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24 November 2013


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William R. Cumming

Interesting piece that captures some of the complexity of JFK his life and gifts and burdens! But the what if of history for me is the potential of his older brother Joe lost over the Channel or France in WWII? How much of a driver was that older brother for JFK and his loss?


Not to be a boor, but I've always wondered about JFK's sexual encounters. Given his physical health issues (Addison's disease, bad back etc.) and an unwillingness to engage in foreplay; what kind of sexual activity did he engage in? I mean was he on his back while the woman did all the work?

Or was his sexual prowess exaggerated by the Boomer "Playboy philosophy" ethos of the times?



Doing all the work? They were just doing their patriotic duty. pl

Mark Logan

Mr. Sale,

I've read a bit about Joe's brilliant timing in the stock markets of his day. It seems clear he had some associations with bootleggers, but those came largely after he had played Wall Street as if it was his own personal fiddle. He utterly nailed the peaks and valleys. I didn't want to start an argument, but thought thinking him simply a crime boss misses a lot.

I think Joe was one of those guys whose incredible gift in one area, finance (gambling?), caused him to conclude he was gifted in general. Case in point, his bad assessment of Hitler and his recklessness about publicly proclaiming it. Nevertheless, he continued to believe both he and his had to be "special".


Mr. Sale I have always enjoyed your writings in the past.
My departed Irish Mother, whose father was a bootlegger also from an uncultured, uneducated though moral family, would always tell me if you cannot say anything nice about someone then do not say it. I assume this also applies to writers. Sounds like you were under the bed.


For another point of view:




My father knew both Joe and John Kennedy at college, thought quite highly of Joe and felt he had great potential. My recollection is that he did not have a positive opinion of John and turned down an offer by JFK to join his senatorial staff.


JFK overcame the "sins of the father" in many respects that are so long forgotten today that we have come to accept a level of political mediocrity in our presidents that is our own cultural sin. I can cite the known instances where he did indeed leave a lasting legacy, from the Apollo program, to a network of major dams and other infrastructure projects that survive as further landmarks to his achievements. Kennedy took on the steel barons and did many other things that transformed the potential of the American economy. Many of these prospective breakthroughs in the conditions of life for a vast majority of our fellow citizens were lost following his murder and the plunge into Indochina.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Joe 100 and I have some confirmatory opinions on that subject from a number of others. Senator Smathers of Florida and JFK partied hard until about 1958!

When I grew up in Arlington many underage teens drank beer in Georgetown. The legal drinking age was 18 in DC!

Since I went a number of times to see Senate debates with a friend later a CIA Station Chief I recognized both Senators. Georgetown was their very conspicuous playground. Often with very willing young women! A troubling lack of discretion.

The beaver

Just have to read the snippets published in the media when the book of Mimi Alford came out two yrs ago to realise what was happening during that period.

She was the 19 y.o intern during JFK administration.


Joe's plane never even made it out of Britian, blowing up before it reached the Channel. It was a flying bomb, where he and his co-pilot were to bail out over Europe and the plane would be radio-controlled to its target. Tragically, the boffins hadn't worked out all the radio issues and an outside radio transmission triggered the explosion.

And father Joe, as U.S. Ambassador to the UK, harbored pro-Nazi sympathies, another mark against his character.

William R. Cumming

Thanks oofda!


And it was said: "You bought people the way you purchased groceries, and when a man refused to be bought, you bought the man above him." Admirable when done by a government; admirable when done to a government.
Reference AIPAC.

Kyle Pearson

So this justifies his murder?

And i reckon, all this lays to rest the questions about who actually killed him?

I am a big fan of James Galbraith. He's a solid, respectable academic, and has had some very interesting things to say about the Warner Commission.



"So this justifies his murder?" Only you have said or thought that. sale said nothing like that. pl


The evidence that Joseph Kennedy was a bootlegger is thin at best. The hardest evidence are the words of two Mafia bosses who held grudges against the Kennedy's for RFK's relentless prosecution of organized crime. I have a hard time taking the word of criminals. Joe Kennedy had a license to import medicinal alcohol into the US during Prohibition and was the US distributor of Gordon's Gin and Dewars after its repeal. He was ambassador to England and the first chairman of the SEC. These licenses and high level appointments meant he had to pass numerous high level FBI security checks ... meaning they found no evidence of past criminal activity.

On top of the accomplishments Harper mentioned, JFK created the Peace Corp and signed the atmospheric nuclear test ban treat with the USSR. Not bad for such a short term. IMHO. his speeches are better than Reagan's.


Throughout history, I've noted some significant imperfections in the family character as well as personal character of many who've done great good, some good, some bad & great bad. I have not always been able to correlate goodness (or badness) of family with goodness of a family-member's impact on their broader culture in their immediate or long-term. It has never been clear to me how one can predict outcomes (or even establish value) through contrasting a person's family & private life with their role in the political-historical dimension, or even for the attainment of humanity's moral intelligence.

Peel back any onion & one may find the Kennedy dynasty to be within the sweep (bell curve?) of not-unusual behavior of many families, once one considers the factors of the times, scale & scrutinizes all in equivalent detail.


My reading suggests that the death of Joe Jr., however sad, was no great loss to the republic. Younger brother Jack was cleverer, better read, less rigid in character and politics. JFK had no particular political ambitions as a young man; that was a joint project between his elder brother and his father. That changed with his brother's death. As JFK put it amusingly to one of his old Navy pals: “When the war is over and you are out there in sunny California, I’ll be back here with Dad trying to parlay a lost PT boat and a bad back into political advantage. I’ll tell you, Dad is ready right now and can’t understand why Johnny boy isn’t ‘all engines full ahead.’” Wonderful letter writer, very witty man on the page and in person. RIP, Mr. President.

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