FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN THE CASE AGAINST VIOLENCE “No justice, no peace.” Surely we have all heard that chant for decades at various protests ... well, all but the most cloistered in their white privilege. One can debate about ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. THE CASE AGAINST VIOLENCE
  2. FACE MASK FACE OFF
  3. U.S. CRAPSHOOT
  4. TAKING HIS OWN SNAKE OIL?
  5. THE SURRENDER
  6. More Recent Articles

THE CASE AGAINST VIOLENCE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THE CASE AGAINST VIOLENCE

“No justice, no peace.” Surely we have all heard that chant for decades at various protests ... well, all but the most cloistered in their white privilege. One can debate about the justification for violence in the wake of still another police murder of an African American man, this time George Floyd. But there is, in the final analysis, one major reason to go home and shut down the rioting: the sheer numbers and arsenal that the power structure can rely on for brute force.
It is not worth more human sacrifice to make the point that African Americans, and those whites who support them on the street, have had enough of the police state in which they live. Certainly blacks have. But several governors have already called in the National Guard to supplement heavily armed and armored law enforcement forces. Besides, the support from Americans of goodwill collapses when justified rage is overtaken by hooliganism.
The answer is to leave the streets and organize for the upcoming election. And then, in an overwhelming turnout, vote to remove the unvarnished bigot who is president with clear instructions to Joe Biden. He must make it the priority as president to untangle the racism that ties the United States of America in knots, starting with police reform that removes the bigoted psychopaths in the ranks. It is a country of broken promises for so many of our citizens, including the pretense of “equal protection under the law.”
President Donald Trump is showing his true colors, which are supremacist white, with his series of tweets and other pronouncements like, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” If that sounds familiar, it was part of the repertoire of George Wallace the segregationist, and also part of the act for a police chief in Miami in the ’60s who also said, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”


But back to the Trumpster’s garbage ... he was taken frightened over the weekend, to his bunker, only to emerge on Monday night after demonstrators had been shoved by mounted police away so he could emerge and lumber with his sycophants across the nearby park and pose, awkwardly with a bible of all things in a blatant stunt. He was obviously provoking the protestors all the while taunting them on Twitter. Demonstrators at the White House, who mixed it up with Secret Service guards, warning that had they breached the gates, they’d be met with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” It couldn’t have been an accidental reference to Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety “Bull” Connor, who turned attack dogs loose on civil rights activists in the Jim Crow convulsions of the ’60s.
In fact, so much of the reaction from white officials reminds us of segregationist leaders back then. U.S. Attorney General Bull Barr — excuse me, Bill Barr — is among those who charge that the violence has been directed by those who are not local residents. That is reminiscent of the “outside agitators” that segregationist officials cited back in the ’60s. That is a red herring, because even if true, it would simply mean that someone had traveled to fight injustice in our country.
But it’s Donald Trump, as president, who has made bigotry a staple of his administration. Along with incompetence and self-serving politics to answer a crisis. Look no further than the coronavirus pandemic, where blunders by Trump and his gang have accounted for thousands of deaths that could have been avoided, shortages in the equipment necessary to fight it and an economic disaster where the jobless rate rivals the depression of the 1930s.
In particular, blacks and other people of color have been victimized because of the nation’s racism, which consigns them to second class citizenship. Not only that, but to save his political skin, he has panicked and egged on a “reopening” that is premature, already resulting in more COVID deaths.
Anyone of good will — black, white or other hues — who is sick of his mess and the dirty tricks of Trump supporters must turn out to cast a ballot this November. Not doing so is, in effect,
voting to re-elect Donald Trump, and not voting for any hope of justice.

