Category Archives: History

‘The Magus’ By John Fowles: A Sublime Work of Art

Aesthetics, Art, English, History, Literature, The West, War

It is remarkable how many individuals who cannot write, much less conjugate the verb to “spit” (past tense “spat,” in proper English), have attempted to review John Fowles’s The Magus.

Nick Dybek—Dybbuk, the possessed, is a better name for him—for example. No idea who he is but his grubby English alone disqualifies him from even glancing at this work.

I tried to grapple with The Magus (published in 1965, rev. ed. 1977) when barely into my twenties. I had just left Israel having returned to South Africa, so my command of English was not up to the task. I struggled.

The prosaic mind will not possess the necessary imagination and love of beauty for a book that brilliantly plays with your mind, but takes you through exhilarating labyrinths of art, history, the follies of mysticism and psychiatry, other mid-century fads of Europe and England; a lost natural world where the Greek Islands were pristine not yet swamped with smelly tourists; to metaphysics, political philosophy and the phoniness of dying for the state, for a peddled patriotism, not to mention the best description EVER of the killing fields and suicidal battle technique and posture practiced in World War One:

“…the whole butcher’s shop of war”. And, “I saw only Thanatos.” “A desert of the dead.”

Stunning writing (which only writers who craft sentences could appreciate). 

I feel good for I have used “Thanatos” in my book, Into The Cannibal’s Pot, as the most apt concept to describe the drive of the white man who gives up his birthright. But I can understand the trouble an idiot reviewer would have, for most would be unfamiliar with the term and its provenance.

The Magus achieves the purpose of great literature:

If you can’t put down a work of over 600 pages—a novel has achieved its purpose. Of course, the English is exquisite and the author ever-so old Oxbridge educated. Not pretentious; just truly educated as once provided by a traditional, classical liberal arts education in the English Ivy League.

I think people who are pedantic and reductive in their oppositional inability to assimilate art and beauty will see all kinds of “isms” in this book: ” “leftism,” “postmodernism”. I disagree with such a miserable and immiserating approach to art.

Literature is either good or bad. It either takes you on a scintillating trip or mires you in dour tedium. The postmodernism tag, moreover, seems to be used as a cudgel by those who inhabit the American English department, or are of its mindset, where postmodernism was perfected—the kind of reader who has never read gorgeous English prose, and wishes to appear sophisticated by raping the literature with artificial constructs.

National Review pegged this old work correctly, as thoroughly traditional in its sweeping style.

For heaven’s sake: John Fowles was an English gentleman born in 1926. He described the mid-twentieth-century as “androgynous”! If our author toyed with the idea that the sexes had merged then; imagine his thinking had he lived today.  Nuance, folks, not labels.

I’m only on page 247 and may well regret my enthusiasm. But, for now, I second the august dust-jacket reviewers on my copy, from National Review to the Charlotte Observer, to that of New York Review of Books, whose verdict was:

* “One of the most ambitious novels of the decade….”
* “Brilliant and colossal….Impossible to stop reading.”
* “A marvel. John Fowles is a master of literary magic…”
* “The book is genius throughout and often beautifully written….”
* Mr. Fowles has accomplished an imaginative tour de force, comparable to the more exciting work of Nabokov, brilliant, elegant, inventive, profound without solemnity… It is an extraordinary novel…”
* “…Fowles writes his way beautifully through the demands of text which calls for every kind of descriptive passage.”

These are observations that could not be made today. The last is particularly smart, for the storyline and the breadth of the thing–The Magus–are formidable. The text—this grand superstructure—demands the bone and blood of the author, which it gets.

DIANA WEST: Fact-Checking Whitney Webb’s Sexed-Up, Mobbed-Up Herstory. Part Two: Onto Lewis Rosenstiel

Argument, Communism, Ethics, History, Journalism, Propaganda

There’s something deeply wrong about taking down the reputation of a man, dead and defenseless for half a century, and hoisting in its place a manufactured disgrace to wave as ‘investigative journalism’ over a false narrative ~Diana West

… a ruthless writer … willing to jam far more salacious anti-facts through the gears of message-manipulation ~Diana West

A few weeks ago, Diana West “published Part One of ‘Fact-Checking Whitney Webb.‘” She was gracious enough to let me republish Part One here on Barely A Blog, having begun this “occasional series at Webb’s behest.” “‘Fact-check my endnotes,’ the author of One Nation Under Blackmail has said, her interviewers’ mouths agape with her clinical tales of sodomy and gommorah. Everything I’m saying/writing has a source.”

Really? OK. A more pertinent question is whether these sources are credible.


I began this investigation examining the sources for Webb’s X-rated claims that J. Edgar Hoover wore women’s clothing during homosexual orgies at a midtown Manhattan landmark, and was snapped in photos during homosexual encounters which (1) “intelligence” and “organized crime” used to blackmail him, and (2), in turn, impelled him to blackmail others.

In Part One, I demonstrated that Webb’s sources for these claims are non-credible.

Webb’s reply to these initial findings, I regret to say, fell into the ad hominem category — although I realize that applying a Latin phrase to a cartoon-strip thought-bubble on Twitter is something of a stretch. Tweeting to her quarter-mill followers, Webb called me a “Neocon historian” when I am neither; said I “smeared” her book when I exposed what was untrustworthy about her key sources; and then argued that I had ignored a video-rebuttal she made before I unearthed most of the evidence marshaled in Part One. Finally, and quite significantly, she failed to link to Part One to allow readers to judge the matter for themselves.

One more thing: Webb suggested to her Tweeps that my Part One on Hoover was suspect because it did not also discuss other persons in the Hoover orbit. “Telling that she won’t touch the evidence on Lew Rosenstiel and Roy Cohn,” she tweeted.

“Won’t touch”? Onto the evidence on Lewis Rosenstiel.

FBI Director Hoover is a historically significant figure. Lewis Rosenstiel? Who is Lewis Rosenstiel? On his death in 1976 at age 84, the headline over Rosenstiel’s obituary in the New York Times hailed the “founder of the Schenley empire.” Because half a century later, the Schenley empire is a lost empire, here follows a big chunk of that obit. Skim it, if you like; I’ve included more rather than less to provide some dimension to Webb’s stick figure in a black hat.

A domineering man with a quick temper, Mr. Rosenstiel was at one time the most powerful figure in the distilled spirits business. His fight for supremacy in his industry with the late Samuel Bronfman, head of Seagrams Ltd., were legendary and often erupted into bitter personal and corporate battles.

Called Lew by friends and “the chairman” by associates. Mr. Rosenstiel was a self-made man. Not only did he achieve great success in business without a college education, but he also taught himself how to play the piano and to paint in oils. He enjoyed performing, mathematical exercises and would sometimes engage his associates in the exercise of computing the advertising line rates of newspapers throughout in the country.

“I learn most from studying trends,” he once said. “I have ideas, but I also know you can run out of ideas.”

Hurt in Scrimmage

Lewis Solon Rosenstiel was born in Cincinnati on July 21, 1891, the only child of Solon and Elizabeth Johnson Rosenstiel. He attended the University School and Franklin Prep there and had two ambitions as a teenaager—to become an All-America football player and a physician.

These goals were put aside in 1907, after he was kicked in the face during a football scrimmage and his eyesight was affected. His doctors recommended that he leave school until the injury was completely healed, and he never returned.

Mr. Rosenstiel went to work for an uncle, David L. Johnson, who owned the Susquemac Distilling Company in Milton, Ky. One of his first jobs there was as a belt splicer on big dynamos for $3.50 a week. When he retired from Schenley, his salary was more than $250,000 a year, and he was a multimillionaire.

When Prohibition came in 1920, Mr. Rosenstiel turned to other jobs, including such unrelated activities as selling bonds and shoes. In 1922, while on a vacation on the French Riviera, he met Winston Churchill, who advised him to prepare for the return of liquor sales in the United States.

The following year he bought a group of closed distilleries, including one in Schenley, Pa., that had licenses to produce medicinal whisky. He also bought and sold whisky warehouse receipts and accumulated aged whisky inventories in preparation for Repeal.

Ready for Repeal

When it came in 1933; Mr. Rosenstiel was ready to spring into action. He incorporated the Schenley Distillers Company in that year—its name was changed to Schenley Industries in 1949—and it became a publicly owned company shortly thereafter.

Under Mr. Rosenstiel’s guidance, Schenley grew rapidly over the years to become one of the country’s major liquor concerns, selling both domestic and imported alcoholic beverages. Its major brands include Dewar’s White Label Scotch, I. W. Harper bourbon and Schenley Reserve blended whisky.

As a strong proponent of bourbon, he was the dominant force in the organization in 1958 of the Bourbon Institute, a trade association to promote its sale. “It’s the only American folk whisky,” he said. “Every other country has its national drink.”

He also led a successful industry-wide drive in 1959 to change the Federal liquor tax laws in a way that would benefit distillers. The change eased the tax burden on American companies that held whiskys for aging up to 20 years and helped them compete with premium-price liquors from abroad.

A prodigious worker, Mr. Rosenstiel thought nothing of calling his associates at any hour, day or night, to discuss business. “If you knew the whisky business, you had nothing to fear from him,” said one of his former employees yesterday. “Otherwise, you were in trouble.”

As for his personal life:

Mr. Rosenstiel gave approximately $100 million to educational, charitable and philanthropic institutions, principally through the Dorothy H. and. Lewis Rosenstiel Foundation. Among the beneficiaries were Brandeis University, the University of Notre Dame and the Mount Sinai Hospitals here and in Miami Beach.

Mr. Rosenstiel was married five times. His first wife was Dorothy Heller, his childhood sweetheart, who died in 1944. Two years later, he married Lenore Cohn, now the wife of Walter Annenberg, former Ambassador to Britain.

In 1951, he married a cousin, Louise Rosenstiel; the marriage ended after a brief time. Five years later, he married Susan Kaufman; that union ended in [1967] after a series of complicated legal struggles. In 1967 he married Blanka Wdowiak, who survives him. A daughter by his second marriage, Elizabeth: six grandchildren, and a great-grandchild also survive.

In One Nation Under Blackmail, Rosenstiel is the missing link between national crime bosses and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. These are grave charges against both men. There’s another charge.  Rosenstiel, Webb writes, was “obsessed with blackmail.” He was the “king” of blackmail. He hid microphones all over his “black-mail-ready townhouse” for “the alleged purpose of obtaining potential blackmail against his guests.” Rosenstiel, Webb would have us believe, was allegedly a potential blackmailer.

Webb also claims that the “blackmail-ready” Rosenstiel home at 5 East 80th Street in Manhattan  welcomed mafia dons and organized crime bigs galore, including Frank Costello, Sam Giancana, Santo Trafficante and Meyer Lansky. Also at the townhouse, Webb writes, the “bi-sexual” Lewis Rosenstiel bedded his divorce lawyer, Roy Cohn, when he was not triple-teaming with Cohn and J. Edgar in homosexual orgies at the Plaza Hotel.

