Saturday, July 13, 2013

HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher #289 “Rip-Roaring”

A picture of Yosemite Sam to illustrate panelists shooting over their mouths.
by Catherine Giordano

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” episode 289, airing on Friday, July 12, 2013, was a rip-roaring show. It was a very lively show that crossed the line into “too lively.”  All three panelists as well as Bill Maher are loud, opinionated, extroverts. You put the four of them at the one table and you get a rip-roaring mess. So much of the show consisted of them all talking over each other, all four of them at once, that most of what was said was unintelligible.

Bill’s monologue began with a comment on the Zimmerman trial. What else? Is there anything on TV these past few months except the Zimmerman trial? He said “Florida is trying so hard to get black people to stay in their homes, you’d think it was election day.”
Then Bill commented on the defense bringing a dummy into court. He said, the defense was playing the “my-client-is-a-moron” defense.

Later in the show, Matt Lewis, from “The Daily Caller”, a libertarian website, said “a wannabe gangster vs. a wannabe cop.”  I gasped when I heard that rip-roaring racial insult  (implying all young black men are gangsters). This is “you-set-me-off-now-I-have-to-go-on-a rant” moment of the week.

Trayvon was a kid, only three weeks past his 16th birthday. He might have fooled around, acting tough, around his friends, like a lot of 16 year-old boys do--that does not mean he wanted to be a gangster. Why is it always “blame the victim”!  Further, even if Trayvon was a gangster, all he was doing that night was walking to his father’s house after a trip to a 7-11 to buy some snacks.

The prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, began the trial saying Zimmerman made some “wrong assumptions.”  Perhaps not the best word to use. It implies that Zimmerman only made  a mistake. Why not say “jumped to conclusions.”  I thought De la Rionda gave a terrible closing--way too sarcastic and nasty.

Mark O’Mara, gave a soft-spoken rational play-by-play, although he only spoke about the “plays” favorable to his client. But he went too far bringing in a piece of concrete and claiming Trayvon was not unarmed—he was armed with concrete. (If I was in that room, I would have had a hard time trying not to laugh.) Why go to this extreme if you feel your case for self-defense is strong. Perhaps, O’Mara went over the top like this because Zimmerman had only trivial injuries. (If it had happened the way Zimmerman said it happened, Zimmerman would have been dead.)

Fortunately, John Guy got to give a rebuttal to Mark O’Mara’s closing and to De la Rionda’s botched closing. He was masterful. He calmly went through the evidence exposing the lies that Zimmerman told about the incident, and made an eloquent plea to the jury centered around heart. He talked about Trayvon shot in the heart, Zimmerman having hate in his heart, and he touched the hearts of all who heard him, including, hopefully, the jurors.

The only part of De la Rionda’s closing that moved me was when he held up an evidence packet that held the money that Trayvon had in his pocket that night. He had $40 and 15 cents. It brought a lump to my throat just as it does now as I write about it. I don’t know why it affects me so much.  Perhaps because the money that he will never get to spend represents the future he will never get to have.

Back to the show.  

Liz Mair was another panel member. She was identified as a Republican consultant. She mostly seemed rational except for when she told us how much she loved Rand Paul. Bill was talking about “The Southern Avenger,” a  rip-roaring racist (and proud of it) who co-wrote Paul’s book and is Paul’s press secretary. He will remain on his staff.  Mair thought Paul was right about this, but even Mike Lewis thought he was wrong.  He said “The Republican party is a big tent, but not that big.”

In Overtime, Mair said that she thought Elizabeth Warren should run for president because she would be he would be better than Hillary Clinton.  I think Elizabeth Warren is terrific as a senator, but unlike Clinton, she is known for only one thing—consumer advocacy. I don’t think Democrats are going to be taking advice from a Republican consultant.  (Nice try, Liz.)

The other panelist is Cornel West, a professor at Union Seminary College. His default mode is rip-roaring. He always has an impromptu witty response. (Unlike Lewis, whose gangster comment was obviously prepared in advance.) In the discussion about “The Southern Avenger,” who likes to wear a helmet with a mask covering his face made to look like the Confederate flag which reminds me of Hannibal Lecter, it was mentioned that John Wilkes Booth is his hero.  Mike Rowe said, that some historians think assassination of Lincoln so horrified people that it helped bring the South and the North together faster. Cornell West jumped in immediately. “That is like saying Hitler brought the U.S. and Europe together. Bill topped that by saying, “Everyone likes the Jews more now—you can’t take that away from Hitler.”

The special guest was Mike Rowe, the creator and star of the TV show “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.” He was the only laid back person at that table. He talked about the 30 million jobs, many of them good paying jobs that go unfilled, because Americans don’t like “dirty jobs.” The slogan is “Work smart, not hard.” The feelling is that blue collar jobs are demeaning. Rowe said, “People confuse me as an advocate for blue collar work; really, I’m just a fan of it.  I’m just a simple guy in a sewer.” He’s funny too.  I’ve never seen his show, but my guess is that he would have been successful no matter what line of work he took up.

The interview was with Bobby Ghosh, an Indian national and Time Magazine world correspondent. He spoke mainly about the events in Egypt—was it or was it not a “coup”.  Bill said, the U.S. will not label it a coup because we can’t give military aid if it was a coup. Countries who receive this aid use it to by armaments from big  American companies—the military-industrial complex at work.

Ghosh also spoke about how you can’t have democracy and theocracy at the same time. (Hear that—American Christian right.) It may be that the whole Middle East will be in a death match between Sunni and Shia.  (At least, in the U.S., our Catholics and Protestants don’t kill each other, and the Lutherans don’t kill the Methodists.)

The comedy segment was hilarious. It seems a Tea party candidate, Jaxine Bubis, writes a little rip-roaring erotic romance novels on the side. Bill did a great parody of tea- party porn. It began, “He took off his “Obama=Hitler” tee-shirt revealing the chiseled six-pack of a young Glenn Beck.  He leaned over and whispered, “I want to get you off…welfare.  …It was a tiny penis that let her know, oh yeah, he’s a gun owner.” I liked the part where he mentioned a woman as wet as Boenher’s cheeks” and a you-know-what as “stiff as Romney.” (There was a lot more--you’ll just have to watch it for yourself.
  
The final New Rules segment was about immigration. The same Republican party that claims to be all about shrinking government and decreasing the deficit wants to spend $30 billion to increase security on the Mexican border. Bill noted that the bill contains requirements for certain weapons to be bought from certain companies. (The military-industrial complex again.)

“War is the Republicans’ stimulus,” Bill declared.  Then he pointed out that currently Mexican illegal immigration is at “net zero.” Finally, the clincher. “Most illegal immigrants don’t sneak across the border, they fly in on airplanes and just don’t leave. They are Irish relatives.”

A rip-roaring episode.

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