FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE BY BOB FRANKEN NEVADA INFECTION “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” How many times have we heard that one? It’s an assurance that the sins in Sin City won’t follow you home. Unfortunately, it’s also true that ...
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"Franken Sense" - 5 new articles

  1. NEVADA INFECTION
  2. THE MORTIFICATION EFFECT
  3. COVID AND OTHER TRUMP DISEASE
  4. SHATTERED CREDIBILITY
  5. EXPLOITING EXPLODED KENOSH
  6. More Recent Articles

NEVADA INFECTION

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

NEVADA INFECTION

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” How many times have we heard that one? It’s an assurance that the sins in Sin City won’t follow you home. Unfortunately, it’s also true that “What happens in Henderson definitely doesn’t stay in Henderson.”
Henderson, Nevada, is basically a suburb of Las Vegas, about a 20 minute drive away. It’s where President Donald Trump decided to have an indoor rally, attended by about 5,600 of his supporters. They were jammed together in a manufacturer’s auditorium, most of them not wearing face masks. They were willing to take a life or death chance with catching the sometimes lethal coronavirus, and Trump was willing to let them risk everything — to the point that he flouted Nevada’s crowd limitation rules.
When Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, charged him with taking “reckless and selfish actions,” the Trumpster responded in an interview that “I’m on a stage and it’s very far away, and so I’m not at all concerned.”
“This is typical Donald Trump,” the governor shot back on MSNBC. “He’s not concerned about all the folks who were there and who are going to go home. And their kids are going to go to school. He’s only concerned about his own health, not the health of anyone else in the state of Nevada.”
To put it mildly, this was another Super Spreader Event where, after screaming their devotion to Donald Trump, more than 5,000 people left and went home to their families and friends, some of them carrying Covid with them. As for Trump, he simply left and continued his campaign swing through the west, leaving behind his campaign spokespeople to respond to the accusations of selfishness.
And respond they did: “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the president of the United States.”

Speaking of the Constitution, ,Trump speaks repeatedly of doing away with the 22nd Amendment, The one that limits a president of the United States to two terms. Again, in Nevada: “Fifty-two days from now we’re going to win Nevada, and we’re gonna win four more years in the White House. And then after that, we’ll negotiate, right? Because we’re probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that.”
How does one “negotiate” with the Constitution? Does Trump envision undoing the 22nd Amendment, which is a difficult process? Or does he have some sort of emperor fantasy? Maybe it’s some version of the Facebook Live ramblings of Michael Caputo, who was recently brought on board at the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the administration’s pandemic image. Caputo has been caught in a scheme to dilute the dire reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about Covid. That apparently set him off on Facebook: Scientists at the CDC were guilty of “sedition,” and there would be a left wing coup, so “if you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
Caputo apologized for his outburst two days later and has taken medical leave, but his rant is an extension of the president’s suspicion of science and expertise. Trump was in California discussing the devastating West Coast forest fires and was confronted with the proposition that they were partially due to global warming. His rejoinder? “It’ll start getting cooler; just you watch.” When reminded that most scientists disagree, Trump shot back, “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually.”
Look at Trump’s coronavirus response. He rejects public health officials who disagree with whatever he says and relies on his “gut” for most decisions. That’s why he decided to hold his rally in Henderson. He might have thought that because he was in Nevada it was all right to gamble with the entire nation’s health.

