Feathered Bastard

Bill Maher Hosts Janet Napolitano This Friday on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher

Just learned that scathing political humorist Bill Maher will have Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano on his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, which airs this Friday, July 24 at 10 p.m. The confirmation of this is up on HBO's page for Maher. And Kate Baker, my contact at HBO, tells me that Napolitano's segment will be taped live with the rest of the episode that same day.

The times I've heard Maher talk about immigration, he definitely didn't sound like some nativist. Quite the contrary. So I'm hoping Napolitano might endure some of the tougher questioning of her career. She's on the hook for perpetuating a national police force for immigration through the 287(g) program, and I wouldn't think Maher would support that. She certainly should receive no leeway for the recent, cosmetic changes she's made to 287(g) agreements with local law enforcement -- changes she's using as political cover to expand the program nationwide.

Hopefully, Maher will inquire about her ties to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and why she has not severed his 287(g) agreement considering the catalogue of abuses and civil rights violations that the sheriff's office has amassed since signing on to 287(g) in 2007. For crying out loud, he's being investigated by the DOJ for civil rights violations that have occurred as a direct result of him having a 287(g) agreement, and he's being sued in federal court over these violations by the ACLU, MALDEF and others.

Why should Arpaio continue to have federal authority when he's misused it so egregiously? Does Arpaio have something on Napolitano that compromises her regarding him? They have been political allies in the past, save for one time when Napolitano, as Governor, docked him $1.6 million to chase illegals, though he later got that money back from the legislature. She has never directly criticized Arpaio as Governor or as DHS head, despite the human suffering he's caused with his 287(g)-enhanced sweeps and raids. And she allows Arpaio to run rampant, when she could end his federal authority with the stroke of a pen.

The left-leaning press largely kisses up to Napolitano, though she's done nothing to earn her accolades. Maybe Maher will be the one to finally grill Napolitano on her ill-conceived actions as DHS honcho.

HBO's Baker tells me there are no more tickets for Maher's show, so we'll have to wait until Friday night to see how Maher handles her. Napolitano is very good at seeming like she's progressive and forward thinking, when she is in reality, as 287(g) expert Aarti Shahani called her, a "law enforcement extremist." A tough interview by Maher could reveal this charade, though.

Immigrant rights activists have focused most of their ardor on Arpaio, memorably targeting his appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Colbert Report. It will be interesting to see if they stage similar protests against Napolitano for her Bill Maher appearance or future media appearances. After all, Napolitano holds Arpaio's leash, and she could yank it any time she wants.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons