Jamie Leigh Jones testifies.

Jamieleigh Jones testifies.

While working in Iraq in 2005, Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones was brutally gang-raped by her co-workers and left for a day locked in a shipping container. Her employment contract said that she was not allowed to sue – her allegations could only be heard in private arbitration.

Last week in his first legislative effort, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) proposed an amendment to a Defense Appropriations bill that would deny taxpayer dollars in the form of defense contracts to any company that asks employees to sign away their right to sue.

Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration 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, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention. (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.

30 Republicans voted against the amendment and voted for protecting ginormous profit-making defense contracts for KBR/Halliburton, including Tennessee Senators Lamar! Alexander and Bob Corker. Click on each of the links to send them a nice note or call Sen. Alexander at 202-224-4944 and Senator Corker at 202-234-3344.

Senators Corker and Alexander no doubt agreed with the twisted and flat-out wrong logic of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who argued that “The Congress should not be involved in writing or rewriting private contracts…that’s just not how we should handle matters in the United States Senate.” Given that the United States government was the other party in the contract, that would be exactly the kind of thing Congress should be involved in.

Senators Alexander and Corker did, however, vote for an amendment “that prohibits funds…from being used to directly or indirectly fund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)” – an organization that fights for living and minimum wage legislation and increases, registers low- and moderate-income and minority citizens to vote, and counsels first-time home buyers.

If you’re keeping score at home for our two Senators it would be, Rape – 1, The American Dream – 0.

And if you think the sexual assault of women by defense contractor employees is a one-time occurrence, think again.

(H/T: HuffPo)

UPDATE: More from Joe Powell.

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Suck it, Franken Haters

Because Minnesota is lucky to have him as their Senator. Watch him defuse rhetoric and go on to have a healthy, reasoned dialogue on healthcare.

(h/t Dan Lehr at NewsChannel 9 in Chattanooga)

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Summary: Our guests include District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson and Wendell Potter, Senior Fellow on Healthcare at the Center for Media and Democracy.

Part 1 – Freddie Quits Liberadio(!) Freddie may be joking, but Sarah Palin isn’t. We get right into the current news droppings, both national and local, then onto the to-do list. [17.11MB download mp3]

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Part 2- Governor Quitty McQuittersons Once upon a time, Freddie was on the Al Franken Show and had a brush with greatness. But did he quit? No! Not like Sarah Palin who is a big quitter. [20.33MB download mp3]

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Part 3- Interview with Councilman Mike Jameson Mike Jameson joins us as we continue our discussions on zoning and development in Nashville including the Convention Center, the Downtown Plan, and the May Town Center. [29MB download mp3]

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Part 4- Hear It From Sarah PalinWe play a few interesting clips of Almost-One-Term-Governor Sarah Palin explaining herself…kinda sorta. [15MB download mp3]

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Part 5 - Interview with Wendell Potter After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Potter left his job last year at CIGNA to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals. He’s blowin’ the whistle and you gotta hear it. [22.6MB download mp3]

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Part 6 - We Take Your Calls On Healthcare We take your calls on your experiences with healthcare in America. Its getting so bad that other countries wouldn’t want to deal with our system if they had it. We also talk about the surprising differences between healthcare in England/Cananda and France/Netherlands. We end the show with a little more Palin talk, and we’ll see you next week. [39.59MB download mp3]

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One day and he’s already worth the 8 months of waiting.

From NTS Media Online:

During an appearance on Dial-Global’s nationally syndicated Bill Press Show this morning, newly elected U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) spoke out about recent comments made by fellow Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who called the former Saturday Night Live comedian and Air America Radio host “a clown.” Suggesting perhaps the Oklahoma Senator might be a fan of clowns Franken told Press, “I don’t know how Senator Inhofe regards clowns, but it might be an incredible compliment.”

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Why Al Franken Won

Al Franken won his Senate seat in Minnesota because every vote was counted.

Wait. Scratch that.

Al Franken won his Senate in Minnesota because every vote could be counted.

You see, Minnesotans get to vote on something called “paper ballots.” And these “paper ballots” can be recounted when there is a close election. Crazy, I know. For those of us in Tennessee who can only vote on electronic black boxes with secret vote counting (flipping?) software, the Franken victory seems mythic.

Election Integrity journalist and BradBlog.com writer/producer Brad Friedman explains:

Although the victory was sealed today, the Republican claims of “voter fraud” became impossible to support long ago, because hand-marked paper ballots – nearly three million of them – as cast by the voters in the squeaker of an election, were actually being counted, in full view of the media and any interested citizen alike. To a ballot, they were all accounted for, and any disagreement about voter intent on those ballots was adjudicated in an open process by a bipartisan state canvassing board. All but a handful of those votes were determined unanimously by the board to have been cast either for Franken, for Coleman, for a third party candidate or for nobody at all.

The only question remaining after the weeks-long, painstaking, public hand-count was whether a number of uncounted absentee ballots, rejected as per the state’s strict standards for counting, should, in fact, be counted.

Minnesotans and their damn-near perfect elections are the envy of Election Integrity activists everywhere. What with their “paper ballots,” audits, a mandated automatic hand-counted recount of the “paper ballots” if an election is close, an open counting process, citizen vigilance over the ballot chain of custody, etc. etc..

What’s a Tennessean gotta do to get some secure and verifiable elections? Learn to ice fish?

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