Graham and his vote on the Franken amendment

Randy suggested a couple of days back that we have a string on the Franken amendment vote, which, according to some of my friends here on the blog, can be summarized as, “Graham and DeMint were among 30 Republicans who sided against rape victims.”

Personally, I still don’t know who was right about this. But I had, and still do, a suspicion over a vote that allows one side to paint the other that black. The world isn’t that simple. And I know Lindsey Graham — he’s not a guy to vote for “pure evil” over good, particularly not for the sake of party solidarity. This is a guy who breaks with his side when he thinks it’s wrong.

The idea that he had suddenly become a different sort of guy just didn’t smell right to me. What it smelled like was one of these deals where one side or the other sets up a vote on something just to get the other side to vote against it, so the party of the first part can use it against the party of the second part politically.

This is going to drive Kathryn and others crazy (they hate it that I sometimes base my initial impressions on things on the degree to which the people doing the advocating have or have not earned my trust over time, but you know what? our entire system of representative democracy is based on that, to a huge degree), but just as I have come to trust Graham over time to have a good reason for his vote (even when he’s wrong, as on health care), I do not have a similar level of trust with Al Franken. Maybe I’ll get to the point where I do, but so far he’s still the guy with the “Al Franken Decade,” the guy who started a radio network because he thought the left needed its own Rush Limbaugh — in other words, just the sort of guy who likes to strike poses, whether for laughs or for partisan advantage.

And folks, this initially started as a discussion about character. I called Roman Polansky a perv, that got us on the subject of rape, and next we were talking about how horrible those Republicans were to vote against this measure.

So, in the process of trying to make up my mind on this so I could post something, I e-mailed Kevin Bishop in Graham’s office yesterday to ask whether they had any releases or written position on the subject. In other words, what did the senator have to say for himself? Kevin responded promptly (probably thinking I was about to post), but I got too tied up to blog yesterday, so I’m just sharing this now:

We did not send out a release….here is some background information on the Franken Amendment.

It’s also important to note the Department of Defense—ie the Obama Administration — opposed the Franken Amendment:

DoD Position

Proposed Franken Amendment (# 2588) re: H.R. 3326 Prohibition against requiring arbitration of any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment.

  • The DoD opposes the proposed amendment.

  • The proposed amendment effectively would require debarment of any contractor or subcontractor or would require termination of any contract if the contractor or a subcontractor, at any tier, compels an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, to agree to the use of arbitration to resolve sexual harassment claims of all sorts.  The Department of Defense, the prime contractor, and higher tier subcontractors may not be in a position to know about such things. Enforcement would be problematic, especially in cases where privity of contract does not exist between parties within the supply chain that supports a contract.

  • It may be more effective to seek a statutory prohibition of all such arrangements in any business transaction entered into within the jurisdiction of the United States, if these arrangements are deemed to pose an unacceptable method of recourse

Here is some additional background on the amendment from the Senate Republican Policy Committee:

As you recall, Franken amendment 2588 to the defense appropriations bill banned the Department of Defense from using any funds to pay for an existing defense contract if the contractor decides with its employees to agree to arbitration of certain civil rights claims and torts.  In effect, it bans the Department from doing business with any defense contractor with an arbitration clause with its employees.  This would have an enormous negative impact on any state with any sort of defense contractor presence, or any state with a military base for which contractors perform support services.  It is our understanding that many offices that opposed the Franken amendment are the subject of ridiculous media campaigns attacking the offices for favoring Halliburton over rape victims, amongst other scurrilous charges.  As an after action report, we pass along the following points:

  • First and foremost, the Obama Department of Defense opposed the amendment.

  • The Franken amendment was marketed as providing protections to victims of sexual assault.  Groups have then denigrated those who voted against the Franken Amendment as seeking to deny rape victims their day in court.
  • The Franken Amendment seems particularly to be an overreaction given that Jamie Leigh Jones, the main case to which Senator Franken cites as demonstrating that his amendment is necessary, has not been denied her day in court.

o       A federal appellate court recently found that her employment arbitration agreement does not cover claims of (1) assault and battery; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of the alleged assault; (3) negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of employees involved in the alleged assault; and (4) false imprisonment.

o       This means that the arbitration agreement Ms. Jones signed does not foreclose her from bringing these causes of action against her employer in a federal court.

