While doing some fact-checking for Pulp Guns, a set of pulp-novel sourcebooks for the GURPS roleplaying game, I found the FBI file on Giuseppe Zangara's failed attempt to assassinate Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
After Roosevelt spoke at a Miami park on Feb. 15, 1933, Zangara fired several shots with a cheap .32-caliber pistol as he was perched on a wobbly bench. He missed the president-elect but hit others, including Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, who died from his wounds 19 days later.
Zangara, a 32-year-old Italian bricklayer with mental health problems driven by chronic abdominal pain, was caught and immediately confessed. He told police, "I kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists." The FBI file contains a transcript of his interview by Dade County Sheriff Dan Hardie (pictured here with Zangara), which includes this exchange:
Hardie: Where did you buy pistol?
Zangara: In a store.
Hardie: What store -- where?
Zangara: On Miami avenue.
Hardie: What kind of store?
Zangara: Loan [unreadable]
Hardie: Money to loan?
Hardie: In the store where you bought the pistol -- was he a Jew?
Hardie: Did you tell him why you bought the pistol?
Hardie: Did he ask you why you bought it?
Zangara: No, he got the money. That's all he wanted.
Hardie: How much did you pay for it?
Zangara: Eight dollars, he said and I gave it to him.
The transcript doesn't explain the motivation for Sheriff Hardie's "was he a Jew?" question, stark prejudice that stands out in the 75-year-old document. American anti-Jewish sentiment was growing in the 1930s, led by figures as prominent as automaker Henry Ford and broadcaster Father Coughlin. I guess Hardie thought the Jews might be working with the I-talians, since there's nothing secret banking cabals want more than killing all capitalists.
Today, of course, Americans don't ensure the safety of our homeland with dogged vigilance against a worldwide conspiracy of Jews. Such suspicions are laughable and hateful.
We have a better question: Was he a Muslim?
I decided to fix this problem by writing Cache Remote File, a PHP script that performs three functions:
The script will give up trying to load the remote file after three seconds, which keeps it from hanging when the remote server is having difficulties. It can be customized to load any URL of any content type and requires PHP 4 or higher with cURL support. I've released it under the GPL. Let me know if you have any problems with it or can improve the script.
Matt Drudge reported yesterday that Prince Harry was fighting in Afghanistan, news that was being kept secret by the British media to prevent him from being targeted by the Taliban. I awoke this morning to a bunch of misdirected hate mail intended for Drudge, sent to me using the news tip box on the Drudge Retort.
If my inbox is any indication, Drudge must be getting hammered this morning for breaking the news:
Reporting on his service is well within you rights.
It is also sleazeball ----.
The freedom to express any view does not give you the leeway to express any view. Grow up and learn what that 1st amendment means -- within a responsible society. I am very liberal, but I don't think that any ------- is a genius ...
Your reported expose of Prince Harry's military presence was reckless and should not have been done.
I can't believe you would release a story that puts the lives of soldiers in danger, and force Prince Harry to return from where he wants to be. Shame on you!
News flash ... your an ------- DRUDGE
You shameless useless -------. Most other media had the selfrespect and maturity to stick to an agreement. But you pondlife you just couldn't.
I hope you go bankrupt and your pages of useless slime disappear. All you have done is put Prince Harry's life at risk. You selfish sewer rat.
I must convey my absolute disgust at your ineptitude (look it up)at printing the whereabouts and activities of Prince Harry. Not content with making a complete mess of your own country and that of every country that listens to your foreign policies, you have to start meddling in the affairs of Great Britain.
SHAME ON YOU for exposing Prince Harry and his very brave colleagues to even more danger. You're an ass. You better pray he gets home safely.
Subject: Hope to boycott Drudge Report Sponsors
Your advertisement appears at drudge.com on the story which announces that Prince Harry is serving in Afghanistan.
The British royal family requested the press not report on this story to protect Harry and his comrade in arms from becoming targeted by the Taliban. Mr. Drudge's report puts them at risk.
I implore you to pull your advertisement from drudge.com immediately. Anyone who financially supports such an irresponsible reporter is not worthy of my or ANY responsible person's business. Mr. Drudge should not put the lives of men at risk who are fighting and dying for his precious 1st Amendment rights to make money.
Please explain any action (or inaction) you take so I can share it with my fellow veterans, their families, their friends, and anyone else who will listen. Rest assured that I will do so.
[name removed], Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
Subject: Matt, You Ass!
Giving the Taliban a free shot at Prince Harry borders on attepmted murder. You are an ass! My hope is that one day you are outed in a similarly dangerous manner.
I will never read your rag again.
Pissed in New Orleans
Drudge are a bunch of lowlifes. What with friendly fire, who needs Americans as our allies. By reporting about Prince Harry they are sentencing him and his comrades. Give us the French anytime
Some people on the Retort think I'm enjoying Drudge's predicament, but I agree with his decision to report the story. He wasn't a party to the agreement by the British media to keep the service a secret, and by the time he reported Harry's service, Germany's Bild newspaper and an Australian magazine had also covered it. The prince was such an obvious terror target that he was withdrawn immediately after Drudge reported the news. Why should Drudge have believed it was still a secret, given the appearances in other media?
Andres Useche has released Si Se Puede, a Spanish response to Will.i.am's "Yes We Can" music video for Barack Obama. If you're in the camp that's inspired by Obama's campaign, as I.am, you'll probably like this one too. It's a nice though politically barbed call for Latinos to rally behind Obama in the Texas primary March 4.
There's an unexpected guest star at the 3:44 mark.
That's the actor Kal Penn, an American of Gujarati Indian descent. This is the first time the star of the Harold & Kumar films and House, M.D has portrayed a Latino.
The top Google result for the name Vicki Iseman is currently her biography page on Alcalde & Fay, the lobbying firm she serves as a partner. The page was erased today but can be viewed on Huffington Post.
Alcalde & Fay has issued a statement denouncing the New York Times story suggesting an inappropriate and possibly romantic relationship between Iseman and Sen. John McCain during his 2000 presidential campaign:
The allegations and malicious innuendo reported by the New York Times yesterday are completely and utterly false. Alcalde & Fay's relationship with Senator McCain has been professional, appropriate and consistent with his legislative, jurisdictional and constituent duties. The story is based upon the fantasies of a disgruntled former campaign employee and is without foundation or merit. Ms. Iseman is a hard working professional whose 18 year career has been exemplary and she has our full support. It is beneath the dignity of a quality newspaper to participate in such a campaign of character assassination.
If the firm or Iseman really wants to get that response out while it still matters, her bio page should be redirected to the statement or a more detailed response. Thousands of people are hitting Google for information on Iseman, and the first place they're likely to go is her page on the company site. Companies miss the boat by hiding or deleting web pages during a media firestorm, rather than using the traffic to their advantage.
Even though it's a product of the conservative National Review, I read The Corner because it's a great format for political blogging -- a bunch of writers of similar politics sharing links and exchanging ideas with each other. I wish there was a liberal counterpart that took the same conversational approach. (There's also nothing better than watching them suffer in real time on election night when the vote doesn't go their way.)
Sometimes, all that like-mindedness draws out ugly sentiments a political partisan wouldn't normally express in mixed company. For example, Lisa Schiffren thinks that Republicans should dig into Barack Obama's mixed-race parentage, because interracial babies born in the late '50s and early '60s were the product of a Communist conspiracy.
I'm not kidding. This outburst of full-on crazy was posted yesterday to one of the leading conservative web sites on the planet and drew only one response in opposition. Here's Schiffren's justification for muckraking Obama's conception:
Obama and I are roughly the same age. I grew up in liberal circles in New York City -- a place to which people who wished to rebel against their upbringings had gravitated for generations. And yet, all of my mixed race, black/white classmates throughout my youth, some of whom I am still in contact with, were the product of very culturally specific unions. They were always the offspring of a white mother, (in my circles, she was usually Jewish, but elsewhere not necessarily) and usually a highly educated black father. And how had these two come together at a time when it was neither natural nor easy for such relationships to flourish? Always through politics. No, not the young Republicans. Usually the Communist Youth League. Or maybe a different arm of the CPUSA. But, for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics. ...
Time for some investigative journalism about the Obama family's background, now that his chances of being president have increased so much.
So if you're the child of black and white parents who is from 45 to 55, you're probably a "red diaper baby" unfit for public office, according to Schiffren. She's a former speechwriter for Vice President Dan Quayle who came up with the idea he should attack Murphy Brown for being a single mother, one of the most cringe-inducing moments of the 1992 presidential campaign, so she's proven herself to be the right's weirdest watchdogs of the womb.
When a musician does something great on late-night TV, it tends to show up the next morning as a search spike on Google Trends. Here's last night's discovery, ukelele hero Jake Shimabukuro performing George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
O'Brien called it "one of my favorite performances on this show ever." I didn't realize how great Harrison's song was until Prince burned the house down playing it in 2004 with Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison at George Harrison's posthumous induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame.
I've watched that Hall of Fame clip dozens of times, but I still can't figure out who catches Prince's guitar at the end.