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Joe Kennedy, n Angel, but no Bootlegger either...


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Joe Kennedy No Angel, but no bootlegger either...

Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger | Irish Examiner

This short article points out imo, just one of a zillion, unevidenced assertions

that go forth unchecked within the information of the Kennedys and the assassination, repeated until, they are taken as fact but that still does not prove that they are the truth.....b

Edited by Bernice Moore
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Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger

By Terry Prone

Monday, March 14, 2011

ANY student of the Kennedy dynasty knows all about the father figure, Joe Kennedy, who shaped and warped the lives of his children through his determination to live vicariously through them and ensure that each should fulfill his ambitions.

(this disappeared once already from the paper so am printing the article out...B)

This was the man who became US Ambassador at the Court of St James and, while there, provided his masters with consistently rotten advice. That rotten advice was rooted in his incapacity to understand Hitler's regime, that incapacity influenced, up to a point, by some covert admiration for the Nazis. This was the man who subjected his emotionally troubled daughter to a lobotomy which institutionalised her for the rest of her life.

This was the man who, while cosying up to the Catholic hierarchy, was at the same time flagrantly unfaithful to his marriage vows with (among others) film star Gloria Swanson. (His wife, according to some biographers, had the most cruel revenge when he was rendered speechless by a stroke in later life. That stroke allowed her to spend his money on constant travel and talk to him in ways he would never have tolerated when in the whole of his health.)

This, finally, was the man who built the legendary Kennedy wealth through rum-running during Prohibition. Bootlegging put him arm-in-arm with the Mafia which grew powerful as a result of Prohibition.

No argument about those details, right? Wrong, according to a new history of Prohibition, written by former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent, who points out that in the ten years directly after the Repeal of Prohibition, the much mistrusted Joe Kennedy was proposed for three federal positions considered to be so important as to require Senate confirmation. The posts were Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission, Chairman of the US Maritime Commission and Ambassador to Great Britain. All required him to undergo the detailed process of challenge which in recent years has sunk several aspirants to high office when it revealed that they had tax issues or had employed illegal aliens as nannies. Yet Joe Kennedy came through the same process without being nailed as a bootlegger.

Now, let's be clear. Opponents didn't want Kennedy to get any of these three posts and they were legion and, as proven by history, correct, at least in relation to the position at the Court of St James. They had money and motivation.

Yet the state records do not reveal anything which suggests Kennedy's accepted bootlegging past was put to him as an accusation. At all. Ever.

Just as significant is the fact that the major national newspapers of the time, which were, of course, immeasurably more powerful than newspapers are today, never said a dickie bird about the bootlegging matter.

Neither the Senate nor the media at the time were being positive towards Kennedy. They raised nasty issues about possible stock manipulation and other negatives.

"But about involvement in the illegal liquor trade, there was nothing at all," Okrent points out. "With Prohibition fresh in the national mind, when a hint of illegal behaviour would have been dearly prized by the president's enemies or Kennedy's own, there wasn't even a whisper."

Curious, that. Then some decades passed, and, in the 1950s, Kennedy came up for consideration for a federal post by President Eisenhower. The FBI were invited to comb through all aspects of his private, public and commercial life. Not all of what the FBI found was positive towards Kennedy, but not even the most motivated detractors told FBI officers about him having built his business empire on rum-running during the years of Prohibition.

Curiouser and Curiouser.

The first mention on record comes ten years later, when a journalist, writing about John F. Kennedy's candidacy, said that in those parts of the country which were still anti-alcohol, opponents of JFK had taken to referring to his father as "a rich bootlegger." The older Kennedy clearly didn't challenge the reference, and it can be inferred that the reason was fear of giving it wider currency than it already had.

Kennedy was as far as possible kept out of the limelight during the Presidential election campaign, because he was generally regarded as a floridly bad egg with the potential to wreck his son's candidacy.

"A quiet period followed," according to Okrent, "and then the inference started showing up again after the 1964 publication of the Warren Commission report. Supporters of the theory that John F. Kennedy was murdered by the Mafia suggested that the assassination had something to do with the aged resentments of mobster Sam Giancana."

After that, all bets were off. Self-confessed Mafia mobsters came out of the woodwork, claiming to have supplied Kennedy with liquor or bought it from him. Or, if they hadn't any direct connection, they got themselves headlines, mostly when publicising autobiographical books, by saying that they had known of some other mobster who had supplied or been supplied by Kennedy. By the 1990s, the allegations had become fact and popped up in every feature or book about the Kennedys. They popped up in odder places, too. When Kennedy's grandson was about to be tried for rape, several jurors disqualified themselves by confidently stating that the Kennedy money was earned by law-breaking during Prohibition.

Their confidence was based on the spontaneous growth of unevidenced assertions around Joe Kennedy's past. The fact that the assertions grew like mint or ivy was partly due to the general view of him as a bad man, and it is understandable that members of the general public, hearing recurring references to Kennedy's bootlegging over a period of time, would believe them to be true and pass them on as fact.

It is less understandable and completely unacceptable that journalists would, when encountering what one of them called "the remarkable lack of documentation in government files" of Kennedy's rum-running, would not ask themselves the legitimate question "Is it possible that the absence of documentation indicates that Kennedy wasn't a bootlegger?" None of the journalists asked that question. Instead, they took second and third-hand accounts from people whose word was dodgy at the best of times. One of them developed a particularly sophisticated way to get around the problem.

"The sheer magnitude of the recollections," he wrote, "is more important than the veracity of the individual stories."

Well, no, it isn't. What this and other journalists revealed was that each of them was suffering from "theory-induced blindness." Theory-induced blindness is what happens when any of us buys into a belief about the way the world works with so much enthusiasm we stop observing how it actually works.

Does it matter that a man long dead has been irrevocably traduced, when he was no angel in any other area of his life? Yes, it does. Any time journalists, paid or unpaid, set out to prove their own prejudices rather than find the truth, it damages all of us.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, March 14, 2011

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Edited by Bernice Moore
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Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger

Thanks Bernice. I have always thought that attempts to pin the bootlegger tag on Old Joe were silly on their face, apart from having no credible evidence in support. Whalen, who wrote the first major bio of Joseph K. looked into this and concluded it was nonsense, and Doris Kearns Goodwin reached the same conclusion.

Criminals are stupid and nasty people, and crime does not pay, except sometimes in the short run. One problem with crime is that you get mixed up with criminals, and when you get mixed up with criminals your life is not safe. More importantly, your children's lives are not safe. The age of prohibition was also the age of kidnap & ransom.

No truly intelligent person gets mixed up with criminals, and old Joe was very intelligent. Whalen concluded that Joseph K. would have become a multimillionaire, even if he had never had a first-class education. He was just a natural financial genius.

If someone claims that BIll Gates made his first money selling dope, do not believe him. Balzac was a great writer, but he wrote fiction. It is simply not true that behind every great fortune there is a crime.

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Guest Robert Morrow

Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger

Thanks Bernice. I have always thought that attempts to pin the bootlegger tag on Old Joe were silly on their face, apart from having no credible evidence in support. Whalen, who wrote the first major bio of Joseph K. looked into this and concluded it was nonsense, and Doris Kearns Goodwin reached the same conclusion.

Criminals are stupid and nasty people, and crime does not pay, except sometimes in the short run. One problem with crime is that you get mixed up with criminals, and when you get mixed up with criminals your life is not safe. More importantly, your children's lives are not safe. The age of prohibition was also the age of kidnap & ransom.

No truly intelligent person gets mixed up with criminals, and old Joe was very intelligent. Whalen concluded that Joseph K. would have become a multimillionaire, even if he had never had a first-class education. He was just a natural financial genius.

If someone claims that BIll Gates made his first money selling dope, do not believe him. Balzac was a great writer, but he wrote fiction. It is simply not true that behind every great fortune there is a crime.

I would not put it past Joe Kennedy to be a bootlegger. I do not know much about that. But one that old Joe Kennedy was was sexually flagrant. He taught that to his sons by example and all three of them John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy followed that example in varying degrees. I do not know about his oldest son, Joe, the one who died in WWII.

"No truly intelligent person gets mixed up with criminals, and old Joe was very intelligent." - can't say I agree with that statement. Both Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush were heavily involved in the CIA drug trade of the 1980's. Maybe they are not "truly intelligent" ... maybe more classified as diabolical.

There are lots of "intelligent" criminals. Greed, lust for power, lust for sex makes people stupid. I see it happen time and time again in politics.

So if old Joe Kennedy were a bootlegger I would not be surprised. Bottom line: I don't know much about that yet, but it is possible.

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Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger

Thanks Bernice. I have always thought that attempts to pin the bootlegger tag on Old Joe were silly on their face, apart from having no credible evidence in support. Whalen, who wrote the first major bio of Joseph K. looked into this and concluded it was nonsense, and Doris Kearns Goodwin reached the same conclusion.

Criminals are stupid and nasty people, and crime does not pay, except sometimes in the short run. One problem with crime is that you get mixed up with criminals, and when you get mixed up with criminals your life is not safe. More importantly, your children's lives are not safe. The age of prohibition was also the age of kidnap & ransom.

No truly intelligent person gets mixed up with criminals, and old Joe was very intelligent. Whalen concluded that Joseph K. would have become a multimillionaire, even if he had never had a first-class education. He was just a natural financial genius.

If someone claims that BIll Gates made his first money selling dope, do not believe him. Balzac was a great writer, but he wrote fiction. It is simply not true that behind every great fortune there is a crime.

Wow, Ray, we must be reading different history books. One of the things I've discovered is that behind every great man there really is a crime. Gates, for example, presented other people's operating systems as his own in order to win over IBM, and engaged in monopolistic practices to expand his reach and destroy his competition.

Joe Kennedy, as I remember it, was already quite wealthy before prohibition. My understanding is that he was not an actual bootlegger per se, but an accessory to bootlegging. As I recall, he was heavily involved in shipping alcoholic beverages either into or from Canada, knowing full well that the majority of this booze would be smuggled into the states. The Bronfman family--the owners of Seagram's--were no less guilty. It was all quite legal, like American arms manufacturers selling guns into Texas knowing full well they'll end up killing tourists in Mexico. But that's how they made their dough.

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As I recall, he was heavily involved in shipping alcoholic beverages either into or from Canada, knowing full well that the majority of this booze would be smuggled into the states.

Pat: I mentioned the two bios I relied on, both by highly reputable authors. It is years since I read them. I don't know what you are relying on.

If he was shipping alcohol into Canada, then he wasn't doing anything illegal, and would have no need to get mixed up with criminals.

But he had much bigger fish to fry.

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No argument about those details, right? Wrong, according to a new history of Prohibition, written by former New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent, who points out that in the ten years directly after the Repeal of Prohibition, the much mistrusted Joe Kennedy was proposed for three federal positions considered to be so important as to require Senate confirmation. The posts were Chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission, Chairman of the US Maritime Commission and Ambassador to Great Britain. All required him to undergo the detailed process of challenge which — in recent years — has sunk several aspirants to high office when it revealed that they had tax issues or had employed illegal aliens as nannies. Yet Joe Kennedy came through the same process without being nailed as a bootlegger.

Now, let's be clear. Opponents didn't want Kennedy to get any of these three posts — and they were legion and, as proven by history, correct, at least in relation to the position at the Court of St James. They had money and motivation.

Yet the state records do not reveal anything which suggests Kennedy's accepted bootlegging past was put to him as an accusation. At all. Ever.

Just as significant is the fact that the major national newspapers of the time, which were, of course, immeasurably more powerful than newspapers are today, never said a dickie bird about the bootlegging matter.

Neither the Senate nor the media at the time were being positive towards Kennedy. They raised nasty issues about possible stock manipulation and other negatives.

I raised these points in my lengthy argument with Terry LaRouche Mauro on this topic.

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[

b]Joe Kennedy was no angel but neither was he a bootlegger[/b]

By Terry Prone

This was the man who became US Ambassador at the Court of St James and, while there, provided his masters with consistently rotten advice. That rotten advice was rooted in his incapacity to understand Hitler's regime, that incapacity influenced, up to a point, by some covert admiration for the Nazis.

I am not sure whether this is Daniel Okrent speaking, or Terry Prone. I'd say Joseph K. was motivated by FEAR of the Nazis. He knew his sons well enough to know that they would immediately enlist if the US went to war, and he foresaw that his elder sons might not come home alive.

This was the man who subjected his emotionally troubled daughter to a lobotomy which institutionalised her for the rest of her life.

I don't see why the author does not also blame Rose Kennedy, who shared in the decision. The mistake Rose and Joe made was to listen to the best medical advice that money could buy.

"A quiet period followed," according to Okrent, "and then the inference started showing up again after the 1964 publication of the Warren Commission report. Supporters of the theory that John F. Kennedy was murdered by the Mafia suggested that the assassination had something to do with the aged resentments of mobster Sam Giancana."

I first heard of Daniel Okrent when he was appointed the first Public Editor at the New York Times, and I was impressed. Somewhere between the lines I got the impression that he is a Warren Commission sceptic. This paragraph does not confirm that, but don't be surprised if some day he goes public on the subject.