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

    

THE MORTIFICATION EFFECT

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

The MORTIFICATION EFFECT

I have a great idea for Joe Biden’s campaign slogan! I’m surprised no one has thought of it before. Are you ready? How about “Make America Great Again”?
Yes, I know, it has been Donald Trump’s war cry, but Trump’s first term as president has been a disaster. The U.S. stature at home and abroad under the Trumpster has become an embarrassment. So much so that he might be convinced that it’s kind of mortifying to use it, given how the United States has slid down the slippery slopes of history during his first term.
As a matter of fact, Biden may have to change it to “Make America Adequate Again.” We haven’t heard a lot lately about American Exceptionalism, which may have been national hubris anyway. Could that be because Donald Trump has squandered any claim to fame that we had? Where do we start?
How about Covid? Trump’s motto might have been “Do Something Even if It’s Wrong.” In pursuit of re-election. He has made so many bush league moves that it’s unclear how many thousands killed by the coronavirus in this country are a direct result of the mistakes made by him and his people — if not mistakes, absolute lies told in the name of his campaign. If you want to talk about American Exceptionalism, let’s discuss the exceptional death toll and spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.A. If Joe Biden wins, he will have a major job ahead to undo the public health damage. If Trump wins, it’s possible we are all doomed.
Moving right along our chagrin list ... how about race relations, which is not among our strong suits anyway? It’s hard to believe that President Trump has made it far worse with his blatantly racist actions and demagoguery.
On the international stage, he has managed to antagonize just about every one of America’s allies, although he wins popularity contests with the ruthless autocrat set. He had a NEAR dating relationship with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, for example. He talks admiringly of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and even has an on-again-off-again bond with China’s President Xi Jinping. At the moment it’s off-again, because he’s demeaning China so he can exploit any vestiges of anti-Chinese racism in the United States.

Vladimir Putin is pleased as punch. Whether there was collusion or not, Trump has spent his entire presidency furthering Moscow’s interests, leading some to speculate that Putin has something on him — perhaps tape of him being intimate with the Russian bear. Or, short of that, maybe it’s some sleazy financial deal.
Whichever, it’s pretty blatant: Putin’s misinformation this time around on social media closely matches that of the Trump campaign, even the hokum that comes from the far-right fringe.
Vlad obviously would like to see Donny re-elected. And why not? His agenda is American instability. That’s Trump’s agenda too.
Meanwhile, D. Trump and his sycophantic Republican Party are doing everything they can to discredit America’s election just in case Biden wins. By constantly attacking mail-in balloting, in the age of Covid, he is falsely arguing that it’s a sure bet it will be fraudulent, undermining one of the remaining fundamental parts of the U.S. fragile identity.Here it is fair to point out that Russian intelligence misinformation is closely tracking Trump’s subterfuge.
And we haven’t really gotten to the good part. How about our premise that the Trump campaign’s October surprise is a coronavirus vaccine announced just before Election Day? But what if it’s something else? Something so compellingly sleazy about Joe Biden, with no time to check out its veracity? And, of course, there is great fear that the surprise really comes in November, when after the election Trump refuses to accept defeat. Anything is possible to Make America Ashamed still again.

© Bob Franken
King Features, Inc.

    

COVID AND OTHER TRUMP DISEASE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

 

COVID AND OTHER TRUMP DISEASE

What is it about the all-importance of Thomas Jefferson’s “informed consent” in a democracy that President Donald Trump doesn’t understand? How about Abraham Lincoln’s “of the people, for the people, by the people”?
Compare that with Trump’s “I didn’t want to create panic” admission to journalist Bob Woodward as an explanation why he flat out lied to the American people from the very beginning about the severity of Covid-19, even though he knew full well early on that the coronavirus was deadly serious. Why did he declare that the organism would simply “disappear” at the first sign of warm weather?
“I always wanted to play it down,” he said to Woodward, and play it down he did ... from his reassuring initial public comments to his resistance to wearing a face mask, which persists to this day, to his whipping up outrage over efforts to contain the organism by shutting down the economy, to the lies he tells to supporters at every turn that things are getting better. All while the United States leads the world in cases of Covid at more than 6 million and approaching 190,000 deaths.
What possessed him to do 18 candid interviews with Bob Woodward? That one is easy. He honestly believed that he could charm Woodward into writing a favorable book about his years in office. Instead he got what he describes as “a political hit job,” a book that is scathing. Not only about the pandemic, but everything that Donald Trump has tried to do.
Lastly, why did Woodward wait seven or eight months to disclose the contents of this interview? Was he saving them for his profitable book? He did provide an opening for Trump to deflect the criticism now:
He “had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?”
Good question. Whatever the explanation, Donald Trump wasn’t able to dismiss the journalism with his usual “fake news” and “hoax” denials. He is being done in by his real voice.
As for his explanation that he didn’t want to cause a “panic” or a “frenzy,” what is he doing right now trying to scare the daylights out of white people by casting Black protestors as a menace and suggesting “thugs” and “anarchists” will take charge if Joe Biden is elected? And move out to the suburbs and do heaven knows what.
Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger for re-election, jumped all over the Woodward revelations as evidence the Trumpster was guilty of “dereliction of duty.”


