Monday, October 22, 2012

King of the Hill

By Bill Maher

All the time now, I’m starting to hear, "The president had complete control of Congress for two years, and did everything he wanted." This is such bullshit. First of all, no president has that much control over senators. You really think Ben Nelson, whose state deplores Obama, really feels that much pressure to be loyal to him?

But the bigger issue is, it’s just factually wrong. Democrats had a "filibuster proof" majority in the senate for a very short period. It took Al Franken seven months to get seated because of the recount dispute, and by the time he was, Ted Kennedy was dying. So Democrats really only had 60 senators from September 24, 2009, when Kennedy’s replacement was named, until February 4th, 2010, when Republican Scott Brown won the special election there. The senate was in session for just 72 days over that period, so that’s how long Obama had a real Democratic Congress -- 72 days, not two years.

Or, if you like charts:

111th Senate • Source: Wikipedia

One of the things that sucks is that Obama has never figured out a way to blame Congress for blocking things, presumably out of fear that it will make him appear weak. But how is he not running more against a Congress with a serial killer approval rating? He’s literally three or four times more popular than they are.

Violence Inflation

By Bill Maher

What happened to putting one in a guy's leg?

Because it's not like the movies. People don’t get shot and keep coming at you. They get shot and instantly fall to the ground and scream, "I'm fucking shot! You fucking shot me!!" And even if they do come at you again, you have certain advantages: one, you're not shot in the leg, and two, you've still got a gun with lots of bullets left in it. Often that carries the day. Just saying.

But recently we had another example of a cop in America shooting to kill because he felt vaguely threatened. Because the other guy had a gun? No. Because the other guy had a knife? No.

The other guy was an 18-year-old college student with no clothes on. And now he's dead. Yes, a campus police officer at the University of South Alabama fatally shot a naked freshman.

At 1:23 a.m. on a Saturday, someone was banging on the window of the police station. "When an officer exited the station to investigate, he was confronted by a muscular, nude man who was acting erratically," according to a statement from the university.

The police say he "repeatedly rushed the toward the officer…in a threatening manner." Threatening with what, his hard-on?

Sounds like a college student drunk or on mushrooms thought it'd be funny to mess with the campus police. Because campus police are one step below mall cops.

From there the police statement goes on to describe how the officer did everything by the book -- ordered the kid to halt, retreated, drew his weapon, retreated, but the naked teen wouldn't stop, so he had no choice but to shoot him in the chest and kill him. Yes, according to the university, this cop did absolutely everything required to avoid a lawsuit -- er, I mean, having to use deadly force.

Hasn't this gone too far? I mean, this kid was white, after all.

Weed the People

By Bill Maher

Here's a statement issued by LaToya Cantrell, who's running for New Orleans City Council, about her husband, Jason Cantrell, who's a New Orleans city prosecutor. See if you can guess what Jason did:
“I absolutely do not condone his actions. I love my husband unconditionally and am very concerned for his health and well-being, and for that of our family. I hope that this incident will encourage Jason to seek the professional help [he needs].”
Did Jason abuse a pet? Set up a hidden video camera in a Starbucks restroom? Get caught autoerotic-asphyxiating with a gay male prostitute? No. Jason Cantrell was talking to some cops in the courtroom where he works and when he went to pull something out of his pocket, a joint fell out. A single marijuana cigarette.

Jason was led out of the courtroom, cited by police, suspended without pay and eventually forced to resign from his city attorney job, which he's held for the past 17 years. Over a single marijuana cigarette.

So Jason Cantrell, public servant, like millions of other decent hardworking Americans, chooses to unwind with a benign plant rather than a glass of hard liquor. Fine, Jason, but now that we know about it, your life as you know it has to be over. We "encourage you to seek the professional help you need."

When the prosecutors themselves have loose joints dropping out of their pockets, isn't it clear that criminalizing people and destroying their careers over how they choose to change their headspace is a twisted, immoral disgrace?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dry Me a River

By Bill Maher

Americans are willfully ignorant. If you give any credence to science whatsoever, you know global warming is happening. If you have eyes and nerve endings, you can see it and feel it. And yet, we somehow dismiss this crisis, this global emergency, as something we'll either think our way out of or Jesus will take care of. But what if Jesus' way of taking care of it is to slowly turn up the thermostat until we take a hint and get off our asses?

