Sunday, September 23, 2012

Real Time with Bill Maher September 21, 2012 #260

I enjoyed episode #260 (September 21, 2012) of the Bill Maher show.  It rolled along at a good clip with some humor and some serious discussion.  “I’m naming it “You Make Me Sick.” 

I chose that name because of a joke Bill did in his opening monologue. The video of Romney dismissing the 47% of the people in this country who don’t pay income taxes led Bill to joke, “Romney’s new campaign slogan should be “Get out of my sight , America. You make me sick.”  But when Bill was being serious he said, “Romney is doing something very stupid. He’s expressing the core beliefs of the Republican party publically.” Thank you, Bill Maher. For a week all the talking heads are talking, talking, talking, about this video, and you summed it all up in two sentences.

Another good joke. Bill commented on Tim Pawlenty resigning as co-chair of the Romney campaign. “Tim Pawlenty is afraid Romney will make him look like a loser.  (Get it. Tim Pawlenty is such a big loser that his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was over right after Iowa. And now Pawlenty is worried that Romney’s loser cooties will rub off on him, the losingest loser of the Republican primary.)

The interview was with Eugene Jarecki, a documentary filmmaker whose film “The House I Live In” is now in theaters. He talked about how the “war on drugs” was just Jim Crow in another form. It is all about keeping black progress down. They are down to begin with and then get pushed down further. It reminds me of those parents who when their child is crying, yell at the child, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to really cry about.” It’s a vicious, nasty, abuse of power in both cases.

Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” was on the panel, complete with his signature derisive “Ha!”  When he thinks somebody is really reaching and/or stretching the truth, he says “Ha!” It’s a one-syllable take-down. He did it a few times on this show. Usually it is the conservative on the panel sucking up all the air in the room, but Chris Mathews took on that role on this show. I’m OK with that because at least Chris makes sense when he talks.

That being said, I’m not giving the conservative a free pass. The conservative seat was taken by Roger Hedgecock, described as a radio talk show host. I had never heard of him before. He’s a tall thin man who reminded of a line from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look.”  He looked dangerous to me, like he could spit daggers out of his mouth. What actually did come out of his mouth was the usual Republican mantras—lies, exaggerations, evasiveness, false analogies, etc.  For instance, during overtime, the group is having a perfectly reasonable discussion about whether or not regulating business helps or hinders the economy.  Roger pipes up about some little girl who had her lemonade stand closed down because she didn’t have a permit. For goodness sake, Roger, if that is all you can add to the discussion, shut up and let the grown-ups talk.

The “expert” seat on the panel went to Rana Foroohar, an editor and columnist for economics at Time Magazine. She was definitely the grown up in the room. She had the facts and presented them fairly and calmly. She reported that Romney’s ideas are George W. Bush’s ideas, the ideas that have been a disaster for the American economy. She pointed out that Obama has done good things for the economy; for instance, the stock market has doubled in value, and the unemployment rate is falling as new jobs are created every month. I wish people who complain about Obama would realize that without Obama the economy would be much sicker than it is. When he came into office the economy was heading for a death spiral.  And if the Republicans had not blocked just about every jobs bill, the economy would most likely be much better.

Bill pointed out that the 47% who are not paying income taxes is mainly composed of the elderly, the veterans and the working poor.  He then summed that up in a pithy remark, “They raised you, they defended you, and they did the work that allowed you [Romney and the other 1-percenters] to have your cushy life.”  It makes me sick that the rich whiners cannot see that.

Bill also pointed out that Romney is not the problem, he is the symptom. He said, “The Republican party doesn’t need new people, it needs new ideas.” Bill was appalled by the people in the room to whom Romney was speaking during that video.  The questions they asked were sick. They have so much, but they are whining and complaining because they can’t have even more. (By the way, the people in the room paid $50,000 each to be there—more than the average working American earns in a year.)

The comedy break on this show was very pointed satire. It focused on the new iPhone 5.  Bill joked that the “personal assistant,” Siri, is now Romni.

·         If you tell Romni to call home, he responds, “which home, the summer home, the winter home, the lake home….?”

·         If you ask to find a pizza restaurant, Romni responds, “Buy it, load it up with debt, and sell it off.”

·         If you ask for Starbucks, Romni responds “Coffee is forbidden by Scriptures.”

·         If you ask what 15% of the restaurant bill is so you can leave a tip for the wait staff, Romni responds, “I’m not telling.”  If you persist, Romni starts to sing “Oh beautiful for spacious skies…”  

The special guest was Salmon Rushdie, the author who had to go into hiding because he was perceived to have insulted the prophet Mohammed. The mullahs had issued a fatwah calling for his death. He said his life was turned into something out of a spy novel. What’s worse, he said, “I don’t like spy novels.” 

This gave Bill his opening to talk about religion.  He said, “All religions are not alike. No. Islam is different.”  He was referring to the very militant attitude of Islam. My take on this is that present day Catholics will excommunicate you for heresy; but present day Muslims will kill you for it.

“New Rules” was very funny.  Bill ended the segment with a riff on “undecided voters.”  If you are an “undecided voter” it could be bad for your health to get in a room with Bill. He called the undecided ignorant and said “They just don’t give a shit.”  It’s clear he is sick and tired of watching these focus groups with undecideds. He said, “The dial should be hooked up to their foreheads to see if it can detect any brain activity.” He concluded with, “If I want to listen to a bunch of ignorant jackasses bullshitting about the election, I’ll watch Fox and Friends.” Toche! The-two-birds-with-one- stone moment of the week.

This was a very good episode. Watch it, learn something, and laugh.  Remember, laughter is the best medicine. When politics starts to make you feel sick, Bill Maher is the cure for what ails you.

This picture is from
Note:  No Bill Maher next week, 9/28/12, but the show is back the following week,10/5/12.