Saturday, July 20, 2013

Real Time With Bill Maher: Counterpoints (7/19/13)

I don't think I've said this before, but we didn't get a very good show tonight. Lots of cross talk. The panel was bad. The interview sucked. Really the only bright spot was Dan Savage's spirited semi-monologues. That being said, we had a show, it had some talking points, I gotta provide some counterpoints. So let's get to it.

John Hargrove: It's hard for sensible people to take me seriously because I'm a huge hypocrite and I don't even realize it.

I really wish Maher had explicitly called Hargrove out on his hypocritical self righteousness, but it was not to be. If you've been at SeaWorld for a decade and you only decided to resign now, after having been disillusioned for years (his own words), why didn't you resign sooner? And how can you possibly make a complete 180 without even telling the audience why you had such an about face on the issue?

Maher implicitly called him out when he said something to the effect of "what right do humans have an emotional relationship with and be entertained by killer whales?" Hargrove immediately jumped in after that, agreeing with Maher. And I can't take him seriously because he kept talking about his relationship (again, his words) with those Killer Whales. Being a trainer at SeaWorld obviously means he was complicit in entertaining other people by exploiting/leveraging his "relationship" with the whales. And yet he never really confesses his own sins. The sins belong completely to the corporation, who is an easily demonized target.

Grover Norquist: Let's talk, in an inarticulate fashion, about charter schools in Louisiana and the DC voucher program when the conversation is actually about racial bias in our legal system.

I really like low taxes. Every two weeks, the government gets a very sizable cut of my earnings and I'm furious about it. That being said, Norquist is a terrible spokesperson for small government and lower taxes. His attempt to reroute the conversation from George Zimmerman and the legal system to education was ill handled, distasteful, and intellectually dishonest. He can't think on his feet very quickly either. There's a lot of pauses and halts in his speech, as if he's trying to analyze precisely the right thing to say.

Rula Jebreal 1: I'm going to talk in a very self righteous manner, be a complete scold, and do it all through a very thick and very annoying accent.

I remember her from a previous panel, and she was terrible. And she did the same thing this panel. I'm honestly flummoxed as to why Maher keeps booking her. I've come to the conclusion is that it's because she's insanely attractive, because she has no other redeeming qualities whatsoever.

In a show that is supposed to be about intellectual discourse of American politics, she is somewhere close to the bottom of the totem pole. If you can't speak English fluently, you shouldn't be a panelist on a political show. It's really that simple.

Normally that wouldn't bother me so much, but that combined with the way she carries herself. She is incredibly arrogant, judgmental, and has absolute conviction in the drivel that she's saying. And the audience plays along with it because she's on their team and she can memorize enough talking points to hand out red meat to the base. She has absolutely nothing substantive to say.

Connie Mack: "I don't know that I have the same experience" growing up as a black guy.

Are you kidding me? Rich white guy doesn't have the same experience growing up as a black person? The fact that a retired politician has to mince words like that when we're talking about race between the most privileged racial group and the most disadvantaged racial group in the US absolutely astounds me.

This is something that Maher gets so frustrated by and it frustrates me to no end too. White people need to realize that being black in the US absolutely sucks. Hell, being anything nonwhite sucks compared to being white when it comes to how other people perceive you. Being white is to be a blank slate. Nobody will assume anything bad/weird about you if you're white. That changes for any other ethnic and racial group.

Bill Maher: With the Zimmerman ruling and Stand Your Ground and the other trial statistics I brought up, it seems like the legal system is telling white people that it's okay to shoot black people.

There is no racial component to Stand Your Ground. This ruling is a combination of the triumph of reasonable doubt, and the fact that there are still plenty of white people who have negative opinions of black people. The jury acquitted Zimmerman. And juries have acquitted white people who shot black people and then used the Stand Your Ground defense to exonerate themselves. Laws and regulations are enforced by fallible human beings. There's nothing wrong with the law. It's the people that are wrong.

In my view, Zimmerman should have been convicted of some type of manslaughter. It is unconscionable to be armed and approach somebody who is unarmed, get into a fight, and then shoot the other person. Zimmerman's life may have been in danger when he got into the fight, but he should have never approached Martin in the first place.

Had it been a black guy stalking a white person who was unarmed, confronted him, got into a fight, and eventually shot the white guy dead, he would have been found guilty of manslaughter. This is an edge case where race clearly played an issue.

Rula Jebreal 2: Explain why 90% of the prison population is comprised of minorities and why black people are disproportionately targeted in the Stop and Frisk program in New York. The legal system is disproportionately biased against black people.

This might be hard to hear, but it's probably because blacks and other minorities commit a disproportionate number of crimes.

I agree with Democrats, Maher, and Jebreal that you are definitely treated differently (and mostly in a negative way) if you're black. And when you get judged by 12 (or 6, depending on the jurisdiction), you're less likely to get the benefit of the doubt if you're black. There is definitely a case to be made that, on the margin, black people get a raw deal.

But can we get real for a second? The system is weighted against their favor, but it's not weighted 4x against black people. Gun homicides like the Zimmerman controversy are not the norm. The majority of gun homicides is black on black or minority against minority, and most of those homicides are drug and gang related. But when it comes to overall homicide, blacks were arrested for 49.7% of such instances in 2011. That is something you absolutely can't ignore.

The only area where the legal system (rather, the people within the legal system) are heavily biased against minorities (blacks in particular) is drug crime and sentencing upon conviction. If you legalized the possession and distribution of marijuana and cocaine, you'd eliminate the majority of racial disparity.

Rula Jebreal 3: Corporations shouldn't be threatening to pull advertisements from Rolling Stone. Free speech is a fundamental right.

I know it seems like I'm picking on Jebreal, but she honestly is an airhead and deserves it. Hey, Rula, Rolling Stone can have free speech and free press, but it can't have the right for companies to pay money to advertise in their product.

Observation: Grover Norquist has a thoroughly unlikable persona.

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