Will Congress Buy Bush Security Plan?; Have Muslims Shown Enough Remorse for 9/11?
Aired August 15, 2002 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight, just like his predecessors, the salesman-in-chief is hitting the road with an agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I need the flexibility to be able to look at the America people and say we're doing everything we can to protect the homeland against an enemy that hates us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Will Congress buy it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, we don't need dictators in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Have Muslims shown enough remorse for September 11? He doesn't think so. But just who is practicing religious intolerance? The Reverend Jerry Falwell steps into the CROSSFIRE.
They go off at the movies, in the theaters. What will it take, a law that says shhhh, hang up?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are just sort of fed up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that you can change that by passing a law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Ahead on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, taking one of Franklin Roosevelt's greatest ideas, giving it the W. treatment.
Also, is intolerance next to godliness? At least one prominent preacher seems to think so .
But first, as we do every day, let's start with the best little political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "News Alert."
President Bush today went to Mount Rushmore. Now while I think Bush is more likely to join is father in the hall of failed one term presidents than to be carved into the] side of a mountain, that didn't stop him from pandering to the locals.
Bush bragged to the South Dakota farmers about signing the most expensive farm bill in history, spending $180 billion on farm states. What he didn't mention is that he killed emergency health tracking funds for rescue and recovery workers at ground zero, and emergency medical care for veterans.
The International Association of Firefighters and the American Legion are crying foul. White House aides know that the rescue workers and veterans, while heroes, don't live in a key swing state.
Sorry guys, they don't get their money.
ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: You any not know that your former boss, Bill Clinton, was refused a place on Mount Rushmore because they didn't have room for two more faces.
In South Dakota today, President Bush appealed for power to prevent another terrorist attack. Standing by with his arms folded in front of him, listening to the president was Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate Democratic leader.
After the speech, Senator Daschle called reporters over and in his quiet voice accused President Bush of seeking dictatorial powers.
What dictatorial powers? The ability to fire incompetent homeland security employees without asking the permission of labor bosses. Remember this little story the next time you hear about Democrats claiming they fully support the president in the war against terrorism.
BEGALA: I think it's very important for Democrats and Republicans to support the Constitution, which places the power of the purse in the Congress. President Bush wants to have, take from Congress, the power to allocate funds. That belongs to we the people in our Congress, and that is the first step toward dictatorship when we start giving our president the job that the Congress is supposed to do.
Well, I've got proof tonight that pigs always return the trough. A severance package of $13,500 for each of the good people who lost their jobs at Enron is being held up by a few of the top executives.
Former big-wig John Sheriff (ph), for example, wants $1.6 million. And the wife of former CEO Jeffrey Skilling is demanding $875,000. One former Enron worker said the executive's behavior is quote, "Like killing somebody's family and going back to plunder the house."
The Bush administration, stacked with Enron executives, consultants and stockholders has yet to issue so much as a parking ticket to anyone from Enron this 256 days after its collapse.
NOVAK: Paul, you seem to forget, I've told you many times that there is a task force at the Justice Department, all hold-overs from the Clinton administration, civil servants, who are hard at work on Enron. There will be indictments I guarantee you.
BEGALA: I hope.
NOVAK: Terry McAuliffe is a Washington wheeler dealer imposed on the Democratic Party as its national chairman by the Clintons. He's building a $28 million new national headquarters building in Washington, paying cash. Why cash? Because he wants to use soft money, unlimited, unregulated contributions, soft money which becomes illegal November 6th under the McCain-Feingold act.
Cash is pouring in, bunches as high as $7 million in $5 million a package. The purpose of the headquarters, to raise Democratic money, money that's going to be harder to raise under McCain-Feingold.
The Los Angeles Times calls it, "An ingenious greedy political calculation."
What would you expect from the Clinton's fund raiser?
BEGALA: Well, Bob, inspired by your great reporting, I actually called Terry McAuliffe. It turns out all of the money that's raised for this was raised and committed a year ago before McCain-Feingold ever became law.
I think what you're worried about is the Democrats are actually going to compete on an equal basis with technology and a new building. God bless Terry McAuliffe.
North Carolina Republican Elizabeth Dole apparently has run out of money in her campaign for the United States Senate. The Dole campaign has had to stop all television ads and has sent out a desperate plea for contributions. Mrs. Dole, who supports privatizing part of Social Security, apparently wants to do for your retirement what she's done for her own campaign fund. She is opposed in the election by several Democrats, including Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff in the Clinton White House when I worked there.
As chief of staff, Bowles helped produce the first balanced budget in over 30 years. Maybe he can give Mrs. Dole a lesson in fiscal discipline. NOVAK: I also did a little reporting. The fact is that Mrs. Dole has $2.4 million in cold cash right now. The idea that they're out of cash is a fund raiser's trick and as an old campaign manager, you would know, Paul, that with a 32 point lead over Erskine Bowles, it's silly to put up television in the middle of August.
Senator John McCain has compiled a list of $108.5 million in pork projects for eight states which all have Democratic senators facing re-election challenges this year. What a coincidence. Dispensing the pork is Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, chairman of a key appropriations subcommittee.
The Hill Newspaper this week reported that earlier this year Senator Mikulski talked to Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, the most seriously threatened Senate Democrat. Said Barbara, "Paul, let's talk pork. We like you and we want you back."
So she ladled out $2.6 million for Minnesota, twice as much as the state got last year. Now I call that real campaign reform.
BEGALA: $2.6 million out of a $2.1 trillion budget, I think you're upset because it might actually go to help people in need. God bless Paul Wellstone.
NOVAK: Congressional Democrats aren't listening, so President Bush is going over their heads and taking his case directly the voters.
Today, in South Dakota, as well as in Iowa and Wisconsin yesterday, the president turned salesman in chief. His pitch, do things his way on the economy, on the war, on terrorism and especially in setting the Department of Homeland Security.
The crowds have been enthusiastic and apparently don't agree with Tom Daschle's accusation that George W. Bush wants to be a dictator.
Stepping into the Crossfire are two party leaders in the House of Representatives. From Dallas, Democratic Congressman Martin Frost of Texas and here in Washington, Republican Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri.
BEGALA: Good to see you, sir.
REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Hi, Paul.
BEGALA: Martin Frost, thank you for joining us as well. We start with Congressman Blunt, I'd like to play a piece of -- first, thank you for coming back. You're generous with your time. I know that you're in a work period right now where you're meeting with constituents. So thank you for taking the time to join us.
Our president today, while supposedly on vacation, was also working. He went to South Dakota. He spoke at Rushmore. And let me play a piece of videotape that -- from his speech today and then a response from a public employees union.
Here's first what the president said. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm deeply concerned about this provision of the Senate bill. It strips me of authority. This bill would take away the authority that every president since Jimmy Carter has had, which is to exempt agencies from collective bargaining requirements if our were to determine that our national security demands it.
It's important during times of war that we be flexible to meet our needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: Now we checked on the accuracy of the president's statement with the American Federation of Government Employees. Beth Mooten (ph) is their legislative director, and here's what she said to correct the president's misstatement.
She says, quote, "Collective bargaining agreements are in no way obstacles to responding to threats to national security. Current law expressly provides that nothing" -- and she's quoting the law here -- "nothing shall affect the authority of any management official of any agency to take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out the agency missions during emergencies."
The president kind of misstated the facts, didn't he congressman?
BLUNT: Well, I think the president is actually saying that is the current law and what you don't want to do is take away that authority with the new homeland security bill. He wants to have and needs to have that authority to respond in times of emergency.
Nobody has proposed a bill that eliminates the ability to join a union. Nobody has proposed any legislation that eliminates whistle blower provisions. I think what the president is saying he needs to continue to have that authority, that the flexibility in homeland security is critical, being able to move people at the time you have to move them to meet an emergency is critical. That's why we're forming this new department.
BEGALA: But Congressman, with respect, those emergency workers at 9/11, those heroic firefighters, the police officers, the Port Authority officers, and now the cleanup effort, those iron workers and steel workers, they're all union men and women. And I didn't see them stopping and taking lunch breaks or reading their collective bargaining contracts as they plunged into a building that was collapsing to save lives.
BLUNT: No, I think...
BEGALA: Isn't the president insulting those people?
BLUNT: I think everybody wants to and is giving great credit to public servants, particularly those you mentioned. They did a great job. They became a great example to the country.
What the president is talking about is clearly a more long term, needing to shift somebody from here to there, moving somebody if they have to be moved, moving them from a different set of responsibilities one day to another set next week. If that's necessary, and only in circumstances that require that, I think it's logical. It makes common sense. It's why you set up this department so you have this inner-agency operability for the first time where everybody focused in this broad base of federal responsibilities, reports through a structure that's focused on homeland security, Paul.
NOVAK: You know, this is really an amazing -- this is an amazing story, Martin Frost. We had a situation here where the Senate Majority Leader has called the president a dictator. That was strong language. And I want you to listen to what the president that evoked this strong response from Tom Daschle. Let's listen to is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: If You're trying to defend the homeland, if you need to act quickly in response to a threat, we need to be able to move resources. We're not trying to do away with congressional authority. We're trying to have the capacity to respond to the needs of the American people. Unfortunately, the bill in the Senate right now won't let me know that.
