Friday, March 27, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher #348 03/27/15 "In a Blather"

S. E. Cupp
S. E. Cupp .
by Catherine Giordano

Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 348, which aired on March 27, 2014 had the guests worked up into lather, or was it blather on some subjects.

Mike Huckabee
The interview was with Mike Huckabee, former governor (R, AK), ordained Baptist minister, and author of several books. His most recent book is God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. Usually, I only see Huckabee in a lip on MSNBC so I see him at his blathering worst. In this interview, Huckabee come across as a nice guy. Of course, he was working to create that impression; he knew the make-up of Maher’s audience, and he stayed away from any of his inflammatory opinions. Instead he was mild and folksy.
  • “When we cuss we become coarse and that becomes our attitude towards other people.”
  • “Free speech must also be responsible speech.”
  • “In the south, gravy is a beverage.”
  • “I am not blueblood; I am blue collar.”
  • “I got support from working class people, not just from religious people.”

The 2016 Election
The panel picked up this discussion when Maher introduced the topic of the evangelical vote. He said “Bubbaville is not who America is today.”
Barney-Frank
Barney Frank


The challenge for Republicans is that there are too many factions in the party. It is hard for one candidate to unite the party. S.E. Cupp, conservative political commentator and columnist, said, “You can’t win when you alienate half f your party.”

Barney Frank is a former Representative (D, MA), and the author of several books. His latest book is Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage. He has an opinion on everything and expresses those opinions forthrightly. Frank said, “Hillary is a consensus candidate.” 

S.E. Cupp insisted Hillary needs primary opponents—the interest generated by a primary will turn people out for the general election. I find it so interesting the Republicans are continually giving advice to the Democrats on how to win. They are gearing up for a three-ring circus of primaries with 10, 15, or even 20 candidates duking it out like spiders in a cage. They sound envious of the Democrats more orderly path to the nominating convention.  

Frank was ready with a retort. “You know who will turn people out for Hillary—the Republican candidate.” That cut through the blather. 

Ted Cruz
So far the only candidate who has actually announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination is Ted Cruz. (Notwithstanding that Jeb Bush is holding scads of fundraisers and pulling in umpteen million dollars at each one, he has not actually announced. He is still just “exploring.”) 

Maher described Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada to a Cuban father, as having the “gravitas of Justin Beiber” (another Canadian) and” the people skills of Scarface (a character played by Al Pacino in the movie, Scarface, about a Cuban immigrant gangster.) This quip was Maher at his best. 

Sachary Quinto
Zachary-Quinto
The panel discussed Ted Cruz’ response to a reporter about what kind of music he likes. Maher told us that Ted Cruz replied that he used to like rock and roll but on 9/11 he changed to country music. Zachary Quinto, an actor known from the TV series, Heroes, and for playing Dr. Spock in some of the Star Trek movies, dismissed this as “pandering. Frank said, “Tell them what they want to hear, but try not to tell them something they won’t believe.” 
 


Jay Famiglietti and the Water Crisis
Jay Famiglietti is a professor of earth sciences (hydrology and climate) at University of California, Irvine and also works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the Senior Water Cycle Scientist. He said the water crisis is much worse than people know. The drought in California has lasted four years. When it doesn’t rain, the reservoirs are a backup, but now the reservoirs are running out of water.  

Maher said people get scared about the wrong things. “Running out of water—no reaction. Plane goes down—everyone freaking out.” Quinto said, “If you don’t feel it isn’t real” Frank said, “People react when there is a specific identifiable victim.” Maher pointed out that people are more likely to die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria than from a psycho pilot. [I will add ebola. People worked themselves into a lather thinking it was the number one health threat to America not too long ago, but it was always very unlikely to become epidemic in the United States.]  
Last Call at the Oasis
Last Call at the Oasis

For more information on the water crisis read Last Call at the Oasis (paperback) or view the documentary of the same name, Last Call at the Oasis (on dvd.) Famiglietti is a contributor.

Mid-show-comedy segment: Water Conservation Guide
Maher showed an actual water conservation guide which discussed such water saving measures as wait staff not bring a glass of water to the table unless the diner asks for it and hotels not washing towels unless the guest asks for it. He had a few suggestions of his own.
  • Get a masochist to lick your car clean
  • When the DEA is at your door, make sure you have thrown your entire stash in the toilet before flushing
  • Instead of the ice bucket challenge, just give the money to charity

Middle East War
Maher segued into a segment about the Middle Eastern wars by saying that some people capitalize on irrational fears, seeing it as an opportunity to do what they already want to do. Dick Cheney seized on 9/11 to go to war with Iraq.  

