March 22, 2017

SKINNY BUT OVERWEIGHT

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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

SKINNY BUT OVERWEIGHT

It’s called a “skinny budget,” because it’s just a president’s blueprint for where the federal money goes, and it doesn’t get into details. Those will be fleshed out later. Actually, this one is anorexic, containing the usual bullet points that Donald Trump always prefers rather than getting tangled in the weeds of messy specifics. That would require concentration, which has definitely never been The Donald’s strong suit. However, even these budgetary bullet points target the entire notion that the United States has a kindhearted government.
The money largely affirms the idea that this is a nation in a defensive crouch. There are huge increases for our armed forces and homeland security, including that wall that has become Trump’s trademark. Somebody has to pay for all that, plus the tax cuts for the super-rich he envisions, and that would be the non-super-rich. Just like always. The programs that will be gutted feed the poor and elderly, and address the extensive hunger in children that is a shame on America. In the past, the funding has gone to support education, and protect against fouling our nation’s and the world’s environment.
It is a concoction whose recipe compiled by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney whose rationalization for abandoning the malnourished, for instance, twists the normal language into tangles of meaninglessness and, might I add, meanness. We have gotten used to the Orwellian absurdities from the Trumpsters, but try this on for size, as Mulvaney is facile about the absence of compassion in this budget. He feels too “compassionate” toward the taxpayers “to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money anymore.’”
To pay for the Meals on Wheels program, that is a lifeline for the shut-in elderly and disabled. Or the program that would be cut that provides out-of-school meals to the children who would otherwise not eat: “We can’t do that anymore. We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good.”
This is a budget proposal that sounds good to the fat cats who will become obese. Everybody else who relies on the federal government not just for nutrition, but for consumer protection against predator banks and corporations, for basic medical research that can save millions of lives by potentially curing or eradicating killer diseases, and even for the arts, which define our culture, well, see you around.

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March 15, 2017

THE NATIONAL ILLNESS

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE NATIONAL ILLNESS

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Many Republican leaders are leery about having their name attached to the GOP’s replacement for Obamacare, a health care overhaul they have demonized since it was passed seven years ago. But they’re having a devilish time coming up with one of their own that doesn’t make things worse.
It’s hard to blame them for preferring not to be identified with their American Health Care Act, which is the official title of their slapped-together replacement. They have to come up with something now that they have a lock on our government. After all, they promised incessantly to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In fact, they are actually obliterating overall about a century’s worth of progress, but let’s focus on how they are gutting health care.
White House officials made it clear that their boss doesn’t want it to be called “Trumpcare.” On down the line, those who created it also don’t care to be held responsible. After all, it manages to take all the problems of the ACA and make them worse. Still, “AHCA” could be mistaken for a sneeze. So we have to come up with a better name.
This hodge podge was prepared under the guidance of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is really into arcane policy. He’s also into maintaining the myth that there are ways to deliver health care in the United States, given our bought-and-paid-for politicians, that are more effective and less expensive than Obamacare. So he’s coceived his own scheme. Apparently he doesn’t want it to be called “Ryancare,” but it is his baby, so how about something like the Speaker’s Contrivance for Access to Medical care: SCAM?
It is a scam. While it’s presented as a more effective approach, it really provides health care coverage to fewer people and will be more expensive with most of the financial benefits going to the wealthy.

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March 13, 2017

OPEN MOUTH, TALK STUPID

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

OPEN MOUTH, TALK STUPID
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I’ve hesitated to do this, but the time has come to catalog the truly dumb comments uttered by our great leaders. There is so much material, it’s an embarrassment of embarrassments.
We have to acknowledge Ben Carson, who’s now our housing secretary because, well, Donald Trump had to put him somewhere. Secretary Carson was seeking to rally his department’s troops, to inspire them with a speech about the country as a “land of dreams and opportunity.” Even if we ignore how dicey it is for any member of this administration to speak at all about immigration, Carson caused an uproar when he referred to slaves as immigrants, specifically “other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships ... they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
Carson’s supporters point out that Barack Obama had expressed something similar in December 2015: “So life in America wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way, were immigrants themselves.” So let’s be bipartisan about this: It was as stupid when Barack Obama said it as it was when Ben Carson did a year and a half later.
But, that was then and this is now, when Donald Trump is the main man, the supreme leader, the apprentice president himself. Unfortunately, he can’t help himself either; he’s a compulsive tweeter, a paranoid twitt-so-phrenic who communicates really crazy stuff every time he gets near a smartphone. Rambling on about President Obama wiretapping him might strike some as being little different from those who hear voices or radio waves. He's not well. So let’s be compassionate and give him a break. Like he would do if he had all his marbles.

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March 9, 2017

THE TWITTER TANTRUM SUBTERFUGE

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE TWITTER TANTRUM SUBTERFUGE
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He’s doing it again. He keeps singing the same tunes. But this time, people are getting tired of the familiar old song. It’s early in his presidency, but already Donald Trump has faced one controversy after another. None has been more perilous to him than the accusation that he was elected in large part due to the interference on his behalf by his comrade Vladimir Putin and Putin’s agents of the Russian government.
That one just won’t go away. Even as Trump has blustered, battered and bullied, the news organizations persist in catching various Trump deputies in lies about their conversations with representatives of Moscow.
When the blustering, battering and bullying don’t work and the media reports threaten to consume his administration in dangerous scandal, POTUS leaves his Plan B and falls back onto Plan T. “T,” of course, stands for “Twitter,” and Donny can always be counted on to put out some tweets late at night that are so outrageous, they can only be designed as a distraction from another damaging crisis.
This is after a week that ended with still further destructive disclosures that his functionaries had seemingly inappropriate confidential contacts with Russian operatives, both during the campaign and during the transition, before he and his troopers rolled into the White House to begin their reign of errors.
The latest ruinous crisis involved conversations with the Russians conducted by Jeff Sessions -- discussions Sessions had denied under oath. It was the talk of the town until TOTUS swung into action. “TOTUS,” of course, stands for “Tweeter of the United States.” This time TOTUS -- who was weekending in his Palm Beach, Florida, fortress -- was up very late, flinging whatever he flings late at night, at his predecessor, Barack Obama. The charge was that Obama, while still president, had Trump Tower phones wiretapped: “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

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