Highlights from Bill Maher’s latest “Real Time” show

June 26, 2022 • 9:15 am

Watch quickly before HBO pulls these clips from Youtube!

Reader Paul called my attention to the second clip below from the latest Bill Maher’s “Real Time” show, but I found two other short clips on YouTube. His guests this week were three writers: Andrew Sullivan, Christine Emba, and Katie Herzog.

Maher is often damned by “progressive” bloggers as an “alt-Righter”, but they simply hate the fact that he makes fun of the progressive Left. (Yes, he did flirt with anti-vaxism, but that just gave him another reason to dislike him.) But if you look at the videos, especially the ending of the second one, you’ll see that he’s no conservative, but a liberal of the classical stripe. Do progressives lack a sense of humor? Are there any “progressive Leftist” comedians? (I can’t think of any.) The comedians who liberals really liked, like Dave Chapelle, Sarah Silverman, Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin, were known for taking the mickey out of liberal hypocrisy. Of course the Right is also fair game these days, as the clips below show.

And I often find Maher very funny. His delivery, a combination of deadpan and laughing at his own jokes, is unique. Even if you don’t like him, you have to admit that there’s nobody besides Chapelle, who has a very different style, who fills Maher’s niche.

Here’s his 2.5-minute opening monologue with a dig at the end at Democrats who couldn’t bear to vote for Hillary Clinton. (I did, though I voted for Bernie in the primary.)

This is a good 8.5-minute bit in which Maher points out how Americans resent it when they don’t have “their own lawyer”—someone who represents their interests. Some Democratic policies, like forgiving student loan debt, get it in the neck. (The fourth “lawyer billboard” is a hoot!) Finally, at 7:55, he gets serious about trying to dump Trump.

Six minutes of discussion about Roe v. Wade and the divisions within America. Katie Herzog mourns the fact that there’s “no center” in American politics, Sullivan makes a few remarks suggesting that the states and not the courts should decide the issue of abortion, which is what the Supreme Court just ruled.

And eight minutes of overtime. Herzog agrees with me that Biden overstepped his bounds by banning Jool e-cigarettes and trying to eliminate all nicotine from tobacco. As she says, “If anything turns me into a libertarian, it will be this particular issue.”  This bit isn’t as interesting as the videos above, but I add it for completion.

41 thoughts on “Highlights from Bill Maher’s latest “Real Time” show

  1. We desperately need more people like Maher — people who don’t fall into line with a particular tribe and aren’t afraid to criticize BS on their own side of the political aisle.

    It seems like every time I post a clip of Maher on Twitter, someone jumps on me for “supporting” him. I always feel compelled to add this caveat: “I don’t always agree with Bill Maher, but he makes a good point here.” It’s sad that I feel like I have to add that caveat. The idea that you don’t *always* agree with someone should be automatically understood; but these days, if you even “like” a person’s Tweet, it’s as if you’re suddenly responsible for every view that person ever espoused.

    1. That sounds like the kind of reaction the Woke have to Maher. He questions everything and has no problem stomping all over their “hurt feelings”. It isn’t too surprising that they hate him with a blind passion. The reaction you describe is the classic Woke position that there are only good people and bad people. If you side with a bad person, you are automatically bad as well. Only by demonstrating virtue 100% of the time, are you allowed to be a good person.

      1. and even then….
        Virtues may change, and you might just have flaunted the now ‘wrong’ one.
        It is like the mentality of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, although with the guidance of Mao and his red book it was less fluid. I’m also reminded of the Khmer Rouge. I have no doubt that if the ‘Woke’ had the means they would be just as murderous.
        And yes, between the ‘Alt right’ and the ‘CTRL left’ we miss the large ‘Centre space’.

    2. Haidt & Lukianoff’s “three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education” number 3: “life is a battle between good people and evil people.”

    3. Henry, I feel sorry for you that you live your life subject to the worry that you will be jumped on on by something called, what is it, “Tweeter”? Is there some way you can avoid the predations of this evil thing? Is is something you can seek political asylum from?

  2. > Sullivan […] suggesting that the states and not the courts should decide the issue of abortion
    > and
    > “If anything turns me into a libertarian, it will be this particular issue [nicotine].”

