Friday, January 15, 2016

Real Time with Bill Maher 01/15/16 Heating Up

Chair in front of fire
Pull up a front row seat to the debate
by Catherine Giordano

The presidential nomination campaigns are heating up. We also had some heated debate on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher on the January 15, 2016 show. As usual, when there are two Republican guests on the show, the debate devolved into a screaming match to the point where I couldn’t make out what was being said.

Here are the highlights of Real Time with Bill Maher, back after a hiatus for his first show of the New Year.


Obama to be a Guest on Real Time?
No point burying the lead in this recap and review of the show. Maher has one burning desire—he wants Barack Obama to be a guest on Real Time before his presidency ends.

Maher feels slighted. Obama has given an interview to pretty much every other show—every late night show, every daytime show, every web podcast. Maher reminded Obama that he has been a supporter both with his comments on the show (plus with a million dollar campaign contribution which he didn’t mention last night). Maher mentioned that Real Time has 4 million viewers—a sizeable audience-- and according to Maher these viewers are the “absolute best.” (“The viewers are informed, engaged, and smart enough to steal cable.”)


Sign the Petition


We the People Petition
Sign the Petition

So Bill Maher wants you to sign the petition. Obama instituted a program at the beginning of his presidency. If 100,000 people sign a petition within a 30-day period, the government will address that petition. The website is petitions.whitehouse.gov. This link will take you directly to Bill Maher’s petition. As of this writing, less than 24 hours since the show aired, there are already over 30,000 signatures. Click the link to add your signature.


After you sign, you will receive an email to confirm your signature. Click the link in the email and your signature is added to the petition.

Maher tied this request to his 60th birthday celebration. He did the request as the final segment of New Rules at the end of the show. In the last minute if the show, a mariachi band marched onto stage singing happy birthday. There was even a balloon drop. Maher looked completely surprised and also moved.


Candidate Commentary
Maher began his monologue with jokes about the candidates. He said the Republican Debate should be called The Hateful Eight, referring to the new Quentin Tarantino movie. He called the Republican Party “the party of impotent white rage.”

Chris Christie caught incoming for saying Obama is an” impotent child.” Maher said this came from “the man who needed surgery to give his stomach a time-out. [BTW, despite the surgery, he is still really, really, fat. Also, apparently desperate to get some attention for his failing campaign. He is trying to be the angriest white man on the stage.]

Ben Carson is just the opposite. Maher described him as a “human screen saver” for his painful slowness [Also, when is going to stop rubbing his hands together? It is a really creepy gesture.]

Donald Trump was cited for talking about “foreigners sneaking into the country. “ To which Maher added, “But enough about Ted Cruz.” [That one was a twofer.]

Ted Cruz insulted an entire state with his derisive sneer about “New York values.” Maher couldn’t resist showing the front page response from one of the most popular New York newspapers, The Daily News. And I can’t either.

Daily News Drop Dead Ted
Here is what New York thinks of Ted Cruz. 

Is Ted Cruz eligible to be President of the United States?
The panel didn’t discuss the issue about whether Ted Cruz is a “natural born citizen or not so I will.

Cruz keeps saying he is eligible because he is a citizen of the United States even though he was born in Canada because his mother was an American citizen. (His father was a Cuban citizen at the time.) But “natural born citizen” does not mean the same thing as “citizen.” If it did, the Constitution would just say “citizen.” Based on what I have heard from legal scholars, I think natural-born means born in the United States (born on United States soil). Natural-born could be construed to mean not only born on one of the states but also born in a U.S. territory or even a U.S. military base or consulate.

I’m not sure Cruz’s mother was a citizen at the time of Cruz’s birth. She may have become a Canadian citizen. Her name has been found on Canadian voter rolls. In Canada, there is a monthly “family allowance” paid to the parents of children. Did she ever collect this money? If yes, did Cruz’s mother have to be a Canadian citizen to collect this money or could she have collected it just because her child was considered to be a Canadian citizen  I couldn’t find any information on this. I assume we’ll get the answer when the law suit is brought as it surely will be if Cruz wins the nomination and maybe if he even starts to come close.

Finally, Cruz was a Canadian citizen--he had dual-citizenship allowed under Canadian law-- until May 14, 2014.

