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Friday, March 31

John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics recaps the week.

HH: Joining me now at the end of a week of pretty important political news, John McIntyre of, your one-stop shopping center for all the news of politics that matters, except any mention of my book.

JM: (laughing) Well, you've got to give me a little warning, Hugh. I mean, I think when I saw you on Hannity was the first time I saw Painting the Map Red.

HH: Well, that was 48 hours ago.

JM: Well, we'll see what we can do.

HH: I'm pretty good at shameless self-promotion, John.

JM: Well, I know. I know.

HH: Do you know what the tomb of Sula the Dictator has on it?

JM: I would have thought you would have sent me a copy, an advance copy.

HH: What, do you think I'm giving away things now?

JM: (laughing)

HH: What am I? A bank making loans? Listen, McIntyre, you know what's on Sula the Happy's tomb?

JM: No.

HH: You'll want to write this down. Have you got a pen? You're a Princeton guy. Can someone write this down for you? On Sula the Happy's tomb, it says no friend has ever done me a favor, nor enemy an injury that I have not repaid in full.

JM: Okay.

HH: Think about that. Now anyway, John, immigration. How badly are the Republicans bleeding here?

JM: Pretty badly.

HH: Yes, it's pretty ugly, isn't it?

JM: Following on the Dubai ports situation, it hasn't been a good run, recently, I would say. I mean, I don't know that the's not like the Democrats are doing anything good. It's just the Republicans are politically taking the brunt of it.

HH: They are, and I think there's a way out of this, but I'm going to ask you. If you were just taking a political look at this, forget the issues, but your objective was to maintain the President's majorities in Congress so that he can have two more years of productivity and success in the war, what would you do?

JM: Well, I mean to be honest, Hugh, I'd punt on the issue. You either punt, or you have to get a deal that has some real enforcement on the border, and I don't see any way really to do that without some kind of wall. I mean, I heard the President say well, we have 42% more border guards, or we spent 38% more, just throwing more money at the problem and hiring another 1,000 border agents isn't going to do anything.

HH: Agreed.

JM: It's not going to change anything.

HH: You know, Israel has a real border problem, and they did not hire more border agents.

JM: That's right.

HH: They built four hundred miles of fence. It's not done, yet, but they're building four hundred miles...and it's not just fence. Sometimes it's triple barriers, sometimes it's not much...

JM: So I mean, to me, you've got to...and the only way you're going to get a fence is you're going to have to compromise, and whether it's the "amnesty" that people describe the McCain-Kennedy bill, you're going to have to do something to get a consensus to get that to deal with the 10 or 11 million illegals that are already here.

HH: You've come exactly where I am. First you get the fence. You authorize it. All seven hundred miles of it. Then you do a temporary worker program, the Kyl version, preferably, but you might have to give them Kennedy-McCain.

JM: That's right.

HH: But the Kennedy-McCain would have to be compromised back to they've got to leave the country to be eligible to come back into the country, and they've got to get in line.

JM: Exactly. You're exactly right. It has to start with a can't be Reagan '86 all over again. There has to be a change where it says we are serious about stopping the problem at the border. Unless the Congress is willing to do something like that, you've got to punt, because anything else is just going to create more problems than it solves.

HH: Now let me tell you about the Battleground poll that the Wall Street Journal has up right now on the Senate. Right now, they're calling for a two seat pickup for the Democrats. They think that DeWine and Santorum have lost to Brown and Casey, Jr., respectively.

JM: Right.

HH: They also think Menendez is in trouble, but listen to these margins. Republican Jon Kyl leads by 5%, Talent by less than 3%, Ensign by 8%, Bryant by 7.5% in the Tennessee open seat. Hutchinson's running away with it in Texas with 30%, George Allen by 7%. Now the Democrats on the other hand have margins of 12 points in Florida, 9 points in Maryland, 11 points in Michigan, almost 8 points in Minnesota, 20 points in New Mexico, more than 20 points in New York, and in Washington State, 7.5, and in Wisconsin, it's pretty close. It's pretty close in Wisconsin. So it looks like the Democrats are much safer than the Republican safe seats, and that the Republicans are taking on water. Good analysis?

JM: Yeah, I think that's the situation, the lay of the land right now. I mean quite frankly, I think given the run the President's had and the Republicans have had recently, those poll numbers, I don't think, are so bad.

HH: Well, they could turn this around.

JM: That's right.

HH: I mean, they can take out Menendez. They can take out Stabenow and Cantwell.

JM: And the Minnesota seat is a vulnerable seat there. If the Republicans can take some initiative here and can get some things passed, and can demonstrate to the country that they're actually doing something, and addressing some of the issues that the public wants addressed, you get some positive movements, perhaps, in Iraq, get the President's poll numbers back over 40% on job approval, you're looking at a whole different political landscape, essentially.

HH: You could actually win four or five pickups. You konw, Klobuchar has got the worst prosecuting record of probably any prosecutor in Minnesota. She's terrible. Wait until they start to bang that drum.

JM: No, that's exactly right, Hugh. Now the flip side of that is if the type of environment we've seen for the last two or three months continues, you could get a further deterioration, and you could...there's a lot of close races that can go either way, and that's how a lot of these elections come down to. And a lot of the close Republican seats, whether it's Talent or DeWine or Burns in Montana, they can go all one way or the other way. And if the Democrats just get a little more movement their direction, then they start inching into where they can pick up four or five seats. I don't think there's any way they can get six. I don't think Ford can do it in Tennessee.

HH: Well, again, I think you could have a wave. Now John McIntyre, I sat down with the Congressmen, yesterday, half dozen Congressmen, and gave them my dire warning, my assessment that it could be '94 in reverse. And I also pointed to the fact that they're going to be the fewest days in session since 1948. They're going to be the do-nothing Congress. Shouldn't they change that?

JM: Absolutely.

HH: They can change that. They can just work longer.

JM: That's right. They can demonstrate to the country that they're serious about doing something with their majority. I think that's the biggest frustration that conservatives have, is that they've sort of...Republicans have a majority. Do something with it.

HH: And you know the easiest way to that message out, John McIntyre?

JM: Tell me, Hugh.

HH: The easiest way is to go to, and then see a full-framed graphic of Painting the Map Red right there on the front. That's what...I mean, it's obvious to me. John McIntyre, Welcome to the center for self-promotion, shameless division.

End of interview.

The polling is now open.

Thanks to everyone for participating in the Photoshop contest. As of now, there's well over 200 entries, and they're still coming in. Here's how we're going to sort them out. All of us here at Team Hewitt have narrowed down the finalists to twenty. You can see them at the top of this page. Vote for as many as you want. The top five vote getters by Monday at Noon Pacific will qualify for the final poll next week. If you are one of the top 20, start stuffing the ballot box.

Thursday, March 30

Dan Alon, the sole survivor of the Israel Olympic squad from Munich in 1972.


Mr. Alon is going to appear at Dartmouth's Rockefeller Center on Friday, March 31st, at 4:30PM EST, sponsored by Chabad at Dartmouth.

HH: I'm joined now by a man who on September 5th, 1972, chose the right exit, and as a result, Dan Alon is alive to tell us about the terror at the Olympics of that year. He was an Israeli athlete, a fencer when it happened. Yesterday, on the campus of Yale for the first time ever, he addressed an American audience about what happened that night. Dan Alon, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

DA: Good evening.

HH: Mr. Alon, can you for the benefit of audience, especially young audience, tell us briefly what happened in September of 1972?

DA: Well, it's a big story, but on the 5th of September, in the morning, at half past Four in the morning, we were all sleeping in our buildings of the Israeli delegation. And we heard some explosions and gunshots. We didn't know exactly what really it was. I woke up together with my partner in my room, another fencer, who was fencing, and we looked at one another. And he asked me, the guy, what can it be? And I said I don't know. Maybe some other delegation are celebrating some medal or something. We went back to sleep. And fifteen minutes later, we heard, really, machine guns. So we knew exactly that something was wrong. Two minutes later, from the other room in my apartment, came two shooters, Israeli shooters in the Olympics, and they told us look, we've got a problem. There is terrorists standing outside the door of our entrance, and they're talking to the German police. That's what's happened. And what he said that really described everything you want to know, that he said we are a group of September, Black September. We attacked the Israeli delegation buildings. We killed two Israelis in the attack, and we have at our place, holding nine others. Please, he told them, please contact the German authorities, and tell them to demand from Israel to release 200 Palestinian prisoners from the prisons. If not, we're going to kill all the Israelis until 12:00 Noon. And that was really the story, but how I escaped and everything, it's a long story. But in the end, what happened was a big negotiation between the terrorists and the Germans and the Israelis, and they came to some decision that they will go out of the village, and will fly with three helicopters to a airport field not far from Munich. They will go in a civilian aircraft, and fly to Libya. And the Germans did it because they tried to make some attack during the time they were landing with the helicopters. And they did something, but they failed to release the Israelis. They killed five terrorists, they kept three terrorists, but the three terrorists panicked, and they decided to kill all the Israelis when they were sitting in the helicopter. So they killed all the nine, and they blew up the helicopter. That was the real story.

HH: Your coach was killed, Mr. Alon? Your fencing coach was killed, a very close friend of yours, correct?

DA: Yes, Andre Spitzer. He was not only a coach of mine, he was my best friend, because we were the same age, 27 at that time.

HH: Now Mr. Alon, today is a day when Jill Carroll, an American journalist, is, thank God, released from the hands of terrorists. And you escaped terrorists, but you also had friends killed by terrorists, and you've lived in Israel for 33 years, where many people have not escaped it. And this is also the year of Munich, a film by Steven Spielberg, which purports to, in some way, chronicle the events of September, 1972, and their aftermath. What did you make of the movie?

DA: What did I think about the movie?

HH: Yes.

DA: Well, I think that Steven Spielberg did a beautiful job. Really. I saw the movie in Israel two months ago. The movie is divided in two parts. One part is, he shows the, really the attack, what really happened in the village, the Olympic village, and the attack on the Israeli delegation. The second part is what they did after Munich, the revenge of the Israeli government by the Mossad. The first part, I can tell you, it's done very good. Steven Spielberg did a very beautiful job, and I really felt like a deja vu when I saw the movie. And it was very touching. The second part, about the Mossad, I can't tell you, because I don't have any details, and I wasn't involved in this. But the movie itself is beautiful, and I think the end of the movie, the last scene when you see on the screen the New York City with the Twin Towers, the scene is following until the end of the movie, that you can see the message, I think so, that Steven Spielberg gave. It's bloodshed brings more bloodshed, and we have to prevent it. And I think that's a very good message, that it's...we have to stop this.

HH: How do you react to yesterday's elections in Israel?

DA: I was not in Israel. I'm here in the States, so I couldn't vote. And I'm not so involved in the politics, really. Believe me.

HH: Okay. Well, I'm wondering if you think the terrorism problem, which shattered your life at 27, has gotten...spread beyond the Palestinians who were Black September, obviously to the terrorists who attack Israel on a daily basis. But do you think it's the same enemy that now took down the Towers, and blows up innocents in Iraq?

DA: Yeah. I think it's all the same. It didn't change, unfortunately.

HH: How do you beat it?

DA: How you beat it?

HH: Yeah.

DA: Well, well, well. I'm against, really, I'm against bloodshed, really.

HH: Well, so am I, but how do you deter it?

DA: Well, you have to ask some professional people who deal with it. I am really not a politician, and I'm not really a specialist in those kind of things. But I think they have to find some solution like economics, boycotts, or something like this to stop those people, not by killing them, maybe.

HH: When I read the Yale Daily News account of your first-ever in the United States talk, I asked myself why now? Why did you come and give this speech now, after having not done so ever in the United States, and only twice ever in Israel?

DA: Well, I didn't talk about it for 33 years, because...two reasons. First of all, I was really emotionally very upset, and touched about what happened, and I was fencing...two months later after Munich, I quit fencing. But the second reason that...naturally, the media, after Munich until now, they were concentrated in what's happened to the athletes, and what's happened to the families, and what's happened to the terrorists, and what's really happened. But they didn't ask about us, about the survivors, what we feel, what we felt. Nothing, really. We were completely ignored, and I couldn't go out in the street and shout look, I'm a survivor. Please ask me questions, you know? And now, two months ago, when the movie appeared all over the world, suddenly people started to ask me questions. And the first telephone I got from Chabad from Oxford, at Oxford in England, and he suddenly called me and told me look, Danni. Please, if you can come and talk about it to our students, and tell them. I was really hesitant, and I didn't want to do it in the beginning, but he convinced me, and I came there, and I, really, the first time in public, stood there and I gave the story. And emotionally, I'm telling you, it was really hard for me. I had to stop a few times in my speech. But now, when I came to the States after this, and I was talking now twice, I feel much better, more relaxed, and I can talk about it better now.

HH: Danni Alon, survivor of Munich, 1972, how often do you think, is it every day, of the events of September, 1972?

DA: It's very often. Very often. You know, wherever I go, people say oh, you were in Munich. So please...and they remind me all the time, you know? You can't forget things like this.

HH: And so, will Jill Carroll, even though she survived as you did, be spending the rest of her life sort of stuck on the last few months of her captivity?

DA: Yeah, I think so. She will have some problems, I'm sure. You will never forget it so easily.

HH: Well, Danni Alon, welcome to the United States. Thank you for sharing your story at Yale, and spending some time with us tonight. I think it's wonderful that you're doing it.

DA: Thank you. Thank you for you, and I appreciate you Americans, what you're doing all over the world to stop the terror. And please continue doing it.

HH: I'm sure...well, this administration is committed to that, Mr. Alon. Thank you.

End of interview.

James Lileks sitting in a chair and saying, "Moo."

HH: Joined now by James Lileks of, Star Tribune columnist, that's the Minneapolis Star Tribune, also Newhouse columnist, also Newhouse columist, also proprietor of James, you are a veteran of book tours.

JL: Yes, sir.

HH: How much do you love them?

JL: I hate them. Absolutely. When you have to go places to do things, you're just a piece of dead meat propped up in a chair and asked to say, "Moo."

HH: (laughing)

JL: And if it's one of those things where you're staring into the blank eye of a camera in some little, small satellite studio, you don't really get the eye contact and the give and take that you like. So if they sent me on a 40 city tour, I'd jump on it in a second. But the idea of doing it from my kitchen in my shorts is perfectly fine, because if the interview's going poorly, and you've got 40 minutes left to go with somebody who's doing a duck hunting show, who for some reason has signed your book, like happened to me the last time, you can just pretend that the phone goes dead.

HH: You did a duck hunting show?

JL: Yeah, it had been a duck hunting show, I think, the week before. Then they changed formats to duck hunting and novel and writers, and they shoved me on. Couldn't have been more disinterested, that guy.

HH: Well, he might not really care to talk about anything except ducks, but that's a...

JL: I know, well, some consultant came through and said duck hunting is great, but we really need more books about how to raise children according to 40's instructional manuals. I did get your book today, though. Your crack production/promotion team sent it to me, and I was alarmed to see on the cover, for those who haven't seen it, it's a wonderful picture of the United States, with an elephant bestriding the Plains, and he's got a paint roller clutched in his trunk.

HH: I love the cover.

JL: It's a great cover, but his left foot is crushing South Minnesota.

HH: Oh, it does?

JL: And this is the part of the state that's purple. It could actually swing the state.

HH: I thought it was DFL land.

JL: Well, not necessarily. So if the state doesn't swing red, that's why. Your elephant killed them all. They're just jam on the foot of that guy now.

HH: Now let's get to the serious stuff. I did Laura Ingraham's show this morning, and I did Chris Matthews' show tonight. Both of them could talk of nothing except immigration. Now I have a chapter on immigration policy in Painting the Map Red, and it anticipated this.

JL: Right.

HH: It warned of the civil war that loomed out there. But Laura was not for calm conversation about how a fence needed to be first, although she agrees with that. And Chris Matthews wanted to paint all Republicans as bigots.

JL: Yes.

HH: Not a surprise there.

JL: No.

HH: What do you make of this?

JL: It's a little bigger in Washington and talk radio than it is out here, I think. And what people do generally in this situation, and immigration may be the worst of all, they tend to project to their own feelings on the subject for the rest of the country at large, i.e. everybody is completely upset about illegal immigration. And you know, not necessarily so. When you live up here, and it doesn't have the impact that it does in the Southwest, it's not that high on your radar. I think you could get national consensus on a fence first, with security, and then some sort of whatever, some sort of greasy, mealie whatever, as long as we don't call it amnesty, later. But it is not, I don't think, as big an issue as it is for some people, for the people for whom it really counts. And I understand exactly why it counts so much to people, and I'm in agreement with a majority of their sentiments. But at the same token, if you read The Corner earlier in the week, Jonah Goldberg, and a writer that I greatly admire and like, was confessing that he simply could not muster the ire for the issue that a lot of people on his side had. And I sort of feel the same thing. It's just not at the top of my list, so I'm not going to project what I feel about it onto the rest of the country. Consequently, take it for what you're worth, I don't think it is necessarily the doom issue that some people do. What I find tiresome is what you went through with Matthews, of course, is that your objection to this is simply people who had a duskier he than you, and I...

HH: That...I don't know if you saw that segment. It was really quite odd. He has a vision of California being nativist, and upset that the California of 1940 has been destroyed. Well, the California of 1940 was still having people picking the crops in the Central Valley.

JL: That's right.

HH: And when I point out to him that Santa Ana may be the most Mexican place, in fact, it is the most Mexican place outside of Mexico, but that I live five miles from it doesn't bother me in the least, he just doesn't want to buy that. I do think there are two issues here. One is fear of a dirty nuke, fear of the border. And the other is fear of crime, and that is a manageable fear, if it's articulated.

JL: Right. And for me, because while I of course fear the dirty nuke, don't have the crime problem here that other places do. And interestingly enough, some smaller cities in Minnesota do, because they do have higher proportions of immigrant labor. For me, it's more of an issue of American culture. And I think one of the things that was a fatal mistake for the pro-immigration people the last week was to waive the Mexican flags, was to put it above the American flag, and turn the American flag upside down, because what that does to people who are casually observing this, they shrug their shoulders and really begin to feel a sort of calloused indifference to the whole subject, and to what happens to the people who get caught in the middle. That was the stupidest thing I can possibly imagine for them to do, but it's extemely telling of how the debate really isn't just about immigration and jobs and economy. It is about cultural identity, and that is an issue that goes beyond immigration.

HH: But you know why they did that? They were waiving a red flag in front of the Republicans. That's all it was. It was designed to bring the Minutemen out of their closet with their guns going, proverbially, they don't have guns. It was designed to send Laura and other talk show hosts into orbit, and it did. It was designed to get exactly this sort of meltdown, but I'll tell you, I think the meltdown, in the final analysis, because it focuses on security, is going to help Republicans again.

JL: I think so, too, because what that does is the people in the middle see this, and it doesn't just waive a red flag to Republicans. It waives a red flag to the people in the middle who don't necessarily have party affiliation, who just don't like that. Just do not like seeing that stuff.

HH: Okay. My summary, and I want to...

JL: ...because the sense of ingratitude that you get is...we demand that we be able to come here, speak the language, use all of your facilities, pay no taxes, and also, we want the country back. After that, we can talk.

HH: Democrats see illegals, and they see votes.

JL: Yeah.

HH: Some Republicans see illegals, and they see labor. A lot of Americans, left, right and center, see illegals, and they see security threat.

JL: Yup.

HH: So how does this debate play out, Lileks?

JL: (laughing) With the usual, messy, inconclusive result. I mean, at the end of this, do I think we're going to have a big wall? Do I think we're going to have increased security that makes everybody happy? Do I think we're going to have a path to legitimacy that takes tens of millions of illegal immigrants, and has them queue up to get their cards? No, I don't.

HH: All right. Now James, let me ask you. Did you listen to the Ware interview?

JL: I did. It was fascinating.

HH: What did you think?

JL: Well, the part that was godsmacking was the bit that he couldn't really tell you whether or not things under Krushchev were better than things under Stalin, because that really is the heart of it here, isn't it?

HH: Yup.

JL: I mean, it's messy now, it's going to be messy for a while. But the point is, there are degrees of awfulness here. And if you're not concentrating on the degree of awfulness that Saddam's regime represented, and would have represented in the future if it had remained in power, then you don't have're not presenting the context in which these things are happening, and the context of what success means. I found that...and again, the brave man, and I can get away from the whole chicken hawk thing, but you know, here I am, chicken journalist. I'm not over there doing what he's doing, but that bothered me. That inability to say what exactly needs to be done, I found a bit distressing.

HH: Always a pleasure, Lileks., America.

End of interview.

Wednesday, March 29

Mark Steyn, a legal immigrant, on the issue of illegal immigration.


HH: And joining us on Wednesday as opposed to his normal date on Thursday because of my travel schedule, columnist to the world, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MS: Good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: Mark, let's start with the issue that is raging in Washington, D.C., the McCain-Kennedy bill, the immigration issue, and the meltdown among Republican over it. What's your assessment of what's going on there?

MS: Well, you know, I think there is a big problem with immigration. I'm personally always reluctant to speak about it, because I belong to that very, very tiny, tiny, tiny demographic of documented immigrants. And judging from that parade in Los Angeles the other day, there's far fewer of us than there are of the other kind.

HH: Yes, that's true.

MS: And if you talk to legal immigrants, they're the ones who are the most resentful of this whole illegal business, because we're the ones, we pay the huge fees to immigration lawyers, we filled in all the paperwork. I've stood in line at these dreary government offices to get these stupid cards and these stupid government numbers, to go through the whole process officially. And everyone whose done that is resentful to the idea that somehow if you just make it across the border, and you get here, you can stay here, and half the state governments in this country will do what they can to make your situation as painless as possible, and the public schools...I'll give you a small example of schools. If you're a legal immigrant, and you enroll your children in a local grade school, they want to know whether they've had all the shots, you know, for this and that.

HH: Sure. Vaccinations.

MS: If you're a legal immigrant, you have to then, you're faced with then getting the documentation out of whatever country you happen to have come from. And sometimes, that can be difficult, because they give them different things at different times, and the school nurse will give you a lot of harrassment. If you actually just say okay, scrub that, they're not legal immigrants, I want them redesignated as illegal immigrants, then you won't be asked for any paperwork. It's a lot easier. The problem at the moment is that it's a rational decision, coming into this country, to be an illegal immigrant. And that is the problem.

HH: Mark Steyn, I don't know what year you emigrated, but you ought to go back and get a refund if this thing passes, that's for sure. My question is, though, we've got 11 to 15 million illegals. It's a complicated problem. We're not going to throw them out of the country. But given that, is the first thing we should do secure the border? Or is the first thing we should do legalize or regularize, or use any euphemismize that you want, the 11 to 15 million?

MS: Well, no. I think if you're you say, there is a problem. You've got a population that is basically four times the size of the average European Union nation...

HH: Right.

MS: in the United States illegally. Four times the size of the population of Ireland, say. Two or three times the size of the population of Denmark or Norway. So I think the first thing you have to do is say well, that is a problem, but before we deal with that, before we come up with some way of finessing that, we will secure our borders. I mean, I do think this is a national security issue, because when I hear this sort of pseudo-isolationist talk that comes out from many people on the right particularly, I say well look. You've got a country here that can't even secure its borders against two relatively benign states, yet now you're saying you'll be able to tell the whole world to go to hell, and that Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't matter, and the whole place can go to hell. You can't even enforce your border against some sleepy Mexicans and wily Canadians. And America has to be able to demonstrate...sovereignty begins at the border. You don't have a nation if the nation doesn't have borders.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I understand why Ted Kennedy and liberal Democrats want to naturalize and legalize, and then get voting, the 11 to 15 million whom they perceive as their voters. I understand that. They might be as wrong as Gladstone was about the enfranchisement of the late 1870's, but I do not understand why John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, and Mike DeWine want to go out of order, leaving the border unsecure, but getting to naturalization or amnesty first. How do you explain McCain?

MS: Well, I think a lot of Republicans on this issue have, are operating between what they see as two pincers. One is that if you come out strongly against immigration, illegal immigration, you're seen as somehow being quasi-racist by the media. So you lose a lot of your good...if you're an anti-immigration Republican, you lose a lot of whatever good press you won. And we've seen, particularly in the case of Lindsey Graham, that that's very important to him. And at the same time, there is no doubt that there is a constituency in the Republican Party that thinks that somehow the economy is dependent on this huge flow of illegal immigrants. Again, that's something that is, i think, repugnant to legal immigrants, because if it's an economic issue, then certainly this country should be capable of devising swift, efficient, safe, secure legal immigration to get them in here. But the idea that somehow letting people annex different industries, stage by stage, in order to artificially depress the cost of operating those industries as a conservative position, I think is ludicrous.

HH: But I go back to McCain, Mark Steyn, because first, there was McCain-Feingold, then there was the Gang of 14, and now we have McCain-Kennedy. And it seems he will never not subjugate the interest of his party to his own perception of political self-interest. Is that fair? Or do you think he's just trying to do the best he can?

MS: No, I don't think that. I mean, my observation of John McCain, and I understand he's very popular with a lot of people in the United States. My observation of him during the 2000 campaign, the 2000 New Hampshire primary season, is that he is one of the most incredible narcissists on the political scene. And that basically, John McCain is very good at talking himself into believing that whatever position he adopts is, by virtue of the fact that he's adopted it, the sensible, sane position. That's certainly true of McCain-Feingold, and I think he'll do a similar job talking himself into it with this view of him on immigration.

HH: Narcissism is a word that came up much in my e-mail overnight in connection with a lengthy interview I did yesterday with Michael Ware, Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief. Did you have a chance to see that, Mark?

MS: Yes, I did, and I thought it was an incredible interview. And in a way, incredible because I would imagine that nobody, no foreign correspondent for a major Western news organization would regard it as unusual. And that's what's so depressing. The bit where he was talking about yes, he's got contacts in Zarqawi's organization, and he's been taken on these privileged little trips to meet with them and all the rest of it, that's the complete opposite of...I don't know how you feel, Hugh. You probably feel the same way. But I felt gradually exhausted since September 11th, 2001, that it's very dispiriting trying to keep going in this phase of what is a very long conflict. And the reason I do it is because I want us to win. I don't particularly like journalism. I don't particularly like writing newspaper columns. I'm sick of having to make what I think should be an obvious case again and again and again. And I'd much rather pack it in and sit on my porch in New Hampshire and enjoy the view of the mountains. But I do it because I want us to win. And the idea that he has, this diseased sense that somehow just the story, the story is somehow how you demonstrate your journalistic integrity and purity, and might get you nominated for some prize that nobody cares about somewhere down the line, that's not what it's about. I mean, why does he want to be a journalist, if it's not to be on the right side of history. This is ridiculous.

HH: That's...there was a moral vacuum there, and the left is mocking the interview, suggesing that I was arguing that we are front line troops in the information war. I wasn't. I was suggesting that every civilian is invested in this, because of a hole in the ground three miles from here.

MS: Exactly, and that's where your left-wing detractors are missing the point, is that we're all, in a sense, we're all conscripted in this war. Those 3,000 people who died on September 11th, they weren't serving forces, they were just fellows who got up in the morning and went to work, or went to Logan Airport and got on a plane. And that's the thing. We're all conscripted in this war, whether we know it or not.

HH: I think you would rather be writing things like obituaries. I have to get to this obituary of this Telegraph columnist about whom I had never heard, but I read laughing out loud on the airplane East this week. It's in the Atlantic Monthly. People should run out and get it. Tell people about this guy. What an idiosyncratic writer.

MS: Well, Michael Wharton, who was a colleague of mine at the Telegraph in London, and he died in his 90's a few weeks ago, and he basically wrote this satirical column for fifty years in the Telegraph, in which gradually all the things that he satirized about eventually came true. You know, a lot of things we take for granted now, like bishops who believe, trendy bishops who believe in nothing, insane environmentalists, social workers who say we're all guilty. In a sense, he developed a lot of these features in the modern world as sort of satirical things in the early 60's, and then had the horror, as great satirists often do, of finding that they all came true.

HH: Yeah, he thought be was a humorist, but he turned out to be a prophet. It's a wonderful tribute to your colleague. I hope people pick up the Atlantic Monthly. Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

Senator Jon Kyl on the immigration debate.

HH: Joined now by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who is on the Judiciary Committee. I think he voted against the bill that passed out of Judiciary earlier this week. Senator Kyl, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JK: Thank you, Hugh. Great to be with you and your great listeners.

HH: Am I correct about your vote this week?

JK: Absolutely. There were six Republicans that voted against the bill, ten Republicans and all of the Democrats who voted for it.

HH: Now tell me a little bit about your thought process.

JK: Excuse me. Four Republicans and the Democrats who voted for it. I'm sorry.

HH: Did Sam Brownback vote for it, Senator Kyl?

JK: Yes, he did.

HH: Okay. Did Senator DeWine?

JK: Yes.

HH: Okay. I'm just so troubled by this, but tell me...

JK: Lindsey Graham and Arlen Specter were the other two.

HH: What was your thinking? Why could you not support McCain-Kennedy?

JK: First, the enforcement provisions were largely lifted from our bill. So they were fine. What was not fine were parts of the temporary worker program, and the way to deal with the illegal immigrants, both of which, instead of dealing in a temporary way, treated these folks as permanent legal residents, and put them on a path to citizenship. That's both unnecessary, and unwise in my view. And that's why I voted against it.

HH: All right. Now what do you think about fencing, Senator Kyl?

JK: Fencing works. It has certainly worked in California in the San Diego. It works in the urban areas, and one of the amendments that I got adopted was in the State of Arizona, to increase the amount of fencing that we have, primarily in the urban areas. There are three primary urban areas, and then to replace some of the existing fences...the fencing that exists, and to put in vehicle bollards in areas out in the middle of the desert where it's flat, and they run a lot of cars across there, so they can't get across with cars. Even though you wouldn't put a fence out there necessarily, but you sure want to keep vehicles from coming across.

HH: Now in that amendment, was that an amendment to McCain-Kennedy itself? Or is that an amendment that's been offered today?

JK: No, the underlying bill was a Specter bill. We did a lot of amending of that, primarily dealing with enforcement. This amendment that I just talked to you about was my amendment that was adopted onto that bill. Eventually, we came to the temporary worker sections, and how to deal with illegal immigrants already here. Those were dealt with by a substitution of the...or an addition of the Kennedy-McCain bill, which was adopted by the Committee, and then became the temporary worker and illegal immigrant sections of the bill. The part that dealt with enforcement remained intact.

HH: Now Senator Kyl, do you expect enforcement then to be a part of anything that gets through the Senate?

JK: Yes, I do. But we're only talking about one half of the enforcement. We're talking about enforcing the border. And I think those provisions will be pretty good. The part that...we don't have yet is the part that deals with interior enforcement, at the workplace, primarily. Those provisions have been written, but they are not inserted in the bill yet, because they were written by a different committee. I think they're going to be okay, but they're still a bit of a work in progress, and they are every bit as important as the enforcement at the border, because once you get sixty miles north of the border, you are home free. There were only three cases brought last year against employers who allegedly hired illegal immigrants. So you've got to have, for any system to work, regardless of what kind of temporary worker program you have, if you don't have good employer verification of eligibility for employees, you don't have anything.

HH: Now Senator Kyl, some people say the bill on the floor, which I'm calling McCain-Kennedy for want of a better term...

JK: It's McCain-Kennedy with stronger enforcement.

HH: Okay, well that's better.

JK: At the border, yeah.

HH: That's a step in the right direction.

JK: Yeah, at the border.

HH: Is it an amnesty bill?

JK: You know, I made a little speech today to our Republican colleagues. I said look, all of us are using rhetoric, and what we need to do is have a calm debate that doesn't characterize things, but describes them. I said you know, some things are bad enough if you just describe them. And so I'm not going to characterize. Others can draw their conclusions. I will say that I don't think it is fair for American workers to create a situation in which instead of bringing people here temporarily when you need them, and then not giving out temporary visas when the jobs aren't here, that that's not fair. It's not fair to immigrants like my grandparents, who waited a long time to come here, when they're waiting patiently in line, and in their case, it was Holland, but let's say Mexico or France or China or wherever it might be, for illegal immigrants to be able to get legal permanent residence, and be put on a path to citizenship. They do not go to the back of the line, contrary to what some folks said. The line is in Mexico, or El Salvador, or Holland, or wherever it might be. The line is not in the United States. So they're not going to the back of the line, they're staying right here in the United States. I don't think that's fair. And I don't think it's necessary, at least not for all of the people, because most of the people who came here didn't come here to be citizens. They came here to work. And I say as long as we have a job for them, that's fine. But make it a temporary work program, not a permanent legal residence.

HH: How long is that line in Mexico, Senator Kyl?

JK: It's about, and it varies with different countries as you know, it's about a five year wait right now. But another feature of McCain-Kennedy is to add dramatically to the quota of green cards, so that that backlog would disappear pretty quickly, or you'd use it up with illegal immigrants who are here already.

HH: Now one of the things I don't understand, just as a common sense approach to this, if you allow people to legalize in place, you'll never get them to leave even temporarily to register the correct way. But if you did, say, okay, if you're back in Mexico, and you apply within six months, we will pretty much guarantee you'll get a green card within two years, they would leave, wouldn't they, Senator?

JK: I think so. Again, I don't think that everybody who came here, came here to be here permanently. The Mexican government will tell you that they favor circularity, where people can come here, work for a while, and then return home. And a lot of the illegal immigrants surveyed, tell you that's exactly what they intend. So it's a mistake to assume that everybody that came to this country needs to become a citizen. Many do not, and they didn't come here for that reason, and they would be happy with a temporary work permit. Why not provide that for them?

HH: Now I've also received the objection that any fine that will be leveled will simply be paid by, or lent to the illegal by their employer, in order to keep them in place. In other words, that there will be no penalty for breaking the law.

JK: I think it is likely that in most cases, the penalty will be paid by the employer who needs the employee here. And it's no penalty to keep working. I mean, they say and the individual will have to continue to work for five years. Well, why did they come here in the first place, but to work. So it's not really a penalty. All it does is allow them to be in the United States while they're waiting the five years, rather than waiting for it in their home country. But again, that's on the assumption the individual wants to become a legal permanent resident. And I really think that a temporary work permit would be better, because it can fluctuate depending upon the economic circumstances here. If there are no jobs for people, then you don't want to issue more permits. If there are, maybe you want to issue more.

HH: Senator Kyl, we've got less than a minute. This seems to me to be like taking the helm of the Titanic and aiming for the iceberg, politically. I can't understand Senator DeWine. I'm hoping he gets re-elected in Ohio. I'm working for it. But I think they're really hurting the party. Is that awareness dawning?

JK: Everybody has to look at it through their own lens. The majority of Americans do not want to grant citizenship to people who came here illegally. They would prefer that these people return home, but they're willing to have a temporary worker program. And I think we can accommodate that with our bill. I think we do it the wrong way with the bill that passed out of the Committee.

HH: Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, good luck in your efforts to rally the majority of the Senate, and to get a bill passed. We need it, and yours makes sense.

End of interview.

Tuesday, March 28

Time Magazine's Michael Ware from Baghdad.


HH: Joining me now live from Baghdad is Michael Ware, bureau chief for Time Magazine. Michael, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MW: Thanks, Hugh.

HH: Michael, we met each other courtesy of CNN on a couple of editions of Anderson Cooper's program last week. And I was intrigued as I read up on you, our acquaintance, Tim Blair, a mutual acquaintance, speaks very, very highly of you. Of course, that stands you in great regard in the American blogosphere, as Blair is much loved there. Can you give us a little bit of...

MW: Yeah, well Tim's a great guy. He's a good journalist.

HH: Yes, he is. Can you give us a little bit of your background, how you ended up in Baghdad, so people can get you focused on where you're from? Because you're Australian, and that obviously comes through in your voice. But let's get you to Time Magazine. Where were you before then?

MW: I'm actually a lawyer or an attorney by training. But after graduating law school, I only stayed in practice for one year after working in our court of appeal, then fell into journalism, working for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation newspapers in Australia, where I eventually covered the conflict in East Timor. After that, I took a job with Time Magazine in Australia, and then after September 11, I was sent to Afghanistan, where I stayed for over a year. And then as the war in Iraq approached, I entered Iraq through Iran, into the Kurdish North, where I hooked up with U.S. Special Forces, and the Peshmerga militia, and covered the Northern front line. Ever since then, I have essentially been living in Baghdad.

HH: So you are a long traveled war correspondent, having covered Afghanistan, Iraq, before that East Timor. And I think you were at the encirclement of Osama bin Laden, were you not? I think I read some of your dispatches from that as well.

MW: Well, I was in the Battle of Shah-i-Kot, the Operation Anaconda, which was fought in March, 2002. So I was in many of the engagements involving al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. And in some of them later in Iraq.

HH: So Michael Ware, what do you think...and you've spent time with insurgents, too. That's very controversial reporting that I've read. Explain to the audience how you connected up with them, and how much time you spent with them in Iraq.

MW: Well, in the course of the past three years, I've had ongoing contact with different elements of the insurgency. It all began immediately after the fall of Saddam's regime in the early months of the occupation. I was doing a story which was looking at the invasion. I was trying to find out from the Iraqi commanders themselves what had happened on their side, what was the chaos like, what was it like as a dictatorship deteriorated, and dissolved before their eyes in the midst of this American attack. Now at that time, I met these men. They were Republican Guard commanders, members of the secret police, the intelligence service, the secret service, all manner of agencies, asking them what had happened to them during the war. Then as time went by, these men started to feel more and more disenchanted, more and more dishonored. And one by one, they started picking up arms, and in a very ad hoc fashion, started attacking passing American vehicles and so on. Then over time, they started to evolve. And I got to watch that with my own eyes, as they did take shape as the insurgency we've ultimately come to see today.

HH: Does that insurgency, in your opinion, have a command and control structure, a heirarchy that actually operates to give signals to attack? Or is it simply a series of guerillas that pulse attacks whenever possible?

MW: Well, it's very complicated in the sense that nothing is concrete. However, there are very clear command structures. The one thing to be said though is there's no one overreaching command, or supreme command. This is a very fractured insurgency. There's many different organizations fighting in many different ways, for many different reasons, from the Islamic Jihadis of al Qaeda, and the Islamic militants. So you see Iraq is but one theater in a global holy war. All the way down to former Iraqi army officers, you know, Baghdad's version of West Pointers, who are fighting what they see as a war of liberation against a foreign occupier, be he benign, or be he malevolent. Then you also have a mix in between, guys who fight today, but don't tomorrow. Some who fight for money, some who fight because their brother's just been killed, or their cousin has just been arrested. It's a very mixed bag, but yes, there's coordination. And even between these groups, even when there's rivalry, they still work together. And at the very least, they deconflict their operations, so as much as possible, they try to avoid overlap. That's the level of organization.

HH: Have you spent time with the jihadis?

MW: I have. I have. It's certainly not something that's simple to do at any time, particularly now. However, in the past, though, I have actually been with Zarqawi's organization on different occasions. I once was taken to a Zarqawi training camp, although I was not told that that's where I was going, or for quite a while, that that's where I was. I've been to some of their safe houses. I've received some of their propaganda materials. By the same token, trying to film them secretly in Baghdad, I was kidnapped by them, dragged out of my car, and a group of Syrian fighters for Zarqawi were preparing to execute me on the street here in Baghdad. So I've been with Zarqawi's people in a number of different forms.

HH: What happened with the Syrians who were preparing to execute you? Did they get a Federal Express package from Zarqawi saying don't shoot the Aussie?

MW: No, I think if it was coming from Zarqawi, it would be very different. I mean, he's...or his official spokesman has threatened me on one occasion directly, and on another occasion, indirectly, publicly, as a result of things I've written. So if it was coming from Zarqawi, I don't think I'd be talking to you now. What eventually saved me was some Baathist fighters in the area, these former military officers. They see themselves as nationalists fighting this great war of liberation. Now they might work with these Islamic militants of al Qaeda, but they don't share the same goals, and they don't like to fight in the same way. It came down to a turf war, and I was very fortunate to fall between the cracks of these two organizations, where one group was saying if you want to kill this guy, you kill this guy. But understand, that starts a fight with us. And eventually, the al Qaeda Syrians decided it wasn't worth it, and through very gritted teeth, after having said a Westerner comes in here and you expect us to let him leave alive, they finally relented and set me free. It was not a pleasant experience.

HH: Michael, can you quantify for my audience the amount of time you've spent with the jihadis, and the amount of time you've spent with the insurgents? And then I want to ask you some questions about both of them. And the reason I'm asking for the amount of time is to give some sense of depth of experience with those two very distinct groups.

MW: Yeah, they are markedly different, and I guess principally, the bulk of any time I've spent dealing in any way with the insurgency, the vast majority of it has been with the Baathists, the former military officers, these men who identify as nationalists, or as Iraqi Islamists, dealing with the Islamists of al Qaeda. That's much, much more difficult, and it's only been a fraction of my time.

HH: Has it been a couple of days? A week with the Islamists? Or a few months with the insurgents? Again...

MW: I mean, I don't know how I'd add it up. I mean, it's a meeting here, it's a meeting there. It's a morning spent with him here, it's an afternoon spent with them there. It's...I'm told to meet on the street corner, taken to a restaurant for what looked like dinner, and then whisked out to go and see something for a few hours. And it's always very confusing. You're often blindfolded. You're often shoved down in the back of a car. You're often driven around for what seems like hours just to confuse you. You're shifted from place to place. You're constantly kept disorientated and confused, and you're constantly being challenged and tested. I mean, on three occasions, I was present when a discussion took place about whether I should be killed or sold, or goodness knows what else, and my fate has rested in their hands while they talk about this around me in a language I don't understand. So it's very hard to quantify the exact amount of time one has spent in these kind of circumstances.

HH: Okay, indulge me, a lawyer, and you're a lawyer, so you know. I'm just trying to get a sense of it. Has it been five different times out with the jihadists and 20 different times with the insurgents? I'm not looking for minute counts here, but I am trying to get a sense of how often you'll cross over to the other side and spend time with them.

MW: Well, I suppose it's a matter of how you look at crossing over, too. But I mean, I guess I've dealt with jihadis in one form or another perhaps a dozen, couple of dozen times, and the Baathists, many, many times. I mean, to constantly reassess where these guys are, I mean, as military intelligence does, trying to take their pulse of how sophisticated they are, how under pressure they are, how well financed they are or aren't, how organized they are, what morale is like. You constantly have to keep dipping into the well to see where they are. So with the Baathists, with the military types, it's many, many, many times.

HH: Okay, let me put a floor on it then. At least 18 times with teh jihadists, and 30 or 40 times with the insurgents.

MW: Yeah, you could easily say that.

HH: That's a lot of time.

MW: Yeah.

HH: All right. So we've got a good grounding here. Now this brings me to the interesting issue that we talked about on CNN, and that is the morality of doing that. Why do you do that?

MW: Well, there's a number of reasons. I mean, you can look at it very, very cynically. One is know thy enemy. Now I cannot begin to tell you how much the American people, not to mention the Brits and the Aussies back home, have been significantly misled about the nature of the enemy. I mean, I've been at press conferences under the CPA. I've been at press conferences under the interim Iraqi government. I've been to press conferences under the current regime. I've listened to all manifestation of U.S. military spokesmen, of diplomats, of ambassadors, discuss and describe the enemy. And so often, it has been wrong. And it's either because these people don't understand what they're up against, or more likely, it's that these people are not telling the public the truth about them, about the fact that they're not just one homogenous group, that there are many different motivations. And that was a very, very valuable thing to come to understand, because it's led to the point now, that we see, where we have this Bush administration opening dialogue and negotiations with the more nationalist, or Baathist elements of the insurgency. So learning that this was not one homogenous, scary boogeyman was vital to not just my and the public's understanding, but also to military intelligence and this administration's. Look what it's led to.

HH: Do you think it's true that everyone has understood from the beginning that there were Iraqis who were nationalists, and that there were jihadists who were Islamists, who just simply want to kill? I think that distinction has been there, my gosh, going back to the first blows of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

MW: Well, that's not entirely correct. Remember these famous glib, sad excuses for expressions like the dead-enders who are out there fighting us. Well, these dead-enders are still putting 15-20,000 men in the field on any given day. You know what? Today the current average for attacks on coalition forces is about 74 attacks a day. Now only about one in four of those attacks is what anyone would consider effective. But nonetheless, there's 74 odd attacks, any given day, right now. You know how many there were a year ago? Pretty much the same. And the year before that? Not that much different. So this enemy that is out there, these dead-enders of 2003, are still putting something close to a division in the field, and maintaining their tempo of attacks.

HH: But I go back to the distinction...

MW: So I mean, we've been misled many, many times. And for the public to understand this, I think, is important.

HH: Now see, I don't want to...I'm actually interviewing not to quarrel with you, but just to get it understood.

MW: Yeah, I know.

HH: But I do think that that distinction between Islamists and insurgents has been well understood, and for a very long time. And I'd look for you to tell me when were you misled about that. But more importantly, going to the Islamists, about'll agree with me, they're evil. Won't you, Michael?

MW: Well, I certainly...I mean, one has to be careful that as the Islamic army of Iraq reminded just last week on Al Jazeera, the insurgent groups study very closely everything that we hear, say and write. And given that we're within their grasp, one always must be diplomatic. Suffice to say, it's very hard to relate to the goals or tactics that the hard-line Islamists employ.

HH: Now that's very interesting, because that would indicate that...and I understand it, but that fear is affecting your reporting, or your candor level.

MW: Well, it certainly affects the way you couch things. It doesn't stop you saying things. I mean, like I said for example, I came across a tape once of Zarqawi himself, on an audio cassette, instructing or giving a seminar to some of his recruits and fighters, somewhere outside of Baghdad. Now this was a tape that was meant purely for internal consumption, for ideological or for training purposes. Now by one means or another, that fell into my hands, and I published it. I published its contents. Now within that discussion, Zarqawi himself showed that there was great division between his organization and one of the leading Iraqi Sunni organizations, and you're hearing him criticizing this very important Iraqi leader. Now by me publishing that, that aired their dirty laundry. As a result of that, he threatened, or his organization threatened to kill me. I mean, one has to be careful about how you couch things, but it doesn't stop you reporting the facts.

HH: No, but it does, however, get to the question of whether or not media from the West should be...what's the right word, Michael Ware? It's not assisting, but providing information flow to the jihadis about whom I'm quite comfortable, and I think most Westerners are quite comfortable, just declaring to be evil, because they kill innocents, and that killing of innocents is evil, is it not, Michael?

MW: Well, absolutely. And I think you'll find that that's the source of one of the greatest divisions amongst all the insurgents here.

HH: And so, is it easy for you to do good journalism with the threat of reprisal hanging over your head, perhaps even greater, because you've been given access over and over again to the bad guys?

MW: Well, yeah, it's still more than able to be done. Nothing is easy in this country. But it's just like how when you're writing about, let's say, an American unit that you're embedded with. You get into some very heavy, some very nasty combat. And I've done that so many times, I can't even begin to count. And something happens, something that may not exactly play well back home. And yet, it's something that you know, well, people outside of this experience would never understand that. I mean, how do you relay that without betraying the trust and the confidence of the troops? And for some journalists, they have to bear in mind well, if I write a negative story about the military on this embed, will they give me another embed? So there's always these pressures from all the players. For example, I wrote a story last year that reflected very, very badly on the Iraqi government, or very significant parts of the Iraqi government. And I was discussing and exposing through documents smuggled out of Iran, their links to the regime in Tehran. Now that resulted in elements of the government showing up at my house, demanding the production of these documents, which clearly we refused to do. So you're always at risk from everyone, either directly or indirectly, through self-censorship or through direct intervention.

HH: Michael Ware, what is the difference between what you've been doing, especially with the jihadists, though to a certain extent with the insurgents as well, and say a World War II-era reporter making numerous trips to the German side to talk with the Nazis, and then coming back and being ambivalent about reporting on the Nazis, or being candid about the Nazis.

MW: Well, I mean, I think we're talking about very markedly different experiences. I mean, for example, during World War II, there was very clearly delineated front lines that simply were not crossed in a fashion like that. It wasn't a guerilla war. It wasn't an insurgency that's fought amongst the mix of a civilian population. So that simply wasn't able to be done. Plus, there was also a very great understanding about the nature of German expansionism, and German nationalism. Hitler had very much outlined his intentions for a decade before the war. So I don't think there was any great mystery there. There was no great unknown to the extent that there is here, that people just don't know what this war is really about. And getting to the bottom of that is extremely difficult, and requires you sifting through any number of filters that all of these players want to throw at you.

HH: But as you said at the beginning, the jihadis consider this to be one battlefield of a vast war. And the jihadis...

MW: Yeah, as does the West. Exactly.

HH: And the jihadis are very prolific in their statements from Osama through Zawahiri down to Zarqawi. So we really know what they're about. Given that you're arguing geography is the reason you do this, I want to go back to the nature of actually doing it, and whether or not if, in fact, in World War II, someone had been offered in Portugal an assistance from the Abwehr to go back and forth to Germany to visit various Nazi encampments or policies, would that have been acceptable in World War II, Michael Ware?

MW: Well, I think the values would be different back then. But let's think about it. What would be the value of doing that? I mean, imagine, okay, we know what we know about the German regime, or the Nazi party. We are inundated with their propaganda. We're listening to their chatter. We're getting their side of the story. Could you imagine having an objective view, go in and come out, and say this is what is really looks like? this is what it really feels like? This is what people in their quiet moments behind closed doors will actually tell you. Now imagine the value of that.

HH: So you would have encouraged such reporting, had it been possible in World War II?

MW: Well, I don't know. I wasn't around in World War II, so I'm not sure I'm really in a position to determine. All I can talk to about are the circumstances that have presented themselves to me, and the wars I've found myself in.

HH: I'm really fascinated by the question of whether or not it's ever good journalism to consort with the enemy in search of interesting stories. And there's not denying, Michael, where you get scoops. It's fascinating to read. You've got a great deal of courage, of physical courage, in doing this. So no one's denying that. I'm just wondering whether or not there's a line that you have in your mind reconciled yourself to crossing not once, but scores and scores of times, to report on the enemy, and whether or not that's a good thing. And you think it is, I think I hear you saying, because the public will not otherwise know what it is that you're reporting. Is that a fair summary?

MW: That is fairly accurate, and let's look at it this way. I mean, you're sitting back in a comfortable radio studio, far from the realities of this war.

HH: Actually, Michael, let me interrupt you.

MW: If anyone has a right...

HH: Michael, one second.

MW: If anyone has a right to complain, that's what...

HH: I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago.

MW: Absolutely, and I think that's really the reason that a lot of us are doing what we're doing. I mean, it's because of that horror that so much has ensued. It is because of this fight that these people came and picked, that so much has happened. But I mean, what I'm saying to you is that if you think anyone would have the right to complain or to take umbrage at what I do, it would be the troops here on the ground. It would be U.S. military intelligence. It would be the U.S. military. You'd think that they wouldn't give me embeds, wouldn't you? You'd think that they wouldn't grant me backgrounders, or wouldn't take me out on special events. You'd think that they wouldn't give me access to the generals, or to military intelligence. You know, in this war alone, I've been in combat with virtually every kind of U.S. fighting force there is, from the SEAL's, to the Green Berets, to Delta, to Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mechanized. I mean, I've been there, done that in combat. I've been in every major battle of this war, except from Najaf and the first battle of Fallujah. That includes the battle of Tal-Afar, the Battle of Samara, and the Battle of Fallujah, with front line units. I witnessed an event that the Pentagon subsequently asked me to write about as a witness, which is now a matter for the Congressional Medal of Honor nomination. And I am mentioned in that citation. So if anyone would have a problem with what I do in exploring the issues of this war, you'd think it'd be the military. Yet strangely, they don't.

HH: Michael Yon, as you recall on CNN, paid you great compliment for the way you've covered the war, in a way that he is frankly admiring of, as I am. But I would prefer that you not report on the insurgents, and I'm troubled by your insistance on many occasions that the coalition forces, the military, are lying to people. I'd like you to expand on that.

MW: Well, as I said, I've sat in briefings where...and I will describe for example, events that...this is the thing. What's the title of Phillip Knightley's book, that great time of journalism, the first casualty...and how the first casualty of war is always truth. I mean, for a start, even with the best of intentions, not everything on a battlefield is clear. A lot of things are very fuzzy, particularly at the end of it. Don't forget also that this is an information war. This is a propaganda war. This war, as, you know, insurgents said way back in 2003, isn't going to be won on the battlefield. It's going to be won on the air waves. It turns out it's going to be won or lost on the internet. So these things become critically important.

HH: Michael Ware, I'm interested in your...and stepping back for a second, because I'm fascinated by this. You've been there for five years. Did you think it was wise to invade Afghanistan? And did you think it was wise to invade Iraq, knowing everything that you know now?

MW: Okay, I don't think there was any choice whatsoever about Afghanistan. It simply had to be done. You could not allow an organization that had reached out and attacked Western interests like that to sit in its safe haven. Even if it could not be destroyed, and let's face it. Al Qaeda has not been destroyed, and some could argue it's morphed and evolved and changed, and in some ways, is stronger, and in some ways, is weaker. It could not continue to have that sanctuary. It had to be ousted. It had to have pressure put on it. And that's been done. But let's look at Iraq. Iraq is an entirely different kettle of fish. From the reasons publicly stated and privately expressed for the removal of this regime, to the manor of the planning, and then that execution itself. All of them, I believe, went awry, or were poorly done, the consequences of which we are now living with, three years down the track into this war, with more than 2,300 American men and women who have been killed here in uniform, with what? $250 billion dollars. At the end of the day, what do we have? We have the shakiest of governments here, which is more aligned to our stated enemy of the United States, a member of the axis of evil, than it is with the American forces who liberated them. So Iran has actually become stronger as a result of this invastion. Who else has become stronger? Well, al Qaeda. It's got a whole new branch here in Iraq it never had, hundreds if not thousands of new members it never had, and Zarqawi, who was a nobody in Afghanistan, is now the superstar of international jihad, and that's been acknowledged by the administration when they put a $25 million dollar price tage on his head, the same as Osama. The Iraq war stands markedly different to Afghanistan.

HH: Christopher Hitchens rejects in every particular the argument you just made about Iran being stronger now, and Zarqawi having been a nobody. But rahter than get bogged down, I just wanted to make you aware that people dispute you on that. I want to ask you...

MW: That's fine.

HH: Because we talked about this on CNN. Do you think Iraq is better off today, just...than it was under Saddam? Do you think that...

MW: Well, I was never here under Saddam. My period during Saddam's regime was in the Kurdish North, where with U.S. air cover, they've forged their own autonomous sanctuaries. So I never lived under Saddam, and I can only imagine what the horrors were like, and what the restrictions were like. All I can tell you that life here right now is extraordinarily difficult, and there's a lot of killing going on, and there's a lot of deprivation going on, and to be able to compare that to something I never saw is a bit difficult for me.

HH: Well, do you think the Russian people were better under Krushchev than they were under Stalin? Neither of us saw Kruschev or Stalin, but both of us...

MW: Yeah, I wouldn't have a clue, you know?

HH: You wouldn't have a clue? Really?

MW: No, not really. I mean, Stalin was the beast of all beasts, but you know, I'm not a student of Russian modern history, nor of the Cold War, on where the broad brush strokes...and I certainly don't hold myself out as expert enough to be able to comment on something like that. All I can tell you about is what I see, and what I experience. And what I know is the reality on the grounds here. Now was a vicious dictatorship removed? Absolutely. On a human rights basis, it has to have been a good thing. However, as the result of which, we've let a horrific genie out of the bottle, where 50 or 60 people are showing up dead every morning from an undeclared civil war that even the American ambassador now acknowledges is killing more people than the insurgency. Now that's something that was not here before, yet is here now. So I mean, it's an entirely different problem set that I really don't think can be competently compared like that. It's not that simple.

HH: Now this raises a question of whether or not American journalists generally, and perhaps you specifically, Michael, have an investment in describing this as a genie out of the bottle, have an investment in ignorning, say, the benefits the Marsh Arabs have achieved, the benefits the stability, relative stability in Mosul...they just had an attack in Mosul, so it's relative stability, not great stability. What is it? 13 out of the provinces are generally sedate. It is Baghdad, Anbar, the Syrian desert there, that are the terrible places of great conflict. And while 50 to 60 bodies a day is a horrible toll, Mark Steyn argues that on a net, there are 100,000 Iraqis more alive every year that Saddam is gone, than every year this insurgency goes on. Does that not make a difference in your understanding of the conflict?

MW: Well, I mean, like I said, it's very hard to compare. If 100,000 more people are alive, then clearly, that's a blessing. How we come to those numbers I wouldn't have a clue. But I mean, what I can say is that I, for one, certainly have no investment in beating one administration, or favoring one party over the other. I'm an Australian who reports for an American magazine. I have no stake in your political process whatsoever. I just call it as I see it. I mean, there's nothing to be gained for someone like me. And look, there's enough people here that I've certainly come across in the three years, and who have been writing or publishing or broadcasting, that would be more than happy to tout the successes. Yet those people either can no longer be here because of the security, or I found that a lot of them like some of the soldiers I know, are just being warn down by the horror and drudgery of this place, to the point where that perhaps their views have changed. So I mean, I can't speak for every journalist. All I can say is that I don't personally have a liberal, anti-administration bias. And I can't say that I say that many of my colleagues do.

HH: I want to let you go, because you've stayed up late. I've just got three quick more questions. CNN's Eason Jordan wrote a piece after the war began, apologizing for the conduct of CNN under Saddam, not reporting on his horrors, having been afraid of getting people killed, having been in essence, a hostage to Saddam's regime. Some of the stuff we discussed earlier in this has a hint of you're being a hostage of the insurgents at this point, because they're watching you very clearly. Under those circumstances, Michael Ware, shouldn't you come home?

MS: Well, I don't know. Have you been listening to what I said? I mean, I said to you that regardless of any of these difficulties, I've still reported in such a way that Zarqawi's given me treatment that he's given no other journalist. And I don't know how many other journalists he's directly threatened. So I don't know that I'm exactly that hostage to him or his agenda.

HH: Well, CNN was also given access, and it was also threatened, and it was also affected, but it was only revealed by Jordan after Saddam was toppled, the extent to which CNN had been impaired in its journalistic integrity. So you're telling me we don't have to worry about you pulling an Eason Jordan on us, and telling us down the road you couldn't quite cover what the insurgents were doing, because they were...not just for you, but for your staff. That's what Eason Jordan said. It was his Iraqi stringers that would have been executed. There's no issue like that with you?

MW: Well, actually, in the course of this war, we've had a translator assassinated four blocks from our house. Our house has been hit by, or subject to car bombs twice. I've had two of my stringers who deal with the insurgency kidnapped, one of whom was rescued by the Marines when they overran Fallujah in November, 2004. The other one was tortured for five days as al Qaeda tried to get information on me before he was finally released, when they became convinced that he was innocent of any kind of crime. I had another translator of mine, who when al Qaeda targeted him to get information on me and our operation and he refused, they blew up his car. We had to fly him to Jordan, get last ditch surgery to save his arm, and he's now been granted refugee status in Australia. My staff have been in firefights. Their lives have been threatened. I'm not sure that that's been an easy ride.

HH: I'm not saying it is. I'm saying that it might weigh very heavily, and in fact, so heavily upon you, even as did similar circumstances upon Eason Jordan, that it might impair your ability to report. And you're telling me it doesn't?

MW: Well, it hasn't so far, and after all that we've been through, we're still out there revealing things about the insurgency that no one else has been able to reveal, and that is still being recognized by the U.S. military. So despite it all, we're still in there punching.

HH: My last question. Zarqawi.

MW: Yeah.

HH: He was there before the war began. He had come back and forth to Afghanistan. In your dealings with the insurgents, had they dealt with him prior to the war?

MW: No. I did uncover some documents, however, that referred to his presence, here in some form. Now it seemed to be covert and unofficial, and one can only guess. However, I did receive a document written by one of his right hand men, a man who was killed in 2004 by a U.S. JDAM in his vehicle, who wrote an after action report of the first battle of Fallujah, in the course of which he said well, you know, Abu bil-Bloggs (phonetic spelling) was killed at this point. You know Abu bil-Bloggs. He was the one who saw Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war.

HH: Did you publish that?

MW: Yeah.

HH: In Time Magazine.

MW: Yeah.

HH: Oh, that's interesting. I missed that one. I have to go back and find that. That's a very significant find. What about the weapons of mass destruction...I lied. I got one more. The weapons of mass destruction, Michael Ware. What do the insurgents tell you about what happened to them, or what the story is there?

MW: Well, I did a weapons of mass destruction story back in 2003, and back then, most of the people I was dealing with were not insurgents. I believe some of them probably went on to become insurgents. But back then, they were former Republican Guard, officers, former scientists, former secret police of intelligence officers, whose job was to monitor the U.N., or monitor the scientists. Basically, what all of them tell me was that all the stuff had been destroyed in the early 90's, just as Saddam had told the U.N., and the CIA subsequently found to be true, that whatever wasn't destroyed was so rotten it was unusable, that if we'd had it, by goodness we would have used it. The other thing was that the whole weapons industry, including the WMD industry that Saddam had mothballed, was riddled with corruption. So a lot of these guys were saying, you know, some of these big characters in the regime, were selling Saddam on the idea of this wonder-weapon, that actually never really existed. They fired once, it didn't really work. They dodgy up the report. He throws $10 million at them, which they all pocket. So that was what I learned from regime figures about WMD.

HH: Michael Ware, I've kept you up late, and now I want to let you go. But I hope we can get a return conversation. It's been fascinating. I appreciate your candor, and wish you God speed, and safe travels around Baghdad.

MW: Thank you very much. It's been a great pleasure. Take care, Hugh.

HH: Thank you, Michael.

End of interview.

Senator John Cornyn on the immigration bill, and his concerns over the Taliban Yalie.

HH: I'm now joined by Senator John Cornyn of the great state of Texas. Senator, great to have you back, and congratulations on calling Yale on the Yale Taliban.

JC: Well, thanks, Hugh. Good to be with you. It's pretty unbelievable to me. I guess I'm still waiting on a written response from Secretary Chertoff, and I'm going to be briefed by the FBI soon on this. And hopefully, we'll be able to find out exactly what happened.

HH: It does underscore the laxity of our immigration laws, when the former deputy foreign minister of the Taliban can wander in on scholarship to Yale.

JC: Well, that's exactly right, and it would appear to be in violation of at least two laws that Congress recently passed, the so-called Real I.D. Act, and also other provisions of the intelligence reform laws that we passed just last year.

HH: Well, I'm glad you're doing it. Please keep us posted, and if the Secretary is wise, we'll get some quick answers on that. Now Senator Cornyn, you're on the Judiciary Committee. You are recognized as one of the experts on this immigration issue. I think that the McCain-Kennedy bill is like the Titanic aiming at the iceberg when it comes to the Republican Party. What do you think of it?

JC: Well of course, I voted against the McCain-Kennedy bill that was adopted in the Judiciary Committee yesterday, and I'm committed on the floor of the Senate, when we start the debate as early as tomorrow, to seek amendments that will strike some of the most egregious provisions, particularly the one that would essentially let people who have come to the United States in violation of our immigration law, breaking line ahead of those who have patiently waited and complied with the laws, and tried to immigrate legally. The so-called guest worker program, which is really just an alternative path to legal permanent residency and citizenship, I think, is flawed. It should be replaced by a temporary worker program, once we're able to determine we've secured our borders, and we've got worksite verification. But unfortunately, the bill that passed the Judiciary Committee just provides an alternative path to citizenship.

