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, FEB. 16, 2018 MODERN DUCK AND COVER --- The “duck and cover” drills in our nation’s schools ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. MODERN DUCK AND COVER
  2. SHE SAID, HE SAID
  3. REIGN ON MY PARADE
  4. FAKE NUNES
  5. DINOSAURS AND CHEAP SHOTS
  6. More Recent Articles

MODERN DUCK AND COVER

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, FEB. 16, 2018

MODERN DUCK AND COVER
---
The “duck and cover” drills in our nation’s schools from the 1950s and ’60s, captured in the rudimentary videos of that generation, are now quaint images. They were supposed to help protect students and teachers from a nuclear attack, a futile exercise indeed. As the Cold War waned (if it really did), those regular civil defense run-throughs ran out.
They’ve been replaced in many schools by a different kind of drill: In modern times, the repetitious routine now include what to do in case of a fire, but, ominously, ways to respond to an attack from a mass murderer with deadly weapons. More often than not, the arsenal will include an AR-15-stylesemi-automatic rifle, which is legal. Instead of the Soviet Union or China, now the enemy is us.
In the United States of America, most anybody can obtain these armaments, which have no purpose other than to kill people. They are readily available even to those who are later described as “weird” or “troubled,” as the alleged shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was. Nikolas Cruz had been expelled from the huge but highly regarded Douglas High after repeated confrontations. He was a classic loner and such a troublemaker that he had been reported to the authorities, including the FBI, which was a waste of time, as it turns out.
Such details are somewhat different each time, but the outline is the same. Someone disturbed with a grievance decides to avenge it by slaughtering innocents. It’s all too familiar because it happens over and over again in the U.S.; each time it does, we recoil in horror, as we should, and the politicians react with “thoughts and prayers” statements, and then do nothing. That is because they cower before the fearsome enablers of human-caused catastrophes, the National Rifle Association.

 

You’ve heard all this before -- from me, for starters -- and each time the preaching falls on deaf ears. That’s because what is even sicker than the individual who administers the latest massacre is the entire country; the United States of America is mentally ill as a nation when it comes to our love affair with guns.
Americans privately own 300 million or so weapons of mass destruction, and most efforts to impose severe limitations are doomed to failure. Revulsion at the carnage, the loss of precious young lives, is overridden by this twisted attachment to our guns.
As an exercise in futility, let’s discuss some solutions: Confiscation is not possible, we can’t even seriously limit the purchase of new hardware. But what about imposing a huge sales tax, similar to the one we impose on lethal cigarettes? What about making the manufacture and sale of the most egregious weapons a crime? What about finally including these semi-automatics, which are the weapon of choice for mowing down human beings, in gun laws.
None of that will happen, because those who make the laws are largely complicit. They believe that they won’t get re-elected if they cross the NRA, so it’s a waste of time to even try to get our government to take action. Besides, our leaders are too busy making the rich richer.
All we can be thankful for is that the assailant was not black, Muslim or an immigrant. Otherwise, President Trump would have been all over it. He was left with little to say. In his vapid speech to the nation, he made no mention of gun control at all, showing once again he’s a follower, not a leader, pandering to our darkest impulses. Oh, he did recite a new mantra: “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”
Well, they do, Mr. President, and their families live in fear. They have every reason to be scared to death, with each and every drill about how to survive the threat from heavily armed American maniacs. The ones about how to survive a nuclear attack are history now, even with North Korea. And Russia has found new ways to attack, by sabotaging our elections and perhaps by infiltrating the top echelons of our government. Meanwhile, our gun sickness inside means we cannot feel safe anywhere, certainly not our schools.