Any time journalists, paid or unpaid, set out to prove their own prejudices rather than find the truth, it damages all of us.
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So many inaccurate myths surround Joe Kennedy. The "bootlegger" tag has been used so often that no one even asks for an original source about it. One of the cruelest snipes against him is the charge that he was willfully neglient in having daughter Rosemary undergo a lobotomy. In reality, Joe was trying to do what a loving father of his means would have done at that time; frontal lobotomies were a new procedure and considered a possible "miracle" cure for "slow" people like Rosemary. I'm sure no one was more devastated that her father when the operation backfired so cruelly.

If you admire anything about the Kennedy children, you need to credit old Joe for that. He was the alpha parent; Rose was pretty much a remote figure in their upbringing. Joe was about as proactive as a parent can be, and he instilled the idea in all of them that it was noble to serve the public, in order to pay back the good fortune bestowed upon them. Kind of like Spiderman's uncle would say, "To whom much is given, much is expected" a little later on. The children learned that lesson well, and consistently made lemonade from lemons. Consider the impact of daughter Eunice, who was motivated by her sister Rosemary to found the Special Olympics.

This man lost two children to seperate plane crashes. Another two were murdered. Yet another survived a plane crash. And, of course, he lost Rosemary for all intents and purposes after the lobotomy. It's doubtful whether another man of such affluence has ever come close to approximating that kind of enormous tragedy. FOUR seperate unnatural deaths of your children? THREE seperate plane crashes? Four, if you include grandson John-John. The poorest parent in a ghetto or trailer park, with a family full of drugged out gang members, would be hard pressed to approach that. Very wealthy people simply don't normally face this extreme amount of adversity.

As very wealthy men go, I think Joe Kennedy had an unusually honest and exceptional character.

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Some Kennedy haters go so far as to say Joe had her lobotomized to keep her form embarrassing thee family.

"As very wealthy men go, I think Joe Kennedy had an unusually honest and exceptional character."

IIRC most observers agree he engaged in practices that would be considered insider trading today.

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Guest Robert Morrow

As for Joe Kennedy being some sort of a highly ethical man - I doubt it! Bobby Baker told a story about the time that he and Senate Majority Leader went to go visit Joe Kennedy at his home.

Joe Kennedy came the house with the golf girl, the young 17 or 18 year old girl that used to carry his golf clubs. Then Joe and his young, female golf caddy head up stairs and make a racket having what obviously appears to be having sex.

Baker and Lyndon Johnson were offended that they were blown off while Joe Kennedy was playing with the hired help while they were cooling their heels downstairs. Of course, Lyndon Johnson was someone who would engage in the exact same kind of behavior.

Was Joe Kennedy a bootlegger or a corrupt businessman. I don't know. But his sexual behavior, which his sons took to copying, speaks for itself.

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Roosevelt knew Joe Kennedy was unscrupulous and worse on Wall Street, and went so far as to say some variant of "Set a thief to catch a thief" when he approved him as SEC chairman. That was during the depression that both families managed to escape with the skirts of their cutaway coats intact if not augmented. JFK would later say some variant of "I never knew there was a depression until I read about it in college."

Edited by David Andrews
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  • 3 weeks later...

Roosevelt knew Joe Kennedy was unscrupulous and worse on Wall Street, and went so far as to say some variant of "Set a thief to catch a thief" when he approved him as SEC chairman. That was during the depression that both families managed to escape with the skirts of their cutaway coats intact if not augmented. JFK would later say some variant of "I never knew there was a depression until I read about it in college."

Joe Kennedy made his fortune in banking, hollywood and the crash of 29. He probably made some money in "bootlegging" as the legend goes, but you do not make the kind of money he made selling liquor - even if by the trainloads. Kennedy had, according to what I have learned 200,000,000 thats two hundred million dollars way back when. Thats billions now.

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Did I say drastically otherwise? It was always stocks and securities that dominated - hence the SEC position.*

Kennedy was a kind of Carnegie on Wall Street, but his talents lay in going deeper into finance for his money and place. Unlike Carnegie, his defining enterprises away from speculation failed or plateaued: films, liquor...the Ambassadorship.

When we speak of bootlegging, remember that Kennedy had a lock on some of the biggest supplies of quality Scotch whiskey, in the UK and Canada. So it was a specialty market, upscale prices and limited distribution. If any portion of the product was let out to be adulterated and resold by associates, well...the cost of doing business....

*I am now growing curious about banker Joe's relations with the Federal Reserve.

Edited by David Andrews
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