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Geez! Weren’t there two (three?) diary bitch sessions re: Bill Maher’s "Realtime with Bill Maher" 2/22 show?

I download the show here in Taiwan, and was curious what the hubbub was about. I just got back from a "Visa run" to Hong Kong, and finally finished procuring this most recent installment.  I watched it with some trepidation. So, was it true? Did Bill whimp out? Betray progressive ideals?

More after the fold.

I'm watching the show again, right now, as I type. Here's the blow-by-blow:

(Clock; incl. HBO "snow" splash (to 0:04) + Bill's splash (to 0:30):)

01:00 - Monologue. Of course, Bill has it in for the Repub establishment.

06:02 - Tom Brokaw interview. NYT coverage of McCain nascent scandal. Some intelligent circumspection on NYT's perceived reluctance to chase down shit on the Repubs. A bit of Osama boosterism, incl. some claims of support from registered Repubs. Since the topic is, after all, Brokaw's new book, Bill ruminates on his sense that progressives seem to lose steam, or worse, instinctively regress after a few modest gains. Brokaw ponders whether our politically perilous times could impinge on this pattern, this time 'round.

14:00 - Meeting the panel. Bill is complementary to Kingston; questions Franken's reluctance to appear. Fair 'nuff.

15:11 - Obama family "hate crime against apple pie": Hill/Obama "talk to our 'enemies'" debate clip, plus Michelle "first time proud" clip. Of course Frum jumps on this. Walter softens it. Bill catches Frum w/ shit in his mouth re Kennedy and Cuba. Audience appreciative.

19:10 - Kingston segues into Kennedy legacy; dumps on Kennedy. Bit of repartee re LBJ via JFK enforcement of equal access to education, injected into the conversation by Bill, certainly germane to Georgia; great move!

20:05 - Kingston veers things back to the Michelle statement. Bill gives a Jack a bit of sugar over this, but points out that lots of folks say stupid things; cites Ari Fleischer censorship statement.

21:42 - On to the Obama Pledge/Lapel-pin "issue". Bill steers the conversation intelligently to the core question: What's with the kneejerk call to acknowledge U.S.'s putative general supremacy? Walter raises good core questions regarding global perception of the U.S.

24:00 - Obama "non-"accomplishments. Bill lays heavily into Bush on Bush's stunning inexperience. Kingston says Obama "wants" to bomb Pakistan; a blatant mis-characterization, and Bill calls him on that.

25:30 - Kingston slyly intimates Obama's legislative non-record: ADMITTEDLY, Bill doesn't have facts re Obama's accomplishments on tap to refute. It passes quickly.

25:41 - Bill turns it back to the "bombing Pakistan" allegation. Bill puts a good slant on it by pointing out the cognitive clusterfuck that is the Repub flak machine: The repubs always call for two-fisted military action. Well, where is the action? In Iraq? Obama says he'll go where the intelligence points and bomb if necessary. Can no one please the Repubs? Kingston has to scramble to recover by stumping for a new, improved, undoubtedly unconstitutional FISA.

26:24 - Bill asks whether Bush really " safer." Kingston necessarily answers lamely. Frum cites declining sophistication of terrorist operations, for which he thanks a tightening surveillance noose. Bill HAS NO ANSWER FOR THIS.

28:26 - Bill returns to the Dem debate. Makes jibes about their debate "stage business."

30:00 - Bill has bit where he voiceovers the thought processes of Dem debaters. A bit of fun, somewhat disrespectful, but no skin off the Dems, at least among the humor-endowed, which I fancy to think is most Dems.

30:54 - Intros Matt Taibbi production. Interesting that Matt is "no holds barred." He points out certain gross hypocrisies of the Hillary campaign. No love lost among Obamistas-but think about it.

34:07 - Back to the show. Matt pretty much expands on the theme of his production at this point. Point well made, and bog bless the lad. It's a point that needs to be made: Until the electorate wises up, they'll be taken advantage of by politicos of any stripe. Sobering and important.

35:22 - On to Taibbi's take on McCain. Bill and Taibbi both call out the NYT; as they arguably should. Walters points up the fuzziness of the issue: Is it about sex, or about influence. Good question. Sure, it gives the Repubs a break, but at what real expense? Dems should not give up clarity and hard research; the temptation to chase a hot story for short-term political gain is good enough for Repubs, and Dems need to hold themselves to a higher standard. Kingston shits in his own mess kit when he suggests that the NYT did the Repubs a favor by ringing that little Pavlovian bell that rallies so much of the no-nothing, think-nothing Repub base: "Tarnation! If the NYT is agin' McCain, I'm fur 'im!" He said it folks, not us!

37:27 - Bill instigates a discussion of McCain's transition from "maverick" to Repub good-old-boy. It winds up being quite a litany. Frum suggests that McCain may forego gov't funding.

39:05 - Bill asks why the panel conservatives didn't originally support McCain. Ouch.

39:32 - Kingston throws down a gauntlet: Isn't McCain the real "agent of change" here? Taibbi really jumps in on this; he won't let Kingston get away with anything. The false reasoning in Kingston's argument is not a bad study: Sure McCain is-or, rather, has from time to time-seemed  to advocate piecemeal changes from the stark neocon agenda; but that has nothing to do with the kinds of changes Obama-or, for that matter, Hillary-are talking about. Do the lib/libertarians in the room address this?

40:41 - Bill has an interesting approach. He asks Matt to address the McCain military history, which jumpstarts a fascinating exposition on the fact the McCain remains in one key aspect a dyed-in-the-wool neocon: He's neither more nor less than someone whose DNA, scrutinized with the latest technology, consists of strands of genetic material spelling out the word "BOOM". A short digression on McCain's age, but he and Matt jump right back to the war question with a vengeance. In particular, Matt has done his homework, and he hits this very hard. Viva, Matt! Kingston tries to deflect with the McCain stance toward torture; quickly shot down in light on his recent rhetorical realignment. Frum tries to nuance this for McCain; he stands up for Hillary's realpolitik position relative to Obama; will Obama really protect us from our enemies? Matt cites McCain's Spanish Inquisition comment, and the ire it drew from the far right. I can live with that deflection; away from McCain, and to that far-right base McCain is so temped to appease, even to the point of derailing the ol' "straight talk" express.

46:52 - Kingston points out McCain's holding up passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2007 over the treatment of prisoners. He says that Hillary and Obama were virtually non-existent on that issue. Matt points out-yet again-that it really only serves to highlight another instance of McCain back-pedaling as he approaches the Vestibule of Power.

47:29 - Cuba. Bush's speech re the Castro handoff. Maher tries to ream the panel conservatives on Bush's "free fair" rhetoric, in light of the 2000 election. Kingston calls Cuba a "terrorist" state; no one buys this. Maher cites the anti-Castro terrorist who blew up an actual airliner, and whom the U.S. subsequently protected. Neither Bill not anyone else in the panel recalls his name (it's "Luis Posada Carriles"). Bill points out U.S. hypocrisy on this. Kingston "response" simply blows off this issue: That's all he can do. There's a charming-as-hell bit of repartee, kicked off by Matt, who makes his perfectly astute observation about the U.S. willingness to push "change" abroad by "starv[ing] their children or deny them penicillin or drop bombs on them. What's so wrong with talking with another country?" Kingston thinks he's being one hell of a wag by citing Michael Moore's claim that Cuba's got the best medical system in the world, and Bill zings back faster than light with the remark that, no, Michael only said Cuba's system was better than ours. OUCH! and howls from the audience.

50:47 - Bill talks about the beef recall; his obligatory plug for his pet cause. But then he (refreshingly) quickly uses it as a springboard to talk about the mother of all Repub cognitive dissonances; the shower-of-sparks collision between their "government doesn't work" mantra and their election year "vote for me" spiel. No real response from the panel conservatives. But...

53:05 - Walters feels this is a great moment to address U.S. priorities: Why can we shoot little bits of metal out of the sky, but we can't have clean food, good schools, etc., etc.?

53:48 - Well, I guess it was really only Bill's intent to make sure his pet cause got some face time, because he has to cut her off for...

53:50 - "New Rules"

In short, yeah, he had a couple of friendly-faced jerks on the panel, and yes, he allowed them room to breathe. I'll take that back; he allowed them room to merely not asphyxiate, which is the very least a host should do from the standpoint of the most basic good faith agreement between any host and his or her guests.

In shorter, I think Bill did a bang-up job. The week before...well, that's another story. Don't ask.

Originally posted to razajac on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 11:38 AM PST.


I think Bill...

