Blog Archives

Comedy Writer and Saturday Night Live Alum Tom Davis has Died


From the L.A. Times:

Franken & Davis on SNL

Davis died Thursday at his home in Hudson, N.Y., his wife, Mimi Raleigh, told the Associated Press. He had throat and neck cancer.

Classmates while growing up in Minneapolis, Davis and Franken developed stand-up routines in Minnesota and Los Angeles before landing the gig on “Saturday Night Live.” They wrote and performed on the show, creating the Coneheads characters and skits featuring Bill Murray‘s Nick the Lounge Singer.

As performers, Davis was the quiet one, overshadowed by the flashier Franken, who is now a Democratic senator from Minnesota. Davis told the AP in 2009: “If we were Sonny and Cher, he would be Cher.” The two had a falling out in 1990 but later reconciled.

Davis stayed with “SNL” from its first season until 1980, then returned for another run from 1985 to 1994 and again in 2002-03. He was among the “SNL” writers who shared Emmy Awards in 1976, ’77 and ’89. He won another writing Emmy in 1978 for a Paul Simon variety show.


When the Republicans say there is no War on Women, hit ’em with this list:

Raw Story ran this from Helen Wheels:

Everyone should copy & paste this for safekeeping and for sticking in lying sack of shit baggerfascists’ faces whenever necessary. I, with the help of other commenters up here, have kept a running tab of the GOP War on Women:

– Every GOP Senator voted AGAINST Equal Pay for Women Act
– Every GOP Senator voted AGAINST Al Franken‘s Anti-Rape Amendment

– Every GOP member vote FOR Anti-Safe Abortion Legislation

– Every GOP member vote FOR Blunt/Rubio Anti-Women’s Equal Health
Coverage Amendment. While Blunt/Rubio Amendment does not allow employer
to deny men employee health coverage for Vasectomy, the Blunt/Rubio
Amendment allows Employer to deny female employees & female
dependents: contraception, tubes tied, and hysterectomies.

– GOP Redefine Rape

– GOP write legislation to probe metal prongs up a woman’s vagina

– GOP change legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence
to “accuser”

– GOP write legislation that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides
abortion care. (South Dakota GOP)

– GOP write legislation to cut nearly a billion dollars of aid to low-income
pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

– GOP write legislation that would let hospitals allow a woman to die
rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

– GOP write law cutting ALL funding for low-income kids saying “Women
should really be home with the kids, not out working (Maryland)

– GOP Cut Funding for Head Start, by $1 Billion.

– Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women: GOP write Bill to CUT
funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

– GOP Candidates for President vow and pledge to Cut Funding for Planned

– GOP voted for a Amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood
health centers.

– GOP write Bill to eliminate all funds for Federal Family Planning Program.

– GOP Write Bill to Provide Contraception for wild horses but ENDS
all Federal Funding for Family Planning, including contraception
coverage. (Dan Burton(R))

– GOP Jan Brewer (R- AZ) Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday
signed one of the most controversial and restrictive abortion bans in the
country, which experts say effectively bans abortions after 18 weeks and
declares that a woman could be pregnant 2 weeks before she even had sex.

States passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, nearly four times the
23 laws passed in 2010. A lot of that had to do with the 2010 elections, which
ushered in a wave of Republican legislators and governors. This year, the
number of states with fully anti-abortion governments — in which both the
governor and the legislature oppose abortion rights — increased from
10 to 15.

Got it? Pass it around… post it on your blogs…print it out and pin it to bulletin boards everywhere.

Al Franken vs. Steve Jobs: Why are you tracking our locations?

Your iPhone may be tracking your every move and Senator Al Franken, with Congressman Ed Markey, has set out to do something about it.

From HuffPo:

Researchers found that iPhones and iPads track and record users’ locations by latitude and longitude, sometimes hundreds of times a day, for up to a year, storing the file in an unencrypted format on the device.

Franken highlights some of the potential dangers of this system, noting someone in possession of a stolen iPhone or iPad could “easily download and map out a customer’s precise movements for months at a time.” The senator also points out that there’s no indication the software can tell the difference between minors and adults meaning that “the millions of children and teenagers who use iPhone or iPad devices also risk having their location collected and compromised.”

