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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: What I Have Learned From Air America: The Al Franken Show

Monday, May 02, 2005

What I Have Learned From Air America: The Al Franken Show

Part III

The Al Franken Show

After listening to Randi Rhodes on Air America, Al Franken is a lightweight by comparison. I wouldn’t even go as far to call his show a political talk show; it would probably be better described as political satire. In the two weeks I listened to his show, he did not take a single call from the listeners. In the second week, Franken did make a comment that he usually doesn’t take calls. Is he afraid of being challenged? How difficult would it be to go on the air for three hours unchallenged? Even with my blog that reaches a small number of readers I gladly accept criticism and encourage the readers to challenge my opinions.

In the course of the two weeks I listened, in the first week him and his co-host went on several remote appearances. Even on location, he took no questions from the audience. In the second week, Franken was back in the studio and I got a better idea of how he normally does his show. In both weeks, he had a long list of guests, none of which seemed to be ideologically opposed to Franken’s positions. The only time Franken allows his listeners to hear the other side is when he plays sound bites of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and others. Franken plays a short audio clip and attempts to debunk the arguments in the clip, and does so poorly. Based on how he performs against an audio clip which cannot respond, it is no wonder why he doesn’t have guests or even callers to challenge him. He would absolutely be torn to shreds!

Now, let me get back to the arguments he made that I listed in Part I:

The government should set café standards for automobiles to 40 to 50 mpg

I suppose Franken assumes that the auto industry is in bed with the oil industry; therefore the auto industry, wanting to keep the oil companies happy, is purposely keeping the café standards to guzzle as much gasoline as possible. Here’s my problem with that: wouldn’t at least one auto maker want to increase café standards on their own if they could given the high gas prices and a market that wants better, more fuel efficient vehicles? Does the government need to impose this standard before automakers will make an attempt to reach this goal? If such technology is not available, how would the automakers be able to conform to the government standard? These are important questions that should be asked before demanding this lofty standard.

We should stop using oil as an energy source within 10 years.

I honestly don’t know if he was serious when he made this statement. I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but let me answer this argument anyway. Assuming we could stop using oil as an energy source within 10 years, what impact would that have on the economy? Consider the fact that the U.S. now has more cars than people. What is to happen to all of the existing cars on the road? Should the government demand that all petroleum powered vehicles be retrofitted to this energy source alternative? It seems to me that there are a number of people such as Franken who hate the oil industry and all they perceive it stands for. We hear a lot of talk from people on the Left about BIG OIL. The picture they want us to see is greedy oil executives raking in millions of dollars at the price of the consumers and the environment. Something you almost never hear about is the number of ‘working class people’ (for lack of a better term) who are employed by the oil industry such as my father. If Washington took Franken’s absurd advice, thousands of people like my father would become unemployed within that time period. The small Texas town where I grew up would blow away along with many other small towns across the country. I suppose Franken and his ilk would blame this economic hardship on greedy Republicans too.

Franken encouraged listeners to call their congressmen to stop the bill that would permanently eliminate the inheritance tax (death tax). This legislation was to thank the rich donors to the Republican Party.

The fact that Republicans and Libertarians support repealing the Death Tax couldn’t possibly have to do with principle could it? Believe it or not Mr. Franken, there are some of us out there who believe in principles regardless of if we personally benefit from the principle or not. Forcing people to pay extra taxes on the property they inherited is wrong regardless of how rich the deceased was and how badly you despise them for their wealth. In a free society, we should be allowed to die without the federal government stealing our worldy property from our families.

Those who want to end illegal immigration are racists.

I have just about had it with people making such charges that if you support such things as stopping illegal immigration, ending race-based preferences (affirmative action), or oppose the idea of ‘hate crimes’ you are somehow a racist. This argumentum ad hominem fallacy is used by the Left anytime a minority is involved regardless of what the actual issue is. The situation with the border is very complex. We should not look at illegal immigration as a single issue; there is a subset of issues that need to be looked at. Such issues as whether or not immigration laws are too strict, economic concerns, moral concerns, the impact on the welfare state, and of course national security. Each of these in themselves are very complex and need to be debated fairly. When people such as Franken make this charge, the debate is not advanced and a rational discussion cannot take place. I suspect that most everyone who wants the borders to be more secure are not racist and do care about those who want to enter the U.S. both legally and illegally.

So what do I think about The Al Franken Show? Not too much really. His inexperience in radio is very apparent. He should have stayed with comedy. I found him to be much more entertaining as Stewart Smalley. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonitt, people like me.” I’m not so sure Al, have you seen your ratings lately?

In the final part of this series (I promise) What I Have Learned From Air America: Morning Sedition (Part IV), I will critique Morning Sedition with Marc Maron & Mark Riley and deal with their class warfare arguments. Trust me, it will be fun.

4 Comments:

Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

One of the biggest problems with Air America is that they got famous leftists with name recognition, not radio people who happened to be left of center. People like Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo might be outspoken liberals, and might occasionally have a rational thought or two. But that doesn't make them good radio hosts.

I haven't listened to Randi Rhodes, but the little bit of time I heard Jerry Springer, you could tell he had radio talent, and a certain amount of comfort with his job and his rapport with the audience. More hosts like that, and Air America might just cease to be a joke...

8:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Littau said...

I think you're right Brad. When you look at talk radio from the right, most of them did not become famous until their radio careers took off. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Neal Bortz, and many others became famous talk show hosts because, well, they are great talk show hosts not comedians and movie stars.

I think Randi Rhodes is a notable acception for Air America. She was doing Left Wing talk radio before Air America. I haven't listened to Jerry Springer's program but thinking of him as a talk show host isn't as big of a stretch to me as Franken and Garafolo. I may not agree with Springer on many issues but he does have a talent for communication. He started out in broadcasting, became Mayor of Cincinatti and later became the trash TV star we all know.

I also agree we shouldn't write off Air America just yet. I wonder how Rush's ratings compared in his first year to those of Air America? Air America is still in its infancy and I think it will stick around. Actually, I hope it does because opposing views make radio more interesting.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Agreed. I don't think we can write them off, especially since I'm sure they're bankrolled in the early stages by people like Soros, who don't give a rip about turning a profit...

I think they're going to slowly feel the sting of a bad business model, i.e. trying to bring in big names instead of radio talent. If they learn their lesson, they could be around quite a while. If not, they'll be around only as long as they have the money of people like Soros who don't care about the results.

(PS - I don't know who bankrolls Air America, I just bring up Soros as an example due to his funding of moveon.org.

8:16 AM  
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8:51 PM  

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