FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019 CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236 BOB FRANKEN FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019 PRESIDENT BUNKER It’s obvious to many people that our president, Donald Trump, is ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. PRESIDENT BUNKER
  2. IN DEFENSE OF BACK STABBING
  3. THE FUTURE PAST TENSE
  4. ONE MAN RULE
  5. TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
  6. More Recent Articles

PRESIDENT BUNKER

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 16, 2019

 

PRESIDENT BUNKER

It’s obvious to many people that our president, Donald Trump, is really Archie Bunker in the age of social media. Actually, in President Bunker’s small hands, it’s antisocial media, as his small mind cranks out old-fashioned racism.
The problem is, for a country that claims to be a democracy, we have to deal with Archie. He is our duly elected chief executive, after all. So it’s essential that Congress reach an occasional accommodation with him, otherwise do-or-die measures like raising the debt ceiling will be left undone, and the country will continue to wither.
Amping up the limit is crucial, otherwise the “full faith and credit” of the United States will become meaningless. Our government won’t be able to borrow or finance basic services because, for the first time in history, we will have welched on our obligations. While that might have been a normal way of operating when Donald Trump was in the private sector, even he seems to comprehend that it would ruin the U.S.
Many congressional Democrats are well aware that they have no choice but to hold their noses and reach an agreement with this blatant bigot. Even with his frequent eruptions of his deep-seated prejudice that spew to the surface, usually flooding his Twitter sewer.
It has happened again. Referring to the four newbie Democratic members of the House -- all women of color, all aggressively anti-establishment -- he managed to unite their party behind them, even as their know-it-all attitudes had been causing hard feelings with the more realistic members.
But all party squabbling was set aside after President Bunker tweeted the following from his White House bunker:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” he tweeted.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”
He added: “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

“Why don’t you go back where you came from!?” Surely POTUS is aware that that is a rallying cry of the deeply prejudiced, whether they be racists, anti-Semites or other xenophobes. Of course, he doubled down the next chance he got, recalling those glory days of yesteryear when the jingoists stuck on their "America, Love it or Leave it" bumper stickers.
As for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been engaged in bitter arguments with these inexperienced but loud members of her caucus, she raced to their defense, reacting in horror to the tweets: Obviously this POTUS, she wrote, wants to “make America white again.”
Other Democrats expressed similar outrage, although, sadly, Republicans, for the most part, were silent, even those who would normally pretend to be mortified by such transparent bigotry. And then, there was Senator Lindsey Graham, who has now completed his morph into Joe McCarthy, by calling the four "communists".
For the record, of the members of the so-called “Squad,” these same rookie congresswomen who have been making such noise, three of them were born in the United States while one was a refugee from Somalia. It shouldn’t be necessary to point that out.
For these congressional neophytes, who possibly don’t even know who Archie Bunker is (he was before their time), occasionally the welfare of the country requires they sit in the same room as the bigot president and his enabling aides, and hash out vital agreements.
That’s what Joe Biden was probably trying to say when he clumsily spoke of his Senate relationships with the hardcore segregationists of the past. It was nothing to brag about, which he did, but the reality then was that you had to do business with the racists. With President Bunker, it still is.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



    

IN DEFENSE OF BACK STABBING

FROM NORTH AMERICAN SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st floor, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE (800) 708-7311 EXT 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY JULY 12, 2019

 

