Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 3, 2009

FEELING THE FRANKEN FALLOUT.... In October, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed a key amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill, which generated some attention at the time, but continues to grow in importance.

Motivated by the harrowing violence Jamie Leigh Jones suffered in 2005 while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, Franken pushed a measure to withhold defense contracts from companies that "restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." Franken's measure passed, 68 to 30. The 30 opponents -- representing 75% of the entire GOP Senate caucus -- were Republican men.

In a bizarre twist, those GOP senators are now livid because they're facing criticism over the vote. Worse, they're furious with Franken for not defending them for having voted against his amendment.

"Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape -- and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don't think it's a very constructive thing," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

"I think it's going to make a lot of senators leery and start looking at things he's doing earlier on, because I don't think it got appropriate attention ahead of time."

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken's handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) added, "I don't know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won't see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him. I think hopefully he'll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that's important to Minnesota."

This is completely incoherent. Franken's amendment wasn't about "taking on" Republicans; it was a response to the brutality against Jamie Leigh Jones. If this measure doesn't constitute "serious work," nothing does. Indeed, 10 members of the very conservative Senate Republican caucus agreed, and voted for the amendment.

And now GOP members are going to push Franken away because they're taking heat for a misguided vote? Heat that Franken has nothing to do with?

We've all seen petty politics before, but this is the height of foolishness.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Comments

Just my guess, but I'd say its not a good idea to take on Al Franken. The Republicans are very used to their bully tactics working, but Franken will eat them alive.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 3, 2009 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

They take hypocrisy to a new level!

Posted by: LTC on December 3, 2009 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Stuart Smalley Saves the Senate!

Posted by: pj in jesusland on December 3, 2009 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see what these 30 'white male Republicans' would say after they were gang raped in prison,because in a functioning democracy that's where they would be.

Posted by: par4 on December 3, 2009 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

I am so happy I voted for Franken. But now that I'm a cheesehead I won't have the opportunity again.

Posted by: tom on December 3, 2009 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP should go after the real trouble makers: The rape "victims". They only got raped to make Cornyn, Thune and the rest look bad. That is the only reason anyone does anything. The entire world-including that of victims of a horrific crime-does revolve around their pointy little heads. Shame on the rape victims and their KOS allies for pushing justice for rape victims just to embarrass GOP senators.

Posted by: KMM on December 3, 2009 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

They ought to shut up. The proper channel for their complaints is private arbitration with a judge picked by Al Franken.

Posted by: Boronx on December 3, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

"Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape -- and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don't think it's a very constructive thing," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

Corrnyn continued:
"It's not that we on the Republican side don't have sympathy for rape victims. It's just that we have more sympathy for the profits of our corporate johns . . . er, contributers."


Posted by: SteveT on December 3, 2009 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Serious work such as assembling and distributing an Obstruction Manual and using precious time and taxpayer money to subvert the will of the majority?

Posted by: bcinaz on December 3, 2009 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

They're already afraid of Senator Franken, Zak. He has powers, you know. First, he somehow compels 30 GOPers to cast what might just be the stupidest votes of their political lives; and then, he steadfastly refuses--refuses, do you hear me?--to dissuade 330 million Americans from having their own opinions on that stupidity, as if that were possible.

Ah, the sound of GOPer whining in the morning! Nothing could be sweeter, especially when they're hoist on their own petard.

Posted by: azportsider on December 3, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

What else would you expect from the party of phony victimization? Has any Republican taken responsibility for anything he/she has done, anywhere in the past 30 years? Anyone?

Posted by: Bernard HP Gilroy on December 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I've seen several occasions where these reptilian hypocrites have shown how thin their skin is. I think we found a soft spot, folks. Time to pile on with many very public statements that draw attention to the contempt these a.holes have for women with their consistent votes on women's health issues as well.

Posted by: Chopin on December 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Can these RAPEpublicans be tried as accessories after the fact? Finally, a story emerges that symblizes the essence of the republican party. Rape, murder, torture, unbridled greed, lies and corruption. And God created these people in his own image. What God is it, exactly, that these republicans worship?

Posted by: Broken Arrow on December 3, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, this is petty and ridiculous, but it's to be expected from these guys (and yes, I do mean only the guys), isn't it? To me this story is more about Politico than about the Repubs.

