Wednesday, September 30, 2009
FDR and Poker
(Walter Trohan, Political Animals, p. 68)
Roosevelt was a great bluffer and a driver in command of the game, calling on this person to ante up, bet or fold up. Nothing delighted him more than a successful bluff, although he never seemed to suspect there was some hesitancy to win on the part of most of his opponents, including his staffers. He was most unhappy when one of his bluffs failed, almost childishly so. My delight was getting a pair, back to back at stud poker, a great favorite for him, and calling his bluff. One of the first signs of his declining health came when he became vacant and forgetful at the poker table and often had to be invited to make his play.
(Robert Jackson, That Man, p. 143)
Hopkins was uniquely lucky and played his cards for everything there was in them. Secretary Ickes, like myself, was not a particularly colorful player. Watson was a rather careless player, bent on thorough enjoyment of the game rather than results. Dr McIntire was a keen player and thoroughly intelligent.
The President studied the players as much as he did the cards. We often caught him bluffing but throughout the trip there was a marked peculiarity in his playing. Invariably he lost the early part of the game and we would have him down several dollars. Invariably he made it up in the last three or four hands of the evening. We finally told him that the only way we could beat him was to break up the game and we were going to arrange to have a fire call about four hands before the finish.
(Samuel Rosenman, Working With Roosevelt, p. 148.)
The President thought he was a good poker player. That opinion, however, was not shared by all those who played with him- and some of them should know. He lost more often than he won. All of us took particular pride and joy in winning from him, and nothing pleased him more than to win from us. As the president grew older, Doc McIntire insisted that the number of hours of card playing on his birthday be cut. From the all-night sessions which used to take place in Albany, they gradually shrunk to 4 A.M. then to 2 A.M., and finally, much to the President’s disgust, to midnight. He would complain about quitting early, but on a glance from Doc we would all insist, and if necessary just get up and quit.
(Navy Nurse Barbara Lint, oral history describing a visit to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Potomac Currents, V. 2 no. 3.)
She remembers a time when he wheeled himself...unannounced … into the solarium where a taboo poker game was going on. Instead of a dressing down, the men were surprised by FDR’s request to be dealt in.
The following comes from wordsmith and father of two world-class poker players, Richard Lederer.
Because of paraplegia brought on by his polio, Franklin D. Roosevelt was unable to relax by taking long walks or playing golf or tennis. But he often had dinner with his poker-playing pals and then adjourned to a marathon session of cards. His favorite game was seven-card stud. Among the regulars were the Vice President, Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Secretary of Commerce, and at least one Supreme Court Justice. The President's secretary, “Missy” LeHand, served cocktails and often played in the game. One of the rules was that nobody could discuss anything serious at the evening poker sessions. The only thought was how to outfox the other players.
From Doris Kearns Goodwin: During the war, he'd relax with marathon poker games with his cabinet. The only thing he thought about was how to beat these guys in poker. There's a story about an annual poker game he held on the night that Congress was supposed to adjourn. There was a rule that whoever was ahead at the moment that the speaker called to say Congress was adjourned would win the poker game.
Well, he's playing one year, and it turns out that when the speaker called at 9:30, Roosevelt was doing terribly and his secretary of the treasury, Morgenthau, was way ahead.
So Roosevelt took the phone and pretended it was someone else on the line. "Well I'm so glad you're calling, but we're in the middle of a big poker game." Then they kept playing and playing until finally around midnight Roosevelt pulled ahead. He whispered to an aide, "Bring me the phone." So he says into the phone, "Oh, Mr. Speaker, you're adjourning. How fine!" Then to his friends, "Well, boys, I guess I win!"
Everything was great until Morgenthau read in the newspaper the next day that Congress had adjourned at 9:30. He said he was so angry he actually resigned for a few moments until the charm of Roosevelt persuaded him it was all in fun.
The 1941 Transfusions and 1944-45 Weight Chart
The first slide documents the abrupt rises in hemoglobin level that are absolute confirmation of at least nine transfusions FDR received in 1941. The is no other physiologic explanation. Bruenn's notion that the anemia responded to Iron therapy, like many other of his assertions, is not viable.
The second slide is a chart of FDR's weight in 1944-1945. The solid line is documented in Bruenn's paper. The dotted line is a reasonable estimate based on the countless reports of ongoing weight loss seen during three years of research.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Some Additional Reading
Harry Hopkins' medical biography, written by Dr. James Halsted
An absolutely definitive account.
The earliest known description of the embalming of FDR in the hand of the embalmer, F. Haden Snoderly
Walter Trohan's article in the Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1945
Monday, September 28, 2009
Doctor Roosevelt and his Magnificent Obsessions
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Early Show, Featuring Ross McIntire
Honorary Consultants and Frank Lahey
The myth that McIntire was incompetent and did not use adequate expertise in treating FDR has not been adequately refuted. Ross McIntire did what he did at the behest of his commander in chief, knowingly and unselfishly sacrificing his future reputation for the sake of the duty and honor of his position.
Here's the article I (SL) wrote for Navy Medicine in his defense.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Right Answer for the Wrong Reason
Here is the slide that started it. Even more coincidentally, the fatal tumor is in the right parietal lobe of the brain, just like the one that was the source of the hemorrhage that killed the President.
The Gospel According to Bruenn
Now you see it.... Now you don't!
Take a look for yourself:
November 7, 1938
September 4, 1939
September 30, 1940
It is just not possible to determine when, and how many times, the lesion was operated upon by Ross McIntire. A few days were needed away from the glare of the public and press for the area to calm down after being surgically manipulated in some fashion. There were many opportunities for this to have happened. Many of the daily visits to the White House doctor's office were likely devoted to treating and soothing the area, which surely must have been chronically inflammed. Much of the "sinus" treatment was probably just another smokescreen necessitated by the deadly secret.
What can easily be seen, though, is by the time of the "Arsenal of Democracy" speech on December 27, 1940, even accounting for the use of make-up (pancake makeup was invented by Max Factor in 1935), the lesion is noticibly lighter. Also, note again, that FDR's hands do not leave his side.
After this, the difference is unmistakable. In all videos from 1941 and forward, the lesion is, at most, a faint shadow of scar tissue.
Amazingly, what had been a prominent facial feature had disappeared without any public notice. Only one record exists that the pathologic potential of the lesion was noticed at all- the January 1940 letter of Reuben Peterson (see the book for details).
March 18, 1941
November 3, 1941
As stated by the eminent dermatologist, the late A. Bernard Ackerman, in our paper in the Archives of Dermatology, there are only too possibilities, based on physical characteristics, that this lesion could be: Solar Lentigo (aka sunspot or senile keratosis) or Melanoma. Even more relevant, while rarely these lesions may spontaneous regress, the natural history of either of them is incompatible with its disappearance over so short a time.
To read the entire paper: http://www.scribd.com/doc/14660879/Derm-Article
Therefore, within any degree of medical probability, the lesion was intentionally removed. What you have just seen is the unequivocal objective evidence of that removal!
Friday, September 25, 2009
January 6, 1945. The Smoking Gun Video
Here is a color still photo of the speech.
In contrast, here is a video of FDR speaking in October 1944, less than three months prior to the State of the Union video. There are a few minor stumbles, but his hands remain at his side. The contrast is remarkable.
On March 1, 1945 FDR give the worst performance of his life during his speech to congress, deviating from the prepared text, (according to the New York Times, 49 times, we never counted) due to a primarily left sided visual deficit. On April 12, he died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage emanating from the right posterior portion of his brain- the area that controls the left side of vision.
Do FDR's Medical Records Exist? The Case For.
In fact, the bulk of the medical records that do exist document the only incident, in our mind, that Ross McIntire was indeed asleep at the wheel, permitting FDR's hemoglobin to fall to the nearly fatal level of 4.5 grams in May 1941 (America was perilously close to President Henry Wallace at that time). So I ask, if Ross Mcintire didn't destroy those records to cover his real mistake, why would he later destroy records to cover himself?
One possible reason they weren't destroyed is that Eleanor already knew about it, as witnessed by her strikingly specific letter to Anna at the time the problem occurred (so much for the myth that she didn't care about "physiology"). She would never have even found out that much if FDR didn't tell her himself, most likely because neither he nor his doctors actually knew the reason why it occurred and didn't feel it was related to the deadly secret (though it most likely was- to our thinking, induced as consequence of the radiation he received).
The story of the famous safe at the hospital, and who had access to it, is well known, as per Howard Bruenn's version (the only one anybody ever quotes, as per the 1970 "gospel"). The story is in the book, but we are still unclear as to why the records that McIntire supplied to Eleanor were only the selected ones we have examined.
As an opposing view, there is a strong case to be made that the records were not destoyed. The prime evidence here is FOIA file DFI-1259, obtained by Ken Crispell and Carlos Gomez for their 1985 book "Hidden Illness in the White House" (see p. 254).
Ken Crispell has died and Carlos Gomez (currently a hospice physicisn in the Washington, D.C. area) has no idea where the original document is. The document, dated November 17, 1981, from the chief legal officer of the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda states unquivocally that FDR was a patient there 29 times and lists all the known aliases FDR was treated under!
Considerable efforts to locate the legal officer have not met with success. Many of the aliases on the document correspond to those on existing records, but others do not, and some documents have names that are not on the list, most notably F. David Rolph, that appears on nearly all the documents from the time of the anemia in 1941 (though close names, like Rolph Frank, for which we have no records, are on the list).
The obvious question: Where did the chief legal officer get the information from? There is only one answer- the allegedly "lost" medical file.
More corroboration for the exisistence comes from numerous conversations with a physician who was at Walter Reed in the late 1970's. The physician wishes to remain anonymous, but, trust me, he/she, who we shall call Dr. X, exists and appears credible.
As the story goes, Dr. X was nosing around the hospital at the time working on another project (prune bellies, to be exact) and came across a VIP file that intrigued them. It had various reports and x-rays, some of which were photocopies, with different names though all with the same accession number! This immediately aroused Dr. X's suspicion that they were those of FDR. Upon further inspection, they appeared to be of someone who was being treated for, among other things, a urological malignancy.
Included in these records was a retograde pyelogram (see "John Cash" in the previous post) showing an abnormality of the left kidney (ibid). Also noted incidentally was a severe metastatic lesion eroding the L3 vertebral body and that the level was somewhat difficult to surmise due to the presence of a "transitional vertebra".
Aside from the fact a the metastatic lesion of the spine would be quite consistent with either melanoma or prostate cancer, it provides an alternative explanation for the severe pain FDR was experiencing at Bremerton, Washington in August 1944 and even moreso for the incident described by son James at his fourth inauguration in January 1945.
If one looks at the John Cash letter, Dr Reuter also describes an anomaly of the left kidney and "six lumbar vertebrae" another term for a transitional vertebra, a fairly rare developmental anomaly of the spine. Therefore, either this is one of the greatest coincidences in medical history, or Dr. X was looking at FDR's x-rays!
The alternative take to Howard Bruenn's story is that the records do indeed exist and are not destroyed, but presently lost under one of FDR's many assumed names or no name at all. If they are anywhere, they are in St. Louis at the national records center (That's where all documents older than 10 years wind up these days).
When thinking about the whereabouts of FDR's medical records, I envision the last scene from George Lucas' great film "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
The records are right next to the holy grail!!!!
What was the Cause of FDR's Malignant Hypertension?
Did FDR Have Two Cancers?
The basis for this idea is anchored the evidence-based scientific literature.
One reason is medical statistics. If indeed the fatal hemorrahge emanating from the right side of FDR's brain was from a metastatic tumor as we believe, then it could not have come from a prostatic primary, since prostate cancer virtually never metastasizes to the brain (less than a handful of reported cases in the entire medical literature). On the other hand, melanoma is the tumor with the greatest propensity of all to metastasize to the brain. Over 90% of patients have brain metastases at autopsy and, in 25-50% of melanoma patients, the terminal event is brain hemorrhage!
As far as the abdominal tumor is concerned, this is a little less clear. We are convinced that the highest probablity for FDR's weight loss was a partial bowel obstruction. All of the Frank Lahey/George Pack references in the book are testimony to it. It makes no sense whatsoever for America's greatest abdominal surgeon at the time (Lahey) to be offering a prognosis on a cardiac standpoint. In addition, Howard Bruenn clearly states in his 1970 paper that when Lahey examined FDR in April, the condition was serious enough that it warranted informing the President (quite concordant to what later appeared in the Lahey memorandum!).
Both prostate cancer and melanoma frequently metastasize to the bowel, though melanoma is notorious for intussusception (intermittent telescoping of the bowel into itself) that produces the intense abdominal pain consistent with symptoms exhibited by FDR at Teheran (November 1943), Hobcaw (April 1944) and Camp Pendleton, near San Diego (August 1944).
Short of an open biopsy, for which there is no evidence FDR ever underwent, it is not possible to say with certainty which one it was. Even today, a pre-operative diagnosis of malignant bowel obstruction from melanoma is often missed.
It is our belief that it was indeed melanoma though with less assurance than for the brain metastasis, but the very real possibility is raised that FDR's doctors did not know, and may never have known, exactly which malignancy was the source of the abdominal pain (the "growth" even FDR himself suspected, albeit temporarily, when he told Harold Ickes about it in May 1944).
Our discussions with melanoma specialists about the time frame for the maligant bowel obstruction reveals that it is entirely consistent with contemporary thinking. This is not the case for the brain metatastasis, hence we could not postulate that metastatic disease was the cause of the seizures, which appear to have been on the basis of an otherwise clinically silent stroke (Dr. Wold may have been partially right, but for the wrong reason).
All of this thinking has evolved over three years of intensive research and discussions with countless expert physicians. We sincerely hope and believe that it will eventually come to be accepted by historians as the reality of FDR's medical history, though, as all things new and radically different, it will be subject to a vigorous debate.
The Bannister Letter
This letter was given to us by Margeritta "Mickey" Allardice, the daughter of William Calhoun Stirling, I've never seen it referred to previously.
Obviously, this is a censored FBI document, written almost two months after FDR's death. The author is special agent W.G. Bannister, a regional FBI director and was sent to Director J. Edgar Hoover. It was probably obtained through a FOIA request but the source is unknown (I will be asking Mickey how she acquired it).