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 65 percent of America's mainland is experiencing some form of drought. In Michigan, hay has gotten so expensive people are abandoning their horses. In Colorado, Parks and Wildlife officials have had to destroy 30 "nuisance" bears because they've encroached on populated areas looking for food. In Missouri, over-dry soil is shifting, causing homes to crumble and crack. In New Mexico, ranchers are cutting their neighbors' fences so their cattle can graze. In Texas, water is so scarce Rick Perry’s been forced to grind up and snort his painkillers.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

"Droughts, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the U.S. economy at least $55 billion in 2011, according to NOAA, with 14 separate events exceeding $1 billion. The devastating drought and associated wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma alone cost American crop farmers $7.6 billion and the cotton and cattle industries around $5.4 billion."
There's a real, measurable economic cost. You'd think, for no other reason, greed would compel us to adjust how we live and make money in a way that would allow us to, well, continue to live and make money.


Friday, October 20, 2012


Following are quotables from “Real Time with Bill Maher” for Friday, October 20, 2012.  “Real Time with Bill Maher” airs Fridays at 10:00PM ET (10:00PM PT, tape delayed) on HBO, with additional replays throughout the week on HBO and HBO 2.

This week’s format was a little different. Frist off, there were two debaters.
-        Bill Maher in his opening monologue regarding the second Presidential candidate debate

He said he had binders of women made up. But first of all, who else keeps binders of women? Serial killers. Every serial killer movie, the cops bust into the serial killer’s lair and what do they find? Binders of women…and then they open the freezer and a head falls out.
-        Bill Maher in his opening monologue regarding Romnye’s gaffe

The Mormons had good news today. Billy Graham, who is 112, has taken Mormonism off his website’s list of cults. This is typical of Christian right’s stance on Mitt Romeny. They still believe he will go to Hell for all eternity but in this life, they’d like a tax cut.
-         Bill Maher in his opening monologue

These are rights that are held in fifty other nations around the world. Even really progressive countries like Russia and China have mandatory labeling.
-        Gary Hirshberg on Prop 37

We don’t have elections anymore, we have sales.
-        Gary Hirshberg on elections

It doesn’t matter who said what after those people died. What matters is why wasn’t there enough protection on September 11, 2012?
-        Boris Epshetyn on the attack on the US Embassy in Libya

That is what Mitt Romney represents. He is a kinder, gentler version of Gordon Gekko.
-        Matt Taibbi

Most of the people who will be disenfranchised are black, Latino, young people; basically anyone that can dance.
-        Bill Maher on voter fraud laws

This week's guests were Gary Hirshberg, Goldie Taylor, John Fund, Boris Epshetyn and Matt Taibbi.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

HBO Overtime Sept. 12, 2012

 Bill and his roundtable guests (Ann Coulter, Ben Affleck, Sheila Bair, Brian Schweitzer and Darrell Issa) answer fan questions from last weeks show October 12, 2012.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Flying Killer Robots

By Bill Maher

There's been a lot of talk about the Obama administration's drone policy -- the one that was denied for years but now is begrudgingly acknowledged with the insistence that there have been no "conclusive" civilian casualties. Isn't America wonderful, developing an unmanned robotic plane that can shoot missiles into populated areas and kill only the bad guys? Why, it sounds almost too good to be true.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that the zero civilian casualty count claimed by the Obama administration is a little, let’s say, hopeful -- the number is more likely between 474-884 killed in Pakistan alone since 2004 -- with over a thousand more people injured.

And a Stanford/NYU report says our drone strikes have had a "damaging and counter-productive effect" and have likely resulted in civilian Pakistanis being less likely to help us find and eliminate terrorists.

In a recent poll, three out of every four Pakistanis said they now consider the United States an enemy. The other one out of four recognized the pollster as American and cut off his head. And who can blame them? Imagine living under the constant threat of imminent demise -- like that new sitcom about men with babies.

The study says,
"Drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning… Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves."
You may argue that waging war with machines where you get to kill the enemy and anyone standing near them without bodily risk to yourself is immoral. But so is terrorism. On the other hand, are we just repeatedly whacking the beehive with a stick and creating more enemies who want to sting?

Yield of Dreams

By Bill Maher

In 2010, Japanese baseball phenom Tsuyoshi Nishioka was the Nippon League batting champion, hitting .346. The guy could really drive the ball… despite what you've heard about Asian drivers. He also won the Japanese equivalent of a Golden Glove for his defensive play as an infielder. In 2011, Tsuyoshi was signed by the Minnesota Twins to a three-year $9.25 million deal. Six games into his rookie season, Tsuyoshi had a collision at second base with Nick Swisher of the Yankees, breaking Tsuyoshi’s leg. And he’s never played up to his potential since.

After his injury, Tsuyoshi batted only .226 and committed 12 errors in 68 games… or what the Chicago Cubs call "a career season." This season, the Twins sent Tsuyoshi down to Rochester, their AAA team, where he hit .258 with only two homeruns and 34 RBI’s in 392 at-bats. So, with $3.25 million left to pay on his contract, the Twins are kind of stuck with Tsuyoshi, right? Well, they would be if he were an American player. But Tsuyoshi isn’t American. He doesn’t come from a greed culture. He issued this statement:
"I would like to thank the Twins organization for helping me fulfill my dream of playing in Major League Baseball. I take full responsibility for my performance, which was below my own expectations. At this time, I have made the decision that it is time to part ways. I have no regrets and know that only through struggle can a person grow stronger. I appreciate all the support the team and the fans in Minnesota and Rochester have shown me."
And then Tsuyoshi Nishioka did something amazing. He voluntarily forfeited his right to the $3 million-plus still owed him and entered the free agent market. He couldn't bring himself to take money he felt he hadn't earned.

Could you imagine an American player doing this? And wouldn't it have been nice to see a little of this attitude from our greedy Wall Street execs after they dropped the ball and nearly bankrupted our country?

Friday, October 12, 2012

No News Is Bad News

By Bill Maher

New Rule: Network news has to be renamed "Cool Video We Think You’ll Watch." Not long ago, Fox News was showing a live police chase of a stolen car in Phoenix and the suspect pulled over, got out of the car and shot himself in the head. Or as the Fox anchor called it, "Exercising his Second-Amendment rights." There were apologies all around for the "insensitive" and "wrong" airing of a live suicide. But what about the bigger question? What's a national "news" network doing showing a local police chase?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Paul Ryan Is Not An Economist

By Bill Maher

Paul Ryan couldn't explain his tax plan to Chris Wallace because "It would take me too long to go through all of the math." It's not the first time Ryan has had trouble trying to explain his plans and it raises an important question: is Paul Ryan a policy wonk, or does he just play one on TV?

The record suggests he just plays one on TV. He has a bachelor's degree in political science and economics. That's all. He's not a trained economist and wouldn't be qualified to teach a graduate level economics course. Most economists take him about as seriously as they do his idol, Ayn Rand.

The only people who have tagged him as a brilliant economist are journalists who aren't economists themselves and other Republicans. Why does everyone take it as a given that he's a wonk? How would they even know? He lies about everything else; doesn't it make sense that he’s lying about that, too?

I notice any time Ryan gets into trouble explaining economic issues, he starts using the word "baseline" a lot. It's not really that complicated of a word, but I think it's meant to scare people off, like, "Don’t mess with me, I'll start talking about baselines." To me, it just smacks of a guy who's trying too hard. And it's meant to end the conversation before someone who does know what they're talking about discovers he has no idea.

Ryan once told The Weekly Standard that meeting with budget actuaries was "the highlight of my day." Again, trying too hard. The reporter bought that. I don't. And is someone who enjoys talking to actuaries that much really qualified to be vice president?

Romney's awfulness as a candidate is obscuring how awful Ryan is. Look at that footage of him being booed at the AARP -- seniors don't just dislike his plan, they think he's a condescending little prick. If you thought Al Gore talked down to people, listen to Paul Ryan for five minutes. The difference is, Gore wasn't pretending -- he really did know shit.

The polls also suggest that the real disaster on the Romney/Ryan ticket might be Ryan. Around the time Ryan was picked for VP, Romney was up among seniors in Florida and Ohio; now Obama has the edge. Along with Democrats solidifying their support, the improvement with seniors is the biggest reason Obama has risen. Don't you think Ryan has something to do with that?

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Friday, October 6, 2012

Following are quotables from “Real Time with Bill Maher” for Friday, October 6, 2012.  “Real Time with Bill Maher” airs Fridays at 10:00PM ET (10:00PM PT, tape delayed) on HBO, with additional replays throughout the week on HBO and HBO 2.

