Internet

When It Comes to Understanding the Internet, Al Franken is a Joke

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Funny ha-ha.

The Senate's loudest legislative funnyman is very, very worried about the future of the Internet! In an email sent out yesterday, the senator warned that the Internet policy proposal released by Google and Verizon last week would leave your wi-fi in danger from…well, he never specifies, exactly. But it would be bad! As Franken's email warns:

The Google-Verizon "framework" was written so as not to apply to wireless Internet services. If you use wi-fi or access the Internet on your phone, this is a serious problem.

Forget for a moment that Franken's email doesn't actually present any legitimate worry about what might happen under a non-neutral Net. As Cato's Jim Harper explains, he's flat wrong here in his explanation of how the proposal would work. The wireless services that would be allowed to operate outside the bounds of Net neutrality do not include wi-fi, which is used to broadcast wireline data over short distances. Instead, the proposal would cover large-scale wireless data networks like those used by AT&T and Verizon to send and receive data to and from smartphones and similar devices.

This is pretty basic stuff—the kind of thing your average first-day-on-the-job stock boy at Best Buy ought to be able to explain with ease. And normally, an obvious technical mistake like this wouldn't matter. The problem is that, as a senator, Franken could get a significant say about what policies are put in place if the issue ever comes before Congress.

It's not the first time Franken has spouted nonsense on the issue either. Earlier this month, the senator warned that without Net neutrality, "We don't just have a competition problem. We have a First Amendment problem." Even under the most extreme non-neutral scenario, which imagines a world in which ISPs choose to block individuals and organizations from posting their thoughts on the web because of the specific political content of those thoughts—in other words, a scenario that's completely implausible—this represents a fundamental misunderstanding about First Amendment rights.

Couldn't find a graphic that says "the Internet is BADICAL." But I think we both know that it is.

Basically, it's the same mistake that radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger made when she huffed, "I want my First Amendment rights back, which I can't have on radio without the threat of attack on my advertisers and stations." Just as the First Amendment doesn't guarantee anyone a nationally broadcast radio show with paying advertisers, it also doesn't guarantee anyone the right to use data networks owned and operated by another company for their own purposes. The First Amendment is not a license to say anything you want, any way you want, while standing on or using someone else's property. By Franken's logic, you'd also have the First Amendment right to walk into Target and start screaming profanity about your least favorite legislators through a bullhorn without a store employee escorting you out.

Lately, Franken has been pitching Net neutrality as a key to protecting political speech. "If we don't protect net neutrality now," he wondered in front of liberal activists at Netroots nation last month, "how long do you think it will take before the Fox News website loads five times faster than Daily Kos?" Worrisome, right? Well, not really. I could explain why he's wrong, but somebody beat me to it. And when I say "somebody", I mean none other than a Daily Kos diarist who starts his post with the sorrowful admission that "in his speech before the Netroots convention [Franken] showed that he really didn't understand network neutrality." As the kids say, it's funny…because it's true.

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  1. By Franken’s logic, you’d also have the First Amendment right to walk into Target and start screaming profanity about your least favorite legislators through a bullhorn without a store employee escorting you out.

    Yes, yes. Tell me more about this First Amendment. I like it so far.

    1. If it means I can walk through the House floor describing Nancy’s vulva (think: Miss Havisham’s wedding cake) without proceeding to become a particular individual in jail, I’m with Al.

    2. Here in MN, the Frankenphiles are ready to storm any Target they can find. Why? Because Target gave to a political group that supports the GOP candidate for governor.

      The GOP candidate has a bug up his ass about gay marriage, so the local liberal groups are outraged that Target could be so reactionary. But not so outraged that they shop at Walmart.

  2. Minnesota knew he was a comedian, right?

    1. Considering how unfunny he’s been for, oh, 20+ years, it’s understandable if they didn’t realize that.

      1. Granted, he’s not lutefisk-funny…my god, is it possible that in Minnesota, Al Franken is a comic genius?

        1. Franken, Garrison Keillor… they do have a pretty strange sense of humor up there.

          1. they do have a pretty strange sense of humor up there

            1. Hey atleast we aren’t pig fuckers like those guys in Sconni, dontchaknow.

              1. I thought you had 2 d’s in your name…? For a double dose of this pimping.

                1. He took it off after getting a double dose of prison time.

        2. Franken isn’t a comic genius even in North Korea.

          1. All your diaper are belong to us.

          2. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!