Mob associate, (potential) blackmailer, total pervert: what are Webb’s sources? Remember Susan Rosenstiel? Readers of Part One will recall that the fount of those Plaza Hotel debauches was the fourth Mrs. Rosenstiel, Susan, her wildest tales against Lewis having been enshrined as non-fiction in 1993 by Anthony Summers in his behind-the-trousers Hoover bio, Official and Confidential. Summers is Webb’s guide on these and other matters. As recounted in Part One, numerous writers have by now weighed the Susan Rosenstiel stories, myself included, and concluded she was a non-credible source.

New readers, don’t take my word for it — take the short version of Susan’s rap sheet, instead.

1) In 1975, Susan Rosenstiel pleaded guilty to perjury, as UPI reported, “for testifying that $17,000 in borrowed jewelry had been stolen from her when she actually had pawned it.” That’s nearly $100,000  in 2022 dollars.

2) In 1971, the AP reported that Susan Rosenstiel pleaded guilty to attempted perjury in another jewelry-related case. (The original charge was three counts of perjury, but the judge allowed her to plead guilty to a single lesser charge.) In a nutshell, as Susan began to sue her bank over a disputed check, a grand jury determined that she was not being truthful. This case comes up below, so here is a little more information about it from the New Daily News, February 9, 1971:

3) In 1970, State Supreme Court in New York ordered Susan Rosenstiel to pay a jeweler for $150,000  in diamond and sapphire baubles (2022 dollars), which were sent to her “on approval” back in 1965; however, Susan never returned them to the store or paid for them. Over and above the cost of the jewelry, the court ordered Susan to pay the jeweler roughly a quarter million dollars more in damages (2022 dollars). The New York Daily News reported: “During the trial, Susan denied ever taking the jewelry, and denied being in the jewelry shop on the June 6, 1965 date, but Faraone [the jeweler] produced witnesses to testify that she had so been there.” And had so done that — i.e., taken the jewelry.

Since writing Part One, I’ve come across even more evidence of Susan’s widely recognized mendacity — widely recognized in court, that is — and specifically as it applies to her ex-husband Lewis. (This is not the time to sort through Susan and Lewis’s marriage (1956-1961), their bitterly contested (by Susan) divorce (1961-1967), or Susan’s continuing legal fight to contest the divorce (1967-1973?). I will just say I’ve never read anything like it.) Above and beyond the three guilty verdicts above, here’s another strike on Susan’s veracity from a 1973 opinion from the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

In discussing a case about attorneys’ fees — Susan’s divorce lawyers were seeking more in fees from Lewis — the judge was reviewing a “replevin action” Lewis had earlier and successfully brought against Susan, in which a court awarded him $150,000 (about $1 million in 2022 dollars) to replace furniture and other belongings Susan had “disposed of” without his permission. The judge went on to note that the court referee who investigated the matter “pointed out that Susan’s defense was founded largely on fabrications and falsehoods, including her wholly baseless claim that some of Lewis’ property had been destroyed in a fire when, in fact, she had caused it to be sold. Plaintiff  [Susan’s lawyer] correctly points out that victory is not a prerequisite to recovery of legal fees. But Susan’s case in the replevin action was not simply a losing one, it was a sham.”

Yes, sham.

And there’s more. In a divorce-related ruling from District court, also in 1973 — by the way, eleven years after divorce proceedings began, and six years after Lewis received his divorce in Florida and remarried for a fifth and final time — another judge rejected the veracity of Susan’s claims. This judge was reviewing Susan’s two reasons for defaulting in Lewis’s Florida divorce proceeding. The first was her fear that her alimony would be subject to “modification.” The second was her fear of what she told the court were Lewis’s “vast underworld connections…”

… she was afraid that if she went to Florida her husband would utilize his alleged “vast underworld connections,” concerning the existence of which plaintiff is totally convinced, to cause her physical harm. This aspect of plaintiff’s testimony is so unsubstantiated and so totally incredible that the Court gives it no weight. 

So unsubstantiated and so totally incredible…that twenty, thirty, fifty years later Susan Rosenstiel is the linchpin-“witness” of a perpetual campaign to ensure that the American people view the career, controversies, and contributions of the legendary FBI Director through a posthumous peep show of homosexual depravity, “blackmail” and “hypocrisy.”

It’s quite incredible that a person with such an extensive public record of perjury, fabrication, and falsehood could be successfully repackaged, via Anthony Summers’ Official and Confidential, as a trusted source of anything. It tells us something, though. We might even say Susan Rosenstiel finally serves a public good; she has become a litmus test that helps readers separate writers trying to shed light on history from those driving through this agenda.

Here, for example, are a few lines from a recent Webb interview which tell us she’s still drawing heavily on Susan to do dirt, if not porn, on Hoover:

… Hoover himself had demonstrable uh organized crime connections and was uh allegedly blackmailed by organized crime uh blackmail being of a sexual nature in that case because Hoover at this point is well known to have been a closeted homosexual … 

May I take a moment to say — yuck? When Webb invokes Hoover’s “demonstrable organized crime connections,” she is invoking Lewis Rosentiel. What credible evidence does Webb marshal to make the case that Rosenstiel was the “king” of blackmail? That he had “organized crime” connections, especially to Frank Costello, the crime boss of the Luciano crime family, and Meyer Lansky, considered to have been the brains behind national crime networks? What is Webb’s sourcing for these and other accusations? Let’s pick up the story on p. 53 where Webb begins her discussion of “Rosenstiel’s documented ties to organized crime figures.”

“Documented ties”? Are there documents? Well, no. But keep going.

Webb introduces James P. Kelly, chief investigator for a subcommittee in Congress, who, on February 18, 1971, came before the New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Crime to testify. For several years, this same committee had been examining crime, also organized crime, in New York, holding public hearings and issuing annual reports.

In his 39 pages of testimony, Kelly mainly expounds on Boston-area mob machinations and possible connections to a Boston liquor distributor, including Schenley liquor, named Joe Lindsey. It was Lewis Rosenstiel, however, who scored the New York Times headline, “Ex-Head of Schenley Industries Is Linked to Crime “Consortium.” Kelly testified that half a century earlier, Rosenstiel had been among a Prohibition-era group that smuggled Bronfman liquor from Canada into different parts of the United States. This consortium, Kelly said, included Joe Lindsey (Kelly’s main topic of interest), Joe Fusco and Meyer Lansky, the latter two being noted mobsters, especially Lansky.

It seems only sporting to carry Lewis’s reply in the Miami Herald to the question about any relationship with Lansky: “I never knew him; I never saw him; I don’t know him; I’ve never had anything to do with him, and that’s for direct quote.”

At this point in my research, I have a hunch that Kelly got the Prohibition-Rosenstiel story from Susan Rosenstiel. However, let’s assume we are looking at a non-Susan-allegation against Lewis — the first one in the “mob-linked” category I have come across. This makes Kelly’s testimony notable. Webb continues:  “Kelly added that Rosenstiel was `particularly close’ to Lansky.”

Webb is correct in her reading of the New York Times story by Nicholas Gage; although it should be pointed out that she pumps up the assertiveness of the original line, which has Kelly relating that Rosenstiel “was reported to be particularly close to Lansky.  Anyway, this little bomblet attributed by the Times to Kelly does not appear in the transcript of Kelly’s testimony. I’ve read through the scan of his testimony a half a dozen times to make sure, and still haven’t found the quotation, or anything remotely like it. In fact, Kelly seldom mentions Rosenstiel.

Webb follows up with two more mob-related claims:

1) “It later emerged,” she continues, “that they [Rosenstiel and Lansky] had `owned points together’ in mob-operated businesses.”

2)  Rosenstiel “was also reportedly close to Frank Costello, who was said to have attended a business meeting alongside Rosenstiel “to give [the meeting’s attendees] a message that Rosenstiel was one of their people.”36

These two charges are central to Webb’s effort to “link” Rosenstiel to the mob. What is the evidence in endnote 36?

Webb’s endnote 36 lists Summers p. 285. He writes:

When Prohibition ended, committee investigators learned, Rosenstiel had appeared at a business meeting flanked by Frank Costello. “Costello was there,” a witness said, “to give them the message that Rosenstiel was one of their people.”

And what is Summers’ source? Good question. Summers’ endnotes are a disaster-area, as noted in reviews of his book. Summers, it seems, was just too good to put numbers, or other points of reference on the pages of his book; his endnotes, grouped together per chapter, force readers into guessing games that may or may not have solutions. That said, there are a few clues to attribution for the Costello-Rosenstiel claim on p. 285: These are “New York Crime Committee,” “1970,” and “a witness.” In the relevant chunk of endnotes, Summers lists five New York crime committee witness-testimonies: James Kelly (mentioned above), Yolanda Lora, John Harrington, Jeremiah McKenna, and Louis Nichols. Thanks to the helpful staff at the New York Legislative Library, I have been able to read all of them. None of them mentions any connection between Rosenstiel and Costello, and none of them describes anything at all resembling Costello telling a bunch of hoodlums that Rosenstiel is “one of their people.”

Where did this Runyon-esque little sketch come from? Summers’ imagination? It’s possible. It’s also possible that the “witness”  Summers referenced was, yes, Susan Rosenstiel, who went before the crime committee in executive session in 1970. (All of the other witnesses Summers cites appeared in public hearings in 1971.) Perhaps Summers took the quotation from his 1988 (paid) interview with Susan and anonymized her, presto, as his 1970 crime committee “witness.” It’s impossible to know. In any case, we are left with a brick wall, not a source. Two things seem clear: Summers had no intention of making his endnotes stand the test of anything; and, there exists no credible evidence for the Rosenstiel-Costello joint-appearance.

What about the evidence that Rosenstiel and Lansky “owned points together” (a quotation in Summers’ book) in mob-operated businesses, including a Las Vegas casino?

Alas, Summers provides zero attribution on p. 285, for this damning quotation, and his endnotes are a cipher on the subject. It looks like this was pure hit-and-run. Having read the New York crime committee testimony of James Kelly, however, I can report that Kelly told a very similar story about someone else: Joe Linsey. Linsey “agreed to buy points” in a mob-associated travel agency in the Boston area, Kelly told the crime committee; he also said that Linsey balked at buying points in a Las Vegas casino. Perhaps Summers accidentally, or accidentally-on-purpose, turned Kelly’s testimony about Linsey into garbage about Rosenstiel, throwing in a Lansky connection for good measure. Which is reprehensible either way. Whatever Summers did or didn’t do, however, there exists no credible evidence for Webb’s claim that Rosenstiel and Lansky co-owned shady businesses, including in Las Vegas.

That sound of breaking glass you hear is mob-linkage falling apart.

If any readers have been wondering about this little reclamation project of mine, as in, Why? I hope an answer is taking shape. There’s something deeply wrong about taking down the reputation of a man, dead and defenseless for half a century, and hoisting in its place a manufactured disgrace to wave as “investigative journalism” over a false narrative.

Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I ha’ lost my reputation, I ha’ lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.

Is Webb’s King of Blackmail evidence legit?

The first thing to realize here is that no victim, no charge, no complaint of blackmail materializes in Rosenstiel’s kingdom. King Rosenstiel’s “blackmail” remains in the realm of maybe — or pretend — and the allegations are based on the existence of recording equipment on multiple levels of his Manhattan brownstone. Recording equipment = blackmail; get it?

Webb quotes Summers p. 297 to tell us:

“[S]everal sources reported to the 1971 New York [Joint] Legislative Committee on Crime that Rosenstiel’s Manhattan home had been [as Summers put it] “wired from roof to basement with hidden microphones, so that he could spy on visitors and staff.”

The system in Rosenstiel’s home has been installed by Fred Otash, an infamous private detective who had used electronic means to spy on the Kennedy family, Marilyn Monroe, and others. Otash later said that Rosenstiel’s home “was rigged to tape conversations for hours on end.”

Let’s start with “several sources.” It is true (joy!) that “several sources” confirmed the presence of recording equipment throughout the Rosenstiel townhouse in the New York crime committee’s 1971 hearings. These include Yolanda Lora, a paid “female companion” hired by Susan’s divorce lawyers to live with her at 5 East 80th Street for several months after Lewis had decamped to his Connecticut estate; John Harrington, former FBI special agent who oversaw Schenley Industries security as executive assistant to Lewis Rosenstiel (1954-1969); and Louis Nichols, former special assistant to FBI Director Hoover who later served as Schenley executive vice president (1957-1969). According to both Harrington and Nichols, the Rosenstiel townhouse was used as a kind of annex to Schenley’s midtown headquarters, and business might be conducted there day and into the night, depending on Rosenstiel’s whim.

But tape-recorders all over the house? Here is Harrington (line 5) on the placement of the tape-recorders.

To be sure, an unusual home-office set-up. On p. 68 of his testimony, Harrington was still elaborating on the way business was conducted at the townhouse: “Again, you have to look at 5 East 80th Street as a first floor, second floor, top. Mr. Rosenstiel would have conferences going at all places, appointments with five or six men, maybe, at the same time. So if, Mr. Bernstein, he had put you on the second floor and some other person on the third floor and a third person on the sixth floor and gone from one person to another, he would get finished with whatever business he had with that person and he would go.” (This is why I am not a captain of industry.) These meetings, Harrington explained, were recorded on visibly-placed tape recorders. The tapes were later transcribed and filed away by the secretarial pool at Schenley headquarters. According to Harrington’s testimony, Rosenstiel was “obsessed,” all right, but with business.

It was Yolanda Lora, Susan’s paid companion, who claimed to have seen what were concealed microphones “all over the house, I mean, all over the windows.” Neither Harrington nor Nichols recalled seeing them — not that they would, of course, if the devices were effectively concealed. For the record, here is Louis Nichols’s reply to the question of the existence of secret bugging devices in the Rosenstiel home. (The type is rather faint so I hope readers are able to make it out. Maybe later I’ll transcribe it.)

Bottom line, literally:

Q: Did you ever have any reason to suspect that there were any such [secret] recording devices?

A: No, I did not.

He said, he said; she said.

Who was correct? It’s possible they were both correct. The men may not have noticed what was pointed out to the woman. On the other hand, between the time Lewis Rosenstiel moved out of the townhouse in October 1961 and Yolanda Lora moved in in December 1961, there was an opportunity to tamper in any way with, as Webb might put it, the alleged scene of potential crime. It’s also possible, as Summers claims, that “infamous” Fred Otash really did install a system “rigged to tape conversations for hours on end.” Funny, though, that the Schenley team doesn’t appear to have to taken advantage of it. Here’s Harrington, beginning at line 15 below, explaining that the phones at 5 East 80th were not set up (“rigged”) to record conversations.

Maybe it’s just me, but as this intense but workaday picture of office life on East 80th Street emerges, the “King of Blackmail” seems to fall on his crown.

Let’s review Webb v. Lewis Rosenstiel. We have no good evidence for mobsterism; there’s no evidence whatsoever for blackmail, and we certainly have a plausible alternative explanation for the home “spy” system. What about the evidence that five-times married, four-times-a-father Lewis was a secret “bi-sexual” who engaged in sexual activity with homosexuals?

Well, there’s Susan …. ‘Nuff said. There is also a non-Susan item of evidence. Webb writes: “According to Nicholas Faith, discussions about Rosenstiel’s bi-sexuality among Schenley office employees were frequent enough for Rosenstiel to be referred to as `Rosie’ around the office.”

Good grief. “Rosie” has traditionally been a common nickname for men surnamed Rosen-anything: Rosie Rosenstial, Rosie Rosenblum, Rosie Rosenberg, Rosie Rosen. Maybe it still is.

Of course, then there’s this guy:

Rosey Grier.

One of the many surprises that popped up in this research was that the New York crime committee hearings in 1971 were supposed to be the culmination of an 18-month-investigation into “one Lewis Rosenstiel.”  No kidding. As public hearings opened on January 28, 1971, Chairman Hughes set forth “the direction in which we are moving.”

He said:

The hearings today and at future dates in the main relate to an investigation the Committee has been conducting for about eighteen months. The central figure is one Lewis Rosenstiel … and the testimony of this and future meetings of this Committee will relate to his business dealings and his associates.

I wonder if this struck people as a little odd that such a man, about to turn 80, could go through his entire high-stakes career without undergoing such scrutiny. We know, of course, it’s not odd at all; it’s Susan. Anthony Summers put it this way: “Many of the committee’s leads were supplied by Rosenstiel’s fourth wife, Susan.”

“Many”? As in … all of them? Could it be that these proceedings of the New York crime committee were another, more muscular round of the Susan Rosenstiel Ex-Husband Show? The answer really does seem to be yes. Just as Susan supplied the Homo-Hoover Drag/Orgy “leads” (also starring her ex-husband and his divorce lawyer) to Anthony Summers, which became the sex-sational selling point of his Hoover biography in the 1990s—Susan supplied the “leads” on mob-links to the investigators who trained the eye of the state on her ex-husband in the early 1970s. Susan, we might say, was Lewis-obsessed.

From the Miami Herald, February 18, 1971:

Susan Rosenstiel’s testimony before an executive session of the investigating committee has been the subject of an 18-month investigation by staff members of the New York committee headed by Hughes.

What we are looking back on, then, is a government investigation into a private citizen, undertaken in the public interest, which was largely if not solely dependent on the veracity of someone we now know to be a redundantly discredited source. Even in the early 1970s, the committee would have had early warnings about this. For example, Susan had already been exposed in that breath-taking 1970 Faraone jewelry ruling described above. Nonetheless, circa February 1971, Chairman Hughes was still backing her to the hilt.

Also from the Miami Herald:

“Her testimony in executive session last year has been checked and the committee has every reason to believe she is telling the truth about those matters that could be checked,” Senator Hughes said.

As 1971 went on, however, Chairman Hughes does not seem to have maintained this same level of confidence in Susan Rosenstiel’s testimony. I’d like to contrast his bold statements of early 1971, with the tiny pop of his committee’s annual report in September of the same year. In 103 pages summarizing the committee’s findings in the categories of criminal justice, plea bargaining, narcotics, organized crime and legislation, there is not one  mention of Lewis Rosenstiel, let alone his “business dealings” and “associates.” In fact, there is only one sentence in the entire report that makes even an oblique references to what we now know was an 18-month-investigation into the mob connections his ex-wife brought before the committee.

Here is that sentence:

A series of hearings were also held to determine if there is an illegal relationship between big business and organized crime, and to investigate allegations indicating improper activities in various court systems in the state. (December 10, 11, 15, 16, 1970, January 28, 29, February 18, and March 4, 1971).

That’s it? What in tarnation happened? Why did the New York crime committee go silent, dark and full- amnesiac on Susan’s “many leads”?

Could the following note made by a staffer in another government investigation a few years later shed some light on this question? In 1974, Phil Bakes, a member of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force “listened to [Susan Rosenstiel] accuse Nixon, Lansky and her ex-husband of various crimes,” Jonathan Marshall writes in the endnotes of his book Dark Quadrant. Bakes “judged that she was `unbalanced and shows signs of paranoia. She is clearly out to get her husband who  seems to figure in most every unsupported allegation.’ ”

Hold that thought.

I’d like to dig a little deeper into the politics of the day.

If the sound and fury of the 1971 New York crime committee ended up signifying zip, the investigative process along the way churned out plenty of negative publicity about Lewis Rosenstiel — “screamers,” newsies used to call them.

For some, however, J. Edgar Hoover was always the ultimate target, just as he is in Webb’s book today.

Consider the headline (below), which ran over a front-page take-out in the Des Moines Register on April 11, 1971: “SHOWDOWN: HOOVER VS. CRITICS.” The story was by Clark Mollenhoff, a leading newsman of the day. It ran five weeks after what turned out to have been the final Rosenstiel crime committee hearing. Given the amount of time that had elapsed, the story might have been an effort to breathe life into the stalled investigation.

Mollenhoff’s story presented the New York crime committee’s work as possibly Hoover’s “greatest problem.” One of Chairman Hughes’ goals, he wrote, was to “link” Lewis Rosenstiel with organized crime figures, such as Meyer Lansky, Jake Lansky, Frank Costello, Gerry Catena. This “could hurt Hoover” due to the “close friendship” between him and Rosenstiel. Sound familiar?

It’s unclear to me whether the two men, Rosenstiel and Hoover, were ever social friends — accounts differ. Certainly, their circles of friends and associates had notable overlap, along with what seems to me to have been similar beliefs in patriotism, law and order, and anti-communism. (Note: Webb’s sexed-up, mobbed-up book-creations are very often associated with the anti-communist movement.) In the 1950s, Rosenstiel’s philanthropic foundation, mainly in the business of supporting religious, medical and educational charities, donated  The FBI Story: A Report to the People by Don Whitehead, as well as Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism in America and How to Fight by J. Edgar Hoover to public libraries across the country. It’s easy to forget, but that Hoover book was serialized in newspapers across the country. It was also the fourth best-selling non-fiction book of 1958 — the same year, by the way, Webb would have us believe that J. Edgar Hoover was wearing lace stockings and a dress at Plaza Hotel orgies.

More connections. In 1957, Lewis Rosenstiel hired away the No 3 man at the FBI, Louis Nichols, to become an executive vice president for Schenley; I read in one bio that this upset Hoover. Rosenstiel earlier hired a former FBI special agent named John Harrington as an executive assistant to oversee company security. (Both men gave testimony to the New York crime committee, mentioned above.) Approaching retirement, Rosenstiel donated $1 million to the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, which, according to its charter, was set up in 1965 “to safeguard the heritage and freedom of the United States . . . to promote good citizenship . . . and to perpetuate the ideas and purposes to which . . . Hoover dedicated his life.” Louis Nichols was the foundation’s first director. Remember, this was the 1960s, a time when these men were “the Problem, not the Solution,” they were “uptight,” they were “square,” they were “Red-baiters,” they were Neanderthal throwbacks blocking the brave, new order of “cool” and “counter-culture,” of “groovy” now “woke.” In an unmistakable way, they still are.

