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, JAN. 18, 2019 THE SICK JOKE --- Transportation Security Administration agents are doing their part ...

Click here to read this mailing online.

Your email updates, powered by FeedBlitz

 
Here is a sample subscription for you. Click here to start your FREE subscription


"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. THE SICK JOKE
  2. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S SAD SONG
  3. BLUNDERBUSS PULPIT
  4. WE NEED "JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY"
  5. NON-TRUCE-NON TRUTH
  6. More Recent Articles

THE SICK JOKE

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, JAN. 18, 2019

THE SICK JOKE
---
Transportation Security Administration agents are doing their part as the partial government shutdown drags on -- at least some of them are. Forced to work without pay, some are expressing their disgust by calling out sick in ever-increasing numbers. That's causing the wait times to get to your plane even longer. So it may seem counterintuitive, but if you know one of them personally, feel free to show your support with a warm "Thank you for not serving."
At least they're taking action with their inaction. It's far too easy to sustain this absurd political gamesmanship simply by declaring that certain federal workers are "essential" and forcing them to stay on the job without pay. That way, critical services, like law enforcement, are continued. As for the hundreds of thousands of unpaid feds who can't keep up with their bills, obviously this president -- whose stubbornness is causing their plight -- has moved them down on his list of priorities. Walled them off, so to speak. He's definitely not feeling their pain, no matter how much he claims to "relate."
The dillema is that there's not enough pain, certainly not for Trump. If someone with political clout squeals a little -- say, the food industry, which can't, uh, stomach the idea that people are avoiding their farm products -- he waves his executive-order wand and brings back inspectors. Speaking of farmers, who generally are part of Trump's rural base, Department of Agriculture employees were ordered to return to process vital loans and subsidies, along with IRS workers to deal with tax refunds. You can count on Donald Trump: Just be the squeaky wheel, and the Trump administration will simply make another exception and order a batch of federal workers back on the clock. Mostly unpaid, of course.

 

Therein might lie the problem. A few are arguing that the stakes are too low. If you're going to have a shutdown, they contend, let's have a complete shutdown, not just a selective trinket for the politicians. What is the term the Trumpsters used in another context? Oh yeah, it was "zero tolerance." Let's apply that mindset to shutdown politics. Zero federal employees go to work. No FBI agents, no air traffic controllers, zippo. Let the American people deal with a complete absence of services, not just the ones someone deems "unessential."
By the way, once again I need to mention that my wife works for the federal government. She has not been designated "essential," but she certainly is to me. Asked whether I'm "essential" to her, she would neither confirm nor deny.
Back to the shutdown. However it ends up, at least it exposes one institution for the crock that it is. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, showing she's no slouch in a knife fight, is really sticking it to Donald Trump. In effect, she disinvited him from appearing before Congress for the State of the Union address. Wouldn't it be fabulous if it was permanently canceled, this annual slobberfest, with its phony bonhomie and pageantry?
Donnie loves it, so he was not about to just absorb this attack on his manhood. It wasn't long before he took his own shot: Pelosi was about to lead a congressional delegation on a trip to Afghanistan. That's one of the perks of being a member, the so-called CODELS, otherwise known as junkets. They are supposed to inform representatives and senators on the ways of the world. As often as not, their studies abroad take them to places like Paris, or in winter, to tropical beaches. Trump pulled the military planes that were taking this particular group to Afghanistan. Take that, Nancy!
So it's not just the TSA officers. All Americans should be sick, as we all are threatened by this national debilitating disease. It's called politics.

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

    

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S SAD SONG

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, JAN. 15, 2019

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S SAD SONG
---
In 1932, as the Great Depression took hold and once-proud Americans were reduced to begging, Bing Crosby recorded a song called "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" It became a hit, even though Republicans tried to force radio stations not to play it because it was "anti-capitalist." And indeed it was.
"They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?
... Buddy, can you spare a dime?"
Today, the Republicans are at it again, or at least one Republican is. As the country goes through a different kind of depression over the presidency of Donald Trump, 800,000 federal government workers are being told that they have little choice but to revert to modern-day panhandling, perhaps relying on modern social media to keep them and their families from economic collapse. Trump has dug in his heels over his perverted fantasy of a border wall. It's a "crisis" at the southern border he insists, with disingenuous support coming from his sycophants, who are so desperate to stay in his good graces that they're willing to sell their souls to keep their positions, assuming they even have souls.
Those federal employees whose jobs right now are worthless because they're unfortunate enough to work in agencies that didn't have funding appropriated are either being forced to stay at home or, in the case of those who have the bad luck of being designated "essential," to work without pay. There are a few lawsuits rattling around; there always are. In essence, they claim that such work without pay is mandated slavery.
President Trump has insisted that he can "relate" to their plight, even though he owns a private jet and claims to be a billionaire. Even so, some of the staff members who were designated "essential" tried to curry his favor by emailing memos to all hands containing strategies to survive. The Office of Personnel Management even offered sample letters that their unfortunates can send to those they owe -- landlords, for instance -- offering "to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments."

 

If that sounded like it came from some graduates of Trump University's Marie Antoinette School of Human Resources, the Coast Guard provided the icing on the cake. It was five pages of icing, called "Managing your finances during a furlough." Guidance for the Coast Guard's 8,500 civilian employees who are sailing choppy waters as they struggle to stay financially afloat without their paycheck lifeboats. The tips included holding garage sales or selling things online, walking dogs or baby-sitting, tutoring and, of course, "Bankruptcy is a last option."
Bankruptcy has worked well for Donald Trump, but after the media picked up on the Coast Guard memo, it suddenly was deleted. Obviously, it embarrassed someone even without other money-raising tactics that might be a tad too controversial to mention here.
Happily, some merchants have seen the public-relations value of announcing they would cut unpaid federal government employees some slack, but that's uneven. Others, like many Transportation Security Administration officers, are calling in sick, which slows things down even more at our airports. That could mean airlines and other parts of the travel industry will use their deep-pocketed lobbying clout to put pressure on the politicians. I need to mention here that my wife is a federal employee, but realizing how unreliable and buffoonish our politicians are, we have put a few bucks aside each paycheck in case of the inevitable shutdown.
By the way, you might be interested that the dime of 1932 is worth slightly more than $4.50 today. Or you might not be interested. The truth of the matter is that thousands upon thousands of these families, who live paycheck to paycheck, need more than a lousy $4.50 to tide them over.

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

    

BLUNDERBUSS PULPIT

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, JAN. 11, 2019

BLUNDERBUSS PULPIT

OK, America, here is the word of the month: "blunderbuss." No, it is not a mass-transit vehicle whose driver has taken the wrong route. You'd think most everyone in this Second Amendment-obsessed nation would know that a blunderbuss is a gun, an old-timey one.
It long preceded the automatic weapons that wreak the kind of mindless mass destruction that has become part of our national routine. It had a flared barrel. Think of it as a mini bell-bottomed single-round shotgun. It was very inaccurate, but in its day, it caused a lot of damage. Could that describe a certain blundering and blustery chief executive?
Actually, that's not the only word of the month. For President Blunderbluster and his obsequious gang that couldn't shoot straight, their word is "crisis," as in "national security crisis" or "humanitarian crisis" or even "crisis of the soul," for crisis' sake. Oh, and let's not forget the phony crisis ... make that "fake crisis," as Donald Blunderbluster tries to weasel out of the fine mess he's created.
All his ready-aim-fire approach has accomplished is a partial government shutdown over his insistence that the Democrats agree to spend $5.7 billion for a border wall. He needs to keep the blood boiling in his xenophobic base, but his scattershot attempts at intimidation certainly have not strong-armed the Democrats one bit. In fact, he's weak-armed them, and they remain united and adamant that they will not fold this time. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him again that there would be no wall money, he flounced out of the room, saying "bye-bye."