NOVAK: Agree or disagree with Tom Daschle, is George W. Bush trying to be a dictator?
REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: Well, actually, Bob, you know, that Democrats and Republicans support strong action on homeland security.
What the president has proposed, and let's be very clear about this because we voted on this on the House, he wants to give employees of this new department less rights than they have in their current job. He wants to make them second class citizens.
We specifically proposed, Democrats in the House, to give these employees exactly the same rights that all other federal employees have. The president wants to make them second class citizens. We're calling upon them to act very strongly, to work very hard for the government.
And let me tell you this. This is something that is inexcusable in a time when we're asking people to make sacrifices.
We set up a civil service system in this country to eliminate the spoils system so that you couldn't hire your cronies, your political friends. That's all we're suggesting to be continued.
NOVAK: Congressman, Frost, this is all a battle by the labor party, which is sometimes known as the Democratic Party, to help the unions. We know that. But I ask you...
FROST: Well, Bob, let me, let me respond... NOVAK: ... question, Martin. I am -- just a minute.
I asked you a question, Martin, and I'd like an answer. Do you agree or disagree -- and I think you're a decent person who will give me a straight answer -- do you agrees or disagree with Tom Daschle that George Bush is trying to be a dictator?
FROST: Well, Bob, let me respond to that. Only about 25 or 35 percent of these are union employees. He wants to take rights away from non-union employees also.
I don't think I would use the work dictator, but I...
NOVAK: All right, thank you.
FROST: ... think I certainly would question what he's trying to do because he's trying to take rights away from all federal employees whether they belong to a union or not.
BLUNT: Well, I think the point here is that we're creating this agency because these are not like all other federal employees. They're not exactly like members of the armed forces either. But they're not like all other federal employees, they shouldn't...
BEGALA: Make the case, make the case why an emergency homeland security agent in our government should have fever rights than a bean counter at the Commerce Department.
BLUNT: Because they're exactly that because they're emergency homeland security workers so they...
BEGALA: So they have less rights?
BLUNT: ... they need to be workers that have to respond at a time when response is necessary.
FROST: Would you deny...
BLUNT: Part of the problem -- Martin, let me finish my sentence...
BEGALA: Cops in New York City, with respect, sir, they had full union protection and those firefighters are full union...
BLUNT: And they did a great job.
BEGALA: ... and they gave their lives for us.
BLUNT: They did a great job and they're heroes. And everybody understands that.
BEGALA: So why would you take away the rights of the employees in the federal department...
BLUNT: I think you're looking here, Paul, at a longer term situation where the president decides right now we need people who have been doing this to start doing that. We need policemen to become fireman in that example.
And that -- this gives the president...
NOVAK: I want you to respond to that, Congressman.
FROST: Well, it's pretty hard to get a word in edgewise when you're here in Dallas and all of the rest of these folks are in Washington. But let me do the best I can.
I want to go back to the point that Paul made. These were union employees in New York City, union firemen, union policemen. Are we saying that we should make them second class citizens. They did a wonderful job for this country, and there's not reason to believe that making employees second class citizens, makes them any better federal workers. I think this is ludicrous.
BEGALA: This is why Martin Frost is one of the great leaders of my party.
We're going to be right back with you Congressman Blunt, one of the great leaders of the Republican Party too. In a minute, we're going to ask both of these congressmen about what I think is one of W's most dangerous ideas of all.
And then later, will it take a law before cell phone users realize they aren't the only people in the whole wide world?
And our quote of the day comes from somebody Saddam Hussein had better pay attention to.
Stay with us.
NOVAK: Well, experts, that in your honor Martin, they're experts from Texas. James Thompson and Edward Williams, professors at Rice University, and they say this. "There really is not good financial argument for not giving younger Americans the option to put some of their FICA assets into bonds or securities. Markets fluctuate, but over a long investment period, risks are dramatically lowered."
There's just no dispute about that is there?
FROST: Oh, there's a lot of dispute about that. Just look at the stock market. Just talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors who have invested in the stock market.
And let me tell you this, the Republicans can't run away from this fast enough. A year ago, two years ago they were all for privatization. Now you ask my colleague from Missouri whether he's for privatization today. One hundred and seven of them signed a litter a year ago to the new commission saying that they wanted privatization. Now you can't find a Republican who is for privatization. It's a terrible idea.
BEGALA: In fact, Congressman Blunt, you did not sign that letter. But you did vote for a resolution endorsing President Bush's Social Security Commission recommendations. Do you still stand by that? Do want to partially privatize Social Security?
BLUNT: Actually, what we voted for to give you some idea to just how political this gets, we voted for an amendment that would allow the commission report to be presented. That's how distorted this really gets.
I didn't sign that letter, and nobody has ever been for privatization...