This letter was written about the same time a three part article "The Strange Death of President Roosevelt" appeared in an obscure but credible magazine, News Story. For a pdf of the complete article see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/12902806/News-Story (195 downloads so far!)
The rumors addressed in the third and fourth paragraphs of the letter center around FDR's mental status at Yalta and his prostate cancer and probably arise from the Walter Trohan/William Calhoun Stirling connection that is the source of virtually all of our present understanding of FDR's prostate problems.
The identity of the informant is unknown, though further research into any Montana connection with a New York reporter might provide further insight.
All in all, this is a new, important and interesting document concerning FDR's health. We are happy to bring it to public attention.
Here is a 1939 photo of FBI special agents. Bannister is second from the left in the first row. Hoover is the man on the left in the first row in the white suit. to Hoover's left is Edward Tamm, his right hand man.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Tamm Memorandum
Interestingly, Stirling probably became FDR's doctor thorough White House press secretary Steve Early, his bridge and golf buddy. Stirling was a racist and anti-semite. We can date his medical care of FDR to prior to September 1943 because he did not talk to his younger daughter, Mickey, for a long time afterwards because she married a Jew and her recollections of his mentioning his treatment of FDR was from before their estrangement. Early had southern roots and was a descendant of Confederate General Jubal Early.
Through this memorandum, Early learned that it was his close friend who had been the source of the rumors that triggered the "avalanche of rumors". There is no record of Stirling ever speaking about FDR again.
The Fala Speech. September 23, 1944. FDR at his best.
On September 23, 1944 FDR gave his famous "Fala speech", one that did much to reassure the American voting public that their President was up to the task of running the country for the next four years. The 39 minute, 30 second speech (only partially seen here) was delivered in a friendly environment at a campaign dinner in Washington, D.C., before the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffers. Warehousemen and Helpers of America. It shows FDR at his very best, despite the fears of his staff and family that, in his weakened physical state, he would be unable to carry the day. His incredible showmanship and guile are demonstrated to the fullest. The clip of the speech begins 20 seconds into this biopic and lasts about two minutes. It's worth the wait! There's also a relatively long clip of the March 1, 1945 speech to congress shortly afterwards.
Text of the entire speech: http://www.hpol.org/fdr/fala/
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Yalta Speech
Here's the 31 page speech, annotated by us to show the errors:
Once you've downloaded it, then also download the original audio at:
Now listen to the audio while simultaneously viewing the annotated text. What you experience is very convincing- the objective evidence that is one of the major keys to unlocking "FDR's Deadly Secret".
Here's a few of the existing videos that include portions of the speech:
Sunday, September 13, 2009
On the Tuscaloosa February 1940
These color frames are part of a film made by the US Navy for the President to commemorate his second cruise on the USS Tuscaloosa in February 1940. FDR felt at home on naval vessels and , being away from the press and public, felt it was less necessary to pay undue attention to the appearance of the pigmented lesion above his left eye. The purpose of this "mystery cruise" was ostensably to inspect the defenses ofthe Panama Canal. It is quite possible that this, and other voyages, were venues where he cauld have some"work done" to his lesion. The only staff members on this trip were his constant companion, VADM Ross McIntire, his chief of staff General Edmund "Pa" Watson (seen standing directly behind him), and his naval aide ADM (then Captain) Daniel J. Callahan, who died on the bridge of the USS San Franciso on November 13, 1942 at the battle of Savo Island (near Guadalcanal) and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is seen here boarding the cruiser. The lesion is starkly obvious, in contrast to the shadow (perhaps further attenuated by make-up) seen only ten months later while giving his "Arsenal of Democracy" speech on December 27th.
During a performance of the crew Admiral McIntire (second from right) casts a watchful eye on his star patient. Watson is to his left. Callahan is at extreme left.
Article reporting the "Mystery Cruise"
With the chief petty officers.
During the cruise:
On the left- a carefully staged photo taken from the right (Captain Callahan saluting at left). FDR could not take a single step unassisted.
On the right- photo taken the same day (same suit, same car) from the left showing the lesion
Two photos taken during the cruise showing FDR somewhat atypically using sunglasses (to cover recent surgery?)
A postal cover commemorating the first cruise (to northern waters including Campobello Island)
A webpage summarizing the three cruises
A book excerpt describing the third cruise:
At the close of the second cruise, FDR gave a brief speech, preceeded by these comments by Captain Badt:
Introduction by Captain Harry A. Badt, U. S. Navy Commanding Officer, U. S. S. TUSCALOOSA:
"Mr. President, it is always a pleasure to have you on the TUSCALOOSA. We are all sorry to see you leave tomorrow, but we are hoping that you will make another cruise with us soon and the officers and men of the TUSCALOOSA all want to wish you continued good health."