FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN THREATENING TONY How sad. Too many internet trolls need to cross over from their cyber hiding barriers to the rational world and back by using a troll bridge to sneak across the gap. Somehow all the high tech ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. THREATENING TONY
  2. THE ROGUE POGUE
  3. HIPPOCRATIC OATH APPRECIATION
  4. THE NONESSENTIALS
  5. COMMANDER COVID
  6. More Recent Articles

THREATENING TONY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THREATENING TONY

How sad. Too many internet trolls need to cross over from their cyber hiding barriers to the rational world and back by using a troll bridge to sneak across the gap. Somehow all the high tech amplifiers provide them, in coronavirus parlance, with an antisocial distance to share their darkest fantasies.
How else to explain the hate campaigns against the likes of Dr. Tony Fauci? Tony (like any person in newsbiz, I’ve known him through decades of dealing with him through many a public health crisis) has had the audacity to contradict the mindless meanderings of President Donald Trump. Dr. Fauci is a member of the White House coronavirus task force. He is polite about it, expressing his differences ever so gently, but firmly. As the Trumpster spews out misinformation, Fauci, using his expertise, reins him in.

Trump says he doesn’t mind Fauci’s reality checks, but many of his deranged, free-range followers do, using the only language they know, a violent dialect of paranoia. Many resort to threats. It’s gotten so bad that Fauci had to agree to a security detail. Tony disdains face masks, much like Trump, but I wonder if his protectors wear them, along with their weapons and walkie-talkies. Tony likes to take strolls through his neighborhood. Does his detail members talk into their sleeves to warn each other that Dr. Fauci is about to embark on “a movement”? Have they given him a code name? They always do. What would be a good one for Tony? Is it “COVID”?
President Trump’s, at one point, was “Mogul.” Melania’s was reportedly “Muse.” I have no idea if they have changed. In Mr. Trump’s case, if it were up to me, the agents would call him “Tweety.” You were expecting something more derogatory?
Fauci is as opposite from Trump as a human being could be (and for the sake of this discussion, let’s stipulate that Trump is human). Tony is thoughtful, careful — as any scientist is trained to be — and is totally friendly to media types. The words “fake news” have probably never crossed his lips, like a certain someone we know. His way of correcting a false bit of reporting would be to quietly call the newsperson and explain the error of his or her way.
They are similar in that they make themselves constantly available for interviews. The Don prefers the friendly ones, like Hannity. Tony Fauci has probably not faced an unfriendly one. Those of us in newsbiz sometimes refer to celebrity TV appearances as “gets.” Dr. Tony Fauci, during a crisis, is probably the easiest “get” in Washington ... except maybe Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, about whom they once said: “The most dangerous place in America is between Chuck Schumer and a camera.”
Fauci doesn’t seek publicity; it seeks him, and he’s willing to oblige during a public health crisis. I’ve interviewed him too many times to count, so I can personally attest that he suffers fools and their stupid questions.
This is the gentleman expert that the ninnies out in social media land have targeted for their vitriol because he dares to set the record straight when it has been twisted into a POTUS pretzel.
Donald Trump will go down in history as the master of the vacuous worlds of Twitter, Facebook and all the dark sites that allow him to incite his cyber audience whenever he wants. And he wants to a lot. The problem is these media are all about instant gratification.
Public health crises like the coronavirus that is ravaging the planet are immune to easy fixes. Experts like Tony Fauci understand that. Inexperts like Donald Trump do not, or choose not to because his followers, most of them anyway, aren’t fans of concentration for very long. His and their slogan might be “don’t confuse me with the facts.” They resent the Tony Faucis of this world that they can only troll by physically threatening them. They cannot be allowed to.

