Al Franken 's book is a terrible expose of the constant newspeak used by the Bush II administration in order to hide the real agenda. The newspeak veils the stealing of the presidency in Florida (to defend democracy), tax cuts for the superwealthy (no heritage tax even above 100 M $), the screwing of the environment ('the rewriting of the Clean Water Act's rules allows mining waste to be dumped directly into many heretofore off-limits water ways'), draft dodgers as warmongerers or vicious lies about opponents.
The result of its policies are presented as gifts for all citizens, but 'single mothers loose health coverage for their children', and unemployment is surging (but statistically hidden).
Al Franken plays all the accords of the harmonic spectrum: from the spectacle of absurd and blatant lies on TV channels, over ludicrous governmetal programmes (sex abstinence education), to sarcasm ('During the 6 years that the 2 Bushes have been president, there has not been a new job created. Extrapoling from that, if the Bushes had run this country from its inception to the present day, not a single American would have worked) and raw cynicism ( the WSJ calls those people who earn so little that they don't have to pay any taxes 'lucky duckies').
Al Franken unveils the administration's unhuman but divine message: prosperity means that God is rewarding your rugged individualism. When you are poor, you should blame yourself.
On the international front, Al Franken lambasts the lies about the WMD in Iraq, the ditching of the 'lousy' Kyoto Agreement, the anti-ballistic missile treaty, the germ warfare protocol, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the International Criminal Court and the land mine treaty.
He ridicules a member of the Bush II administration for having calculated that the reconstruction of Iraq would cost next to nothing. For this brilliant forecast he was rewarded with an international financial top job.
All the cover-ups, false messages, blatant lies about disastrous and deadly policies were gladly swallowed by completely gagged media. The latter are controlled by 5 big conglomerates, which are living out of the hand of big corporations through their advertising spending.
Al Franken sketches poignantly a sad picture of a country that should be the greatest democracy of the world.
This is a terrific book, full of scalpel sharp observations and political satire. Whilst Franken can be pretty vicious at times the victims of his ire are people who have themselves built careers out of shock journalism and highly biased punditry. The ghastly Rush Limbaugh in particular has been so obnoxious to so many people that it is hard to have any sympathy for him. And whilst I am sure Franken enjoyed needling his targets and getting under their skin, unlike people like Limbaugh there is a feeling that ultimately he realises what this book is and does not take himself too seriously. The book carries the reader along with it and never feels laboured, it is full of genuinely funny observations and many of his barbs are very funny even if we maybe shouldn't encourage them. For many British readers the names involved will not mean anything, I used to spend a lot of time in North America and I must admit to the guilty secret that I found some of the shows in this book to be compelling, but compelling for all the wrong reasons. I think Franken has got these people to a tee in this book.
Given all of this why only three stars? If this was the printed edition (which I bought many years ago) I'd rate it as five stars. However I bought the Kindle edition and it is a very poor transfer. The font keeps changing, it is sometimes unclear what is Franken and what is the words of others being quoted by him. Worst of all however, there are no tables or graphics, this is unforgivable as key sections of the book depend on tables of figures. This is not the sort of 49p Kindle edition where I'd let a few errors pass based on the overall value, at this price it is simply not acceptable that the Kindle transfer is so bad.
So we have a wonderful book ruined by a rubbish transfer. I'd recommend the printed version 100% and give 5* but not this Kindle version. I'll give 3* as it is still a good read but nothing like as good as it should be thanks to a rubbish transfer.
Lies (and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) is a thoroughly entertaining book by an author who documents his arguments with facts. That's a lot more than I can say for Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh. Al Franken presents a "fair and balanced" attack on the lies of the American far right and never ceases to entertain and inform the reader.
The title suggests that this will be a (very) broad comedy. However, it is written with considerably more wit and precision than I expected. The problem with books of this type (for readers outside the US) is that we are not that familiar with subject matter - I have no real opinion about whether the US media has a liberal bias although if the UK media is anything to go by it seems very unlikely. Franken states that the primary of objective of the book is to be funny; he succeeds admirably although he does on occasion descend into pettiness and name calling. I certainly laughed hard and often as I read the book. There are some very good chapters in this book. For example, you get a good sense of Franken's heart felt indignation in the chapter about Paul Wellstone's funeral; the exposure of push poll tactics is horrifying, the chapter on how Fox News makes you stupid is hilarious; Karl Rove, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly come in for the kickings that they richly deserve. On the negative side: for me, his unconditional love of Bill Clinton got a bit too much at times and he is guilty of constantly criticising the conservative agenda while not really discussing the issues with the liberal agenda. However, these are minor quibbles; they did not detract from my enjoyment. I think that the comparisons to Michael Moore are slightly unkind to Franken. Overall, he has less of an agenda than Moore who I regard as a polemicist, he is funnier and more precise; it is like comparing a scalpel to a sledgehammer. Very funny, highly recommended particularly if you have a strong interest in US politics
Well, it's not as bad as the previous review says. Sure, he's a biased, name-calling, aggressive lefty, but he's fun. Chapters like "Ann Coulter: Nutcase" let you know that you shouldn't expect realistic political debate. :) Having said that, some of his notes are very thorough and he shows clear examples of when leading Republicans have lied through their teeth, which is good. The whole book is quite readable, and the details on right-wing bias in Fox News and the newspaper media are very welcome. Would have got another star if he'd been slightly less vitriolic, but the info inside is all good.
'I would just like to thank Fox for filing the stupidest legal briefs I have ever seen in my life' - Al Franken That quote was enough to get me interested in reading this book. And it proves an age old observation: as soon as a powerful organisation tries to ban something, it is guaranteed to become even more popular than it would have been. Some might say that it proves one of the author's hypotheses - that the most vocal members of the US right wing are stupid. However, if you are thinking of dismissing this book on grounds of it being another example of name-calling masquerading as politics, think again. Franken rebuts a whole series of the most outrageous statements and so-called 'facts' peddled by prominent right wing US politicians and journalists with pinpoint accuracy. He uses humour to expose the tactics of his enemies - tactics which amount to repeating a lie so often and so loudly that people think it must be true. The mock-plays he uses as interludes do not always hit the mark and in some cases serve only to break the flow of his arguments. Furthermore, the chapter devoted to the death of his politician friend and the media coverage of it was too long, though understandable, given the particularly unfair treatment meted out by members of the press who were either too lazy or too politically motivated to cover the story accurately. These minor flaws aside, this book demonstrates just how low sections of the political establishment and some journalists have sunk to. It exposes the myth of the liberal bias in the national media. It illustrates the inroads the Clinton administration made in reducing gun crime and tackling terrorism, policies that were reversed or put into slow motion by the incoming Bush administration. The sources are all there, and in most cases they are highly reputable ones. In short, it quotes facts to prove points and shows how the right wing have very few of those to prove *their* points. And finally, I challenge the rightwingers to rebut Franken's points - go on, I dare you to prove, using independent high-quality evidence, that he has got it wrong and that the statements made by the characters Franken criticises are in fact correct. Let's see who needs to resort to name-calling now.