Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blasphemy is Not a Crime

by Catherine Giordano
The statue in the church yard

Blasphemy, stupidity, and disrespect are not crimes. Getting freaky with Jesus is not a crime. What should be a crime is arresting a 14 year-old boy for doing what 14 year -old boys do—act like a doofus.

By now, you have probably heard about the teen-aged Pennsylvania boy who was arrested and facing up to two years in jail because he posted a picture on facebook which showed him crouched over a statue of Jesus in such a way as to make it look like the statue of Jesus was fellating him. The charge is “desecration of a venerated object.” Or in other words, blasphemy.

First of all the statue was not desecrated or vandalized. No statues were hurt during the commission of this stunt. The statue is sitting in the churchyard.  Are we going to send the pigeons which have undoubtedly done far worse to this “venerated object” to jail. 

Bill Maher addressed this issue on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 330 which aired on 9/26/14. Maher said that this picture made “his heart swell with patriotism because this kid is not going to get killed for this. He’s not even going to go to jai.” (We hope.)  Bill added, “It may not be in good taste. I don’t condone this type of behavior—praying I mean.” Bill then made the point that America is better than Muslim countries because we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech and that means freedom to get freaky with “venerated objects.”   

The church is not pressing any charged. The boy apologized. It should have ended right there. This should be laughed out of court. 

Bill discussed this as part of a larger issue about “cultural relativism” in a New Rules segment titled “Fellate Show.” Here’s a clip of the whole segment. This bit makes my heart swell with pride that we have people in this country like Bill Maher who will speak truth to power. And make us laugh while he does it.
Bill Maher's Guests September 26, 2014
General Anthony Zinni: Retired United States Marine Corps General, author of several books, including his latest book, Before the First Shots Are Fired: How America Can Win Or Lose Off The Battlefield (with Tony Koltz)
Naomi Klein: Critic of corporate globalization and author of several books, including
John Feehery:  Republican political commentator, former aide to Dennis Haster, President of Quinn Gillespie Communications and Director of QGA Government Affairs. 
Charles M. Blow: Journalist, op-ed columnist for The New York Times, and author of Fire Shut Up in My Bones 


Friday, September 26, 2014

Post Racial America? Not for Wendell Pierce!

by Catherine Giordano

The stories about Mike Brown in Fergusson, Missouri and John Crawford in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek Ohio horrify me and sicken me and leave me close to tears. Two innocent young black men, one walking down a street and another shopping in a Wal-Mart gunned down by trigger-happy policemen. 

Mike Brown made a small mistake--he mouthed off to an officer in a police car who gave him a profanity-laced  to not walk in the middle of the street. According to witnesses, after some type of altercation at the police car, Mike then walked away and the policeman started firing. Mike was hit, turned and put his arms in the air to surrender, and was shot several more times. He was murdered for walking while black, murdered at the age of 19. 

John Crawford made a small mistake. He picked up a BB gun in Wal-Mart and was walking around the store with it as he spoke on a cell phone. He was murdered for shopping while black, murdered at the age of 22.   

And these are just two stories of maybe the hundreds that happen every year that we don’t hear about.  Every day, police far exceed their authority with their use of deadly force.  

When the discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 329, which aired on September 19, 2014, turned to Fergusson and other fatalities of innocent black males at the hands of the police, Wendell, an actor who currently plays a corrupted parole officer on Showtime’s Ray Donovan and who previously appeared in HBO’s Treme, told a personal story that made the issue vivid.  

Pierce reported that he was in Louisiana driving to his uncle’s funeral dressed in a suit and tie with his two toddler nephews in the back seat. He was pulled over by a police car. (He doesn’t say why.)  He said, “This is the moment that strikes terror into the heart of a black man. He knows he could be killed.”  

Whenever Pierce is pulled over, he always immediately places his wallet on the dashboard because if he reached into his pocket for his wallet in front of the policeman the police man might think he was going for a gun. Piece pulled over, put his wallet on the dashboard, and waited for the policeman to come to the window of the car. That is exactly what you are supposed to do when pulled over.  

He had been waiting for several minutes for the policeman to come to the car door, when he happened to notice in his rear view mirror the policeman in his car, pointing his gun, looking really angry, and looking like he was shouting.  Pierce couldn’t hear what the officer was saying because it was a very hot day. and he had his windows rolled up and the air-conditioning running. When he rolled down the window, he could hear the office shouting, “ Get out of the car (expletive) or I’m going to kill you.“ 

Pierce and the two little kids didn’t die that day, but they came close just because the officer was so poorly trained he didn’t know how to handle the situation. (For instance, he could have used the public address system in the police car.) 

