Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

A Family First: Joe Kennedy III first in the clan to lose a Massachusetts election

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

To which I say,

GOOD!

It’s about damn time!

Joe Kennedy III, who is the 40-year old grandson of slain Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, challenged incumbent Ed Markey for the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate seat in the Democratic primary.

Kennedy lost.

It was a landmark, a high water mark, an event of immensely significant importance.

Perhaps it even intoned cataclysmic changes ahead.

Good ones, of course.

Just like “good trouble.”

The Boston Globe characterized Kennedy’s campaign style as an “increasingly bare-knuckled offensive,” while the headlines across the world were interesting… if not telling.

Let’s examine a few of the headlines from throughout the nation, and then, we’ll move along to WHY it’s a good thing that not-so-poor little Joe P. Kennedy III lost.

• The Boston Globe had a straight-forward “Ed Markey beats Joe Kennedy in Senate primary.

• While the Boston Herald wrote a more colorful, “Joe Kennedy, others lose out to the old geezer incumbents.”

• The Daily Mail of the United Kingdom, however, had a more telling, embarrassing, and detailed pronouncement, “The end of a dynasty: RFK’s grandson Joe Kennedy III becomes the first member of his family to lose a Massachusetts election as he is defeated in Senate primary in JFK’s old seat.

• New York’s venerable “Gray Lady” wrote semi-wishful we-wish-it-was-almost-a-contest type of headline as, “Markey Holds Off Joseph Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate Race.”

• The Rupert Murdoch-owned right-leaning tabloid-type New York Post wrote, “Joe Kennedy III suffers stinging defeat to Ed Markey in Mass. Senate primary.

• The Daily Beast wrote an unvarnished sobriquet, “Sen. Ed Markey Fends Off Challenge From Rep. Joe Kennedy III-Camelot Lost.”

• NPR wrote a steady-as-she-goes observation that, “Markey Fends Off Kennedy Challenge In High Profile Mass. Senate Primary.

• The Los Angeles Times wrote a semi-obituary with, “A Kennedy loses in Massachusetts and a storied dynasty fades.

• The Hill composed a  bare bones headline with, “Markey defeats Kennedy in Massachusetts.

• POLITICO wrote a blame-game headline with, “The Unlikely Kennedy Who Ended the Kennedy Dynasty.

• Ever the standard, the Associated Press wrote, “Markey defeats Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary.”

• Business Insider wrote a more opinionated headline with, “Ed Markey defeats primary challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy, in a major victory for the left.

• Bloomberg wrote a fact-based, plain-Jane headline with, “Ed Markey Wins Massachusetts Democratic Primary, Defeating Joe Kennedy.

• The Chicago Tribune similarly wrote a fact-based headline with, “Sen. Edward Markey defeats Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary.”

• CNN had a different historical name recognition perspective with, “Sen. Ed Markey defeats a Kennedy in Massachusetts.

• CQ RollCall wrote, “A Massachusetts first: Kennedy loses Senate primary to Markey.”

• The Guardian wrote a fact-based, “Edward Markey defeats Joe Kennedy in Massachusetts Democratic primary.

• United Press International wrote a no-frills, straight-forward, “Ed Markey defeats Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts primary race.”

Here’s also a wee bit of background to aid understanding.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (wearing glasses) family portrait

The Kennedy name, of course, is renown in American politics. And for perspective, Joe P. III is the grandson of the slain Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968). And Joe P. III is named for the family progenitor, Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888-1969) – long rumored by numerous sources to have been a bootlegger during Prohibition, which, if the sources were lying, and the claim not true, would question their motives, since the senior Kennedy has long been dead.

That piddling matter aside, however, suffice it to say that the Kennedy family is wealthy… VERY wealthy. Maybe not Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet wealthy, but wealthy nonetheless. Forbes magazine writer Carl O’Donnell in the July 8, 2014 online edition, wrote about the Kennedy family wealth as follows:

“If America had an aristocracy, the most titled bloodline would certainly be the Kennedys. In the past half century, one Kennedy after another has occupied nearly every political position America has to offer, including the roles of congressman, senator, ambassador, mayor, SEC chairman, state representative, city councilman, and, of course, President.

“The sustaining force behind the Kennedys reign is hardly a secret. Thanks to Joseph P. Kennedy, who made a fortune from insider trading only to later chair the SEC, the family is fabulously rich. But exactly how much is America’s first family worth? Forbes pegs the extended family’s fortune at $1 billion.