Cruz is showing his mother's birth certificate. That is just done to confuse the issue. No one doubts that Cruz's mother was born in the U.S. I would like to see Ted's birth certificate. Does it give his mother's nationality on his birth certificate. 

Cruz likes to point out that no other presidential candidate with circumstances similar to his was ever challenged on his eligibility. But these candidates never became president. Further just because no one brought suit doesn’t mean a suit could not be brought now.

Finally, Cruz keeps saying it is settled law. ”Settled law” is a term used when the Supreme Court has ruled on an issue. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the meaning of “natural born.” In fact, no court has ruled on this issue. There have been some rulings on the qualifications for “citizen,” but never “natural-born citizen.” The scholars say that according to the doctrine of “original intent,” Cruz is not a natural born citizen.

Donald Trump has said that he will not sue Cruz on this. I think that is a wise position. Trump can do (and is doing) enough damage to Cruz just by bringing up the issue. And if Cruz wins or even starts to look like he is winning, Trump can change his mind. In the meantime, Having Cruz in the race keeps all the other potential challengers to Trump from gaining ground.

No matter what the outcome, I would like to see this go to court so we can have a definitive ruling.


Bernie and Hillary
The race for the Democratic nomination in Iowa and New Hampshire is very close. The idea of Bernie winning made panelist Nicolle Wallace positively giddy with joy. She was literally jumping up and down with joy like a little kid (or maybe someone who just found out they won the Powerball lottery). She was cackling with glee. Wallace is a former communications chief for George W. Bush and is currently a political commentator and novelist. Her most recent novel is MadamPresident: A Novel.

Why is Wallace so happy over the prospect of Bernie winning the Democratic nomination? It can only be that she, like most Republicans, thinks he would be easier to beat.

Donald Trump has already called him “crazy Bernie.” Bernie will be Gene McCarthy all over again, losing practically every state. I love Bernie in the Senate, but America will not vote for a self-avowed socialist. (He’s also a Jew and maybe an atheist, but people who won’t vote for him because of his religion would probably be voting Republican anyway.)

I love Bernie’s ideas, but He never says just how he will get it done. He will never get his ideas through Congress. Obama tried for universal health care and even some Democrats wouldn’t vote for it. Bernie won’t be able to get his other stuff through either.

I love that Bernie caucuses with the Democrats, but he has never chosen to run as a Democrat. Now he wants to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. Hillary, for all her faults, has been a Democrat all her adult life, has served in a Democratic administration, and won her seat as Senator from New York as a Democrat.

Cornell West, professor at Union Seminary Theological College, political activist, and author of several books including Black Prophetic Fire, also supports Bernie over Hillary. He said, “Sister Hillary is smart. She is sharp. But integrity is not the first thing that comes to mind.”

I say, “At least Hillary is tested.” She has been viciously attacked for 20 years. What will the Republicans come up with against Bernie? They are holding their fire for now and only attacking Hillary so Bernie can win the nomination. Let’s see how well Bernie does in a head-to-head matchup against a Republican when the political attacks start.


Mid-show comedy—Celebrity endorsements
Maher began by telling us to vote for whoever is their favorite celebrity. He showed a clip from the infamous Duck Dynasty add on behalf of Ted Cruz.

He then launched into endorsement statements from various celebrities and told us what they were really thinking

Jennifer Lopez:        It’s time for a woman president.
                                    Trump will deport my whole family.

The Cake Boss:        Chris Christie will help small business.
                                    You know I make cake, don’t you?

Seth McFarland:       Bernie is serious about climate change.
    An old Jew in the White House--the jokes will practically write  themselves.

George W. Bush:       Vote for my brother, Jeb.
                                    Then I will be only the second worse president.


The movie 13 Hours, Benghazi, and Iran
The mid-show guest was John Krasinski, an actor currently starring in the new movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The movie may bring up the issue of Benghazi again in the presidential campaign because the movie shows that there was a stand-down order. However, both Maher and Krasinski both said that the movie clearly shows that the stand-down order came from the CIA and not from The State Department or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that the order was given to civilians who were there to protect the CIA Annex (not the U.S. consulate). Further, these guards ignored the order and ran to help. It also showed that Ambassador Stevens refused the additional security the State Department wanted to give him.