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

    

FACE MASK FACE OFF

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

FACE MASK FACE OFF

In the United States these days we fight about everything, even about wearing face masks, where the advantages are obvious. In addition to protecting others from your coughing and sneezing, which can spread the deadly coronavirus, it has several cosmetic benefits. Personally, I don’t shave as often as I used to; the stubble is hidden. This concept is also true for women, with any blemish from chin to above the nose hidden from view. As for bad breath, who will know?
But President Donald Trump has convinced his unthinking followers (pardon the redundancy) that the face mask, or lack thereof, is a cultural statement, or lack thereof. He has convinced his people that the mask is a sign of elitist liberal cream puffiness, as opposed to going barefaced to prove one is a macho man or macha woman. To lead the way, the president refuses to be seen in public wearing one. To get personal for once, if there is any man who should cover as much of his face as possible, it is Donald Trump.
But Trump’s followers wouldn’t be caught dead in a face mask, in spite of the experts warning that they and all those they are close to will in fact be caught dead soon enough, struck down by the coronavirus they spread by their vanity or selfishness. You could see them by the thousands, crowded on so many beaches the moment they got permission to be stupid by the water. There they were, crammed together, anti-social distancing inches apart, flirting, drinking, spreading disease. As everyone knows, they finally leave the beach or resort and go back to society, hungover and possibly contagious. By rights, they should all be required to isolate in self-quarantine, but rights are distorted in this country, particularly with its current government led by the maskless man who fancies himself as Superman.


Part of the problem is that liberals are lousy marketers. They are too busy overthinking everything instead of creating an effective message that face masks are cool. Some of the most successful ad campaigns have re-branded products that were considered wimpy, like hair spray, for instance. They now sell millions of containers of men’s hair spray (which is exactly like women’s hair spray). They paid famous athletes to tape testimonials for the manly version. The same was true for low proof beer, sometimes called “near beer.” They renamed it “lite beer” because of its lower calories and got jocks to do TV commercials for it.
Men smoked, but most women didn’t. Enter Virginia Slims and the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby.” The number of female smokers jumped, which was certainly not good news. But the idea still is to position face masks as hip, and people like Donald Trump cloddishly unhip. For all his bluster, he’s fragile, and if he decided that everyone was laughing at him, he’d suddenly come around.
Thin skin is the narcissist’s weakness. Trump, as you might have discerned, is thin-skinned. Any criticism causes him to break out into a Twitter rage of name-calling, murder accusations, lying through his tweets or other forms of Donaldalactic shock.
Of course, it would help if his opponent Joe Biden was more stylish. To be honest, when Biden emerged from his bunker on Memorial Day, the black mask that he was wearing, topped with his aviator sunglasses, was decidedly not chic. Surely he has some consultant who can advise him on how to wear a face mask and sunglasses that don’t make him look like a grasshopper. He will need to not become a fuddy duddy joke like Michael Dukakis was in his tank helmet. (For those too young to know about Dukakis, go to your favorite search engine.) The point is, someone will have to convince people that face masks might save thousands of lives. Including theirs.

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

    

U.S. CRAPSHOOT

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

U.S. CRAP SHOOT

Have you ever wondered how it is, in polite company, you are able to say that it’s a “crap shoot” — as in Las Vegas planning to gradually reopen casinos even though there’s no way they can maintain social distancing at a casino — but you cannot say that President Trump is full of cr-p? He has announced he is declaring that churches and other houses of worship are “essential” and that if governors don’t cooperate he will “override” their inaction.
Would it help to explain I mean he is full of dice? And he is rolling them, using the American people as his pot in a potentially deadly wager with the lethal coronavirus. He’s trying to appear as though he’s rescuing the country from economic disaster and thereby win the big jackpot: reelection. By the way, he has no legal authority to “override” state governors in cases like these.
It’s really not a gamble for him at all, since he only needs to be seen staunchly defending the right of churches — and, oh yeah, synagogues and even mosques — to basically do whatever they want when it comes to holding services. He’s targeting his evangelical base, which internal polls show is beginning to fall apart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (you remember them) even put out guidelines:
— Modify the methods used to receive financial contributions. Consider a stationary collection box or electronic methods of collecting regular financial contributions instead of shared collection trays or baskets.
— Consider whether physical contact (e.g., shaking hands, hugging or kissing) can be limited among members of the faith community.
The Trumpster makes it clear that churches can feel free to ignore those guidelines, and many have. To be clear, many have not, but others have ignored local laws and crammed congregants in, “shaking hands, hugging or kissing” at will. And so this Sunday passed with emboldened evangelicals doing whatever they please, their choirs singing away (also dangerous).
Of course, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the United States, but, unlike Las Vegas, what happens in the tabernacle does not stay in the tabernacle. In other words, whatever contagions they pass back and forth in their pews, they take into their communities.