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

    

THE ROGUE POGUE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THE ROGUE POGUE

Pogues — we’ve all experienced them. They’re the bad managers who get in the way of the job getting done. From the feckless supervisor to the CEO, the term Pogue is actually scornful military slang, an infantry slur. It means “people other than grunts,” and pogues were best described to me as “those in their air-conditioned offices who make life a living hell for those on the battlefield.”
They certainly also flourish in civilian life. On the battlefield against the insidious coronavirus enemy, for instance, they’ve led the charge — a charge that, thanks to them, looks oftentimes like a retreat. It starts at the top, with Donald Trump, POTUS — Pogue of the United States. His daily pronouncements have been both feckless and reckless, fatally downplaying the danger until it came crashing down upon us all. All of his administration’s incompetence was described by The New York Times, laid out in a lengthy article called “The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19.” It describes in painstaking detail how Trump-appointed public health agencies were overwhelmed by the early warnings and engaged in one incompetent miscalculation after another.
The nation is now paying the price as a result, with nearly a quarter million deaths projected as the best we can do. We are running out of personal protection equipment to shield the valiant medical providers who are trying desperately to treat the victims coming to them in overwhelming numbers.
Meanwhile, the pogue in chief takes full political advantage of the crisis by holding daily briefings, which are mainly devoted to his self-serving pretenses, before he finally turns it over to the heroic experts , the ones he assigns to deliver the bad news after he has completed his dog-and-pony show. Drs. Tony Fauci and Deborah Birx have revealed themselves to be standouts in this mess, both because of their knowledge and their ability to deliver the dismal daily reports in language we can all understand. They are the anti-pogues, partly because their statements are such a contrast to the streams of unconsciousness from Trump.

In fact, there are plenty of other anti-pogues who need to be acknowledged, those who have cast themselves in true leadership roles. There are governors from coast to coast who have made the hard decisions to clean up the mess. New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo has millions of fans with his intense advocacy for his state’s interest, as it undergoes monstrous attacks by the killer organism.
Gavin Newsom, another Democrat, has ably coordinated the response of the giant state of California. So has Jay Inslee in Washington state, where it began in the U.S.
It’s not just Democrats. Republicans like Ohio’s Mike Dewine and Larry Hogan of Maryland, as well as Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, have honored themselves as their states have faced this crisis.
Back to the Democrats ... Gretchen Whitmer has done the same in Michigan. Like so many females, she has gotten under Trump’s thin skin. He refers to her as “Gretchen Half Whitmer” and more tellingly as “that woman from Michigan.” He’s not only the pogue in chief, but misogynist in chief.
This is a man who leads his nation by bad example. His administration is not fulfilling its assigned role of coordinating all the logistics, leaving it to the governors to negotiate on their own for protective gear and test kits and making the hard decisions about partial quarantines in their states, along with school shutdowns and the dealings with suddenly unemployed citizens who are swamping their systems.
It’s not enough to say that rescuing the nation is not a job for pogues. Rather, it is a job for pulling together against the common enemy, which, by the way, should be the coronavirus, not a rogue pogue like Donald Trump.

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

    

