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CNN IN THE MONEY
Interview With Jason Alexander; Are Electoral Colleges Outdated? Interview With Sandra Abrevaya
Aired March 6, 2004 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, HOST: Thanks. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, a 21st Century election with 18th Century rules. Some think the way we pick a president could be long overdue for an overhaul.
And for once a "Seinfeld" star is not out to make us laugh. Jason Alexander will be here to talk about a new approach to peace in the Middle East.
And going for broke, it takes young staffers to make a campaign run. See what they did for Dean and what they got in return.
All that and more right after a quick check of the headlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From New York City, America's financial capitol, this is IN THE MONEY.
CAFFERTY: Welcome to the program. I'm Jack Cafferty.
Coming up on the today's edition of IN THE MONEY, the flamingo fandango, you should pardon the expression. The Florida vote recount taught us all how are presidents really sometimes get elected. We'll find out if America was snoozing when class was in session.
Plus, little cogs in a big machine. We'll get a close up look at the young staffers who keep a presidential campaign rolling. It's a job that's equal parts exhaustion and devotion. They love it.
And a funny man with a serious message, we've all seen Jason Alexander on "Seinfeld." Now he's part of a project that wants to put Middle East peace in the hands of ordinary people. Hey, it couldn't hurt; the politicians haven't done a very good job.
Joining me today, a couple of our IN THE MONEY regulars: CNN correspondent Susan Lisovicz, "Fortune" magazine editor-at-large Andy Serwer.
So Friday morning the jobs report comes out. It was awful, 100,000 jobs, roughly fewer than were expected. And yet at least, Friday morning, the stock market was rallying on the news, presumably, because they don't think the feds can raise interest rates until there are a few more jobs in the pipeline.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes. Well, that's right. Maybe we've got a balancing act in that sense. But the real big picture, Jack, is the jobless recovery thing. It's still there, still in place and maybe we'll be remembering this era as the "jobless recovery era." Not good news for the president.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's so important, the jobs report, because -- not only because consumers obviously spent, and so for the economy to improve, you want more Americans to be working. But also, it gives you an idea of just how well corporations are doing. Had a couple quarters, had terrific profits report. Right? But the comparisons were so weak and a lot of the gains were fueled on job cuts.
LISOVICZ: And productivity. So, when companies are really doing well, they hire. And we're not seeing it.
CAFFERTY: And unless there are some big, big job numbers between now and the November election, I would guess that this kind of situation will continue to put pressure on the incumbency of President Bush.
SERWER: You remember that 2.6 million number, Jack? I mean we'd have to do almost 250,000 jobs a month to get there. So...
CAFFERTY: Now, it's time for John Kerry and the man, who some say united the Democrats behind John Kerry; that would be President Bush. Whoever wins, you can be sure of a few things in the months ahead. It will be bloody and nasty, and very, very expensive.
Senior political analyst Bill Schneider joins us now with a look at Kerry's next move, now that he's a nominee designate, I guess is the way to put it.
Bill, he's got the nomination. But what he doesn't have is a bankroll the size of President Bush's, not by a long shot. How big is a handicap is that going to be for him?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, not as big as you might think because there are, for the moment, a lot of independent groups. And they have to be independent by law spending money to try to get rid of President Bush. Americans Coming Together was formed by a former Clinton adviser. Harold Ickey's moveon.org is a major, Internet organization. They are running ads, they're spending money. And at the moment, it's legal to do so, as long as their campaigns are uncoordinated with the Kerry campaign and the Democratic Party.
CAFFERTY: The Super Tuesday votes hadn't even hardly been counted, John Kerry was down there in Florida working, working hard. And Florida is one of the states that probably will once again decide this thing. Yes?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, Florida is definitely a battleground. But if you really want to look at battlegrounds states, look at the industrial Midwest. Those are states that either Gore or Bush carried by very narrow margins, and the jobless situation, that you just talked about, is very severe and it's a very big issue.
Take Ohio, Republicans have never won the White House without carrying Ohio. Ohio was very damaged by joblessness. The steel tariffs that the president put on and then removed were very controversial in Ohio. There's a lot of resentment of the White House over those steel tariffs; and that's a state Democrats believe they can take. Ohio, Missouri, two states that Democrats have targeted along with Florida.
CAFFERTY: Unless, of course, the economy begins to suddenly produce hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. In which case, he has -- President Bush will have a better chance there.