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

    

SHE SAID, HE SAID

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, FEB. 13, 2018

SHE SAID, HE SAID
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There are so many problems in making a charge of sexual misbehavior and even more starkly when it comes to accusations of domestic abuse. Not the least of this is when Person No. 1 (usually, but not always, a woman) points the finger at Person No. 2 (usually, but not always, a man). When the man denies the allegations, we often are left with uncertainty over which one to believe. That’s exactly what the administration faced with two key people on the president’s staff -- Rob Porter, the man who handled all the presidential paperwork and the most classified material, along with speechwriter David Sorensen. Both were accused by various ex-wives of physical and emotional abuse; both adamantly reject the charges. We are left with the classic “she said, he said” situation.
Unfortunately, it’s what their bosses, particularly chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn, did NOT say that is the problem here. Each should have said, “No way,” as in there’s no way the men should have such critical roles until they could dispose of these matters that are so severe that they were denied full-fledged security clearances, as they nevertheless dealt with state secrets. Both Kelly and McGahn were well-aware. The FBI, which conducts the investigations, made sure they knew. But, for whatever reason, they decided to bring these guys on even with these serious questions about their past.
They’d still be there, except media reports suddenly blew up in their faces. Porter and then Sorensen quickly resigned. There wasn’t even a whimper about “fake news.” There was, however, a discernible roar about the way Kelly, in particular, handled it. Even after the stories spread, he lauded Porter: “Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.” The moment a picture was subsequently published showing one of the exes with a black eye, Kelly, the war-hero-turned-Trump-tough-guy, went into full CYA mode. First, he expressed “shock,” then he tried to revise history by saying he had acted immediately.

Why all the hesitation? Was it because such accusations aren’t taken seriously by Trump higher-ups? All POTUS complained about via Twitter was that, “Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by mere allegation.” He continued, “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
What was noteworthy was what was missing from that tweet. There was no indication that he was the slightest bit concerned about what the women who made the claims might have endured. That is widely explained by Donald Trump’s own past with dozens of sordid charges against him.
Another explanation might be that Porter is now dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, who is very close to the boss and exerts tremendous influence herself. There also is a suspicion that normal discussion about full-fledged security clearances are verboten around this president, because son-in-law Jared Kushner doesn’t have one. As with the others, Kushner’s portfolio constantly exposes him to the most classified material.
Much of the glaring focus is on Kelly, the stern Marine general who was brought in to restore as much order as possible to the chaos.
While he certainly has imposed routine where there was none, he’s also revealed himself as a harsh right-winger. He called Robert E. Lee “an honorable man” and expressed the thought that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” That begs the question: What kind of “compromise” over slavery would he have favored? But he is an equal-opportunity bigot, disparaging immigrants whenever he can. No wonder President Trump admires him. Obviously this president is not a huge fan of the “Me too” movement. He’d be more in the “Him Too” category.
© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

REIGN ON MY PARADE

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, FEB. 9, 2018

REIGN ON MY PARADE

You know, there is such negativity out there. All President Donald Trump did was order his Pentagon higher-ups to put together a massive parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the critics began their sniping. The Washington Post, which broke the story, reported that POTUS watched the Bastille Day parade in Paris last July and envisioned a huge military spectacle here, “bigly” even, one that would show off America’s military might on the next Veterans Day. Some ridiculed the idea that he presumably would be standing on a big reviewing stand as the parade passed by, with most of the attention focused on ... well ... him. He’d be above the fray. Except that he is the fray. But never mind that: He’s commander in chief, so the generals simply saluted smartly and said, “Yes, Sir!”
There has been no shortage of snarky comments since the Post article came out: Such displays of armed forces and their weaponry might be good for France, which, after all, is always trying to let the world know of its glory, past and present, real or imagined. The grumbling here is that the United States doesn’t need such an extravaganza, that it’s beneath the dignity of the planet’s majorest superpower. Besides, not counting France, that kind of thing is really more common in autocracies, big and small. Russia puts on a splendid one. And so does North Korea, which just did one to mark the start of the Winter Olympics. Philadelphia did another to mark the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, but that featured just a few busloads of players ... and huge crowds ... way bigger than showed up for the Trump inauguration. Just sayin’.
But that was then. This is now, and wouldn’t all that naysaying energy be put to better use trying to make it work? I mean really, isn’t it time to be positive? Never mind that Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11, five days after Election Day this year. Easy-beezy. Surely there’s an executive order for that, moving it to the Sunday before, just in case this really was a political stunt. Of course, the very thought of that would be soooooo cynical.


