April 10, 2021

WOKE THIS WAY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

WOKE THIS WAY

The way it usually works out, organized labor is aligned with the Democrats, and big business is closely connected to the GOP. And it is true that the Dems still march in lockstep with those who are the employees, by and large and the Republicans who step out with the employers. . However, it’s both Republicans and Democrats who are slugging it out with the corporations.
First of all, when I say “Republicans,” I mean the Trump party. When I say “ultra-conservative,” these days that means “Trump-inspired.” You never hear of ultra-conservative Democrats; their opponents describe them as radical liberals and moderates. I happen to think that’s unfair; those on the far left should be titled the “Immoderates,” but that’s another discussion.
We were talking about the Trumpsters and how they are currently trash talking the decision-makers at the conglomerates. It’s regarding Republican voter-suppression efforts. GOP state legislators in 40-plus states are racing to return to the Jim Crow glories of yesteryear. And who has created the biggest uproar about that? The corporations.
The state of Georgia has passed the most egregious suppression law, making it a crime, for instance, to bring food or water to those poor folks, a natural Democratic constituency, standing in too-hot lines at their too-few polling places. Then, the mega-companies got in on the act.
Traditionally, “corporate responsibility” has been the ultimate oxymoron. In the name of profits and outrageously high compensation for their top executives, they stood for polluting too much, paying their workers too little and cutting back on the quality of their consumer products and services as much as possible.
But suddenly, the top executives have decided to get a conscience, or they have done market research that shows they should pretend they have one. In Georgia, for instance, Coca Cola and Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta (sorta Georgia), made it clear to Major League Baseball that they would look with displeasure on continued plans to play the All Star Game in the Braves’ spiffy new stadium outside Atlanta. Ever mindful of who the big advertisers are, MLB decided to pull the game and place it in Denver.

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April 6, 2021

DECOYS AND OTHER PHONIES

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

DECOYS AND OTHER PHONIES

When we constructed the interstate system, we simply bypassed much of our country’s intricate variety. Still, in spite of losing this national character, there are those who get their kicks motoring the monotonous I-ways of America. They find a comfortable routine in the coast to coast, border to border ennui of signs for toll collection, motels, chain restaurants and gas stations.
But some blotches of local personality remain, concealed in this national humdrum. For instance, one of the oddball pleasures of driving along I-95 tempts the motorist at Havre de Grace, Maryland.
At exit 89, to be precise, is a billboard for the Decoy Capital of the World. That’s right, there’s an actual museum for hunters who want to kill ducks and other birds, blow them out of the sky. That’s not my kind of thing, but my mind has wandered, curious as I’ve coped with the interstate boredom at exit 89, whether there is an actual decoy museum, or if when you get there it’s nothing but a sign, a decoy fake — a year-round April Fool’s joke.
Such is the state of the demented mind badly in need of a rest stop. (“Don’t worry, if you can hold it just a few minutes, there’s one nearby.”)
I’ve had similar tortured fantasies as I’ve meandered along the information highways of more modern times. I closely embrace a fundamental law of cyber-life: “Never believe anything you see on the internet.” That applies to social media postings that have no constraints on outright lying, along with the commercial advertising that rocks to a deceptive algorithmic tempo all its own and whispers, “You’re being duped.”
Emails are even more underhanded. How many thousands of them have you gotten, pretending to be from royalty and claiming that you personally have received a large inheritance — all you have to do is send a few hundred or few thousand dollars to get it?
Communication has been so corrupted that you can’t even trust the calls you receive from Social Security or the IRS, warning you that you’re about to be arrested unless you send gift certificates to the authorities.
Back to emails, my personal favorites are the ones making some fictitious claim. Then you receive another email, on official looking letterhead, warning you that the original was a fraud. Except that it’s a fraud too, with a link to share personal information or some other cybermarker with a certain secret Russian or Baltic hacker or phisherman lurking out there.

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April 3, 2021

NO BALL GAME FOR ME. NOT YET

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

NO BALLGAME. NOT YET.

Just as opening day was going to provide some semblance of normalcy, the coronavirus once again shut things down.
For the second straight year, I am being denied the right to celebrate a rite of spring in my unique way. In seasons past, I’d return to Nats Park for the MLB official beginning of the season and shout “Happy New Year!” to my heart’s content, or at least until the security people dragged me away.
But it wasn’t New Year’s. At least not yet.
2020 had been feeble. The Boys of Summer didn’t get started until summer, and with its fan props made of paper-mâché and canned sound, the game was pretty boring. But in 2021 the diamond was supposed to resume its luster. The call of “play ball” would be heard throughout the land.
But not here in Washington. Several members of the Washington Nationals tested positive for Covid at the last minute, and opening day was postponed.
Of all the agonies the pandemic has brought to billions of people worldwide, this has to be considered a triviality when compared with lives lost, economic turmoil, interruptions in our lives — including the education of our children — and all the isolation from friends and loved ones.
Baseball is a metaphor for recovery now that we’re emerging as the vaccines rescue us. But it is a mixed metaphor at best. Only a trickle of fans would be allowed to watch in person, and they did. But it was just a smattering, and at unaffordable prices. But the season is really fragile as we found out here in D.C.
The availability of the vaccines is certainly worthy of celebration, now that we have a government in place with the expertise to calm the logistical chaos and get things rolling methodically from the labs to our arms, bringing us to the point that we can think about a return to “normal” life.
Still, this massive crisis has been with us more than a year now. As tragic as this story has been, once you get past the morbid statistics, you find gaps.
One of the biggest tests of journalism is how you fill the column space and airtime on a relatively slow day. All too many publications and networks rely on “what the future holds” — speculative reporting on what our lives will be like when we emerge from this tortuous hibernation. It gets repetitious, with strikingly similar pieces where the only change is from future to present tense.
How will the technology we relied on affect us as we grope our way to the “new normal”? How will the ripple tsunamis affect the very character of urban office space now that we’ve learned we can operate from our homes? How will that affect businesses like restaurants, entertainment, education techniques, the very way we socialize?

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April 2, 2021

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THE OTHER J-C

GPI AND OTHER RANK RANKINGS

AMERICA’S SPLIT PERSONALITIES

PRESIDENTIAL PRESS CHARADE

HOW BAD?

PRESIDENTIAL CLICHES

CANCEL THE GOOD OLD DAYS

C’MON CUOMO

GOLDEN CALF CRAMP

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SNOWFLAKE SCREWUP

CRUZ CONTROL

JOY, RUSH AND ME

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