  • Proponents of the amendment have argued that it was necessary so that justice is done in cases of crimes and serious civil rights violations.  They fail to note that arbitration clauses only bind the parties, and thus cannot prohibit prosecution of crimes.  Crimes and civil rights violations can still be prosecuted by the government through criminal and other means.

o       The Franken anti-arbitration amendment is less directed at rape or assault and more designed to prohibit the Department of Defense from paying for a contract with a contractor who chooses with its employees in employment contracts to have a clause pertaining to arbitration as alternative dispute resolution.

  • Since the Franken amendment applies to existing contracts, it would disallow the use of federal funds to pay a federal contractor, for example, to provide protective services for American personnel in Iraq if that contractor has an arbitration agreement in its contract with its employees. 

o       This raises substantial risk of disruption of services to troops in the field, as the existing contracts would have to be stopped and some substitute contract negotiated and agreed to. 

o       Moreover, to the extent this amendment forces the Department to default on existing contracts, even where the contractors are providing exceptional results, this would likely place the Department at great risk for substantial liability grounded in breach of contract.

  • The real motivation behind this amendment is, of course, Democrat hostility to all things arbitration, on behalf of trial lawyers.  This is exemplified by the last sentence of DOD’s opposition to the amendment, which suggests that all arbitration agreements be prohibited, stating “it may be more effective to seek a statutory prohibition of all such arrangements in any business transaction entered into within the jurisdiction of the United States, if these arrangements are deemed to pose an unacceptable method of recourse.”

o       Providing further evidence of this interest is Senator Feingold’s so-called Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 931), which would invalidate all arbitration agreements related to employment, consumer, franchise, and civil rights disputes.

  • This is contrary to long-standing federal law and policy, as the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 seeks to ensure the enforcement of arbitration agreements, and, as the non-partisan Congressional Research Service describes, the “FAA evidences a national policy favoring arbitration.”  CRS Rpt. RL30934.

o       The FAA specifically contemplates mandatory arbitration clauses, providing that “A written provision in any . . . contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration . . . shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.”  9 U.S.C. § 2.

  • The Federal Arbitration Act includes provisions to ensure that proceedings are fair.  Additionally, arbitration clauses will not be enforced if the contract itself or its arbitration provisions are entered into unlawfully.

  • To the extent there are jurisdictional problems making it difficult to prosecute some of the cases animating the Franken amendment, more targeted responses are in order rather than the wholesale jettisoning of arbitration clauses in employment agreements.

o       For example, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) was initially intended to provide extraterritorial federal jurisdiction for certain crimes over U.S. defense contractors working overseas. A Republican-led Congress in 2004 expanded MEJA to cover other U.S. government contractors working overseas where their employment relates to supporting the mission of the Department of Defense overseas.

Conservative Heritage Foundation

http://blog.heritage.org/2009/10/16/the-truth-about-the-franken-amendment/

As I said, I still don’t know what to think, but I think it’s more complex than Lindsey Graham voting against rape victims. What do y’all think?

28 thoughts on “Graham and his vote on the Franken amendment

  1. kbfenner

    Sometimes it is as simple as the other side is simply wrong-I’d eschew the color-based norms.

    So what part of the Nazis would the UnParty agree with?

    Arbitration supplants the third branch of our balanced powers, and favors the repeat arbitratees, who fund the system–the corporations.It’s an end run around the justice system that takes advantage of the fact that few civilians know how much they are giving up.

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  2. Karen McLeod

    It certainly is complex. I suspect that the phrase noting the “real motivation” for the bill is also partisan jabbing, precisely because the issue is complex. Probably the government needs to review the whole issue of what is acceptable for arbitration and what is not, at least for companies contracting with the federal government. It may be a case of an inexperienced senator trying to ensure employees had appropriate recourse in the event of sexual assault, without realizing the ramifications of his method. I wonder if anyone in the Republican party has suggested an alternate way that workers could be ensured recourse.

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  3. Brad Warthen

    Making the trains run ontime. Reviving the German economy.

    Of course, when you say “Nazis” you’re indicating a worldview that encompasses genocide. It’s shorthand for pure evil. And I have to say that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party can be described in such starkly evil terms. I’m pretty much down on both of them, but not THAT much down.

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  4. Brad Warthen

    As for arbitration… I suppose it has its good and bad points. Personally, I don’t like the adversarial model upon which our court system is based. You may disagree, counselor. (And indeed some of my lawyer friends make a decent case for the value of the adversarial approach, but I retain my doubts.)

