July 31, 2014

SHAKY AMERICAN PRINCIPLES

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, JULY 25, 2014
SHAKY AMERICAN PRINCIPLES
BY BOB FRANKEN
Yes, I know. How many times have we been told “We are a nation of immigrants”? The welcome, after all, is right there in the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
And in fact, millions of people have sought refuge and thrived here, including my parents. But the tradition gets obliterated in all the angry debate about those who try to breach our borders ... even the children we see today, trying to escape the “tempest” in their own countries. Arguably, the welcome for “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” has its limits — practical ones and, frankly, bigoted ones.
To some degree, the grand promise has been lip service for a long time. Once the colonists and succeeding generations had settled in and expanded, they started being downright hostile to those who decided to come along later. Italians, Irish, Germans and Asians all have had to run the gantlet of vicious prejudice once they arrived. Boatloads of Jews were simply turned away by anti-Semitism as they tried to flee the horrors of the Holocaust. Now it’s many Muslims who experience religious hatred. Back in the day, the Quakers were ostracized.
Of course, Africans were welcomed ... as they were unloaded from their slave ships. All in all, it’s easy to understand the vicious reaction to those who pursue a life today in the United States. It’s nothing new.
And it’s not unique. We are finding it harder and harder to live up to our stated ideals. “Equal Justice Under Law,” the words chiseled over the entrance of the Supreme Court, are mocked in courthouses throughout the country. We take it as a given that those who can afford it get a much easier ride through our justice system than those of lesser means. Even as the laws are created, the wealthy special interests hire expensive lobbyists to make sure they’re not bound by the same rules as those who have no paid-for voice. And it’s getting worse. As for the enforcement of the laws, the stories of police using excessive force, particularly against the poor and those who have the audacity to protest the status quo, are routine. “Due process” for far too many is just a platitude.

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July 30, 2014

A VOICE IN THE DARKNESS, A SIGHT FOR CLOSED EYES

Another Thursday on the MSNBC dawn patrol at 5:15-ish Eastern. Think of it as an alternative to the Sarah Palin Channel.

A VOICE IN THE DARKNESS, A SIGHT FOR CLOSED EYES

Another Thursday on the MSNBC dawn patrol at 5:15-ish Eastern. Think of it as an alternative to the Sarah Palin Channel.

July 28, 2014

FILL IN THE BLANKS

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, JULY 22, 2014
FILL IN THE BLANKS
BY BOB FRANKEN
It’s a journalist’s worst nightmare: We discover that nobody cares about our stories because they’re predictable and boring. That certainly seems to be the case for those of us here in Washington, but it’s true throughout our industry. We keep on regurgitating the same stuff and spend a lot of energy doing it. Face it: It’s the same bit, different day.
It’s time to save time, to say nothing of big money. So, as a public service, let’s concoct reports where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. For example:
“Medical researchers at (institution) have discovered in (animal) a (protein, enzyme, stem cell) that causes (disease). If confirmed in a larger study, the scientists will apply for authorization to conduct human trials that could lead to a better understanding of (disease) and possible new protocols. They emphasize that any advances in treatment will take five to 10 years to develop.”
How many times have we seen minor variations of that one?
Or in the business section: “(Airline) announced today that it will now be charging a $25 fee for passengers’ (essential travel item). Other carriers quickly stated that they would follow suit. One executive was overheard saying, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?’”
And this one has become routine: “(Federal agency) has agreed to a settlement with (bank), which will pay $(number) billion in fines for fraudulent mortgage practices during the period leading up to the 2008 financial collapse. Under the terms of the deal, (bank) does not admit wrongdoing. A (bank) spokesman issued a statement saying that it only decided to go along ‘to avoid any further distraction from time-consuming litigation.’”
Wherever you look, you can find examples, from the lifestyle sections and fluffy celebrity magazines, where (contrived reality star) was spotted holding (body part) with (rapper), or on the sports pages, where (jock) tells reporters: “My individual performance doesn’t count. What’s important is that the team (won/lost).”

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