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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