The Daily Banter Mail Bag! Drones! Hugo Chavez! Justin Bieber!

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Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss drones, pro-Chavez banter and Justin Bieber.

The questions:

1) Can someone explain to me why the emo-progs are suddenly embracing Rand Paul? Is it really just because his filibuster of Brennan lines up with their views about drones? (DRONES!!!) How dumb are these people?
-- Todd

Chez: Don't even get me started. David Sirota and the firebaggers are loving the Paul filibuster because, yes, it happens to coincide with their beliefs. Never mind that Paul is a raving lunatic or that the only reason he's making this argument is that it has the potential to be a legitimate scandal that can hurt Obama (why I'll never know; this whole thing is largely nonsense). True, Paul's getting crap from some of the hawkiest of the hawks, but for the most part the right is loving the fact that he's sticking it to Obama and that the left is cheering him on. It's a political stand, not a moral one.

Bob: On the far-left, anyone who's an enemy of Obama is a friend. Plus, liberals tend to have a weakness for cuddling up with political enemies. It's a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Liberals want desperately to team up with conservatives, perhaps because they'll seem fair-minded or compromising -- or perhaps to prove they march to the beat of their own drum.

Ben: I'm staying the fuck out of this one. I've tried to get into this whole Drones/NDAA thing and I just don't seem to be able to muster the will to have a considered opinion on it. I'm not belittling it by any means - it's clearly a serious topic and I can understand why people are spending a lot of time fussing about it. And sadly, that's why people like Glenn Greenwald/Jane Hamsher etc tend to ruin these issues - they're probably right technically speaking, but they leave absolutely no room for alternate views, making it 1. impossible to discuss maturely 2. boring, and 3. completely pointless. They might as well shout into an empty room as what they say affects literally nothing.

2) I notice there's been a lot of pro-Chavez talk at The Daily Banter following his death. Is anyone willing to acknowledge what a despotic tyrant he was or that just too much to ask for from liberals?
-- Chris

Bob: I'll defer to Ben on this one.

Ben: I'll probably catch a lot of flak for this, but I'm more a fan of Chavez than I am of Obama for the simple reason that he took a stand against one of the most dangerous threats ever to face mankind - and that's the deregulated, vicious form of capitalism that makes life a complete misery for most people on the planet. In the scheme of things, Obama has done very, very little to change anything. That isn't to belittle his many achievements, but he has attained better outcomes by expertly playing a deeply corrupt system. Remember, the US is still an empire fighting resource wars around the world, still a huge funder of despotic regimes, and is the driving force behind neoliberalism. Chavez on the other hand spent a lifetime fighting that system and working to build a better one. And he made some significant headway in Venezuela and much of Latin America. Was the guy deeply flawed and a massive ego maniac? Yes. Did he do some bad stuff to people who opposed him? For sure. But he helped an awful lot of people who had nothing, and for me at least, that counts for something.

Chez: I'm on the fence on this one. I accept that Chavez did wonders for his country's poor -- and the poor in general -- and that the hatred of him fomented by the U.S. basically came from the fact that it couldn't control or buy him off. At the same time, Chavez's human rights record was abhorrent and there's no denying he had a tyrannical streak. I think the thing that throws a monkey wrench into any hardcore official criticism from the United States is the fact that Chavez was democratically elected. Tough to argue with what the people want, even if you don't want the same thing and think you should somehow have as much say in a sovereign country's business as the citizens themselves.

3) My girlfriend loves Justin Bieber and insists on playing his music every time we're riding in the car together. She's 26. Help me.
--Desperate

Chez:WikiAnswers: What Happens When You Run Out of Brake Fluid?

Just remember to take separate cars the next time you go out.

Bob: Music is like religion and you'll utterly fail if you try to take her Bieber away from her. So let her have it. You're a man, you can handle it. And when you're driving (alone or with her) play your own music, but don't be a dick about it and intentionally blast something she'll totally hate.

Ben: I thought about saying something really snarky about your girlfriend and Justin Bieber, but I have a policy of being as honest as possible at all times, so I have to admit that a friend of mine played me one of his songs a while back without telling me who it was, and I quite liked it...damn...can't believe I'm admitting this publicly....

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