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Al Franken writes: "Be proud to stand for Medicare and Medicaid. Be proud to stand with workers. Be proud to stand for a government that invests in America, a legal system that respects the rights of all individuals, and the progressive values we've fought so hard to defend. Be proud of who we are and what we've built."

Portrait, Senator Al Franken, 09/06/09. (photo: Jeffrey Thompson/Getty Images)
Portrait, Senator Al Franken, 09/06/09. (photo: Jeffrey Thompson/Getty Images)

The Attack on the Middle Class

By Sen. Al Franken, Reader Supported News

23 June 11


Fighting for America's Middle Class, Netroots Nation 2011

n Saturday, June 18th, I was given the honor of speaking at Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis, the 6th annual convention of progressive grassroots leaders and activists. I was the opening speaker at Saturday's Morning Keynote session, which focused on how to save the middle class and build progressive infrastructure. I had an amazing time at the conference and met a ton of passionate activists and progressives.

It was fitting that Netroots Nation was in Minnesota this year. Minnesota is the state that sent Hubert Humphrey to the U.S. Senate, where he cheerfully waged - and usually won - great battles in the name of the young and the old, the poor and the vulnerable, the oppressed and the disenfranchised.

It's the state where Walter Mondale rose to become the living embodiment of common-sense Midwestern progressive values. And it's the state where Paul Wellstone became my hero - and the hero of a generation of progressives who believed, as he did, that we all do better when we all do better.

These Minnesotans were instrumental in establishing the America we know and love today - from building the social safety net to establishing workers' rights to investing in our manufacturing sector - they helped build the middle class. And defending those progressive values is crucial to saving the middle class today.

My speech, entitled: "The Attack on America's Middle Class, and the Plan to Fight Back," laid out some ideas on what we can do to preserve these values that began as 'progressive,' but have become simply American.

The full video and text of my speech is below. Enjoy!


The Attack on America's Middle Class, and the Plan to Fight Back

Netroots Nation 2011, welcome to Minnesota!

This is the state that sent Hubert Humphrey, the middle-class son of a pharmacist, to the U.S. Senate, where he cheerfully waged - and usually won - great battles in the name of the young and the old, the poor and the vulnerable, the oppressed and the disenfranchised.

This is the state where Walter Mondale - who, at the age of 20, had helped to organize Humphrey's first Senate campaign - rose to become the living embodiment of common-sense Midwestern progressive values.

And this is the state where Paul Wellstone, a professor down at Carleton College in Northfield, became my hero - and the hero of a generation of progressives who believed, as he did, that we all do better when we all do better. We all do better when we all have health care. We all do better when we all can get a good education. We all do better when we all can earn a fair wage at a good job. We all do better when we all can find a good home and economic security and justice when we're wronged.

Today, 100 years after Hubert Humphrey was born, nearly half a century after Walter Mondale began his legendary career in public service, and two decades after Paul Wellstone won his first race for the Senate, we gather in Minnesota to take stock.

We all believe that we all do better when we all do better. The question is: How are we doing?

And if we're talking about the fate of ordinary families, the answer is clear: We're losing.

The American middle class is in trouble. Median family income is down. Jobs are scarce. Opportunities people thought they'd earned through hard work are disappearing before their eyes. Working families are falling further and further behind.

And that means it's hard for progressives not to feel like we're losing, too. Our movement is about putting the concerns of those working Americans at the forefront of our national agenda.

Now, you can argue that Democrats in Congress should be doing more to win legislative battles - although, as someone who is in the room every day, I can tell you that I don't doubt for a second my colleagues' commitment to moving our country in the right direction.

And you can argue that the Democratic Party should be using different tactics to win elections.

But the fact remains: We as a progressive movement are losing the argument. On issue after issue, we're playing defense.

We're ready to fight for cap-and-trade. But instead, we're forced into an argument about whether global warming even exists.

We're ready to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act. But instead, we're forced into an argument about whether workers should have any rights at all. As proud as we all are of the fight our movement has shown in Wisconsin and around the country in the face of Republican efforts to end collective bargaining, we know that these aren't the conversations we should be having in the year 2011.

And instead of having a debate about what the government should be doing to help the struggling middle class, we're having a debate about what parts of the social safety net we should sacrifice in order to preserve and extend giveaways to the wealthiest few, and to well-connected corporations.

