The McLaughlin Group
Subject: The Relationship Between Police and the Black Community; Afghanistan; OPEC; the Retail Store Industry
John McLaughlin, Host;
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Tom Rogan, National Review/Daily Telegraph;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Taped: Friday, December 5, 2014
Broadcast: Weekend of December 6-7, 2014
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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Policing the Police?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) The sense that, in a country where one of our basic principles, perhaps the most important principle, is equality under the law, that too many individuals, particularly many people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In Missouri, a grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. And in New York City, a grand jury has decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner, a loiterer selling cigarettes who police said resisted arrest.
Unlike in Missouri, the death in New York was recorded on a cell phone, with Garner resisting the chokehold with a repeated cry of "I can't breathe. I can't breathe."
The scene appeared to have lasted at least four minutes. With protests across the nation, President Obama is now proposing new steps to improve the relationship between police forces and those they serve.
Earlier this week, the president announced the creation of a task force to consider what reforms could be pursued to address the emerging trust deficit in America's police community. The president also reaffirmed that he will introduce greater controls on military weapons for police forces.
And that's not all. The president is also looking to new technology.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) I'm going to be proposing some new community policing initiatives that will significantly expand funding and training for local law enforcement, including up to 50,000 additional body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Police body cameras have already spread around the nation, and the results are encouraging. In 2012, police in Rialto, California issued body cameras to their officers. That year complaints against officers fell by 88 percent. And officer use-of-force incidents declined by 60 percent.
Question: What will be the impact for American society as more and more police officers wear body cameras? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: John, I think that's really a technical point. I'm in favor of body cameras for cops. But I will tell you, what is developing here is basically a real social, cultural, political collision between police, who are being charged with being racist white cops all over the country, who come down hard and go after, almost in a vigilante way, young black males. You've got demonstrations that are shutting down the hearts of great cities like New York, Grand Central Station. You've got Times Square, the West Side Highway.
What is happening, John, is a great - I think is a real coming war on the cops being pushed by the left wing of the Democratic Party. It's going to backfire on them. It's going to bite them. It's going to divide this country. And it reminds me, frankly, of what I saw in Grant Park in Chicago in 1968.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Police unions generally endorse these cameras, but civil libertarians have real problems with them. What do you think, Eleanor?
ELEANOR CLIFT: I think the track record on these cameras is good. New York was already on record accepting the cameras. They're just now moving them up by a couple of weeks. I think this is the age we live in. Everything is recorded.
I think if there's any danger, maybe cops will feel over-scrutinized and they'll back away from the communities where they're needed the most. But I don't think there's any evidence of that happening either.
And this isn't the left wing of the Democratic Party, you know, pushing against the cops. We have seen this before. In the `90s, President Clinton ordered a task force. Eric Holder was in the Justice Department then. You saw the same kind of disparity in how communities of color were being treated. President Clinton called for 100,000 cops on the street. That was for all communities. That was very popular.
And, you know, I think the tape in Staten Island has jolted not only black America, but white America. What happened there was inexcusable. And there is a pattern of this excessive force; the 12-year-old kid in Cleveland killed in two seconds. The Justice Department probe, which started, you know, a long time ago, has now gone in -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm.
MS. CLIFT: - and taking over the Cleveland police department. This is happening. We can't ignore it. And a lot of the change has to happen at the level of police departments themselves. They have to represent the community. They have to go into the community.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Cameras on police officers will have a chilling effect on free speech. You understand.
TOM ROGAN: I understand, but I -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you believe it?
MR. ROGAN: No, I don't believe it. I think now, in today's society, I mean, we have, you know, a lot of people who carry cameras on themselves. Cyclists is a good example, recording their interaction.
In the public arena, there is a compelling state interest, and it's reflected by the statistics for police officers to record their interactions, both to back themselves up as evidence in court, if they eventually bring someone to a process of a charge, but also to protect the individuals in question who are being interactive with the police, to give them confidence that if they feel they are abused, they have a legal recourse that is forensic in nature.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eric Garner is the man who died because of throat constriction. Would a camera on a police officer have made a difference there on the person who was wrestling him to the ground or all of them?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: You know, you can't really know. You know, the fact is that it may have. And on the other hand, it all depends on what the direct interaction, physical interaction, was on the scene. And, you know, the one thing that you know - there'll be two effects. One is the police will be a lot more cautious because these cameras and these pictures will be made public and they'll be, therefore, in a position to be, shall we say, degraded on many levels, OK. The police are very sensitive.
We have a huge issue because, in most American cities, you have a difference in the sense that it has - it is highly occupied by minority populations. The police are not highly represented in terms of minority populations. And you have that sort of being a part of this whole mix between the police and the people who are in the -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: People now complain about Google Glass or overhead drones with cameras being intrusive. Wait until every police officer in the country is a walking drone, photographing and archiving your every move. Would you like that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I wouldn't, because then you have a different kind of situation. Where you do want it to be is if there is a conflict or a confrontation between the police and the citizenry in some kind of serious way.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Just to photograph everybody walking, living a normal life, that's -
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor - I mean, I think you're losing the main point. The main issue - second issue - I think Darren Wilson in Ferguson - Ferguson was slandered and smeared. And it turned out Darren Wilson, that cop, was in the right. He was not indicted. Now, this is a much tougher case with Garner.
But John, the guy had asthma. He's 350 pounds. He had diabetes. He had a heart disease. He was not choked to death. He was not strangled. They sat on his chest. But those officers did not go there to injure him or to kill him. They went there to arrest him. And they were responsible - that was responsible for his death. But the idea that this was a murder of some kind or that they're racist cops - there's not a scintilla of evidence to back that up.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How does this back into the question of cameras on cops?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, the camera wouldn't have helped if we had a camera on that whole scene. We saw it.
