FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019 CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236 FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, AUG. 15, 2017 BY BOB FRANKEN "MANY SIDES" --- Finally President Donald Trump acknowledged in a statement that ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. "MANY SIDES"
  2. DOWN IN THE "FIRE AND FURY" FLAMES
  3. ACRID ACRONYMS
  4. THE THEME SCENE
  5. TRUMP'S RUSSIAN COMEDY
  6. More Recent Articles

"MANY SIDES"

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, AUG. 15, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

"MANY SIDES"
---
Finally President Donald Trump acknowledged in a statement that “Racism is evil,” and described the “KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” as “criminals and thugs.” Put that in the “too little too late” file. It had taken two days before he could denounce the extremist bigots responsible for the deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia. Still, his immediate response was the one that matters, because it reveals what a toxic force he is.
Originally he had condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides -- on many sides.” On many sides? Was the current president of the United States suggesting that counter-protesters shared equal blame with the fascist terrorist who drove his car into a crowd and mowed down more than a dozen people, killing an innocent woman? Apparently he was dismayed by those who dared to resist his crowd of fellow fringe fanatics in Charlottesville.
This president seemed to be suggesting that fighting against those advocating violent racism is morally comparable to the actions of the violent racists. One can argue that physical force is misguided from either side, but the motivation is nowhere near equivalent. It’s easy to surmise that Trump doesn’t comprehend that. Or one might conclude instead that he absolutely understands that the core of his support comes from the Ku Klux Klan, the Nazis and other white supremacists who have exploited white lower-middle-class angst in the United States and turned it into their irrational hatred. He couldn't offend them. And obviously he didn’t.

 

This is from “The Daily Stormer,” a nutcase fringe website, about what he said on the day of the mayhem: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. ... No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
And this tweet from David Duke, the longtime white nationalist, who criticized Trump for even calling for unity: “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.” It was advice that apparently Donald Trump didn’t need.
Remember, we’re talking about a man who can be antagonized into dangerous trash talk by a deadly punk like Kim Jong Un, or any news story that doesn’t please him. But when it comes to right-wing terror, until he’s forced to directly condemn racists, all he could work up was a mealy-mouthed statement critical of “many sides.”
Forced to because the wishy-washy comments were roundly slammed, even by fellow Republicans who normally quake in fear of him: “We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home “That was a tweet from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who normally gives courtliness a bad name.
And then there was Chris Christie, who normally gives nastiness a bad name, particularly when he is Trump-groveling. Not this time: “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”
That presumably included the president, even though his leadership has been rejected by millions of people from the night he was elected, the ones who virulently opposed his scapegoating. Regrettably, it also inspired all the frightened Americans who voted for him. For good reasons and bad, Trump’s supporters are furious about an unfair economic system that has left them by the wayside. His candidacy and election also inspired the extremists, like the ones who are embracing the icons of the slave-holding Confederacy. The wackos wore various uniforms as they pranced around Charlottesville, spewing their bile. But one bit of apparel was widely noticeable: The red baseball hats festooned with the Trump slogan “Make America Great Again.” They’re with him, and apparently, he’s with them.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

DOWN IN THE "FIRE AND FURY" FLAMES

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 11, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

DOWN IN 'FIRE AND FURY' FLAMES
---
Is it me, or does “Fire and Fury” sound like the name of a rock group? President Donald Trump apparently made up his
own lyrics when he trash-talked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” he blustered on live TV. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Aides insist that the “fire and fury” words were Trump’s own, although they had agreed that he needed to convey a “no more Mr. Nice Guy” message. What Trump really accomplished is scaring the daylights out of just about everybody on the planet --
everybody but Kim. It wasn’t very long before Pyongyang fired back with another threat, this time to loft missiles at Guam, in effect, to make the little U.S. territory “Guam With the Wind.”

