Monday, December 10, 2012

Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, Al Franken

Asking whether there is a liberal or conservative bias to the mainstream media is a little like asking whether al Qaeda uses too much oil in their hummus. The problem with al Qaeda is that they're trying to kill us.

Well, obviously this book is not unbiased, though I think Al Franken is pretty fair. In this book, he exposes the lies and idiocies of various Republicans. He has chapters on various issues and people. Now the senator of Minnesota, Al Franken is also a comedian, so parts of the book were really funny. He uses funny but factual charts and has brief humorous interludes. I loved when he made fun of what Jon Stewart likes to call BS Mountain (Fox News), Bill O'Reilly and "Hannity and Colmes", as he calls them (because Colmes, the liberal, barely says anything.) He cites Hannity's idiotic book, Let Freedom Ring, a lot. What really got me though was that not only Fox News and other right-wing news sources perpetrate lies (which I already knew), but also the Bush administration. And, according to Franken, at least, 9-11 could have been prevented or foreseen if the Bush administration had actually done anything, rather than going forward with "Operation Ignore", meaning to ignore any information on possible terrorist attacks. It's so sad; apparently, those lives might have been saved if the government had paid attention to what was going on. And the Republicans had the temerity to blame it on Clinton.

This book was written in 2003, so it's obviously very outdated, but still relevant and interesting to read. I found myself getting a bit depressed though. Franken describes the various cheap tactics that conservatives used in the 2000 elections to suppress minority voters (in other words, more Democratic voters). The Republicans today too really need to start focusing on issues, rather than coming up with stupid stuff like this to try and win elections by suppressing voters. There are plenty of arguments for their side, but the conservatives aren't making them.. That's not what democracy is about. Rachel Maddow had an excellent show that mentioned that (maybe 11/20?)

Anyway, before I begin ranting, I'd better say something more about the actual book. I liked the writing; it was really very funny and obviously well researched. Franken has some funny stories of encounters between him and O'Reilly and him and Hannity.

Now back to my rant: I think it's so sad that Franken can come up with so many examples of lies, lies and more lies. There are so many instances of someone mangling what someone said someone else said, or picking out a few words taken completely out of context. Looking for a recent example? How about the Republican convention's slogan, "We Build It"? An (awkwardly-phrased, it's true) remark of Obama's taken out of context. Obama was simply pointing out (or so I believe) that in order to get to your small business, you have to go on roads, which the government built. You didn't build the roads, the government did. Which is perfectly true.

At any rate, this was an intelligent read which had me inwardly chuckling and even laughing out loud a few times. Be warned: there are some "adult" portions. And on a final note: I am now seriously considering boycotting HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch (who also owns Fox News). I will certainly not be buying anything from them in the future (we'll see how long my resolve holds. If I spot a particularly delicious looking book, I may have to yield ;)).

Update: HarperCollins publishes too many good books. Seriously, a lot of their books are awesome, and they have so many imprints. So no, I will not be boycotting HarperCollins. It's not the authors' faults that their publishing company is owned by Murdoch.

354 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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