Wednesday, December 19, 2012

¡Hola! Fellow Republicans

By Bill Maher

Only when the borders are secure, only then can those who are in the US illegally, "come out of the shadows, get biometrically identified, start paying taxes, pay a fine for the law they broke. They can't stay unless they learn our language, and they have to get in the back of line before they become citizens. They can't cut in front of the line regarding people who are doing it right and it can take over a decade to get their green card."
                                                - Lindsay Graham, on "Face the Nation"

He didn't mean it, really. It sounds harsh, but what Lindsay Graham was saying (as predictably as heartburn after a burrito) is that we're going to be having a great big Latino-loving legislative fiesta before Cinco de Mayo.

The language has to be harsh. The Republicans have to strongly condemn the idea of amnesty and the idea of forgiveness, and make it clear that such things will not be tolerated. And they will strictly enforce the letter of their law by making illegal immigrants suffer the deep, painful, merciless punishment of...paperwork!

That's right -- go back to Mexico, because there's no way, Jose. At least not unless you sign here. And here. And here. And give us a DNA sample. Okay, and wait a couple of years, just like you've been waiting, feel free to keep cleaning those toilets while you do. And then...Hey, welcome to America, citizen! Have fun, and please consider voting Republican!

The language that Republicans are going to be spouting for the next few months will continue to sound harsh, as they struggle to convince their base that they are Solving the Problems caused by shiftless Mexicans. And talk is all that's needed, because several of the key problems are imaginary, which are the easiest sort of problems to resolve.

So we'll "close" the border by beefing up security...and then be able to brag about the fact that we've attained a net cross-border migration of zero. Which, of course, we've already got. And we'll force those Mexicans to learn English, which, obviously, most of them want to do. We won't let them steal the jobs we want, which they’re not doing. And we'll make them wait patiently for their papers, which isn't a huge hardship for people who've been waiting anyway.

Obviously, this will be a huge victory for Democrats and something the Republicans are doing only because they feel they have to if they want to remain politically relevant. But let's not fool ourselves -- it's a victory for Democratic ideas, but politically it could work out to be a way better thing for Republicans. If they can convince their base that they've "solved" the illegal immigrant problem and take the nasty Joe Arpaio-type talk off the table, there's not a lot of reason why they couldn't find themselves grabbing much, much larger percentages of the Latino vote right away, and we'll be saying a fond "¡Adios!" to the new "permanent" Democratic advantage.

Then again, you can never underestimate the Republicans' ability to come across as racist douchebags.

Prescription For Disaster

By Bill Maher

One of the big problems with the Drug War is that it goes after the wrong drugs. Because of prescription abuse, drug-related overdoses have doubled nationally in the last decade. We should lay off the pot and start curtailing the pharmaceutical companies and doctors peddling the prescription shit.

The Los Angeles Times ran an eye-opening series last month, revealing that prescription drug overdoses kill more people than heroin or cocaine. Over a five-year period in four counties in Southern California, The Times found 3,733 deaths from prescription drugs. Compare that to the number of deaths from OD'ing on marijuana, which was just one guy in the Valley who giggled to death.

298 of those deaths resulted from just 71 doctors; 16 of them were under the care of one guy named Van Vu. Ask your doctor if Dr. Van Vu is right for you. Amazingly, he has a spotless record with the Medical Board of California.

Wouldn't we be a lot better served asking our drug czar to stop worrying about the other drugs and focus instead on cleaning up this problem?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gun Control Debate

Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland), James Carville, Mike Murphy (@murphymike), Bill Maher (@billmaher).

Here's a clip from the January 14, 2011 episode of HBO Real Time discussing gun control after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting of January 8, 2011.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Authentic Is the New Slimy

By Bill Maher

Days before the election, a video surfaced of Mitt Romney from August of 2007, in which he's arguing with a radio interviewer at Iowa's WHO 1040. Why is he so pissed? Because the guy asked Romney to comment on how he reconciles his Mormon faith with his position on abortion and women's rights. There is no problem, asserts Romney, and then he proceeds to get angry and lay into the radio host, even though the DJ keeps reminding Romney that he's on his side.

What's notable about the video isn't the content so much as that it shows Romney actually acting, well, human. He's emotional. He’s not speaking in sound bites or platitudes. He's taking on the interviewer, even calling his assertions baseless and laughing him off. For the first time anyone in America can think of, Mitt Romney actually seemed to be telling a potential voter that he's an asshole and he can believe whatever he wants, but that doesn't make it true.

Or as it's otherwise known, "two humans speaking as two humans usually do."

It's also what Chris Christie does, if one of those two humans is a prick. But I have to say, I find the Christie brand of prick kind of refreshing. I even liked Mitt Romney's brand of prick in that video. I certainly like it a lot better than the "Gosh, I Love America" Mittbot 3000 that we saw during the campaign.

Because say what you will about Chris Christie, but the man is the most candid politician on the national stage today. Perhaps that's not saying much, but he’s not someone who panders a whole lot. He's not afraid to have enemies. When he speaks, you get the sense that he believes it. Political people spent weeks trying to decipher what Christie's motivations were when he praised Obama for the hurricane response and ignored Romney. But the likeliest answer is that he's an emotional guy and that's how he reacted to an enormous hurricane.

I'm just saying: maybe authentic is the new Slick Willy. Maybe the paradigm has shifted here. I think voters -- though still largely clueless and uninformed -- are far more media savvy and familiar with political bullshit than they were a generation ago. We're not only living in the information age, but the Gawker and Buzzfeed era, where every public figure's public statements are criticized and made fun of on websites and on Twitter from the moment they're uttered. There's now a whole sector of the internet devoted to finding public figures to make fun of. And the obvious target: the people who are obviously full of shit. The Mitt Romneys of the world don't stand a chance anymore. This generation saw right through Mitt's act. Because not only do we have your past statements on video, we can post them all in succession followed by a cat playing you off on the piano. That's new.

