Ethics Note To Bill Maher: Be Funny Or Be Accurate, Otherwise You’re Just Being A Divisive Asshole

Stop! Stop! You’re killing me!

I used to watch Bill Maher regularly during his Comedy Central days, before he decided he was such an insightful political pundit that he could afford to eschew comedy and just engage in full-time conservative and Republican smearing. On his HBO show Bill is only useful now to remind us of the ugliest tendencies of the Young Angry Left, as Maher will engage in such “comedy” as calling Sarah Palin a cunt, while his audience of fawning dim bulbs clap and bark like hyper-active seals. All Maher does is try to fan the flames of societal division and hate, and HBO is apparently satisfied with that, since there are enough progressive fans of societal division and hate that being funny isn’t deemed essential.  Maher’s weekly partyist ranting has even spawned imitators on other networks, like Samantha Bee and John Oliver. Both are funnier than Bill.

Still, millions of people see this poison and spread it around the internet, so I guess it’s past time to point out how Maher is either ignorant or determined to spread stupidity via confirmation bias. We can stipulate that he’s no longer funny, and seldom even attempts to be.

At the end of last week the latest episode of “Bill Foams At the Mouth” debuted, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch the primary object of Bill’s wrath, I mean “wit.”  He began with his monologue.

If anyone senses a joke, raise your hand.

“I don’t know why you’d be happy today. Today is a day Republicans are happy. They got their two favorite things — a right-wing asshole on the Supreme Court and Trump finally blowing some shit up.”

Please note:

  • Bill assumes that only one side of the political divide watches him. He’s right, but it’s not healthy for the culture, and he’s one of the reasons comedy and the arts now divide rather than unite us.
  • Maher calls a dedicated jurist and legal scholar an “asshole” simply because he’s conservative. This is bigotry. Denigrating, stereotyping and demonizing whole categories of people based on their priority of values is no different ethically from denigrating them based on their religion or ethnicity. It’s unfair, disrespectful, irresponsible and undemocratic.
  • Did you raise your hand? Maher, a professional comedian, gets laughs by using words like shit, asshole, and cunt. There was a guy I knew named Larry who did that quite successfully too.

Of course, we were in the 5th grade…

Then Maher, as usual, moved on to calling Republicans racists.

In 2013, 98 Republicans signed a letter saying bombing Syria in response to a chemical attack was unconstitutional without congressional authorization. But this is different because Obama was President then. That would have involved bombing while black, and you can’t — can’t do that.

In the wake of the embarrassment and the exposure of President Obama by President Trump’s decisive handling of an issue that his predecessor made into a trademark display of his weakness, fecklessness  and dithering, the desperate Obama Fan Club has virtually made Maher’s spin a talking point. Almost all media accounts bolstering their narrative leave out the actual sequence of events, which was…

1. Obama says Assad using chemical weapons would cross a red line.

2. Assad uses chemical weapons.

3. Obama does nothing.

4. Obama denies saying he drew a “red line.”

5. Widespread bi-partisan mockery and criticism ensues. The complaint: You don’t make empty threats, because when your bluff is called, the United States appears weak, and future threats become meaningless.

6. In response to the criticism, Obama announces that now he wants to show Assad he’s not a weenie, and will launch an attack.

7. Many Republican members of Congress, realizing that their constituents are dubious of more involvement in the Middle East, say they don’t want any attacks. They are also Republicans, and want to make things as difficult for a Democratic President as possible, not because he’s black. Is there any doubt that if the GOP were threatening to filibuster and Obama SCOTUS nominee, Maher would say that it was because Republicans are racists?

8. Obama had already previously directly exceeded the Congressional authority granted him in pursuing warfare against Libya, so the objections by Republicans had a context that does not exist now.

9. Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, had made public statements that the proposed attack would be harmless, a “pinprick” and symbolic only.

Wowsers. If a single episode can symbolize the entire, awful, incompetent Obama 8-year international fiasco, this was it. President Trump’s missile attack, which came immediately after the nerve gassing of Syrians and sent a clear message that the United States was watching, concerned about maintaining at least minimum norms in the use of banned weapons, and would respond again, perhaps in far more destructive ways, if this warning was ignored. Obama sent the clear message— before his proposed response, which was to come a full month after the “red line’ was crossed—that he was only responding with minimal force because of political pressure, and that it was meaningless and virtually harmless, nothing but cynical political cover.

