The country is in crisis, and Real Time host Bill Maher is predicting that things could descend into even more chaos by 2024, when a potential election coup could generate violence in the streets and a total Constitutional crisis.
Maher outlined the steps he saw leading up to that awful moment in his “New Rules” closing monologue. At the end, he made his point: “I hope I scared the shit out of you.”
But it’s a long way to that moment, and the HBO show started with an examination of why things are devolving into a potential crisis, to the point where talk of civil war and politicians being chased into bathrooms are part of the regular news cycle.
Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of the book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, pointed out that the current situation seems so gloomy because we really don’t notice the good news.
Why? There’s not a certain day that it’s announced. “Good things are things that don’t happen,” Pinker said, “and a lot of improvements are incremental.” He noted that there’s never a day where the headlines scream, “137,000 Escaped From Extreme Poverty.”
The nostalgia for a “golden age” by the left and the right in this country is largely an illusion, Pinker argued. “The best explanation for the good old days is a bad memory,” he said to applause.
The national divide on so many issues comes from having to rely on institutions. For instance, Pinker said, “None of us knows enough about atmospheric chemistry to retrace human climate change” and get to the truth.
Things continued in the same vein when Maher brought out Washington Post reporter and Peril co-author Robert Costa, along with Michael Render (aka Killer Mike), an activist and musician that’s half of the group Run the Jewels.
Costa argued that we’re in a critical moment, and claimed that his book’s interviews show that President Donald Trump played a key role in the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol.
Maher countered that the current hearings on that won’t amount to much, since no one will be arrested for not showing up to a hearing, both sides knowing full well the unspoken rule that arrests would open a can of worms when the other party is in power, boomeranging back on them.
Render made several strong points in the discussion. He cited the comedian George Carlin, who made the point that “We need to admit that this country that started out to become a republic is now run by oligarchs.” Render said that “They share jet planes and laugh behind our backs.” Until the working class unites and realizes that, bad things will continue, he argued.
Maher then brought up the “F**k Joe Biden” chants breaking out at football games and other public events, asking where the pushback is from decent people, and noting that “many people don’t want to hear that as a chant.”
Render defended the chants on First Amendment grounds. Biden “parades himself as a tough guy,” Render said. “Under rap rules, you can get a “f**k you” for that behavior.” He added; “You play tough, you get tough talk.”
The talk also covered broken campaign promises, and then turned to a startling news story that recently came out, revealing that police killings may be double the official statistics, with the actual cause of death covered up by medical examiners.
Costa and Render both have policemen as relatives. Costa wanted more sunlight on the killings, noting how police names involved in these incidents often aren’t brought out into the light. “You can’t hide it from the sunlight,” he said.
Render was more blunt, saying that he didn’t want rogue police to have a “get out of jail free” card, calling for life sentences and pension cutoffs on convictions, as well as longer training. All of that would avoid a “hunter and prey” situation, he argued.