Bill Maher

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Bill Maher : biography

January 20, 1956 –

Early life

Maher was born in New York City, the son of William Maher, Sr., a network news editor and radio announcer, and his wife, Julie (Berman), a nurse. He was raised in his Irish American father’s Catholic religion, unaware that his Hungarian American

mother was Jewish until his early teens. Owing to his disagreement with the Catholic Church's position on birth control, Maher's father stopped taking Maher and his sister to Catholic church services when Maher was thirteen. 

Maher was raised in River Vale, New Jersey, and graduated from Pascack Hills High School in Montvale in 1974. He received a B.A. in English and history from Cornell University in 1978.

Views and beliefs

Politics

Maher eschews political labels, referring to himself as "practical". In the past, he has described himself as a libertarian and has also referred to himself "as a progressive, as a sane person".Rutenberg, Jim. (October 8, 2001.) . The New York Times.

Maher favors a partial privatization of Social Security, ending corporate welfare and federal funding of non-profits, and legalization of gambling, prostitution, and marijuana. Maher is a member of the advisory boards for both the NORML and Marijuana Policy Project, organizations which support regulated legalization of marijuana. He describes himself as an environmentalist, and he has spoken in favor of the Kyoto treaty on global warming on his show Real Time. He often criticizes industry figures involved in environmental pollution.Halem, Dann. (August 1, 2001.) , Salon (news website). Retrieved on October 12, 2007.

Maher is a board member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Before the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Maher became candid in his stated opposition to the re-election of George W. Bush and in his support for John Kerry.

Known for protesting against the demonization of the word "liberal", during the campaign Maher criticized Kerry for being ashamed of the word. On his show, the comedian has noted the paradox of people claiming they distrusted "elite" politicians while at the same time wanting elite doctors to treat them and elite lawyers to represent them in court. Salon; April 13, 2007 Maher supports the death penalty.; CNN; December 15, 2005 Since the 9/11 attacks, he has endorsed the use of racial profiling at airports.(2002-12-16 broadcast.) . (Transcript.) Cnn.com (Caveat: "This is a rush transcript.") Retrieved on October 12, 2007.

He was originally against the Iraq War, and has summarized his opinion by saying that the United States and the world have had to pay too high a price for the war. He is skeptical of Iraq surviving without civil war.

In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Maher announced his support for Barack Obama. Although Maher welcomed Obama’s electoral victory, he has subjected him to criticism since taking office for not acting boldly on health care reform and other progressive issues.

On February 23, 2012, after his ‘Crazy Stupid Politics’ special streamed on Yahoo! Screen, Maher announced that he was contributing $1 million to Priorities USA, the Obama SuperPAC.

Maher is a gun owner, and explained in his February 12, 2013 appearance on the late night TV talk show Conan that he owns guns for personal home protection. However, he does not identify himself as a "proud" gun owner, commenting that being a proud gun owner is akin to "saying I’m a ‘proud remote control owner’". Maher has stated that statistics showing that gun owners are more likely to harm a member of their household are caused by irresponsible gun owners, and believes that tragedies such as school shootings will not lead to fundamental change in gun laws because both Democrats and Republicans favor guns.

On June 7, 2013, Bill Maher expressed on his show limited support for the NSA’s PRISM intelligence data collection from private phone calls and the Internet, saying that the threat of terrorists obtaining and using nuclear weapons was the tipping point for him. While he stated that he trusted the Obama administration to employ the program responsibly, he described the NSA’s access to private data as a "slippery slope", and worried about whether other politicians would be as responsible.