The Daily Banter Mail Bag: Chris Christie's Skeletons, Bottling the Crazies and Our Oscar Predictions

1. Now that the walls are closing in on Chris Christie and people are looking for anything they can find in his past that looks suspect, do you wonder if he'll get pinged for awful things every politician does?
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1. Now that the walls are closing in on Chris Christie and people are looking for anything they can find in his past that looks suspect, do you wonder if he'll get pinged for awful things every politician does?
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In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss Chris Christie's skeletons, bottling the crazy people and our Oscar guesses.

The questions:

1. Now that the walls are closing in on Chris Christie and people are looking for anything they can find in his past that looks suspect, do you wonder if he'll get pinged for awful things every politician does?
-- Sandy

Ben: Yes, I do, and Christie will be expecting it. Now there's evidence of a coverup and his campaign and gubernatorial staff have been issued 20 separate subpoenas by a special state legislative committee, all sorts of stuff is going to come out. Some of the stuff they uncover probably goes on all all administrations and organizations, and he will, as you say, get pinged for awful things every politician does. But then that's the price you pay for screwing up so badly.

Chez: I think that, yes, most politicians engage in little abuses of power like getting jobs for their friends. I guess the issue is how far you take it, and when you wind up doing something truly extreme you should probably be aware that all those little things will come back to bite you in the ass. The whole reason the walls are closing in on Christie is precisely BECAUSE people are now looking closely at everything he's done. I have no doubt Christie's administration is riddled with corruption, but he would've gotten away with it more than likely had he not pushed things too far. Such is the dangerous intoxication of power. You start to believe you're bulletproof.

Bob: They're going to release all kinds of skeletons over the coming year. The Port Authority has been subpoenaed, his campaign staff has been subpoenaed and his gubernatorial staff has been subpoenaed. In fact, they might end up nailing him on something completely unrelated to the GWB toll-lane closures. Ultimately, this is going to make his primary campaign even more uphill than it was going to be.

2. I understand that there's free speech but we know now that Adam Lanza called a crazy Alex Jones-like radio show before he killed all those children at Sandy Hook. What do you recommend we do about the people using media to feed lies and craziness to people who are crazy to begin with. The cycle is never going to end the way it is.
-- Tracy

Chez: I'm really out of ideas. I think lying to people and screaming insane nonsense at them -- knowing that your audience is made up of edgy paranoiacs who may already be prone to violence -- is like yelling fire in a crowded theater. It's dangerous. We have freedom of speech but I'm not sure it should relieve you of all responsibility when you're purposely scaring people into believing the sky is falling and one of them then acts accordingly. You can't do that and claim innocence and ignorance.

Bob: If we're talking about fringe radio, TV and web personalities like Jones, we can only continue to call out the crazies and marginalize them -- hoping they won't snap as Lanza clearly did. I'm not one for ignoring Jones/Beck types (your "lies, craziness") in the hopes they'll go away. They won't. The best we can do is to hunker down and use our own freedom of speech to make sure their reach is limited and shaky.

Ben: One of the great things about America is her commitment to freedom of speech, and that should never, every be taken for granted. That being said, I hear your point. Clowns like Alex Jones thrive off of people who are incredibly vulnerable and paranoid, and Jones makes them much, much worse. Sadly, no one can tell them to stop, and as long as they have an audience, they'll keep on shouting and screaming. There are a couple of things that can be done, at least in my opinion. The first is to relentlessly call them out on their bullshit (and I like to think we do a good job of that here). The second, is to address much deeper problems in American society, like its crumbling education system, economic inequality and institutionalized racism. When societies are more cohesive and equal, they tend not to create pockets of extreme paranoia. I'm from the UK, and while there are certainly some nutters, it's nothing compared to the scale of what goes on over here. Alex Jones would be laughed off the air in Britain as he simply wouldn't have an audience. I'm not saying Britain is a haven of social and racial equality, but its less extreme, and so is its politics.

3. Who would you most like to see with an Oscar for Best Picture? Who wasn't nominated that should have been?
-- JP

Bob: I'd like to see "Gravity" win (I honestly haven't seen another movie like it ever), but I haven't seen any of the other nominees, sad to say. "Hunger Games 2" was snubbed for Visual Effects -- big time. Speaking of "Hunger Games," odd that the top grossing movie of the year didn't receive a single nomination. Hell, "Bad Grandpa" was nominated and it was huge bag of suck. Tom Hanks was evidently very good in "Captain Phillips," but he's already won 29 Oscars already. I will never see "August: Osage County."

Chez: I've only seen "American Hustle," which is excellent. I'll get around to the others over the next couple of weeks. I really liked "Prisoners," but there was no way that was going to make any kind of impact considering how crowded the field was this year.

Ben: Keeping you good folks entertained at the Banter has been my primary objective this year, so I've seen barely anything all by the way of cinema. I though Captain Phillips was a very fine movie, but that was the only thing I saw in the theater. Can't they just given Breaking Bad an Oscar even if it's a TV show? That had some great cinematography.