    One interesting thing to be on the look-out for. During the Obama administration, I saw several Republicans migrating to Libertarian fora while advocating states’ rights. It was all smoke and mirrors. Many Republicans claim to support states’ rights when they do not control the White House and Congress, and then flip on the issue after the next election. Remember: granting authoritarian powers to the states is anything but libertarian.

    I suspect we are soon going to see a lot of people flirting with the idea of libertarianism who attempt to redefine the term to fit their own political values. Ah, well. Maybe it’ll get us some more votes.

      1. Sorry, you’re absolutely right. I brought together two separate trends above and didn’t demarcate them properly.

    1. At times I think it would help if there was a viable 3rd party with a mix of left and right values. I see it as a way to force a de-polarization of politics around here. I don’t know if that would be what is called Libertarian, but maybe.

      1. I agree, we do need a non-extremist party here in the US but isn’t the Libertarian Party in the US just a segment of the Right? And a somewhat far segment if I recall.

        1. Libertarians are not right, and definitely not far-right. I am fairly middle-of-the-road libertarian. Whenever someone says ‘fiscal conservative and social liberal’ or ‘classically liberal’, that is what they mean – which is why most other countries use the term ‘liberal’ to mean what Americans call ‘libertarian’. They want minimal government interference in private and personal matters (health, bedroom activity, adult relationships, employment contracts, etc.); most of the complaints we are hearing about the New Left and the New Right is about what they want to regulate and censor.

          The Nolan Chart can give you a solid overview. Sorry Professor, I don’t mean to evangelize here, and I’ll shut up after this post. I’m just trying to respond to Paul’s question, and not be pushy about it.

          1. First, I am not talking about your beliefs as I know nothing about them.

            While I’m sure you’re right as far as the textbook definition of libertarian is concerned, my impression is that a fair number of those who vote Republican call themselves Libertarian because they want to stress the small-government part of the Republican platform but still claim their independence from the traditional Republican and Democrat labels. They want to be seen as having made an independent assessment of their beliefs but they end up being otherwise indistinguishable from Republicans. They also claim they are against gun control because it’s just another case of government control but also believe all the rest of the crap that the gun lobby throws out there. At the risk of gross stereotyping, I see them as Republicans who don’t want to be called Republicans.

      2. Additional political parties and ranked-choice voting in elections go hand-in-hand, I think, and would help alleviate today’s extreme polarization.

        As would having congressional districts drawn fairly by nonpartisan commissions rather than through the gerrymandering system by which elected officials choose their voters instead of vice versa. Safe red and blue districts, in which incumbents have more to fear from an extremist candidate within their own party in a primary race than they do from a candidate from the other party in the general election, drive incumbents toward the fringes and discourage centrist bipartisan cooperation between elections (since such cooperation provides grist for a primary opponent to attack an incumbent as a RINO or DINO).

        1. > As would having congressional districts drawn fairly

          Do you think congressional districts are strictly necessary? I would vastly prefer proportional representation; it comes much closer to the one-person-one-vote paradigm, and people don’t have to worry about being unrepresented because they are a Texas Democrat, etc. My political affiliation is much more relevant to me than my geographic identity. Many people don’t bother voting unless they live in a swing state now.

      3. I wrote a thesis (admittedly as an undergraduate) for my political-science major on the two-party system in America.

        This is reality, as I wrote, but as many other much keener minds have also elucidated:

        Third-parties do not, and cannot, work under the system as it currently exists and has existed for countless decades. On the rare occasion when a third party rises up, does well at the polls and has a bit of staying power, it **replaces** one of the two existing parties and, like a rubber band snapping back into place, we’ve got two again.

        It is in the nature of the American system. Which isn’t to say that I’m happy about that. I’m most unhappy.

        But given that reality, we’re all much better off advocating for things like neutral redistricting entities (vs. partisan committees), bans on political gerrymandering, ranked-choice voting (or other methods that are not winner-take-all, first-past-the-post modes), open primaries and so on.

        I also have believed for a good long time that the fundamental problem in U.S. politics is money. It distorts everything, the way the system is currently configured.

        But pining for a third party is just wishful thinking, I’m sad to say.

  3. These clips appear to be from the official Real Time youtube channel. So they’ll likely be available for months/years. It’s the unofficial copies of entire episodes, posted by random dude, that get deleted quickly.

