Monday, April 17, 2006

"Real Time" Update

(Not from last Friday, which was a rerun with Bradley Whitford and Michael Eric Dyson, but from the week before…)

This is in rough form (including some rough language) because I’m trying to get it out here as fast as I can.

“Celebrity Personal Assistants” bit (“Save The Assistants” and “Make A Call” foundation working together to help abused assistants) – “This is Polly. She was rescued from an abusive talent agency” (holds card upside down and blank side out and Maher flips at her).


“Sssh folks, not so much applause. Katie Holmes is giving birth in the next room, and we need it very quiet here.”

“Let’s see…what’s been leaked to the news? Libby says Bush himself approved it, but I find that hard to believe. Bush is allowed to see classified information?”

“Bush could be in bigger trouble. A lot of the intelligence was cherry picked by illegal immigrants (double whammy).”

“The immigration bill is dead for now. The Republicans didn’t want this bill maybe because they wanted a wedge issue like gay marriage was in ’04. That poor Ricky Martin just can’t catch a break, can he?”

“Apparently, 11 million illegals would be put into three groups: mild, medium, and caliente.”

“Bush wants to build a virtual fence that would be monitored by DHS, when they aren’t busy having virtual sex. Brian Doyle of DHS was arrested, and some chats went on for hours. You know DHS…they take forever to come” (ba dump).

“I don’t mind that (Doyle) is a pervert, but if you can’t work for DHS and smell an Internet setup, then yes, you sitting around with your dick in your hands.”

“Given DHS’s record, I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind. Let the Arabs run the ports after all.”

“It’s such a sleazy world. I’ve done the NYT crossword puzzle just about every day, and there was a shock this week; the word “scumbag” was used, and the clue was Tom DeLay.”

“DeLay stepped down; said he wants to spend more time in prison…yesterday, he quoted a lot of MLK; ‘free at last.’ I’m glad he likes the black experience. He’ll get a lot of that in prison.”

“Speaking of slimy things, they found the missing link between land and water life, a 375-million-year-old fish. Bush said “maybe, but we should also teach that it’s a 2-year-old striped bass off Kennebunkport.”

“Taxes are due a week from today, and you can make your check payable directly to Halliburton, or do what I’ll do; I’ll file my first joint return. ..I’m not getting married, I’m sending the IRS an actual joint with a note that says, ‘If you think I’m paying for this war, you must be high’.”

Satellite Interview with Cynthia McKinney

BM: Hey slugger…I know you can’t talk about this, but you got into a scuffle with Capitol police…people have to know a little bit.


BM: (recounts)…Once in awhile, a new guy doesn’t recognize you and asks you to stop…

CM: We’re talking about a lapel pin, and I wasn’t wearing it. I guarantee you I’ll be wearing it from now on after this.

BM: Why did you get all “don’t you know who I am?”

CM: It wasn’t like that, I was going about my business, acting like a normal member of Congress (my note: there IS such a species? – she switched right to talking about Halliburton and possible war with Iran, which leads me to believe that she’s trying to cover up something).

BM: It sounds like someone going to a club who didn’t get “love” from the doorman…that it’s more about ego than race.

CM: That’s wrong.

BM: Do you consider yourself “a big shot” in Congress (note: this recounting sounds like it was a confrontational interview, but it was hardly that).

CM: No, Tom DeLay is a big shot. I represent the little guy, the average, ordinary American in my district. I care about global warming, electronic voting machines, the war, increase in defense spending, etc.

BM: I’m with you on this.

CM: I didn’t say this was racial…we have an issue of race in this country. W.E. B. DuBois said the problem of the 20th century is the color line and people living together with dignity and justice. That’s what we need to concentrate on (yep, when any politician starts making a “stump speech” in a situation like this, then they’re trying to deflect attention from their own actions).

BM: You’ve said a lot of things that blew me away…You said Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand, and I said I don’t think he knew about it afterwards (ba dump)

CM: We’re still trying to figure out what he knows. I was talking about the warnings into the administration – Gore and the 9/11 Commission said it also.

BM: You voted against the resolution to go to war…do you think you should get more credit?

CM: It’s not about the credit, it’s about leadership (25 percent of homeless people are veterans…don’t break our promise to them – more stump speech).

Panel discussion with senior White House correspondent for something called the Washington Examiner named Bill Sammon, actor Ben Affleck and Senator Joe Biden (D, Delaware).

BM: (sucking up to Biden since he just announced that he’s running for President in ’08; totally unbelievable to me that that apparently was ignored everywhere).