I’m going to reproduce Franken’s letter to Apple Chairman Steve Jobs here:

Mr. Steve Jobs
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 90514

Dear Mr. Jobs, 

Sen. Al Franken

I read with concern a recent report by security researchers that Apple’s iOS 4 operating system is secretly compiling its customers’ location data in a file stored on iPhones, 3G iPads, and every computer that users used to “sync” their devices. According to the researchers, this file contains consumers’ latitude and longitude for every day they used an iPhone or 3G iPad running the iOS 4 operating system-sometimes logging their precise geo-location up to 100 times a day. The researchers who discovered this file found that it contained up to a year’s worth of data, starting from the day they installed the iOS 4 operating system. What is even more worrisome is that this file is stored in an unencrypted format on customers’ iPads, iPhones, and every computer a customer has used to back up his or her information. See Alasdair Allen & Pete Warden, Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is Recording Your Moves (Apr. 20, 2011), available at 


The existence of this information stored in an unencrypted format-raises serious privacy concerns. The researchers who uncovered this file speculated that it generated location based on cell phone triangulation technology. If that is indeed the case, the location available in this file is likely accurate to 50 meters or less. See Testimony of Michael Amarosa, Before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, June 24, 2010 at page 7 available at Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken-over the past months or even a year. Cf: People v. Weaver, 909 N.E.2d 1195, 1199- 1200 (N.Y. 2009) (“What this technology yields and records with breathtaking quality and quantity is a highly detailed profile, not simply of where we go, but by easy inference, of our associations … and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits.”). 

Moreover, because this data is stored in multiple locations in an unencrypted format, there are various ways that third parties could gain access to this file. Anyone who finds a lost or stolen iPhone or iPad or who has access to any computer used to sync one of these devices could easily download and map out a customer’s precise movements for months at a time. It is also entirely conceivable that malicious persons may create viruses to access this data from customers’ iPhones, iPads, and desktop and laptop computers. There are numerous ways in which this information could be abused by criminals and bad actors. Furthermore, there is no indication that this file is any different for underage iPhone or iPad users, meaning that the millions of children and teenagers who use iPhone or iPad devices also risk having their locationcollected and compromised. An estimated 13% of the 108 million iPhones and 19 million iPad devices sold are used by individuals under the age of 18, although some of these devices may not have been upgraded to iOS4. See AdMob, Admob Mobile Metrics Report at 5 (Jan. 2010), available at htt://; Complaint of Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics CV-11-1846 at 4-5 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2011).

These developments raise several questions:

  1. Why does Apple collect and compile this location data? Why did Apple choose to initiate tracking this data in its iOS 4 operating system?
  2. Does Apple collect and compile this location data for laptops?
  3. How is this data generated? (GPS, cell tower triangulation, WiFi triangulation, etc.)
  4. How frequently is a user’s location recorded? What triggers the creation of a record of someone’s location?
  5. How precise is this location data? Can it track a user’s location to 50 meters, 100 meter, etc.?
  6. Why is this data not encrypted? What steps will Apple take to encrypt this data?
  7. Why were Apple consumers never affiamtely informed of the collection and retention of their location data in this manner? Why did Apple not seek affirmative consent before doing so?
  8. Does Apple believe that this conduct is permissible under the terms of its privacy policy? See Apple Privacy Policy at “Location-based Services” (accessed on April 20, 2011), available at
  9. To whom, if anyone, including Apple, has this data been disclosed. When and why were these disclosures made?

I would appreciate your prompt response to these questions and thank you for your attention to this matter.


Al Franken

United States Senator

So the next time you make a call on your iPhone or bring up the web on your iPad, you should realize that you are not alone. And, by the way, if you thought you were beating the location cache problem by buying an Android device, you should be aware that they have been found to cache location data in a similar manner.

AT&T “moving in a direction consumers don’t want to go,” Netflix tells Raw Story

Al Franken, Senator from Minnesota

Sen Al Franken

Found this in Raw Story:

Telecoms want ‘to put Netflix out of business entirely,’ Sen. Franken tells SXSW

Here’s a clip, but go into Raw Story and read the rest:

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Appearing in a recent panel discussion at the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival in Austin, Texas, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) warned that net neutrality, or the treatment of all data on a network as equal, was under threat by Comcast and other telecoms.
But the immediate prize for a company like Comcast especially, he cautioned, is “to put Netflix out of business entirely” by making it too costly to compete with the network owners’ video service.
Franken also discussed the recent scrape between Comcast and Level 3 Communications, which is an intermediary that works with Netflix to deliver video. Comcast demanded that Level 3 enter into a  payment agreement with them, or face being cut off from all Comcast subscribers.
“I came here to warn you the party may be over,” Franken said. “They’re coming after the Internet hoping to destroy the very thing that makes it such an important for independent artists and entrepreneurs: its openness and freedom.”
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Please Join Senator Al Franken to Keep Corporations from Taking Control of the Internet

Sign Al’s petition at

I did… I hope you will, too. Keeping all of our access to the internet open and free of corporate manipulation is important to all of us who live our lives on the web.

At the Food CoOp…

I’m down in Frederick, MD, at the Common Market Food CoOp (where seniors get a 5% discount on Wednesdays), having lunch before I shop the grocery list Elly and I put together this morning. Traffic coming in was extremely heavy as soon as I got off the highway, so I guess I’m in the Christmas shopping rush… although Common Market is not as busy as the roads. I may do a little more stocking stuffer shopping while I’m down here, but this kind of crowd situation is something I usually avoid.