A joke, in other words. I would have voted against that.

10. Democrats also opposed the attacks. They, of course, were not objecting to  “bombing while black.”  Maher, Chris Matthews, MSNBC, the entire race-baiting-addicted progressive community brazenly continues to argue that the exact same position when taken by Democrats is reasonable and honorable, but when taken by Republicans is racist.

11. I almost forgot….Are any hands raised for that last comment by Bill? Is “bombing while black” hilarious?

Next Maher decided to really test the IQs of his audience pinnipeds with this tortured jibe:

Interesting side note to this: No change in the Trump policy on Syrian refugees coming here. Republicans feel about Syrians in Syria the same way they feel about the fetus in the womb. When it’s a beautiful baby in Syria, it’s a sacred, precious gift from God. Once it leaves, you’re on your own.”

This is what passes as “logic” from ideological hate-mongers like Maher. The President’s job is to protect the United States, first and foremost. The temporary refugee halt, wisely or not, was enacted to prevent terrorists (adult terrorists, not infant terrorists) from entering the country along with a flood of refugees that may or may not be adequately vetted under procedures established under a President who regularly behaved as outlined above—which is to say, ineptly and unseriously, and who denied that Radical Islam exists. There is nothing inconsistent with policies that say in one case, no, the United States will not stand idly by while Assad commits war crimes, and in the other, no, we’re not going to let concern for the human rights plight of Syrians place American lives in jeopardy. Bill’s statement suggests that a consistent policy would be to just admit babies as refugees without their parents.

Dragging abortion into the discussion was just free-floating conservative-bashing without context or thought.

Did that comment cause you to laugh out loud?

Then this:

“And, you know, speaking of protecting fetuses, the Republican Senate has confirmed Scalia clone Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court — proving that in America cheating still works, ladies and gentleman. Cheating still works.”

Wait:

1. “Cheating still works” is a punchline?

2. Did Maher make the same cynical observation when Harry Reid used every trick in the book to get Obamacare passed, by-passing the GOP House even after the text of the bill had changed? How about when Reid set the precedent for the “nuclear option” in 2013, killing the filibuster for lower court judges? (The answer is no.)

3. The statement is wrong and counter-factual any way you look at it. First, the “nuclear option” may be unwise, and and may be Draconian, and may be Machiavellian, but it isn’t “cheating.” The Senate can make its own rules, and change its rules. Cheating is when you defy the rules. When Gorsuch was confirmed, it was entirely within Senate rules.

4. Or, in the alternative, if you think the nuclear option is cheating (it isn’t), then Gorsuch’s confirmation  is an example of  cheating not working. Reid broke the long-standing tradition to get Obama lower court nominees confirmed. He cheated, by Maher’s assessment. He created the precedent, and it backfired on Democrats, the original “cheaters.”

During the show’s regular panel discussion where two hard-left Furies join Bill in intimidating a carefully-selected conservative patsy while the seals bark, Maher attacked Gorsuch again with rib-ticling wit and satirical brilliance:

But Neil Gorsuch could be there for 40 years, and this guy has never shown any empathy toward a human being, okay, and all the people — please — do I have to go back to the trucker in the freezing cold who was going to die, and he sided with the corporation? Okay, but, you know, this is what’s — this is what we’re looking for, so those people who said Hillary was the lesser of two evils, good luck with your back alley abortion.

Wait, wait…give me a chance to stop giggling. Let me look at some pictures of gassed Syrian kids. Okay, I’m sober now…

1. Hands? Was it “back alley abortion” that had you rolling on the floor?

2. Clearly, Bill Maher has read all of Gorsuch’s opinions, and knows his life inside and out, so you can rely on his statement that he “has never shown any empathy toward a human being.”

Now, now, Jack–he’s a comedian. You can’t hold him to facts: it’s all in good fun! That was a joke!

Oh. Thanks for telling me. (It’s a lie.)

3. I and many others have explained the trucker case, which Maher almost certainly hasn’t read, and is just going by the misrepresentations of Al Franken, another alleged comic. Here, one more time, is law professor Ann Althouse’s clarification of the issues Maher either doesn’t comprehend, didn’t read, or is intentionally misrepresenting..but HUMOROUSLY!

There was a statute that protected truck drivers from getting fired for refusing to drive a malfunctioning truck, but this was the opposite. His employer wanted him not to drive the malfunctioning truck, and he did it anyway, to save himself from freezing (or so we are told).

The legal question was only whether the statute applied, not whether we feel sorry for the man or whether we would have fired him. Judge Gorsuch used the plain meaning of the statute. But judges might depart from the plain meaning of the text when it is necessary to avoid giving the language an absurd meaning, but it’s obvious that the statute had a non-absurd meaning (which was to protect drivers who decline to drive defective trucks). But Franken, blatantly twisting the meaning of “absurd” — and reminding us that he was once a comedian — said:

“It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. That’s absurd. Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity. And I know it when I see it. And it makes me question your judgment.”

If that’s what counts as “absurd,” then judges could take any statute and twist it to mean whatever it would need to mean to allow them to bestow victory on any party the judge feels empathy with. That’s a terrible idea for statutory interpretation. But Franken was into his own cuteness, chuckling at the  wittiness of “I had a career in identifying absurdity.” But the absurdity is in thinking that the ways of comedy would transfer to legal analysis.

4. To once again point out the progressive delusion, which Maher assumes and which is audience, being ignorant as chipmunks, uncritically accept, about what judges and courts do: judges interpret  laws when they are vague, conflicting with other laws, or their application is in question. They are not supposed to warp the laws based on the judges’ “feelings,” or factors like compassion. Maher is arguing that poor people, unlucky people, good people—you know, Democrats and their constituencies—should get a thumb on the scales of justice regardless of what the laws actually say. Well, he’s not a lawyer, he’s a comedian—I’m sure you chuckled throughout that riff. His position is moronic, however. It is up to legislators to write “compassionate” laws, not judges to manufacture them.

5. The back-alley comment is despicable, dishonest, and pure scare-mongering, hysterically funny as it is. Gorsuch has never suggested that he seeks to over-rule Roe v.Wade. He has written that the right of privacy isn’t in the Constitution—hardly a radical contention, and the imagined privacy right was the basis for the dubiously-reasoned opinion. However, he is an outspoken advocate of stare decisus—I’m sure Bill doesn’t know the term–which is the principle that the Supreme Court will avoid striking down previous decisions once they have become established in the fabric of the law. I doubt that Gorsuch is eager to knock down Roe, and nobody can vote against Roe until there’s a case appealed to the Court that could result in it.

Maher is an ethics corrupter who spreads division, hate and ignorance without being funny. He has abused the Jester’s Privilege.

Let us never speak of him again.

________________________________

Pointer: Newsbusters

46 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society

46 responses to “Ethics Note To Bill Maher: Be Funny Or Be Accurate, Otherwise You’re Just Being A Divisive Asshole

  1. June Vincents

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    I have avoided Maher for so long now that I was astonished to read your post and see how low and sickening he is.

    Not even vaguely funny. Uninformed hatred: that’s all it is. And so dedicated to his ideology that he can’t be bothered to check facts — and proud of that I’m sure, since the facts never support his views. I think you give too much credit to his audience, however — they will never reach the IQ of the average pinniped (and about 99% of them would have to try and look up the word anyway “P” comes after “O” in the dictionary. That might give them a start).

    Two other comments:

    You were too kind to him. He is worse than a divisive asshole. When I find the exact right noun for him, I’ll let you know.

    Thanks for the factual basis and the chronology. It was good to be reminded. But Maher’s fans won’t read it, don’t care about it, and will continue to enjoy his and their own moronic view of the world and their misunderstanding of the difference between wit and ugliness. Words like ‘cunt’ are inherently funny???? Hahahahahahaha. And women love this ‘wit’ as well? But that’s a different issue.