Here’s a look at how Hoover remains a symbol for the fighting Right.

Joseph McBride is one of the leading attorneys defending January 6 political prisoners.

Clearly, there was a link between Rosenstiel and Hoover; but there’s no good evidence to support the charge that it was “mob link.” Nevertheless, this was the unholy grail then, as it is now, and it all seems to have gotten its start at that New York crime committee to which Susan Rosensteil funneled all those “leads.” As Clark Mollenhoff pointed out in the Des Moines Register:

Up to this point, there has been no real link between Rosenstiel and organized crime, but now the New York committee has a key witness, it is contended.

Seems clear to me there was no “real link” between Lewis and the mob “up to this point” because “key witness” Susan Rosenstiel hadn’t yet discovered how to turn her rage into power.


Those who are familiar with her story say it would be a devastating blow to Hoover if it is believed.

She has given first-hand accounts of meetings between Rosenstiel and Meyer Lansky….Mrs. Rosenstiel has told her story to investigators for the Hughes committee and to some congressional investigators.

The amount of corroborating evidence is the major question mark. If Rosenstiel were linked to organized crime, the next question would concern the FBI directors’s close long-time relationship with Rosenstiel and [former FBI senior and former Schenley executive Louis] Nichols.

There is a natural reluctance to accept the word of a woman who is bitter over an unsuccessful marriage, but if there is corroboration that New York investigation could be more devastating to Hoover than [anything else].

The amount of corroborating evidence was the major question mark, all right, but look at this: would, devastating, if, if, would, if, could, devastating. They could already taste it.

On February 9, 1971, shortly before Susan Rosenstiel was scheduled to appear publicly before the crime committee, she was indicted on three counts of perjury stemming from a 1969 case involving a lot of expensive jewelry and a disputed check, described above. Naturally, the press was all over the story  — “Waiting Quiz Date, Mrs. Rosenstiel Hit on Perjury Counts,” piped the New York Daily News. Not surprisingly, there were questions about the sensitive timing of the indictment.

Just doing my job, said the DA, telling the News: “We had deferred presentation of the jury’s findings in an effort to cooperate with the Hughes committee. But there is a statute of limitations and we had to move at this time.”

Well, maybe he was just doing his job. Maybe Susan’s guilty verdict less than a year earlier in the totally outrageous Faraone jewelry case, also described above, was a factor. If Susan’s new indictment raised eyebrows, however, the crime committee’s made it clear it didn’t matter. Chairman Hughes, Newsday reported, immediately expressed strong support for his committee’s key witness.

We have taken Mrs. Rosenstiel’s testimony in executive session.  We have every reason to believe she has been truthful. On the basis of what has been established … and on forthcoming evidence … her testimony will be corroborated.  Her present problem (the perjury charge) is entirely unrelated to our inquiry and our investigation will continue. No judgment on her guilt should result from the charge. We do intend to call her as a witness.

Hearings, the newspaper reported, would resume the following week. And so they did resume the following week. Only they resumed without Susan. In the end, she would never testify in  public hearings. Nor, for that matter, would Lewis Rosenstiel.

Webb roughly (very roughly) summarizes these events and explains:

Members of the Committee believed at the time that the [sic] “attempted perjury” charges had been instigated by Lewis Rosenstiel himself in order to prevent his wife from testifying, as he had previously used similar tactics to protect his corrupt dealings.51

Webb’s endnote 51 takes us to Summers p. 515, where he writes:

Outraged Committee officials believed the charge was instigated by Lewis Rosenstiel…Court records show the tycoon had used similar tactics in the recent past to pervert the course of justice.

Well, okay, if you say so, Anthony. And Whitney, keep on cutting and pasting; you’re good. But note the fine-tuning: Webb took Summers’ phrase, “to pervert the course of justice,” and repurposed it into “to protect his corrupt dealings.”

In the end, we have a mystery on our hands. Summers and Webb want to see the reptilian arm of Lewis reaching up from Miami Beach to stifle little songbird-wifey before she could sing for the New York committee; however, as I have shown, Susan Rosenstiel’s indictment alone did not deter Committee Chairman Hughes from his stated plan to bring her before the committee. “We do intend to call her as a witness,” he said. We just don’t know what happened after that.

Susan’s 1970 sealed executive session testimony was behind her; her anticipated public hearing was before her. The last thing people heard was Chairman Hughes expressing confidence in her — then poof — she disappeared in a cloud of diamond bracelets. Consider the possibility that it wasn’t the unseen hand of Lewis that made Susan disappear, but rather the public words of Louis Nichols, who testified in a contentious, all-day hearing on March 4, 1971 — the last of the crime committee’s Rosenstiel hearings.

At the end of the afternoon session, Nichols was permitted to read a prepared statement, an excerpt of which is below:

In the eleven years of my association with [Lewis Rosenstiel] in Schenley our relationship was such that I saw him daily in the offices, frequently traveled with him, and often spent evenings in his home, talking with him until the early hours of the morning. When he was out of town, seldom a day passed when I didn’t talk to him.

I have no knowledge of Mr. Rosenstiel’s ever having had any dealings with the underworld and I have never seen anything along these lines to raise my suspicions. I do not now have any such information and I do not consider there is any truth to charges that have been raised against him.

Then Nichols turns to Susan Rosenstiel.

Since late 1961, Mr. Rosenstiel has been subject to vituperation, falsehoods, half-truths and innuendoes by Susan Lissman Kaufman, the then Mrs. Rosenstiel. Questions and items in the press would force one to conclude she is the basis of this inquiry. Beyond that, she has made a series of harassing telephone calls to Mr. Rosenstiel in the late hours of the night. I will cite two.

On July 28, 1967, in the course of a conversation with Mr. Rosenstiel, she stated she would force him to his knees, she would bring charges against him which everyone would believe because she had been his wife, those charges would be printed in six hundred newspapers, and that he would never live long enough to clear his name after she got through with him.

This is a chilling story. As sworn testimony from a former senior FBI official, former chairman of the criminal section of the American Bar Association, former Schenley executive, it is weighted both by considerable gravitas and pro-FBI, pro-Lewis partisanship. We cannot corroborate his words; however, we can certainly see that the direct threats against Lewis which Nichols has attributed to Susan came true.

Nichols described a second phone call from Susan.

And as recently as last New Year’s Eve, she made some fifteen calls to Mr. Rosenstiel’s home between 11:30 pm and 1:30 am, and, among other things, boasted that she had been offered $1 million for her story and if she didn’t get the money “another way.” She then told a guest who had answered the telephone, she would have Mr. Rosenstiel put in prison ….

That didn’t happen. I don’t mean the phone call — although I can’t vouch for it, either  — but Susan Rosenstiel did not have Lewis Rosenstiel put in prison, and not for lack of trying. I’ve learned that Susan Rosenstiel took her claims against her former husband to the New York State crime committee, to the US Attorney in New York (Robert Morgenthau), to the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Clark Mollenhoff reported that Susan spoke with “some congressional investigators.” Louis Nichols testified that she went to the IRS with charges, causing her ex-husband to spend considerable time and money to refute them. With Susan managing to train all of this governmental firepower  on Lewis, government investigators still refrained from pulling the trigger; Lewis Rosenstiel did not go to prison, or anything close. Summers and Webb would likely seize on this as solid proof of Rosenstiel’s criminality. Or maybe there was an outbreak of scruples, or, more likely, a more realistic understanding of the rules of evidence. Or, as in the case of the member of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, the dawning realization that Susan Rosenstiel was “clearly out to get her husband who  seems to figure in most every unsupported allegation.”

Nichols reviewed some of Susan Rosenstiel’s record of fabrications and falsehoods before the committee, a portion of which is included above. Most of his statement pertained to other business, political and legal matters. After he concluded, there was this following exchange.

Q: Mr. Nichols, you have made some very harsh statements about the ex-Mrs. Rosenstiel. That is, Susan Rosenstiel.

A: I certainly have. They are understatements.

Q: It occurs to me — and I am speaking now as an attorney — that it borders at least prima facie on the libelous and the slanderous.

A: Truth is always a complete defense.

Well, it is and it isn’t. Truth turns out to be no defense against hearsay-narratives, the constant repetition of which creates a wicked kind of static that obliterates everything else. For anybody wondering why we’re still here (myself included), here’s what I mean — as Webb writes:

There is also evidence that not only did these parties at the Plaza hotel take place, but that they were used to obtain sexual blackmail, with Kaufman [Susan] asserting that her husband possessed pictures of Hoover wearing women’s clothes and that those images had been passed to Rosenstiel’s associate, mobster Meyer Lansky. Journalist and author Anthony Summers has noted that given Rosenstiel’s interest and ability to have his residences and businesses bugged, he was quite capable of having the sex sessions at the Plaza bugged or arranging for Edgar to be photographed in his female costume.”

Come to think of it, Susan Rosenstiel really wasted a lot of time in the 1960s and 1970s with government investigators who sought corroborating evidence on her comparatively humdrum claims of mob links and shady business practices; all she really needed was a ruthless writer or two, willing to jam far more salacious anti-facts through the gears of message-manipulation. That, and, oh, I forgot, a Frankfurt-School-fueled-sexual revolution. The general coarsening of human sensibilities between 1970 and 1993 and 2023 created the perfectly filthy mainstream in which Susan’s newly hatched charges against her former husband, Hoover, and Cohn (the X-rated Plaza Hotel orgies), could be disseminated across all media, and to unprecedented effect.

At least some of us now know it’s all a scam — the no-credible-evidence “parties at the Plaza,” the no-credible-evidence “sexual blackmail,” the no-credible-evidence “picture of Hoover” in drag, the no-credible-evidence “Rosenstiel associate, mobster Meyer Lansky,” the no-credible-evidence “images passed,” the no-credible-evidence “sex sessions at the Plaza,” the no-credible-evidence “bugged” sex sessions, the no-credible-evidence photography of “Edgar … in his female costume.”

In conclusion, I could say a lot of things, but I’d really rather not. I will say, however, that people who should know better call this “investigative journalism.”


DIANA WEST, author of American Betrayal, has been called “McCarthy on steroids,” high praise in my book, given my own admiration for “tail gunner Joe.” And given that, in 1954, when the nation was still patriotic, Joe McCarthy was the fourth most admired man in America.  J. Edgar Hoover was fittingly much admired, too. Most important: Amid pervasive institutional rot, Diana here stands up for the now-quaint idea of rigorous and honest scholarly inquiry.
Read about Diana on her website. Suffice it to say, however, that Diana, who calls herself a “journalist,” is a “citizen historian,” a scholar and a sharp analytical thinker.  She regularly pierces the (mostly) mirthless monotone of conservative commentary with prose as strong as paint stripper.


