Friday, August 1, 2014

Real Time with Bill Maher #327 August 1, 2014 Frat Party

Ralph Nader Time Magazine 1969
This magazine cover is from 1969,
but seems perfectly relevant today.
by Catherine Giordano


You know the last day of school or the last day at work just before a big four-day weekend. Everyone is there physically, but there is a giddy feeling in the air and, mentally, everyone is already on vacation. That was the feeling on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 327, which aired on August 1, 2014.  

The “vacation” feeling, together with the fact that there were only men on the show, is why I named this review and recap of the show “Frat Party.” (Representative Barbara Lee (D, CA), author of Renegade for Peace and Justice: A Memoir of Political and Personal Courage, was supposed to be on the show, but the House of Representatives had to delay their own five-week vacation in order to take some votes that they should have taken earlier in the week, so Ms. Lee had to cancel her appearance.)

Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University, fellow at the non-partisan think tank, The James Baker Institute for Public Policy,  and author of several books including his latest book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 was also supposed to be on the show.  I can't find out why he wasn't on the show--maybe he went on vacation.)

 

New Rules: Slack Like Me

 
Even the Final New Rules segment was about vacation.  Maher began by reporting that the United States scores 17th on the world happiness index. “Why?” Maher asks. Because we work too much and too hard. Or, as Maher put it, “Our balance of working to living is off.”
  
For example, “Half the country is fighting to keep a job working in a coal mine, a job so bad that when we want to describe a job that is bad we say, "It is like working in a coal mine.’”
  
[I know working in a coal mine and dying from black lung disease or a cave-in is a tradition for some families in some parts of the country, but give it up already. I like those commercials for Siemans on TV that show these happy people in Iowa working to make wind turbines. They look so happy and so proud…and so clean. Those are the jobs of the future. Coal miners, listen up: The sooner the coal industry is gone, the better it will be for you.] 
 
He blamed our workaholic ways on religion. "The Catholic Church says God loves poverty. That is why he made so much of it. Then the Protestants came along and said God wants everyone to be rich …or die trying.”
  
Next Maher went on a rant about the Cadillac commercial from a couple of years ago where a man berates the people of other countries for taking it easy, but here in America we work hard, so we can buy Cadillacs. Bill said that Americans are working hard so they can die from a heart attack at 50, while Europeans take a siesta in the afternoon. You know what that means. They are having sex in the afternoon and we are not.
 
Maher berated lottery winners who collect their winnings and then say they are going back to their job. "What a waste of good luck”, he said. He said that Aussies are always the life of the party—why—because they don’t have jobs.
  
Fodor's Florida Travel Guide
CLICK HERE
Then Maher triumphantly announced that he was taking August off.  And part of September too. He won’t be back until September 12. I felt like this whole new rule was just about Maher feeling guilty about going on vacation. (Fess up, Bill, if you won the lottery you'd still do this show and your personal appearances, too.)
 
Here I am on Saturday morning, typing away at my computer instead of enjoying the beautiful Florida sunshine.  But I like writing, and if I went outside, I’d probably be weeding the yard. So staying inside and writing is a vacation. By the way, Florida is a wonderful place for a vacation. Pick up a travel guide, and come on down. 
  
Chris Hardwick, mid-show guest
 
Spend an hour with the mid show guest, Chris Hardwick, a comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, podcaster, television host for @Midnight on Comedy Central (and Talking Bad and Taking Dead), author of The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) and you might feel like you need a vacation. He has a lot of manic energy, but he’s so funny, so delightful, so affable, that you won’t want to leave.
 
Maher said that Chris was the head of the nerd empire. Hardwick instantly refused the title. “Nerd power will take me down. Nerds understand something down to the molecular level, and then they use that information against people. I am just a servant of the nerd army.” Talented, good-looking, and modest too. If Hardwick is a nerd, he will change the image of nerds everywhere.
 
Hardwick spoke about social media. “You are interfacing with a machine, with text; you are not looking in people’s eyes. The problem with social media is, one, you can be anonymous and therefore not have to take responsibility and, two, it is an emotion in the moment. A minute later, you don’t feel that way anymore and you don’t even know why you said it.”
 
Chris Hardwick The Nerdist Way
CLICK HERE
Maher brought up “FakeBook” and “OK Stupid” who were doing Dr.Mengele-like experiments. Facebook decided to put only negative posts into the news feed of some people and OK Cupid sent people random matches. Why? Evidently, just because they could. Gee, if you can’t trust social media, who can you trust?
 
Hardwick explained that the internet is used as a ‘vessel of anger.”  He warned that since you can’t read emotion, you should try to understand before you respond with anger. Maybe that innocent-sounding remark actually is actually just an innocent remark and not meant to be sarcastic. So Chris Hardwick is a nice guy too.
 
He’d be a great asset at a frat party.
 
Ralph Nader, interview guest
 
You probably won’t find Ralph Nader, political activist, former candidate (and spoiler) in the presidential election of 2000, and author of several books including his latest book (with Luke Nichter) Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Maher began the interview by mentioning the time on is show that Maher, along with Michael Moore, were down on their knees, begging Nader to get out of the 2000 race. 
 
