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, JUNE 19, 2018 A NAFTA WORLD CUP? --- I’m totally puzzled: How could the United States, Canada ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. A NAFTA WORLD CUP?
  2. THE ART OF THE HUSTLE
  3. PAID VACATION
  4. ROSEANNE, SAMANTHA AND KIM
  5. NFL AND DPRK
  6. More Recent Articles

A NAFTA WORLD CUP?

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, JUNE 19, 2018

A NAFTA WORLD CUP?
---
I’m totally puzzled: How could the United States, Canada and Mexico have successfully convinced FIFA, the international soccer organization, to award the 2026 World Cup competition to North America, the first time in history that the hosts will be three different countries? Granted, using “organization” and “FIFA” in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch, but it is soccer’s governing body -- the Federation Internationale de Football Association, in case you care.
But Mexico, Canada and the United States in a joint venue for a NAFTA World Cup? If President Donald Trump goes along as he has so far, the U.S. could be at war with one or both nations by 2026, or at least have built walls on both borders. Or maybe a wall of prohibitive tariffs once he blows NAFTA to smithereens. Will there be special dispensation for Mexican fans who want to watch a match in the U.S? What will prevent them from slipping off and taking up illegal residence in the United States?
I’m sure that has occurred to the hard-liners in the White House, along with the other anti-immigrant bigots. I’m just as certain that they’ve already come up with a solution: Perhaps they already are making plans to seize the children of any soccer fan and hold them hostage, as the U.S. is doing now by wrenching kids away from parents who dare to cross into the U.S. no matter what their motive. Maybe, while the kids are held prisoner, they can be scouted for their athletic prowess. Those who have championship potential -- and perhaps even their parents -- can be granted visas, although that may strike the anti-immigrant zealots as going too far. The treatment of these children is the administration’s latest way to discourage illegal immigration. If it doesn’t do the job, will the administration then take harsher methods, perhaps waterboarding them or using North Korea’s way to discourage anyone who dares cross their border? If anyone has forgotten, they shoot them.

 

President Trump is following his usual model in placing blame after an uproar has erupted over Americans snatching kids out of their parents’ arms. He’s claiming he has no choice because of a law that was passed by Democrats. There is no such law, Democrat or otherwise. It’s a bald-faced lie. As I said, he’s following his usual model ...
Speaking of usual models, Donald Trump is taking most of the credit for the FIFA award, and perhaps this is a case where one of his tried-and-true tactics did help. That would be the threat. In April he sent out this heavy-handed tweet (is that a redundancy?): “It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?”
Whether that did the trick or not, the U.S. -- excuse me, “North America” -- prevailed, beating out Morocco, 134-65. Besides the Trump nastiness, the NAFTA proposal was reinforced by pledges from the sponsors of tremendous crowds and, most importantly, $11 billion in profits. It would be remiss if we forgot that the bidding was slowed down by the huge scandal in 2015 that nearly consumed FIFA.
Some other details also bear mentioning. Canada and Mexico will host 10 matches each, while the U.S. will provide the venue for 60, including every match from the quarterfinals onward.
The United States, between now and 2026, will have to up its game -- its soccer game. This year’s World Cup is being held in Russia. Among the countries not represented is the United States. The U.S. team failed to qualify. There was clearly no collusion there.
It did qualify when it came to using what’s left of U.S. muscle (translated, dollars) to become the 2026 venue. The Trump administration representatives even were able to convince the other nations that its harsh anti-immigrant policies will not be an impediment. Nor will its anti-ally policies.

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

    

THE ART OF THE HUSTLE

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, JUNE 15, 2018

THE ART OF THE HUSTLE
---
This is not the first time I’ve quoted the ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s book, but I often have been curious about what exactly he was trying to convey with “The Art of the Deal.” Well, maybe not “often.” But, a couple of times I’ve wondered what the catchy and grandiose title meant in the best-seller (which is itself a puzzler). It contains nothing more than rudimentary, self-evident advice on negotiations. To wit: “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” Talk about Captain Obvious.
Yet now you have Donald Trump violating even that fundamental rule of bargaining. It didn’t appear in his text, but what Trump apparently has meant all along was that “The Art of the Deal” is pretending to make a deal because he is so desperate to look like he made one.
In Singapore, Kim Jong Un didn’t give up anything, unless we include the fact that he showed up, shook hands and smiled a lot with President Trump. But wait, that was a win for Kim, because his status in the world as a dangerous punk was hugely elevated by the fact that he met as an equal with a sitting president of the United States. Not only did Trump show up, shake hands and smile a lot with Kim, POTUS validated the ruthless dictator and his vicious state that imprisons and murders anyone who deviates from being an obedient automaton -- more than 100,000, by most credible estimates, are held in cruel gulags, where they are starved, beaten or raped.
Human rights is not the president’s thing, as we’ve discovered, and by his own account, the subject barely came up in their talks. Afterward he gushed to the Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things and that’s why he’s doing this.”
Greta did her job: “But he’s starved them. He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?”
Trump: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it. But, I really have to go by today and by yesterday and by a couple of weeks ago, because that’s really when this whole thing started.”
As for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which is the issue that brought them to this dance, it was all Trump quid and no pro quo from Kim. True, they did sign a joint declaration where Kim Jong Un made the same vague promises to denuclearize his nation that have been made and broken numerous times. In return, he got from Trump a pledge to end the joint military exercises with South Korea that the North has always called a “provocation.” In fact, don’t you know that the president parroted Chairman Kim’s propaganda and called them “provocative.” He then promised to end them, which, by the way, surprised the daylights out of the South Koreans as well as the Pentagon.

 


Regarding denuclearization, Trump was already declaring that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” That must have thrilled them back in Pyongyang, where Kim was probably celebrating putting one over on the “Dotard.”
As for President Trump, he’ll have to find another nation and its leader to ostracize. Come to think of it, he already has one, Justin Trudeau’s Canada, and it’s not even far away. Remember the song from the 1999 “South Park” movie called “Blame Canada”? If that’s before your time, look it up on your search engine. Obviously, Donald Trump has taken it to heart. He doesn’t realize it was a parody.
Meanwhile, that cheesy video he ordered made which depicted Kim Jong Un as man of the people should have been a parody too, but it was serious. What we’ve learned from all this is that the art of any Donald Trump deal includes the art of propaganda.

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

    

PAID VACATION

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, JUNE 5, 2018

PAID VACATION
---
Does Kim Jong Un tweet? Is there an @realKimJongUn on Twitter? Well, actually, there is, but it’s not @realKimJongUn for real; it’s satire. If Kim actually did have a handle, he’d probably have at least 25.5 million people who’d hang on his every word. Or be hanged. That’s the population of North Korea, and it certainly would be mandatory, were it not for the fact that most of his people don’t have electricity.
By comparison, President Donald Trump’s personal account has 52 million-plus followers, to say nothing of the millions more who read his variety of other anti-social media posts.
Not that Kim’s people are luddites; they have put together one of the world’s most aggressive hacking operations. But no Twitter. As least as far as we know.
That might explain why Kim ordered that a letter be hand-delivered to the White House the other day, although no one revealed what its contents were, nor why it was so large. When Trump raised it for photographers, it looked like he was holding an envelope with a fake newspaper inside. He jokingly tried to sell it to reporters, saying: “How much? How much? How much?” At least I think it was a joke.
Perhaps it contained a list of demands from Pyongyang -- not what it would take for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal, but what Kim’s delegation will require for travel arrangements. Not only what but, apparently, who’s going to pay for the hotel, the planes, the food, the night clubbing and everything else that the large North Korea entourage might need.