UPDATED: Diana West Fact-Checks Whitney Webb’s Scandalous, ‘Deep Fake Journalism,’ Part 1: WHAT FACTS?

Conservatism, Critique, Glenn Beck, Government, History, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Journalism, Old Right, Propaganda, Pseudo-intellectualism, Republicans, The State

Diana West deconstructs Webb’s teenybopper linguistic dissembling to reveal the real scandal—that Webb’s counter-factual, x-rated history was published

Thanks to the likes of Webb and some self-styled conservative enablers, it is not ‘an overstatement to say that our understanding of American anti-communism hangs in the balance…’

What we are looking at is journalism at its lowest, where a lack of decency toward the dead doesn’t even have the cover of truth-seeking in the public interest. Or maybe it’s not really journalism at all. It’s the ritual sexual humiliation of reputation, the perversion of memory, the defilement of places in history that can never again be anything but sordid ~ Diana West

In January, Diana West, author of the superb American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, had promised to provide us with her forensic examination of Whitney Webb’s end-notes. Not that I doubted them—but my instincts have been confirmed. (My objection was to Webb’s poor, phantasmagorical grand thesis.)

Low-watt Whitney Webb is the toast of The Town because The Town, quite a few self-styled conservatives included, is filled with village idiots. Diana deconstructs Webb’s teenybopper linguistic dissembling to reveal the real scandal—that the Webb book was published in the first place, given its shoddy, circular sourcing. It most certainly should not be promoted in conservative quarters, as that further imperils our tenuous understanding of American anti-communism.  

As to Diana: She’s been called “McCarthy on steroids,” high praise in my book, given my own admiration for “tail gunner Joe.” And given that, in 1954, when the nation was still patriotic, Joe McCarthy was the fourth most admired man in America.  J. Edgar Hoover was fittingly much admired, too.

Read about Diana on her website. Suffice it to say, however, that Diana, who calls herself a “journalist,” is a “citizen historian,” a scholar and a sharp analytical thinker.  She regularly pierces the (mostly) mirthless monotone of conservative commentary with prose as strong as paint stripper.

Jan 18


My object today is to check the veracity of some key sources of the thesis of Whitney Webb’s two-volume-work, One Nation Under Blackmail.

Why am I doing this? Because Whitney Webb asked me to. She’s asked all of us to “engage more” with the source material in her endnotes, to “fact-check” her research. Indeed, like Gary Hart before that “Monkey Business” business, Webb often issues this challenge while promoting her briskly selling book in online interviews.

OK. I’ve accepted the challenge. For the past several weeks, I have been discussing what I have found out about Webb’s research at my Patreon channel, which I am making available here (J. Edgar Hoover), here (late 1950s cultural  context), and here (Susan Rosenstiel). Whitney Webb has recorded a video in reply to my first video here.

Since the neo-oral video tradition only goes so far, I am resurrecting the Written Word to establish at least some of what I’ve learned about Webb’s sources.

Before I begin I must inject a question: Are these sources in fact “Webb’s” sources? When interviewer Natalie Brunell, in the most friendly way, asked Webb to discuss how she had found all of these “amazing” sources, Webb said a truly amazing thing. (I should note Webb had just been discussing my initial critique of her Hoover material.) The thirty-three-year-old author addressed the question about her research this way:

Right, so a good part of Volume One, I had a research assistant named Edmund Berger, who is amazing and a total genius. So he did some of the pri — you know, some of the, uh, research for aspects of that book, so I can’t speak to how he conducted the research but it’s brilliant.

Wow. Webb can’t speak to how someone else conducted the research for her book. It’s not every day that a rising “investigative journalist” disavows responsibility for 500 pages of research published under her name. That said, I will continue to address Webb in my comments below.

Webb’s thesis is set forth in her books’ subtitle: The sordid union between Intelligence and Organized Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein. (I am concerned with Volume One, which I will refer to as Webb’s book, singular.)

That sordid union, she maintains in the book, and, with more bluntness, in those online interviews, began roughly 80 years ago with the blackmail (alleged) of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover over compromising homosexual pictures of the man (alleged) that fell into the hands of “Intelligence” and “Organized Crime” (alleged). Cross-dressing, leather-clad orgies at the Plaza Hotel in New York City nearly 70 years ago ensued (alleged). As a result (alleged), Hoover’s FBI (1924-1972) failed to investigate Organized Crime (alleged), thus (alleged) creating the corrupt conditions “that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein.”

J. Edgar Hoover’s reputation is hardly without tarnish in the 21st century. Whose reputation is? However, is the legendary founding director of the FBI really the proto-trans-non-binary-mob-patsy who founded the New Perv Order? Do Webb’s sources for her X-rated biography/history check out? Before we pull down the Stars and Stripes and hoist in its place a new banner of soiled underwear, let’s find out.

First, to acquaint readers with how this messaging is coming across, I am including a few written excerpts of Webb’s recent book interviews. The first one is from an appearance with comedian Jimmy Dore on “The Jimmy Dore Show,” which has a Youtube following of 1.13 million subscribers.

Whitney Webb: First off, yes, this [sexual blackmail] is something that has been going on a very long time. In fact, the longtime director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, who was in charge of that agency for decades and decades and decades, the top law enforcement official in the US, he was sexually blackmailed by the mob in the thirties, and he did not even go after organized crime at all because of that.


WW: That’s a matter of record, he denied it ever happened [organized crime]. And the sexual blackmail operation that entrapped him, also intimately involved a man named Roy Cohn —

WW: Ahhhh

JD: — who is best known as Donald Trump’s mentor, and the two of them along with a mob-linked businessman named Lewis Rosenstiel, were seen engaging in sexual blackmail operations themselves; but again, Hoover and Cohn only joined that after they themselves had been entrapped, yeah? And this involved minors.

JD: Oh, no kidding!

WW: Yeah, this is something that has been going on a very long time —

JD: So, you’re saying J. Edgar Hoover was entrapped sexually with a minor by the mob, by the mafia?

WW: Well, so, at first, the — he was involved in the sexual blackmail operation after he was blackmailed by the mob. That involved children.

But he was initially blackmailed because a photo of him was taken, having — giving oral sex to his longtime deputy Clyde Tolson, and that was taken by affiliates of Meyer Lansky of the Jewish mob; and later those [photos] fell into the hands of James Jesus Angleton, the first counterinteligence chief of the CIA. So that’s another example of how the mob and the CIA like to share “intelligence,” right? …

That’s “intelligence,” finger-quotation marks provided — a cute fillup to pornographic allegations. However, she didn’t get the story “right” as written in her book.

For example, Webb’s charge that the mob blackmailed Hoover over sex with children (references in bold above) does not appear in Webb’s book.

Here’s another version of events that’s more faithful (if that can possibly be the right word) to Webb’s book. This interviewer is “lawyer-turned-Youtuber” with Viva Frei, whose Youtube channel has over half a million subscribers.

Whitney Webb: One of the first people, prominent people, that was blackmailed by people like Meyer Lansky, was J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI. And it’s for that reason that Hoover never went after organized crime as FBI Director. He falsely claimed it was a local problem, and not going on in an organized way at the state or national level — and it provably was … but you see how this is developing. And eventually when Organized Crime and Intelligence come together, sex blackmail becomes one of their tools.

Viva Frei: Let me ask you this with Hoover. The blackmail material they had on him, was it engaging in activities with underage people –?

WW: Not underage people, but his deputy Clyde Tolson. Because it’s very well known now that J. Edgar Hoover was homosexual, but in that period of time, that would have destroyed his career, right? And so they caught him, they took pictures of him in compromising positions with Clyde Tolson, and these were shared with early intelligence people like James Jesus Angleton, who was one of the most prominent counter-intelligence people in the CIA from its founding onward.

A reader might wonder — even if Webb’s many interviewers do not — is there credible evidence for the existence of these “pictures”? The short answer is no; the long answer is below. Constantly describing them, referencing them, using them to bolster her thesis, as Webb is wont to do, has the effect of creating what we might think of as “deep fakes” in the minds of Webb’s listeners.

Excuse me, is that journalism or brain-washing?

She continues:

So, basically — in that example alone you can see then how Organized Crime and Intelligence are sharing “intelligence,” i.e., blackmail, which, you know, counts as “intelligence” to these people and then they can use that as leverage.

Again, that’s “intelligence” (read: dirty pictures of Hoover) with quotation marks.

Webb continues talking about “it — the alleged Hoover “pictures”:

So the mob can use it as leverage, and now Intelligence can use it as leverage over FBI Director J, Edgar Hoover, which is the highest law enforcement body in the United States. So, there’s lots of stories — this is just an early example, but there are lots of examples of this happening, the corruption of our core institutions in this type of way, throughout American history. So it’s very important to understand how we get here right now.

I’d like to pause to note that the “corruption of our core institutions” is something everyone (practically everyone) reading these words recognizes, mourns, rages at, all of us trying in our own way to survive what has happened, to our families, to our nation; and to resist it all and fight back. Indeed, it is in this shared tragedy where we might find the mechanism of Webb’s crossover appeal to us “outcasts” — we who already know the government is lying to us, even trying to kill us, and we who have long turned our backs on that government’s indispensable ally, the MSM. Some of us have been counter-culture for a long time; some of us woke up in this camp more recently —  due to the rolling coup d’etat by a sordid union of Intelligence and Organized Government against Donald Trump from 2016 onward (Webb doesn’t want to talk about that one); or the covid hoax, covid tyranny and covid die-off (2019 onward); or the vicious persecutions of the January 6 patriots (2021 onward); or one of so many other convulsions shaking loose the facts to show that We, the People are not sovereign over the State; rather, we are victims in its crosshairs.

In other words, we can agree with what Whitney Webb is saying: Yes, our core institutions have been corrupted. But — and this is The Big Question — did it happen “in the type of way” the 33-year-old author is telling us?  Namely, by a “sordid union” in the 20th century of Intelligence and Organized Crime originally forged by J. Edgar Hoover and the Mafia? And isn’t there something missing from Webb’s 20th century  — like, um, uh, the sordid union of the KGB, cultural Marxists, things like that?

One last interview of note. Webb sat for a long session in November on The Glenn Beck Podcast, which has one million subscribers. Beck was in reverential-host-mode; Webb, dressed demurely for the occasion, offered a more G-rated version of the Hoover-blackmail story, one that skipped the alleged “pictures” entirely. Was that calculated so as not to rile Beck’s reliably conservative, intuitively anti-communist audience? In any case, this interview was a big success, racking up 3.7 million views.

Glenn Beck: Are we ever going to find out who’s in the black book?

Whitney Webb: I don’t think so. I think the FBI has been compromised from the very beginning. Uh, in the book I talk a lot about J. Edgar Hoover. He was blackmailed by the mob. He realized the power blackmail had; started using blackmail himself; and, you know, increasingly the FBI — and I think it’s very obvious to a lot of conservatives now — comes in to cover things up, and to, you know, go after, uh, you know, figures that they, you know, don’t want to advance in their careers, or, you know, any sort of thing. It’s, it’s very, um, it’s very complicated.