    It’s always bothered me that when I go into a courtroom, the lawyers on one side are all about presenting a view of the universe in which only their side can be right, and the lawyers on the other side carefully and aggressively construct a universe in which the opposite is true, nobody’s there similarly to advocate for the truth, or justice. Sure, the judge is, and the jury if there is one. But they don’t ADVOCATE. They don’t investigate and spend hundreds of billable hours constructing a CASE for truth and justice. They just decide which of the two competing universes comes closest, under the rules.

    It’s similar to my critique of the news business. Too many journalists are all about presenting a “fair” and “balanced” view of the world, which to them means that if they quote somebody saying the sky is white, they’ve done their job if they go out and get a quote from someone who says the sky is black (and not only are their sources paid to say that, there are entire huge organizations set up to do so). It doesn’t even occur to said journalist to report that the sky is blue. The reader is NOT served by such journalism. What is served is our black-vs.-white, liberal-vs.-conservative, Democrat-vs.-Republican oversimplification of the world, which boils EVERYTHING down to an intellectually offensive contest between two (and ONLY two) completely incompatible competitors.

    The choices are very seldom between up or down, good or bad. Against the Nazis, yeah. But usually, no.

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  5. doug_ross

    Have to agree with kbfenner…

    Think of it this way — would the defense contractors require arbitration clauses in the employment contracts if they thought they were going to LOSE most of the cases?

    Its far more likely that the defense contractors could game the arbitration system than the judicial system.

    How much money have the defense contractors donated to the Graham campaigns?

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  6. Burl Burlingame

    “The real motivation behind this amendment is, of course, Democrat hostility to all things arbitration, on behalf of trial lawyers.”

    The legal system is often the only recourse a citizen has against large corporations or the government. This bugs people who favor corporations over citizens.

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  7. bud

    … as I have come to trust Graham over time to have a good reason for his vote (even when he’s wrong, as on health care), I do not have a similar level of trust with Al Franken. … but so far he’s still the guy with the “Al Franken Decade,” the guy who started a radio network because he thought the left needed its own Rush Limbaugh — in other words, just the sort of guy who likes to strike poses, whether for laughs or for partisan advantage.
    -Brad

    Brad, did you ever listen to Franken? If not then you really shouldn’t make this kind of comment. After listening to Franken on Air America I came to admire his in-depth understanding of issues and thoughtful way of presenting the liberal point of view. Far from being a liberal Rush Limbaugh I found his approach to the issues a breath of fresh air and nothing at all like what we’d come accustomed to on talk radio. In other words all talk radio hosts are not created equal.

    As for the issue at hand: Graham’s rebuttal to Franken’s amendment. Let’s take each point separately.

    “The DOD opposes the amendment.” This is irrelevant and adds nothing of value to the discussion. It’s the same as the constant reminder that Bill Clinton thought the Iraqi’s had WMD.

    “The proposed amendment effectively would require debarment of any contractor or subcontractor or would require termination of any contract if the contractor or a subcontractor, at any tier, compels an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, to agree to the use of arbitration to resolve sexual harassment claims of all sorts.” Good. They should be barred. Companies have an affirmative duty to ensure their subcontractors treat their employees with respect. These arbitration clauses are pretty smarmy attempts to coerce employees into towing the company line, even if crimes may be part of the company culture.

    “It is our understanding that many offices that opposed the Franken amendment are the subject of ridiculous media campaigns attacking the offices for favoring Halliburton over rape victims, amongst other scurrilous charges.” This is an allegation typical of conservatives who prefer to change the subject rather than address the issue at hand.

    “ First and foremost, the Obama Department of Defense opposed the amendment.” I find it interesting that Graham considers this point so persuasive he has to make it twice. But it doesn’t have one scintilla’s worth of argumentative value. The fact that Graham felt the need to use the word “foremost” suggests they find this line of reasoning useful. Yet it comes across simply as a sign of desperation.

    “The Franken Amendment seems particularly to be an overreaction given that Jamie Leigh Jones, the main case to which Senator Franken cites as demonstrating that his amendment is necessary, has not been denied her day in court.” This misses the point. Thankfully the courts understand the danger of these arbitration clauses and chose to give them no weight in the proceedings. But someone with less fortitude than Ms. Jones may very well have stopped once Halliburton confronted them with the agreement. This case represents corporate coercion in the most egregious way. The fact that Halliburton even attempted to prevent Jones litigation by using the arbitration agreement underscores just how dangerous these agreements are. The Franken amendment is an important clarification that, while not necessarily required from a constitutional prospective, provides an unambiguous statement from congress that Halliburton’s behavior is unacceptable.