FROST: Oh, come on, come on.
BEGALA: President Bush is for partial privatization.
BLUNT: Martin, they're for establishing a certain level of personal accounts within a publicly run system. That's different than a private system.
You're suggesting you do away with Social Security. That's just not true.
FROST: The Republicans...
BLUNT: There are two truisms in this debate. One is that nothing we do will affect anybody who is on Social Security now or anywhere near their retirement.
Two is, it would be almost impossible not to device a system for workers in the first decade of their work life that would better for them than the current Social Security system. We need to look at alternatives.
This is about younger workers just like the professors are Rice University said it was. It's not about people in their 60s. It's not about people who are retired. IT's not about people who are in 50s, probably even people in their 40s...
FROST: Well, let me tell you...
BLUNT: ... who would have an option.
FROST: ... let me tell you what this is about. What the Republicans were for a year ago, was taking 2 percent of the money that's paid into Social Security right now and taking that out of the Social Security Trust Fund and putting that into the stock market. Now you can't find a Republican who will own up to that.
That's what was in that letter and ow they...
FROST: ... can't run away from that fast enough. BLUNT: Nobody has ever been...
FROST: Then won't own up to their own position. It's incredible.
BEGALA: Actually, there is one (ph) who has.
NOVAK: Martin Front, you know, Paul says you're one of the savvyist Democratic politicians in America.
FROST: But, Bob always tries to set me up.
NOVAK: I agree with him on that. And I want to show you an ABC News-Washington Post poll.
"Who do you trust more to protect retirement savings?" Bush, 44 percent, the Democrats 35 percent.
You know, you've been pounding Bush on this and people like Roy Blunt. You have failed. This used to be the third rail of American politics. You touch and you die. The American people trust Bush and not you. What are you going to do?
FROST: Bob, I hope that for the next three months President Bush and the Republican candidates continue to push for privatization. We're going to have an election in November. And we're gong to find out what the people really think about think. And I think they will be sadly disappointed -- the Republicans will be sadly disappointed. And you won't find a Republican who will honestly admit that that was their position a year ago. Now they want to hide...
BEGALA: There's one, Congressman.
FROST: ... they want to run, they want to say it was anything else.
BEGALA: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Congressman Frost, but there is one. I want to present my one evidence...
BLUNT: The one piece of evidence.
BEGALA: ... the one Republican who is at least crazy enough to continue to say that he's for privatization as he always has been, Lindsey Graham. He's a congressman from South Carolina. He's now running for the United States Senate.
Let me read to you from the State Newspaper this week. "GOP Senate candidate, Lindsey Graham, acknowledges allowing workers to invest some of their payroll taxes outside of Social Security will siphon money out of the program that will have be replaced somehow. He supports a plan that estimates at least $2 trillion of so-called transitional costs. That plan doesn't specify where that $2 trillion would come from, however." Lindsey Graham supports the Bush plan. It is partial privatization. It does cost $2 trillion. How are we going to pay for it?
BLUNT: The transitional cost for young workers is the key. Of course, 67...
BEGALA: Two trillion dollars...
BLUNT: ... 67 years ago when Social Security was set up, there were 35 people working for every person who draws Social Security. Now we're approaching two or three people working for every person on Social Security. That doesn't work any longer for those two or three people. We need to figure out how to transition so that young workers will have a system in their future that's at least as good for them as Social Security has been for everybody who has had it up until now. And people you know, who are 40, 50 and 60 who are approaching retirement.
FROST: I would...
NOVAK: That will have to be the last word. We're out of time. Roy Blunt, thank you very much.
BLUNT: Good to be here.
NOVAK: Martin Frost, in Dallas, thank you.
BEGALA: Thank you very much. Good to see you.
NOVAK: Coming up, just what New Yorkers don't need, a government do-gooder will try explaining why the big apple needs a law by -- get this -- cell phone manners.
Later, the Reverend Jerry Falwell on conservative Christian comments that sound like Muslim bashing.
But next, from a high level administration, one of the clearest signals yet that the U.S. is really on a collision course with Iraq.
NOVAK: There will be special programming around the world to commemorate September 11th. And while we hope you'll we watching CNN's coverage, you probably weren't planning to listen to Britain's BBC radio. But that's where we found our quote of the day. It comes from National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. In a pre-taped interview, she tells the BBC there is a very powerful moral case to be made for deposing Saddam Hussein.
In our quote of the day, Dr. Rice adds, "We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing."
BEGALA: You know, she's the National Security Advisor, not the national morality adviser. I want to hear the security case. General Brent Scowcroft, a national security adviser under two former Republican presidents, today in the Wall Street Journal says, "It's a bad idea because it could harm our war against terrorism."
