Bob Franken

RACIST COUNTRY?

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

“America is not a racist country.”
That was Sen. Tim Scott giving the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, calling on the nation to “root out systemic racism that plagues America.”
Scott is the only Black GOP member of the Senate at this time. Joe Biden is not the only white Democrat, but the two of them pretty much said the same thing. However, it was Scott who suffered far more abuse as a token of a party that is now home to almost all bigots. He was quickly hashtagged “Uncle Tim” (if you don’t understand why that’s a particularly toxic play on words, then you aren’t very woke).
First of all, let’s remember the context of his rebuttal: “I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping.”
It was only then that he said, in spite of his experiences, that “America is not a racist country.”
In the uproar that followed, the media got the reaction from every politician of color they could convince to get up early enough to appear on their morning news and cooking shows. Vice President Kamala Harris got roped into “Good Morning America,” where she was asked if she thinks America is a racist country (not exactly an unobvious question). Her reply:
“No. I don’t think America is a racist country, but we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today.”
Now, how is that so different from Sen. Scott’s point? Besides, what is a “racist country” anyway? For that matter, what is a rebuttal? The answer to that last one is somewhere along the line of bureaucrats deciding that the president’s opposition should have an opportunity to say that “he is full of malarkey.” Except that the one chosen to do so has three minutes; the president has as much time as he wants.

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THE BARD OF BIDEN

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE BARD OF BIDEN

“What’s in a name?” as William Shakespeare wrote. But it doesn’t take a Shakespearean presidential speechwriter to know that the name means a lot. That’s why we have Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” which is what the administration calls his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, already signed into law. The “American Jobs Plan” is his preferred title for the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, which ranges far beyond concrete. And now we have his “American Families Plan,” which rings in at $1.8 trillion and covers much of the rest of the domestic kitchen sink.
That’s it! In the grand tradition of FDR’s “New Deal” and LBJ’s “Great Society,” this one will be known to history as JRB’s “Kitchen Sink.” (Biden’s middle name is Robinette). And he came up with it in his first 100 days after succeeding Donald Trump, who didn’t succeed at much beyond dividing the nation even more.
On the night of President Biden’s 99th day, he finally made his first joint address to Congress. It was notable because of its diminished presentation (think of it as an Oscars show), notable because of his subdued rhetoric, and most notable because, for the first time in U.S. history — actually, it was herstory — the ones sitting at the rostrum overhead were both women: Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Biden began his speech by saying:
“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President” (applause).
“No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.”
It begs the question, of course, of when a joint session of Congress will be addressed by our first female president.
But some things were just the same: The Republican opposition characterized the Biden plans as socialism, just like they did back in New Deal days, as well as those of the Great Society, when the GOP was so against these equal-opportunity proposals that its sometimes hard to remember that the Republicans once opposed slavery. Now they have been taken over by the white supremacists who wanted to start a new civil war with their insurrection at the Capitol building in January. No thanks to the man in charge at the time, Donald Trump, their mutiny failed.
And now it’s up to Joe Biden to clean up his mess. Actually, his whole overall agenda could be better called “America’s Cleanup.”
We are still a nation where unnecessary police killings of minorities have become routine. Some members of law enforcement fancy themselves vigilante members of a lynch mob. So President Biden called for police reform and gun control measures, as massacres have also become routine.

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MONEY BUSINESS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