HIPPOCRATIC OATH APPRECIATION


FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

HIPPOCRATIC OATH APPRECIATION

We still have shreds of civility left. I love it when people walk up to those in uniform and say, “Thank you for your service.” It is a
recognition of their courage and sacrifice. And now we should add gratitude for those in the medical profession.
Many of them are risking their lives on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus. They are living up to the ethical standards of their public health calling.
The precise phrase “First do no harm” is not really in the original Hippocratic oath. In fact, Hippocrates probably didn’t even write it back in 3 to 5 B.C., when he was a physician. But whoever did jot it down or chisel it established a grand tradition of medicine: “ I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgement.”
They are doing so by the thousands, even though our politicians and other leaders aren’t equipping them with the protective gear necessary to shield them from this invisible but vicious attacker. To those inept klutzes, the ones making our crisis worse, we should walk up to them and say, “Thank you for your DISservice.”
Nevertheless, our doctors, nurses, technicians and ambulance drivers are selflessly trying to restore health to the afflicted. Some of these men and women are forced to improvise when they don’t have the PPE (personal protection equipment) gowns and masks they need. In some cases they have resorted to garbage bags, in the hope that some corrupt supplier won’t gouge them by raising the price of garbage bags.
“Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.” That’s also in the Hippocratic oath, which Donald Trump did not take because he is not a physician. But he is out there as president advocating the use of pharmaceuticals that, until they are proven safe and effective, are the equivalent of poison.
Perhaps at his swearing-in he took the “Hypocritic oath.” Although he claims to care about public safety, he is ignoring the physicians who are combating this scourge. They also have to combat his reckless comments that are so clearly motivated by his desire to avoid accountability for the economic damage the country is undergoing. Actually, because of his desperation to get re-elected, he istaking whatever credit he can and trying to deflect criticism, using scattershot rhetoric, when precision is needed.
So there he is, carelessly recommending drugs and threatening to prematurely end social distancing, which experts say is the only hope to avoid being struck down as individuals and as a country. Happily, this nation is governed by a constitution that allows state and local authorities to make such decisions, painful that they are.

Some of them are acting responsibly and shutting down whatever commerce is not essential, and closing schools for the real duration of this crisis. Others, however, are heeding the Trumpian siren call to irresponsibility, and are willingly putting their population in danger. It is not, however, just their citizenry that is endangered by such foolhardiness.
By definition, this pandemic knows no borders. Neither does the impact of stupidity by the feckless decision makers. They would be well advised to recall the Hippocratic oath promise that “I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm.”
Unintentional harm is just as bad, particularly when it’s driven by political opportunism. It’s still harm. The time would be better spent setting up the protective armor our health care first responders need to treat and give comfort to the human casualties of this biological war.
We should say, “Thank you for your service” to every medical protector we encounter. But we can really show our appreciation by insisting that every one of their leaders, up to and including the president, equip them with the tools they need to wage this war.

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

    

THE NONESSENTIALS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE NONESSENTIALS

No matter what the paralyzing national crisis, some things never change, like the inevitable disputes over who is “essential” and which jobs are “nonessential.” Through all the partial federal government shutdowns, that distinction has become a status symbol. And even though this worldwide medical calamity is an infinitely more serious threat to millions of people it’s still left to some federal, state or local official to determine what private services are essential and what should be shut down, with millions sent to almost solitary confinement, or even worse, forced to spend all their time with the kids, imprisoned by a scary organism.
The newscasts are filled with gargantuan cancellations or postponements: The Olympics just set back for a year; many schools shut down for the semester; restaurants, deemed a luxury in these dangerous times, are ordered closed in the name of “social distancing.”
You might have guessed where I am going with this. Certainly many in the public health field would like to declare President Donald Trump definitely nonessential — or worse, an impediment to their efforts to save the planet, or at least the nation, from this frightening plague. As a matter of fact, in their heart of hearts they would prefer that he enter lockdown, voluntary or not.
Because nearly every time he appears on TV for the daily briefing he says something stupid, something that interrupts the professionals as they go about their tedious chipping away at this complex problem.
But President Trump, who is the boss man at the moment, is a mile wide and an inch deep, too shallow for tedium or, for that matter, complexity. He cannot wait for the experts to do their job and methodically develop a way to treat this stealthy invader. He always finds it necessary to muddy the waters, recklessly spouting off misinformation — for instance, his unschooled analysis of drugs that may or may not work.