    “A federal appellate court recently found that her employment arbitration agreement does not cover claims of (1) assault and battery; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of the alleged assault; (3) negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of employees involved in the alleged assault; and (4) false imprisonment.” Again, this misses the point. Just because the court got it right doesn’t excuse Halliburton’s tactics.

    “Proponents of the amendment have argued that it was necessary so that justice is done in cases of crimes and serious civil rights violations. They fail to note that arbitration clauses only bind the parties, and thus cannot prohibit prosecution of crimes.” Ok, so what’s the point of the arbitration clauses? Seems like the only purpose they serve is to provide an avenue for companies like Haliburton to bully their employees.

    “The Franken anti-arbitration amendment is less directed at rape or assault and more designed to prohibit the Department of Defense from paying for a contract with a contractor who chooses with its employees in employment contracts to have a clause pertaining to arbitration as alternative dispute resolution.” This is straight out of the conservative BS handbook. They make it sound like the contractor AND the employees consider these arbitration clauses important. Yet it’s clear these agreements ONLY serve the interests of the company. Clearly the interests of the employees is not served by these things. If so why would Ms. Jones not just submit to the arbitration? Because she knew she wouldn’t get a fair deal that way. Let’s be very clear here, these arbitration clauses serve the company’s interest, NOT, repeat, NOT the employees.

    “This raises substantial risk of disruption of services to troops in the field, as the existing contracts would have to be stopped and some substitute contract negotiated and agreed to.” This is a red herring. Any time an injustice is brought up on the part of a big company folks like Graham start screaming national security concerns. I don’t buy it.

    “The real motivation behind this amendment is, of course, Democrat hostility to all things arbitration, on behalf of trial lawyers.” This is another irrelevant GOP talking point. Framing this as “Democrat hostility” is an attempt to make Franken and his party the bad guys.

    Bottom line, Graham, DeMint, McCain and others are choosing the interests of big company bullies over the welfare of employees like Ms. Jones. Shame on them for their vote.

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  8. Burl Burlingame

    To put it in even simpler — even simplistic — terms, American corporations overseas represent America to most of the world. Crimes committed under the corporate aegis should be prosecuted if we are to be what we claim to be — champions of truth and justice.

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  9. kbfenner

    Arbitration IS adversarial. It’s just got a biased judge. Arbitration is a private court system, paid for by some of the litigants.

    Trains run amazingly on time in Social Democratic Germany as well, and the Wirtsschaftswunder worked just fine w/o starving the people to pay for guns. I watch a lot of German cinema. They did not have a “great War.” Unless you were an insider Party favorite, you ate poorly, etc. So the economy was revived, but not in the “butter” sense most people prefer.

    Yes, bud. Well said. Al Franken is a very well-spoken, intelligent antidote to Rush/Beck. –and you may remember I was a big fan of Bill Buckley, so I know there are thoughtful conservatives. Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan…

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  10. kbfenner

    Some more thoughts–arbitratin clauses are a lot like insurance denials–they scare a lot of people off ab initio–they never find out that the clauses don’t apply to the case at hand. Second, just because she can get criminal justice shouldn’t absolve a military contractor, who has deep pockets from profiting from her labor and our tax dollars, from compensating her for its tortious conduct.

    Also, just for the record, the prosecutors ARE supposed to seek the truth and justice, not conviction at any cost (see Donnie Myers, et al.). In a civil case, you might be surprised at just how slippery the truth looks once you are inside. The attorneys I have worked alongside (I was never a civil litigator, but did assist with technical issues, and eat a lot of lunches and suppers with them) are indeed interested in the actual truth, and are ethically bound not to suborn perjury or otherwise commit frauds upon the courts. They do not play the kind of dirty tricks popular in Grisham novels (he barely practiced law, and those are FICTIONS) and movies and TV shows. It’s a lot more complex and nuanced than it may seem to you sitting in a courtroom, just as the decisions you made as editor were more thought out than so many of your letter-writers thought.

