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The Daily Banter Mail Bag! The Fiscal Cliff Deal! Current TV! Biden and the NRA!


Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the Fiscal Cliff Deal, Current TV sold to Al Jazeera, and the NRA is really pissed off.

The questions:

1) Neither political party is happy with the deal that was cut regarding the media-riffic misnomer known as the "fiscal cliff." The fact of the matter is that the GOP pretty much got what it demanded in the form of spending cuts to programs like Obamacare. That's just reality, and that they continue to tantrum is irrelevant. What's the point of Obamacare if it's piecemeal repealed via crappy legislative bargaining like this? Did not the President just win re-election? And this isn't "liberal angst" you're hearing. It's coming from a 2008/2012 Obama supporter that's demanding better.

Chez: To be honest, I'm just going to open up my bag of Jiffy-Pop, sit back, put my feet up and watch Bob respond to this. Bob?

Bob: Huh? The premise of your entire question simply isn't accurate. Democrats are quite happy with the deal, including me. Furthermore, there aren't any cuts to Obamacare in the deal. None. I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but it's strange that your biggest gripe with the deal is something that didn't happen. The ratio of tax hikes to spending cuts was 41-to-1 -- that's a huge victory for Democrats.

Ben: Hi Robert, the whole fiscal cliff debacle was horrendous to watch, and I'd imagine even more horrendous to negotiate. It seems to me there's good evidence Obama played everything brilliantly up until the very last moment and appears to have lost his nerve when negotiations fell apart under Harry Reid and he moved the goal posts again by sending Joe Biden in to concede even more. The thing is, you have to remember that it is literally impossible to deal sensibly with the Republicans - they have shown a willingness to hold the country to ransom over and over again for the sake of ideological purity, and there's not much Obama can do to stop them. Had the deal fallen through, the economy would have taken a hit and lots of people would have been affected by the cuts to welfare programs. That's the reality of it and regardless of how angry liberals gets, they aren't the ones dealing with Boehner and the lunatic Tea Party that controls much of the GOP. Sure the outcome wasn't the best for Obama, but he got the biggest tax hike in recent history passed without throwing the economy off a cliff, and he also managed to preserve social programs for the poor that Republicans would nuke in a split second given half a chance.

2) What are your thoughts on Al Gore selling Current TV to Al Jezeera?
-- Anon

Bob: Considering how he and his investors were unwilling to spend the money on allowing the programming to find an audience -- not to mention allowing the audience to find the program via more cable markets -- it's not surprising that they'd bail this quickly. Meanwhile, it's encouraging that it was sold to Al Jazeera, which is an excellent TV news source. Too bad no one will see it because it's so deeply buried on the digital cable dial.

Ben: If Gore and Hyatt had sold Current because it was losing money I could understand abandoning their mission to build an independent network so quickly. But as I understand it, Current was actually making money, so I don't have a huge amount of respect for the move especially given both are not going to be involved with it going forward. Arianna Huffington stayed on at the Huff Post after selling to AOL and has had a huge role in expanding the site and building new and interesting elements like the 'Huff Post Live'. Gore and Hyatt are just taking the money and running.

Chez: I've written quite a bit about this over the past week or so. I have friends who work at Current and even though I don't I feel the same way about it that they do, namely that Gore sold out for a big payday and left a lot of little people utterly screwed. Gore paid a lot of lip service to building a truly independent journalistic organization from the ground up but when the richest country in the world offered to dump a giant truckload of money in his lap, all that integrity crap went right out the window. And lest anyone think that he was backed into a financial corner, Current was in fact turning a pretty decent prophet -- yet he and Joel Hyatt took the money and ran anyway. I have nothing against Al Jazeera; it's a fine news organization. But to have it thrive at the demise of Current is unfortunate.

3) The NRA is already making it clear they won't accept any of the vice president's gun control recommendations. Will any good come from the White House's push for sensible gun control?
-- Kris

Chez: The beautiful thing about the NRA opposing ANY kind of sensible gun control is that it takes the group's opinion off the table. Why bother trying to make clowns like Wayne LaPierre and happy when they've made it clear they'll never be -- unless of course the subject of gun control were dropped altogether. The White House should proceed as if the NRA power structure is a non-entity and simply do what needs to be done.

Bob: I don't think the White House cares what the NRA has to say. Biden and the president knows it's time to act, with or without the support of the gun lobby. And that's extraordinarily refreshing.

Ben: I'll be watching what the White House does over gun control with great interest. Gun control is an issue that demands immediate action and it isn't clear whether the Obama administration has the stomach to do what is necessary to get assault rifles off the streets. The NRA will oppose any form of gun control regardless of what happens, so there's absolutely no point in dealing with them. Obama should completely ignore what they have to say and spend a lot of time making sure the debate happens on his terms. This means consistently reminding people about the horrors of Sandy Hook elementary school and ensure he brings people from different sides of the political spectrum to build consensus on the issue. I won't pass judgment yet, but I'm hoping (perhaps foolishly) for the best.


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