“Protected by a labyrinth of trusts, as well as tax strategies that would make Joseph P. Kennedy proud, the Kennedy fortune now spans approximately 30 family members, and includes the surnames Shriver, Lawford and the Smith. At nearly $175 million as of 2013, Caroline Kennedy is the richest descendant by far, but more modestly endowed relatives, such as Robert Shriver, who is running for Los Angeles County Supervisor, still possess assets in the tens of millions, according to public financial disclosures required of government officials.

“The bulk of the family’s wealth is held in dozens of trusts, which range in value from tens of thousands to as much as $25 million. Nearly all are managed by Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, a family office located in New York City with assets dating back to 1927, according to Christopher Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family who sits on the office’s board.

“Joseph P. Kennedy’s choice to place his fortune in trusts is possibly the single most critical reason why the family wealth is still around today. The most obvious benefit was to protect the fortune from the prying fingers of ne’er-do-well heirs, said Laurence Leamer, who wrote three Kennedy biographies. Trusts often prevent beneficiaries from tapping more than 10 percent of principal, said Rick Kruse, principal at Kruse and Crawford, which offers estate management advice.

“The trusts also protect the family assets from another set of prying fingers: Uncle Sam’s. By holding assets in so called “dynasty trusts,” which are passed from heir to heir for decades, if not longer, the Kennedy family fortune is largely insulated from the estate tax, Kruse said. Handled correctly, a dynasty trust could potentially maintain an un-taxable fortune indefinitely. The oldest Kennedy trust on record dates back to 1936.

“Like politics, tax savvy seems to run in the Kennedy family. The most recent example is the 1998 sale of the family’s most valuable asset: the iconic Merchandise Mart, a towering retail space on the Chicago River that was once thought to be the largest building in the world. Thanks to a carefully crafted deal with Vornado Realty , the Kennedy family deferred – or possibly avoided completely – capital gains tax on nearly half the value of the sale.

“The Kennedys did this using an obscure investment tool called an “operating partnership unit.” Similar to equity, partnership units offered the Kennedys an ownership stake in Vornado Realty, generating a robust stream of dividends. Of the $303 million the family pocketed from the sale, $116 million came in the form of this investment instrument, according to SEC filings.

“This alone isn’t a bad deal, being that the Kennedy’s have collected as much as $170 million in dividends since 1998, according to Forbes. The secret sauce, however, is that accepting partnership units in lieu of cash defers capital gains tax, as well as taxes on historical depreciation, for as long as the units are not cashed out, said Tony McEahern, head of wealth planning for Wells Fargo Private Bank. In fact, if the partnership units were placed into trusts, capital gains taxes could potentially be deferred forever.

“This is definitely a tax-advantaged strategy,” said Rich Moore, managing director of equity research at RBC Capital Markets.

“Christopher Kennedy declined to comment on how the sale’s proceeds were handled. However, public documents reveal that Caroline Kennedy, Robert Shriver, and Maria Shriver each collect income from assets dubbed Vornado Realty Trust and Vornado Realty Inc., which are valued at up to $7.5 million.

“We are a very public family with a very private investment philosophy,” Kennedy said.”

In response to a question about the origination of the Kennedy family wealth, journalist Cecil Adams with Straight Dope – “fighting ignorance has long been the site’s mantra” – wrote this, in part, on June 1, 1990:

“J.P. was what we call an operator. He made his money by (1) pulling various hustles before it had occurred to anyone to make them illegal, and (2) possibly pulling other hustles that were definitely illegal but generally winked at. His stock-market shenanigans were an example of the former, his Prohibition liquor business (never proven, by the way) an example of the latter. That said, let’s not get ridiculous. He didn’t sell opium to the Chinese; the British did. Nineteenth century. Very famous. Trust me.

“Joseph P. Kennedy was the ambitious son of a prosperous Boston saloon keeper and ward boss. He married the mayor’s daughter, went to Harvard, and generally made the most of his ample connections and talent. He ran a bank (admittedly two-bit) at 25, and was number-two man at a shipyard with more than 2,000 workers during World War I. At 30 he became a stockbroker and made a fortune through insider trading and stock manipulation. He was a master of the stock pool, a then-legal stunt in which a few traders conspired to inflate a stock’s price, selling out just before the bubble burst.

“Kennedy may also have traded in illegal booze, although the evidence is circumstantial. His father had been in the liquor business before Prohibition, and Joe himself got into it (publicly, that is) immediately after repeal. Some believe the family business simply went underground during the dry years. He may have been strictly a nickle-and-dimer; Harvard classmates say he supplied the illicit booze for alumni events.