Wendell Pierce concluded, “I can’t believe in a post-racial America. As a black man, it would put my life in danger.”
Watch the video of Wendell Pierce telling this story.
Read the full review and recap of the show. Terror Tantrum

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Bill Maher's Guests #329, September 19, 2014

General Colin Powell: Four-star general, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the former Secretary of State. He is the author of several books. His most recent book is It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership
Matthew Segal: media commentator and political activist. He is the co-founder and president of Our Time, a nationwide non-profit network of young Americans promoting economic and voter empowerment

Representative Jack Kingston (R, GA)

Joan Walsh: Editor-at-large of Salon.com, political commentator on MSNBC, and the author of several books including, What's the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was
Wendell Pierce: Actor, who currently plays a corrupted parole officer on Showtime’s Ray Donovan and who previously appeared in HBO’s Treme


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bill Maher Talks Sense About ISIS

by Catherine Giordano

Bill Maher guest on Hardball with Chris Matthews
Bill Maher talks sense with Chris Matthews

TGBM—Thank God for Bill Maher. (Maher will forgive me for invoking the deity; he knows that I only mean it metaphorically.) Sometimes he seems like he is the only political commentator who talks sense. Maher was a guest on Hardball with Chris Mathews on MSNBC just before the President’s Address on September 10, 2014, and he talked sense about ISIS 

In polls, 94% of Americans are aware of the ISIS beheadings of two American journalists. (I don’t think 94% of Americans could tell you whether it was night or day.) So people are afraid, and when they are afraid, they like tough talk. 

Who is one of the toughest talkers? Who else but Chris Christie? He said “They wouldn’t have tried that with me.” “Why not,” Maher said, “because you are fat?” Everyone wants the president to talk like John Wayne or Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronald Reagan1. No one is talking about what specific action can be taken. Real life isn’t a movie where you can just blow everything up2 and live happily ever after. 

Thank God (sorry once again, Maher) we have a sober president who doesn’t shoot off his mouth, but thinks things through and makes the best possible decision. Sure, I’d like to go in there and blow them off the map, but that is not a good idea unless it is just a movie. Maher says that we need to stop responding emotionally and “calm down.” Amen! (Sorry, again). 

Obama is a great president because he doesn’t act on polls3. He is not going to charge into Iraq and Syria just to raise his poll numbers.  As Maher says, “This country can’t “organize our foreign policy by what the crazies say.”  

How can you tell when Ted Cruz
says something crazy stupid?
His mouth is moving.
And no one is a bigger “crazy” than Ted Cruz in Maher’s opinion. Maher believes that even Ted Cruz doesn’t believe what Ted Cruz says. Maher suspects that Cruz gets his staff together and asks, “Is this stupid enough?” 

Maher didn’t do a lot of jokes during his interview with Chris Mathews, but he did talk a lot of sense. And Mathews, who has a very bad habit of interrupting his guests to go on a rant of his own, wisely let Maher talk sense to America.   

Real Time with Bill Maher is back on HBO on September 12, 2014. The show will be on at 9pm instead of the regular 10pm time slot because Maher will be doing a comedy special at 10pm. It’s a double header. Don’t miss it.


1Talking about Ronald Regan, Maher reminded us that Reagan, talked tough when the Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up, and then he did nothing except turn tail and run by withdrawing our troops. I have to give Reagan credit for not acting as if he believed his own BS. I don’t think today’s Republicans would have as much sense. There wouldn’t even be an ISIS if Bush and Cheney hadn’t thought going into Iraq to BSU (Blow Sh*t Up) was such a good idea.

2Talking about blowing stuff up, I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy--the most BSU movie ever. I’ve ever seen such a complete waste of time.

3Talking about polls, Maher said Republicans aren’t afraid of polls. If they see an approval rating of 43%, they say, “Yippie, we only have to raise it 8 points.” And then they do it, no matter how many lies they have to tell. Maher says, “It is in their DNA.”  For more on this, read Zombie Lies. 

Read about the September 12, 2014 Real Time with Bill Maher.

After you read Zombie Lies, go see the entire interview with Bill Maher on Hardball with Chris Mathews.