Over the weekend, President Trump was worshiping in his own way, playing golf at one of his nearby branded courses and making sure the cameras saw him driving not only the ball, but his own cart. Joe Biden, his presumptive Democratic opponent, emerged briefly from his basement bunker for Memorial Day. He also put out an ad: “The death toll is still rising. The president is playing golf.”
Biden is doing his best to forfeit the election. A gaffe could be defined as “what happens every time Joe Biden opens his mouth.” He was busy once again with his peculiar talent, getting in trouble with African American voters, a demographic he needs to generate enthusiasm and turnout in their communities, by going on a popular black listened-to radio program in New York City and declaring, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” Need I remind you that Joe Biden is as white as the driven snow, who described Barack Obama in 2007 as “... the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”?
And now here he is in 2020, accused of being condescending to blacks. Once again, Donald Trump’s main opponent was having to apologize for being “too cavalier.” I think that’s what he said, because he’s hard to understand when he’s speaking with his foot in his mouth.
The two have many differences, but usually Donald Trump says his outrageous stuff intentionally. He’s a genius at getting attention, and when he needs to, deflecting attention. Biden presumably does not. Which is worse? Obviously Trump. He’s in charge at the moment. And rolling the craps with the country he’s shattered.

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

    

TAKING HIS OWN SNAKE OIL?

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

TAKING HIS OWN SNAKE OIL?

Admit it: You don’t know whether to believe him or not. Is President Donald Trump lying about taking hydroxychloroquine? He usually does make things up, but one thing is absolutely true about the Trumpster: He always manages somehow to focus all of the attention on himself.
And we in newsbiz fall for it every single time. The moment he slipped into a news briefing that he was popping “hydroxy” pills, reporters went scurrying to find the first commenters they could, particularly those who would be so shocked that they could barely contain their outrage/fright/
distress. It didn’t matter whether it was a medical expert or opposition politician, as long as the reactor went nuclear. Trump was once again controlling the agenda. Nevermind that, if true — a big “if” — it was a crackpot idea to take this anti-malaria-lupus-rheumatoid arthritis drug, but not, as several studies have demonstrated, anti-coronavirus.
For starters, notwithstanding the president’s endorsement early on, its off-label misuse is dangerous. Side effects can include a disruption of heart activity, leading to death. And another one: It can make you bonkers. That may not be an issue with this POTUS, but quoting the Mayo Clinic description listing possible side effects, it can cause:
— Feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior.
— Feeling that others can hear your thoughts.
— Feeling, seeing or hearing things that are not there.
That would explain Trump and all his conspiracy theories, except that he was spouting off those long before he started his hydroxychloroquine and zinc regimen. Why zinc? It bolsters your immune system.
Forgetting whether the president of the United States should be taking such a dangerous drug, his doing so and publicly announcing it creates an instant shortage. Those who have a medical need are out of luck, as the gullible Trump followers ... uh ... follow his example and start demanding prescriptions themselves.
They should know that their guy has decided to end his journey into the pharmacological unknown, but he’s certainly not finished risking the lives of millions of Americans. His self-serving support for the premature reopening of the country contradicts the advice of most medical experts who say it’s too soon and that thousands will die as a result.
I’’ve seen reports that his campaign consultants are trying to recruit doctor supporters to go on television and endorse the lowering of restrictions. It reminds me of the MDs who were paid by a tobacco company to do commercials for one brand of cigarettes or another.