But Bob, we do need some something to move towards regime change there, don't we?
NOVAK: Well, I am -- I believe once you start on regime change, where do you end. I'm for a lot a regime changes. I'd be for regime change in California, for example.
But I don't want to bomb Sacramento.
BEGALA: That's great.
Coming up, something we're been waiting for since September 11th. It finally happened today. CNN's Connie Hung shows us what in a minute. And later, we'll ask the Reverend Jerry Falwell if he agrees with Franklin Graham's attacks on Muslim clerics.
Then we'll pull out our cell phones and dial key for politeness.
Will anyone in New York answer?
Stay with us.
In his paranoid, rambling tirades after September 11th, Osama bin Laden talked about the Western crusaders coming after Muslims. Well, lately a few Christian preachers have perhaps unwittingly been playing right into bin Laden's rhetorical hand sounding like they're ready for the crusades to begin.
Billy Graham's son, the Reverend Franklin Graham, has called Islam, quote, "A very evil and wicked religion," unquote. And this week Reverend Graham asked why Muslim clerics from all over the world haven't come to America to apologize and help rebuild New York.
Are we entering a new era of religious intolerance?
Joining us to discuss this from Lynchburg, Virginia is the Reverend Jerry Falwell, the chancellor of Liberty University.
Reverend Falwell, thank you for joining us, sir.
REV. JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Thank you.
NOVAK: Reverend Falwell, do you agree with your friend, Franklin Graham, that Islam is a very evil and wicked religion?
FALWELL: Well, I've read very carefully of what Franklin Graham has said. And he is -- he is a true man of God with great courage, and I admire him. He said, that he -- and I'm quoting -- "I'm certainly not preaching against all Muslim people. I am concerned about our nation, and on September 11 last year, we were attacked by followers of Islam claiming to do this in the name of Islam."
And then he went on to decry the silence, the almost deafening silence of Islamic clerics worldwide. You know, when some crazy bombs an abortion clinic and calls himself a Christian, or shoots an abortion provider and calls himself a Christian, almost all reputable Christian leaders stand up and denounce him as a criminal and urge the utmost of punishment.
No one has done that in the Muslim leadership of the world. That is all Franklin Graham has been saying. And I totally agree with him.
NOVAK: Reverend Falwell, I have known you and admired you for a very long time, and one of the reasons I've admired you is you're a straight shooter. And I would really like to get a straight answer from you. He said -- all the things he said are accurate -- but Franklin Graham also said that "Islam is a very evil and wicked religion." Is he right or is he wrong?
FALWELL: Well, he is taking that -- I'm not a student of the Koran. I must be honest about that. But from the Koran, from which he quoted, verses where the Muslims are encouraged to kill Jews and Christians, if in fact the Koran does urge that, then that of course is evil, and that is exactly what Franklin was saying.
I must admit I'm not a student of the Koran, I don't plan to become one. But Franklin is, and Franklin believes that many Muslims -- you know, all, obviously, all Muslims are not terrorists. Only an ignorant person would say that. But most of the terrorists today lately have been Muslims.
And if you were God or I were God for about 30 minutes on September 11, the most informative thing we could have looked for is how many of the 1.3 billion Muslims were applauding what happened on that day in America? I don't know what that number would be, but I would think that all who were applauding it are certainly following some kind of evil leading.
BEGALA: Reverend Falwell, let me challenge the factual assertion that you made. You were agreeing with the part of Dr. Grahams's statement that Muslims have not decried and denounced the attacks of September 11. That is simply factually false. Let me read to you from, for example, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Al-Hantawi (ph), who is a leading Muslim cleric in Egypt. He's at Cairo University at the Al- Ajar Mosque (ph).
FALWELL: I said almost. I know what he... BEGALA: Well, let me read you a couple of them. Here's what Sheikh Mohammed says.
"Attacking innocent people is not courageous. It is stupid and will be punished on the Day of Judgment. It's not courageous to attack innocent children, women and civilians. It is correct freedom. It is courageous to defend oneself and not to attack."
Now surely, Dr. Graham, he is either misinformed or candidly, he's ignorant.
FALWELL: No, he didn't say all. Because I have a few quotes here of other Muslims who have taken a proper stand. But the major leadership of Islam -- and let me just get pointed about that -- we're talking about Iraq and possibly attacking Saddam Hussein.
But I want to say that Saudi Arabia is just as much a proponent -- they have funded most of the terrorism going on, or helped funded, in Israel right now. And perhaps what happened here -- that evidence is not clear yet -- but our friends in Saudi Arabia, alleged friends -- you know, I wish the day would come when we would get our own oil from Alaska and from our own sources, and become no longer dependent on Saudi Arabia or Iraq or any of the Muslim countries where we're no longer held hostage by these people who hate us so much.