September has not been a good month for Trump. In addition to the Woodward book, which goes way beyond the coronavirus to quoting those around him as questioning his competence or motivations in so many of his manic adventures, there is the Michael Cohen book. Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who was imprisoned, describes him as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.”
And let’s not forget the Atlantic article where reporter Jeffrey Goldberg paints a word picture of a president who publicly embraces the military while privately describing the troops as “losers” and “suckers,” even those who have died in war. He hasn’t plausibly denied that scandal. Perhaps because he is bouncing from one personal crisis to another.
Lest we overlook another scandal that has erupted at the Department of Homeland Security. A whistleblower, Brian Murphy, who used to head the DHS intelligence unit, says he was ordered to downplay reports that focused on Russia misinformation to influence the election and another report emphasizing the threat of white supremacists. Murphy charged his higher-ups with not wanting to displease the boss, because the Russians and white supremacists are important parts of his constituency.
Through it all, that “base” has been loyal. We will find out Election Day whether his support has been damaged or eroded, thanks to the daily tidal waves of revelations.

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

    

SHATTERED CREDIBILITY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

SHATTERED CREDIBILITY

Here is why I believe the gist of the Atlantic magazine article that President Donald Trump called American troops “losers,” “suckers” and much more: Trump denies it.
By now we have learned that Donald Trump is capable of lying. He does it all the time. About everything. His denials have gotten pretty meaningless, particularly when he uses terms like “fake news” or a “hoax,” or both. He usually responds on Twitter:
“You work so hard for the military, from completely rebuilding a depleted mess that was left by OBiden [sic], to fixing a broken V.A. and fighting for large scale military pay raises, and then a slimeball reporter, maybe working with disgruntled people, makes up such a horrible charge.”
It should be pointed out that since becoming president Donald Trump has told more than 20,000 lies, as documented by fact checkers.
That’s also why I believe the accusations in Michael Cohen’s new book “Disloyal: A Memoir.” Cohen was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, calling himself Trump’s “designated thug.” Cohen describes the president in the book as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.” Michael Cohen was imprisoned for various lies himself and was released to house arrest, so he’s not the most reliable of sources, he admits. And White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany describes Cohen as a “disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”
Donald Trump’s lying has become routine, and what’s that old saying ... “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”? What does it make the people he has lied to more than 20,000 times and still believe him and plan to vote for him again?
How about his performance in the Covid pandemic, where Trump has so frequently gone off on some misleading tangent that has resulted in the loss of so many Americans’ lives? It stated with his initial dismissal of the coronavirus and moved to his embrace of ineffective pharmaceuticals, like hydroxychloroquine, that he should have known were useless. It continues with his predictions that a vaccine “probably” will be created in October, which happens to be right before Election Day.
Ask yourself: Would you or your family take a vaccine that Trump and his pliant underlings have certified “safe and effective,” just before Election Day?


