Saturday, April 19, 2014

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” #312 “Killing Me Slowly”

By Catherine Giordano
Jimmy Carter 

“Killing Me Slowly” sums up my review and recap (and commentary) for HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” episode 212, which aired on 3/28/14.  Emphasis on “killing.”

The monologue began with a reference to Putin’s invasion of Crimea. Maher said it was not like the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “First of all, it worked.” He followed it up with a jab at John’s McCain’s (R, AZ) seeming eagerness for war. He reported that McCain said, “Russia is just a gas station masquerading as a country.”  Maher jested that Putin replied, “Arizona is just a nursing home masquerading as a state.”

Maher also joked about the whitewash report from Christie’s lawyers that exonerated Christie of any wrongdoing on anything, ever.  Maher said that the report was so over the top, fawning and complimentary, that it might have well have said “women want to date him, men want to be him, cows want to be eaten by him.”

The interview was with former president Jimmy Carter, former president, Nobel Peace prize recipient, and founder of “The Carter Center.”  Carter has a new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.  Carter wears his Christianity on his sleeve—he’s a Sunday school teacher, so Maher couldn’t resist challenging him on religion.  He told Carter those who advocate violence, enslave people, mistreat women, etc. and defend it with religious texts are interpreting the texts incorrectly.  Maher maintained that the problem is that they are interpreting the texts accurately and went on to cite passages to prove his point. Carter trumped him when he said “I go back to what Jesus said and did.”  (So Carter is pretty much saying he reads his Bible selectively, ignoring the parts he doesn’t agree with.)  But it was enough to get Maher to say “Jesus was a good guy” and to change the subject.

The panel was pretty well behaved tonight.  Even Rick Lazio (former Congressman R, NY) got me to thinking that he wasn’t so bad.  Then he would add the “but” and that killed my good feelings for me. “The government is not doing a single thing to help the inner city.” So far so good.  Then he adds, “At least Ryan is talking about poverty.”  Yes Ryan talked about it, blaming poverty on the poor.

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, had to set Lazio straight.  She said, “We should unite around solutions, not just blame people.”

Maher had a trick up his sleeve. He read a quote that sounded not too different from what Ryan had said and then announced that it was a quote for Michelle Obama.  W. Kamau Bell, the third panelist, a comedian and star of the TV series Totally Biased, who happens to be black, explained it.  He said that it was about the audience.  Michelle was talking to black people and “Black people talk differently to each other when you [white people] are not around.”  I say there was another difference—intent and context. Ryan was talking to white people castigating black people for laziness; Michelle was talking to black people urging them to do better for themselves.

Bell also stated that you can’t blame poor people for not working when they live in an area where there are no jobs, the schools suck, the hospitals suck, there are no grocery stores, and all the dads are in jail. In other words, In other words, change the inner cities and the people will change themselves.

Another topic was the Boston Marathon bombing.  Maher announced that it was the anniversary of that terrible event. He then showed a picture of the Boston police force marching down the street dressed in riot gear and accompanied by tanks.  “Who knew that Boston had an army?” he said. Maher said that we have police forces that act like armies all over the country. “An army that sustains itself on plunder.” He was presumably referring to the seizure of assets that occurs with drug busts.

Maher next brought up the Russian man, Ibragin Todashev, who was associated with the Tsaraev brothers who did the bombings and who is alleged to have committed a triple murder. We may never know for sure because the FBI shot him. Lazio defended the shooting, saying the guy flipped out and threw a table.  Maher correctly pointed out that we don’t know what happened since the only witnesses are the men who did the shooting and, in any event, killing the man was an excessive response.

Maher brought up “the corporations are people” issues.  They are people only when they want to be.  Hobby Lobby claims a religious exemption from providing health care coverage that includes contraceptives for women because a company, like a person, can have religious beliefs.  Lazio says, “I’m pro-choice.” So I’m liking him. Then he adds, “A closely held corporation, run by a family, is different” and is entitled to an exemption. So now I’m back to disliking him. Tanden has to set him straight once again.  “Why is it about religious freedom for the employer, why not religious freedom for the employees? Do corporations get to make religious decisions for all of us?

Corporations also don’t want to be treated like people when they destroy the economy and ruin people’s lives. No one on Wall Street was punished. They also don’t want to be treated like people when they kill people.  Like GM being slow to announce a recall of cars with faulty ignition switches. Over 300 people died. Maher said, “Corporations are killing us a little more slowly.”  I think he meant less directly compared to FBI agents with guns.

Another important issue discussed in the show was the killing of the oceans.  The search for the missing Malaysia jet turned up no jet wreckage but lot’s of garbage. Maher said, “We have turned the ocean into a porta potty. We are killing the ocean—radiation from Fukishima, oil slicks, fishing on the verge of collapse--and it is going to kill us if we don’t fix it. We need the ocean to live.  Agreement all around.  We are killing the ocean slowly.

The mid show guest was the actor Josh Gad, the voice-over star of Frozen.  He told us the movie has made over a billion dollars.  “It is a license to print money.” 

I recently saw Frozen and I have a problem with the hidden message of this movie: Girls rule and boys drool.  Once Disney movies portrayed girls as helpless just waiting for a man to come and save them, like Cinderella and Snow White.  Then the male and female roles became a little more equal—Aladdin and Jasmine were equal partners in their adventures.  Then the pendulum swung too far evidently when Disney realized that princesses were a financial bonanza.  The princesses in Frozen don’t need any men.  The “hero” in the show, Kristof, is an oaf, a fixer-upper (there’s a song about it), who has to be whipped into shape by Princess Elsa. Even then he is a bumbler who can’t rescue Elsa’s sister, Anna--Elsa has to do the job herself. The other men in the show are “Prince Hans”, a villain who acts like “Prince Charming” but only want to marry Elsa for money and position, and Olaf, a funny little snowman, sort of a pet.

By the way, little girls are desperate to have Princess Elsa dresses.  Disney can’t make them fast enough so some people are buying them on the Internet for $1,500.  And that is not t worse part. The worst part is that the retail price is $150—$150 for a dress or a little girl.

The mid-show comedy segment was funny. It seems there is a crack epidemic in Vermont, which also happens to be the home of “Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.”  So Maher renamed some Ben & Jerry’s flavors.
  • Chunky Junky
  •  Late Night Smack
  • Grubby Hubby         
  • Needles and Cream           
  •  Robert Brownie, Jr.

In New Rules, in a segment called “Left Behind,” Maher railed against Democrats for always having talking points that begin with an apology. For instance, they are always saying the ACA needs to be fixed. Polls show that people are overwhelming in favor of the basic components of the act. Democrats should be proud to own ObamaCare. This is the “can-I-get-an-amen” moment of the week.

Maher cracked, “Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum said ObamaCare would kill children.  No, you are thinking about assault rifles.”

Maher brought the show full circle back to Jimmy Carter, saying “And they should be proud to own Jimmy Carter. A failed presidency?  By whose standards?  We may have had a bad economy, but you know what we didn’t have—a war!  And he was the last president to ask for shared sacrifice. Another “can-I-get-an amen” moment of the week.

Maher finished with, “Carter put solar panels on the White House roof.  Regan tore them down because he thought the sun was interfering with Nancy’s astrology.”

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