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.