Saturday, May 24, 2014

HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher" #319 May 25, 2014 "Jose Can You See"

Jose Antonio Vargas,
filmmaker, "Documented"
Jose Can You See
by Catherine Giordano

It's Memorial Day weekend, a time set aside for Americans to honor their war dead, so I have titled this review and recap of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," episode 319, which aired on 5/23/14 with a nod to The Star Spangled Banner, "Jose Can You See."
  
Jose Antonio Vargas, is a journalist, filmmaker, the founder of “Define American,” and an undocumented American. His new documentary, Undocumented, is in theaters now.  When he first heard our nation’s anthem after his mother sent him to the United States from the Philippines at the age of 12 to live with his grandparents, he thought the song lyrics were “Jose can you see” and the song was for him. In a way it is, as it is for all Americans.
 
Oh say, can you see all the wrongs in our society that need to be made right? I’ll discuss a few of them in this post. 
 
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We can all see that our immigration situation is a mess.  Maher did the interview this week with Vargas calling him the face of “The Dreamers.”  (“Dreamers” refers to young people brought to this country illegally as a child who feel as American as anyone else having grown up here, and who want a path to citizenship.) 


Vargas said this is not just a Mexican issue; there are Central Americans, Europeans and over 1 million Asians.  Maher pointed out that most undocumented immigrants don’t come over the border; they come by plane as a visitor and just don’t leave.  


Vargas talked about family separations. There are 17 million “mixed status” families in this country. In many cases, American citizen kids born here, have their parents deported. Vargas said that he had not seen his mother in 17 years. 


Vargas said “Get politics out of it. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s about doing the right thing.” 


Sarah Silverman
The mid show guest as Sarah Silverman: comedian, writer, and actress, author of The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, star of the former (very funny) TV series, The Sarah Silverman Show. She has a new movie titled A Million Ways to Die in the West. Among other things, she spoke about abortion. She is firmly on the side of choice and is something of an activist for the cause. 

She told a story about being on a picket line for choice where a little girl told her she was going to Hell. Silverman’s response: “’I can’t go to Hell. I don’t believe in Hell. Do you really think God hates me?’ Then I told a doody joke and we were all good.”   

Silverman said, “I love kids. I’ve never had an abortion. But I would fight to the death for a woman’s right to choose.” 

Of course, Silverman loves kids. She still looks and acts like a kid, despite being 43-years old. Like kids everyone she finds jokes about bodily functions related to elimination very funny.  I think she is great. I loved her TV show. 

Another topic discussed was capital punishment. Maher mentioned it in his monologue. “Tennessee is reinstating the electric chair. They are firing up the grill. They really do fry everything in the South. They don’t call it an execution; they call it ‘empowering minorities.’” 

It strikes a nerve because minorities are disproportionately given the death penalty.  Maher said, “We are a very vengeful country, but we don’t want to be seen so.” Of the industrialized countries only China, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia still execute people. Not the best of company for our country. 

To maintain the fa├žade of being civilized, we try to do executions “humanely,” as if an execution could ever be humane.  Maher said, “We have assisted suicide, we know how to kill people. Put them under [like when you are anesthetized for an operation in the hospital,] then guillotine them, shoot them, whatever.” 

My opinion: We can all see, if we take a moment to understand the issues, that execution is morally wrong. (In my public speaking career, I do a talk about this.) Read more on this topic at Bill Maher Rules.
 
One of the panelists, David Frum: senior editor at The Atlantic, political commentator, former George W. Bush speechwriter, and author of several books, the most recent being a novel, Patriots, said that executions were down in the United States.  (A bit of hope, perhaps, that our country is moving away from this barbaric practice.) No! Frum said “lower crime rates mean fewer executions.” 

Maher replied that the lower crime rates were due to abortion. A lot of unwanted kids were not born and did not grow up to become criminals. “Thank Sarah Silverman,” he concluded. 

Maher brought up the VA Hospital scandal. “It’s Memorial Day, and the big story is how bad we treat vets.”   

