Obamacare seen through the prism of Cold War jokes about life in the Soviet Union

Soviet-Bread-Line

During the Cold War, there were two types of jokes about the Soviet Union: those told within the Soviet Union about how bad life was there, and jokes told outside of the Soviet Union about how bad life was there. Americans told the jokes with gusto. Secure in their freedom from a totalitarian government’s constant surveillance, and rejoicing in the overflowing shelves of a free market economy, these jokes reminded Americans that their political and economic systems were indeed superior.

As we work our way through the second decade of the 21st Century, however, those old Soviet jokes are becoming eerily apposite – not to describe Putin’s Russia (although the surveillance state jokes still have their place), but to describe Obama’s America. Thanks to our newly acquired knowledge about the way the NSA and other government entities have turned America into a surveillance state (which implies a very short journey to a full police state) and thanks to the burgeoning economic disaster that is Obamacare, we’re now the Soviet joke.

To prove this point, I’ve copied below myriad Cold War-era jokes, some of which I remember from my childhood, some of which I culled from Cold War-era joke books, and most of which came from my readers (with special thanks to Zombie, who came through with a mother lode of jokes). When I say copied, I mean it: they’re there verbatim, with their original Soviet references. The only changes I’ve made have been to use strike-throughs on those Soviet references and replaced those words with more appropriate “Obama’s America” references.

It’s sad how well the jokes work as rewritten. People shouldn’t just be saddened, though. They should be outraged — and this outrage should lead to action. As Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute said at a luncheon I attended today, it was collective outrage that started in a Polish shipyard that finally brought down the Soviet Union.

And now, the jokes:

On a bitterly cold day in Moscow Washington, D.C., word has gone out that a store has received a shipment of food supplies an Obamacare Navigator has a functional computer. People start lining up early. Soon, the line doubles around the block. After a couple of hours, an official emerges from the store office.

“Owing to the Zionist-dominated American Tea Party interference with Soviet Obamacare concerns, supplies are slightly more limited than we had originally anticipated. All Jews Tea Partiers must therefore leave this line.”

Grumbling, but unsurprised, the Jews Tea Partiers head home empty-handed.

The sun rises in the sky, but gives no warmth. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official comes out.

“The Americans Tea Partiers were worse than we thought, and our supplies are more diminished than we realized. All of those who do not belong to the Communist Party Democrat Party must leave this line.”

Disgruntled non-Party members head home, leaving only the hard-core Soviets Progressives waiting for food.

The sun begins to set. The cold becomes worse. The Party members Progressives huddle together, trying to get warm. At long last, after they’ve spent eight or ten hours waiting, the official emerges from the store one last time.

“We regret to announce that American Tea Party depredations were so great that we have no food supplies Obamacare policies available today. You must all go home.”

As the Party members shuffle away into the cold night, one loudly says to the other, “Those damn Jews Tea Partiers! They get all the luck.”

***

First Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, we’ll all be driving Rolls Royces have “Cadillac” health insurance plans.

Second Communist Progressive: But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce a Cadillac health insurance plan.

First Communist Progressive: Come the revolution, you’ll have to want one.

***

A foreign Republican delegation showed up unexpectedly at a collective farm the office of Health and Human Services. There was no time to prepare. After they left, the Chairman of the collective farm called the District Party committee Kathleen Sebelius called the White House. “You didn’t warn me in advance, so they saw everything, the ruined cow sheds antiquated computers, and all the dirt brain-dead programmers, and all our misery and poverty.”

“Don’t worry,” the Party secretary White House said.

“But now they will tell about it all over the world.”

“Let them indulge in their usual slander,” the Party secretary White House said.

***

Stalin Obama summoned Orlov Jay Leno and said, “I have heard through informers that you are telling jokes about me. It’s treasonous!”

“What exactly do you mean?”

“I am the Great Leader, Teacher, and Friend of the people!”

Orlov Leno thought for a while. “No, I haven’t told anybody that joke yet.”

***

A Russian woman walks into a store an Obamacare Navigator’s office. “Do you have any meat health insurance policies?”

“No, we don’t.”

“What about bread a list of doctors who will treat me anyway?”

“We only deal with meat Obamacare policies. Across the street is the store with no bread doctors.”

***

In a gulag federal prison, two inmates share their experience.

“What did they arrest you for?” one of them asks. “Was it a political offense, or a common crime?”

“Political, of course. I’m a plumber computer programmer. They summoned me to the District Party Obamacare exchange headquarters to fix the sewage pipes computer program. I looked and said, ‘Hey, the entire system requires replacement.’ So, they gave me seven years.”

***

One day, far in the future, a boy in Moscow New York asks, “Grandpa, what is a ‘line’?”

“A line? I will explain. You see, many years ago, in the bad old days, there was not enough meat in the stores, so people stood in long rows at the stores’ entrances and waited, hoping some meat would appear on sale. That was called a ‘line.’ Do you understand?”

“Yes, Grandpa. But — what is ‘meat’?”

***

Okay, this one doesn’t relate directly to either Obamacare or surveillance, but it’s so apropos, I just had to include it. It is, after all, the perfect metaphor for the Obama media:

To alleviate the perennial shortages of butter, The Politburo of the Communist Party ordered the Soviet scientists to develop a technology for converting shit into butter, and to complete this project on or before the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. After six months of work, the Politburo demanded an interim progress report. The scientists reported that they had achieved a 50% success. The party requested elaboration. The reply from the Academy of Sciences explained, “One can already spread it, but not yet eat it.”

***

A Muscovite Manhattanite goes to the Obamacare Navigator’s office to fill out a form for fixing the decayed wiring in his apartment getting insurance through the Obamacare exchange.

The official navigator looks through his calendar and says, “Three years from today.”

The man asks, “What time?”

The official naviagor looks at him with a puzzled expression on his face. “What possible difference can the time make if it’s three years from today?”

“Because the plumber is coming I have my first doctor’s appointment in the afternoon.”

***

A Soviet labor official Democrat Senator up for reelection is sent by Moscow the DNC to British labor leaders in London his state Democrat party for a round of talks. As he delivers the party line on the issues at hand, one of the Laborites local Democrats interrupts and says to the man, “Look, you’re among friends here. Just say what you think.” The Soviet official Democrat Senator pretends not to hear and continues with his programmed remarks. “Enough,” says the trade union rep local Democrat. “We know what Moscow the White House, the DNC, and the media thinks. Don’t you have an opinion of your own?” “I do,” says the man, “but I don’t agree with it.”

***

At a Moscow May Day parade in the mid 1930s the mandatory celebration for Obama’s fourth inauguration, a very old Jew man carried a sign that said, “Thank you, comrade Stalin President Obama, for my happy childhood!”

A Party Progressive representative approached the old man. “What is the meaning of this sign? Everybody can see how old you are — when you were a child, comrade Stalin President Obama was not yet even born!”

“Precisely,” the Jew man said.

***

A Russian, A Frenchman and an American Progressive, a Republican, and a Libertarian are shipwrecked on a desert island. For weeks they barely survive, half-starved, eating only whatever washes up on the beach.

One day they find a magic lamp on the sand and when they rub it, a genie pops out and grants each one of them a wish.

The Frenchman Libertarian says, “I wish to return to France Idaho, where we have the best food and the most beautiful women in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to France Idaho.

The American Republican says, “I wish to return to the good ol’ USA, where have more money and more time-saving gadgets than anywhere in the world!” And Poof! he disappears and returns to America.

The Progressive, a hardcore communist, says, “Those others were greedy and lazy. A hard life is good for a man’s soul! So I prefer to stay here, hungry and without possessions, on this desert island.”

“If that’s the case,” says the genie, “Then what is your wish?”

“Well, I’ll probably get a little lonely, so my wish is — that you bring those other guys back here for company.”

Poof Poof!

***

And a Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made, without the need for strikethroughs and interlineations:

A loyal Party Citizen in Chicago spends two days nonstop on his computer trying to get Obamacare coverage for his family.

When he finally succeeds and discovers the price of his premiums and copays, he is shocked and angry. He rushes out of his Park Avenue apartment and begins screaming at the top of his voice, “Obama is an incompetent idiot fascist!”

Immediately, an NSA satellite homes in on his location and a Department of Homeland Security SWAT team swoops down on him, tasering him into submission between rifle butts to the stomach and kidneys.