Cupp immediately interjected, “Both sides do it.”  

Ever notice how Republicans are always saying “both sides do it” whenever someone brings up wrongdoing by a Republican. Sometimes they don’t even have any justification for saying it. It is a knee-jerk response. I can’t recall Democrats saying that. When a Democrat does something wrong, other Democrats usually pile on. Look how many jumped on Hillary Clinton on the trumped-up email scandal before it was shown that there was nothing nefarious there. I think Republicans were howling because they were desperate to get their hands on some personal email that they could use to embarrass Hillary Clinton. 
 
S.E. Cupp Brought the Crazy
S.E. Cupp did not want to discuss how the Iraq War has led to the current dangerous mess in the Middle East by destabilizing the region and ramping up hatred for the West. [I can’t keep it straight anymore. Iran is our friend in the fight against ISIS but our enemy in the fight against Yemen.]  

Anyway, Cupp didn’t want to talk about it, so she compared it to being pregnant. “When you’re pregnant there is nothing you can do about it…You are going to have a baby whether you want it or not, so you have to decide on what you are going to do about it.“ Her comments were so out of place, I had to google her to try to understand why she was saying this. Sure enough she was pregnant in 2014, and evidently talking like she was the first woman ever to be pregnant. I couldn’t tell if she wanted the baby or not, but she was blathering a lot about pregnancy last year. Everyone on the show politely ignored her blathering.  

New Rules: The Italian Jab
“The designers Dolce and Gabanna said even though they are proudly gay, when it comes to making a bambino they don’t approve of synthetics because they just don’t breathe (or was it breed) like cotton.” So now all the liberals are outraged and refusing to buy their clothes. Maher questioned if we should get outraged over two men who “bedazzle cod-pieces for a living." 

Maher wants the liberals to calm down. This is one of his pet peeves. He does not like political correctness. He’s done this bit so many times before. He is right, but I’m tired of him blathering about it.  

Part of it was funny. 
  • Vegans vs. vegetarians: Cheese eater. Burn him 
  • Atheists vs. agnostics: Do you believe in a talking snake? Me neither. We’re on the same team.
The last bit was about a performance of The Vagina Monologues was cancelled because the play does not include the transgender experience. Maher, said, “I’m sorry. If you are a transgender and you can’t handle The Vagina Monologues, (available as book and on DVD) you don’t need a vagina. You are already a giant pussy.”

 
Bill Maher’s Guests, episode 348, March 27, 2015

Mike Huckabee: Former governor (R, AK), ordained Baptist minister, and author of several books. His most recent book is God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy

Jay Famiglietti: Professor of earth sciences (hydrology and climate) at University of California, Irvine and also works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the Senior Water Cycle Scientist

Rep. Barney Frank: Former Representative (D, MA) and author of several books. His latest book is Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage 

Zachary Quinto: Actor, known for playing Doctor Spock in two of the Star Trek movies and for his roles in the TV series, Heroes, American Horror Story, and The Slap. He evidently has quite a following because there are a number of autobiographical books about this young man, including The Zachary Quinto Handbook: Everything you need to know about Zachary Quinto 

S. E. Cupp: conservative commentator and author of Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity and co-author (with Brett Joshpe) of Why You're Wrong About the Right: Behind the Myths: The Surprising Truth About Conservatives She was called “the dumbest person in the history of cable television” in Esquire magazine. (At the very least, she knows how to say dumb things to advance her career.) She also claims to be an atheist and “a better atheist than Bill Maher” although she doesn’t sound like one in her book.  And she doesn't sound liker one when she says she's a "better atheist." What does that mean? She doesn't believe more than Maher doesn't believe? Atheists don't talk like that. It's religious people who criticize other members of their own religion for not being a good enough Christian, Jew, Muslim,  (fill in the blank).

Friday, March 20, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher #347 03/20/15 "Oh, God, No"

Bob Costas
Bob Costas
by Catherine Giordano

Bob Costas, NBC sportscaster and author of Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case for Baseball, did a good interview on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 347,which aired on March 20, 2015. As for the rest of the show, all I can say is “Oh, God, No.”  