For good measure, North Korea called the “fire and fury” warning “a load of nonsense.” As usual, Trump then proceeded to double down, insisting his language “maybe wasn’t tough enough.” Still, his national-security people tippy-toed away from the harsh, bomb blast bombast: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it a point to make an appearance before cameras aboard his plane while flitting around Asia. He offered a reassurance that “Americans should sleep well at night,” and insisted that the boss was only trying
to be crystal clear: “I think what the president was doing was sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

That sound you might have heard was a sigh of relief from those who were worried that the world was hurtling toward a catastrophic war because two dangerously immature leaders couldn’t exercise impulse control. Hundreds of thousands of people could be annihilated before it was over. Under this president, the United States of America is reduced to hoping that the wiser heads who run Russia or China will bail us out as our commander in chief struggles to comprehend that this is more than an exercise in
tough-guy branding. There are no indications that Kim pays any attention whatsoever to social media.

At least Trump’s vitriolic tweets are just usually domestic wars of words. His latest target? Sen. Mitch McConnell, of all people. The majority leader had the temerity to suggest that the White House had rushed Congress into taking on health care and that
there were “excessive expectations” that something as complicated as undoing and redoing Obamacare could be accomplished so
quickly. The Trumpster was all over that: “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done?” Note to POTUS: It’s one thing to take on Kim Jong Un, but don’t mess with Mitch McConnell. He’s more
treacherous. He doesn’t engage in trash talk. He just trashes.

Assuming we make it through August without some international calamity, the home front is just about as hostile. Among other items, Congress needs to keep the government up and running, which will require a spending agreement. The hang-up could be the wall. Yes, that wall, the one candidate Trump promised that Mexico would finance. Now he’s demanding that Congress pay for it with taxpayer money, and Democrats are putting up a wall in front of the wall. You remember the Democrats, don’t you? They’re still the opposition party, and the one thing they will oppose with all
their might will be agreeing to a budget deal with wall funding in it, which could be the biggest barrier to keeping the government going after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Even bigger than that is the need to raise the debt ceiling at about the same time. Without a raise, the nation will default on its precious sovereign debt, causing economic chaos. If Kim and any other dangerous enemies have any smarts, they’ll simply ignore Trump and wait to see what fire and fury he inflicts on us.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

ACRID ACRONYMS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 4, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

ACRID ACRONYMS
---
For those of us who thought that “acronym” was a city in Ohio, it is not. It’s an abbreviation formed from initials used to describe something that’s then pronounced as a word. SCUBA, for example, stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Did you know that? Most divers are simply happy to make SCUBA do when it comes to clearly labeling their underwater pursuits.
Unfortunately, many acronyms are really tortured and designed to mislead. Wait -- “tortured and designed to mislead” defines the American political system, so it’s no surprise that many of these clever abbreviations are political and therefore deceptive, contrived to disguise some ugly intention in pretty platitudes.
So it is with the RAISE act, brought to you by the ultraconservative sponsors of legislation that would cut in half legal immigration to this country and replace family considerations with meritocracy standards, among them already speaking English. Critics would say that it effectively shuts out millions of people whom the white right would consider undesirable, and that it flies right in the face of this country’s historic welcome to “huddled masses yearning to be free.” Backers of the proposal, including the president (of course), argue that it’s a way to preserve jobs for U.S. citizens. Although hundreds of studies have disputed that, it plays to the fears of unemployment and many prejudices of the frightened millions of Trump supporters who would be afraid of their own shadows if their own shadows came from another country.
So the proponents of the cutbacks call it the RAISE Act. That’s Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy. Get it? It’s a crock, but there it is. What’s regrettable is that there are other acronyms to use. How about the Bill Intending to Gut Our Tradition, or BIGOT. Isn’t that a more accurate acronym?

