FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN DON TRUMP’S EXILE It’s a shame they didn’t name one of the early social media entities Pandora, after the mythological woman who opened the box that released all kinds of trouble on humanity, a shame ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. DON TRUMP’S EXILE
  2. THE DAY OF CHAOS
  3. TRUMP’S LEGACY OF PHONINESS
  4. OLD STORY, NEW STORY
  5. ONE FINGERED SYNE
  6. More Recent Articles

DON TRUMP’S EXILE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

DON TRUMP’S EXILE

It’s a shame they didn’t name one of the early social media entities Pandora, after the mythological woman who opened the box that released all kinds of trouble on humanity, a shame that the trademark was left for a music and podcast app later.
The Facebooks and Twitters of this world are prime examples of a technology run amok. With the intention of providing a voice to every individual, it quickly became evident that not every individual should have that voice, that our worst instincts will inevitably spread and pollute the planet.
Look no further than Donald Trump, who turned this instrument into a cyber-demagoguery platform and stepped from it all the way to the highest office in the land. He clearly had no concept of how he would use his near omnipotence, other than for feeding his most unhinged narcissism.
But who decides who has access? If the institutional filters for ideas, like the media, have unfairly represented the rich and mighty’s interests and infuriated everyone else, who’s to say that a shameless, ignorant blowhard can’t inspire the “regular folks” with simplistic and hateful promises using these internet soapboxes, particularly if this scaffolding is run by amoral technocrats?
Only after an entire Trump presidential term — as these profiteers lurched from one bad idea to another — have they settled on their latest strategy to police misinformation and try to control the deranged president.
They simply pulled the plug on him ... silenced his voice in the final few days of his lying public presence. Twitter and Facebook chose to shut him down. In the case of unrestrained right wing Parler, Apple, Google and Amazon decreed that such mini sites would not be allowed to peddle their incitement. They’d simply be removed.
Suddenly, the president’s bully pulpit had no bullhorn. His millions of supporters could only claim censorship. Of course it was censorship, opening another Pandora’s box. In their case, they were scrambling to come up with another high-tech way to construct a new misinformation highway.
Of course their militants have another alternative: continued violence. In the few days remaining before Joe Biden’s inauguration, they can regroup and launch their evil, deadly attacks now that they have a martyr to rally around: Donald Trump. But they and he have momentarily lost the element of surprise, which compromises the ability to coordinate their treason.


But there is nothing magical about inauguration day, particularly since it’s less likely that security forces will be as woefully unprepared as they were for the Capitol siege.
No. They can choose to wait and surreptitiously arrange an operation another day. And it’s likely these domestic terrorists will, with Trump as a grievance icon.
Meanwhile, in spite of the argument that this lunatic commander in chief, with his constitutional potential to annihilate everything, needs to be removed immediately, an attempt to close him down before Biden takes over is probably not workable. Instead, neutralize him somehow, and wait until he’s a private citizen, unprotected from prosecution. If he pardons himself, fight it out in the courts.
The sad fact is that whichever legal strategy is chosen for recourse, it will keep him at the top of the news, which is what he craves. Perhaps some bargain with him is possible, where he agrees to make no chief executive decisions for the few days remaining, literally White House arrest. He would also have to accept that he’ll never run for office again and be muzzled. If he violates the artfully drawn deal, the legal system can lower the boom.
It amounts to an exile in Mar-a-Lago, with visits from Rudy Giuliani so they can talk about the good old days of destroying the country. Maybe there could be occasional calls from his comrade Vladimir Putin.
That way Biden and his successors can clean up the rubble and repair the country — in spite of the social media

