In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the Bergdahl POW swap, Buzzfeed job opportunities and our top five iTunes tracks.
1. A simple question: should we have done the deal with the Taliban to get back Bergdahl?
Ben: Well, I'm not an American so I don't feel comfortable speaking for America as a whole. But as an objective outsider, yes, of course the US government was right to negotiate with the Taliban, and for several reasons. Firstly, the US military makes a commitment to its soldiers when they sign up. They risk their lives, and their country does everything in its power to protect them, regardless of what happens. Secondly, the US absolutely should be talking to the Taliban. Sure they are a bunch of psychopathic nut jobs, but they will still come to the table to talk and make concessions. The Bergdahl deal shows compromises can be made - a far cry from the Bush era when something like this wouldn't have happened. Some Americans have a very strange obsession with never negotiating with anyone, as if it makes the country look stronger. It doesn't. It makes them look weaker.
Chez: Simple answer: yes. Whether Bergdahl is a deserter is something that should be determined here at home. We don't leave our people behind -- period. That's one of the primary tenets of the U.S. military and to arbitrarily make a decision against someone with he or she in absentia would set an unimaginable precedent. Unless there's overwhelming evidence that that person has gone over to the other side and is now actively working against the United States, someone in enemy hands needs to be brought home whenever possible. If Bergdahl wanted to come home, he was a prisoner of war and someone we needed to get back. We can figure out here what his status is. The fact that the usual suspects within the GOP IMMEDIATELY wound up the scandal machine and turned this into the next Benghazi is hypocritical and fucking repugnant.
Bob: Of course we should have. It's astonishing to hear from anyone who thinks we shouldn't have. I don't care about his character as a man or the quality of his service. This is what America should always do for its military. Always and without question.
2. One of the reasons I like The Daily Banter is because you stand strongly against the "Buzzfeedification" of online journalism, but if you were to get an offer to either work at Buzzfeed or have them share content (and traffic) on your site would you take it?
Chez: Ben would have to make the decision about content and traffic, although for the record that's one serious hypothetical. I don't think I could work for Buzzfeed mostly because I did a job that had slowly degenerated into something I really didn't like anymore and I was paid a hell of a lot more for it than I could ever make at Buzzfeed. I found out it still wasn't really worth it. I want money but I also want to be happy. Having both right now is one of those things I feel like I've worked for most of my life. Plus, I'm not sure anyone would want me trying to post lists of the 37 pastrami sandwiches that look like a cat.
Bob: Buzzfeed would have to offer me a gigantic pile of money and allow me to continue to write in my own style with my own point-of-view. In other words: it'll never happen. And by the way, Buzzfeed does in fact have serious reporting and opinions. The problem is their serious material is buried under a thousand pounds of Jurassic Park gifs and the list of 22 times you’ve felt like Zoidberg*.
Ben: Given I told Buzzfeed owner Jonah Peretti that his site was crap, neither are realistic possibilities. Even if it we did do something, the deal would last about 5 minutes as we'd have at least 5 or 6 pieces insulting their 'writers' up immediately. And if I worked there, my urge to sabotage it from the inside would trump any monetary advantages.
3. Top 5 songs in your iPod right now. Go!
Bob: There's no way I'll top Chez's uber-hip, High Fidelity-esque, who's-who-of-alt-indie-rock list, but here goes anyway. This is verbatim from my Top 25 Most Played playlist:
Genesis - Behind the Lines
Genesis - Many Too Many
The Tragically Hip - Bobcaygeon
Rush - Presto
Magenta - The Ballad of Samuel Lane
Chez: Kitten -- Why I Wait
Mad Season -- Wake Up
Banks -- Before I Ever Met You
Deadmau5 -- Avaritia
The Black Keys -- Weight of Love
Ben: Ellie Goulding - Lights
Moonlight - The Piano Guys
I Am the Narrator- Plan B
Vampire - Tribal Seeds
Before - Washed Out