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  11. Burl Burlingame

    These liberal guys — you have to measure how effective they are by the amount of venom spewed upon them by the Rabid Right. Michael Moore, for example. He makes cheerful little documentaries that stick up for middle-class values, and yet you’d think he was the AntiChrist and Stalin and Mao and bin Laden rolled up into one by the way he freaks out conservatives.
    I’ve met Al Franken and he’s a funny guy. But he’s also a smart, serious guy who does his homework. He’s more of a Will Rogers than a Curly Howard.
    And trains running on time is a German thing, not a Nazi thing. The place where it was supposedly amazing that trains ran on time was Mussolini’s Italy — and they never actually ran on time.

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  12. martin

    I agree with Burl.
    We have real problems if we even consider that a violent assault of any kind be handled in anything but a criminal court.
    This case doesn’t belong in arbitration or civil court. If this happened, the assailants need to be in jail.

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  13. Birch Barlow

    Brad’s point is a good one. It does not seem to be so black and white here regardless of whether or not the Repubs were in the wrong. And it often isn’t black and white, so we shouldn’t be getting into thinking that it is.

    It’s easy to accuse DeMint, Graham, McCain, etc. of “choosing the interests of big company bullies over the welfare of employees”, but unless you want to accuse the Obama-run DoD of the same, then you have to admit it’s more complicated than that.

    Kudos for Brad from turning the comments from “the Republicans are evil” to “This is why they’re wrong”.

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  14. kbfenner

    The Obama-run DoD? Did he come in and fire everyone from the eight years of Bush-Cheney? Don’t think so.

    Can’t change a culture that fast unless you do.

    I don’t think all Republicans are evil. Some are willfully ignorant–as are some members of the ad hominem branch of the UnParty, much as I love them. They also have biases, as do I.

    It’s just awfully hard to get around the big picture of the forest here, even if you examine each leaf on each tree individually.

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  15. Brad Warthen

    I agree with Martin — violent assault is indeed a criminal matter, not one for torts.

    And I’m totally a forest guy, with little patience for leaves. It’s a character flaw. Well, actually, it’s both a virtue and a flaw. I have a way of summing up the grand scope in a way that can be useful, that can help a discussion or decision-making process along. It has to do with being EXTREMELY, almost pathologically, intuitive. But that means I have an unhealthy impatience with details. When I notice details, it’s usually to extrapolate a universe of meaning from them, and I realize a lot of people see that as a bad thing, even though it can also be seen as a talent, when properly spun.

    As for the ad hominem thing — I hope Kathryn’s referring to my POSITIVE tendency of deciding certain people have earned my trust. (Earlier, I said Graham has done that, while Franken has not. Franken cracks me up, but I don’t trust him to sort through the details and guide me to an answer. Maybe he will someday, but he hasn’t yet.)

    The phenomenon I’m talking about is what makes the world work, because we are all dependent upon other people to spend more time on this or that important thing than we have time to do. It is the entire idea behind representative democracy. The idea is that we delegate people to go to Washington or Columbia or wherever and study the issues, listen to all arguments, especially those that disagree with their inclinations (something too few do, thanks to our party system), and come to a better-informed decision than we can reach back home, tied up in our complex lives.

    That requires trust. We elect people we trust, and then we need to let them do their jobs. Second-guess them all you like (what do you think I’ve done all these years?), but at some point you trust or you don’t. One of my big problems with parties is that they persuade people to trust a brand rather than an individual, and I think that’s lazy and destructive, because NO issue should be reduced to some pre-selected position held by a large group. The representative needs to go into the issue as an honest agent who can be persuaded either way, based on what he learns (plus, of course, all the stuff he’s learned over the years, which is why experience is valuable, although Doug disagrees). The point is to elect a person whose judgment and character you trust to represent you well in that situation.

    Lindsey Graham is one of those people I trust, along with John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Joe Riley, Joel Lourie, and a number of others.

    That doesn’t mean I accept what he says as gospel, or think he’s always right. It means that if he’s saying something that differs with what I thought, I give it a really good hearing because of the high probability that — based on track record — he’s examined and thought it through better than I have. And I CERTAINLY say “wait a minute” when people try to tar him with a broad brush.

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  16. Brad Warthen

    Birch and KB — Obama hasn’t “moved quicker” to change DoD because he’s a smart, pragmatic guy, and there wasn’t that much that needed changing.

    The funny thing is, I (who liked Obama but went with McCain) respect and appreciate Obama on this front, and he takes heat from many of his most ardent Democratic admirers for these very virtues.

