Saturday, November 3, 2012

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher #265 "It's the Facts, Stupid"

by Catherine Giordano

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” episode #265, airing on November 2, 2012 was smart and funny as usual.  (Except when the Republicans are talking as usual; Bill had two of them this week.)

I’m naming this episode “It’s the Facts, Stupid.” It’s a take-off on the headline of Bloomberg Business Week. The cover of this magazine was shown on the show. In big red letters, the headline was “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” Bill discussed how during the Republican National Convention Romney turned Obama’s words into a joke.  Romney, with his customary smirk on his face, quoted Obama as saying, “I will stop the rise of the seas and heal the planet.” Har! Har! Har! This is the “Not-So-Funny-Now-Is-It?” moment of the week. The rising seas inundated communities in New York and New Jersey and killed close to 100 people. As Bill said, “The rising seas” is not a laugh line.

While I’m talking about Romney’s smirk, take a close look at Romney when he is supposedly offering condolences to the victims of Sandy at his Victory Rally/Relief Event last Wednesday. It was a very brief statement. He followed it with his smirk and a nod of his head. It was as if he was saying, “There, that’s done. Now let’s get back to campaigning.”  And get back to campaigning is exactly what he did.  

Romney did this phony food drive. His aides went to WalMart the night before and bought canned goods. At the rally, the aides handed the cans to attendees who then marched in front of the cameras to give them to Romney. Obama is supervising FEMA and touring the destruction, and Romney is holding a fake relief rally. And here’s the kicker. The Red Cross will not accept food or clothing. They don’t have the resources to sort, store, and distribute. They want money so they can buy what is needed when and where it is needed. 

Mitt Romney, if you had one ounce of humanity, you would have gone to that rally and made a speech about how you were donating one million dollars (or five million or ten million) to the Red Cross. (You earn $20 million a year. You could easily have given a million.)  And then you could have said that you had asked all your billionaire and multimillionaire supporters to do likewise and told us how much you had raised from this.  And then you could have asked the attendees to give you checks made out to the Red Cross. That would have been a way to show compassion and to actually help. Instead, you bought canned goods with campaign money that the Red Cross doesn’t want and can’t use.  (I hope that stuff ends up in a food bank somewhere.)  Have you contributed even a dollar of your own money yet? Probably not. Too busy out on the campaign trail making empty gestures and telling lies. 

One more thing. The Red Cross needs blood. Why didn’t Romney have several bloodmobiles at his rally?  Why didn’t he roll up his sleeve in front of the cameras?  It’s what I would have done in his position. This was supposed to be a relief event, wasn’t it?  What exactly did he do at this rally to help anyone but himself.
 
Forgive the digression. I’m back to the show now and the funniest line in the monologue. Bill said Obama was getting bi-partisan support.  Even Fox News said, “Heck of a job, Brownie.” Second funniest line was about Mitt always being wrong—wrong about Bin Laden, wrong about letting Detroit going bankrupt, wrong about FEMA. Then he goes out and denies that he ever said those things. Bill said “Now he loves FEMA. If Mitt ever met anti-Mitt, his head would explode.” 

The interview was with James Balog, a photographer who has science credentials and who has just completed a documentary about the melting of the glaciers entitled “Chasing Ice.” He did a great job explaining global warming. Solar energy melts the ice that is needed to reflect that energy back into space; then the dark water that is exposed by the melting ice absorbs more energy. Less reflection; more absorption. This causes changes in the weather. Bill seems to be devoting a lot of time to this issue—it is discussed every week and he often has a guest who has expertise on the subject. Bravo to Bill for using his show to educate people about facts. 

The panel was Rob Reiner, actor/director and a strong Democrat; Margaret Hoover, a CNN contributor and an obvious Republican partisan; a Rick Lazio (a former Republican Congressman from NY who lost his bid for the Senate to Hillary Clinton).
 
BTW, was Margaret Hoover ever a beauty pageant contestant? She had this inane smile on her face constantly. She was so “girly,” how does anyone ever take her seriously?  Maybe they don’t.  

During a discussion about FEMA vis-a-vis Katrina under Bush and Sandy under Obama, Bill pointed out that “people who like government run it better.”Rob said privatizing FEMA (as Romney said he wants to do) is insane. Bill added, “When it is life and death you don’t want a private business in charge—“they put profit over human life.” 