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

THE DAY OF CHAOS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

THE DAY OF CHAOS

What shall we call it, as we mark every Jan. 6, National Shame Day? We will be commemorating the anniversary of when democracy was almost overrun by a small group from the right wing fringes. Their fatal invasion was egged on by none other than President Donald Trump, elected and supported by millions in spite of the fact that he has predictably dragged the nation as low into humiliation as we can go.
Certainly, this con artist would never have had the smarts to drag the country down without hundreds of enablers, mostly in the Republican Party — people who knew better but who calculated that their ambitions for power took personal precedence over doing the right thing.
We could possibly make it National Hypocrisy Day, to dishonor the likes of politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham, who detractors call “Linseed Oil” Graham because he’s so slippery, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, soon to be the minority leader after the Georgia elections did him in.
Both employed legislative contortions to enact the most preposterous features of the Trump agenda. But now their survival instincts are kicking in, and they are among the party regulars who are throwing him overboard.
Funny how they’ve suddenly discovered their consciences. Graham went from golfing buddy to proclaiming “enough is enough” of the Donald. And McConnell insisted that the wishes of Trump for Congress to declare the election null and void would send the U.S. into a “death spiral.”
But the hypocrites’ hypocrite has to be Mike Pence. The ever obsequious vice president bailed on his great leader conveniently after the president was credibly accused of inciting the riot that sent marauders defiling the symbols of our all-too-fragile democracy. Only after the dust settled and Congress was on its way to certifying the Biden victory over Trump did Pence, ever the righteous one, declare, “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win.” And never mind that the havoc-wreakers marched to the beat of his boss man’s drummers.
Of course the dust never really settles. Even though Biden was finally certified the election winner, even though the president tweeted shortly before 4 a.m. that there would, in fact, be an “orderly transition,” even though he had to make that promise through a staff aide because he had been banned from social media, there are still scores to settle.
What to do with the insurrectionists, the rioters who ravaged the Capitol? Should they be identified and charged with sedition or accessory to murder, because their alleged actions led to death? Should they be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and receive maximum punishment if found guilty?
How about the police higher-ups who showed their bigotry with their perfunctory planning for the mostly white marauders, as compared to the brutal response to Black Lives Matter protestors this summer? What was behind that? We all know what.

What about the man who incited the riot? Until now I had been ambivalent about the national indignity of a former president being charged, tried and convicted for crimes. But has Donald Trump crossed the line?
Facing disgrace, he has tried to sneak back, weasel style, after his high-level staff members and even cabinet members discovered their consciences or reputational expedience and resigned. Once Twitter temporarily let him back on before banning him forever, Donnie Weasel tried to save the less than two weeks of his presidency by effectively conceding in a video that in fact a “new administration” will be sworn in on Jan. 20, but then had the gall to say, “This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
But his political enemies, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are pushing to oust him before his term ends, saying the nation can’t risk having his hand on the nuclear button for even the few days remaining.
In any case, the politicians have created a crisis, somehow about dedicating the day to them. We could mark Jan. 6 with mandatory lessons for all schools (remember them, before the pandemic?) that while our government leaders are supposed to have moral principles and minimal competence to maintain a lawful, civil society, our citizens are routinely mislead by politicians and those who exploit our freedoms.
National Politicians Day, a lesson in broken promises from which this broken country must make reality.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

TRUMP’S LEGACY OF PHONINESS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

TRUMP’S LEGACY OF PHONINESS

One last con: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump skipped out on their New Year’s gala at Mar-a-Lago, where fans with too much money paid a thousand or so bucks singly because the Trumps were advertised to attend. But suddenly, the first scammers bailed and returned to the White House, leaving family members and other second fiddles to diddle those willing to be defrauded by the right wing star-hucksters.
While the Trumps are world champion charlatans, there’s no shortage of bunco artists in Washington. Only too happy to join the Trumpster in his elaborate last-minute Sting 2 to hold on to office by hook or crook was Ted Cruz. In such a biopic, there’s no obvious actor who would be cast as Trump. But Cruz would definitely be played by Snidely Whiplash of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame. Never mind that Whiplash is a star of animation. He IS Ted Cruz.
It’s not that Sen.Cruz actually cares whether President Trump is successful. If The Donald falters, Cruz would like to lay claim to his 74 million voters. And Donald Trump has four years to falter.
Could he have badly blundered with his hour-long intimidation call browbeating Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger? He threatened Raffensperger with “criminal” prosecution unless he suddenly were to “find” nearly 12,000 Trump votes in Georgia, which would reverse the state’s election. By the way, Brad Raffensperger, the loyal Republican, cast his ballot for Trump but then he decided to steadfastly follow all the rules in counting the votes. Including now, when he politely turned down the president and his henchpersons. The question, among many, is how could they not know the call was being recorded? And Trump’s four years out of office and being subject to criminal action is just beginning.
Perhaps four years is a long enough time for all the memories of the Trump years to evaporate: the coronavirus, the racism, the misogyny, the cruel xenophobia, the facile demagoguery. This is to say nothing of the fact that President Joe Biden will have time to create his own messes.