BEGALA: In fact, Reverend Falwell, tomorrow night, if I may -- I know you're busy -- but we're going to have the leading foreign policy adviser to the Crown Prince of the Saudi Arabian kingdom on this program. If you were able, what would you ask him?
FALWELL: I would ask him if, to his knowledge, any funds have gone from the Saudi Arabian government to families in the West Bank, in Israel, who have given up their children to commit to acts of terrorism.
I think if he tells the truth, will he have to say that money does go, by his permission, from Saudi Arabia, to families who sacrifice their sons and daughters in these suicidal homicides, really, the homicide events there in Israel that are so barbaric...
NOVAK: Reverend Falwell, I would like to get back to the language of Franklin Graham, which disappointed me very much, because I thought it was hateful.
And the justification for it, as I understood from you, is that in the Koran, although you admit you don't know much about the Koran, you do know a lot about the New Testament, about scripture which is holy to both Christians and Jews, and I'm going to read you from Joshua 10:25:26.
"Joshua said to his men: Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies. With that Joshua plunged his sword into each of the five kings, killing them. He then hanged them on five trees until evening."
Now if you were a Muslim who didn't know any more about the Bible than you know about the Koran, wouldn't you think that Christianity and Judaism were hateful and wicked religions based on that scripture?
FALWELL: I would compare that with history and I would look at the behavior of Christians. Now you can throw the Crusades in, but anyone who is real student of history knows those were 99 percent political anarchy and one percent religion, like what's happening in Northern Ireland.
But the fact is, Christianity has a record for loving, for caring. You got -- come into the United States, any Muslim who wants to start to build a Muslim temple, he can do so. No one's going to prevent that, a mosque. But let me go into Baghdad, let me go into any of the -- Saudi Arabia -- any place, and try to build an evangelical church or a synagogue, and I will be jailed if not killed for even trying to do that.
NOVAK: Well, I think we had a record in Spain of greater tolerance by the Muslims toward the Jews than the Christians showed. But that's another matter. But I just -- can we stipulate now that this going into scripture of any religion and taking something out of context is not a very good idea?
FALWELL: I don't think that Franklin Graham is taking anything out of context. He has scholars -- and I talked to him yesterday -- scholars who have been literally dissecting the Koran.
And they are former Muslims. Now, I think of Doctors Irgin Tanner (ph) and his brother, who are teaching Christian seminars, former Muslim who have come out of Islam because of the hateful teachings of the Koran. And they are now fervent followers of Jesus Christ and purveyors of love.
BEGALA: We only have a couple of minutes, Reverend. I wanted to ask you, though, about someone who does not agree with you, who does not think that Muslims are hateful, as you just said, and that is our president. Let's listen to what President Bush has said about the religion of Islam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...commitment to family, to protect and love our children. We share a belief in God's justice, in man's moral responsibility.
And we share the same hope for a future of peace. We have much in common and much to learn from one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: I agree with President Bush. I think Dr. Graham is wrong. Who do you agree with, Sir?
FALWELL: Well, I don't think they're in contrast there.
(CROSSTALK) I believe that most Muslims are not in favor of their children killing themselves while they kill others. Most Muslims are not for what Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat stand for. But I do believe that Franklin is also right that almost all the terrorism going on in the world today is -- from the killing of Anwar Sadat up to the current day in modern times -- has been and is being promoted by radical Islamic fundamentalists.
NOVAK: That'll have to be the last word.
Jerry Falwell, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Still ahead, your turn to "Fireback" at us.
Paul Begala's propensity for name-calling -- shock, shock -- has gotten him in trouble again. But first, do New Yorker's need a law telling them when not to use their cell phones? Don't hold the phone on this one.
NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in Foggy Bottom, D.C.
What's happening to New York City? First Mayor Michael Bloomberg declare war on cigarettes in restaurants and even saloons. Now a city councilman has come up with a bill to ban the use of mobile telephones in places of public performance, including theaters, concert halls, libraries, galleries and movie houses.
Councilman Phil Reed of New York joins us from our New York bureau. And here with us in Washington is Fred Smith, founder and president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute -- Paul.
BEGALA: Gentlemen, thank you both for joining us. Councilman Reed, since this was your idea, let me start with you. Seems to me, the purpose of the law is protect public safety, so we outlaw things like mugging and murder. Even smoking, where other people would breathe your smoke, but this is not about safety, is it? It's about -- legally, it's about politeness.
PHIL REED (D), NEW YORK COUNCILMAN: It's a quality of life issue. It's a quality of life issue. Right, and we are today running about 15-1 in terms of the support behind this bill that we've gotten both in the city and nationally.
