November 24, 2014

THE COMPROMISE SUBTERFUGE

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, NOV. 18, 2014
THE COMPROMISE SUBTERFUGE
BY BOB FRANKEN
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner’s Republicans may control Congress now, but it’s an open question as to whether McConnell and Boehner control their own party caucuses. That’s an important consideration, because as they try to work out their deals with the White House, at some point they’ll have to convince President Barack Obama and the Democrats that they can deliver enough of their members. They can negotiate whatever compromises they want, but if their people revolt because they didn’t get enough and reject the bargains, then they’re just wasting time even trying.
There are all sorts of indications that they will not be able to guarantee the votes needed after the give-and-take is done. You have Ted Cruz in the Senate as well as his disciples in the House saying upfront that they’re not bending, and when it comes to giving up some of what they demand, they’re not interested.
Meanwhile, for the Democrats, Barack Obama is at the tag end of his presidency and suddenly has decided on a “No more Mr. Nice Guy” approach. Even after his party got “shellacked” in the midterms, he’s taking it to the Republicans like he never has before. And they’re foaming at the mouth. The leaked plans to take executive action that would, among other things, stop the deportation of millions of people in this country illegally is causing their heads to explode.
McConnell and Boehner are spending all their energy to prevent their troops from doing something precipitous and stupid. There is a lot of noise from their people that they should retaliate by forcing a government shutdown, or something equally confrontational. Of course, they’d be playing right into the Democrats’ hands, at least the ones who are thinking ahead to 2016’s race to elect the next POTUS, but principle is principle, and they’re not about to let some lame duck quack the whip.


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November 20, 2014

HUMANS ON THE COMET

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, NOV. 14, 2014
HUMANS ON THE COMET
BY BOB FRANKEN
---
How totally cool is it that human beings were able to land a probe on a comet? I refer, of course, to the European Space Agency managing to set its Rosetta craft’s lander down, wobbling on the icy surface of the comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it zipped along on its infinite journey through the heavens.
The Rosetta has clocked about 4 billion miles since its launch 10 years back to gather data on comets. I suppose we can call it the Rosetta stone lander now that it’s studying as close as one can get -- on the ground. Not that it was easy, and the washing-machine-size craft didn’t exactly find the right spot on a very jagged two-and-a-half-mile surface. After all, we’re talking about a body zipping through the solar system at 44,000 miles per hour.
Besides, it’s a shame the lander didn’t have some passengers. There are any number of people we probably can agree would make us all better off were they to switch their address to 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Certainly there are the politicians. Let’s not name names (mainly because there isn’t enough room), but we’d all benefit if we couldn’t really hear what they were saying. I remember that Newt Gingrich used to talk about lunar colonies. This could go him one better, although there is no reason we shouldn’t send him for a close-up look.
There are so many pundits, columnists, radio and TV hosts as well as other strident commentators who should be on the manifest because they are manifestly obnoxious, and yes, there are a few people who think I should be included, but I didn’t want to be selfish. There are space cadets who should go first.


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November 19, 2014

COLD DARK MSNBC

True, we've had early snow in many parts of the country, but at 5:15AM, Eastern, you can hear and see my usual Thursday very early snow job.

November 17, 2014

WHAT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS?

FROM KING FEATURES, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, NOV. 11, 2014
WHAT FREEDOM OF THE PRESS?
BY BOB FRANKEN
---
Will somebody please explain why a reporter is not allowed to impersonate an FBI agent, but it’s OK if an FBI agent impersonates a reporter? It’s obvious why no one should be allowed to dishonestly pass him- or herself off as a law-enforcement official, but it also should be apparent why any cop, federal or local, should not be pretending to be a newsperson. It undermines our credibility, and given the sloppy performance of too many in our business, we don’t have a lot of credibility to spare.
Let’s face it: Someone with sensitive material about our government or institutions is frequently scared to share that information with the police. Since our job is to monitor public officials -- and for that matter, corporations -- the public’s need to know is served only if those with vital material can trust that those they are sharing it with are not in cahoots with the bad guys.
It doesn’t seem to stop overzealous investigators from crossing that line. FBI Director James Comey just disclosed another case of such disdain when he admitted that an investigator in 2007 lied in saying he was working for The Associated Press while trying to build a case against a 15-year-old suspected of threatening to bomb his high school. The procedure even now would be, according to Comey, “lawful and in a rare case, appropriate.”
No, it wouldn’t be appropriate. First of all, there were so many other ways to appeal to the kid’s ego, which was the purpose of the deception. All it would take would be a little ingenuity. The FBI guy was lazy. In truth, though, his leadership doesn’t really like that someone is watching so closely. Authorities mostly consider the news media to be the nuisance media for getting in the way of their pursuits.
Another overzealous agent from the very same FBI accused Fox News reporter James Rosen (a friend of mine, by the way) of being a “co-conspirator,” which is to say a criminal, while tracking down leaks of classified information that formed the basis of a Rosen report. Only when it became public did Attorney General Eric Holder squash it.

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