September 17, 2014

MSNBC DAWN PATROL RIDES AGAIN

I'm back on MSNBC at the usual bleary slot of Thursday at 5:15 AM. After I'm done, you'll still be in the dark.

September 15, 2014

THE UNNECESSARY TRIP FROM STATEHOUSE TO BIG HOUSE

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, SEPT. 9, 2014
THE UNNECESSARY TRIP FROM STATEHOUSE TO BIG HOUSE
BY BOB FRANKEN
Faithful readers (both of you) possibly will remember back to what I wrote just a few weeks ago. Well, maybe not, but it was a snarky take on the ongoing corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his first lady while he was in office, wife Maureen. Instead of taking the easy way out and copping a plea, the two went to trial. To convince a jury they were guilty of no crime in taking $177,000 in goodies from one businessman in exchange for favorable treatment, they put on the most bizarre defense: Their marriage was too broken for them to participate in any scheme together. Day after day, we were treated to gory details of their terrible relationship and how the missus was a “nutbag.” It was a laugh a minute.
Only now it’s no longer funny; it’s pathetic. It didn’t work. Both were found guilty of most of the charges. They could spend years in jail. We’ll find out how many when they’re sentenced in January. Of course, there will be appeals, but what’s really sad is that none of this was necessary.
Not only could they have taken a deal from prosecutors, which would have resulted in minimal or no jail time (and just for him) while avoiding all the humiliating disclosure of their matrimonial wreckage, but they also could have taken care of their financial problems the old-fashioned way -- by simply waiting till the end of his term and going through that revolving door to riches and a cushy, high-paying job with one of the companies whose cause the governor championed while still in office.

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September 3, 2014

LABOR DAY PAINS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 29, 2014
LABOR DAY PAINS
BY BOB FRANKEN
Did you know that the federal Labor Day holiday was established by President Grover Cleveland in 1894 to celebrate American workers? As you might imagine, it was championed by the unions. Second question: Do you care? Given that organized labor has shrunk from 30 percent of the workforce in 1958 to about 11 percent now, and that even the unions, which represent 35 percent of public-sector employees, are being successfully challenged by conservatives, perhaps it should be a day for them to mourn instead of celebrate. That erosion would help explain why incomes of America’s richest people in 2012 rose nearly 20 percent and everyone else saw just a 1 percent increase. So much for the American expectation of upward mobility.
In truth, most of us don’t ponder any of that. It’s an extra day off to mark the unofficial end of summer with picnics, beach time or, yes, shopping, at stores whose salespeople usually are underpaid.
It’s also designated the beginning of the campaign silly season, which might seem a tad dopey given how, these days, the campaign never really seems to end. But now we begin the two-month-plus sprint to the midterms, where we get to decide, among other things, whether the Republicans will take over the entire Congress and make President Barack Obama’s remaining term even more torturous for him. It might get so bad that he’ll just retreat to the nearest golf course as the debris from the domestic and geopolitical earthquakes crash all around the White House.
As I said, the election cycle is nonstop. As vital as the congressional races are, to say nothing of all the statewide contests, they are widely regarded as only the preliminaries (except by the congressional and state candidates). Most of the chatter is about the impact the 2014 results will have on the 2016 big megillah. That’s when Hillary runs against some Republican and works very hard to convince everyone that even though she’s the Democrat, she’s no Barack Obama. What will help immensely is that she will have little trouble also differentiating herself from a Ted Cruz or a Rand Paul or whoever survives the mud wrestle of the Tea Party, uh, Republican Party primaries.

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September 1, 2014

VIRGINIA COURTHOUSE MELODRAMA

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, AUG. 26, 2014
VIRGINIA COURTHOUSE MELODRAMA
BY BOB FRANKEN
Is it any wonder that with all the grindingly oppressive news these days, matters that are tragic and vital, the first item I seek out when I pick up the paper is about the relatively frivolous disintegration of a high-level marriage. At least that’s the soap opera defense being peddled by the attorneys at the corruption trial for the loving couple -- or unloving, if you believe how they’re being presented to the jury by their own lawyers. They’re attempting to sow doubt about charges that former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen accepted financial help from a businessman, or fast-talking hustler if you prefer, who was lavishing money and expensive favors on them in exchange for state help in promoting his questionable medical product.
In case you don’t pay attention to trash news, here’s what you’ve been missing: Bob and Maureen are accused of doing official favors for Jonnie Williams, who was promoting his supplement created from tobacco. Williams was making large loans to the McDonnells, financing a shopping spree for the missus, helping pay for the lavish wedding of the McDonnells’ daughter, acquiring a Rolex watch for the governor, as well as funding vacations. He even arranged for a Ferrari for use on one of those outings.
That’s where the collapsed marriage comes in. Defense attorneys are trying to make the case that the two were at each other’s throat, that things had deteriorated to the point that they were incapable of agreeing on anything, including a conspiracy to accept bribes from Mr. Williams. Oh, and by the way, Maureen had a “crush” on Jonnie.
She’s presented as a screaming shrew, abusive to everyone, including her staff members, who routinely called her a “nutbag.” Again, remember, this is the defense’s version ... aggressively laid out by the hubby. So aggressively that there are those who grumble that the guy one witness described as a goody two-shoes “Boy Scout” was more than willing to take his wife of 38 years and “throw her under the bus.” There’s no word on what their five children think about that, but that sound you hear is chortling from those of us who enjoy watching someone get comeuppance for bullying defenseless subordinates.

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