            …or else.

        3. Well, just to keep things equal, we also sent Micelle Bachmann on a DC vacation. Got rid of both, at least for a while. SNL was happy X 2.

        4. ?|8.20.10 @ 5:10PM|#
          “Granted, he’s not lutefisk-funny…my god, is it possible that in Minnesota, Al Franken is a comic genius?”

          France, Jerry Lewis…who knows?

      2. Pretty clear that Tom Davis was the funny one.

    2. Minnesota knew he was a comedian, right?

      Louis C.K. would be a way better Senator then Schumer.

      1. Hell, Andrew W. K. would make a better Senator than Schumer.

        1. W.K. ranks as one of the greatest pranks on the music world ever. Just look at the response from, well, everyone.

          The indiehipsterdouche crowd can’t figure out if he’s subversive or stupid.

        2. OMG its fuuny LOL

          1. Alright, we got the Juggalo vote.

  3. Take a tip from Nick as to what types of photos are acceptable (and palatable) for posting. Men in diapers, senators or not, are not acceptable.

    1. That brain bleach inducing affront after they stop US from posting pics of hotties putting pants on. Harumph

  4. The problem is that, as a senator, Franken could get a significant say about what policies are put in place if the issue ever comes before Congress.

    Senator Franken should leave these policies to, what is it you kids say nowadays, teh experts.

  5. Actually, that picture is no joke. It makes me want to puke. 😛

    1. choke it down, it’s fake

      1. BLEAHHH!!!! Oh, man! Chunky….

        Sorry, peckerwood… You were saying?

  6. You have way, way too much faith in Best Buy employees.

  7. Wait — Al Franken wrote something uninformed and asinine? Say it isn’t so!

  8. When It Comes to Understanding the Internet Al Franken is a Joke

    FIFY

  9. I WANT MY first amendment rights back to post Images on Hit and Run!!!

    Remember August 18th!!!

    1. What. . .are. . .you. . .talking. . .about? That. . .never. . .happened.

      1. I wonder how hard it would be to write a Firefox add-on that with a specific tag would put an image in posts.

        So say if you put a tag in a post such as {tagimage Lobster_girl} in your comment anyone with the add-on would see an image of lobster girl.

        1. Interesting. I don’t see why that couldn’t be done. It’s like augmented reality for blogs.

          1. Episiarch! Episiarch, get down here. Joshua has a question.

            1. I don’t give away software for free. Let the open source morons do that.

              1. Times have changed. It’s not like the old days, when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Don Episiarch has all the code, and the secrets of Mozilla, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all, we are not Communists.

                1. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all, we are not Communists.

                  Sure, Epi can send the bill to my home address:

                  69 NoFucking Way,
                  You’reGonnaGetMyMoney, HI 96734

              2. So starting a .com business supported by ads that would allow users to post anything they want on any blog with comments or twitter does not appeal to you?

                I wonder if the term “Blog Vandal” is trade marked?

                1. I see no way to make money on it.

                  Advertisements won’t work because: 1) you need numbers, 2) if you get numbers, you will be sued for something related to ‘advertising on someone else’s website’.

                  Direct pay won’t work because no matter how robust the original system, it would be trivial to break, so you’ll need to keep paying for maintenance and work arounds. So far I think there are maybe a half dozen people who are even interested in this for H&R if it were free…

                  And even if you could, there would ultimately be the problem of H&R simply banning people to stop it.

                  The alternative, a ‘meta’ comment system, I vaguely recall having been tried and not being very successful (think Digg comments directly in your browser). Plus, only people with the software installed would see *any* of your post in that case.

          2. It’s like augmented reality for blogs.

            That’s called booze.

