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The Daily Banter Mail Bag: American ISIS, Fast Food Pay and Worthless Talking Heads

In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss American ISIS terrorists, fast food minimum wage and the most worthless talking head on TV!
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In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss American ISIS terrorists, fast food minimum wage and the most worthless talking head on TV!

The questions:

1. I'm trying to remember just how many Americans joined Al-Qaeda because it seems like a lot more are joining ISIS. The State Department says it's been at least a dozen. Any thoughts on what we're going to do when some of these people start coming home to do ISIS's work here?
-- Chris

Ben: Christ, that's a terrifying thought. If America starts producing domestic Islamic terrorists, it's going to get very, very nasty indeed. You're going to see an expansion of domestic spying, a LOT of race hate against Arabs and anyone who looks like they could be one, and possibly another gigantic war in the Middle East. I really don't want to think about that.

Chez: You're overlooking the fact that some may already be here. Either way, I get the feeling that what attracts American men to ISIS is that it's a young organization and in the most twisted way possible it represents rebellion and a stand against "the establishment." Also, it welcomes the relatively smart but aimless and gives them a purpose, telling them that building a new kingdom on earth and the possibility of martyrdom in the hereafter are worthy goals. Bottom line, though, is that, yes, if ISIS has Americans with passports in their ranks they have access to the perfect weapons. Hate to be a downer, but I think it's only a matter of time before there's an attack here. I'm not sure the group has the infrastructure and intelligence to pull off something with the sophistication of 9/11, but blowing somebody up in a shopping mall or on a New York City street? Yeah.

Bob: I suspect we'll continue to pursue them as we would any terrorists. And if that means attaining warrants to spy on them and to eventually capture them, so be it. Despite Greenwaldian hyper-paranoia, any would-be American-born terrorists inside the U.S. will likely be captured and put on trial, regardless of how often conspiracy theorists will suggest that we're going to drone them while they hide in Anytown, USA.

2. The debate over the minimum wage for fast food workers really has me on the fence. I can understand that people deserve to make a living and not starve, but there are a lot of other jobs out there that pay even less than someone working at McDonalds and yet the person flipping burgers thinks they're worth a substantial wage increase. Fast food was never the kind of job you're supposed to stay in. It's supposed to be a stepping stone to something better. Help me out with this.
-- Lee

Chez: I agree with you. That's a tough one. It's only fair that people who work even fast food jobs deserve to be able to make a living, but unfortunately economic reality shoots a great big hole in the idea of making 15 dollars an hour. I don't think these strikes that are happening are going to work because it's far more likely that McDonalds, Wendy's and KFC will just replace anyone who continues making demands that they're not willing to meet because the companies CAN replace them just that easily. 15 dollars is a living wage, yes, but it's also a lot of money to make for working at McDonalds. I truly don't mean to impugn fast food workers, since they bust their asses like the rest of us, but you're never going to lift the status of working at KFC and you do get the idea that it should be a stepping stone to something better. That's certainly what it's been in the past, although I admit that it's sad our current economic situation might have changed that dynamic.

Bob: Are those other jobs as available as fast food jobs, which are virtually always available? Also, FYI: "It's just a stepping stone to something better," is exactly what Sarah Palin said in one of her recent videos while lapsing into some sort of bizarre aphasia. How lucky you are to be able to look down upon people who just "flip burgers" for a living. Some people, and for very legitimate reasons, don't have anywhere to go except from one food service job to another, and therefore I don't see any problem whatsoever with fast food workers demanding better pay.

Ben: Just because fast food workers are demanding a living wage while others accept their lot isn't an argument to keep their wages low. I think EVERYONE needs to be paid a wage they can actually live on, so more power to those fighting their corporate bosses. Sure, flipping burgers in McDonalds isn't exactly a highly skilled job, but when you're working full time and supporting a family, it has to sustain you financially. Also, more than a quarter of those working at McDonalds are raising children, so it is paramount that their demands are met.

3. Who do you think is the most worthless talking head on television or in print?
-- Allie

Bob: Mark Halperin. There is no one more worthless.

Chez: There's no one worst person. There are so many horrible ones for different reasons. Nancy Grace is outright dangerous. Bill Kristol is always wrong. Always. Tom Friedman is a pompous hack. Howie Kurtz is a joke. Joe Scarborough is a pompous joke. Mark Halperin is just... yeah, this list can do on and on. I think if I had to peg anyone in particular for being "worthless" I'd say Steve Doocy over at Fox News. He's a talking head in every sense of the word, a smug prick devoid of any thought between his ears that wasn't put there by Fox's mission statement -- and remember, he used to be known as "Doocy the Weather Guy." That's really all you need to know.

Ben: Ooh, that's a tough one. I'd probably say Wolf Blitzer. I don't have anything against him per se, but he's the definition of a corporate news caster - an almost imperceptible personality with no charisma, no opinions, no balls, and a predictably stellar career based on his ability not to fuck a script up. Seriously, can you remember anything Blitzer has ever said? Was there a time when you though 'damn, Blitzer nailed it!'? I thought not.