How important do you think it really is, as a matter of practical consideration, who the No. 2 on the Kerry ticket is? I guess you can make the argument both ways. But it seems to me, that if you look back through history, the vice presidential candidate has not been that big a deal in deciding who wins the presidency. They've played a role after they guy has been in office, but...
SCHNEIDER: Jack, you are exactly right. Americans don't vote for vice presidents. I can now prove it. Dan Quayle.
CAFFERTY: There you go.
SCHNEIDER: He won. He won.
CAFFERTY: That's right.
SCHNEIDER: But Americans never thought he was qualified to be president of the United States. It doesn't make any difference, really. It's an obsession of the news media and could be for the next six months. Who is he going to pick? Who is he going to pick?
And there's a reason for that, because the vice president usually has the leg up on his or her party's nomination the next time. They almost always run. They usually get the nomination and then they often have trouble winning the election. But vice presidents instantly become national figures. But the fact is, they don't make a great deal of difference for getting a president-elected. People vote for presidential candidates, not for vice presidents.
CAFFERTY: There you go, CNN's senior political correspondent Bill Schneider.
Thanks Bill. Appreciate it.
CAFFERTY: Speaking of the presidential race, the e-mail question of the week asked whether you thought the Electoral College should be abolished in favor of the popular vote? We had more responses to this question than we have ever had before. And the overwhelming majority of you are in favor of abolishing the Electoral College. Ryan had one typically email. He wrote, "The Electoral College was a great tool at the time of its inception, when interstate communication was often inaccurate. But now there's no reason why the president should not be elected by the popular vote. Perhaps if we do this, we will ensure that no future presidents are appointed by judges."
People tend to fall asleep if you use that phrase Electoral College very much. So we will try to keep it to a minimum, but we've got to use it a little bit.
The chad-a-thon that they had in Florida the last time around, showed us just how the whole system works. Or perhaps, in your opinion, doesn't work. We will see if Florida taught us any lessons as we head up to this year's election.
Stephen Wayne is a professor of Government at Georgetown University in Washington.
And Stephen, it's nice to have you on the show. The first thing I'd like you is for us old guys like me, who've forgotten the high school civics thing, give me a 30-second primer on how the Electoral College is different from what I do in the voting booth.
STEPHEN WAYNE, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIV.: Well, the Electoral College works in the way that whoever wins the state gets all the electoral votes of that state. And the number of electoral votes equals the number of members of the House and the two Senators. So it's a winner-take-all system in 48 of the 50 states. Two states: Nebraska, and Maine, choose electors in congressional districts, as well as two overall. So, basically it's a winner take all system.
LISOVICZ: Stephen, wasn't this put into place by our founding fathers so that smaller states would be -- have a more level playing field with big urban areas?
WAYNE: It was put in, in part, as part of the Connecticut Compromise, and it was thought that the large states would basically control who was nominated, and the small states would then exercise an equal judgment in the election. The assumption was after George Washington, there would be no consensus candidate, and so the largest states would control the top five people who would be chosen. And then among them the House would decide voting by states, not by individual representatives.
SERWER: So, Stephen, if this is such a bad system, and I want you to explain why it is, why isn't there more of an outcry?
WAYNE: Well, I think it's a system, which was designed to produce the most qualified candidate in a country without political parties, and in a country in which the framers did not have much faith in the judgment of the masses of people. Today, we have political parties today we have. Today we have, I hope, a more educated and well-informed public, at least they're able to get the information, if they desire. And we have had democratic tendencies so that suffrage has been broaden to include the population, the citizens, 18 years of age and older. The Electoral College doesn't conform to the changes.
CAFFERTY: For want of a Band-Aid solution, Professor, we can hope this is maybe not that close of an election, so we don't have to go through this debate again for another four years.
I appreciate your input. Thanks for being on the program.
WAYNE: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Stephen Wayne, professor of Government at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Coming up on IN THE MONEY, Washington spending billions on Iraq, the budget deficit ballooning out of sight. We will find out why the crunch might come sooner than you think.
Plus, taking the price of Middle East peace into the streets. A new project aims to hand the process over to ordinary folk. We'll get details from "Seinfeld" star, Jason Alexander.
And faceless, nameless and priceless. You never see them, but young staffers keep a presidential campaign humming. We will hear about the kids behind the Dean machine.
LISOVICZ: Say the words "budget deficit" and most people reach for the remote. But don't be quite so hasty. The nation's massive debt load and soaring federal spending are fast becoming front burner issues in this election year.
Joining us with some straight talk on whether you should be worried about the deficit is "Fortune" magazine's senior writer Shawn Tully.
Welcome, it's great to see you Shawn.