HH: Senator John Cornyn of Texas is my guest. Senator, it seems to me perplexing when 70 members of the House have sent a letter to their colleagues in the Senate, when the American people are overwhelmingly for not a border-length fence. We know we don't need that. But the House passed 700 miles of fencing, and Senator McCain says oh, we don't need that, virtual security is fine. When people want to protect their home, or Israel wants to protect their country against terrorists, they don't build virtual fences. They build real fences.

JC: Well, I know that the House has taken a tough stand when it comes to border security, and I think the principle is one that is absolutely important. And we are, I would say if there is some bright light in the bill that passed the Judiciary Committee yesterday, it is that it was built on the foundation of legislation that Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and I introduced, that provides 10,000 more boots on the ground, doubles the size of the border patrol, and uses modern technology that the Department of Defense is using along the Syrian and Iraq border to detect intrusions, and unmanned aerial vehicles that will give us some eyes and ears a long way out, and help border patrol control the border. But there's a lot that needs to happen to improve the bill before, certainly before I can vote for it, and I'm sure that unless it's vastly improved, that it will be dead on arrival when it hits the House.

HH: Now Senator Cornyn, tell us a little bit about this process, and how long it's going to take. How long is the immigration bill debate going to actually take on the floor of the Senate, moving towards a conclusive vote on what to send to the House?

JC: Well, the Majority Leader, Bill Frist, controls the floor schedule, and he's given us the best part of two weeks for this debate and this process. And you know, what I would encourage your listeners to do, and your readers, is to contact their Senator and let them know how they feel, because I have the very distinct sense that what we're hearing in Washington is not what people across the country are saying, and what they really feel about this issue. And I think it's very important. But to answer your question, two weeks on the floor of the Senate, then we'll go, assuming a bill is passed, which it may or may not be, then it would go to a Conference Committee with the House of Representatives. That could be scheduled in a matter of weeks. It could take a matter of months. There's no time limit on it, but it would have to be done before the end of the year, or else they'd have to start all over again.

HH: Now help us understand some of the politics of this, Senator Cornyn, because I'm from Ohio. I really like Mike DeWine. I want him to win re-election. I write about it in the new book, Painting the Map Red, how important that seat is to us. But then he goes and votes for this bill, and it just cuts the heart out of the base. It is almost indifferent to what people in Ohio, and I broadcast in Ohio, I'm from Ohio. They don't like this bill. What is the political calculus for Senators DeWine and Graham and Specter, and of course, John McCain on this?

JC: Hugh, Mike DeWine, you're right. He's a prince. We need to get him back in the Senate for another term. And I guess I'd feel more comfortable having you ask him directly. I hope he'll listen to you, and his other constituents in Ohio, about how strongly they feel about this. But this is a strange issue, the whole immigration issue, because it cuts across so many different other segments of society. For example, I visited with the Archbishop of Houston on Saturday, who asked me quite directly, if I would support McCain-Kennedy bill. And I said respectfully, I can't do that, because I believe it repeats a mistake that occurred in 1986, when there was an amnesty declared. So there are a lot of different people, employers, the Chamber of Commerce wants McCain-Kennedy, because they believe that it provides them a source of labor that they need in order to keep doors open. So it really is a very unusual combination of factors.

HH: Thirty seconds, Senator Cornyn. Do you foresee the political pratfall that I am if we get this wrong?

JC: Absolutely. This is a test for the Republican Party, and in a larger sense, it's a test for the country.

HH: John Cornyn of Texas, thank you, Senator. We hope to check back with you repeatedly as the next two weeks brings this most important debate front and center in the United States Senate.

End of interview.

Senator John Thune on the immigration bill and his recent trip to Iraq.

HH: Joining me now to discuss, well, the devastating blow to the Republican Party underway on the Hill, and the war, Senator John Thune of the great state of South Dakota, no stranger to upset wins and hard politicking, and also no stranger to Iraq. John Thune, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JT: Good to be on, Hugh.

HH: Senator, you were in Baghdad last week. Can you tell us about the circumstances of your trip, and what you saw there?

JT: We were actually in Baghdad, Fallujah, and down in Babel province in Hilla. And I was there a year ago, and so it was interesting to get an assessment of where things are. One of the reasons of being there was to press the case with the Iraqi officials to get this national unity government formed, but secondly, to take the measure of how much progress they've made on getting the Iraqi security forces in a position to defend the Iraqi people. And that was the most noticeable change from my last visit there. They have come a long way. About 75% of the operations now, they are conducted independently by the Iraqis, or with them in the lead, and the U.S. troops supporting them. So they're making good headway on that front, and that, as you know, is one of the key conditions that needs to be met before we can beging to ease up on our presence there.

HH: Senator Thune, next hour I'm talking with Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief of Time Magazine, for almost the entire hour. He's something of an alarmist about conditions in Iraq, and the violence escalating, and fifty bodies a night, and the prospects for peace dimming. Do you share that pessimism?

JT: I think that it shifted somewhat after the Samara bombings, because now you've got this sectarian violence, where Sunnis are attacking Shiites, Shiites are attacking Sunnis. But frankly, Hugh, I think that the conditions are there for...everybody talks about civil war. That's clearly not the case today. The key is going to be forming a national unity government, and we made it clear to the Iraqi officials on no uncertain terms, that that absolutely has to happen, and it has to happen in a timely way. And they're very confident. They're very optimistic that they will see that government come together, and that when it does, a lot of the sectarianism, and some of the sectarian violence will come to an end. I don't expect that that's going to happen entirely, but I think it will go a long ways toward tamping down a lot of the violence that we're seeing there today.

HH: What's the morale of the troops, Senator Thune?

JT: Yeah, I've got to tell you, I couldn't be prouder of our troops, and people in this country, irrespective of whether they support the war there or not, need to support these men and women. They are incredibly accomplished at what they do, they're very dedicated, and they just make America proud. And I'll tell you, they're very upbeat. You talk to troops over there, I had a chance to visit with South Dakota troops. Of course we visited with the Marines at Fallujah. They believe they're making a difference, they believe that they're going to complete the mission there, and they need to have support from people in this country.

HH: John Thune, in Fallujah, of course, the site of a the fierce battle of November, 2004, which we often reference here, because the family of J.P. Blecksmith is a friend of mine, and I've had his sisters at the law school at which I teach, and I had a chance to meet his father. Is Fallujah being rebuilt? Is Fallujah a deserted city? What's Fallujah like now?

JT: Well, it's bereft of all the terrorists that created that web that we had to go in and root out. And it's, I think, remarkably improved. The Marines are now more concerned about Ramadi, where the terrorist organizations like Zarqaw are trying to set up an operation, and they're consistently having to go in there and lead operations. Many, I should say, the operations are now being led by Iraqi security forces. But they feel very good about the progress that's being made. You get into that Anbar Province, they've got two full divisions, they've got Iraqi police forces that are constantly taking over more and more battle space, and that part of Iraq, remarkably, Hugh, is dramatically improved from where it's been in the past.

HH: That's a real testament to the people who have sacrificed so much for Fallujah. Senator Thune, let's turn to the circumstances that confront the Republican Party. I'm out on a book tour preaching dire warnings because of a variety of circumstances, primarily simple indifference to the math, and a lack of energy on the Republican side. But now, Senator McCain teaming with Senator Kennedy and others to bring forward this bill, I think it puts the majority in peril. Your take?

JT: Well, I think that clearly, we have some challenges ahead of us. I think there's a lot of fatigue, Hugh, among Republicans, too, over the war, because of the constant bombardment, day to day, from the media, and the bad news that's coming out of Iraq. But you're right. On the issues like fiscal responsibility, immigration, we really need to provide strong leadership, and I think people need to know when it comes to border security, that we're serious about it. We have to enforce our borders, we have to as a matter of national security, let the people in this country know that we are serious about cracking down on what has become a rampant problem at the borders, and that's illegal immigration. So the bill that we'll have on the floor will have that component. We will deal with the border security, but there are a whole other range of amendments that will be offered, dealing with the status of people who are already here, and I can't predict today how that debate's going to come out. But I think you're right. We have a lot riding on it.

HH: Now one of the debates, and the one I focus on before everything else, is the issue of the fence, in its both practical and symbolic. Others say oh, we need a virtual fence, and I point out, no one ever puts a virtual fence around anything that matters to them. They don't have virtual fences around prisons, and they don't have virtual fences in Israel to prevent Hamas terrorists from entering. Fences are fences, and they can be patrolled. Is the Senate not going to endorse the House version of a fence, John Thune?

JT: I don't know if the Senate, if there are the votes in the Senate to...we won't start with the House bill. There is a lot of support for a fence, and in some cases, for a physical fence. But there are different, I guess what I would say opinions as to whether that needs to be completely a physical fence, or whether that is partly physical fence, partly a so-called virtual fence, or technological fence, however you want to refer to it. But I think that will be a point of debate in the Senate, and I suspect it'll continue to be a point of debate getting into conference with the House, because the House has that provision in there.

HH: It has 700 miles.

JT: It's a mixed bag in the Senate.

HH: Now what is the sense of your majority, John Thune? Some judges are still stuck, Terry Boyle, Brett Kavanaugh. They're languishing there despite the Gang of 14's deal. There's no permanent tax relief. Is anything happening there?

JT: Well, we've got to get movement on permanent tax relief. We're going to have votes on estate tax coming up. We're going to have votes on some health care reforms that have been languishing for a long time. We have, as you know last year, moved some judges, but we need to move more judges. I think that in years divisible by two, people begin to quit paying attention to sometimes the work ahead of us and the agenda, and start focusing on the elections. But I see the two as connected. If we don't have an agenda that's forward looking, and addresses the issues that people in this country, and particularly Republican voters in this country care about, we're not going to keep the majority. So we just flat out have to get some things done in the next few months to demonstrate to the people of this country that we deserve to govern.

HH: John Thune, two questions. One, how much are you hearing on immigration? And two, are your Republican colleagues up for election, or trying to take a Democratic seat, using you, or finding you available to help them in their campaigns?

JT: I have done some things for some of my colleagues around the country, particularly helping them raise money. I hope to be active as the year wears on in being out there. And so I will be...what was your first question again?

HH: The intensity of the public response to the immigration debate.

JT: Well, I think it really, in my state, the people care about it. We've got both sides of that deate engaged in South Dakota. But I do believe it is a white hot political issue that it's to our peril if we don't address it.

HH: John Thune, always a pleasure to talk to you, Senator. Thank you so much, and we'll talk to you soon.

End of interview.

Wall Street Journal's John Fund with an update on the Taliban Yalie, and comments on the immigration debate.

Once again, Jed Babbin guest hosting for Hugh.


JB: Right now, at the risk of being serious, let's get back to today's news, the whole thing of, the whole wonders of the schoolyard. The wonders of the schoolyard up at Yale University. Joining me right now, from, the indispensible John Fund. John, how are you? And what's the latest on the Yale Taliban?

JF: Well, it's fascinating, because Yale is starting to buckle. What's happened is the president of Yale, Richard Levin, has decided that he's going to yank the decision as to whether or not Rahmatullah Hashemi, the former Taliban ambassador at large, and bon vivant, and apologist for that murderous regime, is going to be a sophomore member of the Yale class, taking it out of the Admissions Department, and put it right into his office, where he's going to make the final decision.

JB: Really? So maybe the general public ought to make its opinion known to Dr. Levin, whose...I just happen to have his e-mail address, ladies and gentlemen. If you want to express to Dr. Richard Levin your opinion on them having a former Taliban minister at Yale, maybe you want to write to John, what's going on with this, though? I mean, they've got this guy here. You've got the most famous woman in Afghanistan coming to the campus to protest this?

JF: Well, she was scheduled to give a speech on Afghanistan in general, but of course, this controversy erupted just before her arrival last Thursday. Her name is Malalai Joya, and she is a 27 year old women's rights activist, and member of the Afghan Parliament. She's the same age as Rahmatullah Hashemi, the Taliban activist, and she was not happy. I have to tell you, I have never seen such a searing condemnation of someone from a podium in years. She got up and she said, "It is disgusting, and an insult that he should grace the halls of Yale University." She said, "It is an insult to every Afghani. It is an insult to every American's sense of idealism and human rights." And she said, "He is a germ who should be removed from the campus."

JB: Now she's got some standing to say this, right? I mean, what's her background? She's a member of the Loya Jirga, as you said, the Afghan Parliament. But she ran some sort of an underground railroad for women during the Taliban years?

JF: She went back to Afghanistan during the Taliban, and she ran an underground school for women, because education was forbidden for women after the age of 10. And she braved her life to try to fight for her people. At the same time, Rahmatullah Hashemi was apologizing for a regime...well, step back. Jed, I have to tell you. There was a film shown before her talk, one of the most haunting films I've ever seen. It went to the area where they had those giant Buddhist statues that the Taliban blew up five years ago, just before 9/11?

JB: Yes, right.

JF: And they had a woman there who said they came by and they tried to exterminate my entire tribe. "From hundreds of women here, not one has a husband. From a hundred children, just one still has two parents. They bulldozed houses with women and children inside. They cut off women's breasts." And this is the same group that's now fighting guerilla war in Afghanistan, killing American soldiers. One of the people at this speech last week was Natalie Healy, who lost her Navy SEAL son to the Taliban last year. She was there to protest, and say how dare Yale dishonor American service men and women by having the minister of a regime which is still fighting them.

JB: Now John, has Yale's president, Richard Levin, condescended to meet with this brave SEAL's mom?

JF: Yes. She was driving down from her home in New Hampshire to Yale. She called and asked for a meeting. He had his office call back and say he would be willing to meet with her, but she had to get there by 1:30, so she sped up. She was tied up in traffic. She got there about fifteen minutes late, and he'd already left the office for the day.

JB: Wow. So...

JF: But a public affairs officer did meet with her and hear her complaint.

JB: Well, whoop-de-do. Is she going to take another crack at this? Is he actually going to come down and meet with her?

JF: Well, you can call Natalie Healy up in Exeter, New Hampshire, and ask her. I simply don't know.

JB: I think we should.



JB: John, recap that for us. Dr. Levin himself is going to decide whether Hashemi is going to be part of the Yale student body next year?

JF: Hashemi is applying for sophomore status, Class of 2009. He's also going to be applying for financial aid, because apparently his backers from the foundation that was supporting him have pulled out. So Mr. Levin, President Levin, has taken the decision away from the Admissions office, put it into his office. In the next few weeks, he will be deciding whether Taliban Minister Hashemi stays at Yale, and all of those other people who were worthy, and Afghan women who were applying, I wrote about them today at

JB: Yes.

JF: ...whether they'll keep being frozen out.

JB: Wow. Well, I think we all ought to just pick up our phones and call Dr. Levin and let him know our opinion. (203) 432-2550, or you can e-mail him. All right, enough said about that. John, talk to me about what's going on in Congress on this illegal immigration bill. We have the House taking some very strong action, apparently creating a new crime for being an illegal immigrant here in the United States...

JF: Well, making it a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

JB: Right. Making it a felony. And we have the Senate doing something today. I don't think anybody really knows entirely what the heck they did, least of all them. But now something's going to go to the floor of the Senate. What do you think is going to come out of this mess?

JF: Well, the House has an enforcement only bill. The Senate has a bill that combines some enforcement with the beginnings of a guest worker program, and waters down a lot of the House provisions. But the real action wasn't in Congress, Jed. It was in Los Angeles and other cities, where hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, and legal immigrants, turned out to protest any Congressional action on immigration. And I have to tell you, I think this was a watershed. I am someone who is not for a dramatic crackdown on immigration. I'm not a Tom Tancredo type. Tancredo calls immigrants the scourge facing America. He wants to dramatically restrict legal immigration, when actually, there are a lot of high tech and other jobs where we need people legally to immigrate to this country.

JB: Heck yes.

JF: But that rally was just amazing. I mean, I saw a similar one in 1994, when Prop. 187 was being proposed. This is not good, because the rally featured hundreds and hundreds of Mexican flags, Guatamalan flags, El Salvadoran flags. And it was not like a St. Patrick's Day rally. This was a demonstration of solidarity with another country, another way of life. And regardless of what the people who were carrying the flags were thinking, the message they were conveying is these are people who have a different perspective on what it is to be an American, and what it is to remain in America.

JB: Well, it's more than that, John. Isn't it worse than that? I mean, what they're basically saying, they're planting the Mexican flag on our soil. They're saying hey, we own this. This is part of Mexico now. Deal with it, and too bad.

JF: Not all of them are saying that, but I'm telling you this. They certainly are allowing people to come to that conclusion. Now here's the problem. I personally believe that while people who come here to earn a living, pay their taxes, and many, many people do, put down roots, I think they contribute to our society. But anytime you have hundreds of thousands of people, illegal immigrants coming here, and you have the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, saying this bill is criminal, in other words, the bill that simply restates the fact that people shouldn't come here illegally, because they're cutting in line in front of all the people who are waiting patiently to get in legally...

JB: Sure.

JF: himself say this bill is a crime, I mean, this is an abrogation of his oath of office as an elected official.

JB: Well, and that's absolutely true. But he will pay no penalty for that, John. We're talking about a situation here where Congress and not only this President, but the several before him, have not dealt seriously with this problem. what are we going to do? What kind of confidence can we have that even now, they're going to do anything seriously? I mean, talking about making this into a felony is nonsense. You've got 90,000 cases go through the federal courts every year. It's going to take a hundred years to put these people through the courts.

JF: Jed, I think there are two things that need to be done, and I'm going to disappoint some of your listeners here. I think one of the most important things we need to do is recognize that 30% of the people in federal prisons are non-citizens. Most of them are illegal aliens. We've got to find a way to send them back to Mexico. We also have to make sure that anyone who commits a crime, however small, here in this country, that's an automatic ticket for deportation. But as for all the millions of other people here, we have to have a comprehensive approach. It cannot just be enforcement only, and I'll give you an example, because a comprehensive approach that included guest workers did once work. Do you remember the Bracero Program?

JB: Yes.

JF: That Eisenhower put in?

JB: Absolutely.

JF: This is a program that took the number of arrests of illegal aliens on the border from 885,000, 885,000 in 1953, to 45,000 in 1959. And when Lyndon Johnson got rid of it because the unions pressure him to do so, we went from 87,000 illegal aliens arrested in '64, to 876,000 in 1976. The Bracero program, which brought in agriculture and other guest workers, and if people complied long enough and stayed long enough, they might be able to stay longer, that program worked. We can make it work again, because we now have much better technology, and much better border control implementation procedures.

JB: Well, John, I agree with you substantially. But I think that we've got to start first with controlling the borders. I don't believe we have much control on our borders, and if you look at what just broke...

JF: Well, Jed, the problem is, you cannot know, Congress is the art of the compromise. You cannot get through Congress a bill that is guest workers and no enforcement, or just enforcement and no guest workers. It's not going to happen.

JB: Well, and maybe we need to do both. And I don't disagree with you, John. I think we need to have a guest worker program, and we need to have a means of deporting people forthwith who commit crimes here. But I think the basic bottom line is until we get control of security at the border, no matter what kind of guest worker program we have, nothing's going to work. It's not going to have any meaning.

JF: I agree.

JB: Well, I thought you'd come around. No, we are really in violent agreement as usual. John, thanks very much for joining us. Read him on

End of interview.

Monday, March 27

Michael Barone on the great immigration debate.

Sitting in for Hugh Hewitt today while he is on his book tour for Painting the Map Red, available at all fine booksellers and online at, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Jed Babbin.

JB: Illegal immigration is the subject of the week, and joining me to talk about that, and a lot of other things right now, Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report. Read his blog at And if you don't own a copy of the Almanac of American Politics, you just don't have the single most indispensible reference tool that will help you figure out what the heck is going on in Congress. Michael, thanks for joining us.

MB: Nice to be with you, Jed.

JB: Let's talk about this illegal immigration issue. We've got four or five, or half a dozen different bills being bandied about the Senate. It seems that they range from guest worker programs to amnesty, to declaring the illegal immigrants illegal and making it a felony. I mean, how is this going to play out? Are the Democrats going to win? Are the Republicans going to duck and hide?

MB: Well, I don't think it's purely a partisan issue. I think this is an issue that cuts across party lines to some extent, and that apparently was the case with the Senate Judiciary vote, which I gather was within the last hour. On it, you had four of the ten Republicans supporting some of the measures...of the legalization measures in the McCain-Kennedy bill. And evidently, some guest worker things. I'm not fully up to speed on this yet, as well as all eight, or just about all eight of the Democrats, and so you had six Republicans against. The posture of this thing now is it's going to the floor of the Senate tomorrow. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said last week that he would not bring to the floor a Judiciary Committee bill unless it was supported by a majority of the Judiciary Committee Republicans. And in this case, is wasn't by just a narrow margin of 4-6. If one vote had switched, that would have been...met Frist's condition. So we'll go forward with the Frist bill, which is strictly a border security bill, similar to, but not identical with the one that the House passed in December. But given the margin, the apparent margin of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I think it's quite possible that some of these other provisions will be added by the majority voting in the course of the Senate debate.

JB: Now is that going to bring about some sort of filibuster? Our friend, Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats, said that if there was something in the nature of the criminalization provision, he was going to mount a filibuster against it.

MB: Now I'm not clear if the Senate Judiciary Committee has the same kind of felony classification for people who've come across the border, or whether Senator Cornyn said that of the more conservative Republicans on the Committee, that he favored a misdemeanor rather than a felony thing. So I'm not clear whether Senator Reid's characterization for the reasons that he would filibuster have been invoked by this bill. But I think to some extent, that is a little bit beside the point, because Reid's've got some Democrats there, including Edward Kennedy, whom I remember seeing sitting in the gallery of the Senate, watching him manage an immigration bill forty years ago...

JB: Wow.

MB: He was a little slimmer then.

JB: (laughing) Weren't we all, Michael.

MB: And not as gray, but...and he was doing a good job of it. Senator Kennedy, I think, wants a bill, and he may think that he has the votes on some of these provisions, and will want to bring it forward, and he's probably going to tell his Senate minority leader don't filibuster this thing. We've got the votes. And under Senate rules, typically, it's hard to prevent a Senator that's got considerable support from bringing forward an amendment that he wants to bring forward. You can do that in the House with the Rules Committee. You can't really do it in the Senate.

JB: Well, play it out for me, Michael. You're really more expert on this than pretty much anybody I have ever heard of, far less know. What is going to be in a bill which would benefit the Republicans this Fall, versus a bill that would benefit the Democrats this Fall?

MB: Well, I think that the border security measures are measure that will certainly benefit Republicans, and I think have some possibility to benefit Democrats. I mean, the fact is that there's a widespread perception that our border is too porous, and that we haven't fully utilized the, I would say, the private sector in order to do this. You know, the fact is that we could do a better job, and that government is a clumsy instrument, and the U.S.C.I.S., the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, has long been known as one of the government's least competent bureaucracies. So it's a benefit for the Republicans there, but I think also for the Democrats. 36 Democrats voted for that House bill with those tough provisions in it, tougher than, I think, are going to come out of any Senate bill. So obviously, Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, said basically, it was okay for Democrats to vote. It wasn't a party line issue as far as she was concerned. On the question of legalization and guest workers, I think there's some in the Republican Party and the Republican base that are not going to like those measures. President Bush has called for something along those lines. You know, you've got very noisy Congressmen like Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who's very strongly against it. The House leadership did not bring forward such a measure. I think Democrats will go to Latino voters and say hey, we got this for you. But the fact is there is also Republican support for that, and there's a danger for Republicans that if they're seen to take an issue...if they're seen to be contemptuous of the hard-working immigrants that we have, you pay a political price for that. That happened in California in 1994, Proposition 187. That was really only about denying benefits of government service to illegal immigrants, though it also included their children. That was...35% of Latinos in California voted for it in that election, among the voters. But the ads that were run that suggested that Hispanics are only coming across the border because they want welfare, that really stuck in the craw of a lot of people, including many conservatively-inclined Hispanics. I mean, they said look, Hispanic males have the highest workforce participation of any demographic group in this economy. And if you're saying...whatever else we may be, we work hard.

HH: Michael Barone,, read his blog, and read his book, The Almanac of American Politics.

End of interview.

Who's reading Painting the Map Red?

If you're a longtime reader of this blog, you'll remember when Hugh wrote Blog, his last book, the Photoshop contest followed soon after, and the results were hillarious. To view the old gallery, click here.

Well, Hugh's new book is now officially out, and available for your viewing pleasure at all major bookstores, and online at Here's the assignment. Who are where would you find Paint the Map Red that you wouldn't normally expect? Here's the cover art.

To get you going, here's a couple of starters from our good friend, Joshua Sharf:

Now for the prize part of the contest. We're going to put up a poll of the top 10 entries, and the top three are going to win the coveted Crosley Solo radio, worth $130 bucks. And, if that wasn't enought, the first place winner is going to get not one, not two, but an entire case of Hugh's new book, Painting the Map Red.

Here's what you have to do. First off, be creative. Be funny. Think outside the box. Do not be pornographic or offensive, or it'll never have a chance. When you've created your masterpiece, or masterpieces, as some of you get on a roll, send the picture in .jpg or .gif format only, please, and reduce it to about the size above, and send it to

Make sure you include your name, address and contact phone number in your e-mail, and if you have a blog to flog, include the url as well, and I'll link back to you in the gallery. Once again, lay off the video games for a few days and stretch those artistic muscles. Then send your entry to

To see the gallery as it grows, click here.

Good luck, and check back as the entries come in.

Sunday, March 26

The Fox News-Halliburton connection.

The Associated Press today incredibly printed an anonymous story, reporting a find on the website, The Smoking Gun, in which the Vice President's hotel requirements were leaked. Amazingly, the AP found this to be news.

Nowhere have you seen what the hotel requirements are for any previous executive branch leaders, especially while they were in office, and wouldn't you have loved to see what Bill Clinton's requirements were?

Here's the link to the AP story, and what they actually have to say:

It doesn't take much to make Dick Cheney at home on the road: Diet Sprite, a pot of coffee - both sans caffeine - and a TV tuned to Fox News Channel.

No matter how controversial his policies or how great his political power, the vice president has kept any excitement in his personal life and habits under deep cover (except for that one hunting trip).

So perhaps it isn't surprising that the newly unearthed memo Cheney's office sends to hotels, outlining his "downtime requirements," contains no shockers or even rock star-like indulgences. The memo, obtained by the Web site The Smoking Gun, makes such modest requests as:

_A suite with a king- or queen-size bed and a connecting parlor.

_Four to six bottles of bottled water (specifically the name brands Calistoga or Perrier, if Mrs. Cheney is traveling with the vice president).

_Diet Caffeine Free Sprite, 4 cans.

Also, the hotel staff is advised, when the veep arrives all lights should be turned on, a freshly brewed pot of decaf should be waiting, and the room should be 68 degrees, with "all televisions tuned to FOX News."

I'm stunned after reading this. I might have to go lie down for a while. Diet Caffeine Free Sprite and decaf coffee? The nerve of a man who has had cardiac issues to actually follow his doctor's advice and cut out caffeine.

Forget the opportunity to throw in a cheap shot by reminding people about the hunting accident, which has nothing at all to do with the "story." There's only three possible reasons why this is "news," according to the AP.

1. The room must be 68 degrees - To the phantom AP writer, in an era with oil prices going through the roof, energy costs rising, and global warming about to cause the distinction of all known life on the planet, the Vice President, by not keeping his thermostat at the recommended 78 degrees to conserve energy, clearly is out of step with the rest of the country trying to come to grips with the energy crisis we're in.

2. Calistoga or Perrier bottled water - Again, if you are a lefty hack AP writer, Dick Cheney is just another conservative that doesn't really care about clean air and clean water. The fact that he requests bottled water shows that he doesn't care about all the impoverished people out there who can't afford to buy bottled water, and are polluting themselves by drinking plain old tap water, the stuff that Republicans won't spend government money on because they gave it all away in tax cuts to the rich.

3. FOX News - This is the big one. The other two would be interesting if it was a slow news day, but the Vice President actually requesting Fox News? Well now, the right-wing cabal is exposed once again, isn't it? Whenever Cheney is on the road, Karl Rove has to stay with the President, or else there's nobody running the country, right AP? So Fox News on the road makes perfect sense. It's like a direct pipeline back into the White House, actually, since Karl Rove secretly programs that network. It saves time and trouble of having to sit through conference calls, when the Vice President can get briefed by Karl through Fox like the rest of us.

Now for the fun part, if you are a left-wing fever swamper.

Dick Cheney ran Halliburton, right? That's one leg of the triangle.

Now we see that Cheney goes out of his way to support Fox News whenever he's on the road. He also appeared exclusively with Brit Hume after the hunting accident. No coincidence. You now have another leg of the triangle.

According to, and yes, there is such a thing, Fox News has done puff pieces on Halliburton and their subsidiary companies, including this one from last year where KBR, a Halliburton food company that feeds the troops. So Fox News covers for Halliburton, which everyone knows is crooked. The final leg of the triangle.

Why again was the Cheney hotel requirement story news to the AP? It just reinforced to the readership out there that there really is an axis of evil, and it ain't Iran, Iraq and North Korea. To the fever swamp, the axis of evil is the Bush Administration (Bush, Cheney, Rove), Fox News, and Halliburton.

In all seriousness, what you might see out of a piece like this is an attempt by MSM to go after Fox News and try to discredit them. The MSM is supposed to be the 4th estate, a check on the other three branches of government. For Cheney to request Fox by name, they might say, shows that Fox can't be trusted in reporting on the executive branch because they're too close. Nonsense.

The mere reason why the Vice President would request Fox is because unlike the other television news channels, he actually wants to know what's going on in the world without the spin. Seriously, do you think Cheney can learn anything constructive from the likes of Jack Cafferty, Paul Begala, James Carville, or Bill Schneider on CNN?

Do you think such stunning political analysts like Ron Reagan, Chris Matthews, Dana Milbank, or Keith Olbermann can add anything that Cheney hasn't figured out already?

If he's got a choice, and being the Vice President, he does, it's no surprise that he picks Fox. He doesn't strike me as a man who suffers fools, which, with some exceptions, is largely what's on display on the other two cable news channels.

Saturday, March 25

The Beltway Boys

HH: Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke are with me. Together they're the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys. You can watch them tomorrow night, 6PM in the East, 3PM in the West. It repeats later in the evening, and it's been quite a tumultuous week. And so I'll start with you, Fred Barnes. The media expected to roast George Bush this week. Instead, I think they got roasted. What was your assessment?

FB: Well, they did. At the press conference that the President held on Tuesday, he was triumphant. It was one of the best I've seen. He was animated. He was strong. He was more persuasive in defending the war in Iraq, and the aftermath of the war in Iraq than he was in his set speeches. It was really remarkable. And then there was this encounter with Helen Thomas, who just rather than ask a question, just leveled accusations at him about Iraq. You know, all the reason you cited were false, and so what's the real reason you went into Iraq, and so on. Things like that. And importantly, it touched off a national debate on whether the media is accurately covering what's been going on in Iraq, whether it's been too negative. And I don't think this debate's going to end soon.

HH: I carried it on the last two nights on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Time Magazine's Michael Ware and Nic Robertson from CNN, Morton Kondracke. Laura Ingraham took it to David Gregory on the Today Show. A number of places, the MSM have found themselves under withering counter-assault, and you know, the troops are being heard from as well. Bloggers blogging from Iraq, they're angry at the mainstream media, and they're saying the mainstream media's hurting the war effort. Your take on it?

MK: Look, I think that the mainstream media does emphasize the negative, that they've, right from the beginning, they've been expecting that this was going to be Vietnam, and they've been following that story pretty steadily, and they ignore good stuff. They're fixated on the bad, and I do think that the President has the right idea that the enemy knows how to play this, that they create enough violence, and they create a firestorm of public opinion back in this country. On the other hand, I think that there are real problem in Iraq, and this whole story about the possibility of civil war was not a media creation. I mean, the Samara bombing really did take place, and there really are militias going into neighborhoods and killing people on the basis of what sect they belong to. So it's a double story. And even if the media were reporting about all the good reconstruction projects and all, the heroism of American soldiers, which they should do, I think still people would be largely negative on the war.

HH: Now Fred Barnes, the civil war meme, Ralph Peters filed a column from Baghdad saying Dude, who took my civil war? And others have pointed out Karbala march from Baghdad, tens of thousands of Shiia pilgrims unattacked this week. Is that the overplayed hand? Is that the straw that broke the public's back when it comes to media credibility in Iraq?

FB: Well, I think it's certainly one of the things, and I certainly admire Mort's standing up for America and for President Bush and the soldiers in supporting the war in Iraq. He and I agree totally. But I do disagree on this thing about a civil war. I think it's a media creation. I mean, Iraq is nowhere near a situation of civil war, and yet it's repeated over and over and over again, that it makes it sound like a small amount of partisan strife, and a few killings, have put the Iraqis right on the edge of a full-scale civil war, that in fact, nobody wants, not the Kurds, not the Shiites, and not the Sunnis. So I hold the media responsible for that, too.

HH: Morton Kondracke, go ahead.

MK: No, listen. Look, look, look. Zalme Khalilzad has talked about the danger of a civil war. Former Prime Minister Alawi admittedly for political reasons, has said that there's a low grade civil war going on. Don Rumsfeld has said if the civil war breaks out, that we would largely leave it to the Iraqis. I mean, these people are not saying there's no danger of civil war. I mean, it's clear that Zarqawi or whoever blew up that...

FB: No, no. That's not what the media's saying. What the media said is that Iraq was on the brink of a civil war.

MK: Huh?

FB: What the media said is that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war. That is simply not true.

MK: I think Zalme Khalilzad has said they're on the brink of a civil war.

FB: No, no.

MK: I think I'm going to pull back. I think they have not...look, I agree with you that they have not plunged into civil war. What is happening, though, is not good, and you've got militias going after one another, and it's got to stop, and it's got to stop as you yourself say, Fred, with the formation of a government that can govern.

FB: Absolutely.

HH: Let me see what else has to stop, though. At ABC, Drudge got ahold of, and put out on Thursday, the Bush makes me sick e-mail from a senior ABC producer. John Green said he wanted to puke when the President talks about mixed messages. How prevalent is that attitude, Fred Barnes, in mainstream media?

FB: Well, I think there are two attitudes in the mainstream media. One is the pure we hate Bush and we hate this war. And I think that's probably the prevalent one. On the other hand, there's also the we can't win attitude. Mort referred to this earlier. It's the reporters and pundits and so on who think it's another Vietnam. And while they're not necessarily against it, they're just weary and thinks it's just unwinnable. You see this from, particularly in the writings of John Burns of the New York Times, a great reporter, but he's been consistently pessimistic about Iraq and the ability of the U.S. to prevail.

HH: And Morton Kondracke, I get so many e-mails saying where are the Ernie Pyle's. I don't think they're there.

MK: You know, I've seen some reporting from Knight-Ridder, for example, which does tend to be negative, but the correspondent there whose name I forget, has actually been around in a lot of nasty places, Tal Afar, and Fallujah, and Ramadi, and places like that, along with the troops.

HH: Don't get me wrong. They go to nasty places, like Time Magazine's Michael Ware. But when they get there, they're not there to encourage the public about the progress or the bravery of the troops. They're reporting almost with moral equivalence on the insurgents sometimes, Fred Barnes. And I think that's what exposes a nerve.

FB: Well, it does, and on the other hand, I would say that Ernie Pyle was writing about a different war, where you could stay with a group of men over a long period of time, and report on them, the grunts. And this is a different kind of war. But on the other hand, the other reporters don't seem inclined to write about any courage or heroism, either.

HH: Thank you very much, Beltway Boys. Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke, tomorrow night at 6PM in the East, 3PM in the West. It repeats again, and after a week that was like this week, you do not want to miss the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys. At least I don't want to miss them.

End of interview.

Friday, March 24

Frank Gaffney the film critic?

HH: Frank Gaffney joins me now, Center For Security Policy,, blogs at, and has gone film critic on us. Frank Gaffney, welcome to the program.

FG: My pleasure to be with you in all of my capacities.

HH: On Tuesday, What We Fight For, your column in the Washington Times, talks about a new film, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West. Run through who made this, and why it's important.

FG: Well, to be honest with you, I can't remember the names of the guys who made it, but they're small, independent film makers. They've put together an extraordinary array of experts, some in the West who are not Muslim, a number who are. But most powerfully, perhaps, they've used extensive footage from television stations and networks in the Middle East and the Arab world, that are promoting the kind of Islamo-facism that the film addresses as the immediate threat we face, and a very dangerous one indeed.

HH: Now you mention in your column, Sir Martin Gilbert, Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, Carolyn Glick, Steve Emerson, Itamar Marcus. These are very different people. I mean, this is not any particular group of one ideological center or another.

FG: Well, I think that there's a community of people of which they're representative, who are very thoughtful, very knowledgeable about different aspects of history, of the faith, the Islamic faith, of the strategic character of the enemy, of a totalitarian political mold we face today. And interestingly enough, Hugh, that is so similar, in important respects, even down to now the stiff-arm salute and the goose-stepping, familiar from Hitlerian days, they're bringing to bear a wealth of expertise that I think is tremendously informative about this enemy. And most especially needed at this moment, when we hear people in, particularly in Washington, consumed with paroxysms of doubt about the future of the war in Iraq, when in fact as we've talked about so many times. And this film makes very clear the war in Iraq is but one front in a larger, truly global war we are now facing. I would call it the war for the free world.

HH: On Monday, Frank Gaffney, the Christian Science Monitor, a usually very respectable newspaper that is careful in how it approaches issues, had a story by Ileen Prusher out of Jerusalem, the headline of which "Key Hamas Cabinet Posts Go To Hard-liners." Moderate politicians refused to join the organization's new government on Sunday. Frank, isn't it sort of a crippling inability to see if they call anyone at Hamas other than a hard-liner?

FG: Well, I'm not sure whether they were indulging in the fanciful notion that there are so-called doves or moderate in the Hamas ranks. My guess is what they were referring to were the moderates, so-called, of Fatah, Yassir Arafat's party. Even by relative terms, the terrorists who followed the secular, relatively secular banner of Fatah were no moderates, and certainly not people that I think Israel, or for that matter, the United States could repose any more confidence in that these thugs following the banner of Hamas.

HH: Well actually, I think they're just talking internal Hamas. It begins, "The crucial diplomatic position of foreign minister, for example, went to Mahmoud Zahar, who's adamantly opposed to any softening of Hamas' position that Israel should be destroyed. Zahar is known for his fiery rhetoric and vocal support for the organization's use of suicide bombing." I mean, I don't think there are any moderates inside of Hamas, and I think that a lot of the West believes it is reformable. Do you?

FG: I certainly don't. I haven't seen the article, in fairness, Hugh,

HH: All right.

FG: So you may be right that they're seeing something that I don't see, and I don't think bears up under close scrutiny. But the point is that I've not seen anybody in Hamas come forward and say you know, we really are ready to live side by side peaceably with Israel. We really are ready to not only renounce, but condemn this practice of sending our children in to blow up innocent people. To the contrary, I think everybody continues very much to toe that line, for the simple reason that they believe it. And this is one of...again, the points of Obsession is this ideology, which is so redolent of Hitler and the Bolsheviks, that this brutally repressive, totalitarian political ideology, is alive and well. In fact, growing in places like the Palestinian community, where people are being indoctrinated and brought up, generation upon generation to believe in a culture of death, that is a threat not just to Israel, but to freedom loving people everywhere, including here.

HH: I want to go back to one of the experts you quote in your column, Matthias Kuntzel, who's a professor at the University of Hamberg, and an expert both on Islamo-facism and Nazism. He does not claim that the former sprang from the latter, but he does point out that while Islamism is an independent anti-Semitic, anti-modern mass movement, it's main early promotors, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Mufti, and the Qassamites in Palestine, were supported financially and ideologically by agencies of the German National Socialist Government. About the Mufti, I was aware. But the other connections I was not.

FG: Yeah. Well, he's made a quite intensive study of this, something that I think perhaps springing from his own familiarity with the German history, has made easier than perhaps for the rest of us. But he's documented an association that at certainly the ideological level, and it would appear at the financial and operational level between the early Islamo-facists, and the national socialists, also known as Nazis.

HH: Frank, as we're running low on time here, when does Obsession get to the public? Where will it be able to seen? And do you expect an attempt to blockade the movie by sympathizers of Islamists?

FG: Well, it's a good question, Hugh. We're hoping to make it available to the public. I don't know that it has any distribution arrangements at all right now. I'm just trying to help, having only seen it myself for the first time last night, get the word around that it's a very important film, it is one that we are going to, I think, hear more about in the future. It did win, by the way, the best feature film at the Liberty Film Festival, so it's beginning to get a bit of buzz, but we can use all the help we can get getting the word around.

HH: The movie is Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West. The critic, our friend, Frank Gaffney,

End of interview.

Thursday, March 23

Mark Steyn on the herd mentality of the media coverage: Ignore the media, and find out for yourself.


HH: For two night this week on CNN, I've been told by Michael Ware, Time Magazine Baghdad correspondent, and others, that only the people with boots on the ground in Baghdad, those brave journalists know what's going on. Well now, Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, has in fact been in Iraq, dined on chicken in Fallujah, as I recall. And Mark Steyn, is the media anti-war?

MS: Well, I think the media has a herd mentality, as Christopher Hitchens was talking about in his marvelous interview with you just the other day. And I think that is the problem, that anyone who's been with large groups of journalists, whether you're at a political convention in Philadelphia, or whether you're with the foreign correspondent crowd in Kabul, knows that they all sit together in the same bar, and they reinforce the herd think. And I think the most interesting stories to come out of Iraq have been the ones from independent bloggers, sometimes with the American military, and sometimes Iraqi bloggers, or sometimes just from some fellow who happens to be in Kurdistan, and notices the big tourist boom that's going on there. They're all stories that are different stories. You know, the State Department, a lady at the State Department asked me if I wanted to go to Iraq the other day, and I politely said well, you know, I'm not thinking about it at the moment. And the reason I said that was because I think there's a difference when you go as part of a media assignment. When I was just driving around the Sunni Triangle, I was doing it pretty much as a tourist, and I think you see a different way that way. The media sitting in the same hotel bar in Baghdad, and then watching, filming the burning Nissan of the morning so it can be on the Today Show, is not the whole story about what's going on in Iraq in any means.

HH: Mark Steyn, a mil-blogger in Iraq, in Mosul, actually, named Buck Sargeant, sent me an e-amil today, which includes in part, some slams at Michael Ware and other journalists, and he says soldiers really do know what's going on, and he concludes by saying the media wants us to lose, and they're doing their damnedest to see it happen. But I have faith in the American people that they're too smart to fall for that trick twice. Do you think that attitude, whether or not justified, is pervasive in the American military?

MS: Yes, I think so. I think that is one of the big stories here, that in fact, the military, whether or not Iraq is like Vietnam, I don't think it is. That's rubbish. But clearly, the military this time around is not like Vietnam. That's the big difference. Anyone who gets e-mail from the troops knows that they're full of pride in what they're doing, and they think it's doing very well. And the way...I think the way to test this is just to try and be reasonably objective about it. When people use terms like insurgency and civil war and all this, think about the meaning of those terms. We've seen what civil war is within recent memory, in Rwanda and Bosnia and Ivory Coast, just to pick three examples. That's where the country gets split from top to toe between different ethnic groups, and they all start killing each other, and rival governments spring up, and there's massive population displacements. None of that is going on in Iraq, and it's know, Tim Russert said today, he defended NBC, the media's Iraq coverage, by saying we capture reality. Yeah, they capture reality in the same sense that those insurgent guys capture people. They saw it's head off and shout Allah Akhbar at reality. That's what they're doing when they capture reality. The reality of what's happening in Iraq is very different from what Tim Russert thinks it is.

HH: You wrote a column up at today's Jerusalem Post. I want to quote a paragraph. "Despite the Mosque bombings," you wrote, "There's a net gain of more than 100,000 civilians alive today who would have been shoveled into unmarked graves had Baathist rule continued. Meanwhile, the dictator would have continued gaming the international system through the Oil For Food program, subverting Jordan, and supporting terrorism as far afield as the Philippines." That's the math, I say, Mark Steyn, but most of MSM will not even begin to try and do the sums.

MS: Well, in fairness to them, that's not just them. But the idea that they' column today was to reject the idea that there is such a thing as stability. There's no stability on the international scene. It's like a frozen lake in New Hampshire in March. Underneath, the water is on the move in that frozen river. And if it's not going in your direction, it's generally going in the other guy's, and that's basically what was happening during the twelve years under which American was containing Saddam. When George Bush I declined to finish the job, Saddam understood very well what was going wrong, that when you go to a lot of time and trouble and expense to set up, effectively, a big dictatorial management program, which is what the U.N. and America and Britain did, Saddam understood that was an act of weakness. So to think that you could have held him in that position indefinitely is ludicrous.

HH: Now Drudge has obtained from inside ABC e-mails, a particularly provocative source on the web today. One of them, from a senior producer for one of the weekend shows reads, are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the mixed messages line one more time, I'm going to puke. He's now had a friend go out and say he feels very, very bad about this, he's a straight shooter, a great producer, he's always fair. What does the John Green e-mail tell us, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I think the fact of the matter is, I wouldn't put Bush makes know, a lot of people make me nauseous, but I wouldn't put it on an e-mail, because I wouldn't assume that everyone who saw that e-mail agreed with me. What is reveals is that what the media think of as their impartiality is in fact rather a bland assumption that they all think the same way. And that's what's revealing about this, that he knew he could send that e-mail to all his chums at ABC, and that they would all agree that Bush makes them puke. And the difference is, you know what I think, and I know what you think. And why doesn't...I'm happy that this has come clean, that Bush makes him puke.

HH: Yup.

MS: That's great. Now if he can only say where ABC, where the network thinks Bush makes us puke, that would be one step to a kind of greater honestly and straightforwardness in dealing with the public.

HH: And I think that is the bottom line, that the appearance, or the assertion of objectivity...and I just ran into it so often with Michael Ware over the last two days. And he's an Aussie, and he has the old standard we understand better than Americans do, because it's not our fight, blah, blah, blah. It's just maddening to Americans when they can smell the anti-Bush aroma in the room. Mark Steyn, let's talk a little bit about the documents that are coming out. You referenced one of those with Saddam's connection to Philippines terror. Another one revealed that he was holding onto hundreds of Kuwaiti hostages ten years after the war. What's the effect of these documents on the left's sort of acquittal of Saddam campaign?

MS: Well, the left's argument has always been that Saddam was a secular dictator, and therefore he would have nothing to do with a bunch of theocrats like Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Well, you know, the left themselves refute that argument, because they're essentially secular leftists, and they are happy to make alliances of convenience with the Islamists who hate gays, and hate women, and all the rest of it, if it means...because they both happen to be anti-American. So I think they left themselves as self-refuting on that argument. But there's no doubt that when you look at these documents, that there are all kinds of small links that emerge between, explicitly between Iraq and their contacts with al Qaeda going way back into the early 90's. And there are also links with all kinds of other terrorist groups across the planet. And this is why I think it's so absurd to pretend to use that as an argument for not getting rid of Saddam. The point of the matter is that Saddam was someone who had been allowed to mock American victory in the 1991 Gulf War, and been allowed to mock it for 12 years. And so he was part of the September the 10th world, and needed to be removed on those grounds alone.

HH: Mark Steyn, you and close behind you, Christopher Hitchens, are the two people I think have been thinking clearly and, a long record of thinking clearly about the war. You referenced the interview I did with Hitchens two days ago. There's a note of pessimism in his voice about the ability to rally the West to this long war. Do you share that pessimism?

MS: Well, I think what Christopher Hitchens said, he used an expression which I think is correct, this passivity that you know, essentially the left's arguments, the non-deranged, America-hating left. Put them aside, the America-haters, for a bit. And the argument of a lot of the mainstream of the Democratic Party is this passivity. Oh, we can't do this, and we can't do that, because something may go wrong, and it may not be easy, and this will happen, and that will happen. And we don't understand any of these strange, wacky foreign places anyway. That passivity will end freedom in the world. It won't end freedom in the world in America, it won't end it in Iowa and in Massachusetts tomorrow. But it will end it in a lot of the borderline jurisdictions around the world very quickly. You cannot be that feeble in the face of an existential threat. Christopher Hitchens understands that. I don't agree with him when he starts talking about Mother Teresa and the Royal Family and all his other bug bears, but I respect him because on this issue, he shows a clarity that should be obvious to everybody of left or right.

HH: I think you're right about that. Robert Kaplan has written extensively. The American military gets it at the lowest level, Mark Steyn. It's just a question of whether or not the media will ever catch it from them.

MS: Well, I think you should ignore the media, and find out for yourself. You know, Glenn Reynolds has a marvelous new book out called An Army of Davids. And he promotes this idea he's had on his website, a pack, not a herd. The media are the herd. And the way to beat the herd is with a fast-thinking pack that draws in all kinds of resources, and uses them to the full.

HH: Mark Steyn, well put. Always a pleasure. Steynonline, America.

End of interview.

Victor Davis Hanson on the tripartite nexus of Congressional leadership, media elite, and the celebrity fringe criticizing the war effort.

Read or listen to it all, but make sure you get to the last part, where Hugh plays back the Michael Ware/Hugh Hewitt interchange from CNN a couple of nights ago, and Professor Hanson just schools him.


HH: Joined now by eminent military historian and classicist, Victor Davis Hanson. Professor Hanson, I got up pretty early this morning, had a 7:00AM meeting. But before I did, I read your Jewish World Week Daily column on your house, and it was melancholy. And I said that's not very VDH. Explain to people your reflection on your six generations of Hansons and your farmhouse, and let's take it after there.

VDH: Well, I live in a house that was built in 1870, and so I have an alternate version of U.S. history, because I grew up with stories from my parents, about my grandparents, about my great-grandparents, about my great-great-grandparents. And it was always the take on the U.S. from this particular house, whether it was the Great Depression or World War I, or the Spanish-American War. And I was just saying that if I could synthesize that take on the world of people who lived in this house, it looks just about the same as it did when it was built, was a tragic view that they accepted that Americans did not have to be perfect to still be good, that when you went to war, you had a bad choice and a worse choice. But we, the generation, and I said the people that live in this house live in a very different therapeutic world. Even though the house looks the same, I think that our ancestors would look, if the house could talk, would say what's wrong with you people? Do you think that you have a birthright to have perfection? Don't you understand that we almost died? We starved to death, we had Typhoid, people got Polio in this house? We were lucky to eat? We built this farm out of nothing, and now you have six hundred channels, and you're less happy than we were. And I think I was trying to use this as a metaphor to a way a lot of Americans look at Iraq, for example.

HH: That's where I was going. Does that crisis of the spirit that you're describing for the next generation, the generation after you and that one, condemn us to defeat?

VDH: I don't know if it condemns us to defeat, but at some point, either somebody who's in the administration, a spokesman's got to say now just wait a minute. We went 7,000 miles over to the ancient caliphate, and right in the heart of the autocratic Middle East. We're trying to make a democracy. We've lost 2,300 people, but that's about two weeks in Okinawa, and this country's been through a lot worse at Shiloh and Antietam, Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, the Yalu River, and we can win this, and we're not getting any oil, the price skyrocketed. We have the biggest, magnanimous foreign aid plant since the Marshall Plan, $87 billion dollars. We don't have anything to apologize for, and we're almost there. We've had three successful elections. We've dismantled a lot of al Qaeda. We have millions of people in Iraq who've pledged their lives to see this democracy work, and we're not going to stumble before the finish line. So stop it, and just get a grip on yourself. But we need to hear that.

HH: Now this is going to be a little esoteric, but it's prompted by the fact that you are, along with David Horowitz, and the Center For the Study of Popular Culture, going off to Rome, May 21st through 29th. And you, Victor Davis Hanson, are going to give four lectures to the group that's traveling. There's a link if people want to go to your home page on this trip. And as you go off to Rome, I wonder if you're not considering sort of the collapse of the late Roman Republic, when Sulla marches on Rome, and Marius comes into Rome, and the games that were always not indulged in, because it was the Republic that was at issue, all of a sudden did become indulged in. And then of course, you had the second triumvirate and just sort of gradually became so deeply partisan that it ended in disaster for the Roman Republic. Are you going to be lecturing on that, Professor?

VDH: I am, and I was reminded of that when all of a sudden this week, I kept hearing this strange refrain, whether it was Ted Kennedy or Harry Reid, that the President was dangerously incompetent. And I didn't realize that almost everybody was saying that. But it was just a patent refrain. I want to know what was dangerously incompetent. We haven't had another 9/11, we freed 50 million people, we've set up democracies in the most unlikely places following the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and I don't see anything incompetent about that. And to use the words dangerously incompetent, and then to have the exact same words mimicked, it's almost as if we've got some kind of group speak going on. And it doesn't match reality.

HH: And to refer to the action of the NSA to conduct surveillance of al Qaeda contacting their agents in the United States as criminal behavior, it's reckless political behavior. It's over the edge political behavior.

VDH: It is.

HH: The sort that marked the end of the Roman Republic. Now I'm not...

VDH: It is, and it's ahistorical, Hugh, because...not just the Roman Republic, but this is a country where Abraham Lincoln suspended habeus corpus. Andrew Johnson did it in the entire state of Tennessee. We intured people in World War I and World War II. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy used things, all things that we regretted later, and we haven't even approached that, even though in this particular war, unlike those in the past, we've lost 20 acres in downtown Manhattan from stealthy attacks, which are more likely to be the exact things we have to watch for, than a conventional, transparent enemy. And we haven't done any of that, and yet this country has almost become unhinged in a way that our ancestors, getting back to this house, were not unhinged about.

HH: Now when you say unhinged, are you speaking of the elite media? Or are you speaking of the hard left, or both, or something broader?

VDH: I think I'm talking about a tripartite nexus of the people in the Senate like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the rhetoric they use, and talking about people in the elite media, and I'm talking about the fringe, the Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan left that uses language like Bush is the greatest terrorist. The Harry Belafonte people that have no constituency, but they seem to have the ear of the media, and their views resonate, and we hear about them, even though they're unhinged. They're not credible or serious thinkers at all.

HH: Have we seen're a military historian. In other campaigns, and other drawn-out wars, have we seen the American left ally with elite media to wage war on the war?

VDH: Well, we saw it in Vietnam, and a good example was when Walter Cronkite came back and said the war was lost after Tet, even though in just one of the most heroic chapters in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps, in Hue, and then the U.S. Air force at Que Son, the U.S. Army in Saigon itself, we killed over 50,000 Vietnamese, North Vietnamese Communists, and lost 1,500, and really destroyed the Viet Cong in the South for over a year, and we were told that was a grievous defeat, because the media covered it in such a way it suggested that terrorists were on the Embassy grounds. And we've seen something like this in the past. If you go back and look at the Summer of 1864, when people were calling for Lincoln's impeachment, the Copperhead movement...and this is what we have, is a Copperhead movement. That's a term used for people who wanted to bisect the United States, and have a confederacy and a union, and go back to the status before the Civil War under George McClennan and Horace Greeley. So we have that kind of extremism, but what we don't realize is we all canonized Lincoln, but Lincoln was hated more than Bush ever was. So what seems conventional wisdom today, if President Bush can stick it out, and we're already seeing changes in Iraq the last three weeks. The Iraqis are taking more and more of the responsibility. American casualties are going down the last four weeks. If we can pull this off in five years, Bush will be considered a great President. But I'm just worried that even his base is starting to be affected by this hysteria.



HH: Professor Hanson, I'd like to play for you a little bit of Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for Time Magazine. Two nights ago on CNN, I was debating him. I'd like to get your reaction to what this says about our culture.

HH: Compared to what, Mr. Ware? Compared to Baghdad under Saddam? Are you arguing that Iraqis are worse off today than they were four years ago?

Anderson Cooper: Michael Ware, do you want to respond?

Michael Ware: Yeah, well I think if you ask a lot of Iraqis, I think you'll be surprised by what the answer is. A lot of them say what? This is democracy? The joke is you call this liberation. And okay, let's look at the context as you suggest. Let's look at the even bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? Who's winning from this war? Who is benefitting right now? Well, the main winners so far are al Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he's the superstar of international jihad. And Iran...Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government. Its sphere of influence has expanded, and any U.S. diplomat or senior military intelligence commander here will tell you that. So that's the big picture. Where's that being reported?

HH: Now Victor Davis Hanson, how do you respond to that?

VDH: Is that man a journalist?

HH: Well, he's the Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief.

VDH: That's just a mockery of what we would call sober and judicious reporting. And everything he said was factually incorrect. We dismantled two thirds of the al Qaeda heirarchy, and Mr. Zarqawi was well enough to get an invitation to come before we went into Iraq to seek medical care under Saddam. Everything he said was untrue, and when we went into Iraq, nobody knew much about the Iranian nuclear program. The entire world is galvanizing against it now. The Iranians are petrified that this democratic experiment will work right on their border, and one of the most subversive things they can imagine right next to them. And the United States knows so much more about the danger of Iran than it did two years ago. The world was asleep to their nuclear antics. And 67% of the people have confidence in Iraq, according to the polls, that things are getting better. And it shows two things. One is that this idea of stability is always better than the chaos that comes with freedom. It's like saying that Hitler or Stalin...1936 Germany was much, much better than anything you can imagine in the 20's, when you had inflation. Or Stalin's...after the purges, there was a sense of order in Russia. All of that's true, as long as you accept that Saddam was killing 40-50,000 people a year. And the second is this utopianism that all wars are a choice between something's perfect, and something that is bad. When we went to war after 9/11, and we had one war with Saddam in '91, a second war with 12 years of no-fly zones, then we had...there were no good choices. There was a bad choice and a worse choice.

HH: So with this in mind...again, I stress he's the Baghdad bureau chief of Time Magazine, at one time the most influential magazine in the West, I believe. What is the disease in the media? Where did it come from?

VDH: I think it came to be frank between the journalism schools, the academic training of a lot of the people, and this affluent, elite culture, to be frank, that comes out of the unversities on the left and right coasts, that's divorced from the tragic view, because these people are not...they don't open hardware stores. They don't service cars. They've never worked physically with their hands. They have an idea in this international culture of the West that somehow, all of their affluence, all of their travel, all of their freedom came out of a head of Zeus, and it's not dependent on the U.S. military, the United States role in the world. They have no appreciation for the very system that birthed and maintained them. And they've had this sort of sick cynicism, nihilism, skepticism, and the height of their affluence and leisure, that they don't have any gratitude at all, which is really one of the most important human attributes. Humility to say you know, I'm very lucky to be a Westerner, and have certain freedoms. And that's why he cannot appreciate what we're trying to do in Iraq, because he has no appreciation of the very idea that he can jet out of Baghdad anytime he wants on a Western jet that's going to get him safely to a Western country, where he's going to be protected, that the people in Iraq want that same thing that he doesn't seem to appreciate. And that's...I know I'm sounding a little emotional, but that's been one of the most depressing aspects of this entire did a great service to the country, Hugh, by having him on your show, and having him admit to something that we all suspect. But that hysteria and that anger and that predjudice was very valuable for people to see.

HH: Well, we hope to continue to do it. Victor Davis Hanson, thank you for spending time with us this afternoon.

End of interview.

Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus weigh in on the ABC Bush makes me puke memo.


HH: As we continue on with the coverage of a media meltdown and a backlash against anti-war reporting bias in the media, attacks on the President, set-ups of the Secretary of Defense, I'm joined by two of the new media titans, and I use that word advisedly. Mickey Kaus, one of the original bloggers, he blogs at under And of course, the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee, and author of An Army of Davids. And I think that's what's going on this week, Glenn Reynolds. Many of that Army of Davids just got fed up with mainstream media coverage of the war. Agree or disagree?

GR: Oh, I think that's absolutely right. I think we've got a swarm starting up again.

HH: A swarm about what?

GR: Well, about a whole variety of mis-coverage, and under-coverage, and distorted coverage, and people remembering that it's not the first time. And I think sometimes, you get kind of tired, because it seems like you just have to keep pointing this out over and over again. I know that's how I kind of feel. It's like oh, God, here we go again.

HH: But it doesn't stop. Mickey Kaus, is this an accurate assessment of what's happening?

MK: I think so. I'm not it going to rise to Eason Jordan heights? Is this guy going to have to quit? Is there going to be a relentless attack? He's sort of just said what everybody knew all along, and I thought Roger Simon's take was quite accurate, which is now we know. So congratulations. Thanks. There's nothing to be...he needn't apologize for it. It's what he thinks.

HH: Yeah, but you're talking about...I agree with you, by the way. The honesty expressed by the ABC senior producer. But I'm thinking more of, it began with Helen Thomas this week. It spiraled with David Gregory and James Carville ganging up on Laura Ingraham. Michael Ware and I got into it on CNN a couple of times this week, and then you had Jaime McIntyre going after Rumsfeld with a Maureen Dowd column, Mickey. I think...and then Jack Cafferty flips out today. I think people are sick of these people.

MK: Well, I thought Laura Ingraham held her own, actually.

HH: Yes, she did.

GR: Always outnumbered, but never outgunned.

MK: But it depends on what happens in Iraq. I mean, I was down on the war when I turned to Iraq the Model, who was a pretty pro-war blogger from Baghdad, and his home was getting mortared, okay? And he was depressed. And he talked to his father, and his father thought the war was lost. And so, when that happens, it's hard to blame media bias.

HH: No, but I think actually you can, if that is the only story they're running with, and they're not, for example, covering what's going on in Kurdistan, the Marsh Arabs, the relative security around Basra, or in fact, those homes that were mortared once, and then not mortared today. It's not really about reporting good news, it's making sure that it's balanced. Glenn Reynolds, your reaction?

GR: I'll tell you the example. The press knows how to be exquisitely sensitive about sending the wrong message when they care. For example, with regard to race. If they reported only crimes where black criminals were involved, and they always mentioned the race of the perpetrator, and they never point anything else positive about black people, which is in fact how they used to do it fifty years ago, we would say that was bias, one-sided, and that they were responsible for the change in social climate that that one-sided reporting produced. In fact, we did say that, and they tried to change their ways. And if you want to contrast saying Bush makes you want to puke may hurt somebody's career, maybe not, one racially charged remark which was I think just a slip of the tongue about Condi Rice, and a deejay's out of a job. So when they care about the message, when they care about what's going on, they know how to control themselves.

HH: Mickey Kaus, your reaction?

MK: Well, I think that's right. A couple of points. First, then they're very careful about who they hire. And if you hire somebody who Bush makes puke, or whatever he wrote in that memo, he's not going to change his spots just because he's ordered to be sensitive. So these people are all over the media, they have tenure, they're not going away. And you can't just overnight, suddenly...they're not going to change.

HH: Mickey, what percentage, if we define the elite media as the big newspapers, and we know the five or six of them there are, the big networks, Time, Newsweek, and we talk about their senior leadership, meaning the top one hundred people in the organization, so we're talking roughly the thousand people who make the news right now...

MK: Right.

HH: What percentage of them are anti-Bush?

MK: Anti-Bush?

HH: Anti-Bush.

MK: I would say 80.

HH: Instapundit, what do you think?

GR: 90.

HH: I think it's 90, maybe 95. Now of those one thousand people again, Mickey Kaus, what percentage of them are anti-war?

MK: I would say 70, 65.

HH: Glenn?

GR: About 85.

HH: I'm still up at around 90, and I go to what Christopher Hitchens said on this program on Wednesday, that a senior network executive admitted to him that in fact, they are beginning to cause the insurgents to believe they can win this war. I'll go back and get the exact quote here. Is that happening? Is the media helping, Mickey Kaus, the bad guys?

MK: Well, it's certainly a small world. That's all part of what Instapundit says is happening, and sure, the people in Iraq watch the American media often more closely than Americans do.

GR: It's an information war. Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military conflict.

