Saturday, September 28, 2013

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” #295 "Twerking it”

They were twerking it on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” #295, on Friday September 27, 2013.

Okay, no real twerking.  But Bill did make a comment about Ted Cruz being the Miley Cyrus of politics. He’s twerking us all around with his antics, and in the process making a name for himself. Some of us think he is making a fool of himself, but Miley Cyrus’s is making tons of money due to her antics and Ted Cruz is now a household name.  Sure half the country thinks he is an ass, but the other half thinks he is a hero. Bill also jabbed about Ted Cruz’s talkathon, “where is Kanye West when we need him?’ Would someone please shut that guy up. Bill didn’t let up on Cruz throughout the whole show.  He took another jab at him in “New Rules.”  How did Cruz talk for 21 hours without a bathroom break? “Who needs a bathroom break when you have that much crap coming out of your mouth?”  Gross, but apt…and funny.

The panel included Matt Welch, an editor for Reason magazine and author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America He’s clearly a Republican from the Rand Paul/Ron Paul libertarian wing of the party, but he’s no fan of the tea-partiers. He said, “Republicans are squandering their power.”
Robert Reich 

There was a lot of talk about crazy-ass Republicans. A good thing we had the brilliant Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, and the author of several books including his most recent Inequality for All, to set everyone straight. He said the right word for the Republicans was not “hostage takers, but extortionists” They are threatening to shut down the government and to refuse to pay the bills that Congress has rung up unless Obama gets behind the Romney/Ryan economic agenda.  What part of “You Lost” do they not understand?  They will bring down not only the United States economy, but the world economy. Reich said that the last time Congress came close to refusing to raise the debt ceiling the U.S. economy lost $1.3 billion and that was without them actually doing it. 

Reich made a very important point. That Republicans with their mantra of “makers and taker” don’t seem to realize when the all Americans do well (the so called “working class or “middle class”  do well the rich do well.  The two biggest economic disasters, “The Great Depression” and the recent “Great Recession” were preceded by the greatest inequality between the super-rich and the ordinary worker. When the workers have money to spend, they buy stuff and that makes the entrepreneurial class richer.  The minimum wage (which needs to be raised), food stamps, unemployment insurance the are not just give-aways—they are what keeps the economy going in hard times and what allows the economy to eventually recover.

ObamaCare was a big topic.  Welch said with great conviction, “We all know that it will add to the deficit.” Bill shot back, “We don’t know that.”  They began to argue and Reich broke in, “I’ll be the mediator.  It won’t.”  In addition to being really smart, Reich has a great wit.  Welch seemed a little conflicted about ObamaCare. He seemed to like it when he said that “I had a pre-existing condition” and couldn’t get health insurance, but then he attacked it saying it was “one size fits all.”  Bill pointed out that the bill was 2000 pages long, something Republicans are always complaining about, explain how that is one size fits all. Welch had to admit that he had no answer.  Touché, Bill, for that “hoist-on- your- own-petard” moment of the week.

However, when Welch criticized Obama for not doing a better job of explaining the new affordable Ca Act, even Bill had to agree.  Even I have to agree. Obama is out there doing it now, but for so long there has been a vacuum which the Republicans could fill with outrageous lied.

The comedy bit dealt with the creepy ad that Republicans have been running about health care—the ones where a menacing puppet of Uncle Sam is trying to get into your private parts. (Bill showed the ads last week.) The ads are supposed to persuade young people not to sign up for ObamaCare. The ads are a joke and I doubt they will persuade even one person. They are good for one thing, though—parody.  Bill replaced the creepy Uncle Sam puppet with a creepy Jesus Christ puppet who informs the young woman that she is pregnant and had better make the right choice.  The words “Don’t let the church play doctor. Opt out of Mississippi.” appear on the screen.

The third panel member was Monica Metha, an economic columnist for the magazine Inc. and the author of The Entrepreneurial Instinct: How Everyone Has the Innate Ability to Start aSuccessful Small Business  I hadn’t mentioned her earlier because she had nothing much to say.  he told a long pointless story about how her immigrant parents became entrepreneurs and enjoyed financial success.  (Maybe she was just plugging her book.) Later she said “I can’t keep all this straight”. Monica, you are an economist, isn’t it your job to keep all this straight. She did say one interesting thing, “Politicians should wear badges of their sponsors like they do at NASCAR.”  Or rather, it would have been interesting if I had not heard that said by dozens of people over many years.
 
Who had a lot of interesting, and original, things to say?—the mid-show guest, Dr. Carl Hart, a neuroscientist, professor at Columbia, and author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges EverythingYou Know About Drugs and Society. It was music to Bill ears to hear hart explain that much of what we think we know about drug addiction is not true. He has done the research and has found that 80% to 90% of drug users are NOT addicted. Adderall is methamphetamine. Morphine is heroin.  When we don’t like the users, we vilify the drug. He praised the Obama administration for being the only administration who has ever talked about drug laws and how those laws are discriminatory. 

Dr. Hart’s comments meshed nicely with those of Tom Robbins, actor, who has a new movie coming out called Thanks for Sharing about drug addiction. However, Tom was on the show not to talk about his movie or about drug addiction, but to talk about prisons. He became interested in prisons when he starred in The Shawshank Redemption, the movie about prison based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, (published in a book of four novellas titled Different Seasons).  Over half of all prisoners are in prison for drug offenses, mostly non-violent offenses. They are thrown together with criminal and not provided any educational opportunities and thus prisons become schools for crime. Tom has a program using improvisation to help prisoners work to get their emotions under control and to form emotional bonds.  The recidivism rate among prisoners who participate in his program is zero compared to the 65% rate for all prisoners. Wow! It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people are treated like human beings and given a chance.

In New Rules,. Bill launched into a paean about California because California is showing the country how it is done. When you have a governor (Jerry Brown) and a legislature (Democratic) that works in tandem with him, great strides can be made improving the lives of citizens. A deficit of $27 billion as turned into a surplus by cutting spending and raising taxes. ObamaCare is working in California and single payer policies a gaining steam.  Gay marriage and pot smoking is legal, abortion has been made easier and undocumented residents can get driver’s licenses. The Golden State is huge (40 million residents) and it is setting the trend for America. Even almond milk.  We just had some extra almonds and we thought we’d “mess” with you.” (I substituted mess for the word Bill actually used.)

A great show. All the guests were well-behaved. I think that may be the new policy of the show. No screaming matches allowed.

If only I could say the same about Republican politicians.  No good behavior there.  Instead of working it (doing their jobs like they are in California), they are twerking it.  And by that I mean they are making asses of themselves.  

P.S. Speaking of asses, Bill said that NRA stood for Nuts, Racists, and Assholes. I couldn’t work that into the review, but it was too good a line to pass up.