Trump is also itching to get back on the election trail by holding rallies. Besides the focus on himself as he tosses fact-deprived red meat to his roaring masses, it would be a dangerous adventure with thousand crammed into each venue, sweating, coughing, spitting, hating, sharing conspiracy theories ... whatever they do at his rallies. And not maintaining social distance and certainly not wearing masks. Actually, come to think of it, Donald Trump, the supreme marketer, might decide to offer for sale masks adorned with the MAGA logo.
It’s not that this is all bad. It’s possible that he would flush Joe Biden out of his basement at home to sell himself, as opposed to relying on the country to vote for him because he’s not Donald Trump. Next up for Biden, the announcement of his running mate selection. That’s a toughie. He’s already declared that it will be a woman. But which woman? Whichever one he chooses, he will risk offending some Democratic constituency or other. Is she the right color? Is she progressive enough? Is she too progressive?
Is she someone who will draw attention away from Donald Trump? Which is a tall order, considering how he’s a shameless self-promoter, even willing to damage himself with unproven drugs. Assuming you believe he actually took hydroxychloroquine.

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

    

THE SURRENDER

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE SURRENDER

A month or so from now, it will be interesting to see how many of the customers who crowded into Wisconsin bars without masks the moment their local government leaders lifted the taverns’ restrictions have caught the coronavirus ... and how many have died. It’s morbid, but so is the trade-off that comes courtesy of the highly political conservative State Supreme Court, which ruled that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers did not have the right to extend the restrictions that have locked down the state without permission from the Republican majority state legislature.
Horrified mayors and county officials in many urban areas immediately clamped down and extended their own strict security measures. It created a statewide hodgepodge. Gov. Evers went on MSNBC and complained, “We’re the Wild West!” If residents really had to race to their favorite saloons to have their shots and beers but were not allowed to do so where they lived, they could simply drive a few miles and get hammered nearby. One wonders if they drove themselves home, and how many got pulled over for DUI, but that’s another issue.
Let’s concentrate on those who absolutely needed alcohol and had to demonstrate their “liberation” spirit by not wearing a mask. Then let’s survey those whose hangovers included COVID-19. It would not be surprising to discover the patrons of Cheers — or whatever their favorite watering hole is called — ended up cheerless.
It was the worst of politics. President Donald Trump and all of his accomplices are single-mindedly focused on getting reelected, particularly getting him reelected. So, they used the “reopen” gambit to deflect attention from the administration’s disastrous public health campaign that allowed the coronavirus to unnecessarily run roughshod over the United States. Now he is willing to risk thousands of lives with careless winding down of sensible restrictions in the face of evidence that the organism is nowhere near ready to go away.
While we’re at it, let’s keep track of a beauty salon and the customers who rushed to make an appointment to get styled (by now, shouldn’t we have embraced “shaggy chic”?) or get their hair dyed. Let’s find out how many died in the quest to cover the telltale gray. We’ve already heard stories about defiant barbers who trimmed customers’ hair and defied shutdown orders and who subsequently tested positive for COVID — and at least one case where the barber lost his life to the coronavirus.


Armed zealots from a rural part of Michigan, a region routinely described as “Trump country,” surrounded a barbershop to protect the owner who defied state orders to remain closed. In this particular case, they were members of the self-styled Michigan Home Guard, a contingent of “very good people” in President Trump’s telling, who appeared ready to shoot it out with police who dared to enforce the law. The local sheriff decided his deputies would not intervene. I looked at several pictures of the armed group, and all of the members appeared to be white. Just saying.
Meanwhile, the state of Michigan continues to be a hot spot of coronavirus and should be maintaining a strict lockdown for another month or so. As it now stands with the reopening, authorized and unauthorized, the coronavirus will be around for awhile and could flare up even worse. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t want to give up the fight before it’s won. But she’s a Democrat. Her detractors definitely are not, plus they are being egged on by a president who has poisoned the atmosphere with politics that is just as lethal as the coronavirus.
What he’s actually doing is surrendering in the fight to regain public health, leading a retreat into his personal ambition. He will have to account for it on Election Day. We think.

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

    

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