 

This is a sensitive subject for a country so poor that it can’t afford the trip to Singapore without assistance, where it’s leaders’ expense accounts don’t even measure up to those of reporters or the army of U.S. experts and all the security. Thank heaven Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt isn’t attending. His lavish arrangements easily could become a diplomatic incident, even though they’d be privately financed by some of the same energy lobbyists he relies on now.
But in Singapore, somebody, somehow will have to camouflage the fact that the North Korean summiteers’ excursion is being financed by others -- specifically, the United States. That will take a bit of perfectly legal money laundering. Some friendly government or governments will have to foot the bill. But, to paraphrase Harry Truman, there is no such thing as a free junket.
That will mean some sort of creative quid pro quo. Just a suggestion, but maybe the nation that does pay the bill can fund the North Koreans in Singapore in return for a ton of complimentary stays here in D.C. at the Trump International Hotel, otherwise known as the Washington Emolument (a little constitutional humor). It’s a shame that there is no Trump hotel in Singapore, but perhaps he can do a little scouting while he’s there. The North Koreans seem to prefer the Fullerton, which is a tad more luxurious than anything back home, but hey, if someone else is picking up the check, let it all hang out. Just ask Scott Pruitt. The presidential suite at the Fullerton goes for $6,000 a night, by the way, but Kim needs to travel in the style he’s not accustomed to.
He should be used to charity. South Korea and the International Olympic Committee arranged to pick up his tab for the Winter Olympics, which got the ball rolling. His country may be destitute, but Kim Jong Un knows how to throw its weight around. It’s really simple: Develop a nuclear arsenal and threaten to blow the world to smithereens. Presto! You get a plush family vacation.
The question is whether it will be worth the investment and actually will end up removing the North Korea nuclear threat. Perhaps relative prosperity will persuade Kim, and eventually he can pay for his own travel. And tweet about it.

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

    

ROSEANNE, SAMANTHA AND KIM

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, JUNE 1, 2018

ROSEANNE, SAMANTHA AND KIM

By now, you’re probably tired of hearing about Roseanne Barr and her racist tweet that was so ugly that she graduated from Deplorable to Despicable, and ABC dropped her like a stone. It was another case where the usual bottom-line-feeding corporate executives were forced to display a flash of conscience. Or they calculated that her show, which has made the network millions of dollars, would now make them nothing but trouble if they didn’t get rid of her in a big hurry. So, Roseanne Barr is now in the dumpster.
What’s interesting is the Trumpster’s reaction. Even Donald Trump seemed to heed the advice of a grown-up; either that or he was taking his meds. Whatever the reason, he didn’t directly defend Roseanne or her sense of humor, even though he previously has bragged about her big success and big ratings -- mainly because she’s such a rarity in show business, a Donald Trump admirer.
That doesn’t mean that the Chief Resenter Of The United States (CROTUS) didn’t toss out a tweet just to keep his bitter-about-social-progress base happy, or as happy as anyone can be who has so many grievances. Instead of standing up for his bigoted soul mate Roseanne, he defaulted to his victim role and tossed a little nastiness at Bob Iger. Iger is the CEO of Disney, which owns ABC, as well as much of the world. What about the “double standard,” he complained, in not firing any number of ABC personalities who have made remarks that offended Donald Trump or his supporters, some of them really tacky?
But he is going bonkers, crying “double standard” about Samantha Bee, who is definitely not a Trump supporter. That certainly was clear with what Samantha called Ivanka Trump during her TV monologue. Frankly, it’s a term I wouldn’t use in polite company. I wouldn’t even use it in impolite company. Since she did, the executives at TBS, her network, have been agonizing over whether to fire Bee or not to fire Bee.

Meanwhile, Trump was forced to pay attention to a variety of distractions. “The president’s focused on North Korea,” said his flack, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “and he’s focused on trade deals and he’s focused on the economy.” He’s also focused on stuff like the Robert Mueller criminal investigation, where he and his accomplices -- notably Rudy Giuliani -- are using big-lie techniques, trying to make something out of nothing and call it “Spygate.” That one is even too much for many of his Republican enablers, who find the contrivance too pathetic.
But let’s take Sanders at her word, which is often dangerous. Let’s suspend disbelief and accept that he really is dealing with substance, particularly the ins and outs of actually meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. If the face-to-face really does happen, the usual bluster isn’t going to cut it.
Great tangles of hostility would have to be unknotted, for starters, and the issues involved are terrifyingly complicated. What inducements will it take to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear arsenal and defuse the Korean flashpoint? It is a dilemma that has baffled great geopolitical thinkers for generations.
Perhaps the Donald Trump unthinking approach might do the trick. If his advisers can buttress his impulse control, maybe the North Koreans will be charmed by his unorthodox approach. Or it could blow up in their faces. It could blow up in all of our faces if Kim decides to keep playing the weapons-of-mass-destruction game. He and his merry band of dictators perceive their bombs and missiles as the best guarantees that their regime will not be forcibly removed.
Donald Trump has been known to try intimidation tactics of his own. If the talks hit a snag, maybe he can bring in Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee to forge a compromise. That should work.

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

    

NFL AND DPRK

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, MAY 25, 2018

NFL and DPRK
---
Why are the NFL and North Korea similar? You guessed it: Neither will tolerate not standing for their national anthems. I assume Kim Jong Un won't accept it because he eliminates any dissenters. While the pro football owners aren't quite as bloodthirsty, they obviously are profit-thirsty and accordingly have voted that they, too, will punish players' protests, in particular any refusal to rise for "The Star-Spangled Banner."
In the NFL, those who take a knee for the national anthem instead will risk a fine. In the DPRK, anyone who doesn't robotically comply with Kim's every demand is executed, or at the very least imprisoned. So the enforced patriotism of pro football isn't nearly as thuggish, particularly since the athletes can simply hide in the locker room while Francis Scott Key's laborious song is performed. As long as they don't offend anyone with their demonstrations against the nation's racism and cops killing black Americans, they can take a knee or whatever it is they do in the locker room. Just not visibly. Ratings are way more important than free expression.
The comparison, some will argue, is unfair. We are nowhere near as regimented as the citizens of North Korea. But, it's a matter of degree. Autocracy breeds dictatorship, and we certainly are heading in the wrong direction.
Millions of people worry that the elected leader of the United States is taking us that way. By constantly railing against the institutions that stand between him and absolute rule, Donald Trump is pushing us all down a slippery slope. The media, the courts and the other protectors built into the Constitution are obstacles to whatever whim he's having. His Twitter protestations would be amusing, except that they're taken seriously by his millions of followers.
Still, as much as he enjoys ravaging just about everyone in his tweets, he does not take kindly when the invective is incoming.

For a number of reasons, it should be no surprise then that he's bailing on his much-anticipated face-to-face meeting with Kim next month in Singapore. Reason No. 1 could be that Trump is wimping out after feeling the pressure of living up to the hype. He's not a detail man, to put it mildly, but even he might be aware that if he and Kim didn't tangibly pull us back from the nuclear precipice, he'd be discredited as just a huckster. So he seized upon the belligerence spewing out of Pyongyang from a high-level official who dismissed Vice President Mike Pence as a "political dummy," which is only partially true -- politically, he's crafty, but let's not digress.
When Kim's guy also pointed out that it's up to the United States to "meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown," that was all the excuse Donald Trump needed. So the letter went out:
"Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting."
Remember, this is President Trump talking about "tremendous anger and open hostility" being "inappropriate." Now, Trump and Kim have returned to making nice for the moment, even suggesting that a meeting might be desirable. Someplace. Sometime.
One could easily surmise that all the harsh elbowing is the way that these guys signal that they really do want to get together -- the geopolitical version of pre-date foreplay. That would explain why, with all the invective, the North Koreans put on a show of destroying their mountain nuclear testing site, and all the conciliatory comments on both sides. But let's not make any plans for the Trumpster's Nobel Peace Prize quite yet.
We have much to offer North Korea, though, not only a financial rescue and assurances of regime protection, but also a tradition of freedom. That includes freedom of expression, which is a delicate right that can be shattered all too easily. That's what makes the stifling action of the NFL owners a step in the wrong direction.

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

    

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