#MeToo, anti-semitism, Body armor, Cernovich, Conyers, democracy, due process, fake news, Franken, Groping, guilty until proven innocent, Innocent until proven guilty, Jeff Sessions, LeeAnn Tweeden, Me Too Movement, Minnesota, racism, respect, Roger Stone, Russia, Senate Ethics Committee, Trump, Trump attempted rape, Trump groping, Trump pussy grabber, Trump sexual assault, Trump sexual harassment, Trump sexual predator, US Senate
Excerpts from US Senator Franken’s resignation speech:
“Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously. I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.
I said at the outset that the Ethics Committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard, and investigated, and evaluated on their merits. That I was prepared to cooperate fully. And that I was confident in the outcome….
I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” (See entire speech further below.)
Innocent or guilty, we don’t know, for neither US Senator Franken nor Congressman Conyers were allowed any semblance of due process. Rather, they were declared guilty and not even given the chance for the ethics committee to do an investigation before they were forced out of Congress, almost overnight. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Perhaps a recall vote should have been organized, putting it back in the hands of voters.
It is noteworthy that the timing of accusations against Conyers and Franken is clearly connected to their putting heat under Jeff Sessions in the Russia investigation. The source of the Conyers allegations was Cernovich, and Roger Stone appears to have been in on the Franken allegations. This makes Jeff Sessions look guilty as hell even to those who wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Why and how is Sessions so important? Or, Stone and others feared that Franken and Conyers might put heat under them during future investigations? Or they already did?
Everyone needs to learn to respect others, including by not touching them, whatever the intent, without their permission. People need to respect other people’s space.
That being said, some of the allegations against Franken and Conyers appear simply silly – unsolicited kisses on the forehead (then 86 yr old-now 88 yr old Conyers) or cheek (Franken); taking someone’s hand (then 86 yr old Conyers). And, possibly imaginary – e.g. suspicions that Conyers might have been having an affair. Then there is Franken allegedly groping through body armor, which seems impossible. (See photos and details of the body armor below Franken’s speech.)
And, these stand in stark contrast to the serious allegations against Trump. So where are the calls for him to resign? https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/1997-lawsuit-accusing-trump-of-repeated-sexual-harassment-attempted-rape-trying-to-procure-sex-with-underage-beauty-pageant-contestant-and-much-more/ https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/16-of-the-24-women-reporting-sexual-assault-harassment-by-trump-hear-their-stories
What then is the message being given out here by running out Conyers and Franken and leaving Trump? If one is of African American (Conyers) or Jewish American (Franken) heritage one can be run out of office on trumped up charges, whereas if one is of British-German ethnicity, like Trump, one can be guilty of true groping, harassment and attempted rape, and it’s ok? Recall that Trump’s base weirdly includes racist anti-semitic white supremicists, despite his having a Jewish son-in-law and despite his decades long friendship with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Someone finally wrote a good article:
“Did Democrats Just Fall Into Roger Stone’s Trap?” By Margaret Carlson, 12.08.17 5:00 AM ET https://www.thedailybeast.com/did-democrats-just-fall-into-roger-stones-trap
This is also of interest: “More Photos Emerging From Franken & Tweeden’s USO Tour. They speak for themselves.” By Seashells, 2017/11/18. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/18/1716798/-More-Photos-Emerging-From-Franken-Tweeden-s-USO-Tour-They-speak-for-themselves
“Sen. Franken’s Speech on the Senate Floor
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Today, U.S. Senator Al Franken gave the following speech as prepared for delivery on the Senate floor. You can also download a video of the speech here. https://www.franken.senate.gov/files/speeches/171207AFFinalFlrSpeech.mp4
A couple of months ago, I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country. We were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men’s actions affect them. That moment was long overdue. I was excited for that conversation, and hopeful that it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society. Then, the conversation turned to me.
Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously. I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.
I said at the outset that the Ethics Committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard, and investigated, and evaluated on their merits. That I was prepared to cooperate fully. And that I was confident in the outcome. You know, an important part of the conversation we’ve been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that, during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion for women – and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks. But I know who I really am.
