THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; RAGHIDA DERGHAM, AL-HAYAT
TAPED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2005 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 19-20, 2005
Copyright (c) 2005 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service, please visit http://www.fednews.com or call(202)347-1400
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Has Congress Stopped the War?
SENATE MINORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV): (From videotape.) Today you saw a vote of no confidence in the Bush administration's policy on Iraq. Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that staying the course is not the way to go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Senate this week voted overwhelmingly, 79- 19, to pressure President Bush to lay out an Iraq exit strategy. A consensus of the Congress and of the American people want out.
But President Bush says Democrats are making irresponsible charges about the Iraq war. PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) They're playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Republican Senator Chuck Hagel thinks otherwise.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): (From videotape.) To question your government is not unpatriotic. To not question your government is unpatriotic. Trust and confidence in the United States has been seriously eroded. We are seen by many in the Middle East as an obstacle to peace, an aggressor, an occupier.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Later, Vice President Cheney reiterated President Bush's message, fortifying it.
VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: (From videotape.) The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory or their backbone. But we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The next day, Democratic Representative John Murtha, a decorated Marine Vietnam War combat veteran, who has spent 32 years in Congress representing western Pennsylvania, called a press conference.
Murtha rarely speaks for attribution to national or local media. He hardly ever appears on television. Politically he's exactly 50 percent liberal and 50 percent not liberal. Murtha is one of the two most influential Democrats in Congress, widely respected on both sides of the aisle, a no-nonsense straight shooter -- the real deal.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-PA): (From videotape.) I like guys that got five deferments and never been there and send people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The White House responded to Murtha, describing him as a, quote, "respected veteran, so it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore."
Question: Is the Bush-Cheney rhetoric strategy the way to handle John Murtha and those who think like he does? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let's put it in context, John. Democrats have been ripping Bush up for weeks as a liar, a deceiver, a misleader. The president turned around and responded by playing the patriot card, saying, in effect, "You folks knew the same intel I did. You voted us into war. And now you're undercutting our troops and you're about to cut and run."
And this has really inflamed the Democrats. The president has got a right to play it. The game's gone hardball. But Murtha is responding, in effect, accusing Cheney and the president of being draft dodgers, almost. This shows the poisonness of the situation in this city. The division politically, John, in this city is more vicious right now than it was in the later days of Vietnam on Capitol Hill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, do you think the Republicans are united behind Bush-Cheney?
MS. CLIFT: No. In fact, the most outspoken criticism against the war comes from respected Republicans who have served in Vietnam, notably Senator Chuck Hagel.
What the Bush administration is doing is taking a page out of the Nixon playbook, with Dick Cheney playing Spiro Agnew. And I think next we're going to hear "nattering nabobs of negativism," some of the famous lines of the past.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Buchanan's line.
MS. CLIFT: And you cannot -- right. You cannot trump reality with this kind of rhetoric. The president doesn't have any credibility. The American people have decided that he's not been forthcoming on these issues, and he's not going to turn it around with slash-and-burn attacks on Democrats as though he's in the middle of a campaign trying to slime Democrats the way he and his operatives slimed John Kerry and Max Cleland and John McCain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, John Murtha has seen war close-up and knows what it entails.
REP. MURTHA: (From videotape.) I had one other kid lost both of his hands, blinded. I was praising him, saying how proud we were of him and how much we appreciated his service to the country. "Anything I can do for you?" His mother said, "Get him a Purple Heart." "What do you mean, get him a Purple Heart?" His mother said, "Because they were friendly bombs, they wouldn't give him a Purple Heart." I met with the commandant. I said, "If you don't give him a Purple Heart, I'll give him one of mine." And they gave him a Purple Heart.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The White House responded to Murtha by saying that he wants to surrender to terrorists.
Tony, what is your feeling about this situation?
MR. BLANKLEY: I liked this balanced presentation of the issue. By the way, Hagel is speaking out as a war veteran, and McCain, who is an (equal?) war veteran, speaking for it.
I think it's a non sequitur to say that politicians who didn't serve in Vietnam can't have an opinion about a war 30 years later. On that basis, the only people who should have an opinion on abortions are fetuses. But, in any event, to change topic, look, there's no doubt that the Senate vote earlier, the Republican Senate vote earlier this week, was an undercutting of the president's commitment to continue the war. I wrote my articles on that this week. It was unambiguous.
There was defeatism in the air.
Now, I happened to talk to several senators later in the week, Republican senators, who I think were having some second thoughts about whether their vote had been judicious. And my guess is that over the next few weeks that you're going to see, in many different venues, Republicans expressing a strong support for continuing the war.
Now, as far as this back-and-forth going on between everybody, as Pat says, it's a poisonous atmosphere and it's inevitable.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bill you're talking about was 79-19 in favor of what?
MR. BLANKLEY: In favor of taking the Democratic amendment, which was a schedule for retreat and defeat, and they took out the schedule and basically left it --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean a month-by-month schedule.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. They took out any chronology for cutting and running.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what was the language of the final product?
MR. BLANKLEY: It was this long. It said that we need to have information about how we can have a strategy to bring sovereignty to the Iraqi people. It was a lot of nonsense. The words didn't matter. The point was that Democrats had the initiative and they pressured the Republicans to go along with three-quarters of an exit strategy --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A lot of Republicans -- I'll boil it down for you -- a lot of Republicans called for a strategy to exit from the war, Tony. What are your thoughts, Raghida?
MS. DERGHAM: Well, I think both the Democrats and the Republicans are in denial. The fact of the matter, if the exit is going to happen in six months or in a year's time, we need a strategy of what to do during that time. And the fact of the matter is that there's two things needed, and nobody is going to talk about it, neither Republicans nor Democrats, and that is more boots on the ground and communicating with Iran.
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not going in. You're not going to get any more boots on the ground. I don't care what McCain says.
MS. DERGHAM: And that is why -- that is why there is no way out of this lose-lose situation unless you have two things; you pronounce them clearly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Raghida --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. Let her finish.
MS. DERGHAM: Draft and taxes. If you don't do that, that's it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, look, Raghida, there are no more boots on the ground coming in. And "stay the course" is unacceptable to 80 percent of the United States Senate. And so what we're going to get after this election, I think the president is going to have to come up with some kind of exit strategy soon for the simple reason that the country's support has collapsed and you cannot lead a national government as bitter and divided as ours.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MS. CLIFT: The key to John Murtha is that he is very close to the uniformed military. He would not have spoken out here if he wasn't speaking for the military.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. I get to finish.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CLIFT: Principally the Army and the Marines.
MR. BLANKLEY: She's not speaking for the military.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What?
MS. CLIFT: Principally the Army and the Marines, which are being destroyed, and which has come to the conclusion that this is an unwinnable war and that our posture there is as much a part of the problem as is --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me respond, because I'm the only one --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish. MS. CLIFT: There is a consensus now to look for a way out. It may not be six months. It's probably less than two years.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --
MS. CLIFT: But it's not nine to 12 years, which is what Secretary Rumsfeld said it would take --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, let Tony in here. Let Tony in.
MR. BLANKLEY: You used the word "unwinnable." And that's a very well-selected word, because in September of 2003, two years ago, Mr. Murtha, quoted in Roll Call Magazine, said the war is unwinnable. So there's nothing new about this. He hasn't moved. The media has decided to turn this into some huge new event. He's been against the war for two years. He was against the war again in --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, but you know --
MR. BLANKLEY: He was against the war again in 2004 when he held a press conference during the campaign. He said he was against it.
Let me tell you something else. The president is not going to be pushed around by either Republicans or Democrats. And unless the Republicans in Congress want to cut off appropriations -- and I don't think they will -- I think this president is going to stick to his guns.
MS. DERGHAM: And that's going to be the problem.
MR. BLANKLEY: And he's got three years and three months more. So your dreams of us running and cutting is gone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Murtha --
MS. CLIFT: Don't slime me, Tony, please. I'm not calling for cutting and running.
MR. BLANKLEY: I was repeating you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay --
MS. CLIFT: I am suggesting that the country and the Congress --
MR. BLANKLEY: Cut and run.
MS. CLIFT: -- are looking for an exit strategy. You can say cut and run over and over --
MR. BLANKLEY: Cut and run.
MS. CLIFT: That is a slogan, and it's no better than what Eugene McCarthy did in this country in the '50s. MR. BLANKLEY: Eugene McCarthy was a great Democratic senator in --
MS. CLIFT: Wrong McCarthy.
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, you got the wrong McCarthy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hello.
