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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