 

Obviously Blunderbluster's wall is closing in on him politically. He must dig out of the dung pile into which he willingly dived. The Democrats seem intent on rubbing his nose in it. Now someone in his bunker has come up with a strategy to save his nose and the rest of his face. "How about this, President Trump (his other name): What if you declare a national emergency and divert Pentagon funds to pay for the wall? Never mind that the situation at the border with Mexico doesn't qualify as one, or that the courts probably will put a stop to it. Before they do, you can reach agreement without congressional wall funding, and climb out of the smelly pit you dug. Presto change-o, the shutdown will be over, and the opposition will have decided they had extracted a last pound of flesh from you. Then you could stop pretending you give a hoot about the 800,000 government workers who hadn't been paid."
It is a straw, but a desperate Blunderbluster is willing to grasp it. He already put what was left of the squandered prestige of the presidency on display with an Oval Office address. It was a real tough choice for the broadcast networks. They had to decide whether to cut away from their fare of situation comedies and go with the one in the White House. They opted to carry the "POTUS Show," simulcasting with the cable news networks. That was probably a smart decision, and a few more people learned a thing or two.
The main thing is that this president thinks the First Amendment specifies a right to "peaceably dissemble." Actually, it does allow his lies, as long as they don't slop over into defamation. So far, even though he repeatedly slanders Mexicans, Muslims, women and people of color, he gets away with it. Still, that night, fact-checkers swarmed all over him.
In fact, there really are crises in this country; a gun crisis, for instance, with more than 300 million privately owned modern weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. No matter how many massacres there are, or how frequent, political leaders are unable or unwilling to do anything about it, and that certainly includes President Blunderbluster.

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

    

WE NEED "JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY"

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, JAN. 8, 2019

WE NEED "JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY"
---
Do you remember the movie "Johnny Dangerously"? It stars Michael Keaton in the title role. It was released in 1984, but it's still rattling around for streaming. For that matter, everything is available for streaming, even Stormy Daniels' epics. If that's your thing, enjoy -- no judging here. But "Johnny Dangerously," which is certainly in a different category, is a favorite of mine. A really juvenile comedy, which is far and away my preferred genre.
One running joke in this spoof is the use of profanity by a particular character, Roman Moroni. Actually, what really makes people yuck it up is Moroni's ALMOST profanity -- the Italian gangster's dialogue is riddled with terms like "cork soakers" and "fargin' iceholes." Trust me, it's funny if you see the movie.
I'm not in the habit of doing film reviews; instead, I deal with the stranger-than-fiction world of politics. The latest preview of coming attractions involves congressional beginner Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from the Detroit area, who got caught up in all the enthusiasm of her new House of Representatives gig by telling a crowd that was definitely anti-Trump: "We're going to impeach the motherf*****."

That went beyond anything even the "Johnny Dangerously" film would mock. Social media exploded, and Republicans and Democrats alike rushed to the nearest cameras to denounce Rep. Tlaib's description of the president's Oedipus complex. Even more obscene, in the eyes of more experienced Democratic leaders, was Tlaib's use of the "I word." They know you're living, uh, dangerously if just moments after you take over the House, you're promoting impeachment. Tactically it appears the Dems are too anxious to wield their new powers.
Even so, the sanctimonious reactions have been staggering, even by Washington standards: "I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of America."
Those were the words of Donald Trump, the guy whose use of words like "sh**hole" and "pu***" have caused similar uproars. He's made our use of asterisks soar, so those of us in media can practice our own hypocrisy and pretend we too don't cuss like mule skinners.
Rep. Tlaib is not backing down, but she wasn't talking to the reporters who trailed her, which is -- how would Moroni put it? -- "really fargin' unusual"!
Consider this a learning experience for her and all the other novices. There are a few "never forgets" here. Like never forget that there are cameras and microphones everywhere, to say nothing of smartphones. Even when they're not around, the D.C. swamp leaks.
And never forget that much of what happens here is greased by phony sweet talk; street talk won't cut it. The only street people here care about is K Street, where so many special interest lobbyists have their offices from which they distribute their bribes ... oh, excuse me, campaign contributions. True, Donald Trump avoids sweet-talking, but what has he really accomplished without the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been around here longer than dirt?
The fact that McConnell seems to be sitting out the negotiations over the government shutdown means that it has gone on much longer than it would have. That's because Trump never really mastered the "Art of the Deal." The impasse will be broken when McConnell surreptitiously slides in and works his sneaky compromise magic with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who also have played this game a few times. Donald Trump is simply out of his league.
So are all those political neophytes who are getting a lot of attention from the media neophytes who are attracted to bright new things. They are definitely not attracted to institutional knowledge, which will save the day. By that I mean a vast knowledge of how things get done. Or in the spirit of the movie "Johnny Dangerously," let's call it "half-vast knowledge."

