The Daily Banter Mail Bag! The Fiscal Cliff! The NRA! And the End of the World!!!

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Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the fiscal cliff, the NRA and the end of the world!
The questions:

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1) What do you think of the theory that President Obama may be making concessions on the "fiscal cliff" deal because it helps the White House if Boehner can rein in the crazies in his House (which he can't)?
-- Carl

Chez: I did hear that this week and I thought that while it makes a certain amount of sense -- and Obama is pretty good at strategy in these things -- it kind of feels a little too much like a reach. Like whoever came up with it is trying with all his might to look on the bright side and shield the president from criticism. That said, Boehner's fucked. Like you said, he can't rein in the lunatic caucus in the GOP-controlled House -- which by the way comprises pretty much all Republican House-members.

Bob: It's difficult to know whether he's actually making concessions or whether the rumors are just trial balloons, so I don't really know. But let me throw this out there: while I'm a supporter of Social Security at an almost chromosomal level and I strongly believe that the way to strengthen Social Security is to expand or eliminate the income cap on the payroll tax, there's a side of me that's a little annoyed with senior citizens. A supermajority of seniors voted for Mitt Romney this year, and they typically vote for the candidate who is more likely to cut Medicare and Social Security, so in a strange way, they're kind of voting for cuts. That said, seniors (whichever way they voted) have seen few if any cost of living adjustments recently, so cutting those adjustments even more is a really bad idea.

Ben: I really couldn't say how much water the theory holds, but it is in Obama's nature to work for consensus and compromise. He's already offered way too much to the Republicans, so I'm praying he doesn't try to give them any more (which they won't accept anyway). It's going to suck, but I'm betting they go over the 'fiscal cliff' on January if Obama sticks to his guns - which he should. The fallout is far, far worse for the Republicans as tax cuts will automatically go back to Clinton era levels and they will be blamed for any stalling in the economy that happens due to spending cuts. It's a lose lose situation for Boehner who simply cannot stop the crazies derailing negotiations. Obama is trying to extend an olive branch, but Boehner has virtually no wiggle room.

2) Do you think it's really possible that the NRA will be willing to compromise and work toward meaningful gun safety regulations in the wake of the Connecticut shooting?
-- Lisa

Bob: Not a chance in hell. The only thing they'll perhaps try to do is to deflect the blame away from guns and onto video games, TV shows and the arts in general. They'll also push for TSA style security measures in schools, the arming of teachers -- an in-school arms race, basically -- and more of the surveillance state that's arisen since 9/11. That's how they'll "help."

Ben: No. The NRA will offer silly, inconsequential suggestions for gun control that would have no impact on the gun related homicide rate. I'm guessing they will suggest something like stricter mental health background checks and more security at schools. To stop people being murdered by dangerous weapons, America needs to ban the guns that make killing easy (ie. assault rifles) and make it a retroactive law by buying back all existing guns owned by civilians. There's no way the NRA is going to go for that, so anything they say will be a complete waste of time.

Chez: No, I don't. As I'm writing this, Wayne LaPierre is preparing to go public with a news conference tomorrow and an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday. He's promised to offer a real contribution to stop shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary -- and let's be honest, no other shooting has been like Sandy Hook and I can't imagine one being worse -- but I have a feeling that doesn't denote some kind of change of heart. It probably just means he'll look all distraught but won't accept any responsibility for our obscene gun laws and horrific fetishization of firepower and supposedly inviolable right to wield it. If LaPierre really did have a Come to Jesus moment -- and it's possible given the reaction of some on the right who've been truly shaken by what happened -- then I'm all ears. Doubt it, though. And it's always important to watch what he says to the public versus what he says to his extremist NRA members.

3) So now that the world hasn't ended (since if there's a mailbag this Friday that means the Mayans were wrong) what are you all planning on doing with your lives?
-- Jamie

Chez: I don't know. I had really figured it would all end today so I got rid of everything I owned and holed up in a motel room in Barstow with a local prostitute I picked up in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box. Do they make a morning-after pill for syphilis?

Bob: I intend to do a lot of nice things for my soon-to-be wife. When I'm not doing that, I'll be spending a considerable amount of time helping to make The Daily Banter a very successful source for news, opinion and entertainment.

Ben: It ain't over till it's over Jamie. I'm only going to plan ahead when the last time zone gets to the 22nd of December. All plans are futile in my opinion.

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