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 25, 2019 MAGA-MIGA He actually said it! While talking to reporters on his way to Camp David, ...

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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. MAGA-MIGA
  2. ATTITUDES NOT PLATITUDES
  3. EMPTY LIVES
  4. A BALLOONING INDEPENDENCE DAY
  5. OUTER SPACE FUNDRAISING
  6. More Recent Articles

MAGA-MIGA

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 25, 2019

 

MAGA-MIGA

He actually said it! While talking to reporters on his way to Camp David, he used the phrase “Make Iran Great Again”! Does this mean that President Donald Trump has ordered that Iran will join America in the Greatness Club? “MIGA” as opposed to “MAGA”? Of course, Trump insists that since he’s taken over, he’s already accomplished that for America. Could it be he’s branching out and that it’s Iran’s turn? Will there be new baseball caps with the slogan embroidered in Farsi? What will we do about the fact that Iranians call the United States “The Great Satan”?
But Trump said it, so he obviously meant it, like everything else. Perhaps it’s just another step in the wake of his decision not to respond with an attack against Iran after that country’s military shot down a U.S. drone. His determination, said Trump, was made just moments before a retaliation was launched and just after he had learned that the missiles would kill up to 150 Iranians,. That led Trump to decide on the spur of the moment the return operation wasn’t “proportionate.” Whether you entirely believe his version of events — and there’s every reason not to — or even feel it was highly embellished, it doesn’t matter. It was certainly a smart move. Did I mention that the drone was unmanned? It turns out that Iran had avoided another U.S. surveillance aircraft with about 35 living human beings aboard, so a fiery rain of death from the skies would be overkill, to say the least.

Instead, we are now being told that our armed forces dweeb battalion responded with a crippling cyberattack on Iranian military computers. That was followed up with more severe economic sanctions leveled against an Iranian society that was already devastated by the ones in place. Still better than a fiery, deadly escalation.
But since when was such nuanced thinking the way Trump operated? Had sanity snuck into the White House asylum for one brief moment? Will that sanity be quickly sanitized once the warmongers in the administration contrive another crisis? All Donald Trump would really like to do is talk with the Iranian leadership and create a new nuclear deal with them after the United States pulled out of the last agreement following years of bargaining involving this country, Iran, the European Union, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany. When Trump opted out, it left the other parties in the lurch — certainly Iran, which has now pledged to start enriching uranium back on the way to creating a nuclear weapon. Avoiding that was the entire point of years’ worth of tedious talks.
The Trump administration has tightened the vise on Iran’s economy with increased sanctions, which has so infuriated Tehran’s leaders that they publicly rebuffed any idea of sitting down with Trump. They also deny that there are any sort of back-channel, secret discussions underway. That is certainly not true. The Trumpsters are not the only ones who lie through their teeth. There are always back-channel discussions, even though the two countries have no diplomatic relations, not since militant students, loyal to the new government of mullahs, overran the U.S. Embassy and took hostages in 1979. Still, each side takes care of business through so-called interest sections. In Tehran, the Swiss government maintains a United States presence; in Washington, Pakistan oversees Iran’s office. Certainly, officials there can serve as conduits — not even “back-channeling,” more like “front-channeling.” Other countries, like Oman, serve as venues for the more surreptitious exchanges. They always deny it, but that’s the necessary deception of diplomacy, aka lying. But hey, it gets the job done sometimes.
Both sides agree that they don’t want a full-blown war, although they also agree that no option is off the dreaded “table.” All this means that the situation is volatile. Remarkably, it was Donald Trump, or his peeps, who seemed to have lowered the temperature. But don’t order up any “Make Iran Great Again” hats yet. Too much can go wrong.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

ATTITUDES NOT PLATITUDES

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 21, 2019

ATTITUDES NOT PLATITUDES
---
We’ve all been lulled into believing that good manners will ultimately pay off, but let’s get real. The truth is, when people go low, you shouldn’t go high, as Michelle Obama famously advised. You should stomp the daylights out of them. Ifsomebody hits you, turn the other cheek -- and when the other guy has been faked out by that, beat the snot out of him. Similarly, forgiveness is for suckers. Actually, that one comes with an asterisk. If the offender is truly sorry, you might eventually decide to let bygones be bygones. But in general, civility is highly overrated.
Are you wondering why this rant is happening now (and maybe theorizing that I’ve forgotten to take my meds, which is always a safe guess, but not the reason this time)? The answer can be summed up in two words.No not those two words. I this case the two words are "Joe Biden".
Yes, Joe Biden, the former vice president who is now running a quaint campaign for the presidency. Not only is he presenting himself as an alternative to Donald Trump, but as an alternative to all those wild and crazy other Democrats who are seeking the same office he’s sought for decades.

 

Every time he runs, he gets tripped up by his own tongue. He always steps in it; you pick the best way to describe how he inevitably says stuff that is remarkably stupid. His mind never seems to keep up with his motor mouth. The latest example is his trying to portray himself as the candidate of “some civility.”
There he was, actually bragging about his years in the Senate, deal-making with avowed racists, including Mississippi’s James Eastland, who referred to African Americans as an “inferior race.” Eastland is now dead, mercifully. But that didn’t stop Biden from reminiscing about his ability to bargain even with the highly placed scum of American history to get things done. At one point, he said with a chuckle about the cagey old Eastland, he “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”
Well, perhaps Uncle Joe didn’t remember that “boy” was one of the ways that bigots routinely addressed blacks during slavery and the Jim Crow era.
Remnants of that era still exist, as evidenced by the success of Trump and his support from the millions who still are guided by ignorant prejudice. To steal a line from several others, it’s not a fact that all Trump supporters are racists, but all racists are Trump supporters. And here was Joe Biden promising to coexist with them.
Many Democrats -- his opponents and others in the party -- were horrified. Biden made it worse by refusing to apologize, insisting he has a long record of civil-rights support and that Sen. Cory Booker, who is one of the other presidential candidates, should apologize to him, because Booker led the charge of the critics. “The fact that he has said something that an African American man could find very offensive,” said Booker in a CNN interview, “and then turn around and say, you know ‘I’m not a racist, you should apologize to me’ ... is so insulting and so missing the larger point.”
Biden should know better. He’s trying to make the argument that he is experienced and knows how to get thing done by crossing over and negotiating with the other side. While, many of his Democratic opponents are prone to “demonize” the wealthy, for instance, he said at a fundraiser of those very same wealthy, “no one has to be punished, no one’s standard of living would change.” Yes, it would. The grotesquely rich will have to give up some of their money to address economic inequality.
So there is one cliche that obviously remains true. A politician’s promises are to be ignored. And the winner of the presidential campaign will have to go low, because that’s where Donald Trump lives.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

EMPTY LIVES

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 18, 2019
Editors: Note vulgarity in first graf.

 

EMPTY LIVES

In my role as a pundit-wannabe, I have always been strongly influenced by this single guiding principle: “If you can’t dazzle them with your genius, baffle them with your bull----.” In my world, it is a mortal sin not to have ready answers to any question, whether or not you know what you’re talking about. So, I’ve always dreamed, as I’ve mentioned before, that my fantasy live shot from Capitol Hill or the White House, or whatever styrofoam prop I was using, would go something like this:

Anchor: “And now for a report on what it all means, here is Action Eyewitness News correspondent Bob Franken. Bob, what does it all mean?”

Befuddled Bob: “I have no earthly idea.”

The truth is that it quite possibly is worthless rhetoric; much of what happens in politicsbiz is nothing more than empty sound bites or obnoxious social media distractions, like those from a certain president we all know. Donald Trump’s next book should be called “The Art of the Tweet.” He has an amazing ability to send us all atwitter with his every impulsive thought, whether it’s delivered by smartphone or the old-fashioned way, during a traditional TV interview.
So it was that his latest asininity escaped during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who asked whether he’d report it to the FBI if some foreign government offered him opposition research material on a political opponent. “It’s not an interference,” he blurted. “They have information. I think I’d take it.” Since he’s still accused among many of his non-believers of conspiring with Russia to win his election, that startled most of the TV babblers and the rest of us who get paid to look like we know everything. The truth is, we haven’t a clue after all this time whether he says this outrageous stuff because he’s an ignoramus with no impulse control or he’s a diabolically clever showman who knows how to distract us from the important stuff, like possibly starting a war with Iran.

