Bob Franken

PROSECUTING TRUMP

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

PROSECUTING TRUMP

There are several clues that Donald Trump is taking the possibility of his criminal prosecution seriously. First of all, he’s calling the investigations “witch hunts,” which is what he always does when he’s guilty as sin. “Which witch hunt?” those of you who have managed to put Trump out of your mind might ask.
You and the fam might be deep in planning a summer vacation — perhaps a ballgame. The spotlight on Covid and that other disease, the deadly Trump blight, has faded.
Still, it could flare up again. Right now, he’s not rattling around the White House, so the walls protecting him from prosecution have come tumbling down. As a result, now Trump can face legal jeopardy, the serious criminal kind that potentially carries with it incarceration. A step closer, and the investigations cannot be deflected as “fake news.”

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DECEITFUL HYPOCRICY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

DECEITFUL HYPOCRISY

“I hope you are well.” The variations of that hackneyed expression are endless, but you get the idea. Even before the pandemic, this one preceded nearly every bit of modern communication — certain cliches that are not only empty and meaningless, but signal an insincerity, or even outright lies, will follow. I’d almost prefer an honest “I hope you’re suffering!”
“Thank you for asking” is another one. It sometimes really means “It’s none of your business!” My daughter and I have a word game when we text. If she uses the expression “Thank you for asking,” I’ll reply, “Thank you for thanking me.” Like most children, my daughter humors her dad.
But the newsbiz is crawling with phony-baloney expressions. The cable news channels have a slew of pundits who they pay to make controversy. But when they do and go too far — that is to say, the network’s bottom line is affected — you can bet that the one who is compensated to offend will be ordered to apologize or say he “misspoke,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
It’s a precarious occupation. Just ask former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who ran for president twice and semiretired to be a professional mudslinger on TV. But he just lost his semijob at CNN when he offended advocates for Native Americans. In a speech — not on CNN, by the way — Santorum said that when American settlers arrived from Europe, they “birthed a nation from nothing,” that “there was nothing here,” ignoring all the tribes and their civilizations. That caused an uproar, as one might imagine. Comments like “insensitive reporting directed at Indigenous people” flew through the air. See more—

You knew Santorum was in trouble when he retreated to the “misspoke” word. And then he went on to really grovel: “People say I’m trying to dismiss what happened to the Native Americans. Far from it. The way we treated Native Americans was horrific. It goes against every bone and everything I’ve ever fought for as a leader in the Congress.” That’s the equivalent of “That’s not who I am,” which an offensive offender delivers, sometimes tearfully, when he is caught with his hands in the cuckoo jar saying something utterly stupid.
CNN decided that it was too stupid for even a pundit/former senator/former two-time presidential candidate. So Santorum bit the dust. It was done quietly, no memo from upper management to “wish him well,” which is another platitude that translates to “May he burn in hell.” But Rick Santorum confirmed it himself, on Twitter, of course:
“When I signed on with CNN, I understood I would be providing commentary that is not regularly heard by the typical CNN viewer. I appreciate the opportunity CNN provided me over the past 4 years. I am committed to continuing the fight for our conservative principles and values.”
That tweet is so riddled with banalities that it belongs on the all-star roster of cliches. His comments combine to say, “Hey Fox News, or Newsmax, or OAN, please hire me.”
If you’re wondering why I have such a sensitivity to hackneyed language, it’s because I grew up in the South. When somebody is bragging and the Southerner says, “Well aren’t you something?” she is really drawling, “What an idiot!” “Why, bless your heart” translates in Dixiespeak to “Big bloomin’ deal,” or words to that effect.
Let’s sum up: “I received your inquiry. Thanks for asking. And bless your heart, I hope you are well and hope you are well going forward. And good luck in your future endeavors.”
Wrapping this up with two of my personal bests: We always welcome viewer/reader comments. (We don’t.) And the closing, Yours Sincerely. (We’re not.)

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

LEWD LOCUSTS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

LEWD LOCUSTS

Think of us as cicadas, the insects you’ve heard about ad nauseam, that live underground for 17 years and then surface to get it on. Well, we humans in the U.S. have sheltered in place for 17 months, give or take, tucked away from the ravages of Covid. And now we are about to find out how bawdy our bodies have become.
Now millions of hibernating Americans will emerge, courtesy of the vaccine, to discover how the world has changed. The absence of masks —prima facie evidence of a return to “normal” — will reveal a metamorphosed society.
True, the millions of workers who got used to upper-half masquerades during Zoom meetings, or those who were forced into babysitting the kiddies at home as the family urchins struggled with school, will now come trickling back to the office — if they still have an office. Many desperate employers discovered the financial advantages of having less real estate, and some have turned to machines to make their employees flat out obsolete. Fewer jobs mean fewer restaurants or food trucks, fewer hotel rooms, fewer shopping opportunities, fewer entertainment venues and, most importantly, fewer workers downtown to staff those facilities.
And what about those precious little delicate flower kiddies, who are going back to in-person school, or will return this fall? Will they be like the cicadas and have forgotten all they had learned, or will at least some of the virtual instruction have actually taken? Probably a bit of both. Chances are they will have some catching up to do. Will colleges and universities have to lower their admission standards, or will higher education change now that we’ve discovered that you don’t have to go to a boring lecture from a pompous junior instructor in a decrepit building at exorbitant tuition prices when you can get that same pomposity from your Zoom room at home?

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FACE MASK PROS AND CONS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

FACE MASK PROS AND CONS

To say there is confusion regarding Covid masking is putting it mildly. Should we mask or shouldn’t we? But then, we were always divided during the pandemic (when are we not?). There were those who showed their sanity by covering up, sometimes overdoing it, and those who demonstrated their craziness by never using masks, even in situations where it was mandatory.
Now we’re being told by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that once we are vaccinated, we can socialize without hiding part of our faces.
Unfortunately, the feds don’t have the final say-so on the subject. Local and state rules apply, meaning that every leader of the thousands of jurisdictions, for their own often-grubby political reasons, have the last word.
Besides, even by the CDC’s facial striptease guidance, we will operate on the honor system. No one will have to prove they’ve been fully immunized. This is a mixed bag. Or should I say mixed up? People will lie with no mechanism in place to check, just like teeny-boppers create false IDs so they can get into nightclubs crawling with pervs. I’d say alleged pervs, but I’ve already written about Matt Gaetz.

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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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