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This Is Smart?

| 15 Comments
I'm sitting here in my hotel in Charlottesville watching Bill Maher's new show, and I'm kind of stunned. As I keep mentioning, we don't have TV in the house, and so this is all new to me. Reading about the show, the common theme that I saw was that Maher's wit and intelligence would bring back a certain kind of intelligent discussion abut politics. The only intelligent discussion I saw was from actor Sean Astin - the guy from the LotR series. WTH?? Maher is the guy (and you all probably know this better than I did) who stepped in it when he said on his old show that Atta and the other 9/11 attackers were "brave" in the form of their attacks, while Clinton had been less so for just lobbing over some cruise missiles.
The show tonight has comedian Larry Miller - an old friend of Maher's, a young woman (who never got a name label) who is a Republican strategist, and actor Astin. The crowd - or the laugh track - cheers and laughs loudly at whatever Maher says - while groaning whenever one of the panelists disagrees with him. Maher has some mildly witty comments on Administration foibles, attacks the Iraq invasion, using the relatively typical arguments - and overall, my response to him is, I've heard it all before. I've heard it at a thousand dinner parties in West Los Angeles, and Maher is a perfected example of the model. The guy I want to have dinner with is Astin - hobbit Sam - whose comments are surprising, personal, and somehow feel genuinely thoughtful. I have no idea what his politics are, but I'd like to find out.

15 Comments

Maher seems to be spread too thin these days. Perhaps he's just gotten lazy. Miller, likewise, used to be clever and now seems merely shrill.

Astin supported the war in Iraq, but otherwise I don't now much else about his politics. He is married with kids, is white, so my bet is that he is either independent or a member of the GOP.

Aren't most of the Democratic nominees white married guys with kids? Dean, Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards. And formerly, Gephardt.

Sean Astin is a Democrat (as he says on the show), but I'd have to class him in that rare group of Democrats who actually think for themselves. I don't have any beef with someone who disagrees with me so long as they have some idea why they disagree... and that is sorely lacking from the left side of the fence.

Maher has always struck me as the sort of person who thinks he's smarter than he really is.

Thanks Matt, didn't know that he was in fact a Dem. Its just that recent polls showed that 80% of white guys in the US are either independent or Republicans. So I just took a guess there. But I do admit it is interesting that the Dems have mostly white married guys running for prez. Sharpton is a joke, and Braun never had much support to begin with.

As for Maher, never much cared for him.

Should also take the time to point out the Richard Perle and VDH are both registered Democrats.

Heard Sean Astin speak for 90 minutes at a film festival last year at Texas A&M. He's one classy guy, regardless of his politics, which he seems to keep to himself (smart). His web site lists some of his *personal passions*, including a lot of work to support our military personnel.

You missed the start of the show, I almost put a fist through the TV. He started with Michael Moore.

This blob went on about his "Bush is a Deserter" comment at the Clark meeting. Maher asked him to list the 'facts' that he new about Bush's ANG days.

Meher set up Moore for another lie about how the NG was used to avoid vietnam. Well that may be the case for some but Army and Air NG units did fight in nam and if my memory serves the unit Bush joined was scheduled to rotate to nam but was converted to interceptor duty.

The nex guest, both were via TV link, was former Sen Max Cleland. I thank him for his time and sacrifice in nam but he went off on the same nonsence rant about Bush was a deserter and joining the Guard was just to avoid nam.

When comedians turn bitter they are no longer comedians.

No TV in the house? Smartest thing I've heard in ages.

We went for 10 years without a TV. I still regret buying one.

The media is unmatched in it's immediacy and that makes it, in my view, poorly suited for "news" - at least news accompanied with analysis.

--
KevinG

"Maher is the guy (and you all probably know this better than I did) who stepped in it when he said on his old show that Atta and the other 9/11 attackers were 'brave' in the form of their attacks...."

Just for the record, that's not what he said, though what he said was similar. He said that they "weren't cowardly." Also, he didn't name Atta, who was not yet known. He just referred to "the people" who hijacked the planes.

I remember a segment of Politically Incorrect from a while back where one of Maher's guests was some supermodel--I forget her name, but she was gorgeous, blonde, and dumb as a post. It wasn't so much her comment that medical science had never benefitted in any way from animal experimentation; no, what set the cap on that experience was Maher's nodding agreement and noises of approval. He didn't even call her on it! I expect better from a host who picks the topics of discussion, or at least knows what they are ahead of time.

Good catch by Matt that he was a Democrat. I also thought Bill mentioned that he served on some president's council much like Arnie was the head of the president's physical fitness council. I can't remember exactly what it was but I think it had to do with with public involvement.

And I cannot agree more strongly with Matt on the issue of people I disagree with having an interesting and well reasoned point of view. I live in LA and I can't tell you how many people start quoting word for word something I've already read in some magazine or on the Internet. I'm a social liberal but a fiscal conservative and a huge supporter of the war in Iraq (and of our troops) but I also see and consider very well reasoned arguments against some of the things I believe in. Unfortunately, the people who came up with those well reasoned arguments are never the jackass on some mailing list you're subscribed to or the half drunk idiot who wishes to share his/her revelations to you at some social event. I think it's sad (and I tell some people this straight to their face) that even though I don't agree with thier point of view, I've read far better arguments and I could personally make a far better argument for their position with better supported facts and logic than they can.

If you ever want to have an absolute blast (and assuming you like to unmask fools) learn just a little bit about economics or public finance. Whenever somebody starts going off on a rant about economics or some other similar issue, ask them to explain some basic concepts. For instance, ask the self-proclaimed economic genius who can tell you how Bush's policies which have resulted in a lower value on the US dollar, to describe elastic demand. Nine out of 10 can't.

Good catch by Matt that he was a Democrat. I also thought Bill mentioned that he served on some president's council much like Arnie was the head of the president's physical fitness council. I can't remember exactly what it was but I think it had to do with with public involvement.

And I cannot agree more strongly with Matt on the issue of people I disagree with having an interesting and well reasoned point of view. I live in LA and I can't tell you how many people start quoting word for word something I've already read in some magazine or on the Internet. I'm a social liberal but a fiscal conservative and a huge supporter of the war in Iraq (and of our troops) but I also see and consider very well reasoned arguments against some of the things I believe in. Unfortunately, the people who came up with those well reasoned arguments are never the jackass on some mailing list you're subscribed to or the half drunk idiot who wishes to share his/her revelations to you at some social event. I think it's sad (and I tell some people this straight to their face) that even though I don't agree with thier point of view, I've read far better arguments and I could personally make a far better argument for their position with better supported facts and logic than they can.

If you ever want to have an absolute blast (and assuming you like to unmask fools) learn just a little bit about economics or public finance. Whenever somebody starts going off on a rant about economics or some other similar issue, ask them to explain some basic concepts. For instance, ask the self-proclaimed economic genius who can tell you how Bush's policies which have resulted in a lower value on the US dollar, to describe elastic demand. Nine out of 10 can't.

I'd point you at some local scenery in Ch'ville though other than the mall in the middle of town that used to be Main St (which my uncle designed though I've given him **** for years for not enclosing it, it's a flippin wind tunnel in the winter) there's not much there, there. Nice, bucolic little university town back in the early '70's, then the interstate opened and we were 'discovered' by the D.C. bunch...

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