Friday, July 25, 2014

Real Time with Bill Maher #326 July 25, 2014 "Realityville"

gekks mating lost in space
by Catherine Giordano

Hop on the train to Realityville with Bill Maher and his guests. Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 326, airing on July 25, 2014 is the non-stop express to Realityville. 

Stop the train, I want to get off.

As Bill said in his opening monolog “The world is falling apart this week.” 
 
We have planes falling out of the sky and the Israelis and Palestinians shooting missies at each other.
 
Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory FunWeird Al Yankovic’s new album Mandatory Fun is the number one album on Billboard and, incidentally, the album cover features planes and missiles. 

Also the Russians have lost control of a satellite full of copulating lizards, and it is floating around in space. 

(More about the geckos with a video clip at #GoGetThoseGekkos )
  
When reality gets to be too much, we turn to Maher for some comic relief.  

So here are some of the jokes from the monolog.
  • Putin said the plane taken down by Russian separatists in the Ukraine actually crashed because one passenger turned on his cell phone.
  • The Israelis and the Palestinians have a 12-hour cease fire, otherwise known as reloading.
  • Obama met with the president of Guatemala to tell him the children can’t stay… unless they have a good curve ball.
 
Interview, Economy

The interview was with Richard D. Wolff, an economist and author of Democracy at Work: The Cure for Capitalism. Maher and Wolff spoke about “The American Dream.” Maher noted a recent study reported it takes $130,000 a year for a family of four to live a modest middle class life—a house, a car, a vacation, nothing extravagant. Only one in eight Americans can attain this lifestyle.  

Wolff said he is neither a Marxist nor a capitalist. He said it is important to look at the pros and cons of both systems and to learn the lessons of the past. Capitalism in the 19th century embraced a commitment to develop the world and grow the economy. Today capitalism is about making a buck any way you can. However, the socialism of

Russia and China show that socialism does not work either.  

Maher brought up automation (robots) and outsourcing (cheap foreign workers) as the two major threats to “American Labor.” I agree and I have long advocated that government must provide the balance between capitalism and socialism. Neither can be allowed to gain too much power over the other. Right now the capitalists have the upper hand. That is why we need to raise the minimum age, tax overseas profits, and take other measures to restore balance.   

Obama hatred, Impeachment

Barack Obama: I'm the One Doing My Job
Barack Obama
Bill Maher had two conservative guests on the show, Matt Kibbe, an economist, President and CEO of the Republican think tank, FreedomWorks, and author of Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto, and Hogan Gidley, a senior political advisor for the Republican consulting firm, BraebenderCox. They behaved themselves and even had a few intelligent things to say, but Maher was frequently either laughing at them or chastising them. 

Maher mentioned that Republicans say that everything is Obama’s fault. A poll shows 57% or Republicans want to impeach him. However it has nothing to do with Obama’s acts as president. “They wanted that at the inaugural ball.”  They just can’t face the reality that Obama won the election. Twice. 

This impeachment talk is crazy and very bad for our country. It seems that no sooner does a Democrat get elected president thanthe impeachment talk starts.The founders intended impeachment to be for “high crimes.” I think Bush was guilty of high crimes when he lied us into a war with Iraq and Democrats never spoke of impeachment; all Obama has done is give people affordable health care, save the economy, and try to address a few of this country’s problems where he can despite Republican obstructionism. As Obama said in a recent speech, “I’m the guy doing my job. You [Republicans] must be the other guy.” 

Kibbe leaded off with “Obama has so little respect in the world.” Maher laughed at him for bringing out this tired old talking point. “All the polls show that the popularity of the U.S. is up worldwide [compared to Bush-era polls.]” 

Maher asked Kibbe to be specific about what he thinks Obama should do differently. Kibbe answered “It’s called leadership.” I groaned—another tired old talking point. Maher rebuked him saying, “I said to be specific.” 

Then Gidley jumped in saying something a missile shield and buying French helicopters. I guess that is specific. Maher should have asked for ‘something specific that is not stupid.” 

Rand Paul, Dick Cheney, War

Kibbe likes Rand Paul because Paul is opposed to war. He says Rand will return to traditional Republican policies as opposed to Bush who engaged in nation-building. He said, that Paul is not advocating isolationism, but is all about “practical realism,” about what the U.S. can do. Gidley said, “War is terrible. It is all about killing people and blowing stuff up, but we can’t take it off the table.” Well, at least he thinks it is terrible. 

Maher reported that Dick Cheney responded to Paul by saying the military should be our top priority. Maher feigned shock. “You mean it is not?” He then recited the reality of spending levels in the U.S. budget that showed that the military gets the lion’s share of revenue. 

Amy Goodman: The Silenced Majority
Amy Goodman, a journalist, columnist, radio host of Democracy Now, and author of several books including The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them and The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope (with Denis Moynihan and Michael Moore) and the lone liberal on the panel jumped in saying We should just reverse everything that Dick Cheney says.” She add, “Be strong at home.”  She also said, “Peace is harder than war.”  She gave Syria as an example. The U.S co-operated with Russia to get Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons and war was averted.

I say, chalk one up for Obama for that successful use of diplomacy. 

