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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Old Political Humour ...

Ask Not

Shortly after JFK’s inaugural address, his Republican opponent Richard Nixon generously told Ted Sorenson (Kennedy’s aide) that there were certain things in the address which he himself would like to have said.

“Do you mean the part about ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’…?” Sorenson asked. “No,” Nixon replied, “the part beginning ‘I do solemnly swear’…”

Ronald Reagan: Seasoned Politician

Despite concern over Ronald Reagan’s age (69) when he ran for the presidency in 1980, he won by a wide margin, becoming the oldest president ever elected. During a televised debate with Walter Mondale in the next election four years later, Reagan was asked whether he was too old to serve another term. “I’m not going to inject the issue of age into this campaign,” he astutely replied. “I am not going to exploit, for political gain, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”


While delivering a campaign speech one day Theodore Roosevelt was interrupted by a heckler: “I’m a Democrat!” the man shouted.

“May I ask the gentleman,” Roosevelt replied, quieting the crowd, “why he is a Democrat?”

“My grandfather was a Democrat,” the man replied, “my father was a Democrat and I am a Democrat.”

“My friend,” Roosevelt interjected, moving in for the kill, “suppose your grandfather had been a jackass and your father was a jackass. What would you then be?”

Alas, Roosevelt was thwarted by the quick-witted heckler, who promptly replied: “A Republican!”

Wry Comment

One day Clare Boothe Luce, a Republican, was asked by a journalist for her comments regarding a certain Republican senator’s switch to the Democratic Party.

“Whenever a Republican leaves one side of the aisle and goes to the other,” she wryly replied, “it raises the intelligence quotient of both parties.”

William F. Buckley: New York Mayor

In 1965, William F. Buckley ran for the office of mayor of New York City. Given the odds of his clinching a victory, Buckley’s campaign was ridiculed by many political pundits, chief among them William F. Buckley.

One day a reporter asked the candidate to name the first thing he would do in the event of a victory. Buckley’s reply? “Demand a recount!”

Major Problem

One day while campaigning against Dwight Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential election, Adlai Stevenson was approached by a female admirer. “Governor,” she enthused, “every thinking person will be voting for you.” “Madam, that is not enough,” Stevenson replied. “I need a majority!”


The latter portion of Jimmy Carter’s presidency was plagued by recession. The American economy did not pick up again until Ronald Reagan had assumed the helm (in the early 1980s).

“Depression is when you are out of work,” Reagan declared after taking office. “Recession is when your neighbor is out of work…”

And a recovery? “A recovery is when Jimmy Carter is out of work!”

Executive Perks

Shortly after attending a White House dinner with President Nixon in December 1972, Cleveland mayor Ralph J. Perk was asked why he had not been accompanied by his wife Lucille. She had made other plans, he explained; it was her bowling night.

Harry Truman: Politics

Harry Truman was once asked by a young student how he might get started in politics. “You’ve already started,” Truman replied. “You’re spending somebody else’s money, aren’t you?”

Dear John Telegram

While campaigning for the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy was amused one day to receive a curious telegram from his father Joseph (a prominent banker and industrialist): “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary,” it read. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide!”

Amateur Photographer?

Senator Barry Goldwater, a talented amateur photographer, once took a picture of President John F. Kennedy and sent it to him requesting that he send it back with an autograph.

Kennedy complied, returning it with this inscription: “For Barry Goldwater, whom I urge to follow the career for which he has shown so much talent - photography. From his friend, John Kennedy.”

Lincoln for Congress

In 1846, Lincoln ran for Congress as a Whig against an evangelical Methodist named Peter Cartwright.

One day during the campaign, Lincoln attended a religious meeting at which Cartwright, after a stirring welcome, invited everyone who wished to go to heaven to rise. Several congregants complied.

“Now,” Cartwright continued, “those who do not wish to go to hell will stand!” With these words, everyone else rose up, with a single notable exception.

“May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln,” Cartwright asked, “where you are going?” Lincoln rose. “I came here as a respectful listener,” he calmly replied. “I did not know I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress!”

Lincoln’s Hat

At his presidential inauguration, Abraham Lincoln arrived at the rostrum holding, in addition to a copy of his speech, his trademark black stovepipe hat and cane. When, after laying down the cane, he was dismayed to find no room for his hat, Senator Stephen Douglas (Lincoln’s chief electoral opponent) dutifully came forward and took it from him.

