Bob Franken

TRUMP’S PATHETIC INTIMIDATION

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

TRUMP’S PATHETIC INTIMIDATION

“We are a big tent party,” said House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. For McCarthy it was nearly a psychotic departure from reality. He was in the process of engineering the bloody removal of Liz Cheney from the No. 3 spot in his House leadership team.
It seems that under his big top … excuse me, big tent … there are just two species: pro-Trump and the few who must be excised in some sort of unethical cleansing. They are the few not marching in lock step with the absolute leader of the GOP, Donald Trump. That would include the Senate as well as the House, state legislatures and GOP meetings. Wherever there are Republicans, there is an effort to eliminate all those who dare challenge the emperor who is wearing no sanity. When it comes to his continuing claims that he actually won the presidential election, emperor Don is as naked as a jaybird.
The Republican party is fast becoming a totalitarian organization, likened by their most hysterical critics as national socialists. That’s hyperbole. Although, in some elements of the party, the N-word is Nazi. Most of those who were formally conscientious conservatives now coexist with white supremacist extremists and antisemitic militias. And they believe it’s Trump over all. Those who dare stray have no place in his despotism. Just ask Liz Cheney, who was Republican royalty until she was deposed and replaced by Elise Stefanik, whose political approach has been, how would you say it, “flexible.” First she was a “moderate,” and then she morphed into the most immoderate Trump supporter you ever did see.
Oh, Cheney will continue to shout her heresy. As she put it after her extraction, “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

I am among those who had vowed to move on and focus on the new president, Joe Biden, ignoring the Donald Trump years as a truly nightmarish horror film. But Biden has just methodically worked on repairing the devastation. Nothing sexy about that. Even though Trump has been barred from most social media, he still possesses the bully pulpit. And his ability to bully his craven leaders around is impossible to ignore, particularly when his leaders are like Kevin McCarthy, who stalwartly leads from behind.
Trump put out a statement, showing once again his belief that winning gracefully is for suckers. “Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being,” Trump wrote. Sticking the knife in as deep as it could go in conservative circles, he concluded, “I look forward to soon watching her as a paid contributor on CNN or MSDNC!”
So he still maintains the power to impose his will within the party and certainly force himself to the center of attention and cause us snivelers in the media to make him a lead story. He shared the front page with the long lines at the gas pump, the escalating Middle East war, the good news about the United States apparently emerging from the trauma of Covid, India being overwhelmed by it, and the tiger that appeared in, then disappeared from, Houston.
This is where you’d expect some cheap-shot humor, like Donald Trump once again proving that he’s not a paper tiger. That he’s a cool cat as he prowls around Mar-a-Lago, roaring and showing that his voice is not diminished, not one bit.
Instead, I will point out that Trump rules as lord and master over millions in his base, who buy his crazy “big lie” that he had the election stolen from him— by a 70% margin. With that comes the power to intimidate most all of his party’s politicians, whose only remaining guiding principle is to get elected or re-elected. They’ve calculated that the best way to do that is to avoid the wrath of Trump and get rid of anybody who, like Liz Cheney, sternly warns that “down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country.”

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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MEMORIES OF BO

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

MEMORIES OF BO

I always feel sad for people who are uncomfortable around dogs, because they miss out on the laughs, enthusiasm and attachment of unconditional love. But one of nature’s cruel tricks is “dog years,” a concept familiar to everyone who has welcomed fur babies into their families. The age of your canine companion is equivalent to seven years of human life.
I muse on all this on the occasion of the loss of Bo, the rambunctious Portuguese water dog who belonged to the Obama family (although Bo believed that they belonged to him). He was a gift of Ted Kennedy’s pack during Barack Obama’s years in the White House and well beyond, but now at age 12, he has died of cancer. Michelle Obama made the announcement on Instagram: “This afternoon was a difficult one for our family. We said goodbye to our best friend — our dog, Bo — after a battle with cancer.”
Her husband followed on Twitter that Bo “tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table and had great hair.”
No matter what your politics, your pup embraces you (sometimes literally). In return, I’ve watched people operate in Washington who are such jerks who suddenly, miraculously mellow when they are around dogs.
We belong to a social club for pups where the humans can eat and drink and watch while the dogs play in a large fenced-in area. I’m convinced that their canine social habits are far superior to ours, except, perhaps, with the way they check each other out with their noses.
As for the humans watching in the audience, almost all of them have smiles planted across their faces. In fact, some of them, who are not dog owners, are allowed to come and watch. The theory is that they will eat and drink and pay as they watch. No carry-ins are allowed, but I’m sure that the park’s owners will sooner or later realize that they can get away with a cover charge and a minimum to watch as the pups perform.

We pay an annual membership, but it’s in the name of Ziggy, our Bernedoodle.