We can urge Democrats in Congress to stand stronger when Republicans hold our government hostage. We can urge each other to work harder to win elections. And you won't hear any disagreement from me on either count.

But if we're going to win these fights, we have to start by reclaiming the upper hand in the argument over what our country should be about. And I want to suggest that conservatives might just have given us the playbook.

For decades, their argument against progressive policies hasn't just been about the substance of our ideas, but about the scope of our vision. They call us radicals. They say we want to do too much, too fast. They accuse us of wanting to remake the fundamental fabric of American society, as if we were proposing to rip a few dozen stars off the flag.

They understand that Americans don't like radical change. We love our country, and are rightly proud of its traditions. We revere our past.

And it's easy to offer people a return to the "good ol' days" - when the economy was growing, everyone was optimistic, and we went to bed at night secure in the knowledge that our kids would have better opportunities than we had.

What conservatives miss when they talk about those "good ol' days," of course, is that they were good for a reason.

Some of you might have heard me talk about my childhood here in Minnesota. My dad never graduated high school. He was a printing salesman. We lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath house in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. We weren't rich - but we felt secure.

I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. And I was. I was growing up middle-class in a time when growing up middle-class in America meant there would be jobs for my parents, good schools for me to prepare myself for a career, and, if I worked hard and played by the rules, a chance for me to do anything I wanted. Including being a comedy writer and then a Senator. In that order.

Between 1947 and 1977, we experienced three decades of incredible growth - growth that flowed to the middle class.

And as we grew, we grew together. Everyone benefited. Income for the top fifth of Americans grew by 99 percent, and the income of those in the bottom fifth rose by 116 percent. I know that's hard to believe. The wages of the bottom fifth grew more than the wages of the top fifth. Really. That happened.

Meanwhile, the middle class could afford to buy more, so there was more demand - and that meant there were more jobs.

And with the tax dollars that came from all this growth, the government built 40,000 miles of straight freeways that greatly reduced the cost of transporting goods, invested in education that prepared kids for the workforce and innovations that created entire new industries, and strengthened the social safety net so that everyone could aspire to the middle class.

Oh. And we sent a man to the moon. Actually, a number of them.

Which brings me to my wife, Franni. When she was seventeen months old, her dad - a decorated veteran of World War II - died in a car accident, leaving my future mother-in-law widowed at age 29 with five kids.

That family made it because of Social Security survivor benefits.

Every single one of the four girls in Franni's family went to college, thanks to Pell Grants and other scholarships. My brother-in-law, Neil, went into the Coast Guard, where he became an electrical engineer.

My mother-in-law got herself a $300 GI loan to fix her roof, and used the money instead to go to the University of Maine. She became a grade school teacher and taught poor kids, and so her loans were forgiven.

She and all five of those kids became productive members of society. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps - but first, they had to have the boots. And the government gave Franni's family the boots.

These are stories about security and opportunity. These are stories about the American dream. These are stories about the country we are so proud to call our own, the one we all want to protect and preserve.

But they are also stories about a progressive America, one in which the government adopts the principle that we all do better when we all do better.

It was our vision that government should provide economic security for the middle class and provide the boots for people looking to pull themselves up into it.

It was our vision that America should be in the business of making things, and that we should invest in innovation and infrastructure so that we could have an economy where there's enough for everyone.

It was our vision that American workers should earn enough to buy what they produced.

It was our vision that everyone should have basic rights at work, no matter how powerful their employer, and that the law should be a place where anyone could turn for justice.

And although that vision has always remained a work in progress, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone and generations of progressives made this country what we dreamed it could be for millions and millions of families.

And while our vision was broad, the policies we fought for - from the social safety net to workers' rights to investment in our manufacturing sector - were grounded in values that began as "progressive," but have become simply American.

And having built that America we're all so proud of, it's now up to us to save it.

Progressives, in a way, are the new conservatives. We want to conserve what we fought to build. And the right-wingers who call themselves conservatives are the ones who want radical change in the way our government works, and the way our country works.

Newt Gingrich went on "Meet the Press" last month and said that the Ryan plan that would end Medicare was "right-wing social engineering," that it was "too big a jump." He has spent the month since apologizing - but for once in his life, Newt was right.

Actually, that's not fair. He was calling for electronic medical records years before the rest of the country got on board with the idea. So he was right the one other time. Gotta give a guy credit.

But ending Medicare, like privatizing Social Security, is astonishingly radical.

Part of the middle class promise is that, after a lifetime of hard work, you'll be able to retire and enjoy the fruits of that labor. Medicare was established to secure that promise. There was no private insurance market for people over 65 back in 1964. And if Republicans destroy Medicare, there won't be one now. The average Social Security benefit is $15,000. The average out of pocket health care cost for seniors under the Ryan plan would be over $12,000.

So if Republicans eliminate Medicare, America will become a country in which you can never retire - and once you physically can no longer work, you are desperately poor until you die. That is a radical change to our society.

The Republican agenda is a radical vision in which Medicaid is slashed to the bone - in which we start to balance the budget on the backs of, literally, our most vulnerable citizens. Say you have a parent who suffers from dementia and lives in a nursing home. If Republicans pass these Medicaid cuts, you'd better be ready to take that parent in. That is a radical change to our society.

The Republican vision is one in which we cut billions from job training and education and infrastructure - the things that enable ordinary Americans to find good jobs, enable businesses to find the customers and trained workers they need to grow, and enable middle class families to build real economic security. All these cuts, just to fund more tax cuts for people who are richer than any people have ever been in the history of the world.

It's a vision in which workers have no protections from their employers, ordinary Americans have no access to the courts when they're wronged, and big corporations control everything from our media to the Internet to our democracy.

After decades of fighting against any interpretation of the Constitution that secured basic rights for all Americans, conservatives have somehow found in that text special First Amendment rights for oil companies.

The growing gap between rich and poor, the failure of our generation to leave our kids the America we inherited from our parents, and the inability of our political system to respond to these crises - for today's Republican Party, these are features, not bugs.

The right wants America to be a nation of social Darwinism in which the powerful are protected by the government, and the rest of us are on our own.

To achieve it, they'll say things they know aren't true, disown ideas they used to support, contradict themselves on everything from how the legislative process should operate to how weather works. They'll let the government shut down, let us default on our debts, bring our country to its knees to fulfill their ideological fervor.

So how do we stop them? Well, I haven't been in politics my whole life. But I think we always win when we work together and stand on our values. Medicare, and Medicaid, and investment in infrastructure, and public education, and workers' rights, and civil rights, and equal rights under the law - these aren't just good progressive ideas, they're examples of traditional American values.

And when Republicans talk about destroying these things, they're talking about turning their backs on the America we've built. They're talking about ripping apart the fabric of our society. They're talking about a transformation of our country - about undermining our tradition so radically, they might as well be tearing stars off the flag.

And we should say so.

Here in the home of Humphrey and Mondale and Wellstone, I urge you all to stand up for the America our movement helped to build. Stand up for the principle that we should grow together instead of growing apart. Stand up for the principle that we all do better when we all do better.

Be proud to stand for Medicare and Medicaid. Be proud to stand with workers. Be proud to stand for a government that invests in America, a legal system that respects the rights of all individuals, and the progressive values we've fought so hard to defend. Be proud of who we are and what we've built.

We have a tough fight ahead. But it's one we have to win. It's not just the Democratic Party that's depending on us. It's the American middle class. And it's the American tradition, one that we helped to create - and one that we must now protect.

Thank you. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+29 # fredboy 2011-06-23 14:44
Great words, great thoughts.

Now for the ultimate test: Can you link the party to those who most need it, the middle class?

Divided, imprecise, and defensive it will never happen.

You've got to help them recognize their cause and champion it.
+72 # Grant B Pankhurst 2011-06-23 15:04
Why is this not shouted from every democratic podium in America?
+15 # Glen 2011-06-23 16:54
It isn't shouted, Grant, because the democrats are enablers. The two party system, in spite of a difference in style, is essentially one. Not much to be done about that.
+3 # LeeBlack 2011-06-26 12:17
Glen, I don't agree. Edmund Burke said, "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing. "

