FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATES BY BOB FRANKEN PUPS AND PERVS (ALLEGED) Up until now I haven’t written about Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) because he’s too pervy for my taste. And by now you know how warped my taste is. Besides, he is ALLEGEDLY pervy, so ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. PUPS AND PERVS (ALLEGED)
  2. WOKE THIS WAY
  3. DECOYS AND OTHER PHONIES
  4. NO BALL GAME FOR ME. NOT YET
  5. Test
  6. More Recent Articles

PUPS AND PERVS (ALLEGED)

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATES
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

PUPS AND PERVS (ALLEGED)

Up until now I haven’t written about Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) because he’s too pervy for my taste. And by now you know how warped my taste is.
Besides, he is ALLEGEDLY pervy, so there might be a perfectly good explanation for why he’s being investigated by the feds and the House Ethics Committee for, among other things, taking a minor across state lines to have sex with her — a minor, a girl, a kid. That would make him a pedophile, excuse me, an alleged pedophile. That’s why I have not been interested in discussing Matt Gaetz like the rest of the voyeuristic journalists.
Besides, Gaetz closely associated himself with Donald Trump, so to me he’s already a certified scumbag. At one point he tried to intimidate Michael Cohen, Trump’s former legal go-fer, via twitter. He threatened to disclose Cohen’s alleged extramarital affairs and make his existence a living hell, presumably because Michael Cohen was about to spill the beans on Donald Trump.
To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Cohen’s “girlfriends” do not include anyone underaged, so when it comes to allegations, Gaetz still, uh, trumps Cohen.
But back to why I resisted writing about Gaetz, even though I’m obviously having so much fun. It’s just that I should be focusing on more important stuff. Like, the Biden puppy, Major. At 3 years old, he’s the younger of the two Biden dogs and, might I add, a rescue. Unfortunately, he has a bad habit of biting people. He keeps on getting in the doghouse as he roams the halls of the White House. Major has bitten two people so far — a member of the Secret Service and a Park Service employee.


Now he may be the only German shepherd — at least since Rin-Tin-Tin — who has a press secretary. Jen Psaki explained after the first bite: “Major was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury.” The only problem with that excuse was that the executive mansion is crawling with unfamiliar people — important people at that.
Actually, we discovered after the second incident that he has TWO press secretaries. “Major is still adjusting to his new surroundings,” said Michael LaRosa, who doubles as Jill Biden’s mouthpiece when he isn’t doing his day job, explaining away Major’s “nips.”
But this version of Major’s munchies has one weakness: It’s a story of a dog biting a man, not the other way around. So the Major saga is a minor one. But, you say, a sleazy House member is kind of routine too. So why is everyone getting so excited about Matt Gaetz?
I can tell you what put it over the top for me. It’s when I found out that a group with close ties to Rep. Gaetz is sending two reporters covering his story, letters threatening lawsuits if they continue their line of reporting. That is a close cousin to the cease and desist forms that many embarrassed public figures with deep pockets send to terrify reporters or fainthearted publishers who would have to foot the bill for litigation. It’s a back door way to intimidate. It’s also, in my experience, an admission of guilt. This kind of letter means that there is something there. It is a slimeball tactic to sue or countersue some antagonist out of existence.
It’s also a subterfuge that disses off any journalist worth his salt. Why? Because it works. For every media owner who backs their reporters, there is one who gets wobbly. So when Congressman Gaetz went there, he destroyed any credibility he had with me.
Not that he had much anyway, but I won’t write about this anymore, because I can’t be fair. Not only do I believe the accusations against Gaetz, but he’s among the ones in Washington who I can’t help but root against.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

WOKE THIS WAY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

WOKE THIS WAY

The way it usually works out, organized labor is aligned with the Democrats, and big business is closely connected to the GOP. And it is true that the Dems still march in lockstep with those who are the employees, by and large and the Republicans who step out with the employers. . However, it’s both Republicans and Democrats who are slugging it out with the corporations.
First of all, when I say “Republicans,” I mean the Trump party. When I say “ultra-conservative,” these days that means “Trump-inspired.” You never hear of ultra-conservative Democrats; their opponents describe them as radical liberals and moderates. I happen to think that’s unfair; those on the far left should be titled the “Immoderates,” but that’s another discussion.
We were talking about the Trumpsters and how they are currently trash talking the decision-makers at the conglomerates. It’s regarding Republican voter-suppression efforts. GOP state legislators in 40-plus states are racing to return to the Jim Crow glories of yesteryear. And who has created the biggest uproar about that? The corporations.
The state of Georgia has passed the most egregious suppression law, making it a crime, for instance, to bring food or water to those poor folks, a natural Democratic constituency, standing in too-hot lines at their too-few polling places. Then, the mega-companies got in on the act.
Traditionally, “corporate responsibility” has been the ultimate oxymoron. In the name of profits and outrageously high compensation for their top executives, they stood for polluting too much, paying their workers too little and cutting back on the quality of their consumer products and services as much as possible.
But suddenly, the top executives have decided to get a conscience, or they have done market research that shows they should pretend they have one. In Georgia, for instance, Coca Cola and Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta (sorta Georgia), made it clear to Major League Baseball that they would look with displeasure on continued plans to play the All Star Game in the Braves’ spiffy new stadium outside Atlanta. Ever mindful of who the big advertisers are, MLB decided to pull the game and place it in Denver.


Republicans have had a cow! They have accused the corporations of everything short of treason, or even worse ... of being “woke.”
That’s a trendy way of describing being aware of social injustices, particularly in matters of race. But it suffers from overuse. A rule of thumb is that once white fuddy-duddies use the word “woke,” it’s not trendy anymore
There is nobody more white fuddy-duddyish than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yet there he was, accusing the chief executives of being a “woke parallel government.” I bet that drew blood.
But let’s change the subject. Let’s talk about the infrastructure, as in Joe Biden’s infrastructure legislation. It includes not only concrete, but everything but the kitchen sink. Nobody is against infrastructure, but the Republicans have an easy time opposing it if it includes child care, and if Biden’s price tag is $3 trillion, raised by a large increase in corporate taxes. That puts him in the usual duel with Republicans.
As usual, when it comes to taxes, the corporations are BFFs with the Republicans, joined at the hip in opposing big increases in the rates big business should pay. Neil Bradley, chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which speaks for business, said, “This plan would make America less competitive, which would mean less U.S. economic growth and less job creation.”
What is it Sen. Russell Long said? “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.” He got it right; tax the other guy. Long, by the way, was head of the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with all tax-related legislation, so he should know. Yeah, I know, Long was a Democrat. But he was also a racist, an ardent segregationist. He’d be a Republican today.
It’s funny how things change. It used to be that corporations were called reactionary. Now they’re accused of being woke.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

DECOYS AND OTHER PHONIES

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

DECOYS AND OTHER PHONIES

When we constructed the interstate system, we simply bypassed much of our country’s intricate variety. Still, in spite of losing this national character, there are those who get their kicks motoring the monotonous I-ways of America. They find a comfortable routine in the coast to coast, border to border ennui of signs for toll collection, motels, chain restaurants and gas stations.
But some blotches of local personality remain, concealed in this national humdrum. For instance, one of the oddball pleasures of driving along I-95 tempts the motorist at Havre de Grace, Maryland.
At exit 89, to be precise, is a billboard for the Decoy Capital of the World. That’s right, there’s an actual museum for hunters who want to kill ducks and other birds, blow them out of the sky. That’s not my kind of thing, but my mind has wandered, curious as I’ve coped with the interstate boredom at exit 89, whether there is an actual decoy museum, or if when you get there it’s nothing but a sign, a decoy fake — a year-round April Fool’s joke.
Such is the state of the demented mind badly in need of a rest stop. (“Don’t worry, if you can hold it just a few minutes, there’s one nearby.”)
I’ve had similar tortured fantasies as I’ve meandered along the information highways of more modern times. I closely embrace a fundamental law of cyber-life: “Never believe anything you see on the internet.” That applies to social media postings that have no constraints on outright lying, along with the commercial advertising that rocks to a deceptive algorithmic tempo all its own and whispers, “You’re being duped.”
Emails are even more underhanded. How many thousands of them have you gotten, pretending to be from royalty and claiming that you personally have received a large inheritance — all you have to do is send a few hundred or few thousand dollars to get it?
Communication has been so corrupted that you can’t even trust the calls you receive from Social Security or the IRS, warning you that you’re about to be arrested unless you send gift certificates to the authorities.
Back to emails, my personal favorites are the ones making some fictitious claim. Then you receive another email, on official looking letterhead, warning you that the original was a fraud. Except that it’s a fraud too, with a link to share personal information or some other cybermarker with a certain secret Russian or Baltic hacker or phisherman lurking out there.