HH: I think you're absolutely right. So what does the Army of Davids do, because honestly, I've been doing this for six years, and I've been in media for fifteen years, and I went to Columbia Journalism School and did an article. The intake valve is still open on the left and closed on the right. It's not going to change. Mickey Kaus is right, it's self-perpetuating elites who hire themselves, who bring those same opinions. So what happens, Glenn Reynolds? What's your Army of Davids do except grind their teeth?

GR: You marginalize them by giving people alternatives. You point out, and I actually pointed this out on Reliable Sources on CNN a couple of weeks ago, the best single piece of reporting I've seen from Iraq was Michael Totten, who's a blogger, who's paid by his readers to go report. And he does a great job.

HH: Yeah, and he just left Kurdistan, is on his way home. I also put Michael Yon in that category.

GR: Yes.

HH: But it doesn't seem to, Mickey Kaus, change GE's assessment of how NBC is being run.

MK: Well, you know what? NBC is not doing very well lately, I was told. I just found out last night. So at some point, they will start to lose money. There are mainstream reporters that do a good job. I think John Burns does a very good job. His reporting today of the election was certainly inspiring, and he seems to have his heart in the right place.

HH: Let me read this to you from Hitchens. He's saying about a well-known network senior executive. He called me the other day. This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and he said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration. Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me. Is Christopher Hitchens right, Mickey Kaus?

MK: Well, you know, there is an argument on the left, which I think some of them at least make sincerely, which is that our presence there is doing more harm than good. And I don't think...but you know, there is also this inevitable effect, which is it emboldens the terrorists, sure.

HH: And today, Glenn Reynolds, I want to ask you both about this. New documents indicating contacts between al Qaeda, and specifically Osama bin Laden, and Saddam's people came to light, a '95 document, 2001 document. Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly writes, so what? I mean, that's his quote. So what? What do you do to that, Instapundit?

GR: You laugh at it. I mean, you just have to note that people are out of touch with reality. One thing I've noticed about the press, by the way, the defensiveness I've seen in the last week or two illustrates a couple of things. I think first it shows that even they realize that they've gone too far and overplayed their hand, and it's likely to come back to bite them. The other thing I think they've figured out is imagine that in fact, what they're doing succeeds, that we do lose the war, that it is seen as another Vietnam. A substantial portion of the American public, 30, 40%, at least, is going to blame them and hold a grudge that will last decades. Now is that a position they want to be in? Because that's what's going to happen, and they will have earned it.

HH: Mickey Kaus, I want to quote Kevin specifically. Who cares? This document apparently dates from 1997, it doesn't tell us anything new, we've known for years that Saddam and Osama had few contacts during the 90's, the last of which was in '98-'99, when Osama's relationship with the Taliban was undergoing some strain, and Saddam had just been bombed by U.S.-British forces. The contact was brief, and nothing came of it. No one ever suggested Saddam had no contact at all with al Qaeda. He did. But it never amounted to anything, and the credible evidence indicates there hasn't been any other than casual contact between Saddam and al Qaeda for over four years. Does this just strike you as oddly disinterested in fact?

MK: Kevin's a pretty reliable guy. So he's not one of the...

HH: Oh, he's not a screamer. I agree.

MK: He's not one of the left-wing crazies. My impression is that are people running around saying that there absolutely no connection, and that there was more than a casual connection. They sort of reached some sort of semi-entente. And I sort of see it like Bill Clinton and Patricia Duff Medavoy. You know, maybe they didn't meet and get it on, but it was sort of inevitable, given events that some point in the future, that might well happen. If you were paranoid about it, you would worry about it.

GR: Now remember, Richard Clarke was worrying in 2001 that Osama was going to boogie to Baghdad when we invaded Afghanistan.

HH: Absolutely. And we're just learning about the Philippines connection. It just seems to me that the blinkard left and the anti-Bush media are combining to deny important facts. An Army of Davids, how's the book doing, Glenn?

GR: Book's doing great. Had a great review in the Wall Street Journal today, and was on NPR, and got a bunch of other stuff coming out, and it seems to be selling pretty well. So I'm pretty happy.

HH: Mickey, when's your coming out?

MK: I shot my wad back in '92.

HH: Well, there's got to be another book in there somewhere. Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, two great new media titans. Thank you both.

End of interview.

Powerline's John Hinderaker on the AP's collapse in Project Harmony analysis.

HH: As I wind down a day devoted to this disease that has the mainstream media in its grip, I did not want to ignore the fact it's not just the Baghdad bureau chiefs. It's not just the ABC producers who say Bush makes them puke. It's not just the talking heads. It's not just David Gregory. It's not just Helen Thomas. It's at every level, including the level of AP reporters. One guy who's been covering that aspect of the collapse of mainstream media character is John Hinderaker of Powerline. Hello, John. Welcome to the program.

JH: Hi, Hugh. Thanks.

HH: John, you caught this story. I didn't. I want you to explain to people what AP did this week, and put it in the context of how AP is operating.

JH: Well, it has to do with the release of documents and audio tapes from Iraq and Afghanistan, that generally goes under the name of Project Harmony. And these are the thousands of boxes of documents that Stephen Hayes was instrumental in getting released. And the government is now putting these out on the internet so that people can look at them, read them, translate them, and so forth. And maybe 10% or less of all of the audio tapes that were made in Saddam Hussein's office have now been released. Saddam was like President Nixon in that he had a tape recorder running in his office. And the night before last, the Associated Press came out with a story that claimed that these audio tapes proved that Iraq did not have WMD's. And it actually portrays Saddam and his henchmen almost like the heroes of this story, and quotes a couple of sentences pulled out from these audio tapes, and talks about how they were frustrated, and how could they get the U.N. to understand that they weren't trying to cheat. And at one point, the article says the documents make clear that Saddam's regime had given up banned weapons. Well, I thought this was just nuts for several reasons. Number one, fewer than 10% of these audio tapes are out. So to start drawing conclusions as to what they prove or don't prove is, I think, premature to say the least. Number two, none of the audio tapes that have been released so far date from after 1996 or 1997. So even if it were true that they showed that there were no WMD's as of 1996, say, that doesn't mean that there were none in 2002 and 2003. If there were audio tapes that late, they have not been released.

HH: Now you also point out that there is a nine minute gap on one of these tapes.

JH: Well, but the other thing is that I don't know how they...if they missed this one audio tape, or decided to ignore it, or what, but I quoted on Powerline, at considerable length, an exchange on one of these transcripts between Saddam and one of his henchmen. And this guy talks about their efforts to fool the United Nations, and he talks about the WMD programs that Iraq had going on. He says the U.N. was concentrating its efforts on the biological issue. And it's a small program compared to the chemical, missile and nuclear programs. Okay? This is Saddam' of the top guys in his regime talking. And then he goes on to talk about the fact that the U.N. has kind of got the goods on them with respect to biological weapons, and I'm just going to read a quote here. He says, "Sir, this is a meeting of the highest leadership in our country. We did actually produce biological weapons." Okay?

HH: Yeah.

JH: And then he goes on to the conclusion that the special committee, that's of the U.N., came to is correct. It's not a lie. And then he goes on, and it's actually kind of funny, because he talks about the fact that there was some substance, some material, he doesn't specify what it was, that they ordered from Western countries, and they tried to tell the United Nations that is was for medical purposes. And I'll just read you another quote. He says, "You said it's for medical purposes. Using it for medical purposes only requires kilograms, not tons, meaning that the ministry of health can use 200 kilograms the entire year for examinations, but it doesn't use 37 tons." Okay? So this is how they got caught. And then the conversation goes on, and the last words that are on the transcript are this guy in the regime says, "So the biological issue," and then it ends, and it says the next nine minutes of the tape are blank. So you know, for the Associated Press to say that these audio tapes prove that Iraq had given up on WMD's, and they were just frustrated because the U.N. was irrationally convinced that they were trying to cheat and so on, is just nuts. And in this one audio tape, there's an explicit admission that we did actually produce biological weapons, along with the admission that the biological weapons program is, "a small program, compared to the chemical, missile and nuclear programs."

HH: Isn't that amazing? And of course, the AP is so invested in a narrative about Bush. It's so liberal, it's so left-wing...

JH: It's unbelievable, and you know, the guy that wrote this...and you read it, and it's very hard to tell...I think what he's trying to say is that Saddam never had WMD's after 1991. Remember the first Gulf War ended, and that he was supposed to destroy them all?

HH: Yup.

JH: And what I think you're supposed to take away from this article is that he did, and after that, he was completely innocent. Well, you know, that's ridiculous. In 1996, his son-in-law, I believe it was, defected. Remember that?

HH: Yeah, to Jordan.

JH: Yeah, to Jordan, and told all about these stockpiles of WMD's. And then his son, Uday, kind of panicked, and he led people to various locations where they had hidden WMD's. So I don't know if this reporter is ignorant of that history or what.

HH: Oh, he is. Obviously, or duplicitous. One or the other, because it's just not correct. John, I want to thank you for short notice to fill in that gap. AP in the tank along with everyone else, high and low, and I just wanted to make sure we got the complete picture of that. Thank you, John.

JH: Okay. Thank you, Hugh.

End of interview.

The good, the bad, and the odd with Lileks.

HH: That music means Lileks is here, as in James Lileks, columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, proprietor of, author, humorist, and general good guy around the radio. James, you've heard this media debate all week.

JL: Yes, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

HH: I'll bet...after a while, I'm sick of it. But I do think it's...

JL: You know, sick of it...It's been going on since the start of the Afghan invasion. Every since the dreaded Afghan Winter, which was supposedly going to leave our troops as soldier-cicles in the high mountains, we've been hearing nothing but the same old miserableism, but go on.

HH: So when does it end? Or will it not end, if we want to win the war?

JL: It ends when a Democrat takes the White House, perhaps. Because at that point, there's a fighting chance, maybe, that large swaths of the media will begin to consider this theirs. Up to now, it hasn't been their fight. If there had been some Democrat in the office in 2002, 2003, who gave them that old JFK 'bear any burden', Berlin airlift vibe, they might have gotten manned up sufficiently to realize that this is actually everybody's war. But until that point, no. They're going to see it through a very narrow prism, and that's going to be exactly what they've been showing us. On the front page of my own paper, which I love dearly, the third anniversary of the war was heralded by what? Do you think it was...and I'm not expecting a cake. I'm not expecting some ginned up photo where the little kids from the neighborhood bring a big cake to the soldiers every day. But was it a hospital? Was it a school? Was it a smiling thumbs up or a purple finger? No. The third anniversary was presented through the bombed-out window of a car. That was the image of three years of accomplishment right there.

HH: Did they cover the French riots? I'm just curious, because cars got really badly used in those riots.

JL: (laughing) Well, you know, it's hard sometimes. I mean, there's the sort of instinctual pro-French, they're Europeans, so they've got something going. But on the other hand, burning cars is good, because cars are bad. But on the other hand, burning cars creates toxic fumes, so that's bad. But on the other hand...I mean, yes, you can just tie yourself...

HH: But isn't this going to...I think it's been palpable. When the standing ovation in West Virginia hit, when that woman said you know, they're not telling us the truth, and the reaction I've gotten to the CNN appearances, and Laura Ingraham got to her attempted mauling by Gregory and Carville, I think there's a real backlash, although I don't know that the bottom can fall much more out of the media than it already has.

JL: No, I don't think so. It's so stark, that at the top of the hour news, Harris Faulkner on the Fox...we have the Fox News feed here on this particular station, and she referred to the allied troops, coalition troops, as our troops. And that actually sort of jarred me, because you don't hear that very often.

HH: No, you don't.

JL: And it's one of the reasons that people detest Fox News in the first place, is that they have the unmitigated jingo gaul to use terms like the first person plural when referring to American troops. I mean, I have a whole selection, I should just pass these along to you, of World War II-era news reporting. And what's remarkable about it is not only the depth and the detail, but the calmness of the voice, and just the absolute recitation of the fact without attempting to punch everything up with undue emotion. And it's that need to make a 15 second, 30 second newscast sparkling, and peppered with emotion, that sometimes drives them to do things like this, because you can't really get people excited, and turned to the radio, if you're talking about the fact that the electricity in Baghdad is not on 17% more than it was last week.

HH: Did you hear the conversation with Michael Ware, the Aussie who runs Time's Baghdad bureau?

JL: Yes, yes I did.

HH: What do you make of him?

JL: He's full of gusto, isn't he?

HH: Yes, he is.

JL: I defer to the gentleman who called, I believe the soldier who called and said he detected a bit of the adrenaline junkie in the man's voice, and a bit of self-aggrandizement. However, he's there, I'm not. And I also have to go, like you, with Tim Blair's assessment of the man.

HH: Yeah, that's what's so funny. My guess is he's a pugnacious brawler who really believes this stuff, that they're in a better position than the American military to know what's going on. That's what I love.

JL: Well, I don't believe, necessarily, that the even-handed approach is what's required here. It's good when you're covering a school board meeting. It's fine when you're covering a fire, and it's necessary to look at things from combustion's point of view as well. But in this case, we...actually, there is an us. There is, at the end of the day, an us, which is a civilization, which I think...well, again, it comes back to what you've pointed out, what Hitchens has pointed out, what Steyn's pointed out, and that is that this is essentially an existential matter. And that feeling, I don't believe, is shared. I'm not even exactly sure that the other side knows what the word means, necessarily.

HH: No, they don't. Now I've got to move to important stuff. The number of avalanche deaths in this country has risen dramatically to thirty a year, and 90% of them are men. And the Men's Health writer who wrote about this couldn't figure out why that is. I wonder why do you think that nine out of ten avalanche victims are men?

JL: (laughing) Because women are smart enough not to go climbing the stupid things. I'm waiting for the rash of avalanches that kill sharks, because that will combine all these things together. You know, the shark attacks on the rise, avalanches are on the rise. If we can get the avalanches to kill the sharks, I think we'll be fine.

HH: That would be good. Now Matt Sutter couldn't get tornado out of his head or ears, because he, on March 12th, went for a ride in a tornado. "It's a pretty awkward record to have," he said about the longest known ride in a torado on record. Interesting?

JL: (laughing) I wasn't sure that they were actually keeping records of the number of people who have survived being picked up. If I saw a tornado deposit somebody in my front yard, I would just have all of my friends get down on their knees and speak in little, tiny, high voices, to make the guy think he'd landed in Munchkinland or something.

HH: (laughing) Okay, from the AP in Bonita Springs, Florida. Someone knocking at her door in a gated community earlier this week, she looked out to see an unwelcome visitor on her front stoop, an 8 foot alligator. The bull gator had wandered up from the pond behind the house, and had a bloody lip from banging its head against the door. What do you do, James Lileks?

JL: Well, instantly, you call your husband and the appearance of a man will trigger an avalanche, apparently, and the avalanche will kill the alligator.

HH: That's it. You're right.

HH: Do I know my ecosystems? Or do I know my ecosystems?

HH: You've got this down. Now James, you worked in a bar for a while, didn't you?

JL: Seven years.

HH: Seven years in a bar. Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk. What do you think about that?

JL: I don't like that at all.

HH: (laughing)

JL: I don't like that. I mean, I understand, and I have a problem with them catching people as they stagger outside, not when they go to their cars, no. Perhaps when they go to their horses, or walk or bike or whatever. But the idea that people inside of a bar should be worried as to whether or not somebody is monitoring their intake seems rather un-Texan, shall we...un-Texican.

HH: It does. I think that's what's so amazing about this story, is that no one would ever have expected Texas to break down on drunks in bars.

JL: In Vermont, yes. But if a man cannot get drunk at a honky tonk in Texas, then America is truly a different country.

HH: That's the media's fault, I think. Finally, Face Book, that online meeting place for undergrads, has gone from 2.2 million visitors a day, to 10.5 million visitors a day. What does this tell you, James Lileks?

JL: That there are a lot of people with internet access at work.

HH: But these are college kids. They don't work.

JL: I know. Fine. Well, then there are a lot of people who go to Kinko's and hang out. Look, the amount of time that I spend on the web on absolutely stupid debates in small little corners of blogs, it surprises me not that a page like that should get as much attention as it does.

HH: How many columns do you write a week?

JL: Five for the website, six for the newspaper, one for Newhouse, one a month for American Enterprise Institute, and then the 30 minute podcast, and the other stuff.

HH: So it's about 13 a week it will average out.

JL: 13, 14 pieces a week, yeah.

HH: And do you consider yourself hard-pressed?

JL: I consider myself lazy.

HH: All right. That's what I wanted to know. Lileks, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.

HH: Joined now by the Chairman of the Republican Party, Ken Mehlman. Chairman Mehlman, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

KM: Thank you. I've been all over Wisconsin today.

HH: What's going on in Wisconsin? We've got a Senate race up there?

KM: Well, we've got a very competitive governor's race up there. We're going to have a potentially competitive House race, and we have a great state party up here, a lot of energy, a lot of grass roots, and spent the day traveling the state. One of the other things we talked about in this state was what I saw, was the misguided effort by Senator Feingold to censure the President. I think that we ought to be appreciating the President for trying to stop foreign terrorists before they hit us, not punishing him for it.

HH: Now Ken Mehlman, the subject this week, every day on this show, and many other places. I've done CNN two nights in a row on this, is the media's coverage of the war. I think Americans are fed up with, at least a majority of Americans are. Do you sense that out on your travels?

KM: I do. I hear people talking about it all the time, and you know, one of the interesting things that happens, and you noted in your excellent books, is that people can vote with their feet today. In the old days, when there was a liberal mainstream media monopoly, there was nothing you could do about it, except for to hope that they improve. Today, you can change, and we've seen so many examples of that, and there's no question it's a problem, and I think that the mainstream media ought to think about what it's doing, because every day they do what they do, is they lose more customers.

HH: Now Ken Mehlman, a lot of people are happy that the President gave the press conference and two stem-winders this week. Do you think he needs to keep that up, because this is a long war?

KM: I think he does, and I think he will. I think we need to remind people what the stakes are, remind people of the 9/11 attacks, remind people that what we're doing is dealing with the threat over there, so that we're safer over here. And I think all the time we can do to remind people of those things are critically important. You know, it's interesting, when America faces a new war, the old way you thought about war, the metrics you used to judge success and failure, aren't as relevant anymore, and that's one of the challenges we face, just as during Korea, when people had been used to the World War II model, they were anxious. We have the same challenge today, I think.


HH: Ken, what's the money situation as we look at seven months away from the mid-terms, party to party?

KM: Well, our numbers look pretty good. I think the latest numbers we have was about $40 million dollars cash on hand. I think the Democrats had about $8 million dollars cash on hand. So we have a big advantage, party to party. But as you know, Democrats have certain advantages. One is the power of trial lawyers and labor unions, which have historically overwhelmingly backed them. And the second is a point you mentioned, which is the power of the mainstream media. And so I think that we need to have more resources. In 2004, we were outspent by $120 million dollars, and we've got to be ready for that potentially to happen again. We've also got to recognize that ultimately, we need a strong grass roots. We need a lot of people listening to shows like this, participating in the blogs. All these are part of what we need to have, which is an alternative network to get the word out.

HH: Now Ken Mehlman, are you worried, because I am. I think it's break the glass and sound the alarm time, that complacency among Republicans threatens the majorities they hold in Congress.

KM: I am. I worry not just about complacency. I worry about something I call learned helplessness sometimes. I think people either think they really can't do anything to make a difference, because they feel very safe. Or they think things are bad, they throw their hands up. That's not the right answer. John Boehner is a fantastic new leader in the House, and will do a great job as the majority leader, continuing the tradition of a great majority leader. We've got great leaders in the Senate, we've got the President. The stakes are enormous. We've got to remind people our nation is now at war. This isn't like even back before, when we had the Cold War, we had an established pattern of dealing with that challenge. We're now at the same moment we were in 1946, when the Iron Curtain came down. And the policies that were established then for a generation decided how Americans would deal with the threat of international Communism. The policies that are made right now, the results of the elections right now, will decide for a generation whether we take the battle to the enemy, whether we use every tool at our disposal to defeat the enemy, whether we make sure that things like Patriot Act and the surveillance of foreign terrorists continue, or whether those things stop, and we go back to a pre-9/11 mindset that says we can win this thing somehow with just law enforcement, and responding after the fact. So all of these issues are on the table now, and it is critically important that every one of your listeners be involved in these campaigns.

HH: Ken Mehlman, always great to talk to you. We will check in often as we approach election day. Of course, we always invite Howard Dean, and he never accepts. Howard, if you're listening, you're welcome to come on early and often.

End of interview.

Wednesday, March 22

A reasonable look at the media coverage of Iraq on CNN's Anderson Cooper tonight.

On the panel was Michael Yon, Michael Ware, Nic Robertson, and Hugh Hewitt.

The transcript is here, or will be shortly.

The audio is here.


The video? Expose The Left's got it.

Christopher Hitchens on the media coverage of Iraq, and whether some on the other side are recognizing what they've wrought.


HH: Happy to have back to begin today's show Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair columnist, author of many books, including a recent bio of Thomas Jefferson. And a great time to talk to you, Christopher Hitchens, as this is the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. There have been a lot of lookbacks, including a couple of which I participated that have focused on the media's role in reporting from Iraq. I'm wondering, generally, do you think the media is doing a good job in conveying both the stakes and the situation on the ground in Iraq?

CH: Not really, I don't. I mean, I can think of some outstanding reporters who've done their very best to cover it. Michael Gordon's new book, for example, I think is very good. And John Burns from the New York Times is outstanding, much better than his newspaper, when he writes there, that's to say. It's just that I've been doing this business for a long time. I've been a journalist for most of my life, and it must be nearly 40 years now, and I know a press herd mentality when I see one. I really do. And sometimes, I approve. I mean, I remember when I was in Bosnia, all of the press was hostile to Milosevic in one way or another, and as it happened, I thought that was the right bias to have. But I did realize it was a bias. And when I've been in the company of people covering Iraq, I notice this...another herd mentality, and it's been there since before the war, and it's placed a bet on quagmire at best.

HH: Yeah, I tried to make an argument last night...

CH: And defeat at worst. And in some ways, it doesn't want its prediction to be falsified. I won't say any more than that. It's not a conspiracy, but it's definitely a mindset.

HH: That's my point. Last night on CNN, I was debating this with Michael Ware from Time Magazine. Do you know him, Christopher Hitchens?

CH: I don't, but I was on CNN with Michael Weiskopf of Time Magazine a few nights ago, who said that the only person capable of unifying Iraq was Saddam Hussein, and I thought good grief. We've come this far to hear that?

HH: That's...this is exactly...I want to play you a little bit. Michael Ware's a very respected war correspondent. He's covered Timor, he's covered all sorts of civil wars. He's an Australian, he's a rugby player. He's tough as nails. But here's an exchange last night I'd like your take on. I'm asking him a question.

HH: Compared to what, Mr. Ware? Compared to Baghdad under Saddam? Are you arguing that Iraqis are worse off today than they were four years ago?

Anderson Cooper: Michael Ware, do you want to respond?

MW: Yeah, well I think if you ask a lot of Iraqis, I think you'll be surprised by what the answer is. A whole lot of them say what? This is democracy? The joke is you call this liberation. And okay, let's look at the context, as you suggest. Let's look at the even bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? Who's winning from this war? Who is benefitting right now? Well, the main winners so far are al Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he's the superstar of international jihad. And Iran...Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government. Its sphere of influence has expanded, and any U.S. diplomat or senior military intelligence commander here will tell you that. So that's the big picture. Where is that being reported?

HH: Christopher Hitchens, does that reflect the mindset that you're talking about?

CH: In part it does, because it's very passive. In other words, you read all the time, people say, you could look at any of your today's newspapers and notice it, and say well, there's a civil war atmosphere, as if that was a criticism of the Bush administration, instead of the people like Zarqawi, who have been announcing for two years now that it's their plan to create a sectarian civil war by destroying the other side's Mosques in an unbelievable piece of facistic blasphemy. People look at you when they read about atrocities is if it's your fault for wanting to get rid of Saddam Hussein. This is simply illogical. It's a non sequitur. And you'll note the slight tone of hysteria and the nervousness, I think, in the over-assertive way that your man was just talking now.

HH: Yes, I did notice that.

CH: By the way, since he mentions Mr. Zarqawi, about whom I know a lot, Mr. Zarqawi was a very senior member of the bin Laden family. He probably had, and in my opinion, probably always did have the ambition to outdo Mr. bin Laden, and to become himself the great sheikh and a great leader. But he was a very important member of that gang in Afghanistan already, long before. And of course, if we hadn't gone to Afghanistan, if we'd left it in the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda, he'd still be there. He wouldn't be in Iraq, so of course your man is correct again in saying we've made him worse. But what...has he thought of the logic of what he's saying? Of course Zarqawi would still be in Afghanistan if we left him alone.

HH: The logic of...

CH: I mean the whole thing is based on this unbelievably masochistic passivity, and which leads to people making elementary logical mistakes they wouldn't otherwise make, because they wouldn't otherwise be blinded by their predjudice.

HH: Last week, when we talked about Yugoslavia and the descent into genocide that Milosevic led, it was because Yugoslavia descended into civil war, and the slaughter became too high, that we had to go in. In Rwanda, the great shame is that in that civil war, the West did not intervene. Now it strikes me as exceedingly odd that on the left, there are voices who wish us to withdraw from Iraq because of the threat of civil war. Does that add up?

CH: Of course, if we had gone into Rwanda when we could have done, when we were warned, and when the United Nations commanders there were begging just for a slight increase in force that would have held off, or at least blunted the original genocidal attack, of course there would have had to be a moment where American soldiers fired on the people trying to commit genocide. It would have happened, and we would have been accused of starting a civil war in Rwanda if that had happened. And you know by who, as well.

HH: Right.

CH: Or we're just really glad...or even though we keep complaining and say oh, we're so sorry we did nothing, secretly we're relieved we didn't ever have to expose ourselves to the messy responsibility. By the way, there's a question from your last...I'm sorry, Michael Ware was it?

HH: Yes.

CH: ...that I didn't answer. I didn't want anyone to think I was ducking it. On the question of Iran's influence in Iraq?

HH: Yes.

CH: There's no doubt about it. I mean, we've known for some time. It was a risk we ran from the beginning, that anything you do to reduce the power of any Iraqi government...this is the reason why we tried to split the difference during the Gulf War between Iran and Iraq. And by the way, the other way around, as when Carter encouraged Saddam to attack Iran, risks the possibility of enhancing the other side. That's almost zero sum, but as against that, which is a serious problem, has taken a very nasty form in Iraq. We can also say that among Iranians, millions of Iranians, there's a great deal of pro-American influence that has been spread, and I don't know a single Iranian who isn't glad that Saddam Hussein was removed, and doesn't think that in the longer run, this movement that's been unleashed in the region will be at the expense of the mullahs, in spite of any short-term gains. I can't promise that that's true, but I can promise that it's a real possibility.

HH: Christopher Hitchens, just objectively stepping back, is Iraq better off today than it was four years ago, given the documents we are now seeing, given what Robert Kaplan called the unbelievably Stalinist nature of Hussein's regime, and the mad as hatter sons who were in line and would never have given it up.

CH: Yes.

HH: What do you think?

CH: Oh, on that decision, there's only one way to argue it. It's not only a great deal better off than it was four years ago, but it's enormously better off than it would have been if it had been left to rot and crash under this mad despotism, which bear in mind, stayed in power by using the tactics of divided rule, and importing jihadists like Zarqawi, and the Fedayeen Saddam, who were going to be the suppressor regime. I mean, if you think it's bad now, just try and imagine what it would have been like if it had been left alone. And on that, I don't think there's any disput at all. And by the way, I've made this point in countless arguments with so-called anti-war people, many of whom are actually pro-war, but on the other side, in public and in print and on television and on radio and in universities. I've never had any of them reply to my point there.

HH: When you say pro-war but on the other side, what do you mean, Christopher Hitchens?

CH: Well, I object to people like Michael Moore for example, or Ramsey Clark being referred to the New York Times as anti-war activists, or anti-war campaigners. They're not anti-war at all. For one thing, they're not pacifists, particularly not Ramsey Clark. For another, they've declared that they believe the beheaders and jihadists and the blowers up of Mosques and mutilators of women and so forth are a liberation force or an insurgency. Michael Moore even said they were the modern equivalent to the American founding fathers. So in that case, fine. George Galloway's the same. Many of them are. They're not really against the war. They're not anti-war, but on the other side in the war for civilization, and they should be called out on it and given their right name.

HH: Do you believe that there are leaders in the Democratic Party in Congress who also belong to that caucus?

CH: No, I can't say that I do think that. I mean, maybe Cynthia McKinney, who is not exactly a leader. She seems sometimes to talk in a sort of manner, but no, I think that we're far from that in this case. I think what you have there is again, a sort of fatalism, the feeling that if you can say a war is unwinnable, you've also said it's wrong. In other words, that you would desert the side you were on if you thought things were going badly. That's a moral degeneracy of a different kind.

HH: And is that so pervasive as to be irreversible, as we've got about 45 seconds left, in the Democratic Party?

CH: Yes, I believe so. I don't need 45 seconds to say that.

HH: Well then, in 30 seconds, if the Democratic Party returns to power in this country, you get thirty seconds now, what happens?

CH: I'll just tell you something a very senior person at a well-known network. I know this sounds a bit odd, but I just can't tell you who he is or which network. I don't have the right to do it. But you'll have to believe me, okay?

HH: Okay.

CH: He called me the other day. This is not a guy who's in any way a conservative, and said you know, we've known each other for a bit. He said you know, I'm beginning to think you must be right, because it really worries me what we're doing, when we are giving the other side the impression that all they need to do is hang on until the end of this administration. Do people know what they're doing when they're doing this? One doesn't have to make any allegation of disloyalty, but just...if it worries him, as it really does, I think it should worry other people, too, and it certainly worries me.

HH: It certainly should. Christopher Hitchens, as always, a pleasure.

End of interview.

The Smart Guys on the keep your hands off my Church case, or Kelo, Part 2.

HH: Now John Eastman, last week we touched on your Long Beach case. I want to take a couple more minutes and lay it out and get Erwin's reaction to it.

JE: Sure. I actually have two Long Beach cases that we're in the middle of. The first was a campaign finance case, and we got a temporary restraining order against an illegal campaign finance ordinace just last week.

HH: Oh, congratulations.

JE: Thanks. The second involves, and it's not in litigation, yet. We're waiting to see whether the city's going to follow up with condemnation that they're now authorized to do. They're condemning a Church because it's in the redevelopment zone, and of course, half of the city is in the redevelopment zone. And it's not that they need the Church land to create an assemblage of a parcel for a big Home Depot, or anything like that. They just want to extend the housing development a couple more units, to take out this Church property. The Church is not blighted, and there's been no demonstration that taking the Church out and bulldozing it down is necessary to fulfill the elimination of blight purposes in the rest of the area that is the ground for bringing the condemnation in the first place. I think it presents a very important challenge to Kelo. When you're dealing with a non-profit organization such as a Church, what does Kelo mean when it said it's permissable to take private property for economic development, when you're dealing with private property that by definition doesn't contribute economically to the base of the city, but has a different kind of contribution.

HH: Erwin, what do you think about this?

EC: Well, I think it's complicated, because when you're dealing with a Church property, then all of a sudden, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act comes in, that says if the government significantly burdens religion with regard to land use decisions, the government has to show a compelling interest. And so I would start with that aspect of it before even getting to the takings clause aspect of it.

HH: John Eastman, are you pleading that?

JE: Well, you know, we certainly will, and I think Erwin's absolutely right. RELUIPA says they've got to show a compelling interest, which is even a higher standard than the taking. The taking says they had to have a finding of necessity, and the RELUIPA standard is they have to have a compelling interest. And I'm just not sure getting a couple of extra lots is compelling.

HH: Erwin, what would your advice be to the City of Long Beach?

EC: Well, I don't know enough facts, but based on what John has said, my advice would be to settle the case.

HH: Yeah, I think they are out of their minds. John Eastman, where can people learn more about this atrocity?

JE: Well, we've got a wonderful web URL we've set up, called, and people can go to that, and it transfers you to the internal Claremont Institute webpage with all the details on the case.

HH: And Erwin, have you been to the NCAA's yet?

EC: No, though I'm sure following closely what's going to happen tomorrow and this weekend.

HH: If you're at Duke, I assume you have to, or they'll run you out of town. Erwin Chemerinsky from Duke University Law School, John Eastman from Chapman University Law School, thank you both.

End of interview.

The Smart Guys deconstruct the 5-3 Court decision today.

HH: That music means the Smart Guys are with us. From Duke University Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky. From Chapman University Law School, John Eastman. Professors both, John from the right, Erwin from the left. And today marks the handing down of the first John Roberts dissent. The Chief Justice dissents. John Eastman, you want to give a quick summary of why?

JE: Well, the case involves 4th Amendment law. The police have long have the ability to conduct a warrantless search if the occupant of the property gave consent. And an earlier case by the Supreme Court had held that that was true, even if the person was only a co-tenant, and the other tenant may not have given consent. But if they were absent, the co-tenant's permission is sufficient. Here you had the wife giving consent, and the husband explicitly not giving consent, and the Court ruled 5-3 that the non-consenting co-tenant can prevail, and the police can't search the house based merely on the consent of the other party. Now Chief Justice Roberts' dissent raises some important question and concerns about the ability of police to conduct searches and intervene in domestic violence matters as a result of this ruling.

HH: And it also, according to Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts, says the end result is a complete lack of practical guidance for police in the field, let alone for the lower courts. Erwin Chemerinsky, your reaction to today's decision?

EC: Well, I think it's a very narrow decision. Justice Souter's majority opinion is clear that he's dealing just with the situation where the objecting person is at the door and says to the police, you're looking for evidence about me, you don't have my permission to come in. Justice Souter says I'm not dealing with the situation where the person's in the house but not at the door, not dealing with the situation where the person is away from the house. And so I think the problem with it is it's too narrow, because it's just focusing on a very unique situation. The police come to the house, two spouses come to the door, one says yes, the other says no. The one in whom the evidence is sought against says no. The Court says you can't go in on those circumstances.

HH: So if the wife has called, and then the husband who's abusing her knocks her out, she's out of luck?

EC: Well, that's not what the Court says. I mean, obviously, if the police come to the door and the wife says my husband just beat me up and the police hear her testimony, the police can arrest him on the basis of that. But what they're saying is here, which had nothing to do with domestic violence, when the police are trying to come to somebody's house to get evidence on that person, that person at the door saying no should prevent there being consent. If the police come to my house and I'm the only one who answers the door, and they say do we have consent to come in, I think all three of us agree I have the ability to say no.

HH: Correct.

EC: Well, the fact that my wife is at the door saying yes, but they're not looking for evidence against her, and they're looking for evidence against me and I say no, that's the no that should count.

HH: John Eastman, the Court is fractured here. Not only did Justice Souter write, but so did John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer, Justice Kennedy siding with them. And we had three dissents as well. What happened to the fabled unanimity under Chief Justice Roberts?

JE: Well, you know, I've been tickled by the pundits talking about how there's a new era, and everything's going to be unanimous all the way to June. These are the early cases coming out that were unanimous. Some of them could have provoked controversy, but they wrote them narrowly enough so they didn't. There's a big dynamic going on at the Court, but I don't think unanimity from this group of justices is going to be the measure. Let me go to what I think it means in practice. It means a second question from police at the door. You've got the husband saying no, you've got the wife saying yes. The police will then say to the wife, is there anything in there that would give us probable cause to search? She'll say yeah, he's got his cocaine pipe on the desk there. Bing. Now all of a sudden, they've got exigent circumstances that gives them probable cause to go in, and the ability to destroy evidence. That means they don't have to stop and go get a warrant from a magistrate and then come back. And so they'll just ask a second question. So at the end of the day, I think we may get where we need to, but it's...well, we'll see. I've got to parse all the opinions to see all the implications.

HH: And Erwin, before I go back and talk to John about his Long Beach case, I just wanted to sound you out on a case I brought up last week, Vermont's campaign finance reform. The three dissenters from the most recent application of Buckley are still there. Two of the majority upholding campaign spending contribution limits are gone from the Court. Do you think there's the potential here to overturn Buckley V. Vallejo?

EC: I think there's a real potential, but probably not this year, in this case. There's no doubt that Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas believe that any restriction on contributions is unconstitutional. We don't know if Roberts and Alito will be with them. We can surmise they might be. If so, that will be five votes that any limit on campaign contributions is unconstitutional. My guess, though, is in the Vermont case, they're going to decide much more narrowly, just saying the Vermont law's unconstitutional under Buckley V. Vallejo, and leave for a future year the dramatic change in American election law that would come from overruling Buckley.

HH: I certainly hope your wrong.

End of transcript. More from them in a bit.

John Mark Reynolds on how to really get your kid prepped for college.

HH: This is a special segment I told you about. Professor John Mark Reynolds is my friend. He's a tremendous blogger, he's a professor of philosophy at Biola University, where he leads a program for elite students. And I found out a couple of weeks ago that he also spends his Summer, along with some of his colleagues from Biola, running the Wheatstone Institute, and I wanted Americans to hear about this. John Mark, good to have you, pal.

JMR: Yeah, it's always good to be here.

HH: Tell people what the Wheatstone Institute is.

JMR: Well, if you are worried about the fact that students who go to college, head off to college are going to get indoctrinated with views that are not open-minded, that don't teach them to think for themselves, that instead propagandize them in a worldview that you might not like, then Wheatstone is a great place. It doesn't teach students answers so much as how to think critically, how to think outside the box, and understand, well, bull when they hear it. So Christians should be able to think better than anyone else. And so since we know the truth, we don't have anything to fear from teaching critical thinking, and so it's an exciting time to teach students how to handle the propagandistic college environment that in a couple of years, juniors and seniors in high school are heading off for.

HH: So now you run three of these a Summer?

JMR: They're running five this Summer.

HH: Wow. And how many students in each one of them?

JMR: They try to hold it down to thirty. It's an absolutely amazing student-teacher ratio. You'll find a mentor who's, generally speaking, an honor student from Biola University, or from the Torrey Honors Institute, though there's no connection between Wheatstone and Biola, I should add, who will model good behavior for your student, but also model good intellectual behavior. It's not just about learning to be good. It's learning to think really critically, and be at the cutting edge of technology in other areas while learning to be a good Christian person.

HH: It sounds like boot camp for kids going to secular university.

JMR: I'll tell you, that's exactly what it is. No one should come to Wheatstone if they think fun is hanging out at the mall and saying whatever. This is a place for students who are serious about changing the world.

HH: And now, what do you do?

JMR: Well, that's a good question. We begin by helping people to think about the status of Christianity in the world. You know, Hugh, we're in a war of ideas against a radical Islamic ideology that's essentially facist in nature, against secularists who can't fight anything or even reproduce themselves, they're so narcissistic and have so embraced a culture of self-indulgence. They have no staying power. And against that, I'm afraid Christians veer between being reactionary, not traditional Christians, just reacting to whatever the culture's giving them and hiding. Or they just give up and become wimpy. My former denomination did that, and has drifted off into absolute irrelevance. And so the goal will first, to paint a vision for students. Then the second thing they do is, we put them into discussion groups, reading some of the hardest and most important books ever written, not all of them by Christians, like Plato's Republic. And then after they're done with that, we wrestle with what the Bible would have to say about that, and look at contemporary film, talk about blogging, talk about things that are going on in the culture in the light of these big ideas we've been looking at.

HH: What's the web address for the Wheatstone Institute, John?

JMR: What's really great is that people can just type in Wheatstone, that's wheat as in the thing you put in bread, and stone, academy. It's dot org., and that will take them right to the site.

HH: Okay, I want to make sure I say that again. Where are the five sites this Summer?

JMR: They are all over Southern California. So if you take a look at the site and you live anywhere close to Southern California, we'll also have students fly in from all over the country. Another thing we'll challenge students with are ropes courses and other things to bring together the physical with the mental.

HH: Do they have to be really smart?

JMR: They don't. No one starts off really smart. All of us are created in the image of God, and we can all learn to think, and we can all learn to be culture changers.

HH: Do the kids who go enjoy it? Or is it like prison?

JMR: No, that's a good question. I can imagine students saying you're sending me where to do what?

HH: Yes.

JMR: 99% of the students who've ever participated, and this is the 6th year of the program, have reported an outstanding time. Many of them come back again and again to experience the program, and a lot of them end up at Biola, because they've become addicted to doing what you do every day on the radio, which is taking no prisoners for good ideas.

HH: John Mark Reynolds, what's it cost? Because people will want to know that.

JMR: It's just under a thousand dollars for a week, and that's all inclusive, but there are scholarships available for people that need them.

HH: All right. And so, walk us through the first day, because again, it's always tough to sell a high school kid. I'm sure these moms and dads that are intrigued by this are hearing this, and their kids are rolling their eyes saying a week of my last Summer before college, and you want me to go do Plato with John Mark Reynolds?

JMR: That's right. Well, we'll start off trying to explain why that's important to them, but then we'll take them to an art museum like the Getty, and show them what the culture has turned into. They'll also, on those first couple of days, experience working on a ropes course, and thinking about fear and the edge of a challenge, and how that integrates with what we're reading. They'll also meet other really bright students who are going through the same struggle, and they'll sit in groups of three or four people, and get down to brass tacks. It's the sort of thing that can change your life, Hugh.

HH: Is it co-ed?

JMR: It is.

HH: And does...tell me the ideal student for this, John Mark Reynolds, because a lot of parents probably driving around thinking about this right now, and they're intriguted by the Wheatstone Academy. But who is it for?

JMR: The ideal student isn't just a good student. They're somebody who's a leader. They're somebody who wants to think outside the box. They might do theater, they might be involved in a sport, and they also make pretty decent grades. They want to do the right thing, but they're sick of easy answers. They want to be challenged, and think outside the box.

HH: John Mark Reynolds, it sounds a little bit like the Summer session at the U.S. Naval Academy.

JMR: Well, that's the goal. Really, when we invented this, we said is there a way to strip out all the bull, bluntly, all the touchy-feely stuff, let's try to entertain you, and while having a good time, having fun, get real, get serious, realize we're at war in several different ways, culturally, and prepare shock troops for victory.

HH: Is that correct?

JMR: That's correct.

HH: John Mark Reynolds, always a pleasure. I think I'm going to replay this on Friday in a different hour, so other people get to hear that. Professor John Mark Reynolds of Biola University, one of the founders and leaders of I saw this brochure. I thought I'd tell America about it. That's why I love having a radio show.

End of interview.

Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes on what the Saddam docs should be telling us.

HH: Joined now by the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, who absolutely owns the story about connections between al Qaeda and Saddam. And in the new Weekly Standard issue, has an article on the Philippines connection. It's a cover story, actually. It's now available online. Stephen Hayes, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

SH: Hugh, good to be with you.

HH: Last night, as I was in the green room waiting for CNN to go on opposite Michael Ware, I read through this three or four times. I finally got it, but it's a complicated story, Stephen Hayes. I'd like you to take your time and set it up for people to understand, who have not read your article.

SH: It is a complicated story. I did my best to simplify it. I don't always succeed at tough things. The story was derived from three translations of sets of documents that I was given by a U.S. government official. One set of documents deals with the operations of Iraqi intelligence, and the Iraqi diplomatic corps in the Philippines, primarily in 2001. The second set of documents deals with the Iraqi intelligence service's outreach to Saudi opposition groups, including bin Laden. And the third document was, a single document, was a second or third-hand report from an Iraqi intelligence source in Afghanistan, regarding the various connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, or the allegations of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.

HH: Now I think what's important also is to describe the Philippine/al Qaeda branch, and its connection to Osama at the beginning of the money transfer.

SH: Yeah, Abu Sayyaf has what I think most people would regard as very strong links to al Qaeda. It was funded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the mid to late 1990's. There are, I think, credible reports that members of the Abu Sayyaf received training both in the Philippines and back in Afghanistan in al Qaeda-sponsored camps. So the ties between Abu Sayyaf and al Qaeda are of something I don't think anybody would dispute.

HH: Right. And so, pick up the story then.

SH: Well, the Philippine documents are interesting. Basically, what it is, is it's a series of correspondence between the Iraqi Embassy in Manila, including the members of the intelligence corps there, and the Iraqi intelligence headquarters back in Baghdad, and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs back in Baghdad. And what you have, essentially, is letters back and forth that form the core of a debate. And the debate is taking place from March, 2001, through June, 2001. And the debate, essentially, is this. Should the Iraqi intelligence service use a charity that is sponsored by Mohamar Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, in order to reinforce its connections or support of Abu Sayyaf. And the argument there would be by using this third party, essentially a cut-out, the Iraqis could then further distance themselves from this terrorist group, but at the same time, support it. And there was a robust debate back and forth. There was one document that I saw where somebody makes an argument for doing this, says that there would be intelligence value in doing this. There are apparently documents going back the other way, saying well, this isn't such a good idea. Unfortunately, we don't have full translations of those documents, just summaries. But anyway, the debate goes back and forth. Should we do this? Shouldn't we do this? And ultimately, the Iraqis apparently decide that they're not going to further engage themselves in funding and supporting Abu Sayyaf. But what I think was very interesting, in a June 6th, 2001, letter from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila, back to Baghdad, he describes the scene after one of Abu Sayyaf's kidnappings...your listeners may remember some Americans were kidnapped along with 17 other civilians from a resort in the Philippines.

HH: The husband and wife missionaries, the Burnham's, yeah.

SH: Exactly. And this was essentially the report from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila, back to Baghdad on the status of the kidnappings, what's going on in the Philippines with respect to the kidnappings. And he goes through and gives sort of just a cursory review, I've met with these people, this is what's in the newspapers, this is what the Philippine government is saying. And in the course of doing that, he says, sort of mysteriously, we have been supporting, essentially...I'm paraphrasing here...we have been supporting the kidnappers until now, and we no longer have any contact with them, which just struck me as a very interesting revelation sort of buried in this mountain of correspondence.

HH: Yes, it is. Stephen Hayes, with two minutes left, I want to jump to a piece that you quote at the end. The Foreign Affairs piece that gives us a glimpse inside the Fedayeen Saddam, which Christopher Hitchens just pointed out, was being set up to take an evil, despotic regime even deeper into the abyss.

SH: Yeah, it's really an interesting passage. There's, I think, a brilliant Foreign Affairs piece that walks through sort of what Saddam was thinking and doing in the years before the U.S. invasion, March, 2003. Most of the report deals with Saddam and weapons of mass destruction, what his scientists were telling him, what he thought, etc. But there's an interesting paragraph in the middle of the piece that talks about Saddam Fedayeen taking part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations, and planning for attacks througout Europe and the Middle East. They cite one document in May of 1999, where Uday Hussein ordered preperations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings," for the centers and trader symbols in London, Iran, and the self-ruled areas, where they mean Kurdistan. But the most interesting sentence in the entire piece, I think, and it's a lengthy piece, is the next sentence. Preperations for "blessed July," a regime-directed wave of martyrdom operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion. That is pregnant with lots of interesting questions...

HH: Yeah.

SH: And certainly, we need to know more about what "blessed July," was, and just how far along those operations were, and what the targets in the West were.

HH: And how it was going to be operational. We've got about a minute, Stephen Hayes. What's coming out from the document trove next?

SH: Well, there's a document that I highlighted in the middle of this piece that you referred to, that is an internal Iraqi intelligence memo, which describes outreach from the Iraqi intelligence service to four Saudi opposition groups. One of those groups, the Iraqis refer to as the reform and advice committee, and it's headed by Osama bin Laden. And essentially, in a nutshell, Saddam Hussein agrees to a request from bin Laden to rebroadcast anti-Saudi regime propaganda videos. And they sort of defer a request from bin Laden to make the relationship operational.

HH: We're going to need a new updated edition of The Connection, Stephen Hayes. You've got too much new stuff. It's got to go into the book. Thank you much. We'll check back, Stephen Hayes.

End of interview.

Tuesday, March 21

More revelations from the Saddam documents.

HH: Dan Darling is a counter-terrorism consultant for the Manhattan Institute's Center For Policing Terrorism. He is also a contributor to, and today at the Weekly Standard, he has an article, Republic of Fear, focusing on some of the newly released documents from Saddam's regime. Dan Darling, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

DD: Thank you for having me.

HH: Let's start, Dan, with the documents that discussed the captured Kuwaitis, because to me, this is a hugely significant find, and your article's very important. Explain what these released documents tell us about the Kuwaitis.

DD: Well, during the Iraqi conquest of Kuwait back during the first Gulf War, a number of Kuwaiti prisoners were taken back to Iraq. Iraq admitted in 1996 that they had taken 126 prisoners, but they said that those were no longer in Iraqi custody. Now the reason these documents are significant, is this shows that in 2003, before the war, Iraq was still holding 448 Kuwaiti prisoners, and apparently had arranged for them to be placed as sort of human shields around sensitive targets, so that when the U.S. bombed those locations, it would create the greater impression of civilian casualties.

HH: That's my first question, because as I read through the Republic of Fear today, I couldn't quite get a date on the document from Qusay Hussein that directed that the 448 Kuwaitis be used as human shields. Was that document actually dated?

DD: I believe it was, at least from 2003. It goes back into the Iraqi war planning stages.

HH: Okay.

DD: So we can reasonably place it just from the internal evidence at being around late 2002, early 2003

HH: Now the significance of this is obviously that the Iraqis were lying through their teeth concerning one issue. So that just beyond a reasonable doubt, they had Kuwaitis, they had proffered many times there were no Kuwaitis, and they had Kuwaitis, and they were going to use them inhumanely as human shields, correct?

DD: Yes, and this is after giving numerous international assurances that no such Kuwaitis were being held.

HH: Now Dan Darling, why didn't the United States government put out this document, for example, in the last three years?

DD: Well, there've been hints that this existed, generally from private people. I found one story in the Christian Science Monitor, indicated that perhaps the Kuwaitis were alive as of the early 2000's, and still in Iraqi custody. I would say probably because they may not have even known this document existed. We know that many of these documents were not seriously went over by the U.S. government, some of this for lack of resources. And that's one of the reasons why the Pentagon is releasing them now.

HH: And how did this one come to your attention, Dan Darling?

DD: Well, this particular document was posted on the website of the foreign military studies section up at Fort Leavenworth, which is where I'm from. And as soon as it was posted up there, I checked it regularly, and I saw it, and I recognized the significance of the document, and so, the story kind of wrote itself from that point.

HH: I'm curious. Has the Kuwaiti media picked this up yet?

DD: I honestly have been very busy today, so I haven't been able to see the Kuwaiti reaction. I would imagine that especially the families of the individuals who were claimed to have been imprisoned by Iraq would be very interested in knowing who was being held, were they killed during the war, are they still alive?

HH: Wow. That is huge. Second, we go to the area of chemical weapons. You have a document, linked again at, Dan Darling is my guest from the Manhattan Institute, counter-terrorism consultant for the Center For Policing Terrorism, and it discusses in details, plans made up to draw, to attack the Kurdish bases, Kurdish guerilla bases. Were those the Ansar al-Assam bases? Or were they the good Kurds, the Kurds that were our allies?

DD: Peshmerga?

HH: Yeah.

DD: Well, this document itself occurs back in 1987, I believe, back during the conduct of the Iraq-Iran War. And basically, what happened is these would not be Ansar al-Islam. Ansar al-Islam wasn't even around back then. It was the two major Kurdish factions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which today are staunch allies of the United States.

HH: So in 1987, we see the planning to deploy special equipment, that is obviously a term for chemical weapons, Dan Darling?

DD: Yes, it's actually clarified that they're referring to serin mustard gas, and several other nasty toxins.

HH: Yeah, and ricin.

DD: That's right.

HH: And so the question is, does this have any bearing on the post-Iraq war, Gulf War, disarmament? Can we draw anything other from the fact that it confirms that we knew he was an evil, chemical weapons using tyrant in the 80's?

DD: Well, this in and of itself confirms first of all, that anybody who had any serious denial the Iraqi regime was gassing Kurds in the 1980's, really doesn't have much of a leg to stand on anymore. As far as the broader issue of WMD's, there's a lot of contradictory evidence floating around in that regard. I mean, NBC News broke just the other day that Naji Sabri had claimed that there were no nuclear or biological weapons, but there were large stockpiles of chemical weapons. There have been various Saddam tapes...but on the other hand, Charles Duelfer in the Iraq Survey Group looked all around the country and...very seriously looking for WMD's after the war, and they couldn't locate them.

HH: Now Dan Darling, though, these documents that are pouring out, that the Iraq Survey Group looked at, they never touched these documents. What's this do to the credibility of the Duelfer report, and the work of the Iraq Survey Group?

DD: Well, obviously that depends...this is one of the issues with the documents, is that many of these have not been yet authenticated. In the case of these documents, it's pretty clear that they're genuine. But if you found something, say, dating from the early 2000's, you know, regarding chemical weapons, you would need to get that authenticated, and that could very easily alter the whole public perception there.

HH: But I'm thinking that given that the Iraq Survey Group did not bother to translate these documents...I mean, any police investigation that left aside 48,000 boxes of evidence because it was inconvenient would simply not be persuasive, would it?

DD: At the very least, it would be called into serious question. And then further investigation would be required before you reach a conclusion.

HH: How long it this process going to go on, Dan Darling? How much time are you devoting to the release of new documents as they come forward?

DD: Oh, God. There's been...I believe there's about 2 million documents, and so even assuming we're going at a rate of, say, 15 or 25 a day, it still takes an astronomical amount of time, especially with the limited resources that we ourselves have at this stage in order to get some kind of a thorough picture of what's going on. And once we have the documents translated, the issue is authenticating them. It's particularly the ones that contain some of the more explosive information.

HH: Dan Darling, keep digging, keep translating, keep authenticating. It's important stuff. I appreciate your spending time with us. The article's Republic of Fear. It's at I'm certain it's making a splash in the Kuwaiti media. It should be making a splash in ours.

End of interview.

Marc Holtzman, another very viable candidate to be the next Governor of Colorado.

HH: You may recall a few weeks back I was in Colorado, Colorado Springs, in fact, talking to a lot of that red state's political elite about the move by deep pocketed blue Democrats to try and take that state into the blue column. One that I missed and wanted to catch up with is Marc Holtzman. Marc was in Davos at that time. Marc Holtzman's a candidate for Governor in Colorado, and I'm pleased to welcome him to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Marc, welcome. Good to have you here.

MH: Hugh, I'm a huge fan of yours, and it's wonderful to be on your show this evening. Thank you.

HH: I was just reading your bio, I've known about your work at the University of Denver as a venture capitalist, but I didn't realized you're a Pennsylvanian.

MH: Yes, I grew up in the coal country near Wilksbury, Pennsylvania.

HH: And now, that doesn't make you a Steelers fan, does it?

MH: Well, not over the Broncos.

HH: Okay, good. Just checking, because then we'd have to end the interview right now. The Broncos are bad enough. I have too many Bronco friends, but that's okay. Marc, tell people about your career in venture capitalism, so when we move to talk about some reconstruction issues in Iraq, people understand you know what you're talking about when it comes to business.

MH: Sure. Well, after working for Ronald Reagan as a young man, I went over to Eastern Europe and Russia in 1989, as an entrepreneur. You know, they have a saying over there, Hugh, that in the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And that's how I kind of felt when I got started over there. But I worked hard, I persuaded my best friend to leave Solomon Brothers at the time, and over a number of years, we built the premiere boutique investment banking firm in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, and Moscow, even in Al Mati, Kazakhstan. And we intermediated over a billion and a half dollars of capital markets transactions. We took public the first private company from all of Eastern Europe since the Second World War to go to the international equity market. And it was a very satisfying and rewarding experience to be able to do financial transactions that in some cases, had we not done, they wouldn't have happened.

HH: Now I want to use that experience in the post-Soviet Eastern Europe bloc countries, and Russia itself, and ask you to take a look at what's going on around the world right now, particularly in Iraq. And do you see a future for capitalism in places that have been so badly destroyed by Stalinist and neo-Stalinist governments?

MH: Well, I do, but I also believe strongly that in most cases, political reform precedes economic reform. And I think that's a huge difference. When you look at the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, especially the Central European countries like Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, those are countries that were dominated by Communism for a generation, for forty years. And there were still people around when we started our business that remembered what it used to be like. And culture does matter. And even in Russia, where over 75 years...the culture of a country had been decapitated, there were still people that knew and appreciated the capitalist system, the free market model. My concern is that while it will certainly work in the Middle East, that it is very important that first, the political reforms precede the economic market reforms.

HH: Now when you set up the stock exchange in Warsaw, for example, you helped establish the Warsaw stock exchange. Had the Communists given up? Had they thrown in the towel? Or were they still actively trying to interfere with the growth of capitalism?

MH: Oh, there's no question that in those early years, there were people in the bureaucracy in Hungary and Poland that were definitely obstructionists, that were not happy about things. We used to say that there kind of a whole class of technicrat that kept the bust of Lenin in their secret closet at night, and did the dance. I mean, there's no question. But those people were pretty much weeded out by the mid-1990's. And unfortunately, Russia's a different matter. Russia was often perceived by people as a less-developed country. I used to say that that was wrong, that it was a mis-developed country, though they had a very high literacy rate, math scores even surpassed those in the United States. So I felt that by the most part, by the late 90's, there had been pretty much a house cleaning.

HH: All right. I'm talking with Marc Holtzman, running for Governor in the state of Colorado. His website, by the way,, and that's spelled Let's switch over to some Rocky Mountain politics for a second, Marc Holtzman. You've got some deep pocketed blue, blue activists in your state, and they are spending like drunken sailors. How does anyone win against that kind of tidal wave of money, when you don't have contribution limits?

MH: Well, I believe that you work very hard to articulate a positive message. I have three things that I'm talking about. I'm talking about how horrified I am by the in-flow of illegal immigration into Colorado, the fact that with 400,000 people living illegally in a state of just a little more than 4 million people, it's a tremendous economic burden on our working families. And as Governor, I have a plan to address it, to deal with it, to end benefits beyond what are federally mandated, and to get tough on making sure that employers know and understand their responsibilities and obligations under the law. I'm talking about how I'm going to erect safeguards to protect eminent domain from not being used ever in a private purpose. And I'm talking about how I'm going to try to roll back the effects of this $4 billion dollar tax increase, Referendum C, that was on the ballot last year, how bad it is for working families, how misrepresented the case for the tax was, and how as Governor, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that we get as much of that money back to working families as we can.

HH: Now let's go back to illegal immigration. Fred Barnes, a frequent guest on the program, Marc Holtzman, as you've obviously heard if you've been listening for a few years, and Fred last week went on a mini-rant about the Republican nativist element who are going to drive Latinos from our party's ranks forever by their inappropriate emphasis on this issue. How do you respond to Fred?

MH: You see, I love Fred. Fred's been a friend of mine for a long time, but I think he's dead wrong on this issue, Hugh. In fact, I will tell you that my strongest support on this issue is coming from Latino-Americans that resent the fact that people are trying to get ahead of them in the line, that they don't want to go through the same process that many of these people went through to legally and properly become American citizens. And for that reason, I'm opposed to amnesty. And I will tell you, this issue is being framed simply by me on what is fair and what is right and not right. We are a nation of laws, not a government of people. And no one among us has the right to selectively decide which of those laws we're going to enforce on any particular day.

HH: Now would you be opposed to the mixture of increased border security and some kind of guest worker program that seems to be what the Senate is looking at?

MH: We definitely need to improve border security. As far as a guest worker program, I would consider such a program, but I believe that for someone to qualify, they should first have to go back to their country of citizenship, and legally and properly apply to come here, because anything short of that is just another way of saying that we're granting amnesty. And every time, Hugh, that we've done this in the past, we've just resulted in a bigger problem.

HH: Now you've also obviously seen the stories about deep splits in the Republican Party, especially state and local leaders fleeing from George W. Bush. What's your attitude about the President?

MH: Well, I love the President, and I support him on so many issues. I wish the President would do more to enforce the existing laws of our land, and to protect our borders. And again, I believe that this administration is selectively deciding which of our border and immigration laws on any one day they're going to decide to enforce. We know that after 9/11, 2001, those borders of this country, North and South, were shut and sealed tight. No one dared cross. We have the capability through science to know the difference of the heartbeat of a human being and an animal within ten miles. We only lack the political will, and I want to see this President show that kind of strength.


HH: Marc Holtzman, I mentioned earlier the money advantage Democrats have in the Colorado elections coming up, and they just wiped out Republicans in 2004. Pete Coors lost to Ken Salazar. Boy, do we regret that. What's the ground game look like in Colorado right now? Is there any way to get the energy back?

MH: Well, Hugh, first of all, we are so looking forward to your upcoming visit at the Arapahoe County Lincoln Day dinner in Colorado.

HH: I am, too. I'm looking forward to that, too.

MH: Yeah, let me suggest something else. I believe that in 2004, that Republicans lost not so much because the Democrats beat us on the front that you described, but I believe that the leadership of our party in Colorado became detached from the core soul and Reagan roots of our party. We became so obsessed with holding onto power and winning elections, that we lost sight of what we stood for. We did a terrible job at articulating a positive and optimistic and conservative vision for Colorado. And the result was that in a year when President Bush won by 7 percentage points in Colorado in '04, we lost the Senate race, we lost the state Congressional seat in Western Colorado. And we lost the House and the Senate, first time both chambers combined in 42 years. One of the reasons I'm running is because I want to return our party to its core values and basic principles. And I'm articulating just such a message, and I am the anti-establishment candidate in this race. but we've got a lot of support that we're building among the grass roots of our party. And I am convinced that my message is not only a winning message for my campaign, but it's going to bring in a Republican House and Senate, and a sweep across the entire team. And we're not going to stop at anything less than total victory.

HH: Now obviously, Republicans have been running Colorado for a long time. And they've had Wayne Allard in the Senate for a long time. Until Salazar came along, they had both seats. They've had Governor Bill Owens in the state house for almost eight years now. Does a party run through a cycle where it just runs out of gas?

MH: No, I don't believe so, but in the case of our party, some of the leaders of our party lost their way. Governor Bill Owens, for whom I have respect and admiration, I served in his cabinet, the Governor last year sided with the Democratic majorites in the House and Senate to promote the largest tax increase, a referendum, in Colorado history, a $4 billion dollar tax increase. When that happens, it sends confusing messages to the electorate, to our base, and to others. I believe that the way we win elections is to stay true to the core values of who we are and what we stand for.

HH: Now obviously, Colorado's had two major education stories. We've only got a couple of minutes, but I've got to talk about Jay Bennish and Ward Churchill.

MH: Yes.

HH: You were the president of a university, and you know what it's like to get rid of a tenured person. It's impossible. But what is it that went wrong in those two instances?

MH: Well first of all, I reformed tenure at the University of Denver. If you are a recipient of one of the chairs at our school of law today, you have to voluntarily relinquish tenure before you can accept the benefit of that chair. Ward Churchill would have never happened at my university, because we simply wouldn't have allowed it, we wouldn't have permitted it. That man should have been fired and dismissed, because he plagiarized, because he misrepresented his credentials. It had nothing to do with academic freedom. That was a thin veil behind which he tried to hide. Jay Bennish, absolutely disgraceful what he did, and that's all too typical. And that's why I support vouchers, I support school choice, and Hugh, I am behind an amendment which is going to be on the Colorado ballot this year, which if passed, will require that at least $.65 cents out of every education dollar, as opposed to 57% today in Colorado, go into the classroom. but I support school choice for home schooling, for use at Parochial and religiously affiliated institutions, and through competition, we have to shake up the system, and that's what I want to do as Governor.

HH: Marriage is on the ballot, is it not, Marc Holtzman?

MH: Yes, it is, and I'm proud to say that I'm a strong supporter of the institution of marriage, and that fact that marriage is defined as an institution between a man and a woman.

HH: And so when does that come before the voters of Colorado? June?

MH: It'll be on the ballot this November.

HH: November. So it's going to be the same time as the general election?

MH: Yes.

HH: And that's going to be a brass-knuckled fight, right?

MH: I think it's going to be a hard fight. The left is mobilizing, the kind of secular anti-God establishment is certainly digging its heels in. But we're going to beat them on this, because they are wrong and the majority of Coloradans agree with me.

HH: Quick question. What's it cost to run for Governor in Colorado, both primary and general?

MH: Probably going to cost about three to four million dollars in a primary, and at least that again in the general election.

HH: Well, people can go and read more at Marc Holtzman, great to talk to you, make your acquaintance. Look forward to seeing you at the Arapahoe County Republican dinner when I'm in town in April.

End of interview.

Michael Yon on how the mainstream media covers Iraq.

HH: As I told you at the beginning of the hour, I am on CNN tonight, Anderson Cooper, opposite Michael Ware in Baghdad, and another CNN correspondent also based in Baghdad, whose name is Nic Robertson, arguing whether or not the coverage of the war in Iraq has been useful. And I had already in my talking points rehearsed, because they asked me, who does a good job? And I've got six names, and at the top of that list is my guest, Michael Yon. In the States right now, but going back soon. Michael, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MY: Thank you, Hugh, and thank you for that compliment.

HH: Well, I'll be mentioning your name on CNN tonight. They really ought to have you on CNN, not me, but I want to make sure people know where to read your stuff. Michael, what do you think of the American mainstream media's coverage of the Iraq war?

MY: For the most part, it's doing an incredibly poor job. I see some exceptions, Tony Castaneda at the AP does a good job. But for the most part, they do...Rich Opal (?), New York Times, does a good job. But for the most part, they just focus on...I mean, the mainstream media just focuses on the flames and the bullets. They focus on the terrorism. They don't tell us that the Kurdish areas are a complete success. They're becoming economically viable, they're making a lot of progress, they're sending their children, including their girls, to school. They love us there in the Kurdish areas, and they don't tell us that Mosul is a success now. I mean, Mosul was the only thing on the news last year when I was there. I'm sure you remember that.

HH: Yup.

MY: But that battle has been won by the Iraqis and the American forces, and you don't see it in the news anymore. Very rarely, anyway.

HH: What about in the Southern part? Basra and other areas around the waterway. What's your impression down there, Michael Yon?

MY: It's not as good as the Kurdish areas. That's a certainty, and it's restive. But it's not don't see it as much on the news as you see the flames up in Baghdad. And Baghdad's easy to cover. It's a big city, about 6 million people. You know, the Green Zone is there, so when there's a car bomb, it's easy to roll out and your stringers can get the footage, and you can immediately get it up. It's cheap, it's flames, and it sells.

HH: Now what about, for example, Jack Kelly was just on, himself retired Marine, Special Forces, background very much like yours, commenting that the dog that doesn't bite never gets covered. For example, the march to Karbala today, huge, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Shiia, no attack. And he notes that will not make the news tonight.

MY: That's well said, the dog that doesn't bit doesn't get covered. You know, I didn't actually know about that march today, either. And clearly, because it's not been covered, because I watch the news coming from Iraq with great interest.

HH: Do you think that the country is on the brink of civil war?

MY: Well, I've been saying all 2005 that it really is in civil war already. It's just not boiling. It's simmering. But you know, it's been in civil war for decades. Saddam Hussein killed untold thousands of his people. They're out there in mass graves. I would venture to guess, I do not know this, but I would venture to guess that it was worse back then than it is now. He gassed his own people, he went to war with Iran, he went to war with Kuwait, and destroyed Kuwait, destroyed the oil fields. Certainly, there's a lot of violence going on there now, and it might be getting worse, but it's been at civil war for decades.

HH: And what doesn't get covered? What do you say about the war that you really wish mainstream media would pay attention to?

MY: I interviewed a captain yesterday that I knew in Mosul. He was badly injured in a car bomb. He's fine now, he's back on duty. And he told me about an Iraqi man, an older man, he said he was very clean and stood well, and his English was very good, and he said please don't go. You're doing a good job. Please don't go. And this was back when Mosul was full-on combat. A car bomb went off about a block away, right then, and this soldier, Captain Shaw is his name, a great soldier, hit the ground, and the two soldiers with him hit the ground, and the Iraqi man did not hit the ground, and he actually helped Captain Shaw get back up. The Iraqi man just stood there, and he said you'll be fine, you'll be fine. Please don't leave.

HH: Now Michael Yon, when are you going back?

MY: Well, I almost went back this week. It could be as soon as next week, but I'm ready, my combat gear is right in front of me, actually.

HH: Have you raised enough funds?

MY: Yes, I have.

HH: You can always use a little bit more, can't you?

MY: I can, and thank you, by the way. Your listeners bought me night-vision gear.

HH: Michael, we've got to get you back over there. You and Roggio...and I admire the work of Ricks and a few other people that go out with the troops, but I don't think we're getting the story from people like Michael Ware. Do you know Michael Ware?

MY: I talk with him on the phone occasionally. I haven't spoken with him in a while.

HH: Good reporter? Biased reporter? Ideological? I just don't know his work, other than what I read, and it drips with acid.

MY: Well, he gets out there. He definitely gets out there with the troops. I mean, he spent a lot of time in combat.

HH: Yeah, he was in Afghanistan as well, covered a lot of the early Afghan war as well. But do you sense there as with some of the Vietnam correspondents of long ago, a desire for defeat?

MY: Well, I sense that with some of the reporters, definitely. I mean, I'm not going to name any names...

HH: All right.

MY: One from CNN, in particular, when I speak with this individual, and this individual's not on the camera, the words coming from this individual do drip with acid, as you say.

HH: You know, that's what I think is going on here pretty much, is an ideological tinge to a lot of this war reporting. Michael Yon, when you do go back, which part of the country are you headed to? Are you going to embed with another unit like the Infantry division you were with a year ago?

MY: Well, I've already contacted Sergeant Major Mellinger, who's the top enlisted man in the theater, meaning he is the top enlisted man in Iraq. And he goes everywhere. I've been out with him twice before, and I call him the University of Iraq, because he seems to know everything that's going on. So I'd like to spend a couple of weeks with him, getting in-briefed again about the new state of the country, because he speaks very bluntly. And then after that, I'll go to probably where the action is. I tend to go to where our troops are seeing the most combat, but then I pop out sometimes, and go to the peaceful areas. But I want to know how our troops are doing.

HH: I hope you will pick up a phone, and in fact, I hope you have Command Sergeant Mellinger give me a call. I'd love to brief him on the air.

MY: I'll tell you, the guy's the University of Iraq. If you can get him on the phone, he would be a great interview.

HH: Michael Yon, God speed. I'm going to send people to Is the tip jar still there?

MY: It sure is.

HH: Well, I think people should go and throw in $10, $20, $50, whatever. It's important to get the good news that we need from Iraq, and to keep you there. So God speed. We'll talk to you on the other side when you get over there, Michael.

MY: Thank you, Hugh.

End of interview.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly on the media coverage of Iraq.

HH: I'm joined now by Jack Kelly. He is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, also in the Toledo Blade, and he blogs at Jack, good to have you back on.

JK: It's great to be on with you, Hugh.

HH: Now Jack, this is a coincidence, and obviously a little meme is working through the media. Tonight, I'm on CNN opposite Michael Ware from Baghdad, another CNN correspondent from Baghdad, and Anderson Cooper to talk about mainstream media's reporting from Iraq, what is good about it, what is bad about it. What's your take on it, Jack? You wrote about this in a column that's at Real Clear Politics this very day.

JK: Well, the column was about my friend, Bill Roggio's, appearance on a CNN show on Saturday. And he gave the media a D-plus, and I think he was generous.

HH: And why is that?

JK: Well, the reporting shows first a monumental ignorance of military affairs. As Bill pointed out, there's commentary larded in with the reporting, events are looked at in isolation, you don't get reporting of events in context. To give you an illustration, there were two news stories day that made news. One was this terrorist attack on a prison, an Iraqi prison in Muqdadiyah.

HH: Yup.

JK: It got a lot of attention.

HH: Yup.

JK: The more significant thing was the dog that didn't bark, that the Shiia pilgrimage into Karbala, on this Shiia holiday, passed peacefully, that there were no terrorist assault, there was no sign of civil war. That got very little attention.

HH: That's a annual and very massive march, is it not?

JK: It is indeed. There are hundreds of thousands of people that participate. And they walk hundreds of miles in many instances. The Northeast portion of Sadr City largely empties out to march down to Karbala, which is about 80 miles away.

HH: Whoa. That's a big walk.

JK: It is indeed.

HH: Okay. You're right, though. It's also a huge target.

JK: It is a huge target, and there was a lot of security for it, and there was one incident yesterday where several pilgrims were shot by drive-by shooting, like a gangland shooting in L.A. But as far as I know, that was it.

HH: Now Jack Kelly, how do you respond? Michael Ware will be opposite me, and he has sort of got a patent on the 'unless you live here, you can't accuse us of bad reporting.'

JK: Well, you can rely on those who actually go out and do something. Michael Ware probably rarely leaves his hotel, because most journalists, understandably, because if you wander around by yourself, there's a white, American-ish looking person, bad things can happen to you. But because...apparently because they're afraid of ideological taint, they won't embed with U.S. forces, which has its dangers, but is relatively safe.

HH: Is that in fact going on? Do you think MSM is shunning embeds because they don't want the ideological taint of having traveled with the American military?

JK: I suspect that...I mean, it is true that they are shunning embeds. There are very, very few embeds, a couple of dozen, I think, at the current time, which is really an abomination, when you consider what's going on. Why, I suppose, depends on the individual person in the news organization. But the only good reason I can come up with is they fear the taint. For instance, when Bill was on the CNN show, On The Line, Saturday night, it was implied by a CNN correspondent that he was biased because he was a former soldier. Now consider the breathtaking implications of that.

HH: Yup.

JK: We don't consider a doctor who was a laywer, like Fox News' Megyn Kendall, to be biased covering the courts, simply because she knows something about the subject she's covering.

HH: Right.

JK: We don't consider someone like Sanjay Gupta, who's a medical doctor who works for CNN to be biased in reporting on medicine because he knows something about the subject. But most news organizations are quite comfortable...not only comfortable, insistent upon having our wars covered by people who aren't clear on from which end of the rifle the round comes.

HH: (laughing) Jack Kelly, you're yourself a veteran. Marine Corps, right?

JK: Marine Corps and Army Special Forces.

HH: Oh, I'd forgotten the Army Special Forces stuff. And so, of the journalists who you've watched who are mainstream, whose work do you admire?

JK: Actually, not very many. There's a reporter for the Washington Post, Tom Ricks.

HH: Tom Ricks, yeah. He's very good.

JK: ...who is usually very good and on top of his game, has been to Iraq a few times, and who's quite accurate. There aren't very many others. There are two reporters for the New York Times, Dexter Philkins and John Burns. John Burns is a hero. He was in Iraq before the invasion, long-time correspondent with background there. And in fact, CNN people ratted him out, because he was getting news outside of the established Saddamite sources.

HH: I'm talking, by the way, with Jack Kelly of Irish Pennants. He's a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. You can read all of his stuff at His column today that we're discussing at Jack Kelly, do you see any hope for mainstream media in covering this war? Or do they want a replay of Vietnam? Is that what's going on here?

JK: Well, for many, I think that's true. But a large portion of this is merely incompetence. It can be attributed to it. It isn't all bias. A lot of it is just utter incompetence.

HH: And so, if you had to quantify that which is bias and that which is incompetence, what numbers do you put on it?

JK: I would put about 40-40 with a 20% overlap.

HH: Okay. Now the fact of the matter is, will be know when peace has broken out in Iraq.

JK: Not directly, but there actually are some hints, and one of them is now all this talk about civil war, because even the densest of journalists in Baghdad understand that the insurgents can't win now. You know, last year, the meme was the insurgents are winning. They're ahead, they're going to triumph. Now, with Sunni tribesmen hunting down al Qaeda wherever they can find them, no person with an IQ above a carrot can make that claim. So now the meme is we're in a civil war, or on the verge of a civil war, and all of this is going to be hopeless for a different reason. But it's not the reason that the insurgents are winning. No one can say that anymore.

HH: Jack Kelly, as always, wonderfully illuminating and right spot on. for all of Jack Kelly's work. His column today, Ignorance pervasive In Reporting from Iraq, available at

End of interview.

Bill Clinton to the NFL?

Could we be so lucky as to have Bill Clinton take over the National Football League after Paul Tagliabue retires as commissioner? Apparently, there are media reports that the former disgraced President has been mentioned repeatedly to fill the shoes of Tagliabue.

Anyone that knows me realizes that I'm no fan of either of the Clintons. In fact, Inauguration Day, 2001 was one of the happiest days of my life. But I'd actually campaign for Clinton to get this job, if possible. The material that would present itself would be too rich to pass up. Consider the possibilities, if you will.

Just this past season, several members of the Minnesota Vikings were caught up in a sex/orgy scandal aboard a boat on Lake Minnetonka. Could you imagine a Commissioner Clinton being faced with discharging...oops, bad word...dispensing appropriate punishment with a straight face? It's not entirely clear what went on during the three-hour pleasure cruise this last year, but I'd bet a cigar wasn't used inappropriately.

The league is full of players who are addicted to excess, so why not have a commissioner who himself is addicted to excess? When attending games around the league, will Mr. Clinton be more focused on the players or the cheerleaders?

One thing about a Commissioner Clinton would be certain. Unlike Tagliabue, who maintained just enough of a public face as necessary to do his job, Clinton's mug will be front and center during his potential tenure. In fact, the entire league might be renamed the CNFL, because of his fondness for the spotlight.

Now if only we can get Hillary to let him...

Monday, March 20

Must-die TV Reporter.

Far be it for a humble blogger to suggest to the creative team how to do what they do, because '24' is simply the best show on television, and they clearly do not need my help. But if I may be indulged, might I suggest that for my own personal satisfaction, there be a character brought in that would remind viewers of a television columnist for the New York Times, someone a lot like Kate Aurthur. And then may her character be submitted to torture that would make Saddam Hussein shudder.

Let's go back to Sunday, shall we? The day started pleasant enough. A little sleep-in time, a little breakfast, checking in with to monitor Hugh's progress in the Los Angeles Marathon, and going to Church. Not a bad sermon, I might add. Upon my return home, I picked up the Sunday Orange County Register. Living in Southern California, where the weather is perfect most of the time, the one price we apparently have to pay is finding alternatives to the Los Angeles Times. The Register isn't a particularly good paper, but it usually does the job, and has a decent crossword.

I leafed through the paper, and got to the Arts and Entertainment section. Five pages in, and I cannot explain the shock, disappointment, and outrage that began to take over.

For years, Monday nights had been reserved as either softball night, or some other project that usually spilled over from the weekend. I hadn't caught the '24' bug yet, because the opportunity to catch it live wasn't really possible in my schedule. Once TiVo and the first four seasons appeared on DVD, however, I had no excuse anymore, and so the catch-up process began earlier this year. I started watching Season 1, and got hooked by about the second hour. Season 2 and 3 soon followed, and Season 4 is now rotating its way through the DVD player. Up to now, I've been able to dodge any mention of what happens during Season 5, the current season, because everyone that talks about it, whether it's Rush, Hugh, or any interview I've seen or heard, there's always a warning if there's going to be any plot disclosure. I realize it's silly, but I was truly enjoying the ride, not knowing what was coming next, episode by episode, just letting the show play out.

Now back to Black Sunday, the day that Kate Aurthur became the new bane of my existence. Don't worry, people. I'm not going to stoop to her level. I'm not going to reveal anything about the show, or the fate of its characters. That would be wrong. Wouldn't be prudent. Not going to do it.

Page five in the Sunday Register starts with three large photos, taking up half the page, with two of them revealing what just happened on 24 within the last few weeks. No warning, no consideration for the millions of people that may or may not have seen it live when it happened. Then the story below by Ms. Aurthur, reprinted from the New York Times, not only divulges without any warning whatsoever the fate of '24' characters, but much of the plot twists of several other popular dramas, in a piece entitled, Must-Die TV.

I realize I should have turned away. I shouldn't have read the piece. But once you saw the picture, the genie was out of the bottle. There was no going home again. Innocence was lost, and so I read the story, feeling rather violated once I finished.

I have been stewing over this for a day and a half, wondering what in the world this demented woman was thinking when she wrote this. The point of her story was to show that TV dramas are getting increasingly competitive by killing off some of their main characters. That's fine, if you do the story in generalities. But there is a line there, and she crossed it.

If there is a movie out there that you might want to see, you don't want some movie critic giving away the ending. Almost all the time, that unwritten rule is adhered to, even by critics that don't like the film. There are exceptions, of course, with Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby being the movie in recent memory where the plot line was disclosed, because some critics decided the movie trailers were misleading the public into thinking it was a boxing movie, when the movie clearly had a different agenda. See, Kate? I didn't spoil the ending.

There was easily a way for Ms. Aurthur to write her story, and even talk to some of the writers and producers of the different series she mentions in her piece, without going down the road of names and modes of death. That was just plain mean. For someone that is supposedly plugged into the TV scene more than the average person, she ought to have realized the cult following some of these shows have, and taken a real hard look before deciding to ruin the surprise factor for millions of people who actually have a life and can't spend all of their waking hours in front of the television.

There is a reason why VCR's gave way to TiVo, and DVD's have exploded in sales over the last few years. Technology is starting to catch up with the average American consumer that is working, along with most every other capable American, if you look at recent unemployment statistics, at a pace that is keeping the economy booming along. And it allows for busy people to capture what they want to watch, and gives them the opportunity to watch it at their convenience.

In the days before the VCR, when you either caught the show when it happened or you missed out until reruns, Ms. Aurthur could have gotten away with this stunt. Not now. There is simply too many alternative ways for people today to have a chance to see the show for the first time, and not have the New York Times' TV town crier spoil everything.

Imagine, if you will, the children's magazine, Highlights. You know which magazine I'm talking about...the one that you always see in the dentist's office waiting room. Imagine your child flipping through the magazine, and then all of a sudden asking you why Santa Claus looks like somebody's daddy in that picture? (By the way, if you are under the age of 7 and are reading this blog, don't worry, wee one. I wasn't really serious about Santa. I was just making an example and showing what a bad, bad thing that mean lady from the Times did.)

Kate Aurthur should issue an apology for being completely insensitive to '24' fans, and tone-deaf to what the repercussions of revealing plot twists, even ones that have already aired, could do to otherwise sane and rational people. She should also be censured by the United States Senate, since she has released more damaging information, and caused more harm than the President has with the NSA wiretapping program.

I also want to point the finger of blame to the editors of the Orange County Register for reprinting the piece, although that's like scolding a small child for coloring outside the lines. Some things like common sense elude them.

Posted at 11:55PM PST

John Fund with the latest on the Taliban Yale.


HH: With John Fund of the Wall Street Journal's John, another update on the Yale Taliban, former deputy foreign minister of the Taliban there at Yale on scholarship. But let's begin with the assumption that some people don't know anything about this. Set up the story please.

JF: Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi was the chief propagandist and spokesman for the Taliban, which was the murderous regime that harbored the terrorists that attacked us at 9/11, harbored Osama bin Laden. We destroyed their government after 9/11, but they retreated into the hills where they're still killing American soldiers. They killed four of them just last week. And Yale, for some reason, even though we'll still fighting them, has decided to let a largely unrepentant senior official of the Taliban in as a student, and he's attending classes today at Yale.

HH: Now John Fund, in today's piece, you wrote that you had a memorable 90 minute meeting with this man in the Spring of 2001, months before the attack on the World Trade Center, which if the Taliban did not know about it, they certainly allowed to happen by virtue of the comfort they extended to the enemy, al Qaeda, and which in most instances, people believe they did know was coming. Tell me about that 90 minutes with this man.

JF: Well, actually, al Qaeda and the Taliban were one and the same thing. I just spoke with the AP bureau chief in Pakistan yesterday, and she said the Taliban Defense Ministry was controlled completely by Osama bin Laden. The meeting with the ambassador Hashemi was bizarre. I mean, he was defending the destruction of these 1,500 year old archaeological treasures, the Buddhist statutes, he was defending the whipping of women. It was astonishing. And of course, he did it in a very cultured and a very sophisticated way. And I have to tell you, at the end of the 90 minute meeting, Hugh, I felt as if I was looking into, directly looking into the face of evil.

HH: And this is what the background...a very fine piece today on the commonalties between totalitarian liars, and the non-excuse that Yale can have for embedding them. But there is some Yale history here. Explain Yale's attitude towards past facists.

JF: Well, in the 1970's, it was discovered that the senior lecturer in the Russian Language department had been a Nazi propagandist at a low level during World War II.

HH: They pursued him.

JF: His name was Vladimir Sokolov. He was pilloried.

HH: Yup.

JF: There were demonstrations. There were outcries. People threatened to resign from the faculty if he didn't go. He was finally bullied into resigning, he was later deported. Well, that was then. Flash forward thirty years, 2006, the Taliban is the functional equivalent of the Nazis in our era. These were people...Do you know, Sebastian Junger, the author of The Perfect Storm?

HH: Yup.

JF: He has a piece in this month's Vanity Fair, in which he talks about current Taliban atrocities. They skin people alive and leave them out in the sun to die.

HH: And this is...again, the Yalie that we're talking about, their former deputy foreign minister. Now John Fund, you wrote today that nearly a dozen former and current officials have contacted you privately about they're concerns. By this, do you mean former senior officials at Yale?

JF: Officials, faculty members, also separately, some people at the State Department who are upset that for some reason, the State Department let this guy in. Look, this fellow is not currently allied with any terrorists. He hasn't been with the Taliban for five years. I'm not saying that he is now. But he is unrepentant, he does not really believe that they did anything that wrong. In fact, just the other day, he referred to Israel as America's al Qaeda, aimed as a dagger at the Arab world. This is clearly someone of unreconstructed views, and someone...look, I think Yale should just quietly decide that next year, he should, shall we say, study abroad.

HH: But in fact, John, the Taliban in their midst has occasioned just a good stonewall from Yale, one of the more effectively executed stonewalls that I've seen in many recent years. Talk about the non-response of Yale University.

JF: Well, you know, Yale is famous because just last week, it lost, unanimously, a Supreme Court case in which is was trying to bar military recruiters from full access to its law school. And the irony of keeping out ROTC, keeping out military recruiters while letting in the Taliban has not been lost on some people. But Yale has responded to this with a public relations strategy that I call their version of don't ask, don't tell. They refuse to answer questions, they refuse to comment, they refuse to defend themselves. They issued a 144 word statement, which is a masterpiece of gobbledygook.

HH: Also, the pseudo-liberal New Haven Advocate, which I assume is an alternative weekly along the lines of most weeklies?

JF: Like the L.A. Weekly, right.

HH: Right. And so, typically you would expect them to be on the side of the people who are distressed here, the victims of the Taliban, the women who...

JF: The homosexuals, the gays...

HH: Yeah.

JF: I mean, the women.

HH: But here they are, standing with the Taliban.

JF: It's astonishing. What you have here is people automatically assuming that something is on a right-left continuum, that because I happen to be a conservative and I'm outraged about this, because I met this fellow, that somehow this is a right wing issue, and therefore it's illegitimate. Hugh, there are some issues that aren't right or left. Some issues are just up or down, as Ronald Reagan said.

HH: Yeah, human rights are typically in that category. Now Amy Aaland...

JF: I was a member of Amnesty International. It's a great group.

HH: Exactly. I mean, human rights...well, they do some stupid things occasionally, but generally speaking, the campaigns for the people in prison around the world are good campaigns. Amy Aaland is the executive director of Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, where Mr. Rahmatullah takes his meals?

JF: Well, Islamic dietary constraints are very similar to those of orthodox Jews, so therefore, he gets the best food that is traditional for him there.

HH: Well, I understand why it's great to have ongoing Israeli-Arab relations, and ongoing Jewish-Muslim dialogue. But the Taliban was among the fiercest of the Islamists, were they not?

JF: They were so brutal, and so vicious, they would literally yank the fingernails out of women who were wearing nail polish. And that's why a bunch of Yale alumns have started a campaign to mail in red press-on fingernails to Yale as a protest for having let this guy in. And what is the response of Yale? One of their officials in the law school sent an anonymous e-mail accusing them of being "retarded."

HH: We talked about that last week in the update.

JF: And he was suspended.

HH: Mr. Rahmatullah recently called Israel an American al Qaeda. In what circumstance did he do that, John Fund?

JF: An essay last year which was posted on the foundation that is subsidizing him, the International Education Foundation. Mysterious things have happened since this story has created controversy, Hugh. Not only has that essay been wiped off the website, although I kept a copy of it, but today, the Yale Daily News reported that the three members of that foundation, who were subsidizing Rahmatullah Hashemi's education, have yanked their funding from him. One of them told someone well, "We didn't know everything about him." So if he's approved for next Fall at Yale, the only way he can stay is if Yale gives him financial aid.

HH: The relatives of U.S. soldiers...I'm quoting from your piece today, killed in action in Afghanistan are appalled. "It's not like the Taliban ever signed a peace treaty," Natalie Healey, the mother of a Navy SEAL killed by a Taliban rocket last year told me. "They're still killing Americans." John Fund, what's the end game here? Are you going to continue to cover this story?

JF: Absolutely, and in fact, this Thursday, by happenstance, the 27 year old woman who is a member of the Afghan Parliament, is going to be speaking at Yale. It looks as if she is going to repeat the comments that she made to me in my article today at, in which she said Mr. Rahmatullah Hashemi knew about the crimes of the Taliban. He was not too young, and he should be held responsible. And better that he would be in front of a court of law than being a student at Yale.

HH: You know, John Fund, after the Demjanjuk decades...we were chasing John Demjanjuk when I was in the Department of Justice. Recently, he just finally...did he die? Or did he finally get deported...something like that. 25 years, we never let them go. We never gave up on the Nazis, and here we are asking a Taliban to matriculate at Yale. I'm astonished.

JF: Well, I think the pressure has gotten to Yale. I think they are going to have to respond eventually. And look, I don't wish ill for this fellow, other than the fact that I think he should study somewhere else.

HH: I actually think he ought to be obliged to answer some questions if he's going to be in the United States, about where his loyalties lie, and what he thinks about the regime which he formally represented with such enthusiasm. John Fund, always a pleasure. for the latest on Sayed and de Man at Yale.

End of interview.

Sunday, March 19

Josh McDowell on how to respond to the DaVinci Code.

HH: I'm joined now by perhaps one of the most easily recognized names in all of Christian evangelical circles, Josh McDowell has been doing what he's been doing for more than thirty years, he's authored more than 77 books. He is an itinerant, and an always-influential speaker on behalf of the Gospel. But now, he's taken on the DaVinci challenge, and talking about the DaVinci Code. Josh McDowell, welcome. It's good to talk to you.

JM: Hey, it's good to finally be with you.

HH: Yeah, you and I have never met, though we've probably crossed paths a hundred times within one day of each other.

JM: I can tell stories about you, your listeners would believe.

HH: Then, that' me move on quickly, though. But Josh, I just learned today looking over your bio at, you have the unfortunate distinction of having been born in Michigan.

JM: You know, I wanted to be close to my mother, so that's where I was born.

HH: But I'm a Buckeye, and so you've grown up with the tradition of losing football, and I hope you've overcome that. Now you're down in Texas, so you might...

JM: Well you know, our quarterback got his varsity letter, and he couldn't read it.

HH: That's exactly what I was referring to. Now Josh, why a book about the DaVinci Code?

JM: Well, for this reason. The DaVinci Code is fiction. Maybe 4%, maximum 4% truth. Like he says, Professor Langdon went to Paris. Well, it's true that Paris exists. But it's done in a marvelous way, and I commend Dan Brown. Every novelist would love to take a little tiny bit of truth and spin it into imagination, where people cannot tell where the truth leaves off and imagination begins. Well, what has happened is people...I mean, this is unbelievable...have taken it as truth. I've had twelve students in universities say they were assigned to read the book to see how corrupt Christianity was for a religion. In Phoenix, in one of the big high schools, the English department assigned it to read, to see how religion lies. And it's fiction.

HH: These universities in which this book is being assigned as some kind of guide to faith, how in the world do they defend that choice? Because it's just a novel.

JM: That's right. I have no idea. It's like back when the...remember the movie "The Hawaiians?"

HH: No.

JM: It was the story about how horrible Protestant missionaries treated the natives?

HH: Okay, sure. Okay.

JM: Well, it was all just fiction. It was just a story. It had nothing to do with reality. So I'm lecturing at Memphis State University, in three history classes. And it was two sessions right in a row. In the first session, I pointed out the movie was out then, and how it was fiction, but people quoted it and everything. In the second session, the chairman of the History department walked in, knew I was a Christian, and he interrupts me and says, well, have you seen the Hawaiian movie? Well, you see, just because you have a PhD or in a university, doesn't mean you're any smarter or more rational or objective, than the people that mow my lawn.

HH: So now Josh McDowell, the movie is coming out on May 19th. You've written a new book entitled...what's the actual title of it?

JM: The DaVinci Code: A Quest For Answers.

HH: That's it. The DaVinci Code: A Quest For Answers. It's available at Now do you encourage people to see the movie?

JM: No, not at all. I don't even encourage them to read the book. Now I think the movie's probably going to be the biggest blockbuster of the Summer by far, but no, I don't encourage people to go. But I definitely encourage people to be aware of the issues, because everyone's going to be talking about it. Issues like...yesterday, a woman said to me, did you know that Jesus was married? I said no, because he wasn't. And I try to tell people that you know, you should be ready to answer issues that come up in life, and these are some of the issues that are going to come up, and that's why I did the book.

HH: All right. Now in your book, what's the first question that you pose an answer for people?

JM: I don't really pose and answer a question. I did the book in dialogue between two university students, a graduate student, and a professor who had just walked out of the movie.

HH: Okay.

JM: And they bring up the 8-10 different issues throughout the whole dialogue, the drama. But probably one of the biggest issues, the first thing that jumps out, it says that all the events, the artwork, the secret societies and all, are all historical and accurate. And the first thing they say is well, in the Louvre, that pyramid right outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, where a lot of the drama takes place, that there's 666 panes of glass. And in the DaVinci Code book, it says and this represents Satan, you know, and all. Well, there's 673 panes of glass in the pyramid. It says the Madonna on the Rocks painting is five foot tall on canvas. It's six and a half feet tall and wood. But those are just little things. But like the Mona Lisa, people...they travel all over to see the Mona Lisa, to see secret things that he painted into it, using the name and all. And here's the issue. Leonardo never, ever, ever, ever, ever referred to the painting as Mona Lisa. It wasn't even known as that name, anything. He always referred to it as the woman in the painting. And then his biographer, Vasari, in 1550, wrote in his biography of Leonardo, referred to the woman as Lisa, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, and often referred to the painting as La Gioconda, which it is now in France and in Italy. And then in the 1900's, it was named Mona Lisa. And they're saying that he was passing on this secret in the name that Mona means the god Amman, and Lisa means the god Isis, and it was diguised as a secret to pass on that there's not only a god, there's a goddess, etc.

HH: You know, I was...

JM: It wasn't even until the 1900's, and Mona simply means madam, and Lisa's the name of the model that posed for the picture.

HH: Right. I was over at the today, where you've contributed and I have contributed. And there is an Art History professor by the name of Lisa DeBoer from Westmont College, a wonderful school up in Santa Barbara, California, and she was writing about the Last Supper, and how in his etchings, Leonardo DaVinci made sure that everyone knew who was what in the painting, and he made sure that John was marked as John.

JM: Right.

HH: I didn't know that until today. It's kind of dispositive of the whole book's idiocy.

JM: Yeah.

HH: But I guess my question, which I want to...we'll expand on it after the break...

JM: Yeah, because I have all those, the etchings that he did before, when he placed them in the Supper, he named them all. And you can get one of the oldest prints, and you put a mirror to it, and the names'll be backwards above the heads. He did that a lot.

HH: And so, when we come back, I want to ask you what the most important couple of factoids are for anyone who wants to puncture the idea of historicity. I think that's the most important thing someone does, and then how to use the opportunity that's presented by that.


HH: Josh McDowell, okay. Someone comes up to you and says it's not fiction. Dan Brown refuses to call it fiction. You've got to have the killer ap right out of the box. What do you bring back?

JM: Well, what you bring back is, since I'm a Christian, I always rejoice in the truth. If anyone ever shows what I am teaching is wrong, I'm the first one to rejoice in it, because as a Christian, I'm supposed to rejoice in truth. So when it comes to the DaVinci Code, I don't attack the book or Dan Brown. All I do is point out in the conspiracy, the historical fallacies, and incorrect...and inaccuracies and all. And when you do that, I believe ultimately, the truth will win out.

HH: All right.

JM: For example, it says that Constantine coalated the Bible, that until Constantine put the bible together, whether the Old Testament, the New Testament, there was no definitive version whatsoever, and that they voted on it at the Council of Nicaea, of what books to include in the Bible, in 325AD. Well, first of all, that is crazy. Historically, anyone would know that. Diocletian, the previous emperor, gave his famous edict that every listen, definitive Bible in the empire should be destoyed. And they went from house to house and everything, Churches destroying Bibles. Well, how do you come just a few years later with Constantine, and say well, there's never been a definitive Bible?

HH: Right. Well put.

JM: And Diocletian did. But here's the other issue. With the Old Testament, you have about 200, 185-200BC, you have the Septuagint, which is the Greek title given to the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. And that became the definitive Bible what? 1,700 years before Leonardo, 3, 4, 500 years before Constantine. And you had the definitive Bible. But here's what's interesting. In researching out the Council of Nicaea in 325, they did 20 verdicts, where they voted on things, whatever. And not one of them had anything to do with the Bible, what should be in the Bible, or anything. So that's just pure fabrication.

HH: Now Dan, the Wall Street Journal, page W-4, has a lengthy story on DaVinci damage control. This is today's paper, How Sony Hopes To Deflect Book's Religious Critics, Calling In The Scholars. And it details how you and I and a number of people have participated in these two Sony websites, the, and the But it also says the makers of the film don't really want anyone to think of it as other than a story. It's just a novel, and just a story, and they make stuff up. But Dan Brown really doesn't have that attitude, does he, Josh McDowell?

JM: No. With Matt Lauer, Matt asked him, and I got all the transcripts of it, everything, said how much of the story and the details and the claims in there are true? And literally, he said absolutely all of it is accurate and historical.

HH: You see, that's what's so astonishing.

JM: And then with Gibson, which is what? ABC?

HH: It's ABC. You're right, Josh.

JM: ABC, asking if you had this book as fictional. If you had to write it over as a non-fiction book, what would you change? And I've got the transcript, and Dan Brown said none of it.

HH: Okay. You see, that's where the challenge comes.

JM: So...but you know, here again, he doesn't really believe that. He's selling books.

HH: Let's take a quick call before the break. Kevin in Atlanta, you're on with Josh McDowell. Go ahead, Kevin. Be quick, please.

Kevin: Josh, I guess I'm just surprised much energy is wasted debunking the work of fiction. I know you've talked about this before, but it's a work of fiction. And I waste 128 pages...we don't go and put 128 pages on the work of Star Wars, and the inaccuracies of that. So I'm just baffled why people of faith find this, a work of fiction, so offensive?

HH: Josh, you've got about thirty seconds to the break.

JM: We don't find it offensive. I'm amazed you don't see the point, one woman came to me, said my son, 17 years old, has been brought up in Christian schools his whole life, a good Church, everything. He read the book, has totally walked away from his faith, and saying nothing in Christianity is true.

HH: You see, yeah, that's the challenge.

JM: Well, see, when you have fiction that can cause that, you address the issue.


HH: Josh McDowell, is this selling well? Are people taking this? Do they see the challenge out there?

JM: Yes, they are. And the reason is, so many people are asking questions, like this caller who called in, said why all the to-do with this? Well, very simple. People are asking questions, and as Christians, we're supposed to be ready to answer the question, not ignore them, whatever. And when you say to a person reading the book, well don't you see it's just fiction, all that says to that person is I'm dumb or stupid, because they don't see it that way. And this is why I wrote this book in the easy reading style, and documented to help believers, when they're asked questions, to intelligently share the answers that will affect the other person's life. We owe that to people to do it.

HH: All right. Let's go to the phones. Elena, San Diego. Hi, Elena, you're on with Josh McDowell.

Elena: Hi, Hugh. Hi, Josh.

JM: Hi, Elena.

Elena: I'm calling because I can relate to that mother whose son walked away from the faith after reading the book. And first, let me preface that by saying that I read the DaVinci Code, and I thought it was one of the worse-written books I've ever read. I thought it was terrible as a novel. But I was...I came back to the Catholic Church after many, many years of being away, and I was in that Church for oh, about five years, when I was in a bookstore, and I came across Holy Blood, Holy Grail. And I read it. I was captivated. I couldn't...could this be true? It was so convincing.

JM: Yup.

Elena: And I lost my faith, and I haven't gotten it back. I think I need your book.

HH: That's interesting. All right, Elena. That's...well, Josh, there's your market.

JM: That's the same story that I'm hearing on the DaVinci Code.

HH: And Elena...

JM: If that lady could give you her address, I'd love to send her a couple of books as a gift.

HH: All right, Elena. Stay on hold, and we'll get that from you and we'll do that. Let's go to Minneapolis, talk with Janet. Hello, Janet. You're on with Josh McDowell and me, Hugh Hewitt.

Janet: Hi, Hugh and Josh. Boy, I'm starting to change my mind here as I hear these callers, but I was going to challenge you as a Christian, shouldn't I see the movie so that I have credibility when I'm discussing it with somebody who's actually believing, thinking that it's true?

JM: That is your decision.

Janet: Okay.

JM: And it might be a right decision. But publicly, I just can't go public and just say to people, well, just go see the movie.

Janet: Right, right.

HH: I can. I believe...

JM: You sound like a very intelligent person...

Janet: Thank you.

JM: ...who really seeks the truth. And so you know, that's your decision.

Janet: Okay.

JM: But if my wife and I were there, we'd probably buy you popcorn.

HH: Yeah, my theory is I can't talk about on the air, I won't be able to persuade anyone. I read the book, I thought it was amusing. I didn't think it was a bad thriller. It wasn't very good. It wasn't anything like a LaCarre novel of the old days, but I am very disturbed that Dan Brown is trying to con people into thinking it's the real deal. Janet, thank you. Tommy, Houston, you're on with Josh McDowell. Go ahead, Tommy.

Tommy: Hugh, Josh, thanks a lot for what you do. Your relentless pursuit of the truth is just something that lifts a lot of us up out here.

JM: Well, thank you.

Tommy: What Dan Brown has done is really cowardly, because it's a big lie. And what I've seen over the years, most big lies have a whole lot of truth, and they're infected with just enough of a lie to make them very dangerous, and very believable by people who are not grounded in what they believe about the most important aspects of our life.

JM: You know, I like what you just said, because for me, this is a beautiful, wonderful opportunity to be positive, winsome, and wholesome, and to be able to share my faith and share the truth with those who I believe have truly inquiring minds, and can meet their needs.

HH: All right. Thank you much, Tommy. Let's go to David in Glendale, California. Go ahead, David. You're on with Josh McDowell and me, Hugh Hewitt.

David: Yeah, two things. First, the 150 year traffic jam. That's a long time on the road. He implies that the Knights Templar, who were driven out of France, went up to Rosslyn Castle, or went up to Scotland and built Rosslyn Castle. Okay, the persecution of Philip the Fair happened on Friday, October 13, 1307. They broke ground for Rosslyn Castle in 1462. That's a long time on the road. Second, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the main author of the book that was the source for that, a French author, he wrote a subsequent book debunking what he said, because the guy who did it, his two friends, wanted to make it a bit of theater by making him the heir of King Dabobert. But when they started the heir of Jesus and everything, they got scared. He wrote another book debunking it, and Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln better shut. You know, they're suing Dan Brown. Well...

HH: All right, David. What do you think of that, Josh. More stuff, Josh McDowell, that just plays into your premise that this is an easily exposed fraud.

JM: It is. But the key is this. The people that are reading it and coming out with questions, I believe for the most part, they're sincere. And what the book does, it reinforces your skepticism. What I am committed to is reinforcing your beliefs,...

HH: Well put.

JM: ...and taking them to proper beliefs.

HH: One more call from Richard in Seattle. Richard, you're on with Josh McDowell.

Richard: Yeah, Hugh and Josh. Just read this morning, Blythe Brown is apparently the one that did all the research on this...

JM: The wife did.

Richard: And she's his wife, about 15 years his senior, according to the article, and very much into feminist religious...I can't remember the name of it, Gaia, goddess worship, or something like that. A very interesting kind of commentary.

HH: Let me focus that in a question with 30 seconds left, Josh McDowell. Do you think there's anti-Christian hostility in the book?

JM: I think maybe. Now I'm speaking blindly here, that maybe he's had a real bitter experience with the Catholic Church, and it's now coming out in his writings. But I'm not speaking authoritatively on that. But he's trying to sell books, and he's really selling books.

HH: 40 million. And The DaVinci Code: A Quest For Answers is Josh McDowell's book. You can order it from Josh,, or Josh McDowell, a pleasure talking with you, friend.

End of interview.

Saturday, March 18

The Beltway Boys

HH: Joined now by the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, Morton Kondracke of Roll Call. Together, they are the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys. You can watch them tomorrow night at 6PM, 3PM in the West, and again, it repeats later in the evening and on Sunday. Gentlemen, let's start with the most important news this week, the NCAA Tournament. I want to get your pick to go all the way, Fred Barnes.

FB: Well, once I saw that UCONN was becoming a prohibitive favorite, I went with Duke.

HH: Very good, and Morton, with you?

MK: Duke. Duke.

HH: No, you're both wrong. It's Ohio State, and they triumphed easily in the first round today, and will...

MK: Yeah, right.

HH: Ohio State all the way. Let's start, gentlemen, I was on Neil Cavuto's, your colleague at Fox, show earlier today to do the obligatory "No, Bush isn't dead, the presidency isn't over." I think this story is out of control, writing the President's obituary at this time, Fred Barnes. You know the President better than most. You wrote the book, Rebel In Chief. What's your assessment of the state of his political troubles?

FB: Well, he's got some now. When his polls get down in the 30's, Republicans start to attack him. You know, he had Norm Coleman of Minnesota talking as if he knew everything that was going on in the White House's staff, and there needed to be a shakeup, and they had a tin ear at the White House, and all that stuff. But to some extent, actually, to the greatest extent, this is just the second term doldrums. And I certainly believe that when a few things stop happening, like hurricanes, the President...and he's made some mistakes as well. Obviously, Harriet Miers was one. But I think with this new series of speeches on Iraq...Iraq is a problem, because all people see is explosions, and they don't see the fact that a new government may be formed soon, and the Iraqi army is really building into a battle-ready and sizeable force. So I think the President is going to have a recovery, beginning right about now.

HH: Morton Kondracke, I made the point this is a semi-annual story, and has been since 2001, as the President plays politics like he does cards. You don't have to win every pot, you've just got to win the game. What's your assessment?

MK: Yeah, I agree with that. I don't think it's over yet. I mean, presidents do become lame ducks often, and he is clearly in trouble. You know, his polls, they bounced up to the lofty figure of 43% approval at one point, and now they've descended again. So he's got to turn this thing around, and I think talk doesn't do it anymore, frankly. I mean, I don't think speeches, I don't think people are listening to him. I think it's events that are going to have to do it, and if the events don't happen, then he's going to keep descending.

HH: But if in fact there is a new government in Iraq, and it does become a government of all parties, that's the real deal.

MK: Absolutely. If that happens, and if the Iraqi security forces go into battle and actually fight somebody, which they don't seem to have done this week. You know, this offensive seems to be like a practice exercise. But you know, they start winning battles, and they start governing their country, and they control their militias and all that, if, if, if, if, then he's good. He's good. He's bet his presidency on the outcome in Iraq. If the outcome in Iraq is good, he's golden.

HH: Fred Barnes, there is one cliff that we're getting awfully close to. It's immigration reform. Ted Kennedy appears to have the momentum in the Judiciary Committee, Bill Frist trying to block it. What's the President's role in this? And how much danger does the Republican Party have with this issue?

FB: They have a lot of danger, but it doesn't come from President Bush or Teddy Kennedy or John McCain. It comes from Republicans that will so overdo border security as to make Hispanic-Americans feel unwelcome in the United States. I mean, you start building a 2,000 mile wall, or even a 700 mile wall there, you're telling Hispanics in America who have increasingly become Republican voters that we don't want any more of your people here. You know, we're not welcoming them anymore, and I think that's a mistake. We do need more border enforcement, but we also need to find a way for immigrants to come into this country legally, and become American citizens. And we have to do something about those that are already here.

HH: Morton Kondracke?

MK: Look, I don't think that Frist actually opposes what McCain and Kennedy are doing.

FB: No, not at all.

MK: I think...I mean, he clearly wants to have the reputation of being a border security guy, but on the other hand, what he did this week in saying that he was going to produce this bill, is to get the Senate Judiciary Committee off the dime. They were...Specter seemed to be slow-walking the thing, and the minute that Frist said look, something's going to be on the floor the week after next, that got Specter going, and they're going to produce a bill that's a comprehensive bill.

HH: Gentlemen, last night, I was at a fundraiser for Bill Morrow, who is seeking one of 18 Republicans, he's a state senator seeking the seat vacated by Duke Cunningham. Much of the conversation about illegal immigration, and I've got to say, both of you guys sound like beltway guys, when out here in the land of the borders, there is no other issue besides border security. It's not nativist, it's just an impossible security problem, Fred Barnes.

FB: It is a security problem, but look. Think about it politically, and that's one of the ways I think about it, although I think we are a country that has always welcomed immigrants, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that. But think of it this way. Books were written about the emerging Democratic majority. And they were based on a high percentage of Hispanic voters being Democrats, because it's the biggest growing, fastest growing voting bloc in America. Bush has changed that. Now they've turned and become Republicans. He got 45% of the vote. If Republicans blow that, if it dips back to 20 or 15% of Hispanics voting for Republicans, Republicans will no longer be the majority party in America. I'm for border enforcement, but I think you have to really be careful about you rhetoric, and what you do. Hispanics are for border enforcement, but a lot of the language that's used, and some of the things that are proposed, just make them feel unwelcome, and they won't be Republicans.

HH: All right. Let's turn to the Russ Feingold fiasco, the Feingold folly, Morton Kondracke. Never has a gift been more widely welcomed as Russ Feingold's gift to the Republicans. Bill Frist said on this show two days ago, he guarantees it will come to the floor, and there will be a vote and a debate on it. Good thing for Republicans?

MK: Yes, I think so. I mean, this is the Democrats contriving to help the Republicans whenever they get themselves into trouble. And it was Jack Murtha, is was Nancy Pelosi, and then it was Harry Reid accusing his colleagues of being corrupt and having to apologize for it. You know, it's one thing after another. And I think the more the Republicans warn their base that you stay away from the polls, and you let the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, and you're going to have an impeached president. Do you want that?

HH: And Fred Barnes, do you agree with that analysis?

FB: I do agree. If the Democrats...I mean, you know who's behind all this? You know who makes Harry Reid say those things, and Russ Feingold, and all of them? It's Karl Rove.

HH: (laughing)

MK: (laughing)

HH: You know, has generated 200,000 signatures this week in favor of Feingold. I compared them to the old Soviet commissars who threatened to shoot anyone who retreated before the Germans, because they won't let the Democrats do anything except go over the cliff, Fred Barnes. Will they let up? Will they let them do anything remotely acceptable to the middle of America?

FB: Of course not. They're killing the Democratic Party. You see all...Nina Easton of the Boston Globe wrote a great story about how all these bloggers and everything are being hired by Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, even the centrist ones are all moving to the left, and the lefty ones like John Edwards and John Kerry and so on, they're moving further to the left.

HH: It is really remarkable.

FB: They're getting into territory where a Democrat cannot possibly win.

HH: Coming up after this segment, gentlemen, I'm interviewing Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the subject, sort of, Morton Kondracke, of a story this week, because a Chuck Schumer staffer is going to go...the feds are going to go get her for breaking into this credit records. Does he have a chance, in your estimate, in Maryland?

MK: Yeah, he does. He definitely does. You know, it's a hard road. It's a very Democratic state. I think Steele said something really stupid when he compared stem cell research to murder, or something like that. I mean, that's just off the charts. But I think he's got a prayer. I wouldn't say much more than that.

HH: Now Fred Barnes, we've got Lynn Swann, Ken Blackwell, Michael Steele, three high-profile African-Americans, who are likely to be their nominees, and all three, two governors and one Senate race, what's that say about the future of the Republican Party, and the African-American vote?

FB: Well, it says that blacks are much more included than ever before. You know, it used to be, Hugh, as you know, that blacks could get a nomination for an unwinnable seat.

HH: Right.

FB: But now, all those are winnable seats. Blackwell could be elected governor of Ohio, though it will be tough. Swann is matching Rendell in Pennsylvania in the polls, and I agree with Mort. It'll be tough for Steele, but he's a smart, tough candidate, and could win in Maryland.

HH: Last question for both of you. Have either of you been subpoenaed by Scooter Libby? Fred Barnes?

FB: No, but I hope he gets off.

HH: Morton Kondracke?

MK: Not yet.

HH: All right. Just be careful who you talk to when you get off the airplane, Morton. It could be a process server. Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke, the Fox News Channel Beltway Boys. They're on tomorrow night at 6PM on the East, 3PM in the West.

End of interview.

Friday, March 17

So, Congressman John Campbell, why are all of you spending money like drunken sailors?

Remember it is St. Patrick's Day, so there was an Irish bumper playing, and these two know each other pretty well - RB


HH: I'm a real Irishman, but I'm here with one of my English forebears, oppressors, Congressman John Campbell.

JC: English? Campbell, Campbell.

HH: Well, Scots English. You were oppressors.

JC: Scots English?

HH: And you were one of the black Campbells.

JC: Have you ever said that in Scotland?

HH: No, I wouldn't dare say that...

JC: Oh, they'd kill you.

HH: Yeah, but you were with the crown against Charlie.

JC: That's true. That's true. We were.

HH: You were a black Campbell. I know all about you. You're Royalists.

JC: We were.

HH: Down to the sole of your toes.

JC: And we did bad things to McDonalds in their sleep, too. Yeah.

HH: Welcome back. John Campbell's back from D.C., our freshman Congressman extraordinaire. I almost cancelled this segment because he's wearing a USC sweatshirt. How is USC doing in the NCAA Tournament? Oh, that's right. They're not in.

JC: I so expected this.

HH: Ohio State won today.

JC: You know, I am not a fair weather fan, but Georgetown will beat Ohio State what is it? Tomorrow? Next day?

HH: Well, two days.

JC: Two days.

HH: We'll see about that.

JC: Georgetown will beat them.

HH: Is USC doing well in the NIT?

JC: Uh...

HH: Oh, they're not even in the NIT.

JC: (sigh)

HH: I don't know any team in America that isn't in either the NCAA or the NIT, except USC, and they signed...all of their professionals are going professional. They're in bad shape. Hey listen...

JC: It's so unfortunate that you...

HH: I appreciate your flying back from D.C. to do this show, because now finally...I can talk with Dreier about the rules, but you're on Financial Services, you're on Veterans Affairs, and you're on the floor voting on these things, not yet in the leadership. And so, I am confounded, befuddled, by what happened this week on the spending stuff, and I want you to walk our people through. What is going...why are you people spending money like drunken sailors?

JC: I think it's actually just...I'm going to give you the conclusion before we get to it. We need a spending limit, and we need a line item veto. And I'm not sure that anything else is going to stop it, just because of the way that Congress works with individual...with so many members and so many interest groups. Let me just give you a few examples. I've been in Congress now just over 90 days. Not a long time, right?

HH: Right.

JC: Brand new guy. Just came in. Had 63 requests for earmarks.

HH: No.

JC: 63 requests. And they only had 60 days to get to me.

HH: Where do they come from?

JC: Everything from a number of private contractors looking for defense money. You know, we have this thing and it's really good, and it'd be great for the national defense. The Department of Defense unfortunately doesn't recognize that. So if you can get us $3 million or $4 million dollars, we can create this thing.

HH: Explain to people what an earmark is. I always make that mistake.

JC: Sorry. Okay, I've assumed that the listeners of the Hugh Hewitt show have been educated by you, but I guess not.

HH: I try, I try.

JC: All right. Okay.

HH: There are Pittsburgh Steeler fans listening.

JC: What an earmark is, is members of Congress and the U.S. Senate have the opportunity to direct specific money to something in their district. So rather than its...let's say you have a transportation bill, and it's got however many billion dollars in it, and it gets sent to the states to spend on transportation things. But let's say you want to do a particular transportation project in your district. You can earmark and say I want this $4 million dollars to go specifically to the interchange of the 5 and the 22 freeway. You know, whatever it may be. Something like that. So that's what earmarks are. Most of the earmarks requests I got were from public agencies. But I mean, you get things like that. The point is, is that the easiest way as a member of Congress to make friends is to spend money on people. And there's lots of opportunities to do that. I would say 80% of the meetings I've had in my office thus far have been people asking for money. Either earmarks or simply in the budget, make sure we increase this. Or in the budget, we need to put money for this. Or in the budget, we need to increase the money for this. And one of the things I've asked every single person that's come in thus far, is I've said you know, we have a budget issue. We have deficits. There' isn't endless, even for $2.7 trillion dollars, which is the federal budget amount, a finite number. You want us to spend $10 million on this. Could you bring me a suggestion of something we can spend $10 million less on, so that then, we can spend $10 million on the thing you want. And people kind of don't want to come in with that. But something I've been asking. But because of this whole...I mean, the number of people, constituents, non-constituents, whatever, that come and ask you for money is amazing. And it's frankly, it's hard to say no to everybody, to 80% of the people who come to see you. It's easy to say yes, and so that whole impetus creates...and that impetus times 535 people, members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, creates a whole wave of wanting to spend more money on things. So that's basically, I think, what's making it happen, plus the reality of votes. You know, well, gee, I won't vote for the budget unless we increase this by $100 million, or that by $50 million, or that by $150...and you see that dynamic going on as well.

HH: I'm going to quote you, and Radioblogger's going to put up with interview. I've been in Congress a little more than 90 days, and I have received 63 requests for earmarks, is that correct?

JC: That is correct.

HH: What did they total? Are you keeping a running total?

JC: Actually, I didn't add up the numbers. It'd be in the hundreds of millions.

HH: That is just incredible.



HH: John Campbell has been a frequent visitor before he was an Assemblyman, then when he was an Assemblyman, then when he was a State Senator. Now he's the least senior member of Congress, though that's going to change pretty radically in a year, because there are a lot of retirements, including Martin Sabo today from Minnesota.

JC: Another one.

HH: Another one, and more upcoming.

JC: We're now up in the high 20's, and so the Class of 2006 in the House is going to be 30 plus members, depending on how many incumbents lose.

HH: And so one of my themes is going to be, over the years that this show, if we're blessed and continue on, is that you're going to listen to how John Campbell becomes an inside the beltway creature...hopefully not.

JC: (laughing) Oh, yeah. I hope. No! How about a no on that?

HH: We're giving him...we're taping him at the beginning, that he's down on...

JC: Hugh Hewitt listeners, that's part of your job. Kick me if it sounds like I ever am becoming that.

HH: But at the very beginning of your career, you're 90 days into this thing. You've already had 63 earmark requests, but you also got your committee assignments.

JC: I did.

HH: Tell people how that happened, what your on, and what you're supposed to do.

JC: I'm on three committees. I'm on Financial Services Committee, the Budget Committee, and Veterans Affairs. Financial Services, I mean, everyone has a pretty good idea what a Budget Committe does, and what Veterans Affairs does. Financial Services handles all matters related to finance, banking, securities markets, and insurance. And housing, actually, as well.

HH: Encrypted data now, right? I mean, you're going to be into all sorts of strange stuff.

JC: Yeah, there's all kinds of things, like we had a bill we passed out of the committee just two days ago, having to do with data security breaches. All this talk about if a company, a bank or somebody that has...well, let's see. Choicepoint, I think, wasn't it that had a...

HH: Yeah.

JC: They believed that someone might have entered their computer and released some data. So what's been happening is every state has been passing all kinds of laws, so we now have this patchwork of 50 state laws. Well, these sorts of things are inherently interstate commerce, because you're talking about large companies, large data that's spread across computers all over the country. So what we're trying to do is establish a national standard of what companies need to do when there are these data security breaches, when they need to notify consumers, and what they need to do to respond. So I mean, that's just an example of what we did on Wednesday, in addition to flood insurance, which was an insurance thing, which obviously, the flood insurance...

HH: It's a really bad idea, flood insurance.

JC: National Flood Insurance Bank, okay? But it's bankrupt now, or not bankrupt, but it's in trouble. So we had to do...and move some things around. But when you look at it, gosh, it's got a lot of...we subsidize every house in America that was built...

HH: In a coastal zone.

JC: No, built before 1974. Why?

HH: I'm not for that.

JC: And second homes.

HH: I'm not for that.

JC: Why?

HH: Well, change it.

JC: So...

HH: We do it because there are a lot of people living in those homes.

JC: We tried, but couldn't get quite enough votes to change that part of it.

HH: But Financial Services is not one of the big three. The big three are Rules, Ways and Means, and Approps. But it may become an exclusive...

JC: Actually, Energy and Commerce.

HH: Energy and Commerce. Are there four?

JC: Well, the exclusive committees, which where you can only be on that committee, and you can't be on there as a freshman...and by the way, they're determined by party. For example, Financial Services is an exclusive committee if you're a Democrat.

HH: Oh.

JC: But not if you're a Republican. So's basically Appropriations, Rules, Ways and Means, and Energy And Commerce.

HH: Energy and Commerce. But Financial Services may become one, because of the amount...

JC: On the Republican side, it may become one next year, yes.

HH: And you're on two subcommittees?

JC: I'm on two subcommittees.

HH: And so, give the people...forget the specifics. How much time are you spending in committee?

JC: You can spend almost all of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in committee if you want to, because the committees are going on. But they are hearings, where you don't vote. That's the things you see on TV, where somebody sits at a table, and they get asked questions back and forth. And those are hearings where you're collecting information, but you don't vote. An awful lot of members don't actually attend those. They watch on their TV, their staff watches on the TV, they go somewhere else. They generally show up if they want to ask a question, and then they go back, whatever. And then there's things called mark-ups. And a mark-up is when you're actually voting. A bill is there, people offer amendments, changes to it, and you vote on the bill, or you don't. So you could be there all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. But if all you wanted to do was show up when you're going to ask a question and when you're going to vote, then it can be only a matter of a few hours a week.

HH: Again, last night, you were at the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee dinner, right?

JC: I was...with the President.

HH: And how much did that raise?

JC: I think they said $9 million dollars.

HH: Nice...good night. Good gain.

JC: It was a very nice night. It was at the Washington Hilton, and there were I think 2,500 people there.

HH: And so, between mark-ups and committees, and meeting the 63 requests and moving to D.C., are you exhausted?

JC: Yeah, I don't have a lot of...there's not a lot of free time.

HH: And you're running for re-election.

JC: Yes.

HH: You campaign in June. There's a Democrat, and there's a Libertarian. But you drew no primary opponent?

JC: No primary opponent. That's right.

HH: And so, you're in like Flynn as the Republican nominee?

JC: For the primary. That's correct.

HH: Then you're going to have to work hard on this. So that's a good week. Now back to the budget, because we've got two minutes now, and two minutes after the break.

JC: Okay.

HH: Republicans split over the budget this week. A bunch of...maybe 30...

JC: No, it wasn't as many as that. There're talking about these supplemental...

HH: For Katrina and the war.

JC: And the war. And also a thing called LIHEAP, which I'll explain in a minute, which is just a ridiculous expenditure of money, in my view. But actually, only 19 Republicans voted no on this. There were about 54 Democrats who voted no. It was an interesting group of noes. There were 70-something no votes total on this bill, and the anti-war Democrats voted no, and the strong fiscal conservative Republicans voted no.

HH: And there were only 19 strong fiscal conservative Republicans?

JC: Well, I would like to think there are more, but there were not more than 19 that were willing to make this vote, which some could perceive, some were worried could be perceived as voting against the war in Iraq. That's obviously why the Democrats voted against it. But that's not why I voted against it.

HH: But you're prepared to answer people who say you're against the war?

JC: And that's not why any of the other 19 did. Because...yeah, I am, because I...clearly, every other vote I've made, every public statement, everything I've ever done shows that that's not the case, but...and this is what happens in a lot of these bills. Bill in Congress are huge. They have lots of things in them. And in the end, if the majority of things you agree with, you vote for it. If the majority of things you don't, you vote against it. I did not agree with the majority of things in this bill, so I voted against it.



HH: He voted against Katrina relief this week, and I want people to know why.

JC: I voted against Katrina relief...I voted against this bill for a number of reasons. Part of it has $19 billion dollars more for Katrina relief. We've already sent them $60 billion dollars, and we haven't spent that particularly well. Many of you heard about the homes in Hope, Arkansas, and the fraud that's gone on, and the $20 billion that hasn't been spent, because people haven't claimed it, and we're giving people up to $150,000 dollars per house for houses that they've left. I don't know whether you know that or not.

HH: What?

JC: Yeah. Everybody that lost a house can get up to $150,000 dollars just cash out of the pot that's gone before. It's just...

HH: Wait a minute. No, we're not.

JC: Yes, we are.

HH: I have not seen that anywhere. We're giving everyone who lost their house $150K?

JC: Up to. It depends on...

HH: You get the value of your house up to $150K?

JC: Uh, I'm not even sure it's conditioned by the value of the house. But it depends on various different circumstances. It starts at like $50,000, and goes to $150,000, based on certain types of things.

HH: Do they have to give the government the deed?

JC: I'm not 100% sure how the whole system works. But the point is, it's...

HH: Out of control.

JC: It's out of control. And there's all kinds of money, and there's all kinds of this. It hasn't been spent well. Why do me, it was good money after bad. Why do we want another $19 billion dollars? In addition in this bill, was a thing, an acronym called LIHEAP, which stands for low income heat energy assistance...

HH: Heating oil subsidy.

JC: Energy assistance program, right. Okay. What's the date today? It's March 17th.

HH: Right.

JC: We passed this today...yesterday. It will need to go to the Senate, be passed, and signed by the President. The people couldn't get the money before probably the end of March, to the beginning of April at the earliest for heat assistance, okay? $750 million dollars. And what was this year?

HH: The warmest record on...

JC: The warmest year in the history of, like, since they've been keeping this stuff. And we're going to send $750 million dollars in low income heating assistance, starting with April. I just don't...I can't get this. Plus, in the Defense...let me just finish. Just to show you there's a bunch of the Defense bill, there's a plane and an engine for jets that the Defense Department said we don't want this. We don't do this anymore, this is not what we need for the war effort. But they're in there. And why are they in there?

HH: Well, Duane would like you to earmark a house for him. He says he had a home in New Orleans, and he's lost it.

JC: Ah. I see. Well, he...

HH: Where does he sign up for his $50K?

JC: Get in line.

Emmett of the Unblinking Eye: In fact, nobody can find it.

HH: No one can find it.

JC: Yeah, get in line.

HH: I may have lost a couple.

JC: Yeah, I know.

HH: Can I earmark a couple...would you take my earmark back there and get me a couple of New Orleans houses that I don't have to have in order to get my $300K?

JC: You might as well just...

HH: Congressman John Campbell, how long are you on recess for? A week?

JC: Wait. It's not recess, now. It's a district work period. That's what we call them now.

HH: Yeah.

EOTUE: It's like a teacher conference week.

HH: It's a teacher conference day.