When the disgruntled Party Citizen wakes up on a gurney in the Obamacare hospital corridor, he is informed by the Local Party Boss that the recently remade U.S. Court System will charge him with two crimes.

“What are those”, he asks? ”

“Insulting our Dear Leader and revealing state secrets”, came the reply.

***

And another Soviet-style joke that came to me ready-made:

A visiting tourist stopped at the corner Moscow newsstand to purchase a paper. He sees that there are three choices. ”I can’t read Russian,” he confesses to the vendor, “I just want one as a souvenir.” He points to the largest stack of papers, unsold. ”Which one is this?”

“Oh, that’s Pravda”, the vendor says. ”But you don’t want that one.”

“Why not” asks the tourist.

“Because it does nothing but parrot the party line, and is filled with lies, half-lies, and deceptions,” the vendor explains. ”We refer to it as the ‘Russian New York Times’.”

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  • Murray Lawrence

    Excellent, Bookworm. It’s strange, isn’t it, that the left can be simultaneously nightmarish and hysterically funny, as though the ancient Greek masks of tragedy and comedy had been superimposed on each other. Martin Amis wrote a book on Stalinist Russia that explores this weirdness. The title refers to Stalin’s underground name in his early days, by way of reference to Ivan the Terrible: Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Murray:  I was telling someone today that my blog’s strength doesn’t come from me, it comes from my readers.  Your comment proves my point.  I hadn’t thought of that but, now that you’ve said it, it makes perfect sense.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Human laughter has genetic and survival benefits in times of great violence and death. When someone can either cry about it and suicide, or laugh about it and fight on. Which choice a person took, decided where their descendants, us, ended up. Assuming they had descendants.
     
    Evil is both hilariously funny and very scary.

  • Murray Lawrence

    In the “Briefly Noted” section of The New Yorker, the title of one book under review on Oct. 14 managed the exquisite feat of delivering an inadvertent Soviet joke in six words: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by one Anya von Bremzen. Applied to Hitlerism, the title would simply be ghoulish (Mastering the Art of Nazi Cooking), but there is something in the after-glow of Soviet propaganda about the “workers’ paradise” that allows the reviewer to speak with a straight face about “Soviet cooking” and “the relative abundance of the thirties,” in which, according to Bremzen, one saw “fish suspended in glistening aspic and canapes with frilly mayonnaise borders,” the kinds of delicacies that were being served at the tables of those who had in fact created the great famines and labor camps of those times. At the very beginning of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn gives us a glimpse into the real mastery of “Soviet cooking,” in which he comments on an article in a Russian nature journal on the discovery of a frozen prehistoric animal by a group of Zeks, or Gulag prisoners, the only people on earth, he says, who could have thawed, cooked, and “devoured it with relish.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The people in the West love their lives too much. They over prioritize it and think the world, universe, and God revolves around them. Each person thinks they are the main character in their own story, novel, play, or movie.
     
    Main characters don’t die, of course.
     
    This not only insults life but also death. It won’t be long now before Westerners get a revelation about humanity and the universe. Whether that will be a good thing or an evil thing, well I suppose that’s the spice of life.

  • Mike Devx

    Ymar,
     
    When a crisis is allowed to evolve to the breaking point, without any real attempt at wise intervention beforehand to mitigate the results, the result is always bad for everyone.  The fortunate are merely inconvenienced and midly harmed, and they ride out of the storm.  But for the vast majority, the result is misery.
     
    We’ve seen this twice: The Civil War and the Great Depression.  We are in the development stages of the third one.
     
    There will be warnings; there have been warnings.  They were ignored and for the most part they will continue to be ignored.  There will be attempts to mitigate the damage beforehand, but politically all solutions are imppossible, and these attempts will fail.  Eventually this crisis will break over all of us.  It will be misery.
     
    Ymar, you seem to see that Americans overall will make a choice between outright civil war (which I think would basically take the shape of rural vs urban), or the collapse of American will, into acceptance of totalitarianism and a tyranny imposed and controlled by a police state.
     
    I don’t know what form the crisis will take, myself.  I don’t know the trigger point(s), I don’t know when it will happen, and I don’t really know what Americans will DO when actually faced with it.  But I’ve given up hope that the coming conflict can be avoided.

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