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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN PANEL: PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC; ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK; TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES; MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2007 BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 13-14, 2007
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: China Rising, Still.
The People's Republic of China is a superpower, and China is destined to overtake today's leading superpower -- yes, the United States; China's economy growing over three times faster than the U.S., 9 percent, compared to the U.S.'s 3 percent; China's foreign exchange reserves more than triple. In 2002, foreign reserves totaled $286 billion. China's reserves in 2006: $1.4 trillion.
China's per capita GDP, gross domestic product, it has doubled in fewer than five years. China today has 106 billionaires; the U.S., 861. And by the year 2040, it is projected that China will have more billionaires than will the U.S. But political reform is a different story. That reform has not kept pace with China's economic wizardry: One, the press still controlled; two, the Internet, censorship and monitoring still imposed; three, surveillance. Undercover police and closed-circuit video still prevail.
President Hu Jintao runs the country, who is in his last year of his five-year first term of office. On this coming Monday, China's Communist Party Congress, with its 2,200 delegates from throughout the vast People's Republic, will gather in Beijing to appoint President Hu Jintao to his second five-year term, a sure bet.
Question: Market economies and democracy go hand in hand. That's what's been preached to us. Hu has installed an economic dynamo. So will Hu go further and make that dynamo more powerful by becoming a democracy? I ask you, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, we have an example of something relatively new -- autocratic capitalism, which is working like a charm. China is growing this year at 12 percent in the first six months. It's been at 10 percent for the last 15 years. The hope is that as it grows and prospers, the middle class will grow, which always has produced political reform.
But the problem is in China they have never known freedom. And there's another course they can go, and some people seem to be gone, and that is through ethnic chauvinism and economic nationalism and foreign policy nationalism of a nation that sees itself as having been humiliated.
And the example of that kind of regime, frankly, is Germany in the 1930s. That is the fear it will go that way. The hope is that the middle class will grow and effect political reforms and make it much more like a western country. But we've got a long way to go for that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The Chinese leaders are primarily interested in perpetuating their own power, and so they're cracking down on any kind of political dissent. But they have huge problems -- problems with pollution, with global warming.
Al Gore, who just won a Nobel peace prize, is talking with the Chinese leaders, and he's our best hope to get them to skip a generation of energy production and not build all those cheap coal plants and instead go nuclear, which is the lesser of the two evils. And they can't control all of these factories that are producing toys with poison lead. The command-and-control economy doesn't work. Power has been devolved throughout this huge country. And they're losing control over their economy. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me pick that up. We've seen imports from China of poisonous dog food, toxic children's toys, deadly toothpaste. And now the latest is the safety of food intended for human consumption. Is China a safe trading partner, do you think, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I think -- I don't want to defend China, goodness, but these are marketing problems for their products. This isn't a fundamental trading problem for China. They've got to improve their quality control. The American companies that are exporting out of there have got to improve their quality control. I don't think this is a strategic element of American-Chinese trade.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a political problem?
MR. BLANKLEY: But let me go back to your opening question, because all the projections you show -- and they may happen; China's got tremendous potential -- assumes that current trends will continue. If current trends continue, you and I will live forever. But current trends don't continue, regretfully. And there are a lot of different ways that China can go. Pat was talking about some of them.
I've talked with a major American businessman just back from seven years working in China, and he said one of the reasons they're so frenetically building, putting the coal plants up every couple of days, is they are afraid of rising expectations amongst their 800 million peasants, and can they keep up with that? And there's a real danger.
The Party Congress you talk about, there's now 75 million members of the Communist Party. They're not backing off their power. They're very corrupt. They're trying to intrude themselves more and more into the economy. And the question is, can they maintain this kind of growth and keep a step ahead of the rising expectations which could result in revolution?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, did you see that alarming billionaire figure over there? You're one of, what, a hundred and --
MR. BUCHANAN: Four hundred.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Four hundred?
MR. BUCHANAN: You're a Forbes 400 fellow.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you're one of --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I am not a member of the Forbes Chinese 400, I'll tell you that. (Laughter.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're one of 861.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I am.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you're about a third of the way -- about halfway down the list.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that about right?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, off the list is the way I tend to look at it. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, the Chinese have 106. But the way they're going now, they're going to have more billionaires than the United States in 2040.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They may. But in that country, I have to tell you, it represents the use of political power to gain economic wealth. And that is one of the big problems in that system. It's not based on merit. It's based on political --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're talking about bribing of civic officials.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, it's not bribing. Two-thirds of the leadership of the business community in China comes out of the party system. It comes out of the leadership of the party, both locally and nationally. So you have that translation. And that is a real problem for China.
