Sunday, March 21, 2021

fisking Bill Maher's comments on China

I don't normally watch Bill Maher.  He's smug, annoying, and often misguided.  He will, on occasion, say things I agree with, e.g., about the need to face Islamism head-on.  But Maher is often an incoherent mixed bag; as Tim Pool says, he's smart, but he's a liberal filled with Trump Derangement Syndrome, and that flaw makes him likely to end up making stupid pronouncements.  I watched—God help me—a recent clip of Maher talking about how China is eating the US's lunch.  There's a lot to unpack in what Maher said, and since I disagree with most of what he said, I'm going to fisk his goofy ideas and agree with some of his less-goofy ideas.  Here's the clip in question:

Maher's claims (followed by my fisking/agreement):

1. China couldn't give a "crouching tiger, flying fuck" about the Chinaman in the Dr. Seuss book.

I actually agree with this.

2. There's got to be a happy medium between an authoritarian, totalitarian government and "a government that can't do anything at all."

I wouldn't be so quick to advocate for a more proactive US government.  Whatever the US government puts its hand to tends to turn to shit.

3. In 2 generations, China has built 500 cities from scratch, moved the majority of its population from poverty to the middle class, and mostly cornered the market in 5G and pharmaceuticals.

I think you'll find that Chinese poverty is a vast, sprawling problem, and that China's government is hiding the grim truth.  China's economy is a huge bubble, which explains all the expensive urban over-building.  There are plenty of unused, empty office buildings in places like Shanghai.  "Cities from scratch," indeed.  As for 5G technology:  Japan and South Korea build far more reliable, far less glitchy tech, even if the software running on their hardware is unjustifiably antiquated or simply poorly written.  I wouldn't put much faith in China's 5G network—not its hardware infrastructure, and not its software.  And pharmaceuticals?  I'd check every bottle to make sure it didn't contain poison.

4. China "bought Africa."

This is a reference to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has made huge inroads in Africa, a continent in which China is investing heavily.  Think of the Belt and Road as economic enslavement with a smile.  Countries desperate for investment make deals with China, and China imposes draconian terms in its contracts to make sure these countries are saddled with long-term obligations:  the price for selling one's soul.  So there's some truth to what Maher is claiming here.

5. China has 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail.  America has none.

Is this necessarily a bad thing?  There's less justification for high-speed rail in America, a country where people love their cars and planes when it comes to crossing large distances and empty expanses.  High-speed rail, especially in California, has been a money-sucking white-elephant project—always on the agenda and never completed.  In the US, it's a political football, and I think it ought to be dropped in favor of better, more useful projects.

6. Nothing ever moves in this "impacted colon of a country.  We see a problem, and we ignore it, lie about it, fight about, endlessly litigate..."  China sees a problem and fixes it.

That's a gross oversimplification.  China is hasty and slapdash when it comes to construction.  The country certainly builds a lot, and it does it quickly, but what about quality?  Much Chinese construction is shoddy.  China sees a problem, applies a temporary fix, then pays for its sloppiness in the long run.  Also:  the perception that China sees a problem and fixes it is bolstered by the fact of uniparty rule coupled with the East Asian collectivist hive-mind mentality.  It's conformism all the way down.  Should Americans really refashion their culture to look more like the Borg?

7. Bill Maher compares a brand-spanking-new Chinese international airport to a run-down US international airport.

Nice try, but it's a false comparison.  Maybe do your homework, Bill, and find the run-down and/or poorly managed Chinese airports, of which there are many.

8. China "built a quarantine center with 4000 rooms in 10 days, and they barely had to use it because they quickly arrested the spread of the disease."

Wow.  Where even to begin?  Maher is guilty of naively accepting China's own self-reporting about its handling of the Wuhan virus.  I thought the guy was smart.

9. China's kids are health-checked by robots and are back in school, while US kids are still "pretending to take Zoom classes while watching Tik-Tok."

I agree it's unfortunate that American kids aren't back in school.  US teachers' unions are milking the crisis for all it's worth, demanding pay even as they insist on not going back into their classrooms.  Superstitious paranoia, hand in hand with rampant stupidity, has humbled the US population and turned everyone into feckless sheep.  It's disgusting and embarrassing to witness from a distance the extent to which fear has been allowed to rule decision-making (but to be fair, fear is taking over here in South Korea, too).

But has China really stamped out the pandemic inside its borders?  I seriously doubt it.

10. Do you think Chinese universities are teaching "woke" classes on the philosophy of Star Trek, etc.?  No:  they're eating our lunch.

I agree with the need to strip out all of the "woke" agenda from our universities.  Anything even vaguely smacking of some sort of grievance-related study needs to be burned out with a flamethrower—and burn the faculty, too, while you're at it.  Bring back the classic humanities—pre-postmodernism—and help academe recover its lost dignity and integrity.  Shoot anyone who even whispers the word "bigotry."  I exaggerate, of course, but I do think a serious purge is in order.  That, or the country as a whole needs to reorient itself such that current academe becomes utterly useless, irrelevant, and ignored.

In sum:  Bill Maher makes a couple fair points, but his admiration of China is woefully misplaced.  His leftist anti-Americanism shows through in his criticism of the United States, and that's too bad.  The man does have one or two good notions, but until he becomes more actively pro-American, why should I listen to him?


  1. Yep. I got a chuckle out of your comment to point #2. I spent 35 years inside the beast of the Federal bureaucracy, and I always said Uncle Sam has the Midas touch in reverse--everything the government touches turns to shit.

    China is not our friend, and much like Japan in the 1930s desires nothing short of dominating Asia. I fear that war is ultimately inevitable, especially if China moves on Taiwan. Assuming Biden would honor our mutual defense pact.

  2. China is definitely not our friend. Despite making its own advances, it continues to steal technology from more-advanced Western countries. Meantime, it cranks out shoddy products and forges agreements that end up crippling other countries for decades. And it doesn't even try to hide what it's doing.



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