Much in the same way I think there's a real opportunity for a moderate Republican right now, isn't there also a growing opportunity for someone who hasn't had the ability to talk like a normal human being willingly stripped from them by political consultants?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff Part II: Electric Boogaloo

By Bill Maher

I think most people have "the fiscal cliff" confused with the debt ceiling crisis. Really, they're opposites. Not raising the debt ceiling means not paying our debts. Going off the fiscal cliff means paying off our debt by raising taxes and cutting government spending. Well-advertised is the CBO saying going off the cliff could lead to a recession next year. Less advertised is that it also says it could get us into a more sound fiscal position in the long-term.

All this fiscal cliff panic is just proof that we are all Keynesians. Everybody knows that more government spending -- whether it's in the form of tax expenditures or social services, helps the economy grow. But you have to balance that with not letting your budget get out of hand.
Since we're looking for new revenue streams that aren't income taxes, Obama should use this budget crisis -- if you can call it that -- to do something about global warming with a carbon tax. This may be his last and only chance to do something big since cap and trade didn't work. And it would be just desserts for the oil and coal industries that went all in for Mitt Romney, a nice little personal fuck you to the Koch brothers.

Actually, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, has actually supported a carbon tax, saying, "As a businessman it is hard to speak favorably about any new tax. But a carbon tax strikes me as a more direct, a more transparent and more effective approach [than cap and trade]." I never thought I'd say this about a CEO of Exxon Mobil, but he's right.

The Fiscal Cliff

By Bill Maher

Now that the election dust has settled, and the big GOP donors have cut off Karl Rove's thumbs, and Donald Trump's syphilis has runs its course, everyone is talking about the "fiscal cliff." In fact, President Obama talked about it in his first appearance as a "two-termer." After which, let’s face it, he's going to be completely gray. He's going to look like Uncle Ben. Happens to every president. You age exponentially. Can you imagine what McCain would have looked like if he'd been president? He'd look like "Blue" from Old School.

What is the fiscal cliff? It's basically a built-in punishment if Congress and the President don't do their homework. Since they couldn't get a deal done last year, this is what they agreed to do in 2011 in order to raise the debt ceiling: come January 2013, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts would kick in that would be so large ($800 billion, according to the CBO) and abrupt that everyone pretty much agrees it'd send the economy back into recession. The Bush tax cuts expire. Obama's payroll tax cut expires. $55 billion cut from defense spending and $55 from nondefense discretionary spending. Basically, we'd be taking a good deal more out of paychecks and whacking government spending at the same time, which is going to do real damage. And if the Republicans could blame it on Obama they'd probably be for it. But chances are they'll get blamed, so they aren't.

So the President and John Boehner have to go golfing again. And these two do not have a relationship like Reagan and Tip O'Neill. Most of what they're fighting over is, of course, the tax cuts for the wealthy. Obama wants to extend the middle class tax cuts, but feels that we can't afford the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and that those have to go back to Clinton-era rates. He also ran on this and won. Also, about two-thirds of Americans agree with him.

Republicans, of course, pretend that all that stands between us and darkest night are tax cuts for job creators, and that even though the Bush tax cuts are a huge contributor to the current deficits they say they despise, they're also perfectly crafted and must never be touched. Make sense? I didn't think so.
Interestingly enough, the CBO put out a report saying that tax hikes on the rich really don't hurt the economy the way Republicans contend: "Allowing income tax rates to rise for wealthy Americans, and maintaining rates for the less affluent, would not hurt U.S. economic growth much in 2013."
And this goes to the larger problem everyone is talking about post-election: Republicans live in their own world, where the key to job growth isn't anything but lowering tax rates for job creators. That's not their belief based on evidence. It's their religion based on faith. And the non-partisan number crunchers at the CBO are saying, "No, that's not really true." It shaves a fraction of a point off GDP growth, and in return you get about $1 trillion in revenue over the next ten years.

Hmm. Non-partisan number crunchers say one thing, Republican Party says another thing is true, and blows off the number crunchers. Where have we seen this before?

Now, the inability for our government to deal with this stuff is a real problem. It spooks the markets. It's already spooking the markets. They're going to need to do a deal. But in the past Republicans have basically held the economy hostage for tax cuts for the wealthy. When these deadlines neared, and ratings agencies started downgrading us, and the markets started tumbling, Obama gave in. Maybe that was smart, maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was all he could do. But now it's different. He holds the cards now. He won the election on this.

Some are arguing for Obama to hold his ground, even if it means we go over the cliff a little bit. Because this time everyone will know who to blame. It'll be like when the Republicans shut down the government thinking it would make Clinton look bad, but it ended up backfiring.

The threat of tanking the economy is the only card the Republicans have to play. Obama is proposing a middle-class tax cut for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year, letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those earning more. If the Republicans block it, everyone's taxes will rise on Jan. 1.

So that's where we are. Let the golf outings begin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Climate Change Semi-Denial

By Bill Maher

Last month on Real Time, Margaret Hoover advanced the theory that nothing we do about reducing our carbon emissions will have any real effect on global temperature changes over the next 20 years. And a small but well-funded portion of the Internet let out a tiny cheer. Because on a night while New York and New Jersey were underwater and still struggling to dig themselves out, someone, someone had the guts to stand up for bullshit.

What's interesting is the small industry devoted to propping up this latest incarnation of climate change skeptics. These people don't claim to be climate change deniers. Or even "global warming skeptics." They're only skeptical of climate change scientists, they say. Man-made climate change is real; it's just woefully overstated by the browbeaten scientific community and the hysterical media. They'll tell you how even if we totally eliminated our carbon footprint, it would only slow the rate of temperature rise by less than .1 degree over the next 50 years. They write reasonable papers and blog posts about how, for instance, everyone talks about the decrease of arctic ice, but that nobody talks about the dramatic increase in Antarctic ice. It's not so bad, they say, and even if it is, we can't change it too much.

And yes, you guessed it, they are a teensy tiny part of the scientific community and they get all their money from the fossil fuel industry.

Hoover's information likely comes from guys like Patrick J. Michaels and Chip Knappenberger. They are both climate scientists, they've written papers together, and they both hold titles over at the Cato Institute (founded, yes, by Charles Koch). Michaels runs a consultancy group called "New Hope Environmental Services," and serves as editor of the of the blog "World Climate Report -- The Web's Longest-Running Climate Change Blog." Chip writes for it, too.

The client and funder lists for these very concerned-sounding enterprises are often hard to find, because, as Michaels said in an affidavit, “large companies are understandably adverse to negative publicity." But we know, for instance, that New Hope Environmental Services has done some of its great work for fossil-fuel based power companies like Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association and Intermountain Rural Electric Association.

The insidious thing about guys like Michaels and Knappenberg is that they're masters of Not Getting Pinned Down. They keep a hand in and write scholarly papers in peer-reviewed journals, in which they seem to agree with the basics of climate science. And then they turn around on their blogs and in their congressional testimonies, and cherry-pick data and bash other people's work in a manner that produces the results that oil and coal and "free market" warriors want: A hodgepodge of "reasonable" reasons why we don't need to change what we're doing. They're the new generation of climate-change deniers -- "Climate change agreers and confusers." And they're winning.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spacial Delivery

By Bill Maher

Republicans don't want anything to do with progressive thinking in any area of American life -- except in the case of military hardware. Then and only then are they willing to embrace the future. That's how we got that weird, mechanical over-land death mule and it's how we got the unmanned drone. We can now visit death upon our enemies without having to show up in person, look them in the eye and have an actual fight. It just feels wrong -- like breaking up with a girl via text message. If you're going to vanquish your enemy, shouldn't you have to confront them? How does a warrior willing to die for his cause in the Takhar Province fight a guy operating a joystick in Tallahassee?

Which brings me to this: Earlier this month we were flying one of our unmanned drones near Iranian airspace -- you know, the ones we use for surveillance and to provide the "something blew" to Muslim weddings -- and the Iranians took some shots at it. The incident was described as "unprecedented" and, as such, we really didn't know how to respond. I mean, it was an unmanned drone, not a plane with an American pilot in it, and they didn't shoot it down; they just shot at it. It's like catching the neighbor you hate throwing a beer bottle at your parked car and missing. We had no idea what level of outrage to feign.

I didn't go to West Point or anything but I’m guessing if one of our planes came upon an unmanned Iranian death-copter off the coast of Jersey the order wouldn’t be to "get a nice picture of it."

We utilize the best means at our disposal to go into foreign lands and blow up the people we consider the bad guys even if that means collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties. When someone does that exact same thing to us, don’t we call it "terrorism"?

Friday, November 30, 2012

God Hates Flags

By Bill Maher

Another way angry old white men have been protesting Obama seizing power through "democracy" is by flying the flag upside down. Which is so fucking chicky it gives me contact-embarrassment. "Take that, Mr. Big Shot, with your fancy 'getting-the-most-votes.' I'm taking this flag and throwing a drink in its face. And you know how the Lincoln Memorial is on the five dollar bill? I'm farting on it." Wow, that really stings. 

There have been dozens of cases, from Ohio to Kansas to Texas, anywhere there are friendless, egg-shaped pink fucks with a flagpole and a mis-held belief that they can do magic, and sometimes just talking back to the TV isn't enough.

Larry Guerrieri, master of angry-flag-inversion-hate-magic, told Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA,"That's a sign of distress; this country is in distress right now. This Benghazi incident, he left them four people there to die. That's the way I feel about it." Gee, I wonder where he gets his news.
A McDonald's in West Virginia flew its flag upside down the day after the election, but claims it was an accident. Their actual statement:

"Unfortunately, a flag cable broke and during the process of trying the fix the flag, it was inadvertently turned upside down. It wasn't noticed that the flag was upside down until a customer inquired about it. We are working on fixing the flag right now. It's important to note that this was an accident, not intentional."
Please, if I wanted to be force-fed bullshit, I'd order the McRib.

Now, I couldn't care less about Flag God, but it does seem kind of small, if you do worship symbols, to wipe your ass on the one that represents your country because your guy lost an election. 
The United States Flag Code Title 36, Chapter 10, says:

"The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."

But we all understand that the rule against flag desecration only applies to the left. It's like calling America a piss-stinking hellhole full of lazy moochers: You're only allowed to do it if you're a patriotic Republican.

Sore Losers

By Bill Maher

Fifty-nine million Americans voted for Mitt Romney. Don't ask me why.  Why do they keep seeing Nicholas Sparks movies? Because white people are fucked up, that's why.

Who shops at the Hallmark Store? Who's smoking all the meth? Who's watching Duck Dynasty -- a reality show about rednecks who make duck calls? It gets higher ratings than 30 Rock or Homeland and I can't prove they're white and stupid, but someone's watching it...and it ain't Cornel West.
The fact is, there are people who didn't vote for Obama, and some of them are taking it pretty poorly.
Can white people hold a grudge? Ask anyone with Confederate flag mud flaps. Ask Mel Gibson how he feels about the crucifixion and Jews.

The White House website has a feature called "We The People." You click on it and see Joe Biden eat ice cream, totally nude. No you don't. You click on it, and any yahoo can submit a petition about issues that are "mportant" to the country. Since the election, petitions have been submitted from all 50 states to secede from the union. The Texas petition has over 100,000 signatures, followed closely by the petitions from Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Which is remarkable because, to submit a signature, you have to be able to write.

The Texas petition reads:

"The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending. The citizens of the US suffer from blatant abuses of their rights, such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc. Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government."

Of course, I can understand breaking up the United States over the TSA. Because what real Texan wants someone at the airport finding out how small his dick is? But isn't it odd that it only became a problem after Obama was reelected? Was Mitt Romney going to get rid of the metal detectors at the airport? Is it because they interfered with his titanium endoskeleton?

Or are Texans just chronic sore losers? There was another time they lost some battle, but I can't remember its name.

Power Outrage

By Bill Maher

Our stupid media managed to become so obsessed with Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelly that they completely forgot about another woman who caused even more damage: Sandy. As in Hurricane Sandy.

Thousands of people were without power for weeks, many are still displaced and criticism has been leveled at FEMA and the Red Cross. I'm not saying it was as bad as Katrina, but it was pretty bad, and people are starting to say that President Obama just doesn't care about white people.
The New York City subway was back to 80 percent normal operation just a week after the hurricane hit, thanks to incredible dedication and hard work of the transit workers. Or as the Republicans call them, those lazy public union employees who sit around doing nothing, so we should cut their pension.

Meanwhile, the utility companies couldn't seem to get their shit together. Partly because they're just like any other corporation, trying to maximize profits by cutting corners. Which is OK when you make a toaster or a vibrator, because when those things fail nobody gets hurt. They just don't get toast or an orgasm.

Look, it's fun when the power goes out for a couple of hours. You can make a baby, you can loot a Best Buy; it's party time. But when the power's out for more than a day, Americans start to freak out. We can't survive without electricity anymore. We're like a fish that's jumped out of the aquarium and is flopping around on the counter. If we don't have access to heat and light and WiFi, we go crazy. I'm just surprised New Yorkers didn't turn to cannibalism. Especially after reading the review of Guy Fieri's new restaurant.

New York City's grid dates to the early 20th Century. People are plugged into power lines put up by Nucky Thompson.

Because of our old grid, Americans in the northeast lose power an average of 214 minutes a year, versus just 53 minutes a year for the French. And the French don't care; they just open a bottle of wine and sing Edith Piaf songs.

What we need to do is bury the power lines, modernize the equipment, and decentralize the grid, so when one transformer goes out or one power plant goes offline it doesn't take out the power for the entire tri-state area.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Common Cult

By Bill Maher

Fox News, you win. You have spewed your fact-free bile so insistently and so repetitively that the hypnosis has worked. A significant percentage of your viewers have accepted your ravings as gospel and what you report is no longer just a diversion or entertainment. Your fan base has become a dangerous cult.

We really do have to look at the level of hate and paranoia that's been stirred up in people by a right wing propaganda machine that has not just mischaracterized, but demonized, this President of the United States. The Secret Service recently had to pay a visit to 22-year-old California resident Denise Helms who posted on Facebook, "Another 4 years of this nigger. Maybe he will get assassinated this term." Without even a smiley face or an "LOL" or anything.

When the posting went viral and the local press caught up with Denise, she said, "I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. The assassination part is kind of harsh. I'm not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don't think I'd care one bit."

And then Denise went back on Facebook to post, "So apparently my post last night about Obama got onto Twitter and Fox 40 came and interviewed me cause apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I'm crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I'm not racist and I'm not crazy. Just simply stating my opinion.!!!"

Thanks to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and all the other anything-goes, whatever-it-takes hypnotists, our President has officially become dehumanized in the eyes of their cult followers, a thing to be dreaded and feared like the Plague or communism or Mel Gibson after a few Captain and Cokes.

We all read what Trump said about Obama's election, as well as Ted Nugent and Victoria Jackson. I'm just saying, it's the second term -- maybe it's time for those re-education camps. There are a lot of people in this country who are in need of some serious deprogramming.

Won Direction

By Bill Maher
New Rule: Now that he's been re-elected, President Obama must get back at all those right wing hacks who tried to paint him as an angry black man pushing a liberal agenda by becoming an angry black man who's pushing a liberal agenda.

Now, I have been mostly holding my tongue about the President this past season, because I didn't want to muddy the waters in a country where you only get two choices, but Mr. President, there are two ways to look at your 51 to 48% victory: One is, we love you. The other is, we like you 3% better than Mitt Romney. And by the way, let us never speak that name again... Mitt... let it be a dark and buried memory of a close call with a creature equal parts pure evil and excellent posture, like getting dry humped in a crowded subway by Roger Moore.

I like this President. In all those secret strategy meetings we had, with me and him and George Soros and The New Black Panthers, I found him to be very agreeable, Allah be praised. But it's now the job of progressives to hold his feet to the fire for causes important to us. If not now, when?

There's no third term, Mr. President, so you may as well throw caution to the wind, 'cause it's not like we're using it to produce energy. Yes, clean energy, that's just one of many issues, like civil liberties, the drug war, the drone war, the war war, gun control -- that have been on my mind these last four years, and let's just say I've been waiting to exhale. And by that I mean, I've been holding my nose.

But you're free now -- with no more elections to win, you are free to never again have to kiss the ass of coal miners and say the words "clean coal." There is no such thing as "clean coal." It's like saying "Internet Privacy" or "Tea Party Intellectual." Or "Fox News Journalist."

Another priority should be cutting the defense budget -- we’re the home of the brave, let's prove it by getting by with one less submarine. Yes, we were involved in a struggle against a radical enemy bent on our destruction -- but the election is over, and we need to recognize that America has the same problem with the defense budget that Mrs. Petraeus has with her husband's penis: it's swollen, and we can't bring ourselves to touch it.

And as far as Afghanistan goes, I know you said we're leaving in 2014, but look at it this way: enemies are always on guard for a surprise attack, but they'd never suspect a surprise retreat. Really. We can leave right away. Because we've figured out something the Afghans haven't: air travel.

And as long as we're ending wars, how about the War on Drugs? Two states, Colorado and Washington, have actually legalized pot now, which gives you as president the rare opportunity to improve the world by doing... absolutely nothing. Just tell Eric Holder to stay the hell out of Boulder, and if the conservatives bitch about it, throw states' rights back in their face -- isn't that their big theme, send it back to the states, the will of the people? Well, this is the people who, in those two states on election day, got up off the couch and drove their 1987 Toyota Tercel with the "Visualize World Peace" sticker on the back to the polls, and voted to stop the drug war. And then drove home and got back on the couch.

And finally, instead of rewriting Social Security, how about rewriting the Patriot Act? How about another look at rendition, and warrantless searches and wire taps? And how about stop listening in on our phone calls and reading our e-mails. I'm not a teenager and you’re not my mom, okay? And besides, there's a better way to confirm your suspicions that I'm smoking weed and hanging around the wrong people: just watch my show.

 HBO Real Time will Return January 2013

Hypnosis Politics

By Bill Maher

Did the ability to raise an infinite amount of money in this election make a difference?

If you just paid attention to the Presidential race, then you might think the answer is no. But that's because the Presidential race is unlike any other contest in the country. People take it personally. They're invested in it. They'd seen Obama for four years and they'd seen Romney on Jay Leno and the cable shows and the debates. People in swing states may have been drowning in a bukkake-like stream of Romney and Obama ads, but it's not like those ads were providing all of their information.

But when it comes to state contests and ballot propositions, people generally don't know much beyond the ads, so in those races money isn't just the main thing, it's the only thing.

Prop 37 went down in defeat because $48 million was spent to defeat it. This was a proposition that asked the simple question, "Wouldn't you like to know what you're putting in your mouth?" Before the ads started running, something like 90 percent of Californians who answered were for Prop 37. Now, they're against it. They're against knowing what they're putting in their mouth.

It's not that the anti-37 ads were particularly convincing. They didn't make any real arguments. It's just that there were so many of them. I saw them on Hulu when I watched old episodes of "My Favorite Martian." People keep complaining about the repetition of political ads, the same ad over and over and over, but that's the whole point -- it's hypnosis. That's how hypnosis works. The same thing. Repeated over and over. And over again. The same thing. Repeated over and over. Again. Repeated. And before you know it, you think you're a chicken. Or you don't care what's in your chicken.

Conspiracy Theorists

By Bill Maher 

Fox News and the radio meat-puppets and the crank blogs are obsessed with Benghazi. It could be bigger than the Fast and the Furious scandal, and by that I mean a thimble full of flyshit no one cares about who's not on the take.

The Obama haters want revenge for how we said Bush was asleep at the switch for 9/11, so they're going to prove that Obama either ignored Benghazi, or lied about it afterwards, or possibly ordered it himself.
And that's why he looked so tired in the first debate. He'd just gotten back from Libya, where he'd been firing mortar rounds at his own men.

Everything -- for the next four years -- is going to be tied to Benghazi.  And if you say it isn't, that just proves you're part of the plot.

Fuck you, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 -- the worst thing that ever happened to America was Benghazi. Okay, second worst, after having to buy health insurance. Here’s a tweet from Newt Gingrich a month ago:

By the way, it's wrong to say, "No one died at Watergate." Nixon originally set up the Plumbers to fix the leaks about the Pentagon Papers, which were about the war in Vietnam, where 50,000 Americans died.
Here's a tweet from Rupert Murdoch, about General Petreaus:
It's all connected!

We're going to hear that Petraeus was set up by someone or framed, or intimidated, because he knew too much about Benghazi.

Is it true? Does it matter? Glenn Beck needs something to keep the rubes listening. This is the new thing. It's like when Rod Stewart went disco.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Mormon Non-Issue

By Bill Maher

Andrew Sullivan was on the show Friday, and he's written several blog posts on The Daily Dish wondering why the media never asked Romney to be more specific about his Mormon faith, especially the part about not allowing blacks into the priesthood and temple ceremonies until 1978. 

Sure, they had their prophecy in '78, but the old blacks-are-cursed-by-God stuff is still in their books, and Romney apparently believed it until he was in his thirties. Maybe he still believes it. It's not like they erased the passages in the Mormon literature. Why didn't a journalist ask Romney about this during the election?
The standard line about this stuff is that "religion is off limits," which makes no sense because religion is just something someone believes, the same as their belief on abortion or tax cuts or any other issue. Maybe whether a candidate has Type O blood or is a Sagittarius or enjoys a finger in his butt during sex is irrelevant, but a system of beliefs that informs one's entire moral code?

Why are Mormons against gay marriage? Jealousy? No, it's because of their religion. Because of their religion, gays in California can't get married. Why should this be "off limits" to journalists?

As Andrew points out, if Obama belonged to a church that preached for decades that whites were inferior, don't you think it might become an issue?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Liberal Agenda

HBO Real Time will Return January 18, 2013

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why the Republicans Lost

By Bill Maher

Mitt Romney has lost and he'll soon be accepting his new job as professor of method acting at The New School in New York City. And after watching him play all these different characters over the last two years, really, who better?

Now comes the hand-wringing and finger-pointing that always follows electoral defeat; 500 columns of "If they'd done what I said, something, something, measuring the drapes in the Oval Office." And they'll all miss the forest for the trees. Except Dick Morris -- he's always right.

So now that I'm done telling you how everyone else will be full of shit and focusing on the wrong things, let me focus you on the big picture thing that's absolutely correct: Mitt Romney lost because of the Republican brand and Republican policies. There are other reasons, of course, like Mitt being unlovable to anyone not named Ann Romney, but nothing trumps the idea that 2/3rds of America thinks the other 1/3 is a frightening conglomerate of Bible-thumpers, xenophobes, and vaginophobes. (Not a word, but should be.)

Take Mitt's pivot from being "severely conservative" to being "the white Barack Obama." Sure, everyone tacks to the middle after the primaries, but Mitt's performance was different: it was a full-scale repudiation of just about every idea that conservatives hold dear. The positions were changed. The rhetoric was completely different. He was basically Barack Obama, Caucasian Edition.
Now I know what you're saying: this is what Mitt Romney always does. Being a shape-shifting phony isn't an act; that's who he is! And this is true.

But it isn't who Michele Bachmann is. When it comes to nutty right-wing beliefs that are completely false, she's a true believer. And yet what was Michele Bachmann saying during the waning days of her too-close-for-comfort campaign? She was putting out an ad distancing herself from her own Party -- even her conservative district:

"Michele Bachmann is an independent voice working for us, saying no to big spending by both political parties but bringing them together..."

Then Michele pops on the screen and says, "That’s why I've been an independent voice working for you..."

Wow. ...I'm just saying. When even Michele Bachmann can't run as a proud Republican, your brand identification has reached "pink slime" territory.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mitt Romney: Deficit Balk

By Bill Maher

Let's say you're a deficit hawk, as it seems almost everyone is these days. I give you a choice: Candidate A wants to reform entitlements, cut defense spending, and raise revenues. Candidate B wants to reform entitlements, raise defense spending, and lower revenues. Also, Candidate A's party has a history of lowering deficits, and Candidate B's party exploding them. Who would you trust more on the deficit?

Obviously, Obama is Candidate A, and Romney is Candidate B. It's really not that complicated to determine who would be better on deficit reduction. You don't even have to look at their specific proposals, just the broad approach. Lowering deficits by raising defense spending and lowering tax revenues is simply impossible.

Yet, look at this ABC/Washington Post poll. Asked "who you trust to handle" Medicare, international affairs, taxes, a crisis, the economy, and health care, Obama gets the edge. But what's the one area where Romney has a big edge? Handling deficits.

Economists say Romney wants to increase defense spending by $2 trillion. Where do they get that? He's said repeatedly that defense spending has to be at least 4% of GDP, and that's a $2 trillion charge on the credit card. My first thought was, Romney's not serious; saying defense spending should be at least 4% of GDP is completely arbitrary and stupid. But what if he is serious, and that's his stimulus? Obama's stimulus was only $800 billion, and it included things that actually reduce government spending in the long run, like making all federal buildings more energy efficient.

If this is Romney's stimulus, it's EXACTLY what Reagan did -- nibbled at spending on social programs, while massively increasing defense spending. There's only one problem with it: as Bill Clinton would say, arithmetic. Something's got to give -- and it's the national debt.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

California: Leading the (Wrong) Way

By Bill Maher

In California, we passed a "term limits" bill in 1990. The idea was that people, once elected, get too entrenched and become a part of the "system" whatever that is, and that the Founders never envisioned a professional politician who stays in office 30 years. So, to avoid this, we capped the amount of time state legislators can serve. Nice idea. In theory.

But here's a fun fact: 60% of the politicians who are "termed out" run for another office. It doesn't even matter if it's a lower profile job, like city council or small town mayor. They just have to do it. This is who they are.

And a good number of the remaining 40% become lobbyists and never leave Sacramento.

I mention this because Arlen Specter died recently. And who didn't like Arlen Specter? (Other than lots of voters in Pennsylvania.)

But Arlen was one of these people, like Joe Lieberman, and Mitt Romney, who absolutely needed to be in public office. When the Republican voters said to Arlen Specter, "Actually, no you don't," Arlen switched parties and became a Democrat. Which is how he started. Before he became a Republican. For 44 years. Because the party wasn't important. Being in office is what's important.

This is one of the reasons Mitt Romney creeps me out. According to people who know him, he's been running for president for decades. He's always wanted to be president. And his entire political career has been conducted with that goal in mind.

Now, to be sure, Obama is also an extremely ambitious man. But watching that first debate you thought, "Well, he's not that ambitious." It seemed like he'd love to be president for another four years, but if he wasn't? "Eh, no big deal. I'll go back to Hawaii and hang out with my old friends from the Choom Gang."

Such naked ambition, the kind that allows you to become the type of person who will take both sides of every issue in order to pander to every voter possible and maximize your Q rating, is a bit frightening. Because then it's not about the job. It's not about the people you're representing. It's really about you.

Does Fox News Know What Media Bias Is?

By Bill Maher

If there's one drum the right wing likes to bang it's the one about the "liberal media", which, by law, must appear in every right-wing editorial or come out of the mouths of every Fox News and radio show pundit at least four times a day or Rupert Murdoch strips you of your wingnut accreditation.

Claiming "liberal bias" is like a tick. If you make up a scandal and it doesn't get reported to your satisfaction, it's not because the whole Solyndra thing was a great big nothingburger, it's because the liberal media is protecting the president. If Sarah Palin says something stupid and it gets reported, it's not because Sarah Palin said something stupid. It's because the liberal media has it out for strong conservative women who quit their jobs and do nothing for years.

And to this end, Fox News' website now has this thing called "BIAS ALERT." And each day, in bright red letters, they post some example of what they think is "liberal bias."

Except there's only one small problem: it's almost never an example of media bias. What they seem to have uncovered is that ...grab hold of something ...not everyone is a Republican.

Take this effort about Andrew Sullivan:

"BIAS ALERT: Pundit Warns Of Romney's 'Global War'"

Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan warns that Romney will launch 'new global war' if elected

...Yes, Andrew Sullivan is not a fan of Mitt Romney. But how is this evidence of media bias? Andrew Sullivan is not a reporter. He's a blogger and columnist. He's not held to some standard where he's not allowed to be partisan, or to express his personal views. That's what he does. It's like saying Charles Krauthammer is biased. The bit might as well be called "PEOPLE WHO SAY THINGS WE DON'T LIKE."

Other recent recipients of Fox’s "BIAS ALERT" include David Letterman, whose monologues are apparently bound by the standards of fair journalism, and Mother Jones, the liberal magazine that busted Romney on his 47% comments. How dare they not agree with Mitt Romney on everything, and then say so?

This is almost sort of refreshing. Because it means that 95% of the time we have to sit through some wingnut screeching about liberal media bias, they don't actually understand who is actually bound to a standard of journalism (journalists) and who isn't (everyone else). They're just upset that people exist outside their bubble and they don't believe the same things they do.

So to recap: reality is now evidence of media bias. And so are people with opinions.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why Aren't GMOs a Campaign Issue?

By Bill Maher

According to a poll done a few years ago, over 90 percent of Americans in all age groups and income levels think genetically modified food should be labeled. Seems like a no-lose campaign issue for either Romney or Obama. So why aren't they talking about it?

Back in 2007, Obama said he supported food labeling; but since he's been president he's been silent. And so has Romney, even though there's evidence both Romney and his wife eat mostly organic food, which suggests to me that they have at least some concern about what they put in their mouths. Or maybe they're just trying to counteract the daily campaign diet of photo-op corn dogs.

Actually, I can see why Romney would be hesitant to talk about GMOs, because in his early days as a consultant he helped convince the company Monsanto to shift its focus from chemical manufacturing to biotech.

Leaving aside the question of whether genetically-modified crops are good or bad (and since some studies have shown feeding it to rats gives them giant tumors, I vote for "bad"), it’s a simple issue of you have the right to know what you're eating.

Conservatives are constantly having freakouts over the phony notion that Obamacare gives government bureaucrats control over their bodies. But Monsanto already has control over your body, unless you spend eight hours a day researching every item sold at Trader Joe's. Scientists can't even do studies on Monstanto GM seeds unless Monstanto gives them permission first.

It reminds me of how when you buy the new Taylor Swift album on iTunes you don't actually own the music. You only own a license to play the music file.

Corporations are able to arbitrarily make the rules and we just have to suck it up and accept it. That is, if we want to eat and listen to music.

Bully Bully

By Bill Maher

New Rule: Not everyone who says something you don't want to hear or who asks you to do something you don't want to do is a bully. There were two prominent cases of so-called bullying in the news recently: the obese news lady from Wisconsin who claims she was bullied because a viewer wrote in and said, as a public figure and a role model, she had a "community responsibility" to "present and promote a healthy lifestyle," and the Iowa JV football coach who got suspended for breaking the district’s anti-bullying and corporal punishment policy because he made one of his players run laps.

Now, October was Bullying Awareness Month, which means something to me because I was bullied as a child. There was a kid who would beat me up and take my super-PAC donation money. But, at the risk of making someone feel bad, and thereby becoming a bully myself, may I suggest there's been a bit of bully inflation going on?

The Village Voice and others call Michael Bloomberg's size-restriction on sugary soft drinks "soda bullying." But Mayor Bloomberg didn't instruct cops to walk through Manhattan slapping Big Gulps out of people's hands.  He simply recognized that, with one out of every three of our kids either overweight or obese, perhaps enough soda to fill a small bucket is adequate for a first helping. No one is saying you can't drink as much Mountain Dew as you can hold -- they're just saying, for ounces 17 through 32, you have to get your fat ass up out of your seat and waddle back to the concession stand.

Likewise, scoffing or rolling your eyes during a debate, as Fox News would have us believe, is not bullying. No, that's the appropriate social response to weasels telling lies. Joe Biden expressed ridicule at your candidate's shameless whoppers -- he didn't hold him down while Martha Raddatz gave him a pink belly. The ass-kicking was figurative.

Sometimes, for the common good, you have to hear something you don't want to hear or do something you don't want to do. Like paying taxes. Or getting off your ass and taking care of yourself. I'm not talking about law enforcement rolling up to where you happen to be standing and forcing you to run -- hat's only in the inner city. I'm talking about something we used to have but now seem to dismiss -- our social responsibility to one another.

Tanks for Nothing

By Bill Maher

There are a few really key objects that explain why the 20th century worked out like it did: The cyclotron, the small pox vaccine, the invention of black people and sex in the late 50s. And the tank. I just want to say, right up front, hooray for tanks. The British invented them, the Germans perfected them, and Arabs still can't win a war with them, even against other Arabs. No matter how many they have. It’s actually weird. How hard can it be? It's like American Indians never coming up with the wheel.

And the best tank ever made is the M1 Abrams. It's got a 1500 horsepower Textron gas turbine engine and a 120 MM smoothbore cannon from the good (German) people at Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH. It weighs almost seventy tons, just like Rush Limbaugh, and can still do 45 mph on level ground, just like Paul Ryan. That said, the tank is a shitty welfare program.

In the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden said: 
"The military says we need a smaller, leaner Army. We need more special forces. ...We don’t need more M1 tanks. What we need is more UAVs."
And he's obviously right, except the M1 is made in Ohio -- the Valley of Elah for this entire election. And that's why Romney, Ryan and their ads, automated phone calls and surrogates are hammering away, like history's best tank is basically Terri Schiavo and Obama wants to yank its feeding tube.

"When you say…that we don't need any more Lima-built M1 tanks, what we are doing is we're projecting weakness, and when we project weakness abroad our enemies become more brazen!" -- Paul Ryan, in Ohio

"We need M1 tanks because they're part of the greatest military on the face of the earth. They will ensure that we have a military second to none so that we can keep the peace. We need M1 tanks!" -- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman

Here's the thing. The Army doesn't want any more M1s. We're getting a remodeled tank in 2017, and Obama would like to shut the M1 factory down and save $3 billion between now and then. This would cost 800 jobs.

Here's the other thing. It doesn't matter what the Army wants, Congress keeps voting to make more M1s. Last year, over Army objections, the defense appropriations bill included $255 million for 42 more M1s, basically to keep the factory open. So it's welfare, plain and simple. $255 million for 800 jobs building 42 tanks for no one.

Part of the problem is the M1 is too good. We never need to replace them.  In the first Gulf War nine were damaged beyond repair. In the entire second Gulf War, we lost eighty.

Now we have 2,300 M1s deployed around the world. And three thousand (3000) more right here in California, sitting there, row-on-row, at the Sierra Army Depot.

Enough to retake Iraq 37 times.

Hey, just a day’s drive up the I-5. Who wants to go?

