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 ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. TRUMP'S RUSSIAN COMEDY
  2. MCCONNELL'S HEALTH CARE MANIPULATIONS
  3. THE BF BS REPORT
  4. TWITTER DEPENDENCE DAY
  5. Pre Independence on MSNBC
  6. More Recent Articles

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.

    

MCCONNELL'S HEALTH CARE MANIPULATIONS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 36
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

MCCONNELL'S HEALTH CARE MANIPULATIOMNS
---
Beware of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lowballing. That’s good advice for the Democrats and others who are getting cocky about defeating a Republican replacement for Obamacare. Be very suspicious of stories appearing in the papers of record and TV network news that all say the same thing, which is that McConnell’s intentions to sell his partisans in the Senate on some variation of a plan are in deep doo-doo.
The consensus of all these stories is that too many moderates and right-wing immoderates in his party are irretrievably split into those who feel the evolving legislation leaves millions upon millions of sick and poor people unable to afford medical protection and those who apparently feel the plan should dump everybody but the rich or well.
But McConnell thrives in deep doo-doo when it comes to the messy process of deal-making. If the United States ever wants to get serious about negotiating with Vladimir Putin or any of those other troublesome world leaders, we’ll send Mitch McConnell, not some rank amateur like Donald Trump.

Trump really doesn’t comprehend how he’d been had in his meeting with the wily Putin after they did their first face-to-face in Hamburg. It’s easy to see why the Russian leader worked so hard to sway the U.S. election toward Donald Trump. He wanted someone in place he could handle with ease, and it was obvious after their encounter that President Trump is now in Russian President Putin’s sphere of influence. They glossed over a variety of issues that beg for clear action, not the least of which was the question of Russian manipulation in the U.S. campaign. Here is a simple readout of their conversation about it:
Trump: You did.
Putin: We didn’t.
Trump: Oh. OK.
A reminder: Special counsel Bob Mueller probably won’t gloss over the question. Neither might the congressional investigations as they plod along. But right now it is health care that is about to max out our focus. Not only is McConnell lulling his adversaries by bad-mouthing the chances for the Republicans to gut health care on their own, he’s also throwing out a worst-case scenario that would make his caucus members throw up.
If they fail, he’s saying the Republicans will have no alternative but to deal with the (gasp) Democrats. There would have to be bipartisan accommodation. This particular version was designed to require only 50 Senate votes, plus one; there are 52 GOP senators. But if they can’t get together on this plan, the parliamentary rules on any other form of legislation would seem to set up a filibuster. So the Democratic minority is suddenly empowered, as any alternative Obamacare replacement would require 60 votes and would in all likelihood be just an Obamacare revision -- a slight one at that. Then the Republicans would have to explain to their voters why they were unable to “repeal and replace” like they constantly promised for so many years, even though they had a majority in Congress and a willing president in the White House. Actually, make that an anxious president, who would sure like to add to his meager list of accomplishments.
So take the dire scenario that Mitch McConnell is describing with a grain of salt. He’s a master poker player, the consummate dealer, and he’s already bluffed the opinion makers into believing he’s holding a poor hand. Of course, to torture this metaphor further, there is one wild card -- the wild man himself, President Trump, who cannot be counted on to play with a full deck. One tweet from him and the whole McConnell house of cards collapses as the Trumpster says something that disgusts everyone and saps any momentum.
If, however, McConnell is able to play his normal stealth game, he has a chance of winning. He knows that, even though almost no one else does. Which is fine with him.

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

    

THE BF BS REPORT

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 7, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE BF BS REPORT

This is another BS column. By that I mean “Bob Simplifies.” (Whatever did you think I meant?) With so much misleading rhetoric, politicians are able to constantly confuse what they are really saying with complicated babble. So, as a badly needed public service, Bob Simplifies:


This is another BS column. By that I mean “Bob Simplifies.” (Whatever did you think I meant?) With so much misleading rhetoric, politicians are able to constantly confuse what they are really saying with complicated babble. So, as a badly needed public service, Bob Simplifies:

“Fake news” misspeaks for itself. It actually means that the particular expose in question is probably accurate. As a part of his campaign to discredit any critical coverage in the media, Donald Trump has been able to deflect all but the most sycophantic stories. The tactic has been wildly successful with his millions of lemmings -- pardon me, his “base” -- who are consumed by resentment for anybody not named Trump. Scumbag journalists are high on their list of lowlifes, where we’ve been since the beginning of time when we began reporting on the people who would lead us, supported by adoring crowds of followers. This is nothing new.

We’re the skunk at their picnic. Recently it’s become their favorite way of dismissing a valid story: Call it “fake news.” Take Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kovach, who is vice chair of the federal voting commission, which was contrived by Trump to prove his fictitious claim that widespread election fraud denied him an actual majority victory in the 2016 presidential campaign. Kovach has requested that states provide the commission individual voter data, and a huge number of states are resisting. Stories about that? Kovach calls them “fake news.” Hey, that’s all the true believers need to hear to disbelieve.