“If I can’t be president,” Douglas remarked as Lincoln sat down, “I can at least hold his hat. Churchill and Shaw

George Bernard Shaw once sent Winston Churchill some tickets for the first night of one of his plays. Churchill then sent Shaw a telegram to the effect, “Cannot come first night. Will come second night if you have one.”

Shaw promptly replied, “Here are two tickets for the second night. Bring a friend if you have one.” These stories or anecdotes come from a variety of sources. Some of the political stories come from the news, some from history, and some from abroad, but as far as we know they are all true. --sja

Friday, May 8, 2009

You Da Man! ... Motley Discourse ...

Manny: Hey Alex ... look ... I picking too! A-Rod: Manny, you're gross ... I picking a guitar ... a Yankee guitar! Manny: Look, recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue, he gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. A-Rod: You should have seen someone about your foul personal hygiene habits ... and a groomer. Manny: Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy, just like that stuff you took Alex. A-Rod: Oh, you funny guy now huh? ... like I say before, I was under enormous pressure ... the weight of the world was on top of me ... I needed to perform ... perform at a high level ... every day ... things were loose ... a loosey goosey era. Manny: Under the drug policy, that mistake is my responsibility ... I suspended fifty games ... is OK. A-Rod: But it wasn't my fault ... I was young ... I was stupid ... very stupid ... I was naive ... very naive. Manny: I been advised not to say anything more for now. I say just one other thing more, I take and pass about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons, I take responsibility for what I do, unlike other slyboots such as Clemens, Pettitte, Giambi, Tejada, McGwire, Palmeiro and Bonds ... maybe even Sammy Sosa ... and now you Alex Rodriguez! Slammin' Sammy: Look here, I no take no nothing illegal, only drink plenty water, see bottles? ... baseball been berry, berry good to me ... but my Binglish not berry good, I no understand right ... I go now ... tank you berry much ... Big Mac, I love you man! McGwire: I love you too Sammy, you da man ... but I'm not here to discuss the past ... I'm only here to be positive about this subject. Sammy: No, you da man! Barry Bonds: Hey guys, does the clear and the cream make my head look bigger? Sammy: No Barry, your head look berry, berry good to me ... you da man! Palmeiro: Let me start by telling you this ... there is absolutely nothing disproportionate about the size of Barry Bond's head in relation to his steroid enhanced body ... furthermore, I myself have never used steroids, period!! Bonds: You da man Raffy! A-Rod: I admit ... I did take some kind of substance ... I was negligent ... I not sure what the heck I took ... or what substances I'm guilty of taking ... I didn't ask the right questions ... I needed to push to the next level ... I trusted the wrong people ... others were taking whatever it was that I was taking ... it was just too danged hot ... blah blah blah. Manny: OK enough already Alex, it's obvious that you are stupid ... anyhow, I want to apologize to Mister McCourt, Mrs. McCourt, Mister Joe Torre, my teammates, the Dodger organization and to the Dodger fans. A-Rod: You better watch it man! ... I've played the best baseball of my career ... I've won some eeM-Vee-Pees ... I've never felt better ... I'm very proud now! Manny: LA is special place to me ... I know everybody is disappointed ... so am I ... I'm sorry about this whole situation ... mostly sorry that I got caught ... you know, just Manny being Manny ... etc. A-Rod: You da man Manny! Manny: No, you da man Alex! ... you wanna go get a couple of those Dodger dogs? Bud Selig: Look fellows, I can pick too! ... wait up, I want a Dodger dog ... MLB is buying ... I'm not mad at you ... come on guys ... you are the man! A-Rod: Pay no attention to anything those other losers say ... I love you Alex ... you're my eeM-Veee-Peeeee baby! ... you da man! Rocket Roger: Listen here, in case you've misremembered, my family has a history of heart conditions, my step dad died of a heart attack ... so it would be suicidal for me to even think about eating Vioxx like it was Skittles ... partying at Jose Canseco's house ... carrying on a decade-long affair with that yucky Mindy McCready since she was 15 years of age ... taking any dangerous steroids or being a vegan, whatever that is ... besides, look at this head, not even as big as a preschooler's cranium! --sja

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Gang's "Fat Boy" Joe Cobb (1917-2002) ... Gone - Not Forgotten ...