SHAWN TULLY, SENIOR WRITER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Thanks, you too, Susan.
LISOVICZ: And you know, Alan Greenspan, not known for being a plainspoken kind of guy said, quote, "Deficits could cause difficulties even in the relative near-term."
TULLY: Right. Yes, he is talking about the looming budget deficit $521 billion for this year, which actually ends at the end of September. This is a huge number. It's completely reversed the surpluses we had for the last four years in the late '90s through 2000. And unfortunately, it just means our debt load -- national debt load is roaring up into mountainous levels, and there's just no end to this in sight.
LISOVICZ: And it's a huge warning coming from Alan Greenspan.
TULLY: Absolutely. And he also -- he's warned both in the short-term and the long-term. The problem is we are running up all this debt and we had this demographic explosion looming out there in about 2008 and 2010, as the baby boomers retire. Between these two, we are just on this track to generate enormous budget deficits seemingly forever. Unless somehow, we can control spending.
SERWER: Yes. But I have got a beef with him, because he's saying on the one hand, one thing we shouldn't do is, you know, raise taxes. OK? On the other hand he is saying the budget deficit is too dire that we need to cut Social Security. I just think that's a contradiction, don't you Shawn?
TULLY: Well, I think it will be difficult to cut spending enough. When you look at the projections of how much spending you literally have to cut to eliminate the budget deficit, practic -- virtually every discretionary program disappears. And defense spending would have to drop in nominal dollars, enormous...
SERWER: That ain't going to happen.
TULLY: It's probably not going to happen. Even the Bush administration, this is an amazing part of the budget projection, is predicting over the next five years, spending, excluding homeland security and defense. In other words, all the spending on the court system, education, farm subsidies, everything else, literally goes down by several billion dollars...
SERWER: That's hard to imagine.
TULLY: ... by 20 billion. I mean you can't even imagine how that could happen. Look at the transportation bill that's been proposed. The chances of that happening are minimal. And even under the Bush proposals we still have significant deficits in five years. And he's probably off by about 50 percent.
CAFFERTY: But aren't -- isn't this just a cyclical fact of life in this economy? We have a $10 trillion economy. People suggest that the deficits currently, as a percentage of GDP, are not alarming in size. We go back to Reaganomics, when the country ran huge deficits, eventually the country recovered. We grew out of the deficit. We had surpluses until September 11, and you know, the war in Iraq and some other things. Granted President Bush is being criticized for spending more money than any recent Republican in memory, but isn't this a pendulum that over time swings back and forth? The economy ebbs and flows and government revenues do the same.
TULLY: Right. Well, let's go back and look at the '80s into the '90s, when we had this -- when the deficit was enormous. And people said the same thing you're saying now and it went away. So that's a very good question. Well, what happened in the early '90s was that the deficit spooked everybody. Remember, Ross Perot came along and he started -- he based his whole campaign on these deficits, this crazy guy from Texas. And He got h19 percent of the vote or 18 percent of the vote. People became alarmed, and they put in the Budget Enforcement Act that essentially capped discretionary spending. Everything you spent you had to offset somewhere else. So Congress really got religion did not propose any new spending programs to speak of during that period. At the same time... CAFFERTY: And we survived.
TULLY: And we survived. And Clinton was able to cut defense spending enormously, in nominal dollars.
LISOVICZ: A peace dividend.
TULLY: Yes, it was a huge peace dividend because of the end of the Cold War. Between those two things, plus entitlements were going less fast than GDP at that time, because the baby boomer effect had not really started to kicked in. Now over the next five years, Medicare is ramping up so fast, especially with this drug benefit, which has raised the increases in Medicare from 6 percent to 10 percent, just this one program over the next five years, that you have factors -- built in factors. Plus we needed to spend more on defense. We can't continue to cut defense spending in nominal dollars that a ratcheting those numbers up.
And it's like you said, you if can grow out of it, it's cyclical. It's very difficult now to see how you can grow out of it. So it becomes structural and that's the problem that we have.
CAFFERTY: And it's the baby boomers that provide the brick wall to growing out of this thing, right? I mean it's just too many of them coming into the pipeline for Social Security, Medicare and the other...
TULLY: Right. But even before they come into the pipeline, the problem is that the Bush administration's projections don't assume that he's going to reform the AMT, for example the Alternative Minimum Tax. So he's assuming this huge windfall from the Alternative Minimum Tax that's going to -- never going to materialize, because he's going to have to reform it. Otherwise it's going to take back most of the tax cuts. So even his revenue projections are way off. It's scary.
SERWER: All right. Shawn Tully, half a trillion dollar budget deficit this year estimated. Thanks very much for coming on and explaining it. My colleague Shawn Tully from "Fortune" magazine.
TULLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Andy.
SERWER: There's more to come on IN THE MONEY. Up next, fast food on diet, as McDonald's takes the super out of super-size. We will check the stock.
And later, from Gotham to Gaza, "Seinfeld" star, Jason Alexander talks up a new idea for Middle East peace.
Plus, the young and the sleepless. Presidential campaign staffers get paid in pride and not much else. Find out what life is like on the road with Howard Dean.
LISOVICZ: The verdict is in at the Martha Stewart trial. For the latest we are joined by Mary Snow.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Susan. Martha Stewart emerged from the courthouse appearing stoic, after a jury convicted her of all four counts brought against her: conspiracy, two counts of making false statements, and obstruction of justice. The jury also convicted her co-defendant, former stockbroker Peter Bacanovic, on four of the five counts brought against him. They include: conspiracy, making false statements, making and using false documents. He was found not guilty -- he was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice.
One of the jurors in the case came out telling reporters that he did not believe that it made any difference whether Martha Stewart testified or not. U.S. attorney for the Southern District, David Kelly, saying that the conviction sent out a message, whether you're John Q. Public, or Martha Stewart, or Peter Bacanovic, "we are going to go after you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) if you tell these kinds lies.
Both attorneys for the defendants saying that they will appeal these convictions. Sentencing is set for June 17.
Back to you guys.
SERWER: Thanks Susan.
McDonald's bid to reinvent itself continued this week. The fast food chain announced it was phasing out super-sized portions on fries and drinks. But folks who bet on McDonald's when it was at the lows last April have been super sizing their portfolios. That's for sure. That's because the stock is up almost 150 percent last year. That makes McDonald's our stock of the week.
And you know what? It's a two for one job here phasing out those super-sized portions, because they get a little publicity and make the menu simpler. I mean that's what they say they're doing. And it is true; I mean you have small, medium, large, super-size, extra large. And that costs money and hassles to the employees. And that's a good thing, I guess.
LISOVICZ: McDonald's is very smart, because as goes McDonald's, I think, so goes the fast food industry. It wants to...
SERWER: So goes the proof.
LISOVICZ: It wants to avoid big regulation, right? I mean it's under attack. Even if that court case on obesity, brought by teenagers in New York was dismissed...
CAFFERTY: It was thrown out twice.
LISOVICZ: Thrown out twice. The fact is it could feel the drum beat coming from Washington.
CAFFERTY: Well, now, wait a second. If I go into a supermarket and I buy a pie, I don't have to go home and eat the whole pie.
SERWER: It's your fault.
CAFFERTY: I can go home and have a slice of pie. Does that mean the grocery store should not be allowed to sell me the whole pie? This is nonsense. If I want super-fries, three orders of fries, five orders of fries, why shouldn't I be able to get it. I mean that's nonsense.
LISOVICZ: This is America. This is America.
CAFFERTY: And I'm fat because I eat cheeseburgers. Don't eat the cheeseburgers.
LISOVICZ: But it was under a lot of pressure. Really. That is helping to create this obese nation that is the United States of America.
CAFFERTY: People are fat because they eat too much. And I don't, you know, I exclude the people that have a legitimate medical problem. We eat too much food in this country.
SERWER: Well, you know why the business is doing so well? First of all, I should remind you all that the stock has been so up in part because the numbers are doing so well. I mean they're doing same- store sales, that's stores open a year, double digits, 20 percent growth now, month after month. And it's because -- not because of the hamburgers, it's because of chicken and salads. Paul Newman's dressing.
LISOVICZ: And that brings up...
SERWER: It's the big Paul Newman's dressing.
LISOVICZ: And that brings up another thing. What a year for McDonald's, coming after its first quarterly loss ever, and then it changed the menu, upgraded the menu, cleaned up its restaurants, improved its service, and...
CAFFERTY: And put out a press release every two weeks about new products. I mean they really did. They were in communication with the media, bang, bang, bang.
SERWER: You know, one other point about it too, is that, you know, when you see one of these brands that gets down like that, it's sometimes a really good time to buy the stock. And we're saying last year it was...
CAFFERTY: A year ago.
LISOVICZ: You're late.
CAFFERTY: Do you take profits now or do you sell it now?
