|Politique Diabolique||Jul 9 2015|
Collier’s isn’t the most visually striking of magazines, but this issue that hit newsstands today in 1954 caught our eye because it contains several nice photos of Marilyn Monroe. There’s also a bit of interesting graphic art, specifically a colorful baseball illustration by Willard Mullin. The other item that attracted us was a story called “What Price Security?” about U.S. government overreach in its search for communists. No art to speak of, but the content gives a window onto the Red Scare period of American life. Author Charlotte Knight tells readers that government efforts against communism have been “so irresponsibly administered that it may have done more harm to the United States than to its enemies.” Sound familiar?
Knight slams witch hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, and characterizes the fervor around alleged subversives in Washington, D.C. as creating a ripe environment for paranoiacs and liars to ruin innocent people. But of course, as well written as Knight’s article is, she should not have been surprised by anything she discovered. Witch hunts always become vehicles for revenge, personal advancement, and profiteering, because society and politics become warped in such a way as to clear a path for these pursuits. History invariably judges such periods as human tragedies and political failures, though sadly, too late for the ruined and the dead. Scans below.
|Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique||Dec 19 2014|
Mandy Rice-Davies, one of the central figures in the John Profumo Affair of 1963, died of cancer early this morning. Most accounts of the scandal describe Rice-Davies as a prostitute, and indeed Stephen Ward, one of the principals in the fiasco, was imprisoned for living off the earnings of Rice-Davies and other women—another way of saying he pimped. But Rice-Davies spent a good portion of her final years denying she was a call girl, saying she didn’t want her grandchildren to remember her that way.
After the scandal Rice-Davies sang in a cabaret in Germany, lived in Spain, moved to Israel where she opened nightclubs and restaurants in Tel Aviv, released music and books, appeared on television and in film, including the The Seven Magnificent Gladiators and Absolute Beginners, and was involved in the development of a Stephen Ward-based Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. She accomplished plenty. But as long as she is remembered it will be for Profumo, Christine Keeler, the parties and scandalous revelations, and the near-collapse of the British government in 1963. If you’re interested in reading more, we talked about Rice-Davies in a bit more detail here and here.
|Politique Diabolique||Nov 12 2014|
Yale University historian Beverly Gage has found an uncensored version of a threatening letter sent to civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally engineered. The letter, which she found as part of research into an upcoming Hoover biography and which has been confirmed as his handiwork, features a fake disgruntled supporter taunting and chastising King, and later urging him to commit suicide. The suicide part is unspoken, but the letter states:
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Sep 27 2014|
This National Insider from today in 1964 claims that American politician Barry Goldwater had “nervous breakdowns” in 1937 and 1939, but in the midst of his run for president denied they happened. Well, who wouldn’t, right? There’s no new reporting here—Insider is merely echoing the claims of publisher Ralph Ginzburg, who had written of the breakdowns in his magazine Fact, and as evidence had referenced an interview Goldwater’s wife had given Good Housekeeping in May 1964. That’s the inspiration for the line: Barry Says “None” …Wife Says "Two.” Ginzburg was garnering attention for Fact by attacking people from all over the political spectrum, including Bobby Kennedy, and he eventually lost a libel suit regarding his Goldwater claims.
The Goldwater breakdowns are a matter of record today. Ginzburg’s libel suit hinged not on the fact of those incidents, but on embellishments such as his convoluted assessment that Goldwater was “...a man who obviously identifies with a masculine mother rather than an effeminate father.” Goldwater made Ginzburg pay for his ill-considered words, but in the end, both of their careers faltered. Goldwater was crushed in the 1964 presidential election by Lyndon Johnson, and Ginzburg went to jail—not for libel, but for obscenity related to his other magazine Eros. It’s all just another interesting story conjured by another random tabloid cover. And there are still more to come—we have about a hundred full tabloids remaining, everything from Police Gazette to Midnight. We’ll never be able to post them all, but you can bet we’ll try our damndest.