Bob Costas has become known not just as a sportscaster, but as someone who comments on the issues. Maher said that Costas has been speaking out on gays, guns, and concussions. He said, “Some people say “Keep the news out of sports…but what they really mean is don’t say something I disagree with.” 

Costas reminded us that sports figures have always been mixed up with issues that are in the news—sports stars like Billie Jean King, Mohammed Ali, Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe. And these days, wife-beating football players, racist owners of football teams, and a gun culture run amok. He was referring to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who shot his girlfriend and himself in a murder-suicide. He owned eight guns.  

I say God bless him for being willing to speak out. 

Israel and Iran
Whenever I think of the Middle East all I can say is “Oh, God, No.” Obama is going his best to work with the allies of the United States to work out a deal with Iran in which Iran agrees not to pursue nuclear weapons. Unfortunately the recently reelected prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, and the Congressional Republicans are doing everything they can to sabotage the final days of the negotiations.  

Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to Israel to meet with Netanyahu. In the monologue Maher joked that Boehner’s nickname among his security detail is Agent Orange. Maher said the wailers at the Wailing Wall will soon have a new wailer. “Just wait until Super-Soaker has a good cry when he gets shit-faced there.” (Boehner is known for his drinking and his crying.) 

There was talk about how Netanyahu used anti-Arab rhetoric to win his election. As soon as he won, he did a 180. In the monologue, Maher quipped, “Mitt Romney said “Wow, that guy is good.”  
Christine Quinn
Christine Quinn
Panel member, Jack Kingston, a former U.S. Representative (R, GA), defended Netanyahu saying, “He is motivated by survival of Israel.”  
Panel member, Christine Quinn, is a Democrat politician, former speaker of the New York City Council, (the first woman and first openly gay person to hold the position), former candidate for mayor of New York City, and current advisor to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. She is the author of With Patience and Fortitude: A Memoir. Quinn conceded that “the danger to Israel is real,” while not condoning Netanyahu’s tactics.  

Maher said that Iran is our ally against ISIS. The Muslims are having a war against themselves, like the Catholics and Protestants did back in the 16th century. The West should stay out of it. This is a war between Muslims who want to go back to the 7th century and Muslims who want to be part of the 21st century to fight. “Where are the Muslims who want to fight against ISIS?”  

Racism
Maher mentioned how in this country, Reagan Nixon and Bush all used race issues to win. Mercedes Schlapp, a conservative political strategist said “Obama played the race card.” When Maher tried to set her straight—Obama was very careful to keep race out of the election because it would have hurt him more than helped him—Schlapp became very loud and overbearing. No one else could speak. She did this many times during the show--standing up, pounding the table, shouting, talking over everyone else, interrupting—she pretty much ruined the show by making conversation impossible.  

Every time Schlapp opened her mouth I thought “Oh, God, No. Not again.” At one point in the show she said she was hot-headed, like Ted Cruz, because they are both Cuban. I’d say obnoxious and rude, but never mind. Maher pointed out that she was being racist because she was engaging in stereotypes.  

Robert Durst
Maher congratulated HBO on exposing multiple-murder suspect Robert Durst on the HBO documentary about him, The Jinx. His admission of guilt was caught by a hot mic (that he didn’t know was recording) during filling. Later Maher wondered if he would plead sarcasm. 

The panel said Durst had gotten away from it up until now because of stupid juries and slick lawyers. Kingston said that “justice is not equal when you have a big purse.” (Durst was born into a billionaire family.” Maher agreed saying that 40 of homicides go unsolved. “We don’t convict the guilty, we plea-bargain the innocent.”  

Mid show comedy segment—No God
The Durst documentary led Maher to think about his own documentary, Religulous . He pretended to have found an outtake of Pope Benedict talking to himself while he thought he was alone in the bathroom, Pope Benedict revealed that there is no God, the whole idea of the trinity makes no sense, and more. 

God’s Bankers
God's Bankers
God's Bankers
Speaking of Popes and money leads us right to the mid-show guest, Gerald Posner, Investigative journalist and author of several books. His most recent book is God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican. He told us that the Vatican bank goes back only as far as World War II when Mussolini made the Vatican an independent country. The Vatican is only two-tenths of a mile wide in return for the support of the Catholic Church during WW II.  
Maher said “A lot of Nazis were Catholic. What if the Pope had said it was a mortal sin to kill Jews?”   

Posner explained how the Vatican bank was being used for many nefarious purposes including money laundering. 

Maher said, “How is Pope Frank doing?” He mentioned that he got made at the Pope about his remarks about Charlie Hebdo (See episode 339, Free Speech ), but “I can’t stay mad at him. Imagine, I like the Pope and Mel Gibson doesn’t.”  
Maher asked Posner about the pope saying he might step down in a couple of years—resigning as Pope Benedict did before him. ( I have a theory about that also. I believe  that another HBO documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa caused the Pope to resign because it revealed how deeply he was involved with the cover in the church’s pedophile scandal. See my review of episode 270, Reason and Unreason, especially the comments.)  

Posner said, “I don’t believe it. By saying he’s leaving he energizers reformers.” They will think they have to act fast or lose their chance for reform once he has left the papacy.   

New Rules Theta Blockers
Maher took on Frat Houses in his final New Rules segment. He called them “little Vaticans” because they are an independent entity inside the large campus. “If you want to live with 40 other dudes and hold homoerotic ceremonies—why not just join a seminary.”  

Maher said fraternities kill people--pranks, hazing, alcohol poisoning—why not just pledge IIS.   

Maher concluded by saying “colleges should be places for independent thinking, but fraternities promote group think.  

Oh, God, No
Religion and God in one form or another dominated the show. It was either about there is no God or about how religion and its adherents are often doing really bad things. 
 

Bill Maher’s Guests for Friday, March 20, 2015 

The interview is with Bob Costas: NBC sportscaster and author of Fair Ball: A Fan’s Case for Baseball  

The mid-show guest is Gerald Posner: Investigative journalist and author of several books. His most recent book is God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican  

The panel includes:  

Christine Quinn: Democrat politician, former speaker of the New York City Council (first woman and first openly gay person to hold the position), former candidate for mayor of New York City, and current advisor to governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. She is the author of With Patience and Fortitude: A Memoir 

Jack Kingston: Former U.S. Representative (R, GA) 

Mercedes Schlapp: Conservative political strategist 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher #346 03/13/15 "Real Mature"

Baby Crying
Congressional Republicans
and other spoiled brats are like this baby.
by Catherine Giordano

Bill Maher summed up the week’s news with two words “Real mature!” on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 346, which aired on HBO on March 13, 2015.  

The letter to Iran
“Real mature,” was Maher’s summation of the letter to Iran. It was spoken sarcastically and it referred to the 47 Republicans who signed the letter to Iran in order to undermine the negotiations that Obama and the leaders of other allied countries are having with Iran to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran responded saying the letter was condescending. [It was—it lectured them on American politics while getting the facts wrong. The negotiations are not a treaty and thus Congressional approval is not needed. } Prior to sending this letter some Democrats were actually on the same side as the Republicans, but the letter ended that. Real stupid! And I don’t mean that sarcastically.

Only 7 senators did not sign the letter. Some of those who did are doubling down and some are backing off. Senator McCain said he signed it because it was snowing and he was in a hurry to get home. Now I feel better. (That is being said sarcastically.) Senators sign things without knowing what they are signing because they are in a hurry to go home. 
Thrive book cover Arianna Huffington
Thrive:
Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is the editor in chief of The Huffington Post, author of several books. Her newest book is Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. She said that Republicans want to go to war, but they have no idea of how to pay for it. My response: It is just Republicans being immature again. If they love was so much, can’t they get their jollies playing video games? Our economy is just finally recovering thanks to Obama, and they want to plunge us into deficit spending again.  

Senator Marco Rubio is either an idiot or else he just plays one on TV. He thinks Iran is with ISIS. Secretary of State Kerry has emphatically told him that he is wrong on this, but Rubio is too immature to understand. 
Sean Penn
Sean Penn
Sean Penn, an actor and human rights activist. (Penn has won two academy awards, one for Mystic River and one for Milk; his newest movie is The Gunman which Maher described as an intelligent action thriller. Penn. Has also been very involved in relief programs for Haiti and Katrina.)  

Penn said, “There is a division in the generations in Iran. There is progressive people thinking among young people and they are for separation of church and state. Maher pointed out that may people in Iran are sophisticated and westernized. They could be won over. Can the Republicans just go to their rooms and play video games, and let the adults handle things.