I first noticed Webb due to her popularity with some of those speaking out against the rise of the biosecurity state/covid tyranny, such as Catherine Austin Fitts, Children’s Health Defense, James Corbett, Dr. Mercola. It is something of a curiosity to see someone who started her journalism career at Mintpress News —  an advocacy website I find bedecked with anti-Israel, anti-“American Empire” headlines (but not, for example, anti-“Chinese Empire headlines”) — making inroads into less doctrinaire, more libertarian and even right-leaning pockets of the Internet. A Beck interview here. An Epoch Times op-ed there. Maybe it’s my imagination, but even Amazon seems to be getting its algorythms behind a tack toward the wider, wilder Right:

Today it appears that Webb has even been invited to appear on Steve Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic.” Is it an overstatement to say that our understanding of American anti-communism hangs in the balance? Yes. But maybe not by much.

Now for the mainstay of Webb’s Hoover/mob-blackmail claims, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Irish author Anthony Summers. It is from this 1993 book that the nightmarish shape of J. Edgar Hoover in drag first slithered into the American consciousness. It is high time to put a stake in it — put a stake in it again, I should say, because it’s been debunked before. I don’t need to prove a negative to do so; I will simply demonstrate that the “evidence” marshaled long ago by Summers in lurid detail, today in brief by Webb — but just enough to perpetuate Homo Hoover as “Mary” in a dress — comes from a single, bitterly biased witness, whose mendacity has been proven not once, but multiple times in court.

Her name is Susan Rosenstiel. She is the eye-witness who claims to have seen J. Edgar Hoover (1) dressed in drag (“fluffy black dress, very fluffy, with flounces…”) as (2) he participated in homosexual orgies at the Plaza Hotel, one in 1958 and another in 1959. At the time, the FBI Director, in his sixties, was at a pinnacle, if not the pinnacle of his popularity; his book on the dangers of communism, Masters of Deceit, was a national best-seller; he was also under renewed assault by left-wing media of the day. The New York Post, for example, then a liberal paper, had an investigative team scrutinizing Hoover in 1959. Somehow, though, they all missed out on Hoover’s group sex assignations at the midtown Manhattan landmark.

According to Susan Rosenstiel, that’s where “Mary Hoover,” pronouns unthought of, took himself to have at it with two 18- or 19-year-old “blond boys” in a homosexual orgy alongside liquor magnate Lewis Rosenstiel, Susan’s later-to-be divorced husband, and Roy M. Cohn, Lewis’s later-to-be divorce lawyer. (For the record, all three were anti-communists, Hoover and Cohn, of course, on the national stage.)

Bias, much? It’s not just Susan’s bias against her ex, his lawyer, and, in J. Edgar Hoover, we might argue, his hero (Lewis donated copies of Masters of Deceit to libraries across America, and, in the mid-1960s, would donate $1 million to a foundation set up in Hoover’s honor) that makes her claims unbelieveable. It is not only the outlandishness of her claims. Susan Rosenstiel has a significant court record against her veracity. What follows are highlights.

In 1975, Susan Rosenstiel pleaded guilty to perjury, as UPI reported, “for testifying that $17,000 in borrowed jewelry had been stolen from her when she actually had pawned it.” That’s over $98,000 in 2022 dollars, by the way.

In 1971, she pleaded guilty to attempted perjury (another jewelry-related case); she had been charged with perjury, but the judge allowed her to plead guilty to the lesser charge.

In 1970, State Supreme Court in New York ordered Susan Rosenstiel to pay a jeweler for over $150,000 in diamond and sapphire baubles (2022 dollars), which had been sent to her “on approval” back in 1965 but never returned to the store or paid for. Over and above the cost of the jewelry, Susan was ordered to pay the jeweler roughly a quarter million dollars more in damages (2022 dollars). The New York Daily News reported: “During the trial, Susan denied ever taking the jewelry and denied being in the jewelry shop on the June 6, 1965 date, but Faraone [the jewelry store] produced witnesses to testify that she had so been there.”

Think about all of this for a moment. We are supposed to let decades of American history be changed forever because a convicted liar claimed she saw J. Edgar Hoover in a gay orgy at the Plaza Hotel .

Are you willing to go along with that? I’m not. Is journalism based on such “evidence” your idea of fact-seeking and truth-telling? It’s not mine. Three courts judged Susan Rosenstiel’s word untrustworthy. That tells me there exists no credible evidence that J. Edgar Hoover ever appeared in drag at homosexual orgies at The Plaza Hotel. None. Zero.

This isn’t all Susan’s fault, of course. Without writers from Summers to Webb and everyone in between, all of whom do not cite new corroboration, but old Summers, such a creature is left to cry her spiteful pain to the wilderness. What we are looking at is journalism at its lowest, where a lack of decency toward the dead doesn’t even have the cover of truth-seeking in the public interest. Or maybe it’s not really journalism at all. It’s the ritual sexual humiliation of reputation, the perversion of memory, the defilement of places in history that can never again be anything but sordid.

To what end?

Ten years after the publication of Official and Confidential, Ron Kessler published his book, The Bureau, in which he examined many of Summers’ Hoover claims. Kessler also interviewed Summers, and asked him about the Susan Rosenstiel story. What Summers told him is jaw-dropping.

Despite the clear implication in the book that her story was true and the declaration on the book’s jacket that the Mafia knew that Hoover was a “closet homosexual and transvestite” and held that over his head, Summers told me that he merely reported what Rosenstiel said, along with what others claimed. He told me he holds “no firm view one way or the other” as to whether she told the truth.

The self-absolution of amoralism.

Many writers have weighed Summers’ sources and found them wanting, including mafia-expert Peter Maas (The Valachi Papers) in 1993, Marquette University FBI expert Athan Theoharis (J. Edgar Hoover, Sex and Crime: An Historical Antidote) in 1995, journalist Ron Kessler (The Bureau: The Secret Files of the FBI) in 2003, Joseph McCarthy biographer M. Stanton Evans (Blacklisted by HIstory) in 2011, and Yale professor and Hoover biographer Beverly Gage (The Day Wall Street Exploded, G-Man) in 2022. Others, too. Of extra interest, both Peter Maas and, as noted, Ron Kessler, interviewed some of Summers’ sources. Most of these analyses and rebuttals may be instantly found online.

I don’t know if Whitney Webb read any of them. As mentioned above, she did watch my initial foray into video-critique. In her video-reply, she seems to be walking away from Hoover-transvestite story.

Webb put it this way:

There’s also the claim here that J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dresser so I do want to make very, make it very clear that there is a difference between the claim that J. Edgar Hoover was involved with sexual blackmail and that J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dresser. Those are different claims.

“Two different claims” or not, in Susan Rosenstiel’s case, they come from the exact same source. Until Webb walks away from the entire Rosenstiel story of the Hoover-Rosenstiel-Cohn orgies at the Plaza as a non-credible smear, her newfound diffidence is no way out of the predicament.

Without Rosenstiel’s testimony, what’s left?

To find out, let’s look more closely at Webb’s source material in the Summers’ book. Naturally, gossip and mobster chatter abound in a book claiming that Hoover was sexually blackmailed by the mob — although “at what hand, first, second, or third, is hard to say,” as Peter Maas commented in his Esquire essay (May 1993) on Summer’s Hoover/mob-blackmail story, “Setting the Record Straight.”

Mass spoke to journalist Pete Hamill, who is quoted in the Summers book in support of the Hoover/mob-blackmail charge. Hamill maintained he had not even spoken to Summers, and that his quotation “must have come from a column”; Summers, in reply, insisted he interviewed Hamill “five times” (Esquire, August 1993). Either way, though, Hamill told Maas that his Hoover/mob-blackmail story was “strictly anecdotal stuff…You know how mob guys gossip like old women. It was the sheerest hearsay. The fact is, I don’t even know if Hoover was gay.”

Wait, what??

From an all-around hard-boiled journalist like Pete Hamill, that’s one blockbuster comment: “I don’t even know if Hoover was gay.” For the past thirty years, we have all been programmed to believe EVERYONE KNEW HOOVER WAS GAY.

Well, aren’t there some gay photos out there, John Q. Public vagely asks?

Good question. That story, too, is from the Summers book. Before we look at Summers’ evidence, note that Webb, among many others, writes about “the photos” as if their existence is established fact. And yes, this is how Big Lies become ingrained as truth. I’m starting to think of this process as “deep fake journalism.”

She writes:

The photos showed Hoover engaged in sexual activity, specifically oral sex, with his long-time friend, FBI Deputy Director Clyde Tolson.60

Webb’s Endnote 60 leads us to a 1993 UPI story about the launch of the Summers book.

Headline: “New Book Pictures J. Edgar Hoover as Drag Queen.”

Ever wonder how to get a whole non-credible smear into just one lede? Behold:

NEW YORK — J. Edgar Hoover protected organized crime for years because top mobsters had evidence of his homosexual activities, including his dressing in flouncy miniskirted drag and taking part in hotel orgies, according to excerpts from a new book about the late FBI director.

The story goes on to announce a media pile-on  — the Summers book, a Vanity Fair piece (see below) excerpting the Summers book, and a national PBS broadcast of a “Frontline”  show dependent on Summers input as well.

Imagine for a moment that you are not a cross-dressing exhibitionist homosexual orgy participant under the thumb of killer-mobsters. How to compete with a multimedia attack? Especially after you have reached that ultimate state of defenseless in death. The KGB at its zenith couldn’t have done — and didn’t do — a better number on Hoover.

Or did they? All of this happens to be the fulfillment of long-term Kremlin “active measures” to undermine Hoover, who was for many decades not only the top lawman in America but also the top Red-hunter in the Executive Branch. In The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokihin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin explain that not only was the FBI “a major target of KGB active measures,” but until his death in 1972, “many of these measures were personally directed against the long-serving FBI Director.” One of the lines of disinformation advanced by the Service A of the KGB “was to accuse him of being a homosexual.”

Beverly Gage, author of G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century, elaborates on the Kremlin disinformation operation.

Recent evidence suggests that the Soviets were also targeting Hoover in these years. In 1992, a retired, high-ranking KGB archivist named Vasili Mitrokhin fled the collapsing Soviet Union with thousands of pages of hand-written notes documenting the agency’s foreign intelligence operations. Contained in these notes was a passage showing how the KGB used “active measures” — forgeries, anonymous letters, paid informants, leaks to newspapers — to spread gossip about Hoover’s sexual orientation. “To compromise E. Hoover as a homosexual, letters were sent to the main newspapers on behalf of an anonymous organization,” Mitrokhin recorded. According to Mitrokhin’s notes, those letters attacked him for acting like a “moralist and pillar of American society” even as he “turned the FBI into a faggots’ den.”

Funny, with all of that, how the KGB never seemed to have unearthed these “photo(s)” of Hoover, which Summers/Webb claim were floating around “Organized Crime” and “Intelligence” going back to the 1940s. It’s especially funny given the “astounding” level of penetration by Soviet agents of US “Intelligence” going back to the OSS in the 1940s, which, I find reading Ralph de Toledano’s terrific 2006 book, Cry Havoc, got its strategic (ideological) focus from German Marxists of the Frankfurt School. Such currents, such actors, of course, don’t exist in Webb’s sanitized but sordified version of the 20th century.

But, of course, the alleged “photos” do. Webb continues:

At some point, these photos fell into the hands of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton, who later showed the photos to several other CIA officials, including John Weitz and Gordon Novel.62

Aha! Eyewitness, we are to believe, and two of them. Webb’s Endnote 62 sources another news story about the Summers book, in this case by the Los Angeles Times.

I’m going to let pass the “several other” CIA officials who fail to materialize in either the news story or the Summers book, and simply note that Summers himself does not identity either Wietz or Novel as “CIA officials.”

That’s because John Weitz was not a CIA official. He was a fashion designer, author of two biographies of Nazi notables and veteran of the OSS. (The OSS was disbanded at the end of World War II. The CIA opened shop in 1947. Truman publicly regretted what the CIA had become after JFK was killed in 1963.) Gordon Novel’s identity is less straight-forward. Summers rather tenuously describes him as both “controversial” and “someone who has had links to the CIA.”  In FBI chronicler Athan Theoharis’s view, that should be amended to “self-proclaimed intelligence operative.”

Now for an extremely serious misstatement by Webb on p.60. She writes:

Both Weitz and Novel later stated that the pictures they had seen showed Hoover engaged in oral sex on a man who [sic] Angleton identified as Tolson; however, only Hoover’s face was recognizable in the photographs.63

No. That’s not true. Weitz made no such statement; Summers had only Novel making the Hoover i.d.. Weitz, as Summers reported, could not identify either of the men in the (single) photograph he was shown — and even the LA Times got that right.

Webb’s Endnote 63 takes us directly to Summers, p. 280, where we may review exactly what Weitz said about the 1950s incident.

“After a conversation about Hoover, our host went to another room and came back with a photograph. It was not a good picture and was clearly taken from some distance away, but it showed two men apparently engaged in homosexual activity. The host said the men were Hoover and Tolson.” (Emphasis added.)

Peter Maas spoke with Weitz again for his Esquire piece, “Setting the Record Straight,” and Weitz underscored for Maas what he had told Summers: “The photograph, as I recall, was very, very blurry. It seemed to show two men humping on a beach. Perhaps it was Hoover, perhaps it was not. I didn’t give it much import.”

So much for Joh Weitz’s short-lived, I hope, career as an erronesouly reported eye-witness of the alleged Hoover “photo.”

As for Gordon Novel, like Susan Rosenstiel, there’s a lot to say about this man, who was in and out of court and scrapes and deals. Highlights I found perusing old newspapers online include a tangled relationship with prosecutor Jim Garrison’s JFK investigation; a $1.5 billion (yes, billion) lawsuit Novel filed against organizers of the 1984 World’s Fair claiming, according to one press report, they “stole his idea with the help of the CIA” (I have no idea what that means, either, but the case was dismissed); and, a 2007 interview, in which he actually tried to steal Susan Rosenstiel’s mendacious thunder by bragging that he was the guy who put Hoover in the dress.

Actually, he’s the guy who put Hoover in the photo.

Ron Kessler found something particularly relevant to Novel’s credibility when it comes to politically explosive photos. In 1997, the Assassination Records Review Board released a set of FBI documents (after intercession by President Clinton, Newsday reported). One of the documents, highlighted by Kessler, was a real doozy.

Kessler writes:

[The document] revealed that while working as an investigator for New Orleans District Attorney Jim  Garrison, Novel tried to doctor a photo to make it appear that Lee Harvey Oswald had appeared with Castro. When Novel had trouble making Oswald fit into the original photo, he tried to place Jack Ruby in the photo.

And when Hoover didn’t fit into the original photo — what then?

I’m not at all trying to suggest Novel created the alleged Hoover “photo”; but it seems clear that here was an operator who did not see photographs of actors on the world stage as sacrosanct artifacts of one defined time and place, but rather as politically malleable stink-bombs.

Ask yourself: Is Novel’s “recollection” sufficient cause for American history to shift and declare we have proof of a Hoover-Tolson homosexual liaison? Of course not. Not by a long shot.

To recap: There is no credible evidence for Hoover’s cross-dressing Plaza orgies; and there is no credible evidence of the Hoover-Tolson photo(s).

Bye-bye, mob blackmail material.

Even from the perspective of the faculty lounge, there’s just no there there, as professor Athan Theoharis sums up:   

It might be satisfying to conclude that Hoover richly deserves Anthony Summers as his biographer. But Summers’s sources, if undeniably imaginative, provide no credible documentation for what amounts to no more than gossipy character assassination.-

There is one Whitney Webb’s non-Summers source to deal with — perhaps the worst smear yet because in this instance we don’t even have a Rosenstiel or a Novel to kick around.

On p. 61, Webb insinuates that there existed a relationship between the former FBI director and a convicted sex extortionist.

Webb writes

that Hoover had also been tied to Sherman Kaminsky, who helped run a sexual blackmail operation in New York that involved male prostitutes.67

“Tied to Sherman Kaminsky”? The FBI Director was “tied” to an extortionist … male prostitute …?

Evidence, please.

Webb’s Endnote 67  is p. 88 of Bobby and Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and Hoover That Transformed America  by Burton Hersch.

What follows is everything on the page allegedly connecting the lawman and the sex-blackmailer:

Organized by Sherman Kaminsky and Edward Murphy, the gang entrapped a wide range of educators and entertainers, a lot of military brass — one admiral, William Church, killed himself rather than risk disclosure — and the prominent Congressman Peter Frelingheysen. A photo turned up of Hoover himself “posing amiably” with Kaminsky, while Clyde Tolson had reportedly “fallen victim to the extortion ring.”

At some point, the FBI jumped into the investigation. Hoover’s photo disappeared from the files and Kaminsky went underground, subsisting for eleven years in Denver raising rabbits and distributing wigs. One of Hoover’s gifts was for retrofitting reality,

“Retro-fitting reality…”? Note to self: Hersch is not my problem; except insofar as he is Webb’s source.

Folks, it’s a very bumpy ride from hereon in. Fact is, I can find no reference whatsoever to vet these two incendiary items — not for Hoover “posing amiably” in a Kaminsky photo, not for Tolson falling “victim of the extortion ring.”

The quotation marks are nice and everything, but I can’t find a source for them in Hersch’s endnotes.

If somehow I have missed them, I’d appreciate having that pointed out so I continue my analysis. However, I don’t believe that I’ve misinterpreted the nothing-ness in Hersch, and Whitney Webb is fine with it.

She writes:

That operation was busted and investigated in a 1966 extortion probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, though the FBI quickly took over the investigation and photos showing Hoover and Kaminsky together soon disappeared from the case file.70

Webb’s Endnote 70 takes us back to Hersch, p 88. Everything Hersch wrote about Hoover is already reproduced above.

Notice how the single photo (unsourced) of Hoover “posing amiably” with Kaminsky in Hersch has morphed into plural photos “showing Hoover and Kaminsky together” in Webb.

Notice also how Hersch’s “at some point, the FBI jumped into the investigation” has turned into Webb’s “the FBI quickly took over the investigation.”

According to a detailed Slate article by William McGowan on the case, which Webb also cites (helpfully, for once), there is no sinister implication in the involvement (not a “takeover”) of the FBI in investigation alongside the NYPD. (McGowan writes: “In the year following the Western Union arrest, the NYPD and the FBI, working in parallel and sometimes at odds, would uncover and break a massive gay extortion ring whose viciousness and criminal flair was without precedent….”) McGowan’s account, by the way, does not mention Hoover, Tolson, or photo(s).

Reading Hersch and Webb, however, you might even get the idea that the FBI “took over”  in order to make the (sourceless) Hoover photo(s) disappear — and Kaminisky, too.

Webb now pulls into overdrive:

Why would Hoover have been involved with the activities of Kaminsky?

“Involved with”?

First, Webb has Hoover “tied to” Kaminsky with no evidence, and now she’s got him “involved with” Kaminsky’s “activities” with no evidence. Not even Hersch said Hoover was “tied to,” let alone “involved with,” this extortion ring.

But Webb is on a roll, and spiraling.

There are only a few possibilities. One possibility is that Hoover had been blackmailed by Kaminsky, though it’s more likely that Kaminsky instead had ties to figures in organized crime that had already blackmailed Hoover long before. Another possibility is that Hoover was cozy [sic] to a second sexual blackmail operation targeting closeted homosexual men because he sought to pad his own library of blackmail for personal and professional gain.

Whitney Webb even cracks Hoover’s thoughtwaves!

What does seem clear is that Hoover was well aware of the power that amassing blackmail afforded and was willing to indulge in taboo behavior at the “blue suite” [the Plaza Hotel] because he was no longer concerned about being extorted or manipulated with sexual blackmail in ways that would end his career or destroy his public image. He had fallen in with the very crowd that had reportedly blackmailed him, later developing a symbiotic relationship with that same network.

All I can say is, Service A [i. e., KGB], eat your heart out.

MLK, Russell Kirk, And The Ignominy of Modern Conservatism

Boyd Cathey, Christianity, Colonialism, Communism, Conservatism, Democrats, Education, Egalitarianism, History, Intellectualism, Race, Republicans

Outrage is too mild a term to describe the inane barbarity visited by the Russell Kirk Center on the memory of its namesake, Dr. Kirk, founder of American conservatism. It is built on lies and blatant falsehood

By Boyd Cathey

For the past forty years (officially since 1986) the third Monday in January has been celebrated as a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day. Federal and state offices and many businesses either close or go on limited schedules. We are awash with public observances, parades, prayer breakfasts, stepped-up school projects for our unwary and intellectually-abused children, and gobs and gobs of over-the-top television “specials” and movies, all geared to tell us—to shout it in our faces, if we don’t pay strict attention—that King was some sort of superhuman, semi-divine civil-rights leader who brought the promise of equality to millions of Americans, a kind of modern St. John the Baptist ushering in the Millennium. And that he stands just below Jesus Christ in the pantheon of revered and adored historical personages…and in some ways, perhaps above Jesus Christ in the minds of many of his present-day devotees and epigones.

It seems to do no good to issue a demurrer to this veritable religious “cult of Dr. King.” There are, indeed, numerous “Christian” churches that now “celebrate” this day just as if it were a major feast in the Christian calendar. In short, Martin Luther King has received de facto canonization religiously and in the public mind as no other person in American history.

And the King cult has taken hold in the “conservative movement” with an especial tsunami-like effect.