It would be interesting to see how Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, would handle that very plausible scenario, particularly since Trump has lied about Biden and his family too. But by now, nobody’s listening. Biden is running an interesting campaign. It mainly consists of waiting for Donald Trump to get caught in still another lie. Or say one more thing that is so outrageous that it turns off anyone who is not a mindless supporter — perhaps a comment about the racial unrest in this country that Trump has exacerbated due to the divisive nature of his presidency.
He has now cast himself as the “law and order” candidate, backing law enforcement, opposing any reform and paying little attention to the complaints of minorities who are tired of this country’s empty promise for equality.
Back to the Atlantic magazine charges that he has disparaged members of the military. Trump’s denials include a promise to “swear on whatever” that he is telling the truth. How about swearing on that bible he held up in June for a photo op after clearing away peaceful protestors from near the White House so he could make his way to the church across the street?
He can swear on anything and most Americans won’t trust him. But he still has a chance of winning against Joe Biden, by hook or crook, mainly crook. As astounding as that may seem, believe it.
© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

    

EXPLOITING EXPLODED KENOSH

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

EXPLOITING EXPLODED KENOSHA

Let me paraphrase President Donald Trump after Charlottesville and state that there are very bad people on both sides of the racism protests ... violent people. Trump, in his quest to instill fear in the voters he feels are huddled quivering in their suburban homes is using words like “anarchists” and “thugs” to condemn demonstrators supporting Black Lives Matter who are protesting systemic racism and the police killing of unarmed black men and women. He’s seized on the outcry and is defending the cops — and somehow blaming Joe Biden for supporting the “mobs.”
There is a relatively small group of extremist agitators among the largely peaceful demonstrators. These troublemakers tangle with law enforcement and other security forces, set fires and indiscriminately destroy businesses, taking advantage of the situation to turn it into a riot. All they really accomplish is to give candidate Donald Trump fuel for his bigoted “law and order” campaign tactics, at the very time when the racial prejudice issue is finally getting a sympathetic understanding among all Americans. White and black people are marching and reacting together against the overwhelming evidence that bias against people of color is woven into our national fabric.
On the other side of the divide during this frenzied presidential campaign stands the white supremacists, the Trump supporter zealots. Many of those on this far right fringe are carrying weapons; some of them are organized into “militia” units who use social media to organize for “battle.” A few times, the results have been deadly when you get these crazies on both sides assaulting each other.


That’s exactly what has happened in Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the case of Kenosha, its state is considered a campaign battleground, up for grabs in the presidential election. The city is among the latest to flare up after police shot another Black man, Jacob Blake. According to snatches of video, an officer shot him and left him paralyzed.
Naturally, cynical politics took over, overwhelming the tragedy, the investigation and the disorder that followed. Both candidates, President Trump and his challenger Joe Biden, decided they absolutely positively had to visit Kenosha, even before the melee had settled down. They needed to show their strengths in the midst of the chaos — Trump’s law and order fear-mongering, versus Biden’s empathy.
Trump spent some of his time with law enforcement officials and owners of some of the damaged stores. He defended the police:
“Violent mobs demolished or damaged at least 25 businesses, burned down public buildings and threw bricks at police officers.”
Donald Trump did not visit Jacob Blake’s family. Joe Biden did, speaking by phone with Blake himself in the hospital:
“He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him.”
After a few photo ops, they were done. They took their campaign traveling road show elsewhere, leaving Kenosha behind to deal with the volatile embers of its big problems and repair the damage, both physical and racial. What is it Rahm Emanuel said during the Clinton years? “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Actually, he was plagiarizing Niccolo Machiavelli, who wrote something similar way back in the 1500s.
Here it is again in 2020, where another crisis has been reduced to a media event. There will be many other contrivances before the 29th of this month, when the first of three presidential candidate debates is held in Cleveland. But you can bet that both campaigns are strategizing already and fashioning the winning sound bite and distortion of the issues.
Soon it will be October surprise time. But it probably won’t be a surprise. President Trump is putting the pressure on health officials so he can announce a breakthrough coronavirus vaccine just before Election Day. That’s how we choose our leaders. No wonder we are not able to handle our ever-growing problems.

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

    

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