We've had 50 years of the rich and powerful attacking the New Deal and they are close to succeeding. Progressives and Liberals need to stand up and make their voices (and sanity) heard.
+1 # Alan Kobrin 2011-06-27 08:45
This has been going on for a long time and the Democratic Party (in site of its progressive 'members') has helped it, enabled it an never, as a party, warned us the consequences.
If they ware amiss all that time, it's because way too many of 'em were doing someone' else's business in order to get elected.
Like it or not, we need a new Party that STARTS with principles, and not attempts, decades late to re-discover them.
+18 # MidwestTom 2011-06-23 15:31
This is a great speech. What it misses is how do we get from here to there? Unionizing literally all government employs is a good start; however, unionizing private sector workers and keeping their jobs here is much harder. How do we do that when literally 90% of what we buy is made somewhere else? Free trade agreements (the last big one signed by Clinton) simply mean that markers making flat screens get paid the same all over the world, and since $12/ day is a great big wage in some places, that is what the jobs most pay here; or the company fails as long as we have Free Trade.
+13 # Glenn Caton 2011-06-24 07:32
And remember, our President is still trying to pass two more free trade agreements with sweatshop countries. Sadly, it seems that the Administration STILL doesn't get it. The way to economic progress for America is to realize that, as beaten up as we are, we remain the strongest consumer economy. The first step is to limit profit and return on investment to eight percent, the historically sustainable maximum. Second, want to sell it here? You have to make it here. Third, we have to move away from denial. The poverty line needs to be determined by housing cost, not food costs. The poverty line should be the amount needed to pay rent for a one bedroom apartment being one week's take home pay. As the average one bedroom apartment costs $700/month, the minimum wage should yield $700/week after all deductions. Pay less than that, and the community is having to subsidize that worker. The cause of entitlements is NOT give-away programs for people. It is subsidies for companies requiring historically unsustainable profits and returns on investment. China has gotten the West hooked on unsustainable profits just as surely as the British got them hooked on opium.
+44 # tclose 2011-06-23 16:29
This is a truly amazing speech by a Senator that earlier was thought of just being a comedian (and what a comedian he was!). No longer - this shows Al Franken as being a thoughtful Senator and fearless spokesman for the progressive cause.

Thank you, Senator Franken
+47 # Deidre 2011-06-23 16:38
Too bad this speech wasn't televised last night instead of Obama's. These words need to be heard. Grant is absolutely right - This should be shouted from every Democratic podium. How anyone in government can sleep at night is beyond my comprehension.
+37 # Annette Saint John Lawrence 2011-06-23 16:43
One major factor that this is not being shouted from every
podium regardless of party affiliation is this:

Most everyone sitting in office has been bought and
paid for.

Now, Think and act on Fair Elections through Clean Money
+54 # bobby t. 2011-06-23 16:47
when al ran for the senate, i gave him everything i had. ted kennedy was sick and dying and i saw al franken as the next leader of the u.s. progressive or liberal movement. i live in florida, and i know when a vegetable is fresh or rotten.
our governor is rotten, and al, who doesn't make me laugh any more, is fresh. al, i wish i had more to give you when you ran. you are our hope, along with bernie sanders who is old and is getting weaker. america is still strong as long as al franken is in a senate seat. bravo on the speech, and keep on doing better.
+32 # bill fulcher 2011-06-23 16:53
We need to teach our children to focus more on politics rather than entertainers and sports.
+24 # nimbleswitch 2011-06-23 17:12
Al Franken for President in 2016.
+8 # OldEnough 2011-06-23 22:31
2012, we can't wait another 4 years with BO (Bush III).
+6 # H.M. 2011-06-23 17:46
If things eventually get to the point of satisfaction of the Republicans (Oh ye shills of corporations), what do we want to bet that there will then be enough votes to throw a lot of these bastards out of office? I hope it doesn't get to that point before it happens because a whole lot more hurt will be dumped on middle america.
+14 # klondikekitty 2011-06-23 18:20
Thank you so very much, Al Franken, for proving to be the voice of the people during a time when most politicians are in the back pockets of corporate interests and big oil companies . . . i will always be thankful i voted for you, and i will do everything possible to promote your progressive policies . . Keep up the good work, Al!!! Our country is dying, and needs you sooo very much!!!
-40 # Bryce Johnson 2011-06-23 18:26
I am as liberal as anyone, but I am also a scientist. I cringe when fellow liberals beat the drum for anthropogenic global warming and the horrors that will ensue if we don't immediately follow the dictates of the the cynical liars who have set themselves up to profit handsomely from cap and trade and other scientific frauds associated with that movement.

