Friday, June 7, 2013

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher # 284 "Crazy Town"

by Catherine Giordano

HBO aired episode 284 of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday May 31, 2013.

The interview was with Michael Isikoff, national investigative correspondent for NBC News. A new documentary film, War On Whistle Blowers, is based on his reporting.

The panel included James Poulos from Huffington Post Live, Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress, and Paul Rudnick, humorist and author of the young adult novel, Gorgeous.

Speaking of gorgeous, the special guest was Brit Marling, actress and screen writer who stars in a new movie, The East, who is absolutely gorgeous.   

The title of this review, "Crazy Town", is a reference to Michelle Bachmann. In the opening monologue, Bill talked about her decision not to run for re-election. "In the battle between Crazy Town and reality, reality won.  He quipped that Bachmann's next job was going to be as a model for the before picture in a tranquilizer ad as a picture of Bachmann's googly-eyed face appeared on screen.

Bill had another great zinger. This one was for John McCain. Bill reported that John McCain went to Syria over the Memorial Day weekend.  Referring to McCain’s frequent visits to war zones, he described McCain as “the Where’s Waldo of War.”

And, of course, Bill had to do a riff on the mayor of Toronto who was caught on tape smoking crack. That guy is a joke waiting to happen.

Bill mentioned the other white powder in the news--ricin. It was sent to Obama in the mail. “Do they think Obama opens his own mail?” These Obama haters are so stupid. I saw on the news that they arrested the guy who did it. He is going to get a long prison sentence for his stupidity.

Michael Isikoff spoke about whistle blowers. He noted that the people at the top leak for their own purposes with impunity, but when the people at the bottom leak they get prosecuted. The question for all of us is are we better or worse off for knowing these things.

Bill took time during the panel discussion to rail against McCain—and McCain deserves it in my opinion. Bill suggested that we imagine the hell there would be to pay if we had a Republican president and a Democratic senator had gone on a rogue mission.  “McCain never met a war he didn’t want in on,” Bill said. I agree. It was one reason why it was so important that he did not become president.

The panel also discussed health care.  It seems that in the states that want Obamacare to work, it is working very well. It reminds me of the recount in Florida for Bush/Gore.  The counties that wanted the recount to work accomplished it easily and swiftly, while the counties that were headed by Republicans pretended it was an impossible task.   

Tanden pointed out that health insurance rates were coming down due to competition. Poulos said the new law wouldn’t work and “it was like nuking a mosquito.”  The rest of the panel ganged up on him for this stupid comment.

Bill pointed out the problem with Obamacare is not too much socialism, but too much capitalism. Any kinks in the law will get ironed out. He reminded everyone that Medicare was not that popular at first; it needed a few tweaks, and now it is a very popular program that works well.

Bill did a comedy segment about “fregans,” people who reject consumerism and live off the grid. They obtain food for themselves by “dumpster diving.”  So Bill did the “Zagat’s Guide to Dumpsters”—a parody of the popular restaurant guide. I liked the one he did for Chez Maison. “It’s not garbage,” he said, “it’s gar-bahage, giving the word a French pronounciation.  “The food is marinated in white wine just like the guy in the alley,” Bill added.

This segment was a nice lead-in to the appearance of Brit Marlin, whose new movie The East is about a group of eco-terrorists who live off the grid. Their creed is to take waste and turn into bounty. Their anti-corporate acts of terrorism raise the question: How far is too far?. I haven’t seen the movie, but it sounds like this band of off-the-gridders get to create a Crazy Town all their own.

Bill veered off into a discussion about how the new pope, Pope Francis, might be an atheist. Bill reported that the Pope said :”The Lord will redeem all of us, even the atheist.” This was the “from-your-lips-to-God’s-ears” moment of the week. Bill said that when he was making his movie Religulous he discovered that many non-believers hold high office in the church—they stay in the church because they want to help people. Rudnick added that the pope said he falls asleep during prayers, and said “he’s my kind of guy.”

They discussed how Wolfe Blitzer while interviewing an Oklahoma tornado survivor said “I guess you just thank the Lord.” The woman said that, actually she “did not thank the Lord, but she did not blame those who do.” Blitzer just assumed. I always hate it when people claim that the deity saved them from a natural disaster. How are the families of those who did not survive suppose to feel when they hear that? Their loved ones weren’t good enough?    

In New Rules, Bill did “Reefer Gladness” about how pot is the new gay marriage—the next civil rights issue. He said that medical marijuana was “don’t ask, don’t tell” for pot smokers. He got serious when he spoke about how three-fourths of a million people are arrested for pot each year. Blacks are seven times more likely to get arrested, and this is one way to suppress the black vote. A simple pot conviction can ruin someone’s life. Given these facts, Bill did not think that Obama’s joke about “buzzfeed” during the Correspondents Dinner was funny. He said, Obama evolved on gay marriage, but he got stricter on pot.

In my opinion, America is like “Crazy Town” all too often with its nutty politicians, its religiosity, and its selectively enforced laws against victimless crimes.

Brit Marling

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