But it’s not just the war on media that requires translation. There’s the fearsome possibility of real war and the double-talk that surrounds it that needs untwisting. When Trump tells a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, that he’s considering “some pretty severe things” (which are unspecified) to deal with North Korea and there is a growing fear that its insane leader is creating a nuclear arsenal capable of striking the United States, what he really means is that he has no earthly idea how to handle this metastasizing crisis.

One of my favorite variations is that “all options are on the table.” No, they’re not. All -out war would mean that millions upon millions of people would die. North Korea and the pipsqueak leader Kim Jong Un would be responsible for a catastrophe. So could be an impetuous President Donald Trump, who might mindlessly blunder the United States into a choice between that unspeakable debacle and national embarrassment as this country is revealed to be what the Chinese like to call a “paper tiger.” It means “pretend strong, but actually weak.” In this case, Trump would be a “paper tweeter.”

It’s those Chinese who are really key in finding some sort of leverage to cause Kim to back off, but let’s face it, folks: The U.S. is going to have to pay a price for China to tighten the economic screws. They are the patrons of their tiny neighbor with such huge ambitions. When Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reacts by telling reporters, “We’ve been pretty consistent that we are never going to broadcast next steps,” which is a favorite response of the Trumpsters, what she and they are again really saying is: “We don’t really have any ‘next steps.’”

We can only hope that cooler heads prevail somehow. That is another case of distorted language, since the main “cooler heads” in this case are Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. How uncool are they? Almost as frightening is what that really means, which is that Russia and China will decide whether it is in their interests to bail America out. That hope is not altogether unfounded, given that North Korea is in their part of the world, so they, too, would suffer severe damage if they didn’t step in.

It brings to mind one other expression, the one that goes “Make America Great Again.” So far, we’re being diminished. Which is quite clear, thanks to this BS explanation.

© 2017 Bob Franken

    

TWITTER DEPENDENCE DAY

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 4, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN
Twitter dependence day
---
Donald Trump almost got it right. Where his predecessor from a couple of generations ago, President Harry Truman, famously said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” President Trump’s version would be, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out the Twitter.”
He’s been at it again, celebrating the July 4th break with a tweeting fireworks show. Some of them blow up in his face, like his attack on Mika Brzezinski for her face-lift that never was. Then he topped that with a 10-year-old video from World Wrestling Entertainment, the epitome of class, that shows him fake pummeling WWE owner Vince McMahon. But in this version, McMahon has a CNN logo superimposed on his head, which has created still another media uproar. Clearly, Trump loves media uproars. But his allies cringe when his tweets switch positions without warning, as with his sudden support for repealing Obamacare without replacing it.
Poor baby has gotten frustrated at his party’s inability to come up with a credible approach to the delivery of medical services in the United States. The Republicans have spent years promising that they’d replace their hated Affordable Care Act with something better. But they haven’t been able to get their ACA together. So Trump has now cyberannounced, “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
That undermines everything Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP Congress have been trying to do. It becomes just another tweet from the Trumpster that tosses their efforts into the dumpster. They are in constant cringe mode, and just wish he would stop with his Twitter tantrums.
Stop? Trump promises more, and defends them: “My use of social media is not Presidential -- it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again.” His critics say his social-media ventures are sociopathic, but supporters adore every one. They like the fact that their hero governs by turmoil. He talks to them in their language, which is the language of frustration and hatred, and not just hatred for all the scapegoats he attacks, but also for the elitists who enrage them and get enraged at him.

Trump has managed to convince his hordes that he is another revolutionary like the ones who marked July 4, 1776, with their Declaration of Independence, the one we try to remember today while picnicking. One can only wonder how that precious document would read as a Trumpian tweet: “Crazy King George 3 is a fake monarch. Revolt!”
Fast-forward 241 years and we have the revolting Donald Trump as president. As we all know, a few years after they were able to gain a new country, the Founders created a remarkable blueprint for it, the Constitution. Trump seems determined to tear apart the fragile but robust protections that make us this remarkable democracy, at least on paper -- or parchment. There is always a threat that one liberty or another will be inconvenient to someone who will advocate getting rid of it. Now we have a president who would sweep away any of the freedoms that happen to get in the way of his whims. The balance of power with its independent judiciary? It’s just made up of “so called” judges. Freedom of the press? “Fake media” -- except, of course, for those news organizations that praise his every move.
This is a nation that by design always is defined by fierce debate. The age of Trump is not the first seized by anger. After all, we survived a civil war and much moronic bitterness throughout our history. But that was before our frustrations were amplified by toxic social media, or anti-social media. Donald Trump is no Harry Truman, to say the least, but he has been incredibly successful at applying one Truman lesson: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

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

    

Pre Independence on MSNBC

I'll be doing MSNBC on a Monday at 9AM Eastern. We'll discuss whatever the latest buffoonery is.

    

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