June 23, 2018

THE THOUSAND PER CENTERS

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

THE THOUSAND PER CENTERS
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Let’s traipse down memory lane, shall we, and hearken back to 1972. It was after the Democratic convention, and presidential nominee George McGovern had chosen Missouri Sen. Thomas Eagleton as his vice president on the ticket. Then it hit the fan. News reports spread like wildfire: Eagleton’s past involved some serious mental health difficulties.
McGovern insisted that he’d stand by his running mate, declaring himself “1,000 percent behind Tom Eagleton, and I have no intention of dropping him from the ticket.” Less than a week later, he dropped Eagleton from the ticket. Forevermore, in the treacherous world of politics, the lesson had been cast in Washington quicksand: If someone says he is behind you “a thousand percent,” you’re probably toast.
Fast-forward to Donald Trump in 2018 (or is that really fast-backwarding?). President Trump was meeting with his GOP congressional toadies and, in effect, nudging them to pass some sort of immigration legislation. At one point in his rambling, he made a promise to have their backs, insisting he would be “1,000 percent” behind them. House Republicans dived for cover. There were two immigration bills: a compromise put together by party moderates and one from the immoderates. First, they killed the harsher one. Then they delayed the gentler version so it could die a slower death. Who could blame them?

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June 19, 2018

A NAFTA WORLD CUP?

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

A NAFTA WORLD CUP?
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I’m totally puzzled: How could the United States, Canada and Mexico have successfully convinced FIFA, the international soccer organization, to award the 2026 World Cup competition to North America, the first time in history that the hosts will be three different countries? Granted, using “organization” and “FIFA” in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch, but it is soccer’s governing body -- the Federation Internationale de Football Association, in case you care.
But Mexico, Canada and the United States in a joint venue for a NAFTA World Cup? If President Donald Trump goes along as he has so far, the U.S. could be at war with one or both nations by 2026, or at least have built walls on both borders. Or maybe a wall of prohibitive tariffs once he blows NAFTA to smithereens. Will there be special dispensation for Mexican fans who want to watch a match in the U.S? What will prevent them from slipping off and taking up illegal residence in the United States?
I’m sure that has occurred to the hard-liners in the White House, along with the other anti-immigrant bigots. I’m just as certain that they’ve already come up with a solution: Perhaps they already are making plans to seize the children of any soccer fan and hold them hostage, as the U.S. is doing now by wrenching kids away from parents who dare to cross into the U.S. no matter what their motive. Maybe, while the kids are held prisoner, they can be scouted for their athletic prowess. Those who have championship potential -- and perhaps even their parents -- can be granted visas, although that may strike the anti-immigrant zealots as going too far. The treatment of these children is the administration’s latest way to discourage illegal immigration. If it doesn’t do the job, will the administration then take harsher methods, perhaps waterboarding them or using North Korea’s way to discourage anyone who dares cross their border? If anyone has forgotten, they shoot them.

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June 17, 2018

THE ART OF THE HUSTLE

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018

THE ART OF THE HUSTLE
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This is not the first time I’ve quoted the ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s book, but I often have been curious about what exactly he was trying to convey with “The Art of the Deal.” Well, maybe not “often.” But, a couple of times I’ve wondered what the catchy and grandiose title meant in the best-seller (which is itself a puzzler). It contains nothing more than rudimentary, self-evident advice on negotiations. To wit: “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” Talk about Captain Obvious.
Yet now you have Donald Trump violating even that fundamental rule of bargaining. It didn’t appear in his text, but what Trump apparently has meant all along was that “The Art of the Deal” is pretending to make a deal because he is so desperate to look like he made one.
In Singapore, Kim Jong Un didn’t give up anything, unless we include the fact that he showed up, shook hands and smiled a lot with President Trump. But wait, that was a win for Kim, because his status in the world as a dangerous punk was hugely elevated by the fact that he met as an equal with a sitting president of the United States. Not only did Trump show up, shake hands and smile a lot with Kim, POTUS validated the ruthless dictator and his vicious state that imprisons and murders anyone who deviates from being an obedient automaton -- more than 100,000, by most credible estimates, are held in cruel gulags, where they are starved, beaten or raped.
Human rights is not the president’s thing, as we’ve discovered, and by his own account, the subject barely came up in their talks. Afterward he gushed to the Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country. He wants a lot of good things and that’s why he’s doing this.”
Greta did her job: “But he’s starved them. He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?”
Trump: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it. But, I really have to go by today and by yesterday and by a couple of weeks ago, because that’s really when this whole thing started.”
As for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which is the issue that brought them to this dance, it was all Trump quid and no pro quo from Kim. True, they did sign a joint declaration where Kim Jong Un made the same vague promises to denuclearize his nation that have been made and broken numerous times. In return, he got from Trump a pledge to end the joint military exercises with South Korea that the North has always called a “provocation.” In fact, don’t you know that the president parroted Chairman Kim’s propaganda and called them “provocative.” He then promised to end them, which, by the way, surprised the daylights out of the South Koreans as well as the Pentagon.

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June 5, 2018

PAID VACATION

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 5, 2018

PAID VACATION
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Does Kim Jong Un tweet? Is there an @realKimJongUn on Twitter? Well, actually, there is, but it’s not @realKimJongUn for real; it’s satire. If Kim actually did have a handle, he’d probably have at least 25.5 million people who’d hang on his every word. Or be hanged. That’s the population of North Korea, and it certainly would be mandatory, were it not for the fact that most of his people don’t have electricity.
By comparison, President Donald Trump’s personal account has 52 million-plus followers, to say nothing of the millions more who read his variety of other anti-social media posts.
Not that Kim’s people are luddites; they have put together one of the world’s most aggressive hacking operations. But no Twitter. As least as far as we know.
That might explain why Kim ordered that a letter be hand-delivered to the White House the other day, although no one revealed what its contents were, nor why it was so large. When Trump raised it for photographers, it looked like he was holding an envelope with a fake newspaper inside. He jokingly tried to sell it to reporters, saying: “How much? How much? How much?” At least I think it was a joke.
Perhaps it contained a list of demands from Pyongyang -- not what it would take for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal, but what Kim’s delegation will require for travel arrangements. Not only what but, apparently, who’s going to pay for the hotel, the planes, the food, the night clubbing and everything else that the large North Korea entourage might need.

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