Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place...

Pundit Pap
for January 5, 2003
Korea Crisis? Big deal!
by the Pundit Pap Team

Jan. 5, 2003, 5:00PM -- NEW YORK (APJP) -- The situation with North Korea got even worse this week -- it's beginning to look like they intend for their sole national commodity to be plutonium, and who knows whether they plan it for domestic use or export?

And things in South Korea took an amazing and sudden turn. Back when we had a legitimate president, the US acted as the intermediary between the Koreas. A couple days ago, the new President of South Korea pretty much offered to act as the intermediary between America's Dunce-in-chief and Kim Jong-Il, the paranoid ruler of North Korea, who asserted his nation's "army-based" policy.

Naturally, the Smirk Junta kept bleating, "It's a diplomatic problem, don't worry, be happy! Besides, we're about to roll out Operation Desert Storm II: The Sequel®!"

We'd bring up the old Chinese adage about "interesting times", but we're sure that's what most of our readers are already thinking.

Here's what we caught.


ABC This Weak
Edwards, Newt and Krugman

Has This Weak hired a new booker? Or is today's roster of terrific guests just a serendipitous consequence of "vacation season"? ABC's usually superficial Sunday gabfest was way above average this week, although host George Stephanopoulos was as boring and predictable as always.

George Stephanopoulos welcomed as his first guest Sen. John Edwards, who has just thrown his hat into the ring in a bid for the presidency. Here's the whole interview in shorthand with full spin exposed.

Steph: Let's say you're in the Oval Office. You're facing three security challenge Steph: North Korea, Iraq, al Qaeda. How would you handle them?
Edwards: Smirk's Korea policy is a failure -- he embarrassed the South. Smirk is disengaged. As a result there's a wave of anti-Americanism in South Korea.
Steph: South Korea has floated a proposal to tamp down the crisis.
Edwards: Smirk is sending mid-level bureaucrats to handle a volatile crisis? He should've sent Powell! This would put pressure on North Korea -- and they'd negotiate. They must stop developing nuclear weapons.
Steph: Hans Blix is coming to the UN soon to report on weapons inspections in Iraq. What if he says he has no evidence so far and needs more time?
Edwards: The truth is, we don't know what he's bringing to the UN in terms of data or evidence. I don't believe we can allow Saddam to have nukes. If there's been a substantial breach of UN resolutions, we should consider military action.
Steph: Have you seen any evidence?
Edwards: Has Blix seen any, numbskull? And why are you making me repeat myself?
Steph: There's the feeling Saddam made a false declaration.
Edwards: I made my point, Steph. Let's move on.
Steph: What in your life has prepared you for the Presidency?
Edwards: Seeing things through the eyes of hardworking people, and a passion to lead. I know I can earn the trust of Americans, and I've focused on the areas of intelligence and investigating events leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I helped launch the Homeland Security push, and am familiar with diplomatic issues. All of us who are considering a run have to make a case through their character and ideas. [Here Edwards tipped his hand on what is to come for Junior and Rove -- but the question is, will the Chimp Cadre allow the press to report on Democrat critiques of Smirk's lousy ideas, let alone his wanting character?]
Steph: You've been on the intelligence committee for only a couple years.
Edwards: So? I'm a helluva lot more familiar with global issues than Smirk. [Edwards should've added, "Let's see who can find find, say, Grozny or Burkina Faso on a map first.] At least Simian Boy showed a little leadership after 9/11 -- but Clinton sure did with his handling of Kosovo. [It's a shame it's considered "unfair" for Edwards, or any politician, to remind people of the Kosovo vs. Afghanistan body count of military personnel -- zero vs. too many.] People judge leadership, and it has to come from within.
Steph: You didn't serve in the military.
Edwards: So? Being Commander-in-chief does not require military service. [We'd love to see at least one candidate say that military experience may in fact be a detriment, as one's focus during military service could in fact slant one's decisions.]
Steph: Rangel wants to reinstitute the draft.
Edwards: I oppose it. I know Rangel is concerned that the military is disproportionately a minority force among enlisted men and women.
Steph: What is the biggest difference between blacks and whites?
Edwards: Economic issues. They have been systematically and chronically disadvantaged. Inner city school systems are underfinanced. Their communities are underfinanced. They need economic and educational opportunities -- especially in the South. We have to enforce civil rights laws, appoint judges who will enforce these laws. [If this is not a direct challenge to the stealth Confederates in the GOP, nothing is -- and Edwards may be the man to keep the issue alive and up front. Is anyone at the DNC paying attention?]
Steph: Smirk is about to announce a stimulus package, including huge tax cuts. Any chance you'll support it?
Edwards: He's pulling a fast one -- using the Bush recession to line his friends' pockets. [Yes! It's about time someone said it!] Eliminating tax on dividends, accelerating cuts -- these do NOT stimulate the economy. Two things are wrong: 42% of the benefit goes to 1% of Americans, and only 10% of the so-called stimulus happens this year. Hasn't this chucklehead heard of fiscal discipline? We need an energy tax credit, we need to help states pay for front-line emergency workers -- firemen and police, and we need more unemployment benefits.
Steph: Smirk is also poised to reform Medicare including private insurance.
Edwards: Reform? Driving Medicare patients to private insurance is wrong -- they will get less benefits. Medicare can be fixed without dismantling its underlying structure.
Steph: The Smirk Team says that lawsuits are hurting medical care.
Edwards: Doctors are right to be concerned -- but the question is what need to be done? There is a correlation between rising premiums [read: insurance companies] and the stock market [read: their stupid, shortsighted management, who put too much into the market] -- and now insurance companies are trying to pass on their investment losses to doctors and patients. Now, there is a real possibility that frivolous lawsuits may be contributing to the problem, and we should look into holding lawyers responsible for the lawsuits they file based on the merit of their cases. But we also have to help doctors who are being soaked by high premiums and patients who should have a right to sue.
Steph: Smirk said Jesus is the most important political philosopher in life. Who is yours?
Edwards: I'm usually asked who my political hero is, and that would be Terry Sanford, who took a stand against segregation when it was unpopular. That took character and backbone.
Steph: How about philosophers?
Edwards: Nah.
Steph: What about books?
Edwards: "The Trial of Socrates" by I.F. Stone.
Steph: Ooh, I.F. Stone! A pinko! What about bands?
Edwards: Springsteen, and Hootie and the Blowfish.
Steph: Have you done opposition research on yourself?
Edwards: I was vetted when I was being considered as Gore's running mate.
Steph: Anything you will not comment on? Smirk keeps avoiding his scandals using that mantra "young and foolish."
Edwards: I'll address all issues on a case-by-case basis.

Following the break, Steph offered up more fun: a debate between prominent Republican adulterer and ousted House "Squeaker" Newt "Poontang Express" Gingrich and economist-turned-hero-to-liberals Paul Krugman. The debate was fast and furious.

Steph: Is the stimulus the right thing?
Krugman: It looks to me like Junior's economic handlers drew up a list if everything that needs to be done -- and decided to do the opposite! They need to put money in the hands of people who need it -- instead, the cash goes to people who won't spend it. [Note to Democrats -- has anyone thought about touting the Clinton-era demand-side economics?]
Newt: Blame the Democrats! They're lying! The president's second job is fixing the economy. Getting those evil evildoers of evil Saddam and Kim is job one. Who cares if the kids can't eat? This is double taxation of dividends -- that's wrong! Double taxation! The horror! We need to pay off stockholders and 401(k) holders! Krugman's a socialist! A socialist!
Krugman: 401(k)s are not affected by dividend issues, numbnutz.
Steph: Income should not be taxed twice.
Krugman: That's a fallacy. What Newtie forgot to mention is that corporate taxes have been cut to half taxation, not double taxation.
Newt: Marginal costs! Marginal costs! Corporations are paying! The horror!
Krugman: You want incentives? How about the high rates of taxation on the poor? The people who need real help don't get invited to Crawford.
Class warfare! You liberal! Class warfare!
Krugman: Now, Newt, there you go again, avoiding the fact that you're quoting faulty statistics!
Newt: Until you win the war and fix the economy, there will be no surpluses!
Krugman: So you want to default on the growing national debt, Newt?

It was hilarious. Newt looked and sounded as if he'd had one too many espressos, and you could tell from Krugman's smile that he knew Newt was stinging from his jabs and punches.

Most of the round table was predictable -- except for Fareed Zakaria's scathe of the Smirk Regime's North Korea policy. Zakaria distilled the mess into one simple concept: Shrub's handlers' zeal to embrace "anti-Clinton" policies has backfired badly -- and could lead to an international catastrophe. The other surprise from Zakaria, for those of you who remember "Clinton-Gore" as a pejorative, was his focus on "Bush-Rove".

This should be a lesson and message to Dems -- Smirk's "running mate" in his perpetual campaign is Karl the "Mayberry Machiavelli", not Big Time Dick.


Defeat the Press
Senator in a Drum -- and did he ever sound dumb

Tim's guests were Sen. Don "Senator in a Drum" Nickles (R-clueless) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-should depose Daschle).

Tim began by asking Nickles about his call for Lott to step down. Nickles "congratulated" Lott for doing the right thing and said he's "excited" about Frist, then pitched Snippy's "Mess of the Union" speech. Do you have a problem with Lott leading the Rules Committee? Nickles rather stupidly admitted that the Senate GOPers wanted to install Lott in a leadership position anyway.

Thanks, Don, for that reminder of the contempt the GOP harbors for the vast majority of Americans who are plainly insulted and outraged by Lott's bigotry.

Tim asked Reid about who would lead the Dems in the 108th Congress. Reid is of course a candidate -- and naturally, he refused to tip his hand while acknowledging his name is being bandied about as leader of senate Democrats.

Then -- Smirk's tax scam, including possible elimination of the dividend tax. Tim actually admitted that one study shows 64% of benefits would go to only 5% of taxpayers -- and that the cuts would hardly impact working people. Nickles stuck with the Heritage Foundation bullet point he had memorized and made sure to scream "class warfare" not once but twice in response not to Tim raising a "class" issue but cold, hard numbers! Talk about premature e-blab-ulation! Nickles also was "on message" with his mention of the fake "double taxation" mantra. Tim confronted Nickles about corporations writing off everything -- and Nickles again retreated to the "double taxation" talking point. Tim gave more face time to Nickles to pitch Smirk's phonied-up "selling points" of the tax cut.

Reid responded by saying that he looks forward to a "bipartisan debate" -- but the dividend cut, he said, is not a priority, whereas job creation, infrastructure renewal, and extension of unemployment benefits are. And then Reid went on the offensive -- saying that Smirk and the GOP have declared and initiated class warfare with their economic policy -- it is, in fact, members of he middle class, not corporate bosses, need tax relief.

Tim asked what Democrats will do to curb job loss and spur the economy. Reid gave a few details of the plan to rebuild the infrastructure, and when Tim tried to argue that it would increase the deficit, Reid shot it down, saying that in the long term infrastructure renewal pays for itself. Tim kept pushing "increases the deficit" -- as if Dems are to blame. Reid, noticing that Tim seems not to have a clue as to which administration not only cut the deficit but gave America a surplus and accelerated a paydown of the national debt, said Democrats have a record of performance -- but Reid should have also mentioned that the Clinton surpluses were reversed by the borrow-and-spend regime of the Crawford Cretin!

Tim pressed Nickles on prescription drug reform (translation: big payday for insurance and pharmaceutical companies). Naturally, Nickles said, "We have to do it right" (translation: PhRMA and insurance lobbyists are writing the legislation as he speaks). Tim then tried to set up Reid with the words of Democrat (in name only) John Breaux, who claimed that Medicare reform is like throwing lead weights on a sinking ship. Reid fired back, saying that any pay-as-you-go program needs constant monitoring and tweaking, and Democrats will oppose killing the program. Tim fell back on the "something has to go" argument, which Reid quickly debunked by pointing out that "Bush can say class warfare" but we need unemployment benefits. Nickles said it could be dealt with as early as this week, and Tim cut off Reid before he could reply, shifting the topic to the West Virginia doctors' strike.

Tim then asked about banning late-term abortions and declaring a woman's body part (i.e. a fetus) a person. Nickles said there would be action on abortion issues. Reid talked about "medical malpractice" and blasted the GOP's beating up on lawyers when in fact it is the insurers' monopoly that is the problem. Reid called it a states' rights issue, adding that insurers get all the cash and patients get nothing!

Tim asked Reid which is more important: dealing with North Korea or Iraq. Reid said skeptically that he hopes that diplomatic efforts are helping the Korea crisis -- then blasted Junior's hands-off foreign policy, and called for Powell to get into the fray. So would Reid support military action against Iraq and North Korea if the president calls for it? Reid dismissed Tim's premise as overly simplistic. Nickles scoffed at diplomacy, then blamed -- catch this -- Clinton for not doing enough to stop Osama bin Laden.

What sheer, transparent dishonesty. The GOP-controlled Congress refused to pony up money or support to help Clinton go after Al Qaeda, despite repeated warnings from Sandy Berger and other intelligence officials, because Republicans felt that fishing for trouser trout in Lake Clinton was a far, far higher priority.

And Nickles must not be aware of the fact that a Clinton-authorized attack on Al Qaeda's leadership (which, of course, the crotch-sniffing GOP tarred as a "wag the dog" stunt) came far closer to offing Osama than everything the Texas Dauphin has done to date.

Nickles then tried to blame Clinton for North Korea making nukes. And that was the end of the segment -- no opportunity for Reid to debunk "Senator in a Drum" Nickles and the latest "blame Clinton" lie being blast-faxed to Republicans and their press surrogates.

By our estimate, Nickles got about a minute and a half more face time than Reid.

We tuned out Tim's round table of right-wingers: David Broder, Bob Novak, Bill Safire and token "liberal" moderate Robin Wright.

-- JJ Balzer

JJ Balzer is a former television news producer. He lives in New York City.

Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, American Politics Journal Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Read our privacy policy. Contact us.

ISSN No. 1523-1690