The CIA has declassified a bunch of jokes. Here are the best ones | Kenora Daily Miner
Search the Kingston This Week Close Search Search The CIA has declassified a bunch of jokes. Here are the best ones
A man was jailed 15 years for calling Joseph Stalin a fathead. One year for sedition, 14 years for revealing a state secret More from Tristin Hopper Published on: September 20, 2018 | Last Updated: September 20, 2018 3:21 PM EDT
A photo of Ronald Reagan laughing at the punchline of his own joke aboard Air Force One. Reagan may have tasked his CIA with digging up the era’s best Soviet jokes. Pete Souza, National Archives, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Share Adjust Comment Print
As historian Gene Zubovich helpfully pointed out this week , the CIA is apparently sitting on an impressive collection of jokes.
In recent years, the U.S. intelligence agency has declassified more than a million Cold War-era documents. The National Post sifted through the pile in a search for the funny parts, and found these highlights.
This is from a document entitled “Soviet Jokes” that was prepared for the CIA’s deputy director in the 1980s. The jokes were all told amongst Soviets themselves, and were apparently gathered by CIA operatives . This one involves Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev who, despite his aggressive campaign of government reforms, wasn’t able to fully assuage the his people’s desire to assassinate him.
New York lawyer James Donovan specialized as a U.S. diplomatic negotiator in the early 1960s, and was instrumental in the freeing of captured spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers as well as the release of 9,000 Americans captured by Cuba in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. He’s also one of a growing list of historical figures to have been portrayed by Tom Hanks, in the 2015 film Bridge of Spies. And like most New Yorkers, Donovan apparently had a penchant for shooting off his mouth. This is an excerpt of a press account detailing how, during prisoner negotiations with Fidel Castro, Donovan threatened to succeed him as Cuban leader.
Speaking of Castro, after the Bay of Pigs the Cuban dictator scoffed that he would gladly return his American prisoners in exchange for a few hundred tractors. In response, Eleanor Roosevelt immediately formed a committee to round up enough tractors to bring the boys home. This is from a 1961 press report that was placed in the Senate record, and it details Cuba’s shock at discovering that the tractor joke was taken seriously.
Another zinger from the “Soviet Jokes” document. Late in his presidency, Ronald Reagan became fond of telling crowds that he had a “new hobby” of “collecting” dissident Soviet jokes. This may be evidence that one of the CIA’s duties under Reagan was to flesh out the president’s joke collection.
This August, 1988 document is not a joke, but it does detail a workplace incident involving jokes . Apparently, CIA employees were using the agency’s rudimentary computer network to circulate a mysterious file known identified only as the “Sicko Jokes”— and this is an order demanding that they be tracked down and identified. None of the specific “sicko jokes” are cited, but this may be one of history’s first instances of off-colour humour being circulated by electronic means.
This is also from the “Soviet Jokes” document, and a version of it would become a favourite of Reagan himself . The president even told it during a summit meeting with Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and reported getting a laugh in response.
This is from a 1982 speech by President Ronald Reagan at CIA headquarters . He led the address with this Irish joke, noting “it’s one of the few stories that I can tell now since ethnic jokes are a no-no.”
Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, most CIA work is staggeringly boring. Gathering intelligence means hours of combing through transcripts, press accounts and anything else that might remotely affect national security. Apparently, this included scrutinizing jokes by Mort Sahl, generally considered the founder of modern stand-up comedy . This is from an interview with Sahl by the Washington Post. The CIA clipped out the article and underlined this joke, as well as the description of Sahl as a “so-called beatnik comedian.”
And one more from the “Soviet Jokes” document. The Russian skill for cynical humour has not died with the fall of communism. Here’s a more recent one: The ghost of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin appears before Russian president Vladimir Putin and says, “I’ve got two pieces of advice for you; kill your political opponents and paint the Kremlin blue.” Putin replies, “Why blue?”
In 1954 the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala, replacing it with a U.S.-friendly military dictatorship. Amidst arming Guatemalan rebels, the CIA issued this order to collect anti-government jokes that could be broadcast into the country in order to undermine public confidence. “The emphasis is to be placed on the fact that jokes must be of a current nature so that they will be of interest when heard over the radio a few days later,” it reads.
