Politique Diabolique Oct 4 2012
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
Being first daughter isn’t all roses. For one thing, you have to endure second rate journalists making passes at you.


Seems about the right time to post this front from the National Enquirer that concerns itself with life in the White House. Or more specifically, with the life of first daughter Lynda Bird Johnson, who reveals she had more fun before her dad was president. Shocking? Perhaps back then it was. She says, “I wish everybody wouldn’t take such an interest in me. I sometimes wonder if all the photographers in the world have shares in Eastman Kodak. All they seem to do is shoot off film after film.” Enquirer scribe Jim Gordon doesn’t get to delve into this admission because he’s too busy trying to delve into Lynda Bird’s lady parts. The interview took place at a barbecue in Water Mill, New York, and at one point Gordon, who we’re told is 22, asks the 20-year-old Johnson out, declaring, “I’d love to date you. What’s your phone number?” She laughs it off, but Gordon isn’t finished. He starts to ask her to dance but changes his mind when he sees the Secret Service lurking.

In the end, the story feels like it’s more about Gordon than Johnson, but maybe it had to be, considering her meager quotes add up to about ninety seconds of real-world time. Probably Gordon was an aspiring freelancer who finagled his way into the function, briefly cornered Johnson, then whipped his encounter into a journalistic froth the Enquirer was only too happy to buy. It makes sense, because we can’t imagine anyone in the First Family consenting to be interviewed by a scandal rag, especially with an election mere weeks away—which we can discern from the publication date, today in 1964. But Gordon’s self promotion didn’t work, as far as we know. We can find no reference to him online, with the National Enquirer or anywhere else. As for Lynda Bird Johnson, thanks to Gordon’s non-interview readers learned little more about her than they already knew. 

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Politique Diabolique Nov 3 2011
BLACK ATTACK
Lowdown takes a look under the hood.

Lots of info in this Lowdown published in November 1956, but the prestigious banner position is reserved for a U.S. Supreme Court justice who editors claim was a member of the racist organization the Ku Klux Klan. The man in question is Hugo Black, a career Democrat who served on the high court until 1971, and indeed had been a member of the Klan in Alabama. You probably already know this, but for those few who don’t we’ll note here that the Democratic Party was the more conservative party in the U.S. with regard to racial issues until Democratic President John F. Kennedy endorsed, and his Democratic successor President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This event led to the cementing of Democrats as the preferred party for black voters and the defection of millions of conservative white voters to the Republican Party, radically shifting the political spectrum of 1960s America (though only with regard to race, since both parties have drifted rightward on virtually all other issues since then).

Anyway, despite the KKK’s racist agenda, and the fact that Black’s racist bona fides were pristine (as a senator he once filibustered an anti-lynching bill), his Klan membership may have been more strongly tied to the group’s anti-Catholic agenda. This in turn prompted him to become a leading defender of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment: i.e., the separation of church and state. In short, his fear and hatred of Catholics led him to do everything he could to keep religion out of politics. Or so certain biographers claim. Much more revealing, perhaps, are Black’s own words on the subject: “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes.” Uttered near the end of his life, the phrase confirms once again—to us, at least—that a politician is a construct, not a person. Basically, you can never know what any of them really believe, because they’ll say anything to win office. Some of the most successful ones present a mask upon which the various segments of the public can project any face they wish. Maybe that’s why Hugo Black felt so comfortable under a hood. 

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Vintage Pulp May 18 2011
RESIDENT ALIENS
The truth is in there.

Sometimes you don’t need art, only a good headline. Example: this Midnight from May 1968 that loudly accuses the White House—i.e. Lyndon B. Johnson—of hiding the truth about UFOs. What was the truth? Basically, that aliens have been among us for decades, for reasons as yet unknown but undoubtedly nefarious. Midnight was a tabloid that ran three standard types of cover images—horrifying gore, random beautiful women, and criminal misadventures—so this all-text look was a bit of a departure for them, but we think it’s quite good. It certainly grabbed our attention. We’ll have something a bit more in character from Midnight soon. 

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Hollywoodland Feb 6 2010
GEORGE AND THE JUNGLE
All of America seemed to want George Hamilton sent to Southeast Asia.

We’re doubling up on Confidential this weekend because we have so many. Here’s another February issue, this one from 1967, with an unusual white cover featuring actor George Hamilton. What was the big deal about him joining the army? Well, he was dating Lynda Bird Johnson, who happened to be the daughter of Lady Bird Johnson, who happened to be the wife of president Lyndon Baines Johnson. Pro-Vietnam War Confidential is urging him to prove to America that he was not passed over in the draft because of his connection to the White House. The idea of pressing for men such as Hamilton to be inducted also seemed to make sense to the anti-war left, which believed putting the scions of high society in jeopardy would hasten the end of the country’s Asian misadventure. You see that strategy being carried out below, by three members of the Ad Hoc Committee to Draft George Hamilton. We have no data on whether pushing for more upper classdraftees hastened the end of the war, and we doubt any exists. But it’s true that minority participation and casualties fell as the conflict progressed—though the numbers didn’t shift as radically as many people think. As far as whether Hamilton’s relationship with Lynda Bird Johnson actually kept him out of Southeast Asia, officially at least, Hamilton was passed over because he represented the sole means of support for his mother. But as Confidential succintly put it: "As sole support of your mother you escaped the draft. Now you have $1,000,000, a Rolls Royce, and a 39-room house. So what's holding you back, tiger?"

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 22
1910—Duke of York's Cinema Opens
The Duke of York's Cinema opens in Brighton, England, on the site of an old brewery. It is still operating today, mainly as a venue for art films, and is the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.
1975—Gerald Ford Assassination Attempt
Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informant who had been evaluated and deemed harmless by the U.S. Secret Service, tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. Moore fires one shot at Ford that misses, then is wrestled to the ground by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.
September 21
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
September 20
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
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