JC: I am in my district for a week, yeah.

HH: For a week. Well, we'll talk to you from D.C. in a couple of weeks. John Campbell, great to have you back, USC sweater and all.

End of interview.

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the next Senator from Maryland.


HH: I'm joined now by Michael Steele. He's the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, and he is also a candidate for the United States Senate. Just today on Neil Cavuto's show, I was touting the Maryland Senate seat as one of the possible pickups for the Republican Party. Lt. Gov. Steele, great to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MS: It's great to be with you. How's it going?

HH: Good, good, good. Now this is the first time we've chatted, and I really must confess. Though I'm a political junkee, when I lived back there, I was a Virginian. And I really don't know your state, and I didn't think Republicans were allowed to live there.

MS: Generally, they're not.

HH: Okay. (laughing)

MS: But I managed to sneak in, in the dead of night, and place camp, and I've been going ever since. And now, we're up to about 30 or 40 of us, and we're making a lot of noise.

HH: Michael Steele, tell people about this race, your likely opponent, and how Maryland came to be in play, previously a dark blue state, but a lot of people are looking at that and saying Michael Steele's the guy to make it slightly red.

MS: Well, you know, we're working for the color purple here. And that's the goal.

HH: That's very good.

MS: And Maryland is really much a state in transition. I've been Lieutenant Governor for about three years now, and we were elected, Governor Ehrlich and I were elected in 2002, first Republican ticket to be elected in 40 years. And I currently serve as the first African-American elected statewide in Maryland. And so, that dynamic, with that election, really began to change the ground a little bit. So Sarbanes retires, announces his retirement a year ago, and immediately, the speculation was well, who are the Republicans going to run? And a lot of my friends in Washington, and in the state, started talking to me about the potential of this race. And I'm a political junkee like you, so I know the numbers, I know the realities. And I evaluated it, and what I saw was something in the people that said they were ready for something a little different. They're ready for a change. And I think I represent that change, and I think that's why the Democrats have been so afraid of my getting into this race, and have been relentless in their pursuit of me. About eight months before I even announced that I was going to run, they were already at their typical usual tactics.

HH: In fact, yesterday, federal prosecutors announced that they would proceed against a Chuck Schumer staffer...

MS: Yeah.

HH: ...working at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who rifled your personal files, broke into your credit records. I hope she does some time. I hope they don't give her a slap on the wrist.

MS: Well, you know, they're...I doubt it at the end of the day. She'll do about 150 hours of community service, and then they'll look to expunge her record at the end of that, as long as she doesn't do anything else. But the question for me is what signal are you trying to send? In an age when everyone is clamoring at the President about wiretappings, and privacy, and protection thereof, here we have the Democratic Senatorial Committee, under the leadership of Chuck Schumer, stealing my credit report.

HH: Yup.

MS: And what's even worse...I mean, at least the government, the President's talking about wiretapping those who want to kill us. I mean, these guys are stealing my credit report for purely political gain.

HH: Right. Michael Steele, they don't try to slime people they're not worried about, so you must have the profile and the achievement behind you that makes them sweat at night. Have you got a likely opponent yet? Do you know who the Democrat's going to be?

MS: Ben Cardin, Congressman Cardin, is the number one choice. He is the darling of the leadership of the Democratic Party here in the state and nationally. The problem they have is a gentleman by the name of Kweisi Infume, who is African-American, former head of the NAACP, and former Congressman himself. And they've all but kicked him to the curb, so it's created an interesting tension within their base, in how they treat their only, and first and only African-American to run statewide here in Maryland against how the Republicans have responded to my candidacy. It's like night and day.

HH: I've interviewed Mr. Infume a number of times back in my television days with PBS. He's a tremendous orator, very charismatic. I doubt he'll go quietly into the night.

MS: He will not go quietly into that good night, trust me. And he plans to stay in this race right through the end. And so, they've got an interesting little pickle to work through. And my attitude's very simply this. I will be ready for whoever shows up the day after the primary.

HH: Now when you were Governor Ehrlich's running mate, how did you two do? Did you win by 500 votes, 5,000, 50,000? What was the race?

MS: We won by 66,000 votes.

HH: Okay, that's a good margin in Maryland.

MS: And it was...again, it was a shocker for folks, and we had about 9% of the African-American vote in our election, 2002. Right now in this race for the United States Senate, and this is what got the Democrats so worried, I'm carrying 31% of the black vote.

HH: Well, of course you would be. I mean, you've been out there talking about opportunity and achievement.

MS: Yup.

HH: And doing so without condescension, or without the tired old rhetoric of those people who've been around leading the civil rights movement for 40 years. Instead, you're out there actually talking opportunity. Michael Steele, how much do you have to raise to win this race?

MS: I've got to raise somewhere between eleven and fifteen million dollars.

HH: Man, that's a lot of dough.

MS: It's a lot of change, and we're working hard to do it. This is a national race, Hugh. You're going to be talking about this race, you're going to be following this race. Right now, it's the number 6 race in the country, and it's one of the best, as you noted on Neil Cavuto's show, one of the best opportunities for a pickup that Republicans have in this cycle. It's a dynamic race. We're going to make it a lot of fun, but we're all over the country, we're here at home working hard to raise the dollars that we're going to need. And a lot of people are responding. I've been very pleased with that. And we've picked up in the last...probably since last October when I officially announced, some 4,500 new donors to our campaign.

HH: Wow. How many of those are using the website, Are they all...

MS: We're beginning to see that, and one of the things I'm looking for are opportunities where I can promote, let people know we're here, because a lot of people are calling my state offices saying hey, I hear he's running. How do I find out? So the website is

HH: And it's steel-e for Maryland. Yeah. Steele with an e for Maryland.

MS: Right. Steele with an e for You go there, you can log on, you can follow what the latest is on what's happening in the race. You can donate, you can volunteer. I had a gentleman call, send an e-mail to the office, to tell me that he just contacted his buddy who lives in Bethesda here in Maryland, and he said he told his friend for the months of September, October and November, I'm planning to come and stay with you, because I want to work on the Steele campaign. He's from Wisconsin.

HH: You know, I hope everyone in that city as well, all those young Republican staffers, and all those young independent people down there, and government workers know they've just got to break with Maryland's past. I mean, it's really tough there. It's been such a culture of corruption in Maryland for so long, that you and the Governor are breaking rocks. But they're not going easily, are they?

MS: They're not going easily, and as they're putting up a fight, they're fighting us at the legislative level here in the state capitol. Certainly, they've put a big target on my back. I mean, I've already had a Democrat member of our Congressional delegation tell me that after the primary, in this general election, they will have every national Democrat in the country coming in here to take me on.

HH: When is their primary?

MS: September 12th.

HH: So they have a late primary, though, so they're going to be slugging it out right...

MS: Yup. Exactly.

HH: And they can't really come in against Infume until after that, can they?

MS: Right. It's all...and it's an interesting dynamic, because if Infume somehow wins this nomination, the politics in the state kind of shift, because he is very liberal, he is very left, and very extreme. And so, the moderate conservative, the Reagan Democrats in the state, of which we have quite a few, and the independents who tend to lean Democrat, aren't necessarily going to warm up to that, and I'll be there waiting.

HH: And you know, we'll be there covering it. Michael Steele, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, a great pleasure to have you on. We'll be back in touch repeatedly between now and November, as we look for the Turps to go red like their school colors in November.

End of interview.

Thursday, March 16

Mark Steyn's position on commissions.


HH: I begin this Thursday as I do most with Mark Steyn, columnist to the world. Mr. Steyn, we begin a story that centers on you. What has happened to the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator? The Hugh Hewitt listeners want to know where the Mark Steyn material is.

MS: My relationship with the Telegraph group, which the Spectator also belongs to, deteriorated over the last year, and became adversarial, which I don't think is particularly healthy. And I don't mind...I've been the token conservative on liberal newspapers. I don't mind an adversarial relationship in terms of your position on the Gulf War, or Afghanistan, or the European Union or whatever. I don't mind having differences with editors and so forth on that. But when it gets into, when the whole relationship just becomes generally toxic, then I think it's best to hang out your shingle somewhere else, which I will do in the United Kingdom at some point.

HH: That's the important part. You will be back writing in the UK. Any time frame set for that, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I would hope sooner rather than later. One of the things, if you're a controversial writer, when I parted company with the National Post up in Canada, I thought well, every newspaper's going to start calling me, because I was the hottest columnist there, according to some of their reader surveys and things. And of course, instead, these editors think oh, well, good riddance to that right-wing wacko. We don't need a crazy guy like him. And after a couple of years of the phone not ringing, they all came kind of slinking back and made me derisory offers of one kind or another. And I would bet on the same thing happening over in London.

HH: Now isn't this sort of suicidal behavior on the part of newspapers, Mark Steyn? And we'll take you out of it. But we just had a Pew report showing they're in terrible condition. Nobody cares about their in-house tubas that go on, boom, boom, boom on the old, same notes. They're killing themselves if they deny their readers what their readers want.

MS: Well you know, one of the things I find, and I'm sure you do, too, you travel a lot around the country. And the thing about American newspapers in particular, but it's also true of Canada and certain others, is that if you get off the plane at almost any airport on the continent, and you'll pick up the local paper which will be a monopoly daily, published by Gannett or some other similar company, and it will just have like the world's dullest comment page, the world's dullest op-ed page. This is a great riveting time of war, and say what you like about crazy folks on left or right, but there's a lot to say about it. And in fact, the newspapers, and their monopolies, have made them dull, and that's the danger, I think, in much of the United States, that you want someone, whether you agree with him or not, that you want something that will be riveting and thought-provoking. And some of these guys have been just holding down prime op-ed real estate for decades. It's amazing to me.

HH: Mark Steyn, last question on this. One of the Telegraph suits sent out an e-mail to someone questioning, saying we hope to have Mark Steyn back within the Telegraph family soon. Is that just shining on their distraught readers?

MS: Yeah, I don't quite know why they're saying that, because (laughing)

HH: You're not coming back soon. All right.

MS: I'm not...that's certainly something that...there's no reason for them to be sending that out to readers.

HH: Oh, except to get the readers to go away for a while. Let's turn to international affairs, but beginning in the domestic side. Yesterday, there came word, Mark Steyn, that the Iraq Study Group had been formed. Now I cannot find the statute that authorized this, and I suspect it's a John Warner/Frank Wolfe gambit. But it's got James Baker and Lee Hamilton, and a bunch of the usual suspects to study the war. I can't believe we're going to do the 9/11 Commission again. What's your reaction to the formation of this group?

MS: Well, the 9/11 Commission is the...I mean, you know me. I'm a foreigner, but I'm pro-American. And yet I must say, the 9/11 Commission is everything I loathe about the United States, in that its legalistic, retrospective, showboating blowhards, pompous people going on TV round the clock. And in effect, it becomes something in and of itself. It's not just commenting on something like a play by play guy is, but it actually changes the course of the something its commenting on. And that's what's bad about this. You know, Iraq isn't a Broadway play in previews. The show has opened, and it's on now. So it's too late to have arguments about this little weak spot in the first act, and we should get it re-written. The show has opened, and the responsibility of these people involved in this, James Baker, Lee Hamilton, Rudy Giuliani, all these people, is that they should now be saying let's win it, and then have the arguments.

HH: But do you suspect the White House attempted to stop this? Or are they at this point reeling on so many fronts, they didn't think they had the ability to say no?

MS: Well, I think there is a danger in the last couple of weeks that they have lost control of they...not what's going on in Iraq, but in a sense, the rationale behind it. Now I would imagine that James Baker, who's very close to the Bush family, I can't imagine him taking this, if he didn't at least have a tacit approval from the Bush family. But at the same time, I think this is an example of just what we don't need with Iraq. We do need a refreshing renewal of war rhetoric, but we don't need to argue, you know, have a big commission on where the WMD are and all the rest of it, and all that hooey.

HH: Now speaking about the renewal of war rhetoric, yesterday, General John Abizaid, commander of United States Central Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. It's available on the web. It is hard-hitting. It is actually fierce, and quite unsparing in the protrait that he paints of al Qaeda, and what they will do. And then today, the National Security strategy comes out, which is equally unsparing about Iran and the necessity of defensive action against them, if they refuse to abandon this. Is this what you're talking about, Mark Steyn? Getting back to basics on the stakes?

MS: Absolutely. I think we have to take these guys at their word. You know, the fact of the matter is that Saddam behaved as if he had weapons of mass destruction. And the basis of American policy in this world should be that if you go around claiming to have weapons of mass destruction, and threatening to use them as the Iranians are currently doing, then it shouldn't be a matter whether you're just bluffing or not. We have a responsibility to take you at your word and do something about it. And that's really the issue in Iran. Iran, actually, does generally walk the walk as well as talk the talk. They are people who have blown up Jewish community centers in Buenos Aires. And it's hard to, even by the biggest stretch, it's hard to say that's a legitimate grievance because of Israeli occupation of Palestine. I mean, they are people with a long reach, and a 25 year history of extra-territoriality. Why would they have nuclear weapons if they didn't, at the very minimum, intend them for serious nuclear blackmail?

HH: Let's turn to the domestic side of the attack on national security. Russ Feingold wants to censure the President. How should the GOP in the Senate respond, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I would very much hope that the only reason he's doing this is because Karl Rove has opened up a big bank account in the Cayman Islands for him, because it's hard to see how this can be of any advantage to the Democrats. It's amazing to me. Just as they've found this sort of rather shrill opportunist bit of good news for them on the Dubai ports deal, where they found a national security angle that somehow in crude political terms worked for them, then they go and blow it all back to...Russ Feingold, basically demanding that we censure the President for eavesdropping on al Qaeda phone calls. There is no good that can come for the Democratic Party out of that, and if Russ Feingold wants to pursue it, to shore himself up with the party base, good luck to him, because it's only going to make things worse for Hillary Clinton. Hillary will have to run to the left to avoid him peeling off significant support for her.

HH: But do you think Bill Frist will be successful in pushing this through the Judiciary Committee, onto the floor for a debate, and should he?

MS: Yes, I think he should, because I think every time the Democrats come up with this joke...these joke talking points, censure, impeachment, withdrawal from Iraq, timetable for withdrawal now, we need to set a timetable for withdrawal on April 17th, I think you should call them on it, and say fine, let's get it to a vote, and let's see how many of you, how many of you trinners and weather vane politicians, the John Kerry's and all the rest of them, how many of you are actually prepared to put your vote where your party's big mouths are.

HH: Well put. Now I want to close with a cultural question. The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame had its induction this week. James Lileks has been on this program defending, and will be later again, Black Sabbath and Sex Pistols, as pretty much the summit of American culture. Your reaction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a general proposition, Mark Steyn, and if you have any thoughts on this year's inductees?

MS: One of the most disgusting examples of the bloated federal budget is that federal money goes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

HH: Oh, I didn't know that.

MS: And if rock and roll is not even self-supporting, nothing in America is.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure. I will put my note to the Sunday Telegraph's editor, and call him a man of not great precision or truth when he's communicating with his e-mailers. Talk to you again next week, Mark Steyn.

End of interview.

Lileks: No blue ribbons, lots of Scott Tissue, and how Peshawar, Pakistan did nothing musically for America's Dan Peek.

HH: Vile slander issued from my mouth an hour ago at this very time, a horrific sliming of James Lileks for being late and out of touch, when in fact, only three days earlier, he had told Producer Duane he would be here at this hour (sigh - RB). Oh, James, I am sorry.

JL: You know, it's unusual, because now my daughter thinks it's completely normal to turn on the radio and have the man in the radio say I suppose Lileks is just coming back from Chuck E. Cheeses.

HH: (laughing)

JL: Which is precisely what we were doing. She thinks now that the radio somehow narrates her entire life, and she's going to be so disappointed when she...

HH: Well, of course it does. Now James, you must tell me a little bit about the snow conditions there. We were worried about the garage door. Have there been any accidents?

JL: (laughing) No, as a matter of fact.

HH: All right.

JL: I no longer need worry about that, because I've installed one of those devices that emits a loud shriek if you back into the door. I have a camera that tells me what's behind me, and I also removed the door.

HH: All right. Very good.

JL: No problems.

HH: Now I would like to discuss both matters cultural and political with you. I want to begin with the Iraq Study Group.

JL: Yes.

HH: I asked Mr. Steyn about this earlier. He agreed with me that this is a damnable bad idea. What say you, James Lileks?

JL: I think it's a tremendous idea, Hugh. I think this is the commission that's finally going to win the war.

HH: (laughing)

JL: You know, we've all been waiting for them to step up to the plate and I think what really worried me at first was whether or not it was a blue ribbon commission. I didn't hear anybody mention the color of the...

HH: There were no blue ribbons.

JL: I didn't hear any mention of the color of the ribbon. You know, it could be one of those chartreuse ribbon commissions, which just doesn't dig deep enough. But I think this is going to be the one. I think if we take this commission, and we strap them all with about 50 pounds of Semtex and drop them in Tehran, there's a good shot they're going to have an effect.

HH: All right. Number 2. Today, it's announced that Ted Kennedy has successfully pursuaded Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to sign on to the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill. I know you're not really a big anti-illegal immigration fellow. You just leave that one alone. But politically speaking, would this be the stupidest move of the past four years? Or merely one of many bad moves by the Republicans?

JL: Merely one of many. There are just so many. This is one of those arguments that is infuriating, because when you start to talk about illegal immigration, immediately, everybody then assumes that you're talking about immigration period. And then you spend all of your time talking with your leftist friends about how the fact that you don't really mind if smart and capable people come into the country. It is an argument that's just going to generate more heat, and the Republicans will never really look good on this, because to the other side, they're just racists anyway, who will want them to pick their oranges and grapes, as we're told.

HH: Thank you. Now, Number 3. Laura Lee Donoho is a very fine blogger at the Wide Awake Cafe. But you have scared her.

JL: How so?

HH: Because you wrote about Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in the context of the Avian Flu, and that creeped her out. And frankly, it creeps me out, too.

JL: (laughing) I did no such thing. When did I do that?

HH: She said...

JL: When you write 14 columns a week, you sort of forget what you've said.

HH: Well, something about Bay tuna.

JL: About what?

HH: Bay tuna and the Bird Flu.

JL: Good Lord, this...Oh! No, no, no. This goes back to the remarks that were made by a government official a couple of days ago, saying that when you go to the grocery store, and you buy three cans of tuna, you might want to buy a fourth one and tuck it under the bed. That was the column that I wrote for Newhouse, also in the Screedblog, about whether or not you can depend on the government to help you, should the Bird Flu strike. It was a sort of semi-annual Bird Flu column, and I'd like to keep it at the semi-annual phase, which is...

HH: But you know it's coming.

JL: Yes, I do. But I don't know whether or not it's going to mutate. I mean, they always say that if the Bird Flu mutates into something that could affect humans, the effects would be catastrophic. That's true. And if the human body mutated so that oxygen was suddenly toxic, that would be very bad as well.

HH: But people...

JL: We'll cough up that quart of phlegm when we get to it.

HH: But you remember pig flu, or whatever they called that flu...

JL: Swine Flu.

HH: Swine Flu.

JL: Right.

HH: And you remember Y2K.

JL: Yes, I do.

HH: The panic people can't always be wrong. (laughing)

JL: (laughing) No, of course they can't. Listen, I'm the stockpiling kind of guy. I have enough...

HH: You've got a tunnel in your house, for goodness sakes.

JL: I've got a bunker under there. I have enough Scott Tissue that if we should not only be quarantined for six months, we're fine if we have dysentery. So I'm not worried about that. I tend to err on the side of stockpiling and being very careful about this. But I'm not going to freak out until people all over the world start to get it. And at that point, you know, kid's coming out of school, we're wearing face masks around the house, and all the chickens get slaughtered.

HH: All right. Now I have a business question. The Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, while I was off in Colorado in the middle of my vacation, took in a performance by David Barry.

JL: Yes.

HH: He did two hours of stand-up.

JL: Yes.

HH: Have you ever done anything like that?

JL: Oh, no. No, I haven't. No, I just confine myself to babbling on the radio, when I had my own show, and doing the Podcast. But Dave's very good at that. Dave is an absolute natural. He's...

HH: But I think you could do that.

JL: Well, you know, put me on...I would like to join his band, but of course, he has a band that always seems to be out of town when I...

HH: But humorists who are funny are actually quite rare. I mean, Garrison Keillor gets paid to do that, and he's not funny.

JL: That's right. He writes a newspaper column, incidentally. And I think when people signed up to get the column, they were hoping for some of that Keilloresque, small-town whimsy?

HH: Yeah.

JL: And they're getting columns about why it's necessary to impeach Bush, which I don't really think is what they bargained for.

HH: It's not what they wanted, no. They wanted Erma Bombeck with a Mid-Western drawl.

JL: Well, most humorists in person are just sort of dour, miserable creatures.

HH: Okay, last subject, I hesitate to return to it, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

JL: Yeah, and you told Mark Steyn that I believed that the Sex Pistols and Black Sabbath were the apogee of American culture. Thanks, Hugh.

HH: That's how I understood your remarks from Tuesday.

JL: Yeah, thanks, Hugh.

HH: Now you do support the induction of the Sex Pistols, right?

JL: I absolutely do. Horrible band, couldn't play their instruments, crucial to what punk rock became in '76-'77.

HH: Well then, if you want them in the Hall of Fame, then you think they're at the summit.

JL: I don't want anybody in the Hall of Fame. I think a V For Vendetta movie should be made, in which the entire thing is dynamited on general principle.

HH: Are the Carpenters in the Hall of Fame?

JL: If they are, then they're right next to the Herb Alpert...

HH: Well, Herb Alpert got in because he was impresario music.

JL: Everybody's going to be in it at some point. Barry Manilow's going to be in it.

HH: Well, of course.

JL: Some little kid with a Casio keyboard who put out one little cassette tape in 1984 is going to be in it.

HH: Have you been there?

JL: No, I've not. I've not been to...

HH: Have you any interest at all?

JL: None. None whatsoever.

HH: All right. Now the question I asked on Monday is, if any Rock and Roller were to write their memoir, which one would you read.

JL: That's a fascinating question, he says, stalling. I don't know. I'd like to read Elvis Costello's, because he's a very smart man when it comes to music, and he's also a bit of a wanker when it comes to a man. So I'd like to know how he reconciled the two. Usually, they have no problem. He's sort of the Woody Allen of the punk rock scene.

HH: I'm reading Dan Peek of America's memoir.

JL: Of America?

HH: Yeah.

JL: Good Lord. If it's anything like the music, it's just one vowel that goes on for 14 pages.

HH: But know this. At the age of 14, he was taking 12 hour truck rides from Peshawar, to the remote areas of Pakistan, to play gigs with his brother and a couple of G.I.'s.

JL: Remarkable how that informed his music, didn't it?

HH: (laughing)

JL: To the tune of zero.

HH: (laughing) Lileks, thank you. It's true. This guy, should just's wild. He's driving around, all over the places that no American would be caught in, in a thousand years now, in the first chapter.

End of interview.

Orange! Grape! Orange! Grape! Orange! Grape!


HH: Earlier today, if you're just tuning in, I told you about a story in the Rocky Mountain news. Representative Tom Tancredo and Luis Gutierrez engaged in a nasy exchange after a CNBC show yesterday, and the report says Gutierrez, who was visibly upset, began to scream at Tancredo, "Have you ever eaten an orange? A Grape," an apparent reference to illegal farm workers. He then repeated the same phrase several times as Tancredo tried to answer, "An Orange, a grape, an orange, a grape, an orange, a grape." Joining us now to add more light on this orange grape controversy is Will Adams, press secretary to Tom Tancredo. Hi, Will. How are you?

WA: (laughing) I'm doing well, Hugh. How are you doing?

HH: Do you have this on video?

WA: Oh, gosh, I really wish I did. (laughing) I really wish I did, because the story, even though it's accurate in the Rocky, doesn't quite do it justice. You should have been there to see both the physical signals that Gutierrez gave off, and the inflection. I don't know if I will do it justice, either.

HH: Was his voice high-pitched at this point?

WA: Oh, my gosh. Well, let me walk you through it very briefly.

HH: Okay.

WA: They were on CNBC's Power Lunch, and as often happens, you know, it get a little bit heated. But my experience is in the past, you know, two members get heated, there's a bit of theatricality to it when you're on TV, and then afterwards, they kind of slap each other on the back and say hey, colleague, let's go do lunch, or something like that.

HH: Yup.

WA: Well, this time was an exception to that. We showed up about 30 seconds late. Gutierrez gets on there, does his spiel, Tancredo does his spiel, back and forth. We end it, and Gutierrez makes what I thought was a friendly and pretty funny joke, saying, "Hey, look. The immigrant shows up on time, the gringo shows up late, and you wonder why we get the jobs." So I kind of laughed, and Congressman Tancredo laughed a little bit. Tancredo asked him, "So are you an immigrant?" And he goes, "Yes, yes. My family immigrated here from Mexico, etc." By the way, as an aside, he actually was born in Chicago in the 1950's, so he himself is not an immigrant. But that's neither here nor there.

HH: Okay.

WA: So anyway, we're walking pretty slowly. Gutierrez has some sort of cast on his leg, and we're going around this rotunda. Mind you, we are in the House office building where most of the visitors come to visit. So you've got Mom and Pop, and kids on vacation taking pictures and so on, and hearing all of this. So Gutierrez starts walking away, he goes, "Tancredo, have you ever been to a restaurant?" And Tom goes, "Huh? Excuse me?"...kind of perplexed.

HH: (laughing)

WA: Gutierrez then, and this is where I can't do justice, and I don't think radio can. He kind of squints his eyes, and takes his shoulders up a little bit, and goes, "You mean with those illegal aliens who are wiping your dishes? How can you eat from those plates?" Tom goes, "Well, hold on for a second." And just as he was saying that, Gutierrez says, "Have you ever had an orange? Or a grape?"

HH: (laughing)

WA: Congressman Tancredo, again perplexed, looks at him and goes, "Uh, what do you mean?" (Gutierrez), "An orange? A grape? An orange? A grape? An orange? A grape? An orange? A grape?"

HH: (laughing)

WA: And so on and so forth. I swear I haven't seen that since I was in 3rd grade on a lunch break or what have you. So at this point, it escalates a little bit, and Gutierrez calls him a racist and a bigot, and starts to walk away. And of course, Tom, not one to take a punch sitting, walks after him and says, "Hold on for a second," and taps him on the shoulder as he's walking away. Gutierrez says, "Get your hands off me," in a very raised voice. Again, mind you, this place is a marble interior, so this thing's echoing for the entire area with all these kids, (laughing), and there's children and families coming in. "Get your hands off me. Walk away, Tancredo." And Tancredo says, "I will not." And then Gutierrez then proceeds towards the elevator bank with his three staffers in tow. Mind you, I'm with another staffer. We have Gutierrez'...

HH: It could have been a rumble!

WA: Yeah!

HH: It could have been like the Jets and Sharks.

WA: Well, we look at each other, Gutierrez' gal looks at me, her eyebrows are raised, and (laughing) oh my gosh, because at this point, they're about the same height, and they are, I swear, nose to nose, about six inches apart. And Gutierrez is angry and, you know, he's cussing, and he goes towards the elevator. And so we have to go down the stairs. We're know, there's only one exit to this particular side of the building. And Gutierrez holds the door open for his staffer, and says, "hey, hurry up before the racist gets in."

HH: Oh!

WA: So the elevator door shuts, and I sit there with Tom, and we're walking down the steps, and I'm like oh my gosh. And you know, Tom's pretty shaken up at this point. He's never seen an adult...well, he may have seen an adult act like that, but I have never seen one act like that. So we're walking down the stairs. It turns out that Gutierrez is only going down one floor. He's taking the elevator because of his leg.

HH: Oh, lovely.

WA: So just as he's getting off the elevator, we're about five paces behind him down the stairs. And we have to both exit the same exit to the exterior. He goes, he opens up the door for his staffers, "Hey, hurry up, hurry up before the KKK comes." And Tom restrains himself, we go outside, and we're taking a right, he's taking a left, but he stops, and supposedly is talking to his staffers, but you can tell he's aiming this at Tancredo. And he's looking over at us, and shouts at us, he says, "You know, I almost decked him, but then I thought to myself, what if I blankety-blank kicked his blankety-blank." (laughing)

HH: Now tell me something. We've only got 20 seconds left, Will Adams. How old is Luis Gutierrez?

WA: He was born in the 50's, so you know, he must be...

HH: Well, he's my age.

WA: Yeah, exactly.

HH: How old is Tom?

WA: He's in his early 60's. Don't tell him...

HH: You know, middle-aged men should never fight. It's just not a good thing. Middle-aged men should not fight or yell at each other. Will, I appreciate the blow by blow. And if there's a Part 2 of Grape-Adam/Adam-Grape/Orange-grape/Grape whatever, I want it here on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I want to set up Round 2. Gutierrez-Tancredo: The rumble in the jungle should be here on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.

Frank Gaffney's sobering trip to France, and his reservations about the coming Iraq Study Group.

HH: Now joined by Frank Gaffney, he of the Center For Security Policy,, and of, and a book by the same name, just back from France land. Hello, Frank.

FG: Hello, Hugh.

HH: What took you to France?

FG: The Center For Security Policy co-sponsored a conference with an organization called the Institute for Defense of Democracy, a very impressive, courageous, small, young organization in France trying to fight against Islamo-facism, and the anti-Semitism, and other trials and tribulations that are increasingly evident in France today. And we put on an all-day conference to address those topics, and what they portend, not just for France, but for the free world.

HH: Interesting. I'm sure that was planned long and in advance, but of course, France has been riveted and revulsed by the torture/murder of a young Jewish man, by some of the Islamo-facists. Did that come up in the course of your deliberations?

FG: Yeah, it was very much on people's minds. And Hugh, I must tell you, that in the course of the conversations, both during that day and on the margins of the meetings, even I, who in our book, War Footing, talked about how far gone Europe is, and how necessary it is for us at this point, basically, to try to salvage what we can of it, which is basically sort of what Rumsfeld calls the New Europe, the countries of the former Eastern part that were under the Soviet's domination for so long, and Britain. But even I, I must tell you, was unprepared for how really grim things look. And you know, we had people talking with real trepidation about the 1930's returning in a fashion that few could have seemed to imagine at that time.

HH: You know, Frank, in October of 2003, Encounter Books published The Return of Anti-Semitism, by Gabriel Schoenfeld. And I talked about it at the time, but no one really believes it. The modern world has trouble believing that the sort of viciousness and virulant anti-Semitism that marked the 30's could be back, but it's back, and it's in France.

FG: Yeah, and it's not confined to the Islamo-facists. This was one of the really stunning things, is that it appears that the many of the larger population are now feeling unconstrained any longer by memories of the past, or any sense of morality for that matter, and are indulging in this sort of thing, which may well, as you say, have contributed to this brutal murder of a young man who is Jewish. Though the perpetrators were seemingly of this Islamo-facist stripe, the attitudes towards this attack, and what it portends, do speak a larger anti-Semitic phenomenon than I certainly would have believed possible.

HH: Well now, I want to talk to you a little bit, Frank, not just about Europe, but also about what happened here. And we can come back to Europe in the weeks ahead. But yesterday was announced an Iraq Study Group. Have you had a chance to see this yet?

FG: Well, I've seen some reporting on it.

HH: Headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, Rudy Giuliani is on it, Alan Simpson is on it, Sandra Day O'Connor is rumored to be joining it, Chuck Robb, just some of the usual suspects. And I'm dumbfounded that not long after the 9/11 Commission, and the politicization it brought with it, it looks like we're set to go around again on this. What's your reaction?

FG: I must say, I'm not wildly enthusiastic about Congress constantly contracting out its oversight responsibilities to unelected, unaccountable people, some of whom have, as in the case of this commission, held senior positions in the U.S. government in the past. But this particular lineup, with the possible exception of former Mayor Giuliani, is pretty much the usual suspects, who have been assembled for the purpose, it appears, of giving a pretty predictable critique of what President Bush has been trying to do, and is doing, with the liberation of Iraq and the efforts to try to help bring a non-status quo outcome, both to that effort in Iraq, and to the Middle East more generally, something that in my experience, the usual suspects, the establishment, if you will, has always regarded with antipathy.

HH: But Frank, what could they possibly say? One of two things. Either they will say this is the only thing we can do, what the realists believe like you and me, and then it will not be worth a dime in the media. It will be ignored. Or they can critique what we've done, in which case it will be the most important study of all time. This is all too predictable.

FG: It is, and in fact, I think that Option A is predictably out of the question, so what we really have to look forward to is another salvo being leveled at the administration, including from Republicans, that will further, I'm afraid, undermine the President, and the sense we desperately need to impart to our adversaries, that we are in fact committed to seeing this thing through, and have every intention not only to stay the course, but to prevail with the Iraqi people.

HH: But do you know...they said it's got $1.3 million in funding. Did you ever see anything about this? A proposal? Frank Wolfe and John Warner are mixed up in it, but it just came out of nowhere, and I'm just surprised that it got through without opposition from serious people.

FG: Well, I'm afraid it's $13 million, at least according to what I've seen.

HH: Oh, my gosh.

FG: So it's considerably more than that. And no, it may have appeared in Frank Wolfe's musing, or perhaps even in some report language on an Appropriations subcommittee mark-up. But the first I heard of it was when it was sprung upon us. And again, it has become all to common, and I have high regard for Frank Wolfe, by and large. I think he's done an awful lot of very courageous and important things. This particular one might even have been an important and courageous thing, had it been something that involved people that are going to look at this a little bit more rigorously.

HH: Serious people. Frank Gaffney, we're out of time. I'll talk to you again next week.

End of interview.

Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens on Israeli politics at a crossroads.

HH: Joining me now on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal. Bret, welcome back. Good to have you on the program.

BS: How are you doing, Hugh?

HH: Good. Let's talk first, the Israeli elections. Kadima has fallen recently in some of the opinion polling I've seen. Any doubt in your mind, though, that they will still be forming a government in early April?

BS: Well, the last poll that was taken in the last couple of days following this raid on the prison in Jericho, and the seizure of these six prisoners wanted for the killing of an Israeli minister, have Kadima up as high as 43 seats, which would be just about what the Likud had after Sharon's landslide victory in January, 2003. So with about just over a week to go before the election, I think there's no doubt that Kadima is going to win, and probably win big. A bigger question is who's going to pull in second, whether it will be Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, or the the Labor Pary of Amir Perez.

HH: Does that have any significance, who's second? Is that the formal opposition, as in Great Britain?

BS: No, it's hugely significant, because I don't's been more than a generation, if ever, in fact, when a party in Israel has had an absolute majority in the Knesset, that is in the Israeli parliament. So all parties ultimately have to form some kind of coalition. And during the years when Sharon was prime minister, he sometimes had coalitions with some of his allies on the right, and sometimes he was in coalition with his biggest opponent. That's why Shimon Peres, the traditional Labor leader, though not this time, was in and out of Sharon's government as foreign minister for a period of time. It's part of the nature of Israeli politics that many of the smaller players will have seats in the government.

HH: Now who has run a good campaign? Who has distinguished themselves? Or has this been under the shadow of the coma in which the prime minister rests?

BS: Yeah, I would say that it really...this is a campaign that has kind of moved forward on the sort of intertial energies of Sharon's legacy in terms of his popularity, his legacy, the withdrawal from Gaza, the disengagement plan. And Olmert is still cruising on that legacy. I don't think that respectively, his campaigning has really had any real effect on Israeli attitudes, except, I think, to reassure voters that Olmert is politically in Sharon's mold, if not personally. The real jockeying has been, as I said, between the Labor and the Likud Party, where neither candidate has distinguished themself. The head of the Labor Party is now a guy by the name of Perez, Amir Perez, not as distinct from Shimon Peres, an old time Labor leader, very much in the socialist mold, and with a base in Israel's labor movement, but nothing beyond that. And Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the kind of remain of what remains of the Likud, of Ariel Sharon's Likud Party, hasn't done particularly well for himself, either. He's been unable to kind of break out from the 15-20 seat margin that he's expected to win.

HH: Does this mean eclipse for Netanyahu? Or simply an extended run on the sidelines?

BS: Well look, my experience in Israeli politics is it's always foolish to rule anyone out. You know, Sharon was ruled out as a serious political figure for a long time before he came sort of out of nowhere and took the prime ministership, and became probably one of the most significant prime minsters in Israeli history. People talk about a comeback for Ehud Barak, the last of the Israeli prime ministers during the peace process. He suffered a humiliating defeat to Sharon in 2001, but he's still in the picture, so it's foolish to rule people out. That being said, Netanyahu has consistently played a bad hand in Israeli politics. I mean, I know he cuts a brilliant figure when he's on CNN, or other talk shows. He's a rhetorically, very astute guy. But in the context of Israeli politics, he's been much less successful, and he very badly damaged himself prior to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza where he was, as finance minister, he supported the government position in a succession of votes, right up until the very end, and then pulled out at the very last minute. And so, in doing that, he seemed to lack both a sense of principle as well as a sense of loyalty. And he did himself immense damage. As I said, I hesitate to make predictions, but I would be surprised to ever see Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister again.

HH: Now let's switch to the events of this week, the raid on the Jericho jail, the capture of the six terrorists charged with either actually conducting the assassination of a former Israeli cabinet member, or assisting in it. What did that tell you about Olmert?

BS: Well, I mean, I don't think people are suggesting that the move was essentially political, but it wasn't. It was dictated by the suggestion of the new Hamas prime minister, Haniya, that he would let these guys go, a suggestion that was seconded, unbelievably and distressingly, by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who becomes a more discreditable figure by, basically by the day. These are significant prisoners. They've killed an Israeli cabinet member in November, 2001, and when Israel invaded the West Bank and surrounded Arafat's compound in April of 2002, Arafat had these guys in his basement. And it was one of the chief demands of Israel that they either be surrendered, or faced some kind of justice. And Israel only withdrew its forces from Ramallah, from the Palestinian territories, after an international agreement where a kind of trial was held for these guys, and they were put in a prison in Jericho under international monitoring. There have been American and...unarmed American and British troops in Jericho, about 20 of them, ever since 2002. I mean, these are very much wanted men in Israel, and I think that Olmert really had no choice following the suggestion that they would be freed, and the British and American monitors would withdraw. He really had no choice but to go after them. Obviously, it's helped his standing, politically. It's helped him look tough, but I don't think that it was basically a political decision.

HH: I'm talking to Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, long time editor of the Jerusalem Post, and that brings me to my last set of questions, Bret. Stepping back from the elections, and the event of the week, Hamas' takeover has been sort of rolling along here for a number of months now. People know what's coming. What's the mood in Israel about what is going on there?

BS: Well, the whole logic of disengagement was to stop caring, I guess, as much as Israelis did during the period of the peace process, for what was going on, the internal dynamics of Palestinian politics. And most Israelis, certainly those on the right, but also, I think, the broad center of the electorate, has basically written off the Palestinians as peace partners, as people who are as a government that's serious about playing its part in tamping down and eradicating the terrorist elements within it. So I don't think that the Hamas...that the election of Hamas had the kind of shock effect that some people expected that it would. I mean, Likud very much hoped, the Likud of Benjamin Netanyahu very much hoped that the election of Hamas would galvanize Israelis to its side, that it would be a kind of proof or evidence that the withdrawal of Gaza by Israel, by the settlers, hadn't moderated Palestinian politics, but had in fact, made it that much more fanatic. What Israel polls are telling you is that that message didn't really wash. Israelis have made, I think, a very shrewd, if depressing, judgment about the current condition of Palestinian society, Palestinian attitudes, Palestinian politics. But the difference, really, between Hamas in power and Yassir Arafat's Fatah in power, is not very great. Both were committed to terrorism, both engaged in acts of terrorism, and ultimately, the only real difference was of nuance. Fatah pretended to be committed to a peace process, which everyone knew it wasn't committed to, and Hamas, to its credit, has...I don't want to credit them seriously, but in a sense, Hamas has been...has had truth in its advertising. They have been more honest in their absolute rejection to a peace process, and their opposition to Israel's right to exist than Fatah has been. But Israelis aren't easily fooled, and there really isn't a shade of difference between the two groups.

HH: All right, a last question. There have been some statements by previously ranking members of the Israeli military, and in and around the government about Iran. What is your sense of what Israel is prepared to do concerning that nuclear adventurism?

BS: Well, Iran is an existential threat to Israel. Not only has Ahmadinejead, the president, threatened to wipe Israel off the map, but that's a statement that has been repeated by the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And so obviously, the Israelis have to take the threat very seriously. That being said, Israel's ability to strike Iran is less than people suppose. People of course remember Israel's destruction of Iraq's nuclear plant at Osirik in 1981. But that was...I mean, that was a complicated operation. But it ultimately involved sending a fleet of F-16's to one site, in the desert, near Baghdad, destroying the site, then coming back. With Iran, you're dealing with dozens least a dozen sites, if not more, hardened, often underground. And Israel really doesn't have the kind of military capability to launch the sorts of sustained military strikes that would really be required to effectively degrade, if not destroy, the Iranian nuclear program. The only country that really is in a position to do that, if it should come to it, is the United States. And I think it would be very foolish for American policy makers to lull themselves into thinking that the Israelis will take care of a problem that isn't Israel's alone. It's really the world's, as well as the United States'.

HH: Bret Stephens, a very somber way to end, but I appreciate the update. We'll chat with you hopefully after the election, looking forward to the next five or six years of Israeli government. Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, former editor of the Jerusalem Post, thank you.

BS: All the best.

End of interview.

Thank you, Rush Limbaugh callers.

It's always nice to get mentioned on the Limbaugh program, even if it is by a caller. It's like a comedian getting on Carson's show. For those who want to read and hear John Zogby melt down with Hugh Hewitt, click here. To see the Zogby military poll questions and demographic information, click here.

Wednesday, March 15

John Eastman on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the new panel looking into the prosecution of the Iraqi phase of the War On Terror.

HH: I'm joined on the Hugh Hewitt Show by John Eastman, professor of law at Chapman University law school, my colleague there, but not by Erwin, because I switched up the time, and Erwin couldn't adjust. I'm sorry about that, but earlier, we had the majority leader on, and we had to replay that. Thank you for being there.

JE: Sure, Hugh.

HH: Now John Eastman, this is fortuitous. About an hour ago, a release was made in Washington, D.C., announcing the formation of something called the Iraq Study Group, which will consist of James A. Baker and Lee Hamilton, former CIA director Robert Gates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan, Clinton chief of staff Leon Panetta, Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry, Democratic Senator Chuck Robb, retired, Alan Simpson, a Republican, and allegedly, Sandra Day O'Connor is rumored to be about to join this as well. It has been put together under the auspices of the Congressional Institute of Peace, it will be funded by federal dollars. John Eastman, as a Constitutional scholar, what do you think of this, which smacks, I think, of the Committee of Reconstruction from the Civil War, and the Church Committee, and the 9/11 Commission?

JE: Well, we're still suffering from the consequences of the Church Committee in the 1970's. I think it's pretty clear that the reason we have been hit on 9/11, that the U.S.S. Cole was hit, that a number of incidents is that we decimated our intelligence gathering operations as a result of the Church Committee. And this committee is as wrong-handed as it is unconstitutional for the same reasons. Look, the founders were very smart, the smartest generation of human beings that ever walked the face of the Earth, in my mind. And they understood that they needed to have an executive that was accountable to the people, but that it could also operate with secrecy and dispatch in time of war. What this commission is clearly aiming to do is to second guess military decisions from field commanders, and executive policy making, out in the light of day, on matters that need to be kept confidential if we're going to win this war.

HH: Not only that, it...I'm so glad you said it's unconstitutional, because that's where I'm headed. Congress has the right, of course, to conduct oversight hearings. But when Congress does it, if we don't like what's happening, there can be reprisal at the ballot box. When they shuffle it off to a blue ribbon panel like the 9/11 Commission, they are insulating themselves from any political fallout that the people might feel about their interference with the war effort. That's what I resent about this.

JE: Well, that's right. And look, they've been doing that for sixty years, though. I mean, the entire advent of the administrative state is based on the theory that we should shuffle things off to unaccountable people, so that the politicians don't have to suffer consequences of wrong decisions. I'd unravel the whole lot of that, and start put policy making judgments back in Congress, and execution of war making judgments in the executive, without their interference.

HH: John Eastman, politically, I don't believe the Bush administration will be able to resist demands made by this group, especially with Rudy on it. I just can't understand why Baker and Rudy agreed to this, but you know, some of the old timers like Simpson and Perry are looking for a last turn in the sun, like Leon Panetta. They couldn't turn this down in a hundred years. But what would your advice be to someone who did not want to have anything to do with them, who is serving in the executive branch. They have to quit, don't they?

JE: Well, I wouldn't say they have to quit. I would say they should dust off some old George Washington letters when Congress tried to interfere with his negotiations of the Jay Treaty, and demanded accountability and demanded the President to come up and testify, and that his negotiators testify about what their instructions were. And he just sent them a letter saying that it would be inappropriate for the executive to respond to such overtures from Congress. It would mean that the executive was not a co-equal branch, but a subservient of Congress, as if this was some parliamentary system. And he refused to comply. And the Bush administration should do the same.

HH: The 9/11 Commission, fresh in our memory, but I want to remind people of Richard Ben-Veniste, Bob Kerrey, etc., much circus, much televised hearings, much abuse of the process. Any reason in your mind that we will not have part 2 of that circus here?

JE: None whatsoever. It was even worse than a circus, Hugh. The very people that were responsible for the wrong-headed decisions of the 1990's, the refusal to let the FBI share intelligence information with the CIA and with the military, was Jaime Gorelick. She ought to have been called as a witness, and yet she was sitting on that commission. I mean, there can be no higher conflict of interest than that.

HH: Is it appropriate for a former Justice of the Supreme Court to sit on this?

JE: Well, you know, it's appropriate for a Justice of the Supreme Court to sit on commissions of all sorts. What makes this inappropriate is not that she's a former Justice of the Supreme Court, but that the commission itself is an unconstitutional intrusion by Congress into the operation of the executive.


HH: John Eastman, Russ Feingold has called for censure of the President. Your opinion on such a motion, given the Constitution's very explicit discussion on how presidential misconduct is to be dealt with, if at all.

JE: Well, the Constitution provides for one route for the Congress, formally, to address the president, and that's by an impeachment proceeding. Now the Senate and the House of Representatives can pass resolutions all they want that have zero effect, and I suppose that's what Senator Feingold has in mind. But it's kind of beat our chests, a lot of it, and pass something that has no effect. Now the Congress, and the U.S. Senate did in the 1800's, pass a resolution of censure on President Johnson, but it had no effect as well, and was ultimately repealed a couple of Congresses later.

HH: Now this is a hard question. I want, and in fact, Senator Frist on this show today guaranteed that the Feingold censure resolution will be brought to a debate and a vote on the floor of the Senate, and I'm happy with that. There are, however, some e-mails arriving, and some votes saying no, this establishes a precedent which is bad and unconstitutional, in that they are supposed to wait for the House upon such matters. Your take on it, John Eastman?

JE: Well, I mean, a resolution of censure is not an impeachment thing. As I said, it has zero effect. They could not initiate an impeachment proceeding on their own. The Constitution specifically requires that to originate in the House of Representatives, and gets tried in the Senate. But a resolution, you know, we have resolutions for national hog day, and we have resolutions for all sorts of things. And if they want to pass a resolution, or have a vote on a resolution, you know, however foolish it is, they're free to do that. It's about all the substantive work they do these days, it seems to me.

HH: So it'll be a political event, and as such, you have no serious objection to it, other than on the merits of course, I'm sure you'll agree with men the NSA surveillance program was not illegal, the President is not a criminal, and in fact, he was well within his existing authority.

JE: You know, I've not agreed with everything the administration has done, but this one they are absolutely correct on, and Attorney General Al Gonzales, when he went over there, and was subjected to question about the President it not above the law, he reminded the Senator on that committee that neither is the Congress above the Constitution. And what Congress did with the FISA act was try and intrude on Constitutional powers that the Constitution specifically gives to the president of the United States. And for them to have done that is unconstitutional. For the president not to succumb to the unconstitutional intrusion on his powers, was the right thing to do.

HH: Now Professor Eastman, earlier today, Christopher Hitchens, tremendous writer, often right, sometimes wrong, announced to me, I did not know this, that he's a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit to strike down the NSA program. And his argument is thus, that even if the authorization for the use of military force had given the president statutory authority, that the FISA was subsequently amended so that that amendment, though it did not deal specifically with the AUMF, or the NSA program, would have, by virtue of its reauthorization of its exclusivity provisions, rendered a nullity any authorization of use for military force expansion of presidential power.

JE: Well, that's clever, but the FISA court of review, which is the highest court in the land to have considered the question of the Constitutionality of the FISA's intrustion on the president's powers, specifically said even if that the use of force authorization didn't authorize the president to conduct this, and FISA prohibits it, even if it does that, that would be unconstitutional intrusion on the president's powers.

HH: I agree with that, and he will actually concede that point. But he nevertheless wanted to argue but there's no gainsaying that the president broke the FISA. And I don't agree with that. I believe there are a couple of ways to avoid that conclusion, that are in fact the ways that courts typically work to avoid such conflicts.

JE: Well, they would be making the same argument that the subsequent FISA amendments somehow by implication restricted the use of force authorization. But that's exactly the argument that the White House is making, that the use of force authorization was...implicitly overruled FISA.

HH: But actually, the use of force resolution explicitly gives the president everything he needs to go after the terrorists.

JE: Exactly. But Hitchens and others have argued that it was only implicit, not explicit, because it didn't go on to say and we also mean to let them use typical surveillance techniques, whether FISA permits it or not.

HH: Right.

JE: But look, it has been since time immemorial that military commanders have had the authority to conduct surveillance of enemy communications. The notion that this was somehow not part of the necessary and proper use of force given to the president by the use of force authorization after 9/11 is really a preposterous question.

HH: It is, and unfortunately, there will be no standing to bring this lawsuit, because I would like to see it actually decided. John Eastman, a couple of quick things. First of all, the status on the Los Angeles City seal suit, Los Angeles County suit?

JE: Well, as far as I know, unless something's happened here today, it's still pending in the 9th Circuit without any answer. But there's a new suit pending that I'm involved in down in Long Beach, California. The city has condemned the Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church to make way for some additional condos.

HH: They can't do that.

JE: Well, that's what I'm thinking, and I tried to tell them that at the hearing on Monday, and they just gave me blank stares, arrogantly refused to answer any questions about why this was necessary to a valid public purpose, even a valid public purpose as broadly defined as the Supreme Court now does.

HH: John, get it before Judge David Carter in Orange County. He'll slap down...

JE: Well, we're looking at that, and I would encourage all your listeners to help us out by putting the political pressure on. is where they can go, and they'll all the phone numbers and e-mail addresses to complain to.

HH: And John Eastman, I was teaching this past week the Buckley V. Vallejo, and paused over Proposition 62 and the case before the Supreme Court. Are you at all optimistic that the new Court will simply sweep away Buckley?

JE: Well, yeah, but optimistic is not the right word. I'm fearful that they will. Buckley's bad enough.

HH: No, I mean...

JE: But there are some provisions in there that protects...

HH: No, I'm talking about returning to the original speech, because Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas dissented in the Buckley progeny. And now they've got two more with them. Do you think those five might gather around the 1st Amendment?

JE: I don't know. Where was Kennedy on the McConnell V. FEC case? I'm off the top of my head not recalling.

HH: I'm not either.

JE: Yeah, this is dangerous. The trend of the Court has been for more restrictions on speech, not less. And I hope Roberts and Alito will be able to turn it around, and I just don't see it yet.

HH: I think actually...all right. We'll see. John Eastman, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

Christopher Hitchens' political autopsy of Milosevic, plus his reaction to the Feingold censure resolution.


HH: Coming up after the break, Majority Leader Bill Frist joins me to discuss the motion for censure filed by Russ Feingold, and that's a subject I will also be talking about with my first guest, Christopher Hitchens, columnist for Vanity Fair and for Slate Magazine, but not before...Christopher Hitchens, welcome back. Good to have you.

CH: Very nice for you to have me back.

HH: Not before I wanted to talk to you a little bit about Slobodan Milosevic, whose body arrived in Serbia today, to be greeted by supporters who kissed his coffin. They wanted a state funeral. You wrote on this butcher quite forcefully on Monday. I don't think Americans quite understand who he is or what he did. How would you, just to the average American, describe him on the scale of thugs over the last 100 years?

CH: Well, that's an interesting question, because though he's one of the foulest of them, and ruined his own country as well as his neighboring countries, he was in a way not the kind of dramatic psychopath like Stalin or Hitler or bin Laden. This was the trials of a completely mediocre opportunist, a bureaucrat who may not even have believed in Serbian nationalism, or Serbian Christian orthodoxy, but who just used these things to move from being a Communist Stalinoid official to being a national socialist, to being a facist, and I think was incapable of considering any feelings other than his own. It's very sad to see Serbs rallying to him as if he was a symbol of their country, because they should hate him as Germans should hate Hitler more than anyone else. It was...the principal victim, and the first victim of his revolting politics, was their own country.

HH: Christopher Hitchens, after Tito's death, was the disillusion of Yugoslavia, and its ultimate savagery inevitable?

CH: It's disillusion was inevitable, certainly. And it would have been quite possible for it to desolve peacefully, and for the larger independent countries like Croatia, Serbia and so on, and I think Bosnia, too, to eventually seek membership of the European Union, autonomously, because Tito's constitution gave the right to any of the Yugoslav republics to secede if they wanted to. What happened instead was when it broke up, was Milosevic seized control of the whole of the state, the whole of the treasury, the whole of the national army that belonged to everyone, that had been built with everyone's taxes. And he turned it on anyone who wasn't a Serb in an attempt to create a greater Serbia, and to destroy the independence, and in one case, even the reality of the other republics. So it mutated into a terrible kind of facism, right on Europe's doorstep. And of course, the Europeans were unable to do anything about it. I remember it with fantastic shame. I mean, they all picked sides, the same as they'd done in 1914. The British supported, generally, the Serbs, as did the French. The Germans supported the Croats, the Autrians supported the Slovians. It was exactly like 1914, like the bloodbath.

HH: There were no heroes in this. You write...

CH: Well, yes there was one.

HH: Who was that?

CH: I mean, the United States of America, because the Europeans having found they could do nothing about it, they couldn't prevent the near obliteration of great cities like Dubrovnik and Sarajevo by bombardment, right next to their own borders, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they eventually had to say we can't do a thing. We need the Americans to come and sort this out. I've never forgotten it, because in all the discussions you've had since about how we should remember to placate the Europeans and take their statesmanship into account, no one ever remembers to point out that they had to come, cap in hand, to Washington, unfortunately, to the Clinton administration, which took ages to make up its mind, but eventually did, and say we can't do this without you.

HH: But in your Slate piece, you refer to David Owen, Cyrus Vance, Kissinger, Eagleburger, a parade of people who just said let them slaughter each other.

CH: Well, these are the people we now with a laugh call the realists, the people who just said why not let's let it run and see what happens. Why don't we let it run until there's ethnic cleansing in every quarter of the Balkans, and there will be a war which might well drag in the Russians on the side of the Serbs, and perhaps even the Turks eventually on the side of Bosnia, if they'd been left completely alone, and where the possibility existed, if the oldest minority, Muslim minority in Europe being just simply exterminated. So we would have begun the 20th Century with a Muslim massacre of the Christian Armenians, celebrated the middle of the century by having a German imperialist massacre of the Jews of Europe, and finished it by having a Christian massacre of the Muslims. That would have been a great way to wind up the 20th Century. Fortunately, the United States was on the right side of all these three things.

HH: Now Milosevic's party is down to 22 seats in a 250 seat parliament, yet they are ecstatic over the return of his body. What do you see happening in Serbia, in that region, with our troops firmly placed right in the middle of the Balkans, although dwindling in number, NATO's still there. What's the end game, if there is an end game in the Balkans?

CH: Well, gradually, Croatia and Slovenia, I think I'm right in saying Slovenia's already in the European Union now.

HH: I don't know, either.

CH: Well, I think I'm practically sure I am right in saying that President Kucan got them in. It's easier for them. They're small, they're fairly homogenous, they're very prosperous, they're right next door to Europe anyway. They have a common border with the EU. But Croatia's certainly a candidate member, and will be a full member once it gives up all its wanted war criminals. The Serbs can't yet qualify, because they haven't surrendered their two most wanted guys, Generals Karadzic and Mladic, who were the people responsible for the mass murder in Bosnia. People laugh that we can't find bin Laden in some remote part of the Pakistan border, but European NATO cannot find the two most wanted war criminals right on its own soil.

HH: Oh, excellent. I haven't heard that point made before. That's excellent. Now let's turn...

CH: And for much longer, by the way. That's been a scandal, and someone is protecting them. And if you wanted me to guess which European country's been helping to do so, I can probably tell you.

HH: Please.

CH: Well, I'm sorry to pander to the predjudices to some of your listeners, Mr. Hewitt, but I'm afraid it's the French yet again.

HH: (laughing) The French. You know, we've been trying...we've got to get back our friend from Paris Match.

CH: I'm a great Francophile myself, but I have to say, their politics lately have stunk really badly. And this is one case where we are morally certain that at one point, Mladic certainly was about to be caught, and he was tipped off by a French general.

HH: Oh, that's very interesting. Christopher Hitchens, let's turn to domestic politics. Russ Feingold filing a censure motion, collecting 200,000 signatures in support of it, Barbara Boxer, titan of the Senate, Tom Harkin, titan of Iowa, joined her today in calling for the censure. And yet, it's stuck there. What should the Republicans do with this?

CH: Well, I actually have a soft spot not for any of the people you've just mentioned except for Senator Feingold. He was the only Democrat to vote against stopping the impeachment trial of President Clinton. It's not remembered often, but I remember it, because there were many Democrats who promised they would do or say something, including Lieberman, if you remember...

HH: Yes.

CH: ...about Clinton's crimes. Feingold was the only Democrat who actually cast a vote saying no, the trial has to go on. So I kind of like him, and I should tell you that I am a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit against the NSA and the Justice Department against warrantless wiretapping.

HH: That's fine. You're wrong, but that's okay.

CH: I think seems to me that the FISA law was broken by the President.

HH: Well, an unconstitutional statute has no applicability, and in any event, would be overridden.

CH: Well, that might well be true. And if the President wants to say the statute's unconstitutional, then he should go to the Congress, or the Supreme Court, and ask for it to be repealed or struck down. Meanwhile, though, it seems to me it is the law, and my allies in this battle, as well the other people who joined the ACLU suit, who some of whom are much more impressive than me, have actually been Republicans like Congressman...former Congressman Bob Barr, and Grover Norquist, and so on, saying look, it's really a problem that in a time of war, the state tends to aggrandize its power in secret, and we have to be aware of this danger.

HH: But did any of them...I mean, sitting around and persuading you to join this ill-considered lawsuit, say to you the authorization of use for military force, as discussed in Hamdi, does give the President the opportunity not to make the argument that FISA is, in fact, unconstitutional, though he could fall back to that. But that is in fact overridden and made null and void as to warrantless intercepts of al Qaeda, because that's...

CH: I would say not for this reason, Mr. Hewitt, because FISA was reworked, and attended to again, and amended to some extent, after the passage of the authorization for the use of military force. So it can't be said that the AUMF trumps FISA. I know this sounds technical, but it's not. It's important. And Congress has the right to know when it takes the trouble to amend the law at the President's request, that he hasn't in the meantime decided to bend or break it on his own account. There can't be a blank check for presidential authority in time of war.

HH: Oh, but there was one. I digress. I still want to go to the censure motion. We'll come back and debate this again.

CH: Oh, yeah. Okay, well, I think that's probably silly, because my experience with most of these liberal left types is that...that may not be true of and people like Boxer and so on. But if they're put to it, they say okay, do you really want this? Are you really prepared to come up and vote on it now? They tend to melt away.

HH: But do you see what's going on at Daily Kos and the other websites? They are frothing for this to be brought forward. Can Democrats refuse their hysterical base?

CH: Well, that's a good question all the time with them. I mean, they're in a hostage condition, I would say. They're in a prisoner's dilemma. They know very well that the people who actually raise the money and form the energetic base of the party are people who could not possibly get elected dog catcher anywhere, and may well defeat them again. But they can't, nor can they afford to tell them to get lost. And this is a problem for them all the time. I mean, remember, the people, if Clinton had done this, which he did with the so-called effective anti-terrorism death penalty law, which the ACLU said correctly was the most repressive law published...sorry, passed by the President who was the worst for civil liberties in living memory, they would have defended it if it was him as they would now.

HH: Yup.

CH: It's the sheerest, most bloody awful partisanship.

HH: Christopher Hitchens from Vanity Fair, next time we'll get to George MacDonald Fraser, as our audience needs to know about that. But thanks for the time.

End of interview.

Majority leader Bill Frist's plans for the Feingold censure resolution.

"This is a political stunt in a time of war, talking to an America that remembers 9/11."


HH: Joined now by the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Tennessee Senator Bill Frist. Senator Frist, congratulations first on your victory down in Memphis in the straw poll. I know that that was not that significant, but it's always better to win than lose.

BF: You know, Hugh, that's the way I billed it. I said coming in, these straw polls don't mean a thing. It don't matter, but then after two days of real excitement, not just about the straw poll, but about our Republican principles, conservative principles, values, bold leadership by the President, a lot of activity, a lot of energy, then we had the straw poll. And then I saw the results and said man, I'm like any other politician. I love to win. So it was a lot of fun. We had a lot of energy down there in Memphis, Tennessee.

HH: Now let's get on, Senator Frist, to the question before the Senate. Russ Feingold has accused the President of criminal conduct, has called for his censure, the Wall Street Journal predicts this is the beginning of a campaign of impeachment, should the control of the House of Representatives be lost in 2006. What's going to happen to the Feingold censure resolution?

BF: Well, Hugh, as you saw the other day, after his political stunt that he pulled on television Sunday, which sent a clear signal that he was going to do a little grandstanding, attacking the President on Monday at 4:00, confronting him directly on the floor, I said if you want to censure the President, if you want to make these false accusations, let's take it directly to the American people, and let's have a vote right now. If you're going to put censure out there, I will accept your proposal for a vote, and let's go do it. And with that, there was objection. And then I basically said well, if you're not going to vote tonight, let's bring that censure vote up tomorrow afternoon at 5:30. And once again, they said absolutely no. So where we are now is that I made a standing offer, and I'm ready to take it to the floor at any point in time. You've got a party out there that fought against the Patriot Act, took great pride in, at a point in time, killing the Patriot Act, a party who opposes the NSA terrorist surveillance, and who's talking about cutting and running Iraq. It's time to finally call them on what we're saying out there, to show the difference between us and them.

HH: Now Senator Reid commended Senator Feingold, plus Senators Boxer and Harkin, two Democratic hard left members of their caucus, agreed with the censure resolution today. So I'm up to 59. How do you get this to the floor? What's it require?

BF: Well, there are two things, and this gets down then, in sort of the mechanics of the Senate. I can got out and just leader to leader say if you're ready to vote on this, I'm ready. Let's do it right now. Well, that didn't work. Then I tried a little bit different time, and that didn't work. I can continue trying that, which I do, and as you see us talking on the floor as we're moving around between votes. And then the other thing that I've done is referred it to committee. And when it goes to committee, there is this process of a markup of the resolution itself. And it's been referred to committee now, and that week of March 27th, it should be coming out of committee, in which case it can be taken directly to the floor.

HH: Does it go to Judiciary, Senator Frist?

BF: It does. It goes to Judiciary, and I think, Hugh, you also heard Arlen Specter right after I spoke at 4:00 earlier this week, when they put that censure resolution out there. And Arlen understands the significance of this, and he will mark it up, and get it out of committee, and then hopefully, we'll be able to vote on it.

HH: Let's stay in the tall grass for a moment, Senator Frist. Obviously, Senator Kyl was our guest yesterday, a good friend of the program, part of the leadership. He said look, this is a stunt, we can't let it take too much time away from what we want to get done. But then I got a tidal wave of e-mails saying no, stand on that line all Summer if you have to, quoting Grant. And the question is, do you think the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee will allow the Feingold motion to just pass through unaltered, so that it can come to the floor as he proposed it?

BF: Hugh, I think they will. I've sort of got mixed feelings. First of all, as I showed the other day, and as I said openly, this is a political stunt in a time of war, talking to an America that remembers 9/11. And I'm sitting here in our nation's capitol right now as we're looking out on the Washington Mall, recognizing that those three airplanes really destroyed the spirit of America in so many lives. And right now, we're still at risk. And while they're out there attacking the President for partisan, political grandstanding reasons, the President is out there fighting a War On Terror to protect the American people. To me, that's in excusable. And so I think the political stunt end of it bothers me. But what even bothers me more is the fact that we do have a party out there of Democrats who did fight to kill the Patriot Act, who did...are fighting to kill the most powerful program out there we have today to fight terrorists in this country, to make us safe. That is the NSA terrorist surveillance program. And that contrast, America needs to see. They need to see where we are, where the President is, and where this cut and run mentality against the Patriot Act, against the most effective law enforcement tools we have.

HH: More than 200,000 members of have signed petitions in just 24-48 hours endorsing this censure resolution. So I think whether or not it's a stunt, it certainly is at the center of politics in the United States today, the paranoid view of what we're doing, and the responsible view. So I hope you do get that to the floor.

BF: Yeah.

HH: I think that's probably the most important question of early this year.

BF: Yeah, I think that is the point. It's two different things. It's a political stunt. But also, it goes right at the core of the safety and security of the American people. So it's not just a political stunt we can dismiss. It is an issue where their tools are such it puts us at greater danger to a terrorist attack. Our tools are out there to protect the American people. And there is a bright line there that the American people need to see.

HH: I just had Christopher Hitchens, excellent writer with whom I often disagree, though he is often right on many things. He is of the opinion that the President's NSA authorization to conduct warrantless surveillance of al Qaeda contacting their operatives in the United States is illegal, because it did violate FISA. I believe that's wrong, and I don't think anything near a majority of Senators believe that's correct, that they believe the AUMF, in fact, gave the President the authority to do this. Your take on this, Senator Frist, from the Senate perspective? Does anyone really believe the President violated FISA?

BF: You know, it is so fundamental. And again, I'm one of the eight people who have been fully briefed on this program. As you know, there's this argument that the Democrats said we've got to brief everybody on the program. And as I've said before, if you do that, by definition, you're taking the playbook that's protecting all of our listeners right now, and you're giving it to the guys over in Torah Bora, or Osama bin Laden, or the terrorists. You're giving them the playbook so they can attack us. And it doesn't make sense. But being one of those eight people, I can tell you that I know...don't believe, don't think, but know that this program is lawful, it is Constitutional, and it is protecting the safety and the American people like no other program can.

HH: And so if this comes to a there even 20...are there even 20 Senators who believe the President has acted illegally, Senator Frist?

BF: No. Well, you know, I can't say, because what sometimes they'll do is sort of lock-step, because there is a real dislike by the Democrats...that's a nice word, for the President. And so some people will just follow their leadership and make a statement. But no, I don't think there are 20 Senators who truthfully would say this program is unlawful today. I mean, he's the commander-in-chief. We're at war. We passed a resolution, in a bipartisan way to give him the force to go out and take down these terrorists. So surely he can listen in on a telephone call that is, by definition, terrorist with somebody in the United States.

HH: Well, I compliment you, Majority Leader Frist, on your determination to get that vote and that debate, and look forward to watching it and reporting back on it, and talking with you about it when it begins. Majority Leader Bill Frist of the United States Senate.

End of interview.

Return to top

Tuesday, March 14

New York Post's John Podhoretz on the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and the politics of the censure resolution.

HH: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall of Fame, Rock 'N Roll division, providing the bumper music to my guest, John Podhoretz, columnist extraordinaire for the New York Post, author of Bush Country and the soon to be published Can She Be Stopped. When's that coming out, John?

JM: May.

HH: May. All right. John, I'll be in New York in a couple of weeks. I hope I can drag you over to the Empire State Building again to do some broadcasting.

JM: You know I'll be there.

HH: Okay, wonderful. John, before I go to the politics, you're a man of great musical taste and distinction. What do you make of Black Sabbath, Blondie, Miles Davis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Sex Pistols, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, this year's class of inductees at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame?

JM: Well, let's see. Miles Davis never played Rock 'n Roll, Black Sabbath couldn't play a tune. And Blondie recorded four sort of good songs. I mean, the interesting question here is does this suggest that the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame is now sort of having to go to the minor leagues to fill itself up?

HH: This is what I've been saying...this has been my argument, but the Lynyrd Skynyrd fans are attacking me en masse via e-mails as not knowing anything. It was loud...

JM: Ahh, that's just sentimentality because of the plane crash. You know it and I know it.

HH: And so I just...

JM: Because if they were so good when the survivors reconstituted themselves as the Rossington-Collins Band, they would have done okay, and they didn't, so...

HH: I'm telling you, you've got to take to the airwaves on this, John, because we have to shut down induction. We're run out. There's nobody left. Now...

JM: I sort of...when it comes to Lynyrd Skynyrd, I go with Warren Zevon, who did his own version of Sweet Home Alabama, which went, "Sweet Home Alabama, play that dead band's song."

HH: Oh, that's so brutal. I'm so glad I talk to New Yorkers once in a while, because they add spice to the show. All right, John. Let's get to the United States Senate. Russ Feingold, the censure motion. Your column today, Rich Lowry's column on National Review, the realist-retreatist divide. On one side, we've got you and Lowry and Christopher Hitches and Mark Steyn and me and a whole bunch of other people. On the other side, you've got George Will and William F. Buckley and Russ Feingold. What is going on in this country?

JM: Well, I think the issue here is among those who believe as some of us believe, that the notion of bringing freedom to an unfree part of the world is a realist strategy with dealing with, and finally winning the War On Terror. And the problem with the people who have now become skeptics, not only about Iraq, but about the way the War On Terror is being conducted, is that they have no answer to how you win. I mean, it's one thing to sort of kill the bad guys, but at some point, you, as we learned from the happy conclusion to the Cold War, you need the possibility of an achieved goal, which is that this threat will melt away. And George Cannon at the beginning of the Cold War said if you contain the Soviet Union, it will fall apart of its own internal contradictions. And those of us who believe in the Bush freedom doctrine think that if you offer people in the Muslim world the possibility of living a life on Earth that has intrinsic value, and is not simply a postponement of a hope for a better life in paradise, then you have the possibility of changing the ideological conditions and thereby saving the United States from the threat of a suicide bomber carrying a weapon of mass destruction, and detonating it in Times Square.

HH: And if we do not fight this war realistically, with those stakes in mind, the inevitability, and I use that word very advisedly, the inevitability of that attack, I think, is certain, and it's wrong to deny it's certain. Because if we don't fight it, they will coalesce, they will read about the Iraqi plot today? The 421 al Qaeda that were going to infiltrate one battalion with the idea...

JP: Sure.

HH: That's sophisticated stuff, John Podhoretz.

JP: Right. Well, it's not just that. It's...Frank Fukuyama, Francis Fukuyama, whose now turned against neo-conservatism and all this...I mean, basically, his line is, and this to me is the only intellectually respectable line, is that essentially, 9/11 was a fluke, that we have overestimated the capability of terrorist groups and radical Islamists to strike at the West and the United States. And that argument is only supported by the fact that we haven't been hit since 9/11. Well, Fukuyama could be right. It could be that 9/11 was a fluke. I don't see how on any rational reckoning of how you deal with threats, that you can make policy based on that idea.

HH: And it also seems to me...I'm not accusing Fukuyama of racism. But it also seems to me to allow the appearance of a third world economy, and a pre-modern garb and belief systems, and patterns of language to hide technological sophistication, fervent organization and simply a refusal to be know, suicide...they are very good at terrorism.

JP: Look, I mean, this is what we know, okay? If the 9/11 strike had been 45 minutes later, 20,000 more people would have been dead in New York. If the people on Flight 93 hadn't brought the plane down, the Capitol or the White House would have been destroyed. And if certain lucky things hadn't happened in Britain, 5,000 people would have been dead in the underground this July.

HH: And we came very close to having our government decapitated, and whether or not the Capitol would have been rebuilt, it's almost certain that the martial law that would have followed, or whatever happened, would have convulsed the United States in ways that would have been transfiguring.

JP: Right. So but basically, what we have here is...I mean, what you can look at this as is, we went into Iraq, we are seeing that we can't just close our eyes and snap our fingers and change the world in that respect. And it's possible that some people were overly optimistic about it. Certainly some people I knew were probably overly optimistic about it, and certainly I didn't expect that things would be this brutal this late. But you live and learn, and the can' of the great jokes is this idea about okay, well you know, we went into Iraq, but we didn't have a plan for winning the piece, right?

HH: Yeah.

JP: There is no peace.

HH: Yup.

JP: The war...this is the war.

HH: And it's going to go on a long time.

JP: The war didn't end. We eliminated the regime, but the war is still going on.

HH: Before we run out of time, Russ Feingold introduced a censure motion. Should the Republicans insist on a vote on it?

JP: Oh, yeah. I think basically what this is, this is Murtha II. The most responsible and best thing that happened last year, in last year's politics, was the Republicans forcing a vote on the immediate withdrawal of troops. And I think basically, this is a chance for Republicans to say Democrats, put your money where your mouth is. You're going to say Bush has done all these terrible things, then censure him.

HH: Let's get to the vote. You're right. John Podhoretz, always a pleasure. His column today linked at

End of interview.

John McIntyre from Real Clear Politics 2.0

HH: This is a segment for anyone in America who has ever had a website, currently has a website, or is thinking about starting a website, especially anyone whose livelihood was in any way, shape or form dependent upon a website, because at some point in your life, you will face the question of whether or not to redesign it. And especially if it's successful, you will stare at that prospect with fear gripping your stomach as though you were walking off of a dark, dark cliff into an abyss. John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics just did that. Hello, John.

JM: (laughing) How are you doing, Hugh? You've aptly described my feelings the last, probably, seven days to four months. It's been a long process.

HH: Well, as you know, I went on self-imposed vacation last week. Didn't do any news, didn't do any blogging, didn't do anything, and hadn't checked RCP until this morning, and I was stunned what I found, a gorgeous, absolutely fascinating redesign. But I'm not interested in politics today. I want to know what went into the thinking of changing something that was working fabulously well, because Real Clear Politics, respected by both the left and the right, owns the space. Why would you mess with it?

JM: Well, it was...the biggest driver, quite frankly, was the back end software platform issues. I mean, we were using...this gets a little technical. We were using a Dreamweaver type software. It was...technologically, it was almost the equivalent of like a 1958 Chevy, and it just...the technology changes so quickly, I mean, it was the same technology when we founded the site in 2000. And I mean, we just had to upgrade it. And so that was really the driver. So given that we had to change the platform that we were using, that kind of led to the whole process of okay, how do we keep the core of what we do, what people like about it, but also incorporate changes that are going to help us be more successful?

HH: Now, the color scheme is gone, and it was garish. I wrote on the blog today that it's always been my favorite website for political news, analysis and straight up the middle objective data. But know, you get used to it like you get used to a migraine, because the colors were all over the place, and it was just loud and garish tabloid like.

JM: Right, right.

HH: And now it's all clean and smooth and 2006 like. I mean, did you have any regret over killing off the garishness? It was Las Vegas in neon. It was...

JM: Well, it's funny. I had some advisers, including family members, who suggested that that was part of the...what was Real Clear Politics. We hired a very good design firm, Dylan Thompson in New York, who had done some other media sites, and we were very pleased with their work, and how they worked us through the process. And it was just a needed change that we sort of had to do.

HH: Now I'm looking at it. You've added a resource center, and an opinion buzz tracker. What are these features?

JM: Well, the resource...and that's funny you said that. Some of these things were actually on the other site, but we just didn't do a very good job of sort of promoting and profiling them. The resource center is an aggregation, daily aggregation of transcripts of major speeches, debates when they start to happen, video clips, audio clips. And if you click on it, we have things from your program, Hugh, and that Radioblogger puts up, and then also Hardball, Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, O'Reilly. So any political junkee type whose interested in what's on the cable channels, talk radio, President Bush's speeches, this is where they can get that type of information.

HH: All right. Now that all having been said, how's the reaction been among the consumers?

JM: Well, I'd say the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I mean, we get lots of people, probably three to one, four to one positive. People say they love it. They like the change. You do get a hard core intensity group of people we've upset them greatly. Probably I'd say that's maybe 5 or 10%. And I think there's a lot of people who grew really accustomed to what we did, and it was almost a part of their life in the sense that they would use the site very regularly. And I think when you change that up, and this was true for myself, too, change is hard. And so I think for those people, it's going to be a period of adjustment. But I think the way that we've done it is an improvement in that I think we're going to be able to deliver everything that we were delivering before, and a lot more.

HH: All right. Now talk to me a little bit terms of your business plan, your roll-out. Are you going to be adding more original content?

JM: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That is definitely part of what we're, what our plan is. And obviously, that increases and keeps people on the site more. And one of the things we've been fortunate with is, because of our audience and our growth, we get a tremendous amount of submissions of people, and a lot of quality writers want to be profiled and seen on Real Clear Politics, and that makes it...our number one priority at all times is to keep the quality first-rate and the best. So we're not going to sacrifice quality for the sake of linking to things on our site. But what we're going to try to do is to keep the same top quality while growing more and more exclusive Real Clear Politics pieces.

HH: All right. That's enough of that. Now I've got to get your reaction to the Feingold trap, and whether or not the Republicans should walk away. Jon Kyl on this program earlier today suggesting you know, we've got business to do, it was a stunt, and we've just got to move on. What do you think?

JM: (laughing) Well, I don't know who it's a trap for. I mean, I think if anything, it's a trap for the Democrats. I think this is similar to the Murtha episode, in that it puts the Democrats...they get a free pass where they go out and they do this non-stop Bush bashing, where they just hit the President, hit the President, hit the President, and they gin up their base. And then when they're sort of called on it, to vote on it and follow through on everything they say, just like Murtha, then suddenly the vote's four hundred something to three. And I think the Republicans in the Senate should try to put the Democratic Senator on record, I mean, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Evan Bayh, the ones running for President. What do they think? Do they think the President should be censured for trying to prohibit al Qaeda...for monitoring al Qaeda phone calls into the United States.

HH: And in those terms that he used...

JM: Yeah.

HH: ...of criminal activity and that sort of stuff...

JM: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, this is great for Russ Feingold and his run for the presidency, because it helps him with the total left-wing base, that that's what he's going to have to need to make a run. And it's an opportunity for Republicans...and I think they should press this issue, and force the Democrats...

HH: Will Senator Frist pay a price if it doesn't come to a vote?

JM: Well, I think Senator Frist is being pretty aggressive on this, quite frankly. I think he's doing a good job, and I think he's going to do everything he can. But you're right. At the end, actions speak louder than words, and what will matter will be whether he can get it done.

HH: All right. John McIntyre from, 2.0. Congratulations on a great roll-out. It's a magnificent redesign. Go bookmark it. Start your day there every day, as most political savvy people in the United States do.

End of interview.

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl on Sen. Russ Feingold's censure resolution, and the odds of the Republicans scheduling an up or down vote.

HH: I'm joined at the beginning of the show by Senator Jon Kyl of the great state of Arizona, to brief us on the reaction and the ongoing maneuvers over Russ Feingold's, Senator from Wisconsin's, attempt to censure the President of the United States over the NSA program conducting warrantless surveillance of al Qaeda contacting their operatives in the United States. Senator Kyl, welcome back, and it's great to have you. Thanks for making five minutes for us.

JK: Well, thanks very much. Glad to be with you. The reaction, of course, that galloping sound you heard was all the Democrats running away from the proposal.

HH: I've seen that. He doesn't have a lot of co-sponsors yet.

JK: No, in fact, Hugh, as I'm sure your listeners are well aware, when the matter was presented last night, Majority Leader Frist said okay, we'll go ahead and vote on it, say, in a half an hour. And one of the Democrats on the floor objected to that. That wouldn't give enough time. And he said okay, then at 6:00. No, that still wouldn't be enough time. The leader said okay, tomorrow. No, that still wouldn't be enough time. I mean, obviously, they do not want to vote on this.

HH: Will the vote happen, Senator Kyl?

JK: Well, I'm not sure. There is a point at which I think you want to say look, this was just a stunt, you brought it up, you weren't willing to vote on it, and so we're going to move on to other things. It is, after all, a pretty serious proposition to bring a matter...a censure resolution to the floor, censuring the President of the United States of America. And I think if they're not serious about it to vote on it, then we may not be wanting to give it any more legs over the next several weeks. So I'm just not sure yet what the best way to handle it would be. But one way would be to put the Democrats to the test. You know, do you want to vote for it or not? The other way, since it does involve censuring the President, is to say okay, the fun and games are over. Let's get back to serious business.

HH: You know, Senator Kyl, judging from the reaction on my e-mail, we spent yesterday's program primarily on this, and the phone calls, the American people would like to see this debated. And not just the idiocy of a censure resolution, but the NSA program, and whether or not people are willing to stand up and say, as I know you have, it is within the President's Constitutional authority, and statutory grant, that we do what he has been doing. And I think getting people like Senator Clinton on the record on this would be very clarifying.

JK: Yeah, it would. And as a matter of fact, we probably will have an opportunity for that debate, because legislation is being crafted right now which would grant the Congress some additional oversight of this program. And by implication, would approve the program. Now it's already authorized in my view, so I don't think we have to authorize it. But at least it would be a recognition of the program by Congress, and provide oversight by the Intelligence Committee, which, by the way, I think is all right. There is always the question to be asked, how do we know that the program is not being abused? And if you don't have judicial oversight, you should have Congressional oversight of that. We have it. It could be improved. And so I would support the effort of somebody like Senator DeWine, for example, to add an element to the briefing of the members of the Intelligence Committee who are briefed on it, that would determine whether or not Americans are ever by mistake surveilled under this program. And if that were to occur, the steps that could be taken to make sure that it wasn't a common occurrance. That way, it's pretty hard to say that there could be a down side to the program. We know what the up side is. It catches bad guys. And as long as Congress can be assured that there is no down side, then it's pretty hard to argue against it, it seems to me.

HH: Well, one minute left, Senator, and I know you've got to run off to a meeting. If you hear from the base that they want this vote taken, do you think that the leadership will succeed in forcing it?

JK: Possibly, Hugh. But again, I just want to make the point that we have a lot of serious business to do, and we don't have time just to get people on the record. It would be interesting to see where they stand on certain issues, even though politically, that would be a lot of fun, and frankly would have some benefit for the American public. But it is a serious matter to censure the President. And if you're going to take a vote on that, you've got to be able to devote the time to it. We're supposed to start immigration reform on the 27th. We have to do the budget this week, and then immigration reform starting the 27th. That's going to take two weeks. After that, we have to do the repeal of the death tax, and begin the appropriation process. My only point in all of this is we only have so many days and weeks to get all of our business done.

HH: Oh, I know, and Brett Kavanaugh's in line, as are all of the other nominees.

JK: He is. Exactly. So there's that business as well. And so, it's not just a matter of saying we have all the time in the world, let's have some fun with the Democrats.

HH: Well, I still think it would be a teaching moment. Senator Kyl, thanks for spending an extra five minutes with us. We'll check back with you later in the week about how this develops. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

End of interview.

Return to top

Monday, March 13

John Fund on the political trouble looming for Republicans, and Yale's sensitivity problem in dealing with criticism over the Taliban student on campus.

HH: Joined by John Fund, columnist at, the Wall Street Journal's always on the move, peripatetic, really, John Fund. Where are you today, John?

JF: New York City. Home base.

HH: Okay, you're at home this week. I'm glad I caught up with you. John, I've got a number of things to cover with you, especially the Yale Taliban. But I want to start with the beginning of your column today, which says that the Bush White House is showing signs of being insular, burn-out, and desperately in need of new talent. There are rumors today that Andrew Card and John Snow will join Gale Norton in retirement shortly. Have you heard those?

JF: Yes, I've heard that, plus others.

HH: And do you think those are true?

JF: At least half of that will be true, and perhaps more. There's a piece in the Washington Post today which goes and talks to Ed Rollins, who served in the Reagan White House, and various other people, and they say you know, in the fifth or sixth year of an administration, people can't take the punishing schedule. It's not that they're not capable, it's not that they're not qualified. It's just eventually, the batteries run down. You can't have people working 18 hours days, 50 weeks a year, for six years straight, and not have some kind of burn-out.

HH: John Fund, do the people that you talk to recognize the November danger ahead? I think it's break the glass and pull the alarm time.

JF: I met with 20 House Republicans last week, and all of them basically said we are in trouble, and it's because we lack an agenda that's meaningful to the American people. And the only thing saving the Republicans from complete meltdown is the Democratic Party, which seems to have no agenda, or no platform, other than we hate George Bush.

HH: And the Feingold episode today, do you think there's any chance that the majority leader, working with Arlen Specter, will call that censure resolution to the floor in a replay of the House embarrassment of Murtha in the late Fall? Because that's what they ought to do, John Fund, is go right at that.

JF: I think people should be allowed to vote on just about anything on the floor of Congress, and that censure move would bring all of the debaters out. Let's not have the shadowboxing on television. Let's have a debate on the floor of the United States Senate, and have at it.

HH: John Fund, well, we agree on that. Now let's turn to Yale. I'm so happy about Yale, because my alma mater had so embarrassed itself with the dismissal of Lawrence Summers last week, that I thought we would be in the basement of stupid moves for a long, long time. But evidently, they've dug a floor in the cellar, and Yale's gone into it, led by their dean of fundraising at Yale Law School. Tell people how he reacted to critics of the Yale Taliban.

JF: Well, he's the assistant dean of funding for the law school. His name is Alexis Surovov, and he was so incensed that some Yale students were upset that Yale had brought in the deputy foreign minister of the Taliban as an honored student on campus, taking the place that some very qualified American, or perhaps an Afghan woman who'd been brutalized could have, that he sent out an e-mail to them, using an anonymous Columbia University account to try and mask his identity, saying, well, what's wrong with you. Are you retarded? This is the most disgraceful alumni article I've ever read. You failed to mention you've never contributed to Yale in your life. To suggest others follow your negative example is disgusting.

HH: So number one, he used the term retarded. Number two...and as the friend of an organization that takes care of kids with Down's, I am deeply offended by that. And I mean, really, in that regard. Number two, he broke into the financial records to use them in order to send out this critical e-mail, correct?

JF: Well, he claims he got them from public records, but he can't identify the public records he used. And he somehow got the very private e-mail of one of these critics, which is not available anywhere else, and her maiden name, and he refuses to explain how he would have gotten them, other than going through Yale records, and using that as a means to attack them.

HH: And so tell me now, given that that's all happened, is he being forced to quit his job or retire?

JF: No. As a matter of fact, Yale refuses to make any comment at all. In fact, throughout this entire Taliban disaster for Yale, they have issued one 144 word statement, and that's it. They will not answer any other questions, they will not give any interviews.

HH: Now when someone goes and hijacks Columbia's IT account database to send out this thing, that is so fraudulant on the face of it. You know, the Bush White House is suffering through the obvious embarrassment of having a shoplifter or a fraud as their domestic policy advisor. But this is the same thing, though it's probably criminal. I'm not sure...

JF: No, no. Actually, to be fair to him, he is a graduate student at Columbia. He has a right to a Columbia address. But he was trying to hide his identity, and that's just sneaky and wrong.

HH: Okay, I didn't understand that part. Okay.

JF: What is certainly wrong is him accessing private records of donors to discredit them. That is a complete violation of ehtics and standards.

HH: And I think it will also be, if you look at some of the federal privacy rules, will be a violation of some of those. Now John Fund, any reaction among Yale alumni that's noticeable yet?

JF: Ben Stein. Ben Stein has been used as an example by Yale fundraisers, saying well, a conservative like Ben Stein is still happy with Yale. And I called up Ben Stein, and he said that's ridiculous. I still give to Yale because I love it so much. But some things are beyond reason. I'll tell you what I do think of Mr. Rahmatullah, the Taliban man going to Yale. He said that is the equivalent of having an unrepentant SS man go to Yale after World War II in hopes that he'll go back and rebuild Germany. He said Yale is run by fruit loops, and is wacky.

HH: John Fund, you're breaking up on us, and I want to pause on that, because my guess is if we researched this, we would find this Yale Taliban standing around at some of the wall pushovers on gay people, as standing around at some of the doors barring doctors from treating women under their extreme version of Shuria. I mean, he's a crazy. This was the most repressive regime on the planet.

JF: He claims to have turned over a new leaf in some respects, but that's usually when he's been carefully coached, and has spin doctors around him. When he's on his own giving one on one interviews, he says things like well, those executions of women in the soccer stadium that were filmed, that was all some rogue ministry. And he said, and besides, there were executions in Texas at the same time. He still excuses the Taliban, the group that harbored the terrorist, Hugh, that bombed the World Trade Center with that plane.

HH: Now let me ask you, John Fund, who is paying for his education?

JF: A liberal foundation out of Wyoming that is funded by a trial lawyer, and by a CBS producer/cameraman who befriended him in Afghanistan. But Yale is giving Mr. Taliban man, Mr. Rahmatullah, a 40% discount on tuition. So they're treating him with special status that other students wouldn't get.

HH: Well, John Fund, any subsequent follow-up article?

JF: Oh, yes. There will be another one next week when Yale comes back from Spring break. And look, I'm simply saying to Yale, he's applying for admission next month as a sophomore for a full degree program. I'm saying to Yale, you should tell him it might be best if you study abroad next year.

HH: Ah, well put. John Fund, always a pleasure. is where you can find this article.

End of interview.

Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes on the release of the Saddam Hussein documents.

HH: Joined now by Stephen Hayes. He's a writer for the Weekly Standard. He's the author of the book, Connection. He's also a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, perhaps their most famous conservative graduate, Stephen. Is there anyone else in that category? Or are you the only one?

SH: Pat Buchanan.

HH: Oh, that's true. I always forget that, because it's so...

SH: He actually got into a fist fight during his time at Columbia, which I have to say, I never did.

HH: We're not really surprised by that, are we?

SH: (laughing) We're not.

HH: (laughing) No, we're not.

SH: I was tempted, I must say.

HH: I wrote about your alma mater not long ago for the Weekly Standard.

SH: Well, it was a great piece.

HH: (laughing) Yeah, I had a lot of fun up there, but boy, they are uneasy with The Connection, Mr. Hayes.

SH: I would say so.

HH: So tell me a little bit, explain for our audience who have not been following the Harmony database, these documents, these tapes, what we're talking about, and what they might show us about Saddam's Iraq.

SH: Well, essentially what happened is we went into Afghanistan, we went into Iraq. And among the things that we did, I would say that we didn't prepare well enough to do it, but we did it sort of haphazardly. And we now have this collection of two million plus documents. And by documents, I mean anything from audio tapes, video tapes, computer hard drives, paper memos, you name it. Two million of those have been captured by U.S. troops, by intelligence officials, and they have, most of them, stored basically in a warehouse in Doha, Qatar. They have been translated and analyzed at what I would consider to be a snail's pace. The term of art I think is exploited. They have been exploited at a snail's pace. So really, we're talking about having gone through less than 4% of those 2 million documents at this point, that we actually have some idea of what's in them. So it's a's probably premature to draw conclusions about what generally we will find, or to be very specific about what we'll find. But at the same time, there are some documents, we've seen in the past month, a couple of different studies based on those captured documents that have been quite interesting.

HH: Now Stephen Hayes, you've written this afternoon that a long-running bureaucratic in-fight that is being waged between John Negroponte, Director of Intelligence for America, and Congressmen from a variety of positions, and open government advocates has been resolved, allegedly. Update us on this long-running battle.

SH: Yeah, this is actually, I think, a big moment, potentially. What happened was for 13 months, I've been trying to get the government to release these documents. My basic view is we are continuing to have debates about what was going on in Iraq before the war. Why not actually use documents and computer hard drives and audio tapes and video tapes that can tell us, and let's not speculate anymore. Congressman Pete Hoekstra, who's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, agreed with that view, and has been pushing, I would say, very aggressively for the past six months to have these documents released so that Americans, so the policy makers, the media, can pore over them and come up with some better sense of what was going on in Iraq. And this weekend, actually, we had a couple of examples of what we learned by exploiting these documents. Michael Gordon, who's a reporter for the New York Times, a good reporter, wrote a book that's coming out soon called Cobra II. He co-wrote it with Bernard Trainor, who's a former general. I don't agree with everything that Gordon concludes. I haven't read this new book. He wrote sort of the definitive book about the first Gulf War. But a lot of the press, a lot of the attention that he's gotten over this past weekend has been because he got his hands on a classified document that was based on 600 captured documents from Iraq that talked about what the regime was up to as the war began, and as the war proceeded. So we know a lot more about what Saddam was doing, and where he went, and who he was talking to. And those are interesting things. I think what he focused on, those are interesting things more for a historical perspective. I actually think there are reasons to exploit the stuff and release it, that would have practical applications to the kinds of debates we're having today.

HH: I think you're absolutely right. I'm also curious as to why Saddam has not made a demand on these documents, or why we have not produced them, because the Nuremberg Trials and the Eichmann Hearing were all preceded by elaborate documentation of the crimes against humanity that the various accused had commited. And our indifference to this record being compiling is a little shocking for a country that prides itself on doing justice the old fashioned way.

SH: Absolutely. Well, look. I mean, I'm a supporter of the administration generally. I'm a supporter of the war in Iraq, but I think they dropped the ball on this one. I mean, I think we should have had...there were some preperations...Donald Rumsfeld wrote a memo in March of 2003, that outlined how we should go about securing these documents. It was never distributed. If it was distributed, important people didn't get it. So there was no systematic way of securing these documents, and not to revive another and separate debate, but frankly, we didn't have the troop numbers to secure some of these buildings that would have allowed us to secure the documents to give us this important historical record.

HH: Now I want to talk to you about The Connection, too. Obviously, the flash point here is weapons of mass destruction, although that is just one of many debates upon which light might be shed by these documents. But in your mind, Stephen Hayes, having studied this perhaps more than any other journalist out there, what's the case for WMD or not at this point?

SH: Well, I don't know that we know a lot about the WMD. You know, when ABC News broadcast some excerpts of Saddam tapes, I think it was about two weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago now. There was one passage that I thought should have gotten a lot more attention, and didn't get much attention. And it was a discussion that Saddam had with one of this top advisers. This guy was briefing Saddam, and this guy asked himself rhetorically, what happened to the nuclear components, or something to that effect. And he said some of the materials were transported out of the country. Now there's a lot we don't know. We don't know who said it, we don't know when it was said. At least I don't know when it was said. We don't know what Saddam's response was, we don't know where it went. I mean, there are all sorts of things we don't know. But boy, I would think that, you know, Bush administration officials and intelligence community officials, to say nothing of my colleagues in the journalism profession would be interested when you have someone on record, on tape, in a meeting with Saddam Hussein, saying that nuclear materials were transported out of the country.

HH: Yup.

SH: I mean, that matters.

HH: It also matters as to documenting the nature of the regime and it's susceptibility to change. I believe that among the Harmony documents that Austin Bay and others have been analyzing, there is conclusive proof that they continued to cat and mouse the inspectors.

SH: Yeah, I think that's true. I mean, Austin Bay's done a fantastic job on these 28 documents that West Point released that were captured in post-war Afghanistan. I think there may have been some documents that he's looked at also that have had some relevance to Iraq. One of the interesting things about the captured al Qaeda documents is that they include a report from someone who was described to me as a mentor to Zarqawi, talking about how Ayman al Zawahiri, who was bin Laden's chief deputy, remains on the loose today, sought, and sought repeatedly support from Iraq. We don't know the time frame, but it stands to reason it was in the 80's and 90's.

HH: Yeah, you're right. The audio did they get to ABC, Stephen Hayes?

SH: Well, the audio tapes I understand it, what happened was the U.S. government contracted with a number of Arabic speakers to translate some audio tapes that they thought would be useful in the Saddam trial. One of the guys they went to is a guy named Bill Tierney, who's a former U.N. weapons inspector. And they went to Tierney and said here's 12 hours of tape. Listen to it, tell us what's on it. And Tierney listened to it and thought well gosh, this stuff is interesting, and it doesn't have a lot of relevance to his criminal prosecution, to these war crimes trial. So Tierney kept a copy, know, gave his analysis to the FBI, who had contracted him to do this work, and then tried, I understand, to go to the Pentagon, and elsewhere in the U.S. government to say hey, look, this is something you guys really need to pay attention to, and if possible, you should release this. This is important. He didn't get a response from a variety of different places in the U.S. government, so he decided to take the copy public, and provided it to this guy who runs something called the Intelligence Summit. And they, then, went public and gave it to ABC.

HH: Very interesting. Now Stephen Hayes, we're out of time, but I want to ask you, you write about this, and your new piece is up at And you're able to track the number of people who come and read articles. What's the public's interest in this conversation and these documents?

SH: There's huge, huge interest, I would say, in understanding better what happened, and what the regime was up to in the years and months before the war. You know, there's this...I think the conventional wisdom now, sad it is, is that Saddam Hussein was sort of not much different than the king of Denmark. He didn't really have any...he didn't have these weapons, he wasn't a threat to anybody, why did we do this? And you know, nobody knows, as I say, what's in the totality of these documents. But certainly, and I've had some hints of this, I think there are things likely to come out in the coming weeks and months that will at least make the American public, if not my colleagues in the media, take a second look and say hey, wait a second. This is a lot more complicated that we first thought.

HH: And when they do come out, I'll be you you put them out there first. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, thank you. His latest piece, Finally, is published right now at I'll link to it at

End of interview.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on his surprising 2nd place finish in the Tennessee poll last weekend, and his legislation to protect religious adoption agencies.

HH: Joined now by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Gov. Romney, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MR: Thank you, Hugh. Good to be with you.

HH: Hey, congratulations. I know you were not actually involved in this, because you went down and spoke to the Memphis gathering of Republicans. But it's got to be nice to surprise the folks when it comes to the straw poll.

MR: Well, there's no question. It's a lot better than a kick in the teeth, and I was very, very pleased that folks down there were pleased with me, and ended up voting for me, which...obviously, this is very early and not very meaningful, but of course, it's nice to have a few people think that you're a pretty good guy.

HH: Yeah, I spoke with Nancy French, who runs Tennesseans For Mitt, and she tells me they're completely independent from your campaign. Are you troubled that you've got a lot of free agents out there, because I mean, you don't have a campaign. You haven't declared, and you can't coordinate anyway with these people. So it sort of has a lot of people running around doing that. Does that give you pause?

MR: Well, you know, it's fine for people to get involved in the game of politics, and I think it's a great thing in this country that people do find politics, in addition to sports, something that they can get involved in, and make a real difference in. And know, when this idea of Tennesseans For Mitt, I'd never heard of it. But I got one of their T-shirts. It said Yankee Governor, Southern values. I had to get a chuckle out of that, and express appreciation to them for their support. They're very, very kind people.

HH: It's a great thing, and obviously, it turned a lot of heads, so congratulations. Better to surprise on the up-side than on the down-side. Governor, the reason I wanted to talk to you is adoptions in Massachusetts. Can you explain to people the controversy in the Bay State?

MR: I sure can. Some years ago, the state legislature concluded that gay couples should have the right to adopt in Massachusetts. That's been the law here for some time. We have one major agency, however, that's affiliated with the Catholic Church, and that's Catholic Charities. And they place a lot of our most difficult to place children, the special needs kids that have been in state custody, in the Department of Youth Services. They place about a third of all of them in the state. And this group, the Catholic Charities, said look, we can't place these kids in gay families, because we don' a religion, we don't support gay marriage. And so we can't do that. So you know, I'm of the belief that we have to do everything we can to allow the Catholic Church to practice its religion as it wants to, and not impose on them the direction that they have to place children into gay couples.

HH: Now Archbishop Sean O'Malley, recently nominated by Benedict to become a Cardinal of the Church, met with you last week. What did he discuss with you?

MR: Well, we talked about this, this feature, and I expressed to him my concern that you know, as a society, we're very quick to jump when a Church or a religion in any way seems to be imposing in the public sector. If there's a Nativity scene, the ACLU is right there to keep that from happening. On the other hand, when the state intrudes on the right of a religion to practice its faith as they feel appropriate, somehow, no one comes to their aid. And in this case, I am going to come to their aid. I'm filing a bill which will exempt the Catholic Church from the requirement to provide children through adoption to gay couples.

HH: Now, the obvious critique of your response will be what is a Church believed it was wrong for minority couples to adopt? And they will play that argument against you. How are you going to respond to that, Mitt Romney?

MR: Well, the answer is that our Constitution, both federal and state, designate a number of protected classes, and they include race, religion, place of national origin, and there can be no discrimination against any individual on those bases. But same sex couples are not such a designated protected group. And their right to adopt under Massachusetts law is from a statute, not from the Constitution. And therefore, we can say that in this case, a religion should be able to abide by its own tenets, and not have to place children into a gay home.

HH: Now you will also run into the argument that if this law passes, and I suspect it will. You expect this will pass, even though you've got a Democratic legislature, they're very aware of the Catholic vote in Massachusetts.

MR: They are aware of the Catholic vote, and it's very difficult ot predict at this point whether this will pass or not. I think there's a huge need on the part of our state to put the kids first. The Catholic Charities have placed some 700 special needs kids in homes through adoption. And in the last 20 years, they've only placed 13 in gay homes. So we're talking about less than 1 per year. The idea that we're going to lose a major adopter of special needs kids because of the concern about maybe one gay couple per year. That makes no sense to me.

HH: And they have withdrawn now, have they not, Catholic Charities, from the adoption process?

MR: Yeah, the Catholic Charities said look, we just can't continue here, because the law is pretty clear that we have to place kids in gay homes, and we as a faith do not believe that's the right thing to do. And therefore, we can't continue, unless, of course, there was some kind of statutory exemption, which is what I'm looking form.

HH: So right now, the losers are the kids?

MR: Yeah, the losers are the kids. I mean, here, you've got hundreds of kids, special needs kids, in very difficult foster home settings. We have the Catholic Church willing to take them and place them in homes. And instead of allowing them to happen, we're imposing on them the requirement that they place some of these kids in gay homes, and it just doesn't make sense, when you're thinking from the standpoint of the kids.

HH: Now Mitt Romney, they will also argue that this will be an unlawful and unconstitutional establishment of religion, violative of the 1st Amendment. Your response?

MR: Well, this doesn't establish religion. It does just the opposite. It allows the free practice of religion. What we're looking to do is to say that a religion should be able to abide by its tenets, and its beliefs, and not have imposed upon it a statute that came before them by the legislature. This is not part of our Constitution. We would never allow an organization to discriminate, even a religion to discriminate on the base of race or national origin or religion. But in this case, these gay adoptions are not in the Constitution. They're only by statute, and we don't think that the Catholic Church should be prohibited from placing children because of that statute.

HH: One last question, Governor. Switching subjects, Russ Feingold today called for a censure or the impeachment of George W. Bush, a tirade that went 20 minutes. What is that all about? And do you think that's useful in the effort to conduct the War On Terrorism?

MR: Well, I'm sure Al Jazeera found it a very interesting piece, but I don't think the American people do. I think the American people, whether they agree with the President or not, recognize him as a man of character and courage, who stands for something, unlike some prior leaders that we've had. They know where he comes from, they know he's doing his very best, and whether you agree with him or disagree with him, you know that he's desiring to protect this country and protect our future, and protect our safety. And when people try and make political hay like Russ Feingold has done, I think it ends up reflecting poorly on them.

HH: 30 seconds, Governor. There's a lot of talk among the left talking heads that there's a split in the Republican Party over the war. Did you see that in Memphis?

MR: I sure did not. I saw enormous support for the President, a recognition that we're in for a tough road here, as we have been over the last several months, but there's no question we have to stay the course, and do everything we possibly can to defeat the jihadists.

HH: Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, thank you.

End of interview.

Congressman Mark Kennedy, one of the GOP's strongest contenders to gain a Senate seat this Fall, on his potential colleague, Russ Feingold's outburst today on the floor.

HH: Joined now by Congressman Mark Kennedy from the 6th district in Minnesota. He is running for the open seat in Minnesota, the United States Senate seat that has been vacated. And Mark Kennedy is widely believed to be the Republican's best shot to pick up a currently blue seat, and put it into the red category. Congressman Kennedy, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MK: Always good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: Now Congressman, I want to talk to you a little bit about Russ Feingold, your future Senate partner's motion to censure the President today. But before that, give us an idea of how the campaign is progressing in Minnesota.

MK: Well, the campaign's going very well. We're getting lots of great support. We have a stark contrast here in Minnesota, with my opponent for raising your taxes, for government run health care, Canadian style, you know, for cutting and running in Iraq, and this is one of the starkest contrasts in a Senate race, in the country.

HH: You've got a website up, Is that working for you? Are people using that the way that, say, Thune used his in the course of his election in 2004?

MK: Yes, we've got our website, which gives you a lot of information. I also have a number of blogs covering the race, including And on either of those, you'll get a lot of good information as to what's going on in this very exciting race.

HH: You know what's very interesting about Minnesota is that it is a new media state. The Start Tribune, obviously, is going to be against you, because they're just over the left edge of the world. But you do have Powerline, you've got a whole bunch of great bloggers up there, Shot In The Dark, you've got Captain Ed Morrissey. If you can stay away from the Fraters guys, you'll be in good shape, Congressman.

MK: You know, no question about it. And my likely opponent's father worked as a writer for the Star Tribune for decades. So that's going to make it even worse, and even more important that we're looking at the alternative media, the bloggers.

HH: Well, let's turn to Russ Feingold across the state border there. I've actually driven over to Wisconsin a couple of times when I've been in Minnesota for a variety of reasons. Russ Feingold, he will be your colleague in the United States Senate if things go well this time next year. Today, he brought a motion to censure the President of the United States. What do you think of that?

MK: Well, I think Minnesotans and Americans are just tired of this complain, complain, attack, attack...not offer any new solutions. And I'm hopeful that we can have a focus on issues in this campaign, because if we get back to the issues of who's going to keep your taxes lower and grow jobs, who's going to really bring down the cost of health care, we win in that environment. They're trying...they're running against the President, I'm trying to talk about issues.

HH: Now here's what Russ Feingold...and let's just give you a taste, and the audience a taste of what he had to say today. Cut number 1:

RF: Congress will need to consider a range of possible actions, including investigations, independent commissions, legislation, or even impeachment.

HH: Now Congressman, you're no stranger to radical politics, because Minnesota has its own slice of the fever swamp in the DFL. Some of them are pretty normal, but a lot of them are over the edge. But impeachment from Russ that helpful in any way, shape or form to the war effort?

MK: You know, I don't think it's helpful to anybody, other than defining them as the party of radicals, that really doesn't care about solutions, and just cares about negative talk. And I think Americans, Minnesotans are tired of this partisanship, of these angry words, and they want to get beyond that, and they want to talk about solutions. And that's where I think it's important that we in Congress get on a common sense reform agenda that can drive those solutions, and show this stark contrast that there is between us and them.

HH: Now today, there was a report in the CNN/Gallup poll, that 60% of Americans believe the economy is in good to great shape. That's a very high number. Is that reflected in the Minnesota economy?

MK: certainly is. If you look at our economy, we've got a lower unemployment rate than the national unemployment rate. The economy is going well, and as I talk to businessmen, they're very excited about what's happening out there. So we just need to make sure that we are focusing on getting the message across that we've grown nearly 5 million jobs in the last three years. And if you want to keep that moving forward, you've got to keep with the policies that we've put forth.

HH: Now Congressman, have you had a chance to go to Iraq yet?

MK: I've been there three times, not just to thank the troops, and to see first-hand what's going on, but to benchmark the progress, Hugh, over here. And each and every year I've gone there, I've seen stark increase in the government that's in place, and I'm hopeful they get their act together, and come together with a cohesive government that everybody can still buy into, but also the training of the Iraqi troops that are increasingly taking over for us. So yes, I've been there, and I hope to maybe even go again this year for the fourth time.

HH: Now given what you've seen, how do you rank Congressman Murtha's rhetoric again today, calling for a cut and run, and getting out of Iraq.

MK: Well, you know, I had an opportunity to stay overnight in Baghdad when I was there last November, and I like to do coffee shops. And the coffee shop equivalent was going to the mess hall. So I went to two or three or four tables of soldiers and Marines, talking to them. And a number of Marines say you know, we understand Murtha's a Marine, but he doesn't speak for us, and we don't agree with what he's saying. They feel very good about what's going on, the progress that's being made, the way we're training the Iraqi troops, the way the government is coming together, and people are stepping out and voting. So I think you see a stark contrast between the Marines in Iraq and what Murtha's been saying.

HH: All right. Now let's switch, again, to domestic politics. You're running against a lawyer in all likelihood. Today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the annual Tillinghast Survey of the cost of torts and lawyers is $315 billion dollars in 2007. Any thirst for tort reform on your lawyer opponent's part? I know it's on your businessman background part.

MK: Well, yeah. I mean, I voted for ending these out of control lawsuits that are driving doctors out of business, that are driving businesses out of business. And we ought to spend a lot less time fighting lawsuits, and use that money to hire employees, and keep this economy moving forward. I think that will be a stark contrast. The trial lawyers have already given a quarter of a million dollars to my opponent. You can rest assured they've given me not a penny. And the idea that nearly two out of every three Senators is a lawyer, and that you don't change Washington by sending another lawyer to the U.S. Senate, is going to be something we're talking about, because I'll be one of the few business people, and the only CPA, in the Senate.

HH: Let me ask you, Mark Kennedy, as well. How much are you going to have to raise to run this race?

MK: We''s going to be a big race. You know, we've been saying from the beginning that this could be as much as $15 million dollars on either side. So it's going to be a race that's important, because it could determine the outcome of who controls the Senate. But we're going to keep pushing to make sure we can get our message out there and talk about issues.

HH: Now you're going to be on the ticket with Governor Pawlenty up for re-election. Of course, our friend and yours, Norm Coleman, will be out there helping you. Will you welcome the President to Minnesota as well?

MK: Well, you know, the President has been nice enough to come and help me raise money to get my message out. And whether the President comes out again, I don't know. Possibly, but they're going to want to spend this whole campaign on the other side, as I said, talking about Bush. I'm going to focus on my agenda, on the solutions that I've put forth, and make sure that we're talking about things that Minnesotans care about.

HH: Are you a strong supporter of the war, Congressman?

MK: I believe it's the right thing to do. I believe having millions of women vote for the first, second and third time in Iraq is going to have a profound impact on the direction that that country takes, and the region. If we don't destroy the hopelessness that breeds terrorism by giving an example of democracy that can spread through the region, we're never going to have ourselves safe here at home. So I'm a strong believer that we are doing the right thing in Iraq, and we need to see this big thing through to victory.

HH: Congressman Mark Kennedy from Minnesota, great to check in with you on the campaign, the GOP's best chance for a red state pickup, a blue seat pickup to the red column, is at

End of interview.

Return to top

Sunday, March 12

Passing around the Tylenol at Yale today.

Our friend John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has been a one-man wrecking crew of Yale's decision to adopt and educate Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former member of the Taliban regime, who hasn't exactly shown himself to be the model of repentance. Last week, as more and more details about this story came to light, including the fact that Hashemi has a 3rd grade education level, and is receiving between a 35 and 40% tuition discount, Yale responsed by stonewalling the media, including us, about their inexplicable rationale.

Many people have written letters to Yale President Richard C. Levin. A lot of them are Yale grads, including Christina Bost Seaton, a guest on Hugh's show last Friday with Jed Babbin. Some have called for a boycott on financial giving to the school.

But as Fund reports in Monday's edition of the Wall Street Journal, while the school publicly had been silent, craziness continues. The assistant director of giving at Yale Law School sent a "private" e-mail to some of the concerned alums, calling them and their actions "retarded." How gauche. So Yale can criticize the critics who don't understand the political correctness of understanding and accepting Mr. Hashemi, but can't quite comprehend that the word "retarded" isn't very political correct in today culture, and in fact, is very, very offensive to people with developmental challenges.

But that's not all. Andrew Surovov, the Yale official who wrote the e-mail to two of the critics, revealed their past financial giving information in his e-mail. He also called their criticism and protest ideas terrorist tactics. Can you believe that? Yale is educating an official of a terrorist regime, one that actually employed terrorist tactics, and the mere action of trying to call the school on it, and the critics now get accused ot terrorist tactics?

Tell me again why Yale is such an elite school again?

Saturday, March 11

Beltway Boys preview.

Once again, Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: Hour 2 on Friday, that means the Beltway Boys. Joining me right now to talk about the week's events are Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard. You know them together as the Beltway Boys, 6:00pm on Saturday evenings on the Fox News Channel, and repeated throughout the weekend. Guys, I don't even know where to start. We've got so much stuff to pick on, let me just ask you, Fred, I mean, if Yale has this guy, Hashemi, a former Taliban, what's Harvard going to do? Are they going to get a Chechen?

FB: Well, they could get somebody with less formal education. And this guy at Yale only went through the 4th grade.

JB: That would be hard.

FB: And maybe somebody older. He's 27. You know, I mean, it really is an outrage. And of course, there's some kid around the country who worked hard in high school, got 1,600 on his college boards, and has a 4.0 average, and he didn't get in so they could let some guy in who hasn't repudiated what the Taliban stands for. He's tried to soft-pedal it. I mean, it's totally outrageous.

JB: Mort, is there something that there's a message there? Is there a message there for the parents that are sending their kids to Yale, and spending all that money to get them in?

MK: Well, this is all about diversity, I suppose. Diversity of opinion. Now you'd think that they'd want to have a few conservatives on their faculty to balance out this guy. I mean, it is ridiculous.

JB: Well, I've just got to read you both one little quote from our friends at Yale. We finally got them to respond after banging on them for a while. This is just a couple of sentences, and let me just quote to you from the lady who's responding on behalf of the university. And she says, "we acknowledge that some are criticizing Yale for allowing Mr. Hashemi to take courses here, but we hope that critics will also acknowledge that universities are places that must strive to increase understanding, especially of the most difficult issues that face the nation and the world." Fred, how is this going to increase understanding?

FB: I don't know. You bring in someone who's an apologist for a dictatorship, or an organization that is famous for having executions at halftime of soccer games, a dictatorial, repressive, woman-hating operation, and that's what he's from? Well, that's diversity? Well, you know, why not start bringing in mass killers, maybe you can bring in pedophiles. That will be more diverse. I mean, that is such a smarmy statement. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

JB: Well, I'm sure they would be, and if Hugh were here, he'd probably have another pithy remark about that. But we won't note that he's not here right now.

FB: No, no. Let's not bring that up.

MK: No, no. Let's pretend he is.

JB: Okay.

MK: But sitting by your side.

JB: There you go. Mort, to you. We have a situation here with the Dubai ports deal. It seems like a very significant legislative defeat, political defeat, for the President. Do I hear the lame ducks quacking already?

MK: Well, we're pretty close to that. I mean, I think that ultimately, they handled this thing, given the fact that it was a disaster, about as well as they could by putting it to death as fast as they possibly could when they saw it was a loser. But what it says about the whole administration is not good, and the level of trust that it has in the Congress...this is a Republican Congress. I mean, at the first sign of trouble, you had the House majority leader, and the Speaker of the House, for example, ducking for the high grass. And on a whole host of issues, Bush doesn't have Congress following him this election year. They're just bailing out on him left and right on health savings accounts, on tax cuts, all that kind of stuff. And I know that the Democrats are gleeful about it. They look at the Republicans and see that they're in chaos, and it reminds them of what happened in 1994, when Democrats bailed on Bill Clinton after the health care thing, and Democratic voters didn't turn out, and that's how the Republicans won the election.

JB: Fred, how is it that the President is in such bad shape with Congress? And quite frankly, can he repair things between now and the November election? Congress is up, many of those guys don't even want him in their districts.

FB: No, it's going to be hard to repair it, and the truth is, Republicans need to be united more than anything else to do well in the 2006 election. That's one of the reasons why they won in 2002, defying history, in the second year of the Bush presidency. And getting them together with issues like immigration coming up is going to be very, very difficult. So there are some smart Republicans on the Hill that realize that most of this grousing and complaining is unnecessary, and they're really going to have to pull together. But they've got to get a set of issues on which they can pull together on. I think those issues are probably taxes and national security. But right now, they're nowhere near unity.

JB: Mort, is national...

MK: You know what really bothers me about this whole thing, especially on the Democratic side, but on the Republican side to, is I'm worried about whether we would have a united country if we had a terrorist incident, or whether we would fall to pointing fingers at one another, especially Democrats blaming Bush, and Republicans not standing behind the President. And everybody scrambling for cover, instead of standing behind a policy that would require that we all hang together here.

JB: Well, let's freeze on that point for a minute, guys, because I had no idea that you guys would think it might be that bad. Do you think that in all seriousness, if we had another 9/11, that we'd impeach the President and fall apart? Has America gone down so badly, Fred?

FB: No, I don't believe that, and I don't believe Mort does, either, if there's another 9/11.

MK: No, not impeach the President.

FB: You know, if there's a smaller...if there's...look, Democrats are so deep into demagoguery that I think Mort's probably right. Another smaller terrorist attack, and they won't react the way Richard Gephardt and Tom Daschle did after 9/11. They'll react by blaming the President. You know, he didn't spend enough money here. He didn't do that. He didn't connect the dots. You know, we've seen, even on 9/11, in the subsequent months, we've seen a lot of that in attempts by Democrats, pretty explicit attempts, to blame the President for 9/11. Now that came many months later, but I think it would come a lot sooner if there's another terrorist attack.

JB: Well Mort, I'd be willing to bet each one of you guys a steak at the Palm that the Democrats' plan for legislative...the whole legislative agenda for the Democrats that's supposed to be announced for the 2006 elections, will be announced somewhere around January of 2007, and not before.

MK: Actually, you're not right about that. Next week is...the budget debate begins in the Senate, and I talked to Kent Conrad today, who's the Democratic ranking member on the Budget Committee, and he is preparing a whole slew of amendments that change the budget, which will amount to the beginnings of an agenda. I mean, a lot of it is port security. Joe Lieberman has a bill to increase port security spending by $8 billion dollars. They want to have a big Avian flu preparation agenda. They want to...what else? They want to increase Bush's education spending by $2 billion dollars. And they claim they can do the whole thing without actually raising tax rates, that they think they can do it by closing loopholes. Or at least that's what they're going to claim.

HH: But Fred, they're not going to have an agenda, yet. I mean, those are good items that Mort is talking about, and items to debate. But they're not going to have a position on the war, they're not going to have a position on anything but raising taxes and spending more money.

FB:, Mort's giving them the benefit of a doubt when know, I mean, are all the other Democrats going to agree with Kent Conrad? I mean, look. They've got to put out a document and say here's our agenda. The Republicans did that, and of course, it had very little to do with the outcome of the election in 1994. It did give Republicans a great blueprint for what they were going to do after winning Congress. But anyway, what they have to do is one document, this is our agenda, not Kent Conrad coming up with something.

JB: Well, Mort, when are they ever going to come up with a policy that says this is how we're going to fight the war, win the war, or we're just going to fold our tent and run?

MK: On Iraq, they are not going to have a single agenda, because they don't agree. And so what they're going to do is say we...any of our ideas is better than Bush's stay the course idea, that Bush is a disaster, and in any event, Congress doesn't run foreign policy...

FB: Oh, that's pathetic, though.

MK: So we've got Jack Murtha's policy, we've got...Ike Skelton has a policy, Joe Biden has a policy, Carl Levin has a policy. They're all better than Bush's.

FB: That's not going to fly, Mort. That's pathetic. I mean, that's ducking it. That's chickening out. I mean, they're supposed to be a major party.

JB: But that's what politicians do best, Fred.

FB: Here's the most important issue in the entire world, in the entire decade, and they're going to duck it?

MK: Well, it's a...look...

FB: That's cowardice of the highest kind.

MK: Well, it's a presidential issue. And you know, it'll be...

FB: Oh, so what? Come one. They're a major...they're the other party. They're the chief opposition party. They don't have a position?

MK: There is not going to be...there's simply...there wasn't...I don't think there was a unified Democratic position that they all stood behind, even on the Vietnam in the late stages, even though 85% of them were against it. There will still a few hawks, you know, Paul Douglass and people like that.

FB: Well, this isn't the Vietnam war in the late stages. This is Iraq, a war they voted for.

JB: Well, gentlemen, I think I'm going to have to send you both to your neutral corners. Mort Kondracke from Roll Call, Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard. Watch for them tomorrow on the Beltway Boys on the Fox News Channel.

End of interview.

Friday, March 10

Yale grad speaks out about the Taliban co-ed.

Jed Babbin, guest hosting for Hugh Hewitt.


JB: Talking about the Taliban at Yale. Like I said in the opening segment, this is not a red versus blue issue. This is not conservative versus liberal. This is not Republican versus Democrat. This is every American really, I think, getting outraged that one of our most prestigious universities would waive its standards and allow someone who represents everything this country is opposed to in as a student, even a non-credited student. Joining me to talk about that right now is Ms. Christina Bost Seaton, a very proud Yale graduate. Ms. Boss Seaton, thanks for joining us.

CBS: Hi there. Thank you for having me.

JB: Well, tell me how you first found out this Rahmatullah Hashemi was at Yale?

CBS: Actually, honestly, I found out from a Republican friend of mine who was upset about it, and sent out an e-mail explaining the situation to her friends, and her viewpoint on it. I don't read right-wing blogs, and I think that's where most of the coverage of the situation has been right now, and that's part of the reason why I chose to come out and make a statement at this point. I think that this is an issue that the left and liberals need to get involved in, because it really should be very dear to our hearts.

JB: Well, I completely agree with you. I think this is one of those things that both sides of the political agenda can actually come to agreement on. Now you kind of recognized this guy from a movie or something?

CBS: Yeah. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on the day it was issued, and there was a particular scene where they show basically what I think was the Taliban world tour. This guy was the ambassador-at-large to the world, and as part of that, he spoke at various universities in America, explaining the Taliban's policies, and trying to make us think that they were okay. And in one of the scenes in the movie, they show him at a particular university where a woman is wearing a full burkha, and takes it off, and says that what the Taliban has done is terrible, they're oppressing women, and makes a very passionate statement. And what Ramatullah says in response is that he feels very sorry for her husband. He must have a very difficult time with you.

JB: So this guy, I take it, is not repentant? I mean, he has not renounced the ways of the Taliban, or the way they kill homosexuals, repress women, and all the other things they did?

CBS: Well, the New York Times article is really the best statement of his current beliefs, and it's not entirely clear. It certainly doesn't say that he has repented. He says that he wishes he was less strong with his wording on his Taliban world tour, which I don't know that that really adds any moral character to me.

JB: Yeah, it doesn't sound like he's terribly uncomfortable with what he used to say. Well, what about the fact that if he apparently was gotten...admitted to Yale by some waiver of the academic standards, I mean, how does that make you feel as a graduate? I bet you sweated bullets trying to get into the place. You had to study for your SAT's...

CBS: Absolutely.

JB: You worked your tail off while you were there.

CBS: Absolutely. And what almost is more upsetting is seeing it from the other side, as I've been doing alumni interviews for the school for five years. And there are many very interesting candidates with backgrounds that are diverse in ways that I couldn't imagine, that I think would be fascinating to learn from, and have amazing scores. And they don't get admitted. It's just a ridiculously competitive school, and I understand that not everybody can get admitted. But the fact that Ramatullah has been admitted, not in spite of, but because of his beliefs as being a Taliban member, is just a complete turning on the head of any system of morality and any system of diversity in my mind.

JB: Well, how does that help diversity at the university? I mean, how does that help the students there? I don't see that...

CBS: I don't think it does at all, personally.

JB: Okay.

CBS: I think that diversity means bringing in viewpoints that are legitimate viewpoints, that for some reason, have been shut out because of structural situations in society. know, Yale was not diverse when it was founded, because it was a school based with only people from Connecticut. Yale became diverse when people from around the country came.

JB: Sure.

CBS: It became more diverse when they had African-Americans and students of other cultures, and then foreign students come. But you don't need to take it to the level of there being diversity of morality. And I think that's what's happening here.

JB: Well, I think that's dead bang right, and I think that's a very important point. I mean, to have diversity, you don't necessarily need to admit KKK members, or Nazis, or skinheads, or whatever. I mean, you want...

CBS: And you ought not.

JB: Yeah, but that's what they're doing, aren't they? I mean, the Taliban is like...I mean, they're basically Nazis. They were oppressing people, murdering people. You know, I don't think they had a campaign of mass murder, but that's probably because they didn't have the technology.

CBS: I think in some sense, too, what is more disturbing about this is that he was the spokesperson for that regime here. It's not that he was just some person involved in it. I think that they could have found some person from Afghanistan who had experienced this regime and could speak about it, and maybe was qualified, and would be a good person to attend Yale and share those beliefs. But to relax the admission standards for the representative of the regime, I think, in a very strong way, gives a strong impression that Yale is condoning the regime. And I don't literally think that Yale is now saying that the Taliban is okay. But it's sending a very mixed message.

JB: Well, you sent your letter to the president of the school, right, to Dr. Levin?

CBS: Yes, that's correct.

JB: Did you get a response?

CBS: Well, I got an abbrieviated version of your response that you just read online. My article, my letter didn't mention the ROTC situation, so I did not get that paragraph in the letter.

JB: Oh, okay. So basically, they're saying we're not talking to you, and we think this is a great idea. I mean, just basically what I read on the air, and you know, it just seems to me that the condescension in that, that they're just basically above any criticism...I mean, what are you going to do? I mean, as an alumnae of the school, are you going to stop giving them money? Are you going to stop doing the interviews?

CBS: Well, I think that that really just impacts the students. And the students who go there right now, they worked hard to go there. I don't think that they need to have their educational system impacted. I think it's more important that people who agree on this make a statement, and make it clear to Yale that this is sending a message to society that's not valuable, and that's hurting the reputation of the institution. And furthermore, if this begins to send the message that it's okay to have this diversity of morality, I mean, that, if anything, is just in my mind, feeding right-wing pundit's tools to make fun of Democrats, and make fun of the left.

JB: Well, as a right-wing pundit, I've got to agree with you. Yeah, I mean, this is red meat. But the point really comes down to the point that you're making. This is just fundamentally wrong. This's a betrayal not just of liberal values, but of conservative values, and I really think, an American value. I mean, we treasure freedom. And I don't think we want to reward people who are totally opposed to it.

CBS: I would agree with that. I think that the letter that you read on air, it says that he had a viewpoint that was able to be expressed, and that people could learn from. And I don't know that I would necessarily...

JB: Well, what are you going to learn from a Taliban?

CBS: I don't know that I would even agree with that. But if they wanted to have him come and give speeches, like he did before he was admitted, I think that maybe you could go and listen to a presentation from somebody that you don't agree with, and try to open your mind. Maybe even if he taught a class, and people had the right to attend that if they felt like it. But I think that giving him a Yale degree and that mark of acceptance is a really incorrect thing to be doing now.

JB: Christina Bost Seaton, a proud Yale grad, thank you very much for joining us.

End of interview.

So what does Yale think about their critics?

