Sunday, November 4, 2012

Real Time With Bill Maher: Counterpoints and Retrospective (11/2/12)

Well, we had a pretty energetic and combative (but not aggressively so) show tonight. Lots of points were covered so this post might get pretty lengthy. So let's get to it.

1. Climate change: The interview guest was James Balog, who filmed a documentary showcasing the effects the changing climate has on glaciers. This is something where some cognitive dissonance should trigger, but it doesn't seem to happen. I remember when Maher, a few years ago, would rant about how a few record low temperatures in the northeast didn't disprove global warming. But when Balog comes on and shows glaciers receding in Greenland, all of a sudden this is proof that AGW exists?

Maher likes to say facts are facts, and the facts do agree that global temperatures have risen over the past 100 years. But facts don't mean anything without presenting them in a proper context. The earth is over 4 billion years old. We've had some wild temperature swings. 30 years ago, the faculty lounge was concerned about global cooling and another ice age.

We don't know what the future has in store for us. I've already written about the dangers of relying on models that try and predict what happens next. Climate isn't a thing that we can manipulate easily and quickly. And if our weather prediction models aren't even good 2 weeks out, what makes us think we can predict the climate a century out from now?

2. Hurricane Sandy: Lazio and Hoover, the two conservative/Republican guests on the panel, couldn't properly litigate Sandy without coming off like unsympathetic, unfeeling monsters. But since I'm unconstrained by that....newsflash: FEMA does not validate the existence of government. Nobody is going to protest the government's role in natural disaster relief and recovery.

Also, the response has been better but also a lot easier. Because Hurricane Sandy was a lot less destructive than Katrina, and the government has since learned a lot about the problems with the response to Katrina. A lot of people have attributed Katrina as the high water mark of the Bush Presidency (the aftermath of Katrina was when Bush's approval and credibility approached record lows and destroyed what was left of his political capital), and the succeeding President is not going to forget what happened.

Sandy doesn't vindicate the existence of government. Every program the government performs should be analyzed on its own merits. Because the government isn't like your friends. You don't have to take the bad in with the good. And you can't take or leave the government. Look at what works and what doesn't, and then proceed accordingly.

One last thing. The media coverage and political analysis of Sandy is kinda insane. This was probably the first major natural disaster of the Facebook/Twitter era, and I think the whole thing is getting overblown. I keep getting the feeling like the newspapers and periodicals just realized hurricanes existed and caused losses of human life and property destruction. Look, it was rough, but it's over. And the recovery process is happening in an orderly fashion. Please move on.

3. Youth Voters: The mid-show guest was Matthew Segal, a politically active 27 year old, and it really irks me when people like him try and take on the mantle of some demographic or cause. In his case, it's the youth vote. And the reason I especially don't like people like him is because we share the same demographic. We're roughly 3 years apart (I'm 24), and I don't vote. When they brought up that college student Jeremy, who asked both candidates whether they could get him a job upon graduation, I just thought that was emblematic of "Generation Me".

I hate young people because they're absurdly confident, ignorant, vapid, and conformist, and fake. I'm not trying to channel Holden Caufield here, but I think we're just too smug. We've got the world figured out. We have endless opportunities before us (despite the fact that, realistically, your economic prospects are more or less figured out before the 3rd year of college, if you even attend college), and we're just too damn pleased with ourselves about it.

Oh sure, some people like to point out things like tolerance and acceptance of minorities and gays, and support for things like gay marriage (or marriage equality, which I think is the newest branding of the issue), equal pay for women, and environmental regulation, but this is all just superficial and meaningless.

For "millenials" (how I hate that term), these are all abstract issues that don't affect them. If you ask them things that have an immediate impact on their lives, like student loan subsidies, getting onto their parents' health care insurance until they're 26, they're all for whatever gets them the most benefit for the least amount of effort on their behalf.

We're also unbelievably shortsighted. How many times have you seen a kid in their twenties proclaim that they're "socially liberal fiscally conservative"? They're mostly just socially liberal. Because money is such an abstract and far off concept for them that they won't care about it until they enter the real world, where they have a job and bills to pay. And more and more of us are putting that off, living in and sponging off of our parents while trying to find a menial job so we can afford our mobile phone plan.

Young people don't vote unless it's fashionable to do so. 2008 was one of those years. 2012 not so much. There's nothing in it for us. We can just easily lie about voting and pretend about being politically active to make ourselves look cooler at the next party.

4. Energy Costs Matter: I'm glad that Lazio brought up the issue of the left's former infatuation with nuclear and natural gas. Because they've abandoned it wholesale. And Maher's explanation of Fukushima doesn't cut it. Coverage was overblown and the damage to the reactors didn't lead to anything bad happening.

This is the real reason why the environmental lobby can't get any actual traction. Cheap energy runs the modern economy and nobody is really serious about boosting energy prices for the sake of lower living standards and a "cleaner" environment.

Get solar and wind down to less than 5 cents per kwh in operating costs and you'll see them take off. Before that, you won't. It's really that simple. A rich liberal like Maher doesn't care about energy costs. He can afford to pay 100k for his Tesla roadster and pay 2k per month to heat and cool his mansion in Beverley Hills. Environmentalists are just rich people who already built their cabin in the woods.

5. Margaret Hoover: I really wish Maher or one of the other guests mention that she didn't include "black people" in her litany of people they (the Republican party) needed to reach out to (youths, women, gays, and Hispanics). That would have been a Real Time Real Moment right there!

Also, someone farted when she talked one time. I'm pretty sure it wasn't her, because it's been well established that women don't fart.

1 comment:

  1. Jay, I think the part about the youth vote is my single favorite thing you have written on the blog so far. As a 47 year old, I found it amusing, (and refreshing), to see you "calling out" your own generation so to speak.