|Politique Diabolique||Sep 9 2014|
When in doubt, grin idiotically. That’s the mantra in American politics, and that’s why we were completely unsurprised when Texas governor Rick Perry’s mugshot showed him smiling like he’d just learned a dirty secret. For the most part, we think that if a person under arrest were guilty he’d be distressed he got caught, thus not smiling, and if he were innocent he’d be even more distressed to have been railroaded, thus doubly not smiling. But Perry certainly wasn’t the first politician to pull the I’m-smiling-because-I’ve-got-nothing-to-worry-about routine, which is why his photo inspired us to locate more examples. Below we have a small rogues gallery of cheerful mugshots. Charges cover a range—campaign finance violations, criminal trespass, drunk driving, drug charges, and nobody here has served prison time. Hmm, do you think they knew all along they never would? Maybe that’s the dirty secret.
|Politique Diabolique||May 8 2014|
When you have a site category called politique diabolique, it’s malpractice to leave stories like this alone. In Oklahoma back in 2012, a state representative named Mike Ritze used a legal loophole to get a plaque of the Ten Commandments installed on the lawn of the statehouse in Oklahoma City. State sponsorship of religious displays is expressly forbidden there because of that whole separation of church and state thing, but because Ritze was also a private citizen and he made a gift of the plaque, it was supposedly not covered by separation laws. An impartial court might have had something different to say about that, but in any case, thanks to Ritze warping state law, Christian groups finally got what they wanted—a religious monument on state property and a brazen in-your-face to America’s founding fathers. Congratulations and backslapping all around.
The same lawmakers are now working hard to pervert more laws—specifically those regarding historic preservation—to stop Satan’s arrival. There are three possible conclusions to the fiasco. If the Satanic monument is blocked, particularly by using preservation laws to protect a two-year-old plaque, lawmakers will have proven that what they say about inclusive religious freedom is false, because future monuments,whether Jewish, Mormon, or other, would be likewise blocked. If they allow the monument, Satanists will have equal standing with God on state property and children who pass by will exclaim, “Mommy, look a goat man! Can I go for a ride?” And if lawmakers remove the Ten Commandments, everyone from Satanists to Constitutional scholars will get what they wanted in 2012, and Ritze and Co. will drink the bitter milk of defeat. Only men blinded by piety could paint themselves into such a corner. For our part, we don’t want Satan at the statehouse, if only to spare Oklahomans the future scandal of certain legislators being caught genuflecting before him under a sickle moon. Do you doubt it? Then you don't know politics.
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Mar 31 2014|
Whisper features a political figure on this cover from March 1964, namely Indonesian ruler Kusno Sosrodihardjo, later known as Sukarno, who we’re told was offered twenty prostitutes while visiting his country’s embassy in Copenhagen in 1961. In fact, the magazine goes on to claim that the embassy housed a brothel. Though it sounds like a typical tabloid tall tale, it’s actually true. Time magazine had written about it in its October 1963 issue, stating: A diplomat may be only a cookie pusher, but the kind of cookies pushed by Indonesia’s charge d’affaires in Copenhagen tumbled, not crumbled. Last week Danish police announced that Gustin Santawirja not only ran his country’s embassy, [snip] but was also a procurer on the side. Santawirja got into the tart trade in 1961 when Indonesia’s PresidentSukarno showed up in Copenhagen on an unofficial visit. Amiably, he rounded up some girls for the visiting entourage. So successful was the venture that he decided to supplement his entertainment allowance by running a fulltime poule hall. “Poule” is French for “hen,” by the way, and Whisper was correct, but it was also late to the party. We give no credit for publishing what was already widely known.