Where patience is necessary, he is impatient. After the experts he assembled convinced enough state and local officials that a historic economic shutdown was needed to combat this microscopic monster, he got in the way. He has an election coming up, by the way, and the economic devastation that battling COVID has caused is unacceptable. Now Trump has semi-promised that the national ordeal will be over by Easter, and public health officials are horrified. He brushed off their loud complaints by insisting that the nation needs to get up and running again.
Even some of his fellow Republicans were appalled. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sputtered, “The fact is, we save our economy by first saving lives, and we have to do it in that order.” Trump isn’t used to that kind of friction, certainly not from the totally intimidated members of his own party. So DeWine is now enshrined on the Donald Trump snit list.
He joins longtime member Mitt Romney, who, after all, was the GOP senator who voted to remove Trump from office during the impeachment crisis (remember that one?).
During the coronavirus scare, Mitt decided to self-quarantine. When he heard the news from reporters, the Trumpster reacted with dripping sarcasm. Now it turns out that Romney tested negative. Trump has not lost his taste for sarcasm: “This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak. He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. senator, but he is a RINO, and I like him a lot!”
These days, RINO, a Republican in name only, means a Republican who would actually dare to defy the Don while the rest of the GOP mob is too frightened to.
Certainly, the mild-mannered scientists aren’t emotionally equipped to fight him; although gentleman Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has emerged a key task force health advisor, kills him with kindness. But the better way to combat this existential threat is to declare the president nonessential and get him out of the way.

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

    

COMMANDER COVID

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

COMMANDER COVID

Donald Trump has taken to declaring himself a “wartime president,” but the commander in chief cannot resist getting in the way of what few competent generals he has at his disposal. No matter how hard he pretends, Commander Covid is unable to rise to the occasion and rise above his flimflam flimsiness.
Try as he might, he just can’t sell his con, and nothing aggravates him more than the realization that his scam isn’t working.
One thing about the Trump era, it has been a case study of the two H’s: hostility and hucksterism. And by now, a growing number of us have long recognized that he never can sustain his playacting for more than a day or so. So when he assumes the role of chief executive, he just can’t pull it off. He will inevitably be betrayed by his limited intellect and an inability to tamp down his obnoxious impulsiveness.
So it was that Donald Trump, despite his early insistence that this was all a “hoax,” was at the same time ignoring secret warnings from intelligence agencies that the coming crisis was a potential danger. But when it became clear that he could no longer escape grim realities, he stopped with his phony assurances and tried to lead from behind as what few genuine experts he had retained advocated a stern response — one that, out of necessity, ratchets up the pain that is necessary to combat the scourge.

All he has ever known is superficial branding ... it’s all about image to him. Unfortunately, this is one of these times where the substantive complexities are inescapable, try as he might. The list of his premature and outright inaccurate pronouncements grows every time he inserts himself in the regular briefings his task force gives to impart information. Unfortunately, Trump specializes in misinformation and raising false hopes.
Among his latest examples is his declaration that a drug long approved for treating malaria has shown promise of resisting the coronavirus in some exceedingly small studies. So, in his effort to take undue credit, there he was announcing that doctors are allowed to prescribe pharmaceuticals that are officially approved for one purpose, for another. It’s a legal practice called “off-label” use. And when the Trumpster spouted off about it, the phones in medical practitioners’ offices started ringing off the hook from patients demanding a prescription, despite the immediate disclaimers from the experts that it might not work at all for the coronavirus. The particular drug in question also has dangerous side effects, so only time-consuming big studies could determine whether it meets the usual “safe and effective” standard.
So far, Commander Covid has proven to be unsafe and ineffective in reassuring the nation, as evidenced by the fact that usually every time he opens his mouth the financial markets tank.
So now that his faux statesmanship has been exposed as mistakesmanship, he’s reverted to form. Suddenly he has resumed his attacks against the media. The highest compliment I can give a reporter is to describe him or her as “solid,” meaning he or she is careful but persistent. NBC’s Peter Alexander is solid. But Donald Trump prefers journalistic sycophancy. And when Alexander dared to politely ask, “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?” — not a particularly impertinent question — Trump took umbrage anyway, and as he frequently does, responded with a personal attack:
“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” he told Alexander, “that’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question. And I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers, and they’re looking for hope.”
He’s right about that. We are looking for answers and hope in the face of this severe attack on our well-being. Unfortunately, the “wartime president” is adding to the nation’s problems.

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

    

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