Israel

Maher called Rick Santorum a “Super-Duper Christian.” Maher said there will be soon be no Republican Jews in congress now that Eric Cantor lost his primary election, but Republicans “love Israel like King Solomon.” [This is part of Maher’s oft-stated opinion that Christian Republicans only support Israel because they believe that the establishment of the state of Israel fulfills a biblical prophecy so”you-know-who can come back.”] 

Gidley, who used to work for Santorum, said that the attendees at a recent “Christians United for Israel” conference was very diverse, but the people on the stage were all white men. He urged that they put some different faces on the stage. [Again the Republican response to their lack of diversity is optics not policy changes. Did it ever occur to him that the reason there were only white men on the stage is because o the reality that white men are the vat majority of Republican politicians.] 

Mid-Show Comedy Segment
 

Dr.Seuss: Oh, the Places You'll Go
Dr.Seuss
 Oh the Places You'll Go
The mid-show comedy segment was a parody of the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Maher changed the words to satirize Republican attitudes toward immigrant and refugee children. He ended with:  

“Be careful out there or immigration will catch you
And never believe what you read on a statue.” 

See the full video clip on my post, Border Crossings.








Mid Show Guest
Neil deGrasse Tyson

The mid-show guest was Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, author of several books, including Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, host of TV show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and all-around nice guy. I loved his tie with its starry universe motif—it just showed what a great sense of humor he has. 

Tyson was recently featured on the cover of the conservative magazine, National Review. The headline was “Smarter Than Thou.” It was intended as a snarky insult. Tyson just laughed it off with his characteristic good humor. “They don’t like me because I am a geek. The geek-set tends to vote Democratic.” “On this show, ‘they’ always means Republicans.” 

Tyson is like a big kid when he talks about the cosmos. “It is awesome.” “It is spiritual.” He’s one person who is in love with reality. 

Bill Maher spoke about a recent solar flare incident that could have wiped us out. Tyson told him that it was not even close. Then he unleashed his inner geek and explained solar flares to us: The sun is a roiling ball of gas and it sometimes burps out charged particles. When these particles collide with the atmosphere, we get the Northern Lights. It might disrupt satellite communications a bit, but it is not going to destroy the Earth.  

Tyson spoke about his desire to learn if there is life on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. “Who doesn’t? It’s in the Goldilocks zone.” [He means that conditions are” just right” for the existence of life as we know it.]  

Executions, botched and otherwise

In his monolog, Maher made light of the botched execution in Arizona this week. He said, “Execution is not that hard. Set him free and put him in a GM car.” He mentioned that some people have suggested a return to a firing squad and others say that would be “cruel and unusual punishment.” Maher said, “This is America. What’s so unusual about getting shot?” 

Towards the end of the show, there was a more serious discussion of the topic. Amy Goodman said, “It was not a botched execution. Execution is a botched policy.” 

Maher said, “There is something perverse about trying to kill people in a gentle way.” Exactly, killing is a brutal act no matter who does it and no matter how it is done. Maher is edging towards an epiphany on this subject, but he is not quite the yet.  

Kidde jumped in saying, “Think of what he [the person who was executed] did. There is a price to pay for his brutality.” He is clearly stuck in revenge mode. 

Goodman had to correct him. “We should not duplicate the brutality of the killer.” She pointed out that we are the only industrialized country that has the death penalty.  

Tyson said it best. “Wouldn’t it separate us [from the killer’s brutality] more not to do it [the execution] at all? We should be above the base level of conduct exhibited by the criminal.”  

My take on this is the old adage: Two wrongs don’t make a right. It is natural to feel the urge for revenge. However, part of being a civilized human being is to control our baser urges.

Read more about this at Death Row Follies.

You can also read: Thou Shall Not Kill: The Immorality of the Death Penalty

New Rules: Trouble with the Serve

Bill Maher is upset with the service industry. He is riled up by customer service agents that give you a hard time when you call to cancel, hotels that charge a “resort fee”, airlines that chare for luggage, the small print in contracts, and more.  

He’s a bit worried about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take over Time Warner which owns HBO.”If that happens, this show will become Eating Paste with Steve Doocy.”  

Maher says that big business is the new big government. “Too big to fail? No, too big to care.” 

“My friends on the right have this idea that the free market is always perfect because it lets the consumer find the best product at the best price. Nice idea for business school or the Ayn Rand Charity-Haters Club. Here in Realityville, you get cable from the one cable company in your area, and you sign a piece of paper, and then Rumplestiltskin comes to your house and laughs. I’m kidding. He doesn’t come to your house. You have to call.” 

Next stop: Realityville

Now do you understand why I want off the train to Realityville? It’s hard living in the real world.  


Bill Maher’s Guests #326 July 25, 2014

Richard D. Wolff: Economist, author of Democracy at Work: The Cure for Capitalism
 
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, author of several books, including Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries,
host of TV show, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Hogan Gidley: Political advisor for Republican political consulting firm, BraebenderCox
 
Amy Goodman: journalist, columnist, radio host of Democracy Now, author of several books including The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them and The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope (with Denis Moynihan and Michael Moore)
 
Matt Kibbe: Economist, President and CEO of Republican think tank, FreedomWorks, author of Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto