Sunday, April 6, 2014

Real Time with Bill Maher #313 “Going Going Gone”

Alex Wagner, MSNBC host
By Catherine Giordano

The discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 313, aired on April 4, 2014,  focused on what’s going well, what doing down, and what’s going gone.

ObamaCare is going well. On March 31, the end of the 2014 enrollment period, sign-ups had gone through the roof, surpassing the 7million target number.  This success has made Republicans go crazy (crazier). The “truthers” are back--only this time it is not about a birth certificate, it is about cooking the books.  And now that the Supreme Court has gone and voted down more spending limits, the billionaires will be pounding that message into our heads with even greater ferocity. 

The interview was with Captain Paul Watson founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation organization and the “star” of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, a documentary-style reality show.  He told us that ocean life will be gone unless we change our ways.  “If the oceans die, we die.” He advocated for protecting bio-diversity in the ocean. He warned that “global warming/climate change” could alter the oceans currents, plunging Europe in a deep freeze. I feel our planet is going downhill like an Olympian in a luge, and maybe it is already too late to stop this downhill slide.  [See The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.] It’s the extinction that could wipe out human beings.]

The panel included Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner.  She speaks with confidence and passion—she knows her stuff.  I’d say that Wagner presents the liberal viewpoint, but it is more accurate to say she presents the honest viewpoint..

Wagner stands in stark contrast to another female panelist, Carrie Sheffield, a columnist for Forbes, decidedly in the Republican/conservative camp, spewing forth the same old discredited talking points. Worse yet, she seemed to think she was on a game show, smiling inanely each time she thought she had scored a point.  She thought she had landed a zinger when she said that campaign spending in 2012 is the same amount Americans spend on chewing gum.  Maher looked at her like she had gone off on the train to Crazy Town.  “It’s not the amount in aggregate that matters,” he explained. “It’s the percentage spent by rich people.”

The third panelist was former Representative (R VA) Tom Davis.  He too spewed the talking points, but at least he didn’t make a fool of himself while doing so.  And, towards the end of the show, he even said something I agreed with. He said that the rogue agencies in the CIA must be held accountable.

I hope Davis will continue to be for accountability when the CIA torture report is made public.  The report will show how the Bush administration, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and all the rest, violated the Geneva Convention and engaged in torture and gained no useful information in the process.  Maher seemed really angry when he castigated the movie Zero Dark 30 which showed that torture helped in the search for bin Laden. He called it “product placement for torture.”  [I refused to see the movie when it played in theaters, but I did catch it on HBO and it made me as angry as it made Maher.]

Bill came back to the torture report in New Rules. He said, “If the torture report makes you disgusted, you’re liberal; if it makes you shrug, you’re conservative; and if it makes you hard, you’re Dick Cheney.”

The comedy sketch dealt with a report that said 43% of college age and high school aged boys have been coerced into sex.  He then did a showed video about the terrible threat of LBS, Lucky Bastard Syndrome.  The title speaks for itself.

The mid-show guest was Nas, a rapper and songwriter with a new album, Illmatic XX.  He’s very soft-spoken for a rapper—I had to turn the volume up on my TV to hear him.  He mentioned that he did a song with Jay Z on a prior album (Hip Hop is Dead) ironically titled Black Republican.  (“I feel like a Black Republican--I got money coming in.”) This put Sheffield into a tizzy because she took Maher’s joke—“You may have a new recruit”-- literally.  Nas, gently put her in her place saying, “I wouldn’t go that far.”

In New Rules, Maher spoke about how the middle class was going, going, gone.  He said that Tiffany was doing great and umpteen different versions of dollar stores were doing great, but stores that cater to the middle class like, Sears and Penney’s, were dying.  “We are becoming a country of rich people and desperate people.” The bit wasn’t all that funny so we got the “Maher-goes-for-a-desperate-joke” moment of the week.  “Lube up,” was the tag line, “time to do some porn.” 
 
The final New Rules bit wasn’t as sharp as it usually is—Bill didn’t seem to know where to go with it.  Nonetheless, I’m going to HBO every Friday at 10pm.  Because, despite one kinda-fell-flat joke, Maher has gone and done it again, delivering an hour of news-focused opinion, commentary, and humor. Bill Maher has got it going on.

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