Joe Cobb ... chubby child actor who appeared in 86 'Our Gang' comedies ... Chubby little Joe Cobb was one of the most memorable of the children chosen to be members of the "Our Gang" group in the classic silent comedies made at the Hal Roach studio in Culver City in the 1920s. Thomas Joe Cobb, actor: born Shawnee, Oklahoma 7 November 1917; died Santa Ana, California 21 May 2002. Over a seven-year period he appeared in 86 "Our Gang" shorts, including the last silent film in the series, Saturday's Lesson (1929) and the first Our Gang talkie, Small Talk (1929). Richard Bann writes in his book Our Gang: the life and times of the Little Rascals (1977), Joe Cobb was an enthusiastic kid, and a kid that the other members of the Gang respected: cheerful, optimistic but reliable, dependable. Cobb always made you smile when you saw him. Born in 1917 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Cobb, whose mother died when he was an infant, was taken to Los Angeles by his father in 1922. "We thought we'd make the rounds of the studios," Cobb recalled, "and, of course, we stopped at Hal Roach's. We drove into the parking lot just as the noon whistle blew, and so the casting people took us right out to lunch." That afternoon, Cobb was given a part in A Tough Winter (1922), a film being directed by Charles Parrott. Parrott (later better known as Charley Chase) was the supervising director of the Our Gang films, which had commenced the previous year, and as soon as shooting finished on A Tough Winter he cast the five-year-old in The Big Show (1923), the seventh film in the series. Cobb's beaming countenance and jolly naïveté were totally endearing and made him one of the most popular members of the cast. The most successful of the shorts till then, The Big Show had the Gang staging their own county fair, including a "picture show" which was actually a live performance on stage inside a film-like frame, with Cobb doggedly hand-cranking the makeshift fake projector. Cobb was to figure prominently in many of the plot-lines. In Stage Fright (1923), a local authoress writes a play about ancient Rome which the children perform for charity, with Cobb amusingly assuming the guise of a tyrannical Nero. "One long laugh from beginning to end," commented Motion Picture News. In Cradle Robbers (1924) the gang attend a baby show, and hearing that a prize has still to be awarded in the category for Fattest Baby, they dress Cobb up as an infant. When he sees that a pediatrician is undressing the contestants to examine them, Cobb flees. The series was regarded with such esteem that several noted players took guest roles. The legendary Will Rogers had a starring role in Jubilo Jr (1924), and Cobb remembered him affectionately. "He liked to be with the kids and talk to us, always had something humorous to say." Seeing The World (1927), which had the gang adventuring in European locations including Venice, Paris and Rome, convinced viewers that the children had actually been on location but, said Cobb, they did not get to travel. They took our clothes, though, and got these other kids over there to wear them, and then they photographed those kids in all the long, long shots you see, so you can't tell it really isn't us. Then we made the rest back in the studio. The advent of talking pictures caused problems, as Cobb later recalled. One trouble was that we'd always worked outside on location quite a bit. We liked to film out of doors, and sound was sensitive, so we had an awful lot of trouble with the neighborhood birds, dogs, cats, even the airplanes. And of course, with sound, the director Bob McGowan couldn't talk us verbally through a scene. We didn't have written scripts until talkies came along. The second talkie made by the Gang, Railroadin' (1929), was the film in which Norman "Chubby" Chaney first appeared, having won a nationwide contest to replace Cobb, who was also in the film and helped break the newcomer in. "He adapted gracefully, and we all liked him," said Cobb, who stressed that he accepted his growing out of the role without trauma. He and Chaney were both in Boxing Gloves (1929) as feuding romantic rivals, and Cobb was in two more shorts before being retired from the series after Bouncing Babies (1929). He was to make three guest return appearances, in Fish Hooky (1933), Pay As You Exit (1936) and Reunion in Rhythm (1937). In 1936 Cobb was employed by the studio as master of ceremonies for Our Gang's publicity tours. He had minor roles in some B movies, including Arthur Lubin's Where Did You Get That Girl (1940, as a character called Tubby) and Frank McDonald's Tuxedo Junction (1941) then in 1942 started work for North American Aviation. He was to stay with the company for nearly 40 years, and retired in 1981. In 1986 he appeared in a documentary Classic Comedy Teams. He retained his beaming cherubic features and had fond memories of his days with Roach. "It was a small studio, but a happy studio. You always went to work with a good feeling, and went home the same way." --sja