Why would it rehash something like this two months after the fact, other than to give the Repubs a chance to air their talking points? They realized they f***ed up big time on this, and Politico was only too happy to give them a chance to turn it back on the Dems. Let's quit pretending this rag is anything but a right-wing smear machine posing as impartial.

Posted by: Geneva Mike on December 3, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dear GOP: This is what happens when you always reflexively support your sponsors rather than your constituents. Perhaps now you'll put your rubberstamp away and think about what you're doing and how it actually affects people.

"...some GOP senators question whether Franken's handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle."

Work across the aisle? Who do they think they're kidding? Nobody's been able to "work across the aisle" for years and it doesn't look like it's getting any better.

The aisle has two sides Senators.

Posted by: Marko on December 3, 2009 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

We seem to be reaching new heights on a daily basis. I thin kit's safe to say the Republicans know no boundries.

Posted by: Ronald Henry on December 3, 2009 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

As a follow up to my last post, I remembered that one "christian" denomination was busy rewriting the New Testament, editing out inconvenient passages like "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

I think we should help them. Clearly the current New Testament hasn't been much of a guide for their behavior. We can cast Ronald Reagan as Jehovah (a promotion from St.Ronnie), Junior as either David or Jesus (Jesus was also misunderstood in his own time), and Sarah Palin as Mary Magdalin. Any other suggestions?

Posted by: Broken Arrow on December 3, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Sen. Cornyn: this didn't start out as a 'gotcha,' and it wouldn't have become one if you and most of your caucus had simply voted for Franken's amendment.

This has to be the most ridiculous instance of playing the victim card that I've ever seen.

On the one hand, you have a real victim of a harrowing crime. And you have Franken introducing an amendment to make sure that future victims of such crimes have full access to the remedies of our legal system.

And on the other hand, you have 30 GOP Senators (out of 40) reprehensibly voting to deny such access, presumably because it might modestly inconvenience some of their corporate friends. And when people notice how they voted and get upset, they play the victim card: Franken somehow tricked them into voting the way they did, I guess. And then has the temerity to fail to defend their abominable stand on this issue.

It's fine with me if Politico wants to give them a platform to try to defend themselves in this way. All it can do is keep reminding people of what a bunch of a-holes these Senators are.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 3, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

There is an axiom about finding oneself dug into a deep hole. The logical stop digging. The republicans redefine holes. They are the experts on the essence of holes.

Posted by: sparko on December 3, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Franken isn't beholden to the chattering corporations who pay his meal ticket. We need more politicians like him. He's going to make Cornyn cry.

Posted by: johnnymags on December 3, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

...and the media will run with Thune's comment without thought, asking Democratic Senators and Franken why he isn't willing to 'reach across the aisle' and how this 'damages Senatorial relationship-building.'

It never ceases to amaze me how inane and yep, pretty much evil most Republicans are.

Posted by: terraformer on December 3, 2009 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Chutzpah. "If you stop telling the truth about us we might consider not telling as many lies about you."

Posted by: paul on December 3, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The party of personal responsibility (for thee not me) strikes again.

www.RepublicansForRape.org

Posted by: MsJoanne on December 3, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Let's think about what the Franken amendment does. The employment agreements of most Federal contractors have arbitration clauses. If an employee has a beef for something done or not done the employee has to present his or her case to an arbitrator picked by the employer.

Arbitration is a generally good technique when two large powerful companies argue because they both have knowledgible attorneys helping them select an impartial arbitor. In the case of a powerful company and an relatively powerless employee, however, arbitration stacks the deck in favor of the employer. Arbitors are human. They want the next case and the case after that. They know the employer won't employ them again if they rule for the employee. That bias shoots right through the entire arbitration. The employee has the deck stacked against him.

In this case the allegations are that the employer's (Halliburton?)actions after the rape amounted to imprisioning the victim and shielding the rapists. The contractor's actions were those of an accessory after the fact. Of course, this all happened in Iraq where the rape of an American female contractor by other private American citizens can't be prosecuted.

The victim needs a way to get some justice. The employer's actions in this case would probably have been criminal in the US. The employer, which acted dismally in the first place, wants to pick an arbitrator to free itself of all responsiblity. The employer, which started off acting like a dick head, continues to act like one.

The Franken Amendment says, "Contractor if, after protecting rapists and goons, you want to hide from the victim behind your arbitration clause, well you can't have any more government contracts." Contractors have a choice, stop protecting rapist employees or jump on them with both feet.

If the contractor had done the right thing in the beginning, the Franken amendment would never have been proposed. The problem isn't with Franken's amendment, it is with a corporate culture that supports and encourages rapists.

Too bad the Republicans can't see that side of the story.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 3, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK
Nobody's been able to "work across the aisle" for years and it doesn't look like it's getting any better.

Not so! Lieberman's been able to work across the aisle so well that it's almost like he's taken up residence on the other side.

Posted by: noncarborundum on December 3, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Rapeublican Senator Cornyn and Thune are actually whining that Senator Franken is not defending them for voting for rape???!!! They voted for rape!!! Why on Earth would he defend them for that??!! He didn't make them vote. THEY CHOSE TO VOTE FOR RAPE!!! They are siding with rapists over women! Indefensible. I would be very disappointed if any Democrat defended them. They did this, not Al Franken.

Posted by: Patrick on December 3, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

I can't decide which is more offensive. There's the whole "it's all about me tone of Cornyn's remarks versus the complete amnesia about how the GOP set up every vote on funding the Iraq war as a test of the Democrats' "patriotism" for use in campaign ads.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on December 3, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

kind of like the log cabin repubicans who yesterday got pissed off at the democrats in the ny senate for failing to pass the gay marriage bill -- despite the fact that not a single republican senator voted for it.

Posted by: mellowjohn on December 3, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

I am having a hard time feeling sorry for the Republicans after one of their members had the audacity to call Al a clown.

They need to grow up.

Posted by: Rook on December 3, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Franken isn't beholden to the chattering corporations who pay his meal ticket.

He is now. The campaign financing process isn't changing just for him.

Nevertheless, he's going to be a bitchin' senator. He has big smarts, policy knowledge, sharp analysis skills, likeability and he knows how to frame issues in a way that people respond to. That's why the GOP is attacking him now and over this -- they're going after his strengths early in his tenure. Classic.

Posted by: shortstop on December 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think that Al should expend as much effort defending Repugnicon senators as the Repugnicon senators expended defending Max Cleland from attacks on his patriotism in 2002.

Exactly zero that is.

Repukes have been adding poison pill amendments to bills for decades to use as election year clubs against those who vote against them. Thank God that a Democrat finally came up with an effective poison pill to bash the Repukes with.

Can you imagine Al Franken as Majority Leader? A Democratic wet dream.

Posted by: Dave in DC on December 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Rapeublicans are no longer just the party of no, they are The Party Of Rape. I am going to have to check out republicansforrape.org

So they like raping and teabagging. Which of these family values is more important to rapeublicans? Screwing the poor, screwing women, protecting rapists, endless war, killing muslims, executing prisoners, screwing gay people, protecting rich people, screwing sick people? That is a very sick party. Whatever happened to Goldwater's party? They have gone seriously off the rails. Rapeublicans are very sick people.

Posted by: Patrick on December 3, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

So tell me Senator Cornyn, why exactly did you vote against the amendment?

As an aside, wasn't the Obama admin initially against the Franken amendment because they wanted something changed?

Posted by: Bobo Teh Clown on December 3, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

How dare a Democrat use hardball tactics against a Republican? Only Republicans are allowed to to do that. Franken has broken a cardinal rule inside the Beltway.

Of course, Politico has to carry water for the Republicans.

Posted by: Steve on December 3, 2009 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

    Nobody's been able to "work across the aisle" for years and it doesn't look like it's getting any better. - Marko

Not so! Lieberman's been able to work across the aisle so well that it's almost like he's taken up residence on the other side. - noncarborundum

I stand corrected.

Posted by: Marko on December 3, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

They really are completely crazy and out-of-touch. How can they blame someone else for their own rotten, disgusting vote? It's not as if they were tricked into voting against it, they knew exactly what they were doing and we have the tapes from the floor to prove it.

The dems better be prepared to beat them the hell with it-- it would be foolish to do anything otherwise. More, please.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 3, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Corrnyn continued:
"It's not that we on the Republican side don't have sympathy for rape victims
-- well, OK, we don't. Ne'mind.
 
 
 
Lieberman's been able to work across the aisle.
Technically, Lieberman's been able to reach around.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on December 3, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Gobsmacking, but I believe the Republicans truly feel they are the victims here. Wow. What egos they have.

They appear to feel that Franken is their only hope of justice and that they are being denied it. Hmm. Sounds like they are on the wrong end of that corporate arbitration stuff they like so much. How's it feel, boys, to have no place to go for satisfaction?