There are things here I just can’t get in Shepherdstown… like the locally grown beets that I really like, and a wide range of organic bulk foods, flours and nuts. The prices are usually pretty good, too, given the fact that organic foods at our supermarket level at home are always priced higher than the chemically contaminated stuff. This and the 5% discount makes it worthwhile to come down here on a Wednesday… usually something I do once a month on Social Security payout day (like today).

This is a very relaxed shopping environment, which makes it all the more enjoyable. It allows me time to look around and think about trying new things. This is where we first discovered the flavored stevia drops which, with straight seltzer, has replaced sugar/flavored sodas in our diet (also great for adding extra flavor to coffee or tea.)

While I was driving down I played a few Bob & Ray tapes that I haven’t listened to in a long time.  Here we had two extremely funny guys who never had to use bad language or violent subject matter, but created amazing humor from ordinary situations. Al Franken has noted many times how Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding influenced his comedy writing and performing back in his SNL days… and I know they influenced a lot of other major performers (including their own decendants) as well.

One of the things it made me think of was looking into the possibility of buying rights to do a community theatre presentation of Bob & Ray skits… and do it like a radio show with a sound effects guy and microphones. I’d have to find two really talented guys who could do the kind of low-key stuff that B&R did.

OK, Lunch is over… time to go shopping and get back home.

From Al Franken: The Most Important Free Speech Issue of our Time

This was in the HuffPo today… I reproduce it in full here:

This Tuesday is an important day in the fight to save the Internet.

As a source of innovation, an engine of our economy, and a forum for our political discourse, the Internet can only work if it’s a truly level playing field. Small businesses should have the same ability to reach customers as powerful corporations. A blogger should have the same ability to find an audience as a media conglomerate.

This principle is called “net neutrality” — and it’s under attack. Internet service giants like Comcast and Verizon want to offer premium and privileged access to the Internet for corporations who can afford to pay for it.

The good news is that the Federal Communications Commission has the power to issue regulations that protect net neutrality. The bad news is that draft regulations written by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski don’t do that at all. They’re worse than nothing.

That’s why Tuesday is such an important day. The FCC will be meeting to discuss those regulations, and we must make sure that its members understand that allowing corporations to control the Internet is simply unacceptable.

Although Chairman Genachowski’s draft Order has not been made public, early reports make clear that it falls far short of protecting net neutrality.

For many Americans — particularly those who live in rural areas — the future of the Internet lies in mobile services. But the draft Order would effectively permit Internet providers to block lawful content, applications, and devices on mobile Internet connections.

Mobile networks like AT&T and Verizon Wireless would be able to shut off your access to content or applications for any reason. For instance, Verizon could prevent you from accessing Google Maps on your phone, forcing you to use their own mapping program, Verizon Navigator, even if it costs money to use and isn’t nearly as good. Or a mobile provider with a political agenda could prevent you from downloading an app that connects you with the Obama campaign (or, for that matter, a Tea Party group in your area).

It gets worse. The FCC has never before explicitly allowed discrimination on the Internet — but the draft Order takes a step backwards, merely stating that so-called “paid prioritization” (the creation of a “fast lane” for big corporations who can afford to pay for it) is cause for concern.

It sure is — but that’s exactly why the FCC should ban it. Instead, the draft Order would have the effect of actually relaxing restrictions on this kind of discrimination.

What’s more, even the protections that are established in the draft Order would be weak because it defines “broadband Internet access service” too narrowly, making it easy for powerful corporations to get around the rules.

Here’s what’s most troubling of all. Chairman Genachowski and President Obama — who nominated him — have argued convincingly that they support net neutrality.

But grassroots supporters of net neutrality are beginning to wonder if we’ve been had. Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it.

No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate — and no true advocate of a free and open Internet should be seeking the permission of large media conglomerates before issuing new rules.

After all, just look at Comcast — this Internet monolith has reportedly imposed a new, recurring fee on Level 3 Communications, the company slated to be the primary online delivery provider for Netflix. That’s the same Netflix that represents Comcast’s biggest competition in video services.

Imagine if Comcast customers couldn’t watch Netflix, but were limited only to Comcast’s Video On Demand service. Imagine if a cable news network could get its website to load faster on your computer than your favorite local political blog. Imagine if big corporations with their own agenda could decide who wins or loses online. The Internet as we know it would cease to exist.

That’s why net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. And that’s why, this Tuesday, when the FCC meets to discuss this badly flawed proposal, I’ll be watching. If they approve it as is, I’ll be outraged. And you should be, too.

What do you think?

