Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday meanderings

Have you seen this story about the Arizona mom who had some boys, including her 12 and 14-year-old sons, out committing robberies so she could pay her bills? This female Fagin was coaching them how to do it, and was their getaway driver.

The thought occurred to me, I think I saw this story as an episode of the old TV show, Dragnet.

Any time a mom is involved in crime it conjures up stories of Ma Barker and the notorious Barker-Karpis gang of the 1930s. In the stories Ma is the ringleader of the gang, teaching her sons how to shoot, rob banks, break out of prison, even kidnap a rich man for ransom.

According to Bryan Burrough, who wrote the book Public Enemies, on which the current movie, Dillinger, is based, much of what we know about Ma Barker was a fiction concocted by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Ma had been killed in a shootout with her son, Fred, and while the FBI could justify shooting a criminal like Fred Barker, shooting to death an old woman wasn't so easily justified, hence Hoover's embellishment of the facts.

As Burrough put it, "History is written by the victors, they say, and there was no one alive who would come forward to dispute Hoover's fabricated story. Never mind that there was no indication whatsoever in Bureau files that Ma Barker had ever fired a gun, robbed a bank, or done anything more criminal than live off her sons' ill-gotten gains. According to Hoover, Ma Barker was 'a criminal mastermind.'" Reporters ran with it.

The Arizona mom isn't Ma Barker, even the fabricated J. Edgar Hoover version of Ma Barker, but the Arizona mom still has plenty to answer for.


Because of Governor Mark Sanford connection to Argentina, i.e., having a mistress who lives there, several people have come forward to remind us of Congressman Wilbur Mills and "The Argentine Firecracker," Fanne Fox (also spelled Foxe). In 1974 Mills was a powerful congressman who was having an affair with a stripper. There were a couple of embarrassing incidents and Mills' career was over by the next election, 1976.

Mills was a Democrat, but Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter. If a guy has an affair he usually isn't thinking of party affiliation and how this will look to anyone else. John Edwards can tell you that; Bill Clinton can tell you that.

Mark Sanford is just another from a long, long list of powerful men put into the hot, bright beam of the public spotlight. It isn't like a percentage of the rest of the population isn't doing the same thing, it's that when people are in positions of public trust there seems to be more hypocrisy in their actions.

Personally, I think the public really needs to get over its fascination with bedroom politics. It's titillating, but human beings are deeply flawed when it comes to sex; we like sex, but we're also voyeurs, and we just like to see other people caught in flagrante delicto. The best thing about the Sanford affair is that it drove Jon and Kate off the front pages. Like the Octomom, their 15 minutes of fame is just about over, and good riddance.


I'm not usually a big fan of the Sunday magazine, Parade, but the cartoons they ran July 5 were great. The "big-intestined" joke caught me by surprise and I think it's brilliant. Guys with big bellies should use that excuse.

Cartoons from CartoonParade are copyright © 2009 Parade

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