        2. Probably just to convert different tag delimiters into HTML tags. e.g. “#img src=’lobstergirl.jpg’/# becomes <img src=’lobstergirl.jpg’/> in your browser. No need for a secondary markup language and could be done as a greasemonkey script.

          1. # signs as a delimiter? WTF is there another Cold Fusion developer out there?

          2. No need for a secondary markup language and could be done as a greasemonkey script.

            I want it easy to use.

            1. My idea would be a browser add-on with a web site.

              The add-on to identify the markup and the web site essentially for doing the server work.

              The mark up would simply be a bracketed randomly generated number like the numbers used for youtube videos and the web site would be where you get the number.

              The servers would not actually hold any images.

              From the users point of view they would go the web site enter in the address of the photo and the web site would then give you a number.

              Simply type in the bracketed number into any comment. the add-on will see the number go through our server to link the number to an internet address, give that address to the add-on, the add on will then tell the user’s browser to display the image.

              1. step 2. ???

                step 3. Profit

    2. I WANT MY first amendment rights back to post Images on Hit and Run!!!

      You don’t have a First Amendment right to commandeer other’s people property for your speech. Get your own fucking website if you want it so bad.

      1. Obviously I was joking prolefeed.

        1. So was I, Joshua.

          Mutual irony / smacktalk fail, yeah?

          1. With the Hit & Run add-on, all snark and irony would be clearly identified.

  10. This issue makes me feel like Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds.

  11. I stopped reading at Al Franken. This is a clear case of you get what you vote for. The guy was a shitty comedian, and is working out to be an even worse public servant. Minnesota should be forced to have him as governor for 10 years for forcing this dipshit on the rest of us.

    1. The guy was a shitty comedian

      In Franken’s defense, “Stuart Smalley Saves His Family” was pretty damn funny.

      Franken in the Senate? Not so much so.

    2. This is a clear case of you get what you vote for.

      Yeah, but lots of times you get it anyway, even if you didn’t vote for it.

  12. Don’t forget our senator has a long history of protecting political speech. Like when he body slammed a protester at a Howard Dean rally and then claimed he did it out of his undying love for the freedom of speech.

    AL FRANKEN KNOCKS DOWN DEAN HECKLER By VINCENT MORRIS

    January 27, 2004 — EXETER, N.H. – Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean.
    The tussle left Franken’s trademark thick-rim glasses broken, but he said he was not injured. Franken – who seemed in a state of shock and out of breath after the incident – was helped back to his feet by several people who watched the tussle. Police arrived soon after. “I got down low and took his legs out,” said Franken afterwards. Franken said he’s not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. “I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally,” he said. “I’m neutral in this race but I’m for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down.” The trouble started when several people began shouting accusations at Dean. Franken emerged from the crowd and charged one male protester, grabbing him with a bear hug from behind and slamming him onto the floor. “I was a wrestler so I used a wrestling move,” Franken said.

    Seriously, anyone who doubts his comic genius needs to read that again. You physically assault someone at a political rally and claim the high ground.

    1. You physically assault someone at a political rally in order to shut them up and claim to be defending free speech! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      1. He also went to a local bastion of liberalism Carleton college in MN and made fun of the local conservative kid. (here).

        I can’t find a better link, but I remember when it happened there was a lot of scuttlebutt about the kid having some sort of disorder that made it hard for him to deal with Franken’s combativeness*.

        *I once had Rudy Boschwitz throw a pencil at me in high school because I had my hands in my pockets while talking to him, but I still managed to cope after being oppressed by The Man.

  13. I may be a communist but even I don’t advocate unlimited bandwidth for one low price or even for free. I think more like the Vietnamese, market economy with a socialist orientation.

    Apparently on Daily Kos, this is how one defines oneself as a moderate.

    1. and they still troll-rated him, because, you know, Michele Bachmann is on the same side as him!

      I didn’t think it possible, but DKos has gotten even more shrill and fanatical since I last looked. And they say libertarians are ideological purists!

  14. Peter:

    I want my internet service to be like my phone service. Do you believe the phone company should be able to control what conversations we have because we are doing it with “their property”?

    Do you want a world with
    * Phone call to Grandma about daughter’s new tooth $.03 a minute.
    * Phone call to order a pizza, $2 please.

    Just get the signals from A to B and butt out.

    1. I have unlimmitted minutes when speaking to the only 5 people I regularly speak with on the phone, while any other calls are charged to my monthly allowance. This product has worked great for me, and with your permission, I’d like to continue using it.

      Just purchase the provider that suits you, and butt out.

      1. This product has worked great for you in part because your provider (and every other provider) are covered by common carrier regulation.

    2. I have unlimmitted minutes when speaking to the only 5 people I regularly speak with on the phone, while any other calls are charged to my monthly allowance. This product has worked great for me, and with your permission, I’d like to continue using it.

      Just purchase the provider that suits you, and butt out.

    3. Hey Ramsey, if you want that so much START YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS AND OFFER IT.

    4. Yeah, I want my VoIP 911 calls to wait in the queue behind the latest youtube sensation, too.

      1. You pay far more per unit of bandwidth making that 911 call than the person watching the You Tube video – Problem solved!

        Plus, you know, the fact that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere. Oh, and you could continue that copper hard line service.

        But you won’t, because the extra charges tacked on by the gubmint make copper hard lines uncompetitive.

        1. But you won’t, because the extra charges tacked on by the gubmint make copper hard lines uncompetitive.

          Dig a mile ditch for conduit then tell me again why copper wire is more expensive then transmitting light.

          1. Heh.

            Well done, sir. It’s always nice to start my day with some humor.

        2. Way to not get it, guy. Of course that hasn’t happened, because net neutrality hasn’t been passed.

          Original poster wants it to work ‘just like phones’, but the existing system does work just like phones and nothing analogous to his fantasy of paying $2 for a call to Papa John’s vs. $0.03 a minute to grandma has materialized. So maybe it’s net neutrality advocates in search of a problem that hasn’t actually happened anywhere.

          Net neutrality, in contrast, would make it so the VoIP 911 scenario actually comes to pass, either for everyone or for people who pay less per unit of bandwidth, depending on which version of net neutrality was passed.

          And now, instead of letting the market (i.e. you) decide which types of traffic should and should not be throttled or given preference, the government is doing it.

          So best case scenario, the more you pay the better your service, but your 911 VoIP call will still be behind the youtube videos of people on a comparable tier or better. Worst case scenario, you’ll have no choice whatsoever.

          1. We already have a system like the one described as “$0.03 per minute to call Grandma, $2 to call Papa John’s”. Except it works in reverse, with businesses like Papa John’s subsidizing your free telephone call to them — it’s the 800/877 toll-free number system. Is that system so bad that we’re supposed to fear it?

  15. The first amendment issue is tricky — yes, technically telecoms are private companies, but there are so many ways that the various levels of government can and do intercede to favor existing companies that they could really be considered GSEs.

    Frankly, I would not like to give the feds a backdoor to undermine freedom of speech by interceding in the market to grant a small number of companies oligopolies and then leaning on those companies to suppress speech or lose their favored status. We’ve already seen how this can go down to some extent with the telecom spying/immunity hearings. They can fuck us on the first amendment as easily as they can on the fourth.

    At the same time, giving the federal government more regulatory power over ISPs is more likely to cause this scenario, not prevent it (particularly given that the agency looking to gain this authority is no stranger to censorship in its other domains). However, I wouldn’t be opposed to a law stating that any telecom receiving any subsidy or state/local/federal benefits not generally available (including special access to rights of way) is constrained by the first amendment.

  16. This is an occasion where libertarians choose pure corporate whoring over freedom.

    But then my Atlas Shrugged was Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.

    1. This is still freedom. Freedom for the consumer to choose which service provider provides the services he or she wants.

      It’s like choosing a CDMA mobile provider versus a GSM mobile provider. I can choose between the longer signal CDMA or the international compatible CDMA.

      I can decide what’s best for my use cases and you can decide for yours — the government can’t decide for everyone without making a mess of it.

      1. the government can’t decide for everyone without making a mess of it.