Get off that kick, liberals. It's a dead end. Enough horror predictions have already failed to materialize that it should be lesson enough. The AGW people stay busy caller doubters names and concocting more future trauma that they lay at AGW's doorstep. The thermometer readings and the and failed predictions will ultimately be sufficient to capsize the whole scam. AGW will suffer the fate of Joe McCarthy's communists-on-e very-street-cor ner fiasco.
+9 # Ken Hall 2011-06-24 02:25
A scientist and a seer, impressive! Where did you get your crystal ball?
+17 # Glenn Caton 2011-06-24 07:43
With the entire Mississippi River Basin flooding, massive droughts with consequent wildfires, and ongoing sea level rise, you are not only a scientist, Bryce, you are a denial warrior. Surely, even you can see that if there was NO climate change we have to do something to reverse our trend of trying to burn through all fossil fuels in the next three generations. You must see this dependence on hydrocarbons for the engineering laziness and investment aversion that it unquestionably is.
+11 # ewokky 2011-06-24 10:46
As a scientist please answer this question. What happens when you take millions of years worth of global carbon production stored away in the Earth's crust and put it back into the environment (the atmosphere and oceans) over a century? Can any scientist anywhere really think there would be no impact?
+13 # Jimthebeam 2011-06-24 14:06
The only failure of the predictions has been they usually under-estimate the pace of change.

The notion that environmental issues fall into notions of left/right liberal/conserv ative is like saying the left supports putting child molesters in jail while the right wants to support NAMBLA as a good example of free market love making. Only the morons on the right have been lied to by lying lairs.

and I'm a scientist too...
0 # Alan Kobrin 2011-06-27 08:51
Not only are you lost, Johnson, you make a point of dragging others down with you. Saying 'I am a scientist' adds nothing to your blathering.
0 # Alan Kobrin 2011-06-27 09:25
@bryce, Mr. Liberal and Mr. Scientist: soooo...WHERE is your 'science'?
Enlighten us with a few of your facts that go beyond innuendo.
+23 # reiverpacific 2011-06-23 18:30
Nice to hear mention of the late, great Paul Wellstone (how quickly we forget!), who's death in a plane crash was never really investigated but who was one of the true progressives who have served and truly represented that state so well (how could Michelle Blech-ch-ch-man n serve the same populace and be taken seriously by even a few???).
Perhaps a microcosm of how the country got from there to here, what?
+28 # teineitalia 2011-06-23 19:01
America's comedians continue to be one of her greatest treasures, and fearless purveyors of truth.

John Stewart, Al Franken... years ago, Will Rogers... perhaps it is their ability to see clearly the absurdity of our system and its hypocrisies, and their unflinching fearlessness in speaking truth to power. Humor has always been about the truth.

Franken is so spot on. We need to remember his words: that we all do better when we all do better. Repeat these words everywhere.
+6 # BradFromSalem 2011-06-24 08:14
Don't forget the inspiration for the modern comedian / truth teller; Mark Twain.

Even today, reports of his death are greatly exaggerated. See recent best seller lists for proof.
+13 # tomo 2011-06-23 19:04
It's wonderful to hear again the voice of one who feels as King, and the Kennedy brothers, and Wellstone did. Why not draft Franken to replace our present Hamlet-in-the-W hite-House. Does Obama have to sit on top of the liberal agenda for another four years for us to realize that one of two things HAS to be true: Either, 1) he can't lead; or 2) he is consciously leading things in a direction quite contrary to the one he says he is?
+7 # Bill Clements 2011-06-23 23:09
I've been speaking out on this one whenever I get a chance: Obama is a New Democrat like Bill Clinton and, yes, his wife Hillary. Given Obama's rhetoric during the campaign (community organizer, etc.), many came to the conclusion that he was a progressive, but if you examine his decisions in office, you'll find that they consistently align with the principles espoused by the New Democrats. He's simply not the liberal people thought he was. And it comes as a big surprise to many of us.
+5 # Archie1954 2011-06-23 19:13
It's too late Sir, all those admiral things are either gone or being removed as we read this article. It's actually much too late and it's ordinary Americans who are to blame. You see most Americans are just that, in fact too much of that, too ordinary! They have no imagination, no education, no interest in anything other than their beer and football games and definitely no idea of where their tax dollars are being spent and for what and even worst, no interest in finding out. So please don't bother, you're just wasting your time.
+13 # RHYQUE 2011-06-23 20:31
Alas, Archie1954 may be correct. After 2 generations of building children with so much "self-esteem" they don't get a cr*p about anyone but themselves and maybe their families. As long as each one had there own car, flat-screen, IPhone, etc. then it's "to hell with anyone" else. That attitude along with the incredible greed of not just the uber-rich but everyone does not bode well for our banding together for survival.
+13 # wfalco 2011-06-23 19:27
We might as well declare that the successor to Senator Wellstone has arrived.

Al tells it like it is and gives credence to the American Reality. The Reality being that we don't really pull ourselves up from our own bootstraps. Yes it does take a community-somet hing that the humorless Republicans like to ridicule.

Let us never forget and remind everyone the community is the government. We might have to yell this at the top of our lungs. Not a government that attempts to legislate behavior or morality, but a government that is progressive and attempts to uplift the most vulnerable.

Unfortunately those at the top frequently are blind to the Real America. They see what they want to see and disregard the rest. It is their country and what matters is what is best for the upper 1%.

The dialogue must be changed. How do we do that? The people who must listen and learn from the likes of Mr. Franken are most likely the ones who may not even know who he is. How do we reach the alienated and distracted masses ?
+31 # futhark 2011-06-23 19:42
Plutocrats Take It All! People need to wake up to the fact that a plutocratic, war-mongering, worker-hating oligarchy is controlling government policy through the choke-hold of the Mainstream Media and is further working behind the scenes to promote its marionette candidates and destroy others.

The two-party system, much vaunted as the cornerstone of American democracy, is a flim-falm smoke-and-mirro rs set up to dupe the American public into thinking they live in a democracy, all the while depriving them of any real voice in deciding policy. Instead of choices, we get echoes of whatever the Plutocrats are currently championing, which almost invariably is

1) endless war,

2) total surveillance,

3) constant manipulation of financial systems to the advantage of the very wealthy,

4) exploitation and depletion of natural resources to the advantage of the plutocrats,

5) use of fear-mongering to distract public opinion away from the fact that most of the people are getting shafted.
+3 # Tamara Sbelgio 2011-06-24 15:53
Yep...that just about sums it up.
+6 # Rick Levy 2011-06-23 20:43
The home of Humphrey, Mondale, and Wellstone is unfortunately also the home of Bachmann.
+1 # Glenn Caton 2011-06-24 14:24
Welcome to Schizophrenia, now leave!
+6 # geraldom 2011-06-23 21:26
Initially I liked Al Franken. I thought that he'd be a good replacement for the now deceased Paul Wellstone. Fmr Sen Paul Wellstone was murdered, assassinated by the Bush admin just a few weeks before the 2002 midterm elections. I'd suggest to anyone to watch the documentary titled "Wellstone."

There are quite a few short videos dealing with the assassination of Paul Wellstone that can be accessed at the following link:

The following link speaks about the strange deaths of both Wellstone and Mel Carnahan

Like what happened after the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the FBI showed up very quickly after the plane crashed long before the NTSB and kept the NTSB from viewing the crash site until after the FBI messed with it. But that's another story.

I'm very disappointed in Sen Franken. Like Obama, he makes wonderful speeches, but, unlike Paul Wellstone, he's not very good at throwing monkey wrenches into the Repub machine. Paul Wellstone was a major thorn in the side of the Bush admin, and he wasn't afraid to speak his mind with passion and with a little bit of anger thrown in. People listened to him intently.

He was a major threat to the Bush administration, and would have probably ran for president in 2004.
+6 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-06-24 04:00
"Progressives in a way are the new conservatives." So true. And, in many important ways, progressives are also true Christians, a.k.a. promoters of more love, more caring, more giving, more sharing.

Greed and power addiction, a.k.a. evil, ain't nothin' new. That's why I tell my dear peace and justice activists friends - damnably branded 'anarchists' in today's U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction) - that when I hold up my sign: BUSHWHACKED and KOCHSUCKED - VILLAINIARES, GO TO HELL, I am simply identifying evil, and telling it to go home.

Time all we sheeple, regardless of political party affiliation, religious beliefs or lack thereof, etc., take off the blinders, recognize and firmly reject the crippling MSD (manipulation, spin, distraction) with which our villainaire rulers constantly slam us. What better distraction than the economy in the toilet and the middle class enslaved, while the rulers rake in thier egregious profits and keep all we the sheeple concerned with putting bread on the table and a roof over that table?

Thanks, Al Franken, and thanks to all who care enough and are brave and determined enough to recognize and fight against evil, to restore democracy, human(e) rights, the rule of law, and.....
+3 # genierae 2011-06-25 08:05
ritaague: "progressives are also true Christians"?? I agree totally with the rest of that sentence, but you don't have to be a Christian to be a good, loving, compassionate human being, you just have to be awake, and Democrats, as a group, are more awake by far than are Republicans. In fact, many times being a Christian is a barrier to being enlightened, because religious doctrine takes precedence over critical thinking. Its only when we put away all dogma that we can be open to spiritual enlightenment. Peace.
+9 # tswhiskers 2011-06-24 07:12
Thank you, Mr. Franken. I wish you and the other Dems would make these points loudly and ad nauseum to the Reps and to the public. Going by what I see, the Reps don't have any problem getting their views across. In fact for that very reason Paul Ryan's "healthcare" package may cause them some real pain. But the Dems are not as frank as they need to be, or as scathing in their disagreements with the Reps. They need to speak loudly and often. They need to be a little less polite perhaps and short of insult tell the public exactly what the Reps have done to us and that they have turned this country into a plutocracy and intend to keep it that way. I miss Bill Moyers. He and his guests said this very thing time and again but perhaps being on PBS (that bastion of liberalism) kept his voice from being heard by those who need to. Thanks for speaking out. Encourage you colleagues to speak out plainly and loudly. Call the Reps on their agenda and show them as they really are. Make it clear that their constituency is the very rich and that they truly don't give a damn about the rest of the country (except at election time).
+10 # WhoKilledJFK 2011-06-24 13:41
Dear Senator Al,

You're good enough,
You're smart enough,
And doggonit, people like you!

If you want to REALLY get this message out, Senator,
Run in 2012.
+2 # Dawn Castle 2011-06-25 07:55
I have always been a fan of Al's. I admire his common sense values which is indicative of Midwesterners. i was afraid that he would lose these values while in Washington but I see that he holds his stancem has a good overview of what's going on today and is not afraid to speak up. Good on ya, Al!. Definitely presidential material.
0 # cblf14 2011-06-25 21:50
What middle class? There is the rich, and then there is the poor working class. Only thru armed resistance and revolution will we obtain our rights and freedom.
+1 # EnnBee 2011-06-25 22:09
Maybe the problem is that the media gives too much attention to the loud-shouting Republican story-tellers and Al's message doesn't make it farther than MSNBC (thank God for its existence). ritaague you are funny! Glen Caton you hit the nail on the head that the poverty line needs to be determined by housing costs and that corporations today seek unsustainable profits and ROI. Thank you for conveying so clearly in economic terms what I could see was at fault, but not articulate as you have.
+1 # bakerhunny 2011-06-25 23:44
There will always be "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them"! Unfortunately, America has been dumbed down so much, anyone that gets a free HoverRound thinks that the President is a communist or God Forbid....a Muslim....and that is the population that actually votes.
The youth have to band together and long as they have Photo ID in like 13 states now (LOL)....But they have to start caring...hopefu lly, soon!
+5 # SteveM 2011-06-26 04:09
The only thing that I disagree with the great Sen. Franken about in his speech is this: he stated that he went from comedian to senator, in that order.

The fact is that, between his "Saturday Night Live" gig and his dethroning of the benefactor of the late, great Sen. Wellstone's fatal plane crash, Norm Coleman, Al Franken was an excellent commentator and did so in a time when progressives needed it most, 2001 to 2005. In fact, I subscribed to Robert Redford's Sundance cable channel solely to have access to Al Franken's show.

Al Franken was excellent then, and he's excellent now. Please keep fighting the good fight, Al Franken, and please begin to consider running for President in 2016.

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