuomo’s birthday, recounting the tumultuous eight years I worked with Cuomo—a paragon of integrity with reverence for the law– while my brother was working as a bagman for John Gotti. My book, entitled Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother,” was published by Heliotrope Books (NY). It detailed my eye-witness testimony of how I knew Mario Cuomo had no connections to organized crime, because I did—and my brother’s mob associates understood it clearly, since they declared Cuomo to be “unreachable.”   It was the exact opposite way they felt about Trump, whom John Gotti and the Gambino Family’s local Teamster Boss John Cody—both friends of my brother Michael’s– considered to be their personal, puffed-up patsy.

 

This June 15, the long-delayed movie “Gotti”, starring John Travolta, is being released by Lionsgate and pumped out globally via On Demand and Movie Pass. According to Variety, the film depicts John Gotti, Mob Boss, as a “respectable family man.” The movie, based upon the self-published memoir of John Gotti, Jr., entitled “In the Shadow of My Father,” completely distorts the message of the book, which, I quoted in my own, since it demonstrated the repulsion Gotti’s son had for being torn between his love for his father and exposing his own family to “The Life” in the Mob.

 

More disturbing than the way John Gotti, Sr., is lionized, according to Variety writer Peter Debruge, is that “the film presents an extended grievance on how unjust it is (Trump would call it ‘unfair’) that the U.S Government won’t leave the ‘poor kid’ (John Gotti, Jr.) alone.”   It was a common refrain repeated by my brother and his mob associates once they got caught for racketeering, tax evasion, assault, or, in Gotti Sr’s., case, murder:   “The god-damned FBI; the fuckin’ government; they’re out to get us.”   So unfair. Such “Fake News.”

 

So in the week when Trump sells out global Democracy to dance with dictators, when he wraps himself in the American Flag while mocking the values it represents and the Veterans and law enforcement personnel who still risk their lives to defend those values, the flim-flam film “Gotti” debuts in America, with the appropriate marketing phrase: “He Showed The World Who’s Boss.” He did; for a while, just like the flim-flam President is showing the world right now. For a while. Gotti was the boss–until Sammy “the Bull” Gravano (Gotti’s own fixer, like Michael Cohen) flipped on him to Robert Mueller and the FBI, and the indictments, arrests, convictions and imprisonments started to flow.