Bill Maher’s groundbreaking Politically Incorrect premiered on Comedy Central in 1993, and then moved to the mainstream ABC television network in 1997. I graduated from high school in 1996, and during my youth I took no interest in politics or political issues; they simply weren’t on my radar as an adolescent.
My father used to watch Politically Incorrect, and unlike Face the Nation, Meet the Press or the super-obnoxious John McLaughlin who my dad watched every Sunday morning, Bill Maher mixed real political discourse with one of the greatest values of adolescence: sarcasm. Maher’s shows, including Politically Incorrect and the current HBO variation on the same theme, Real Time with Bill Maher, often introduce interesting and unexpected combinations of guests, from his good friend Ann Coulter and Sarah Silverman to Anthony Wiener and Kathy Griffin. It makes for weird conversation, a mix of high-profile people who speak from their respective perspectives: socially relevant and astute comedy, just-the-talking-points liberal or conservative propaganda, and a lot in between.
Maher was partially responsible for my political awakening, but also more than that. He always has discussed the environment consistently, without sounding like a hippie about it. That approach got me to pay attention to glaring realities that went totally over my head as a younger person.
Much more particularly, Maher made me aware of the agriculture industry and the resulting food that we take in. Once I was old enough to buy my own food, I ate fast food: I was always thin, and I lived throughout college off of Wendy’s spicy fried chicken sandwiches, french fries, and Coca-Cola. And while I grew up eating the food that my parents cooked, which was usually actual, real food–meats and potatoes, mostly, with a side vegetable, nothing gourmet–just about the only hydration in my diet was Coke. Coke is water, sugar, and acid. Coke is toxic, and I drank it all my life. Bill Maher’s open discussion not just of “junk food” being junk food, but really disclosing some of the industry’s dirty and toxic secrets affected how I ate. I eat better now. Etc.
Politically speaking, I was also a fan of Maher because he never appeared particularly swayed by one political side or another. From what little I followed of politics, I knew that I didn’t identify as strictly a Democrat or strictly a Republican. He occasionally identified as a Libertarian when pressed to align with any political party. That made sense to me. In high school and college, I used to waste a great deal of time discovering fringe ideas at Tower Records, a mecca of music and alternative publications. I picked up one magazine because of a headline relating to gay rights; this was in the late 1990s or early 2000s, and the magazine was pro-gay liberties. As I flipped through, I saw some shockingly conservative stories. The magazine combined a mix of opinions I’d never seen put together before. That was Reason, a libertarian magazine. So Maher as a Libertarian made sense–I didn’t agree with everything, but I respect the idea of thinking for oneself.
It wouldn’t be until later in my life that I realized the reason team sports and politics never appealed to me is the same reason–and it’s not because I’m gay. It’s because both require choosing a side, entirely and absolutely, in order to support your team. In effect, it requires turning off your brain–or that’s how it feels to me. During this year’s Republican primary debate, Donald Trump was the only candidate who refused to pledge not to fully support the GOP candidate should he not win the nomination, and the booing and overall disapproval was overwhelming…a mass mentality. Gang mentality. Tribal mentality. I like a lot of Olympics sports; I like to watch incredible athletes push the limits of their bodies’ athletic prowess. I don’t like sitting at home with a tub of nachos on my belly screaming at the TV because the men in maroon are losing to the men in blue. That makes no sense to me. In the same way, Fox News and MSNBC make no sense to me. What’s the point of 24/7 conversation when everyone involved in every conversation has the same opinion, or at least yield their true feelings for the sake of not alienating themselves from their chosen parties?
I just don’t understand.
And I just don’t understand what the hell has happened to Bill Maher. I have one particular, specific, nagging issue with his show Real Time that is driving me crazy, which I have seen echoed by countless people in reply to his Facebook posts, and which he simply ignores.
Bill Maher has called the Monsanto corporation “the most evil corporation in the world.” He said that support of Monsanto is “a conspiracy of both sides,” meaning Republican and Democratic parties and their candidates. Maher is executive producer of VICE, which aired an extensive and chilling segment about Monsanto’s economic, agricultural, and political takeover of Paraguay. Terrifying.
As I’ve said, learning from Maher has sent me after further knowledge. Those who support genetically modified agriculture stick with the “GMOs haven’t been proven unsafe” line; I won’t even get into that. What I will get into is that many GMO crops–trademarked and owned by Monsanto–are naturally pesticidal; however, almost all require the application of Roundup–a Monsanto herbicide that is so toxic, it’s truly something straight out of a dystopian science-fiction novel. There’s plenty of information in the mainstream media about it…but we should never, ever count on mainstream media these days.
Traces of Roundup and glyphosate are in A LOT of the food we consume. On produce, which of course we all dribble water over and then consider safe to eat, but also in other products.
