Bob Franken

THAT PESKY CONSTITUTION

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THAT PESKY CONSTITUTION

Gloria Allred, who represents more than 30 of Bill Cosby’s accusers, attributed his release from prison by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to “technical grounds.” Another who charged him of sexual assault called it a “legal glitch.”
That “legal glitch” and Allred’s “technical grounds” are not trivial, unless the United States Constitution is of little consequence. Unless the 5th Amendment to the Bill of Rights — which protects, among other things, a person from being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” — is insignificant.
In Bill Cosby’s case, the sexual abuse allegations against him had been circulating publicly for years when a prosecutor worked a deal with him by promising that nothing Cosby said in a civil lawsuit deposition could be forevermore used as incriminating evidence. But a subsequent prosecutor broke the deal, and years later Cosby was indicted and convicted based on exactly that evidence. He served three years of his sentence before the state’s Supreme Court ruled that his conviction was a breach of his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination, or, as the justices wrote, such a “vast” violation of the Constitution that he could never be tried again because also in that same 5th Amendment double jeopardy applied.

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THE ART OF NO DEAL

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE ART OF NO DEAL

Here’s a little inside-the-Beltway knowledge (in fact, it’s inside the White House gate): In the executive mansion, where people go only if they have a temporary or a permanent pass issued by the Secret Service, there’s a “drop” in the driveway outside the West Wing. A drop is a permanently installed live camera position. There are hundreds of these drops in official Washington and dozens within the White House complex, sealed off by unfriendly men and women of the Secret Service protective detail who talk into their sleeves.
The driveway drop is one of the places where lesser lights than the president, vice president, cabinet members, etc., usually hold their press “availabilities,” or “avails” inside the “gilded cage,” as President Joe Biden calls it. The commander in chief can go anywhere he wants. Which, long after your eyes have glazed over, is the point.
A senator would be one of these lesser lights who have occasion to meet with Biden all the time. They would be consigned to the driveway drop, while the chief executive could speak inside. Senators have much too fragile egos for that, particularly since it’s only a matter of time, in their minds, until they will run the whole show, unless some foul-mouthed idiot comes along.
You know how the CEO, in a dominant position, will leave his desk barrier on high and join the supplicant on the nearby couch? It’s done when the exec is trying to convince you that he’s a good guy, or mislead you into thinking so.
Guess who joined the senators’ delegation after their all-important meeting on infrastructure legislation at their driveway location. Yes, it was Uncle Joe himself, strolling with the Capitol delegation and announcing, “We have a deal.” It was a blatant example of trying to project a “we’re all in this together” demeanor.
Except that they are not all in this together. Far from it. They have just reached, as the old-timey quiz show described it, “the first plateau.” The reality is that they are several plateaus apart and the valleys are slithering with poisonous snakes heading in all directions.
On the left, there are sandal-wearing water moccasins. (This is a lousy metaphor because snakes wouldn’t wear sandals, would they? For that matter, they wouldn’t wear moccasins either. That’s why they are called “cottonmouths” too, which is appropriate because as politicians, they talk out of both sides of their cotton mouths. But I digress.)
These deadly progressive snakes are predatory. They find many of their natural enemies in their own nest: the moderates. Meanwhile, the GOP reptiles, whose main characteristic is following the dreaded Trumpsnake, wouldn’t vote for any Biden-led or meet-me-in-the-middle proposal.
The progressive snakes want what is loosely described as “soft infrastructure,” paid for by taxing the rich: climate change policies, paid medical leave, “Medicare for all,” every liberal dream and no compromises. But if Biden tries to placate the left, he displeases the right.

