Archive for July 22nd, 2006

"Never Trust a Woman or an Automatic Pistol" … John H. Dillinger

July 22, 2006

Sorry to slip in an extra post, but I couldn’t let this one pass.
Maybe I’ll count it as my next weekly effort.

72 years ago today, John Herbert Dillinger was intercepted by Federal Agents (they wouldn’t officially become the FBI for almost another year) and local police as he came out of the Biograph Theater in Chicago with two women. The feature showing was Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy, and some say Dillinger chose that theater in the middle of July because it had a new feature – air conditioning. Supposedly he went for a gun and tried to run for it. Still some controversy over what really happened, but whatever the real facts, he was shot dead on the spot. Even though his “career” lasted only 14 months, he was, far and away, the most famous of the Depression Era outlaws of the ‘20s and ‘30s (by “outlaws,” I mean the independent operators as opposed to the organized crime guys like Capone).

Using Dillinger and a few others like “Pretty Boy” Floyd and “Baby Face” Nelson as high profile adversaries, J.Edgar Hoover was able to get legislation passed and build support for his little known Department of Justice operation and build it into America’s first national police force. Hoover ruled with an iron hand, building up a significant domestic intelligence and anti-terrorist operation starting during WWII. Until his death in 1972, Hoover was the scourge of bad guys as well as being feared by every politician in Washington from the president on down. None of them really knew what he might have on them in his famous private files. Those files, by the way, were, as per his orders,immediately taken from his office upon his death and haven’t been seen since.

BTW For any who might be interested, some of my “Gangster Geek” friends actually have a slightly tongue in cheek fan club called The John Dillinger Died for You Society.

Okay, How About Now?

July 22, 2006

As all you pro-Bushies out there may or may not know, our President is a source of endless amusement for those who disagree with his politics or (ahem) suspect him to be of poor character. Amusement in sort of a sick, surreal way, like I can’t believe I’m laughing at this, but if I didn’t I would cry. Every time something happens — and there have been a lot of somethings in the past five and a half years — I’m like, how are they going to explain that one away? Now they will surely realize that he is an arrogant boob. And somehow or another, they always do manage to explain it away, and nothing ever seems to stick. I have to include the Veep in this phenomenon, since neither publicly telling Patrick Leahy to f**k off nor shooting a friend in the face during a hunt has managed to tarnish his image (well, maybe it has, I’m no expert on public opinion, but it hasn’t seemed to).

So when I heard in the past week about (1) Bush’s incredibly inappropriate remarks to Tony Blair when he didn’t know the mike was on (which, in my mind, were not inappropriate because of his use of an expletive, but because he referred to other world leaders as “jerks”), combined with the unforgivable breach of etiquette of talking with his mouth full; and (2) his even more inappropriate impromptu and unwanted “neck rub” or whatever it was of the Chancellor of Germany, I said again to myself, oh my lord I am so embarrassed to be identified as an American right now.

Now, granted, I get my television news from the Daily Show, and they do a good job of milking all potential humor out of things like this. And you have to laugh. But I’m curious: what exactly is the defense here? For the former, I imagine it goes something like, everyone talks like that off the record and everyone has talked with her or his mouth full at some point. Okay, perhaps. It’s still inappropriate to refer to other world leaders as “jerks,” however — but that story got ignored in favor of the sexier story about the use of the word s**t. Sigh. But what about unsolicited touching of a fellow head of state who just happens to be a woman? I just feel like one would have to be really out to lunch not to know how inappropriate that was, and embarrassingly overconfident not to care. I can imagine the words “taken out of context” being uttered here — but what possible context could explain the grimace from Chancellor Merkel’s face?

I find all this really humorous. Anyone else get a laugh out of it? Anyone have an explanation for the neck rub? Just curious.