Former Senator Al Franken turns 70

liberal talk radio

Al FrankenAl Franken was a writer and featured performer on Saturday Night Live in 1977–1980, leaving when producer Lorne Michaels did. Michaels had recommended Franken to succeed him as the producer, but NBC president Fred Silverman said no, probably because of a Franken skit that insulted Fred personally.

Franken returned to SNL in 1986, then from 1988 to 1995.  It was during that period that he did a running bit called “Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley.” It was a mock self-help show inspired by Franken attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The skit series inspired a 1992 novel, titled after Smiley’s catchphrase, “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” I’ll admit to relating to that mantra, even if I wasn’t quite sure it was true of me.

Air America Radio was a talk radio network, with a liberal POV, trying (and largely failing) to counterprogram the conservative message. The Al Franken Show was the flagship talk program from 2004 to Valentine’s Day 2007. That was the day Franken announced his candidacy for the United States Senate for the state of Minnesota.

The 2008 Senate race between Franken and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman was incredibly close, each with 41.99% of the vote. After recounts and court rulings, Franken wasn’t sworn in until July 7, 2009. The Minnesota senator had a progressive voting record and was reelected with 53.9% of the vote in 2014.

The allegations

Some sexual misconduct allegations were made against Franken in 2017. One famous photo from before he was in public office he apologized for, and the subject, a fellow comedian, accepted that. Nevertheless, the Senate Ethics Committee announced on November 30 it was “investigating allegations against him.” Some liberal groups and commentators… called on Franken to resign.”

As other accusations surfaced, “more than two dozen Democratic senators, led by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, called on Franken to resign before the ethics committee could review the allegations.

“Although Franken had asked to be allowed to appear before the Senate Ethics Committee to give his side of the story, on December 6 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told him he had to announce his resignation by five o’clock or he could be censured and stripped of committee assignments. On December 7, Franken announced his intention to resign his Senate seat. He called some of the accusations ‘simply not true’ and said he remembered others ‘very differently.'”

I do wish he had gotten the hearing he was due, and not just for his sake. Many people believed that Gillibrand, who I’ve voted for multiple times and would select again, was working to get rid of a potential rival for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President.

I don’t buy the notion that she was that calculating. She’s long been a staunch advocate for ridding sexual harassment and assault in the military and might be getting some traction in 2021. Nevertheless, I was convinced early on that she had zero chance of obtaining her party’s support for a White House run in 2020.


In 2019, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer documented substantial inaccuracies in allegations by conservative talk-radio host Leeann Tweeden. “Seven former or current senators who called for Franken’s resignation in 2017 told Mayer they regretted doing so.”

Here is the Al Franken website, which leads to his podcast (over 110 episodes) and “other stuff.” As he puts it: “A five-time Emmy-winning SNL comedy writer/producer, joins a four-time #1 NYT bestselling author, a three-time highest-rated national progressive radio host, a two-time Grammy-winning artist, and a former US Senator. So, it gets a little crowded in the booth when Al talks about public policy and sometimes political comedy with notable guests. Think ‘The Daily’ without the resources of the NYTimes.”

Ask Roger Anything, or 2020 won’t end

Bring on 2021

AskThe Boston Globe listed the 20 best shows on television this year; I have seen NONE of them. I’ve done no sourdough bread baking. How is it that I now have MORE books to read than I did last year at this time?

Earlier this month, the NYS Council of Churches had its Gala, the recording of which is here. There were various speakers and presentations. The CoC sponsored a Youth Leadership Seminar in DC, which my daughter attended. Their info is at about the hour and 25-minute mark of the video. About 10 minutes later, see a pic of a chance encounter with our US Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

What’s weird is that the Seminar was in February of THIS year. You know, as people get older, they are always amazed at how fast time goes by. Yet, I would have thought that trip was two years ago, at least. It’s a 2020… what’s the opposite of a miracle?

Or else

In order to purge myself of this particularly infinite year, I’ve determined that you can Ask Roger Anything. You really should. If you don’t, 2020 won’t end. Or so I’m told. If they say it, it must be true. You may ask about 2020, or 2021 if it ever arrives. I’m not a big believer in the apocalypse. But fires, floods, pestilence, strife…

As always, I’ll even answer your queries, generally within the month. You are invited to leave your questions, suggestions, recipes, predictions of end times in the comments section of this here blog, or on Facebook or Twitter. Hey, if you send it to me on Instagram, I might actually have to go there. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

If you prefer to remain anonymous, that is permitted. However, let me know if that’s your intent. E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to be unnamed. Otherwise, I’ll assume otherwise.

K is for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

“We are here to put others first, to live a day in their shoes, to understand what their life is like and try to make it better.”

When Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was appointed Secretary of State by President Barack Obama in 2009, New York governor David Paterson selected Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate vacancy.

Liberal Democrats, primarily from downstate (New York City) were not happy with the pick of the upstate Congresswoman with moderately conservative credentials. But, as Paterson knew, Gillibrand had won her House seat in 2006 and 2008 in a district gerrymandered to be in the Republican column.

As a Senator, she moved her political positions towards a far more liberal/progressive agenda. Her first early issue that I was aware of, though, didn’t seem to skew left or right, as she worked hard for passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

She has become a champion for victims of sexual assault, first in the military and then nationwide. She said, “This is a moment in time, unlike any other, with the ‘Me Too’ movement. Women are feeling the ability to tell what happened to them, some of the worst moments they’ve lived, and tell it publicly, and that is powerful and it is affecting everything.”

She’s also championed female candidates for office with the group Off The Sidelines, which professes not taking any corporate PAC money.

In 2017, no senator voted more often against the regime’s Cabinet nominees than Kirsten Gillibrand. She said recently: “We have a president who silences and demeans women, rigs the economy so corporations and the wealthiest few get richer while American families get by on less, allows the NRA to dictate his gun policy and threatens Dreamers with deportation from the country they call home. And what’s worse, the Republican Party has fallen in line behind him.”

A vulgar and suggestive message from the Tweeter-in-chief may have done her more political good than harm. The Washington Post reported that he raised her profile and fired up her supporters. She denies that she’s a contender for the 2020 presidential election.

She has been quite visible on television of late, including a 60 Minutes profile. “We are here to help people. We are here to put others first, to live a day in their shoes, to understand what their life is like and try to make it better.”

Kirsten Gillibrand is running for re-election to the Senate in 2018, and it appears extremely unlikely that she could lose.

For ABC Wednesday

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