Bill Maher Bashes Disability

Bill MaherAs you all know, I like Bill Maher. I think he is funny and he is right about a lot of politics. But I get very angry at him when he is egregiously wrong. This happened most recently during the presidential campaign. Goldie Taylor was on his show. She claimed that Obama would win 330 electoral votes. Maher claimed that this was an example of the “liberal media bubble.” But as I pointed out at the time, it was no such thing. When Taylor made the claim, there was a 21% change of Obama getting that many votes. And in the end, he got 335 votes.

Last week on his show, he discussed another conservative canard that for whatever reason he just accepts at face value: more people are on disability and we should be outraged. In his little brain, this is all about the Paul Ryan hammock: Americans are just getting more lazy. It goes right along with Maher’s libertarian inclinations. The problem is, it just isn’t true.

The Congressional Budget Office looked at this question last July. And they found there are three primary reasons why there are more people on disability. First, the workforce is older; older workers are more prone to career ending disabilities. Second, because most women work now, there is a larger percentage of the population that works; more workers causes more people on disability. Third, the Reagan administration changed the qualifications for disability to be more fair; more workers qualified for disability causes more people to be on disability.

This is not hard stuff to understand. What’s more, this isn’t news. A Google search of “rise disability rates cause” brought up that article above. So Maher is either just following his prejudices or he’s listening to conservatives with an ax to grind. Regardless, I really expect better of him.

Republican Economic Incoherence

Greg MankiwThis morning, Greg Sargent writes, We all agree that spending cuts hurt the economy. Right? Right. Right now, the Republicans are claiming that spending cuts will help the economy. Of course, six months ago, they were saying the opposite. But this is nothing new. The truth is that Republicans are incoherent on economic issues.

They will always claim that tax cuts help the economy. This is true. As long as those cuts are not offset with spending cuts. But that’s getting too complex for Republican thinking. Why do they think that tax cuts spur the economy? Because they give people more money that they can spend and this feeds back in the economy. The obvious question is then: doesn’t government spending do exactly the same thing?

That’s when we move into Republican incoherence: spending is bad because we can’t afford it, blah, blah, blah. But a dollar of spending costs exactly the same as a dollar of tax cuts. So I don’t even know how we are supposed to deal the Republicans on economic matters. They are either incoherent or they are disingenuous.

Actually: I think they are both. I think they don’t understand the economics at the same time that they will use any argument to justify what they want to do. Right now what they want to do is hurt the economy. But if they controlled the White House they would favor policies that helped the economy: Keynesian policies.

It isn’t just politicians who act this way. Harvard University economist Greg Mankiw, widely respected in his field, was against the 2009 stimulus package. But when he worked for Bush Jr, he was all for stimulus. If that isn’t an indictment of the economics profession, I don’t know what is. I don’t think we see this on the left, but on the right the first step in determining what to do to help the economy is to find out which party is in the White House.

We may be past the time when the Republicans will explicitly hold the US economy hostage over things like the Debt Ceiling. But they are still doing it implicitly by countering any good policies whenever they aren’t in power. This is a new level of cynicism. And there is no choice but to do what John Boehner claims Obama wants to do to the Republican Party: annihilate it.

Who’s with me?!

Oh My Marriage!

Jim NaborsI know that not long ago, I checked Wikipedia to find out if Jim Nabors was openly gay. And as I recall, there was really nothing about it. Of course, I assumed he was. I don’t know why. There are those stories about Rock Hudson. Everyone assumed. And maybe it is just that no one cared, Nabors being so obviously such a good boy.

Regardless, open secret or just no one caring, it seemed to me that Nabors was kind of living as a closeted gay man. And that always makes me sad. Well yesterday, he told Hawaii News Now that he got married to his longtime boyfriend Stan Cadwallader.[1] And I am almost giddy with joy!

But let me nip one nasty rumor that is going around. Nabors is quite a lot older than Cadwallader. When they first got together Cadwallder was 26 and Nabors was 44. This is not an unreasonable age difference, even at that young age. By the half plus seven rule, we have: 44/2+7 = 29. And that means that their relationship is officially not creepy. [Oops! I got that wrong! It was a little creepy. -FM]

So in honor of their marriage, I offer you Jim Nabors performing Oh My Papa!


Look at the direction of that clip. That is a lot better than other TV of that time.

[1] Hawaii has some kind of civil union, but not same-sex marriage. As a result, Nabors and Cadwallader were married in Washington state.

Pray for Ron

Ron JeremyI am not a big fan of video porn. But like any American male of my age, I know Ron Jeremy. According to USA Today, Mr. Jeremy is in the hospital, following heart surgery for an aneurysm. The article claims that Jeremy is a “porn star.” And indeed, he has “starred” in over 2000 porn films. But you have to ask: is Ron Jeremy really a star?

Was William Kempe a star? Because Kempe was to Elizabethan theater, what Jeremy is to porn: comic relief inside the larger structure of the drama. But while Kempe undoubtedly was a major draw, I’m not sure that Jeremy is. Did anyone rent Debbie Does Dallas Part II because of him? I doubt that. But I don’t doubt his value to the films. He provides much needed (and easily created) padding for films that, left to themselves are more like training films for gynecologists than entertainments.

I was very struck by the following tweet that his manager sent out.

The PrayForRon hashtag is probably why so many people love this man. And it is certainly why I decided to write this article. Because despite what Althea says in The People vs. Larry Flynt, we do want our religion and porn mixed. In fact, I don’t see much difference between them; they’re both 99% narcissism.

God may not exist, but Ron Jeremy probably does. #PrayForRon!