  4. Sully is correct theoretically. As Jerry put it in today’s Hili Dialogue, “the only other thing we can do is lobby Congress to pass legislation that would legalize abortion on a national scale, and that ain’t gonna happen.” And the reason is the fault of Sully’s argument, to wit: Sully’s conceit is his assumption that we live in a democracy wherein the will of the majority becomes codified into the law of the land. We live in a plutocracy wherein the minority currently has outsized power to pass laws.

    1. I heard that some are pursuing the idea of Native Americans running abortion clinics on their own land, thereby circumventing state laws. Not sure whether that’s a viable plan. Could lead to combined gambling casinos and abortion clinics. If so, it would give a fresh supply of material to comedians.

      1. Great idea. I did a quick look and there are three Indian Nation reservations in Texas, and with their sovereign status, could likely do this if they choose.

        1. What state would the doctors who do the abortions (or any other medical treatment) on the Indian Nations have to be licensed in?

          1. Good question. The Indian Health Services works with Tribal Partners to provide health care. I had a friend who did this, and he was licensed in Colorado and New Mexico.

            1. Thanks. Then I suppose it depends on what those other-state medical regulators think about their members helping Texans skate around their state’s law. The regulators are pretty much a law unto themselves and would have to develop some policy about it, even if it’s just, “Don’t.”

              My guess is that the Nations wouldn’t be interested in doing this unless there was a lot of money in it for them. The target market is said not to be well-heeled. Indian Health wouldn’t be paying for it. Texas Medicaid obviously not. Where is the revenue stream?

  5. I don’t get the “let the states decide” thing.

    If something is wrong, it is wrong.

    If something is “wrong” on the national scale, how does the implied corollary get a free pass, namely “but it would be fine if a state government made a law for it or against it.”

    Note that Griswold v. Connecticut might be overthrown now. That case said, by a tortuous journey through an ugly fog, that a citizen of Connecticut “might” be allowed to do something that is not proactively and specifically called out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Paraphrase: “well, The C. does not mention condoms, and there is no right to own and use one called out, but gee, maybe we could construct this quaint and thin idea of a penumbra of “privacy” so that a couple could control conception in their bedroom.

    Griswold, by extension, begs the question on two extremes: 1) this means Americans can do anything they want by mutual volitional agreement, so let’s get rid of regulation; or 2) see? We might have allowed this one item to get a free pass, but THAT’S ALL. Other than contraception, citizens must get permission from the state to do anything.

    Resolved: “Oh, we have to put an end to Griswold. We can’t assume Americans can just go around pursuing whatever whatever whatever, without permission.” [aka: the regulatory state]

    It does not say in the Constitution that a parent can indoctrinate a child into irrational beliefs like “God.”

    I don’t see a permission to run a private religious school. Besides, wouldn’t allowing religious schools violate the specific prohibition on “establishing” religion?

    There is no establishment of The Rich in the Constitution. These billionaires just keep hoarding money as if they have permission, when they don’t. Soak ‘em.

    Who said a citizen could make a rocket all on their own and go to Mars? That is definitely not called out in the Constitution.

  6. It was not Biden that banned Juul. It was the FDA, and I doubt that it asked Biden for permission, although perhaps he had no objection. In any case, the ban is now on temporary hold by order of an appeals court.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/juul-e-cigarette-sales-ban-on-hold-pending-federal-appeal-rcna35308

    The issue of banning cigarettes and products such as Juul revolves around public health versus individual freedom. The case for banning such products is 1) at least for cigarettes, second-hand smoke can make others ill and 2) the public usually picks up the cost to treat illnesses created by smoking. However, the cost of medical care is not clear cut. True, there may be more upfront costs to treat smoking related illnesses, but there could be long-term servings. This is because smokers die earlier than non-smokers, thus saving the public expenditures for social security and Medicare if these people didn’t smoke. It is not clear as far as I know whether these long-term savings outweigh the short-term costs. I realize that other bad habits such as the consumption of too much sugar can lead to bad health outcomes and there is no demand to ban it. So, my view is to let people smoke themselves to death. Just don’t do it around me. Society will have to bear the medical costs, but maybe there is a net savings in the long-term.

    1. This was looked at in a Dutch modelling study back in 1997. It was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health, not, as sometimes claimed, by the tobacco lobby.

      If everyone quit smoking, health costs would decline initially but then rise to exceed those of a smoking population as more people survived into the dementia and long-term-care age groups. The study estimated health-care costs only, in Holland but they explored how sensitive the estimate was to higher costs for everything as in the U.S. They didn’t include pensions/Social Security; including them makes the prediction overwhelming in favour of smoking but this would seem cynical and callous. Their point was that smoking cessation is a good thing but we should not expect to see lower healthcare costs as a result.

      (Edited to clarify that lifetime costs for non-smokers exceed smokers’, not just that they “start to rise”.)

      https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199710093371506
      (Full text, not paywalled.)

  7. Of course, Maher does a good job of lambasting right, left and center. What I don’t like about him — and I assume this is one reason why many others don’t like him either — is that he comes across as so haughty and arrogant. Like everyone is a complete idiot except, you guessed it, Bill Maher. There are other commentators/comedians that do a much better job of avoiding this, like the already noted Chappelle, or Howard Stern, or any of the Monty Python crew. Maher is rarely self-deprecating.

    1. Jared,

      Yes I’ve certainly seen a lot of Maher but after the last few clips the same thing struck me. Totally agree he is useful in calling out stuff in a relatively non-partisan way (though obviously partisan on some issues). We need some fearless voices like him.

      On the other hand…yes I know he’s seeking to entertain…his style ultimate adds to the vitriol and division. It’s not so much conversation as him essentially calling everyone else out as idiots. So constant derision. It’s basically the twitter attitude constituted as a popular talk show host.
      Tucker is the same of course. But even though I agree with Maher on a lot of stuff, Iit’ hard to ignore
      his gasoline-on-the-fire presentation of the issues.

    2. I miss the irreverent Maher who made Religulous.

      A good comedian can make you laugh, whether you agree with him or not.

  8. I watched the episode on Friday and thought it was full of wisdom and humor. I didn’t look at these clips since I watched the show, so don’t know if the clips covered Sullivan talking about the trans issue and how many effeminate or introverted young boys are told “you’re a girl”. He mentioned when he was a kid reading quietly, his younger brother was crashing a toy into the wall and his grandma told his mother: “at least you have one real boy”. (These aren’t direct quotes, just getting the gist.) So his point is how society, by creating stereotypes of what a “boy” is supposed to be can perhaps encourage gay boys into becoming trans, instead of proud gay boys who happen to be “different” from most other boys. Anyway, I’d never thought of the trans issue in that framework and found it enlightening.

    “His delivery, a combination of deadpan and laughing at his own jokes, is unique.”

    I think Ricky Gervais also has this delivery.

  9. The clips you posted, Jerry, are from the official Real Time with Bill Maher YouTube channel, so they won’t be subject to a copyright claim takedown.

  10. Maher is great — EXCEPT when he talks about medicine. (including his idiot anti-vax ideas).

    He’s a weird case b/c he’s actually evidently quite bright but can’ tsee the raging ignorant blind spot of his which applies to pretty much anything he says about drugs or medicine. (except he’s pro-marijuana, fine, so am I, no worries, but his understanding of opiates or psychedelics is miserable).

    TAKING a drug doesn’t make a person an expert in the medical angles of it. And, scientists here will agree with me – many medical facts can be counter-intuitive. So they turn to that giant Dunning-Kruger (sp) machine: “Google U.” or worse, “influencers” or people trying to SELL them something, for info.

    D.A.
    NYC

    1. He’s a combination of very smart and confident but completely lacking in any real science or technology knowledge. As you say, a blind spot.

      It really irks me when he complains that scientists once promised the COVID vaccine would stop people from catching it. I suspect they promised that if everyone got vaccinated, the chance of catching it might drop to zero. Of course, we know how that worked out. Maher and a lot of other people interpreted that to mean people would get 100% immunity. I believe that may be the case with some vaccines but not with these. In his defense, there were all kinds of stories floating around. His failure is sticking with his story and ignoring any explanation that would counter it. I think Bari Weiss has the same problem.

  11. Maher gets in a dig at bad teachers and the difficulty of getting rid of them. It very well may be that there are too many obstacles to that. I look forward to his specifying what he deems a reasonable and appropriate due process procedure. Beyond that, I want to hear his pearls of wisdom regarding dealing with obstreperous, oppositionally-defiant students who make life rough for other students.

    Regarding marijuana, The NY Times has an article on teen usage:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/23/well/mind/teens-thc-cannabis.html

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