Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the sequester, Bob Woodward and the ultimate existential question.
1) Alright, the sequester is here. What now and is there any way the real pain can be avoided by the White House and Congress coming to some kind of an agreement?
Chez: I honestly have no idea at this point. We've finally done it. We broke the country. One of these deadlines that the Republicans took hostage because they're fucking children who won't give Obama an inch has actually come and gone and now we're all gonna pay for it. It's so damn frustrating and insane that I can barely get my head around it. This reckless game of chicken -- the result of a political party that's clearly gone completely insane -- is going to hurt and hurt badly if it's allowed to continue. I'm crawling into a bottle for the duration. Wake me when all this shit is over.
Bob: There are so many awful things about the sequester, it's really difficult to know where to begin to answer your question. At this point, the only positive thing to come out of the fracas is that most people will blame the Republicans for it, and rightly so since it was ultimately the strategy of economic sabotage and brinksmanship on the debt ceiling that put us in this crap sandwich in the first place. In terms of pain, I'm afraid that the inevitable pain will come in the form of Wall Street losing its shpadoinkle and dragging the economy down with it. To what extent is still more or less unknown. But watch out for your 401(k) or any mutual funds you might own.
Ben: I really don't see how it can be avoided now. It looks like both sides are sticking to their guns, so compromise is looking distinctly unlikely. This is going to suck for a LOT of people, and that is 100% the fault of the Republicans in Congress. The only positive I see coming out of this is that the Republicans are kneecapping themselves for the midterms in 2014. Obama has successfully (and accurately) pinned the entire debacle on Boehner and his cohorts, and they'll pay a price with the public when everyone feels just how bad these cuts are.
2) I was watching Bob Woodward on Fox News Channel a little while ago talking about how the White House "threatened" him. When exactly did he lose his mind?
Bob: He's a sell-out. He's looking to expand the market share for his books and so he's looping in conservatives who heretofore used his photo for target practice. He never lost his mind, he's just a calculating opportunist.
Ben: Bob Woodward is a monumental joke of a journalist. The White House doesn't threaten rich white dudes with serious connections - they only do that do people who can't protect themselves. Here's the 'threat' Woodward received after getting into a heated argument with an Obama aide about the sequester, as reported by Politico:
Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
So the aide apologized to him, then told him he thought he would regret staking out a position on economic policy. Seriously, that was the threat. The full length quote was even friendlier. The aide said: "I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim." Outing someone's wife as a CIA agent is most definitely a threat, but telling a veteran journalist that he is wrong about an economic policy is most certainly not.
Chez: Woodward's been coasting on his big success with Watergate for decades now. Granted, Watergate was a very big deal and the ultimate feather in the cap of true, doggedly ferocious journalism, but over the past couple of decades especially, Woodward seems to have forgotten the lessons that he himself taught so many: you can get better information WITHOUT access, and when all your crave is access you wind up becoming nothing more than a stenographer, no matter how many officials give you permission to hang out with them. Still, watching Hannity spoon with Woodward on national television -- the supposed liberal giant who brought down Nixon -- is enormously entertaining stuff. Strange bedfellows indeed.
Bob: I prefer "how." Also, this:
Ben: I just emailed Chez about this saying that he forgot to send me the third mailbag question. He got back to me and said that that was the question. So, er, I guess I'll try to answer it. I figure the question is meant to penetrate the very meaning of our existence, so I'll give it my best shot: Because God was bored one day. He thought he'd create living things that would one day evolve to the point where they were just bright enough to understand that he might exist. Then he sat back and laughed as we all fought over him and almost extinguished ourselves in the process. It's all a game really (albeit a pretty bloody one), and there is no point. So I guess the answer is 'why not'?
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