Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I just finished listening to the unabridged version of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

My rating:

In addition to being extremely funny, it left me with murderous thoughts of certain crazy people who wrote books that Al covered. Of course, in an effort to be balanced myself, I'll hold off on killing anyone until I get a chance to read the books for myself, and research their 'footnotes.' (That last bit is a private joke for anyone who's read or listened to this so far - if you don't get it, and you don't like that you don't get it, don't blame me. Read the book.)

For over ten hours this week, I was delighted to sit in traffic, because I was enjoying myself. I've already decided that I'm going to own copies of any audiobook that Al Franken has come out with. I may not agree with all of his commentary, but unlike Bill O'Reilly, he gives you the feeling that he not only believes and understands what he's saying, but that he spent at least a modicum of time checking his facts.

I have to point out that it seems unfair sometimes, because he takes examples from live television and picks them apart. In such situations, he has the benefit of unlimited time and 14 Harvard research aides to build a case, which makes whoever committed the 'lie' look incredibly dishonest. I'm sure in some cases, even Al took content out of context in order to make his point, but by and large it seemed like he made a pretty good showing of using the target's own words and sources (or lack thereof) to hang themselves. Now, when he does the same thing to some of the books that his targets have written, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever, because they had the same advantages he did in that regard, and it's just plain fun to watch him out for blood.

Overall, I found his discourse on politics amusing, but respectable, and didn't feel like he was bashing the right on the basis of ideology (like the examples he gave of right-wing media icons doing exactly that to liberals), but more so on their technique, which ranges from low to downright dirty. I highly recommend this book to all readers, because even if you fall on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Franken, it would behoove you to note the examples he cites of your party's backers making asses of themselves, and then ignoring (or worse, denying) it.


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