Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter mailbag! Today Bob, Ben, and Chez answer readers' questions on America's obsession with guns, why people hate liberals and what a John McCain/Sarah Palin White House might look like today.
Hey guys, I'm a Brit living in the US and I can't understand Americas obsession with guns. The batman shooting was another in a long list of insane outbursts by lunatics with easy access to dangerous weapons. It's clearly going to happen again unless there is some serious restrictions on who can buy guns and ammo. Why not fight it out with fisticuffs? Much more satisfying and no one dies (usually). Seriously though, what is the obsession with making conflict so final?
Ben: As a fellow Brit, I hear you Terry. I much prefer a good old punch up to a blood bath. However, the longer I live in the US, the more I understand just how deeply gun culture is embedded in the country. Getting rid of guns in America is about as likely as getting rid of morning tea in Britain. To put it simply, it ain't gonna happen. But as you say, the country would seriously benefit from far stricter access laws, and it makes no sense to continue with the status quo. The problem is, as long as Obama is President, it isn't really politically feasible. It will take a card carrying NRA Republican President to pass meaningful gun control laws, and of course there are a ton of downsides to that too.
Chez: I think that since this nation was founded at the end of a gun we're never going to get over our dangerous love affair with firearms. I actually own a handgun and was trained in how to use it by my father, who's an ex-cop and ex-Navy SEAL. One of the things he taught me early on is that if you consider a gun to be an extension of yourself, a necessary part of your manhood to the point where you're practically worshiping the thing, then you're the last person who should own a gun. He taught me that an immense respect for what a gun can -- the horrible damage it can inflict -- is necessary at all times and is something that should never be taken lightly. I think that's one of the issues I have with the hardcore gun lobby in this country: The people who make it up aren't just gun owners or even gun enthusiasts -- they're gun fetishists. And that, again, makes them the last people you want carrying guns around.
Bob: In my darkest hours I begin to believe that guns are part of the American DNA. We're frontiersmen and "rustics" who founded the nation on firepower and the belief that the right to own firearms was necessary for sustaining liberty. In my darkest, darkest, darkest hours I believe that certain gun-obsessed American men are angry about and ashamed of their small penises and therefore have to own a gun as a deadly substitute. But honestly, Michael Moore's BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE was a fantastic examination of the American gun obsession. We've been taught that violence solves all problems. Our military industrial complex reaches every congressional district and employs millions of people. Americans like to fight and our history is marked by which fight took place at the time. No one can quite tell you when Prohibition was repealed or when Brown v Board of Education was handed down, but rest assured we can remember when World War II and Vietnam took place.
Re. Bob's piece on why people hate liberals: Because they don't stand for anything. Just my two cents.
Chez: That's bullshit. Admittedly, liberals tend to be terrible at staying on point, but that's usually because they overanalyze everything -- occasionally in an effort to prove what big brains they have -- and by nature they don't like the idea of being a blind follower. This can make them principled, but also make it really tough to win elections. My issue with the traditional liberal intelligentsia cliche is that they do seem to be somewhat paternalistic and patronizing, but again that's not all liberals and it would be as wrong to lump everybody into one stereotype on the left as it would be to do so on the right or really with any large group.
Bob: Good question! Was that a question? Actually, liberals stand for a lot of things. Reality, for one. Our problem is that we don't always know how to sell it, and we all have our own ideas about the best pitch for our positions -- this makes for a scattered, disorganized movement sometimes.
Ben: Yep, agreed Doug. Liberals/Democrats/Progressives whatever you want to call them are generally completely lost. They've allowed 'liberal' to become a dirty word and are generally embarrassed to talk about what they stand for (and I think they often don't really know). Republicans are good at knowing what they stand for and even better at promoting it. That's why despite their complete insanity, they do pretty well in elections.
What do you think the country would look like now had John McCain and Sarah Palin got into the White House? Nuclear Armageddon? World War 3? Plague? Maybe people should think about that before slamming Obama.
Ben: It's hard to say really, but it would be a damn sight worse than it is now. I think McCain would have attacked Iran pretty quickly and ramped up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan leading to a complete military disaster that would have torn the economy to pieces. Given the economic platform he ran on (austerity) the problems would have compounded and America would literally look like a banana Republic. It's possible that the Democrats would have stopped his worst excesses in Congress and the Senate, but McCain is a crafty politician who knows how to bully his opponents and get things done. The Sarah Palin aspect of a McCain Presidency would have been even more troubling - as we learned from the campaign, she had her own ideas and was a serious loose cannon. I'm sure McCain's people would have tried their best to suppress her, but given her popularity, it would have been difficult. There are a ton of intangibles, but I'm pretty confident in saying it would have been an unmitigated disaster, and we should be damn happy Obama is in power.
Bob: Maybe not World War III, but definitely a war in Iran. I think the recession would have been a full blown depression that would have lasted a decade. McCain is thankfully still healthy, so the possibility of a would-be President Palin is remote, but she surely would've been the presumptive nominee if McCain decided not to run again. Healthcare reform never would have happened. We would be a global pariah. DADT would still be in place. We often overlook this, but the Supreme Court would've been irreparably lop-sided to the conservative side with a 7-3 right-wing majority. And they would've likely been younger justices who could survive for another 20 years on the bench. Roe would probably have been overturned by now. Good gravy, the last four years would've been Armageddon. So perhaps you were right.
Chez: I have enough nightmares as it is, thanks.
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