I agree with what Tony is saying. They also have a one-child policy, and it has provoked the thing that China is going to get old before it gets rich, because they are going to have an inverted population pyramid in which they're going to have a huge amount of old people and not enough young people to work. It is true.
The secret of success of China, as we all know, is that they are unbelievably hard-working and they started off at incredibly low wages. So they're moving up the food chain in terms of the skills of their business. They've got a long, long way to go. And there are many things that can happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you telling me that the number of billionaires they have is no kind of a legitimate diagnostic as to the prosperity of that society?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not all of them. It is. I'm not saying that people aren't able to make money. I'm just saying a lot of them didn't do it on the basis of merit. They did it on the basis of political influence.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you know Hu? Have you met him?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I have met Hu, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you impressed by him?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Hu is not on first, if I may say so. (Laughter.) I am impressed by him. I will also point out to you that he was the leader in Tibet when they basically destroyed the opposition --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get into that right now -- not right now; in just a moment.
The U.S., China and Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party bosses will be convening against the background of the Taiwan problem; namely, the president of Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum on whether Taiwan should apply to join the United Nations under the name Taiwan and not under its legal name, Republic of China.
Hu Jintao and the communist leadership have told Taiwan to cease and desist what China sees as a strategic move by Taiwan to gain legal independence through a referendum. To emphasize its displeasure, China has moved military forces along the strait separating Taiwan from China. The U.S. supports Taiwan. And China, under Hu, is already breathing down the neck of the U.S. It is both a political and economic rival to us.
So what will the Chinese-U.S. relationship be like at the end of Hu's second term, which coincides with the end of the upcoming U.S. president's first term?
Question, which can come later, but which Democrat or Republican presidential contender could best handle the U.S. relationship with China and with Taiwan? I want to point out, if it wasn't made clear, that we are bound by treaty with Taiwan, or at least a formal understanding, to protect Taiwan in the event --
MR. BUCHANAN: Hold it, John. It's the Taiwan Relations Act, and it was passed in 1979 when Carter abrogated the Mutual Defense Treaty and Congress passed -- I think Carter may have tried to veto it -- MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it reductively a treaty?
MR. BUCHANAN: What it says is an attempt to change the situation or solve the problem by force in the Taiwan straits we will consider really a threat to our own peace and security --
MS. CLIFT: Right, the total --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got a president in Taiwan now who is poking his finger in the eye of China.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's almost leaving office, John. And if he's not going to declare independence, the United States considers Taiwan a part of China ever since the 1972 --
MS. CLIFT: It's a perennial --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute. Where are we? Where are we? Are we defending Taiwan --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the event that China wishes to --
MR. BUCHANAN: Bush says, "I will do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?
MR. BUCHANAN: I thought it was a little bit over the top.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course. We are putting our future in the hands of the leader of Taiwan, this guy, General Chen, or President Chen, who is one of the least stable, most irrational political leaders? I think it's a disaster for us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will the referendum pass whereby Taiwan will go into the United Nations under the name Taiwan?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't believe it will. I don't believe it will get in through China on that basis.
MR. BLANKLEY: The U.N.'s not going to let it come to a vote. Let me say a couple of things about it. I ran a couple of articles last month in the Washington Times on this issue, and the Chinese embassy called me very intensively complaining that I even ran a couple of articles. It wasn't even an editorial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On Taiwan?
MR. BLANKLEY: On Taiwan, on this issue. They are intensely focused on this. But while America may not have a full interest to defend Taiwan by itself anymore, America has a big interest in keeping the confidence of all the countries bordering --
MS. CLIFT: It's a perennial issue.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let me -- can I finish?
MS. CLIFT: It's a perennial issue.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your final point? Quickly.
MR. BLANKLEY: My final point is that we have a real interest in keeping our credibility with all the countries around China as a reliable ally.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is a (species ?) of the domino theory.
MS. CLIFT: It's a perennial --
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not at the cost of going to war with China.