    Folks, the big change that was needed at DoD was to get rid of Rumsfeld and his ways. That happened — far too late, but it happened — during the Bush administration. Robert Gates was the right guy to set things straight (as I wrote in 06 in a piece headlined “The Return of the Professional”), and Obama was wise enough to recognize that. This should encourage us all, but sadly it has the opposite effect on too many Democrats.

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  17. Birch Barlow

    Of course he’s being pragmatic in some respects (see Afghanistan — I applaud him for it) but certainly not all. Some of it is political. You give him too much benefit of the doubt.

    You could probably say I give him too little and maybe that’s fair. But where was this pragmatism during the campaign? Did he feel we were too stupid to accept that sometimes you have to be pragmatic? Or is it just politics? Candidate Obama was for big change. President Obama is for small change.

    I see no reason why people shouldn’t keep the pressure on Obama to do what he said he would do.

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  18. Brad Warthen

    But you see, I heard him being pretty pragmatic during the campaign as well. I suspected he’d be all right on national security (I just KNEW McCain would).

    The places where Obama worried me were on his notions about the judiciary, and his tendency to go along with Big Labor even when it was really wrong — such as standing in the way of the Colombian free trade agreement. (It’s one thing to have allies; there’s no way a president should let a domestic interest group dictate foreign policy that way.)

    And he has continued to worry me on those points since becoming president — even though I think the Sotomayor thing went fine. (As did, by the way, Graham, who voted for her.)

    On national security, I think a lot of Democrats heard Obama being so “right” (as they would have it) on Iraq from the beginning — ignoring the fact that he was not a U.S. Senator at the time, and didn’t have any responsibility in that area. (The other Democrats who WERE senators had to live with not having been anti-war fire-breathers.) Personally, I sort of doubt he would have been such a critic of going after Saddam had he been in the Senate at the time, but there’s not much point in speculating, I guess.

    Many were also encouraged that he was against the surge. But he’s smart enough to realize that he was wrong on that, whether he says so or not, and he wasn’t to say “all right, everybody out of Iraq” the moment he got into office.

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  19. kbfenner

    Torts vs criminal–

    If, say, one of your loved ones were assaulted while in a dormitory that was held out to be locked and supervised, of course that assaulter should be punished in the criminal system, but if the university–say Harvard, with a net worth greater than many countries– decided to skimp on security and didn’t have anyone at the front desk weekends to save money (so the President could fly first class with Mark Sanford to Argentina) and the creep got in and was lurking in the bathroom, don’t you think a civil remedy for negligence on the part of the university is appropriate?

    If I am in a position where I have given up a great deal of autonomy, because I am in a foreign country at war, say, doesn’t an employer have some obligation to me? If my employer requires me to work late on the premises, doesn’t my employer have an obligation to ensure that they are reasonably secure? That they haven’t hired and given keys to known sex criminals?

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  20. Randy E

    Well done kb.

    Brad, citing a press release from the GOP is as useful as me asking my middle schooler, Luis, if he was the one who threw paper at Richard. The GOP is the same group spinning health care reform as “government run” with provisions to “kill granny” (see Grasley).

    This victim has NOT had her day in court. It has been 4 years and we’re just now hearing from her. We have troops dying by electrocution from faulty wiring by KBR and mass murders by Blackwater with no legal accountability. A single rape victim surely is not getting her day in court.

    LIE-berman (my senator), Graham, and McCain are so entrenched in the wars that they’ve lost perspective on the issue. I am again stunned by your blind allegiance to them.

    Franken is a Harvard grad and did some work in mathematics, I believe. (He can draw an amazingly precise map of the US from scratch.) This is not some typical comedian but a brilliant man with incredible depth. The notion that this amendment was some attempted publicity stunt is funnier than Stuart Smalley.

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  21. Brad Warthen

    “LIE-berman?” Come on, Randy. When has Joe ever lied? He doesn’t even engage in the most convenient sort of lying, which is subordinating his thoughts to party doctrine or what is currently popular. He stands up for what he believes in. The fact that what he believes is usually (although not always) right is a bonus for me, but his essential honesty is to be admired either way.

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  22. Burl Burlingame

    Looking at the foresty big picture, again, US corporations overseas represent the US. They need to behave. Even a band of no-bid thugs given taxpayer dollars to do the work of the military (which does not tolerate rape in the ranks).

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  23. David

    Yes, Brad, but then the Log In function was back and I couldn’t remember my other password.

    And your “Forgot My Password” function doesn’t work, so that’s the way it goes…

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