Monday, January 28, 2013

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher Bill #269 "Forward"

I’m naming episode #269 of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that aired on January 25, 2013 “Forward.”  It was president Obama’s campaign slogan, and it was the theme of the show. The election is over; now it is time to move forward with the president’s agenda.

The interview was with Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader. Bill described her as a co-speaker because John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the house, can’t pass legislation despite a 25-seat advantage without Nancy rounding up a majority of Democratic votes. Bill pointed out that Pelosi should actually be the speaker because over one million more Americans voted for Democratic candidates that Republican candidates. The Republicans only retained the majority because of gerrymandered districts.

Pelosi began by praising Obama’s inauguration speech. I agree. I was a powerful and poetic speech. He spoke about America’s ideals and joined them with his goals for his second term. In the monologue Bill pointed out that Republicans hated the speech and that they would have hated it no matter what he had said. I agree. Obama could have given Reagan’s speech word-for-word, and Republicans would have hated it because the words came from Obama’s mouth.

One of the guests was David Avella, the president of GOPAC, a fundraising organization of Republicans.  He represents the typical Republican—always twisting the truth and blaming Democrats for every nasty thing that the Republicans do. He began by accusing Obama of name-calling after saying he was against name calling.  Bill called him out. “What names did he call Republicans?” David tried to wriggle away, but Bill insisted he answer. It turns out Obama called Republican’s “right-wing.” Excuse me for laughing, but Republicans call themselves right wing. 

Republicans are calling themselves names. In his monologue, Bill mentioned that Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana, called Republicans “the stupid party.”  Bill then joked that Sarah Palin demanded an apology for “the insult to idiotic Americans like me.” I just heard that Palin will no longer be on Fox News. Perhaps even the far far right is catching on to how idiotic she is.

Later Avella says Obama did not create new jobs-- an out-and-out howler of a lie.  There were 5 to 6 million more jobs in this country at the end of Obama’s first term than when he came into office.  If the number of jobs is not at an all-time high it is because G.W. Bush lost us so many jobs that we are still catching up.

During Overtime Avella was at it again. He said that Obama raised taxes on everyone. Not true. In the new tax bill, the payroll- tax-holiday instituted by Obama was not continued.  Obama wanted to continue it, but he couldn’t get the Republicans to vote for it. (Also, I want to point out that the Bush tax cuts for middle and lower income people were put into the law by Democrats. The Republicans only proposed tax cuts for the upper income group. Everyone always seems to forget that.)

I’d have a lot more respect for Republicans if they could defend their positions without lying. I want to ask them, “If your ideas are so good, why do you always have to lie about them?  Why can’t you convince Americans to support them with the truth?”

Going back to Pelosi, she spoke about the “over-the-edge crowd”, the new tea-party anti-government Republicans. She said that she tells her Republican friends to “take back your party.”

Bill mentioned that Pelosi had never been on the cover of a major news magazine. Nancy was the first woman Speaker of the House, but that achievement did not get her a cover. However, John Boehner got a cover. She was also one of the most effective speakers in modern history, but still no cover. It’s still a tough world for women.

The other two panelists were Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, and Kristen Soltis, a Republican strategist and pollster.  Howard added a lot to the show—he gave facts, erudite opinions, and wit in equal measure. Kristen might as well have stayed home. She had nothing much to add to the conversation. She wasn’t strident like some of Bill’s Republican guests, just bland as she repeated Republican talking points every now and then.

Howard got some well-deserved credit for being governor when Vermont led the nation by offering universal health care and recognizing civil unions. Dean called out Avella for asserting that both parties had their crazies. “False equivalency,.” he proclaimed.  “You have 49% crack-pots, we only have 10%.” Howard also said that Republicans are “undermining democracy. “ They can’t win so they have to fix elections, first with voter suppression, and now by trying to change how the electoral college works. I agree.  How low will they go?

Talking about undermining democracy, I’m surprised no one mentioned the filibuster.  Harry Reid was so timid ,making only tiny changes around the edge. He seemed to feel that he needed Mitch McConnell’s approval. His stated reason for not making broader reforms is that one day Democrats might be in the minority again and in need of the filibuster.  Is Reid that na├»ve? The moment the Republicans gain the majority, the filibuster will be gone. They threatened to do it when they were last in power, only backing off because Reid promised that Democrats would not use the filibuster.  Next time they will abolish it in a “hot New York minute.” 

The special guest was John Testa, Democratic senator from Montana. He is one savvy man. He’s from a conservative state, but his liberal positions don’t hurt him there. I can see why. He speaks eloquently and with passion about defending family farms, protecting Americans with regulatory oversight, allowing women in serve in combat, and empowering women to make their own decisions about abortion.

The comedy bits were a little weak this week. However, I did love it when Bill mentioned Tom Tancredo in his opening monologue.  He said that Tancredo lost a bet about Colorado legalizing marijuana. Since the referendum legalizing marijuana passed, Tancredo will have to pay-up by sucking on a joint. Bill said, “I hope he loses a bet on gay marriage.”  That was the first “bringing the zinger” moment of the week.

The mid-show comedy bit was about the Chinese censorship going way to far—they are cutting scenes from American movies when they are shown in China, sometimes cutting away 30 minutes or more. So Bill came up with some posters for the movies when they are shown in China. The only one that made me laugh was “All Dogs Come with Noodles.”  (I’m guessing this was a play on “All Dogs Go To Heaven.”)

“New Rules” featured a riff on manhood named “Guns and Poses.”  It ended with the line, “the older they get, the bigger their guns get” as he showed two posters for Arnold Schwarzenegger where the later movie showed him holding something that looked like a hand-held cannon. He brings up Zell Miller’s quote: I have more guns than I need, but not as many as I want.”  (Zell Miller is a turn-coat Democrat who served as governor of Georgia and who served a partial term in the Senate, most famous for challenging MSNBC political commentator. Chris Hayes, to a duel.)

In the discussion of this rule, Bill spoofs the ads for “Low T,” saying that men who need a pill to get a boner, now need a pill just to get in the mood.  He talks about Manti Te’O (the football player with the imaginary girlfriend) .and asks, “Why was this jerk such a hero to so many guys.” He goes on, asking why men idolize 20-year old ball-players, action stars who solve problems with violence, tough guys who start wars for no reason (he shows a picture of G.W. Bush looking tough), and generals who conquer countries with third rate rag-tag armies?) Bill concludes with the second “bringing the zinger” moment of the week, he asks. “Is it because the most masculine thing they do all day is pee standing up?”

Obama and Nancy Pelosi are bringing this country forward, Dean and Testa are bring the discussion about national issues forward, and Bill Maher is bringing political and social comedy forward.

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At least,  Ms Magazine recognized Pelosi.