New job numbers came out today…unemployment went way down from 8 percent to 7.8 percent. Of course, a lot of this was because of the ever expanding industry of Mitt Romney fact checkers.
-       Bill Maher in his opening monologue

Now we know what Romney looks like when he is all charged up. And now we know what Michael Jackson looks like on diprivan.
-       Bill Maher in his opening monologue regarding Obama’s performance at the Presidential debate

I have not seen a black man that disinterested and annoyed since I dragged Chris Rock to that Beach Boys concert.
-       Bill Maher in his opening monologue regarding Obama’s performance at the Presidential debate

You know what the American people want right now? They don’t want you, they don’t want me. They just want these guys to work together, cut the crap, shut the hell up and do your jobs.
-       Frank Luntz

Congress has a 10 percent approval rating. Gaddafi had a 14 percent approval rating and that was from the people who killed him.
-       Frank Luntz

Mitt Romney has just been practicing for a year and a half. That’s what he’s been doing in the primaries…Barack Obama has been running a country.
-       Kerry Washington

You can’t look presidential when you’re just saying lies.
-       Kerry Washington on Mitt Romney at the Presidential debate

I think he doesn’t care anything about ideology…he’ll do whatever; the Tea Party, the Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives. He just wants to establish that Mormons are part of the mainstream of this country; he wants to be the first Mormon president.
-       Bill Maher on Mitt Romney

I tend to think of the government is best symbolized by the DMV. They don’t run anything very well. To pull off a massive conspiracy theory like this is totally out of character.
-       Will Cain

New Rule: Before beginning any scientific study, you must first ask ‘does anyone care about what I am studying?’ Like a recent study revealed that people who decorate their bedrooms purple have the most active sex lives. Yes, because only three types of men have purple bedrooms: pimps, Herman Cain and the Minnesota Vikings.
-       Bill Maher in his ‘New Rules’ segment

This week's guests were Frank Luntz, Mark Foley, Will Cain, Kerry Washington and Bill McKibben.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rasmussen Closes the Hole

By Bill Maher

When we talk about the conservative bubble, we’re generally talking about the Fox-Rush-Drudge information bubble, and the people who reside in it. This is the information loop that allows any willing right-winger to live in a world where the opinions they already are the only ones that get recited back to them, and the opinions they will one day have get fed to them so they can later recite them and hear them being recited back again, and around and around we go, all without any having to hear any opposing viewpoints expressed beyond – possibly – those of tokens like Kirsten Powers and that old school Irish Dem who periodically loses it and tells Sean Hannity to go fuck himself. I think his name is Bob Beckel or something. And I’d like his job some day.

If you’re a conservative, wherever you turn, the bubble is there. If you want to get your news on TV, you have Fox. If you’re the type who frequents talk radio, there’s Rush, along with a dozen other Rush clones. If you want to get your news online, you get all the links you want to read assembled for you by Matt Drudge, complete with misleading headlines, bad pictures of Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama, and a smattering of racism. Anywhere a Republican wants to turn for news, there’s a friendly face. And by “friendly” I mean the “smiling veneer over the contemptible inner core.”

But there was always one hole in the bubble that continued to let in the air of reality: polling information. As in, surveys that measure what Americans actually believe, or who they plan on voting for, or what they think of ideas like privatizing Social Security, etc. Because wingnuts can go for months and not talk to anyone who doesn’t think Obama is a bigger threat to America than Al Qaeda with airborne AIDS, but that’s because they live in rural Tennessee, and inside the information bubble.

Polling information, on the other hand, when done correctly, comes from a representative sample of everyone. What’s more, polls are often widely reported, mostly because it’s an easy article to write. Even if you do your best to live only in the Fox-Rush-Drudge information world, you’re still going to get information about what people outside the bubble think through polling data. And it can be very disconcerting for Republicans, finding out that millions of other Americans exist in the “not real America” and think they’re completely batshit.

Thankfully, Republicans now seem to have solved this problem. Enter Scott Rasmussen. He’s a Republican and a pollster. And a few years ago, it seemed Scott ran his polling outfit the way everyone else did. But somewhere along the line – and I’m guessing here – Scott saw which way the media winds were blowing and realized there was a new way to distinguish yourself in the world of political news: by taking a side.

You see, polls, when done accurately, have a way of creating a narrative about what people actually want or think, or what may eventually happen. And this narrative is largely immune from the partisans on either side because, well, it just is. Because polls are the temperature of reality. If your candidate is down 8 points in a poll a few weeks out before the election, the story starts becoming about how you’re going to lose, and how everyone knows it, and how you might as well stay home on election day because it’s hopeless. Which is effective, or harmful, depending on which side you’re on. Because lots of people are looking for an excuse not to vote anyway and “My Candidate is down 9 points as of yesterday” is a pretty good one.

These narratives are particularly dangerous for Republicans. And that’s where Rasmussen polling comes in. By designing his to polls to lean Republican, he allows Republicans inside the bubble to continue breathing the air inside the bubble. Ex: When other polls show Obama pulling away from Romney, release a poll that says he isn’t:
Mission accomplished.

You see, now when people inside the bubble get confronted with what people think outside they bubble you can say, “No, according to a poll out today, they don’t think that!” Narrative averted! Thanks, Scott Rasmussen!

