Sins of the Fathers(1912-1944)
An Uncle Rico Production
(“Middle Class Joe” in DC, 1974. He is the youngest Senator in US History at the time)
“My father used to have an expression. He’d say, ‘Joey, a job is a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about your community.’ “
This Joey Biden quote is the basis for his political persona:
“Middle Class Joe.”
And ole MCJ has come a long way from his humble beginnings. To this day, Joey Biden still uses his early years as ammunition for his political assault rifle. In fact, he did so in his speech in Chicago yesterday, speaking at a campaign fundraiser to financiers & donors. While cutting down opponents in his path, he’s maintained an American as apple pie sort of facade, and it’s served him well.
He was known on Capitol Hill as a company man, someone who’s vote you could count on; an honest, moderate Democrat with traditional sensibilities. That’s who he convinced EVERYBODY (including the majority of Democrats in the last election) who he was; the safe bet. He campaigned as a necessary timeout from the bombastic & egregiously arrogant “45”, President Donald Trump.
Problem was, he wasn’t that image he portrayed. Not even close. He fooled everybody, and he’s been fooling everybody not paying close attention.
So, how was Joey able to manicure a reputation which shielded him from negative headlines & criminal prosecution? For those answers, we have to go back to the beginning.
MCJ was born Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in Scranton, Pennsylvania (yes, THAT Scranton, PA – The Office fans get it), 1942. He was the first born of Joseph Robinette Biden Sr & Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan, eventually being the older brother to sister Valerie and brothers James & Francis. After a life of former affluence, Biden Sr. was hit with financial difficulties. So, he packed up the house and moved the family to Delaware, where he would eventually become a successful used-car salesman.
He provided a decent middle-class lifestyle, but never the glitz & glamor of his former life. It’s hard to imagine his father not reminding his eldest son of that life. Delaware became the home of Joey, and it would be the place where he first embarked on his journey towards the most powerful position in the world.
Addiction hung like a noose on the branches of the Biden family tree. While the exploits of Joey’s son, Hunter Biden, are more well known, addiction disrupted the Biden bloodline on more than one occasion. We have to go back to 1912 to the beginning of the Biden Family story.
In uncovered divorce papers from 1912, George T. Biden (Joey’s great-grandfather) was cited as being a violent drunk who went into fits of rage, beating on his wife & daughter before she eventually left him.
Joey’s grandfather Joseph Harry Biden, was the corporate darling of the newly independent American Oil Company (AMOCO Corporation), appearing on the cover of company magazines. Being one of the first three employees hired by AMOCO founder, Louis Blaustein, Joseph Harry worked his way up the corporate ladder with his son, Joe Biden Sr. (Joey’s father) by his side.
Young Biden Sr. had a neurological disorder called Syndenham’s chorea, a disorder which causes involuntary muscle spasms. Fearing leaving his child alone, Joseph Harry began taking his son to work at an early age.
So Joe Sr. saw his father’s meteoric rise, but also laid witness to his eventual downfall. After becoming the manager of the new Whilmington branch, Joseph Harry ran into financial difficulties, leading to his demotion & eventual send-off to their Siberia branch in Scranton, PA. Naturally, Joseph Harry became upset & paranoid, using alcohol as his escape. He subscribed to the notion that you use rubbing alcohol to treat outside wounds, you use drinking alcohol to treat inside wounds.
Jimmy Biden (Joey Biden’s younger brother) recalls stories about their grandmother (Mary Elizabeth Biden) sending a teenaged Joe Sr. down to the local gin mill on missions to retrieve her drunken husband. After failing to go into business with his sons Frank & Joe Sr., Joseph Harry died of a brain hemorrhage in 1941, followed shortly by his wife Mary Elizabeth in 1943.
With his parents gone & his brother Frank fighting for America in WWI, Joe Sr. looked to his rich & successful Uncle & Godfather Bill Sheene Sr. for council. While he was able to learn some of Bill’s acute business knowledge, he may have also inherited some of his more scandalous business tactics. Sheene Sr. was accused of war profiteering after purposely delaying to fulfill a $1,000,000 military contract for the US Army during WWI.
Bill knew that rushing to complete the order for asphalt roofs on multiple Army supply warehouses before WWI came to an end would cost him extra material & resources; money. The roofs weren’t finished until 1919, a year after Armistice Day. An unapologetic Sheene Sr. sat before a contract review board who lambasted him for “looking at was more profitable than proper,” but to little effect.
Sheene instead decided to go into business with bootlegger Arthur Briscoe. Briscoe had been running whiskey from “wet” Maryland into a “dry” Virginia, doubling his coin in the process. When Sheene Sr. had a chance meeting while traveling on a steamboat with the bootleg gangster Briscoe, they concocted the Asphalt Grave Vault Company.
A few days later, Briscoe showed up with a bag full of cold, hard cash and the business was off & running. They would net the equivalent of $2,000,000 profit a year, and while Briscoe already came from old money, Sheene Sr. began living an even more lavish lifestyle. Biden Sr. benefited greatly from this relationship, receiving the same luxury treatment Sheene Sr.’s own progeny.
Wherever Sheene Sr. went, scandal was sure to follow. His debauchery became headline news, as it was splashed across the front page of local & national newspapers. Business scandals also became commonplace, as the Federal Trade Commision began investigating the AGVC for fraud (their vaults were neither “waterproof” nor “air-tight”).
Still, Biden Sr. hitched himself to Sheene Sr.’s coattails as the new #1 of partners Briscoe & Sheene Sr. when they set out to capitalize on another world war: Plastic armor for cargo ships.
They would cash in millions as Biden Sr. continued gaining more corporate standing. Their business ventures & scandals would also continue. Sheene was busted for assaulting police officers while Briscoe began dating an actress named Marie Gaffney with deep mob ties (even though he was married to a girl only recounted as “Alpha”).
Mysteriously, Alpha was murdered in her bathtub, but no charges were brought upon Briscoe or potential co-conspirators. It was said to be an accident. And surprise, surprise, Briscoe married Gaffney shortly after.
I only mention these stories because it is important to recognize the men Biden Sr. surrounded himself with, and more specifically, what behaviors he was learning that he may (knowingly or unknowingly) passed down to his son Joey. It is also around this time that Joey is born.
More mob ties ensued, as their new venture Maritime Welding & Repair Company sought to break up a strike with its unionized employees. To do this, Briscoe went to underworld kingpin Frank Costello to “get the boys in line.” Costello’s response for how to do this was “Well, we might have to break a few heads.” The strike ceased, and Biden Sr. learned another lesson of how to deal with an obstacle.
Minus an insurance fraud scandal with Biden Sr. & Sheene Jr. (Joey’s uncle) where they decided to torch a yacht for insurance money while entertaining two unmarried women not their wives, the family was flying high. But after a wartime profit dispute (where President Roosevelt had put a cap on profits around 8% to relieve inflation, but The Family was raking in upwards of 48% in some cases), the gavel came crashing down on The Family; Biden Sr., specifically.
Since Biden Sr. was not a partner, he was least protected by the penalties enforced by the government. He told his children that he was preparing to start his own venture, but a family friend swindled him and ran off with the money.
In 1945, the Bidens moved into Sheene Sr.’s 20 room mansion in Long Island, NY, where they became “the life of the party.” With Sheene Jr. playing host, every night was a party, the kind of lifestyle Jordan Belfort of “The Wolf of Wall Street” idolized in his twenties. Jean Biden (Joey’s mother) began to resent their life on Long Island. As she put it, she was tired of Sheene Jr. “drinking the company dry” while her husband Joe Sr. “humped all over the island.”
The crop-dusting business that was supposed to fund their wild lifestyle eventually crumbled. There are many different responses to why the business failed (a snowstorm at an airport The Family owned being the most original), but the reality is the men’s addiction to lust, libations, & loot was the leading cause of the Biden’s financial collapse.
By 1944, the Biden bunch had to move in with Jean’s parents, and the Finnegan’s rarely let Joe Sr. live it down. As Joey said in his memoirs, “By the time I was ready for school, we were back in Scranton, and broke.”
This is where we will pick up tomorrow, but I will leave you with this:
With Joe Sr. wanting to get back on top, but never quite reaching it (as you will find out), how will all lessons learned from the success & heartache of President Biden’s father mold the young & impressionable mind of little Joey Biden? Will Joey attempt to learn from his father’s mistakes, or will he utilize the more nefarious business tactics of The Family to his advantage, in an attempt to build his own empire? Will Joey be able to avoid the Achilles Heel of the Biden bloodline, addiction?
More tomorrow in Part IV of: