November 23, 2017

THE HUMAN TURKEYS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE THURSDAY NOV 23, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE HUMAN TURKEYS
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This Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday Eve, we have revised the tradition a bit: We are serving and carving up the turkeys who are allegedly total pigs, those engaged in sexual assault or otherwise swinelike actions.
Many of them are finally being called out for their barnyard behavior. While male gobblers are commonly known as Toms, this breed of grabbers is variously called Harvey, Roy, Mark, Al, Charlie, Bill (the former POTUS: Poultry of the United States) and so many other names -- including, certainly Donald, the current POTUS. There’s nothing paltry about The Donald’s exploits in this regard. He’s even bragged about them. What’s unfortunate, though, is that everyone is being roasted to the same degree without anyone really taking into account the severity of the differing offenses.
Some of those whose names have surfaced for lesser sins have become, to continue with my tired animal metaphors, sacrificial lambs. They are mashed together with others accused of rape or assault. All of them, the delinquents and the degenerates, are then stuffed into the same bird and crammed into the same oven for their trespasses, no matter how grievous the violation. We will need to gain some perspective about not just the severity of the wrongdoing, but whether some of the accused are being caught up in a kind of sexual McCarthyism where we cannot sift out the honest charges from those that are dishonest or simply misunderstandings. As it is now, all us guy turkeys are stewing in our own juices, wracking our brains to remember when, if ever, we’ve crossed the line, which still is not clearly defined.

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November 19, 2017

OF SLEAZE AND GIFTS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, NOV. 17, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

OF SLEAZE AND GIFTS
I’m actually disappointed. I thought that I had settled on this year’s seasonal gift to everyone. Yes, “seasonal” -- I’m one of those people who wishes everyone a “happy holiday.” This, as we know, infuriates Christian extremists.
Speaking of Roy Moore, he now seems to have moved on, but if all the credible accusations are true, for a while at least he was the perv-in-the-mall when the 30-something district attorney in Alabama was creeping out teeny-bopper girls in the shopping center by hitting on them. Come to think of it, large numbers of evangelicals exhibit admirable faith, tolerance and intellect, but just about any group has its charlatans, so Christian extremists and pervs are not necessarily mutually exclusive groups. But I have seriously digressed.
I was talking about how I had chosen a single present that I’d be giving to all those on my list. I had decided that everyone would receive a Keurig coffee maker from me. That was driven by my spirit of defiance (hey, you have your Yuletide spirit; I have mine) of the far-rightist thugs destroying their Keurigs after the company announced that it was pulling sponsorship ads from Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News.
Hannity, for those who don’t know or care, is the ultraconservative host of the most watched program on Fox, and many think -- including me, by the way -- that he’s actually a shill for President Donald Trump and anybody else from that part of the political spectrum. Naturally he landed the only interview with Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore after The Washington Post reported on accusations from teenage girls back in the day that Moore had sexually assaulted one of them and been otherwise inappropriate with the others. Hannity asked Moore what might be described as “gentle” questions. Others would describe it as Sean rolling over for a belly rub. It caused such an uproar that Keurig executives announced that they’d be yanking their commercial from his show. The alt-right loonies went bonkers. Social media exploded with videos of them burning their coffee makers or hitting them with sledgehammers. So naturally, that ended my annual uncertainty over what to get everyone. And, if anyone already had one, he or she could regift it to the alt-right somebody who was not alt-there and needed one to demolish.

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November 12, 2017

OFF-PITCH MUSIC MAN

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, NOV. 10, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

OFF-PITCH MUSIC MAN

Those familiar with the Broadway classic “The Music Man” doubtless enjoy one of the showstoppers that combines “Ya Got Trouble.” They’re performed by the character Professor Harold Hill. He’s really a flimflammer trying to sell band instruments to the rubes in a fictitious small town, River City, Iowa. He claims that they will rescue the local boys from a life of sin, billiard playing and overall trouble -- “with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for ‘pool.’”
What our politicians sell here in Potomac River City is a much bigger hustle than that. It’s ongoing. The “T” in this version could rhyme with “C” for “con artist,” or simply “Trump” -- same thing. It certainly could rhyme with “V,” for “Virginia,” “E” for “elections” or “ D” for the Democrats, who kicked the GOP’s “B,” and I don’t have to tell you what that stands for.
What was at the “PP,” for “polling places,” is that Trumpism might be in “trouble,” which starts, as we said, with “T” and rhymes with “DDD,” which stands for “deep doo-doo.” In Virginia it was also “G” for “Gillespie” -- Ed Gillespie, the establishment Republican who tossed his scruples into the pile of expedient hate in a transparent effort to appeal to the big “B”: bigotry. He slithered down Trump’s path by running ads that were blatantly anti-Hispanic. That also rhymed with “T” for “trouble” by rhyming with “D” for “disgraceful” and “C” for “cynical.” For good measure (bad measure actually) he added spots that emphasized his support for keeping Confederate statues up, in a state that considers the murderous right-wing extremist violence in Charlottesville a raw wound. And of course he tried to exploit antagonism toward athletes who refuse to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” He lost, and deserved to. Then to rub a little salt in Gillespie’s wound, Trump tweeted from Asia that “Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”

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October 31, 2017

A MANAFORT CAVE?

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 231
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, OCT. 31, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

A MANAFORT CAVE?

It’s a cliché in the legal world: A prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. That is, of course, because the standards for bringing charges are relatively low -- “probable cause” that a crime has been committed, as opposed to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” hurdle that comes before a defendant is convicted in a trial.
In addition, usually only the district attorney or the state attorney (or whatever they call the prosecutor) can offer evidence to the citizen grand jurors. Defense lawyers are almost never allowed to refute the allegations or to provide any explanation. Grand juries date back to British Common Law, which means they have existed for about 800 years. You now have more information about grand juries than you ever had any interest in knowing.
The point is, prosecutors have a ton of power, and special counsels are super-duper prosecutors (is my terminology too legalistic?). Robert Mueller is one of those, and now he’s made his first ham sandwiches. They are big ones: Paul Manafort, a former Donald Trump campaign manager, along with Manafort aide Rick Gates. Their 12-count indictment includes serious felony charges: money laundering, tax evasion, failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy against the United States while working on behalf of Ukrainians with close ties to Moscow. It’s heavy stuff (more legal terminology). By the way, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts. Yes, it’s a crime to lie to FBI agents, which only enhances the government’s power in criminal matters. At some point we can have a discussion about whether our belief that Americans are “innocent until proven guilty” is all that valid, but let’s not stray from the point of all this.
Ultimately, the guy who was not indicted today is a certain president of the United States. Mueller was appointed to determine whether there was criminal collusion with Vladimir Putin’s agents by Donald Trump or his campaign underlings to swing the election Trump’s way. Mueller’s mandate, as is the case with all independent counsels, extends to any crimes that are uncovered during the investigation. Hence these formal accusations against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. I’m sorry to lapse into more lawyerly language, but they could be in a heap of trouble.

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