Sunday, September 3, 2023

good morning justin


Honey Fitz, John Kennedy's grandfather, represented

this misshapen 11th Congressional District in Boston

back when the iceman delivered a block of ice to

your door to keep food cold.  The neighborhood was

poor, working class, Roman Catholic Irish and Italian.

Running for office here means you better be a

Democrat if you want to win.  The real contest 

was between the Irish and Italians.

Jim Curley was a loveable rogue.  Getting elected

wasn't a problem.  Staying out of trouble was.

Late in the '30's Depression Curley was convicted

of fraud and sent to prison.  Once he was released

the voters of the 11th District sent him to Congress

in 1942, when war raged in Europe and the Pacific.

He hated being a Congressman, a nobody far

from home.  Curley returned to Boston at war's end

and was promptly elected the city's mayor.

The man had a gift for sweet-talking the folks.

John Fitzgerald, champion backslapper.

He's a natural for politics.  Persuasive.

Honey Fitz.  Back in 1913 he was going

to be mayor of Boston.  That's when the

bad blood started.  It was loveable Jim Curley

that let the press in on this thing Honey Fitz

was having with a cigarette girl named Toodles.

Turns out he wasn't going to be mayor

of Boston, after all.

John Kennedy's wildly wealthy father, Joe.

His winnings came from shrewd Wall Street

investing but upper crust Brahmin Boston

excluded Irish blokes from their festivities.

Rumor had it Kennedy made his money from

bootlegging.  Joe Kennedy's own political

ambitions were headed nowhere.

But he had big plans for his son, Joe Jr.

The man would be president one day.

Except his cherished oldest son was

blown apart during a high risk bombing

run over Nazi occupied France in WW2.

That left Jack.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy - JFK.

Lieutenant Kennedy, Jack, commanded his 

torpedo-armed patrol boat in the enemy infested

Solomon Islands - where Guadalcanal was nestled.

From the ink of night a Japanese destroyer appeared,

and quickly sliced Kennedy's PT boat in half.  Two of 

the crew were killed instantly.  Kennedy led the

survivors on a three and a half mile swim to an

uninhabited island.  One man, too injured to swim,

was towed the entire way, bound in a strap that

was tightly gripped between Kennedy's teeth. 

This action made the pages of Reader's Digest

with an article by John Hersey that would play

a role in Kennedy's first effort in democratic 


It's a commitment, running for office.

Have you the conviction to stand out front

and say what you mean - take it to the people.

Have the voters decide.  For keeps.

Even if they wind up going against

your wishes and vote you down, 

you wouldn't change your message.

You say what you mean.

That doesn't change.

Can a wealthy Harvard graduate win the trust of the

working class poor?  John Kennedy had his doubts.

He was reserved, shy actually - not your

backslapping, baby kissing sort of Dad's kind of

Democrat.  Kennedy gave people a cool form

of likeable.  He enthused them with ideas.

They understood his meaning and more often

than not they were sold.  On the man.

Maybe you should run for something smaller.

You'd be a shoe-in for lieutenant-governor.

Joe Kennedy looked at Jack and concluded his

second son was too frail to run for Congress in 1946.

At times he had a yellow hue from persistent bouts

with malaria.  His back injury sustained that

night in the Solomons often required him to

wear a brace.  John Kennedy was so skinny

someone remarked he looked like a kid

wearing his father's suit.

 Nonetheless, Kennedy won.

He attracted the best of people to him.

In his mind he wouldn't be long for any one

position until he made it to the White House.

Right now it felt like he was on his way.



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, August 27, 2023

good morning jacob


Richard Nixon developed a mastery of poker,

with several thousand dollars in winnings, 

while serving as a supply officer on a small

Pacific island during the course of World War II.

The money he won went to funding the early

days of his 1946 bid for Congress.

With Japan's surrender in August, 1945 American's

expected a quick return of their loved ones to

home, family and a civilian life.  Millions of former

GIs, (Government Issue), flooded the streets

looking for jobs.  They got married, they had kids

and they had money saved up to buy into the

good life.  But factories needed to retool from 

making tanks and planes to cars and washing 

machines.  By 1946 inflation was 20% as people

bid up the price of popular home goods.

Outrageous!  America's greatest generation was

being offered only table scraps by that

nincompoop in the White House - Harry Truman.

So what brought on the Depression?  Tariffs,

unrealistic Stock Market investments, oversupply.

Oversupply.  We were brilliant at manufacturing

what people wanted but we didn't have the 

middle class needed to buy all these goods.

Labor was exploited.  Workers provided services

to employers at a fraction of their actual value.

Wage earners would have to unite if they had

any hope of standing up to the corporations.

Unions prospered under Roosevelt but endless

strikes following the war further disrupted an

already fragile economy.  People took note.

Maybe unions now held too much power.


Jerry Voorhis was the golden boy of Southern California.

Here was a New Deal Democrat bringing home the 

bacon five elections in a row from the swing

12th District located just outside LA.  Labor loved

him.  His Democrat colleagues in the House

voted Voorhis the hardest working man in 

Congress.  So when Richard Nixon arrives and 

announces his candidacy for the Voorhis seat

even Republican pols think - Lots of Luck.

Nixon burns the candle at both ends.  He puts in

20 hour days, 6 days a week - writing pamphlets,

doing research, making speeches before service

organizations.  His wife, Pat, administers the

campaign - updating schedules, running the office 

and critiquing her husband, the candidate, until 

4 days before the birth of their first child, Tricia.

Nixon was relentless in his drive to win. 

Murray Chotiner made Earl Warren Supreme Court

Chief Justice by engineering Warren's gubernatorial

victory in California.  Certainly Eisenhower took 

notice of this.  Chotiner picks winners and that's

what he saw in Nixon.  The man's got intellect 

and the discipline to carry through to achieve 

what it is he's trying to do.  Also, he shared 

Nixon's fierce passion to win.  Winning means

more than some Man of the Year trophy.

Victory is power.  You are now in position to

make a difference, to change the course of

society in some positive way.  

You matter.

Only a hopeless idealist would hold onto the

dream of a post-war kumbaya between the

Soviets and Washington.  So why is it difficult

to believe in a mankind, being of singular 

purpose, living in harmony?  If this is you -

you are probably some harmless eccentric.

Like maybe a college professor.  There are

others who will say you are part of some

sinister conspiracy to overthrow our way of

life and replace it with Stalin's vision of 

Worker's Paradise. 

Crowds.  Hoopla.  Big Whoop.

That's not Richard Nixon.  

He's too shy to look you in the face.

He's a bookworm, a nerd.  Studious.

But he has his Dad's argumentative nature.

Richard nurtured and shaped this skill

through debate competition that lasted

through college.  He was good, comfortable

at arguing either side of the issue.  

Poor Jerry Voorhis.  Always playing catchup.

He didn't know what hit him.

This first election victory was the happiest 

for Pat and Dick, Congressman Nixon.

There were other victories along the way

to the White House but nothing compared

to the glow they now shared.  

Such were the possibilities.

God bless.



©  Tom Taylor