Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Kidd Millennium: Joker’s Wild

Column & Cartoon by…

Joker’s Wild
By Ron Callari
roncallari@comcast.net

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the former Information Minister of Iraq delivered mega doses of comic relief offsetting a war filled with images of bedlam and mayhem. Perhaps, not quite as astute as the archetypal medieval jester, this Iraqi official did remarkable stand-up, even if he was devoid of any insight into his own comedic abilities.

Captivating a worldwide audience, President Bush admitted he was a fan of the former information minister’s style. "He's my man, he was great," Bush enthused in an interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw. "Somebody accused us of hiring him and putting him there. He was a classic." Maybe Ari Fleisher needs to watch his backside!

Nicknamed Baghdad Bob and Comical Ali, Saddam’s town square crier gave a new meaning to the word propagandist. Today, with the public relations industry taking some derogatory hits in films like "Phone Booth" and "People I Know", al-Sahaf’s own brand of PR made Mata Hari look like a soothsayer.

His now famous quip "there are no American infidels in Baghdad" stimulated American ingenuity to churn out a series of novelty products for a market that is currently intrigued by anything Iraqi.

In tribute to the ex-minister, the company Hero Builders has created the Mohammed Saeed al- Sahaf doll for $24.95 (£15.67). Twelve inches tall and suited up in military garb, this GI Joe comes in a speaking version. The minister’s actual voice has been imprinted onto a voice chip and is programmed with such classics as "We besieged them and have killed most of them" and "My feelings are as usual…we will slaughter them all."

Other action figures sold by the same company include ``Saddam Insane,'' the "Butcher of Baghdad,'' and even an "Osama in Drag'' doll – the al Qaida leader outfitted in a very feminine pink number.

For the gourmet, why not tempt your taste buds with Baghdad Bob's "hot sauce for infidels?" According to the Hero Builders’ Web site, "Hans Blix was looking everywhere for a bottle of this" but his inspectors were unsuccessful in uncovering this chemical weapon of mass consumption. Guess they weren’t searching hard enough, since this extra hot Habernero sauce is flying off the shelves at $4.95, hyped by the advertising slogan "God will roast your stomach in hell".

The U.S. military has even gotten into the act. A deck of 55 cards featuring the most-wanted Iraqi ex-regime members was initially distributed to the U.S. troops in the field to help identify the missing Mesopotamia Mafia. Odai Hussein is the ace of hearts, Qusai Hussein, the ace of clubs and of course the ace of spades was reserved for the chief honcho himself, the deposed Saddam Hussein.

Even though the Pentagon only issued several thousand decks, The United States Playing Card Company, a playing card manufacturer is trying to stop other companies from selling copies of the Iraqi playing cards. The Pentagon decks contain the Hoyle joker, a brand copyrighted by this Ohio based company.

Today however, dozens of manufacturers have produced knockoffs and the Internet is fertile ground for countless upstarts looking to make a few bucks off of America's patriotic spirit. On eBay, the oft-visited online-auction site, more than 2,000 sellers are offering copies of the Pentagon's deck, with some prices topping $100.

Defense Department brass have no problems with their designs being counterfeited by would-be vendors. But the marketing rush has taken the Pentagon by surprise, even if Iraq's Republican Guard did not.

With only 55 cards to print pictures onto, three lower-ranking "Saddamites" didn't make the final cut. And because the Pentagon couldn't find pictures for everyone, 13 cards can get lost in the shuffle, since they only display silhouettes.

Conspicuously missing however is our very own favorite, the now absent B’aath spinmeister himself…Baghdad Bob.

But for every new demand, the market does respond. The first official print run of the "Trust Me Brand" deck of 54 playing cards comes with quotes from the King of the Iraqi one-liners. A definite collectors’ item, this deck features the stoic straight man in his official beret substituting as the joker. Each card has a famous Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf quote and the official game is called "Pentagon Joker".

Sadly, however the minister cannot reap any benefit from the cottage industry he has spawned. On April 8, 2003 he disappeared from public view altogether.

When and if he does surface again, and bears witness to how his 15 minutes of fame has transformed him into a worldwide celebre’, we are sure he won’t believe his lying eyes!

******

Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. He and co-creator Jack Pittman produce kidd millennium cartoons weekly.

Cartoon by…


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news