MS. CLIFT: It's a perennial issue, and everybody will tap-dance to the edge and they'll tap-dance back.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MR. BLANKLEY: China might tap-dance --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here is a --
MS. CLIFT: I want to go back to the billionaires. There are billionaires in China because we've created them. We've sent a lot of money over there. And there are billionaires in the Middle East because we're supporting their society. And there will be billionaires in India. And I'm trying to imagine --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The WTO --
MR. BUCHANAN: John, and there are --
MS. CLIFT: -- a Chinese Mort Zuckerman.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there are 900 missiles on the China coast pointed at Taiwan right now. If you want to see the confrontation, wait until after the Olympics. That's when the Aunschluss will be attempted. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's just cage-rattling. That's all that is.
MR. BUCHANAN: Cage-rattling? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Hello, Dalai.
His holiness, the 14th dalai lama of Tibet, will arrive in Washington on Monday. The U.S. Congress is awarding him the Congressional Gold Medal. This award requires three-quarters of the Congress to approve it. The dalai lama will receive it in the Capitol Rotunda, with the president of the United States standing with him.
Mr. Bush is the first U.S. president ever to make such an appearance with Tibet's dalai lama. President Bush is also urging Hu Jintao, the leader of China, to meet with the dalai lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, before the Summer Olympics, which China will host next year.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the most prestigious award the dalai lama has received since he won the Nobel peace prize 18 years ago.
What are the odds that Hu Jintao -- he's the leader in China -- will meet with the dalai lama, who's currently exiled from Tibet, from Hu's government? Will Hu meet with him before the 2008 Olympics and, in so doing, resolve the Tibet problem?
MR. BUCHANAN: Come on.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not -- not a chance.
MR. BUCHANAN: Zero. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, wait a minute. He could -- there could be global activism at the time of the Olympics in Beijing.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No doubt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he wants to avoid that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No doubt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why doesn't he cut a deal with him? He knows Tibet. As you pointed out, Hu Jintao served in Tibet, so he's got that going for him in going into these negotiations.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not the way he served.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he solve
s the Tibet problem.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Not the way he served in Tibet. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He doesn't want two proofs positive of the strong-arming of China. He can't afford that anymore. He doesn't need it anymore.
MR. BLANKLEY: Sure, he can afford it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, he can.
MR. BLANKLEY: No one's going to stop him. He's not going to meet --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you mean, no -- if the world community decided to squeeze him with sanctions --
MR. BLANKLEY: The world community is not going to squeeze him.
MR. BUCHANAN: The world community's not going to squeeze China.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They didn't do it before and they're not going to do it now.
MR. BUCHANAN: Are you kidding?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, just because China is holding a lot of our debt --
MR. BUCHANAN: Not only -- John, China's economy -- I mean, look, China is one of the greatest trading countries on earth. They consume everything Australia produces.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you were giving political wisdom to Hu, would you not say to Hu the best thing for him to do is to make up with Tibet?
MS. CLIFT: A meeting is possible because the Chinese are very worried about their public relations image, and they know that the dalai lama is a huge black mark on how they've behaved toward Tibet. But I don't see them resolving anything, but a meeting might occur.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm the only one on this set who sees that happening, because it's smart politics for Hu and Hu knows it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: John, they are crushing minorities in China.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not smart politics -- right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Tibetans, the Uighurs, the Mongolians, the Manchu, the Catholics, the Falun Gong -- they are crushing them because they are hard-core Han Chinese nationalists.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you understand the dynamo of capitalism has been unleashed over there, and it will move inexorably to perpetuate and enlarge itself? MS. CLIFT: Yes, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Is a U.S. war with China -- I want a one- word answer -- is a U.S. war with China thinkable? Yes or no.
MR. BUCHANAN: Thinkable but not probable.
MS. CLIFT: No. And I want to say the Chinese respond to money and they respond to corporate pressure, and that's why a meeting might occur.
MR. BLANKLEY: It has to be thought about, but it should desperately be avoided.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely not. It's neither party's interest.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're absolutely right, Mort. Being a billionaire pays off.
Issue Two: Rudy and Mitt Black Belt It.
Another TV debate this week drew all nine Republican contenders; the so-called debate that is like all these so-called debates, whether Republican or Democratic. What's really offered are elocution pieces, frozen sermonettes; practically no cross-argument and little depth. It's really theater, not politics.
The liveliest moment of the debate was a testy exchange between Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, over their tax-and-spending histories.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (Republican presidential candidate): The point is that you've got to control taxes. But I did it. He didn't. Under him, taxes went up 11 percent per capita. I led. He lagged.
