Saturday, June 8, 2013

Real Time with Bill Maher #285 “I’m Calling Bullsh*t”

The best part of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”, episode 285, which aired on June 7, 2013, came at the end with New Rules. It was the “this-is-the-reason-I-watch-Bill-Maher” moment of the week.

Bill reminded us of all the talk about how Ronald Reagan could not have been successful as a Republican in today’s Republican party. Bill said ,”I call bullsh*t on that.”

Bill then went on to show that the excesses of today’s Republicans all stem from Ronald Reagan.

Bill used the following terms to describe Reagan: anti-abortion, union-busting, cut-taxes-on-the-rich, an incurable case of military-industrial complex, Medicare-is-socialism-that will-destroy-America.  (Referencing that last item, Bill later quoted Reagan’s famous speech about how because of Medicare one day we would be telling our children what freedom used to be like with this quip: “Drama Queen much?”  That was Bill at his best.)

Bill said that Reagan wrote the playbook on every issue for today’s Republicans:

He invented voodoo economics.  

He poisoned race relations, constantly railing that Blacks get all the breaks. (Remember Welfare Queens—a total lie, by the way.)  

He equated the New Deal with fascism.

He said Medicaid was people waiting for handouts.

He called unemployment insurance a pre-paid vacation for free-loaders.

He inspired people who hate government to get into government.

And he pioneered making sh*t up.

(And Bill never even mentioned Iran-Contra, along with the probability that Reagan made a deal with the Iranians to prolong the hostage crisis for his political advantage, which were perhaps the precursors to G.W. Bush lying us into a war.)  

Bill said that Reagan was far from a mainstream Republican and that he is the reason the far right thinks it is the new middle. “Reagan is the man most responsible for our decline.”  He said that Democrats should stop conceding the arguments about Ronald Reagan being better than today’s Republicans and tea-partiers.

He concluded with “We should stop pretending he’s a saint when his two miracles were changing water into polluted water and walking on the poor.”  Amen, brother!

The interview was with George Packer, author of The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. The book is about the structures of everyday life crumbling, the nation’s leaders failing to protect the people, and the void being filled with “organized money.” His book makes these points by telling the stories of everyday Americans.   Packer told Bill, “The game is rigged. The United States is not number one in social mobility anymore.” Packer also said, “Celebrities are a super-class. They used to be a side show, but now unless you are a celebrity you kind of don’t exist.”

The panel included Kevin Williamson, a roving correspondent for The National Review. He also has a new book: The End is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier and More Secure. The book title perfectly sums up who Williamson is. Really? A financial cataclysm will be a good thing? Perhaps it will be for Williamson, but I doubt very much that it will be good for me and the other everyday people, like the people in Packer’s book.

I suppose this was good counter-casting to have Packer and  Williamson on the same panel because Williamson seems to be the exact opposite of Packer with respect to their views about what is wrong with America and how to fix it. Williamson is the most dangerous kind of conservative—he conveys an air of authority and appears to present educated arguments—but his ideas are the same kind of bullshit you hear from the tea-partiers, just said more nicely.

Another conservative on the panel was Ana Navarro. She looked and sounded a little more polished compared to her last time on the show, but she still couldn’t resist “the-don’t-go-there” comment. The panel was discussing the ideas of Tom Shadyac, the author of Life’s Operating Manual. His main point was that all systems in the natural world co-operate with each other. He said that the “human body is one big co-operative organism, and when it doesn’t work you get sick.” Navarro added, “Or you take Viagra.”Everyone stared at her—no one understood what she meant.  She had to explain that when the body won’t do what the brain wants it to do, you take Viagra. (Get it? The panel wisely moved on to a new topic.)

Dana Gould was also on the panel. He’s a comedian. During the discussion about privacy, of should I say today’s lack of privacy, he said, “We have lost “the illusion of privacy.  The loss of privacy is nothing new.”

He’s right. If you think anything is private, you are deceiving yourself. I no longer even care. I assume that anyone who wants to know anything about me can know it. So this whole brouhaha about the government spying on people is just a tempest in a teapot to me. It’s all out there anyway, and if it helps us catch terrorists before they blow something up again, I’m OK with it. Bill summed it up: “Would the founding fathers have been so strong on privacy if they knew about nukes?
Bill brought up the study commissioned by The Young Republicans. The study found that young people associate Republicans with the following terms: Close-minded. Racist. Rigid. Old Fashioned. Now that should scare Republicans into changing their ways, but they just can’t seem to help themselves. Rubio is now set to vote against his own immigration bill.

The comedy segment was about some new super-heros for gays. The list included: The Incredible Hunk; Clash Gordon (punishers of fashion crimes); The Ex-Men (transvestites); 14 Cats Woman (the lesbian who lives with 14 cats); Ironic Man (his super power is rolling his eyes); and Wonder Woman (transvestites who make you wonder if they are women.) For someone who advocates equality for gays, and lesbians, Bill sure does a lot of jokes about them. I’m just saying. 

Let me close with something from bill’s monologue. It’s about Michelle Obama not taking sh*t from anyone. When she was recently heckled she told the crowd they should decide if they wanted to listen to her or the heckler. If they wanted to hear the heckler, she was leaving. I thought she handled it just right, although The Right is all in a tizzy about it. Bill said, “Michelle went all Game-of-Thrones on them. She told the heckler that if I wanted your opinion, my husband would tap your phone.” 

"Saint Reagan" predicts that Medicare, one of the most popular government programs ever,
 will be the end of freedom.  What bullsh*t. 
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