People are just fed up with the behavior of some of their fellow citizens that really just doesn't recognize that not all of us want to know everybody's business. So, you know, what we're simply saying to you is, while I paid good money and you, perhaps, paid good money, you may not want to see the show, I do.
So we'd ask you to turn the phone off. This bill allows the theater owners to have something to be able to point to when there's a disruption, and say, there is a law, Sir, or Ma'am. You can't use your phone. Please turn it off. It's really very simple. I don't think anybody's liberty is threatened.
NOVAK: Fred Smith, I was in -- a couple weeks ago -- in a jury room in the District of Columbia, doing my civic duty. All of a sudden, it sounded like it was -- we were out on the street. All these people on their cell phones. Doesn't that kind of stuff annoy you?
FRED SMITH, PRES., COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: It annoys me a lot. But every new technology, Bob, has to take a while to get civilized. The telephones, when it was first introduced, were a little clumsy. Television sets, you used to walk in, if you were watching television.
What's happening is a natural way of letting that happen. To try to turn etiquette guides into statute books is -- doesn't New York city have serious problems? Can't the councilman have something real to do, to address real problems?
NOVAK: Councilman Reed, I don't know if you go to the theater much. I bet you do. I go to the theater a lot here in Washington. And before the performance, at the opera, at the Shakespeare Theater, they all say, will everybody please turn off their cell phones?
And everybody takes out their cell phone, turns its off. I've never heard one go off. Doesn't -- in a theater -- doesn't this work very nicely?
REED: Bob, you find yourself in a real minority, unfortunately, because particularly in movie theaters and other places, unfortunately people are using the cell phones. Sometimes they'll call in the middle to tell people what the action on the screen is. But I think, you know, yes, the management now has a tool. Most people, if you tell them there's a law, they will follow -- oh, OK, I guess I can't do that.
And that's fine. So -- but there are a few knuckleheads out there that probably need to have some encouragement. This morning someone said to me, you know, if I just knew that I could say to them this was against the law. So that's really all we're trying to do, and I think the voting public is going to be very supportive of this, because everybody is nervous, afraid these days. People spend good money. They just want to sit back and relax, and you've got some lout in front of you that just feels like he wants to perform.
BEGALA: In fact, Fred Smith, if you go to a Broadway Show, it's at least, say, $100. That's a lot of money.
SMITH: A lot of money.
BEGALA: So I plunk down $100. I'm watching that show, and some jerk's cell phone goes off next to me. That's stealing from me, right? That's robbing me of part of the pleasure. It may even, in fact, distract the performer.
Laurence Fishburne was on Broadway. Somebody's cell phone went off. He actually said -- put this on the board for the folks at home -- "Will you turn off that f-ing phone, please? Turn it off!" Laurence Fishburne, who -- now, that's got to rattle the actors, it's distracting the audience. It's a form of robbery, right?
SMITH: No, it's not a form of robbery. It's a form of failure of etiquette of civilized behavior. And I would imagine -- there you go. You see. You do it yourself there.
BEGALA: It's not going to bother you.
SMITH: It's not bothering me at all.
BEGALA: It's my grandmother. She watches every night. Yes, Novak is handsome, Grandma. I've got to go.
SMITH: One of the interesting things about this -- and this is worth talking -- and the councilman maybe can know this. You know, most of the time we rely on people's behavior. The concert manager has every incentive to ensure quality of life. They're going to lose sales if they allow that behavior for a while.
But you know, the FCC, regulators, the Federal Communication Commission, has prevented us from allowing technology that would block such cell calls in restaurants and theaters and so on. The irony is we pass laws that block people from using civilizing technology, and then we pass a fine to arrest them if they don't use it.
You know, this is the kind of silliness that's caught America. We've got a Constitution that guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not quality of life.
NOVAK: You know, what Fred said, to follow that up, Councilman, I worry about what's happening in New York, which is a great city.
You can't have a cigarette in a bar, if the mayor has his way. You can't go to any restaurant that has smoking. You know, I do a lot of obnoxious things, and they're going to make some rules about me next. That's what scares me, you know. Maybe they'll put a rule against three-piece suits or something like that.
REED: First of all, I want to assure everybody that we are looking at some serious issues here in the city of New York and addressing those. We had a council meeting today in the middle of August to talk about some very substantive policy issues for urban America. But when we are also talking about the quality of life and the serious part of it, first of all, it's summer. So I think, you know, we all could sort of step back and humor ourselves a little bit. There is a serious edge to this piece of legislation about cell phones. But, you know, we are interacting with people as citizens. And I think there ought to be a dialogue about how we think we ought to best behave and put ourselves forward. So, that's part of really what this bill is today. I'm not sure what Mike Bloomberg is trying to accomplish. My feeling is -- while it's legal to smoke and it's legal to drink, you ought to be able to do both of those at the same time. I'm not sure you ought to be able to eat...