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SHOT NOT

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

SHOT NOT

Why do some people refuse to protect themselves from the ravages of Covid by spurning the readily available vaccines that have proven so safe and effective? More importantly, for those who are so bent on individual self-harm, why resist furthering all of America’s herd immunity against the deadly coronavirus that caused such misery in our society?
The only justifiable reason might be skepticism. Largely, what divides us is based on the raw deal most of us riffraff have gotten from the “experts” and other elites who take care of themselves first. That would include the pharmaceutical mega-companies and the do-anything-for-a-buck politicians, which are their easiest enablers. This disgust is exploited by demagogues like Donald Trump.
But sometimes, the experts are not running a scam. Sometimes, like Anthony Fauci, they know what they’re talking about or quickly learn from the bitter experience of confronting something new, like the coronavirus. In fact, when Trump came up with his one contribution to fighting the pandemic — the development of vaccines at “Warp Speed” — it was Fauci and the other experts who made sure he and the program didn’t use its warp speed to run off the rails like most of what Trump said and did.
Once the nation came to its senses and elected Joe Biden, aka “anybody but Trump,” and our various institutions overcame Don Trump’s “Big Lie” — that he had really won the presidential election — Biden and his crew reeled in the chaos and started directing the vials into our arms. Lickety-split, the inoculations began doing their magic.

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JUNETEENTH NEXT YEAR

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

JUNETEENTH NEXT YEAR

How do we go about switching our nation’s Independence Day from July 4 to June 19? That’s when word reached Galveston, Texas, in what was then the far reaches of the Reunited States, that slavery was officially a thing of the past. Juneteenth celebrates the anniversary of June 19, 1865 — two months and 10 days after the Civil War ended — when Black slaves were told that they didn’t have to serve in bondage simply because they were Black. But vestiges of slavery still exist.
On July 4, we celebrate the birth of our nation, but the only independence was for white men. The “Founders” were only putting down on paper (or parchment — it doesn’t matter) the template for the unkept promises of the Constitution.
On Juneteenth, Black slaves were “freed,” but they were not really free. Systemic racism continues to this day, because equity has not been allowed between races. We have gussied up our prejudice in all sorts of mannerly language, but the fact remains that since the nation’s real beginning for everyone, June 19, the successors of slaves have had to crash through one blockade erected by white people after another:
Segregation forces them away from overlapping basic rights: an education, economic opportunity, even the right to vote (although that one is being reversed) and safety from trigger-happy cops (although videos recorded with modern technology are exposing that one as too often a tragic fantasy).

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BIDEN ACTING LIKE TRUMP

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

BIDEN ACTING LIKE TRUMP

Maybe President Joe Biden had too many days of jet lag. Maybe he’d had it with the weasel words of diplospeak — the Russian description of his meeting with President Vladimir Putin was “constructive”; the Americans’ was “positive” — or maybe it was too many hours without food. They didn’t take a meal break. But by the time he met with reporters, Biden was off his affable-image game. He was downright snitty to one person in particular.
Even though he followed such a horrible Donald Trump act, he needs to remember that reporters are not his friends. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was simply doing her job, trying to squeeze out every last answer she could get from him.
“Why are you so confident he’ll change his behavior?” she shouted as he walked off the stage after giving a rosy description of his meeting with Putin.
Maybe “confident” is one of those diplospeak weasel words, but for whatever reason, he turned on Collins:
“When did I say I was confident?” Biden was clearly irate, wagging his right index finger for emphasis. “What I said was — let’s get it straight — I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them, and it diminishes their standing in the world.”
Furthermore, she is in “the wrong business” if she couldn’t see the value of meeting with Putin, who had demonstrated in his own separate news conference that he apparently had not budged one bit in the meeting with Biden.
On and on Biden went, at one point chastising the press for its “negativity.” But before he boarded Air Force One he had reconsidered, either that or his horrified aides had persuaded him his tantrum didn’t play very well:
“I owe my last questioner an apology,” Biden said to reporters on the tarmac in Geneva. “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy with the last answer I gave.”
“I apologize for having been short. … Look, to be a good reporter, you got to be negative. You got to have a negative view of life,” Biden went on. “You’re the brightest people in the country … but it makes no sense for me to negotiate with you.”

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