Hillary’s email
The other big thing in the news is Hillary’s email. This is all Republicans have to talk about. Real mature! [Sarcasm again.] Let’s say Hillary had two email accounts as some people think she should have had. Couldn’t she have used her personal account for state department business if she wanted to keep some email secret? One account or two--someone who wants to hide something can hide it. I think they are just pissed they can’t get their hands on her personal emails to go fishing for something embarrassing. A fight with Bill, spending too much for Chelsea’s wedding—anything they could use against Hillary.

Hillary says she turned over all relevant emails. Maybe she’s telling the truth; maybe she isn’t. Until a recipient of a hidden email comes forward, I’m going to take her at her word.

Maher said they won’t be satisfied until they find an email in which Hillary says “I hate America and I love scissoring.” He added that Republicans attitude is like saying “We’re not saying she is a witch, we’re just asking why she won’t let us dunk her in a pond.”

Rape on campus
The interview was with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, co-founders of The End Rape on Campus" group and producers of the documentary, The Hunting Ground, about rape on college campuses. These two well spoken young women want us to know that one in every four or five women on campus are sexually assaulted. Colleges are not taking this seriously. Maher said it was like with the Catholic Church—they act not to protect the victim, but to protect the institution.

Black lives matter
Racism in America
Racial issues
More immaturity from men on campus. A California fraternity was caught on tapes singing chants about how no blacks were allowed in their fraternity. They didn’t say “blacks;” they used the N-word. Maher said, “The fraternity got in big trouble for the chants, but they would have gotten away with sexual assault. “

Maher said, the U.S. is definitely not post racial despite what the Supreme Court ruling said when they struck down the voting rights act. Sharyl Attkinson, journalist, and author of Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, showed her conservative stripes by responding “You can’t find any place where people don’t have thoughts against others.” Definitely no maturity in that response. Yes, Sharyl “haters gonna hate,” but does that mean we should just shrug our shoulders. Maher pointed out that in Fergusson people were fired for racist emails, but not for the shootings.

As the Obama said at the Commemorative March on Selma just because we have made progress doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more that needs to be done. Tom Rogan, a contributor to National Review Online, The Daily Telegraph, and a blogger at TomRoganThinks, gave a mature response. Talking about how only one Republican member of Congress showed up for Selma (and he decided to go only the day before the March) while 100 or so Democratic members were there, Rogan said, “It was noticed in Republican circles.” I’m sure it was noticed in African-American circles also.

The report on Fergusson proved that as it proved that there is systematic oppression of black people. Fergusson is not an isolated case.

Mid-show comedy segment.
The mid-show comedy segment was a parody campaign ad for Cletus J. McClintock, a fictional (I hope) character with the campaign slogan “Faith Flag and F-You”. In the ad, McClintock says he is the biggest Obama hater of them all and proves it with such stunts as mooning the president.

New Rules: Heir Supplies
The final New Rules segment railed against the hypocrisy of many rich people. For instance, Donald Trump who maintain that “handouts” robs people of the opportunity to improve.” But Trump got his money from his father—perhaps that explains why he is such a “dumb-ass.”

The rich are opposed to taxes on inheritances—they call it the death tax. (Maher pointed out that the best time to be taxed is when you are dead. NB: Maher has no children.)

“The one thing they believe more than the value of hard work is to leave all their money to their kids.” Maher then showed us video clips of Paris Hilton’s little brother, Conrad Hilton, an obnoxious young man, acting like a very spoiled rich brat on an airplane—the crew had to put him into restraints. Maher quipped, “Why can’t we book this kid on Malaysian Airlines?”  

Maher then spoke about another kid who never knew “the dignity of work.” Ethan Couch killed four people while driving under the influence. He got away with it—no prison time only rehabilitation. His defense: he suffered from a disease dubbed “af-flu-enza.” He was too rich to know boundaries. (In other words, he was too immature to be responsible for his actions because he was a spoiled rich brat.) 

Maher concluded: “Ask your doctor if being rich is right for you.”
 
Final word
Too bad there is no pill for immaturity. There are quite a few in Washington who need that prescription.



Bill Maher’s Guests March 13, 2015

The interview is with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, co-founders of The End Rape on Campus" group and producers of the documentary, The Hunting Ground, about rape on college campuses.

The mid show guest is Sean Penn, an actor and human rights activist. He won two academy awards, one for Mystic River and one for Milk. His Newest movie is The Gunman which Maher described as an intelligent action thriller.

The panel guests are: 

Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of The Huffington Post, author of several books.  Her newest book is Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder 


Tom Rogan, a contributor to National Review Online, The Daily Telegraph, and a blogger at TomRoganThinks

Friday, March 6, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher #345 03/06/15 "American Crime"

by Catherine Giordano

American Crime, ABC drama
American Crime, ABC drama

The discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 345, which aired on March 6, 2015, was all about crime, American crime in many different forms.

Crime on TV
When I say crime, the first things that come to mind are things like murder, rape, theft, etc. Our newscasts are filled with that type of crime. Maher’s mid-show guest John Ridley is the show runner for a new ABC TV series American Crime. The show begins with a murder, but it is not your usual police procedural. The show is about the families--white, black, and Hispanic--and the effect this crime has on their lives.  it shows the aftermath of a crime and explores the reasons for crime.

Ridley won an Oscar 12 Years a Slave for the screenplay. He is also a novelist who has written several books (His most recent book is What Fire Cannot Burn.) I watched the first episode which aired (Thursday March 5, 2015) and the writing and story-telling reflect Ridley’s talent for writing and storytelling.

Maher and Ridley discussed how network TV is changing. Network TV is now doing the type of shows that you see on cable TV like HBO. In the past, an Oscar winner would not follow up his win with a TV series. Now writers (and actors) go wherever there are good opportunities for good story-telling and increasingly that is to be found on network TV.  

Scientology
Lawrence Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and a fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law has a new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. In this book he shows how Scientology is more a criminal enterprise than a religion.

I knew scientology was a nutty cult, but I didn’t know the half of it. The creation myth of this ‘religion” is that a Galactic overlord named Zenu lived on a planet very much like planet Earth in the 1950’s. About 75 million years ago due to over population he sent people to a prison planet, our Earth, and dropped them into volcanoes. So now we are all possessed by “fetens” and we have to get “clear.”(I may not have this exactly right-it is very confusing. I will need to read the book to get all this straight.” 

Why does Scientology attract so many Hollywood celebrates. It’s because the founder of the religion, L. Ron Hubbard (who may have be psychotic and who founded the religion in 1953), realized that Americans worshiped celebrities. If he could entice celebrities into his cult, other Americans would follow. They did to a certain extent—there are about 25,000 “members” of this “religion” in America. The Scientology Center in California is run like a prison—once in you can’t leave. 

Maher drew a parallel with more mainstream religions. “They sell you a problem and then they sell you a solution. “ In some religions the problem is sin; in Scientology, it is demons.

Hillary’s Emails
Did Hillary Clinton commit a crime when she used her own personal server for email while she was Secretary of State? Maher said that using the government email was only a rule not a law, and therefore there was no crime.  

David Axelrod, director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, former political adviser to President Obama, and author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics said that they would not be any Republican outrage if Hillary was not presumed to be planning to run for President.  

However, even Democrats are calling for an explanation. Hillary’s refusal to explain why she did it is turning what may have been a perfectly reasonable action—previous secretaries of state and Jeb Bush did it when he was governor of Florida-- into a scandal.  

Maher said Hillary’s emails are probably boring. He’d rather see Bill’s emails.

Chris Christie
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie has a new scandal every day. I think there are lots of crimes to be uncovered. The latest one involves a lawsuit against Exxon for environment damage for $11 billion. After 10 years of litigation, Christie stepped in and settled for 3% of the total amount $250 million!   

Genevieve Wood, senior contributor to The Daily Signal, multimedia news platform for the conservative Heritage Foundation, dismissed the whole thing saying, “These amounts always go down.” People like her treat politics like a religion. No matter how unbelievable, everything must be defended. Democrats are willing to question Hillary; whey can’t Republicans question Christie. Why are Republicans willing to look like fools to protect someone like Christie? 

Elephant legs optical illusion
The mid-show comedy segment
Wood gave me the perfect segue into the mid-show comedy segment. Maher based it on the white/gold or blue/black controversy. Democrats and Republicans just see things differently. He gave some examples using pictures.

Republicans see an elephant with 5 legs in this optical illusion photograph. Democrats see Chris Christie. 

In a picture of Senator Cory Booker carrying a dog from a burning building, Democrats see him rescuing a dog; Republicans see him stealing a dog. (Cory Booker is a black man and Republicans see all blacks as thugs. Of course that is an exaggeration, but as Maher said, “Not all Republicans are racists, but all racists are Republicans. If you are a racist looking for a political party, you are going to become a Republican.”) 