IN DEFENSE OF BACK STABBING
-----------
I don't remember the first time I heard this, but it's been a while: "Things are so bad in Washington that they're stabbing each other in the front!" Backstabbing is a way of life, not just in world capitols, but across the planet, in government and certainly in politics. And for good reason. It works. Where is that truer than diplomacy? Just ask Sir Kim Darroch.
Darroch is now a household name as the former British ambassador to the United States. He's "former" because he got caught being candid and had to resign because of it. He had made his mark in Washington as a social butterfly, ingratiating himself with the powerful, particularly the Trumpsters. That included a swirl of parties at the British Embassy, where various highly placed government figures were constantly seen.
It's a platitude that the U.S. and the U.K. publicly enjoy a "special relationship" and even though that nation and this administration have had some prickly moments, when President Donald Trump decided to do London recently, he was greeted by all the pageantry the Brits could muster - and they do great pageantry. There was even time with the queen and tea with other royals. They spread it on thick.
At the same time, Darroch was sending cables to the home office describing Trump as "clumsy and inept," "radiating insecurity," and his administration as "Dysfunctional and "unpredictable."
All well and good, as long as his cables were super-secret, like they were supposed to be. But alas, the tabloid Daily Mail got hold of them. In this age of hacking, nothing is secret anymore. Certainly not old-timey diplomatic cables. And Donald Trump let loose with some vicious front-stabbing, using his favorite butcher block: Twitter.
He described Daarroch as "the wacky ambassador" and "a very stupid guy." Not "well liked," Trump ranted. Most damningly, he continued, "we will no longer deal with him." Well, that one was the killer. It is the ambassador's principal job to "deal" with the home government. So he had no choice but to write a take-this-job-and-shove-it letter. He had broken the first rule of backstabbing: "Don't get caught."

By the way, Donald Trump is definitely a front-stabber, as evidenced by his brutal tweets. He's also a major league backstabber. Ask any embattled Cabinet member or highly placed White House official who has received warm words of support from POTUS only to be soon on the outside, wondering who or what sliced them. The latest example is Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who is so ensnared in the vile Jeffery Epstein scandal. He's “resigned” now, even as President Trump stood by his side and declared "I'm with him"
To be bipartisan, House Speaker Nancy PelosI no slouch either. Her biggest problem is with the lefty newbies in her caucus, led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have not figured out that the best way to fight with knives in Washington is from behind. Anytime she and they don't get their way in Congress, they shout out their insults on social media, often aimed at fellow Democrats. As a result, the party is doing what it does best, which is to say splattering. A very frustrated Pelosi, who is a well-seasoned "inside player” She was recently described as someone who would "cut your head off and you won't even know you're bleeding" That portrayal, by the way, came from Pelosi' daughter, Alexandra. At the moment, Speaker Pelosi is sternly warning her charges "don't tweet." Keep it in the family, she warns. What goes on with the Democrats stays with the Democrats. Except when it doesn't.
To be fair, and not to condescend about the dark art of politics, this is not just a skill that Ssaturates the public arena. Any organization, private or semi-private as well, is infacted with backstabbers. My business, journalism, is permeated with them, both print and broadcast. Without a doubt, digital is also crawling with them. In fact, anyone in any business has experienced those who have gotten ahead this sleazy way.
One might argue that dealing straighforwardly is for suckers. To put it another way, if you don't have knives stuck in your back, it's because you're not important.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features, Inc.

    

THE FUTURE PAST TENSE

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2019

THE FUTURE PAST TENSE
---
Let’s give the highest praise possible to President Donald Trump: He didn’t mortify his country on Independence Day.
Other than his Revolutionary War airport thingy, he stuck to the script and gave a vanilla salute to the nation, which tries to overlook that most of its founders were slaveholders. He also choreographed a display of military might, a few flyovers and some tanks scattered around for good measure. Thanks to his staff’s frantic efforts, he even drew a good crowd.
But it’s time to engage in any pundit’s favorite pastime, which is forgetting the past and gazing at the future. As I’ve pointed out before, we enjoy it so much for two reasons: We pretend we have special insights, which, if true, would make our commentary worthwhile. Also, no one remembers our predictions, so there’s no harm in our being dead wrong. Consider us the prophets without particular knowledge. So onward and downward I go with my soothsaying act.
July 4, 2020: Put your money on the president doing another spectacle, a more spectacular spectacle next year. (Update: Since this was filed, he has said so, which just shows you which just goes to show you what an easy things this is) There will certainly be more tanks, more flyovers, more him. While this one ended up being relatively noncontroversial in that it did not embarrass him, the commander in chief got to show off his playthings, his toys of war, just like his autocratic friends do. Before you reproach me to say that he was really inspired by France’s Bastille Day festivities, it is true that the French leaders aren’t autocrats. Just a tad arrogant. But they do make great cheese. We just do cheesy. Anyway, save the date for the repeat next year, prominently featuring POTUS. Did I mention that he’ll be deep in the throes of running for re-election?

 

Speaking of the election, which once again shows that I am the king of clever segues: Look for Justin Amash to run for president as an independent. Who is Justin Amash? That would be Congressman Amash, Republican of Michigan. Well, he was a Republican, until he announced in a July Fourth Washington Post opus that he’s leaving the party: “I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us.”
Still don’t know who he is? He’ was the only GOP congressman who came out in support of President Trump’s impeachment. So he's certainly not at the top of the Donald Trump list of favorites. On Twitter, Trump called him “one of the dumbest & most disloyal men in Congress,” and added “A total loser” insult to the tweet, just to make sure that Independence Day wasn’t entirely blemished by class.
So where can Amash go? His district is Trump country, meaning he won’t get reelected. So he’ll run for president. If Marianne Williamson can do it, so can he.
Another spiffy segue. As you might know, Marianne Williamson is a New Age guru. (Or is she? Can one be “New Age” if she’s been guruing for ages?) She’s part of the Oprah Winfrey posse. For whatever reason, she joined the crowd of Democratic candidates. She closed out her debate appearance by addressing the president: “I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.”
Which gets me to more crystal-balling: Williamson will not win the next presidential election, even if Americans still embrace Burt Bacharach's music, as in “What the World Needs Now (is Love).” Or the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.” Those boomers will probably go for Joe Biden.
Of course, her emphasis on love is certainly a contrast with President Trump’s message of hate. So maybe I’ll hedge on the Marianne Williamson prediction a bit. If Biden sets himself on fire too many times and everyone else flames out, if her nuts and twigs message catches on, and Amash siphons enough Republican voters from the Trumpster and appeals to the “Never Trump” faction in the GOP, we could be entering a President Williamson's new Age of Aquarius.
As you can see, political forecasting can look easy but it's not. Can you imagine the problems for us if anyone paid attention?

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

ONE MAN RULE

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2019

ONE MAN RULE
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What a whirlwind life President Donald Trump leads! One week he’s cavorting around Osaka, Japan, and Korea, networking with his various autocratic buddies. Then he heads home in time to muscle into the celebration of the independence of his home country and a system of government designed to shun absolute authority.
He chafes under his restrictions, and at the G-20 summit he had warmly compared notes with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, all of whom have records of ruthlessly smothering dissent and unfavorable news coverage. On the way back, he stopped off for a pretend “I was in the neighborhood” drop-in with North Korea’s absolute dictator Kim Jong Un.
Clearly he has his moments of despot envy. Look no further than his thousands of tweets condemning unfavorable court rulings and reports from media he calls “enemies of the people,” just like Josef Stalin did. Recently he labeled a New York Times account of cyberwarfare with Russia “a virtual act of Treason,” an accusation the Times called “dangerous,” particularly since the paper had run the story past various national security officials in Trump’s own administration, and they had raised no objections.

