October 8, 2005

Did "Real Time With Bill Maher" just get a lot funnier?

A side effect of my oppostion to the Miers nomination: It made "Real Time With Bill Maher" get a lot funnier. All those jokes premised on Bush's incompetence? Suddenly, I found myself laughing. Ann Coulter was laughing too. Well, I mean, she's always laughing -- that's her gimmick -- but she was laughing at Bush.

And I loved the ad in the beginning for the perfume "Harriet," with the tag line, "I can be anything you want me to be."

The panel last night was Andrew Sullivan, Ben Affleck, and Salman Rushdie. About midway through the discussion, everyone chez Althouse agreed that it was amazingly easy put those three men in order of their intelligence. I'll just say, in the order I wrote the names two sentences ago, no man is in the position he ended up on our in-order-of-intelligence list.

Andrew Sullivan got very impassioned -- by the subject he came to get impassioned about: torture. I can't remember how he got that to be the topic, because Maher tries hard to get the panel to subjects people can laugh about. Sullivan, like Coulter, laughs continually while speaking, but unlike Coulter, never seems to be at all fun-loving. In fact, he seems to lack a sense of humor, especially about religion, which Maher considers an immense humor target. I'm not really sure what function the Sullivan Laugh serves. It usually seems to convey a dismissive mockery, usually of the moral inadequacy of others.


XWL said...

I only caught the tail end of the discussion between the three distinguished panelist and thought their banter had all the seriousness of a dinner party guest trying to seriously get laid by the hot young activist chick/guy quoting Chomsky in the corner.

As far as the comparative intelligences displayed they all came across about the same. (if not for the fatwa would Rushdie matter? Find me anyone who read and enjoyed any of his works)

Speaking of affirmative action hires (Miers of course) Mr. Sullivan really gives the impression sometimes that but for his orientation, HIV status, and Britishness, few would be paying attention to him.

And need I say anything snarky about Mr. Affleck? (his film career speaks far more cruelly against him then any words I could muster (though I found his poorly articulated defense of the Florida gun laws interesting)).

paulfrommpls said...

Get a load of this from David Frum yesterday:

"This appointment to the swing seat on the Supreme Court is the most important domestic-policy decision of his presidency. It should have been made with patriotism, principle, and public spirit. It was made instead with pique and self-indulgence."

I've been toying with the idea you seem to be toying with; that this appointment could be the doorway to some kind of reconciliation between left and right, with disdain for W the starting point.

This disdain can maybe start to spread to other issues on the right, especially this way: changing what’s always been irritation to actual anger at how bad W’s been at articulating the case for the war.

It remains true: focused as they are on W, too many people on the left have no idea of the deepest arguments on the other side. They can disagree that those arguments are sufficient, but they’re at least worth respecting, and lack of respect has been manifest all over during the extended debate. And W and his team have been a huge cause for that.

The dewey-eyed optimist part of me thinks: if we can agree that W has too much blitheness about him, and the war decision was made with too little attention to the case and the consequences, maybe we can start talking to each other again about the substance of things, and what we should do now.

(Although I still don't really have a lot of hope. I think the left mainly wants abject apology and admission that they are correct on every particular.)

paulfrommpls said...

Completely unrelated:

A couple weeks ago, in a comment containing a stirring defense of Bob Dylan's lyrics - I know, it's an unpopular view, but I felt it needed saying - I said, "any fool can come up with a melody."

What am I saying: Mozart's melodies were fine as far as they go, but hey: what about his lyrics?

It was a ridiculous thing to say, and I hereby retract it.

XWL said...

Ohhh, and let's not forget the ill informed argument about how our side didn't commit any atrocities during WWII!

Summary execution of prisoners, collection of body parts as souvenirs, coercive sex with locals, and the blatant fuelling of ethnic hatred especially against the Japanese was part of the experience of the greatest generation (though not anymore typical of the majority of soldiers than Abu Ghraib is today, despite what Sullivan would like to believe). And none of those facts change the righteousness of the cause they fought and died for, and the rightness of their cause doesn't forgive the abuses that happened back then, but a censored and controlled press kept those facts off the front pages during the conflict (and that censorship helped win the war, D-Day would be nearly impossible today). The true nature of the fight only came to light in the 50s and 60s with the publication of numerous war diaries (most of which sit on shelves unread today, but which contributed to the negative attitudes that coalesced against the Vietnam conflict).

And to say that FDR wouldn't have condoned any of the things going on in the war on terror when if he were in charge today is ridiculous. He might have locked down Dearborn and shut down all the Mosques in NYC (noone on the panel could seem to remember the internment of ethnic Japanese on the west coast)

I know that wasn't the aspect of the Maher show Prof. Althouse was highlighting but that particular burst of idiocy really chapped my hide and required some refuting.

I'm done ranting now.

Too Many Jims said...

"All those jokes premised on Bush's incompetence? Suddenly, I found myself laughing."

Reading your blog and (to a greater extent) Prof. Bainbridge's blog this week, it reminded me of the Emperor's new clothes. Once one believes that they have been betrayed or sold out on one issue, they are more likely to question other aspects.

Internet Ronin said...