What the Trumpster base will never forget is why those millions favored Trump in the first place: the unfairness of the elite and their so-called experts (they lump all the real experts in with the phonies). They despised the intellectuals, many of whom talked a good game but little else, and felt they had suffered from affirmative action and foreign competition. They also believed that their old-fashioned cultural and religious beliefs were under attack.
And along came Donald Trump. He had already shown he has the grift gift. He had been born into wealth but also inherited a ruthlessness to do whatever it took to wriggle out of his ineptitude and achieve huge wealth in the process.
An old Southern expression is that The Donald is able to fall into a bucket of spit and come out smelling like a rose. Well, that’s pretty close.
He has an instinctual ability for public relations. He will always find some way to be in the spotlight. No matter how Joe Biden will try, Donald Trump will parlay the claim that he was cheated out of re-election into a justification to be favored next time around. He might succeed. Ted Cruz and the others can only hope he might not.
The only ultimate fight in the GOP will be between one of the “RINOs”, Republicans in Name Onlies and a “Never Trumper” like Mitt Romney. Well, Romney is a Sometimes Trumper when it suits his purposes, pretending his motives are pure. That’s just his con. Call him Grift Romney, running his own sting versus a Democrat. Both will still be running against Donald Trump, still the center of attention, which is all he ever wanted.
© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

OLD STORY, NEW STORY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

OLD STORY, NEW STORY

We’ve been through this before: On Jan. 20, 1981, Iran was letting the hostages go after holding them prisoner in Tehran for 444 days. Outgoing President Jimmy Carter was dealing with the crisis up until the last seconds, as the Carter administration segued into the Reagan administration. Then President Ronald Reagan took the reins, welcoming home the hostages.
Obviously, it was all choreographed. The Iranians had a particular hostility toward Carter, because they believed he had supported the repressive rule of the shah. So they insisted that Reagan was president before the official announcement was made. Carter and Reagan went along and played their parts to make sure the final chapter of this saga went off without a hitch, much like the transition of the U.S. government went smoothly.
That’s how it’s always gone; until now. Defeated president Donald Trump has made the takeover by victor Joe Biden unduly difficult, and occasionally impossible, because he’s refused to cooperate, while putting up every kind of legal roadblock he can. Oftentimes it’s been extralegal. His claims of election fraud have been fraudulent, but he’s tried every shameful trick he can to thwart the obvious will of the American people.
In 2021, the international adversary is the same. Iran is emboldened because the “Great Satan,” at least in their view, is puny, weakened by four years of Donald Trump’s rule, culminating in the chaos as he bows out.
So the truculence in the Middle East is escalating. But it also leads to the suspicion that hardliners in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, may be trying to contrive a crisis as a way to hold on to power, because America will have no choice. That might be the reason Trump returned to Washington early. Just in case...
But the United States does have a choice, a Constitution, which requires that Biden and his people take over at noon on Jan. 20. We witnessed that 40 years ago, because the outgoing chief executive believed in the process, as opposed to the current one, who believes only in his self-interests.