While he was hanging out with his BFF Kim at that playground called the Demilitarized Zone, part of the media contingent that had accompanied him was being battered by overzealous North Korean security forces who didn’t get the memo that an American pool of reporters and camera people would be allowed to cover the meeting. So security forcefully tried to physically stop them. It got so ugly that the new Donald Trump press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, who just replaced Sarah Sanders, tried to run interference and got roughed up as she interceded in support of the pool’s access. She was bruised in the chaos, which while painful, started her off with the White House press corps on a favorable note. It begged the question of how Sanders would have handled things. One cannot imagine her getting involved in the melee, unless it was in support of the North Korean thugs.
Before that, as President Trump looked out at the DMZ with its deadly fortifications, he clearly was thinking of his sputtering efforts to construct a wall along the U.S. southern border. He couldn’t restrain himself: “When you talk about a border, that’s what they call a border,” he gushed, “Nobody goes through that border.”
Do not be at all surprised if the president comes back and revises his own proposal for a measly wall. How about simply laying minefields along the whole frontier? And placing hundreds of sharks or alligators in the Rio Grande? His base would love it.
Kim and the others don’t have trouble with their legislative bodies. But here, the Democrats in Congress just refuse to be cooperative rubber stamps. He can’t even get them to finance his wall. But let us not forget that Donald Trump as a candidate wasn’t really promising the U.S. would pay for it. He insisted Mexico would. Remember?
And it’s still possible that Mexico will pick up the tab. If Trump wins the election, thousands of fed-up Americans, maybe millions, will want to pull up roots and leave the USA in disgust. For those who consider Canada far too cold, where would they go? Mexico would be the most convenient option. So many people would head south that Mexico would be overwhelmed. Government officials there would have no choice but to put up a wall to discourage all the gringo illegal aliens.
Those who stayed behind will be dealing with an emboldened Donald Trump, if that’s possible, no longer as restrained from grabbing power and authority, since he wouldn’t have to run for reelection. Unless he ignores the two-term limit, as he’s mused about before. Whatever he does, he has no shortage of autocrat cronies who can set examples.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 2, 2019

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
---
President Donald Trump’s itinerary at the G-20 summit in Japan included a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government is accused of using dirty tricks to interfere in the U.S. election to sway things Trump’s way. As Trump was leaving the White House on his way there, reporters asked if he would bring the subject up and warn Putin and his people not to meddle in the 2020 campaign. Then it happened: “What I say to him,” Trump shot back, “is none of your business.”
With all due respect, Mr. President -- which I’ll admit is very, very little -- it is our business, not just of those covering him, but of every American. An informed citizenry is what a democracy is all about, so we can vote knowledgeably. That knowledge could start with a certain confidence that a foreign adversary is not mucking up the process and distorting the will of the people.
The special counsel investigation has credibly established that Putin’s propagandists successfully accomplished just that during the last go-round in 2016. Trump regards that not as a mystery, but a challenge to the very legitimacy of his presidency. He bristles when anyone suggests that he must do whatever it takes to avoid a recurrence, because to him, it didn’t occur in the first place.
Sometimes he deflects the issue with humor; sometimes not. But he was showing his comic side as he and Putin took questions before they began their talks behind closed doors. Would he warn the Russians not to meddle? “Of course,” said Trump, as he turned to Putin, who was sitting next to him with what passes for a smirk on Vladimir Putin’s face. “Don’t meddle in the election.”

A readout of their private meeting did not describe any discussion about the election. Of course, they had plenty else to discuss, including a way out of the confrontation with Iran. The U.S. and Russia are on different sides of that mess, so perhaps they were able to offer constructive ways to wriggle away from that flashpoint. We’ll never know what made up their conversation, because this president doesn’t allow notes to be taken. It’s “none of your business,” after all.
Nor is it our business what he has to say to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, or for that matter, the other world leaders skulking around this summit in Osaka. Never mind the consequences; never mind, for instance, that tariffs in the case of talks with the Chinese could greatly affect the economic well-being of us all. But it’s “none of your business.”
He believes it is your business, as Americans, to simply march in lockstep and not question decisions from on high, meaning the White House. If the Trump administration wants to hold child migrants in horrible squalor, just suck it up. If the Supreme Court rules that a citizenship question must be removed for now from the census taken every 10 years, Trump calls the order “ridiculous” and instructs his lawyers to explore ways to delay the census. Never mind that the Constitution specifies the 10-year time frame; this chief executive seems to consider the Constitution advisory, not binding.
If Congress wants to exercise the inherent oversight responsibilities that are strongly implied in the delicate balance of powers that rely on one branch of government to check the other, and that oversight doesn’t please him, he just ignores Congress.
If the media dare to write unflattering stories, he ostracizes them as “enemies of the people,” plotting to present “fake news” about him.
On July Fourth, we celebrate that day 243 years ago when the nation’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence from the British king who ruled them. They demanded that Americans have a right to a government “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” That’s a far cry from “none of your business.”

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

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