FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bill Maher’s Union-Bashing

by DAVID MACARAY

What person smokes a ton of marijuana, loves animals but doesn’t like kids, digs girls and sex but never wants to get married, rejoices in using dirty words, hates fat people, likes the beach, and enjoys shocking us with wisecracks about religion and hillbillies?  It’s probably a teenage boy.  But what if that person is an engaging, well-read 57-year old man?  Then it’s probably Bill Maher.

For the record, I agree with about 98-percent of the political opinions Maher regularly presents on his HBO television show, Real Time With Bill Maher, a program I never fail to watch.  The man can be both hilariously funny and dead-on brilliant.  And he’s got courage; he’ll make comments that other performers, even daring ones, wouldn’t dream of making.  But there are three things about him that drive me up the wall.

First, because he’s a professional comedian, he’s constantly trolling for laughs, no matter what the context.  Even when he’s conducting a one-on-one interview with a serious guest about a sobering topic, he can’t help himself; he feels compelled to interject joke after joke.  You want to scream, “For crying out loud, Bill, let your guest talk!”

Second, he’s too needy.  He’s an applause hound.  The man will come to a complete, screeching stop in the middle of his monologue if even one audience member—some guy in Row 19—is clapping his hands.  At moments like these you wish Maher were more like Jimmy Kimmel, who knows how to keep it going.  You want to scream, “Bill, please continue talking!”

And third, Maher is more or less “anti-union,” which is profoundly disappointing.  While he can be depended upon to plug all the usual left-liberal causes (gays, ethnic minorities, women, anti-war, anti-empire, pro-environment, anti-corporate, anti-gun, pro-choice, et al), you never hear him offer any support (much less praise) for the American labor movement.  You want to scream, “Bill, what the fuck?”

It’s hard to tell if Maher’s anti-unionism is the product of ignorance or inattentiveness, or, more pointedly, is the result of some personal prejudice or vendetta.  There is no shortage of irony here, because Maher himself is a union member.  Maybe his dad disliked unions, and he is merely honoring a family tradition.  Maybe he has a lingering beef with his own union.  Maybe he’s confusing today’s democratically-run Teamsters with the mobbed-up Teamies of the 1950s.  Who knows?

A couple years ago, Maher railed against the California school teachers’ union, accusing them of refusing to “allow” administrators to fire substandard teachers.  That was his bold claim:  That the big, bad union wouldn’t “allow” schools to fire unqualified teachers (Really?  The employees can tell the bosses what to do??).  He went so far as to blame the teachers’ union for many of the flaws in California’s educational system.

Although I wrote HBO a letter, meticulously pointing out (with irrefutable statistics) that school teachers across the country—both union and non-union—get fired at about the same (low) rate, I never received a reply.

Again, I’m a Bill Maher fan.  I enjoy him.  He makes me laugh.  In fact, I’ve actually learned some interesting things by watching his program.  I only wish he would end one of his shows with a salute to organized labor, acknowledging it as the only American institution dedicated solely to the welfare of working men and women.

C’mon, Bill, we don’t care how many righteous hits off that bhang it’s going to take, but you definitely need to chill out, get your head straight, get your shit together, and say something nice about the AFL-CIO.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor” 2nd edition), was a former union president. dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail