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The Daily Banter Mail Bag!!: Filibusters, Roast Pork and Fisticuffs!!

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Welcome to this weeks edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, where Bob, Ben and Chez answer readers questions! Today, we discuss filibusters, good recipes for roast pork, Bush vs Obama on spending, and which politicians we'd like to see have a good old fashioned scrap.

The questions:

I volunteered to help the Democrats pass Obamacare as well as the slowly-disintegrating Dodd-Frank Act, and I don't regret my involvement. What outrages me, though, is this: Senate Democrats refuse to reform or destroy the filibuster. Why? Obamacare passed due to the reconciliation process- which bypassed the filibuster/Joe Lieberman. I'm too young to believe the popular false equivalency meme but I ponder the filibuster and can't help but think that on this the Dems are nonsensical wimps, with Harry Reid as Beaky Buzzard. Something's got to give. Your thoughts?
-Robert Heltzel

Bob: Great question, Robert. Unfortunately, I won't be much comfort to you on this one because I don't think they should eliminate the filibuster. While it's insufferable to watch the Republicans abuse the privilege (and they really are abusing it, with more filibusters now that ever before), I prefer to keep it in reserve for when the tables are turned. I'm sure you can imagine how awful this turn of events might be -- a Republican president and a Republican Senate -- and how they'd endeavor to enact all varieties of devilry. It's for these occasions when we'll need the filibuster, too. If for no other reason than to stop the Republicans from overreaching, which is something they'll absolutely do as soon as they have a chance and especially with the tea party and Fox News Channel cheerleading them along. However, I believe the Democrats could be using reconciliation more often. But that comes at a cost as well. Not only do reconciliation bills have to adhere to a strict set of rules pertaining specifically to the budget, but they also contain automatic sunsets. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, the actual "Obamacare" bill was passed through traditional means, while a separate bill, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was passed to amend the ACA via reconciliation. The ACA won't ever sunset, but unless I'm mistaken, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act will, forcing a renewal vote at some point, and who knows what group will be in charge at that time. Also, Beaky Buzzard is a good one. I also think he looks like Droopy Dog.

Ben: Ah, the filibuster...... my favorite topic....Luckily, I can defer to Bob on issues like this because he knows a hell of a lot more than I do. And it looks like Chez has  a damn good recipe for roast pork, which I'll be trying out this weekend....

Chez: I hear the word filibuster and my eyes glaze over, much like they do when people actually filibuster. With that in mind, I have nothing worthwhile to add to any discussion about this subject and therefore I'll just give you a really good recipe for roasted pork with a mint cilantro rub. To start, you'll need about a cup of mint leaves (feel free to add the stalky bits if it's to your taste), a cup of cilantro leaves (same deal), about two tablespoons of finely minced garlic, a teaspoon-and-a-half of salt, a teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, about a cup of extra virgin olive oil and of course a boneless pork loin, three-and-a-half pounds or so, trimmed well. In a food processor, combine the mint, cilantro, garlic a pinch of salt and about half of the olive oil; pulse that sucker until the leaves are finely chopped and everything is combined nicely. Transfer the mixture to another bowl; don't use something metal since it's reactive. Line a shallow baking dish or pan with aluminum foil. Place the pork loin in the pan and use the rest of the olive oil as a prep rub. Season it well with the leftover salt and pepper. Spoon about a quarter cup of the mint-cilantro mixture over the loin and rub it in with your hands on all sides -- don't be afraid to get dirty -- until the whole thing is evenly coated. Refrigerate the rest of the mint-cilantro mix but first drizzle the rest of the olive oil over it so that it forms a layer over the chopped herbs to keep them from oxidizing. Loosely plastic wrap the loin and let it marinate in the fridge for about three hours. When you're ready, take the loin out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for an hour or so; do the same with the mint-cilantro mixture. Next, preheat your oven to 425-degrees; when it's ready, put in the loin, letting it cook until it's very lightly golden -- usually about a half-hour to thirty-five minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 140-degrees. Personally I don't mind undercooking pork a little, but you can make the call as to how you like it best or what you're most comfortable with. Remove the loin from the oven, wait about ten minutes then cut it into thin slices. Stir up your mint-cilantro mixture and drizzle it over the pork, and have at it. Bon appetit!