However, the ayatollahs who still run Iran are no dummies. From a PR point of view, it would be the exact wrong time to goad the Americans, which would set us off and turn the world against them. Furthermore, any subterfuge where Israel were to launch an attack against Tehran would be viewed as such deceit — where Netanyahu would be seen as acting on orders of the Trump having his last gasp — that he would hold out because it was a lousy idea.
The point is, it probably won’t happen, but with this loopy president, anything is possible. So we need to worry until Jan. 20 at noon, when the Trumps are dragged out of the White House and the Bidens can start in their quest to restore sanity.
Donald Trump and all his Trumpsters become private citizens, and play by the same rules and laws as anyone else. No longer are they the subject of endless boring pundit discussions with the general title of “Under the Constitution, can he really do that?” The truth is that under the Constitution he won’t be able to do any more than any other American.
Not that he won’t try. If we have learned anything about Donald Trump, it’s that he has a lot of gall. It’ll be interesting to see what exotic and creative arguments his attorneys raise to get him out of the legal and financial messes he’s already accumulated.
He’s about to find out. We only have to hold our breaths for a few days now to see what desperate moves he has left. He can still do some damage, but he’ll pay for it, and the ones around him will also pay. How willing are they to do that?
So, Donald Trump: Whatever tricks you have left, why not avoid the hassle? It’s too bloody late. They won’t work.

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

    

ONE FINGERED SYNE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

ONE FINGERED SYNE

Did you know that “Auld Lang Syne,” from the Scots language in which it was written back in 1788, literally translates in English to “old long since,” not so literally to “long long ago”?
Do you care?
Well, think about it when you’re wasted and belting it out on the first moment of New Year’s Day. I can bore you even more about why it was associated with New Year’s, but I won’t, except to mention that it was famously performed at the stroke of midnight by society orchestra Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians. They really played cheesy music, sort of like Lawrence Welk but not as hip. The Lombardo band’s arrangement is still played in Times Square while television network anchors make fools of themselves. Actually, while the ball is still being lowered, most of the traditional crowd is being kept away this year because of you know what.
Which gets us to Donald Trump, who is still president of the United States. He is using his last days in office to destroy as much of the country as he can by focusing on anything but the Covid pandemic, which is raging out of control. But he’s ignoring it, except when he grudgingly signs legislation that keeps
Americans from drowning in the coronavirus.
And he continues to be oblivious at Mar-a-Lago, where there is lots of golf and no word that he’ll cancel his annual New Year’s Eve gala. This year it would be a gala superspreader event, particularly if he invites all the slimeballs he’s pardoned.
But his pardons may be the least of our worries, as he wields his enormous powers in the few days remaining of his term before he petulantly hands the White House keys over to Joe Biden. That assumes he doesn’t try out a full-blown coup d’etat.
His last acts in office may not be actually earth-shattering, but devastating nonetheless if he vindictively finds other ways to damage the citizens under his care and destroys the economy even more than it is already.
|He waited till the last minute to accept the rescue of millions of Americans who faced hunger and homelessness before signing a pittance package, $900 billion worth. Congress and his administration negotiated it for months while he stayed on the sidelines.
He has a point — it is grossly inadequate. But his motives were suspect, not only because he kept everyone in suspense until the last instant before he ended his tantrum, but because it was attached to the funding of the entire federal government. It’s also as if he was saying, “OK, if you won’t let me head the government, I won’t leave behind a government.”
Of course he doesn’t publicly acknowledge that he’s up to legal subterfuge, but right next to it. He’s still searching to to pull off a fast one and take the nation to the edge of the precipice.


He’s been tweeting like crazy, I mean really tweeting like a crazy man. His proclamations would be considered rants if they weren’t on Twitter, and if the author wasn’t the leader of the free world. Take Christmas Eve, for instance, when, usually, it’s reserved for goodwill. Donald Trump was continuing his own tradition ... Yuletide badwill. This is a Christmas Eve sample: “I saved at least 8 Republican Senators, including Mitch, from losing in the last Rigged (for President) Election. Now they (almost all) sit back and watch me fight against a crooked and vicious foe, the Radical Left Democrats. I will NEVER FORGET!”
Just add it to his massive list of grievances. Festivus is made for Donald Trump. He already is changing the lyrics of the traditional New Year’s song:

Should auld acquaintances be forgot
Oh no they never will
The grudges will last a lifetime here
That’s what I mean when I sing about my bitter Auld Lang Syne.

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

    

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