Al Franken

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Al Franken


Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born on May 21, 1951) is a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member of the United States Senate, serving as the junior senator for Minnesota. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is unique to Minnesota and is affiliated with the Democratic Party.[1]

Personal Life

Franken was born on May 21, 1951, and grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He graduated from Harvard in 1973 and married Franni Franken. The two have two children: daughter Thomasin, 28, and son Joe, 24.

Franken achieved note as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live from its inception in 1975 before moving to writing and acting in films and television shows. He then became a political commentator, author of five books and host of a nationally syndicated radio show on the Air America Radio network. He has taken part in seven USO tours, visiting our troops overseas in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo and Uzbekistan - as well as visiting Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait four times.[1]

Air America

Franken was a founder and leading voice on the Air America radio network.[2]

Paul Wellstone tribute

As the 2004 Democratic National Convention was poised to open in Boston , Jobs with Justice, , hosted a living tribute to the late Senator Paul Wellstone on July 25. Hundreds filled the historic Old West Church to tackle the question, “What must the Democratic Party do to live up to the progressive vision of Paul Wellstone?”

“Paul had the courage to stand the pain that comes with standing for something and not fall for anything,” said United Steelworkers of America union International President Leo Gerard. “That’s what the Democratic Party needs right now. He gave people a reason to fight, to hope.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), another panel member, called for “Wellstone Democratic Clubs” to mobilize neighborhoods into the political process to re-order national resources.

Many in the audience were students at Camp Wellstone, a workshop conducted in Boston for prospective candidates and campaign workers conducted by Wellstone’s campaign manager, Jeff Blodgett, also on the panel.

Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) pointed out that too many liberals, including himself, voted for “welfare reform” in 1996. He praised Wellstone as the lone voice defending welfare at the time.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner quickly jumped in, igniting the audience with a clarion call for popular direct action to ensure accountability from a Kerry administration. “We need Kerry there and we need to be there to purge the cancer (of the Bush administration) from the soul of the body politic,” he said.

When Horace Small, the moderator, pooh-poohed the importance of trade in this election, Jim Hightower, author and radio personality, nearly jumped out of his seat.

“Tell that to Texas farmers who are losing their farms or workers who have lost their jobs to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement),” Hightower said. “Who the hell elected the WTO (World Trade Organization)? Right now, in Washington, there are too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. The people are revolting – in the best sense. I think we are going to get George.”

Confessing to once being a Republican, columnist Arianna Huffington reminded the assembly of all the dirty tricks and disgusting tactics that are on the horizon as November nears. Saying that “Mobilization is the key,” she proposed reaching out to the 50 percent of the eligible electorate that stayed home in 2000. “If we are able to just energize 10 percent of those voters, we win.”

The program included the presentation of awards to two attorneys, Julie Patino and Nadine Cohen, both of whom have fought difficult battles to protect affirmative action and voting rights of Massachusetts residents and immigrants. Other panelists included Al Franken, media personality, noted Columbia professor Frances Fox Piven and Anna Burger, vice president of the Service Employees International Union.[3]

"Caring Across Generations"

Al Franken address the conference, July 19, 2011

In July 2011, Jessica Cutcliffe, of Break The Chain Campaign, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, was involved in a conference of the Caring Across Generations campaign, in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. According to Cutliffe "we shouted our words and stood with our hands entwined, linked together by our common vision for transforming the culture of care. The circle marked the end of the Care Congress and the beginning of a movement".

As the more than 700 person crowd divided into “tracks,” for the afternoon, the erupting fervor did not dissipate. A highly energized ACTION group proceeded to Capitol Hill to testify on the importance of protecting Medicare and Medicaid and to hear from Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on these issues.[4]

American Constitution Society

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Supported by Council for a Livable World

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Al Franken in his successful Senate run as candidate for Minnesota.[5]

Council for a Livable World, 50th Anniversary

Alfranken.JPG

On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edith Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

There were also speeches and toasts by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Shelley Berkley, former Representative and PeacePAC chairman Tom Andrews (D-ME), former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta and Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.[6]

Credit for New START treaty

According to the Council for a Livable World, in December 2010, After a battle that lasted many months, the Senate voted 71-26 to give its advice and consent to the New START Resolution of Ratification.

The effort to win the Senate’s two-thirds majority was like riding a roller coaster, with optimism followed by pessimism followed by optimism and back and forth.
Ultimately, the vote was a remarkably bipartisan victory in an intensely hyper-partisan atmosphere. It is a victory for the consensus of former national security officials of both parties and both active duty and retired military.
Ratification of the treaty is only the beginning. The U.S. and Russia should take advantage of the momentum created by the approval of New START to pursue negotiations on reductions in all types of nuclear warheads, including non-deployed and non-strategic warheads, in a timely manner.