The “Poster Boy of Close Campaigns” gives a hell of a speech…

Al Franken last week in Minnesota… and why we don’t give up when the pollsters and Chris Matthews and everyone else does in the last 6 days before the election…

Al Franken Speaks On “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

And chokes up as he does… This was picked up at TPM:

Al is turning into one of the most moving Senators… I hope to hell he doesn’t get corrupted. He’s so good right now.

Quote of the Day – on the Google/Verizon Attack on Net Neutrality

“We can’t let companies write the rules that we the people are supposed to follow. Because if that happens those rules will be written only to protect corporations.”

– Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

Read more HERE.

Not News I Want To Hear…

What is wrong with people?
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Al Franken’s Condo Shot At

I’m hoping this was just a coincidence:

Nobody was home at the time of the incident, which was not reported until after the senator and his wife returned home to Minneapolis after a two-day trip out of town on Tuesday and discovered the damage to their window facing the street. Franken’s wife reported the incident to police.

“Right now it’s under investigation by the Minneapolis Police and the
Capitol Hill Police,” Franken spokesman Marc Kimball told POLITICO.
Kimball said that “there was some damage to one of the window panes” in

a double-paned window.

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When a Senator has a previous career in comedy, how do his constituents benefit?

Well, one way is to get a city like Duluth, MN, as a prime participant in the Google Fiber for Twin Ports project, which would bring high-speed fiber optics to a broad mass of Franken’s constituents. He may be using comedy, but he’s dead serious about bringing the best, new internet technologies to Minnesota.

Take a look:

Quote of the Day (yesterday, actually)

If we in the Senate pledge to fix those top priorities right away through reconciliation… the House of Representatives should pass the Senate bill. The exact details of this process need to be worked out by the leadership and the president.

Like it or not, the reality is that big pieces of legislation often need to be fixed after passage. Health care is a historic undertaking and this is no different. I think we have to stop letting the perfect — and everyone has different definitions of perfect — we have to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good… Walking away empty-handed to me is just not an option.”

– Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.)

Al, of course, is calling for use of the Reconciliation process… and forget the Repiglicans’  41 vote “majority”.

A Holiday Treat (historic, too)

Let’s go back to the time before Al Franken was a Senator… back to when he wrote “Lying Liars, etc…” and was campaigning to get Bush out of office. Here is “Supply Side Jesus” done as an animated comic book. Al’s perception was correct all along… and the Republicans he was satirizing haven’t changed much, either.

When you get older, your memory goes…

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Flashback of the Day

When Sen. Al Franken objected to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s request for additional time, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that in his 20-plus years in the Senate he had never heard a senator do that before.

However, a Political Wire reader sends this excerpt from the Congressional Record from October 10, 2002:

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator’s time has expired.

Mr. DAYTON. I ask for unanimous consent that I have 30 seconds more to finish my remarks.

Mr. McCAIN. I object.

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Thanks to Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire… does anyone anywhere think a slimeball like McCain is remotely believable any more?

I watched this while it happened this afternoon…

I thought John McCain was going to explode!

Al, you did a fine thing today. Holy Joe does not need to be glorified, extended or listened to a second longer than necessary.

Al Franken is my kind of Senate questioner:

Michael Moore makes a really good observation on his site:

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Furchtgott-Roth argued:

As configured, the three plans under consideration today would cause job loss and impede job creation, increasing the probability of bankruptcy. They would encourage American firms to move abroad, taking jobs to other countries.

But Franken countered that people in other countries with national health plans don’t go bankrupt for medical reasons.

Take a look at this video and see what I mean:

Of course France and Germany and such are SOCIALIST plans and not the kind of thing that Americans (who pay the most for the least) would want to even think of.

Jay and Al… Two of my Favorite Senators vs. Greedy Insurers

Listening to Jay Rockefeller (who is one of my 2 Senators here in WV) on Keith Olbermann a few minutes ago, he talked about an Amendment he is going to propose at the Finance Committee markup, probably tonite (they are working late). He said it was adapted from an Amendment that Al Franken had proposed at his own committee ( Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee) when they put their Health Care proposal together.

Al and Jay have tightened it… it helps stand up to the Insurance Companies walking away with 90% of the funds that the new bill will create, funds which, in their greed, has caused the Insurers and their lobbyists to keep Baucus away from the Public Option and has made any number of Senators their puppets.

Good for Al and Jay… let’s see if Baucus lets this Amendment get in (you know the Repiglicans, led by Chuck the Schmuck Grassley, will vote against it.)

Al Franken Draws a US Map of 50 States from Memory…

If you never saw Al do this, as he did during his campaign, take a look at the video. It will impress the Hell out of you:
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Senator Al Franken drew a surprisingly accurate map of all fifty U.S. states at the Minnesota State Fair recently.

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