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

    

NON-TRUCE-NON TRUTH

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, JAN. 4, 2019

NON TRUCE-NON TRUTH
---
Wouldn't it be astounding if we read the morning news one day and the headline was "Everything President Trump Said Yesterday Was Entirely True"? Put that one in the "not likely" category.
Donald Trump has made lying an art form (a crude art form, certainly), to the point where we can't be sure that his name actually is Donald Trump. He's that untrustworthy. According to The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" Glenn Kessler, Trump (or whoever he is) averaged 15 falsehoods a DAY in 2018!
There should be a competition among politicians, obviously sponsored by Burger King, for the single biggest whopper of the year. Or perhaps the sheer volume would dictate a monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly contest. It doesn't matter, because the winner would be the Trumpster. The prize would fit right into his diet: all the Whoppers he could eat.
In this era, where everything is true because social media says it is, and everything on mainstream media is "fake news," we should recognize this national champion. Let us not forget that he'd be competing with other lying politicians (pardon the redundancy), so he'd be running on a fast track. Even though it was slippery, he'd race far ahead of the "alternative fact" pack.

Not that it isn't a crowded field: Mitt Romney, the latest Mitt version, has now become "Senator Moonwalk," as in a remarkable ability to walk backward away from positions he had earlier staked out. He has an extraordinary aptitude for reversing course, an talent he's long displayed as a governor, presidential candidate and as a Republican "Never Trumper." In the latter case, he flipped from calling Trump "a con man, a fake" in the 2016 campaign, to groveling and almost kissing his ring (or whatever) when he wanted to become President-elect Trump's secretary of state, and later accepting the Trump imprimatur as he ran and won the race for Utah senator. Now he flips once again as he comes to Washington to claim his prize. In an op-ed in the Post, he returned to Trump-bashing, describing POTUS as a president who has not "risen to the mantle of the office."
Even his niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel called that "disappointing and unproductive." It should be mentioned that Ronna McDaniel is the Trump-chosen chair of the Republican National Committee. She later claimed, "I love my uncle." Which proves once again that here in D.C., water runs thicker than blood.
Still, it is Donald Trump who's the prevaricator in chief. He wins that award small-hands down. Unfortunately, it means that anyone who deals with him can anticipate that his word means nothing. Unless that word is "treacherous." The problem is that in the honor-among-thieves realm of politics, like in various shady pursuits, your word is still supposed to be binding. Even though campaign promises are largely bogus, a pledge made during private negotiation maneuvering is how you come up with a workable compromise.
The trick is, during all the hard-nosed and ridiculous public posturing of recent days, for anonymous staff members to concoct an agreement that settles the government shutdown. The opportunistic blame-placing will have run its course. Only then will a bargain stick and be quickly presented to the relieved members of Congress getting heat from back home.
Someone in the White House will figuratively have to put gaffer's tape over Trump's mouth and tie up his stubby tweet fingers until he signs the bill; probably after midnight to escape the hard questions. Then, each side will declare victory. But the Democrats will have to worry about that part of the process. While Donald Trump is incapable of governing, he sure can tell whoppers. Apparently, his only truth-telling is inadvertent, because the "Art of the Lie" really works.

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

    

More Recent Articles


You Might Like

Safely Unsubscribe ArchivesPreferencesContactSubscribePrivacy