Want Obama in a punch line? First, find a joke

What’s so funny about Barack Obama? Apparently not very much, at least not yet.

On Monday, The New Yorker magazine tried dipping its toe into broad satire involving Senator Obama with a cover image depicting the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and his wife, Michelle, as fist-bumping, flag-burning, bin Laden-loving terrorists in the Oval Office. The response from both Democrats and Republicans was explosive.

Comedy has been no easier for the phalanx of late-night television hosts who depend on skewering political leaders for a healthy quotient of their nightly monologues. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and others have delivered a nightly stream of jokes about the Republican running for president — each one a variant on the same theme: John McCain is old.

Editor’s Comment — I guess the comedic opportunities with Obama may have to wait until he names his running mate. If he happens to choose Bill Richardson then we’re in for a treat: a cool Bud Abbot (Obama) alongside his Lou Costello (Richardson) sidekick.

The power of images

For a while, I thought only rightwingers and other Obama haters bought into the lies being spread about him. Then I got a call from Ross Perot, who was trying to plant some dirt about John McCain leaving live POWs behind in Vietnam (untrue, by the way). In the course of the conversation, it became clear that Perot thought Obama was a Muslim. When I informed him that Obama was actually a Christian, Perot was relieved. He didn’t hate Obama; he just had an instinct to believe whatever he happened to see online over what he read in reputable newspapers.

In this, alas, Ross Perot has plenty of company, and among people with a much less conspiratorial bent. Americans have become so distrustful of the mainstream media (MSM) that they instinctively disbelieve much of what they read and hear from us. But if misinformation arrives online from someone they’ve never heard of, they figure it must be true. It’s our newest form of cognitive dissonance.

Six questions for Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public. In a new book, The Dark Side, Mayer puts together the major conclusions from her articles and fills in a number of important gaps. Most significantly, we learn the details on the torture techniques and the drama behind the fierce and lingering struggle within the administration over torture, and we learn that many within the administration recognized the potential criminal accountability they faced over these torture tactics and moved frantically to protect themselves from possible future prosecution. I put six questions to Jane Mayer on the subject of her book, The Dark Side.

Outpost attack in Afghanistan shows major boost in militant strength

A deadly attack on a remote NATO outpost in the eastern province of Kunar is being viewed as a serious escalation in the fighting between the insurgents and the international forces stationed in Afghanistan – and a possible shift in the insurgents’ tactical capability. The high casualties sustained by international forces in recent attacks have also increased the prospects that international troops could launch cross-border strikes into Pakistan with increasing frequency.

In contrast to their traditional hit-and-run tactics and reliance on use of explosives, bombs, and suicide attacks, militants directly engaged soldiers at the outpost, in the village of Wanat, in a style that had not been seen for more than a year. A wave of insurgents attacked the outpost from multiple sides and some were able to get inside, killing nine US troops and wounding 15. The attack was the worst for US troops since June 2005, when 16 Americans were killed after their helicopter was shot down.

“The attack on Sunday was a carefully planned one, with upward of 200 insurgents, to give it weight of force,” Capt. Michael Finney, acting spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, said in an interview. Captain Finney said the attack was ultimately repelled with on-the-ground fighting as well as air power.

Iraqis demand end to ‘occupation’

Iraqi opposition and resistance groups have renewed their demands for an end to all negotiations with the United States while US troops remain on Iraqi soil.

“We reject any kind of agreement that prolongs the occupation for so much as a day,” said Shamil Rassam, chairman of the Iraqi Popular Forces, an anti-occupation group with offices in Syria. “The occupation must be ended immediately and there can be no compromises until the last American soldier has left the country.”

Talks continue between the government in Baghdad and the Bush administration over a controversial status of forces agreement, a treaty that would lay out US military legal rights to remain in Iraq.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email