Okay, this clash between Congress and the White House --
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- in that category.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- between Congress and the White House has reached critical proportions -- critical-mass proportions, in fact. The intensity is enhanced by the budget considerations -- $420 billion for the Pentagon on top of $82 billion in war funding. And then there is the huge deficit. All this money has to come from somewhere, namely the domestic budget.
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D-WA): (From videotape.) The bill before us cuts Medicaid, food stamps, child-support enforcement, foster care, student loans and every other plan that helps people on the bottom.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that that plays a big role in the considerations of 2006 coming up? Because the people know what's going on. They know that this money has to come from somewhere.
MR. BUCHANAN: They did cut $50 billion. But actually, over the long term, it's peanuts. Tony is right about this. This president is the commander-in-chief. Congress is not going to cut off funding from this war. He and Cheney are going to stay with it. But I'll tell you this. The Republican Party has indicated that it is about to bolt in the same direction 40 Democratic senators have already gone. The Democratic Party is gone, John, on this issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Who's winning, Bush-Cheney and company or Congress and company? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush won't quit, but Congress has moved away from him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The reality on the ground, look how many more people died this week. The president's poll ratings are going down. The administration is in free fall. The president is in total isolation in a dysfunctional administration. He is not winning.
The Congress doesn't have the guts to pull the plug on the war, not yet. But they're going to force some rethinking. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's saying that time is not on Bush's side. You don't agree with that. You think time is on Bush's side.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, no. I mean, I don't think there are any winners right now. I think it's a bloody mess all ways around.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is a winner in this process here. It's either trending one way or it's trending another.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's not standing still.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's probably going to go up and down a lot.
MS. DERGHAM: It's a lose-lose situation for the moment. In order to make it a winnable situation, you need to admit, first of all -- recognize that we have a mess out there. I think Bush-Cheney have not admitted that much. Therefore they cannot think of a solution. And that is one of the fundamental problems.
MR. BLANKLEY: I was talking about the political team here in Washington.
MR. BUCHANAN: They know they're in trouble. When Dick Cheney uses that kind of language --
MS. DERGHAM: We don't even know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. BUCHANAN: When Dick Cheney uses that kind of language and the president plays the patriot card, the final card -- "You're cutting and running; you're undercutting the troops" --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat --
MR. BUCHANAN: -- they know how grave this is.
MS. DERGHAM: But what are we in there for? That is the one question no one is answering now. What is --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, the president recently said what we're there for.
MS. DERGHAM: Are we there for the government of Iraq, just the government of Iraq, or are we there in a bilateral war with the terrorists? We need to know what we're doing in order to know how to do it right.
MS. CLIFT: Less than 10 percent of the insurgents are foreign fighters. I mean, we're basically there -- MR. BLANKLEY: Have you counted them?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let her finish.
MS. CLIFT: -- in the middle of a power struggle among three factions in a country where most of the people think we have no right to be anyway.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The rhetoric of Mr. Cheney in this regard sounds to me like it belongs more in 2003 and 2004, not in 2005. I think the president and Cheney are not winning right now.
Issue Two: Murtha Wants Out. Odom Agrees.
RETIRED GEN. WILLIAM ODOM (HUDSON INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW): (From videotape.) It's time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Withdrawal. This is a sensitive and complex question. William Odom, a retired three-star general, widely respected in the intelligence community and extensively credentialed in intelligence-gathering, notably as director of the vaunted National Security Agency for three years, addresses this withdrawal issue.
Odom cites nine basic arguments for staying in Iraq. Odom then proceeds to show that these nine arguments for staying in Iraq are all, in reality, arguments for leaving.
One: A withdrawal would create civil war. Odom says civil war is already happening in Iraq.
GEN. ODOM: (From videotape.) The longer we stay, the worse the civil war will be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Two: The world will not support a withdrawal. Odom says world support will be gained by a withdrawal.
GEN. ODOM: (From videotape.) The Europeans and other countries are engaging in "schadenfreude;" that is, enjoying our pain in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Three: If we leave, we would embolden the insurgency. Odom says Iraqi insurgents are more emboldened by our ongoing two-and-a-half-year occupation.
GEN. ODOM: (From videotape.) There are many angry young Arabs, and not just poor ones, also well-trained ones, who see the opportunity to cause pain to American soldiers as a great gain.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four: If we withdraw, we will create a terrorist haven. Odom says Iraq is already worse than a haven. It's a training ground. Five: If we withdraw, we would invite Iranian influence in Iraq. Odom says our occupation has increased Iran's influence on Iraq.