Serving in the United States Senate has been the great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a Senator – nothing – has brought dishonor on this institution. And I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that, in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.
I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.
But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota. And it’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and, at the same time, remain an effective Senator for them. Let me be clear. I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice. I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen, and as an activist. But Minnesotans deserve a Senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day.
There is a big part of me that will always regret having to walk away from this job with so much work left to be done. But I have faith that the work will continue, because I have faith in the people who have helped me do it.
I have faith in the dedicated, funny, selfless young men and women on my staff. They have so much more to contribute to our country. And I hope that, as disappointed as they may feel today, everyone who has ever worked for me knows how much I admire and respect them.
I have faith in my colleagues, especially my senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar. I would not have been able to do this job without her guidance and wisdom.
And I have faith – or, at least, hope – that members of this Senate will find the political courage necessary to keep asking the tough questions, hold this administration accountable, and stand up for the truth.
I have faith in the activists who organized to help me win my first campaign and who have kept on organizing to help fight for the people who needed us: kids facing bullying, seniors worried about the price of prescription drugs, Native Americans who have been overlooked for far too long, working people who have been taking it on the chin for a generation – everyone in the middle class and everyone aspiring to join it.
I have faith in the proud legacy of progressive advocacy that I have had the privilege to be a part of. I think I’ve probably repeated these words ten thousand times over the years, Paul Wellstone’s famous quote: “The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard.” It is still true. It will always be true.
And, most of all, I have faith in Minnesota. A big part of this job is going around the state and listening to what people need from Washington. But, more often than not, when I’m home, I’m blown away by how much Minnesota has to offer the entire country and the entire world. The people I have had the honor of representing are brilliant, and creative, and hard-working. And whoever holds this seat next will inherit the challenge I’ve enjoyed for the last eight and a half years: being as good as the people you serve. This has been a tough few weeks for me. But I am a very, very lucky man. I have a beautiful, healthy family that I love, and that loves me very much. I am going to be just fine.
I’d just like to end with one last thing. I did not grow up wanting to be a politician. I came to this relatively late in life. I had to learn a lot on the fly. It wasn’t easy. And it wasn’t always fun. I’m not just talking about today. This is a hard thing to do with your life. There are a lot of long hours and late nights and hard lessons, and there is no guarantee that all your work and sacrifice will ever pay off. I won my first election by 312 votes – it could have easily gone the other way. And even when you win, progress is far from inevitable. Paul Wellstone spent his whole life working for mental health parity, and it didn’t pass into law until six years after he died.
This year, a lot of people who didn’t grow up imagining they’d ever get involved in politics have done just that. They’ve gone to their first protest march, or made their first call to a member of Congress, or maybe even taken the leap and put their name on a ballot for the first time. It can be such a rush, to look around at a room full of people ready to fight alongside you, to feel that energy, to imagine that better things are possible. But you, too, will experience setbacks and defeats and disappointments. There will be days when you will wonder whether it’s worth it. What I want you to know is that, even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it.
“Politics,” Paul Wellstone told us, “is about the improvement of people’s lives.” I know that the work I’ve been able to do has improved people’s lives. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
For a decade now, every time I would get tired, or discouraged, or frustrated, I would think about the people I was doing this for, and it would get me back up on my feet. I know the same will be true for everyone who decides to pursue a politics that is about improving people’s lives. And I hope you know that I will be right there fighting alongside you, every step of the way. With that, M. President, I yield the floor.” https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=3807 (Emphasis our own.)
A right-wing news commentator LeeAnn Tweeden accused Franken of groping her while she slept and produced photographic “evidence” of Franken touching her or fake touching her Interceptor Body Armor! Many journalists and others need to look up groping. It appears impossible to grope through body armor! On the other hand, Trump is accused of groping, attempted rape and more. Where are the calls for Trump to resign?
A demonstration showing the side panels of the body armor of the type that Tweeden was apparently wearing. This military photo shows the thickness well.