How do we combat global warming? Lazio suggests that we don’t know if global warming caused the storm. He also suggests nuclear power as an alternative to carbon-based fuels. Bill tells him that there are better options. I agree. Just because solar alone, wind alone, hydro-power alone, bio-fuels alone can’t do the job, doesn’t mean that they all can’t be a bigger part of the mix. We may also have to build off-shore barriers. Bill said it would be too hard and too expensive.  I say that just because it is hard and expensive doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. And the sooner we start, the more lives (and property) we will save.  

Bill said that Obama’s biggest endorsement was from Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. (It was a tacit endorsement because Christie only praised Obama’s response to the storm, but he, nonetheless, praised him effusively.) Bill pointed out that the Salt Lake City Tribune endorsed Obama. Romney is a Mormon and Utah has a very large Mormon population, yet the Utah paper endorsed Obama over Romney. Bill pointed out in the places where “they know Romney best, they don’t like him.”  (In Massachusetts where Romney was a one- term governor, Obama leads by over 20 points.)   

Bill showed a mock ad jokingly claiming that it should be Obama’s response to Romney’s false ads about Chrysler sending American jobs overseas--an ad that is condemned as false by everyone except rabid Romney-ites. (Even Chrysler has denied Romney’s claims.) Bill’s satirical commercial was about Romney’s experience running the 2002 Olympics in Utah.. It was very funny.  The ad said that Romney gave jobs to foreigners from Iran and Russia taking jobs away from American athletes, Arab terrorists killed 11 Jews (that was a different Olympics, but we are not going to let facts intrude are we?) while Romney stood idly by, then the Olympics went to China (again another Olympics) and ended with “Romney ran the Olympics and so did Hitler.” 

Mathew Segal was the last guest. He is the young (only 27) president and co-founder of “Our Time”, an organization that represents young people.  He said young people vote ideals, not parties. He also pointed out, as so many others have, that there are not two sides to every issue; there are not “two sides to facts.” I’d like to see more of him. 

On the economy, Matt said he learned in his economics classes that it takes 10 years for an economy to recover, and that Obama has had less than four years. The Republicans tried to deny that economists say this. Bill said that there have been 1.9 million new jobs in 2012. Over the almost four years (including the first few months when America was losing jobs due to the continuation of the trend from the Bush administration), there has been a net gain of 562,00 jobs. He also pointed out the Congressional Research Service (a non-partisan organization) reported that tax cuts for the 1% do not create jobs. The Republicans, true to form, protested--unsuccessfully.  It’s the facts, stupid! 

Hoover and Lazio seeing that they were losing the argument do what Republicans so often do. Talk louder, talk faster, talk over everyone else in the room. Further, It sounded to me like they raised the pitch of their voices—My ears hurt. I was ready to turn off the TV. (I didn’t because I have to do this review.) Hoover said that she tries to reform the Republican party. Perhaps there is some hope for her—at least she realizes that the Republican party needs reform. Nonetheless, she continued to deny facts and defend Republicans.   

Bill had some good zingers in “New Rules.”  Here’s a few of them. 

“The 2012 election might be remembered as the election where one candidate was suspected of not being born in America, and the other candidate was suspected of not being born on Earth.” 

“How did we get the shameless weathervane from the Planet Kolub? The other choices were Rick Perry, Santorum, the mom from Carrie (Michelle Bachman) and the black guy from Ghostbusters (Herman Cain).” 

“Clint Eastwood was not their first choice for a celebrity speaker at the Republican National Convention.  Honey Boo Boo refused to dumb it down.” 

“There is only time for five more reincarnations of Mitt Romney.  By Tuesday, he’ll be saying he is a staunchly pro-gay Unitarian who hates corporations and has is proud of his Latino heritage who doesn’t want old white men telling him what he can’t do with his vagina.”  

Bill concluded by saying that the election is win-win for him.  “If Obama wins, America wins.  If Romney wins, comedy wins.” 

Nate Silver, the statistician who crunches poll numbers, and almost exactly predicted the number of electoral votes for Obama in 2004, has reported that Obama now has an 81% probability of winning. And that was before he got the endorsement of Chris Christie. 
 
I pray that America votes based on facts. I pray that America wins on Tuesday.

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