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JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY ANDREW MARR IN THE TELEGRAPH

It seems to me that Andrew Marr misses many of the juicy bits about Kennedy.

This is pretty tepid stuff, and none of it is news to people who lived in America at that time.

The treatment of Hubert Humphrey, one of the more honorable men to run for president in the 20th century, was very shabby.

But the Kennedys were ruthless people, all of them. They were the kind of people who would send a quick elbow into the face of an opponent in a race of any kind.

Britain knew what a truly nasty, prejudiced, and ruthless man the father was from the time he served as American ambassador. He left an outstandingly unfavorable impression.

The old man wasn’t just said to be a rum-runner during prohibition, that’s in fact how he made his fortune, and he maintained mob connections afterward.

The connections of the old man with the mob gave Jack a huge secret campaign contribution. There was a suitcase delivered with a $1 million cash gift, a very great deal of money in 1960.

Indeed, it has been reported many times that mob donors were extremely disappointed in Kennedy as President, accusing him of ingratitude.

The connections continued with Jack himself who was a friend of “the rat pack” in Vegas. One of Jack’s girlfriends, Judith Exner, was a former (?) girlfriend of Chicago mafia boss, Sam Giancana.

Perhaps the dirtiest Kennedy business was election fraud. Jack was elected by a very close vote, and it was fraud in Chicago that gave him Illinois plus fraud in Texas, courtesy of good old Lyndon, that tipped the total in his favor.

The election practices in Chicago were legendary when I was a young man. Vote counters who kept pencil lead under a fingernail to spoil paper ballots, local politicos who accompanied voters into the supposedly secret voting machines of the time, and the wholesale registration of names from local cemeteries as valid Democratic voters.

Lyndon Johnson’s career in politics in Texas is documented as having begun with local machine vote fraud with his first election to Congress. He made sure Kennedy got the same favorable treatment. His exclusion from any important roles in the administration was made all the more painful for knowing how he helped Kennedy get elected.

Mr Marr thinks Nixon might have made a good president if elected at a younger age, but there is little basis for that belief.

Nixon had a long and hateful record as a red-baiter. His first run for the Senate in California, while not involving vote fraud, very much involved the lowest of low tactics. He called the honorable woman, Helena Gahagan Douglas, who was his opponent, “pink right down to her underwear” among other charming epithets. Nixon’s work on the Alger Hiss case (a convicted spy) almost certainly involved fraudulent evidence from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Hoover was always a friend and admirer of Nixon’s, Hoover being one of the most unsavory characters ever to hold power in America.

Kennedy’s entire presidency was riddled with ambiguities and dark doings, despite his heroic appearance.
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On the Cuban Missile Crisis, often cited as Kennedy’s best moment, there is a complex background which makes his role far less admirable and indeed helps make Kennedy responsible for its ever happening.

Kennedy was a martinet about military matters, and he dedicated his administration to getting rid of Castro. It was under Kennedy that many plans and attempts to murder Castro were made, reportedly his brother being the main report-to for the dirty work.

Yes, Kennedy was angry with the CIA for its failure at the Bay of Pigs invasion, but only because the failure embarrassed him, not because he didn’t wholeheartedly support the goal.

It was under Kennedy that the mafia was involved with the CIA in its efforts to kill Castro. At least two big mafia figures were involved in these efforts, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli. After Kennedy’s assassination, when it was reported that these men might be telling what they knew to Congressional investigators, they were both murdered in classic mafia style.

Kennedy kept a set of terrorist camps going and growing, run by the CIA and using Cuban émigrés, in places like Florida that make the efforts of Osama bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan look like Boy Scout stuff.

Millions of dollars were poured into training, equipment, and supplies and plans for dirty tricks. Some of the members of these vast terror groups shot up Soviet ships from boats, planted bombs in places like hotels, buzzed Cuban locations with planes, and even attacked those in the United States who did not support them.

American spy planes regularly flew over Cuba, and surreptitious missions were taken by submarine, landing cutthroats to do dirty work. And, of course, the U.S. refused to return Guantanamo to the Cubans from whom it was on lease, the lease having expired.

It truly did appear from both Castro’s and Russia’s point of view that America was preparing to invade Cuba.

Kruschev fixed upon the movement of missiles to Cuba to protect Castro. It still is not completely clear whether he planned to use them as bargaining chips or only as a defensive threat. In the end, the Missile Crisis was settled by an American commitment not to invade Cuba, plus some other matters as removing Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

It may be argued that Kennedy’s response to events in Cuba brought us closer to nuclear war than is generally known. The Russians had armed with nuclear warheads a number of the short-range missiles, as protection while the rest were assembled. The idiots in the Pentagon were ready to land an assault force immediately, and it is likely that they would have been met with tactical nuclear weapons on the beach which were in the battlefield commander’s control. Kennedy did not oppose the Pentagon, he only wanted to try another approach first. That was his merit.

More than a few people think that Kennedy’s settlement was the beginning of assassination plans by whatever group did in fact assassinate him. Kennedy had so many bitter enemies – the mafia, elements of the CIA, the ferocious and armed Cuban émigré community, plus others, including Israel for his intense secret opposition to its becoming a nuclear power – and no one who has studied events of that time carefully believes that poor old Oswald was anything but a patsy in some plot he did not even understand.

The modern history of America has a good deal in common with that of the Borgias in Italy. What we get on television and in newspapers and in most books is highly sanitized.

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