BS (appropriate abbreviation): Refreshing to hear a candidate announcing his intention to run (blah blah about Hillary being the dominant player to work his wingnut audience into a lather).

BM: Leak story…Bush hated leaks in the past, once accusing the Washington Post of treason over a leak.

BS: When the President declassifies information, it’s not technically a leak (please), but it is when the New York Times publishes classified information on NSA spying.

BM: The New York Times got it from the Bush White House!

BS: Not the NSA spying program, which harms national security (I already can’t stand this guy, and he’s got this deranged freeper look on his face also).

BA: Let’s say it was a mistake, which is possible. You can make the declassification argument but not for political means to hurt another guy.

BS: True, but you have to keep it in context…Wilson wrote the Op-Ed piece in the New York Times and the Bush Administration was defending itself.

BM: But they were doing it in a way that they were denouncing (Wilson, and outing Wilson’s wife, of course). Seriously, what can’t Bush do? He can imprison U.S. citizens without trial, tap phones, can go to war without a declaration from Congress, sign laws then attach “signing statements” which basically say that he’ll ignore the law…why does Congress show up for work? What stops him from breaking any law he wants?

JB: (Finally, but it would be worth it once he got going)…All those people (pointing at audience) are stopping him; the public has figured this guy out. I’ve been there for seven presidents. I’m 107 years old, but there are 44 guys older than me.

BM: You’re a seven-term senator.

JB: The idea that a president of the United States leaks the identity of a CIA agent and blows her cover…what the heck do you think that says to every other agent in the field? I don’t know exactly what he leaked, but it undermined the faith the CIA agents have in their government.

BA: Around the Bush/Cheney/Libby leak emerged the name of Valerie Plame, countering the yellowcake uranium thing in the NYT.

BS: A lot of critics are conflating the two…

BA: Probably also leaked the name (I think HuffPo “ran with this” last week).

BS: Even the prosecutor is saying Bush didn’t leak the name (probably hasn’t determined that yet).

BA: They shoot you in the battlefield for that. It’s treason. We’re not talking Tom DeLay here, “oh, I’ll do a year for taking corporate money.”

BM: This is coming out now since Libby is in court. Speaking of DeLay, he stepped down this week (cheers). We were talking last week about how Brazil is going to be energy independent…can’t achieve big goals in this country anymore because nothing happens without somebody getting paid off, and DeLay is the poster boy for the crony capitalism that has turned America into something less than a first rate power.

BS: That allegation…he’s a poster boy for the left (and this guy is supposed to be a correspondent?). This will help the Republicans actually, because the Democrats can’t use his name any more to raise funds.

BA: (DeLay) gerrymandered (his) district (in Texas) so severely that it looks like the map of Italy. “The poster boy for the left”? He’s an incredibly powerful Republican who’s also now a criminal, and you blame Democrats for pointing that out?

JB: I never worked with DeLay.

BM: Did he get anything on you? (everybody laughs)

JB: DeLay will be around for as long as this prosecution is around, which will be awhile, and it will allow you and the audience to believe that this is a failed country and everyone is bought off. We haven’t had a leader to challenge the American people to do the things they’re ready to do. These people (audience) are ready. We all talk about 9/11. If Bush had decided after 9/11 that “I have an energy policy, but it’s going to be painful, and this is what I expect you to do,” the people of this country would have responded. It was a squandered opportunity. We don’t have leadership.

BA: It’s a good opportunity for the American people to rally around this issue (ethics, back to DeLay). What’s legalized are the lobbying relationships which don’t represent the American people at large, so let’s find a way to pass legislation to separate ourselves from lobbyists.

BM: When DeLay/Abramoff hit the news, there was a fear in Congress, but then they saw that people weren’t interested, so it went away.

BS: Also realized that part of the problem is that existing lobbying laws aren’t enforced.

BA: A guy in a fedora and a trench coat comes to your house and offers you a deal (laughing)…it’s not that DeLay is that crooked, it’s that he’s that stupid, right out of Inspector Clouseau.

BM: Does Bush pray about Iraq?

BS: I think he prays a lot, period (so should us all that he doesn’t do anything else stupid).

BM: Somebody did a 9-year study that found that prayer doesn’t work.

