I’m still bumming that Robin Williams has died. Salon is putting together several great articles on Robin (here, here, here and here).
I remember hearing that Steven Spielberg became very depressed while making Schindler’s List. He and Robin Williams became friends a couple of years earlier while filming Hook. Robin Williams sustained Steven Spielberg during the darkest days while filming that beautiful yet gutwrenching Holocaust drama.
During my lifetime, there have only been a few comedians that I can say were fall-on-the-floor funny – Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams. I love to laugh. I love to laugh so hard your cheeks hurt.
We already have laws in the US against discrimination. We have amended the constitution to make sure that we aren’t discriminating against anyone, yet we are having this stupid debate over gays in the military. Why? What’s the problem? Gays have been serving in the military since the Revolutionary War. There are codes in the military about unwanted sexual advances. So what is the problem? There are gays in the military now. I just don’t understand the opposition. Sen. Al Franken made a very emotional speech from the floor of the Senate last night. Take a look:
Franken (D-MN) told a story about one of his trips to entertain the troops when he was a comedian, and started to choke up over the people who told him they were gay. You can watch him get emotional as he tells the story below.
Franken said the year was 2006 and it came at a time when the military had a tough time recruiting. He said they gave waivers for just about everything at the time.
“If you ask every man and woman on that base, who would you rather have standing to your right, standing to your left, that gay man or that gay woman who has been serving with you the last year, or somebody comes in here with a moral waiver and those troops who had moral waivers, many of them served very honorably and bravely, or some with a cognitive waiver, many of those flourished in the military and are doing great things,” Franken said.
He added: “All gay and lesbian service members want to be able to serve. Instead, people are getting kicked out of the military. People who don’t need any moral waiver, people who don’t need standards lowered for them in order to serve. People who are patriotic and courageous and who have vital, irreplaceable skills.”
The great economist, Elizabeth Warren, was on the Bill Maher Show. She is kind and gentle, yet fiercely loyal to her principles. She’s been on the Daily Show a couple of times. Each time she makes a huge splash.
So, Elizabeth Warren, Harvard professor and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, is talking with comedian Bill Maher. They’re talking about credit card companies and this new consumer protection plan. Watch the video below:
Suddenly, as if awakened from a trance, Bill Maher hits on the central problem in America today. Somehow, we’ve made it legal for companies to deliberately take advantage of Americans. This is the fundamental problem. It is no longer about companies making money. It’s no longer about how good your credit is. Instead, it’s about how well you can read the fine print. Is there a trap in this contract somewhere? Where are the hidden fees?
I don’t think that anybody believes that a company, big or small, should not be allowed to make a reasonable profit for selling a reasonable product. I know all Americans believe that making a profit in this way is, well, the American Way. I don’t think that anybody wants to stop this. Not Democrats, not Independents and certainly not Republicans. But the unnecessary gouging or, as Bill stated, the usury must stop. Congress must act to protect Americans. If you miss a couple credit card payments, your interest rate shouldn’t go from 5% to 30%. That’s ridiculous. That becomes indentured servitude.
I’m not sure that we’re not looking at indentured servitude in the United States today. If you’re in your late 20s and went to college and graduate school, you may owe $50,000, possibly $100,000. Unfortunately, you may owe significantly more than this. What job can you get in which you can pay this off in a reasonable amount of time, 5-10 years? If you buy a house and a car, that will just put you farther in the hole.
Congress, are you listening? We, the American people, need you to fix this, now! This is an American problem. We need education to be affordable. I don’t need tax credits to go to college. I don’t want some super-duper scholarship. I want college to be more affordable for everyone. I want contracts to be readable. I want credit card companies and other lending agencies, including mortgage banks, to be held in check by reasonable regulations. I want regulations that are designed to protect the American people from fraudulent, amoral and downright asinine practices. Can you do this for me? Can you do this for us, the American people?