Al Franken, my new Man-Crush

If Al decides to 'Primary' Obama, I'll support him.

Franken Gets His First Amendment Passed on Roll Call Vote

After operating largely under the radar during his first few months in office, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is slowly beginning to make political ripples.

On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Democrat got his first piece of legislation passed by the United States Senate via roll call vote. The amendment stopped federal funding for those defense contractors who used mandatory arbitration clauses to deny victims of assault the right to bring their case to court. It passed by a 68-30 margin with nine Republicans joining each voting Democrat. And in the immediate aftermath, Franken was granted the chance to revel, ever so slightly, in his victory.

"The story came to my attention of Jamie Leigh Jones who, when she was 19, went to Iraq to work for [defense contractor] KBR and she was put in the barracks with 400 men and was sexually harassed," Franken told the Huffington Post in a brief interview shortly after the vote. "She complained. But they didn't do anything about it. She was drugged and gang raped and they locked her up in a shipping container. She tried to sue KBR and they said you have a mandatory arbitration clause in your contract. She tried to fight back and said this is ridiculous. She took it to court and they have been fighting her for three years."

"This bill would make it so that anybody in business with the Department of the Defense can't do this," he concluded emphatically. "They can't have mandatory arbitration on issues like assault and battery."

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/07 /franken-gets-first-amendm_n_312399.html

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Great Moments in Presidential Leadership

For a change of pace, I thought I'd reach into the history box instead of the politics box - ie, let's let where we've been inform where we're going. Adapted from a post at Blue Moose Democrat.

The office of the presidency has generally been occupied by strong individuals, but with big pros come big cons. Johnson passed sweeping and positive domestic legislation of the sort most presidents can only dream, but micro-managed and lied his way into the deepest jungles of Vietnam. Reagan sped up the end of the Cold War and restored a sense of national optimism, but also racked up record deficits, encouraged an immoral culture of consumerism, and allowed Iran-Contra to occur. Still, there are a few bright spots. Here, in my opinion, are the six greatest displays of presidential courage from the latter half (or so) of the twentieth century. I am defining "courage" as a decision where the president intellectually weighed pros against cons and decided to risk his own political future to make an unpopular move that has since been proven best for the country.

#6) Kennedy taking responsibility for the Bay of Pigs, despite the risk of seeming weak to American voters and to Khrushchev.

#5) Bush Sr. raising taxes, putting the nation's need for a balanced budget ahead of his own need for a second term.

#4) Truman desegregating the military, ignoring the day's racial tensions and the possibility of harming "unit cohesion" to do what was moral, just, and right.

#3) Ford pardoning Nixon, putting the nation's need to heal its wounds ahead of his own need for a second term. It was unpopular and may have furthered injustice, but it was necessary to avoid unproductive further rancor, and the history books will judge Nixon far more than any court could have done anyway.

#2) Kennedy ignoring the Joint Chiefs during the Cuban Missile Crisis, despite the seeming naïveté of ignoring military advice on military matters. I do not believe it is exaggerating to say that Kennedy and Khrushchev's level-headedness may have saved the human race from the nuclear annihilation "duck and cover" was meant to prevent.

#1) Truman canning MacArthur. General Douglas MacArthur is one of the greatest generals in American military history and may have been the nation's most popular public figure in 1950, but come the Korean War, he gave poor strategic advice and found himself guilty of insubordination. Had he chosen, he just may have been able to pose a threat to the republic and stage a coup against Truman, but Truman took that risk and fired him. MacArthur, like the good soldier he was, stepped aside, thus preserving and cementing America's unique tradition of civilian control of the military. Both men deserve an honored place in the canon of American history.

My questions to you: Would you change the order of this list? Take anything off? If Barack Obama successfully passes substantive health care reform despite the anger of the Glenn Beck fringers, will he belong on this list? Above all, what moments would you say are missing?

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Some Thoughts on Labor Day

Today is our celebration of the Labor Movement and the value of the workers who built and continue to maintain America. As a holiday, it has an interesting political history and looking at the 127 years it has been celebrated we see stark changes that have been made in the relationship between the government and labor.

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Ben Shapiro, Fascist Virgin

The last decade has been a Golden Age of bad historical commentary. Condoleeza Rice likened the Iraqi insurgency to the post-Nazi "Werwolf" movement, the one that is estimated to have caused between one and two deaths. A thousand conservative pundits have compared Bush to Churchill. And for all anyone knows, Jonah Goldberg could be working on another book at this very moment.

And then there is Ben Shapiro, the youngish columnist and author who once proudly announced to his readership that he remains a virgin. I don't know if he's hoping to be married off to the son of a prosperous local merchant or what, but at any rate he is very happy with the opportunities that male virginity supposedly brings, so we should probably be happy for him as well.

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Ted Kennedy is Dead

From CNN:

(CNN) -- Sen. Edward Kennedy, the patriarch of the first family of Democratic politics, died at Tuesday night in his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," a family statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice."

The man who gave us SCHIP, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and COBRA, who erased immigration quotas, who defined liberalism, who stood up to Reagan. A real American hero.

(For the full text and audio of this speech, visit this link. H/T reggie44pride in the comment section.)

My hands are trembling as I type. I have weeped over three political stories in my short life - 9/11, Obama's election, and tonight. And I should add, my health insurance is through COBRA - I wouldn't have paid for my annual physical and semi-annual dental checkup this summer, and I would be subject to preconditions, if not for Ted Kennedy.

Health care reform must pass, and let that be his legacy more than any family relation.

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