    I’ll be back with that noun. When I find it I will never have to refer to him by name (even though we ‘shall never speak of him again’). I’d just like to find the best descriptor for one of the most horrible creatures about.

    PS Shame, shame on HBO. But then again, shame, shame on every news media outlet out there.

    PSS I did get a call from the Washington Post asking me to re-up at a discounted price. I told them I cancelled the Post 2 years ago because it was one of the most biased newspapers in the US. I also said I had subscribed instead to the NY Times, which, while awful, was about 5% better than the Post, and besides had a 1,000% better book section.

  3. Wayne

    Why anybody bothers to watch this uber partisan hack eludes me. He seems caught in a web of narcissistic self indulgence that has lost any resemblance to clever provocative comedy.

    • They watch it because they enjoy seeing Republicans savaged. It’s really that simple. Someone like Maher could only prosper in a poisonous hyper-partisan environment where mere abuse and vitriol is considered funny.

      • Maher, for all his faults, will still call a spade a spade on some issues, he’s one of those unicorn liberals that doesn’t have a problem discussing issues with Islam or calling extremist progressives insane. I have to admit, I only watch him when he makes a headline, but every now and again he hits the bullseye.

          • Insert obligatory stopped clock metaphor.

            So if he’s occasionally running against SJW talking points, he gets a pass on calling women he disagrees with cunts and twats? Yup, he’s anti-Islam, he hates all religion, and he’s a fan of pussy-grabbing, because he’s a sexist pig. What a guy.

            • Spartan

              I watch his show every single week, and I can’t remember the last time he used those words Jack, which I agree are very offensive. He DOES make Governor Christie fat jokes every week, which I find un-funny and mean — I think it is funnier to make fun of people for what they do, not for what they look like.

              If you watched regularly, you would know that his audience does not laugh at his more extreme jokes, and Maher yells at the audience (every week) for being so liberal and sensitive.

              Not everything he says is fact-check worthy, but that is true of the Republican talking heads on his show as well. I do think his show is interesting because it forces liberals and conservatives to try and talk about issues. His monologue at the beginning is deserving of the joker’s pass (or whatever you call it), but Maher himself would agree that he takes liberties there. The discussion at the table is more deserving of critique as they try and stick to facts.

              My response to Humble (although I agree for the most part) is, “Well, okay, so Maher is only deserving of your respect when he agrees with you?” I can respect people even when I disagree with them. If that were not the case, I would not read this blog regularly.

              • He stacks his panel. Foul. But even ignoring that, the Gorsuch rant is signature significance, over and over. I don’t care if he’s liberal, I care if he’s funny, and as a pundit, if he’s honest and fair. The cunt episode did it for me (what difference does it make how long ago it was? He never retracted or apologized.) The race-baiting is enough to make me swear off anyone—why doesn’t that matter to you? You’re a lawyer: do you think judges should rule at the appellate level based on feelings?

                So while you may tolerate commentators that you don’t agree with, you tolerate the intolerable, idiotic, dishonest, misleading and disgusting from commentators you DO agree with. Really?? Or is that an unfair characterization?

                • Spartan

                  Meh. If that’s your position, then you must not watch political commentary on TV at all.

                  • What’s that, everybody does it? Oliver, Bee, Noah, Schumer, and Colbert are all, to various degrees, absurdly biased, hateful, smug, unfair and disgusting. Lewis Black is tough, left-leaning but smart and funny. Who else?

                    • Spartan

                      I don’t think I am committing an ethical violation by watching TV that others may find subjectively offensive. That’s an impossible standard in any event.

                    • I didn’t say you were. But a lot of people tolerating this kind of intentionally divisive and hateful entertainment is still why it persists. No ratings, and Bill goes back to the stand-up circuit that I’m sure he thinks isn’t worthy of him. He promotes sexism and hate. The toughest and best political satirists of the past managed to make points without taking sides or resorting to invective. David Frye skewered Nixon, Johnson, Humphrey and Wallace. Mort Sahl attacked everyone.If you don’t, you are just a partisan operative with joke writers.