The latest outrage of this revolutionary “cleansing” of traditional conservatism has been what has been inflicted on Russell Kirk, the “Sage of Mecosta,” the generally acknowledged founder of the American conservative movement back in the early 1950s. And it comes at the behest and invitation of the very institution bearing his name, The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, which plans to host a joint conference with the Acton Center, on Monday, January 16, with black activist John Woods, Jr., doing the honours. Under the looming visage of Abe Lincoln, Woods’ Web site, Braver Angels, defines his own organization as dedicated “to depolarization…bridging the partisan divide….” (A photo of a gaggle of brainless, lovey-dovey, googly-eyed Clinton and Trump supporters decorate the site.)

Here is part of the blurb from the Kirk Center:

Without King and Kirk, modern American Social Justice liberalism and modern American conservatism as we know them would not exist. And yet, for all of their differences, our modern politics suffer because contemporary liberalism and conservatism often lack the grounding in virtues, communitarian values and faith in an ordered universe to which both Kingian Nonviolence and Kirkian Conservatism held fast. Is it possible that by reacquainting ourselves with these lost traditions we could summon the better angels of left and right and restore a politics of virtue for the modern age?

Outrage is too mild a term to use to describe this inane barbarity. It is built on lies and blatant falsehood.

At one time figures such as Kirk were considered too unwieldly, too untouchable to be incorporated into the swirling vortex of crazed conservative political correctness. Very simply, although the standard encomia were regularly paid to his earlier accomplishments and role, his essential (negative) views on King, his opposition to the civil rights movement (and legislation), his staunch arguments against egalitarianism, his opposition to the frenzied anti-colonialism of the 1950s and 1960s (cf., his adventure novel, A Creature of the Twilight, set in late colonialist Africa), and his virulent disgust directed at George H. W. Bush (which led him to become chairman of Pat Buchanan’s campaign in Michigan in 1992, just as I chaired the North Carolina Buchanan effort) are significant mileposts which Kirk biographer, Bradley Birzer, must acknowledge (see generally, Birzer, Russell Kirk: American Conservative;  University of Kentucky Press, 2015).

From 1967, when I was a college freshman, until shortly before his death in 1994, I corresponded frequently with Russell. As chairman of the Pfeiffer University Visiting Lecture Program—that would never happen today!—I brought him to my school. And, then, after a year as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow at the University of Virginia (where I finished my MA in 1971), Kirk asked me to come to Mecosta to serve as his assistant for 1971-1972. There I was privileged to learn from the Master. Not only did I delve deeply into roots of traditional Anglo-American conservatism (I assisted RK on Eliot and His Age and The Roots of American Order), but one responsibility I had was to edit Kirk’s little educational quarterly, The University Bookman. There he demonstrated his willingness, among other difficult topics, to debate cognitive disparities between the races (publishing reviews of politically-incorrect volumes).

And then, I recall sitting in his library with him as the results of the Michigan Democratic presidential primary filtered in, in the spring of 1972. Although television sets and radios were not permitted in the old house, “Piety Hill,” up the street, I had a radio, and at Russell’s urging I brought it down from my room (the second floor of the library building). Kirk delighted in George Wallace’s upset victory, although I don’t think he wished his wife Annette to find out!

Such examples of his thinking and actions are now all swept under the carpet, carefully ignored, or simply rewritten, and the “Sage of Mecosta” emerges with new raiment, diminished and stuffed in a Procrustean bed, fully “trans-ed” and purified of his earlier inequities and sins of racism and against “human rights.”

Let us recall a little history, and this I essentially repeat from my earlier essays on this subject to which I refer the reader.

Mention the fact that King may have plagiarized as much as 40 % of his Boston University Ph.D. dissertation [cf. Theodore Pappas, Plagiarism and the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Other Prominent Americans, 1998, and Martin Luther King Jr Plagiarism Story, 1994, if they are have not been scrubbed from circulation], or that he worked closely with known Communists throughout his life, or that he advocated American defeat in Vietnam while praising Ho Chi Minh, or that he implicitly countenanced violence and Marxism, especially later in his life [cf., Congressional Record, 129, no. 130 (October 3, 1983): S13452-S13461]—mention any of these accusations confirmed begrudgingly by his establishment biographers David Garrow and Taylor Branch, or mention his even-by-current-standards violent “rough sex” escapades (which apparently involved even under-agers) [cf., Cooper Sterling, January 13, 2018, VDare] and you immediately get labeled a “racist” and condemned by not just the zealous King flame-keepers on the Left, but by such “racially acceptable” conservatives like Rich Lowry and Dinesh D’Souza who supposedly are on the Right.

Indeed, in some ways Establishment “conservatives” such as Lowry (National Review), D’Souza, Glenn Beck, the talking heads on Fox and the furious scribblers at nearly all major “conservative” journals, and many others, not only eagerly buy into this narrative, they now have converted King into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of “conservatism inc.”—a “plaster saint” iconized as literally no one else in our history. Thus, this latest attempt to “scrub” clean Russell Kirk so that he, too, can join the new holy pantheon…finally, it simply had to happen.

Celebrating King becomes a means for the modern “conservative” movement to demonstrate its “civil rights” and “egalitarian” bona fides. When the Neoconservatives made their pilgrimage from the Trotskyite Left into the ranks of conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s, they brought with them a fervent belief in a globalist New World Order egalitarianism that characterized their Trotskyite ideology, and the determination to redefine and re-orient the traditional American Rightwing, and to re-write, as well, American history.

Thus, the purges of the old conservative movement in the 1980s and 1990s—there was no room for Southern conservatives like Mel Bradford, no room for traditionalist Catholics like Frederick Wilhelmsen or Brent Bozell Sr., no room for paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard, no room for Old Right anti-egalitarians like Paul Gottfried, and no room for “America Firsters” like Pat Buchanan…. These figures did not believe in King’s (and Lincoln’s) “promise of equality,” and thus were no doubt scarred by latent or real racism.

King Day becomes, then, for the modern Conservative Movement an opportunity for it to beat its chest, brag about its commitment to civil rights and “the American dream, the unrealized idea of equality” (that is, to distort and re-write the history of the American Founding), and to protect its left flank against the ever increasing charges that it could be, just might be, maybe is —“racist.”

The heavily-documented literature detailing the real Martin Luther King is abundant and remains uncontroverted. During the debates over establishing a national “King Day” in the mid-1980s, Senators Jesse Helms and John East (both North Carolinians) led the opposition, supplying the Congress and the nation, and anyone with eyes to read, full accounts of the “King legacy,” from his close association and collaboration with the Communist Party USA to his advocacy of violence and support for the Communists in Vietnam, to implicit support for Marxist revolution domestically. Ironically, it was Robert Woodson, a noted black Republican, who highlighted in a lecture given to honor the “conservative virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King” at the Heritage Foundation on November 5, 1993, the difficulties in getting black advocates of the older generation to respect King’s role as a Civil Rights leader. According to Woodson, as quoted in an excellent essay by Paul Gottfried,

…when Dr. King tried to bring the Civil Rights movement together with the [Marxist] peace movement, it was Carl Rowan who characterized King as a Communist, not Ronald Reagan. I remember being on the dais of the NAACP banquet in Darby, Pennsylvania when Roy Wilkins soundly castigated King for this position. [Paul Gottfried, “The Cult of St. Martin Luther King – A Loyalty Test for Careerist Conservatives?” January 16, 2012].

But not only that, behind the scenes there were voluminous secretly-made FBI recordings and accounts of King’s violent sexual escapades, often times with more than two or three others involved in such “rough sex” trysts; and of his near total hypocrisy when discussing civil rights and other prominent civil rights leaders. It is, to put it mildly, a sorry record, scandalous even by today’s standards…Indeed, King makes Harvey Weinstein look like a meek choirboy in comparison.

But you won’t hear any of that mentioned by the falling-all-over-itself media mavens at “Conservatism Inc.” or on Fox. In fact, such comments will get you exiled to the far reaches of the Gobi Desert and labeled a “racist,” quicker that my cocker spaniel gobbles down his kibble.

Almost all the material is now available and accessible online, including material from the Congressional Record. And I have listed it in previous forays into this topic. Much of what we really have come to know is thanks to the excellent work and dedicated research of the late Dr. Sam Francis, who served on the staff of Senator East. Francis’s work is critical, and originally was written to preface the publication of voluminous testimony and documentation placed in the Congressional Record by Senator Helms.

Francis’s essay and the Helms’ dossier were eventually published in book form (I have a published copy, but I’m unsure if you can still find it on Amazon). A few years back Dr. Francis’s introduction [“The King Holiday and Its Meaning,” February 26, 2015] and the lengthy Congressional Record material, which he prepared for Helms [“Remarks of Senator Jesse Helms. Congressional Quarterly,” February 26, 2005] were put online. For a very complete understanding of King’s association and cooperation with American Communists and his endorsement of Vietnamese Communism, as well as his putative endorsement of Marxism here in the United States while condemning the free enterprise system, these two items are essential reading.

But, say the scribblers at the “establishment conservative media,” wasn’t King really a conservative at heart, an old-fashioned black Baptist who believed in the tenets of traditional Christianity? Shouldn’t we simply overlook these all-too-human failings? And, like John Woods, Jr., shouldn’t we search diligently for those points of “consensus” and “shared communitarian values”?

The answer is a resounding NO.

I can think of no better summation of the real meaning of King Day and its bare-knuckled ideological use to deconstruct, dissolve and obliterate American traditions and heritage than to cite, again, Sam Francis:

“[T]he true meaning of the holiday is that it serves to legitimize the radical social and political agenda that King himself favored and to delegitimize traditional American social and cultural institutions—not simply those that supported racial segregation but also those that support a free market economy, an anti-communist foreign policy, and a constitutional system that restrains the power of the state rather than one that centralizes and expands power for the reconstruction of society and the redistribution of wealth. In this sense, the campaign to enact the legal public holiday in honor of Martin Luther King was a small first step on the long march to revolution, a charter by which that revolution is justified as the true and ultimate meaning of the American identity. In this sense, and also in King’s own sense, as he defined it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the Declaration of Independence becomes a “promissory note” by which the state is authorized to pursue social and economic egalitarianism as its mission, and all institutions and values that fail to reflect the dominance of equality—racial, cultural, national, economic, political, and social—must be overcome and discarded.

“By placing King—and therefore his own radical ideology of social transformation and reconstruction—into the central pantheon of American history, the King holiday provides a green light by which the revolutionary process of transformation and reconstruction can charge full speed ahead. Moreover, by placing King at the center of the American national pantheon, the holiday also serves to undermine any argument against the revolutionary political agenda that it has come to symbolize. Having promoted or accepted the symbol of the new dogma as a defining—perhaps the defining—icon of the American political order, those who oppose the revolutionary agenda the symbol represents have little ground to resist that agenda.” 

I will not be celebrating this day; rather, it is for me a mournful reminder of what has happened and is happening to this country…and what has happened to the once-fearless and vibrant “conservative movement” and now to the revered Dr. Russell Kirk.


~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music. Dive into Dr. Cathey’s Barely A Blog archive and latest Hard Truth interview.