Saturday, April 12, 2014

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher #314 Riot-Roundup

Rob Lowe, actor and author of Love Life,
was on Maher's panel.
By Catherine Giordano

"Pussy Riot"--great name for a band! Bill Maher did an interview with the political activist group of young women in Russia who masquerade as a band on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 314, which aired on April 11, 2014.

Congressman Vance McAllister (R, LA) was the butt of a lot of jokes, as well he should be. The married congressman ran on family values, and now a video is all over TV and the internet showing him passionately kissing a female staffer who is also married (not to him). In the monologue, Maher said, “Republicans are either voting against women or rubbing against women.” Strike one.  McAllister if forming an exploratory committee—his tongue was an exploratory committee.” Strike two. “That wasn’t kissing, that was fracking” Strike three. You’re out. Only he wasn’t out. The staffer he was kissing has resigned, but he’s still there. Being exposed as a hypocrite is not putting him out of the game.

One of the panelists was Rob Lowe, actor and author of a new book Love Life. With a book title like that, there had to be a joke about Lowe having been involved in a few “pussy riots” of his own.  This was the “cheap-shot-joke” moment of the week. I checked out the table of contents on —Lowe’s book appears to be both more serious and more entertaining than the cheap shot joke would imply.

Continuing with this theme, the mid-show comedy segment featured the “Sex Harasser’s Manual.” The book would include tips for Congress, such as: 

·        Never say, “Are those your real breasts or have they been gerrymandered?
·        Grow up—We all know it is pronounced BAY-ner.

The mid-show guest as Matt Taibbi, a journalist, and author of The Divide:
American Injustice in the Age of  the Wealth Gap. He was reading us the riot act about our so called “justice system.”  In a nutshell: “It is very easy to go to jail if you are poor; very hard if you are rich. All those crazy things you do when you are young—the poor go to jail, the rich don’t. It’s morally unjustifiable.” 

Since the interview was concerned repression in Russia, Maher had to point out that America is #1 with respect to the percent of its population that is in prison and Russia is #8.  Taibbi added that crime is down by 44%, but the prison population is up by one million. 

Another panelist, Anna Marie Cox, political columnist for Guardian USA, blamed “for-profit prisons.” And that is all that you need to know to understand this issue.  Every business wants to grow and if your business is prisons, you are lobbying for harsher laws and longer sentences. You are also providing minimum services to squeeze ever last bit of profit out. There’s no rehabilitation or humanity. As Maher said about our so-called “correctional institutions”: “We are creating so many bitter unemployable people.”

During a discussion about the Ukraine situation, the third panelist, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R, CA) said he was in favor of “tactical nuclear weapons.”  When everyone else was so shocked they were on the verge of a riot, Hunter explained that he only advocated tactical nuclear weapons, the kind that explode underground. Maher rightly chastised him saying “Nukes are a genie we shouldn’t let out of the bottle.”  People like Hunter scare me half to death. Doesn’t he realize if we nuke them, there are a whole lot of thems who can nuke us right back?

Maher pointed out that ignorance equals belligerence. He mentioned a recent poll asking people to locate Ukraine on a map. As you might have guessed, few got it right. Some even put Ukraine inside the U.S. The poll also asked if we should use nukes. The people who didn’t know where Ukraine was were far more likely to want to use nukes.

The New Rules finale was titled “The Call of the Riled.” Maher talked about Mike Rogers leaving Congress for a talk-radio gig and Jim DeMint who left the Senate to become head of The Heritage Foundation (a right wing “think-tank.”) Maher said, “There has never been a better time to quit government and go into the lucrative business of talking about government.” He concluded by naming Sarah Palin as the “one night stand of governing” and claiming that Ted Cruz sees “higher office as just a higher form of talk radio."

There was no riot of the set of “Real Time with Bill Maher” this week, just a riot roundup of scary scary stories about scarcity of good government. Fortunately, although the panelists were mostly “straight-men”, Maher gave us a few moments of humor.  

I hope you enjoyed this recap and review of the show.  Please leave a comment.

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