“But there might have been more to it than that. In 1973 mob boss Frank Costello said he and Kennedy had been bootlegging partners. Other underworld figures have also claimed Joe was in pretty deep. At least one writer (Davis, 1984) thinks bootlegging enabled Joe to earn his initial financial stake, but that’s hard to believe; he had plenty of chances to make money more or less legally.

“Whatever the truth of the matter, Kennedy’s real strength wasn’t his alleged criminal ties but his business smarts, notably an exquisite sense of timing. In the mid-1920s he became a movie mogul (taking time out for a celebrated dalliance with Gloria Swanson), then organized a merger and sold out just when the industry was consolidating, clearing five to six million dollars all told. He pulled out of stocks early in 1929 and sold short following the crash, actually making money while others got creamed. Just before Prohibition was repealed he lined up several lucrative liquor-importing deals.

“By the 1930s Kennedy was rich, but he didn’t make serious money by modern standards until he got into real estate in a big way during World War II, raking in an estimated $100 million. In 1945 he made the deal that remains the centerpiece of the Kennedy fortune: for a measly $12.5 million he bought the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, a huge wholesale emporium that had cost $30 million to build. Within a few years the annual gross in rent exceeded the purchase price. In 1957 Fortune declared Kennedy one of the richest men in America, with assets of 200 to 400 million bucks.”

So, we can already see that there were definitely some underhanded, questionable, and corrupt dealings – claims of bootlegging notwithstanding – by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.

As well, tax avoidance strategies continue to play an oversized role in the continual growth of the Kennedy clan’s wealth.

And having babies.

Modern Kennedy family portrait (JFK, RFK, etc.) at home

Lots and lots of babies.

And that means lots and lots of sex.

And then, once they’re born… well, they’ve got money.

Lots and lots of money.

So child care is NOT a problem for them.

Never has been.

Never will be.

They’re NOT like you.

So… what’s this have to do with Joe P. III losing an election?

Simple.

The Kennedys are a family of privilege.

White privilege.

And vast wealth.

You’re not.

America was NOT founded upon the notion of aristocracy, as Carl O’Donnell obliquely intoned in his Forbes article. In fact, America was founded upon the principles of ANTI-aristocracy.

And just to be certain that we understand each other, aristocracy is defined as being a system of governance, or of rule, in which a privileged, elite, often wealthy, upper class has control. It is definitely NOT one in which The Common Man has any part… except to be subjugated, like a slave, and used like a tool.

America CONTINUES to fight aristocracy – which was embedded in our Constitution as the infamous “Three-Fifths Compromise,” by denying the right to vote to men who did not own property, to non-Whites, to women, to “poor White trash,” to sharecroppers (Black and White), to EVERYONE who is, or has been, or continues to be downtrodden, trampled upon, disregarded, disrespected, including being killed, or imprisoned for picayune reasons… such as riding a bicycle.

Since when did police become judge, jury, and executioner?

REGARDLESS of whether a person riding a bicycle stops, or not, riding a goddamn bicycle is NOT reason to be shot and killed by killer kops!

Seriously.

IT’S NOT!

Let.
It.
Go.

“WE THE PEOPLE” have the power!

America’s government is predicated upon the principles of freedom and equality under law, which in turn is operated by The People – the working man and woman, the Blacks, the renters, the students, the poor and impoverished, the day laborers, the immigrants, the store clerks, the migrant farm hands, the factory workers, the fishermen, the bus drivers, bus boys, and buskers… The Common Man.

They ALL have a right to life, to liberty, to the pursuit of happiness, to vote, to have a say-so in government, to have their needs met – health, education, right to a job, right to be paid enough to live without fear of being homeless – a living wage, the right to live without fear of being bankrupted by health care bills, the right to be educated at public expense, the right to equal representation in government, the right to live a comfortable retirement, the right to trade fairly and freely, the right to be free from unfair competition and the bullying of monopolies and oligopolies.

“…true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.
“Necessitous men are not free men.”
People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”

You see, the Kennedys have not had to struggle.

They’re aristocratic.

They’re wealthy.

VERY WEALTHY.

They’re NOT equal to you… they’re “more equal.”

As George Owell wrote in Animal Farm,

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

That’s the Kennedys for you.

More equal.

Aristocratic.

And THAT is why it’s good that Joe P. III lost.

Because…

We the People WON!

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