16%17 votes
17%18 votes
19%20 votes
43%44 votes
2%3 votes

| 102 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not to worry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anotherdemocrat, planetclaire4

    The diaries you read are from the 'Obama and co can do no wrong and should not be accused of doing any wrong without the evil doer being impaled by the nearest Obama supporter' group.

    Thinking Democrats understand the difference between excessive defense and treating something with the attention it deserves.

    Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. -=-H. L. Mencken

    by crazyshirley2100 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 11:46:16 AM PST

    •  Classy... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tirge Caps, planetclaire4

      use of one of the few non-candidate diaries out there to smear Obama supporters there, Shirley.

      •  I must have been misunderstood (0+ / 0-)


        I was attempting to make fun of the guys who freak over anything said about Obama and agreeing with the diarist that Moyer did a pretty good job of attacking when appropriate and letting it go when it was not warranted.

        Sorry the sarcasm must have been poorly phrased.  

        I assumed the diarist was defending Moyer against diaries like this:

        Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. -=-H. L. Mencken

        by crazyshirley2100 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 02:09:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Excuse us non-thinkers (0+ / 0-)

      for we are trying to win an election.  

      "The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself" - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

      by djbender on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 12:26:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thinking might actually HELP (0+ / 0-)

        win an election.  Think about it.  

        I was disturbed reading those diaries this weekend (don't see Bill's show till the following Tuesday night and he IS one of My Persons).

        Please, God, don't let the Democratic party make me vote for some pinhead who believes in the GWOT. God grinned...

        by planetclaire4 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 01:28:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i will say this (0+ / 0-)

        I am voting for Obama and volunteering.  I do not blindly follow anyone.  I do not defend everything any one including and truly, especially a politician does just because I support them for an office.

        I expect politicians to be politicians.  They are more of a necessary evil than a boon to mankind.  If we could live without politicians and lawyers, we would.

        Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. -=-H. L. Mencken

        by crazyshirley2100 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 02:40:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love Bill, but... (2+ / 0-)

    I did feel there were some missed opportunities on his part. When the Rethugs were saying Michelle Obama has said nothing to clarify her statement, that was UNTRUE and Bill did not say a word about that. Also when the two Rethugs said Obama has not a single accomplishment in the U.S. Senate that was UNTRUE and Bill did not say anything. Also when the Rethugs said Obama wants to bomb Pakistan, Bill could have told them exactly what Obama said but he chose to spew something Bush said. I love Bill, he is one of my favorite liberals, but he did miss a few opportunities to pounce on the ill-informed conservatives.

    •  To be fair to Bill... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Irfo, weelzup, bRan

      I think the reason he didn't refute those statements is that he didn't know the facts. He's not nearly as sharp as he used to be or as in possession of current facts as say, Jon Stewart. He should have had at least one informed guest on the panel who could have served as a sanity check, though.

      I also think he tries to be nice to the Republicans who "dare to" come on his show because he wants them to continue to come back.

      Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Go do some politics. - Barack Obama

      by 28th Democrat on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 12:00:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was surprised Bill didn't have the facts (0+ / 0-)

      surrounding the "Obama doesn't put his hand on his heart for the Pledge" remark...

  •  That GA congressman is embarassing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tirge Caps, Flippant, Templar, bRan

    I didn't know Southerners like that still existed. I guess I've been on the west coast too long

    Xerox those boos, bitch

    by LoLoLaLa on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 11:55:43 AM PST

  •  I love Bill Maher, but he fell short this show... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chigh, bRan

    I have to disagree with you on your key point. I have watched every one of his shows, and I was actually shocked that he let as much right-wingnut crap go unchallenged on his own show. He seemed like he didn't know the facts about these "stories", as stupid as they are, that have been floating around the MSM for awhile now.I can't  stand Krum or Kingston, and I really hated that he had both of these morons on the show at the same time -- it was almost more than I could stomach, and came close to turning it off.

    Given all that, I don't think it was a big deal either -- but it was something worthy of discussion, because I clearly wasn't the only one who was disappointed in the show that night, and in Bill's responses to some of his guests' accusations. These guys and their narrow-minded conservative view of life and juvenile, pin-headed spins on non-issues is just sickening -- and I hate to see them get ANY airtime for spewing this kind of garbage - especially if it isn't challenged. Contrary to their apparent view of the average American as being gullible and dumb, it will give me great pleasure to see their fear and smear campaigns this election go nowhere, as they should.

