The Daily Banter Mail Bag: The Budget Deal, Pope Francis and Our Prized Possessions

In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the congressional budget deal, Pope Francis and our most prized possessions.
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In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the congressional budget deal, Pope Francis and our most prized possessions.
Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arri

In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the congressional budget deal, Pope Francis and our most prized possessions.

The questions:

1. I'm sure you've seen that the House reached a budget deal to avert another shutdown and Boehner sort of slammed the wingnut Right. Does this give us any kind of hope that the GOP is finally learning its lesson?
-- Chris

Ben: It's hard to really say that the GOP as a whole is learning its lesson. The fact is, the Republican party doesn't function as a unit - it's a disjointed mess of crazies, career hacks and monied interests so it's impossible for all of them to learn a lesson together. Sure, I think Boehner realizes his party has to buck up and he's willing to put his neck out a bit more to keep them in line, but it's not going to work long term. There are simply too many idiots and ideologues who are in no hurry to negotiate with the Democrats under any circumstance.

Chez: After all we've seen I never assume the Republicans are going to begin listening to reason. I think it's nice that they finally seem to have accepted that they won't win elections until they at least do SOMETHING while in office, but I'm withholding judgment on anything else until I see something more concrete in the way of proof. As for the budget deal, it's not really a great deal. Anything involving Paul Ryan is guaranteed to suck. But maybe there's something workable in there somewhere.

Bob: No.

2. Pope Francis made another comment about income inequality and the exorbitant earnings of the super-rich. It's a very strong statement. Do you think he really has the potential to change anything where others have failed. Can these people even be shamed?
-- Jared

Chez: No, these people can't be shamed. I do think, though, that Pope Francis MIGHT be able to turn the heat up on them in a way few others can. He's quickly becoming a very beloved figure by millions and no matter how hard they may try it's impossible for the usual conservative greed-is-good crowd to effectively assail him for his positions. He's supposedly the holiest man on the planet, a representative of God himself -- and he commands a huge audience. So far it's a blast watching the powered establishment and the phony religious right hucksters lose their minds over him and his message. Funny, where have I heard something like that happening before?

Bob: It will take more than Pope Francis to change things. But he's turning the tide on 1,500 years of Church dogma and renewing the best things about Catholicism -- social justice and serving the poor. It will take a few more popes like him to lock it all down.

Ben:  I think he has the power to propel an already growing chorus of anti capitalist dissatisfaction into a meaningful movement with an articulated voice, if he chooses to do so. The pope has been great so far, but getting anything done takes cooperation with other leaders dedicated to the same goals. I have high hopes for pope Francis as he seems like a really, really good dude. It's early days, so hopefully we have much to look forward to.

3. Most prized possession. Go!
-- JP

Bob: My grandfather's 1927 ukulele.

Chez: Ben's heart. I'll never break it.

Ben: I still have a sheepskin I used to sleep with as a baby. I'd literally go into a burning building to save it.