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, AUG. 17, 2018 OUR SELF PROTECTION PROTESTATION --- I’m about to antagonize a bunch of my cohorts, ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. OUR SELF PROTECTION PROTESTATION
  2. THE SLEAZE SQUEEZE
  3. WITH APOLOGIES TO SEUSS' GRINCH
  4. ISO A TWITTER ATTACK
  5. MEDIA ACTION PLAN
  6. More Recent Articles

OUR SELF PROTECTION PROTESTATION

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, AUG. 17, 2018

OUR SELF PROTECTION PROTESTATION
---
I’m about to antagonize a bunch of my cohorts, particularly those who took part in Thursday’s organized cluster fuss.
Did you see them? They were hard to miss. On Thursday, more than 350 newspapers, columnists and bloggers -- and a bunch of TV types, for bad measure -- wrote and spoke about their strenuous objections to President Donald Trump’s constant verbal assaults on those who cover him, or as he prefers to call them, the “fake news” people.
Did you see what I had to say in response to his abusive harassment? If you answered “no,” that’s the correct response. I did not join this coordinated group whimper. Frankly, I believe all those who did blundered.
First of all, we shouldn’t be participating in a coordinated anything with each other. All that does is play into Trump’s hands when he charges that most of us are part of the “deep state” establishment joining to take him down. In fact, his response on Twitter was predictable: We are all an organized “opposition party” and, get this, “in collusion,” which turns the accusations against him and the Russians inside out. Do we really want to give him such an opening?
And do we really want to add fuel to his plan to inflame his base when he shouts or tweets his Stalinesque accusation that we are “enemies of the people” who could even “cause war”? It could be dismissed as mindless ranting, but it’s actually calculated to inoculate him from anything but flattering coverage. We really should see this heckling designed to intimidate us for what it is: pathetic and juvenile taunting. The more anyone takes notice, the more the schoolyard tormenter keeps at it. So, we play right into his hands.

 


Anyone else would just be ignored, but this crass ruffian is, after all, the president of the United States, and whatever he says is amplified by his “bully pulpit” -- certainly an appropriate term with this guy. How should we respond? By aggressively doing our job and fearlessly reporting on him and his administration, even when he has a hissy fit -- which, of course, he will; he always does.
As for the danger when he whips up his mob, we need to suck it up. Journalists follow the story wherever it takes us, sometimes to our great peril. We’re not only on location at wartime battlefields, but here at home, we face the hazards of social protests that turn violent, not just from the rioters, but also from the minority of furious cops who turn on us to block access. Those situations are no less hairy than covering a bunch of frenzied supporters at one of his rallies. On occasion, those who have been urged on by Trump’s haranguing and decide to harass reporters, often end up jovially asking those same reporters to pose for selfies.
As for the danger to our nation from this president’s discrediting of the press, the First Amendment has survived other demagogues before, even those who prefer being autocrats.
Lastly, we have the normal human tendency to exaggerate our importance in the grand scheme of things. Such an orchestrated effort to highlight our role in the Trump debacle is probably not proportional when you consider all the other ways he and his peeps cause severe societal damage. Better to put spotlights on Trump’s global warming actions, trade or immigration policies, which really endanger the planet, to say nothing of a war erupting because of his amateurish miscalculation or some rash tweet. A focus on ourselves might well be considered self-centered, as in: “Gee -- look at us, the noble protectors of society. We are so brave.”
Let’s not belittle how vital reporting and analysis are to a democracy. Without an informed electorate, our system of government withers and ultimately dies. An egomaniacal Donald Trump wants to take away the credibility of an independent press. By acting in concert, we make his job easier.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

THE SLEAZE SQUEEZE

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, AUG. 14, 2018
---
( From your wretched writer:

Our story’s perverse
It keeps getting worse
So why not, time to time
Try to soften with rhyme
To describe our political curse)

THE SLEAZE QUEEZE


Robert Mueller continues his reeling
Donald Trump never ceases his squealing
Or whatever it is you do when you tweet
Walls relentlessly closing
While “fake news” keeps exposing
Stuff that might get him impeached.

And he’s angrily moanin’
For Manafort and Mike Cohen
Shouting stuff that’s not nice
It’s all a “hoax” and a “witch hunt”
Or worse a “political stunt”
Meanwhile Bob Mueller just tightens the vise.

 

And let’s not forget Stormy
All the other charges he’s smarmy
They, too, add to the squeeze
Lawsuits that charge defamation
Have also made their donation
To the image of Trump as a sleaze.


More that’s obscene in this bizarre bazaar
He's already dealing with Omarosa’s memoir
The way she describes him, he’s totally vile
He’s a “bigot,” “misogynist,” a rake and a fake
To prove that it’s valid, she even has tape.
So add her new book to the Trump garbage pile.

Still, it’s the focus on Russia that remains the big threat
Did Putin steal the election, the campaign aid and abet?
Prosecutors want to question Trump, to his lawyers that’s crap
The POTUS attorneys, in particular Rudy
Feels it’s their lawyerly duty
To warn that it’s clearly a perjury trap.

The pros haggle about tparameters
While debate rages with pundit rank amateurs
Those watching all this might sigh
Even with knowledge, that’s basic or cursory
We know how best to avoid perjury
It’s obvious: You simply don’t lie.

But to Trump that’s a hardship; he learned in his youth
That only fools think you must tell the truth
So that would be something he just doesn’t try
He’s just one of many in political species
Most of what they say is politely male cow feces.
You can see why his lawyers are skittish and gun-shy.

He calls Omarosa a “low life,” but he’s used that before
His insults are lifeless, they’re becoming a bore
He’s losing his edge, he’s seeming to tire
Even when he’s at rallies demagoguing his rabble
He seems incoherent, sometimes he’ll babble
It’s hard work to be such a liar.

(c) Bob Franken
King Features Inc.

    

WITH APOLOGIES TO SEUSS' GRINCH

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, AUG. 7, 2018

WITH APOLOGIES TO SEUSS' GRINCH
---
(A note from your writer: So much of what happens these days in the political realm is utter nonsense. Why not tell it in verse? At least there will be rhyme with no reason.)

Every Who in Whomerica likes freedom a lot,
But the Trump who lives here in Washington, Does Not!
The Trump hates democracy, to the point of malfeasance.
Now please don’t ask why, we all know the reasons.
It could be his head isn’t screwed on just right,
It could be, perhaps, that his pants are too tight.
But I think the most likely reason may be
That he has a brain that’s the size of a pea.
Whatever the reason, his pants or his brain,
He manages to be a perennial pain.
He’s teamed up with his Russian friend Putin,
Although he insists that there was no collusion.
He fires angry tweets at many questioning Whos;
He lets fly with charges that they’re spreading “fake news.”
If he could he’d attack them, perhaps with an ax
Instead of relying on “alternative facts.”
He rages and rages to all he may face,
And riles up the yay-Whos who make up his base.

 

He’s often at rallies; there’s no limit where he’ll go
To sop up the love, satisfying his ego.
His most rabid of followers think he’s just great.
They adore what he says, as he spews out his hate
Against immigrants, media, other critics he’d silence,
Whipping them up to a frenzy until they’re near violence.
Never mind it’s all lies, misrepresentments,
He pushes their buttons, the politics of resentments.
His supporters are not just these deplorable souls,
His true power comes from the internet trolls.
They would steal our democracy, and not only a Russian heist,
There’s a real danger here coming from the alt-right.
They call themselves that, but they’re fascists and bigots.
When it comes to the hate, they would turn on the spigots,
They’re fanatics and crazy, but also effective,
After all, one of their own has gotten elected.
The Trump’s stealing democracy, taking it away inch by inch.
He’s not like Dr. Seuss and his wonderful Grinch
Seuss wrote a classic, a true snappy rendering
Our saga may not have any such happy ending.
It is possible that unless we resist
Whomerica’s freedoms will no longer exist.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

ISO A TWITTER ATTACK

ROM 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, AUG. 3, 2018

ISO A TWITTER ATTACK
---
What I’m about to write is entirely self-centered, but hey, after a long career in TV news, I feel it's really all about me so I'm entitled. Not as entitled as most wealthy or otherwise “elite” people consider themselves to be, but ... let's move on: I will admit it: I have been humbled -- by Donald Trump.
Try as I might, week after week, column after column of “fake news” expressing unrelenting contempt for Trump, he has not once, not EVER, insulted me on Twitter. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, none of his thousands of vacuous tweets have recognized that I exist. No derogatory nicknames, no crushing descriptions of my intellect, honesty, virility, physical appearance or age; none of that. It is as if he overlooks the fact that I’m alive (like, say, Frederick Douglass) or that I had been even born here (unlike Barack Obama).
I feel like, to borrow a quote from one of his cyber tantrums, “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse [sic] Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One’ ...” It’s true, he was pretending to show support for his accomplice Paul Manafort, but Manafort has nothing on me. At least he’s not being shunned by his old comrade. And before you point out that, unlike Manafort, I am not fighting charges that could mean I would be effectively in prison for the rest of my life, I ask you: What kind of life is it if one is shunned by Trump? I’m so anonymous that I need an ID card to grocery shop. I have been walled off, and I’m not even an immigrant. This is cruel and unusual punishment. As a reminder, Mr. President, that’s prohibited in the Constitution -- you know, the one you pledged to “preserve, protect and defend”? Of course, your oath also specified that you’d do that to the “best of my ability,” which is a huge loophole; your obvious lack of constitutional comprehension impairs your “ability.”