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Benjamin Franklin

    by Kim from Pgh PA on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 12:06:23 PM PST

  •  Taibbi was great. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CitizenOfEarth, planetclaire4

    IMO he did a better job holding the line against the right-wing jerks than Maher.

    IIRC, didn't Frum repeat the canard (unchallenged) that Obama doesn't say the Pledge? Or am I confusing this with another show this week.

    I saw nothing on this show to get too upset about. Maher tries to stay on the edge. I thought he let Kingston and Frum get away with too much, but Taibbi was really on the case--he's a bright guy and seems pretty fearless.

    "We're up to our alligators in assholes around here!" --Me

    by homogenius on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM PST

    •  Yeah, I like Taibbi... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homogenius, planetclaire4

      "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Benjamin Franklin

      by Kim from Pgh PA on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 12:10:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homogenius, planetclaire4

      Taibbi is on top of this crap

    •  Yeah, Taibbi added a lot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I like the format of sending these guys out with a video camera and filming the repubs in their natural habitat. It really exposes their raw repubs  brain.

      Matt has a cool way into luring them into saying what they honestly feel and not some PC crap for the camera.

      Anyone for a quick game of Chess.

      by CitizenOfEarth on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 02:33:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think Bill's responses... (0+ / 0-)

      ...can be characterized as trying to address specifics from a place of principle.

      Well, that's a shitty place from which to address specific pieces of lying crap from the right wing flak machine.

      But what's interesting about Bill is how admirably he acquits himself regardless. Kingston plants a piece of BS about Obama not putting his hand on his heart during The Pledge, and Bill asks a good question: A cheerleader? Why is America supposed to be in-principle Number One? He goes on to ream Bush for his utter ignorance on foreign policy.

      Bush was a cheerleader at Yale, and he's done damage to U.S. prestige around the world that it's going to be practically a full-time job for the next president to undo.

      Repubs talk specifics (specific lies), and in many cases Kingston can be left to his own designs to screw himself; which he did.

      Let's face it: Bill's tone on this show is well-suited for his audience; the right-wingers can be allowed to screw their own damned selves over. Kingston talked more than Frum, and time and time again had to scramble to cop back a little face after saying bullshit.

      Not too shabby for a guy (Maher) who allegedly "failed" to confront right-wing bullshit.

      Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

      by razajac on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 04:25:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I usually watch Bill Maher, but I can never will (0+ / 0-)

    forgive him for talking up the Iraq war.  It was the time of the Iraqi elections and Bill was arguing with some guests that the war was appearing to be a success.

    He, of course, never mentions it now. He gets stupid Repugs to appear on the program and then proceeds to put them down. What a jerk!

    Keith is head and shoulders above this bullshit phoney.

  •  Lousy show. Pissed me off. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CitizenOfEarth, Flippant, Templar

    I kept telling my wife if he gets more guests like these two and a third neutral type who adds nothing, I'm splitville with his show. I used to look forward to his show, but not any more.

  •  I only caught a few minutes this week.. (0+ / 0-)

    Gonna download it when I get home.

  •  Boring, but . . . (0+ / 0-)

    I didn't see anything to get up in arms about.  I generally hate it when he has Repugs on the show, because those tend to be the most boring and the biggest waste of time.  He could have done a lot better on some of the issues they were spouting about, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to an off night.  As for Taibbi - I love that guy!!

    •  Well, when he has nothing but good and even (0+ / 0-)

      articulate liberals on (he tried it once), it doesn't work.  Everyone agrees with everyone else, sends the viewers to sleep.  (Much like the LA Debate, the last 45 minutes of which Taibbi characterized as O & C giving each other backrubs.)

      Frum and Kingston are too much on one night; in fact, Kingston on cspan has convinced me he's even more toxic scum than Frum and I'd be happy to never see his ass again.  But I want to know what the enemy thinks and love to watch them hang themselves, which I think is Bill's point.

      Please, God, don't let the Democratic party make me vote for some pinhead who believes in the GWOT. God grinned...

      by planetclaire4 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 01:34:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He balked a lot. I am not writing him off. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He does a good job and runs a good show. I'll hold it against him when I start batting 100%...

    The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad; For the multitude of thy iniquity And the great hatred...

    by Tirge Caps on Tue Feb 26, 2008 at 01:15:44 PM PST

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