It’s not just the Trump sideshow that bewilders us. The Democratic Party’s farcical efforts to unseat President Trump have inspired a couple of dozen Democrats to become candidates, with more expected. The party decided that 20 would make the cut for the first televised debate later this month.
Actually, it’s debates — plural — two of them on consecutive nights, The matchups determined by a random drawing. Elizabeth Warren will appear on the first night, along with Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar. On the second night Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden share the stage, along with Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.
So which candidates benefit? Is it the opening act: Warren; or Beto who gets to flaunt his youth; or middle-of-the-roaders Booker or Klobuchar? Is night No. 1 an advantage, with its novelty appeal, or will those who care wait till the second night to watch because of the star power? What about Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, and a first-nighter. He’s barely registering in the national polls, but he is 6 feet, 5 inches tall. Will the other candidates look vertically challenged if they are placed next to him?
Well, if you’re guided by the pundits, it’s all of the above or none of the above. Or part of each above. Not only that, but that is just the pre-debate chatter. After each one there will be endless hours of debate about the debate. Who won? Who lost? Most importantly, who cares? These debates are happening more than a year before the nominee will be chosen. One more live shot you’ll never hear from me:

Anchor: “Here is Bob, wrapping up the debates: Bob, what did they mean?”

Bob: “Other than keeping us commentators gainfully employed, not a blasted thing.”

©Bob Franken
King Features Syndicate

    

A BALLOONING INDEPENDENCE 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 FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2019

A BALLOONING INDEPENDENCE DAY
---
Let’s not get too excited over the plans of the protesters to bring over the hilarious “Baby Trump” balloon from London and put it aloft during the president’s Independence Day speech at the Lincoln Memorial. First of all, shouldn’t we remember the nation from whom we declared independence? Duh! July Fourth, after all, celebrates the self-evident truth that 243 years ago the founders declared they were cutting the cord with England. So why would we import anything from there for use on the Fourth? Besides, do you know the chances that our customs people would allow that illegal alien balloon through our ports if it tried to sneak in? The Brits would say chances are nil. We might describe it as, uh, a fat chance.
Americans: Where is your entrepreneurial spirit? Shouldn’t someone in the U.S. of A. make plans right now to mass produce our own Baby Trumps? Or at the very least, shouldn’t we follow the normal corporate model and manufacture them in China -- just like some MAGA hats are. (At least they are right now; we don’t know if they’d be covered if Trump really did level more tariffs on China.)

As for Baby Donald, isn’t it possible that instead of one big blimp, millions here could proudly carry smaller blimpettes? In the old days, they would be filled with helium to keep them up, and when one got bored with carrying around a stupid balloon, he or she could inhale the gas and talk in a squeaky voice. But there is a helium shortage right now. Happily, it can be replaced with hydrogen, which, in such small amounts, is not flammable. I think. If I’m wrong, they could switch from “Baby Trump” to “Hindenburgs.” But I digress ...
This entire discussion is based on the announced intention for POTUS to take the traditional July Fourth concert and fireworks display in Washington, 40 years’ worth of tradition, and stir things up a bit. No one can stir things up like Donald Trump can, and that would seem to be the point. His main change would be making a speech from the Lincoln Memorial, featuring who else but The Donald? It might also feature his hordes of supporters chanting “Lock her up!,” “Build that wall!” and other patriotic favorites.
Protesters could respond by chanting “In prison!,” quoting their founding mother Nancy Pelosi. The speech, of course, would be carried live on Twitter.
All of these changes require planning, months of preparation. Oh wait, it’s the Trumpster we’re talking about here. He’s allergic to planning. So with less than three weeks to go, the security people, the transportation people, the Porta-John people and all the logistical people are being instructed to wing it.
They can only hope that the multitudes will stay away in droves because it looks like the whole spectacle will fill lots of cluster trucks. Even if his address is delivered to a teeny tiny audience, Trump will claim that it’s the biggest crowd ever for a presidential speech on July Fourth at the Lincoln Memorial, which is probably true since no other president has ever made one at the Lincoln Memorial. Abe himself did make a speech in 1863, but it was from a second-floor window of the White House. And for whatever reason he made his remarks on July 7. But he talked about the importance of July Fourth. Someone decided that it counted. By now, you have probably learned more about presidential Independence Day speeches than you ever wanted to know.
But clearly, this one will cause your juices to flow, as will Trump’s anger at the “fake news media” who reported that only a few dozen people showed up. Most of them were celebrating “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” by going to the beach to pursue happiness. Many of those who remained in D.C. would exercise their unalienable right to fly their Baby Trump balloon.