Grow up, jackasses.

BTW, I wonder what hell the 10 who did vote for the amendment have gotten from their colleagues. They are probably being blamed for all the "no" votes' woes, too.

Posted by: Missouri Mule on December 3, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

OT: 'par4', I love your handle. Did you mean for it to be an irony-rich point/counterpoint between a golf reference, and a genocide that a typical golfer wouldn't give 2 shits about?

Brilliant!

Posted by: JTK on December 3, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

At what point in time and for what reason would Al Franken want to build any relationship with people (and I use the word people lightly to describe) like Cornyn and his ilk?

Posted by: Gandalf` on December 3, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK
Rapeublicans are no longer just the party of no, they are The Party Of Rape.

More like they're the party of "Your mouth says No, but your eyes say Yes!"

Posted by: PattyP on December 3, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

John Thune (R-S.D.) added, "I don't know what his motivation was for taking us on,... "

Thune has to be one of the biggest egotists on the face of the earth. It isn't you, Jack. You aren't important enough. You really don't count. It was all about protecting the next Jamie Jones, a concept that obviously you, in your self-important stuffed shirt, cannot grasp. That anyone should care about the well-being of someone other than you doesn't register with you, does it? That anyone would even consider that somehow you are important enough to engender an amendment opposing rape is ludicrous. What a narcissist!!!

Posted by: Texas Aggie on December 3, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

So the PURPOSE of the Senate is to first check and see if you're going to make the other side look bad??? Really??? No wonder these knuckleheads don't get anything done.

Posted by: Me on December 3, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

These egoists make everything about themselves; they're the victims, the martyrs. Hello, idiots, it's NOT about you. You are supposed to be public SERVANTS. You know, working FOR the public, for your constituents.

Every time I hear these whiners (which also include self-important "reporters" and commentators) on the teevee, I yell at them "It's not about YOU!" Just wish they could hear me.

I'm re-reading Franken's book "Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". The Rs are in big trouble.

Posted by: Hannah on December 3, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken's handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle.

Because as we all know, the fundamental law of US politics is that Democrats always care deeply about relationship-building and are willing to adopt failed conservative policies to build those ever-important Senate relationships. And Republicans are always interested in relationship-building, provided that everyone else is willing to adopt their policies as the price for a relationship.

I'm leaving out another important relationship -- that of Senators and their donors -- but as we all know the Senate is a very collegial, relationship-driven place and that particular relationship is no exception.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on December 3, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

This exposes the incompetence of the press as much as or more than it does the foibles of Republican Senators. The headline should refer specifically to the repubs whining about fallout from their pro-rape vote, not Franken. Just as the Republicans' distress is misplaced, the press's focus is as well.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on December 3, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just in case anyone's forgotten, 10 Republican Senators isn't enough to call a bill "bi-partisan".

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on December 3, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's gratifying to see Republicans working across the aisle on this important matter.

Posted by: Daddy Love on December 3, 2009 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP rules of 'leadership.'
1. The GOP is never wrong.
2. When the GOP is wrong, refer to Rule #1.

Posted by: -syzygy- on December 3, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Probably too late for a comment, but I'll make one anyway: Ask the esteemed senators to put the questions to their wives/significunt others(or mistresses). How would you vote if it were me that was gang raped? Would it make a difference if the rapists were of another political persuasion? One of your corporate sponsors?

Might produce some interesting results.

Posted by: st john on December 3, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Franken's the Grayson of the Senate. Bravo, and keep pushing against them. Reps can experience doubling down from the other side.

Posted by: daphne on December 3, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Clone Franken. Yesterday.

We're going to see more of this and I can't wait.

Posted by: Kevin on December 3, 2009 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo for Franken.

Posted by: Glen on December 3, 2009 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

This is projection. The Republicans voted against the amendment SOLELY because Franken proposed it. It was a show of force and utter sour grapes for the defeat of the Republican in Franken's home race. Now they accuse Franken of their own tactics. This is truely a political party gone mad. All the repressed sex and anti-everything has caught up with them. They have only their petty spiteful partisanship to thank for being justly dubbed the Republicans for Rape. Enjoy it, boys.

Posted by: icapricorn on December 4, 2009 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Living in NY I can not vote for Franken, but I can contribute to his next campaign.

Posted by: Dave on December 26, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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