Something about outrage


The editors of The New York Times remind:

There is no firm national count of the number of untested rape kits. But last March, Human Rights Watch found more than 12,500 untested rape kits in the Los Angeles area alone. The Houston Police Department recently found at least 4,000 untested rape kits in storage. Detroit’s backlog may be as high as 10,000 untested kits.

This week, the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Justice Department, released the results of a survey of more than 2,000 state and local law enforcement agencies, including troubling confirmation of languishing rape case evidence. In 18 percent of open, unsolved rape cases, forensic evidence had not been submitted to a crime lab.

Just say ‘No’ … to what?


Perhaps the strangest thing about the recent vote on the Franken Amendment is its political implications. Or, as Jon Stewart so aptly put it, “How is anyone against this?”

    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.

The basic proposition is that one should not be expected to sign away their right to mundane justice as a prerequisite of employment in the private sector, especially in such an acute question as rape.

Josh Kraushaar at Politico offers the basic analysis:

Franken’s amendment, which passed 68-30, received the support of 10 Republican senators. However, most Republicans opposed the amendment because it went against the wishes of the Defense Department, and argued it gave Congress too much influence in altering defense contracts.

Those concerns, however, are immaterial to Democratic strategists, who believe the vote will be politically costly to the two Republican senators facing competitive races – Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pounced after the vote, putting out a statement attacking Vitter “for choosing special interests over justice and the interests of the American taxpayers.”

And a senior Democratic strategist working on defeating Vitter told POLITICO that the vote will “very likely” come up in a campaign ad next year.

Republicans point out that the amendment was opposed by a host of business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and applies to a wide range of companies, including IBM and Boeing.

Watching the GOP sideline itself in the early rounds of the health care debate, many suggested Republicans were simply posturing themselves for the 2010 midterm election. This vote would seem something of a deviation from such a course. I do not think it so extraordinary that we should not be overestimating voters in these constituencies if we imagine them capable of looking at their wives and daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends, and thinking, “Now, wait a minute ….”

The Senators voting nay:

    Alexander (R-TN), Barrasso (R-WY), Bond (R-MO), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Gregg (R-NH), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Kyl (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA), Wicker (R-MS)

These are not insignificant junior players. To the other, though, there aren’t many insignificant junior players among Senate Republicans; only three can boast of being freshmen, and two of them—Johanns and Risch—are among the nays.

The other, George LeMieux of Florida, is among the Republicans who haven’t yet completely lost their minds:

    Bennett (R-UT), Collins (R-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), LeMieux (R-FL), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Snowe (R-ME), Voinovich (R-OH)

If the Democrats handle this one correctly, they should be able to make some Republicans sweat next year. Senate Republicans facing re-election in 2010, with nay votes bold

    Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), McCain (AZ), LeMieux (FL), Isakson (GA), Crapo (ID), Grassley (IA), Brownback (KS), Bunning (KY), Vitter (LA), Bond (MO), Gregg (NH), Burr (NC), Voinovich (OH), Coburn (OK), DeMint (SC), Thune (SD), Bennett (UT)

    — Retiring

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