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, NOV. 13, 2018 TO KNOW HIM IS NOT TO KNOW HIM --- "I don't know Matt Whitaker." That was President ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. TO KNOW HIM IS NOT TO KNOW HIM
  2. DITCH THE HARD PASSES
  3. MOVE BACKWARD-FALL FLAT
  4. NOVEMBER SURPRISE
  5. THE VIOLENT PRESIDENCY
  6. More Recent Articles

TO KNOW HIM IS NOT TO KNOW HIM

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, NOV. 13, 2018

TO KNOW HIM IS NOT TO KNOW HIM
---
"I don't know Matt Whitaker." That was President Donald Trump, unmistakably signaling that Matthew Whitaker won't be acting attorney general much longer.
Never mind that just about a month ago, during one of his regular love fests on "Fox and Friends," Trump was singing a different tune: "I can tell you Matt Whitaker's a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker." Now, all you haters out there might think that POTUS was just once again being a lying sack of spit. But those of us in the know understand that it was simply a mistake; he was talking about two different Matt Whitakers. That still begs the question: Why would he appoint someone he says he doesn't know to be acting attorney general, the chief law enforcement official in the U. S. of A., with thousands upon thousands of attorneys and federal agents under his command?
And why didn't his vetters pick up on Whitaker's long record of comments about the American legal system that make one wonder how he ever passed the bar, or even high-school civics? His public statements about jurisprudence range from ignorant to Neanderthal. Why didn't his constant derogatory comments about the Robert Mueller investigation -- questioning whether it should even exist -- raise a red flag with someone in the administration?

 

Oh wait, the cynics among us might consider the possibility that his appointment to a job that would give him control of how or even whether Mueller proceeds, that his stated contempt for the entire special counsel probe might be precisely why he was named by President Trump. And if you believe Trump's response to reporters -- "I didn't speak to Matt Whitaker about it" -- then I'd like to sell you some courses at Trump University.
Maybe that was part of Matt Whitaker's personal appeal to the Trumpster. Among the other parts of Whitaker's resume was his glaringly public association with a patent-advice scam that was widely accused of bilking thousands of dollars from inventors until it was shut down by a federal judge this year. He was a member of the operation's advisory committee, and even sent intimidating letters threatening ominous legal action against those who complained. It truly does sound like a Trump University con, so Donald Trump not only knows Matt Whitaker, but they are total soul mates, just like the Donald and Vladimir Putin, or Kim Jong Un. There are just some people you meet and immediately establish a connection.
There are those who argue that Trump's appointment of Whitaker is unconstitutional or otherwise illegal. For what it's worth, I'm not convinced by their arguments. Not that I'm a lawyer, but this is one of those rare cases where attorneys have laid out a simple case, that it violates the Constitution's Appointments Clause because Whitaker wasn't confirmed by the Senate. In fact, he was confirmed, 14 years ago, before he became a U.S. attorney in Iowa. They also contend that choosing him to be acting attorney general violated various laws and/or regulations. Unfortunately, there are conflicting laws and/or regulations, to say nothing about a Supreme Court that's dominated by Trump sycophants.
Still, Whitaker is probably toast. Trump demands loyalty, but he doesn't reciprocate. Beyond that, for someone who acts like he's impervious to embarrassment, in reality Donald Trump is incredibly frightened of ridicule, inordinately so. That helps explain his fury at "fake news" reporters who dare ask uncomfortable questions or put out unfavorable stories.
The Matthew Whitaker story has quickly turned unfavorable. So Whitaker is not long for this swamp. Already, a quiet search is most certainly underway for someone equally unqualified to take his place and shameless enough to gut the Mueller investigation without fear, before there is a special counsel report accompanied by more indictments. How about Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary who is looking up at a major legal cloud? He's already gone through Senate confirmation. The key will be whether President Trump will admit that he knows him.

(c) 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

DITCH THE HARD PASSES

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, NOV. 9, 2018

DITCH THE HARD PASSES
---
I've said this before, but my colleagues in media have either disagreed or simply ignored me. After Jim Acosta's confrontation with the president at a White House press conference and the subsequent retaliation, it's time for me to renew my call for all reporters who hold so-called hard passes to turn them in and abandon their post at the White House en masse.
Yes, it would be a gesture of defiance (guess which gesture) raised to a president and administration that uses reporters as props. There is nothing in the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of the props. Besides, the nation's current chief executive demonstrates time and again his utter disregard for the entire Constitution.
Consider the tone of his post election news conference, after the frayed Democrats were able to weave a takeover of the House of Representatives. That's a big deal. If there was a group in Washington called "The Spinners," Donald Trump would be the lead singer. (Yes, I know there's a Motown ensemble with the same name. Among their hits was "The Rubber Band Man." Trump's would have recorded "Robber Baron Man.") He has somehow managed to twist the midterm results around into a "tremendous success," because Republicans had expanded control of the Senate. The Senate wasn't really in play, but whatever.

 

But that's not why all journalists and their companies should pull out of the White House. Once again, he hurled invective at any media type who dared ask a tough question, and he aimed his most extreme abuse at CNN's Jim Acosta. By the way, Acosta is considered by many of his peers to be kind of a hot dog. Donald Trump insists on being the hot dog king, so we never "sausage" animosity as that on display.
As Acosta tried to ask another of his snarky questions, this time whether the president had "demonized immigrants" with his campaign rhetoric, Trump rejected him out of hand, and a press-office intern tried to take away Acosta's microphone. Jim held on to the mic and brushed the intern in the process. He even said to her "pardon me, ma'am." He then persisted with his line of inquiry, which Trump refused to answer except for a tirade: "CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person." That was it. Just another day in White House paradise.
Except that the administration later decided to lower the boom on Acosta. They pulled his press pass, denying him access to the grounds. That apparently was an unprecedented action, particularly when it was accompanied by a statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that it was really because Acosta was guilty of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern."
How shall I say this? That's another Sarah Sanders lie. Various camera shots showed that it was a lie. To make matters even worse, Sanders' press office distributed a video that had been clumsily doctored! The White House Correspondents' Association, wimpy as ever, released a statement saying the administration's hard-pass pulling was "out of line to the purported offense." How's that for bold?
There should no longer be a White House Correspondents' Association, simply because there should no longer be any White House correspondents. After they turn in their passes, I'd suggest holding a bonfire, but there's probably a law against that.
Then the crowd of self-respecting journalists, which includes many of them, will give up their access to the grounds and go back to their offices. They can work their phones -- I'm told they even have portable ones these days -- and do some old-fashioned reporting, mining that gold mine of corruption that defines this president and his accomplices.
Sure, if he wants to stage a news conference, we should go. If he wants to hold a rally, we should tape it, and the TV networks can decide whether he's simply firing the same old ignorant, racist bullshot. The first thing everyone should investigate is whether Jim Acosta and Donald Trump have some secret public-relations deal to enhance JimAcosta's image. It's certainly accomplishing that. In any case, it's time for all of them, including Acosta, to escape the White House prison and do journalism to explore whether it's the president who is the "enemy of the people."

(c) 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

MOVE BACKWARD-FALL FLAT

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, NOV. 6, 2018

MOVE BACKWARD-FALL FLAT
---
Mornings are somewhat brighter, but it's still the days of mourning. The switch from daylight saving to standard time is an admission that we can't escape the predictable gloom of winter, with its icy weather. It might become less predictable once global warming fully wreaks its destruction -- you know, the disaster that President Donald Trump and the corporate energy interests expediently choose to deny.
On the other hand, the political season is nonstop, and the climate in that world inexorably deteriorates too. While we've wrapped up the midterms and the creators of those incessant TV ads and robo calls, along with the social media trolls, all will go into hibernation, do not think for a moment that the campaign is behind us. On Nov. 7, we seamlessly move from the midterms to the presidential race. Actually, there's nothing seamless about the unseemly Donald Trump, who presumably will be up for a second four years. That "presumably" is based on the hypothesis that Trump will be around for seconds, that the Robert Mueller probe or any of the other investigations and lawsuits that swirl around him will not have revealed something so egregious that even he can't survive in office. Or that he will not issue an executive fiat doing away with the elections.