  4. Other Bill

    At least, unlike Al Franken, Maher’s not in the Senate. Yet. Seeing a former SNL writer in the Senate drives me nuts. The blurring of entertainment and politics and policy is awful. Drives me nuts that CNN and The Washington Post and all these other media outlets cover SNL on Sunday morning as if it’s significant news on a par with, oh say, actual events. Mind boggling.

    I think Al Franken is more dangerous the Bill Maher.

    • Spartan

      President Reagan and Mayor Eastwood? How about Gopher from Love Boat and Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard? Or Governor Jessie the Body Ventura? Or do only liberals in politics make you go nuts? To a lesser extent, how about Rush Limbaugh who started out in sports broadcasting or what’s his name from Babylon 5 who went into conservative radio?

      They have always been there. All politicians are performers — some just start in movies and TV to make money first.

      • Other Bill

        True but none of the people you mention are as smug and smarmy as Al Franken. And none of them were comedy writers. Franken’s just a former wise-guy-smarty-pants turned Senator. He didn’t do much in front of the camera, did he?

        • Well, recurring bits on SNL. A role in “Trading Places.” Stuart Smalley was a great character.

          • Other Bill

            You know, frankly, I wouldn’t mind if entertainment people were kept out of politics, come to think of it. I agree with Sparty. Keep them all out, Trump, Reagan, Ventura, Franken. Fine by me. And former comedy writers in politics? Please. No thanks.

            • Other Bill

              Error. Double negative. I wouldn’t mind if entertainment people WERE kept out of politics as a general rule.

            • Spartan

              I think you are missing my point. ALL politicians are performers, but not all performers are politicians. Where’s a Venn diagram when you need one? 🙂

            • That’s unfair and irrational, as well as ahistorical. Calling Reagan an entertainer is like calling Teddy Roosevelt a cowboy. By the time he was President, he had led a major union and been a successful governor of California. He had more relevant experience than many, many Presidents, including GW Bush, Obama, Truman, and JFK….and Lincoln, of course. And Hillary Clinton. In addition to that, he had the skills of an actor, which included superb public speaking and television skills. Imagine how different their administrations would have turned out if LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, both Bushes..and Trump…would have been if they had Reagan’s speaking skills. The background of an actor is no worse a background for a Senator than that of a farmer, or a war hero—it’s a much better one. Acting is a political skill.

              The problem is the celebrity worship that causes too many voters to mistake fame for ability. A related problem is the assumption that skill in leadership can be inherited. Al Gore almost became President because his father was a famous Senator…had his name been Ish Kabibble, Al would have been a college prof. Bobby Kennedy would have been a sleazy lawyer in a big firm somewhere. And Ted Kennedy would have been in jail.

      • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

        To SPARTAN:

        Are you really, really comparing Bill Maher to Ronald Reagan and Clint Eastwood? Do you really these two men were/are just hateful non-performers — while Maher makes a living our of just criticizing those who try to actually produce something? Both men are those who tried — sometimes with failure and sometimes with success — but who actually did something with their lives instead of sitting on the sidelines, producing or creating nothing, and make a lot of money for hateful illl-informed commentary?

        Any by the way, your may be in that 1% who actually watched Love Boat and thought it was funny, or even went near the Dukes of Hazzards. Not to get too mundane (though you’ll probably like it) Jerry Seinfeld’s show was sometimes on the edge, but it dealt with real life situations that were actually funny. Sometimes political, but dealt with in a both thoughtful and true comedic way, not dependent on just screaming epithets at everyone they didn’t like. Maher isn’t funny: and frankly, I don’t think he intends to be. He is agit/prop in the guise of comedy.

        Politicians are performers: they have to be. Comedians are comedic performers, and NOT politicians unless they want to be. And if they want to be politicians, they can drop their ‘protection’ as comedians and have the guts to run for office.

        It is so easy to criticize: so hard to act. See Teddy Roosevelts’s speech at the Sorbonne in 1912: it is all about getting into “the arena” and not just sitting on the sidelines critiquing those who try to get something done. The Bill Mahers of the world add absolutely nothing to our culture — not even humor, which I know we all need. He has taken his place as the ignorant critic of anyone who actually tries to do something, take action, make a difference. All Maher wants to do is scream obscenities at everyone his pea brain doesn’t understand.