        Unlike the pristine purity that comes from nobody deciding anything? The Internet only exists because of federal involvement in its organization and infrastructure. Do you feel oppressed by the way the Internet works now? Or is it a rather free-wheeling, open marketplace full of unimpeded competition? No thanks to the corporations that want to carve it up for profit.

        1. So you’re saying that nothing resembling the internet would exist without the government’s “help”?

          That’s like saying no one in North Korea would have their one or two tiny meals a day to eat (if they’re lucky) if the government didn’t run all their food distribution centers.

          1. So you’re saying that nothing resembling the internet would exist without the government’s “help”?

            This always cracks me up when I hear it. Let’s see, the Internet couldn’t have gotten started without the telephone, which I guess was also invented by the government.

            As for North Korea, NK gave up the ghost on food distribution after the mass starvation in the 1990’s. The recent currency change they enacted was to crack down on people who traded goods other than food (they only allowed people to exchange a specified limit of won – to rip off traders who had amassed large cash stockpiles). They still won’t mess with private food distribution, because they know what the results would look like.

            Not that that contradicts your point.

            Or is it a rather free-wheeling, open marketplace full of unimpeded competition? No thanks to the corporations that want to carve it up for profit.

            Wow. So who is it that’s competing? What are they competing for? Shits and giggles?

            1. Ideas are competing for one thing, something massive corporations have a tendency to want to control. Not that it’s a very successful experiment. I’m just being a conservative. I like the Internet as it is. What is to be improved by letting large corporations find ways to charge you extra for what you have?

              1. iTunes.

                Remember the beginning of the downfall of RIAA? You could try Napster or Limewire or Kazaa, but the results were so crappy that paying a reputable corporation $.99 seemed like a great deal.

                In the future I might want to pay Verizon extra $$ to make sure my pacemaker data gets forwarded to the hospital with a greater priority than my daughter’s latest IM session.

              2. Ideas are competing for one thing, something massive corporations governments have a tendency to want to control. Not that it’s a very successful experiment.

            2. Yum….with the special sauce.

          2. No, Tony is saying “we have to have shitloads of government controlling everything except private sexual behavior”.

        2. I think you could make a good argument that the internet exists because the government gave some money to a bunch of really smart people and forgot to manage how they used that money.

          You can bet the gubbment ain’t going to make that mistake again.

          Or you could make the argument that the gubbment got exactly what it paid for. A way to route data in the event of a major catastrophe (like nuke war or a local sherif like Arpaio). But the <suprise> there were unintended consequences.

          Either option, doesn’t speak well for the idea of putting all our eggs in the gubbment’s basket.

          1. …the gubbment got exactly what it paid for. A way to route data in the event of a major catastrophe (like nuke war or a local sherif like Arpaio).

            So what you’re saying is that the government didn’t get what they pay for. How else to explain how any one group that is part of a “network” can control data routing?

            Maybe what’s needed is more competition, not less?

        3. The Internet only exists because of federal involvement in its organization and infrastructure.

          Wrong.

  17. The picture of franken has inflicted greivous injury on my psyche. I will now spend years attempting to unsee that.

  18. But then my Atlas Shrugged was Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.

    Are you actually serious? Because this is fucking self-parody right here.

    You may not think much of Atlas Shrugged, but you can hardly compare it to a run-of-the-mill piece of partisan hackery that you can buy for a dime a dozen in any bookstore.

    1. But then my Atlas Shrugged was Das Kapital.

    2. You may not think much of Atlas Shrugged, but you can hardly compare it to a run-of-the-mill piece of partisan hackery that you can buy for a dime a dozen in any bookstore.

      True enough. Battlefield Earth would be the better comparison.

      1. Boo hiss, Neu.

  19. Why did you Photoshop Al Franken’s head on to David Vitter’s body?

  20. Looks like Peter Suderman needs a refresher course on what “common-carrier” means (which, by any reasonable standard, is exactly what today’s broadband providers (wired and wireless) are). If a wireless provider is going to sell me an “unlimited data” package, that’s exactly what I expect.