Sometimes, those who create their misleading labels don’t even bother with acronyms. They come up with twisted nomenclature, like their Religious Freedom Acts, which aren’t about religious freedom at all, unless they mean the freedom of those who use faith as an excuse to make life miserable for anyone who doesn’t hew to their strict moral views -- to discriminate against gays, for instance. It's a cynical attempt to twist the beautiful concept of religious freedom into oppression. It’s become an ongoing preoccupation of the Supreme Court or, getting back to acronyms, SCOTUS.
At the White House, POTUS is a constant Fount Of Obnoxious Lies (FOOL). You don’t need 140 characters to label him. TWEET will do, as in Trump’s Widely Enraging Empty Thinking. But what does he say about us? Our system, which we present as a beacon of democracy, could only manage to present us with a dismal choice in our election. We had to select from bad and worse. We chose worse, or at least millions of our citizens did, and now our worst fears are being realized. Donald Trump -- President Donald Trump -- is sending this nation hurtling to disaster. Setting aside his impotence in dealing with foreign sinister characters like North Korea’s leaders, who threaten annihilation, we have domestic threats. There's the upcoming very good possibility that this nation will default on its sovereign debt if our dysfunctional Congress and slapstick administration can’t get together on raising the debt ceiling. That’s always a political football, but in this nasty environment it’s become a potential bomb, threatening to explode in less than two months.
Of course, we are unwilling to focus on anything that’s beyond two minutes away. That’s about the time between various outrages., like buffoons like Tony Scaramucci who briefly pollute the atmosphere before dissipating. Us media enablers delight in both the chaos and the threats that the chaos will get even uglier if investigators find there was election collusion with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. We are close to our nation being regarded by the world as a Second-Class Reduced Entity or Worse for Enduring this Debacle. I’ll leave it to you to figure out that acronym.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

THE THEME SCENE


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

THE THEME SCENE

---

People, we have an attitude problem to discuss: It has come to my attention that too many of you are mocking President Donald Trump and his “Made in America” theme week. Perhaps it’s because it takes some nerve for Donald Trump to champion
“Made in America,” since so much of the merchandise hustled by his family’s many enterprises is definitely not made in America.

A little thing like that didn’t stop POTUS from turning the White House grounds into a display of domestically manufactured products. Shameless, he’s not. He even wandered around the stuff, playing with a firetruck and allowing himself to be photographed in a cowboy hat. Words cannot convey how he looked in his Stetson.

It’s not the first time this administration has concocted one of these. Who can forget “Infrastructure” week, “Technology” week or “Energy” week? “American Heroes” and “American Dreams” are up next. Weak, but lest you haters out there jump at still another opportunity to ridicule this president, he’s not the only one; George W. Bush had them all the time.

My main quibble is that they don’t reflect reality. Yes, I know that’s being picky, but the administration’s branding geniuses can come up with more cutting-edge themes that really capture the Trump experience. First of all, it’s likely you’re scratching your head right now (or whatever you do when you have no idea what someone is
talking about). Perhaps you thought that it was actually “Russia Investigation” theme week or, more specifically, “Presidential Pardon” week, since Trump and his lawyers are reportedly discussing his pardoning whomever of his associates gets accused of criminal activity in connection with the probe into whether his side sold out the American election to his buddy Vladimir Putin. Some accounts, by the way, included discussions about whether he could pardon himself. There’s a real heated debate about that one, although the Trumpster claims he has “complete” power to pardon.


Every theme week could be “Russian Collusion” week, or more accurately “Russian Collision.” But not every one could be called “Mooch.” That’s the nickname of Anthony Scaramucci, who has now become White House communications director, chosen by POTUS even though he has zero Washington or communications experience. That was such a slap in the face to Sean Spicer that Spicer resigned. Melissa McCarthy must be inconsolable. Spicer was immediately replaced as press secretary by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. In fairness, “Saturday Night Live” will need to find a man to play her.

We really should go back to the beginning though. They’ve really packed a lot into six months. Shouldn’t they have started out with a “Muslim Travel Ban” theme week, to celebrate the wild success of that initiative? And let’s not forget that other immigration triumph, “Mexican Wall” week. It’s been a never-ending series. They’re still struggling with “Obamacare Repeal and Replace” week. Trade policy? How about “Isolationist” theme week. That could be coordinated by Steve Bannon. In fact, various members of the administration can be in charge. Even the man at the very top, the president himself can join the fun. I’m referring to President Putin, of course.