Lastly, Whisper offers up an exposé of Gina Lollobrigida’s complicated personal life. For years she had been protesting that she was not a sex symbol (as if she’s the one who actually gets to decide that), but rather a nice girl. She tells an interesting story from her early career about Howard Hughes’ efforts to romance her, which were fruitless but led to her being stuck in a hotel “for six weeks like a prisoner.” In the end, she fled
back to Italy and, because Hughes owned her American contract, she was unable to make movies in the U.S. She became an international star just the same, acting exclusively in Europe, but having attained celebrity claimed it was difficult for her. She complained: “When I am with people I am constantly watched, and I can’t get used to this sort of thing—that they look at me as a chimpanzee in a zoo.” Sounds bad, but she eventually learned to enjoy it. In 2000 she commented to Parade magazine, “I’ve had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled.” So it seems even the worst parts of celebrities’ lives aren’t really all that bad. Assorted scans below.
|Intl. Notebook | Politique Diabolique||Nov 22 2013|
Stories about John F. Kennedy’s assassination have been appearing in the media for several weeks leading up the 50th anniversary of the event, as various outlets try to get ahead of the wave of interest, but we’re purists here, so we’re sharing this poster today, on the actual anniversary of the murder. Let’s get the basics out of the way first. As we’ve mentioned before, a Gallup poll taken days after the killing showed that a majority of Americans believed Oswald was not the only participant. That percentage has gone up since, reaching more than 80%, according to some surveys. That means people who believe Oswald acted with others have always been the majority, and today are the vast majority. That’s something your trusted media outlet always leaves out, doesn’t it? The point is if you think there was a conspiracy, you are the norm, part of an overwhelming norm, rather than some crackpot minority.
It’s an important point because many of the articles published today ask questions like, “Why do people believe in conspiracies?” The problem with that question lies in its framing—it implies that we live in a world that has no or few conspiracies, that it’s silly to believe they exist. That’s very interesting, considering that in the Libor scandal up to 20 major banks conspired to rig interest rates in a $350 trillion derivatives market, that Britain’s spy agency GCHQ conspired to secretly tap into the fiber optic cables that carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic, that the bank HSBC conspired to launder billions of dollars in South American drug cartel money, that ING conspired to violate sanctions against certain types of business dealings with Cuba and Iran, that News of the World conspired to illegally hack the phones of private citizens, and that Merrill Lynch conspired to deliberately overcharge 95,000 customers $32 million in unwarranted fees. All of these happened in just the last few years.
|Politique Diabolique||Oct 14 2013|
Over the weekend, a squad of drug cops raided the London flat of a woman named Natalie Rowe based on what they described as a “tip from a member of the public.” The drug cops found no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no sign that drugs had ever been consumed in the apartment. Why is this such an interesting story? Because Rowe, formerly a prominent madam who procured women for paying male customers, is mere days from publishing an autobiography in which she details early 1990s sex and drug parties attended by various Tory politicians. She claims one of the politicians was current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He appears in the photo above with Rowe, along with what she says is a line of cocaine (in full, fat view between the yellow vase and the wine glass).
|Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique||Aug 19 2013|
This month in 1961 The National Police Gazette put Adolf Hitler on its cover yet again. We don’t know how many times he appeared there, but this makes the twentieth issue we’ve found and posted. When last we left der Führer he was hiding out in either Argentina or Antarctica, but according to Gazette scribe Harvey Wilson, Hitler was directing his minions as they launched a new Nazi empire in Egypt. Wilson tells readers that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government was populated by ex-SS officers, that the secret police was being run by Joachim Damling, former head of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf, that there were Egyptian versions of the Hitler Youth, that the economy was being reorganized to a Nazi model, and a vast military machine was being built.
In any case, this is an example of what makes tabloids so interesting to us. Some stories—like the one about Hitler living in Antarctica—are patently ridiculous, while others have at least a kernel of truth. The thrust of this story is largely true—Nazis did flee to Egypt, and manywere welcomed by the government. As for the rest of the story—Nasser did indeed reorganize Egypt’s economy and reshape its military sector, but we can’t confirm that it was due to Nazi influence. And we also can’t confirm the claims about Egyptian Hitler Youth and Joachim Damling, but even if parts of the story were wrong, a tabloid doesn’t need many victories to establish credibility in the eyes of its readership—it just needs a few big ones. On that score you have to give the Gazette credit—it said there were Nazis in Egypt and it was right.