Why is it Bush's spending spree was ignored, and Obama's pored over with a fine-toothed comb? The media always harps on about 'Obama's spending' and the increasing deficit while forgetting about the unpaid for Bush years. How is it Democrats who spend are socialists, while Republicans who spend are conservative? It makes no sense whatsoever.
-Ben Friedman

Chez: The only reason the media spend any time at all talking about the debt and the "problem" of government spending is because the right is exceptional at controlling the narrative. Conservatives and Republican politicians in particular scream that the sky is falling and create an apocalyptic atmosphere that's fucking catnip to the press -- it can't get enough of the circus and instead of actually picking apart the story and separating fact from fiction it reports on the controversy, painting false equivalence as some kind of horseshit objectivity. That's the short answer. Also, it's very likely not going to get better anytime soon. I hear that the taste of the steel used in the overbored barrel of the Mossberg is slightly less offensive to the tongue than the kind used by Remington for their own shotgun. Just a pro-tip.

Bob: It totally doesn't make any sense especially because spending growth has slowed under President Obama and the deficit has dropped under President Obama. The Bush spending on tax cuts and wars is driving the debt and deficits. I've written several items here about all of it. The problem is this: the Republicans, in their myopia, believe they can make a case for blaming the president, simply because he's president while the high debt and deficit exists -- in spite of what's driving the numbers. And one of the more unfair facts of life is that the press, in their low-T self-consciousness, often pander to the Republicans as a means of muting "liberal bias" attacks against them. The numbers, however, on our side. We need to pick up the slack and get the word out. Keep an eye on my series for The Daily Banter, The Truth About the President and the Deficit.

Ben: Hi Ben, this is a topic I can never get my head around. George Bush spent government money like a drunken sailor while making sure revenues decreased substantially by giving the wealthiest Americans gigantic tax cuts. How on earth this could be construed as being conservative is completely beyond me, yet the media completely ignored it at the time. It's one of the reasons the Republicans have been so successful in shifting politics in America so far to the Right - the media simply focuses on the 'Blue vs Red' baseball game, reporting on who's up and who's down, and not on substance. Republicans simply say that Obama is a socialists, and the media refuses to even assess what the word means, let alone point out that Bush authorized one of the biggest government handouts in American history (the bank bailout in 2008). The truth is, both parties are 'socialistic' in that they believe government should redistribute wealth - the Democrats just believe that some of that wealth should go to people who actually need it rather than giant corporations and financial institutions unable to survive in the free market.

If you could see two politicians duke it out, who would they be? Politicians in Korea do it all the time, so why not us? I say put Dick Cheney in there with Dennis Kucinich. One guy has a bad heart, and the other looks about as menacing as Justin Bieber. It could be epic.

Chez: Personally I'd like to see anybody beat the shit out of Allen West, just because it'd be fun to watch him brutalized and humiliated to the point being curled up in a fetal position weeping. They're technically on the same side but is there some way we can get Chris Christie to pummel Ron Paul? It'd be like the Hulk throwing Loki around at the end of "The Avengers."

Bob: I want to see Joe Biden fight Karl Rove. Better yet, I want to see The First Lady beat the living shit out of Glenn Beck. I would pay four digits to see that on Pay Per View.

Ben: Hahaha! Great question Mark. As a former boxing journalist, this question is right up my alley. Personally, I'd like to see Eric Cantor get it on with Cory Booker. Cantor is a smarmy chicken hawk who has voted to escalate the United State's involvement in every war possible and dedicated his life to making rich people richer. Booker on the other hand, rescues neighbors from life threatening fires, does whatever is in his power to aid the poor, and carries himself with uncommon dignity. It wouldn't last long, and it would be very one sided.


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