        • Spartan

          I wasn’t comparing one performer/politician to another, I was just making the broader point that all politicians are performers. Some just start out in front of cameras.

  5. joed68

    “In 2013, 98 Republicans signed a letter saying bombing Syria in response to a chemical attack was unconstitutional without congressional authorization. But this is different because Obama was President then. That would have involved bombing while black, and you can’t — can’t do that.”

    Amazing! I was wondering how they were going to play this. I should have known.

    • He had a point right up until the last sentence. It IS amazingly hypocritical of Repiblican lawmakers to either support or withold support for basically the same action along partisan lines. Should we have bombed Assad in 2013? Yes or no? Is your answer different in 2017? If it is, you have some serious explaining to do.

      But calling that racism is lazy and stupid. Partisan? Probably. But there’s also the possibility that the fickle electorate has changed its mind. In 2013, we were starting to disengage from the Middle East in earnest, and there was basically zero support for yet another war, even one where there weren’t boots on the ground (Remember that? If I could have trademarked “Boots on The Ground” I’d have been able to retire from the proceeds). So it could be that Republican lawmakers are simply listening to their constituents, who after four years have already started to forget Iraq.

      • joed68

        I was talking particularly about the last sentence, but I did think Jack did a pretty good job of explaining the context of republican opposition based on the chronology of events.

      • Except that it really, really wasn’t the same action, and while an alleged comic isn’t obligated to explain that, the news media is. First, the GOP was wrong: Trump has the power to make that kind of a surgical strike: he wasn’t declaring war. Second, Obama defied Congress and did violate the law when he continued bombing Libya beyond the agreed-upon limit. Thus it had every reason to hold him to a more stringent standards, or try to. Third, the attack was irresponsible and pointless once Obama publicly announced that it was meaningless and Kerry kept saying that it was nothing. That made it a fiasco, embarrassing, and a waste of money. Furthermore, this is 2017, not 2013. Much is different.

        • “Surgical”… Yet another 2013 term I could have retired on.

          “First, the GOP was wrong: Trump has the power to make that kind of a surgical strike: he wasn’t declaring war.”

          Did you mean Obama? Because if you didn’t, I think it could be surgically inserted there.

          “Second, Obama defied Congress and did violate the law when he continued bombing Libya beyond the agreed-upon limit. Thus it had every reason to hold him to a more stringent standards, or try to.”

          “Hold him to more stringent standards”? Ok… Let’s say I buy that. Are you saying that the GOP saying that Obama was constitutionally unable to do something they’re now saying Trump was constitutionally able to do was… More stringent? What’s the standard in play there?

          “Third, the attack was irresponsible and pointless once Obama publicly announced that it was meaningless and Kerry kept saying that it was nothing. That made it a fiasco, embarrassing, and a waste of money.”

          Irrelevant. I doubt that many of the flip flopping legislators could spell verisimilitude, nevermind attempt to explain how it applied to Obama’s weakness in context. The question wasn’t whether Obama was a weenie, it was whether he had the power to drop missiles on Assad after he crossed the red line, and whether or not it was a good idea. Despite Obama getting in his own dumb way, I’d argue that at almost any point in the timeline after Assad gassed his people, it probably would have been better to send the message.

      • It’s a much different context.

        Yes if someone supports the bombing now solely because it’s a republican and opposed it then solely because it was a democrat, then yes that is inexplicable.

        But given the circumstances then and now it’s far too different to claim an apples to apples comparison.

  6. I should probably start watching Maher. Sounds like it would be good entertainment to see someone so bothered by political losses that they might collapse of a heart attack. The complete self-implosion by the left has been a delightful surprise. As soon as they put themselves back together, I will probably thoroughly enjoy the next chapter: the complete self-implosion by the right.

  7. Steve-O-in-NJ

    To refer to his audiences as barking seals and pinnipeds is an insult to seals (and walruses too). If the guy dinged both sides in the political debate on things that they SHOULD be dinged on (both sides have plenty) then they might be considered people with a sense of humor, but as it is, they’re as big of jerks as he is.

