In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Ben, Bob, and Chez discuss the tentative chemical weapons accord with Syria, Greenwald's lack of accountability and our greatest influences.
1. I agree that it's possible President Obama was bluffing to get Syria and Russia to back down, but what's going to happen if they finally refuse to? I'm willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt and yet it still scares me what happens if Assad calls his bluff.
Ben: I'm pretty sure Obama isn't bluffing, and that's why I'm worried by the whole thing as he'll have to make good on his promise should Assad goad him. I'm hoping Obama knows what he is doing here, because if he doesn't, we could find ourselves dragged into yet another horrendous conflict in a country most of the public knows nothing about. Perhaps he's skillfully playing all sides and looking to walk away forcing Syria to back down, making Putin look good, and scaring the shit out of Iran while not firing a single shot. Either way, it looks like the conflict isn't escalating given Syria has agreed to give up its weapons, and Obama and Putin will walk away getting what they want. I was very critical of Obama's willingness to go to war and I remain so, but I also acknowledge how smart he is and appreciate his ability to see several moves ahead.
Chez: Oh I don't think Obama's bluffing at all. I think he's absolutely willing to go through with an attack if necessary. He's simply playing a game of chess by telegraphing his intentions and giving Syria and Russia time to avoid action. It's staggering that there are people out there who are angry that the President of the United States is making it clear that military force is a possibility in the name of maybe AVOIDING the use of military force. That's actually the proper use of our military, the reason it exists in the first place: as a deterrent. But yeah, if push comes to shove, we'll attack. I won't necessarily like it but at least Obama can say that he provided every possible opportunity to comply. He's followed more protocol in the use of force than any president in recent memory.
Bob: I agree with Chez about the bluff. The president had to be ready to initiate the air strikes in a serious way if the plan was going to work. And as of Wednesday, Syria is prepared to sign the international chemical weapons accord and allow UN inspectors into the country to cross-reference the weapons they declare with the actual stockpiles. It's a pretty amazing thing and I'm frankly shocked that this isn't being ballyhooed as a bigger victory than it is. Actually, I take that back. I'm not shocked at all. No one wants to cut this president a break because they'll be summarily hectored by the far-right and far-left.
2. Tell me you saw Glenn Greenwald's cover story for why he posted that link talking up the Oath Keepers. He tweeted that he meant it as a "neutral link" and not as a show of support. He says about anybody who thinks otherwise "Is this just stupidity?" Thoughts?
Chez: Saw that coming. Of course he's going to say it wasn't an endorsement. He's so full of shit.
Bob: He's such a believer in accountability -- for everyone except Glenn Greenwald. He's never once apologized or retracted anything this Summer even though he's made numerous factual errors.
Ben: Glenn Greenwald made a mistake then pretended he didn't? Never! Actually, I'm trying to wean myself off laying into Greenwald. I really don't think about the guy that much (or care about the NSA story if I'm being completely honest...). I've said this before dozens of times; I don't discount a lot of what Greenwald says. He covers some important stuff and it's probably quite useful in the long run. We should have a debate about government spying etc, and credit to Glenn for at least getting everyone to talk about it. Having said that, I don't agree with his journalistic methods, and I think he's making an idiot of himself by doing things like tweeting out links to lunatic fringe groups like the Oath Keepers. He's his own worst enemy sadly, as I think with the tiniest bit of humility, he could actually be a good journalist.
3. Who's been the most influential person in your life?
Bob: It's impossible to pinpoint one. Clearly my parents, first and foremost, each in different ways. My Dad, influenced me to be a stand-up man -- how to have integrity. My Mom, influenced my sense of humor and creativity. My bride-to-be Joy has significantly influenced my life for the better in nearly every way. In terms of career influences, I would have to say Professor Patrick Duddy, my now-retired Biology prof at Kutztown University; and broadcasters Don Geronimo and Buzz Burbank, who both inspired me to pursue a career in media.
Chez: My dad. And Robert Rivero, who turned me on to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC in the sixth grade.
Ben: Single person? My dad without a doubt. Read to me as a kid, provided pretty much unconditional support in whatever I wanted to do, showed me how to behave as a man, always had time to give me advice, taught me how to write, taught me how to think about business, and never once let me down. Along with my mum (who is also awesome in very different ways), he also put up with quite a lot of bullshit from me.