SERWER: Well, now I think -- I mean it was still $50 in the late 1990s. So it still could go back up a bit more. Disney is the same kind of thing. You have to be careful because Kodak, you know, maybe it just keeps going down. You have to watch it but that's a classic example of a rebound.
CAFFERTY: You've got to read the prospectus.
SERWER: Yes, sir.
CAFFERTY: And if you want -- if you like their fries, and I happen to love their fries, just get two bags of the large ones.
SERWER: Yes, just double up.
CAFFERTY: Yes. Time for us to get a break, pay some of the bills of our own. When we come back, Jason Alexander, no joke, funny guy but he's here on the serious, to talk about a move to try to get ordinary people involved in working for peace in the Middle East. Not a bad idea. The politicians haven't done a very good job.
And later on, a candy bar with an adrenaline chaser. Dinner is no gourmet event when you are a staffer on a presidential campaign. Find out what life is really like inside the Dean machine.
Back in a minute.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bob Franken and here are the headlines. This is just in, CNN has confirmed that a ship has just left Libya carrying all known remaining equipment associated with that countries nuclear program. No word on where the ship is heading. Stay tuned, we'll bring you more details shortly.
President Bush and Mexican president, Vicente Fox talked about immigration, border security and trade during a meeting today at Mr. Bush's ranch in Texas. President Fox has just announced that the U.S. agreed not to photograph or fingerprint Mexicans who visit the U.S. for less than three days.
Martha Stewart is to report to a probation office on Monday. She will receive guidelines spelling out restrictions on her activities and when and where she should report for sentencing scheduled for June 17th.
Veteran performer David Crosby is singing the blues. He was arrested on weapon and drug charges in New York. A handgun and a small quantity of marijuana were allegedly found in a bag he left behind at his hotel. Police arrested him when he returned to the hotel to retrieve the bag this morning.
That's a check of the headlines. Now back to "IN THE MONEY."
CAFFERTY: Politicians, you know, they have been working for decades to bring peace to the Middle East. Maybe that's the problem. So, a project launched last year is turning to ordinary people instead of the political people, it's called One Voice Project and designed to give average Israelis and Palestinians a way to be heard. Actor Jason Alexander is among the well-known people involved in the Onevoice Project. It's organized by the Peaceworks Foundation. Jason of course played George Costanza was on Seinfeld. He is here in an entirely different role, and we are delighted to have you with us.
JASON ALEXANDER, ACTOR: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: Tell me about the idea of how this is going to get it done where all of the other ways that have been tried so far have failed.
ALEXANDER: Basically what's always been done in the middle east and in conflict resolution everywhere is either the political leaders formulate a plan, negotiate a plan and bring it to the population and try to sell it to them. Or someone from outside the region themselves have sort of forced and implemented a plan on the population. What One Voice is doing is offering a public negotiation platform.
It's basically saying to people, sign on, tell us that you agree to a nonviolent resolution of this conflict. And once they do, it offers them the key sort of 10 elements to this particular conflict, and they're the real hard issues. There's Jerusalem, borders, there's Palestinian refugees, it's all on there. And it makes a proposition and it says do you agree, do you disagree. If you disagree, it gives you a numerical point value for how much you disagree. All that information is taken, run through a computer and it gives you a good photograph of what the people -- where the consensus are and where the differences are. The differences are then give to a panel of experts they are reshaped. The questions are reshaped. Other compromises are offered.
And the population keeps voting on this process an refining it until at end you pretty much have a referendum for a peace agreement that can be taken to the leadership with the full blessing of the population and says implement this. As far as we know it's never been done before it's a very exciting process.
CAFFERTY: I don't mean for a minute to put down what you are doing, but it sounds a little bit like those surveys where you ask people if they watch PBS. Everybody watches PBS on the surveys, but nobody watches PBS. There is a deep and abiding hatred between the Israelis and Palestinians that goes back a long way.
Is it reasonable to expect by doing these questionnaires that somehow you will be able to get at that in a meaningful way?
ALEXANDER: Sure. Well, Jack, you know, having just been there, I'll refine what you said a bit. There's a very long and historic conflict. It is not always as strong as the word hatred. They actually, the people that I met and talked to, and it was a good cross section of both populations, there is certainly a distrust right now. But there is also a great sense of connection between these two nations. So, hatred it can be overcome. You are right if you are polling for an abstract issue that does not impact on peoples lives, you can manipulate those polls. This is not a poll. This is asking people to participate in a negotiation. It is not meant to take your opinion. It is meant to take your position so that it can be refined. It's more like going to a voting poll than taking an abstract news survey poll. And I think the people are perceiving it as that difference and feel their own involvement. And I think that's what they're rallying to.