    I think you hit the nail right on the head with your mention of your 5th grade friend. None of us will admit it as adults, but we all laughed like loons as kids when someone we didn’t like got called a nasty name, got tripped and landed in a mud puddle, or got the stuffing beaten out of him after school. As far as we were concerned, the kid we didn’t like deserved every misfortune that befell him, Maybe we were even happy to rub it in, like asking the kid we didn’t like who broke his leg if he had a nice trip or mocking the kid who had to jury-rig the glasses we broke.

    Of course as adults we can’t trip one another in the street or wait for the co-worker we can’t stand in the parking lot to work him over with a tire iron or a rebar, and we certainly can’t assault political figures we disagree with, much as we might like to (see the fate of Carl Weiss, who took out Huey Long, only to be riddled with bullets). But we can certainly spew all the venom we want, and guys like Maher make it even easier by spewing it for us.

    We don’t have to think, we don’t have to reason, and we certainly don’t have to engage someone we disagree with. We can just nod along, clap, and walk out of there feeling like this nation got it given to them straight, just like we stood there with stupid grins on our faces as Joe called Melvin all kinds of names, told him he was hopeless and useless and he couldn’t get a date if he walked into a Las Vegas whorehouse with a roll of fifty-dollar bills, and asked him why he didn’t hang himself so the rest of us didn’t have to breath the same air, and afterward we high-fived Joe and told him it was great he set Melvin straight on a few things.

    Even Ted Rall, who I really can’t stand, gets it right more often and displays more integrity than Maher, because every so often he goes after the left too (he was not Obama’s biggest fan), is not a big fan of bullying or bullying tactics (witness his telling off of Columbine for letting a culture of bullying grow up which finally led to Harris and Klebold hitting back) and has enough of a flicker of conscience to back off cartoons and comments that went too far (mocking Pat Tillman’s death, comparing GWB voters to the mentally disabled). Ted may loathe the other side, but he at least acknowledges it exists, and sometimes carries the day (witness his rueful rant after the Democratic rout in 2004). Maher lives and works in a world where the other side exists only as a set of bowling pins to be set up for the express purpose of being knocked down, in the gutter so that it’s not possible for him to miss.

    Bill Maher’s approach isn’t even the approach of the sultan who inflates his victories over bandits and weak desert tribes into major victories or the 1-AA coach whose team stomps other 1-AA teams but gets stomped badly by1-A teams, then claims a winning season. His approach is the approach of the stacked deck, the weighted dice, the roulette table that’s rigged to stop where the house wants it to stop, so Sean Connery can hit 17 four times in a row but the little old lady looking to give her grandkids an extra merry Christmas will never hit no matter how often she plays. He exists to do one thing – feed liberal hate, and he does that VERY well. That said, there is little value in just feeding people’s hate.

  8. Dragging abortion into the discussion was just free-floating conservative-bashing without context or thought.

    I always wondered where some radical pro-abortionists about how pro-lifers are only pro-life from conception to birth.

    I have never heard any prominent anti-abortion activists (let alone group) saying it was okay for Susan Smith or Andrea Yates to kill their kids.

    They are not supposed to warp the laws based on the judges’ “feelings,” or factors like compassion. Maher is arguing that poor people, unlucky people, good people—you know, Democrats and their constituencies—should get a thumb on the scales of justice regardless of what the laws actually say.

    ChimpManiacs and StormFronters could equally argue that white people should get a thumb on the scales. I mean, under their view, a judge could sentence black defendants more harshly than white defendants solely on the basis of race, brushing aside 14th Amendment concerns by claiming, “the drafters of the 14th amendment could not have foreseen that (n-words) would commit half the murders in the country.”

    If we are to accept the proposition that judges should put their thumb on the scales for certain groups, the debate becomes which groups get to have the thumb on the scales. We avoid this debate by rejecting this proposition from the start.

  9. Chris

    Good post. I think it’s a bit unfair to say that Bee or Oliver are imitators of Maher, though; their formula is much closer to the one that led Jon Stewart to success (and of course, they each worked for him and cut their teeth on his show). I’ve always seen Maher as more of a left-wing version of Rush Limbaugh: he isn’t funny, but any time he is called out for an offensive comment he uses “satire” as an excuse, apparently either ignorant or intentionally perpetuating ignorance about what satire is. I’ve never liked him.

    Your explanation of the differences between Obama’s strikes and Trump’s strikes is interesting. I do have to wonder if Trump’s will be any more meaningful than Obama’s. There doesn’t seem to be any coherent strategy here, and since Trump apparently changed his tune on whether we should target Assad overnight, I don’t especially trust him to develop one. The symbolism of the strike was good, but whether it will lead to any real improvements remains to be seen. That said, I suppose there’s an argument to be made that unpredictability is better than weakness.

  10. Other Bill

    “That said, I suppose there’s an argument to be made that unpredictability is better than weakness.”

    Bravo, Chris.

    I think there’s also something to be said for saying one thing when you’re campaigning and then doing another once you’re elected in light to the exigencies imposed upon you by having to actually govern.

    And what’s the big thing about “Trump doesn’t have a policy!!!” Are policies developed a priori or are they more often delineated after the fact by historians. Maybe there’s something to be said to reacting to events. I think it’s disingenuous at this point to try to ding Trump for “not having a policy.”

    • I think there’s a general overriding “policy” that American readers inherit, they can modify it some, but geopolitical imperatives compel the general flow of that vision. In some cases leaders can deviate substantially but for the most part they stick with the overarching theme.

      I would characterize Obama as one who deviated considerably. And we’re seeing the results of that, even though in many cases he was still compelled to come back towards the paradigm on occasion.

      • Other Bill

        Good point, Tex. He really did make every effort to steer the ship of state in his undergraduate cooked up, addled way. His desired policy seemed to be, “Gee, maybe if we weren’t so mean, people would like us and we could all sing Kumbaya.” Which was insane and certainly a radical departure from U.S. foreign policy. But he thought he knew better than everyone else and could show them all. Too much pot at an early age.

      • No doubt, Obama wanted to follow the extreme backlash over Iraq to repeal the U.S.’s long-standing and traditional role as the good guy, big kid on the block who stood for values and made sure that bad actors don’t get the upper hand. This was part of his globalism and required a rejection of American exceptionalism, and the important belief in society that we, uniquely among nations, strive to make the world better. The Left, infected with Zinn and Chomsky anti-American spin, really does believe that the US has been a blight on world history and humanity. That is the concept of his own country that Obama brought into the Oval office, and it colored his rhetoric, priorities and policies. That’s why he was always apologizing, and denigrating his predecessors.

        Now, if he had any other leadership skills, he still might have made a passable President, but he didn’t. All he had was his ideology, which made a virtue out of US passivity, self-flagellation and weakness. “Leading from behind” isn’t leading. Leading requires risk, courage, sacrifice and making tough choices.

  11. Isaac

    He’s just as dim when it comes to abortion.

    “Republicans feel about Syrians in Syria the same way they feel about the fetus in the womb. When it’s a beautiful baby in Syria, it’s a sacred, precious gift from God. Once it leaves, you’re on your own.”

    This easily-discredited, oft-debunked Leftist talking point is the sure mark of a tool.

    Christians and social conservatives (there is a great deal of overlap) are generally over twice as likely to adopt a child, and that gap is increasing as conservatives and Christians respond with a great deal more vigor than the average citizen to the influx of refugees and the increasing social problem of lousy parenting (itself a gift of the decades of hard work dismantling family values by people like Bill Maher, who considers the porn actress known as “Super Head” suitable relationship material.) Maher is mocking what he perceives to be the “religious right” for not (in his mind) doing enough to fix the horrible problems he himself so gleefully perpetuates. He is the happy little raindrop who won’t blames everyone else for the flood.

    Google is Bill Maher’s friend.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Maher is a libertine, plain and simple. He once said that his married friends’ wives hate him because he is “a messenger from freedom” to their husbands.

    • Michael Ejercito

      I have never heard any prominent anti-abortion activists (let alone group) saying it was okay for Susan Smith or Andrea Yates to kill their kids.

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