Bob Franken


June 14, 2007
Ill Suited (Bob Franken)
@ 10:19 am

Tort reform. No, it is not about the pastry business. For years various interest groups have complained that the unscrupulous have abused the right to sue. They’ve tangled business, medicine, all of us, in a fear of litigation. Far too many decisions are based less on merit than on protecting one’s legal butt.

And now, they have another poster child — that D.C. lawyer and his pants suit. He’s demanding $50 million-plus from a dry cleaner who allegedly gave him the wrong trousers. Even when he loses, his small-business defendants will have also lost — their attorney fees will just about wipe them out.

It just goes to show, the reformers argue, that there must be protection against these frivolous, malicious lawsuits. Or at least limitations.

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News Blues (Bob Franken)
@ 11:40 am

I attended an awards dinner last night put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and came away with a number of questions:

1) In TV news, is it really only a choice between buffoonery and news from the crypt? Why is it so often a choice between Paris Hilton and something akin to watching paint dry?

2) In print: Actually, the questions are the same.

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June 12, 2007
‘Do-Nothing’ Programming (Bob Franken)
@ 10:17 am

I have such a GREAT idea for C-SPAN. Picture watching this: The Senate grinds on up to the point that someone announces debate is about to begin on the immigration legislation. Then the screen goes blank. Well, in this case, maybe it simply shows a 700-mile-long fence. But the point is that no one would have missed anything.

Think of the possibilities: On the cable news networks, aerial shots of Paris Hilton’s motorcade could suddenly end. Fade to black.

Of course that will never happen. There would be an uproar. Besides, ratings would plummet. I mean, people really care about Paris Hilton. And as we found out, they really care about the “Sopranos”‘ ending, too, or the lack thereof.

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Never let it be said that George W. Bush has become a “Man without a Country.” They LOVED him in Albania. But otherwise in Europe, the president was a Man without a Continent.

Over here, absence didn’t exactly made the heart grow fonder either.

While there is nothing in the immigration legislation that prevents President Bush from getting back into the U.S., that’s about the only comfort he can take. While he was gone, the congressional mice were playing on both sides of the aisle. They were chasing their tails over immigration — actually more like hamsters running on that hamster treadmill that is the United States Senate. By week’s end the bill was pretty much stuck in quicksand.

More damning was the decision by the administration to pull the plug on Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace. Not that anyone had anything against him personally, you understand, but Gen. Pace has the misfortune of being associated with the Bush Iraq war — and even worse, with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld may be gone, but he sure as hell is not forgotten. This is a man who was once called a “rock star,” but now he’s a heavy stone who sinks anyone ever tied to him.

His successor, Robert Gates, is showing that he is a pragmatist, someone who is adept at reading the handwriting on the wall. And this handwriting read “Renominate Gen. Pace and we’ll seek answers about Iraq.” With that, the general was four-star toast.

Coming up — Democrats will try and burn the attorney general. It could once again be more than the president can, uh, stomach.

But he’ll always have Albania.

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