LISOVICZ: Jason, I don't doubt your conviction or passion, but sometimes people see a celebrity like yourself, involved in a widely popular sitcom and they sort of roll their eyes, and say, another celebrity. You know, goes to this war zone for a week and then forgets about it.
What can you really do, do you think?
What can you bring to the table?
ALEXANDER: Well, I do the same eye roll, Susan, so -- that was my first question when I talked to the co-founders of Onevoice. I said, you know, what can an American celebrity with no real political involvement do for you?
In this case, one voice is not looking for advice or real involvement from anyone outside of the Israeli and Palestinian population. What they came to Hollywood to get was really some celebrity attention. I went to Israel because they were launching the technological part of this referendum. And the media there was not doing a terribly good job of covering it.
So I go, you know what is the one upside of celebrity?
You can get cameras turned on you. So, if you stand next to the right thing I can sometimes divert the attention off of me on to it. That's what we did. It did cause initial excitement, that was great. God knows the people there, you know, I -- "Seinfeld" is huge over in the Middle East right now, I don't know why. But I was greeted as hail fellow well met. It was very exciting for them and it was very exciting for me. We quickly got over the celebrity, you know, bang of it all, and got on to what we were there to talk about. So it created excitement. Obviously that will not sustain the process. The process itself is going to need to be exciting and involving for them. And they're going to need to see success quickly.
SERWER: Jason, Andy Serwer here. I read that you said it was the beautiful people, you, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. I appreciated that comment it was a good.
Listen, unfortunately isn't the playing field controlled by the extremist elements in this situation?
The religious right on the Israeli side and the extremist in the Palestinians, the corrupt government elements there?
How do you fight that with this program? ALEXANDER: You are right. The extremists on both sides have controlled this process. The damage they have done is -- and I was just bombarded with this on my trip, is that the moderate voices are by far and away the vast majority on both sides. And they already acknowledge there is a two-state solution here, and they pretty much know the path to get there. What they don't believe anymore, they don't believe they really have a partner to negotiate with on the other side. That's part of what this referendum is trying to overcome. The hope is and the belief is that right now the extremists are winning because the people have never been so directly involved. They don't trust politicians what a surprise and a shock, and now they don't trust negotiating partners. So, the extremists have had an open playing field and have pretty much blurred what's going on.
As the majority population start to at least see the reports, the consensus reports, difference reports of what the negotiations is going on between them, the hope is that will empower them in their numbers to stand up against the extreme forces, and say, you know what, you're not going to rule this agenda anymore. That's really all it takes. If the majority force was willing to stand up and say we will not accept, tolerate or abide by this behavior, they would have a hard time continuing controlling this agenda.
CAFFERTY: But how do you overcome the violent elements, for example, in the PLO, that perpetrate the violence they do and have for years, and years, and years?
They're not going to listen to the moderate voice for anybody. It's in their interest to keep this stirred up and just the way it is.
ALEXANDER: Absolutely. But, Jack, those -- it's -- we say an extremist. An extremist is just a person who lives among the moderates. The moderates say I see it, I don't see it, I have no better solution. These are all people living amongst people who want to make peace. Right now it is tolerated. When the moderates feel that the peace process is actually vital, they're not let the people function normally among them. That is not happening right now on both sides, and everyone acknowledges that. The hope is empower the people of character, and they will look at their neighbors who are on the extreme side and say we will not tolerate it. Much like, you know, if you knew you had a hardened criminal living in your neighborhood, you would point it out and make life very difficult for them.
SERWER: All right, We will have to leave it at that, Jason. Thanks for that take on the situation. Jason Alexander, actor of course, and from Onevoice/Peaceworks Foundation.
Don't go wandering off to see what's in the fridge or get a sandwich. we have more just ahead.
Coming up, the other faces of the Dean campaign. You saw the doc but not the staffers behind him. We'll straighten that out.
And the booming business in putting porn on mobile phones.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SERWER: The hours are bad and the pay is worse but you do get one big perk if you work on a presidential campaign, you get a shot at changing the world. A new Discovery Channel series called "staffers" shows us what it was like to be a grunt on the Dean campaign team. And as Dean's former press secretary Sandra Abrevaya, wasn't just along for the ride. She had one of the better seats on the bus. She is here to tell us what it was like.
Sandra, tell us a bit of why you first signed up for the dean campaign?
SANDRA ABREVAYA, FMR. DEP. PRESS SECRETARY, DEAN CAMPAIGN: Well, I think a lot of young people these days are looking to make social change happen. And a lot of us are starting to jump back on to the band wagon of believing political change can be used for a vehicle for that. And I decided that he was a candidate whose message I wanted to work hard for, to fight for, and so I joined this campaign in the fall.
LISOVICZ: Sandra, what was it like to ride the wave, and this was like a tsunami with Howard Dean. You rode that publicity wave going up. Everybody loved him, then it came crashing down.
Can you describe what that was like, because Howard Dean was a candidate who benefited and also imploded from the media.
ABREVAYA: Yes. It was difficult at times. When I first joined the campaign he was definitely at the peak of his media love phase. And definitely in the weeks following, with the other candidates having the opportunity to run ads and attack him, and the media started to criticize him as well. And it really effected obviously what voters felt, and we started to see his numbers go down as a consequence of that. And it's never easy to watch that happen, his message is still the same, he still believes in the same things. He still has the same fantastic track record in Vermont. Yet, there's such a fluctuation because of the perception being changed.
CAFFERTY: Sandra, let me defend the media's side for a second.
ABREVAYA: Of course.
CAFFERTY: That's how I made my living. It wasn't the news media that stood up on a riser and acted like a walk away from an asylum. He did that all himself. The fact that the news media was there to record it is what we are supposed to be doing during a campaign.
ABREVAYA: Yes. Well, I don't know if I would characterize it as a walk away from an asylum.
CAFFERTY: Well, maybe more colorful language than I would have chosen, but you'll have to forgive me.
ABREVAYA: I think at that moment in the Iowa caucus in the evening after the precinct calls came in, he wasn't perhaps acting in what people characterize as the most presidential manner. I think however something that is important to note that wasn't really noted by the media to the public at the time was that he was responding specificly to the energy in the room, to over 2,000 volunteers who had come in from all over the country to support him to work for his campaign. And he was really trying to reenergize that room full of people to remind them what they had done, it wasn't futile and it wasn't pointless. That they were there for a reason and they would continue and do well.
So, I think that granted, you know, nobody changed what he did he was definitely energetic that evening, but at the same time, I think that things were misplayed slightly. And that's always, you know, the ride people go on in the wave of media appearances.
CAFFERTY: That's fair enough.
SERWER: We appreciate your sense of humor about that and your grace in handling that. I want to ask you about John Kerry.
How much support can he expect from the Deaniacs?
Will they support him, work for him, are they going to go to Nader?
ABREVAYA: No, I think the dean workers and supporters will support the nominee. And I can only speak for myself, but I do support Kerry. And I definitely am not going to be going for Nader. I think that -- that is a mistake that I really hope we don't make again in 2004.
LISOVICZ: Sandra, quick question for you -- with such a bitter sweet experience, I imagine for you, do you feel that you still have faith in the political process?
ABREVAYA: Most definitely. I think that it's hard because what the media will see is a group of kids who were working in probably the lower echelon for Dean for several months and sort of saw the end of his campaign come. And I think people expect us to be disappointed, and jaded, but that's not the case at all. What I saw was a candidate who people did not know about, who had an extremely strong message, who brought that message to a slew of other candidates who were running who adopted it on their platforms. I believe that Kerry has taken on much of Dean's message. And I support that. So...
CAFFERTY: You know what? You are a win. The reason you are a win is because they talk about people not being involved in this country, and not enough of us go to vote and not enough of us give a damn about the future and who will run the place. Well, people like you do give a damn, and I hope one day you run for office. And if you are and I'm still around, I'll vote for you.
ABREVAYA: Thank you.
SERWER: What an endorsement.
LISOVICZ: Wow. CAFFERTY: I'll vote for you even though you work ford Howard Dean. I'm just kidding. Just kidding. Thanks for being on the show.
ABREVAYA: Thank you very much.
CAFFERTY: Coming up next, Allen Wastler has the latest on the porn industry attempt to go porn. That's what we need -- mobile porn.
And tell us what you are thinking about this. You can e-mail your thoughts to email@example.com.
But first, Susan has "Money and Family."
LISOVICZ: Last week we gave you the basics on 529 saving accounts. This week we will look at tax benefits that make 529 a popular choice. First, earnings in your 529 account will grow completely free of federal income tax. So, like a Roth IRA, your earnings can grow at a faster rate since they are reinvested without being taxed. When you withdraw money on a 529 to spend it on qualified educational expenses, you don't pay federal income taxes on the earnings. That saves you the taxes you would ordinarily pay on a regular stock account.
