February 22, 2020

TRASHING MIKE BLOOMBERG

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

TRASHING MIKE BLOOMBERG

In Las Vegas, Mike Bloomberg’s half-billion-dollar crapshoot was revealed as a load of, well, you know. Half a BILLION dollars! That’s what he will have spent before Super Tuesday, when he is first on any ballot. But even before then, his lavishly paid advisers had allowed him to participate in a debate where, unlike his saturation TV ads, the actors and actresses didn’t stick to the script. Instead, they stuck it to him, relentlessly.
Elizabeth Warren awakened from her hibernation to come roaring at Bloomberg just after the opening platitudes:
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” she hissed, “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
It was “Stomp on Mike Night” at the Democratic debate, as most of the candidates were more than willing to trash Michael Bloomberg, who has the personal financial billions to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a blatant attempt to buy a nomination. Even with a saturation campaign of TV ads that paint a glowing picture of Bloomberg, the luster is soiled by a past that includes severe offenses against minorities and women, who are vital if the party has any chance to unseat Trump.
But this is a Republican-turned-Democrat who is really still a Republican when it comes to his support of a plutocracy. And he is effectively a bigot, or he was when he championed a stop-and-frisk policy that targeted minorities for demeaning treatment at the hands of his NYPD. He has found it necessary to apologize every chance he gets, now that he needs people of color because they are solidly Democratic — you can’t win the nomination without them. So Bernie Sanders teed off: “Mr. Bloomberg had policies in New York City of stop-and-frisk, which went after African American and Latino people in an outrageous way. ... That is not a way you’re going to grow voter turnout.”
Bloomberg, who has not participated in a political debate since his mayoral days, was no match for the presidential candidates, who have had eight previous confrontations to sharpen their knives.

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February 19, 2020

THE LOW BARR

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE LOW BARR

President Donald Trump is right that he does “have, as president, the legal right” to meddle in Department of Justice decisions. However, when he makes public comments, or when it can be shown that he has privately discussed any federal criminal case with his Justice subordinates, it should be considered undue interference, and a judge should order that all prosecutions of affected individuals or groups be halted. Furthermore, another count of Obstruction of Justice should be added to the list of criminal charges he will face when he leaves the White House.
Attorney General Bill Barr was also correct when he said in his ABC interview that the POTUS’ incessant Twitbitzing “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”
For millions of Americans it might be too late to salvage the DOJ’s credibility, particularly since Barr, as its leader, has been all too willing to sacrifice its image of law enforcement independence to cater to whatever malicious whim Trump is having. Time and time again, Barr has demonstrated a willingness to act on Trump’s personal political vendettas or interfere with action against his friends, leaving the impression that he’s willing to be just another Trumpster attorney, as opposed to maintaining an unyielding reputation of being the nation’s chief federal law enforcer. Among millions of Americans, that reputation is shot. His coziness with his boss has been widely scorned.

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February 15, 2020

THE STACKED DECK

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE STACKED DECK

Overused but shameless cliche alert: In the political campaign schedule, Nevada is next, and for a few Democratic candidates, they will have to play their cards right.
Joe Biden, for instance, must prove that Nevada and South Carolina, which are not lily white like the first states were, are more like his natural stomping grounds. He also has to prove he has any stomp left, not only because he’s perceived as a befuddled old man, an impression he’s left on too many, but that he has yet to shed the verbal befuddlement that has plagued him for decades. If he doesn’t recover credibility after drubbings in Iowa and New Hampshire, his contributors will conclude that he and they are just spinning their wheels and will place their bets on someone else.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has to keep his momentum going not only because of the growing resistance from the rich and powerful who take his brand of democratic socialism as a threat to their cushy privilege, but also from big “D” Democrats who believe that Donald Trump would chew him up and spit him out in the general election with a campaign that presented Sanders as a threat to the free enterprise system — the kind, for instance. hat has brought Trump profits from sales of MAGA hats.
Elizabeth Warren has much the same problem, and she’s already dropping like a stone. Both of them are being threatened by the centrists in this elimination race, which has thus far not eliminated all that many hopefuls.
Pete Buttigieg is presenting himself as the candidate of the future, which is appropriate since he doesn’t have all that much past ... or experience. He’s 38 years old — just three years past the Constitutional minimum for president, which was written when life spans were way shorter. His entire political experience has been as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, population a little over a hundred thousand. There he compiled a mixed record, particularly in his dealings with minorities. That continues to be an issue for him. Besides being mayor, he lost one statewide election. That’s it. But he’s viewed as the fresh face that impresses those who cover this game, particularly the fresh faced reporters.

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February 11, 2020

BREAKING NEWS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

BREAKING NEWS

I’ve ranted about the expression “Breaking News!” before. But like any issue I confront, it only gets worse. So it is with this one. Nowadays, all the networks, without exception, open each and every newscast with that worn-out expression. Obviously, the anchormen and -women have been ordered to start with their robust “BREAKING NEWS” declaration as a way of contriving drama and immediacy, even if the top story happened hours ago. It’s the handiwork of the marketing consultants who rule TV reporting, hucksters whose job it is to improve ratings by trivializing journalism. Donald Trump has made the accusation of “fake news” his way of attacking any story that displeases him. He’s probably wasting his time, because the consultants have already turned it into junk news.
Sooner or later, one of the network bosses will realize that the phrase “breaking news” will have gotten stale or even moldy. Look for them to come up with embellishments, like the sound of china shattering, or even a new cliche. How about “OMG-WTF!”?
You must admit, that one has a certain ring to it, definitely with the younger generation of viewers whom the broadcast bosses are desperately seeking. The pursuit is a waste of time, since most of them are not paying attention because they’re too busy trying to find love.
The only defense of the oldie-but-goodie hype is that “Breaking News” isn’t hype at all. Much of the news these days is about a country breaking up, fracturing even before the leadership of President Donald Trump, just as surely as a great glacier is that began long ago because of the climate change that Trump and all the other deniers insist isn’t happening. They continue with policies that accelerate the demise of planet Earth, as opposed to saving the world by using human ingenuity. Ingenuity is costlier and harder work than the few wealthy, selfish rulers of the energy interests want to expend. In Donald Trump they have a pliable dupe, one who has become convinced that the increased intensity of forest fires and evidence of flooding to come are all a “hoax,” or whatever other word he uses to dismiss any truth he faces.
Cooperating with both the breakup of the country, and for that matter all countries, are the members of an inept opposition, meaning the Democrats. Their hearts may be in the right place about the vital issues of the day, but their minds are not when it comes to countering the corrupt regime in power. Democrats waver between sputtering in outrage and becoming a laughingstock as they go through the motions of putting together a ticket to try to depose Trump.

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