Some fine bloggery from RAW STORY today. First, Diane Sweet highlights Dana Gould's must-watch "WTF" moment on health care reform from last night's Real Times with Bill Maher on HBO:
Gould's package includes a visit to a recent health fair at Staples Center in L.A. where folks lined up around the block for free dental care, glasses, blood pressure checks, mammograms, vital immunizations for children, and other medical procedures not usually available to them, because they don't have health coverage.
Stephen C. Webster notes coverage of that event by another outlet which additionally notes some stark statistics comparing the UK's national health system to the system in the U.S. where health spending is twice that of the UK's (as a percentage of the GDP), more than twice-over per person, and yet, the U.S. life-expectancy is shorter, infant mortality higher, and there are more physicians per capita in the UK.
Finally, Webster also features a video of a town hall forum featuring Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) who is forced to inform a wingnut: "I've got facts on my side, you've got Glenn Beck on your side."
(Of course, Beck wasn't always an opponent of health care reform. In fact, he was in favor of it before he was against it --- after arriving at Fox "News" --- as Jon Stewart reminded us earlier this week.)
That, and one other excellent point is made about the "Constitutionality" of Congress providing for the general welfare. Just like it says in the, um, Constitution. Go watch it...
So the DailyKos' Markos Moulitsas is scheduled to be on Bill Maher's Real Time tonight (which will be back on live again on HBO this evening).
Good. Hopefully Maher will push Kos hard to concede that President Barack Obama is not Progressive enough, is not bringing the change he'd promised, is failing to bring the accountability for the previous administration's blatant violations of the Rule of Law and the Constitution as the Democratic base and the majority of Americans had come to expect that he would.
If Maher presses Kos specifically, hard and loudly, on these points --- and he will have to --- I'd suspect Kos will agree with him. If he does, and makes such direct criticism of Obama heard in no uncertain terms, I suspect that might even catch Obama's attention, and further force him to ponder his current untenable stance on these matters and perhaps encourage him to begin to push back against the Rahm Emmanuels in the administration who are urging him down the easy "Clinton middle" instead
If anybody is in direct touch with Maher, or Kos, --- or even Obama --- please bring this opportunity to their attention. It starts with Maher. And, if anybody can do it, he can. It'd be a shame to see such an opportunity wasted.
UPDATE 7/18/09: Opportunity missed. Maher didn't push Obama or Kos. Kos didn't use the opportunity to push for more progressivism or accountability. Too bad. Maher's closing "New Rules" monologue was awesome, however. I'll try to get that posted here soon if possible.
In last week's "New Rules" segment on HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher blasted President Obama for "not getting the job done," adding "this is not what I voted for." He had been critical of Obama's lack of fight for health care reform, and "nibbling" that's leaving insurance companies "still running the show," bailed out banks "laughing at us about how easy it was to get back to 'business as usual,'" and scientists' vital warnings about serious climate change being largely ignored.
We ran that video last week, and found it was linked to by an enormous number of rightwing websites, using the opportunity to suggest that Maher now agreed with them about Obama.
This week (video above-right) Maher clarified the record. He first noted: "Last week in this space, I criticized President Obama for not fighting corporate influence enough, and it made some Liberals very angry. My phone rang off the hook." But he then removed any doubt about whether he was actually "in league" with those on the Right.
"As far as you folks on the Right that think that we're somehow in league --- we're not in league! I was criticizing Obama for not being hard enough on the corporate douche bags you live to defend. I don't wanna be on your team. Pick another kid."
"So I stand by my words," Maher said, before launching into a no-holds barred attack on the Democrats and Obama for their failings, yet again. "There is another side to the story. And that is, that every time Obama tries to take on a Progressive cause, there's a major political party standing in his way --- the Democrats."
"We don't have a Left and a Right party in this country anymore. We have a center-Right party and a crazy party. And over the last thirty-odd years, Democrats have moved to the Right, and the Right has moved into a mental hospital."
He went on to criticize Democrats for becoming the party of "hedge fund managers, credit card companies, banks, defense contractors, big agriculture and the pharmaceutical lobby [who] sit across the aisle from a small group of religious lunatics, flat-earthers, and Civil War re-enacters...who mostly communicate by AM radio and call themselves the Republicans."
The major concluding thesis in his scathing criticism: "Bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans"
Diane Sweet of RAW STORY observed in her coverage: "If Maher had finished by declaring his candidacy for public office, by the sound of the applause in response to his monologue, he would have left the studio Friday evening with an audience full of supporters."
If you're unable to watch the video (above right), a text-transcript of the key quotes from this week's must-see monologue follow below. As with last week's, we find ourselves hard-pressed to disagree with a word of it...
While I couldn't care less about Bill Maher's 'Obama being on TV too much' schtick here, as seen on last night's Real Time on HBO, his scathing criticism of Obama which follows it is dead on the money.
Sorry folks, but this President is not fighting for real health care reform. It's nibbling that leaves insurance companies still running the show. And the banks, the banks that brought us to financial ruin and then got bailout money, are laughing at us about how easy it was to get back to 'business as usual.' And scientists keep saying that if we want to keep living, you know, on Earth, it's kind of essential we reduce carbon dioxide by 40% in the next ten years. Obama's bill calls for 4%.
This is not getting the job done, and this is not what I voted for.
Maher continues by arguing that "if you can't shove some real reform down [Republican] throats now, then when?" before adding: "I never thought I'd say this, but what he needs in his personality is a little George Bush. He needs to stop worrying about being loved, and bring out that smug, insufferable swagger that says, 'Suck on it, America!'"