The movie shows that Secretary Clinton was not to blame, but Maher and Krasinski wondered if people would note these facts.  

The show’s guests also discussed the flap over the Iran incident. All of the Republican candidates for president sounded like they were willing to start WWIII over this. I’m scared to death over the thought that one of these people could be commander-in-chief.

Ralph Reed, another Republican on the panel, said the sailors should never have been detained. (He is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and author of several political books including Awakening:How America Can Turn from Moral and Economic Destruction Back to Greatness. He also writes novels—his most recent novel is Ballots and Blood: A Novel.) However, the boats were in Iranian waters so Iran had every right to board them and take the sailors prisoner. The U.S. would have done the same if the situation was reversed.

The prisoners were well treated and were not harmed. (Perhaps photographs of them should not have been shown, but compared to what could have happened that was nothing. I’ve even heard Republican outrage because the female prisoner was made to wear a head scarf. Really?! They want to start WW III over a head scarf?!)

Finally, negotiations for the release of the prisoners began immediately, and they were released the very next morning. I would say President Obama and Secretary Kerry should be praised for handling this extremely well and preventing a minor incident from escalating.

Our sailors were quickly released and were not harmed because of the Iran deal that every Republican candidate vows to tear up on Day One. Not only were there channels of communication, but Iran quickly released the sailors because it did now want to do anything to jeopardize the deal.


Breaking News: Prisoners in Iran Released
I took a break as I wrote this on Saturday morning (1/16/16), turned on the TV, and learned that five Americans who have been prisoner in Iran for years were just released this morning. The timing coincided with the formal release of the sanctions on Iran.

All those Republican candidates who have criticized the president for not including the prisoners as part of the Iran deal now have to eat crow. Obviously, the release of the prisoners was part of the deal. Once again we see how diplomacy is a better option than military action. Will the Republican candidates still continue to proclaim that they will tear up the deal of Day One? Do they still want to nuke Iran? Their reckless foreign policy ideas make them unfit to be the leader of the free world.

We all have a front row seat to the Republican view of the future of the United States. It will be Hell. Literally, thermonuclear Hell. They can’t wait to start bombing.


Interview
Al Gore is the founder and current chair of The Climate Reality Project and was interviewed about his work in the area of climate change. He is also the author of several books including his most recent book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.

Maher began by apologizing for his support of Ralph Nader in 2000. “I was wrong,” he said. (Be careful, Bill, about your support for Bernie. You may have to apologize to the whole country.)

Maher and Gore spoke about how the United States is the only country that denies global warming. Maher said it was because the U.S. is too religious, and too many of the religious think the world is going to end anyway, so why worry about things that might happen in the future. Gore countered with how Pope Francis has made a big difference in getting people to act on climate change.

They also discussed solar energy vs. coal. Maher asked the rhetorical question he has asked before: Why are coal miners fighting for their jobs which are the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs when they could retrain for better paying jobs that won’t kill them. Gore spoke about how the cost for solar energy has come down to the point where it is now cheaper than coal. And the cost of solar is continuing to go down.  

Postlude
It is so nice to know that international tensions are becoming less heated thanks to President Obama’s diplomacy. Now bring on the mariachi band. I want to celebrate.


Bill Maher’s Guests: January 15, 2016

Interview
Al Gore: Founder and current chair of The Climate Reality Project, former Vice President of the United States, recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work advocating on behalf of the environment, chair of Generation Management, partner in venture capital firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.. He is also the author of several books including his most recent book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change

Mid-Show Guest
John Krasinski: Actor. His newest film is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi 

The Panel
Dr. Cornell West: Professor at Union Seminary Theological College, political activist, and author of several books including Black Prophetic Fire

Nicolle Wallace: Former communications chief for George W. Bush, former senior adviser for the McCain-Palin campaign, political commentator, and author of several (White House themed) novels. Her most recent novel is Madam President: A Novel

Ralph Reed: Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and author of several books including Awakening: How America Can Turn from Moral and Economic Destruction Back to GreatnessHe is also a novelist. His most recent novel is Ballots and Blood: A Novel.