 

Assuming neither of those happens, just as our clocks were set an hour behind, we can, at the same time, confidently look ahead to the near future. Don't be surprised if rhetoric about that caravan of Central Americans -- the thousands of "dangerous" invaders who were on their way to overrun the United States, to trample over our borders -- quickly evaporates. They were a handy foil to fool the bigots in his base, but they aren't needed anymore. His followers' fears won't need to be exploited again until the runup to Nov. 3, 2020, which is when the polls reopen. So presto-change-O, the "caravan" will miraculously disappear.
No more will we hear about the commander in chief ordering active-duty military forces to confront those migrant trespassers; no more will he bluster with implications that American forces will use their weapons to defend against any interloper throwing a rock. He's already tippy-toed back from that deadly demagoguery, perhaps after being warned by his advisers that he would be culpable for war crimes. Gone will be any talk about setting up massive tent cities to house any of those dangerous aliens waiting to press their pleas for asylum. And waiting and waiting. All of that will vanish, filed away until 2020.
That is not to say that things will ease up with the Trumpster. Listen for what Ross Perot (look him up, kiddies) called the "giant sucking sound" of prominent members of the administration hightailing it. Some will be pushed out -- like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and maybe Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That probably would happen on a Saturday night (again, young'uns, check out "Saturday Night Massacre" on your search engine). Others will fly the coop. Defense Secretary Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis could bolt from the administration kennel. We shouldn't be surprised if chief of staff John Kelly marches out at the first opportunity. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen could be nudged out the door, if for no other reason than she was brought in by Kelly.
Then we have the ones who are under ominous legal clouds, the likes of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He soon may be former Interior Secretary Zinke.
The Democrats will scramble to find a candidate to rally around, and do it before they rip each other to shreds in their usual way.
In both parties, the various political functionaries will be hard at work plotting their strategies. For Republicans, that will include operatives foreign and domestic. So do not for a minute believe there's a break in the action. Like switching to standard time, look for the politicians to plunge our country further backward into darkness.

(c) 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

NOVEMBER SURPRISE

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, NOV. 2, 2018

NOVEMBER SURPRISE
---
In the final moments before the midterm elections (thank heaven), even though he's not officially on any ballots, President Donald Trump is right where he constantly wants to be, which is to say hogging the center of attention.
Say whatever you want about the economy, pre-existing conditions, all that substantive folderol -- it's Trump, Trump, Trump, just like it always is. He's even more out there than usual, spreading his poison at wall-to-wall rallies. They are announced as campaign events in support of various Republican candidates, but that's a ruse. In fact, to use a redundancy for emphasis, it's a fake ruse.
It's obviously all about him and what he's contriving as he uses the powers he holds as campaign playthings. He's been hosting a nonstop October surprise party.
But there's still time for some November surprises, perhaps ways that he can expand on his efforts to incite his passionate base to turn out on Election Day.

While he has already promised to send 15,000 active-duty troops to our southern border to prevent that highly trained "invasion" force of women, children, seniors and a few good men from overwhelming our borders and pillaging our country, there's more that he could do. Don't be surprised if he orders the entire United States missile component to make quickie adjustments, so that every piece of nuclear hardware can be aimed at the border. You don't mess with the U.S. of A., although he also could enlist his buddies Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin to join him by recalibrating their own stockpiles of world annihilation. As for the border tent city where he'll imprison these menacing interlopers, he can appoint another old friend to run it: Who else but Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in connection with his abuse of immigrants. President Trump pardoned him. Of course he did, he's Trump's kind of criminal.
At the same time, he is promising an executive order that would eliminate the 14th Amendment's "birthright" citizenship, you know, that thingy that reads "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
If he's going to ignore part of the Constitution, why not just get rid of the whole thing? Let's face it -- he's constantly being bugged by its limitations, so he can eliminate them in one fell swoop. Some of the moderates in the Republican Party, both of them, argue that he only needs to suspend the Constitution, but he'd probably consider that too wimpy. Why not just blow it away all at once?
Think of the advantages to him and his base: Gone would be the First Amendment, with its promises of a free press. Going forward he can simply round up and jail all those troublesome media people. Or maybe he can arrange for his Saudi accomplices to do it.
Also scrapped would be the 16th Amendment, the one that allows a federal income tax. That way he'd be delivering on his pledge to cut more taxes. What better tactic to cut them than to wipe them out?
Back to Putin, who has served as a Trump mentor, his mentee's elimination of the Constitution would allow for the elimination of the Robert Mueller investigation into collusion between these two. Due process? What due process? Just blot out Mueller and his whole special prosecutor gang. While he's at it, he could take heed of his followers' chanting and actually lock up Hillary Clinton. For that matter, he can detain all those who have dared to challenge him. Imagine the fight as various prison wardens competed for Stormy Daniels.
By following this path, he certainly will whip up his zealots and get them out to vote for the senators and House candidates he favors. Of course, it wouldn't matter because there'd be no Congress to impeach him. Nor would there be a Supreme Court to continue a haven for sex offenders. He could run for re-election in 2020 without opposition. Oh wait, there wouldn't be an election. His absolute ruler dream would be realized.

(c) 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

THE VIOLENT PRESIDENCY

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, OCT. 30, 2018

THE VIOLENT PRESIDENCY
---
Republicans have always justified their preferential treatment of the super-wealthy by trotting out the bogus “trickle-down theory.” They argue that as the rich get richer, they will spend more on jobs, etc., and the financial benefits will “trickle down” the economic scale. It’s a total con, of course. A sham. The most prosperous among us simply hoard their newfound bread, except for the crumbs that they toss to their political lackeys, mainly in the GOP, so they can keep getting their tax breaks and the like.
But now we are witnessing a trickle down that’s for real. The man who has taken over the Republicans spews ignorance, hatred and violence every time he opens his mouth or pecks on a smartphone. His malice indeed trickles down -- actually, more like a gushing -- as Americans for and against him act on and react to the poison of Donald Trump.
It explains the horrifying slaughter at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday -- the Shabbat, when Jews would be packed in as they came to worship. Robert Bowers, who allegedly mowed them down, was an outspoken and virulent anti-Semite. It would be overstating it to pin that label on Donald Trump. However, he certainly has pandered to those who are emboldened to crawl out of their dark hiding places and proudly display their fanatic hatred of Jews and everyone else who’s not a heterosexual white Christian. Trump inspires them with his unceasing dog whistles. One specific example was his insistence that the extremist marchers who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 included many “good people.” That apparently would mean those chanting “Jews will not replace us” might be “good people.”
By the way, Bowers had made it clear in his social media rants that he was not a Trump supporter. Not so for Cesar Sayoc, the passionate Trumphead arrested for sending out crude pipe bombs to just about any liberal who had ever crossed his idol.

Donald Trump has created a presidency with his brand of destructive politicking that literally triggers violence. The brutality now flows freely from both sides. The 2017 shooting and near killing of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise during an attack on GOP congressmen as they practiced for a baseball game against the Democrats was another case in point. The perpetrator was someone from the left who had become inflamed into a homicidal rage. What also was regrettable is that the annual game is one of the few shreds of bipartisanship that remains. That has been replaced first by high-volume, angry rhetoric and now inevitably by real attacks as the “United” in United States is becoming a fiction. The loudest voice of all, screaming invective from his bully pulpit, is the instigator in chief, President Trump.
His corrosion cascades downward, and tears us apart. Violence is a predictable result. And now he has the chutzpah to declare that what our country needs is to “unify.” He blames the media. One recent tweet reads: “There is a great anger in our country, caused in part by inaccurate and even fraudulent reporting of the news, the fake news, the true enemy of the people, must stop the open and obvious hostility ...”
That is an invitation to violence against journalists if there ever was one. Or perhaps depraved irresponsibility. Meanwhile, his sycophants on the right are still peddling the story that the entire pipe bomb episode was a “false flag” subterfuge. It was really a “Democratic operative,” thundered Rush Limbaugh to his remaining dozens of radio listeners, “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing.” How about Trumplicans, Rush?
This quote may be familiar, as I’ve used it before: “’Cheer up,’ they said. ‘Things could be worse.’ So I did, and sure enough, they were.” Unless we rediscover that political debate means exchanging points of view as opposed to shouting at one another; until our leaders get a twinge of conscience, the growing fire will finally consume our country. The national will to extinguish it will have become a pathetic trickle.

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

    

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