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THE GOP TAKEOVER

It makes a difference whether it’s a politician or if it’s a TV personality who makes a “stupid mistake” and says something over an open mic. If a TV personality does it, it really is a “stupid mistake.” The politician claims it was unintentional, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did before he appeared on “Fox and Friends” recently. But you can bet he knew the microphone was live as he seemingly blurted: “I’ve had it with her. You know, I’ve lost confidence.”

The “her” in Kevin McCarthy’s case was Liz Cheney, No. 3 in the House Republican hierarchy. She made the mistake of standing on her principles, just like Sen. Mitt Romney did. They voted against President Donald Trump when he was wriggling out of his various impeachments. In Cheney’s case, she’s been obnoxious about it, rankling all of the Republicans who sold their souls to Trump, which is most of them.

So Democrats are now absurdly cheering for Cheney, in spite of her history as a most intensely conservative congresswoman from Wyoming, and the daughter of Richard Cheney. Yup, that Cheney, who not too long ago was Vice President Darth Vader to every liberal who didn’t believe in war. They are also rooting for Romney, whose CV includes two runs for president. His father, George, was also a GOP presidential candidate, back when GOP meant “Grand Old Party.” Now it means “Grand Old Purging.” In this case it means throwing out and up anybody who displeases the Don. Romney and Cheney have definitely done that.

In Sen. Romney’s case, it meant being booed off the stage at a Utah party event where he was speaking.

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RACIST COUNTRY?

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

“America is not a racist country.”
That was Sen. Tim Scott giving the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, calling on the nation to “root out systemic racism that plagues America.”
Scott is the only Black GOP member of the Senate at this time. Joe Biden is not the only white Democrat, but the two of them pretty much said the same thing. However, it was Scott who suffered far more abuse as a token of a party that is now home to almost all bigots. He was quickly hashtagged “Uncle Tim” (if you don’t understand why that’s a particularly toxic play on words, then you aren’t very woke).
First of all, let’s remember the context of his rebuttal: “I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping.”
It was only then that he said, in spite of his experiences, that “America is not a racist country.”
In the uproar that followed, the media got the reaction from every politician of color they could convince to get up early enough to appear on their morning news and cooking shows. Vice President Kamala Harris got roped into “Good Morning America,” where she was asked if she thinks America is a racist country (not exactly an unobvious question). Her reply:
“No. I don’t think America is a racist country, but we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today.”
Now, how is that so different from Sen. Scott’s point? Besides, what is a “racist country” anyway? For that matter, what is a rebuttal? The answer to that last one is somewhere along the line of bureaucrats deciding that the president’s opposition should have an opportunity to say that “he is full of malarkey.” Except that the one chosen to do so has three minutes; the president has as much time as he wants.

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THE BARD OF BIDEN

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE BARD OF BIDEN

“What’s in a name?” as William Shakespeare wrote. But it doesn’t take a Shakespearean presidential speechwriter to know that the name means a lot. That’s why we have Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” which is what the administration calls his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan, already signed into law. The “American Jobs Plan” is his preferred title for the $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, which ranges far beyond concrete. And now we have his “American Families Plan,” which rings in at $1.8 trillion and covers much of the rest of the domestic kitchen sink.
That’s it! In the grand tradition of FDR’s “New Deal” and LBJ’s “Great Society,” this one will be known to history as JRB’s “Kitchen Sink.” (Biden’s middle name is Robinette). And he came up with it in his first 100 days after succeeding Donald Trump, who didn’t succeed at much beyond dividing the nation even more.
On the night of President Biden’s 99th day, he finally made his first joint address to Congress. It was notable because of its diminished presentation (think of it as an Oscars show), notable because of his subdued rhetoric, and most notable because, for the first time in U.S. history — actually, it was herstory — the ones sitting at the rostrum overhead were both women: Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Biden began his speech by saying:
“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President” (applause).
“No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.”
It begs the question, of course, of when a joint session of Congress will be addressed by our first female president.
But some things were just the same: The Republican opposition characterized the Biden plans as socialism, just like they did back in New Deal days, as well as those of the Great Society, when the GOP was so against these equal-opportunity proposals that its sometimes hard to remember that the Republicans once opposed slavery. Now they have been taken over by the white supremacists who wanted to start a new civil war with their insurrection at the Capitol building in January. No thanks to the man in charge at the time, Donald Trump, their mutiny failed.
And now it’s up to Joe Biden to clean up his mess. Actually, his whole overall agenda could be better called “America’s Cleanup.”
We are still a nation where unnecessary police killings of minorities have become routine. Some members of law enforcement fancy themselves vigilante members of a lynch mob. So President Biden called for police reform and gun control measures, as massacres have also become routine.

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