Nader didn’t get out and he still refuses to take responsibility for having inflicted George W. Bush upon the nation. He still maintains that it doesn’t make any difference who is elected because Republicans and Democrats are the same. My response is: Yes, they are the same, in the same way that an ant and a tiger are the same. They will both bite you, but would you rather be bitten by an ant or a tiger? Democrats are far from perfect-they are pawns of Wall Street too, but they avoid the worse excesses and they do some good.
 
Bill Maher made the point too. “What if we had Mitt-McCain for president, a president who thinks he will inherit his own planet with Lindsey Graham?”  Maher went on, “We’d have Ted Nugent on the Supreme Court, we’d be at war with nine countries, the auto industry would have been allowed to die, and tax rates for the rich would be 3%.”
 
Maher and Nader spoke about President Obama calling out “corporate deserters”—companies that take everything that America offers (subsidies, research, protection) to succeed and then want to take the money and run. They buy a small company in another country where taxes are low, and then claim that their major business here in the United States is a subsidiary of the small company in order to avoid paying taxes in the United States. A Republican president would be trying to make it easier for corporations to do this, unlike President Obama, who wants to stop this practice.
  
And that, Mr. Nader, is the difference between Democrats and Republicans.  And that, Mr. Nader, is why I will never forgive you for your ego-trip/publicity stunt in 2000. (I keep typing “nadir” instead of “Nader.” A Freudian slip?)
 
The panel
 
The three men on the panel were:
 
Andrew Ross Sorkin, journalist, financial columnist for The New York Times, co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Box, and author of Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves
 
Reza Aslan: scholar of religion, associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, and author of several books including Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth 
 
Doug Heye, Eric Cantor’s deputy chief of staff for communications. (Since Eric Cantor lost his primary and announced that he was quitting instead of serving his full term, maybe Doug Heye considers his appearance on the show to be a job interview. He doesn’t have a book to promote.)
 
Everyone got along well and pretty much agreed on the issues. (That’s the frat party aspect again—they sounded like guys sitting around the frat house discussing things over a few beers.)  

Economy
 
Conservative Doug Heye had to admit that we have seen some good job growth, and then added,  “But it is not good enough.” We have all heard that ‘but” so many times, so Maher’s replied “Blah Blah Blah.” (Later Maher told Heye he was just looking for a reason to hate Obama. Heye denied this and then denied his denial by saying, "I don't have to look far." I need to think that part about everyone getting along well. Maybe they didn't get along all that well.)
 
Israel-Hamas
 
The panel was pretty much in agreement that maybe the United States should stop giving money to other counties (including Israel) so that they can use that money to buy weapons from the United States. They did disagree though about blaming Israel for the fighting with Hamas.
 
Aslan thought that since Israel is a democracy, it must be held to a higher standard.  But he also noted that even Arab states headed by tyrants and dictators don’t like Hamas. Maher pointed out that when Arab countries get to vote for their leaders, we get the Muslim Brotherhood and not democracy. 
 
Marijuana leaf
Marijuana, Drugs, Redeem Act
 
They were all back in agreement when the topic turned to drug laws and incarceration rates—they agreed that they were stupid. Sorkin said that it was ridiculous that marijuana was a “schedule A” drug with heroin, while meth and coke were “schedule B.”  Maher talked about Senators Cory Booker (D, NJ) and Rand Paul (R, KY) teaming up for the “Redeem Act”—an act that, if passed, would give young people convicted of drug offenses a chance to wipe their record clean.
 
In Florida, where I live, we will be voting on medical marijuana in November.  Some polls show 90% approval. So perhaps, the Redeem Act stands a chance of becoming law.
 
Mid-show Comedy Segment

For the last show before the August vacation, it’s traditional to do a segment about the headlines we might see while the show is on hiatus. Here are a few.
Maylasian Airlines Lands One 
Supreme Court Rules Female Orgasm Unconstitutional
GM Recalls Three Remaining Cars
See the details and a video clip at Headline Predictions.

Sharknado

Maher did a New Rules segment about Sharknado 2. He said that will have to try harder to be stupid because, "Have you ever seen Heaven is for Real?"
 
I’ll do a full recap of this bit later on my other blog, Bill Maher Rules (for real)   
Real Time on Hiatus
 
Toga-Toga-Toga
CLICK HERE
This is the last new ‘Real Time” until September 12.
  
What will I do with my Saturday mornings without a new review to write? What will I do with my Friday nights? Does anyone know of a frat party I could go to?  Maybe I should just watch the movie.

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Read what Bill Maher said about the border crisis: Border Crossings


 Bill Maher’s Guests #327 August 1, 2014

Ralph Nader: political activist, former candidate (and spoiler) in the presidential election of 2000, author of several books including his latest book (with Luke Nichter) Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State 

Reza Aslan: scholar of religion, associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, author of several books including Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Andrew Ross Sorkin: journalist, financial columnist for The New York Times, co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Box, author of Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves
 
Doug Heye: Eric Cantor’s deputy chief of staff for communications

Chris Hardwick: Comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, podcaster, television host for @Midnight on Comedy Central, author of The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life)