"I'm glad Obama is President," Maher concludes, "but the 'Audicity of Hope' part is over. Right now, I'm hoping for a little more audacity..."
UPDATE 6/20/09: Maher follows up this monologue with another, equally as scathing, the following week. Details and video here...
* * *
Video of this week's scathing monologue is above right, the complete text transcript follows below...
After Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) discusses the bailout as if it's something "they" are doing (as opposed to her, a member of the U.S. Congress) Ashton Kutcher called her on it on Friday's HBO's Real Time w/ Bill Maher, before going on to make a very significant point about the insane way this economic "bailout" is being carried out.
"With all due respect, you're in a position to do something very significant about it. We're all in a position to do something very significant about it," he tells the Congresswoman, before the actor/producer of Punk'd goes on to declare, deadly seriously, in reply to Maher: "They're punking us right now!" (appx. 2 mins)...
I'll tell ya, I was really impressed with Kutcher every time he opened his mouth on the show last Friday. I hope he keeps talking. Clearly, he's been paying very close attention to what's really going on out here. And, to that end, we'll have another clip of him from the same show later today, which offers some pretty good evidence that he must be a BRAD BLOG reader. Stay tuned...
On tonight's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the host had to throw out the first of the 9/11 hecklers himself. Things went downhill from there...
Members of the "9/11 Truth Movement" have been a bit angry with Maher since he suggested they needed to be medicated in a "New Rules" segment in September. That video is here.
Tonight, Maher got a bit angry in return as audience members repeatedly interrupted the panel discussion with Maher, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee (D-TX), and LA Times columnist Joel Stein.
After the last of the hecklers --- who ground the show to a halt (of sorts), for a few minutes --- is removed from the studio audience, Maher says that folks from the movement have been holding protests outside of his studio ever since his comments last month. Tonight, a few of 'em got tickets to the show.
While things got a bit rough, and Maher called for an "ass kicking," nobody was tased, bro...at least to our knowledge.
A slightly edited (for time) Jay Leno interview of Bill Maher (approximately 10 minutes) follows a very political and oftentimes funny Leno monologue (5 minutes). Subjects covered by Leno include Senator Vitter's DC Madam problems, Condi Rice and Dick Cheney golfing, Bill's backing of Hillary for president, Scooter Libby, and Al Gore. Meanwhile, Maher worries that Democrats might blow the 2008 election by nominating Hillary. And while Maher claims to never have endorsed a candidate, he calls Edwards/Obama a "no-lose ticket" and a "winning ticket."
As we mentioned yesterday, when we posted the Maher interview with Ron Paul, the final Real Time of the season kicked ass, and Maher killed (sorry, Dredd) from top to bottom. Here's his closing "New Rules" of the season so you can decide for yourselves. Enjoy...
On HBO's Real Time Friday night (click to play the video at left) Bill Maher was going over the basics of the US Attorney scandal with former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias when conservative guest Lisa Schiffren chimed in that Iglesias was failing to understand that US Attorney jobs were political. A surprised Maher tried to clarify by differentiating the appointment of US Attorneys from their actual law enforcement duties, but Schiffren stuck to her point. In addition to condoning the selective enforcement of the law, Schiffren implies that the oath to uphold the Constitution, taken by political appointees, was also secondary to politics. And she speaks from experience as a former political apppointee!
Clearly Schriffren just earned herself a jury duty pass for the rest of her life. To understand the outrageousness of her suggestion one need not look any further than the statement Iglesias made about his firing two minutes earlier:
Iglesias: What they wanted me to do was come up with some bogus prosecutions with no evidence of voter fraud. That's number one. And number two, they wanted me to rush indictments against democrats who were engaging in corrupt activities. I couldn't do that because the case wasn't ready. It's that simple.
Essentially the White House, along with Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Senator Pete Domenci (R-NM), who pressured Iglesias directly, were upset that Igesias refused to use the power of his office to help them fraudulently win elections. In other words, Iglesias was fired because he would not help the Republican party circumvent our Democracy. And that is okay according to Schiffren!
Schiffren: You know, with all due respect, it's a political, you're in a political job, you're a political appointee.
Maher: Woh, it's not a political job, it's a political appointment. Once you get the job, shouldn't it not be political?
Schiffren: You know what, I have been a political appointee also and sworn the same oath to the Constitution, and the truth is, you can't take politics out of politics, you were there to serve an administration that will have its own ends some of which are stupid, petty and trivial and sometimes the guy above you wants to put his guy in your slot...
Tonight on HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher smacks down the Bush administration for the hiring and promotion of unqualified personnel including #3 Justice Department official Monica Goodling and the other 150 graduates from Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School that work for the administration. For more on Regent's Law School be sure to check out my post, "When Jesus Calls" (at HotPotatoMash), from earlier in the week.
Friday's episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher was the final live broadcast of the season. The panelist were musician John Legend, national security expert Richard Clarke, and academic Cornell West.
Maher took the opportunity of the season final to focus on slamming President Bush. Maher said that Bush was such an easy target that he had avoided having a Bush theme throughout the season.
Discussion of recent stories about the NSA's domestic programs really took over much of the show. Maher's panelist were outraged at the Bush Administration's abuse of power. Cornell West was highly critical of human and civil rights abuses while Richard Clarke warned of the dangers that happen when an incompetent government employs excessive power.
Due to the length of the video, it has been split into 2 parts. Both parts contain clips from the show that focus on Maher's criticism of Bush and the NSA's domestic spying.