529 accounts can also reduce your estate taxes. Yearly contributions of up to $11,000 are considered gifts in the tax code and become a deductible on the account owner estate. And in some states, some or all of your 529 account contributions may be state tax deductible. I'm Susan Lisovicz from "Money and Family."
CAFFERTY: Here's something you probably didn't know. The VCR helped porn find its way into millions of American homes in the '80s. Then it became one of the top draws in the Internet in the '90s. And now the porn industry is trying to get a new foothold in your life on your cell phone.
Webmaster Allen Wastler hat latest on this phenomenon of porn on the run or something.
CAFFERTY: Porn that moves around.
ALLAN WASTLER, MONEY.COM: Has a success rate, doesn't it?
Now all the phones are coming with screens on them. It says, hey don't you want to see naked people on your screen.
CAFFERTY: We can look-at people on the LIE watching porn movies while doing their commute in the morning. Now that's a little scary.
WASTLER: There's two things block it. One is technology, the second is morality. Over in Asia and Europe, this is already a trend. It's already going on.
CAFFERTY: They're doing this already.
SERWER: They're doing it.
WASTLER: The business consultants are saying we figured this could be maybe a 1 billion to $6.5 billion industry. This is going to be great. But you have to do a few things. The cell phones we have over here are a bit different from the cell phones they have on the other side of the ocean. We are trying to slowly make the change to third generation cell phones.
SERWER: Sounds like theirs are better.
CAFFERTY: Nice analysis.
WASTLER: You need the new technology essentially. Right now you can do surfing. I've got a web-equipped phone in the name of journalism I did surfing yesterday to find out what you can and cannot get.
LISOVICZ: In the name of journalism.
WASTLER: And it's pretty, you know, not that great. It's kind of clumsy. And the best you can do is text message and somebody sending you dirty stories. Over in Europe and Asia you can get the pictures and the goods. What they're figuring as the technology changes and you know , the porn guys, they figure out how to make it work. They just say we'll do this, and this and this.
CAFFERTY: We do have an option, though in this country until they get the cell phone thing figured out that's the fun site of the week.
WASTLER: That is true. Since we are talking about porn, what could be better than hot Amish porn. That's right, folks. You don't think it's there. You can find anything on the Internet.
SERWER: I don't want to know.
WASTLER: There it is. There it is, Andy.
SERWER: No. No.
WASTLER: Hot Amish porn. Before everybody starts banging out the e-mails and picking up the phones, it's a joke. Any link you click on here will take you to quilts, and cookie recipes. But you can see it all on your Amish laptop compete with chalk board, and some charcoal and an abacus. That abacus, by the way, can take you up to at least eight digits.
SERWER: And a horse and buggy.
LISOVICZ: Go see the movie "Witness" if you want to see the best love scene.
CAFFERTY: Very erotic. I agree. All right. Hot Amish porn until we can get the cell phones working right. What a program this is.
Coming up next, we'll read your e-mails, and if you were offended by our fun site or anything else on this program, you can let us know. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Be back after this.
CAFFERTY: Well, we have a lot of e-mail about our interview with Dr. Laura Schlesinger.
Eric wrote this, "Dr. Laura assumes men can't be more emotional and that's giving in to the our macho culture. As a man, I find it disgusting that men can't take care of their family's emotional needs and just let their women do it for them."
Our segment on the CEO of the outsourcing company also drew a big reaction. Vince from Seattle weighed in with this, "Jack, I loved when you asked the CEO if he ran an Indian or an American company. He said American, but there was no true patriotism in his voice. Companies like his are like pimps selling America piece by piece."
Now our e-mail question this week is as follows, are you worried about the federal budget deficit?
You can e-mail your answers to that to email@example.com, and you can also learn more about this program and get the fun site of the week this week it's hot Amish porn. The address is money.com/inthemoney. And you might want to write soon because once the folks in Atlanta check out hot Amish porn we might not be back next weekend. We could be toast here. In the meantime, thank you for joining us for this edition of IN THE MONEY.
Thanks to the gang here, CNN Financial correspondent, Susan Lisovicz, and my pal, "Fortune" Magazine editor-at-large, Andy Serwer. And an old running mate from our days together at CNNFN, money.com managing editor, Allen Wastler.
Join us tomorrow at 3:00, when we will look at TV ads and the presidential campaign. We are going to talk to an advertising expert about whether the commercials change anybody's mind. Thanks for today and have a good weekend.
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Outdated? Interview With Sandra Abrevaya>