There were no opinion polls in the Communist Bloc, so the CIA was often left to gauge the public mood by figuring out what kind of jokes were floating around. This joke was particularly popular, and a version of it has existed in dozens of Communist or authoritarian countries. This is from a press clipping that was filed and classified by the CIA simply because it contained a mention of their agency.
Remember the “Murphy the Spy” joke that Reagan used to bring down the house at the CIA in 1982? When his vice-president George H.W. Bush spoke at the agency three years later, he figured he would also need to lead with a joke. So he chose this , clearly labeling it under “humor” in his speaking notes.
Bush wasn’t the only one to struggle with joke-telling. This is a letter sent to the CIA’s then deputy director, future secretary of defense Robert Gates. In it, a subordinate gives him this “all-but-fool-proof” joke to yuk it up during a speech to an outside agency.
This is from a 1985 Associated Press story. It may not be a tremendously funny joke, but becomes much funnier when considering that it too became a classified CIA document soon after its release . Only in 2012, after carefully “sanitizing” the document, did the CIA feel secure in declassifying it.
Kelly Clarkson Syndicated Talk Show Set, Replaces Steve Harvey Talker | Deadline
The Kelly Clarkson Show REX/Shutterstock
We have the first daytime syndicated series set for next fall, a one-hour talk show hosted by former American Idol winner and current The Voice coach Kelly Clarkson. NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution has sold The Kelly Clarkson Show to the NBC Owned TV Station group for a fall 2019 debut. DOJ Notifies Comcast It Will Continue To Keep An Eye On The Company — Report
The show is getting a prime slot on the NBC stations where it will air as the lead-in to daytime anchor Ellen in all but one market . That is a time period that had been occupied by a Steve Harvey talker for seven seasons now, first Steve Harve y and currently Steve .
It is not clear what will happen to Steve , produced by IMG Original Content, which replaced the Endemol Shine North America-produced Steve Harvey starting last fall. It is being distributed by NBCU TV Distribution but I hear the company has been telling stations it would no longer handle it. IMG could take it elsewhere, and I hear that the company has had preliminary conversations. In the new incarnation under new ownership structure, Steve, which relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, is pretty expensive, which could make finding a new home challenging, but I hear IMG intends to continue with the show.
Both fronted by veteran comedians, Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres’ shows have been a formidable daytime block on the NBC stations, led by flagships WNBC New York, KNBC Los Angeles and WMAQ Chicago. Both opened their new seasons with year-to-year gains for their season premieres earlier this month; Steve was up 27% to an individual day rating of 1.4 with its second season opener on Sept. 4.
Neither Steve nor Ellen are produced by NBCUniversal, while The Kelly Clarkson Show is. It is the first first-run syndication series developed after the fall 2016 restructuring at NBCU, which saw NBC head of alternative Paul Telegdy take over the first-run syndication division. There are clear synergies — it was Telegdy and his unscripted team that recruited Clarkson for NBC’s The Voice , first as a part-time advisor on Season 13 and then as a coach since the most recent Season 14. (She also is set for cycles 15 and 16). She was a standout on The Voice, leading to a talk show pilot, which was shot this past summer.
“The incomparable Kelly Clarkson takes everything she touches to another level and we couldn’t be happier to bring her talent, humor, generosity and compassion to daytime next year,” said Telegdy, President, Alternative & Reality Group, NBC Entertainment. “With Kelly’s cross-generational appeal and extraordinary ability to understand and connect with viewers, The Kelly Clarkson Show will have something for everyone.”
The new daytime talker starring Grammy-winner Clarkson is described as a fun, energetic show that breaks with tradition. Each episode will feature stories, celebrity guests, surprises, humor and music.
“I love connecting with people, playing games, music and finding ways to help or give back to communities/organizations,” Clarkson said. “Having my own talk show where I get to do all of these things is pretty much a dream job!”
Other stations from the NBC Station Group that will air The Kelly Clarkson Show as a lead-in for Ellen include WCAU Philadelphia, KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth, KNTV San Francisco, WRC Washington DC, WTVJ Miami, KNSD San Diego and WVIT Hartford. The new show will also air in Boston on NBC-owned station WBTS in a different slot. The 11 NBC owned stations cover nearly 30% of U.S. households.
“We are very excited to have Kelly Clarkson on our air next fall,” said Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned TV Stations. “She’s genuine, warm, fun and interacts with her fans in a meaningful way. She will be the perfect companion to Ellen , providing an afternoon of great television.”
From Los Angeles, The Kelly Clarkson Show is produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution. Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock are executive producers.
‘Beto’ since birth but Cruz (call me ‘Ted’) mocks O’Rourke, and detractors see ‘Hispandering’
HOUSTON — When Texas voters cast ballots in the U.S. Senate race this fall, they won’t see the names Rafael Edward Cruz or Robert Francis O’Rourke. Neither goes by his birth name.
But only one has attacked the other’s authenticity for going by a nickname.
“Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin,” was a line in the jingle the Ted Cruz campaign unveiled the night of the March primaries.
Beto O’Rourke’s wordless rebuttal: He tweeted out a class photo. He’s the young lad on the right, wearing a sweater with “Beto” stitched on the front.
But that hardly put the issue to rest.
Some Republicans feel that O’Rourke is guilty both of cultural misappropriation and of crass identity politics, projecting a false persona to attract more Hispanic votes by presenting himself as “Beto.” Some detractors call it “Hispandering.”
“I don’t see it. In my family we’ve grown up with nicknames that match,” said teacher Angela Philips, a Latina whose married name belies her ethnicity.
“In my opinion, he’s pulling the wool over the Latinos,” she said at a recent Cruz town hall. “Our name is who we are. Just use your real name and be legit.”
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 7, 2018 Of the two candidates, only one is fluent in Spanish, and it’s not the Calgary, Canada-born son of a Cuban immigrant.
O’Rourke, born and raised along the border, has been called “Beto” since before his parents took him home from the hospital.
“Something each of us has to deal with over our lives — the name that our parents choose for us,” the three-term congressman said after a Houston rally. “I was called Beto from Day 1. And you know, in El Paso it’s not so odd. There are so many Albertos or Humbertos or Gilbertos or Robertos who are called Beto.
“You know, your mailman is called Beto. The guy who serves you at the diner is Beto. Your member of Congress is Beto. It’s just very common in El Paso. It’s just a reflection of where I’m from, and also the decision that my parents made 46 years ago. So you’d have to ask them,” he said.
Family friends attest to the claim.
Mary Polk lived a block and a half away from the O’Rourke family for nearly two decades, starting in 1972 — the year the congressman was born. She and her husband were close friends with the future congressman’s parents, Melissa and Pat O’Rourke, with daughters a year younger than Beto and his sister.
Polk recounted going to visit Melissa O’Rourke in the maternity ward shortly after the birth. Pat O’Rourke — a future El Paso County judge who died in 2001 — was standing in the doorway.
Dual citizenship may pose problem if Ted Cruz seeks presidency “We knew he was going to be Robert Francis O’Rourke,” Polk recounted recently. “And so I said to Pat, ‘What are you going to call him?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘He’s Beto.’ “
Polk called it odd that anyone would attack the congressman over a moniker he’s used since he was in diapers.
“I wish someone had asked me. I could’ve told them about that nickname,” she said. “Almost as soon as he was born, he was going to be Beto.”
By contrast, Cruz started going by “Ted” as a teenager in Houston because he was tired of being taunted as “Frito Felito.”
In his 2016 campaign autobiography A Time for Truth , Cruz recounted the decision to change his name. He’d gone by “Felito” most of his life and was trying to reshape his image as a somewhat unpopular nerd.
“The problem with that name was that it seemed to rhyme with every major corn chip on the market. Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos and Tostitos — a fact that other young children were quite happy to point out,” Cruz wrote. “My father was furious with the decision. He viewed it as a rejection of him and his heritage, which was not my intention.”
Sen. Ted Cruz’s birth certificate shows he was born in Canada in 1970 and named Rafael Edward Cruz.. It was released exclusively to The Dallas Morning News for a story in 2013. (Courtesy of Sen. Ted Cruz) Wayne and Charlene Gilbert, of Katy, Texas, talk with Beto O’Rourke after a rally at the Houston Stampede Event Center in Houston Texas, on Saturday September 8, 2018. Ted Cruz campaigned in Humble, Texas, Texas on Saturday, while Beto O’Rourke campaigned a few miles away in Houston, Texas. (Irwin Thompson/Staff Photographer) (Irwin Thompson/Staff Photographer) Kelly Cook, right, of Humble, gets his book signed by Sen. Ted Cruz, after he talked with voters during a retail stop at Tin Roof BBQ in Humble Texas, on Saturday September 8, 2018. Ted Cruz campaigned in Humble, Texas, Texas on Saturday, while Beto O’Rourke campaigned a few miles away in Houston, Texas. (Irwin Thompson/Staff Photographer) (Irwin Thompson/Staff Photographer) Nicknames make a difference, on the playground and in politics.
Voters of a certain age may remember Dwight Eisenhower’s slogan. “I like Ike” had a better ring to it than “I like Dwight.”
After Cruz’s primary-night ad mocking his opponent’s name, CNN’s Chris Cuomo challenged Cruz by noting that he, too, goes by a nickname. The senator readily conceded the point.
“I’m the son of Rafael Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba who came to Texas with nothing and had $100 in his underwear. … That’s the American story.”
The gambit seemed to be designed as a win-win: Plant seeds of doubt about O’Rourke’s authenticity, and create an opening to remind voters that Cruz has genuine Hispanic roots.
“It is just kind of a sense of humor,” Cruz told Cuomo.
The fact that you cared enough to find these documents, scan them, save them, upload them and then tweet them is just sad. If this is what you come out of the gate with, your campaign is off to a pretty pathetic start. #Beto
— MM (@thedonkeyxote) March 7, 2018 Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, pushed the attack further, asserting online that O’Rourke had used “Robert” in college.
Rafael Edward Cruz goes by Ted Cruz. Ted is short for Edward. He is listed at Harvard as Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz and R. Ted Cruz. But I’m sure Robert Francis O’Rourke is running as Beto O’Rourke because he had always signed his name Beto
— John Grimsley (@JGrimz) August 21, 2018 Rebuttals came fast and furious.
One Twitter response showed a copy of the Harvard Latino Law Review that listed “Rafael E. Cruz” as one of the 30 general editors.
On the stump, Cruz refers to his opponent by the name he uses, as in: “My opponent, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, is running hard, hard left. Like Bernie Sanders.”
And “for anyone in the oil and gas industry you would have to be out of your mind to vote for Beto O’Rourke. Not only has he voted multiple times in support of a carbon tax, he voted supporting a $10 a barrel tax on oil.”
And, “Beto O’Rourke is a passionate supporter of President Obama’s Paris climate accord.”
But Cruz supporters eagerly mock the congressman’s name. At the recent Cruz town hall near Houston, he was going through a riff on the very short list of Democrats from Texas who had voted against a bill to provide tax breaks for victims of Hurricane Harvey when mocking shouts broke out.
Votes by Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke for disaster relief scrutinized as Hurricane Harvey is remembered “One was the congressman from El Paso named Beto O’Rourke,” Cruz told the crowd, triggering boos sprinkled with shouts of “Robert Francis!” and “His real name’s Robert!”
O’Rourke defends that vote, saying he wanted to use the bill as a vehicle to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
In the crowd, feelings ran deep about Cruz’s challenger. But when it comes to him going by Ted, Philips and others were fine with that.
“His last name is Cruz. That’s legit. He’s part Cuban,” she said. “It’s nice to have a true Latino in politics.”
Tommy Cook, 76, a retired chemical engineer who also turned out to see Cruz, agreed that the senator’s chosen nickname is perfectly acceptable. It’s a common nickname for Edward, he noted. And he averred that it’s not Beto’s name, but his politics that he finds objectionable.
“I don’t care what his name is. I care what he stands for. … I don’t see any character in him,” he said, noting O’Rourke’s drunken driving charge from 20 years ago, which was dropped. “I see a narcissist.”
Austin bureau chief Robert T. Garrett reported from El Paso.