© 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

OUTER SPACE FUNDRAISING

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 11, 2019

OUTER-SPACE FUNDRAISING
---
Surely we can agree that the people at NASA are showing some true ingenuity with their plans to allow tourists to visit the International Space Station. Starting next year, private citizens will be able to book space (pardon the pun) for up to 30 days at a rate of $35,000 a night. Contact your travel agent for a special deal on transportation and accommodations, for an initial bargain of about $60 million.
Of course, that's not counting the "resort fee" and not counting the tariffs that President Donald Trump will likely impose on souvenirs. Yes, the newly outfitted space hotel would certainly have a gift shop. Plus, we imagine there will be gambling, because there's bound to be a new Trump Casino, which would be his latest property acquisition since his hotel in D.C., widely known as the "Washington Emolument."
Now, why didn't I think of this? I have been the one to suggest so many ways to raise money for the government, particularly since revenue dropped precipitously with the latest GOP tax hike. Selling naming rights for government buildings like the Boeing Pentagon, turning the prison cells at Guantanamo Bay into luxury condos (the ultimate gated community) -- these have been just a few of my ideas that have become the stuff of legend. Actually, they have been totally ignored, but now that NASA is offering the vacation trip of a lifetime, maybe some of these other proposals will see finally see the light of day.

There is so much potential for NASA: Maybe next, we'll see a "Fly Me to the Moon" package, which would be just one small step beyond the current plans. or if someone can't afford those junior space cadet adventures, perhaps the government travel agents can offer something slightly more down-to-earth. Slightly. What about group rates for Mount Everest? Although I'm told the lines are terrible.
Now that the vacationing Trump family (often mistaken for the Clampetts) is making a stop in the states, between all their bad-will visits overseas, we can anticipate some true entertainment on the homefront. For the most part, Trump behaved himself while in Europe, but he still managed to leave behind a little bad taste.
There was his spat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Suddenly he was so incensed with her that he trashed her during a Fox News interview, not concerning himself with the propriety of doing so at the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,000 U.S. dead are buried. He trashed "Nancy Pelosi -- I call her 'Nervous Nancy' -- Nancy Pelosi doesn't talk about it. She's a disaster, OK She's a disaster. Let her do what she wants, you know what? I think they're in big trouble." He also called ex-special counsel Bob Mueller a "fool," but Pelosi was his favorite target.
If Pelosi is "nervous," it's because she's struggling to keep her fellow House Democrats in line. More and more of them are demanding that she allow Trump's impeachment to officially begin. If for no other reason than he is stiffing just about all their oversight legal demands. She thinks impeachment is a tactical mistake for the moment. Even so, the clamor gets louder in her party, and she's frantically saying whatever she thinks she needs to say to placate her restless flock: "I don't want to see him impeached," she told a closed meeting, "I want to see him in prison."
Why that would bother Donald Trump is a valid question: Normally criticism just rolls off his back. Not this time. Actually, not anytime. He went to Twitter for one of his tirades: "Nervous Nancy Pelosi is a disgrace to herself and her family for having made such a disgusting statement, especially since I was with foreign leaders overseas."
He'll be dealing with domestic leaders now, including Pelosi. And he'll be preparing for his July Fourth speech at the Lincoln Memorial, now that he's expropriated Independence Day for his own ego trip, which makes the one to the space station pale in comparison.
It does suggest one other fund-raiser. When he's speaking at the Lincoln Memorial, why not get the Ford Motor Co. to pay to display the latest models of their Lincoln automobiles? Nothing's too tacky for Donald Trump. Or me.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

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