Friday, September 26, 2014

Real Time with Bill Maher #330 09/26/14 "Safe"

Naomi Klein
Naomi Klein
by Catherine Giordano

There was some lively debate on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 330, on Friday September 26, 2014. The big issue seemed to be safety—how to be safe, who is not safe, and who wants to be safe.

To bomb ISIS or not to bomb ISIS

Bill Maher apparently disagrees with Obama’s decision to bomb ISIS.  “You can’t destroy an idea,” he says. He says Obama is getting his full George Bush on because he is ordering airstrikes of ISIS. As a liberal I am anti-war, but I also think that thre is a time for military action. I feel that if ISIS and other groups like Khourson (Bill said it sounded like a new restaurant) are not stopped now, they will eventually become too big and strong to stop. 

One of the penelists, General Anthony Zinni, a retired United States Marine Corps General and author of several books, including his latest book, Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win Or Lose Off The Battlefield (with Tony Koltz) somewhat agrees with me. Zinni  supports the bombing, but he seems to be saying its about morality because of ISIS’s acts of barbarism and genocide. 

This is a weak argument because it leaves Zinni open to questions: Why here and not there? Why now and not then?  There are plenty of morally corrupt regimes committing geneocide and we are not attacking all of them. Why should the U.S. the world’s policeman.

I agree with the arguments about going not going after ISIS for moral reasons. However, I do think we have to go after   ISIS is a matter of  national defense. 

Maher thinks that the threat of ISIS is limited and attacking them over there so they won’t attack us over here is nonsense—they could still attack us. Maher seems to be taking both sides of the argument. They are not a threat and they could attack us. No one mentioned that if ISIS is not stopped they will take over the entire Middle East. That is their goal. If they do that, they will be a threat. Maybe there wouldn’t have been a WW II if Hitler had been stopped early on.

Another panelist, John Feehery, Republican political commentator, President of Quinn Gillespie Communications, Director of QGA Government Affairs and former aide to former Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, approves of Obama’s military action.  He said, “Keeping those guys on the run, keeps us safe.”  Maher said Republicans are conflicted on the issue because oil refineries that ISIS has seized are being bombed--Republicans love bombing, but they also love oil. He said it was like “John Boehner fighting his bartender.”


ISIS may or may not be a threat, but there are some big threats to our safety are looming. One is Ebola. It could become a global pandemic. Maher said the United States has spent trillions on wars, and the U.N is trying to stop Ebola with only $1 million. Here’s a thought: maybe Ebola could wipe out ISIS for us. Of course, if it did, it could very well wipe out most of the world’s population at the same time. That’s the problem—there is always a downside.

Capitalism vs. the Climate

Another major threat to safety that not too many are taking seriously is climate change.  The interview was with Naomi Klein, a critic of corporate globalization and author of several books, including The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and her newest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.  She says that capitalism, because it is based on short-term growth and profit, is destabilizing the planet’s life-support system.  She says we are not going to be able to fix it by changing our light bulbs.  However, she sees the threat as “a great once-in-a-century opportunity to build a better society.” It is giving us the chance to address raging inequality, create jobs, and rebuild the public infrastructure.  I think she is right about that, but I also think that it is not going to happen.  Klein points out there is no leadership on this issue at the top. The leadership is coming from below, from the people. She cites the big protest march in New York City this weekend as an example of that bottom-up leadership. Can a protest march really make a difference? Maybe, but it will take lots of protests and lots of time, and we don’t have that kind of time on this. (I also remember a lot of peace marches before George Bush took us into the Iraq war and it didn’t stop the war.)

Out-of-control Police
Charles M Blow
Charles M. Blow

There is a large group of Americans who are definitely not safe—black people, especially black males. There are more reports this week of policemen shooting totally innocent black men.  The third a panelist was  Charles M. Blow. He’s a journalist, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, a memoir. He’s also a black man. He said that we made some racial progress, but we are drifting back—blacks are being disenfranchised and incarcerated in record numbers.  And blacks are being shot by the police in record numbers.

Maher said that he can understand these trigger-happy cops.They feel that every encounter could be the encounter that ends their life. I have had the same thought. I’ve heard about a cop getting shot when he makes a routine traffic stop.  Maher says the job of a policeman is dangerous, but that is what they signed up for.  The police are putting too much emphasis on protecting themselves instead of protecting the public.  They seem to be far to quick to shoot and taser. I’ll just quote former President Truman:  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Also, I’d advise black people to buy their guns mail order because if they have a gun in a store, they will be shot dead. On the other hand, the white guys from the NRA do their open carry strut armed to the teeth, and nobody shoots them.

For more about Blow's new book, see my "Bill Maher Rules" blog for: Charles M. Blow Talks with Lawrence O'Donnell

Mid-Show Comedy Segment

Remember George Zimmerman. He was the wannabe cop who shot a black teenaged boy because he looked suspicious. The mid-show comedy segment was about hiring Zimmerman to keep intruders out of the White House.  He has “a 6th sense” about who is dangerous and is skilled at noticing, following, stalking, etc. “With Zimmerman, our president will be truly safe, unless he wears a hoodie.“

[By the way, Maher had two jokes on the subject of intruders in the White House. 1) That is how Fox News describes Obama, and 2) it wil embolden the Jehovah Witnesses.]


Alexandra Pelosi
Alexandra Pelosi
The mid-show guest was Alexandra Pelosi, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and author of several books including Sneaking Into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Campaigns into Freak Shows and Citizen U.S.A.: A 50 State Road Trip (Citizen USA is also available on dvd). She said it was her job to stand around parking lots all over America talking to people. What she is hearing is not making her feel safe.  People don’t even know there is an election this November.  She says, never mind about Republicans who vote against their own interests, what about liberals who don’t vote for their own interests because they don’t vote. 

 People who can’t be bothered to learn the issues and learn who the candidates are and what there stands are on the issues is making us all less safe. Maher said, the Flip-A-District loser, John Kline, was taking advantage of this voter apathy.  His campaign strategy is just to hide and run out the clock. Maher plans to do a show in his district in the hopes of getting 29,000 voters to vote against Kline. Feehery said that Maher’s appearance would help Kline and that Kline as a good man who will win. Maher you have to flip-this-district! It will be such an embarrassment to you if you fail and it will embolden Republicans to think they can get away with anything.

New Rules

Maher began New Rules with a bit about this woman who supposedly had a third breast implanted in her chest. Maher said men would find three boobs fascinating. How else can we explain the popularity of Fox and Friends.

The final New Rules segment began with a mention of the teenaged boy who faces two years in jail for disrespecting Jesus. (He took a picture with a statue of Jesus that made it look like Jesus was blowing him.) He says his heart swells with pride when he sees that picture because in America a kid can pull a tasteless stunt like that without being killed for it. (Maher doesn’t believe the kid will go to jail. I don’t even understand why he was arrested. What law did he break?) 

(Read more about this and see a video clip: Blasphemy is Not a Crime.) 

Maher said we need to stand up for American values of free speech, separation of church and state, and respect for minorities. He spoke about Saudi woman who can’t vote, or drive, or even leave their house without being accompanied by a male relative. He spoke about genital mutilation. He castigated those who claim multi-culturalism as an excuse to overlook this violation. He said toleration of this behavior in the name of cultural diversity was the real problem and not Jonah Hall calling a paparazzi a faggot or Mel Gibson calling women “sugar tits.”

Freedom is what makes us safe

Once again Maher used New Rules to address a serious subject. Freedom means we tolerate stupidity, and we stand up against those who violate human rights.  Freedom is what makes us safe.

General Anthony Zinni: Retired United States Marine Corps General, author of several books, including his latest book, Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win Or Lose Off The Battlefield (with Tony Koltz) 

Naomi Klein: Critic of corporate globalization and author of several books, including

John Feehery: Former aide to former Republican speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, President of Quinn Gillespie Communications, and Director of QGA Government Affairs. 

Charles M. Blow: Journalist, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones
Fire Shut Up My Bones




Citizen USA Alexandra Pelosi