After a few news headlines today — Australia's parliament finally adopts marriage equality; the white Charleston, SC cop who killed unarmed black man Walter Scott receives a 20 year sentence; another school shooting, this time in NM — we move on to Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)'s announcement today on the floor of the US Senate that he plans to resign "in the coming weeks".
The stunning announcement by the popular and dogged comedian-turned-Senator comes after fellow Democrats this week called for him to step down in the wake of several allegations of sexual misconduct said to have occurred before he became a US Senator. Franken, who has been a champion for women's rights during his time in the Senate, maintains he either doesn't recall the incidents at all or remembers them quite differently than reported. He has described the most recent charge leveled against him this week by an unnamed victim, said to have been a Congressional staffer in 2006, as "preposterous". Nonetheless, while expressing confidence he would have been cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing, he says he will now step aside before that probe was even able to begin in earnest.
We share excerpts of Franken's remarks on the floor today, which include, as he notes, "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 (in Alabama) with the full support of his (Republican) party."
So, did Democrats fall for another right-wing trap in pushing Franken out? It wouldn't be the first time. We discuss several such traps — including one that MSNBC seems to have fallen for this week regarding progressive radio host Sam Seder, before wisely changing course two days later — with longtime progressive writer and blogger GAIUS PUBLIUS, who wrote earlier this week about Democrats falling, yet again, into the Republicans' "deficit trap" regarding federal spending on military and social programs. We debate why and whether Democrats fall into these rightwing traps or if they willingly choose to walk into them, for some reason.
"Why is it that Democrats seem to be one foot in the Republican camp and afraid to be too much in opposition, and one foot in the Democratic camp and not so fully pro-democratic values as we'd like them to be?," Publius observes as we discuss Franken, the 'deficit trap' and more. "I would argue that it's not fear. We're not dealing with cowards here. We're dealing with people who are, in some sense, compromised by their own values. Their own values are putting them in this position where they can't please anybody."
There's lots to chew on in today's conversation on these topics! Finally, Desi Doyen offers our latest Green News Report as wildfires continue to rage near us here in Los Angeles, and as several breaking news items, related to all of the above, break late during today's show.
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