Tag Archives: Al Franken

Race and sex are inherent biological characteristics — not qualifiers for office

Ted Rall nails it, as usual.

If there ever was any doubt that Team Kamala Harris’ political “strategy” was going to be to label you as a “racist” for not supporting her presidential campaign, her official campaign announcement today, on Martin Luther King Day, should remove all of that doubt.

“Vote for me — because if you don’t, that means that you’re a racist (and/or a misogynist/sexist)” is such an inspiring campaign message, which is delivered indirectly and even directly. (But it certainly captures the zeitgeist…)

If Kamala Harris had significant experience in Washington, D.C. — she has been there for two whole fucking years now — and if she were a dyed-in-the-wool progressive (she’s not; Google “Kamala Harris progressive prosecutor”), I’d be happy to support her.

That she’s a woman and that she’s half African-American and half Indian-American (“Indian” as in descended from the people of India, not Native American, although “President” Pussygrabber still might call her “Sacagawea” or the like…) would be the icing on the cake, because women and non-whites deserve much, much more representation in our state and federal governments.

But I never would vote for a fucking Repugnican candidate because she is a woman and/or is non-white, either. For me, political ideology trumps all else, followed by experience.

Comparisons of Harris to Barack Obama don’t fill me with inspiration. Like Harris, Obama had been in the U.S. Senate for only two years before he decided to run for president. Yes, he won his election, and he made history by becoming the first non-all-white president, but he did not govern as a progressive, but as a centrist caretaker.

Obama’s lame, unsuccessful attempt to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican traitors (redundant) in Congress during his first two years in the White House — his only opportunity to try to push through a progressive agenda, because it was only during those two years of his presidency that the Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress — displayed either a stunning lack of savvy as to how D.C. actually works and/or stunning hubris that The Great Obama could do What No One Else Had Ever Done: successfully bridge the divide between the right and the left, a divide that cannot be reconciled because the left and the right are as diametrically opposed as are good and evil (respectively).

Obama’s record looks much better than it actually was only because he was sandwiched between the two worst “presidents” of my lifetime, George W. Bush and Pussygrabber (both of whom lost the popular vote and then went on to take a wrecking ball to the nation).

Obama for the most part kept the status quo. I don’t want another status-quo-keeping “Democratic” president.

To be fair to Harris, she’s not the only candidate who officially has announced a campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination who I cannot and will not support.

Julian Castro does not have my support. I’d love for us to have a progressive Latino president, but I don’t see a former mayor of San Antonio and a former U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development being elected to the White House.

(Pussygrabber is the first “president” of my lifetime of five decades who had not first been at least a U.S. senator or the governor of a state before becoming “president.” Pussygrabber broke that mold — with a lot of help from Russia — but I don’t see that he changed the game for those who will follow him.)

Tulsi Gabbard? She’s only a U.S. representative. She has a snowball’s chance in hell, even if I could fully forgive her anti-LGBT past.

Kirsten Gillibrand? She’s a U.S. senator, but she’s also a sanctimonious piece of shit who way prematurely (and incorrectly) demanded Sen. Al Franken’s head on a silver platter — and who, just like Billary Clinton, changes her political positions on a dime whenever it suits her. (In fact, overall she’s just way too much like Billary 2.0, including the whole “vote for me or you’re a misogynist/sexist” bullshit, which is well understood even when it’s not explicitly stated.) She must never be president.

Richard Ojeda? Not only did he lose his last election, to the U.S. House (he was a state senator, so at least he has held elected office), but he voted for Pussygrabber in November 2016, not nearly long ago enough to claim convincingly that he has changed. (Plus, to be frank: Cuckoo! Cuckoo!)

Elizabeth Warren? She’s my second choice, behind Bernie Sanders. She has both experience in Washington, having completed an entire six-year Senate term, something that Obama couldn’t be bothered to do and something that Kamala Harris doesn’t want to be bothered to do, and her ideology fairly closes matches mine.