Treasonable People

By Bill Maher

Since President Obama took office, the banking industry has been regulated, the auto industry has been saved, the stock market has more than doubled and the unemployment rate has dropped from 10-something to 7-something, its lowest rate in over four years. Or, as Fox News is reporting it, "a dismal record of failed economic policies."

In the housing market, sales are climbing and burst-bubble home prices are beginning to inch back up. Last month, it was announced that existing home sales jumped to their highest level in over two years and residential construction is up 29% over 2011.

But all this is just numbers unless American consumers start to sense solid economic ground under their feet and get comfortable with the idea of spending again. The economy is fickle and fragile and that’s why consumer perception is so important. Which brings us to the latest news on an index called consumer sentiment: The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey of how consumers feel about the economy came in at a surprising 83.1, its highest in five years.

Also the independent Economic Cycle Research Institute, which measures future economic expansion, says our economy’s annualized growth rate has accelerated to its fastest pace in over a year.

America is back, baby! Well, yes, unless a full one-half of the American government makes it its mission to convince the public that America is not back and that our economy is free falling and will likely be decimated beyond repair if a certain someone is re-elected. I won't say whom, but I'll look at the guilty party and yell, "You lie" at his State of the Union address.

What you'll hear from Romney/Ryan or, for that matter, Boehner, Cantor or anyone on Fox News is, "as Scranton goes, so goes America." Which may help them politically, but it's a lie that does harm to America. When the economy's health hinges so much on consumer confidence and sentiment, doesn't it border on treason for a political party of presumably trusted leaders to claim everything is going to shit despite an ever-amassing mountain of evidence to the contrary?

Hell Hath No Fury…

By Bill Maher

New Rule: Stop telling kids how to live. Certainly Michelle Obama has the right to encourage them to eat healthier and to get more exercise. But what about our kids’ right to be big, fat, ignorant tubs of goo? To those who would mandate healthier school lunches or require students to participate in some sort of physical activity other than banging their teacher, I would pose this question: "Why do you hate freedom?"

There were a couple of stories in the news this month about school students and administrators pushing back against the do-gooder wellbeing police and their overzealous attempts to get kids to eat right and exercise. Sure it's a noble endeavor to promote wellness, but since when is it our public schools' job to shape our youth and prepare them for a healthy, successful life?

The first story was about high school students nationwide boycotting the new, healthier, calorie-counted school lunches implemented by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk are fine in theory, but kids want their pizza, their pudding and their chicken nuggets. Plus, they get all the exercise they need pumping that nacho cheese dispenser.

One senior at a Brooklyn high school said, "Now there's no taste, no flavor and it's healthy, which makes it taste even worse," which might explain why his protesting classmates have taken to dumping their "gross" fruits and vegetables on the cafeteria floor. Take that, nutrition!

The second story is about a JV football coach in Iowa who overheard one of his players bad mouthing the varsity team so, as a lesson, he had the kid run laps. You know, like coaches have done since the beginning of time. Well, the coach has been suspended for violating the district’s anti-bullying and corporal punishment policies. Mike Dick, the state's Girls High School Athletic Union executive director said, "Good common sense would indicate we're past using conditioning and running in a punitive manner," adding it's "vindictive in nature." What if the child gets winded or, worse yet, healthy?

A few phrases from my childhood come to mind. Phrases like, "If you get hungry enough, you'll eat." And "You don’t like it? Tough." And "I'll give you something to boycott about." Of course we shouldn't bully or abuse children, but since when did that translate into they should never be put out or never be uncomfortable and always get what they want?

Let Evil Be Evil

By Bill Maher

Pakistan is having a moment right now. The "I am Malala" movement has made the country stop worrying about YouTube videos and start worrying about the medieval religious lunatics they haven't yet learned to stand up to. So this is a big chance for the United States to really step up... and do absolutely nothing.

Again and again, we forget the lesson that most evil-doers eventually wear out their welcome because they keep doing evil. Shooting a girl in head for saying that she liked school? That's pretty damn evil. Journalists are already comparing Malala to Rosa Parks, though it looks like her personal story might not have a happy ending. Parks didn't have the happiest life ever, but at least she got to take a few victory laps at the front of the bus.

But the key here is for the US to not be here. Image-wise, our military does great when there's an armed government that we can sweep in and liberate the people from, toss out some chewing gum to kids, throw around some cash, and then take a bow and leave. But let us linger and we'll start hammering you with flying robots and pissing on your corpses, and that will distract everyone's attention from the truly evil motherfuckers in their midst.

It's easy to forget what the world looked like before 9/11. Al Qaeda was operating in Afghanistan, but the weak and unpopular Taliban government wasn't even in charge of the whole country. Neither was Saddam Hussein in charge of his whole country. He'd also completely given up on the idea of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and now just wanted to look strong so that Iran wouldn't drop the hammer on him. Also, there were no Taliban in Pakistan.

That's not to say we didn't need to knock out Afghanistan's government in 2001. But most of what we've done there since has only served to postpone and distract the majority of people from really focusing on how deeply they hate the kind of people who shot Malala. But when you're convinced you're being attacked from the outside, you can ignore that your house is rotting from the inside. Just ask the Republican Party.

The Gays Have Won

By Bill Maher 

In 2004 and 2008, gay issues were front and center in the presidential debates: Are you for gay marriage? Are you for repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Is Hillary Clinton a lesbian? You couldn't get away from gay if you tried.

Well, we've now had four debates. Or, if you're a Democrat, three and a half. And no one has mentioned gays. No one is even talking about gay issues. No one is being asked to repeat the tired line "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman." And President Obama no longer would.
Something may change, but I think it's fair to say that the gay movement has already won. The issue has come and gone. The numbers are on the side of pro-gay and pro-gay marriage forces. Nothing has happened in states with gay marriage that anyone can point to and say, "See? We were right! Vermont got legal man-on-dog marriage now!"

In fact, it seems gays said, "We're here, we're queer, and most of America got used to it."

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.