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY (Republican presidential candidate): Mayor, you've got to check your facts. No taxes -- I did not increase taxes in Massachusetts. I lowered taxes.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What do the facts show? Did Romney raise taxes? Are you familiar with that situation? MR. ZUCKERMAN: I am, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he raise taxes?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, he raised some taxes. He raised it in the form of fees and closing loopholes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's not raising a tax.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. Well, you may not call it a tax --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Reagan did that.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You may not call it a raise in taxes, but the people in Massachusetts --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you're collecting fees?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you're just calling it a fee.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he raise the income tax?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, he did not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did he raise the sales tax?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, he did not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Therefore, he's a supply sider.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Okay, if that's the way you want to call it, call it. I'll tell you, when I was living in Massachusetts, I was paying more money out to the government. That's all I know. And in New York City, I have to tell you, because I also lived there when Rudy Giuliani was the mayor, he cut the taxes. And on that point, by and large, Giuliani comes out ahead. It's a close call, but Giuliani comes out ahead.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't have to cut the income taxes in order to raise taxes. You don't have to raise the sales tax in order to raise taxes.
MR. BUCHANAN: But this was --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe in supply side?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a political -- yes, I do. Look, as a political argument, it came out about dead even. Both of them made good points. Romney did very well on the line-item veto. But, John, Romney hurt himself when he came out when they asked him about Iran. He said, "What would you do?" "Well, I'd talk to the lawyers before I decide to do that." MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he didn't say that.
MR. BUCHANAN: He did say that. "First we talk to the lawyers."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He said, "Sometimes it's necessary to. But, of course, in a situation where your action is required immediately" --
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) He's been correcting it. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: He had to write a --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, he said that at the same time.
MR. BLANKLEY: He had to write a letter to The Wall Street Journal later in the week to correct the record. You never want to mention going to lawyers when you're talking about foreign policy as a commander in chief. Commander in chiefs don't worry about the lawyers till after the fact.
MS. CLIFT: He responded --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Listen, I kind of liked the fact that he would take it up with his lawyers.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It wouldn't hurt if this administration had taken it up with lawyers before going into Iraq.
MS. CLIFT: If he's a politician, he should be taking it up with Congress, not with lawyers. I think that really hurt him.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, he's talking about constitutional lawyers.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, come on.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's talking about the lawyers in the White House.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's get out. In this pileup of debates, who's growing on you? Be succinct now. And who's wearing thin? I ask you, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think both Romney and Rudy are doing well. I think they're both doing well.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Romney and --
MS. CLIFT: I think Giuliani wins it hands down. He was defending his city, especially in the debate over the line-item veto, which most people don't even know what that is, but he restored cuts to Medicaid. MR. BUCHANAN: Reaganites do.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is anybody growing on you?
MR. BLANKLEY: I don't have a candidate yet, but I think Giuliani is doing the best job in the debates.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Giuliani's doing the best on the Republican side, and Hillary Clinton is doing by far the best on the Democratic side.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I kind of like Brownback warming up a bit. I think Brownback could also be a vice presidential candidate.
MR. BLANKLEY: Brownback is dead in the water.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think you and about four other people in the country. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Gray Giant in the Green Zone.
The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is still under construction -- 21 buildings in all. The complex is as big as Vatican City. The problem with the embassy could be safety. It is so massive and so vulnerable, by reason of its size and exposure. It stretches across 104 acres; nearly 80 -- that's 8-0 -- football fields along the Tigris River.
The embassy includes over 600 blast-proof living units. In addition, two grand residences for the ambassador and the deputy ambassador adorn the expanse along with tennis courts, landscaped swimming pools, full gym, department store, American club -- yes, alcohol permitted -- beauty salon, movie theater, a food court, free victuals, including themed cuisines from around the world, power generators, water wells, drinking water treatment plant, sewage plant, fire station, irrigation system, Internet uplink, land-line telephone center, cell phone network, filtered and pressurized air-conditioning system that can fend off against chemical or biological attack, office space for hundreds of staffers.
The project is currently budgeted for $600 million. The maintenance cost per year: $1.2 billion -- that's "b," as in boy, billion per year.
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): (From videotape.) Like everything else in Iraq, they just throw money at it. We'll take our money out of something we need in the United States and just toss it over there. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The November issue of Vanity Fair features a reporting essay on the U.S. embassy in Iraq by William Langewiesche. That piece supplied much of the above data.
Question: What is the one element this complex lacks? I ask you, Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Rationality. (Laughter.) Most of those amenities already exist in the green zone that has been dubbed "Emerald City." They've got all the fast-food places imported over there and they've got discos and bars, and they've got electricity 24 hours. It's already an insult to the Iraqi people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this compound is going to have a bad effect on the Iraqis? Doesn't it look like a castle and all it needs is a moat? In other words, this is the embassy or the compound of a conqueror. And that footprint will remain, will it not?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think it's the embassy of a conqueror. It's the embassy of people who are there who are terrified of being blown up. I mean, the security parts of it are unbelievable. And if I may say so, since it's going to cost us now $750 million, the one thing we're missing is a good first mortgage with a bank from Iran lending the money. I think that is a huge and ridiculous expenditure. We have to do something to protect our forces. It's just preposterous.
MR. BUCHANAN: What this is, John, is Aukur (sp). This is the crusader castle, the last crusader castle, northern Israel up into Galilee --
MR. BLANKLEY: That lasted for a couple of hundred years.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but it was overrun. Look, I'll tell you what, the next dictator of Iraq is going to be living in that thing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It will breed resentment, will it not?
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, if we're driven out of Iraq, then it'll be a monument to folly on our part. On the other hand, if we stay there, as even the Democrats agree they're going to stay at least through 2013, and if, in fact, this ends up being a project that succeeds in some way, then this will be another example of a great nation building a great embassy.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Should this compound be named the U.S. Embassy, or should it be named the George W. Bush Embassy? Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: George W. Bush Building.
MS. CLIFT: Yes, Bush. MR. BLANKLEY: U.S. Embassy.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: U.S. Embassy, for sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: U.S. Embassy?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not the George W. Bush Building?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think Pat's on to something.
Issue Four: Chatter Zapper.
Is it a new wave of technology, or is it an anti-wave? They're called cell phone jammers, capable of voiding any conversation within 20 feet. This combative technology has been called "revenge tech" or "design noir" or "annoyance tech."
We've all been there. You're sitting on a sold-out train, a crowded bus. It starts with a cell phone ring, some zany, cacophonous sound. Then the person sitting next to you picks up her cell phone. The agony begins; first the retelling of her day, then it is a round of "He said, she said," then what's for dinner.
Unobtrusively you reach over and take out your "revenge tech" device -- zap. That takes care of that.
Question: Are cell phone jammers the way to restore civility? I ask you, Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I'm a total addict to these cell phones, so you're not going to get me on that side of it, I've got to tell you. I couldn't function without it. And a lot of people feel the same way.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I share all of the sentiments of hostility to people who use loud cell phones. But I think our natural sense of restraint and decency will refrain from actually zapping them.
MS. CLIFT: It would only create cell phone rage along the pattern of road rage, once you've figured out who zapped you. And I can't believe it's constitutional that you can run around zapping people's conversations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's a pseudo-problem. It's a pseudo- problem, because technology will now devise a jam-proof telephone or the chatter will not work.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think you need it as a last resort. MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: A House committee did a terrible thing in accusing Turkey of genocide. It now goes to the floor of the House. It's really damaged our relations with a critical country and a vital ally. I predict the way will be found not to have a vote on that on the House floor or to defeat it on the House floor.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the Senate would kill it.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the House --
MR. BLANKLEY: It doesn't have to go to the Senate.
MS. CLIFT: The next generation of American growth will be generated by manufacturing green and selling it to China.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: There's a fight going on in the congressional Democratic leadership whether to kill all trade bills in the next two years. Right now it looks like those who want to kill the trade bills have the upper hand.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How awful.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I was following on what Pat said. There are 226 people who've signed this legislation -- that's proponents of it -- to call it a genocide of what Turkey did to -- it is a disaster for American policy. Eight secretaries of State have come out against it. Everybody is recognizing this is terrible for the national interest of the United States. And it is a function of a special-interest group, the Armenian lobby, giving tremendous amounts of money to a lot of Congress people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To fill you in, this is the Armenian massacre issue.
I predict the economic impact of the subprime mortgage affliction will be with us for a long time to come, but the economy this year will be nowhere near as bad as predicted by Buchanan last week.