Six: If we withdraw, unrest would spread to other nations. Odom says more unrest will spread to other nations if we stay.
Seven: Sunni-Shi'ite clashes will increase. Odom says more clashes will be prompted if we stay.
GEN. ODOM: (From videotape.) We're allowing them to really get trained so that they can have a bloody, bloody sectarian conflict.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eight: Iraq's military and police will be unprepared. Odom says the problem is not the military. It's the military and police disloyalty to the new Iraq government.
Nine: Talk of withdrawal undercuts the morale of troops. Odom says the weary troops favor the questioning of the U.S.-Iraq policy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Are Odom's arguments persuasive? Raghida.
MS. DERGHAM: We need a prepared, organized, coordinated withdrawal. We can't just withdraw, because that would be honestly a very immoral thing we'll do to the Iraqis -- go into their country, make a mess of it, and say goodbye just because we couldn't win.
What I mean by coordinated and discussed withdrawal is to bring in the neighbors, to talk with them, engage the Arabs, engage Iran, put a strategy, clarity, bring in the United Nations, say, "Let's talk about it." We really need to have partners.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean an international conference.
MS. DERGHAM: Why not? Why not?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Arab League is talking about that.
MS. DERGHAM: The Arab League --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that going anywhere?
MS. DERGHAM: The Arab League is talking about reconciliation, an internal reconciliation amongst Iraqis. And they're playing a role in this. I mean actually to say we will withdraw, but we'll bring in every other player.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All parties.
MS. DERGHAM: We can't succeed in withdrawing, for example, if we do not speak to Iran. The administration may not be willing --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, Odom has said this is the worst disaster in American political history, worst strategic disaster. I'm inclined to agree with him. This was the worst mistake certainly in my lifetime.
However, the situation, horrible as it is, could be worse, I think, by a precipitant American withdrawal. It could be chaos, civil war, oil up to $100 a barrel, a complete disaster, and a permanent haven for terrorists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we --
MR. BUCHANAN: You can't cut and run.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we agreed that a change in direction is essential? Can we agree on that?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it depends what you mean by a change in direction.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A change in direction --
MR. BLANKLEY: If you're talking about tactics, I would agree. If you're talking about strategy, I wouldn't agree.
MR. BUCHANAN: We are on the way out, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We are on the way out. So the direction has already been changed.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't believe we're --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. General Odom -- that is an intellectually rigorous and honest assessment. And when you have John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, former Navy secretary, basically signing on to an exit strategy --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Yes.
MS. CLIFT: -- and saying we need to give the Iraqis an incentive, and it's only fair and honest to tell them we're on our way out. And to try to focus on the six months, that's a phony deadline, because then you can allow the critics to say, "Oh, it's cut and run," as Tony did.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: But we are looking at an exit path here, and it should be reasoned, as Raghida says. But we are on our way out of Iraq. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think what you can arguably say is that Murtha was calling for a change in direction immediately.
MS. CLIFT: He started the debate. He should get credit for that.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, he was calling for immediate withdrawal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He was very emotional in that speech.
MR. BLANKLEY: I thought he was supposed to be rational.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's extremely rational. By the way, on this question of where the military stands, there was a poll saying that 56 percent of the military believe that the war has been mismanaged and they want out.
MR. BLANKLEY: Fifty-six percent of the troops in the field?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, 56 percent of the military or military- affiliated, 53 percent of the actual military.
MR. BLANKLEY: I mean, I don't know what the poll is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Try Elon University.
MR. BLANKLEY: University --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Elon, E-l-o-n.
MR. BLANKLEY: What country is that in?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: North Carolina.
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh. Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Any other questions? Quickly, we've got to get out. By the way, you can --
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me remind you -- well, you asked the question. The military families --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm revoking the question. Okay, you can --
MR. BLANKLEY: The military families voted 70 percent for Bush less than a year ago.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. You can find Odom's report on the Harvard University Nieman Foundation web site at www.niemanwatchdog.org. It's right there on the screen.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Can Bush and Cheney stop the withdrawal momentum? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, they can. I mean, they can simply not pull them out. Oh, no, they cannot stop the momentum, but they can stop the withdrawal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What makes you think that presidents of the United States can proceed in a vacuum, when Abraham Lincoln said, "Without the public behind you, you can accomplish nothing"?
MR. BUCHANAN: Lincoln moved himself to keep us in that war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm tell you what he said. You must have the public opinion behind you in order to move.
MR. BUCHANAN: He didn't have it behind him. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: He never had public opinion behind him.
MS. CLIFT: They can't change the momentum against the war unless they change the direction of the war and stop the dying of American troops in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. Can they stop the momentum?
MR. BLANKLEY: They may be able to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. BLANKLEY: It depends on events in Iraq.
MS. DERGHAM: It depends on what happens on the ground, exactly -- how much terrorism we have, because they could always cry terror, terrorism. And that's why they're thinking of assigning the job to the Iraqi army, assigning the job of doing brutality. That's the way they think (they're out?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, you are all correct.
Issue Three: Can You Hear Me Now?
Cellular phones are banned on all airline travel in the United States. According to a 13-year-old FCC rule, cell-phone signals might interfere with an airplane's navigation and communication. But such cell-phone interference is, quote/unquote, "extremely rare" says a nine-year-old study by the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration, not the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. The Brits have their own view. Cell phones can produce false cockpit warnings and interference on pilots' headsets. So says a 2000 report, five years ago, from Britain's national civil aviation authority.
But, in another study, brand new, this July, three months ago, Boeing and Airbus planes were bombarded with cell-phone signals and nothing went awry.
The FAA promises yet another report, but not until December '06, 14 months from now. But it's not safety anyway that's the real problem. The real problem is air rage. Irritability is already at record levels on airplanes these days, thanks to empty stomachs and the practical disappearance of food and beverage.
Adding cell phones to this mix, the crew's authority will be undermined. Safety will be endangered. So says the Association of Flight Attendants. Not so fast, says the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. Those mile-high cell-phone calls will boost the productivity and effectiveness, and reductively income, of those indefatigable businessmen and women on board.
Question: Should airplanes remain a cell-phone-free zone? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: They certainly should, John. That's a cramped space. There's a reason why we don't have smoking on there. The idea of 150 guys on a plane talking on their cell phones all at once would be disastrous.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about text messages? Are they okay, text with no ring tones?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, computer messages, I think, are perfectly all right. But a guy who's using a cell phone, John, ought to be treated like a hijacker.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that retaliation could take place from the disaffected passengers who don't want to hear cell phones, like playing CDs loud or talking loud in order to defeat the cell- phone usage?
MR. BUCHANAN: Or turning to the passenger and saying, "Put the phone down." (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That kind of cacophony.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you have thoughts on this? MS. DERGHAM: Well, yes. Why should we have people speaking on the planes? I mean, already we have enough mess on the planes. I think text-messaging is absolutely yes. The Internet is an essential -- I have a 15-year-old. She'd love an Internet. Give her an Internet access on the plane and text messages. She'd be happy enough. New generations -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you know -- go ahead.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think people should not use any electronics. They should bring a book along and have a few hours of traditional contemplative behavior. I think they're too electronically engaged as it is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think the dalai lama does on the plane? Do you think he's on a cell phone?
MR. BLANKLEY: Meditates, I assume.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Meditation.
MR. BLANKLEY: I would assume meditation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about contemplation and meditation? Would you favor that?
MR. BLANKLEY: That's fine. I sometimes do that myself.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would occupy your mind that would satisfy you for the course of, say, an hour's trip?
MR. BLANKLEY: I would think my love for my wife, probably. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you --
MS. CLIFT: I just remember on 9/11 that some of the passengers used cell phones. I was kind of amazed that their cell phones worked. So I think there are cases where there are genuine emergencies, and so I don't think you can, you know, exact fines on people who use cell phones. But I think most people would agree that we should make it like the quiet car on Amtrak.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about electronic jamming? You know, you can buy a monitor. If you go into a lounge and you see the monitors all playing the news or maybe possibly Buchanan screeching on MSNBC -- (laughter) -- you can, with this jamming device, turn it right off. What about getting that so that you can click off if somebody is behind you? You just click it and that's the end of that phone call.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: I'd like one that works in real time, like right here on the set. (Laughter.) MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would that lead to a lot of litigation, too? Would the lawyers be happy with that?
MR. BUCHANAN: I think they would, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our troop level in Iraq will be down 50 percent by July 4th next year. True or false?
MR. BUCHANAN: No.
MS. CLIFT: That's too many.
MR. BLANKLEY: False.
MS. DERGHAM: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is true. Bye bye.