Bob Franken

RECKLESS AND FECKLESS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
By Bob Franken

RECKLESS AND FECKLESS

During the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month, the Biden administration had a tragic humiliation on its hands: 13 U.S. servicemen and -women killed, along with nearly 200 Afghans, as well as a large number wounded. All were victims of a suicide bomber sent by an organization that is an enemy of both the United States and the Taliban.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget.” President Joe Biden ratcheted up his sternest face and told the terrorists on worldwide television, “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
A few days later, a U.S. drone fired a missile into a car driving near Kabul’s airport, an attack which Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley at the time described as a “righteous strike.” The U.S. initially claimed the car had been part of a second attempt to bomb evacuees.
But a New York Times analysis challenged that, and finally Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, which covers Afghanistan, admitted the strike was “a tragic mistake.”
“I am here today,” Gen. McKenzie said, “to set the record straight and acknowledge our mistakes.”
It ended up being that 10 civilians were killed, including seven children and the adult driver of the harmless car. He turned out to be an employee of an international aid group.
Whether the newspaper forced the Pentagon’s disclosure or whether an independent investigation did, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered his own probe:
“I have asked for this review to consider the degree to which the investigation considered all available context and information.” It was clearly digging further into a series of tragic mistakes.

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POLITICAL PASSWORDS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

POLITICAL PASSWORDS

Microsoft announced recently that starting today individuals using their various accounts won’t need to use passwords. Big bloomin’ deal! If you were underwhelmed by that declaration, you were probably aware that passwordless access has been available for Microsoft’s corporate clients since March.
More importantly, various competitors have offered such features as fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, odor recognition (best used with a dog), driverless cars (best used with a driver; they have a tendency to have accidents), and now cashierless grocery stores where Amazon is making everyone happy (except cashiers and shoplifters).
And speaking of meaningless exercises, here’s another case in point: the California recall election scam (a redundancy), which was accompanied by the punditocracy filling the void with words, proving that Aristotle was right: “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

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LEE’S WRONG WAR

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

LEE’S WRONG WAR

Donald Trump and the Republicans (pardon the redundancy) have figured it all out. They win their elections, even if they lose. Trump is fresh off his polling “steal” in 2020 and looking forward to the California recall balloting this week. He predicted, in a Newsmax interview, that Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democrat thieves have “probably rigged” the voting.
The state GOP Trumpettes are already screaming fraud, even though all the ballots aren’t in yet. It’s getting so we don’t even need to have elections. Beforehand, the losers can charge hanky-panky of some sort, and then those losers can hold a violent invasion of the state or national capital, in this case, Sacramento. Then the election is tainted forever, at least in the minds of some gullible voters.
In fact, let’s not stop with elections. How about wars? The Taliban didn’t just take over Afghanistan, particularly after they were run out 20 years ago. After the United States spent more than $2.25 trillion — $300 million a day — and thousands upon thousands of lives were lost, it was all for naught, rigged. We shouldn’t have bothered.
For an explanation, it’s Donald Trump to the rescue once again. We just had the wrong people leading the charge all along. He was equating the lost cause in Afghanistan to another “Lost Cause” war 160 years ago, the Civil War, the War Between the States, where Gen. Robert E. Lee led the troops of the Confederate army against the Union soldiers. They were fighting for the Southern way of life, including slavery.
They were also guilty of treason and should have been hanged, each and every one of them. Instead, after Abraham Lincoln’s “With malice toward none, with charity for all” second inaugural address, Robert E. Lee statues ended up everywhere. None more prominent than the 40-foot-high behemoth that was erected along Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, about 130 years ago when reminiscences of the old gracious South, with its gracious slavery, were in full flower — for the white flowers, of course.

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THE LEAD

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE LEAD

Where were you the day Elvis died? If you are younger than 44 you were just a gleam in your daddy’s eye (or your momma’s), but back in the day, those of us in TV news biz used to amuse ourselves by debating the lineup, the order of stories, of the evening broadcasts on the three networks. That’s back when there were just three who carried the prestigious (translate pompous) national and international news, with their 800-pound gorilla anchors Walter Cronkite at the “CBS Evening News”, John Chancellor of “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s grand experiment with Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner. They were called 800-pound gorillas because as highly paid anchors they got their way, except for Waters and Reasoner who didn’t get along at all.
As a personal aside, I interviewed for my first network job in 1979 at NBC with the news division’s president Bill Small, who had a well-deserved reputation wavering between hard-nosed and downright nasty. I expected the question: “What did you think of the ‘Nightly’ lineup last night?” And I expected he’d respond that whatever I said was wrong. So rather than giving a tactful, wishy-washy interview critique, I was fully honest and argued point by point with Small. We parted on what I thought were bad terms, but a week later I got the job.
The point is that the network shows’ lead story often made for a lively discussion. It was sometimes obvious, but not necessarily. On August 16, 1977, in late afternoon, the word seeped out and then was confirmed: Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” had died of a heart attack at age 42. By today’s cable news reality, it would have been a no-brainer. Not only would that be the lead story, but it would have been the ONLY story.
But back in yesteryear, 1977, those who ran the broadcasts considered themselves journalistic saviors. And while NBC and ABC led with Presley, the lah-di-dah news lords at CBS led with some microscopic, inside-the-beltway development in the debate over the Panama Canal Treaty.

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9/11 Plus 20

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
By Bob Franken

9/11 PLUS 20

In the shattered aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 – 9/11 – members of Congress from both parties gathered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building to sing “God Bless America.” It had been the kind of attack that would bring out the “United” in United States, like “Remember Pearl Harbor” did on Dec. 7, 1941.
But it wasn’t long after Pearl Harbor that the United States government rounded up Japanese Americans and threw them into internment camps. Likewise, it wasn’t long after 9/11 that the rest of the U.S. brutalized Muslim Americans, relying on a widespread and harsh prejudice that is prevalent to this day. We overreached with the Patriot Act, engaged in torture and basically exacted revenge.
But unlike 9/11, when World War II was over, the baby boomers who followed enjoyed a new prosperity as the economy exploded. Of course, it was accomplished on borrowed money, and we got spoiled by relying on credit, or as we called it, “deficit spending.”
Worst of all, we spun through a blur of lies and defeats on the world stage. Vietnam weakened us. Even when we lorded over the collapse of the Soviet Union that we thought was a victory with the end of the Cold War, that was a fiction. A few decades later, it seemed to some that Vladimir Putin’s Russia had a role in choosing the president of the United States.

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