BS: I interviewed Bush when he decided to start the war…he said he walked about the south lawn and prayed (I share the D.L. Hughley’s sentiment that he voiced weeks ago on this show, by the way…namely, that whenever he hears somebody saying how Bush is so moral and religious, he feels like he’s going to lose his f*cking mind – also, I’d like Bill Sammons to meet me face to face, as long as he feels that he can impugn my faith the way he wants; if he were to do that, I’d tell him that the only reason why I wouldn’t punch him in the eye is because my faith doesn’t approve of it.)

BM: I constantly read about how people in this administration didn’t know crucial information on Iraq, like that there are Sunnis and Shiites – you know, really big stuff like that – and my guess is that while Bush was praying, he should have been learning instead.
JB: Smart people pray. This guy uses it in a way to avoid having to know the hard things. The idea that you should pray after going to war or making a hard decision – I understand that. Republicans use prayer as a political organizational tool, not a road to redemption (applause, and rightly so). I met with Bush a lot, and I said to him, “How can you say these things without knowing the facts?” and he says, “I have good instincts” (yeah, for f*cking up everything he touches). If he conflates prayer with his decisions about where to send missiles, then that’s dangerous. That’s over the edge. I think he makes these decisions based on his instincts and then prays that he’s right.

BM: You’re right, being a person of faith has become a “third rail” in American politics. If you’re running, you’d better tell everyone you’re a faith-based person. I don’t even know what you’re religion is (talking to Biden) and I think that’s great. I’m sure you have faith, but I think it’s more appropriate not to look into it, like we’ve done in this country (I wholeheartedly agree, Bill).
BA: Al Smith was a big deal and Kennedy also, because they were Catholic, and Eisenhower had an influence.

JB: But they weren’t advertising it. I have my own faith, it matters to me, but the thing about the Republicans is that they use it as a tool, but Democratic elites (huh?) communicate that they don’t respect people’s faith. My mom says a rosary every Sunday (for a deceased family member), and I said this to one of my colleagues (he mentioned “Charlie” – I wonder if he was referring to Schumer?), and he said it was “quaint,” and I wanted to rip his goddamn Adam’s apple out. Who the hell are you to tell me what my mother does is “quaint”? People of faith don’t want us to share their view. They just want to know that we respect them.

BA: I’m a Christian, I’ve prayed. But touting religion absent of any thought is a terrible, almost criminal mistake. History is filled with people of great faith who contributed to both art and science. It’s not mutually exclusive.

Satellite interview with Kevin Phillips, plugging his book “American Theocracy” (nice segue)…

BM: Have you been listening to our discussion?

KP: Yes

BM: Right or wrong?

KP: I wasn’t sure of the conclusions. They’re funny and our leadership is funny, so it all works out.

BM: In your book you’re saying we have the first religious party in power in America, kind of radical thinking for someone who isn’t a radical. True?

KP: A bit of a stretch for people to think that – data from most pollsters indicate that people associate religiosity with the Republican party (yuck). I think that’s a problem because, within the Republican party, bringing together religion and politics creates dangerous ideas.

BM: Bush was in Cleveland and someone asked about your book and the relevance of the apocalypse in Mideast strategy, and he kind of avoided the question, but he is an “end timer.” Doesn’t that affect someone’s policy and their thinking, given that that affects those of use who don’t think end times are near?

KP: I think that’s right. According to Newsweek, 45 percent of Christians believe in “end times” and Armageddon. With the 55 percent of evangelical, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist groups that voted for him, the percentage is a lot higher. If Bush said he believed in this, 30-40 percent of his electorate (those not in the groups mentioned above who voted for him anyway) would have to say “oh boy.”

BM: You talk about excessive debt and dependence on energy in your book…stuff going on in “other empires” that were about to fall. Name some.

KP: Not hard to do, looking at a lot of history of countries in later stages, trying to spread their theory on religion around the world and outspending what they have. This is happening in this country. It’s ironic that Bush majored in history at Yale because he doesn’t know any more about history than he does about making fried calamari.

(back to panel)

BM: The missing link was found this week between sea animals and land animals, and it just struck me bothers creationists to think that man crawled out of the slime and that exactly what happened with this thing. What do you think Bush thinks of this and why are the fundamentalists so secure about us not coming from the apes?

BS: This will reignite the whole argument about whether or not intelligent design should be taught along with evolution. Bush came out some months ago and said that it should (of course).

JB: This is reversible. We don’t have to go down this road. I refuse to believe that the majority of the people in this country believe this malarkey. There are a lot of people frightened now because they feel they don’t have control of their lives and they can’t turn to the government for answers. They turn to fundamentalist answers, but that doesn’t mean government doesn’t have a way to explain a way through this and get out of this. When government plays into this notion that Armageddon is on the way, you just fuel it. We have to fight this. I refuse to believe that this is what the majority of the American people think.
BA: I think Biden is right (snuck in a plug for the movie “Armageddon”)

BM: I think a lot of people believe the world is 6,000 years old, but what the Democrats have to understand is that those people will never vote for them, so why do so many Democrats try to fish in that pond?

JB: The fish that aren’t biting are the 52 percent of the Americans who don’t vote (what a sickening number), and they’re looking for a rational, sensible, optimistic request to do something.

Iraq again

BM: (Bush) got it from the left and the right this week…Rice and Jack Straw went over and told Iraq to form a new government, and John Kerry wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times saying we should get out by May 15th is there’s still no government. Look, they’re middle Easterners. They’re bargainers. You have to threaten to get out before they make a deal. I know. I dealt with a Jewish guy who built my house (ba dump).

BS: Let’s indulge Kerry on 5/15. Either a unity government is formed, or what? Civil war?

BM: We already have that.

JB: Bush is already removing troops. I guarantee you he’ll be down to 100,000 troops by the end of this year and 30,000 by the end of next year. Bush says conditions on the ground will dictate withdrawal. What has happened over the past 30 days to justify pulling out 30,000 troops? They’re getting out. The real question is how we do it to keep a regional war from happening. What is the plan? The problem with John’s plan is that it has a date, but it doesn’t tell you what to do when the rest of the world falls apart. What do you do when you have the Turks and Iranians in Iraq and there’s a regional war? (Kerry’s plan) doesn’t tell you that. This administration has a plan how not to lose but not a plan about how to win. You gotta tell the Sunnis, if you don’t play along we have to pull out and figure out how to stop a regional war (among Iran, Turkey, and the Sunni states). You guys have to set up your own government, and when you do, you’ve got to figure out how to share the revenue. The Sunnis want a piece of the action. The problem is that there’s no plan; these guys (Bushco, presumably) don’t know what they’re doing.
BM: (talking to Biden) You’ve been criticized for speaking too long, but I should point out to the American public that sometimes it takes more than 30 seconds to explain something so it makes sense (applause). Don’t back away from that the way Al Gore backed away from global warming.

JB: The U.S. Defense Department put out a report two years ago saying the biggest threat to our physical security is global warming, and these guys are acting the same way about that as they do with creationism, like it’s not happening.

BS: If you polled the American people, global warming vs. terrorism, they’d probably say terrorism.

BM: That doesn’t mean that they’re right (note: for the disagreements I’ve had with Maher at times, I have to point out that he is a relentless spokesman for the environment, which is laudable).

BA: This is semantics (huh?). I want to go back to Biden (re: Iraq). I want to figure out how to get out.

BS: We’re vested at this point. We have to have some role in forming a unity government so we can pull out.

(My note: I’m so tired of hearing this garbage. Why doesn’t Sammons instead try to explain why we’re building an embassy in Iraq the size of a small city if we really want to let Iraq eventually govern itself, assuming that will ever happen anyway of course.)

JB: If we didn’t have to worry about regional war…I’d say, “have at it, guys.” Question is not when we get out, it’s what we leave behind (re: oil maybe at $125 a barrel, and what would Israel do if Iran moved in, and what would the Saudis do?). This is a chaotic circumstance. Bush, instead of making speeches, should be on a plane flying to capitals in the region making that point. Nobody benefits from a civil war. We refuse to talk to anybody – Iran is the “bad guy,” but guess who we talked to to get Karzai in Afghanistan? The Iranians. These guys are ideologically driven (don’t know if Biden is talking about Bush, Iran, or both at this point). Bush has to widen this and come to a regional agreement. We can’t pull out of the Middle East.

Time for “New Rules”...

I have to tell you that Joe Biden held court in this show. I know he voted for that fraud bankruptcy bill because of MBNA – that will never make it right, but that’s the political reality of course – and I wish someone had asked him, “Why exactly aren’t you supporting Russ Feingold’s call for censure anyway?,” but all that aside, I thought he came across very, very well and looked truly presidential. When Biden spoke, it wasn’t the typical left or right-wing pundit flapping his or her gums. This was someone talking who knows what’s going on, and everyone sat, listened, and learned, including yours truly.

(also, I just learned from Maher's HBO site that there must be video available of Sammons responding to Biden after the show. Hey, he already had the chance to say something. At this point, he should just shut up and go home.)


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