And why must this humongous display of patriotism be limited to the armed forces? We can get that at any ballgame. Why not invite the Russians, since they’ve become such an integral part of this country’s election process? Vladimir Putin could join his BCF (best comrade forever) Donald Trump on the reviewing stand, even if his country brings only one unit to the parade. Call it the Collusion Brigade.
They would join the paramilitary forces of the alt-right, who would carry their Tiki torches to demonstrate their loyalty to the Trump presidency. Imagine Stephen Bannon returning as the grand marshal. Of course, he’d not be dressed like one. As for President Trump, he will have to decide whether he’d openly return their unique salute. Chief of staff John Kelly obviously would. This Deplorable Battalion would be the biggest unit of all — heavily armed, of course.
What would make this parade unique would be all the deep staters who would be surrounded by a “big, beautiful wall.” They’d include all the fake newsies, Bob Mueller and his crowd of investigators, and for that matter, everyone from the intelligence community: the CIA, FBI, all those people. Of course, you’d want to round up the federal judges who refuse to rubber-stamp all the radical policy initiatives of this administration. You’d need to exclude anyone who speaks Spanish and all who had ever set foot in a “sh**hole country.”
But we absolutely must make room for Congress, which will be invited to send all the members. They’ll be stepping out, as usual, in all directions, hundreds of politicians displaying their close-order back-stabbing drills. The Democrats, as is their normal practice, would simply refuse to show up.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this exercise in saber rattling would be touted as a tribute to our military. As the thousands in uniform and their hardware turned Pennsylvania Avenue into mincemeat, many, perhaps most of them, would be thinking, “I’m marching for THIS!?”

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

    

FAKE NUNES

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, FEB. 6, 2018

FAKE NUNES
---
I covered Capitol Hill during my CNN phase, which was quite a while ago, but to this day, I have friends who are veteran members of Congress and, more importantly, members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. These are Washington “friends,” which is to say that when I’m reporting on them, they’re often adversaries. In return, they don’t give me any sort of favored treatment, particularly those on the two intelligence committees. Any conversation about the super-classified material they routinely see as they conduct their oversight of various national security operations is strictly off-limits. Since the committees were formed in the 1970s, their tradition has been proudly nonpartisan for obvious reasons, relative sanctuaries of harmony in the dissonant screech of politics.
Until now.
On the Senate side, that still seems to be the approach, but certainly not at House Intelligence, which is chaired by Republican Devin Nunes. As Donald Trump’s hand puppet, Nunes has thrown out any pretense of collaboration. He has repeatedly tried to muddy the waters of an investigation into Donald Trump’s murky relationship with the Russian government and into whether Vladimir Putin colluded with Trump and/or associates to influence the precious election for the president of the United States. That investigation is being conducted, of course, by special counsel Robert Mueller. Now Nunes, or his staff, has released a memo that attempts to selectively contrive a case that all the Russia probes are somehow tainted by partisanship. He did so over the strenuous objections of the FBI and Justice Department that it gives away secrets. It was released to much fanfare, but frankly, it divulged nothing of consequence, unless you count revealing the desperation that Trump and his cohorts (accomplices) might be feeling as Mueller starts tightening the vise.

