Saturday, October 5, 2013

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher, #296, Shutdowns, Meltdowns, and Put-Downs

by Catherine Giordano

The government shutdown, political meltdowns, and American put-downs were some of the subjects th
John Boehner's drinking problem is lampooned
 on Real Time with Bill Maher.
discussed on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”, episode 296, which aired on October 4, 2013

The Republicans have made themselves easy targets for put-downs because as Bill Said, “ObamaCare” is a pill they cannot swallow.” Carl Reiner, author of a new memoir, I Remember Me, who was the special guest, said he is glad Republicans named it ObamaCare because 20 years from now people will be saying Obama gave us health care. And in the segment I am calling “Americans Being Stupid”—man-in-the- street interviews by documentarian Alexandra Pelosi—a woman said she thought Obama had a lot of gall to name it after himself.  In a comment to last week's review, Twerking It," I made the point that we should call the new healthcare law by its real name “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and not “ObamaCare.” This idiotic comment convinced me that I was right about calling it the ACA.

Alexandra Pelosi, whose most recent documentary is Citizen USA: A 50 State Road Trip had a few other stupid comments from Americans about the ACA, for instance, it’s to insure illegal aliens and there are death panels, but the best of the lot was the woman who said, “It is a chip implanted inside your skin.”  When Pelosi asked her if she really believed that, the woman implied that Pelosi was stupid, “I don’t know how you don’t know about it.” This was the “I-don’t- know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry” moment of the week.

By the way, the ACA is looking like it is going to be very successful.  Millions of people rushed to the websites during the first week to try to sign up. Unfortunately, the demand was so great, they crashed some of the websites. People who do not have health insurance from their employers can get it or as low as $40 a month if they qualify for subsidies based on their income. And, they can’t be refused because of a pre-existing condition.

The interview was with bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who has authored several books dealing with bio-ethics and whose most recent book is Brothers Emanuel : A Memoir of an American Family (His brothers are Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, and Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood superagent who was the model for Ari in the TV series Entourage), predicted that people will like the ACA. He explained that if 7 million enroll and at least 2.7 million are young people, the program will be a success. He pointed out that we now pay a hidden tax of about $1000 a year because we have to pay for the uninsured who get free care in emergency rooms and the cost of that gets built into the cost of healthcare. Bill asked him if the ACA was the first step towards single-payer. Emanuel flat-out said, “No, it is a subsidy to buy insurance.” Emanuel comes across as super smart and super nice, and unlike his brothers, very laid back.

The panel included Matt Kibbe, author of Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government's Stranglehold on America. He didn’t have much worthwhile to say. He called the ACA “a train wreck” and said that “someone else will be making your health care decisions.” Two cliché comments straight from the Republican talking points. Boring!
Another panel member was Suzy Khimm, an MSNBC reporter. She wasn’t very exciting, but a least she gave us facts and didn’t speak in clichés. She pointed out that whatever their feelings about the ACA, 72% of Americans did not want the government shut down over it. Khimm said that people want to have the debate about the ACA, they just don’t want the government shut down while we have that debate. Reiner said we should shut down every Republican who shut down the government in the next election.

The live wire of the panel was Alan Grayson, the congressman from Florida. He had a few zingers, but he spoke them calmly (in line with the apparent new politeness policy at Real Time.) He called Republican rhetoric about using freedom as a reason to take down the AFC act a fraud. “They want employers to have veto power over contraceptives for female employees.  How is that freedom?” Then he told Kibbe flat out “You’re wrong.”  (Someone had to say it.) Bill said, “It’s like” You go to the exchanges and you find the one who is right for you.”

Republicans hatred of the ACA is why we have a government shutdown.  By now all of you know that their opposition is not because of any of their stated reasons—it’s because people are going to like it and it will be another government program like Social Security and Medicare that they will never be able to get rid of. Bill reported that Fox News is calling the shut-down a slim-down. (Yeah, starving kids will slim down now that programs that help them get food are shut down.)

Grayson said that there are three parties in the Republican Party—the corporate shills, the religious fanatics, and the freedom thieves who say you have the freedom to sleep under a bridge. Bill said there are four factions—Jesus-freaks, Gun-nuts, fat- suburbanites, and the super-rich. That was the "pulling-no-punches" moment of the week.

Bill asked about the rumors that there is a lot of drinking going on in DC right now. Grayson confirmed it, saying there needed to be a chapter of AA for Republicans in DC. (I’m burned up about that—remember Nero fiddling while Rome burned—Republicans are out partying while the country suffers the effects of shut down. Government employees are being forced to work without pay.  Some Republicans refused to forego their paychecks during the shutdown saying “I need the money.” I hope they are not spending it all on drink.)

Bill said that one of the biggest drinkers is John Boehner.  (He has long had a reputation for being a lush.) The mid-show comedy segment was all about Boehner drunk tweeting.

·         Hanging with the only three people I trust—Jack Daniels, Captain Morgan, and Jim Beam
·         The government is shut down and so is my liver
·         I went to ObamaCare and signed up as Mike Hunt

In New Rules, Bill put-down a whole swath of Americans. The segment was called “Slob Rule.”  He sarcastically said, “When you leave the house we can see you.”  He’s spoken about this before. It is the broken window theory: Fix the little things and the big things will follow. “It about pride” and “Even the elephant man wore a suit.”  I guess he means that if people took a little more pride in their appearance and dressed nicer, they wouldn’t be as stupid as the people Pelosi showed in her interviews that aired at the beginning of the show. It’s a stretch, but maybe.

I thought it was a weak ending and a poor choice for a week when the government is shut down, the world economy could melt-down if the debt ceiling is not raised, and Republicans in Washington are oozing hypocrisy and delivering lies and put-downs instead of solutions, and all Bill wants to talk about is how people shouldn’t dress like slobs.

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