Anna Devere Smith: actress, playwright, and professor, currently featured in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie was panelist on the show. She said, ”We are so good at sending people to war, not so good at taking care of them.” 

Frum accurately described the situation. “We took good care of WW II vets. Then we had an influx of people from a different kind of war. We were not prepared for these vets.” 

Another panelist,  David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic, political commentator, former George W. Bush speechwriter, and author of several books, the most recent being a novel, Patriots, weighed in on the topic. “How are you going to fix it? Let the vets go to private hospitals, private physicians, to lessen the burden on the VA.” 

The third panelist, Michael Smerconish, who is a political talk show host on Sirius radio and CNN, the author of several non-fiction books and author of one non-fiction book, the newly published novel about a talk show host, Talk: A Novel, added,“It takes time to train people to treat traumatic brain injury.” He also pointed out that the “VA used to treat only service related injuries, not all of the veterans’ medical needs.” 

The VA is under a lot of stress right now and Republicans are blaming Obama, just as they blame him for everything. But Obama wanted to increase the budget for the VA, and Republicans wouldn’t vote for it. There ended up being budget cuts and hiring freezes. So the VA is left trying to do more with less—no wonder there are problems.  

The mid-show comedy segment was really brief. There’s a hit song “Happy” that has inspired people all over the world to create their own music video. Some kids in Iran did one, and got stomped on by their government. So Maher did a spoof of a video that would please the mullahs.  It showed people standing around looking glum. 

This "Porn Again" bit from New Rules was a lot funnier. Evidently there is a new trilogy about kinky sex, to rival Fifty Shades of Gray. This one is He Watches Me: The Seen Trilogy.   

The titles of the three books are:
·        He Watches Me
·        He Touches Me
·        He Claims Me

Maher suggest three new titles:
·        He Borrows Money From Me
·        He Impregnates Me
·        He Leaves Me 

The final New Rules was titled “Politically Incorrect.” It was about how political correctness has run amok. “The internet points to whoever says the wrong thing so we can all be morally superior.” 

Maher urged us to get over castigating people for every stupid thing they say. “The culture wars are totally over and we won. In five years, the NFL will be totally gay…. We can’t purge everyone who didn’t get enlightened just when you did.”  

“Don’t hound them out of their show. Just let them try to find an interior designer who will work with them.”   

Lots of issues to discuss. See what I mean.

Guests for May 23, 2014

Jose Antonio Vargas: journalist, filmmaker, and the founder of “Define American” an organization dedicated to immigration, is most famous for his New York Times article, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” His new documentary, Documented is in theaters now.

Sarah Silverman: comedian, writer, and actress, author of The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, star of the former (very funny) TV series, The Sarah Silverman Show. She is in a new movie titled A Million Ways to Die in the West.

David Frum: senior editor at The Atlantic, political commentator, former George W. Bush speechwriter, and author of several books, the most recent being a novel, Patriots

Michael Smerconish: political talk show host on Sirius radio and CNN, and the author of several non-fiction books. His most recent book is a novel about a talk show host, Talk: A Novel 

Anna Devere Smith: actress, playwright, and professor, curently featured in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher" #318 May 16, 2014 "Fed-Up"

by Catherine Giordano

Everybody is fed-up about something on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” episode 318, which aired on May 16, 2014.  I’ll spoon feed you the details in this reap and review of the show.
 
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The interview was with Robert Lustig: a pediatric endocrinologist, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease and a featured expert in the new documentary, Fed-Up. He believes that Americans are killing themselves with poor diet choices.  He brings a lot of scary facts to the table.
  • The maximum amount of sugar that is safe to eat is 6 to 9 teaspoons a day.  The average American is getting 22 teaspoons a day. Sugar went from a condiment to a diet staple.
  • Sugar causes the same diseases as alcohol.
  • Orange juice is not good for you. The only good part of the orange is the fiber.
  • Obesity has gotten so bad that there is an epidemic of obese 6-month old children.  Even newborns are obese.
There are three big myths that Lustig wants to expose.
  1. Obesity itself is not the problem No. one manifestation of the problem. Chronic Metabolic Disease is the problem. TOFI (Thin outside, fat inside) is the problem.
  2. A calorie is a calorie. No, calories from sugar are worse than other calories.
  3. It’s about personal responsibility. No, it’s about corporate responsibility.  Sugar laden foods are designed to be addictive.
He is not sugar-coating the dangers. I think I am going to see this documentary and read his book. I think most of America should too.

In the monologue Maher indicates that he is fed up (as we all are) with Don Sterling.  Bill said, “I think he still doesn’t know he is being taped.”   

Maher (and we) are also fed-up with hearing about the Michael Sams’ kiss. Maher said, “An inter-racial gay kiss. The NFL has never seen a kiss like that. Consensual.” 

Are we all a little fed-up with the climate change deniers? My understanding is that if it weren’t for global warming we would be having a mini-ice age right now. So, up to a point, global warming has been a good thing. But it is clear that it has gone too far. And it is clear that part of the warming is man-made and not just normal fluctuations in climate.   

When 97% of climate scientists agree, the argument is over and even Republicans have to get on board. Kellyanne Conway, a panelist on the show who is a Republican strategist and pollster,and president and CEO of “The Polling Group” said, “We have to have an all of the above strategy.”  

Exactly—a little wind, a little solar, a little conservation—it all adds up. Side benefit—fewer oil spills like the one we just had in LA that Maher said resulted in the need to “clean up 15 homeless former child actors.” 

Another panelist, Brian Schweitzer, former governor (D, MT), said that 26 states have already set renewable goals.  

Of course, part of the problem is that while the United States and European companies like Germany takes steps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, other parts of the world are going in the opposite direction.  Ian Bremmer, the third panelist, is a political scientist, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, and author of Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World pointed out that “The Chinese want cars. The problem is that there is just too many of them.  China will bring us [from current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million] to 500 or 600 parts per million.” 

The mid-show comedy segment was a spoof inspired by the purchase of Harlequin Books (romance novels) by Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News.  He said there would soon be a new romance novel “Love’s Fair and Balanced Desire.”

A little taste:

·      Under her icy exterior was a passion that burned like an unprotected embassy in  Lybia
·     His manhood strained growing ever larger, like the deficit under Obama
·     When he struggled with a condom,  She said, “don’t bother, my body has a way of shutting that whole thing down” 

See Bill Maher Rules for more, including the really smutty stuff.
 
The special guest was Kevin Nealon: actor and comedian, author of Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me. Nealon said that his high school team as called “The Fighting Gentiles. Eggshell and vanilla were the team’s colors and they looked like Tic-Tacs in the team photo.”

Note: If you love Tic-Tacs, click this Tic-Tac link. However, Dr. Lustig would probably like me to remind you that there are 0.5 grams of sugar in each piece. If you eat 8 pieces, that is 4 grams which is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

The conversation tuned to “American Spring.” This group is fed up with America, although they say they love the country. As Maher said, “Nothing says I love the country as everyone elected as got to go.”  Bill added, “This group formed five years ago. What else happened five years ago? Oh yeah, Obama got elected.” 

“American Spring” is in the news because they planned a big march in Washington to overthrow the government like “Arab Spring” did in some mid-east countries. They promised 10 million to 40 million people.  Forty people showed up—not 40 million, just 40.  Schweitzer said “I’m not saying all Republicans are racist, but the racists sure find a home in that tent.”

Benghazi.  I’m so fed up hearing about Benghazi that I am going to puke, hopefully all over Darrel Issa’s shoes.  Maher asked, “Where’s the crime.” He said listening to Republicans talk about Benghazi is “like trying to relate to someone who is tripping when you are not.”

The final bit in New Rules was titled “American Grandstand” wherein Maher took on Republicans on Benghazi. Maher said it was time for Republicans in Congress to “put-up or shut up” instead of just conducting the eight investigation into Benghazi. He urged them to impeach Obama because, citing Clinton’s 10 point gain in popularity during his impeachment, it is the only thing that will make Obama popular again.   

But what’s the crime?  Can you impeach a president for making you unhappy, for “dereliction of happiness,” for “giving you a case of the sads?”  

He ended by stating that Obama could use a little bit of impeachment mojo. He urged Republicans to make Obama an issue in the 2014 elections “so he can kick your ass for the third time.” 

Bill Maher kicks ass every week.  Can I have some more, please?

 
Guests for Episode 318, 05/16/14

Robert Lustig: a pediatric endocrinologist, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity,and Disease and a featured expert in the new documentary, Fed-Up.

Ian Bremmer:  a political scientist, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, author of Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World

Kellyanne Conway: Republican strategist and pollster, president and CEO of “The Polling Group”

Brian Schweitzer: former governor (D, MT)

Kevin Nealon: actor and comedian, author of Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me


No time to finish it today, check back in a day or two.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” #317 “A How-To Pow Wow”

By Catherine Giordano

 There was a lot of “how to” on episode 317 of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher which aired on May 9, 2014.  All the guests were telling us, and each other, how-to do something or other. I tell all in this review/recap of the show.

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The interview was with Sister Simone Campbell, a Roman Catholic nun, executive director of NETWORK, a lawyer, and the author of  A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community. She’s a friendly open woman with an easy manner and a charming smile and a heart in the right place. She said “The real issue is how we treat each other?” She said “Pope Francis is going back to the basics--touching people’s lives.” She works to make the dream of equality a reality in America.

Matt Welch, editor of Reason, a libertarian magazine and co-host of “The Independents” on the Fox Business Network is also the author of a book explaining how-to fix America, The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America. He was an amiable panelist with a kind of smart-alec charm who defended Republican policies and tactics, but then turned around and said the Republican Party is “a total clown show.” I’m at a loss at how to know what he really thinks. 

Another panelist was Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and the author of numerous books, many of them how-to books. Her latest book, which tells us, how-to live is Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and WonderI’ll give her this: she knows how-to thrive. She seems nice enough, but sometimes she comes across as a bit contrived and inauthentic. She began her career as a Democrat, then became a fierce Republican, and then switched back to Democrat. In a review, I saw that her book was about “mindfulness” the biggest buzz-word in the self-help business right now.   

The final panelist was Baratunde Thurston, a comedian and author of How to Be Black.  I had never heard of him before, but I immediately liked him.  He’s charming and authentic and consistent in his views. 

The mid-show guest was Dinesh D’Souza, a contributor to the conservative American Enterprise Institute and author of several books including his most recent book, America: Imagine a World without Her. He wants to tell us how to be an American, but he has it all wrong. American is first and foremost about equality. The founders wrote, “All men are created equal,” not “It’s all about wealth.” He has a very unpleasant demeanor—His movements are cramped (as if he doesn’t have enough space), and he seemed nervous and unsure of himself because he kept bobbing his head like a bird. I think he should read Huffington’s book and learn how-to loosen up a little. Perhaps he looks so sour because he has such a bitter view on life.  

Dinesh admitted that all of his dire predictions about the Obama presidency have failed to materialize. Things are actually much better in this country than when Obama took office. Unable to criticize Obama on the economy, Dinesh pivoted to his “Obama is an anti-colonialist” theme. Maher said, “Isn’t anti-colonialism a good thing?”  According to Dinesh, not if you are Obama. He states that Obama has taken up his father’s anti-imperialist views—even though Obama had next to no contact with his father. Dinesh thinks that Obama wants to take down imperialist countries. Like America.  [I wonder if this isn’t a classic case of projection. Dinesh’s family is from India. India was a colony of Britain. Perhaps it is Dinesh and his father who are the anti-imperialists. Perhaps Dinesh wants to take down Obama in order to take down America.  How’s that for a conspiracy theory.] 

Now that I have introduced you to the cast I’ll move on to the issues discussed.  Benghazi was a biggie. Maher described the Benghazi uproar as being “like a bad case of the shingles. I thought it was gone, but now it is back, and I am itching again.” 

Maher said “There is no there there.” Welch disagreed saying, “There is a scandal.” When he gave his reasons, it became clear that the events in Benghazi weren’t the scandal. No, the scandal was Susan Rice and her talking points on a Sunday morning talk show. The seven previous investigations into Benghazi, some actually dealing it the events that took place in Benghazi, have found no wrong-doing, before, during, or after the events. (However, there are recommendations about how to improve security for diplomats serving in dangerous areas.) 

The eighth Benghazi investigation is about to begin—the “Congressional Select Committee on Benghazi” has been convened. Thurston called it “The Select Committee on Nonsense.”  I told you I liked him.  

Monica Lewinski is back in the news because of her article in Vanity Fair. She said, “I was taken advantage of, but it was totally consensual.” In his monologue, Maher joked,” “Ironically, that as was what Bush said about Dick Cheney.”  

Huffington stated, “I know 20 women in Washington who would have given Clinton a blow job.” Welch blurted out, “And that’s just the Republicans.” Huffington feels that Lewinski’s problems stem not from the sex, but from her bad judgment.  She couldn’t keep her mouth shut about it.  

There was some discussion about whether the Republicans had learned their lesson from the whole impeachment brouhaha which led to huge mid-term wins for the Democrats. The consensus was that they probably had not. Welch scornfully dismissed the likelihood that Republicans had learned anything and referred to that year as a “bad year.” [Right now Welch is gung-ho on Benghazi, I wonder if 10 or 20 years from now, he’ll be describing 2014 with its Benghazi witch hunt as a bad year?] 

There were also discussions about the role of religion, especially Islam, in terrorism, sharia law, and whether or not multi-culturalism was a good thing.  

The mid-show comedy segment was about the messages that some graduates tape to the mortarboards of their graduation caps.  Maher said that it used to be things like “Thanks, Mom,” but now, the messages reflect the economic difficulties facing graduates. The new messages read something like this: 

·         My other hat is a hairnet.

·         Don Sterling, If you pay off my loans, I’ll be your “archivist.”

·         My other tassels are on my nipples. 

The final New Rules segment was about the issue of privacy—the lack of it in our personal lives even when we are speaking in our own homes. Lewinski was brought down by tapes made by a friend and Don Sterling was brought down by tapes made by his girlfriend. Maher quoted a column written by Kathleen Parker that essentially said that we should all be more careful about what we say even when we think we are having a private conversation and that “speaking your mind is over-rated. “That from a columnist who makes her living speaking her mind,” Maher scoffed. Maher seemed pretty angry on this issue and said he was not about to give up “speaking his mind.” He made valid points, but he forgot how-to make it funny.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

VEEP v. VEEP

by Catherine Giordano
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HBO’s VEEP is a terrific show. The satire is sharp and the pace is frenzied. The plots often don’t make a lot of sense, but this is a show you watch for laughs, not plot.
 
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Selena Myers, the first female vice president. Louis-Dreyfus looks great and plays the role to perfection. She came to fame playing Elaine on Seinfeld, but I think Selena is her best role ever. She’s been in two sit-coms since, Watching Ellie and The New Adventures of Old Christine, but she really shines in VEEP because she has better material. Maybe because it’s not TV, it’s HBO.

Joel McHale even gave Louis-Dreyfus a shout-out for her role in VEEP. He said, "There’s a lot of celebrities here tonight; they’re the ones that don’t look like ghouls. Look around. The cast of VEEP is here. That’s the series about what would happen if a Seinfeld star actually landed on another good show.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Joe Biden
In a case of art imitating life, Joe Biden, the actual Vice President did a video bit with the fictional Vice President, Selena Myers. Biden was impressive as he played the vice president as a hipster driving a yellow Corvette and wearing a leather jacket and aviator glasses.  The two veeps were bored so they met up, broke into the white house where they encountered Michelle Obama, and then headed over to a tattoo parlor where they found Nancy Pelosi getting a tattoo. The skit was a bit lame—next time get the writers from VEEP.

Here’s the link if you want to watch the two-veeps skit. 
Since I mentioned Joel McHale, I’ll review his performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner too. He was basically awful—awful delivery and a lot of really awful material. Most of the time he read his jokes off of cards on the podium, so instead of making eye-contact with the audience, he was looking down. His good jokes were over-shadowed by his "jokes" that were kind of ugly and unfunny. I won’t detail them—they are being blasted all over the internet. I'll just say that insults are not funny--jokes that use wit and satire will  get laughter instead of groans. Maybe McHale could have used some help from the VEEP writers.
 
However, I thought the bit about Chris Christie struck just the right satirical note.  McHale crosses the line it a joke about Christie being a glutton, and then he says he had no idea the joke was there, but he takes full responsibility. Then he says he is setting up a committee consisting of himself to investigate himself. He concludes by saying the investigation is finished and he had nothing to do with it. It is a great parody of the way Christie handled the bridge-gate scandal.
 
Here’s a link to the McHale performance.
 
Not too many laughs with McHale’s routine at the dinner on Saturday night. For laughs, you’ll have to tune into VEEP at 10:30 pm on Sunday nights on HBO.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher #316 “Taking Sides”

By Catherine Giordano
Gavin Newsom

Bill Maher gets inside the news on his weekly HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”. The latest episode, #316, which aired on may 2, 2014 is the subject of this recap and review with lots of commentary by me.

Maher began his monologue celebrating the good economic news—280,000 new jobs and the stock market reaching a new high. “It’s the best economic years in years, or as Republicans call it Black Friday.”

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Then it was on to Don Sterling who was betrayed by his “little something on the side.” She evidently recorded him making racist remarks. The lady in question is half black and half Mexican so “he didn’t know whether to throw her out of the apartment or ask her to clean it. She claims not to be his girlfriend--she says she is the teams archivist although she is living the life of a very well kept woman, receiving a luxury apartment and four luxury cars from Sterling. Maher said, “Archiving? She could archive the chrome off a trailer hitch.”
 
Actually, Maher is not sure whose side he is on.  He points out it as a private conversation and Sterling has done far worse racist things in the past.  He said, “If being a rich asshole named Don were a crime, Donald Trump would be on death row.”

The interview was with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, former Lakers basketball player and author of several books, including young adult books like Sasquatch in the Paint.  Maher asked Jabbar if Sterling should be forgiven because of his old age.  (He’s 80.) Jabbar said, “It is not an excuse.  For 20 years he did horrible things.” 

The panelists included Gavon Newsom, current Lt. Gov. of California and author of Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and ReinventGovernment. Maher embarrassed Newsom a little by calling him called him “dreamy”.  (I’ve included his picture in this post so you can see his movie-star looks for yourself.) But he has a lot more than good looks going for him—he is smart, well-informed and on the vanguard of the issues.  (For instance, he was the former mayor of SanFrancisco and one of the first to officiate at gay weddings.)  Now he’s advocating for raising the minimum wage.  Some states and cities are not waiting for Congress to act—they are raising te minimum wage to as high as $15 an hour.  Newsom said that it places where the minimum wage has been raised, “It’s been healthy for our economy.”  

Another panelist, Monica Mehta, financial writer and commentator and author of The Entrepreneurial Instinct: How Everyone Has the Innate Ability to Start a Successful Small Business got on my bad side with her comment “Why should we have to get involved.”  

I think she should read the book that was recommended on last week’s show, Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty. Capitalism is often unfair to labor.

Later on Mehta prefaced her remarks with “As a mother…”  When people begin with “as a mother,” “as a woman,” “as a member of a minority”, I always want to slap them upside the head—this does not give any extra weight to your statement. Mehta rattled off a lot of facts and figures, but when she wasn’t getting her facts wrong, she was getting her conclusions wrong. Newsom had to correct her about ObamaCare.  Medical costs are trending down, not up as Mehta stated. And the solvency of Medicare has been extended ten years.
 
Maher told this great story about Gov. Rick Scott in Florida. Scott went to a town-hall style meeting and bashed ObamaCare expecting the citizens to all be on his side. They weren’t. They all were happy with it and with Medicare too. (This has happened elsewhere too.) No wonder Scott is down ten points in the polls against his likely Democratic opponent for governor in 2014, Charlie Crist.
 
The third panelist was Walter Kirn, novelist, essayist, literary critic whose latest book is Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade, said “Republicans are going to have to learn how to smile.” He said he has ObamaCare and “just knowing that he has it has made him healthier.” Having health insurance reduces stress.

The mid-show comedy routine was a nod to Newsom because he is from California.  It was about the state flag for California which has a drawing of a bear on it.  Bill showed some drawings to make the bear flag more representative of modern day California.  He showed the bear writing a screen play, getting beat up by the LAPD, getting high with Woody Harrelson, and being turned down for an apartment by Don Sterling, among other things.

Ziggy Marley Fly Rasta
The mid-show guest was with Ziggy Marley, a musician whose newest album is Fly Rasta.  What did Maher want to talk about? Weed, what else. Marley corrected Maher, “We call it herb. Marijuana is a tea. It opens the mind.”  Marley also spoke about Rastafarianism saying "Love is the most important thing." (Marley also has a child's picture book titled, I Love You Too.)

It seems that Gov. Brown of California is against the legalization of marijuana. Governor Moonbeam, as he used to be called, is against pot? Maher said, “Even Nancy Reagan was cooler than this.” Mehta was on the governor’s side on this. Newsom was once again the voice of reason. “[The arguments against legalization] presume we are not using the drug already. If we regulate it, we can use it responsibly.”

For New Rules, Maher took on the lingering interest in the Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing.  He said that our country had already spent $11 million looking for the plane and it was time to give up.  It will remain an unsolved mystery. There will be no closure. It’s like when people were angry over the finale of The Sopranos because it faded to black at the end. “We will never know. Did Tony get whacked or did he go on to become governor of New Jersey.”

There's no question about which side Bill Maher is on. He's on the side of reason.
 
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Friday, May 2, 2014

HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher" #315 "Scary, Really Scary"

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Annabelle Gurwitch's book
by Catherine Giordano

Bill Maher, you’re scaring me, just by discussing the news. You made the news funny on episode 315 of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” which aired on April 25, 2014, but I’m still scared. Here’s my review and recap (with commentary) of the show.  If you are not scared you should be.

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What’s scary--Global climate change.  Maher discussed this with his guest Tom Steyer, a billionaire who is using his super power [money] for good and not evil.” Global climate change is scary and it is going to get worse and worse faster and faster if we don’t do something. Steyer is trying to do something. He plans to spend $50 million to do something, because as Maher said, “What’s more important than money? Breathing!”  Steyer also said, like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, he plans to give away half of his fortune to worthy causes.  

Maher said that Steyer is sometimes called the “liberal Koch brother.”  Steyer gave three main reasons he is not like the Koch brothers.

            1.  He is acting on behalf of the people, not in his own self-interest.
            2.  He accepts science.
            3.  He’s transparent; he doesn’t try to hide his goals (unlike the Koch brothers who set up a slew of organizations in an attempt to remain anonymous.)

Stayer also offered to debate the Koch brothers on Meyer’s show. Steyer said, “They will have the advantage in numbers; I’ll have the advantage in facts.” Both Maher and Steyer agreed that the Kochs would be too scared to come on Maher’s show.

What’s scary—guns. In the monologue Maher spoke about the Georgia legislature passing the “guns everywhere” bill.  But there is still one place in Georgia where guns are not allowed—“the capitol building…where they work.” Practically every day there is another story about some nut randomly shooting people. It’s getting to the point where I scared to leave the house.
 
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The panelists included Charles Murray. He is a scholar at the conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don'ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life.  And he is indeed exactly as advertised--a curmudgeon with an opinion on everything.  Nonetheless, he somewhat likeable because he says it with a smile and occasionally makes sense. When Maher reported that John Paul Stevens, retired Supreme Court judge, said the words “when serving in the militia” should be added to the 2nd amendment, Murray said, “If they ever did that, every state would set up militias which would change the relationships between the states.” I gotta give him credit for that one, even tho I believe Justice Stevens has it right about the meaning of the 2nd amendment.

What’s scary--people like Cliven Bundy and his supporters. Bundy is a free-loading law breaker. The militia groups who have come out to support him have the people who live in his area literally afraid to leave their houses.  And Republicans, especially on Fox News, are calling him a patriot. However, his racist remarks—The Negro would be better off as slaves picking cotton—went too far even for the right-wingers and Fox News is no longer part of his fan club. Bill joked that Bundy is no longer their patriot hero—he is now the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.” 
 
Later Bill joked that racism is the “black lung disease” of the conservative movement.  “They always make common cause with the racist.”  Bill showed a picture of a sniper poised to shoot the law enforcement officers at Bundy’s camp and then a picture of two skinny black men just standing in front of a polling place wearing Black Panther berets—just standing, the way someone might stand while waiting for a bus. Conservatives look at the black men just standing there and say “scary”; they look at the sniper and say “not scary.” That scares me.
 
What’s scary—getting old, especially if you are a woman. Maher’s mid-show guest was Annabelle Gurwitch a comedian, actress, and author of the book: I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50.

Maher assured Gurwitch she had nothing to worry about—she was still loveable. Only he didn’t say love, he used a four letter word beginning with “f” that is sometimes used instead of love.

In truth, Gurwitch is very attractive--we should all look so good at our 50’s. Gurwitch said that “52 is 72 in actress years.” She also said something like “If 70 is the new 50, how come no one who is 50 wants to be taken for 70?” She’s really funny—I bet her book is really funny too.

What’s scary—being middle aged/old without enough money. Gurwitch talked about middle-aged internships as middle-aged people try to retrain in order to get a job. John Avalon, editor in chief of the Daily Beast and a CNN contributor, said “A country is only as strong as its middle class.” He recommended a book, Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty, a book so popular that amazon was sold out of it.  (It’s in stock now.) Avalon said that the book discusses how “under capitalism, income inequality is inevitable.” (BTW, reducing income equality does not mean that everyone should earn the same amount, it means the gap between low earners and high earners should not be so great.)  According to Piketty, the tendency of return on capital to outpace the rate of economic growth produces income inequality and eventual leads to political unrest.  I have often said that moderate amounts of socialism help close the gap and Avalon apparently agrees saying that the socialism in post war America lead to the rise of the American middle class.

The third panelist was Christine Quinn, an openly gay former Democratic candidate for New York mayor and the author of With Patience and Fortitude: A Memoir. She is a bold person, who boldly speaks her mind, and hope she eventually succeeds in winning an election for higher office.

The mid-show comedy segment was about the Clinton’s daughter and pregnancy.  Conservatives instead of just saying “congratulations,” are busy discussing conspiracy theories about “Fetal Clinton.” Maher showed a spoof campaign ad about all these conspiracy theories and ended it with “where’s the birth certificate.”

In New Rules, Maher did a segment titled, “November Reigns.”  He mused about how Republicans are winning elections these days, given that the Democrats have the issues on their side—by wide margins according to polls. The answer is CHEATING! They have gerrymandered, suppressed the vote, and worse of all, they tap into a deep vein of hatred. (And I would add, they lie, bald-faced lies.) Republicans strongest voting block is low income whites without a college education the very people who need ObamaCare and other Democratic programs that give people a helping hand the most. Now that scares me.

 Maher posits that liberals being so sanctimonious may contribute to aliening this voting bloc.  He berates atheists for suing over crosses on public property saying “We’re atheists not vampires.”  Maher concludes that for every liberal who says, in exasperation, “ ‘oh, just shoot me,’ there is a conservative with a gun who will.”

Laughter can keep the scared feeling at bay.  So, Bill Maher, keep us laughing.

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