“Interceptor Body Armor Ballistic Inserts Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) is a modular body armor system that consists of an outer tactical vest, ballistic inserts, and components that increase the area of coverage. Ballistic inserts include front and back Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPIs) or Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPIs) and Enhanced Side Ballistic Inserts (ESBIs). IBA increases survivability by stopping or slowing bullets and fragments and reducing the number and severity of wounds. Figure 1 shows the IBA system components. Contracts for Ballistic Inserts The Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Acquisition Center (RDECOMAC) awarded seven contracts, valued at $2.5 billion, to six contractors from January 2004 to December 2006 for IBA ballistic inserts. Table 1 provides an overview of products purchased, the quantities of products purchased, and the dollar value of each.” https://media.defense.gov/2011/Aug/01/2001712877/-1/-1/1/D-2011-088.pdf
Perhaps the now forgotten joke had to do with Tweeden, the Playboy Model, being protected by body armor.
This was around the time there were concerns about the effectiveness of the body armor, as well. Perhaps this too was part of the comedy.
Where is the photographer? How difficult could it be to find him or her? Regarding some additional allegations Franken stated on November 23, 2017, “I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Franken Al Gore lost, in part, because he didn’t shake hands. Another allegation against Franken is that he gave someone a slobbery kiss on the cheek (face), which they deceptively called a “wet, opened-mouth kiss” but it was on the cheek! Accusations against Conyers sounded even flimsier, especially considering that Conyers is 88. Conyers accusations included kissing assistants on the forehead and taking their hands, when he was 86! Conyers and Franken accusations apparently came via those with Trump-Putin ties (Roger Stone and sexist Mike Cernovich). Both Franken and Conyers had just put a lot of heat under Jeff Sessions for contradicting himself regarding Russia. Right wing conspiracy theorist and racist-sexist Cernovich offered $10,000 for the Conyers documents and then gave them to BuzzFeed. Where did Cernovich get this money? And, Cernovich, himself, has been accused of rape.
“Cernovich, whom “60 Minutes” described earlier this year in a story about fake news as “a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact.”… Cernovich acquired the congressional documents after offering to pay $10,000 for them.” (“Why BuzzFeed teamed with a far-right figure to break the John Conyers scandal… Mike Cernovich, a veteran promoter of false conspiracies.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/why-buzzfeed-teamed-with-a-far-right-figure-to-break-the-john-conyers-scandal/2017/11/21/64688b2a-ceca-11e7-9d3a-bcbe2af58c3a_story.html
Some excellent points brought up by DailyKos blogger Tina Engler, regarding the Franken case: “At the end of the day and with all known facts considered, Ms. Tweeden took the coward’s way out. This wasn’t a situation where he was in a position of power over her and she feared for her career. Franken wasn’t a senator at the time and carried as much weight in Hollywood as any other ex-SNL performer. In other words, nada…. I purposely didn’t go into the issue of the photo because I am waiting for more information. Namely, I’d like to hear what the photog and others on board have to say before rendering judgment. Why? Because they are on a C-130 and I’ve got highly experienced military persons telling me the likelihood of anyone being able to fall asleep—much less 2 non-soldiers on the same C-130—is low at best. There is a reason Senator Franken wants an ethics inquiry and I’m betting the photo has something to do with it. Nevertheless, I’m waiting on more info before going there“. Read her post here: “Analysis: Jake Tapper’s Interview with Sen. Franken’s Accuser – Sorry, But… No.”, By tinaengler, 2017/11/17: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/16/1716419/-Analysis-Jake-Tapper-s-Interview-with-Sen-Franken-s-Accuser-Sorry-But-No And, a related post here: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/16/1716270/-Roger-Stone-Knew-Franken-Was-About-To-Get-Blasted
“Ukrainian soldiers (right) wearing the IBA in October 2015
Staff Sgt. Adriana Diaz-Brown, U.S. Army – Sky Soldiers welcome US chief of staff of the Army to Fearless Guardian” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sky_Soldiers_welcome_US_chief_of_staff_of_the_Army_to_Fearless_Guardian_151029-A-BR501-201.jpg