  21. Why would Reason use a FAKE picture of Franken? That really makes it seem as Reason.com is completely lacking in any kind of journalistic integrity.

    Is Reason stooping to use a faked photo in an effort to paint someone in a bad light, OR they are so damned lazy that they didn’t bother to find out that it is a fake. Take your pick, neither one of those choices makes the editors of Reason look very good.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves whether you knew it was faked or too damned lazy/incompetent to find out!

    If you want me to continue to consider anything from your magazine as being legitimate or worth reading, you should address the usage of the photo. You are basically engaged in a thinly veiled character assassination by using that photo. I would really like an explanation for why you chose the photo and whether or not you knew it was fake in the first place. In either event you have some explaining to do.

    1. Shut the fuck up. It is obviously a fucking joke, moron, just like Franken’s Senate career.

      1. Those who have to resort to name calling know they have nothing to say, so just start in with the ad hominems.

        The point is, that a “legitimate” news organization would not use a fake photo in a story about a person. This isn’t the “Onion,” it’s supposed to be news site.

        I would have the same objection if they ran a story about Sarah Palin and included one of the many known fake photos of her as well. Considering the fact that numerous people, including an official republican website, have run this photo without any apparent knowledge that it’s fake, tells anyone with half a brain that usage of the fake photo is a problem.

        It’s this sort of LCD BS that is contributing to the continued race to the bottom in politics. If you want your country to do and be better, demand better from those with a public forum.

  22. So lets just say that there is a website that is highly critical of comcast. And comcast had the ability to limit access to the site with minimal public backlash. It would be implausible for comcast to limit traffic to that website?

  23. has the author ever heard of tethering? land based networks will likely be obsolete within a generation, which is why google and verizon are willing to give them up so easily. sounds like the author is just upset that al franken understands technology better than they do.

  24. Illustrating this with a shopped photo doesn’t reflect well on Suderman.

    Either he’s showing his ignorance like Franken, or worse, he thinks the arguments are weak without the distraction.

    1. Christ, a left-wing website must have linked to this article and then whined about it. How else to explain the multiple posts crying about a photo everyone knows is fake.

  25. While most legislators know next to nothing about computers, there is many things to be worried about in this proposal.

    If you want to learn about net neutrality I would suggest you start here.
    http://arstechnica.com/telecom…..-right.ars

  26. I like the internet pretty much the way it is now. Wide open, no rules and lots of girl on girl porn.
    Seriously though.
    A good rule of thumb for anyone who believes in personal liberty is; The government involvement in anything, the better.
    No good can possibly come from this ‘net-neutrality’ of which you speak.
    Especially if Al Frankin is involved.

    1. you are joking, right?

  27. Al Franken is a joke….period

  28. The outcome on this is very grim. It seems google and the CIA have been in bed for a long time planning on how they can establish total control over the internet. There are a thousand articles out there on this, but I wouldn’t suggest using google to search for them! 😛 Try startpage . com instead for a PRIVATE search engine 😉

  29. When claiming someone else lacks understanding of a subject, its usually best not to expose your own lack of understanding as well.

    case in point:
    “By Franken’s logic, you’d also have the First Amendment right to walk into Target and start screaming profanity about your least favorite legislators through a bullhorn without a store employee escorting you out.”

  30. I can’t believe you call this website Reason when it is spouting such blathering falsehoods. First, most of what you are attributing to Franken WAS NEVER said by him. Second, you completely oversimplify what Verizon and Google intend to do, and in fact misstate the impact it will have on ALL users of the internet. It will no longer be the marketplace of the many. There will be, by their own admissions, websites you simply can’t get to(attend one of the countless forums being held around the country debating this issue, and yes, a representative from the companies is present to tell their side). Misstating or not understanding something as complex as this(and it is complex, regardless of what you say)is I suppose somewhat forgivable. But out and out lying? Pathetic. I’m quite certain you won’t have cojones to print this, as it’s clear from your comments section you only allow your sheeple to post.

  31. The First Amendment is not a license to say anything you want, any way you want, while standing on or using someone else’s property.

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