Selma
This weekend there will be a march on Selma on the 50th anniversary of the infamous march on Selma. Not a single prominent Republican had planned to join the march, although there are many elected Democrats participating. (Late Friday, one Republican from congress said he would go.) Even Wood, for once said something reasonable, when she said that it was stupid for no Republicans to go.  

Fergusson
Matt Taibbi, "The Divide"
Matt Taibbi, "The Divide"
The entire city of Fergusson is involved in a “criminal shake-down” of poor black people. Instead of taxes, they fund the city with fines. Panel member Matt Taibbi is a journalist and author of several books including, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. He told us that he has researched this and Fergusson is not the only place that does this. “The courtrooms are filled with this.”  

Fergusson had a mostly all white police force to police a city that is 2/3 black. Ninety percent of the arrests they made were of black people. Axelrod said that Rand Paul was one of the few Republicans “on this, suggesting that perhaps left and right could come together on this. My response: Did you listen to Wood on this subject? She wasn’t on Paul’s side. She said that in New Orleans black police officers were arresting poor blacks—like that made it OK. [She was infuriating. She said the most insulting things with a smile.]
 
I Witnessed News
Being a news anchor who lies is not a crime, just a disgrace. Brian Williams made a couple of misstatements and apologized. He is no longer on the air. Bill O’Reilly tells whoppers and not only defends them, but threatens any reporter who dares to call him out. He’s still on the air. Granted he’s on Fox News and Fox News lies constantly and thus is not an actual news channel, but still.

ObamaCare/Socialism
ObamaCare is back in the Supreme Court. A typo in the bill could cause the whole thing to come crashing down if the Supreme Court does a partisan ruling again. The intent of the law as written is clear despite the one incidence of ambiguity.

Maher said that the plaintiffs in the case didn’t have standing. Two were veterans who get socialized medicine from the VA and one was only a few months short of being on the socialized medicine program Medicare.

Wood spouted the usual Republican clich├ęs and lies about ObamaCare-- it’s a fiasco that was “not ready for prime time” and ”no one read the bill.”  

Axelrod defended ObamaCare. He spoke about how he nearly went bankrupt because his child had serious medical issues. He had insurance, just lousy insurance. Plus, because his child had a pre-existing condition, he could no longer get insurance until ObamaCare became law. 

On the subject of socialism, Maher pointed to all the good news on the economy—the Obama economy. In the monologue he said, “The economy is in a good state ready for the Republicans to come in and wreck it again.”  

Later Maher said that Obama is always accused of the “crime” of being a socialist. “The economy shows that either Obama is not a socialist or that socialism works.” It was a pleasure to watch Wood sputter when she could not come up with a way to answer this.  

[By the way, statistics show that the economy usually does better under Democratic presidents than under Republican presidents.] 

New Rules: Battle Loyal

Bill-Maher-Rudy-Giuliani
Gotta love that picture of Giuliani
Republicans are very fond of accusing Obama of not loving America. The latest episode involved Giuliani sneering remarks. (This was discussed on the previous weeks show. See the review, Pardon Me.) 
 
Maher pointed out that Obama has repeatedly talked about loving America. One can love America and still point out mistakes this country has made and problems it needs to address. Maher said, “Republicans are like parents who think their kids can do no wrong and blame the teacher.”  
 
Republicans want to ban the history books that discuss any issues that reflect negatively on this country (e.g., racism, treatment of Native Americans.” He said “We can’t turn the page on America’s bad things, if we don’t read the page first.  

Maher pointed out that we have done some things to remedy the past like giving the Native Americans casino’s, but “it wouldn’t have been necessary if we hadn’t been dicks in the first place.”


Bill Maher’s Guests #344 March 6, 2015
 
Lawrence Wright:  
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. His newest book is Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief 

David Axelrod: Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, former political adviser to President Obama, and author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
 
Matt Taibbi: Journalist and author of several books. His latest book is The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

John Ridley, Jr.: Screenwriter of 12 Years a Slave (for which he won an Oscar in 2013), film director, currently television show runner for American Crime, an ABC drama about race relations (inspired by Trayvon Martin and Fergusson) and novelist. His most recent book is What Fire Cannot Burn

Genevieve Wood: Senior contributor to The Daily Signal, multimedia news platform for the conservative Heritage Foundation