Lots of credit goes to Senators Kerry and Lugar (R-IN), who managed the treaty, other Senators who have been active for the treaty such as Casey (D-PA), Shaheen (D-NH), Cardin (D-MD), Franken (D-MN) and others, the Obama Administration who put together a terrific campaign (and I will not name everyone because there are too many to name) and a terrific effort by the arms control community.[7]

2014 endorsement

The council wrote of Franken;

Frankiebaby.JPG
In January 2007, Al Franken announced the end of his popular radio show and following the final show, he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. After winning the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement, Franken faced incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R). After a hotly contested election, Al Franken was sworn in as Minnesota’s Senator on July 7, 2009.

Senator Franken immediately became a champion for the issues Council members support. During the debate on nuclear weapons modernization spending and New START, Senator Franken took to the Senate floor saying:
“This is the 21st century, not the Cold War, and our needs are different. That's why I won't support this massive investment in modernization without an equal commitment to arms control and non-proliferation.”
His leadership has not just been talking points; he’s earned a perfect 100% on the Council’s scorecard for his support of smart security spending, ending the war in Afghanistan and strong non-proliferation programs.[8]

ACORN endorsement

Al Franken with ACORN officials

Planned Parenthood

Franken received $9000 in lobbying funds from Planned Parenthood in 2008.

Endorsed by communist Mark Froemke

On July 14, 2008 the Al Franken for U.S. Senate campaign announced that four new labor organizations have "joined its ever-growing coalition that’s fighting to send a senator to Washington who will stand with Minnesota’s middle class".

The new endorsements were;

“Minnesotans need a senator who understands the needs of Minnesota families, and who won’t abandon them in a time of need,” declared Mark Froemke, education director of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, Local 167G.

“Norm Coleman had a chance to support the families of the Red River Valley on CAFTA and, instead, he supported President Bush,” Froemke noted. “Al Franken will stand with farmers and workers and Minnesotans, and that’s why we stand with him in this election.[9].”

Communist Party commentary

In a Peoples World article, November 22, 2008 Barb Kucera wrote of the controversial Minnesota U.S. Senate election, quoting both Mark Ritchie and his known associate Communist Party USA member Mark Froemke .[10]

Whether Minnesota labor's massive effort to mobilize members in the 2008 elections was a success will ultimately turn on the results of a recount in the U.S. Senate race, Labor 2008 coordinators say.
While most AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions backed Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) challenger Franken, a few labor organizations–notably the Carpenters and Pipe Trades--endorsed Coleman. After all the results were turned in, Coleman led Franken by only 215 votes out of just under 3 million cast. An official recount began Nov. 18 and could take a month, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said.
Franken’s race against GOP incumbent Norman Coleman is important nationally. To get pro-worker bills through the Senate, workers and their allies need 60 votes, out of 100 senators, to cut off GOP filibusters. That includes a presumed GOP talkathon against the Employee Free Choice Act, which is designed to help level the playing field between workers and bosses in union organizing and bargaining first contracts...

Independence Party candidates made the difference in the Bachmann and Paulsen races and definitely affected the Senate race, said Mark Froemke, president of the West Area Labor Council that spans the western half of the state. 'The Independence Party got a better number than I would have expected in this area,' he said. Negativity of campaign commercials in the final days of the Senate race also had an effect.

DSA support

The minutes of a Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America membership meeting held at the Friends Meeting House in Decatur, Georgia, March 1 2008, included reference to a report by Milt Tambor on DSA support for Congressional and Senate candidates in the 2008 election.[11]

4) Milt reported that DSA is calling on locals to support progressive candidates for Congress and the Senate, mainly through fundraisers and volunteering. Al Franken (MN) and one other have been suggested; more details will follow...

Wellstone Action

In 2009 Al Franken was listed as a member of the Advisory Board[12] of Wellstone Action, a Minnesota based organization based on the political legacy[13] of that state’s late ‘progressive” Senator Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund combine to form a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action's mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.

"Agent Orange" campaign connection

July 15, 2010, Front left , Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Al Franken, Tran Thi Hoan (seated), Susan Schall, Merle Ratner

In July 2010, Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong a leading clinician / researcher on the effects of Agent Orange on women and children in Vietnam from Tu Du Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, visited Washington DC with "Agent orange" victim, student Ms. Tran Thi Hoan.

On July 15, 2010, at the the Third Hearing on Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation Rayburn House Office Building, VAVA (Vietnam Assocation of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommitte on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment. This was the first time a victim of Agent Orange had spoken to Congress. The victim, the well-received Ms. Tran Thi Hoan, who has no legs, received a lot of attention.

Dr. Phuong and Tran Thi Hoan were accompanied by Merle Ratner of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and Susan Schall (both leaders of the Committees of Correspondence dominated Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.

The party met Minnesota Senator Al Franken.[14]

Vietnam delegation

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is part of a Senate delegation that will travel to Vietnam next week.

The group will "look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities, and meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues and trade relations."

He'll also continue on to Laos. Minnesota has a large community of Hmong who originally came from Laos.

Other Senators on the Vietnam leg of the trip are: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon).[15]

Representative Lynn Woolsey of California, also accompanied the delegation.[16]

Anti "speculator" bill

in April 2012 Ben Cardin joined a group of his Senate colleagues in sponsoring a bill, S. 2222, which "will give federal regulators immediate authority to invoke emergency powers to rein in speculators who are responsible for rapidly rising gasoline prices".

There is broad agreement among energy experts and economists that speculators are one of the causes for the rapidly rising price of gas. Domestic oil production has risen to its highest level in a decade, oil supplies are greater today than they were three years ago and demand for oil in the United States is lower today than it was in 1997. Yet gas prices continue to soar.

There is something wrong with this equation. There is no logical reason why gas prices should continue to rise if oil supplies are up and demand is down.
The American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and other experts all say excessive oil speculation in the futures markets significantly increases crude oil and gasoline prices. A Feb. 27, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine cited a recent report by the investment bank Goldman Sachs pointing out that excessive oil speculation adds 56 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

This "speculators" bill would set a 14-day deadline for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to take emergency steps to stop excessive speculation by Wall Street traders in the crude oil, gasoline and other energy futures markets. Also co-sponsoring the measure were: U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).[17]

Working with Communist Mark Froemke

Al Franken (left), Mark Froemke

U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., left, and Mark Froemke, an AFL-CIO representative, and Communist Party USA member, left the Grand Forks International Airport on Tuesday January 11, 2012, after Franken flew into Grand Forks to spend two days talking to locked-out American Crystal Sugar Co. workers in the Red River Valley. [18]

Hi IPS rating

In 2012 “Congressional Report Card for the 99 Percent" , the Institute for Policy Studies examined 40 different legislation actions in the House and Senate—votes and legislation introduced—to ascertain the real allegiances of sitting members of Congress. These include votes to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, levy a Wall Street speculation tax, invest in infrastructure, and protect workers and student financial aid.

The Report Card also graded politicians for their commitment to reducing inequality and boosting the 99 percent. The report’s “Honor Roll” gave an A-plus grade to 5 members of the U.S. Senate, including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (VT-I), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).[19]

Committees

Franken sits on the following committees:[1]

  • Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee
  • Retirement and Aging Subcommittee
  • Judiciary Committee
  • Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Subcommittee
  • Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee
  • Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee
  • Indian Affairs Committee
  • Special Committee on Aging

Staff

The following have worked as staff members for Al Franken:[20]

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 About Franken
  2. Democratic Left, Summer 2006
  3. Wellstone legacy: Stand up and fight, July 31 2004
  4. IPS blog, All Those Who Care: Campaign Launch Shows Depth of Interdependence, July 19, 2011 Senator Al Franken speaks about Medicaid to Caring Across Generations, By Jessica Cutcliffe for the IPS Blog
  5. CLW website: Meet Our Candidates
  6. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation website. Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration
  7. CLW, The Chain Reaction, New START Debate (Day 8, the final day – December 22) DEC 22, 2010 | POSTED BY JOHN ISAACS
  8. CLW, bio, 2014 endorsement, accessed July, 2014
  9. http://www.unionworld.us/2008/07/franken-announces-new-labor-endorsements-by-kari-larson/
  10. Minnesota euphoria over Obama win tempered by Senate recount, Peoples World, barb kucera, November 22, 2008
  11. Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America membership meeting minutes, March 1, 2008, accessed Dec. 10, 2011
  12. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/board-directors
  13. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/our-mission-goals
  14. [ July 15, 2010 Third Hearing on Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments in Remediation, Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed December 12, 2010]
  15. Minn Post.Al Franken to visit Vietnam with Senate group, then head to Laos, By Joe Kimball | 07/01/10
  16. Thanh Nien News, Luncheon with US senators in Hanoi Last Updated: Friday, July 02, 2010
  17. Stop Wall Street speculation that drives up gas prices for families, Peoples World, by: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, April 16 2012
  18. [http://www.agweek.com/event/image/id/55223/headline/Sen.%20Al%20Franken,%20D-Minn.,%20and%20Mark%20Froemke/publisher_ID/40/AG WEEK, Published January 11, 2012, 12:00 AM Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Mark Froemke]
  19. [http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/a-voting-guide-for-the-99, Yes!blog, Lawmakers Get Graded on Equality Record, by Chuck Collins posted Oct 09, 2012]
  20. Legistorm: Al Franken (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)