There’s only one problem with this, of course. And that’s that the bubble has now plugged its leak. Remaining contact with the outside world is even more limited. Republicans now not only have their own information loop, but their own polling company to deny what everyone outside the bubble thinks, too.

In Defense of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan

By Bill Maher

I'll say this on their behalf: all of those tax loopholes that they pretend they want to close in order to make their tax plan work -- but won't name before the election, and probably won't close anyway after the election, assuming they won -- probably should be closed. They're all things most economists agree are inefficiencies that distort the market and we’d be better off without them.

Here's the thing: you can rarely get rid of any benefit the government gives to its citizens. Whether it's farm subsidies or home mortgage deductions or Medicare prescription drug benefits that aren't paid for or defense contracts, once they're given, they're almost never rescinded. And they add up.

But at least they're talking about closing them (while not talking about closing them). It's slightly more than the Democrats do.

There. I said something nice about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

The United States of Mormonism

By Bill Maher 

Approximately 62% of Utah is Mormon, compared to less than 2% nationally. But it's one of only four religions in the US that are actually growing, and if you need to see what life will be like in the United States of Mormonism, Utah's a great place to start.

Utah is not a theocracy. It's just a place where the centralized Church has a huge amount of influence, laws are passed that reflect the Church's values, and no politician can ever do anything that would really anger the Church. But the government isn't literally run by the Church. It just trembles in its shadow.

This comes out in the liquor laws, which are about as repressive as you can get. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has run the show since 1935, and the state has a monopoly on the sale of certain liquors. For instance, beer that has over 3.2% alcohol content (which includes many, many popular beers) can only be sold at State Liquor Stores. You want a Sierra Nevada? You can buy that from the government. That's right, socialism, right out in the open!

Pornography is restricted in Utah as well. According to the Attorney General's website, it is illegal to distribute, transport, transmit, produce, broadcast, or mail pornographic material. Also, all semen that results from use of pornography must be saved, tagged, registered, baptized, and then stored in a cold vault beneath the Salt Lake Temple.

Sodomy? Not in Utah, gay or otherwise, until 2003, when the federal government struck down all sodomy laws. Utah's law has it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine. And it's still on the books. You might say that it's an arcane regulation that hasn't been touched because it just doesn't matter anymore, but in point of fact a gay state senator named Scott McCoy tried to get it off the books in 2007 with his creatively titled "Sodomy Amendments." The bill failed without consideration.

Utah also gives married parents preference in matters of adoption. Which, because gays can't get married in Utah, nor can they get their marriages recognized, means "Sorry, homos, no baby for you!"

The bottom line is that no matter how much the LDS and Mitt Romney mouth the word "freedom," the United States of Mormonism would be a much less free place than the country we're living in now. But it would be so clean and nice that nobody would care.

Value Addled

By Bill Maher

Rick Santorum recently explained 236 years of American political history with the greatest quote of all time.

At the Values Voters Summit:

"We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."

Explains a lot. They're not just traditionalists. They're Cro-Magnons. With the simple values that made this country great: It light outside? Go look for food. It dark? Cower. Maybe fuck something, see if baby come out.

Santorum then added, "So our colleges and universities, they're not going to be on our side." He explained how the church is one of the only institutions that can be counted on to sustain "the basic premise of America."  The basic premise, which, if I'm not mistaken, was partly "Let's get the fucking church off our backs."

Those smart people, always a-plottin' and a-plannin' against us. That's why we need to elect more mouth-breathing dumbasses!

Why We've Been Safe

By Bill Maher

In Illinois last Thursday, an 18 year-old jihadist named Adel Daoud was indicted by a federal grand jury over his plan to detonate a car bomb in downtown Chicago.

We were never in danger. It was a sting operation, of course. Adel has been monitored by the FBI for at least a year because he was posting stuff on the web about jihad. In May, agents began corresponding with him, posing as fellow jihadists. Daoud and an undercover agent met, drove downtown in a car that was "rigged" with "explosives," engaged in a quick prayer, and walked into a nearby alley. When Adel pulled the trigger, his buddy arrested him.

Adel isn't a dumb kid. In fact, one of his heartbroken neighbors described him as "intelligent, kind and a whiz with computers." But computers are exactly the problem for any new crop of American jihadists: Anyone who would make a good terrorist is essentially a kid, and kids communicate by cell phone and Facebook and websites... which are the easiest stuff to monitor. If an American Islamist movement were to succeed, they'd need to get the kids back into caves. Where they'll never go, because the cell service is terrible down there.