But Bernie Sanders remains my first choice. He has much more experience in D.C. than Warren does (he was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 and to the U.S. Senate in 2006), his ideology more closely matches mine (Warren apparently thinks that capitalism can be reformed, which is something that I doubt, whereas Bernie doesn’t shy away from the label of democratic socialist), and, while Warren didn’t have the cajones to oppose Queen Billary in 2016, Bernie did — and he did quite well, having won 22 states and 46 percent of the earned delegates (while Warren sat it out).

Bernie has my full support if he runs. He has earned it.

Again: Experience and ideology matter. Your biological sex and your race are biological characteristics that you inherited at birth — not qualifiers for elected office.

We have that quite twisted, and we need to untwist it, not only if we want to put another Democrat in the White House come January 2021, but if we care about the long-term welfare of our democracy.

P.S. On a related note:


I’m on Kamala Harris’ e-mail list, and received an e-mail from her campaign today titled “I’m running for president.” The campaign logo on the e-mail reads “Kamala Harris for the People,” and the e-mail begins:

Decency. Justice. Truth. Equality. Freedom. Democracy.

These aren’t just words: they’re the values we, as Americans, cherish. Right now, they’re all on the line.

We face the greatest crisis of leadership we’ve seen in our lifetimes, and powerful voices are filling the void, sowing hate and division among us.

We’ve witnessed an Administration that aligns itself with dictators and refers to white supremacists as “very fine people.” They’ve torn babies from their mothers’ arms and put children in cages.

They’ve slashed taxes for corporations and the wealthiest among us — placing the burden on the middle class. They’ve actively fought against efforts to combat climate change. Time and again, they’ve sabotaged our country’s health care. And they’ve attacked our free and independent press at every turn.

We know America is better than this — but it’s on us to build it. We’re going to have to fight for it.

Robert, I’m ready to take on that fight alongside you. That’s why, today, I’m proud to announce that I’m running for President of the United States. …

That e-mail is a litany of platitudes, as Ted Rall talks about in his editorial cartoon above (featuring a Kamala Harris-like candidate), and the e-mail quoted above outlines the “bold stances” (my words) that Kamala Harris always has taken as a politician here in California — that is, she’s courageously against such things as cancer, fatal drug overdoses and kitten crushing.

You’ll never see her take a bold, controversial stance on any subject; you won’t see her go out on a limb. It’s not in her DNA.

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Et tu, Al?

Updated below (on Friday, November 17, 2017)

In the current climate, it was only a matter of time before someone I really have liked and respected was going to be outed as having acted sexually inappropriately in the past. This time, there is photographic evidence:

Franken gropes the accuser while smiling

That’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota apparently pretending* to grope a sleeping woman (radio newscaster Leeann Tweeden) during a U.S.O. (United Service Organizations) tour in the Middle East in 2006.

From his expression, he fairly clearly thinks that it’s pretty fucking funny. Of course, it isn’t, which he has acknowledged, and he has apologized for his inappropriate, immature, abusive, disrespectful act, and Tweeden has stated that she accepts his apology and that she doesn’t believe that he should step down.

To me, that’s pretty much case closed.

More disturbing to me than the frat-boy-level photo above is Tweeden’s allegation that Franken, under the guise of rehearsing a skit that he wrote that (rather conveniently) required him to kiss her, kissed her forcefully against her wishes (and gave her tongue, she adds).

Such unwanted contact constitutes sexual battery, in my book, but Franken said that “While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

He immediately added: “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

So: This contact between Franken and Tweeden happened in 2006, before Franken became a U.S. senator in 2009. (And in Tweeden’s own words, “Franken had written some skits for the [U.S.O.] show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many U.S.O. shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.” That’s some context, and context matters.)

The New York Times reports that “Ms. Tweeden said that no one else witnessed the [alleged forced] kiss, and she did not tell the tour’s organizers [about it].” (Indeed, Tweeden’s own words to this effect are here.)