Nunes’ memo had no “there” there, but that didn’t stop the current president from tweeting about himself in the third person (which opens up a whole new avenue of speculation about his mindset, but I digress): “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.” Then he went on and on: “Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”
We can debate whom is the real American disgrace, but collusion certainly is not dead, not if you count the obvious collusion between Nunes and the White House. He’s done this kind of clumsy thing before, obliterating any separation between his committee’s jealously guarded oversight role, and his unsightly willingness to do whatever the Trumpsters want.
Democrats predictably were bent out of shape, their twaddle flapping in outrage. But many Republicans were equally steamed. Rep. Trey Gowdy, as partisan as they come and a GOP member of House Intelligence: “The contents of this memo do not -- in any way -- discredit his investigation.”
As he so often does, Sen. John McCain kicked it up a notch: “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests -- no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.” So now we have Bob Mueller and the FBI plodding along with the investigation, and Donald Trump commissioning several actions to sabotage it. His tactics, and those of the ones who have cast their lots with him, involve building a case against those who are building a case against him. The question is how far he’ll go in that effort, and what happens if he ends up being officially accused of being the Moscowian candidate. Will the politicians ramp up the courage to take action against him, or will they, like Nunes, continue to be his hand puppet while he serves the same function for Vladimir Putin? What an image!
The Democrats had been agitating to put out their response to Nunes’ memo, their alternative version of the issue. Considering how little impact the GOP hucksters had, why bother?

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

    

DINOSAURS AND CHEAP SHOTS

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, FEB. 2, 2018
DINOSAURS AND CHEAP SHOTS
---
At first glance, this should be a huuuuuuge story: Prehistoric animal tracks, a lot of them, were discovered near Washington. On further reflection, though, it’s not all that remarkable. In the 110 million years since they roamed the D.C. suburbs, the dinosaurs have moved just a few miles to the District of Columbia, where they trod every inch of the nation’s capital.
Yes, that’s a cheap shot, inspired by the State of the Union spectacle, where our country’s leaders try to hold onto glorious ancient traditions that never really were. President Donald Trump managed to not embarrass himself and the country. He went passive-aggressive as opposed to his usual nasty-aggressive. He did manage to sneak in several cheap shots himself, camouflaged by soaring platitudes about unity and national spirit. He referred to the so-called Dreamers -- the 700,000 or so people who were raised in the U.S. after they had been brought here as children by their illegal immigrant parents. There is a struggle to rescue them from deportation threatened by a Trump-created March deadline. Even he insists he’s sympathetic to their plight, but his contribution to the negotiations is an uncompromising bargaining position. In his speech, he took the “Dreamers” and rubbed their noses in his “America First” demagoguery: “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans -- to protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.” Cheap shot alert!

The problem is that the Democrats have no shots. Other than sitting there during the speech stone-faced, or boycotting it altogether, the opposition party doesn’t provide any opposition. Leaders constantly get rolled on the Dreamer issue, even though the polls show strong support for the endangered group. Their first pass at ultimatums resulted in a brief government shutdown, where they quickly got shot down. Actually, they wounded themselves by caving almost immediately. Now another shutdown is looming, and they’re no closer to standing up against the GOP bluster.
As for President Trump, he took full advantage of the expectations game for the State of the Union. All he had to do is stick to the teleprompter and not look like a rabid animal, and he’d be declared a success. He managed to do that.
Of course, his address glossed over the extreme turbulence that his administration produces. His speech was sanitized, with no mention about his cruel rhetoric or obnoxious tweets, certainly no mention of Stormy Daniels and the other women who’ve accused him of sexual impropriety. In fact, first lady Melania Trump was there, ending her boycott of him, or whatever it was. Yes, that’s another cheap shot. Stormy, by the way, squeezed out every moment of her 15 minutes of fame by appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” later that night, and cleverly refused to take ownership of another statement of denial she purportedly issued. It refuted her very own claims that she and Donald Trump had ever gotten it on, but she coyly left a lot of doubt. That means she can continue to demand top dollar as she remains on her stripper tour.
Also stripped from the Trump appearance was any mention of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump and his cohorts illegally colluded with the Putin government in stealing the election. Not once in the speech did he utter the phrase “no collusion,” which is as much a part of his rhetoric as “fake news.” Obviously, we don’t know how the Mueller probe will turn out. Republicans are reduced to putting out phony memos filled with cherry-picked classified material in a desperate attempt to shift blame for whatever Mueller discovers. Maybe, just maybe, President Trump will deliver his address next year before the Duma in Moscow. I freely admit that’s another cheap shot. That is, unless the Democrat dreamers succeed in winning control of Congress and make Donald Trump’s presidency a part of history.

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

    

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