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Hilarity Sounds Alarm for America
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Al Franken
The Truth with Jokes (London:  Allen Lane (Penguin), 2005.  336p.)

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Franken is a well-known political journalist in America. This book was billed as funny, but after I got in to it a ways, I decided the better word was hilarious.  Franken uses humour to bring out the points he is making while exposing political and economic mismanagement and other misdemeanours -- even some felonies along the way.

This is the first book I have read by Franken.  He is known primarily for his journalism, and since 2004, his travelling radio talk show on politics and current events.  This book provided extensive laughter, arising from the American political situation, always a productive source for humour and satire.

Serious Hilarity
The other side is the evil and nefarious underbelly of Washington, with the corruption, dirty tricks, outright lies -- to officials and to the people -- and power trades that ignore the weak and powerless.  For instance, the author uncovers big deals by powerful people to purposely rip off the American Indian Nations under the guise of getting them favors in Washington.

Franken manages to make his points with laughter while providing extensive documentation in every area he deals with, starting from the presidential election of 2004.  His Jewish humour enhances his insightful satirical commentary on American politics.

Entertaining Exposť
As a self-proclaimed liberal, he provides a particularly entertaining portrayal of the right-wing Bush administration shenanigans and related cronies and factions.  He discusses the details of some of the most unbelievable programs of dishonesty and dirty tricks in history.

Franken quotes an administration insider who revels the two-faced approach to the controversial "faith-based" social services initiative.  In order to get the "Christian vote," Bush administration officials courted fundamentalist Christian leaders to their face, but maligned them behind their backs.

Dirty Tricks
Strategies by the political dirty tricks managers from Washington pit the goals of one Indian nation for its gambling enterprises against another, for the hidden agenda of putting pressure on the state governments out of favour with the current administration.  This is only one of the more blatant and open sorts of dirty tricks woven deep into the fabric of W's system.

Immoral Delay
Likewise he reveals the story of how the American Mariana Islands were bilked by no less than America's family man, former House Speaker Tom DeLay (now deposed because of other moral charges and a change in congress due to the reaction of the voters against this administration).

I especially liked the sections discussing how money from certain gambling interests in one state were used to fund church-led opposition to gambling interests in another state.  Franken provides extensive documentation as he lines out details of relationships between some of the greatest corrupt politicians in Washington with prominent "religious" leaders like Ralph Reed of the "Christian Coalition."  Amazing and shocking, even beyond what we already could see and suspicion from freely public information.

Iraq Invasion
Franken also has compiled a large body of material related to the Iraq war.  One very interesting aspect is a well-documented trail of plans by the Bush administration to invade Iraq, before 9-11.

The plan was actively discussed with the British at least as early as July 2002, a year before public plans were made after US Congress and UN discussions.  Administration insiders report administration discussions on invasion possiblities as early as January 2001.

Note that this is BEFORE 9-11.

Actual minutes of a diplomatic meeting at 10 Downing Street between US and UK officials were published in the UK press and discussed widely.  Extensive subterfuge and misdirection characterized the Bush (and Blair) plans for an invasion of Iraq, even after detailed US and international evidence that there was no tie between al Qaeda and the Baath regime of Sadaam Hussein.

They had to find other reasons to invade.  But the invasion was a goal, and all they needed was an excuse.  It's not that we didn't think these things happened, but here we have it lined out in heavily documented detail.

Plummeting US Credibility
It is a sad commentary on an administration whose rhetoric followed the line of clean-up, honesty, interests of the people and family values, not to mention Christian principles.

No wonder the prestige and credibility of the USA has plummeted to the bottom under the Bush administration.  Every American ought to read the evidence presented here, not just for the entertainment, especially when the baldfaced claims of right-wing [so-called "conservative"] media moguls provide such astonishing absurdity.

Media Circuses
These "conservative" media circuses are great entertainment on American TV and radio, if you don't take them seriously.  Amazingly, many of these astute political showmen seem to actually believe some of the stuff they spin out on their daily word-grind on the public air waves of North America!

But we appreciate here the excellent documentation provided by this conscientious patriot journalist to awaken the world to the real situation.  A challenging, but rewarding read.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Ethical Challenges of Intellectual Poverty in Modern America
[reviews] Kingmaking Media
[review] Losing the Way in the Permanent Campaign
[review] Obama:  Keeping Him Accountable
[review] Too Honest for the White House

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OBJ

Original version written on Amazon 12 September 2006
Revised and expanded 9 April 2007
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 10 April 2007
Last edited 1 May 2010

Copyright © 2007 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

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