This, no kidding, was the response given to us today by Yale after requesting an interview with Dr. Levin, their President, about the controversial Taliban co-ed.


President Levin is out of town and further, we are not doing interviews. Here is a statement. You can quote me or say it is from Yale, whatever you prefer.

Ramatullah Hashemi was approved by the U.S. government for a visa to study in this country. Yale has allowed Mr. Hashemi to take courses for college credit in a part-time program that does not award Yale degrees. Contrary to what has been reported by some in the media, he has not been admitted as an undergraduate to Yale College or to any of the other schools at Yale.

We hope that his courses help him understand the broader context for the conflicts around the world. We acknowledge that some are criticizing Yale for allowing Mr. Hashemi to take courses here, but we hope that critics will also acknowledge that universities are places that must strive to increase understanding, especially of the most difficult issues that face the nation and the world.

Also, there is a lot of mis-information out there namely that (1) Rahmatullah is a freshman. He is not, he is a non-degree student and (2) that Yale does not have any ROTC program, we do. Here are the facts, in case you are interested, in that latter point:

While Yale does not host an ROTC program, the University does support those who wish to make such a commitment and we believe that the leadership these students provide is vital to our military. Each year we have a group of ROTC students at Yale, and they complete their training alongside other students from colleges and universities across the state at the University of Connecticut. Yale facilitates participation in ROTC training by providing the students with transportation to their ROTC classes. Recently a Yale ROTC graduate was honored nationally while a Yale senior as the Air Force Cadet of the Year.

Let me know if you have any further questions. Email is the best way to reach me. Helaine

Helaine S. Klasky
Director, Public Affairs
Yale University

I guess she told us, didn't she???

So what do Yalies think about the Taliban co-ed on campus there?

Here's a letter written to Yale President, Dr. Richard C. Levin, by a Yale grad who is an avowed lefty. Her name is Christina Bost Seaton.

Dear President Levin,

I am a proud alumnae of Yale, and a committed donor and volunteer to the University. It pains me to say that I think, this time, my beloved alma mater screwed up.

Yale admitted Sayeed Rahmatullah Hashemi to Yale, first through its special students program for one semester, and then as a full time student. Was it his 4th grade education that impressed the admissions office the most? Or his high school equivalency degree? Nope--he was admitted because Yalies could apparently "learn" from his experiences as the Taliban's ambassador-at-large.

Yup--the Taliban. You know that group that forced/forces women to wear the burqua? That would publicly execute women in the soccer stadium of Kabul for "sins" like going to the doctor, or walking down
the street, or, god forbid, for wearing nail polish? One of the most violent and intolerant regimes the world has known?

Yeah, that Taliban. And Hashemi should be familiar to you too. If you didn't catch him live on his Taliban World Tour, an excerpt of one of his speeches was in Fahrenheit 9-11. He's the guy who, when a woman in the audience said he should be ashamed for making women wear the burqua, said that "I'm really sorry for your husband. He must have a very difficult time with you." And Hashemi, to this day, is largely unrepentant of the Taliban's policies.

This is learning that Yale doesn't need. Diversity involves getting a wide mix of legitimate viewpoints into the classroom, but the Taliban's viewpoint simply isn't legitimate. There are some behaviors which are simply, objectively, morally wrong. A massive campaign of brutally oppressing women and homosexuals is wrong. It's true that we should learn about the Taliban, just as we learn about all sorts of evil in this world--Hitler, Milosevic, the KKK--but learning about something is not the same thing as learning side by side with the ambassador to that regime.

By giving special treatment to the ambassador of the Taliban regime, an individual with subpar qualifications who was admitted because of, rather than in spite of, his involvement with that regime,Yale is sending a pretty mixed message. Aren't there other foreign individuals with diverse viewpoints that they could have admitted? Ones who weren't the spokesmen for violent, intolerant regimes? Maybe even ones who were academically qualified?

And this is an issue that the right wing does not--and should not--own. The right wing doesn't own the market on common sense. There are lots of Democrats out there who can agree that it's pretty upsetting that Yale is giving the Taliban spokesman the opportunity to earn a Yale education. And I daresay that there are a lot of Liberals (gasp!) and Feminists (oooh!) who think the same way.

I have been an alumni interviewer for Yale for five years. I am involved in my graduation class, and I am a class fundraising agent for the Developments Office. Unlike the individuals profiled below, I don't advocate stopping your donations to Yale. There's no reason to punish the students of the University for the administration's mistake. I do think, however, that this was a poor call on the administration's part,
and that it sends a bad message to all the well qualified students out there who didn't get admitted to Yale. This is not diversity--this is a lapse in judgment. Diversity doesn't mean abandoning your sense of right and wrong.

Christina Bost Seaton ('01)

Her interview with guest host Jed Babbin will follow shortly.

Posted at 4:30PM PST

Thursday, March 9

Mark Steyn drawing lines in the sand.

Once again, Jed Babbin guest hosting.


JB: Right now, let's go to the main man, columnist to the world, Mark Steyn joins us. Mark, thanks for joining us.

MS: Pleasure, Jed. Very mellifluous indeed.

JB: Well, I might as well use these pipes. But set that aside. You have a really good bead on what's going on in the Dubai ports deal. So much breaking news today. The Dubai people are not going to be running ports in the United States. Now we see the prospect, the prospects...and I'll put it to you, Mark Steyn. What happens to our friend Chuck Schumer? Does he entirely fall apart if Halliburton ends up running these ports?

MS: (laughing) Well, I would say there aren't really many happy endings in this story for the Democrats. They saw an opportunity to bash Bush on this, because he looked vulnerable on it. Not just the Democrats, a lot of conservative commentators, Michelle Malkin and others were upset about this deal, too. But the Democrats really ran with this, and panicked enough Republicans into joining them. And the question now is who do these things go to? Do they go to Halliburton? I mean, Halliburton might as well get it, because the reality is that PNO, the British company who were running things at these ports were running them because there's no American company that does it. What are we going to do? Are we going to create a company specifically for the purpose of running these ports, which would be some semi-nationalized off-shoot of Homeland Security? I wouldn't personally want to see that. Or is there going to be a real company that steps forward. Interestingly, as I understand this deal, Dubai Ports World will still be running Canadian ports. So if the argument is that these ports will be vulnerable to getting something suspicious trucked in, shipped in, all they have to do is ship it into Vancouver and drive it over the border to Washington State. So I'm not sure quite what the benefits are there.

JB: Well, I think you're exactly right, and what I understand now is we really ought to be taking a look at some of the other ports. And for example, Communist China runs the port of Long Beach through their company, COSCO. That's not exactly someone who has our best interests at heart, or am I mistaken?

MS: No, one of the interesting features of the modern world is that we live in a globalized world. And in America, that generally means that a company can start up, a free company can start up, a private company, and it'll be operating in Canada, and Britain, and France, and Rwanda, and anywhere it wants to. What it means in a lot of parts of the world is that companies that are essentially owned by the state, as in Dubai, or owned by the Communist Party, in China, end up running a lot of American operations. And I do think there is a, insofar as there's a broader lesson here, I do think you have to distinguish between government owned foreign...I mean, I am a foreigner, and I own businesses in the United States, and I don't certainly want to be demagogued by the Democrats and driven out by Congress. But I think there's a difference between individuals owning companies in the United States, and foreign governments.

JB: Well, I think that's absolutely right. But let me get...and let me tie that back to one thing you wrote recently. I mean, you're saying in one of your columns, that basically, people are bored with the war, and the Patriot Act has become a bureaucratic chore. Are we just not interested enough to protect ourself in our ports, or protect ourselves? Or do we have to start another war somewhere, Mark, in order to get people really interested?

MS: Well, I think to answer that question crudely, yes. You can't dine out on Afghanistan and Iraq forever. If this is a great existential struggle, then at some point or other, it has to have another military phase. And it probably will in Iran, if Dick Cheney's speech is anything to go by. But at the same time, if it is an ideological struggle, the rhetoric is not unimportant. And it does seem to me that there is a disconnect between what the President's saying, and what recent polls, particularly this latest ABC News/Washington Post poll are saying. And that there seems to be a much broader skepticism, that's putting it at its mildest, about the Muslim world in general, than the President is admitting in his War On Terror. And I do think in a certain sense, he has to refresh the war with a kind of refreshed rhetoric for it.

JB: Well, and that's part of what I was trying to point out a couple of days ago on this program, and in a column I wrote for Realclearpolitics. We're fighting an ideological war. And it seems to me that the kinetic war, the bullets and bombs, are no more and no less important than the ideological war. And the ideological war is really not being fought. I mean, how should we be doing this, Mark?

MS: Well, I think we have to be able to address it honestly. I mean, for example, you saw in this bizarre thing at the University of North Carolina, where an Iranian Muslim goes to rent a big Jeep Cherokee for the purpose of crashing it into as many bodies as possible, at the university he was studying at just a couple of months ago. And the unwillingness to address the fact that he was motivated by his Muslim identity to do that, the fact that we cannot even address that honestly, five years after the war, is, I think, a problem. We have to be able to say look, there are millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims around the world, but nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that Islam is the main challenge to Western civilization at this hour.

JB: And what can we do about that, though? I mean, we're going to have to engage Iran. And when Mr. Cheney says there's going to be meaningful consequences for Iran's conduct, I mean, what are we going to do? We have to engage them on the ideological side. Why can't we stand up and say that radical Islam is not Islam, and radical Islam is not a religion. It's an ideology.

MS: Well, because I think the fact of the matter is that most people are just squeamish about dealing with that. You know, the New York Times, in the report on that fellow in North Carolina, didn't even use the word Muslim. They didn't even use the word Muslim when they were talking about the insurgents in the Russia when they took over some town a couple of months ago. The fact of the matter is that if you can't even identify the enemy, you have a real problem dealing with it. You know, when President Bush originally called this a War On Terror, that's a technique, and you can wage war against a technique. The Royal Navy did a couple of centuries ago against both slavery and piracy. It stamped them both out in many parts of the world. But those were just activities of opportunists. That's not what we're facing here. We're facing the strongest ideological challenge, much stronger than communism, much stronger than facism, because in the end, they were just miserable, and they didn't have this kind of mystical, spiritual dimension, which is the great reinforcer. And if we can't stand up for what's right about our own civilization, we're certainly not going to be able to resist this very strong powerful force coming straight at us.

JB: Well, how are we going to beat it? I mean, we're not going to win this ideological war with soft words and euphemisms.

MS: No, and I think we do have to say...we have to say...draw a line. We have to say, look. If someone wants to go around in a know, in the Netherlands, they're talking about banning the burka. I don't particularly agree with that, although I think you could make the argument that in war, certain measures are necessary. But let's's fair enough to say you've got the right to wear anything you want, but that we regard this as an outfit that is not essentially compatable with integration and assimilation in a Western society. And if we can't even say that, if the feminists on the left, and the media and the establishment now say that this kind of prison garb for women is somehow just another expression of a personal identity, then in effect, we're devaluing our own civilization. We have to at least be able to draw the line at that.

JB: Well, have we not gone from tragedy to farce already? I mean, we have, for Heaven's sake, at one of the top schools in the United States, we have a former part of the Taliban government, unreconstructed, enrolled at the school. I mean, how much farther can we descend into political correctness?

MS: Well, exactly. And these are the same Ivy League colleges that refused to let ROTC on campus, because they have the don't ask, don't tell policy on gays in the military. The Taliban doesn't have a don't ask, don't tell. Even if you don't ask, they build a wall and crush you if you're homosexual. I mean, this is the complete decadence of the kind of non-judgmental, multi-cultural, everything's equal thing. And that is the way...people are very foolish, They don't realize that incrementally, you can lose your world, unless you're prepared to actually make a choice about which values, which society you want to live in.

JB: So if we don't draw our line in the sand very soon, we will never be able to?

MS: Well, I think you're seeing that in Europe right now, that some...not all countries, but some countries in Western Europe are passing the point of no return, at which they've conceded too much. And I don't want this President, and the United States, to be left alone in an isolated world of semi-Islamified...where the rest of the world is semi-Islamified. I think we do need a new rhetoric for this ideological battle.

JB: Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, read him on

End of interview.

Lileks wonders if there might be a headline next week of Halliburton Spread Too Thin.

Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: We're going to right now to one of my favorite, favorite writers. James Lileks, proprietor of, columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and author of many, many fine books, including his latest, is it Mommy Knows Worst, James?

JL: Mommy Knows Worst, and I didn't study nuclear physics, either. I was an English major, so I'm utterly prepared for whatever we're discussing here.

JB: (lauging) Well, let's get back into nuclear issues, because I've got a quote that I've just got to read to you. It just came up, and I'm looking at our favorite blog, my favorite blog, because it's our blog, the American Spectator blog, AmSpecBlog. Anyway, I'm reading you something right now, and I'm sure you're not even going to be able to guess the source. Let me just read you this little quote. "If you want to see a nuclear-free Middle East, you've got to remove that threat from Iran, including the rhetorical threat to wipe Israel off the map. Once you've done that, then we can get to work in respect of Israel." Who do you think that's from?

JL: Well, could you spell each individual word, because if half of them are misspelled, I'm going to say it's Barbra Streisand.

JB: (laughing)

JL: It sounds like the sort of woolly-headedness that you find from the diplomatic community. Spring it on me, Jed. Who is it?

JB: Jack Straw of all people.

JL: Ahh...

JB: Now what do you make of this coming out of the Brit foreign minister?

JL: Well, you find spines in the most unusual places, at the most unusual times. But it depends, of course, what actions they want to back this up with, doesn't it?

JB: Well, yeah, but I don't think they're going to go very far. I mean, in terms of even taking the first step in getting Iran out of the nuclear game, I don't see that Tony Blair's Britain is going to be with us very long.

JL: No. I've been worried that peeling off for sometime, too. I really have. You know, it seems as though everything that's going on with Iran is going to be a paragraph that precedes the story, the big story, which is what comes next. Either this month or next month, or as some are saying, never. That all this to-ing and fro-ing, and getting them to the Security Council, and making strong faces at them and scowling, and threatening to give them harshly-worded letters on thick, U.N. diplomatic paper, that all of this stuff is just going to seem like a sad run-up to the eventual catastrophe.

JB: Well, isn't this just another replay of what we did with Iraq? I mean, it's're getting to be...the U.N. is like a rerun of a bad TV show.

JL: But that's all they do. That's all they do is palaver. They...I mean, the Churchill quote of course that jaw, jaw is better than war, war. Well, not necessarily, not when the other side is bent on war, war. Then jaw, jaw actually gets you in trouble. What we had with the U.N. was a year in which Iraq was given enormous opportunity to prepare for what was coming. And it seems like we've done that exact same thing again. You practically have the Iranians crowing in other papers about how they've duped the international inspectors, and gotten Europe to bend over for them in whatever capacity they choose. It's all out there fairly plain, and it seems rather odd that we can't agree on the threat. But unfortunately, we have another party in this country, half of the people seem devoted to the fact that if George Bush is against Iran, then Iran must somehow be in the right.

JB: (laughing)

JL: Their glasses, it would seem, have a picture of George Bush in a Hitler mustache, painted on the inside of the lens, so that's all they can see. And what threats may be on the other side of the glass they seem resolutely indifferent to.

JB: Well, but what is going on in this country when we have, and I keep coming back to my favorite outrage of the week, when you have a former minister of the Taliban government, a terrorist, a terrorist government...

JL: Yes.

JB: This man is now a student in good standing, albeit not credited, at Yale? Why is this character not in...

JL: Not only that, it's an amazing story. And I tend to believe that if he were to set up a recruiting booth for the Taliban on campus...

JB: (laughing)

JL: ...he would be allowed to do so. You know...

JB: Oh, but of course. Now wait a minute. Now James, there's several things wrong with that. Number one, the Taliban was a religious organization. How could Yale let a religious organization recruit on their campus?

JL: Because the moment that somebody says it's a culturally, multi-culturally sensitive, all of a sudden, tongues get tied in knots, and people start to cough into their fists and walk away, because they don't want to interfere with somebody else's culture. He could set up a booth, recruiting for the Taliban, with small little stone walls, showing how they bring them down on the gay people, and there would people who would actually say it's an expression of their culture, who are we to say, etc., etc., etc. And besides, it was George Bush who was opposed to the Taliban, which means they've got to have something going for them. I mean, of coure, I jest, but I'm not exactly sure that it would be met with particular outrage if the guy from the Taliban did set up shop there.

JB: Well, I'm not so sure that we won't, eventually. I mean, you have a situation at Yale, where there's such utter decay and decadence, that they're going to let someone in who was, or probably still is a terrorist, amongst the student body there? They're going to give him...

JL: Well, it tells you how far we have drifted, shall we say, from the sort of cultural unity that we has, such as it was, in World War II and the subsequent years. If you can imagine a 1950, Joseph Goebbles getting a job at Columbia Journalism in New York, telling them exactly how to shape and mold public opinion. It's about like that, except that he isn't of Goebbles' quality.

JB: Well, yeah. I mean, we need to find...

JL: No, I was just going to say, Jed, that you're seeing this through one prism, and the other side, of course, is seeing it through the other, which is why a lot of people on this show have been talking about the security ramifications of the Dubai Ports World deal, and the people on the other side of the aisle are naturally now going to start having aneurysms left and right, should Halliburton actually get that gig.

JB: Oh, I want to see that happen, because Chuck Schumer's head will explode.

JL: Well, what I want to see happen is if that does indeed happen, then we're going to see cover stories on Newsweek about how Halliburton is spread too thin.

JB: (laughing) All right. Real quick, James. We've only got one minute left. What is the headline...if Halliburton gets this job, what is the headline quote from Howard Dean?

JL: That Karl Rove's devious plan to once again enrich the Bush crime family, because he's about six weeks away from saying that, has borne fruit in this masterful, Machiavellian project to get the deal cancelled. Of course, that won't be a good headline, but Howard will continue to speak.

JB: I love it. James Lileks,, author of Mommy Knows Worst. Thanks very much for joining us.

End of interview.

Colorado Governor Bill Owens on Iraq, and one of his favorite high school students, Sean Allen.

Again, Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: I'm really proud to welcome as our next guest, Colorado Governor Bill Owens, freshly back from Iraq. Governor, thanks for taking the time.

BO: How are you doing today?

JB: Well, I'm not bad for a grumpy old guy. Much more importantly, what did you see over in Iraq, Governor. Did you see a civil war?

BO: No, I did not see a civil war. I have to say that I was just there for a day, and so there are people who are much more expert than I am, though you may have seen the piece by Ralph Peters in the New York Post?

JB: Sure did.

BO: He's did see that?

JB: I did, and he's very good.

BO: You know, it was. He's on the ground, he's traveling throughout Baghdad. He hasn't found a civil war, either. But let me tell you what I did. I was visiting Colorado National Guard troops. I was in Kuwait, then Baghdad, then Ramadi.

JB: Tough place.

BO: I talked to officers, enlisted men. I talked to General Donovan, who's the chief of staff to the U.S. military in Iraq. And I have a different view than what you would see on CNN, and what you'd see on Matt Lauer, and what you see in the mainstream media. Here's what General Donovan told me. He said we've been kicking their rear, except he used a different word than rear.

JB: (laughing)

BO: And he said they have to change the dynamic, the current dynamic. As alien as this may seem to the mainstream press in the United States, the dynamic is that we have been winning in Iraq. We have been pushing them into smaller and smaller sectors. We've been taking cities. We've been clearing provinces. However, they understand that the current dynamic is not good for them, and they're changing that dynamic by bombing the Mosque. They're trying to start a civil war. And you know, the general, and I'm paraphrasing, said if they're successful, then we've got a problem. And if they're not, then they've got a problem. And now, almost two weeks after that Mosque was bombed, and I was there on the Friday after it happened, when Baghdad was in curfew, I don't think that Iraq is facing civil war.

JB: Governor, you were visiting some of the Colorado troops over there. What do you think their morale is? Are they pretty much sunk into the ground? Or are they really at the top of their game?

BO: You know, they're at the top of their game. And again, I understand that you only see a small microcosm, but the perhaps 200 individual troops that I had a chance to be with and talk to, lunch, dinner, meetings, briefings, in Baghdad and Ramadi, I can say without exception they believe in what they're doing. And I just was at a funeral last week for a brave young Coloradan who was killed in action, a Russian who was given his citizenship posthumously at graveside.

JB: Wow.

BO: And his parents recounted how strongly he believed in what he was doing in Iraq. Enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 17 year old, killed in action as a 21 year old. And that's been my experience at the 12 funerals that I've been at in Colorado.

JB: Well, Governor, all I can say is God bless you for going over there, and God bless you for going to some of those funerals. I've been there and done that, and that's a very tough thing to do.

BO: Well, it's nothing compared to what our soldiers are going through, who are stationed, and who are in Iraq, as well as those who've given their life for our country. And so, I'm just proud of these men and women in our military, and now is not the time to undercut them by suggesting in the United States that we set some timeline for when we pull them out. I believe, in fact, that trends are heading in our direction in Iraq. Again, I understand that there are those who will ridicule that statement. But I know, I know what I saw, and what I've heard. And this is a war for civilization. If we are defeated in Iraq, it's just the start of the problems our country, and the West are going to face from radical Islam.

JB: Well, you've hit that one right square on the nose. And let's talk about another subject...

BO: Sure.

JB: ...I know you're very concerned about, Governor Bill Owens. We are all following this business of the high school history teacher, Jay Bennish...

BO: (laughing) Right.

JB: ...and his student, Sean Allen, who taped some really outrageous comments by this character. Now I understand you're going to have Sean Allen in your office?

BO: You bet. I've invited him in. He's going to come in on Monday, and...I haven't met Sean, but I'm proud of what he did. And I wonder at the backlash against him from some in the left, this is a 16 year old who's standing up for what he believes is right. And whether you agree with him or not, and I do agree with him...but when the left attacks this young man, I mean, this is what we usually respect, a youngster standing up for what he believes, taking on authority, trying to change the system. But Jay Bennish, the teacher, those things were outrageous. I'm sure he didn't expect to be caught at it...

JB: Amen.

BO: And we ought to have this debate. They shouldn't be indoctrinating our kids under the guise of geography.

JB: Well, I think that's exactly right. When you have a geography teacher talking about comparing the President in the State of the Union address to Hitler and some of the things that he said before, I mean I've just got to wonder what these teachers think they're teaching.

BO: Well, I mean I'd love to see how well these youngsters know the capitals of the world, and the know, I'd be interested to know if they're really good in geography, or if they just have to listen to this leftist rant every day from Mr. Bennish. My guess is it's the latter.

JB: Well, you know, I'd really love to just sit down and maybe write a little bit of an exam for Mr. Bennish. I bet you he doesn't know a heck of a lot more than his students. He's just so fulminating around with is politics in the classroom. Is there some way that you as a governor, we as Americans, can stand up to this sort of ideological abuse of children?

BO: You know, it's really tough in the sense that it's not just in our high schools, it's in our colleges. And this gentleman, he had a professor at an Arizona school say well, that's exactly what I taught Mr. Bennish to teach, which is you're supposed to try to change the world. I don't want him to teach my kids to change the world. I want him to teach my kids what the capital of Egypt is...

JB: Well, yeah.

BO: ...and you know, in geography, this is not a political science class. It's a geography class, and most American kids, I've seen the data, really, they're not sure which ocean is off our West coast.

JB: (laughing)

BO: And so, let's start with the basics, and if you've got perfect geography students, then take a little bit of time to talk about world politics. But my guess is these kids aren't there yet.

JB: Well, Governor, we've only got about one minute left, but give me real quick your reaction to Senator Clinton saying that we're going towards a police state for trying to raise the penalties for illegal immigration?

BO: You know, she, too, is ranting. And she's trying to play to the Democratic base. She wants to be the Democratic nominee, and then she wants to be President. And to do that, she thinks she needs to move left on that issue. You know, we have an absolute responsibility to defend our border. And if we can't do it through normal means, then we have to ramp up our defense in a humane way. But nevertheless, if that means a wall or barrier or electronic means, that's what we need to do. And you know, we're seeing the impact in Colorado of those who are here illegally.

JB: Governor Bill Owens of Colorado, thanks very much for taking the time to join us today.

End of interview.

CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow on the possible economic impact of the failed Dubai port deal.

Jed Babbin sitting in for Hugh Hewitt this week.

JB: We're facing a lot of different reactions to the crashing and burning of the Dubai ports deal. One of the things that I don't get is the stock market. Economics is way over my head. I'm a bullets and bombs guy, I do foreign affairs, I do military affairs. I do not understand it, and when I don't understand the stock market, which is all the time, the one show I've got to watch, and never fails to explain these things to me is Kudlow & Company. And CNBC's Kudlow & Company is headed up by my very good friend, Larry Kudlow. Larry, thanks for joining us.

LK: Hey, Jed. You were great tonight on the program. I can't thank you enough.

JB: Oh, you're way too kind. I think you already did. I just love doing that stuff, and I learn stuff when I talk to you. And I'm very serious about that, because if you don't get the stock market, and I don't, I really need to hear these things. Now tell us, you say the stock market immediately took a dip when we heard the announcement about the Dubai ports deal crashing. What's the long term...actually, what's the short term economic effect, and why?

LK: Well, nobody can be sure, in truth. But the market did take a dip. It was rallying back nicely mid-day, and then as soon as this Dubai world ports announcement to sell their U.S. situation came across the tape, the market just went down quite a bit. I won't call it a plunge, but it lost a lot of ground. And look, in a nutshell, what investors are worried about is that the United States, whatever the motivation of our political leaders may be, whether it's protectionist as I fear, whether it's xenophobia against Arabs as I also fear, but whatever the motivation, we're sending a message that we don't want foreign investment capital. Whether it's Arabs, and I think there are going to be big problems with China coming up, there could be problems with India coming up. And look, we are an open economy, and foreign investment is an important part. International capital comes to the United States because we give them prosperity, a high rate of return, and in turn, they create high-paying jobs, by the way. $60,000 a year jobs on average, according to one study. So there's a worry that we're repelling foreign investment, that we're telling them to keep their money away from the U.S., and stocks don't like that, because it's bad for the health of our economy.

JB: Okay, Larry Kudlow, isn't there a way we can parse this out a little bit differently in wartime? I mean, we have companies like COSCO, the Chinese Communist company operating the port in Long Beach. Don't we have a way to differentiate, say, between companies that are essentially an arm of a government, and companies that aren't, that are actually owned by private people?

LK: I think it's very difficult to do that. I mean, some of the leading...look, if you're going to deal with China, for example, then you're going to deal with state-owned companies. There's another one out there, Jed, that's Singapore. And they run ports in L.A., I think, and Seattle. That's a state-owned company. Ditto for the Middle East. If you're talking Kuwait, if you're talking Dubai, if you're talking Bahrain, if you're talking Saudi Arabia. Ditto for Russia. A lot of companies we do business with in Russia are state-owned companies. You see, my argument has been we do need additional security safeguards at the ports here in the U.S. I agree with that. But I say that's a separate issue than the Dubai group, because these guys are very good marine terminal operators. They've played ball with us, and they are not the problem with security. That's Coast Guard, Homeland Security Department, Customs Department, areas that you know far better than I do. Don't single these guys out. I mean, to be consistent, if you're going to use Duncan Hunter's idea that no state-owned company should do business here, and that's the gist of the House resolution, then tomorrow morning, they should all be throwing out China. They should all be throwing out Singapore. And I think that is a very big mistake.

JB: Well, I think it's maybe a big mistake if we go beyond those things which are crucial to national security. And you know, this is one of the things we talked about on your program earlier today. It seems to me that we have a failure, at least a failure of confidence in the Department of Homeland Security. I don't have the confidence that they have, the ways to keep an eye on COSCO in Long Beach, and Singapore and so forth. Why can't we at least just limit things. We don't want to cut off trade. We don't want to cut off investment, we don't want to cut off employement. But at least in those things that are crucial to national security, like the operation of the ports, maybe we can draw a line there.

LK: Well, you know, I felt that the additional 45 day scrub of the Dubai deal, with respect to all these security issues, was a very good idea. The Dubai World Ports company thought it was a good idea. And they were willing to make whatever changes and amendments to security safeguards would be necessary to satisfy national security, as defined by the Congress and the White House. I thought that was a great idea. And to cut this thing off, you know, I feel Republicans acted very badly on this. Here's my bigger worry, going down the road. Calmer heads like yours don't prevail. That in fact, you've got a whole movement. Some call it neo-protectionism and xenophobia. You've got a whole movement now of people, like my friend Pat Buchanan, and my friend Lou Dobbs, and some others, who want to keep foreigners out of this country, lock, stock and barrel, and now they're trying to manufacture national security reasons to do so. And I don't like that one bit. And among other things, Jed, you and I both know, we discussed this on Kudlow & Company, we're going to have Iran. We've got an Iranian problem. We've got a Syrian problem. I would like to have as much Arab sentiment in our favor to get rid of these bad apples in Iran and Syria. But, we're not achieving that goal if we are mistreating them, or we're singling out Dubai, and we're not taking steps elsewhere. That's just dead wrong.

JB: Well, I think you're probably right on that, Larry. And let's talk about the backlash may be here. Do you expect to see Dubai, and the UAE for example, reducing investment in the United States? I mean, what would it mean to us if, for example, countries like the UAE were pulling their money out of American banks and Americans investments?

LK: Well, I think that firstly, we don't know if there'll be a backlash. And I'll say that honestly. All I'm saying is there's the risk or the threat. Secondly, the amount of money that all the Arab countries have in the United States, insofar as that kind of direct investment, is very small. It's very small. It's only about $4 billion dollars, according to most estimates. Now it is growing, incidentally, but it is still very small. Countries like Britain and Germany and France and Japan have, you know, a couple of hundred billion dollars in direct investment. So the Arab story...look, these Arab nations are just now getting prosperous. They're starting to develop some capitalist models, Bahrain, Dubai and so forth. So it's small. But again, I don't know what the so-called Arab attitudes are going to be about this. Whether or not this was a longer term strategic mistake remains to be seen, and I just wish we hadn't taken the risk. I think we could have solved this in a more sensible way.

JB: Well, you're probably right. But let me take a funny bounce on you. Let's go back to what the Vice President was saying a couple of days ago, that there would be "meaningful consequences" for Iran, in terms of sanctions or other action, if they don't get into the game and clean up their act on their military nuclear weapons program. What can we do? Is there any economic sanction that you can envision that might actually have some sort of serious effect on those guys?

LK: Well, I'm not sure. It's a good question. It's a tough question. It's a very important question. I agree with Cheney's view on this. I want us to be as tough on Iran as we can possibly be. If you had a full-out Naval blockade linked sanction on Iran, I think it would succeed. Or at least, it would succeed in some part. In other words, it would may not be 100%, but it might succeed, let's say, 60-70, 75%. I mean, these things are difficult, you're going to have overland routes, and what have you.

JB: Sure.

LK: But yeah, I think that would be pretty tough. I think that's probably a good place to start. And yes, I think that it would hurt, because Iran, with all of its bluster, they need foreign income sources. You know, they sell a lot of oil. If we stopped their oil flow, that's their source of income. And as I'm sure you know, they don't even have much gasoline inside Iran, so they couldn't have any trucking, transporting, automobiles. That stuff will stop within a short period of time. So yeah, I think we could probably be very tough on economic sanctions there.

JB: Well, the thing that worries me about that, though, Larry, is if we have a really tough economic sanction like that, and we shut off the oil coming out of there, I mean Europe and Japan are going to come to a screeching halt, no?

LK: Well, look. You're going to question, you're going to have an oil price spike if Iran cuts off the flow of oil. Now they may do so to...what is it? To cut their nose to spite their face?

JB: Right.

LK: To shoot themselves in the knee? Whatever the cliche is. But yeah, that's an issue. However, the Western countries do have significant, significant oil and gasoline reserves.

JB: Larry Kudlow, Kudlow & Company. CNBC.

End of interview.

If you're Governor Tim Pawlenty, what do you say to 2,600 National Guardsmen about to deploy to Iraq?

Jed Babbin, guest hosting.

JB: One of Hugh's friends, one of the friends of the show, is Governor Tim Pawlenty, fresh from the State of the State message. Governor, thanks for joining us.

TP: Well, thank you very much, Jed, and thanks for having me on the show.

JB: Well, it's my pleasure. Now you delivered the State of the State address just today. Give us the two or three most important things you talked about, and what do you think's going to happen on them.

TP: Well, I'd say three things. One is trying to get more choice and options in education, number two, trying to get more people to buy a private market health insurance that's affordable, so we've got some ideas to get that down to less than $200 bucks a month, at least for people who are uninsured. And number three, getting pretty aggressive in renewable energy, because energy supplies are flat, and demand is exploding, and that's a real formula for a problem for our country, and for Minnesota. So those are three of the bigger areas that we outlined during the State of the State, and school choice in Minnesota isn't going to pass, because we've got a split legislature, and the Dems, and the, shall I say, softer Republicans won't pass it. And on the issue of health care reform, I think progress will be made there, because it has to be. The system's busted. And then we're a real big renewable fuel state, Jed. We've got nation leading in things like Ethanol and wind energy and bio-diesel, so I think there's a lot of possibilities there as well.

JB: Well, now those things, the renewable energy systems that you mentioned, those fascinate me. And I'm just wondering, how much is it going to take, or how long is it going to take before we start seeing more widespread use of, say, bio-diesel?

TP: Well, I think bio-diesel may take a little longer than, say, Ethanol, going in more states, or larger amounts of Ethanol going in more states, because bio-diesel, we're the first state in the nation to have a bio-diesel requirement, which is soy oil, by the way, and diesel fuel. But we had a few hiccoughs with it in terms of the technology or the refining of it, but now those have been straightened out it seems. I think the more likely scenario is Ethanol's going to be catching on in more states, and that'll be the big thing unless and until somebody can commercialize hydrogen fuel cells.

JB: Well, God bless you for trying. Let's go right to another thing that you're concerned with, and you're going to be leaving for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where some of your Minnesota National Guard folks are going to be shipping out soon to go to Iraq. Now you've got a state that's, you know, it's not really blue, it's not really red. It's kind of purpleish. So I think it's safe to say, and fair to say that there's not unanimous support for the war out there. What are you going to say to the troops down there?

TP: Well, what I'm going to say is first of all, thank you. And then I'm going to say we support our troops. And I'm also going to say I support what you do. Now there's a lot of concern, as there should be, about what's going on in Iraq, and the like. But it's a schizophrenic message to say to the troops you know, we really love you, and we do, but we don't support what you go out and risk your lives, and work twelve hours a day every day to do. And so, that sets up a schizophrenic message to them. So I always want to tell them, we support you across the board, no matter what. Once we commit troops, then let's support them 110%. And also, you need to know that Minnesota leads the nation in National Guard recruitment and retention, and these aren't average folks. You know, we just don't go find them out on the bus stop. These are strong, dedicated, tough, patriotic people.

JB: Well, I've got to tell you that about, oh, two Decembers ago, I had the very great pleasure of meeting and talking to three of the military moms of Minnesota, gals by the name of Terri Lee, Sharon Johnson, & Jolene Wieman. And I talked to them, and I got a feeling that there is so much family support for these troops going out...I mean, the families of Minnesota are standing behind their guys, I mean, as well as any Americans I've ever talked to.

TP: There's no question about it. We've got a huge outpouring of family support. And again, there are some mixed feelings about the war across Minnesota, as there are across most other states. But that's not the point. The point is we've got these folks over there, they need to know we're with them. They need to know we're thinking of them, they need to know we support them.

JB: Well, you lost a great baseball player this week, Kirby Puckett at the very young age of 45. I mean, I think you issued a statement on that. I mean, we're all going to miss Kirby. What are your thoughts when he passed away?

TP: I had two key thoughts, Jed. One is that the joyful nature of his personality. Obviously, he was a great baseball player. But just as a human, just very joyful, always energetic, up-tempo, happy, loved people. The other thing is, you know, life is fleeting. That would be my second observation. You know, he's 45 years old. He's been on a big roller coaster ride, a big hero on the field, but definitely showed us his humanity off the field. And at the age of 45, he dies. And so for all of us, I hope it's a time not only to celebrate how great he was in baseball, but maybe reflect a little bit about life and the fact that it doesn't last that long, and how are we living, how are we serving, how are we treating each other. I hope there's a little bit of reflection that comes with the baseball assessments as well.

JB: Well, I think that's exactly right. And you know, I think any time a prominent person passes, we all kind of think about our own mortality, and when you're going down there and talking to military families, I don't know how many of Minnesota's troops have been lost in Iraq. But I think every American sits back and looks at the families that are supporting these young men and women, that they really...the families are giving as much of a sacrifice as anybody in this war. What else can Minnesota do, or what can the rest of America do to help relieve some of the pressure on these families?

TP: Wow, thanks for asking. You're exactly right. When these soldiers serve, the families serve, too. I mean, you can imagine being gone a year and half, and leaving behind a spouse with a few kids, and now they're a single parent, basically, because you're gone. And the driveway has to get shoveled, and the grass has to get mowed. And so there' Minnesota, there is a Minnesota family care initiative the First Lady's put together. They can go on my website, click on there, and they can sign up to do volunteer chores for these families, mowing grass...they're not looking for money, but just simple acts of love to support these families. So I hope if you're in Minnesota, you check that out. Other states have things like that as well. And then they can make contributions to the Minnesota Family Foundation, which helps families of deployed soldiers in crisis.

JB: That's fabulous stuff. Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, thanks very much for taking the time to join us tonight.

End of interview.

Wednesday, March 8

The Smart Guys analyze the Solomon decision, and predictions on the South Dakota abortion banning law.

Jed Babbin, guest hosting for Hugh.

JB: One of my favorite segments every week that I sit in for Hugh is the Smart Guy segment, which we're going to do right now. We're going to have a little bit of time with these gents. Right now, let's go to, on the left, Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke University Law School, and John Eastman, Chapman University, on the right. Gents, thanks for coming aboard.

EC: It's always a pleasure.

JB: Hey, let's start off with...hey Erwin, how much is Duke University going to lose now that the Solomon Amendment's going to be enforced?

EC: Well, they're not going to lose anything, and hopefully, they won't lose any more basketball games, either. The reality is that Duke is going to comply with the Solomon Amendment, as every major university is, because they have no choice. Just so that all your listeners know what we're talking about, the Solomon Amendment is a federal law that says that universities that receive federal funds must allow the military to recruit on campus. Many law schools, including Duke, refused to allow the military to interview on campus, because they have a policy that employers that discriminate based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation aren't welcome on campus. And the military won't allow gays and lesbians to serve. But the Supreme Court yesterday, 8-0, upheld the Constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment. So the military really does get preferential treatment. No other employer that discriminates can interview on campus, as the military is going to get...

JB: John Eastman, it should get preferential treatment, shouldn't it? That's really the issue, that if the government is paying your bills, why shouldn't they have a little bit of control of what goes on, on the campus?

JE: Well, that's right. One of the things we learned in the course of this litigation, for example, is that Harvard University gets over $300 million dollars a year from the taxpayers via the federal government. And this little condition on that spending is one they didn't like, but they wanted to keep the money. Look, it's more broad than that, though. I mean, in days of old, our institutions of higher education welcomed the opportunity to provide service to the country. The citizen soldier scholar idea is a profound part of our nation's history. And the notion that somehow they would block recruiting from the military, while we're in the middle of the war, has really got people up in arms, and I think that's what's led to the Congressional insistence on enforcement of this statute.

JB: Well, Erwin, back to you. I mean, we have a situation here where Yale is admitting a Taliban to their student body, and they won't allow ROTC on campus? There's something seriously wrong with schools like that, isn't there?

EC: That's an unfair characterization. The military can speak on campus, just like the Taliban or anybody else...

JB: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time out. John, did I just hear Erwin compare the military to the Taliban?

EC: No, you compared the military to the Taliban.

JB: I didn't lump them in the same sentence, buddy.

EC: Let me finish.

JB: Okay.

EC: My point was this wasn't about whether the military or the Taliban, or anybody else can speak on campus. The Taliban wasn't trying to use the recruitment office, the career service office to interview. Law schools have a long-standing policy that employers who discriminate aren't welcome to interview on campus using their facilities. And I think that's absolutely right. I think no employer should be using the law school's facilities, unless all students are able to interview. I think law schools need to convey the message that discrimination is wrong. The reality is the military can interview...

JB: All right. Erwin, let's let John get back in on this. I mean, this wasn't about military discriminating about homosexuals, John, or was it?

JE: Well, it was in part. But the first Solomon Amendment, and it actually dates back to the anti-war protests following Vietnam...and just general prohibition on ROTC long before this particular policy was ever put in place, there's been an anti-military sentiment from a lot of the nation's top schools. But let me go further, and there's something else going on here that's important. Most of the nation's top law schools actually discriminate themselves against religion, for example, on who they will allow to recruit on campus. If there's a religious organization such as the Salvation Army, that because of their religious beliefs, continue to adhere to the view that homosexual conduct is immoral, they are barred from recruiting on campus. And that's a religious discrimination on the part of the institutions. So they're being very selective in their insistence on no discrimination on who gets to participate, as long as there's no discrimination in the direction that you want them to go.

JB: All right. Well, let me get Erwin back in there, because I really want to stay focused on the military issue. Now Erwin, John raised a very good point. This is not about homosexuality, this goes way, way, way back to the point of banning ROTC on campus. And that's what the Solomon Amendment was really pointed at, wasn't it?

EC: Not at all. What this stems from is a specific amendment that was made in 1997 by Representative Solomon, that was in particular response to the military being excluded by law schools. There may be other things in the past where this was, but this is not what this is. And that's not what the Supreme Court decision yesterday was about. That's not what this lawsuit was about. I'm a named plaintiff in this lawsuit, so if nothing else, I can speak with some authority. This is about the fact that the military will not, because of a federal statute, to take gays and lesbians, and law schools won't allow employers who discriminate to use their facilities. I've never heard of the Salvation Army wanting to interview at any law school, or being excluded from any law school.

JB: Well I don't think the Salvation Army does a lot of recruiting at law schools, does it, John?

JE: No, the American Bar Association actually requires that all of its member institutions prohibit any group, even ones that are religious, from recruiting on campus if they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And that means that an organization that adheres to its sincerely held religious views will be barred from recruiting on campus. And that's a condition of membership in the ABA, and the American Association of Law Schools. Let me go further here, because this vote by the Supreme Court was 8-0. And a week ago, the Supreme Court had a similar 8-0 vote in an important abortion speech case, NOW V. Scheidler. And I think there's a message here the Court is sending us. The neew John Roberts Court is a workmanlike Court that is not going to let the courtroom become the field where we play out political battles. And I think the message in both of these cases is, if you've got a beef with the Congress' policy on don't ask, don't tell, take it to the legislature. Let's not stretch our Constitution to try and resolve these political disputes in the courts of law.

JB: All right. Let's go on to another issue, and Erwin, I want to give you the first shot at this one. South Dakota's abortion ban. There's no way that this is going to stand up. Why does a state like South Dakota even try to do something at this point?

EC: We agree it won't stand up. There are five justices on the current Court who in all likelihood are going to uphold Roe V. Wade. I think they're doing it for two reasons. One is if, say, Justice John Paul Stevens retires, and President Bush gets another pick, then there might be five justices who would be willing to use this as the vehicle to overrule Roe V. Wade. The other reason they're doing it is political grandstanding. It's an easy way for conservative legislators to appeal to their conservative constituents.

JB: Well, John, you get the last word. What is going to come out of this?

JE: I think people as committed to this cause as that South Dakota is, is not doing it for political grandstanding. They're doing it because they think human life is being taken in wholesale numbers. And look, one of the things we learned a couple of years ago, Justice Kennedy, who had been in the majority of Planned Parenthood V. Casey, reaffirming Roe V. Wade, became very troubled in the partial birth abortion case out of Nebraska several years ago, when he saw what the impact, or the import of that decision meant. And I think it's an open question whether Justice Kennedy has had a change of heart.

JB: Well, let's just see. Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke University Law School, John Eastman, Chapman University, the right and the left, thanks very much, guys.

End of interview.

Former California Attorney General and current Congressman Dan Lungren on the Rob Reiner First 5 smell test.

Jed Babbin, guest hosting.

JB: We're talking right now to California Congressman Dan Lungren. I want to get to one of the principal reasons we invited you on today. Now you were Attorney General of California for a while. You're one of the very few Attorney Generals in recent history out there that could actually find his way to the courthouse, and would know what seat to take when he walked into the courtroom. So let me just go right to the issue. We've been talking, and Hugh was talking a lot last week about this whole thing about the First 5 Commission, Rob Reiner, and all of the money that they're spending in California, that apparently, apparently is related to Proposition 82, and the funding of preschool for 4 year olds and so forth. I know you don't want to prejudge these things, but there's so many things that are going on in here. I know from my experience in this goofy town, if this was a federal commission, the place would be crawling all over with FBI agents by now. So let's just set the names and the dates aside. Let's just talk about what's legal. Is it possible that these guys could be spending public money on a private campaign to get Proposition 82, or something else, on the ballot, and then passed?

DL: Let me put it this way. It appears to me that there is more than an apparent conflict of interest. This looks to me like a clear conflict of interest. That is a different question as to whether or not it is unlawful. And the reason I say that is you have to look at how these commissions have been established by initiatives, and then there's another initiative out there. Technically speaking, if you're not saying vote for this particular amendment, if you're making a general statement, you might very well be able to get around any illegality that is chargeable. And what really needs to happen is this continue to be exposed to the light of day, so that the people of California can make a judgment as to whether this makes sense. And they also can use that when they look at the proposition.

JB: Well, it seems to me that might be a little bit too little and too late. Isn't there something...what can citizens do? I mean, can they sue in their own names? I mean, can you have a situation like in qui tam situation that I'm familiar with in federal law, that someone can bring an action in the name of the government, and try to stop this stuff?

DL: We do have qui tam actions that are in California. Rarely, but they do happen. Rarely do they happen on the state level. They have been successful under some circumstances. Where you're talking about an allegation that it is a blatant misuse of government money, and misappropriation of the people's money for an inappropriate purpose. What I'm just suggesting is that is a very difficult case to carry. And sometimes, when people take that, everything gets lost in that. And if you're not successful with that, they assume that what was done was okay, where you are not looking at the action on its own merits, which appear to me to be a clear conflict of interest. Just because it's not actionable doesn't mean it's not unethical or inappropriate, and that people ought not to respond very strongly against it. That's my point. It's sometimes distracting to try and go in a legal sense, if, in fact, you don't have a legal basis for it.

JB: Okay. So basically, if this comes down to a political question, I mean, there's got to be political answers to it. I mean, if there's...

DL: Absolutely. I mean, people should be asking questions. Every time Mr. Reiner appears they ought to be asking him questions. Every time there's an action by the commission there ought to be a question. There ought to be a clearer statement from the Governor's office as to how they feel about this. State legislators ought to be asked very specifically what they ought to do. I mean, look...if you look at what I call a scandal about the way the commission that was set up with respect to stem cells in the State of California has proceeded, problem after problem after problem. It looks like the language...the very language of the proposition is set up to assist particular individuals. I mean, that's one of the problems we have with initiatives. As good as that is as a general concept, when you can create mechanisms that really in a sense unfairly benefit you with the taxpayer's money without any oversight by the legislature, something's wrong.

JB: Well, but you have a situation here where a guy who's running a commission, and is apparently awarding contracts to his pals, he's overpaying them...I mean, is there something that somebody can stand up and say we've got to stop this, and here's how to do it right now?

DL: Well, two things. They ought to urge members of the legislature to have an investigation. That oversight on the legislative branch is an extremely important and can be effective tool be used on behalf of the people...

End of transcript.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt on the state of affairs in Iraq, and the morale of the troops.

Jed Babbin, guest hosting for Hugh this week.


JB: We're talking right now to one of the real warriors helping run the Global War On Terror. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt is the deputy director of plans and strategy for Central Command. General Kimmitt, thanks very much for taking the time to join us.

MK: Well, thanks for having me.

JB: Well, you're a real no-fooling warrior, sir, and I see that Ranger tab on your shoulder. So it seems to me you've probably got a pretty fair idea of what's actually going on on the ground. Centcom is in control of most of the forces in Iraq. Let's go through some of the stuff that we keep hearing from the mainstream press. Now for example, we keep hearing that morale is falling apart, and 70% of our troops just are hating it over there. Well, I guess they would. But basically, how is morale going on in Iraq, on the ground, with the troops?

MK: Well, Jed, I've always said that morale is a function of two factors. The first factor is do the soldiers understand their mission? And the soldiers clearly understand their mission over there. They see what they're doing, they know why they're there. They know why the country has sent them over to Iraq. They can't walk around a car bomb site, or see a targeted assassination without understanding their mission, and how important it is for them to be there. And frankly, the second aspect of morale is how do they feel about themselves, and how do they feel about the people back home? As long as they've got their friends and family back home rooting them on, the American public, the American Congress, the President, morale's going to be high. You've got a clear focus mission, you've got the people of America behind you, morale is high.

JB: Well, let me go through that just a little bit deeper, because I was over there in December, and I talked to a lot of the troops, and what I try to do when I get over there, or anyplace with the troops, is just kind of shy away from the officers and say Sergeant, let's you and me go in a corner. And what they were telling me is number one, the food's real good over here, aside from the places where you don't have a lot of fresh meals, but most of the time, they're very happy with the food, they're very happy with some of the special arrangement you guys have made, like the access to e-mail, and the other things they're able to do. I mean, a lot of these folks can actually get on the phone and call home. Tell us how common that is for the troops on the ground?

MK: Well, my sensing has always been that sometime during the day, unless they're out on a combat mission, they're going to find a way to get back in touch with their friends and family back home. Whether it's by e-mail, whether it's by telephone, as you said, the troops on the ground are going through enormous lengths to try to maintain communication between themselves and their families. So they're able to stay in touch with their friends and their family.

JB: Well, in terms of the families, now you're a significant commander in the loop there. How are the families doing back here? Tell me some of the things that are being done for the families, and quite frankly, what can America do to help?

MK: Well, I think if you go to most of the posts around the country, you're going to find family support groups are strong. You're going to find community relations are strong. Not only are we counting on the folks on post to send care packages and support to the troops, but the communities are wrapping themselves around the units as well. You see that a lot in the active duty military as well as the reserve communities. There's a lot that the military does. There's an old saying, the Army takes care of its own. In this war, we're finding out that that is still the case.

JB: Well, in terms of what's going on back here, I always want to mention for our listeners It's one of the programs the Pentagon's running, and I think it's doing pretty well in getting communities and businesses to help support the troops in a very direct way. Not just sending care packages, but even just having kids in school send notes over there saying soldier, I appreciate what you're doing.

MK: Well, I certainly got those letters over there, and I'm sure that the troops are still getting them.

JB: Well, let's talk about some of the other stuff. And you know, we're hearing from the press all the time, and we've got a lot of folks bleating away in Congress about how much of a strain this is putting on the troops. Now when I was over there, I talked to some of your leaders, and some of the guys who really are having a good feel for what's going on there. And it's undeniable. We have a strain on the force. How is it holding up? I mean, you're talking about guys who have two or three years of combat under their belts already, and it might be a 30 year old captain we're talking about.

MK: Well, clearly there is some pressure on the force. And the pressure on the force manifests itself by having to send our soldiers back over once or twice, or more than that. Nonetheless, I think if you take a look at the important statistics about what that pressure causes, whether it's in terms of re-enlistment or recruitment, the numbers are good. And again, if the soldiers didn't want to be in the military, when they had a chance to re-up, they would walk out. That is not the case. And I think it goes to the point that you mentioned early, that these soldiers understand why they're there. I am confident that there are my service, the Army, has got a plan that will sustain us as long as we need for this operation, for the operation in Afghanistan, and whatever else the country asks us to do.

JB: Well, that's the real $64 dollar question, General. It seems to me a lot of people doubt now that if something fell apart somewhere else, we even have the capability to do it. I mean, we've got Jack Murtha blathering up there saying oh, the Iranians know how weak we are, and that's emboldening them. I mean, what's the answer to that?

MK: Well, I think that any adversary in the world that would somehow suggest or think in their own deliberations that we do not maintain a capability to do what our nation asks us to do is making a serious mistake.

JB: Well, how about Centcom itself? Now you guys have an awful lot of the Special Forces working for you. And I know a lot of the SpecOps types. I mean, I'm a frustrated one myself, wasn't ever athletic enough or smart enough or brave enough to do that, but be that as it may, a lot of these guys come and tell me you know, they're spending three or four years away from their families. Are we expanding Special Forces? It seems to me from what we hear from the Quadrennial Defense Review that a lot more SpecOps troops are going to be there. What are we doing? How big are they going to get? And quite frankly, where are we going to get that many people who are that high quality?

MK: Well, the first thing that we're doing inside my service in the Army is transforming the Army while we're fighting this war. We're taking a hard look at the force that we have today, and asking ourselves is this the force we want for tomorrow, to keep continuing this fight, and whatever future fights we're asked to fight. And that's why General Schoomaker has been so revolutionary in transforming the Army into larger brigades, taking some of the savings he's getting from units that may not be as relevant in this war, artillery units, air defense units, and converting some of those, and their people, over to other types of units, or letting those people re-enlist for Special Forces. So I think the first way is by an internal examination of what we need now and for the future in transforming the military so it's more appropriate to the fight. And second, of course, is bringing on in our recruiting efforts, more high-quality young men and women to take on those specialties that are going to be needed.

JB: Well, I was down at the JFK Special Forces school watching a Robin Sage exercise oh, about a year and a half ago. And one of the things that impressed me was the confidence of the people there that they'd be able to get more of the right kind of guys. But the thing that struck me, I was talking to one senior warrant officer, I think his name was Bart Bryant, one very calm, pro kind of Green Beret that you'd expect that kind of guy. But he was saying look, there's a lot of kids in this country who can shoot expert. There's a lot of kids in this country who can hump a 50 or a 100 pound pack up a long hill. But there's not a lot of guys out there who can operate in the way that the Army Special Forces operates, in terms of dealing with indigenous forces and so forth. How are you going to find kids of that quality...I mean young men and young women?

MK: Well, I've got a lot of respect for the Special Forces at Fort Bragg. I come from Fort Bragg as well. But I take a look at what we're doing on the ground in Iraq right now, and most of the training for the Iraqi Security Forces is done by non-Special Forces troops. Most of training for Afghan forces is not being done by Special Forces. They do bring great capability to that mission, foreign internal defense and training. But that is also a skill set that our conventional forces can do as well. Not as great all the time, but I think for the types of forces that we're trying to build in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're up to the task.

JB: In terms of the overall mission over there, is it something that we're now facing a real diminution of the Iraqi capability? Is the Iraqi government falling apart? I mean, we're seeing nothing but bad news on the television every single day. What do you say to the American people about that?

MK: Well, the first thing you say is that the country is not on the verge of civil war. You can look at some very clear barometers of civil war, and personally, I don't see them. The country is not falling apart into large-scale sectarian violence. The government is not falling apart. The military is not falling apart and going into sectarian divisions. We've seen this in Yugoslavia. We've seen this in Lebanon. I remain confident that they're going to work their way through this situation. And as I've said before, the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a pothole. Not a bump in the road, but a pothole. And we're going to find out if the country has those shock absorbers that can see their way through this, or if it's going to crack in the frame. But it looks like they're standing up to the challenge, that the vast majority of Iraqis are rejecting the calls for civil war. But at the same time, we always need to be concerned about that. We can't wish it away. We can't ignore it. But there is a probability that it could happen. But in my view, a very, very low probability.

JB: Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of plans and strategy of Centcom, General, thanks. I know you're a busy guy. Thank you very much for giving us part of your day today.

MK: Thank you, Jed.

End of interview.

Tuesday, March 7

Rob Reiner watch: As the scandal turns.

Once again, Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: We're talking again about this whole scandal, the growing scandal surrounding the First 5 Commission, Rob Reiner, and Proposition 82. Joining me right now to talk about this and bring us up to date is Bill Bradley of Bill, thanks for taking the time to join us.

BB: Hi, thanks for having me on.

JB: You know, this whole thing, I'm new to the story, I'm just getting up to speed on it. Reset the clock for us. The whole basic bottom line is that you have a public commission here, headed by Rob Reiner. Apparently they're spending public money on a campaign to pass a proposition on the ballot this Fall?

BB: Essentially, that's right, except that the proposition will be on the June ballot, the California primary.

JB: Oh, wow. So this...

BB: Rob Reiner promoted an initiative which passed here in California narrowly in 1998, to slap more of a tobacco tax on cigarettes in California to fund early childhood development programs. But it's turning out that there is very little oversight or control over how this money is spent.

JB: All right. Now you've reported earlier that about $230 million dollars has been spent by this commission on advertising and public relations?

BB: On advertising and public relations. Actually, over a quarter of that on public relations, which is a stunning amount of money.

JB: Well, I mean it's a big amount of money. $230 million bucks is a lot more than I make in a year, and in all seriousness, this is astonishing. That's probably more than Budweiser and Tylenol spend in an entire year on TV advertising.

BB: Actually, as it turns out, the commission spent $23 million dollars in just one quarter of the past year, promoting preschool for all, which was then the initiative that Rob Reiner had his political organization out in the field gathering signatures for. And in that one quarter of time, that $23 million dollars spent promoting the universal preschool initiative, public money, was actually more than the California Lottery spent on advertising for the entire year.

JB: Well, you know, that's important, though. I mean, it seems to me this is a huge, huge slush fund. I mean, the last time I looked into something like that, it was being run by the U.N. You know, this is something that is so out of control. Let's talk about some of the contracts that you've found between Reiner's commission and this ad agency. I mean, I'm reading some of your stuff today, and I am just astonished. How do you have the chairman of the commission, supposedly which is conducting a competitive bid to get the services of some ad agency...the chairman of the commission is signing the cover letter of the proposal?

BB: Yes, it was very odd. Now he's trying to distance himself now from the spending that promoted his own initiative, but the fact is that this campaign firm...and by the way, as you may know, I'm not a conservative. I'm a fairly liberal guy.

JB: Well, we won't hold it against you. You seem like a pretty straight reporter.

BB: ...and have actually worked with a number of well-known Democrats, some of whom you probably don't like.

JB: Well, all right. Again, we won't hold it against you, as long as you stick to the facts, you're our friend.

BB: But this is...right. This is a situation that is out of control here, and Rob Reiner, who I'm acquainted with through Hollywood friends, he has a political media firm called GMMB, which also turns out to be the media firm, the advertising agency for the First 5 Commission. And it's actually founded and headed up by a fellow named Frank Greer, who's a terrific consultant, who also is a media consultant for Bill Clinton.

JB: All right. Let me stop you there, because one of the things that struck me, and you know, I'm an old government contracts lawyer. I mean, I have been looking at this stuff for thirty years, investigating it, litigating it. And it seems to me that there's a real question right up front. If there is a bright line that separates the mission of the First 5 Commission from the campaign for Proposition 82, then somebody's going to go to jail over this.

BB: Well, we'll see. These contracts were apparently dubbed to be legal when they were signed and executed, and that the funds were transferred. But at the very least, this is a very bad situation. And in fact, the state legislature, dominated by Democrats here in California, is jumping into this tomorrow, and will almost certainly authorize an investigation by the state auditor into this situation.

JB: Well, it seems like a lot of people ought to be investigating it, because...again, and maybe I'm not asking the question in the right way. But is the mission of the First 5 Commission to get something like Proposition 82 on the ballot, or to get it passed? Is there any commonality between the statutory purpose of that commission, and someone saying well, you know, that falls within our ambit to push Proposition 82?

BB: No, I don't think there is. Proposition 10 authorized the collection of these tobacco tax funds for the purpose of promoting and funding early childhood development programs. As it turns out, a lot of the money has gone, as you've said, into advertising/public relations efforts, which as the commission evolved over time, and we see this in the contracts I was revealing today, the primary mission of the commission, as articulated by its internal documents, was to promote universal preschool, which was not what Proposition 10 was intended to do, and not what the voters thought that they were doing. So in other words, to cut to the chase here, what we have with this contract, a $67.5 million dollar contract over several years time for advertising services, is to promote the stimulation of public demand for more state spending, and involvement with preschool programs, which of course happens to be the purpose of Rob Reiner's current initiative, Proposition 82, which would...that initiative would enact a higher tax on wealthy taxpayers to fund a universal preschool program throughout California.

JB: Okay. But what we're basically saying, and I think what you just said, is that Proposition 82 is not something that the First 5 Commission was supposed to be set up to support.

BB: Oh, no. Not at all. Not at all, no.

JB: So it's outside their mission. So if they're spending money on it, they're spending money on a purpose that they weren't supposed to be involved in.

BB: Right. Well of course, by definition, it's not the mission of a state agency to be promoting another ballot initiative, which...

JB: Well all right. Is there a statute that prevents that, do we know?

BB: Well, we're going to find out. One would think there is, but so far, it's unclear, because...

JB: Well now, these guys are spending money like the proverbial drunken sailor, and again, the last time I saw something like this, Benon Sevan was running it.

BB: Right.

JB: Now you've got a guy by the name of Ben Austin, who is leaving as the campaign manager for Proposition 82. What's his story, and how is he connected back to the California First 5 Commission?

BB: Right. Well, his story, as I just revealed in the last few hours, he's leaving as the campaign manager of Rob Reiner's new initiative campaign. He hooked up with Rob Reiner some years ago as a political advisor and political consultant as Rob got more involved in politics. He had been an aide in the Clinton White House...

JB: Okay, I'm sorry. We've only got about thirty seconds left.

BB: Okay.

JB: Is he someone who was paid out of the First 5 Commission to work on Proposition 82?

BB: He was paid out of the First 5 Commission to do consulting services for Rob, and for the commission. Unspecified. Over half a million dollars. And for most of that period of time, he was being paid more than the salary of the current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.


JB: Bill, regardless of our political differences, you're uncovering something that really smells to high Heaven. Recap for us just one more time, the amount of money flowing through this First 5 Commission, and to God only knows what?

BB: Well, it's upwards of $4 billion dollars in total, and 80% of which has gone to local county commissions for early childhood development programs. I'm just beginning to look into earlier state audit reports which indicate some irregularities there. But at the moment, what we're focused on is the state fund itself, and in particular, the $230 million dollars in money spent on advertising and public relations services, paid through firms which are connected either politically to Rob Reiner, or through Hollywood friendships with Rob Reiner, which is the case with the PR firm that we were talking about. And in particular, we have the situation where $23 million dollars was spent in just one quarter to promote universal preschool for all at the same time that Rob Reiner had signature gatherers out collecting signatures to qualify his universal preschool for all ballot initiative for the June ballot.

JB: Now do we know if any of this money spent for this community action network program was actually spent, for example, in paying these people to go out and get signatures to put Proposition 82 on the ballot?

BB: I don't know at this point. And there are over 150 community-based organizations, so-called, who received those funds, and you know, I literally do not know. This you know, it's a huge amount of money, and it's been spread around to a lot of people.

JB: Well, sure. This is still early days in your investigation.

BB: Sure.

JB: And I expect a lot of stuff's going to come out. Now you have reported also that there's some joint audit committee in the California legislature that's about to take a serious look at this.

BB: Yeah, the California legislature, and the Democrats in charge of it, have become quite alarmed, finally, by this, and know, I report these things, other papers report things, but I also know a lot of these people, and I've been talking with them and saying you know, this situation is out of control. And so, they are...the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will meet tomorrow afternoon, and is expected to authorize an investigation by the state auditor to look into the whole commission.

JB: Well, how would that play out? I mean, do we think that the state auditor then...I mean, is there some criminal investigation that would go along with that? Is the state Attorney General going to get involved? Do we know?

BB: Well, the state auditor...well, the legislative committee has the broadest potential purview, both looking at financial controls, and looking at the nature of the spending, whether or not it in fact is legal, or at best unethical. So that's one aspect of it. The Attorney General has actually recused himself from this, because as the state's top lawyer, he is also...his office has been the lawyer for the First 5 Commission.

JB: Oh, wonderful.

BB: Yes. But what he has done is he has passed off the situation to the Sacramento County District Attorney, who's a pretty conservative female prosecutor, who will probably take a hard look at this. We also have the state Controller, who's a Democrat, who is running for governor. And he has his auditors reviewing the situation. They have not decided yet whether or not to do a full investigation, but I spoke with him in person in Bakersfield late last week, and he has sharply criticized what Reiner's been doing. And incidentally, none of the other two candidates, including Governor Schwarzenegger, have really been critical of Reiner to this point.

JB: Well, yeah. And what's the story on that? I mean, I've got so many questions on this, but let me get right to that. It seems to me that the Governator could remove Reiner just by a phone call. Why isn't he getting off of his posterior and doing something about it?

BB: Well, that really is an essential element of this forest, because I confirmed the week before last from the Governor's office that in fact, Rob Reiner's term on the commission ended over 14 months ago. So he is sitting there in an expired term. He has been making these decisions until he took a leave of absence under pressure recently. But the Governor could...doesn't have to embarrass Rob Reiner, who of course he knows through Hollywood. He can simply appoint his own appointee, which most Governors generally do. And why has he not done this? Well, I think it's because of, frankly, the Hollywood club. He doesn't want to embarrass a fellow star...

JB: Oh, Lord.

BB: Yes.

JB: Are we talking, are we talking here about the ultimate girlie-man? Is he just scared?

BB: (laughing) Now I like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I actually voted for him, so I'm not saying that. But I think Hollywood is a club, and you will seldom find stars saying bad things about other stars.

JB: Heaven help us. Bill Bradley,, thanks very much for joining us.

BB: Thank you.

End of interview.

OMB's Joel Kaplan on the line item veto.

Jeb Babbin, guest hosting for Hugh Hewitt.


JB: I'm very pleased to be joined right now by Joel D. Kaplan. He's the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Kaplan, thanks very much for taking the time to join us today.

JK: Great to be with you, Jed.

JB: Hey, let's talk about the new initiative the President has to get a line item veto. Now we went through this drill ten years ago, and I think every conservative in America wanted the idea that the President of the United States should be able to cut some of the fat out of the budget without having to go through vetoing one of these massive, thousand page bills that nobody reads through anyway. What's the difference? We've got a situation now, President Bush is proposing legislation, just got sent up to the Hill. You guys have a good idea. What's the difference between this package and the one ten years ago? And why is this going to pass Supreme Court muster when the other one didn't?

JK: Jed, it's a good question, and we think we've got a good answer to it. What happened the first time around when the Congress, the Republican Congress first enacted a line item veto, is the Court said it was unconstitutional because basically, it allowed the President to unilaterally strike out individual pieces of a bigger piece of legislation. And the Court said basically, that's not the system the Constitution set up. You can't allow the President essentially to just rewrite the law on its own. So as the President said the other day, that shouldn't be the end of the story. We can do this in a way that gets the job done, and is also Constitutional. So what the President sent up to Congress yesterday was a proposal that says when the President gets one of these big bills with lots of spending in it, some of which is good important spending for the country, other spending in it which is wasteful or unnecessary, what this allows him to do is instead of vetoing the entire bill, which is basically throwing out the baby with the bathwater, what this lets him do is just take the bathwater out, which is the unnecessary spending, and send that back to Congress, and say Congress, you've got to vote up or down just on these unnecessary, wasteful earmarks. So at that point, Congress still has a chance to address it like a new law, and the President will have an opportunity then to sign it, getting rid of all the unnecessary spending. We think...

JB: Let me interrupt you for a second if I might, and sorry to do that. But let me just say you've of the magic buzzwords just came out of you, the earmarks. Now I think a lot of people in America are really very concerned. There's so much fat in the budget. But, but, all the old bulls of Congress, the guys who've been there a long time, the committee chairman and vice-chairman and so forth, I mean they kind of think, at least, that they live and die on the ability to deliver pork. What makes the President think that they're going to let him get away with this, even if the thing passes. Why is it going to work?

JK: Well, Jed, there's a...first of all, there's a lot of, I think, good attention being paid right now in Washington to the problem of earmarks. So we've got a real window of opportunity here, and we're optimistic. And just since the President sent up this legislation yesterday, we've already got, I think, 16 or 17 sponsors of the bill in the United States Senate, including the majority leader, Bill Frist, John McCain, Mitch McConnell. Even John Kerry has signed onto it. So we're optimistic...

JB: Ooh, there must be a problem with it then somewhere...

JK: Well, you know, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then. (laughing)

JB: (laughing) Okay.

JK: But no, actually, we're pleased to have Senator Kerry's support. We hope we can get more Democrats. We don't think it should be a partisan issue to take on wasteful spending in Washington.

JB: Well, okay, and I think that's a wonderful idea. And I think this is something that everybody should line up behind. But I've just got to ask the basic bottom line question. I love George Bush. I've been supporting George Bush since I served in his father's administration. But the guy doesn't own a veto pen. Is he really going to do it? Is he going to take on the Congressional types and say I'm going to slash the following? Give me some idea of what his thinking is.

JK: Well, first of all, the reason the President hasn't vetoed any spending bills yet is basically what I said before. It is, Congress sends these entire bills. Basically, they've lived up to the overall targets that the President said. He says don't spend more than X amount. Basically, the Republican Congress has lived within that. The problem is, the individual items within that spending bill may be things that the President doesn't support, and his only option under those circumstances is to veto the whole thing, or accept the whole thing. This bill, if it's enacted, and again, we're optimistic it will be, gives him a new choice, and that's to just take the spending that really, if it's held up to the light of day, nobody will think is the right thing for the government to be doing, and veto that spending, or in this case, send it to the Congress and say you need to vote up or down just on this pork. And I think, like I said, we're optimistic that we'll get that authority. And once we get it, I think there's going to be ample opportunity for the President to put it to good use.

JB: Well, God bless him. We hope he does. And let's just focus on how this is going to work. And I think again, you're saying some things that are very important. I want our listeners to understand. What we're looking at here is a bill that would give the President the power to say hey, I'm not signing part of a bill, and I'm sending it back to you. It's almost like a pocket veto of part of the bill. Does he sign the whole thing and then send it back for the first part of approval? Or how does it work?

JK: Jed, well what he does is he signs the whole bill, so the bill becomes law. And then the President takes, he identifies those individual items in the bill that he doesn't like, he packages them all up together, and he sends that back to the Congress. In the meantime, he tells the agencies of government, don't spend this money. For 180 days, do not spend this money. That gives the Congress an opportunity to take an up or down vote on that package of basically wasteful spending. And under this legislation, they would have to do it within ten days. And...

JB: So this really puts the monkey on the other back, because you've got people now, instead of the President, having to veto the whole thing, or just sign it and accept it. The Congress is going to have to take an up or down vote, no changes, on his package, which he's saying this is the part that I want to veto. So literally, the Congress has to do what the President now has to, and the burden's going to be on them, rather than on the President.

JK: That's right, and it won't be sort of bundled up with all of the good things that people think that government should be spending money on. So it just shines a bright spotlight on all of the pork that would otherwise be buried in these bills. And we think under those circumstances, we're going to get a lot more cooperation from member of Congress, who are not going to want to be on record just voting for the pork.

JB: Amen. Well, tell me how things look in the Congressional outlook. You've got Bill Frist lining up on this, Senator Mitch McConnell is going to back it up, and Senator McCain. Do you anticipate pretty quick action in the U.S. Senate?

JK: Well, you know, the United States Senate is the world's greatest deliberative body, and you wouldn't want to go out on a limb predicting quick action, but we are optimistic, and like I said, we've got a lot of cooperation from the Republican leadership in Congress on the Senate side. And on the House side, a lot of very positive statements from Speaker Hastert, and majority leader Boehner, and a lot of other prominent members of the Republican leadership. So I'm not sure exactly how quick, but we're off to a really good start, and we're pretty optimistic that there' I said, there's a good window of opportunity here to get this done.

JB: Well, we really wish you the very, very best. Ladies and gentlemen, Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Let's look for some progress on this.

End of interview.

Rob Reiner: The frog in the pot gets hot.

The actor/director/chairman of the First 5 Commission in California has had a series of bad days over the last two weeks. Today was no exception. William Bradley, journalist from the L.A. Weekly and blogger extraordinaire at New West Notes, dropped another bomb on Reiner this morning. Here's a bit from Bradley's article today:

Documents can be very revealing. The June 28, 2004 contract for media services — which commits the state to $67.5 million of advertising and related services — between the Rob Reiner-led California Children and Families Commission and the GMMB ad agency, founded and headed by former Bill Clinton media consultant Frank Greer, reveals that the principal focus of the so-called First Five Commission’s activities had already evolved into creating public demand for more state spending on preschool programs. Which happened to coincide with the emergence of Reiner’s universal preschool initiative, Proposition 82, now on the June California ballot.

So the more time goes by, the more the media is starting to figure out that Reiner has allegedly been using the First 5 Commission's media/slush fund as a way of funding the drive to get Prop. 82 on the ballot. This, my friends, is what we call a no-no.

The temperature on this story has been rising day by day, but at an almost painfully slow pace. Reiner may just be the frog in that pot, not noticing that the water around him has started to get hotter.

How long before the pot starts to boil and Reiner gets cooked? Tune in today to find out. Bill Bradley will join guest host Jed Babbin, as will former California Attorney General and now Congressman Dan Lungren.

Monday, March 6

John Fund on Yale's discounting of an Ivy League education to a Taliban official, and the effect of the Court's 8-0 Solomon decision.

Jed Babbin guest hosting for Hugh.


JB: Maybe, we hope, nothing like (UNC SUV incident) happens on other campuses around the country, but it seems to me one particular campus, a very prestigious Ivy League school may be kind of welcoming this sort of thing, welcoming the people who do these things into their midst. Joining me to discuss that right now is the indispensible John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. If you don't read John's stuff, you just don't get it. John, thanks for taking the time.

JF: Pleasure, Jed.

JB: Let's talk about your column today, Taliban Man At Yale. Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi...who is he? And why is he at Yale?

JF: That's the question. He is the former deputy foreign secretary of the Taliban, which was perhaps one of the most evil and repressive regimes ever to pollute the planet since Nazi Germany. And he has wound up with an honored perch at Yale University, his expenses paid for by a liberal foundation out of Wyoming, and people at Yale is wondering what's going on here? Now some people are saying well, we have to be tolerant. But this is a regime, Jed, that stoned gays to death, that if women were caught wearing fingernail polish, they sometimes had their fingers chopped off, kite flying, paper bags of all things, were deemed illegal. Music was illegal. Dancing, and of course, how could be forget, this is the regime that harbored the terrorists under Osama bin Laden, who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11. This man was a spokesman for that government.

JB: John, what am I missing here? I mean, what is Yale thinking? I mean, I know Harvard hates America. Yale doesn't allow ROTC recruiters on campus, but they allow, or not just allow, they welcome a Taliban into their school?

JF: Well, we know that Yale is out of touch. We know that today, because the Supreme Court unanimously, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreeing with Clarence Thomas...

JB: Yes.

JF: ...unanimously held that Yale Law School had unconstitutionally restricted military recruiters from its campus.

JB: Well, that's another big, big blow.

JF: So Yale has everybody on the Supreme Court against them. Now they're going to have an awful lot of other Americans, because let me tell you. What steams them, Jed, is this guy has a fourth grade education, a high school equivalency diploma, and there are thousands of people in your audience who have kids who have slaved hard and studied hard, and get their SAT's up, who would love to go to Yale, and this guy is going instead.

JB: Well, before we even get to the point of who's paying for him, can I just ask one very simple question? How the heck did this guy get into the country??? Why isn't he at Gitmo?

JF: Well, the State Department says we looked at him. Yale says the State Department looked at him, they're passing the buck. But here's what I've been told privately. The application came into the State Department, and they said well, as prestigious a university as Yale has accepted him, he must be something special. And Yale says, well don't blame us, the State Department cleared him.

JB: (laughing) So we're not just doing buck passing. What we're essentially saying is we're going to turn over the security of this country to the Yale admissions department.

JF: Well, let me be clear. I do not believe that Mr. Rahmatullah is a direct security threat. He was a propagandist, a mouthpiece for the Taliban. I have no evidence he's ever killed anyone. But it is repugnant for Yale to give up one of its student slots to this man. And one of the reasons they did it was, the dean of admissions said, well we had a guy just like him the other year, and he went to Harvard. We couldn't lose another one. And my question, Jed, is who in the world did they lose? Robert Mugabe's agriculture minister in Zimbabwe?

JB: (laughing) Well, now we have a serious question, John. We have a lot of people, the United Nations, Tony Blair, all of these folks are saying well, you really just ought to close Gitmo, and maybe you ought to just let all these people go. There was a page in the Post today, the Washington comPost, where they are basically saying well, all these guys need to be released. Now my question to you is if we close Gitmo, and release all these people, how many of them are going to get admitted to Ivy League schools? And what scholarships are available to them?

JF: Well, at this rate, you know, if Osama bin Laden is found in his cave, I'm worried that when we take him into custody, Harvard may send out a recruiter.

JB: (laughing) Well, at the risk of being serious, John, this conversation is degenerating...

JF: No, no. Part of this is a surreal conversation...

JB: It really is.

JF: ...because the situation is real. Jed, do you know what the first class this guy took at Yale was? I'm not making this up.

JB: Oh, I can't wait.

JF: He took the class called Terrorism: Past, Present, and Future. And do you know why?

JB: Why.

JF: He must have thought it was a lab course.

JB: (laughing) All right.

JF: Now that's a joke, but he did take Terrorism his first class.

JB: All right. Step back, Fund. Calm down here. Who's paying for his education at Yale? It's got to cost what? 25 or 30 grand a year.

JF: Something called...

JB: And where do they get their money?

JF: Well, first of all, Yale is giving him a discount of about 35 or 40% off normal tuition, because of his special status.

JB: What???

JF: They're giving him a discount. The rest is being picked up by something called the International Education Foundation out of Wyoming. And that's run by a group of liberal trial lawyers, and a guy named Mike Hoover, who's a cameraman for CBS News, who went over into the Taliban, and visited with them, and interviewed their officials several times in 2000, 2001, before 9/11. And he apparently befriended Rahmatullah there. And after the war, when he found Rahmatullah again on another trip, he said well, why don't you come back, and we'll have this great educational exchange. You can teach us about yourself, and I'll teach you about America. Well, this fellow, though, is unreconstructed. We can go into the fact that despite the claims that he has learned his lesson, despite the claims that he has shown repentance and remorse for serving this evil regime, I have evidence in his own hand that he has not done that.

JB: Well, tell me. What is that evidence, John?

JF: He wrote an article, which has suddenly been taken down from the International Education Foundation's website, in which he says, "The Taliban were not dishonest people. They honestly practiced what they had learned in their religious schools, they did what they had been taught to do. Whether what they had been taught was good or bad is another subject." Then he goes on to say, "Seemingly like the poor Taliban, the Americans are ignorant of the fact that their franchise state of Israel is serving as an American al Qaeda against the Arab world."

JB: Well, wait a minute. When did he write this? I'm sorry.

JF: Late November, early December of last year. This is after he'd already been at Yale for about four months.

JB: All right. So this is a guy who is clearly not repentant. He is certainly a representative of what the Taliban were, and the evil that they represented, and their ideology, I still come back to the point, why is this man even allowed to be in the country? Is the Homeland Security Department and the State Department...are these guys all totally asleep?

JF: I think some members of Congress are starting to ask that question. I think they want to know exactly what the process was. Now I've heard one theory. Some people have speculated well maybe he was an intelligence asset. He was really a double agent, and gave us valuable information, and we're rewarding him by admitting him to the country. But I have to tell you, Jed. I have talked to all my sources in State, and other places. There's no evidence of that. There's nothing more than a rumor. We have to think that given the choice between government being malevolent and government being incompetent, usually incompetence wins out. And I think that's what happened here.

JB: Good Lord. Well, tell me one more point that you just mentioned, saying he's getting a 35-40% discount from Yale? I mean, that's got to be what, 10-20 grand worth of tuition per year? What are the Yale people saying? How do they justify this?

JF: They are not saying anything. When they finally return calls to reporters, they said we cannot discuss this case at all, because of privacy concerns. We discuss no individual student's case. And I'm simply saying look, it is unbelievable that you would do this. It is even more unbelievable that you won't explain it or defend it.

JB: Well, John, let's go back to the other point you were raising. We're going to get to that later in the show, but I'm really glad you raised it. The Supreme Court today said the Solomon Amendment, which says that you have to let ROTC recruiters on campus to your law school if you're going to get federal money. How is this going to be felt? Is this going to be actually enforced against places like Yale? I really hope it is.

JF: Well, that's up to the federal government. And I think that they should have the courage of their convictions. Look, if Yale or these other elite law schools have a beef, it should be with Congress, because the policy on gays in the military is run by Congress. It's not set by the military. Instead, they're trying to punish the military, and they're trying to restrict the number of recruits the military can get at a time when our national security is threatened, and we're having trouble getting recruits. I find it unconscionable that they were taking that position, and it turns out that they wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and delaying tactics, because the Supreme Court unanimously said this is ridiculous. Withholding federal funds from you if you won't allow military recruiters on campus is perfectly reasonable.

JB: Well, it sounds to me like the Supreme Court for once got it dead bang right. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, thanks very much for joining us.

End of interview.

At the University of North Carolina, none dare call it terrorism?

Once again, Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: Last Friday, Mohammad Taheri-azar, a 22 year old former student at the University of North Carolina, took a rented SUV, and ran it into a crowd of students at the University's campus. It seems to me this might be an act of terrorism. It's only by the grace of God that the kids who were hit weren't killed. Joining me to talk about that, and the University's pusillanimous reaction to it, Kris Wampler, a senior at UNC. He's a member of the UNC student Congress, and Kris, I think you're also president of the college Republicans.

KW: Well, actually, I'm not president of the college Republicans. I am a member though, definitely.

JB: All right. Well, tell me what happened today at the campus. You were a part of the demonstration about this event. What were you guys demonstrating? And what was the campus...what were the campus authorities, the deans and so forth, reacting?

KW: Well, we had about fifteen people out today in the Pit, which is the name of our common gathering spot. It's kind of a sunken down area, which is right where it happened, actually. Right about where it happened. And we had signs out there saying things like united, UNC united, call it what it is, terrorism, and things like that. And a lot of people started crowding around us, and asking questions. And we would hand out flags to people. And there were debates going on, small groups, large groups. The media interviewed some people. The administrators and deans and so forth were there, but they were really distant. They kind of looked on. One person commented they were quite rude when a reporter tried to ask for an interview, and they were quite rude to him. These people, the University of North Carolina, do not like this kind of attention focused on them. They don't like anything going off-campus and becoming a national issue like this. They especially get upset, so naturally they were not too happy with what we were doing out there.

JB: Well, you guys are trying to make the point that his was essentially a terrorist act, right?

KW: Right, right.

JB: And what were the deans...I mean, has the college said anything about this? Have they issued any statements or made any reaction at all?

KW: The college...they've issued a couple of messages from the Chancellor saying it was a terrible accident, or not an accident, but a terrible thing to happen, and we're sorry this happened, and we grieve with the victims, and we need to heal, and things like that. But it's missing one thing: calling it terrorism. And they haven't been willing to do that yet, despite all of the rhetoric coming out of court today from this guy, and the things he said to the police and so forth. A lot of this rhetoric is out there, and it's pretty clear that he acted to avenge the death of Muslims, to carry out the will of Allah, as he sees it. And yet, UNC is just not saying what it clearly is, an ideologically-driven agenda to hurt people, to hurt innocent people, which is terrorism.

JB: Well, exactly. I mean, they're trying to say that this is not an ideological act? I mean, it seems to me as you said, this man from his own mouth, from the very moment he called 911, and I heard the tape today...

KW: Right.

JB: ...that he's called 911, and he says I'm here, I just ran into a bunch of people, come and arrest me.

KW: Right.

JB: And he was saying today in court...tell us what he was saying today in court. I only heard a bit of it.

KW: Right. I heard that in court, he said something about how he was grateful to have the chance to carry out the will of Allah. That was about all I heard, and the 911 call that he made said something to the effect of, the reason he carried this out was to punish the government of the United States for its treatment of Muslims around the world.

JB: Yeah.

KW: So you had these two statements, on top of the fact that he said he wants to avenge the death of Muslims around the world.

JB: Well, you have this guy obviously, and he's going to be tried for...

KW: Right.

JB: ...vehicular assault. It's a very serious felony.

KW: Sure.

JB: Thank Heaven nobody got killed. Is there anything you're hearing from the law enforcement people down there that indicates they're going to treat this as an act of terror?

KW: Not yet. I mean, it's hard getting any kind of information. I mean, the FBI of course was called in after these statements were made and so forth, but nothing right now indicates what anyone's going to do. And they've just now released this 911 tape today. There have been some local experts, or at least one of them saying that regardless of what the Feds do, he does consider it an act of terrorism. So we're really trying to be out there and pressuring the University to take the lead on this, and to say look, this affected our members, our own students. This affected members of our own community. Let's call it what it is, it's terrorism. Let's charge this guy as much as we can under federal law, and let's really punish him for what he did.

JB: Well, now I understand, from some federal law experts I talked to on the way over to the show today, basically, they don't treat this as an act of terror, and you're not likely to get federal charges unless there's some link between this guy and an international terrorist group. So it sounds to me like they're just going to have to stick with the state charges. But there's no reason why you guys shouldn't have some action on campus.

KW: Sure.

JB: Isn't there, or are you guys going to pass or plan any sort of campaign here to hold these people up to the standards they should be, and just basically say terror is terror, and you're not welcome on our campus?

KW: Well, I'm a member of the student Congress on campus, and one thing that me and some other people are planning on doing are introducing a resolution, several of them, to condemn what happened, to thank the first responders who were on the scene, and also to urge the University to be out there calling it terrorism. And I understand that there of course is an issue of what can the Feds do, they have to follow law. At the same time, I don't think a terrorist has to be connected with a group. People can act on their own. And I just think that from a common sense view, if you look at what this guy's saying, and you look at what people say all the way across the world in Iraq and other places, when they're beheading people, they say look, this is to get back at what the United States does, this war on Islam as they call it. It just seems to me that given this rhetoric, it's a pretty clear act of terrorism, and UNC can really stand up and say look, we don't want that here on our campus, and we want this to be treated as terrorism. Even if the Feds are reluctant to do so, I think that they should at least take the lead and say that.

JB: Well, do you have other groups that are active on the campus? I mean, are there groups out there, for example, trying to apologize for this guy, or accuse you guys of being nasty to Muslims or anything like that?

KW: Well, there is a Muslim students association, but I'm fairly certain that they were actually somewhat in favor of us. They...I don't know if they particpated or not, but there were people out there holding signs today saying let's forgive, and things like that. But you know, forgiveness isn't really the issue here. The issue is what this guy did. And there were people apologizing and saying oh, this guy was just trying to inflame people, and arouse passion against Muslims. It's not what we're doing. We're trying to go out there and speak the truth in what we thing really happened, and calling the University to follow suit and do the same thing.

JB: Well, Kris Wampler, best of luck to you in what you're doing. Please keep us apprised of what you're doing on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

End of interview.

Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney on the ideological side of the War On Terror.

Former Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin guest hosting.

JB: Right now, we've got to go direct to our first guest, my very dear friend, Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, U.S.A.F. retired, Fox News senior military analyst. Around the Pentagon, they call him RSG's, real smart guys. Tom is one of the best. Tom, thanks for joining us.

TM: Thanks for having me, Jed.

JB: Hey, let's talk right away with the situation in Iraq. People are saying there's civil war, the government's falling apart. Even William F. Buckley, Jr., said we've lost. Please give us your take.

TM: Well, unfortunately, they're all wrong. The fact is there is a tough fight there. It's not civil war. They want to know what civil war is, they'd have thousands of people fighting. It turns out it's five car bombs in one day. Look, people can just throw these things around, civil war, etc., we're losing. The fact is that we are winning, and that's why they attacked the Golden Mosque. Zarqawi...when you attack a holy shrine like that, it means that you, the enemy, is losing. And so that's what they're doing. They're trying to create the impression of sectarian violence, and there is violence. But that's entirely different than a civil war.

JB: Tom, let me raise a question. You and I were in Iraq last December, and you asked a question of a number of the senior people we were meeting with. And I think they were very uncomfortable in answering them. You asked them whether this is building up to a showdown between the Sunni and the Shiia, which is going to end up with a situation where there's really just a shootout between those two groups. Is this what we're seeing now?

TM: Well, this could be what we're seeing. But I think as General Pace said yesterday, they went to the abyss and they backed off. But for our listeners to understand it, if the...the normal way they have solved problems in the Middle East are, they just kill their enemy. So you've got 80% of the population are either Shiia or Kurds. And we're trying to integrate that 20% of the Sunnis, where most of the, virtually all of the insurrection has been over there. It's a combination of Zarqawi, foreign terrorists, it's a combination of former regime loyalists, and then you've just got some pure bandits, crooks, that are kidnapping, etc., or people planning car bombs and IED's. So the fact is, what we talked about when we were there, Jed, was the U.S. government ought to be telling the Sunnis look, this is your last best chance. And we will work very hard to have a constitution that is inclusive, we'll work economically for you. But what you have got to do, you have got to stop the violence. You have got to come on board, and be part of the team, because America is your last best hope. Otherwise, the Shiia and the Kurds are just going to get tired of it, and as we withdraw, they're just going to kill you. We don't want that. That would be civil war.

JB: Amen to that.

TM: And we are a ways from that, and that won't happen as long as we're here.

JB: Tom, we're suffering another mental eruption from Congressman Jack Murtha. Let me just play a brief segment of what he said yesterday on CBS' Face The Nation, and ask you to react. Let's go to Murtha one, please.

Bob Schieffer: The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said this morning on Meet The Press, he said he believes the war in Iraq is going, in his words, very, very well. What is your assessment?

JM: Why would I believe him? I mean, this administration, including the President, have mischaracterized this war for the last two years. First of all, they said it'll take 40,000 troops to settle this thing right after the invasion. Then they said there's no insurgency. They're dead-enders. That's what the Secretary of Defense said. On and on and on, the mischaracterization of the war. They said there's nuclear weapons. There were no nuclear weapons there. There are no biological weapons there. No al Qaeda connections. So why would I believe the chairman of the joint chiefs when he says things are going well?

JB: Tom, are we getting a lot of baloney from Gen. Pete Pace? Or is Murtha really just suffering another mental breakdown here?

TM: I think Murtha's suffering a mental breakdown, and he's in denial, and he's using it for political purposes. Let's first of all say you were at the intelligence summit two weeks ago, Jed, three weeks ago.

JB: Right.

TM: which the tapes that were translated by Bill Tierney, in which in Saddam's own words, and Tariq Aziz's words, that they in fact did have nuclear weapons. They didn't have nuclear weapons, they were working on the development. They were working on the development of plasma enrichment. They had biological, they had chemical. They knew that they were deceiving the U.N., because they were getting advanced information. And they talked about, Tariq Aziz the year 2000, and Saddam Hussein, talked about, this was just before 9/11, talked about planting either a nuclear device or biological, and Tariq Aziz says we couldn't get away with an explosion. They'd blame us. But he did say there's a place that the Americans have called Fort Dietrich, that perhaps we could frame them on the biological, because they do biological work there. The fact is, they're in denial. They don't want to look at these tapes, and the administration hasn't been real good about publicizing them as you know. But Jack Murtha, for whatever his political reasons are, he's never come up with a solution. He doesn't understand the overall threat of Islamic extremism. He never talks about Islamic extremism. He doesn't have a clue. And so many of them do not. And how this Islamic extremism, which was not prevalent in Iraq, but Iraq can be the counter as the first quasi-democracy in the region. That's why Iraq is important.

JB: Tom, you said something I want to seize on right now. The point that we're fighting here, we're fighting a ground war in Iraq, we're fighting a kinetic war. We're also, or at least we should be, fighting an ideological war. I think you would agree with me when I say that radical Islam is not a religion. Islam is a religion...

TM: That's right. It's an ideology.

JB: Exactly.

TM: Like Nazism.

JB: And what are we doing...exactly. And what are we doing, or what are we not doing, I should say, to fight the ideological war?

TM: Well, we're not doing enough, Jed, and at this intelligence summit three weeks ago that John Loftis hosted, I met an Egyptian, his name is Dr. Tawfik Hamid. And he has just written a book, The Roots of Jihad. And in it, he says, which is a wonderful book. And so what I'm going to talk about is what Muslims that have made the transition understand. And he says in his book, confront the reality of Islam now, or otherwise, the reality of Islam will confront you later on. And what he is in fact saying, that even the moderate parts of Islam are a major problem, because they do not have separation between Church and state, and it is an ideology moreso. And some of the things that he writes in this book are so profound. It says...he's talking about himself as a Muslim, our hatred toward non-Muslims, and justification of killing them, was simply because they did not follow Islam. They drank alcohol, and their women do not wear the hajib, the Islamic scarf or veil. Therefore, it was, and still is for many Muslims, a goal to inflict any form of harm or damage, and cause pain to non-Muslims as a punishment for not following Islam. Now this information is what I am looking into and getting an intense background on...the deviancy of Islam, and why these Islamic facists are such a threat to what we're doing, and why Iraq, which would be a counter, where people vote, where women vote, where you have, as I say, a quasi-democracy. It will not be like ours directly, but it will develop into that. It's so important. So I think that we have got to start looking at this and countering this, Jed, and you're asking the exact right questions.

JB: Well, Tom, we've only got about a minute left. But what is the biggest thing we could be doing to fight the ideological war?

TM: Well, I think what we've got to do is have...Islam need a reformation. And the world leaders, Bush, Blair, Berlusconi, Merkel, and Japan, all of these world leaders need to get together and say to Islam, you need a reformation, or there will be a clash of civilization. And the danger is these people going nuclear.

JB: Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, U.S.A.F. retired, Fox News senior military analyst, thanks.

End of interview.

Sunday, March 5

The Beltway Boys

HH: Fred Barnes is at sea, but we have half of the Beltway Boys. That would be Morton Kondracke, also of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. And Super Stretch, Bill Sammon, also a guest earlier this week on this program, talking about Strategery, the New York Times bestseller joining us. Did you fill in for Fred on the Beltway Boys as well, Bill?

BS: I did not. I did not fill the Fred Barnes memorial chair this week, although I would have been honored to.

HH: Morton Kondracke, who fills in for Fred tomorrow night at 6PM?

MK: Tony Snow.

HH: Oh, very good. Well, Republicans two against you, Morton. It doesn't much matter which one we put in there. Let's start with the significance of this trip that the President is on, landing in Kabul, going on to India, now in Pakistan, Morton Kondracke. It's a pretty momentous occasion.

MK: Yeah, I kind of think that Bush probably regards it as unfortunate that he's not back here fighting the battle of the UAE, because his poll ratings are cratering, and he's losing Republican support. But he's doing important work, obviously, for the long run in the United States, balancing off an ascendant China with two allies in the subcontinent. And that's important work, strategic work.

HH: And Bill Sammon, how important is the India deal, for example?

BS: Well, it's extremely important. I mean, I happen to think that from a proliferation standpoint, it's not particularly good news, because the bottom line is that it'll allow India to have more nuclear weapons. Having said that, the nuclear genie has been out of the bottle in India since 1974, and I think President Bush tried to salvage what he could out of this deal by providing India with civilian nuclear power technology. You know, you're looking for a silver lining there. That means that India, which has something like three times our population at least, will not use as much oil. And the reason that our oil prices are so high, one of the main reasons, is because India and China are gobbling up the world's reserves of oil to feed their burgeoning populations and their move to a more industrial modern society. And so if we can start getting them on more nuclear energy, that means that's going to have a mitigating effect on the price of oil.

HH: In Pakistan, where he is tonight, I was talking, Morton Kondracke, last hour with Howard Fineman, who wrote a column suggesting Bush's inability to talk to the American people may be hurting him. But I think come poll time, courage and compass matter more than a lot of ability with words. Do you think that's true?

MK: You know, I'm worried about Bush's condition right now. He managed to get himself out of a hole in November. You remember the Democrats were assailing him for having lied about how we got into Iraq. And he fought back, made some really great speeches about what Iraq policy was all about. Then we had the election, and that lifted him. It lifted him five points. You know, he was up from 38 to about 43, where he held for two months. And now he's sinking again, back into the 30's. And you get the impression that people have just stopped listening to him. I mean, he's got to come back here and do one of the biggest education jobs that any president's ever done. I mean, to turn around, this is all...this is a nexus of nativism, is what this is. This know, you take a guy like Duncan Hunter from your territory out there. He's a dyed in the wool nativist, and he's been against Mexican immigration forever and ever and ever. And a bunch of Arabs, a bunch of Mexicans, he doesn't know the difference. And's just no, no, no. And it's all this kind of stuff, and the radio talk show hosts have been bellowing about our borders are insecure, and Lou Dobbs, and Sean Hannity, and these people have been bellowing like crazy for so long, and it all fits into the same thing. And Bush has got to come back and deal with that. And I don't know if he can.

HH: Well Morton, A) our borders have been insecure for a very long time.

MK: Yeah.

HH: It's not bellowing, it's argument in many instances, though I'll agree with you about Lou Dobbs. But I will say this. Duncan Hunter's a fine Congressman, an extraordinary talent, and he knows armed services. He also knows the border regions.

MK: Well, then why doesn't he know that the UAE is harboring all these ships...our aircraft carriers are in and out of Dubai all the time. We trust them with our men, we trust them with out ships, and yet he doesn't trust them with...some company that's owned by them, to manage these ports and unload boxcars?

HH: Bill Sammon, how would you answer that, because...then I'll take my shot. I know what my answer is. I'm just curious what you think about that.

BS: Well, my feeling is that this thing started off so negative out of the gate for Bush. In other words, virtually all of America looked at this left and right and say boy, this is a lousy deal. But I think it can only get better from his perspective. And I agree with Mort that he's going to have to do a massive education project. But I do think that a lot of Americans, the more they learn about well, okay, it's sort of a paper transaction, and oh, they're not going to be unloading the ships, and it's still the Coast Guard, and still the Customs, and it's still the same old longshoremen, the more people are beginning to accept the merits of the deal itself. But that doesn't change the fact that Bush, I think by his own admission, mishandled the PR, the politics of this. The White House has admitted they didn't brief Congress early or often enough in terms of public disclosure. It didn't even rise to the President's level until it was a big debacle. So he's got to walk that back. I mean, forget about the merits. He's got to sort of attone for the politics of it, and then get into the merits. And it's a big task.

HH: And my answer on that point is it's the difference between 9/11 and the attack on the Cole. Both reprehensible, and both certainly grievous loss of American life. But the ports represent the home front, Morton Konracke. And the reason 70% of America is thus far unpursuaded on the deal is that they're afraid, and that there is a legitimate reason to fear penetration of Arab countries more than there is to fear penetration of British companies, though I think most Americans would prefer that all the ports were simply run by American companies, staffed by Americans, don't you think?

MK: Well, yeah, except that they're already run by...look, these ports could be infiltrated by just about anybody. If a British company is running a port, there's no reason why...if you could buy a terrorist, or buy somebody who would give terrorist information, that you couldn't get it from a Brit just as easily as you can get it from somebody from the UAE, especially because there's hardly any Arabs that are going to have anything to do with the actual port management. And I think that you can as part of this, and I think part of the education process, it shouldn't be just education and PR, it should also be to isolate the actual Arab owners of this company from the management of the port to make it clear that it's reliable people who are going to actually be privy to intelligence secrets, for example, as to security.

HH: But Bill Sammon, let me switch over here. It's not that the Arab owners aren't unreliable. In fact, I think they would be reliable. It's that the information flows through their company will have sensitive information, and people are afraid of penetration at the level of a low level employee tapping in, similar to penetration of the Philby era, of the Hanssen area, of everything else. Is that what's driving Capitol Hill here?

BS: Well, that fear is, whether it's rational or well-founded or not is another question. I mean, yeah, that could happen, but then again, Richard Reid was British. You know, the shoe bomber. And we have terrorists right here in our country. I mean, we had terrorists in Oklahoma. We have al Qaeda people that live here. So I mean if you're going to start looking at countries and using that as your criteria, you're going to limit yourself pretty rapidly. The problem I have, Hugh, is the economic problem. Once you...because there's legislation being pushed through Congress by both Republicans and Democrats, in both chambers of Congress right now, that would not only prohibit foreign investment by an Arab company, but by any foreign company in these kinds of operations. And you're really starting to go down the road of protectionism and isolationism, and as Mort says, nativism. And at what point do we say okay, you know, we're going to shut off all of this foreign investment in the United States. And other countries are going to say well, we're going to shut off American investment in our country.

HH: Well, for example, China will not allow Americans to buy Chinese television systems, correct?

BS: Well, yes, but when you start going down the road towards stopping global commerce and international commerce, I think you're going to hurt a lot of business interests in this country.

HH: Oh, you might. Let me ask you both, are there some industries, and some operations in the United States, which should not be open to foreign ownership, Morton Kondracke?

MK: Yeah, I suppose so. I mean, there are some, probably some intelligence satellites you're not going to put in foreign hands.

HH: And Bill Sammon, you agree with that?

BS: I do agree, and there's probably some more if I could think about it. But...and I know ports...when you talk ports, it sounds like oh my God, it's their vulnerable point where...and it is. But when...the more you learn about this, the more it looks like a paper transaction, where you're not going to have a bunch of...I hate to put it this way, because it sounds like a slur, but Arabs running around on the docks. And I think that's the hysteria that's feeding the fear here.

HH: Well, again, I don't think it's hysteria. I think it's people saying should ports be in that former category that all three of us agree exist, or should they be in the latter category, about which free tade is the best. And the question is, Morton Kondracke, thirty seconds, is Bush prepared to make the argument? Or is it simply going to go away?

MK: Oh, he's got to make the argument. He's got to make the argument, or what I'm afraid of it that Dubai will just say well, thank you very much. Now you can find some porting for your ships someplace else.

HH: And Bill Sammon?

BS: And also, thank you very much, and you can find support for the War On Terror from someplace else, because it's my suspicion that Dubai has done something for us, or is doing something for us compelling, behind the scenes, that Bush can't talk about, and that Dubai can't talk about, because their clerics wouldn't like it. And therefore, if we screw them on this deal, we may lose that valuable ally in the War On Terror.

HH: And Bill, have you heard that Chertoff is resigning?

BS: I've heard the rumor. I haven't heard it confimed.

HH: And Morton?

MK: I heard it.

HH: All right. Thank you both, gentlemen. We'll continue to follow this.

End of interview.

Professor Bainbridge's wine o' the week.

HH: That music means the return of the Professor of the Vines, Stephen Bainbridge, professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, who will also be, I believe, joining me at Chapman University Law School in late March on a law blogging forum.

SB: That's right, Hugh. I'll be there.

HH: I'm looking forward to that. Now Professor of the Vines...

SB: Yes, sir.

HH: It's been a while.

SB: Yes, sir. I'm back.

HH: In fact, it's been two years since we did this bit.

SB: Is that right?

HH: I think it's been two years. Maybe only 18 months.

SB: I think so.

HH: How was 2005 for California wines?

SB: 2005 is shaping up to be a great year in California, although maybe not as good as 2004, where there was some really good wines produced. But 2005 should be really quite good.

HH: So for the cheap people out there who want to try and get ahead of the curve, it might be good to lay down some options on 2005 California Napa and Sonoma Valley winery?

SB: You know, I don't really recommend doing what we call futures buying in California wines. Unless you're talking about something like Screaming Eagle, which is impossible to get other than through futures, most California wines are readily available upon release, and the don't get the kind of savings you do say with buying first growth bordeaux by buying futures. You know, you just...

HH: What's a first growth bordeaux?

SB: Something like Chateau Lafite Rothchild, a French bordeaux wine, that where they're offered for sale a couple of years before the bottles will actually be released by the winery, and you can save a lot of money buying them that way. It doesn't really work in California.

HH: Okay. Now tell me, have you got any recommendations for our audience today?

SB: Yes, and in honor of coming back, I have one that I think is sort of fun, which is the Hewitt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

HH: Oh. No relation, and it's not Payola, because I don't know who these people are.

SB: Well, Hewitt Vineyard is a vineyard up in Rutherford, up in the Napa Valley, and it's owned by a guy named William Hewitt, who's hooked up to the Deere, the John Deere family...

HH: Uh-huh.

SB: Any relation?

HH: Nope.

SB: Well, they make awfully good wine. They are an exclusively cabernet sauvignon vineyard, about 60 acres, and their wine is made by a fellow named Tom Rinaldi, who I met when he was the guest wine maker at a Federalist Society dinner, actually, up in Napa Valley. And he's a super guy, really solid guy who I think, like a lot of Napa wine makers, started off being sort of Northern California, birkenstock liberal. But then having to deal with the environmentalists and land use and all that has sort of brought him over towards our side of the fence. And he's a super wine maker. He has a vineyard called Provenance, where he makes excellent wine. And then he also works for some of these smaller vineyards like Hewitt. And the 2002 Hewitt cabernet sauvignon is the one that's on the market right now.

HH: What's it sell for?

SB: It's going to be anywhere from around $65-75, which unfortunately, these days in California cabernet, is a bargain, given how the prices have gone on California cabernet the last few years.

HH: Okay. Now, Mr. Professor Bainbridge...

SB: Sir.

HH: Given that you've just recommended the Hewitt winery, I just have to ask. Is there a Bainbridge winery anywhere?

SB: Not that I know of. Not that I know of.

HH: So I've kind of got you lapped on that then?

SB: I've occasionally toyed with the idea that I'd like to have one, but I know a couple of people who are in the wine industry, and what they tell me is that the way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a very large one.

HH: Now one more thing. I saw at, your blog, that as a Catholic, you're observing Lent.

SB: Yes, sir.

HH: And you're not giving up wine?

SB: No.

HH: You're giving up cigars.

SB: I'm giving up cigars for Lent, yes.

HH: How many cigars do you normally consume in the course of a month?

SB: In the course of a month? Well, usually three or four a week, so maybe 16-20.

HH: Okay. For your next appearance then, and to heighten the significance of your sacrifice, I'd like to know the best wines with cigars.

SB: Okay, that's what I'll work on.

HH: I want you to ponder on that.

SB: And so you're going to put me through the wringer on that, because by then, I'll really be hurting.

HH: That's right. So you'll be thinking about cigars more, rather than less.

SB: Okay.

HH: A little diabolical, but I think fun.

SB: All right.

HH: Professor Bainbridge, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

Saturday, March 4

Howard Fineman from Newsweek on the black and white of George Bush versus the gray of Bill Clinton.

HH: Joined now by Howard Fineman of Newsweek and MSNBC. Howard, I haven't talked to you since the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Belated congratulations, though it burns this Browns fan to say so.

HF: Well, thank you. I really appreciate it, although when Jerome Bettis fumbled on the goal line, I though it was all lost.

HH: The game before.

HF: The game before.

HH: Well, it was a great opportunity to both live and die again, and live.

HF: That's right.

HH: Let's go to your column. I found this very provocative, Howard, and let me tell people...actually, tell people what your theory is about why Bush appears to be losing public support at this crucial time.

HF: Well, I think aside from the substantive issues of things, I think that his whole method of politics has been to draw sharp contrasts, to be about light and darkness, about right and wrong. And I think that's the way he views life, and that's the way he speaks. He's a man of few words, he comes from West Texas. He distrusts talk, I would say he distrusts eloquence. He gives those speeches that he gives at the State of the Union and so on only because he's sort of required to. And I think that's served the country, and served him very well after 9/11, because I think it was a scary, confusing time, and we wanted strength, we wanted certitude, and we wanted to see things in black and white terms, in good and evil terms. I think to some extent, we still do, but we now understand, are beginning to understand, just how complicated the so-called war, as Dick Cheney and the Defense Department have called it, really is. And George Bush is now in a situation where he's kind of in a gray world, and he's not a man who can deal in eloquent terms with gray. That's what Bill Clinton was all about. And my point in the column was that Bill Clinton was made for the world of gray, and George Bush is having trouble explaining things like the Dubai port deal for that reason.

HH: Let me recast it, though, a different way of looking at...Bill Clinton, definitely a man of words and perhaps, without equal, Reagan being a great communicator, but sort of set piece artillery, as opposed to mobile.

HF: Right.

HH: And on the other hand, George Bush a man of deeds, and that although in the time between elections, his numbers always go down. When it is time to choose, whether 2002, 2004, 2000 or 2006, perhaps this November, people like deeds, especially in wartime. And the deed I'm looking at this week, Howard, what do you think about the Kabul to India to Pakistan trip? Doesn't it once again illustrate that when it comes to courage encompassed, this president has few equals?

HF: I wouldn't disagree with that. I think it takes guts to do the trip, and do it as he did. I think it takes a lot of guts to do the deal with India on nuclear power, and go to Pakistan the next day, after...with all the history between India and Pakistan. I wouldn't disput that, but I do think that sometimes, leadership does require an ability to be an explainer. And as I also say in the piece, Bill Clinton, that was Bill Clinton's strength, but it was also his great weakness, because he thought he could explain his way out of anything. That turned out to be dangerously untrue in his case. But I do think something like the Dubai deal required Bush, if it's in the national interest, to do, if it's in our security and commercial interests to do, to explain it better than he ever did. He's not had any interest in trying to explain it, and probably never will, in which case it's probably going to be seriously screwed up by the Congress.

HH: I want to come back to the Dubai deal in just a minute, but put it in the context of the NSA program to conduct surveillance of al Qaeda communicating with their agents in the United States. Originally, fierce criticism, now it's all gone, because people realize the American public likes it. Number two, the extension of the Patriot Act, which I gather sailed through the Senate today and is on its way to the President's desk in a matter of time, and then the Dubai ports deal. So the pattern I see, Howard Fineman, tell me where I'm wrong, is that he's always underestimated at the start of a controversy, ends up bringing it around. Now I think the ports deal might be different, but he did end up winning on NSA and Patriot, didn't he?

HF: Yeah, he did, and he actually even won...the administration even won a procedural vote on the Dubai thing the other day in the House, I believe narrowly, but they won it. Well, I wouldn't attribute that really...I agree with you on the substantive victories, on Patriot Act, on NSA. I think they're doing...probably doing what the American people regard as the right thing, and that gets back to your point about deeds versus words. But I think you have to ask yourself why George Bush and the administration are viewed in such negative terms by the vast majority of the American people right now. And I think that the substantive reason for that is the difficulties in Iraq, and it's hard to argue that's going well right now. And I think it's people's concern that George Bush doesn't always pay attention to the details of the policies he champions, however right they are. You know, they're beginning to question the competence of the administration to carry out the fine detail of some of what they're doing. And I think one way people have confidence that you understand the details, is to hear you be able to master them in public. I mean, nobody's expecting George Bush to be a policy wonk, or to be Bill Clinton. But they're expecting to hear him feel comfortable explaining in some depth what he's doing, and he doesn't always do that.

HH: Now Howard Fineman, is it possible that the verbal class values that a lot more than America, and certainly red-state America? And that the poll numbers, I think you're right, reflect gosh, we wish this war would end, and the American troops could come home, and it's tough, and we hate to see shrines blown up, and won't they just get it, that we're not their enemy. But that election time, over and over again, that fades away, because you've got to vote for one of two parties, and have the Democrats created a viable alternative yet on national security, Howard Fineman?

HF: Well, yeah, several things there. On the point of whether the chattering class' values talk more, I would plead guilty to that. I think there's no question about that. Words are my business, so I care about that. And teaching is my business, if I can be so bold as to say in journalism, and I believe in the value of educating people, and I think that's an important function of the presidency. I think Bush succeeds politically, because he's where the American people are on the question, on the fundamental question of our attitude towards terrorism and terrorists. We basically still want to try to kick their butt if we possibly can, and George Bush is uncomplicated on that topic. And I think unless and until the Democrats can say that they are...they've got to argue that they're somehow...they're just as strong, but they're smarter, you know? That's got to be their argument. How they do that, I don't know. They also have to argue that they're more internationally minded, somehow, than the president is, and yet sound patriotic at the same time. They haven't figured that out, either. I'm not saying that the Republicans won't win the presidency again in 2008. But I bet you that they're nominee is going to be more of an explainer of the grays than George Bush has been able to do.

HH: Oh, well put. Last question. There's a rumor out today given that Chertoff is quitting Homeland Security.

HF: Yeah.

HH: Have you heard that?

HF: I have, well I saw it on the web out of Human Events. Chertoff sure doesn't look like a happy man, I'll say that. And it would be beneficial, marginally beneficial for the administration for him to go. It's not going to turn things around, but it would certainly help. And George Bush needs to begin to be looking a little upset about the way some things in his shop have been handled, and this would be one way to demonstrate it. I wouldn't be surprised if it does happen.

HH: Howard Fineman, always a pleasure from Newsweek. Thank you, Howard.

End of interview.

Politics across the Pond.

HH: I'm pleased to begin today with our colleague across the water, Brooks Newmark, member of Parliament in Great Britain, a Tory member for Braintree. Welcome back to the program, Books. Good to have you.

BN: Thank you very much.

HH: I want to cover a number of subjects with you first, but given that Great Britain's history in the region of India and Pakistan is so deep and so really enduring in so many of their institutions, what's your reaction to seeing George Bush progress from Kabul to India now, and to Pakistan today.

BN: Well, I think that it's all part of, geopolitically, the same area. It's an area of extreme tension. I think historically, as you're probably well aware, there have been enormous tensions between India and Pakistan that luckily has been reduced significantly, probably over the past three to four years, notwithstanding what's been going on in Afghanistan.

HH: And as a result, do you think Pakistan is a real ally, Brooks Newmark? Or is it simply Musharraf is on our side, in the long term, we won't be able to hold him?

BN: Well, I think Musharraf is on our side, and I think that's what important. I think historically, particularly Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, had enormous links with Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and so on, and we had to turn that more in our favor, in order to fight the terrorism that was emanating from Afghanistan. And I think George Bush has done a tremendous job in turning Pakistan more as an ally in the fight against terrorism, notwithstanding the fact that obviously Pakistan is an Islamic state.

HH: Now Brooks, I want to move on to what your Parliament has been doing this week. You've had four rather controversial bill introduced and acted on in the Parliament this week: The introduction of I.D. cards, the glorification of terrorism bill, the religious hatred bill and an anti-smoking bill. The last one really doesn't carry me too much, because I'm on the Prop. 10 Commission in Orange County, California, which is also an anti-smoking commission, so I'm kind of anti-smoking myself. But let's talk about the introduction of I.D. cards. What is Great Britain considering doing?

BN: Well, we haven't really had identification cards in the U.K. since the 50's, which was a reflection of what was going on during the war and after the war. There is a tremendous feeling that one shouldn't have to carry a form of identification merely to say that I am who I am. We...our forefathers, my father was a soldier during the Second World War. He fought for our liberties, and part of that liberty was the freedom not to actually have to carry around a card that says who I am. And the conservatives fought very hard against that bill.

HH: What would this card say?

BN: Well, this card just simply is an identity card with I guess various forms of identification, including biometric identification, which just says who you are. And it isn't just simply a social security card. I have absolutely no objections whatsoever to social security cards, or driver's licenses, or passports. We have many, many forms of identification in this country. What I objected to was the need for identification cards as a means of fighting terrorism. All it's going to do is infringe on the liberties of the vast majority, and in our view, will do nothing at all in the fight against terrorism.

HH: All right, let's move on to the glorification of terrorism bill. What's that all about?

BN: Well, that has to do with someone standing up, and the focus of it clearly had a lot to do with the Islamic community in the United Kingdom. So if somebody who's holding up a placard and says the July 7th bombers, it's the equivalent of...our 9/11 was 7/7 in the U.K., did a fantastic job, and basically glorifying those who murdered man people in the city of London. And when thinking about that, our view was that you have to look at it in the context, actually, of other religions, not just simply in fighting the more radical Islamic elements in our society. If, for example, you had some Irishmen singing in a pub in North London, singing songs that had to do with perhaps glorifying the IRA members going back to 1916, they could be arrested under this new law that Tony Blair was trying to bring in. And again, you have to balance fighting terrorism with people's liberties and freedoms. And we felt that once again, it erred on the side of infringing on people's liberties.

HH: Okay, last one I want to get to is the religious hatred bill.

BN: Yeah, the religious hatred bill pretty much along the same theme. What we have is laws against people inciting hatred against other races, which is good. We all agree to. This decided, so to say, those laws were not strong enough, and therefore, we have to bring in a bill that incites people to religious hatred. Now again, one has to answer the same question. Let's strip out the Islamic dimension from that, and rather than focusing on the more radical Muslims in London who are preaching religious hatred against Christians, let us say a comedian gets on Saturday Night Live, makes some poor joke about God or Christianity. Under this new legislation, technically he or she could get arrested. And again...

HH: Wow.

BN: ...we felt it went far too much into infringing on people's rights and liberties of freedom of speech.

HH: What's the status of that bill?

BN: Well, you know, unfortunately, all three of those bills...well, the bill to religious hatred, this was an interesting one. There were two votes. The first vote, Labour lost by 10 votes. There was an amendment that went through to slightly weaken it. The Labour whips convinced Tony Blair that was enough to convince the Labour rebels. Tony Blair went away, effectively for a drink with his wife, for 15 minutes, didn't turn up for that second vote. Labour didn't win that vote. In fact, they lost by one vote, the one vote they would have had if Tony Blair had bothered to turn up and vote. So as a result of that vote, the following week, he brought forward the other bill, the other three bills that were contentious, the one to do with I.D. cards, the one to do with anti-smoking, and the anti-terrorism bill.

HH: Now what has been the public reaction to all this? Is the Tory Party surging in the polls as a result?

BN: Well, actually, the Tory Party is surging in the polls probably less for that reason, but going back to two things that have gone on. One is the long-running sore of Iraq, which the vast majority of people in Britain oppose, and Tony Blais is coming under the same problems that George Bush has been having, and as each day or each week another British soldier is killed, that's in the news, people are wondering why we're there. And as a result, Tony Blair is losing support in the polls on that. The flip side of that, the conservatives have a new leader in David Cameron, who's focusing on other issues such as the environment, global warming, third world poverty, perhaps all these sort of touchy-feely issues the conservatives haven't naturally been addressing, pretty much in the past ten to fifteen years, and have been pretty much moving the conservatives to the center ground where Tony Blair has traditionally staked himself out. And as a result, the conservatives have jumped up five or six points in the polls, and are pretty much neck and neck with Labour at the moment.

HH: Any bi-elections scheduled anytime soon?

BN: No, no. But there was actually, since we last spoke, there was a bi-election up in Scotland. The interesting thing about this bi-election was that is was in Gordon Brown's back yard. In fact, where Gordon Brown lives. And the Labour Party has held onto that, pretty much, throughout the past century. And in fact, what happened there was that the liberal Democrats, who are the second party up in that part of Scotland, came through and won a tremendous bi-election victory, which is pretty much a slap in the face to Gordon Brown.

HH: That is pretty remarkable. Brooks Newmark, thanks for the update. I understand you've been in D.C. as well recently.

BN: I', in fact, I'm going to D.C. this week with my science and technology select committees. So I'm looking forward to that.

HH: Excellent. Safe travel to you. We look forward to talking to you again next month for our update from the U.K.

BN: Great. Thanks.

HH: Member of Parliament, Brooks Newmark, thanks for joining us.

End of interview.

Friday, March 3

Sean Allen speaks about the aftermath of the deranged geography teacher.


HH: Joined now by the, perhaps the overnight media sensation, Sean Allen, who was the high school student who brought to the nation's attention the teaching methods of his (Overland) High School geography teacher. He's joined on the line by Jeff Allen. Welcome, Sean and Jeff to the Hugh Hewitt Show. It's great to talk to you. Sean, I gather you've heard the show before?

SA: Yes, I have.

HH: Well, that's great. I'm glad to make your acquaintance. Congratulations, but it must be like living in the middle of an avalanche right now.

SA: Oh, absolutely. It's kind of the eye of the storm right now. Things have died down a little bit, but I feel like things can only pick up from here.

HH: I'm very interested in whether or not Jay, tell me his last name, Brennish?

SA: Bennish.

HH: Bennish. Has Mr. Bennish's friends on the faculty been looking at you sideways in any way?

SA: Well, I have not gone to school since I have done the Mike Rosen show. I haven't gone to school, just because I've gotten a lot of threats, a lot of things, and I try to put my safety and the safety of my family first in this situation.

HH: Jeff Allen, are you afraid for your son at all when he goes back?

JA: Well, I had to cut my business trip short by a day to come back home, because I was frantic that something bad was going to happen.

HH: And I'm glad you did that, although I suspect overwhelmingly, public opinion is with you, Sean Allen. Do you think that's correct?

SA: I've gotten a lot of thanks, and a lot of praise, and a lot of parents calling in saying hey, my son or daughter has had that same situation with a different teacher, or for Mr. Bennish, for that matter. And then, there are a small percentage of people that will anonymously threathen me in different ways.

HH: Now tell me about Mr. Bennish. Is he a nice guy?

SA: Personality wise, I do enjoy him. He's a very...he's a nice person. I like his personality. But as a geography teacher, the things that he's teaching don't belong in a geography class.

HH: You know, I've seen a number of people now vetting his many factual errors. Is this sort of standard ops for him in the classroom to go off on these soliloquies about politics?

SA: Yes, it's pretty much every day, or just about every other day that he did it. About 80% of the time was devoted to his own personal politics, and about 20% was devoted to actual geography.

HH: And do the students find that entertaining?

SA: I think that's why a lot of the students have come out in support of him, is because his class is more of a means of entertainment during school in a way. So by getting him fired, or getting him revoed from class, it's kind of taking away their entertainment.

HH: Yeah. Is that what...he's been suspended, but I can't imagine him getting fired over this, can you, Jeff Allen?

JA: Oh, he's not going to get fired over this, and nor do we want him to get fired over this. I think he should stay in the school system, because I think it would send a bad message to good teachers that you have really...the teachers that do what Bennish does should be concerned, but I don't want to intimidate other teachers that are really trying to present both sides of the story.

HH: Sean Allen, do you enjoy politics?

SA: Yeah, very much.

HH: And do you enjoy having teachers who are politically knowledgeable and willing to debate issues?

SA: Yes, I enjoy teachers like that, but in Mr. Bennish's situation, he gave one side, and in that case, a radical biased opinion, and basically treated it as fact, and the students treated it as fact, and that's what I thought was at fault in that situation.

HH: Well, that's what...I mean, just some of the stuff was crazy, comparing Bush to Hitler, and then qualifying it, but also talking about 7,000 terrorist acts in Cuba. Did he ever footnote or come up with a syllabus that would back up his wilder assertions?

SA: No, he his classroom syllabus, and the description of the class, he never explains during the class description that any of this was going to take place, or any of this was going to go on.

HH: Did he ever have guest speaker?

SA: No, he did not have any guest speakers come into class, though he was planning on having a Muslim mullah come in for guest speaking.

HH: Did he ever invite a center-right authority...I have often spoken on high schools, especially in AP government classes, to present the center-right perspective. Had he ever invited anyone remotely like me into your classroom?

SA: No, never.

HH: Did any of the students ever talk to him about being so over the top?

SA: No, in ways that you can tell from the tape, in his voice, and in his kind of actions, and kind of the passion in his voice, a lot of students were intimidated by him, and could not really talk to him face to face, just because of the intimidation factor of it.

HH: How old is he?

SA: He is 28.

HH: And how long has he been teaching?

SA: I believe six years.

HH: And do you know where he went to school?

SA: He went to Arizona State University, and I believe now is taking classes at DU.

HH: And was he he tenured by the way, Jeff Allen?

JA: I'm not sure if he's tenured. He' a certain way, he's tenured. But I'm not real clear on the whole thing. But the fact is we know that the chances of him getting fired are just next to zero.

HH: Sure. And Sean Allen, does he teach any other classes besides political geography? I guess that's what this was called?

SA: The name of the class, actually to clarify, is accelerated world geography. I know his lawyer has been saying it's political geography, but the name of the class, and the title of the class as according to the syllabus, is accelerated world geography. But I believe that's the only class he teaches right now.

HH: Are you learning any geography?

SA: Absolutely not. I...actually, before I'd left school, had been transferred to a lower regular geography class, where they were farther ahead in geography than the honors accelerated class was.

HH: And is there an AP exam connected with this at all?

SA: I'm not quite sure what you're saying.

HH: Well, is there an achievement test that would test this class against sort of norms of achievement and knowledge?

SA: Yeah, a lot of the stuff is going to be on the ACT's, and the SAT's, and things like that, and just...CSAP and other tests. He hasn't gone over yet in class, and I think that's doing a disservice to the students who want to get a good grade in college, and a good grade in high school.

HH: I think you're right. Now Sean Allen, we've got about 45 seconds left. Do you expect it will die down, you'll be able to have a return to normalcy at your high school?

SA: I'm hoping so. With the situation the way it is, I'm looking at other schools that I can attend, just because I put my safety and the safety of my family in front of everything else.

HH: And...wise thought. Jeff Allen, do you think it's going to end up being somewhere else he'll have to go?

JA: I'm pretty sure it's going to be. But interestingly enough, we've been looking at other schools today, and another school called and asked if Sean would come to their school, if he actually transferred.

HH: Ah, wonderful. That's good news. Jeff and Sean Allen, thanks for the courage it took to stand up and to say no to political indoctrination. We'll check back with you as the weeks go by.

End of interview.

Thursday, March 2

Mark Steyn on the Oscars, Ethel Merman impersonators, and the decline of the West.


HH: We begin as we do most Thursdays with columnist to the world, Mark Steyn. Hello, Mark.

MS: Hi there, Hugh. I wish I was as well lubricated as David Gregory was on that tape.

HH: (laughing) I'm not sure I'd want you to be, though. Mark, I want to begin with a very serious couple of columns from two of the heavyweights, widely respected in all of conservative thinking, and that's William F. Buckley and George Will. On Monday, William F. Buckley wrote basically, it's time to give up, Mr. Bush. That other challenges loom, these will have to take precedent. He mentioned North Korea and Iran. He said once we got in and we got rid of Saddam, we've just got to get out, because there's no way to realistically handle the realities there. Today, George Will writes, all three components of the axis of evil, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, are more dangerous than they were when that phrase was coined in 2002. What's going on, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I think there is a difference, a serious difference of view among conservatives. I mean, I should say, first of all, that I very much regret that the other party's not making any useful contribution to this debate. I mean, the other party is just opportunists.

HH: Right.

MS: That's summed up by the Clintons. Bill Clinton has been an adviser to the government of Dubai, and to Dubai Ports World on this ports deal, while Mrs. Clinton ran the numbers and decided to come out against it.

HH: Right.

MS: They would make an interesting first couple during a Hillary presidency, if that's the way. But I think as far as the right is concerned, you know, there are now I think...there is a need for a renewal of the Bush doctrine. And we have to have it spelled out what it means. I simply think there is a quasi-isolationist streak to George Will's position, because I don't think you can leave it to international institutions and the like to take care of this problem. I think the best way of fixing the dysfunctional parts of the world is to use American force, and American will. And the difference is we know that the American armed forces can go in and drop bombs, and topple the regime. And what's not clear is whether America's broader culture has the will to see through the more difficult task afterwards of changing permanently the facts on the ground in these places. And most of what we see, this ridiculous Zogby poll, the bleating of the American media, falls under this question of whether the civilized world has the will to see of