I’m weird. I often read NIH study abstracts via PubMed. Among these studies are many about glyphosate, the active ingredient (poison) in Roundup, as well as Roundup itself. Here are a few highlights:
- Trace amounts of glyphosate causes permanent damage to DNA.
- Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cell growth.
- Glyphosate causes gluten intolerance.
Just read what this NIH-supported study says about how Roundup damages human placental cells:
Roundup is a glyphosate-based herbicide used worldwide, including on most genetically modified plants that have been designed to tolerate it. Its residues may thus enter the food chain, and glyphosate is found as a contaminant in rivers. Some agricultural workers using glyphosate have pregnancy problems, but its mechanism of action in mammals is questioned. Here we show that glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants. Surprisingly, Roundup is always more toxic than its active ingredient. We tested the effects of glyphosate and Roundup at lower nontoxic concentrations on aromatase, the enzyme responsible for estrogen synthesis. The glyphosate-based herbicide disrupts aromatase activity and mRNA levels and interacts with the active site of the purified enzyme, but the effects of glyphosate are facilitated by the Roundup formulation in microsomes or in cell culture. We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just glyphosate, can be observed in mammals. We suggest that the presence of Roundup adjuvants enhances glyphosate bioavailability and/or bioaccumulation.
In short, this shit is poisoning all of us. Monsanto trademarks GMO crops that are resistant to insect predators, reducing the need for sprayed insecticides. As a direct result, all these plants have to be sprayed with herbicides to kill off invasive plants, which have taken on the predatory role of insects. We eat this shit, and it’s damaging our very DNA. It’s also been linked directly to a veritable genocide against monarch butterflies, and linked to bee colony collapse disorder.
Monsanto has, to a degree that is almost impossible to believe, integrated itself so well into government, business, and society that there is no escaping it.
- Monsanto has effectively annexed 4-H , known for its wholesome county fairs, by dumping tons of money into the organization for rapid expansion into other countries. In turn 4-H, which has ties to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has incorporated proprietary Monsanto information into its curricula for future farmers. I asked someone employed by 4-H if the organization is concerned about being corrupted by Monsanto. She told me “it’s something we talk about every single day.”
- The “Monsanto Protection Act.” I won’t get into it, but the bottom line is that the corporation could kill someone, or it could kill 40 million people, and thanks to a law signed by President Obama, the company would have total immunity to prosecution. Monsanto wrote the legislation, ushering in the American fascist era in which corporations write the laws and sponsored politicians give the official sign off.
- So much more. I just can’t. Back to Bill Maher. Finally, my problem with Bill Maher.
My problem with Bill Maher is actually, sort of, a problem with Hillary Clinton. But not really. It’s with Bill Maher.
Hillary Clinton has tons of ties to Monsanto, having recently acquired Jerry Crawford, her top adviser, from the company, and having served as a partner at the law firm that served as legal counsel to Monsanto. See the article linked in the previous sentence for more information. But she’s a politician; we don’t expect anything more or less (we can hope, but don’t expect) from politicians. It’s not as if any Republican alternatives are any better.
But Bill Maher. Bill Maher is guilty of ongoing lies of omission on Real Time. Once a fierce advocate for the environment and food safety, now he is a cheerleader for Clinton, taking light (very light) jabs (he’s a comedian, after all), but only highlighting the positives. He did interview Bernie Sanders once, weeks ago, but since then he has left Sanders entirely out of conversations on the show–he’ll discuss Donald Trump’s idiocy as if Trump is worth discussing, but doesn’t bring Sanders, a true independent, into the discussion.
Why doesn’t Maher dedicate more time to Sanders, who stands for everything Maher has ever spoken up for throughout his career? Because he doesn’t think Sanders can win against Clinton. In other words–in Donald Trump’s words about prisoners of war–“I don’t support losers. I support winners.”
Bill Maher is certainly no Libertarian, and he’s not even anything close to an independent thinker anymore. It’s disappointing and weird to watch this man, who once enlightened me about the toxicity of the food industry, drop some of his most passionate concerns from his talking points and dedicate his energy to supporting a party, not a person, and not an ideal candidate.
For the record, I don’t hate Hillary Clinton. I resent her ties to the Monsanto corporation–I really, truly do, and those ties make me distrust her. And her Marie Antoinetteish interview with Diane Sawyer in which she declared “Bill and I were flat broke when we left the White House”; Bill made $105 million in speaking fees over the eight years after the left the White House–and that income is a given for any former president. It’s preposterous. I don’t like the falseness, and I don’t like the collusion.
But what really upsets me is when people who I admire “sell out,” and that’s what I’m seeing on Fridays on HBO. It appears that Bill Maher has been genetically modified to be a mouthpiece for a single candidate rather than the person he used to be, who was fired by a major network for insisting on facilitating important conversations that no one else would have. A Bill Maher who avoids important matters in favor of supporting a single candidate isn’t Bill Maher; he’s a campaign coordinator for Hillary Clinton.