But Trump does know his way around self-promotion, which is the only possible reason he is where he is in the first place and not dismissed as a petty thief and con man. And he’s certainly mastered the superficial skill of manipulating social media, as evidenced by his daily barrage of tweets unleashed with all their moronic lies, bigotry and scurrilous nicknames. Everybody has one -- everybody but me. They are definite badges of honor. I am dishonored to not have one to brag about.
The only shame that would compare would be the candidate, usually a Democrat who opposes Trump, running for national office, who has not been targeted by a Russian disinformation campaign. You know, like the one denied by President Trump as he groveled before Vladimir Putin. Like the one the Senate Intelligence Committee and his entire national security team says is underway for the midterms.
Imagine how embarrassing it would be if anyone found out that the Putin-Trump trolls had written off a politician without even one distorted personal attack, without pandering to the worst instincts on both sides of our political spectrum. They must have decided, in other words, that he or she was not worth crossing that troll bridge. How totally mortifying would that be?
I feel your pain, candidate. Without a derogatory nickname, I, too, have been turned away, cast off into social media oblivion. No Lyin’ Bob for me, no Crooked Bob, nor Little Bobbo, not even a Little Robert Man. We narcissists simply can’t handle the slight. The Donald, of all people, should know that. Disdain? Fine. Being ignored? That’s worse than death. My ego is too fragile for that. In fact, maybe that’s the one: Fragile Franken. It’s even accurate, which I know violates Trump’s usual standards, but this is a psychological emergency.
You have banished me to emotional solitary confinement, Mr. President. Ignore the fact that you have no earthly idea who I am. I’m someone who needs a nickname. Desperately.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

MEDIA ACTION PLAN

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 31, 2018

MEDIA ACTION PLAN
---
Enough is enough. The time has come for the media to reclaim our role and aggressively cover the Trump administration without fear. We must disregard the constant bullying by him and his accessories after the “alternative facts;” aka flunkies, aka stooges. You expected subtlety? The time for that is long gone.
The new stooge on the block is Bill Shine, forced out as a top dog at Fox News after lawsuits charged him with enabling all of Roger Ailes’ alleged sexual outrages. That would immediately endear him to Donald Trump, and sure enough, now he’s the new White House Communications Director, where he’s taken his obvious talent for managing up by becoming the Don’s latest enforcer. Until Shine, the president’s desire to browbeat those who cover the White House was softened by cooler heads. But now that Shine is on the case, the crackdown has intensified.
The latest victim is CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins. After POTUS raged at Collins’ routinely impertinent questions at a photo-op, Shine banned her from covering an open press event later in the day. That followed his chewing her out in his office. Apparently, Collins handled the meeting in a classy way, which means she’s way more mature than I am (it’s difficult not to be). Suffice it to say, if Shine had done the same with me, it would have been a short meeting.

Once again, the various news organizations screamed bloody murder at this latest Trump media thuggery, but this is far beyond the usual wimpy statements of solidarity. It’s time for those who cover this gang to take stronger action. After a bit of thought, I have some suggestions:
-- The entire press corps needs to pull out: That’s right, physically abandon the White House. Do the journalistic job of holding the administration accountable from their bureaus and offices. Proximity gains them nothing, particularly since, as we’ve witnessed, reporters are expected to grovel. Use the telephone and computer to properly report on the Trump mob. All that’s sacrificed is the White House backdrop in the TV live shots. Station a camera there to record POTUS events and maybe an embedded reporter to fire questions, As for the daily briefings, they are are total waste of time, except for those reporters who like to hot dog on TV. The time has come to bail out en masse.
-- No more live coverage of Trump events: Obviously there would be exceptions, such as when he does stuff that'simportant. When he gives away the national interest to the Vladimir Putins and Kim Jong Uns of this world, take it live, by all means, but not the staged events and political rallies. Sure, show them in their entirety, but only on a tape-delayed basis, after the networks have had a chance to identify all his lies and exaggerations, and as he spouts them, present the facts on the screen’s lower-third. Supplement that with experts to discuss factual discrepancies.
-- Label his tweets as the dangerous nonsense when they are: Or ignore them as superficial childish tantrums when they are that.
-- PTake criminal legal action against those who impede Trump coverage: If the local authorities won’t cooperate, press federal charges against them.
-- Also file criminally against the president if he incites someone to do violence against reporters: True, those accusations cannot be prosecuted while he’s in office, but that won’t be forever. In addition, he can be sued. We need to take full advantage of the lawful options.
I realize that each of these bullet points might be shot down as unworkable or need to be revised, but some variation definitely would be better than the tepid response we’ve seen thus far. Otherwise, these assaults against the public’s need to know will get worse. Actually, it does every day. Now the boss man is tweeting that the press is “unpatriotic” and endangering “the lives of many.” The only patriotic thing for journalists to do is to get more aggressive with him and his fellow truth molesters. Democracy can survive only with robust media. Neutered news inevitably leads to autocracy.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

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