October 23, 2014

SHOULD WE EVEN BOTHER TO VOTE?

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, OCT. 17, 2014
SHOULD WE EVEN BOTHER TO VOTE?
BY BOB FRANKEN
This is the time of year when we hear all the drumbeating to get out the vote. Unfortunately, for too many Americans, the question is, "What for?" After all, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that two-thirds of those questioned believe the country is going in the wrong direction. Favorable ratings for the Democratic Party are at a 30-year low of 39 percent, and Republicans are even lower, 33 percent. That same survey, by the way, puts Barack Obama's approval rating at 40 percent, which is also a new low for him.
This is the midterm election, though, which is not about Obama. Among other things, it's about deciding who will make up the next Congress, and whether Republicans, who now control the House, also will take over the Senate.
Except that to a large degree, this IS about Obama. The GOPs are running against him and his dismal approval numbers. Nearly all the Dems are running away from him. The most glaring example is the Senate race in Kentucky, where the Democratic candidate, Alison Grimes, isn't even willing to say whether she voted for Mr. Obama in his presidential races. He's that unpopular in the state.
In the process, though, Mrs. Grimes has embarrassed herself to the point that the party's money people are pulling out their ad dollars. Obviously, they've concluded that Kentuckians will choose Mitch McConnell for his sixth term. Not only that, but if the Republicans take over the Senate, which looks likely, McConnell almost certainly will become majority leader, the guy who runs the show.
Here's the thing: McConnell is really unpopular in the state. The polls show that he, too, rates just above pond scum. But the D's ran such a bad campaign (or came up with such a weak candidate -- or both) that residents of the state are left with little option but to hold their noses when they vote for one or the other.

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October 22, 2014

PERKY EARLY EARLY ON MSNBC I'M NOT

Just remember as you watch me dispense my Thursday pre-dawn wisdom on MSNBC at 5:15 Eastern. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed.

October 20, 2014

CHURCH AND STATE: STILL SEPARATE?

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, OCT. 14, 2014
CHURCH AND STATE: STILL SEPARATE?
BY BOB FRANKEN
I have always agreed that the two subjects that should be avoided in polite conversation are religion and politics. Well, since I’m forever talking politics, one can easily figure out what I think about polite conversation -- obviously not much.
But if there is any doubt, let’s discuss religion today. We can start with this question: Who are you going to believe, Antonin Scalia or Thomas Jefferson? Justice Scalia recently made a speech at Colorado Christian University in which he declared that there is nothing in the Constitution stating that “the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.”
It’s interesting that someone who is described as an “Originalist” would apply his own reasoning to the First Amendment, which specifically prohibits “an establishment of religion.” The author, Thomas Jefferson, made it clear what he meant. In an 1802 letter, he wrote that he intended a “wall of separation between church and state.”
The problem with Scalia is that his point of view is not just idle opinion; his legal opinions can be part of the final word on this country’s laws. It’s a good thing, for instance, that the Supremes decided not to take on gay marriage, because at least one-ninth of the deciders, probably more, would base their vote on their religious views trumping equal treatment under the law.

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October 16, 2014

THE DISTANT OBAMA

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, OCT. 10, 2014
THE DISTANT OBAMA
BY BOB FRANKEN
Given his low standing in the polls and the growing list of friends and foes alike who say he is too aloof and lacks the fire needed for leadership, do not be at all surprised if we suddenly see Barack Obama throw a temper tantrum in some very public place.
There was a time when being described as “No Drama Obama” was a plus for him, as he very carefully cultivated an image of being the coolest guy on the planet. He won two presidential elections, in part because he was perceived as being above it all, not covered in the muck that defines politics. He was the Democrats’ rock-star candidate and drew huge crowds wherever the campaign trail took him.
Now the campaign trail is the last place you’ll find him. Those same Democrats are no longer running with him, but from him. That’s because Obama’s approval ratings are in the dumpster. Of course, every president will tell you that he’s not ruled by the polls, or at least his peeps will, and every one of them is being untruthful. They care a lot, including this one, who is sensitive to the point that if the latest surveys show a particular criticism, you can bank on his trying to demonstrate that it just ain’t so. That’s why I think it’s just a matter of time before we will witness Mr. Obama letting loose on camera with an old-fashioned hissy fit. What a photo op that will be, maybe when he’s getting together with Joe Biden.

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