Franken couldn’t have been convicted of sexual battery at the time even if Tweeden had gone to the authorities, because they apparently have different versions of the same event that no one else witnessed. Legally, it seems to me, that’s pretty much that.

It seems to me that absent a felony conviction, which should disqualify anyone from becoming or remaining a U.S. senator, it’s up to the voters of Minnesota to decide Franken’s fate when he comes up for re-election in 2020, assuming that he decides to run again.

It’s probably safe to say that any hope that Franken might have had about running for president in 2020 is dashed — even though “President” Pussygrabber bragged about grabbing women by the pussy and still became “president” — but I refuse to write Franken’s political obituary today. I believe that he can come out better and stronger for this (and that yes, hell — who knows? — he still might become president one day).

No, I don’t condone sexual harassment of any kind, from non-body-contact sexual harassment, such as making unwanted sexual remarks to taking a photo of yourself pretending to grope someone sexually to exposing yourself to someone who doesn’t want to see your goods, to actual body-contact sexual harassment, such as actual groping or forceful, unwanted kissing.

But nor is it productive to take the stance that we should utterly fucking destroy anyone who has misstepped.

That self-righteous revenge-seeking goes beyond justice and becomes a crime in and of itself; that is, to assert that those who can be redeemed cannot be redeemed, but must be destroyed for the rest of their lives, is to commit yet another type of violence against the human spirit.

P.S. Two more things:

One, there seems to be a definite double standard where Democrats and Repugnicans are concerned. Again, “President” Pussygrabber in 2005 bragged, on tape, about grabbing women by the pussy and kissing them without their consent, and yet that was A-OK with enough voters to allow him to take the Oval Office.

Two (which is related to one), what U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama has been accused of, especially the under-aged shit, is much worse than what Franken has been accused of (and was photographed doing), but even for a backasswards, right-wing piece of dog shit like Moore, I would say that absent a felony conviction — that is, he had had his day in court and was found guilty by a jury — it still would be up to the voters of Alabama to decide whether or not to send him to the U.S. Senate. (And then the Senate could, I understand, refuse to seat him, although I’m not sure of all of the legalities on that.)

But let’s not compare Al Franken to Roy Moore (or to “President” Pussygrabber). Franken so far has had one accuser, who was an adult at the time. Moore thus far has had at least eight accusers, some of whom were under the age of 18 at the time of their reported events.

Update (Friday, November 17, 2017): Leeann Tweeden said this on “Good Morning America” today: “I didn’t do this [publicize Franken’s actions of 2006] to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate. You know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide. I’m not calling for him to step down. That was never my intention.”

She also apparently said of the bullshit comparison of “President” Pussygrabber’s actions to Franken’s, “His [Pussygrabber’s] issues — that’s a whole other thing.”

Yup. More than a dozen women thus far have accused Pussygrabber of having perpetrated sexual harassment to sexual battery.

Sadly, I’ve seen, among others, Slate.com’s otherwise thoughtful and intelligent Mark Joseph Stern and the progressive group Justice Democrats both call for Franken to step down immediately. (And in an e-mail that I received, the Justice Democrats also called for Franken to be replaced with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison by Minnesota’s governor. I admire Ellison and I supported him for the chair of the Democratic National Committee, but he should run for the U.S. Senate if he wants to be a U.S. senator. Denying Franken due process and summarily replacing him with Ellison is not what I’d call justice or democracy, Justice Democrats!)

We all need to take a deep fucking breath and not be even more outraged than the actual victims are and therefore call for even harsher punishments than they are calling for. (And no, let’s not say that part of the victims’ victimization is that they’re just not outraged enough and that they are too forgiving, so we need to “correct” that. Jesus fucking fuck.)

And yes, as both Stern and Justice Democrats and many others have argued, we who are left of center don’t want to be called hypocrites on the subject of sexual harassment and sexual assault and sexual battery.

But we also need to take each case on its own (each case can vary widely in severity) and not lump all of the cases together, or collapse the many different kinds of sexual violations into one big generic sexual violation because we don’t feel like dealing with shades of gray.

And if we claim that we care about justice, then we need to give the accused the chance to explain him- or herself — and/or to be investigated as fairly and impartially as possible — instead of immediately calling for his or her head on a silver fucking platter so that we can try to look cool by keeping ahead of the news cycle.

Nor should our No. 1 concern be what the fucking Repugnicans will think. They never fucking care what we think, which is why they “win” elections even when they lose them, such as “presidents” George W. Bush and Pussygrabber both did.

*To grope someone is to touch him or her with your hands, and while the incident in the photo widely has been described as a groping, to me it appears to be Franken pretending to be groping or pretending to be about to grope the sleeping woman. Not that even pretending to do so is OK, but it’s not as bad as actually groping. There are levels of bad, for fuck’s sake.

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Maybe Martha Coakley should lose

Former President Bill Clinton, left, clasps hands with Martha ...

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (L) speaks to ...

Associated Press and Reuters photos

Democratic Party heavyweights like Bill Clinton and John Kerry have campaigned for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to succeed the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. Her defeat in the special election for Kennedy’s seat on Tuesday would be an embarrassing blow to the party.

In the photos that I’ve seen of her, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who as the Democrats’ hand-picked would-be successor to the late Ted Kennedy is in a tight special election to fill Kennedy’s seat on Tuesday, looks nice enough. Nice enough that I gave her $10, even though I live on the Left Coast, in California. (It was U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s fundraising e-mail that induced me to give her any money at all, as I like Al.)

But I can’t help but wonder, as the fundraising e-mails for Coakley flood my two e-mail addresses’ inboxes, why the special election is so tight.

Ted Kennedy served in the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts from November 1962 to his death in August — longer than I’ve been on the planet, and I’ve been on the planet for a little more than four decades.

John Kerry, the now-senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has been in the Senate since January 1985 — for 25 years now.

Could it be that the Democrats have taken the Democratic votes of the people of Massachusetts for granted for waaay too fucking long now?

Could that be why the Dems need to scramble now to ensure that they don’t see an embarrassing defeat on Tuesday — because (at least in Massachusetts) they got too cocky, too complacent, too sure of themselves?

For the most part, no, I don’t want to see Coakley lose on Tuesday. I know how the mainstream media love to spin just one fucking election result: COAKLEY LOSES TED KENNEDY’S SEAT! THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS DEAD! It’s not accurate, but it’s dramatic and sensationalistic, so that’s how the media handle shit like that, and people who don’t know any better then parrot it.

Nor by a Coakley defeat do I want the Repugnicans to feel emboldened going into the 2010 mid-term elections. After a Coakley defeat the mainstream media headlines would say that, too: NATION SWINGS BACK TO THE GOP! 

But what if Coakley’s defeat would make the Democratic Party stop taking its base for granted?

What if?

For years now the Democratic Party has been great about hitting its supporters up for $$$, but not so great about actually delivering upon its promises in exchange for that $$$. We’ve given the Democratic Party a lot of our change, but we haven’t seen much of that promised change in return.

If Coakley’s defeat would make the Democrats actually start delivering the promised hope and change, then maybe her defeat would be worth it.

Still, again, I am cautious to assert that apparent voter discontent in Massachusetts is indicative of the national sentiment more than it actually is. I think that the mainstream mass media and mainstream-mass-media-consuming Americans in general tend to assert incorrectly that a regional or local election is indicative of a national trend.

Still, I love what 2004 Democratic presidential contender and former Democratic Party head (February 2005-January 2009) Howard Dean has to say about what’s going on right now. Reports The Associated Press today:

Washington – The ill winds of an angry electorate are blowing against Democrats, the warning signs clear in a closer-than-expected Massachusetts [U.S.] Senate race that may doom President Barack Obama’s health care agenda and foreshadow the party’s election prospects this fall.

