The Daily Banter Mail Bag! Susan Rice! Sharia Law! Girlfriend Christmas Gifts!

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Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss Susan Rice and the Secretary of State post, Michigan's anti-Sharia bill and bad Christmas gifts for your girlfriend.

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The questions:

1) Now that Susan Rice has dropped out of the running for Secretary of State, who's the best person to be appointed to that position? Should she have taken herself out of the picture?
-- Alison

Chez: I'm not sure Susan Rice was ever the best choice for the job, but that obviously had nothing to do with the Benghazi nonsense. Also, while there may have been outside pressure on her to do so, there's something so wonderfully satisfying about her shooting herself as a hostage so idiots like McCain, Graham and the like couldn't use her against Obama anymore. Who's best moving forward? I honestly don't know. It's not Kerry only because taking him out of the Senate would be a bad idea. (Bob and I talked about this on the podcast this week.) Personally, I'm pulling for Clinton -- Bill Clinton. Face it -- he's perfect.

Bob: I definitely don't think it should be Bill Clinton, though I can see the logic of that choice. First, he'd overshadow the president. Second, can't we come up with someone who doesn't have celebrity status? You could throw a rock and hit dozens of foreign policy and diplomacy wonks in DC alone who would be well-suited for the gig. As for Rice, the confirmation hearings would've doubled as preliminary impeachment hearings and it would've been harrowing to watch, so perhaps this was the best thing to do.

Ben: I have to be honest, I have absolutely no idea who the best person would be to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. John Kerry is a pretty serious guy with name recognition on the international scene, and given his consistent support for President Obama (he came out early in 08 for the President and has gone out of his way to help him at every turn), I'd wager he gets the job. Obama's national security adviser Tom Donilon could be a dark horse here though. He is a decade younger that Kerry and has the reputation of being a very good crisis manager. Donilon is apparently extremely loyal to the President too, and is very well respected in Obama's inner circle. Given what has been going on in the Middle East, Donilon's relative youth and skill set may trump Kerry's name brand and experience, but I still believe the Senator from Massachusetts will be the next Secretary of State. As to whether Rice should have taken herself out of the picture - no. Absolutely not. While she has a reputation of being blunt and a bit rude in person, she was clearly very well qualified for the job, and you only have to see her talking to get an idea of how bright she is. The Republicans did a vicious hit job on her and they should be ashamed of themselves.

2) Do you think Michigan voters really expect Sharia law from their legislators?
-- Tony

Bob: Yeah, Michigan is really making an effort to top South Carolina and Arizona for the title of The Craziest State. Of course the anti-Sharia law being proposed there is merely to pander to the frightened, pee-pants conservative wackaloon base. No reasonable rational human being thinks Sharia law will ever be imposed here. But the Cuckoo's Nest on the far-right needs their wooby to stop the toe-monster from biting their piggy-toes. It's pathetic.

Ben: (NB: This answer has been edited as I hadn't actually read the news about the anti Sharia law proposal in Michigan when I received the mailbag question. I presumed the reader was joking and making a reference to pro-union voters comparing the 'right to work' bill with Sharia law. Sadly, it wasn't a joke. Edited answer below:)

Hi Tony, the whole Sharia law thing is ridiculous, and a distraction from the massive blow to the unions dealt out by the conservatives. It was a serious one, and the legislators in Michigan have just made life for many working Americans a lot harder than it was before. The worrying thing is that the move in Michigan is part of a growing trend of anti union legislation across the country, and the end result will be the wholesale erosion of workers rights and a lifetime of low wage job insecurity for the majority of the population. That's not something to look forward to, and the Right has clearly been working on ways to distract the public from the increasingly vicious anti labor legislation it has been passing around the country with alarming success. The idea that there is a threat of Sharia law taking hold in Michigan is as stupid as the idea that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to America back in the early 2000's. Acting on that threat would be ridiculous. And that's unfortunate because the US invaded Iraq, so we can see where the proposed bill might lead....

Chez: To twist a famous phrase from the great H.L. Mencken, nobody ever got tossed out of office underestimating the intelligence of the American public. I have no doubt that those who live inside the conservative media bubble probably really do worry about fantastical things like Sharia law and U.N. control of the U.S. and the coming battle between Jesus and the unicorns. But I have to believe there are fewer of those people out there than the conservative press and the leaders who are beholden to it like to think. Paranoia over ridiculous non-issues has become a right-wing article of faith over the past several years, certainly during the Obama era, and it's going to continue to occupy their psyches for the foreseeable future. Everybody else has more pressing things to worry about.

3) Is it okay to give my girlfriend money for Christmas?
-- Sam

Chez: Is that the experience you're getting from the hooker? Then yes, it's actually mandatory.

Bob: Not if you'd ever like to have sex with her ever again. Ever. Seriously, I can't imagine a worse gift, other than, say, exercise equipment.

Ben: Speaking from experience here, no. It's a very bad idea unless your girlfriend is an outright gold digger (and she may well be, so in that case go for it). From my very limited understanding of how the opposite sex thinks, putting thought and care into the gift is what will make her happy. So maybe wrap a couple of hundred dollar bills in a pretty ribbon and sprinkle some gold stars over it? That should do the trick.

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