Andrew Sullivan laughs because he is uncomfortable being Andrew Sullivan, not because he is funny or fun-loving. He has repeatedly shown a desperate need for acceptance, his emotional needs (and genitalia) repeatedly trump his stated rational purposes and principles. His public campaign to force the Catholic Church to endorse his lifestyle can either be viewed as a quaintly quixotic but futile crusade or yet another public expression of masochistic fantasy.

EddieP said...

No Maher did not get a lot funnier. IMHO he's still the snide, condescending slob he's always been.

As to Harriet Miers, isn't it possible that Bush is packing the court as FDR tried? The difference being that Bush appears to have the dems supporting him. Pretty savvy, I'd say. Nice to have a solid source of conservative support for Thomas and Scalia to replace the wavering O'Connor.

Now if he gets that locked up, there's still a possibility that he'll get to nominate a Bork before 2008. In any case, Roberts is going to lead the court for the next quarter century or so.

Harriet may still fall on her face at the hearings, but I can't believe that Bush sent her up there without a lot of thought about the consequences. People continue to misunderestimate him. Let the hearings begin. Regards

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

I see it as the elites on the left and the elites on the right found something to agree with.

It won't last long.

Ricky West said...

I didn't think it got any funnier.

To me, four grown men showing their "angry Kerry voter" personnas and basically bitching for forty consecutive minutes in-between Coulter and "New Rules" is anything but funny.

Besides, has *anyone* bought Sullivan's "I'm for Bush...what? He told ABC that he supports the FMA? Why, what an incompetent president who has butchered this war" schtick? Good writer, but it's quite painful to watch him consistently try to get everyone to pay attention to him & get his influence back. Sorry, Andrew - I know you're reading this - you lost it (and your audience) about the time you said that John Kerry was the conservative choice. Maybe you should've used that line last night....now THAT was funny.

Pococurante said...

Just to defend Rushdie, "Midnight's Children" is genius from page one to page last.

ex-democrat said...

sullivan doesn't fool me - but then i'm english too.

Matthew said...

I don't see how anyone can seriously claim picking Harriet Miers is incompetent.

Ms. Miers has a long, distinguished record in the public and private sectors. She served as a co-managing director of a major Dallas law firm. She served as counsel to Governor-elect Bush, and again later to President Bush. These are not jobs for intellectual lightweights or legal mediocrities.

If President Bush is convinced after four years of working intimately with Ms. Miers that she is in fact a strict constructionist, then we should give him the benefit of the doubt at least until the hearings begin. President Bush has appointed over one hundred conservative judges to the lower courts, after all.

I will decline to speculate as to why so many conservative and Republican pundits have expressed such dissatisfaction and dismay. All I will say is shame on them, and shame on you too, Ann. Unjustified snark is beneath your usual standards.

Syl said...

I'm one of the (many) moderate folks who is abjectly disgusted by this behavior over Miers.

Yes, I know all the arguments.

I still don't care for the behavior.

You don't own Bush.

And I just wish you'd all get over yourselves.

Joe Dees said...

Rushdie's book "The Satanic Verses", and the Wahhab/Qutb inspired fundymuzz response to it, has in my opinion done more to educate people on the nature of that particular beast than any other work, even Ibn Warraq's "Why I Am Not A Muslim" and Irshad Manji's "The Trouble With Islam" (those probably rank 2 and 3). And it was a subtle, supple and profound work of literature.

acerginko said...

Dear Don Hewitt (NO NO not that "Don Hewitt," I mean Don Hugh Hewitt, the
respected head of "the Family" of conservative bloggers): Please Don Hugh, take no
offense by this. But the word is out, never take sides against the Family. . .

(http://hughhewitt.com/archives/2005/10/02-week/index.php#a000323 Hewitt
questions your loyalty to the Family. You should all be very careful. . .)


You have to answer for Meirs, Frum.


Hugh, you got it all wrong...


You fingered Miers for the Kristol people. Ahhh that little farce you played
over with my sister K-Lo-

- you think that could fool a Hewitt?


Hugh, I'm innocent -- I swear on the kids, Hugh -- Please, Hugh, don't do
this to me.

HUGH HEWITT (as he pulls up his own chair)

Sit down.

DAVID FRUM (sitting)

Hugh, don't do this to me, please...


Kristol's dead. So is Professor Bainbridge -- Scott Johnson -- Glenn
Reynolds -- Andrew Sullivan -- Today I settle all Family business, so don't
tell me you're innocent, Frum. Admit what you did.

(then, to John Podhoretz)

Get him a drink.

(then, to Frum, as Hewitt shifts in his chair)

Come on. Don't be afraid, David -- Come on, you think I am going to take you
away from my sister? I'm
the Blogfather to Goldberg and Podhoretz --

(then, after Podhoretz hands Frum a glass of wine)

Go ahead, drink it -- drink

(then, after Frum drinks)

No -- David -- you're out of the Family business, that's your punishment.
You're finished. I'm

putting you on a plane to Vegas --

then, to Jonah Goldberg, as he reaches out his hand)


(then, after Jonah hands Hewitt a plane ticket, which he hands to Frum)

I want you to stay there. Understand?

(then, quietly, after Frum nods and hmmms)

Only don't tell me you're innocent. Because it insults my intelligence --
and makes me very



Now who approached you? Will or Kristol?

DAVID FRUM (after hesitating)

It was Kristol.



(then, after standing)

There's a car waiting for you outside to take you to the airport. I'll call
K-Lo to tell her

what flight you're on.

DAVID FRUM (as he rises, starts to protest)

Hugh, please...


Come on -- get outta my sight.

[Frum turns. Podhoretz helps him put on his coat]

CUT TO: Hewitt gate. Medved is putting luggage into the rear of the car.
Frum gets

into the front seat. -day

CUT TO: Interior of car. Rush is seen behind Frum, in the back seat. -day


Hello, David...

CUT TO: The House. Hewitt, Podhoretz, and Goldberg emerge as Goldberg locks
the door. -day

CUT TO: Interior of car. Rush garrotes Frum, who gets pulled back and kicks
his feet

at the windshield, which breaks as the car takes off. Hewitt, Podhoretz and
Goldberg watch. After

the car pulls away, we hear the Title Theme music as they walk through the
mall. -day

Bert Wiener said...

EddieP said "As to Harriet Miers, isn't it possible that Bush is packing the court as FDR tried?" When FDR packed the court he really PACKED the court. He tried to install an additional 4 justices (bringing the total to 13) in order to circumvent the majority. Congress wouldn't go along, but the Court has been very, very docile ever since. Bush picked a crony, FDR destroyed the Supreme Court.

moonrage said...

"Just to defend Rushdie, "Midnight's Children" is genius from page one to page last."

Don't forget "Satanic Verses". That was funny as hell.

Tom Grey said...

The blame should be on the Rep Senators of the Gang of 14, who refused to go nu-kue-lar to stop Dem fillibustering of high-powered intellectuals.

I read that the Senate Reps did not want a war; Bush seems to have agreed with them. I, like many Reps, WANT to refight the Bork nomination, but this time WIN. It's not clear an open anti-Roe intellectual would win -- because it's not clear the Senate Reps would fight for such.

Miers is in the top 1% of women lawyers in the country; it's not necessary to go to the top 1/10 of 1%. (She's prolly also an SJ on Meyers-Briggs, not NF or NT.)

runninrebel said...

looks like a lot of libertarians are trying to earn that "Big L".

Paul said...

There's one thing Coulter, Frum, Sullivan, Maher, Hewitt, et al have in common - they don't get to vote on Ms. Meirs' nomination. The U.S. Senate does.

erp said...

Sullivan is working without a net.

The Exalted said...


you forgot a couple salient facts underlying the ferocity of the pacific campaign --

1) Japan attacked the United States in a surprise and dishonorable attack.

2) Japan cruelly and openly tortured American POWS, most notoriously on the Baatan death march.

Now, which of these is present in the current case in the Iraq war? Iraq did not attack us, and Iraq did not stage a Baatan death march. You could argue our horrendous activities are somewhat attribitubale to the savage kidnappings and beheading cycle, but its fairly obvious that the systemic torture regime was already in place before such tragic and disgusting events became commonplace.

Ergo, you don't know what you're talking about.

Josh Reiter said...

Quote The Exalted: "you forgot a couple salient facts underlying the ferocity of the pacific campaign"

These were not incidents that only occurred in the Pacific Campaign. As the Allies pushed through Europe any civilians or covert military personnel that were found to be aiding and abiding the Nazi caused were summarily rounded up and dealt with by firing squad. It was a dirty and direct method of communicating to anyone else that wanted to further the Nazi cause that they were going to be met with swift justice. Even to the point where many of the firing squad executions took place in front of motion cameras and the footage exists to this day.

Hence, you thought you knew what were talking about but not really. Not to mention that you are coming across as an apologist for such activities in the pacific campaign but deny any understanding to the plight of young and frustrated military soldiers in a middle of a Guerilla War. Shouldn't an atrocity just be called an atrocity and denied as unnecessary on both points of the moral slide ruler?

I also took exception on Bill's show that they took one anecdote of an interrogation that "went to far" and then really tried to making it a blanket statement of how all the troops are treating prisoners unfairly in information gathering. When, in fact these incidents have proven to be, by and large, isolated incidents. What they don't want you to know is that a great majority of the leads that military personal gather are done so in a surprisingly easy and efficient manner. To the point where they literally nab one person and that person will quickly torn over the names of other people they are working under. It gets so ridiculous on some occasions that a literal cascade effect occurs where for several days they just go around picking up people as one insurgent rat out the other who rats out the next and so on. This then leads to another point that they made light of on the show that we have capture the number 2 leader like 12 times now. I guess it is really the militaries fault for telling it like this. What they need to do better is add on the part where this time the number 2 guy was someone else that replaced the shoes of the other guy we nabbed last week. The fact of the matter is as they grab these "number 2" terrorist leaders they continually devolve into less connected, less funded, less effective leaders and are easier to capture then the last guy.

amba said...

It was a bit of a shock to replay the DVR'd Bill Maher episode you refer to and discover that the most intelligent panelist in fact was . . . Ben Affleck??