FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN THE STUPID AWARD Haven’t we been missing something with our coverage of the political news? Shouldn’t we recognize the tweet or sound bite that is so absurd that it makes the rest of us say, “Did he ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. THE STUPID AWARD
  2. ”IT IS WHAT IT IS”
  3. THE DISMAL FUTURE
  4. FAUCI’S PITCH vs. TRUMP’S PITCH
  5. WILD PITCHES
  6. More Recent Articles

THE STUPID AWARD

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THE STUPID AWARD

Haven’t we been missing something with our coverage of the political news? Shouldn’t we recognize the tweet or sound bite that is so absurd that it makes the rest of us say, “Did he really say that?” Isn’t it long overdue that we honor the most Senseless Tweet, Utterance, Pronouncement or Idiotic Declaration, and hand out a weekly STUPID award?
Granted, it’s often a difficult choice. The STUPID competitors are tough and have a lot of experience. Not only President Donald Trump, who is in a class by himself, or really no class, but also Joe Biden. With Biden’s long career in public life repeatedly saying something really boneheaded, he has no peer in the gaffe category. Actually, he’s a natural; he doesn’t even have to try. The dunderheaded comments just roll from his mouth.
But Trump is the true champion, not only due to his being a pathological liar, but because when he gets revved up he makes the most nasty statements. He does it over Twitter, during speeches or when he encounters reporters ... aka “enemies of the people,” which was one of his previous STUPID award winners.
But let’s not waste any more time. Let’s choose this week’s winner. Actually, it’s last week, because this week hasn’t happened yet, now has it? It was really no contest. Once again the STUPID winner is Donald Trump.
It was Thursday in Ohio, when the president targeted Joe Biden, who he claimed would “take away your guns, destroy your second amendment. No religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns, he’s against energy, our kind of energy.”
He really said that. The fact that Biden is a man of strong Catholic faith adds to the tarnish of this STUPID award.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


Actually, if there was a STUPID Hall-of-Fame, the Trumpster would be the first one to be inducted. His consistent track record uttering ridiculous stuff day after day is amazing. In just the months of the coronavirus pandemic alone he has made one STUPID remark after another. Whether it was dismissing COVID early on as a “hoax,” touting useless drugs as magic elixirs, pressuring to reopen the economy prematurely, or whatever daft or hateful comment he has made, he has usually overwhelmed anyone else who ventures into dunderhead land. In fact, given that Trump has spent his entire existence on this planet there, he has probably earned a lifetime achievement STUPID award.
What’s really amazing about this year is that in the past, he often made his most asinine statements when he held his political rallies. The MAGA crowd of thousands really loves it when he goes rabid; the obnoxious remarks just spill out. But for the most part, he hasn’t had the rallies to goad him into tastelessness. He’s tried a few times, but the maskless fans keep dying on him from catching COVID, so he’s had to abandon the rallies. But still he’s managed to keep up with the ignorant rubbish and nastiness, and that makes him a consistent winner of the STUPID contests. In fact, we should consider renaming the award Donald Trump STUPID, although many might object to the redundancy.
He has done so well with his babble, glossing over the fact that there’s no there there, that we should as a country take some time looking at how he manages to succeed. Not only has he done so in the past, but there’s a good chance he will pull off another win, bamboozling the voters, or suppressing the turnout, particularly since the Democrats risk their usual bad habit of forfeiting the election. If that happens and he stays in office for another term, then it will be us who wins the. Doing Unbelievably Mindless Blowing it award, DUMB, for being taken in by such STUPIDity, which will certainly destroy the country.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

”IT IS WHAT IT IS”

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

‘IT IS WHAT IT IS”

This will be another essay about President Trump’s dismissive “It is what it is” when he was talking about the COVID deaths in this country. I can’t always be profound with my commentary, but hey, it is what it is.
First of all, let’s credit Jonathan Swan of Axios for honoring our craft with a really persistent interview and rattling Donald Trump in the process. Besides exposing the president’s insensitivity (as if that needed exposure), we should dwell on the “ism’s” that are a reality in Donald Trump’s America.
The pandemic is raging unabated in the Divided States of America. When it waged all out war on the world, it detected a soft spot in this country. States are going every which way following nonstop blunders by the blusterer at the top of the administration heap. We are losing the war. But it is what it is.
Instead we have economic collapse as the chief executive and his subordinates have made every wrong move. They delayed any action at all, which resulted in draconian measures that forced the wheels of commerce to basically grind to a halt. Oh, and he jettisoned to the governors all off the hard decisions, creating a hodgepodge of policies. Then, before the painfully strenuous measures could affect the heath of everyone, Trump got impatient and started agitating for a “reopening,” a return to “normalcy” that public health experts insisted was wildly premature. But he got his way, and the experts showed why they are experts. The coronavirus flared up again, leaving the D.S.A. even worse off than it was before. Once again, it is what it is.
At the same time he is trying to tamp down civil rights unrest after police brutality against minorities exploded in demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter. To deal with the racial unrest requires a compassionate, steady hand. Donald Trump? You gotta be kidding!
He is out there fanning every demagogic flame he could, proving once again that POTUS is really BOTUS (Bigot of the United States). He and his henchmen outdo themselves to show that they are “law and order” people, pretending to be tough but really betraying their weakness. Still they go about appealing to the prejudices and hatreds of angry white people. All together now: It is what it is.


But is it actually what it is? In other words, when Trump tells us so, is it really? Or is it another of his documented lies, one of 20,000 that The Washington Post fact checkers tabulated in July since Donald Trump became president. That doesn’t count the ones he told in his campaign, and it doesn’t count the ones since July. It’s gotten so bad that Twitter and even Facebook are taking down his posts, tweets and retweets because they are “misinformation” — in other words, lies. The best way to determine what “is” and what “isn’t” would be to hear or see Trump communicate something ... anything ... and decide it’s the opposite from what he’s described, either because of ignorance, demagogic pandering or outright lying.
So the America of 2020, under Donald Trump’s leadership, is unable to agree on much of anything, whether it’s a political system that is unable to compromise or the citizenry that is divided into two literally armed camps. Since cooperation is the lubricant that greases any democracy, we have ground to a halt, unable to concur on the most rudimentary things, like wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of a lethal virus. The ignorant are convinced that masks abridge their rights.
Yes, “ignorant.” The First Amendment should also specify that Americans have the right to be stupid. It’s what put Trump in office and might do so again. A harsh assessment, yes, but one more time, it is what it is.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

THE DISMAL FUTURE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THE DISMAL FUTURE

“‘Cheer up,’” they said, ‘things could be worse.’ So I did, and sure enough they were.” That’s supposed to be a joke, but when it comes to this country’s governing chaos, it is sadly not funny.
First, you had a president who dismissed the seriousness of the invisible invader. Then, only when it became obvious that the lethal coronavirus could not be ignored, or wished away, the people in his administration made a half-hearted response to the deadly organism, even though it was killing Americans at an alarming rate. They left it to state governors to come up with policies to protect the population against the virus, while failing to provide the tools to do it. This meant a lack of personal protective gear for the medical heroes, who stepped up through the toxic atmosphere to bravely try to save lives even though they were often pathetically under-equipped thanks to a supply line that ground to a halt.
Finally, because they had no choice, some of the governors made the agonizing decision to shut down commerce. Millions of people were thrown out of work. They were helped somewhat by trillions of dollars in federal relief funds and eviction moratoriums that provided relief, though the funds were delayed by bureaucratic incompetence and corruption. Still, it was the lifeline between starving and survival.
Even so, the economic plunge had an effect. COVID spikes where thousands died were slowly flattened out. But an impatient president along with his cadre of right wing extremists started pressuring for a return to economic normalcy even though public health experts warned that it was dangerously premature. Given the slightest chance, too many Americans lapsed into irresponsibility, gathering in crowds, not even bothering with masks. The dire predictions were tragically borne out, and now many areas of the country are consumed by the deadly virus waiting to strike.


Worst yet, the political system has proved to be dysfunctional. The United States has become the hopelessly Divided States, as Washington fails to come up with a deal to transfuse more life-giving money into the desperate body public. Unemployment benefits have run out, just as eviction prohibitions ended. So we face the prospect of millions of citizens forced to make a choice between starvation and homelessness ... or both. All of this had ample warning. But let us not forget that in this country, yesterday’s direst forecasts become today’s best case scenarios. That means that we can count on one thing: as even President Trump has grudgingly admitted, “Things will get worse before they get better.”The only quibble with that might be saying that things will ever get better.
This country has shown a remarkable lack of will, quitting as first efforts to push back against the coronavirus were starting to provide a smattering of hope. Politicians throughout the country abandoned them at the first signs of pressure from a president who has consistently demonstrated that he doesn’t care anything about his citizens, but only his campaign survival.
The nation’s only hope is a repudiation of him at the polls in November so crushing that it makes him resemble a fringe candidate, so devastating that he abandons all chicanery to dispute the election.
Then we will only have to worry about the period between early November and Jan. 20, when President Joe Biden takes over with a mandate to repair the United States and return it to superpower status that was weakened by four years of Donald Trump kryptonite. It will take decades to repair the damage, if it is even possible.
Trump will still dominate the news, but perhaps it will be for his legal maneuvers to avoid imprisonment for his various crimes before, during and after his presidency. But first we will have to conquer the raging pandemic. That’s a starting point for a nation badly in need of cheering up.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

FAUCI’S PITCH vs. TRUMP’S PITCH

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

FAUCI’S PITCH VS. TRUMP’S PITCH

President Donald Trump was in one of his whiny moods on Tuesday. He was talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci, who’s been the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 36 years. “He’s got this high approval rating,” grumbled the president. After all, he’s followed some of Fauci’s recommendations. “So why don’t I have a high approval rating?”
Indeed. Tony Fauci threw out the first pitch at Washington Nationals’ opening day and it was wild, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, Topps, the guys that make baseball cards, made one of Fauci in action. They sold out in 24 hours — all 51,512 of them. Trump, on the other hand, gets a big inflated “Baby Donald” balloon.

But now that you’ve asked, Mr. President, here are some of the reasons. You've ignored too many of the recommendations of Dr. Fauci and so many public health experts — made before coronavirus reached our shores, during the time the deadly attacker struck with a vengeance, and after a lockdown barely flattened the curve. And you agitated for a return to “normal,” ignoring, for political reasons, the fact that the deadly organism was still lurking. You have been a fount of misinformation, touting the entirely made-up benefits of hydroxychloroquine as a miracle cure for COVID.
Not that you’ve learned any lessons. Even when study after study concludes that “hydroxy” has no benefits, and in fact may kill people or make them crazy, you keep coming back to your fantasy of a “miracle” cure.
That idea should have been relegated to the Trumpster dumpster, but you have taken it off of the garbage heap and retweeted some Breitbart gobbledygook from a doctor who claims that the medicine is still her go-to drug in combatting COVID. Never mind that she has a pretty bizarre history: She has claimed that sex with demons in dreams causes various gynecological problems, that modern medicines are made from space aliens’ DNA, that witches are responsible for gay marriage and abortion.
President Trump was asked by reporters why he would retweet such rantings. “I thought she was very impressive, in the sense that, from where she came — I don’t know what country she comes from — but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.” With that, he huffed out of the room.
But let’s not confine our answer to just his performance in the pandemic. On just about every issue, with his every utterance and Twitter missive, he has demonstrated thousands of times that he is a constantly lying, obnoxious and ignorant bigot. A leader is supposed to appeal to a country’s best instincts. Consistently he has brought out our worst instincts.
In a nation whose system is built on a constitution, written by hypocritical slave owners, that nevertheless carefully protects against an autocracy, he frequently tries to ignore that constitution. In his latest rant against mail-in voting in this year of the pandemic, because it could promote fraud — which is utterly unproven, by the way — he has floated the idea that the election can be delayed. He ignores the fact that the Constitution inconveniently leaves it up only to Congress to determine the “time, place and manner” of the vote, and gives a hard time of Jan. 20 to transition from one presidential term to another. But he’s run afoul of the rules before in pursuit of one governmental shortcut or another.
Maybe those are some of the reasons, President Trump, why your approval ratings are in the toilet and Tony Fauci’s are sky high. To put it bluntly, Americans overwhelmingly trust Fauci. After your constant lying, they overwhelmingly don’t trust you. On Jan. 20, you will either be turned out of office or America will be on its way to becoming a dictatorship.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

WILD PITCHES

FROM KING FEATURE SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

WILD PITCHES

Tony Fauci memo to himself: “Never EVER throw out the first pitch at a game again!” I don’t want to rub it in to Dr. Fauci, we’ve known each other for a long time, but his toss on opening night was not the stuff of baseball legend, unless a record is kept of the worst ones ever. It was even more wretched than the ones heaved by then-President Barack Obama back in 2009 and 2010. And now the current president says he wants to get in the act.
President Donald Trump, never to be outdone, announced that he’d throw out a first pitch in mid-August. Then he declared that he would not, perhaps because it would be at an empty Yankee stadium where he’d not get to claim it was the biggest crowd ever. Of course he gussied it up a little, tweeting:
“Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch.”
Maybe he was worried he’d also be embarrassed. Perhaps later, he said. Don’t hold your breath.
The point is that Fauci is not an MLB pitcher, but he is a major league infectious disease doctor, who has tried to apply his experience and wisdom to the battle against the coronavirus. His expertise and amazing ability to speak in a language everyone can understand has made him one of the most trusted people in America when it comes to combatting this pandemic.
Unfortunately, one of the least trusted men is President Trump. There is no way of knowing how many have died because of his and his administration’s blunders. With his initial trivialization of the threat, to the rejection of sound public health advice, to his promotion of various medications without any reason, to his agitation for a premature reopening of the country for political reasons, he has shown that he is exactly the wrong person to be in charge.
And he persists with his ignorance and bluster, trying to peddle the idea that he’s not in way over his head. He still wants to show that he has more knowledge than Dr. Fauci and the other public health experts, who shudder every time he opens his mouth, trying a different sort of pitch. At least now he’s recognizing the fact that the country he pretends to lead is being consumed by the raging coronavirus, because he prematurely declared an “all clear.”


Still, he’s advocating for the nation’s children to return to school full time when it opens soon. Happily, most boards of education are ignoring his guidance in the face of evidence that the kids would be risking their own health and the lives of so many in their community. They would become COVID carriers.
He and his party are aggressively resisting mail-in ballots, peddling subterfuge that this realistic alternative to risky in-person voting is fraught with fraud. There is absolutely no evidence of this, but Trump and the Republicans want to suppress the turnout, to discourage those who oppose him by only leaving them the choice of risking their lives to show up in person on Election Day.
He’s trying every demagogic trick in the book, including goading protestors into violence by sending in federal agents to create a police state in the cities. He’s casting himself as the “law and order” man, trying to scare the people with visions of a violent takeover of the country.
What he’s actually doing is trying to distract from the fact that he and his subordinates have blown out the pandemic defenses so badly that he desperately needs to weasel out of attention from their miserable performance. It doesn’t matter if he ever throws a baseball. He shouldn’t be able to throw off attention to the job he’s done making America the laughingstock of the world.

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc

    

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