MONEY BUSINESS

I usually have my brainstorms after it’s too late because
A) the ideas are obsolete or
B) someone else thought of them first.
For instance, it would have been a huge moneymaker to be a clearinghouse for personalized face masks. Or autographed ones, like baseball cards or those from your favorite movie character. For example, I have several depicting Hannibal Lecter’s face covering, in spite of the fact that he was a cannibal and I’m a vegetarian. But then, there’s no accounting for taste.
We could have a special camouflage version for white supremacist militias, although they never indicated any tendency to wear masks, just hoods. Or perhaps masks with a picture of Joe Biden on them featuring a thumbs-down hand gesture, or thumbs-up. Or some other digit. The same for Biden’s predecessor.
In the case of whozit, the design could incorporate a faded spot by his mouth where he tried to swallow some bleach. And with Biden’s picture, it could show him with his foot in his mouth. (Actually, he’s done fairly well thus far, but let’s face it, it’s just a matter of time.)
Brilliant? Regrettably, this particular business scheme occurs to me just after Covid vaccines have spread to millions of arms and the interest in masks has tanked, no matter what Anthony Fauci says. This is one of those rare occasions where people won’t be taking your advice, Tony. Perhaps the next time you throw out the first pitch at a ballgame, they can give away Tony Fauci bobbleheads wearing teeny tiny face masks.
By now, everyone’s breath has been taken away with my entrepreneurial shrewdness, notwithstanding its tardiness.
Here’s another idea that might be a tad late. An enterprising chain of portrait photographers could have worked out a deal with the federal government to set up at every vaccine site in America. They could take a shot of people getting their shot, just like the portrait backdrops at JCPenney or Kmart, where you’d take the kiddies. And just like the youngsters, it could show the vaccine recipient as the needle goes in, bursting into tears.
Come to think of it, there is still a market for pictures … of kids returning to school. They’re going to need yearbook portraits, so they can write those inane comments around them. And they will certainly want to remember the visuals of prom and homecoming, otherwise known as super-spreader events.
In any case, the setup could be a bonus offered by Pfizer or Moderna where you’d get two chances to get the perfect shot-snap in a snapshot. Of course, in Johnson & Johnson’s case, it would be limited to “one and done.” But it at least would pay the severance of the entire J & J corporate public-relations staff after they’ve been fired.

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RACISM, THE DARK REALITY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

RACISM, THE DARK REALITY

Before we get too immersed in the news that caused national self-congratulations, let’s remember why it was news at all. A Minneapolis jury convicted policeman Derek Chauvin of three murder charges nearly a year after he killed George Floyd. The jury simply could not ignore the fact that Chauvin kept his knee on George’s neck for almost nine and a half minutes, squeezing the life out of a struggling-against-arrest man who had repeatedly screamed, “I can’t breathe!”
Not only that, but Chauvin, a veteran of the force, was almost casual about it. At one point he had his hands in his pockets as he and three other officers subdued Floyd. We know all this because their fatal acts were captured on video. The policemen were emboldened, perhaps, by the fact that law enforcement officials in the United States are rarely convicted of using unnecessary deadly force, particularly if the alleged perpetrator is a person of color. “Alleged” is an important word here, because it turns out all the perp is really guilty of in a disproportionate number of cases is being black.
But this time, in the aftermath of the cop’s egregious cruelty, the jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges. George Floyd had become a symbol of police violence against minorities over the generations. His desperate “I can’t breathe” gasps became the roar of the millions of protestors worldwide who were finally fed up with America’s signature racism.

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CANNY CANINE DIPLOMACY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

CANNY CANINE DIPLOMACY

“Diplomacy is the art of saying, ‘nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.”
Will Rogers was correct: The world kennel is filled with junkyard dogs yapping and threatening to mount each other as a power play, but stopping short of an all-out fight. Canines raise a leg and let fly. Humans use diplomacy. It’s the same thing.
The rules for people go back to when one cave full decided that before they fought an all-out war with another cave full for the land in between, it was better to sit down and talk about it.
The precepts haven’t changed very much over the eons. In fact, it wasn’t long before each tribe had warriors and talkers. The idea was that before the attack (or even after), you’d use tact.
It could be complex. To avoid violence, you might have to emphasize face-saving. And out of that grew the concept of “proportionality” — don’t go bananas when the other side delivers a sleight.
There are thousands of professional diplomats these days and entire college majors devoted to educating them on every teensy detail of speaking softly while carrying a big stick. But the guidelines are pretty much the same as they were back in the cave days. And, frankly, as silly as some of them are, lip service beats servicemen and -women dying in war, particularly when their nations are nuclear superpowers. Then we’d all die.
So it’s preferable when Moscow and Washington play their juvenile games that they have learned—-over the poisoning of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, and others; involvement in U.S. elections (which is a definite no-no); and hacking of our entire government by Russian intelligence services. Or pretend to.

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