He could oversee “Election Theft” week. It could be a reunion, a collaboration with Donald Jr. and the rest of the gang. This administration has so many theme songs that play ad nauseam. “Tweet” week comes to mind. “Fake News” week is
another. And now we have the president mulling Mueller ... Bob Mueller, the special counsel who is apparently getting too close for comfort. So Trump is publicly musing about replacing Mueller. And that’s not fake mus. He hinted just that in The New York Times. If he did go ahead, every week would have an “Impeachment” label. "Made in America",of course.

Perhaps he needs to consider doing away with theme weeks altogether, even though that would be un-themely.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

TRUMP'S RUSSIAN COMEDY

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 18, 2017

TRUMP'S RUSSIAN COMEDY
---
I can tell you what the cast members of “Saturday Night Live” are doing during the off-season: They are practicing their Russian accents.
It would take pretty much the entire repertory company to do a bit on the meeting between Don Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and the gang from the Kremlin. There were altogether at least eight people at that infamous get-together that we now know was called to dish some dirt on Hillary Clinton. “SNL” already has been feasting on the Trumpsters to the point that this season it gathered 22 Emmy nominations, the largest number ever in the show’s four-plus decades of existence. The problem the writers always have with the Trump crew is coming up with a farce that is more slapstick than the real thing.
Take that meeting with the Trumpets and the Soviets -- oh, excuse me, Russians. That, by the way, was the first mistake of Junior and the rest: agreeing to take that meeting. First, they had to find an office big enough to accommodate the crowd. Presumably the ostentatious building has conference rooms, because this gathering featured a cast of characters that could fill one of those TV reality shows. We might call it “The Real Colluders of Trump Tower” or, given young Donald’s role, maybe “The Apprentice”? (Nah. Who would call a program “The Apprentice”?)
Of course, there was young Donald; we call him “young,” although, as many have pointed out, he’s the same age as French President Emmanuel Macron. You know Emmanuel Macron: He’s the one with whom Trump the elder was cavorting in Paris, telling Macron’s wife what “great shape” she was in. Our president is nothing if he’s not cool. (What’s French for “ewwwwww”?)

All this while his son (Trump’s, not Macron’s; the French president has no kids and probably is very happy about that right now) was back home trying to deflect charges he was consorting with Putin’s Posse.
The others crammed into their meeting room were Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with close ties to the Kremlin, with oligarchs and mobsters for clients. Also there was Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist who began his adult life working in Soviet intelligence. Then there was Rob Goldstone, public-relations person to another oligarch’s family (Russian, not American), the one who had enticed young Donald with his email promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” There were a couple of others on the Russian side, along with Junior, Jared and Manafort. It’s not clear whether they, too, were on the Russian side.
We can assume that neither Vladimir Putin nor Trump Sr. were listening in on speakerphone, and right now the story from both is that they weren’t aware of the meeting. Putin claims to not know any of the participants, which is a little bit more difficult for President Trump to claim.
After all, Paul Manafort is the political fixer who was Trump’s campaign leader at the time, until he was shoved aside because of disclosures he had made millions of dollars from a Ukrainian party with close ties to the Kremlin. Jared, of course, is the Trump son-in-law and presidential adviser who has massive influence on anything that happens in this White House. Don Jr. is the son who gets his kicks by slaughtering unsuspecting big game.
As dramatic as the charges are that Trump’s campaign and the Russians conspired to steal the U.S. election, this also is comedy. And it’s not just “Saturday Night Live.” These players could inhabit a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin might easily be mistaken for Boris and Natasha. And as much as Jared’s name swirls around unsavory developments, he’s starting to look like Snidely Whiplash. Yes, it’s funny burlesque. At the same time, it’s deadly serious.

© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

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