BEGALA: Mr. Smith gets the last word. Go ahead.
SMITH: That's when, you know, there is -- how are we going to generalize this. Are we going to go after crying babies in theaters, the coughers or, you know, that one real serious issue, the loud talker, that "Seinfeld" episode, New Yorker I should point out.
REED: Well, you take a loud, crying baby to the theater and see what happens.
BEGALA: That's going to have to be the last word.
SMITH: They don't fine you for having children in America.
BEGALA: Councilman Phil Reed in New York, thank you very much for joining us.
Fred Smith here in Washington, thank you very much, the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Next in our "Fireback" segment, one of our viewers has a suggestion for what should happen to our Bob Novak's cell phone. Stay with us.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It is our "Fireback" segment, where you the viewer get to fire back at us. First, let's go to the e-mail bag. Our first e-mail is from Chuck Gardner, Charlotte, North Carolina, who writes: "Paul O'Neill opened the economic summit by saying the whole idea behind the forum was to hear from the everyday worker on the street. If that was his goal, why didn't they hold the summit from the Waco unemployment office?"
Very good point, chuck.
NOVAK: That's typical.
OK, the next e-mail is from Chuck: "Paul, I agree with you 99 of the time. But I think sometimes you should remember -- although the GOP forgot this with Clinton -- that the office of the president is due a degree of respect. I know the urge to fight fire with fire is there. But petty name calling has always been the purview of people on the right. Rise above it." Paul, do you just regard that as a soft and flabby liberal?
BEGALA: No, I consider it nicknames. Bush loves nicknames. He is actually a very decent guy. I got to know him a little bit when he was first my governor in Texas.
NOVAK: He really loves you, baby.
BEGALA: Oh, he does. He has got nicknames for me, but we can't say them on the air.
Alex Shiman from Snellville, Georgia writes: "Bush spends all his time exercising and campaigning not running the country. So, who really is the president? You know, the person who is supposed to be responsible for our country?"
Alex has never met Dick Cheney.
NOVAK: George W. Bush is the president, I can say that unequivocally.
OK, our last e-mail from Sharon Carter of Tucson, Arizona: "If Bob Novak were a cell phone, I would be 100 percent in favor of turning him off." That's the liberal mind.
Shut off the opposition.
OK, question from the audience.
BEGALA: Yes, sir, what's your name and hometown.
NOVAK: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Allen Fuller (ph) from San Jacinto, California. My comment was that I think that cell phones, legislating cell phones is overreacting. I think that if you let the technology catch up, and pretty soon it won't be an issue, because it'll be conspicuous. And it's a needless law.
NOVAK: I agree with you. I used to worry about the transmissions through my false teeth, but they don't bother me anymore.
BEGALA: Well, one of the things that Fred Smith mentioned is this blocking technology. And maybe if restaurants or theaters want to block it, they will be able to buy technology that will shut down your phone. I don't like that for safety reasons. I'd like somebody to be able to reach me on the cell phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Michael O'Leary (ph). I'm from Washington, D.C. If a fifth face were to be added to Mount Rushmore, which president would Begala choose, which president would Novak choose, and why?
NOVAK: A sixth face? There's only four up there now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fifth face.
BEGALA: A fifth. He said fifth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said fifth.
NOVAK: Well, there's no question, he should be there now instead of Teddy Roosevelt. I would put Calvin Coolidge up there. No, I wouldn't. I would put Ronald -- Ronald Reagan and Calvin Coolidge are equal. I'd put them both up there.
BEGALA: For me, it would be a tough call between Bill Clinton, the greatest president of my lifetime, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who really was the greatest America...
NOVAK: He's there. He's there now.
BEGALA: Franklin Roosevelt is on there.
BEGALA: No, it's Teddy, and Franklin. He is on there. So, Clinton is on. Bill Clinton is on.
NOVAK: All right. Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Elizabeth Haney (ph) from Newport Beach, California. And mine is more of a comment, and that is that the reality of Social Security is that for workers my age who have been paying into Social Security and will continue to pay into Social Security, we are not going to qualify if we have been at all fiscally responsible with our money. They are going to put limits on it and say you have to make X amount of money, or if you have $10,000 invested, you no longer qualify for Social Security. And I think partial privatization is the only fair solution for younger workers.
NOVAK: You're exactly right. There is going to be means test on Social Security as sure as the day is long.
BEGALA: Social Security will be cut only if the Republicans get power. You want your Social Security, vote Democrat.
From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE. Coming up, "CONNIE CHUNG" immediately begins after a CNN "News Alert."
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