But the anti-social media are the absolute worst. Tucked among the cute doggy pictures and videos of daddy and mommy coming home from a dangerous military outpost are the advocacy fraud mongers, the troll farmers, the purveyors of “alternative facts.” If it’s too scandalous to be true, it is.
Actually, it’s the contemporary version of something that’s been around for much of history. It’s the smear campaign, the political lie, all gussied up in the latest version of the technological pandemic. Unlike the coronavirus, where there seems to be a cure in reach, there is no cure for the humans with distorted political thinking and no common sense whatsoever; they don’t even wear a simple mask until the deadly threat subsides.
There is no end in sight for the cyber scourge, no light at the end of the tunnel, just more tunnels ... hiding whatever dark money for mischief it can buy from political hucksters.
Wherever our infrastructure can take us, the principles of leadership are hidden in the folds of a worldwide web that is impenetrable, particularly the sections that the politicians have reserved for themselves.
Unlike any repairs involving concrete they may have contrived, the technological bells and whistles still rust out. That’s because they are fake and deep, con artists making increasingly complex but effective decoys and fooling everybody.

© 2021 Bob Franken

    

NO BALL GAME FOR ME. NOT YET

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

NO BALLGAME. NOT YET.

Just as opening day was going to provide some semblance of normalcy, the coronavirus once again shut things down.
For the second straight year, I am being denied the right to celebrate a rite of spring in my unique way. In seasons past, I’d return to Nats Park for the MLB official beginning of the season and shout “Happy New Year!” to my heart’s content, or at least until the security people dragged me away.
But it wasn’t New Year’s. At least not yet.
2020 had been feeble. The Boys of Summer didn’t get started until summer, and with its fan props made of paper-mâché and canned sound, the game was pretty boring. But in 2021 the diamond was supposed to resume its luster. The call of “play ball” would be heard throughout the land.
But not here in Washington. Several members of the Washington Nationals tested positive for Covid at the last minute, and opening day was postponed.
Of all the agonies the pandemic has brought to billions of people worldwide, this has to be considered a triviality when compared with lives lost, economic turmoil, interruptions in our lives — including the education of our children — and all the isolation from friends and loved ones.
Baseball is a metaphor for recovery now that we’re emerging as the vaccines rescue us. But it is a mixed metaphor at best. Only a trickle of fans would be allowed to watch in person, and they did. But it was just a smattering, and at unaffordable prices. But the season is really fragile as we found out here in D.C.
The availability of the vaccines is certainly worthy of celebration, now that we have a government in place with the expertise to calm the logistical chaos and get things rolling methodically from the labs to our arms, bringing us to the point that we can think about a return to “normal” life.
Still, this massive crisis has been with us more than a year now. As tragic as this story has been, once you get past the morbid statistics, you find gaps.
One of the biggest tests of journalism is how you fill the column space and airtime on a relatively slow day. All too many publications and networks rely on “what the future holds” — speculative reporting on what our lives will be like when we emerge from this tortuous hibernation. It gets repetitious, with strikingly similar pieces where the only change is from future to present tense.
How will the technology we relied on affect us as we grope our way to the “new normal”? How will the ripple tsunamis affect the very character of urban office space now that we’ve learned we can operate from our homes? How will that affect businesses like restaurants, entertainment, education techniques, the very way we socialize?


The truth is we don’t know. For all those analyses, we usually fail to learn much from history, starting with the competence of our leaders. In spite of the disaster we just went through in the Trump years, with all its mistakes, we will waste little time electing another carnival barker with a gift of gab and simple-minded gimmicks. We will once again overlook direction from the true medical wise women and men, and opt for the modern-day snake oil salespeople.
We are witnessing it even now. Our premature carelessness has seen us abandon commonsense face masks and other precautions, even those who wore them in the first place. Meaning, for all of the vaccine advances, we have gotten reckless enough that another surge threatens. So perhaps “Happy New Year” is premature. Particularly with enough politicians lurking around, attempting to steal our democracy in a race to the racist pre-Jackie Robinson years. But they have stumbled as sports organizations have actually decided they are parts of their communities.
Georgia Republicans jammed through voter suppression laws, taking us back to Jim Crow times. But this time, there was such a ruckus and so many corporations put out the message that bigotry is no longer fashionable that usually timid MLB has pulled this year’s All-Star game from Atlanta.
So maybe it’s New Years after all. Or at least a start.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Sy

    

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