[Again, I disagree that Massachusetts necessarily reflects the national mood; I could be that the voters of Massachusetts are just sick and tired of having the same political dysnasty, including its hand-picked successors like Coakley, running the show for several decades now.]

Anti-incumbent, anti-establishment sentiment is rampant. Independents are leaving Obama. Republicans are energized. Democrats are subdued. None of it bodes well for the party in power.

“It’s going to be a hard November for Democrats,” Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman in the 2006 and 2008 elections when the party took control of the White House and Congress, told The Associated Press in an interview. “Our base is demoralized.” [Emphasis mine.]

While he praised Obama as a good president, Dean said the Democrat hasn’t turned out to be the “change agent” the party thought it elected, and voters who supported Democrats in back-to-back elections now are turned off. Said Dean: “They really thought the revolution was at hand but it wasn’t, and now they’re getting the back of the hand.” [Emphasis mine.] …

Oh, shit, Howie, tell us how you really feel!

But seriously, I appreciate Howard Dean’s candor. Democratic Party hacks — you know, the fucktards who can defend even Billary Clinton, just because Billary calls itself a “Democrat” — will blast Dean for stating that President Barack Obama hasn’t been the “change agent” that he promised to be, but fuck, Dean was only speaking the obvious truth.

I really have to wonder now if Dean — who no doubt is deeply disappointed that Obama campaigned for the White House like a Howard Dean but now is presiding like a Billary Clinton — is angling for another run at the presidency.

You know, when Dean was head of the Democratic Party, the party did retake first the U.S. House of Representatives (giving us the nation’s first female speaker of the House), the U.S. Senate, the majority of the governorships and the majority of the state legislatures in 2006, and then retook the White House in 2008, while increasing its majorities in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate as well.

That’s not bad!

The Democratic Party hacks who oppose Dean might actually claim that the nation was going that way anyway, but I give Dean the credit where the credit is due; God knows that the clueless establishmentarian, Billary-lovin’ Democrats couldn’t have done it on their own.

Should Dean actually oppose Obama in 2012 — an unlikely but not impossible scenario — then Dean has my support. If not in 2012, then maybe in 2016.

In the meantime, Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts should prove to be interesting.

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Some GOOD news for a change

Democrat Al Franken smiles as he meets the media at his house ...

Associated Press photo

Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota smiles in Minneapolis today after his victory over Repugnican Norm Coleman was made final. Franken’s victory makes it possible for President Barack Obama to get his — America’s — agenda through the U.S. Senate filibuster-free. (Gee, remember that “permanent Repugnican majority”?)

I live in California, which is sinking like the Titanic these days — all that I can say to those morons who actually voted for Repugnican Arnold Schwarzenegger in the bullshit gubernatorial recall election in 2003 is that I told you so — so it’s nice to hear some good news for a change:

Democrat Al Franken officially made it to the U.S. Senate today after his Repugnican challenger Norm Coleman, who had been the incumbent in the U.S. Senate seat for Minnesota, finally conceded to Franken after the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Franken, not Coleman, should be seated in the U.S. Senate.

Coleman had urged Franken, for the good of Minnesota, to concede to him after the  first vote count had Coleman beating Franken by only 215 votes. With such a microscopic margin Franken was entitled to a recount, and the recount showed that Franken actually had won the November election by a 225-vote margin.

Suddenly the welfare of the people of Minnesota wasn’t as important as it was when Coleman initially had been declared the winner, because after the recount Coleman didn’t take his own advice and concede to Franken.

Sore Loserman Coleman instead dragged the fight out for months, during which time the people of Minnesota were down one senator in the U.S. Senate. Because Repugnicans are fucking hypocrites.

But now, Franken, as the 58th Democratic U.S. senator, along with two independent senators who usually vote with the Democrats, will be the actual help to the people of Minnesota and to all Americans that Coleman lied that he would be.

Good always wins out in the end. The Repugnicans can obstruct progress, and they do, but they can’t obstruct it forever.

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‘Socialism’ is gaining ground

Gee, for a “socialist” (“socialist” = baaaaad) president, Barack Obama is kicking ass in the polls.

National polls taken this month show that about two-thirds of Americans approve of the job that Obama has done thus far.

The Repugnican brand name is so far down the toilet that today Repugnican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced that he’s switching to the Democratic Party. Whether Specter’s move is just opportunistic or not, it still shows that the Repugnican Party is going the way of the dinosaurs that its members don’t believe in.

Adapt or die, and the Repugnican Party has refused to adapt. It still caters to “Christo”fascists, white supremacists, misogynists and homophobes, for fuck’s sake. The world continues to evolve while the Repugnican Party remains stuck in the past. Left Behind, ironically, is what’s happening to the wingnuts.

Anyway, once Repugnican Norm “Sore Loserman” Coleman finally loses his battle with Democrat Al Franken for Minnesota’s seat in the U.S. Senate, the Democrats will have a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority, enabling the Obama adminstration to enact its agenda — the agenda that the majority of the American people voted for — with greater ease. 

And how is “socialism” doing in the United States?

Salon.com recently noted that

…rather than damaging Obama by tagging him with red paint, it’s possible that the [Repugnicans are] just making “socialism” more popular by identifying it with a well-liked president.

A Rasmussen poll from earlier this month shows that capitalism only beats socialism 53 percent to 20 [percent], and among adults under 30, the split narrows to 37 [percent] to 33 [percent].

Exactly. If the damage that the unelected Bush regime wreaked upon the nation for eight long nightmarish years is representative of capitalism and Repugnicanism (and it is) and the national recovery that the actually-elected Obama administration represents “socialism,” then the Repugnicans and the capitalists are the best advertisement for “socialism” that the “socialists” could ever hope for.

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‘Sore Loserman’ redux — only in reverse

The Minnepolis Star-Tribune has scanned thousands of the contested ...

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is displaying scans of the contested ...

AFP photos

Al on top: Democrat Al Franken, photographed above in November, appears closer than ever to unseating asswipe Norm Coleman (shown under Franken above in a photo from February 2008),  the incumbent Repugnican for a U.S. Senate seat for Minnesota. 

Democrat Al Franken is on track to replace Repugnican Norm Coleman as a U.S. senator for Minnesota. Right now, with the state’s recount of the incredibly close Senate race completed, Franken is ahead of Coleman by a razor-thin margin of 225 votes.

Of course, when initial results of the vote had put asshole Coleman on top by only 215 votes, Coleman urged Franken to concede for the good of Minnesota and the country and everything that is Godly and good. But now that the recount, which was mandated by state law, has put Franken on top, will hypocrite Coleman take his own advice and concede for the good of the Universe? Of fucking course not: Team Coleman plans to drag the matter out in court, potentially for months. (Remember the Repugnican cries of “Sore Loserman” from 2000?)

Thankfully, Franken is one Democrat named Al who didn’t give up so fucking easily. Franken has hung in there, wanting every last fucking vote to be counted as fairly and accurately as possible.

Democrats can take a lesson from Franken on the anatomical necessity of a spine. A typical Democrat would have taken his or her Repugnican opponent’s surely well-intended advice to concede already.

I used to listen to Franken at least a few years ago on Air America Radio, and he always struck me as a bit too moderate and a bit too polite — my impression was that his co-host, a former National Public Radio show host (what was her name?), held him back, because on NPR they’re always “nice” and “polite” and “professional” — and when Franken announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate against Coleman I was doubtful of Franken’s chances, but I am happy to hear that Franken is close to finally, officially unseating Coleman the asshole.

The late Paul Wellstone would be proud.

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