MS. CLIFT: He was apparently selling loose cigarettes. That is not the kind of act that warrants four policemen landing on you and choking you. Besides, a chokehold is illegal in New York. If that policeman had been wearing a camera -
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not illegal.
MS. CLIFT: - maybe he wouldn't have done a chokehold.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's against - it's against police - it's against police -
MR. ROGAN: Yeah -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him in.
MR. BUCHANAN: - (rules ?), but it's not illegal.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him in.
MR. ROGAN: I mean, there were real issues, though, in the sense that there are police community trust developments that need to be addressed and (see ?) the protests.
But at the same time, one of the big issues here is that the vast majority of crime that is concerning here is young black men killing other young black men.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm.
MR. ROGAN: And we need to face up to those. There's a problem in a society that we don't - people do not want to touch those issues because they want to be - racists are obvious, but talking about that is a - that needs to be addressed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Suppose a police officer makes a prudential judgment and he goes up here and he turns off the camera.
MR. BUCHANAN: OK, that -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And then he proceeds to act -
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, the cop - they call him in and say why did you turn off your camera?
MR. ROGAN: Right, right.
MR. BUCHANAN: That would be a prima facie case. And he might be doing -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I didn't turn it off. It went off by itself because of the -
MR. BUCHANAN: What we need -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - attack on me.
MR. BUCHANAN: What we need, John, and what we don't have is reliable statistics on how many folks are killed by cops each year. Are they minorities?
MS. CLIFT: And we don't -
MR. BUCHANAN: How much crime is done by African-Americans each year? How much interracial crime? The Justice Department should report all of these figures every year.
MS. CLIFT: We don't have a lot of those figures because the police departments do not want to report those figures -
MR. BUCHANAN: They do report - (inaudible) - right now.
MS. CLIFT: Not the number of killings of black men, because they've been looking for those statistics.
MR. ROGAN: I suspect when these cameras spread that the police will gain a better reputation.
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Obama turning America into a - what's the word we want to use here? - a surveillance state?
MR. BUCHANAN: Obama's not doing it, but it is happening. It's happening because of the technology - the drones, cameras. You saw - I mean, they captured that scene out there in Staten Island.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, drones are just apple pie compared to what we're talking about now, policemen with cameras on.
MR. BUCHANAN: They've got them -
MR. ROGAN: That's good. You want people -
MR. BUCHANAN: - in a number of departments. What are you talking about?
MS. CLIFT: Yeah. There are cameras everywhere. The cops themselves are not upset about getting cameras. I mean, I think they see that as a way to vindicate themselves.
MR. ROGAN: Right.
MS. CLIFT: They're not going into this thinking they're going to commit wrongdoing.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There is -
MS. CLIFT: Cameras are positive. And excessive force against unarmed black men has yielded a number of really egregious incidents, even in Ferguson. Michael Brown did not deserve to be killed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. BUCHANAN: Michael Brown tried to grab Darren Wilson's gun out of the car. That often happens to people if you grab a cop's gun.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're defending this -
MR. BUCHANAN: I defend Darren Wilson. He was smeared.
MS. CLIFT: I'm not saying he -
MR. BUCHANAN: The guy can't live - he didn't do anything really wrong, unless somebody finds out that -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You remember -
MS. CLIFT: How about a shot to the leg or the arm instead of the arm?
MR. BUCHANAN: They're taught to shoot the main body mass.
MS. CLIFT: Well, change the teaching.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. (Inaudible) - too much trouble there (to focus on it ?). John Poindexter - total information awareness.
MR. BUCHANAN: He's a good friend of mine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remember all of that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. He's a good friend of mine. He was national security adviser for Ronald Reagan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You saw how far that went.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, he had a lot of brilliant ideas. He was over at Dartmouth.
MS. CLIFT: He went to jail, didn't he?
MR. BUCHANAN: He's a brilliant - (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think on this exit question?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't believe so.
MR. ROGAN: I don't think we're turning into a surveillance state.
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's too many people talking here. And I'm inspiring it, unfortunately. Go ahead.
MR. ROGAN: Very quickly, I think American surveillance state is not an issue here as much as in Europe. We do not have domestic intelligence services. There are protections under the rule of law with criminal warrants that people really do not realize. I mean, Europe is much more stringent on that. And we - I think police body cameras is a good thing. I think it will vindicate the police. It will make bad police officers - it will push them out. And it will give people more confidence, which in American society is crucial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I actually welcome the idea of having the police photographed or have cameras on them. It's just going to change it. And then we'll see what happens. But the real issues here are, frankly, the natural - what seems to be a natural hostility between certain communities and the police. And, you know, that's been going on for a long time. We have to be candid about that.
MS. CLIFT: Well, and minority communities don't hate the police. They hate the way the police treat them -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: - this us-versus-them attitude.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the -
MS. CLIFT: And I think that it's going to take time to change.
MS. CLIFT: The president is on the right track.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, limited usage, OK; otherwise, no.
Issue Two: Afghanistan Forever?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) 2014, therefore, is a pivotal year. Together with our allies and the Afghan government, we have agreed that this is the year we will conclude our combat mission in Afghanistan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The number of Americans that have been killed in Afghanistan is over 2,200. And the number of Americans wounded in Afghanistan is more than 19,000.
Last May it seemed that Commander in Chief Obama was determined to end America's longest war, where we are now. Well, alas, not so fast. The commander in chief has decided to extend the U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan into 2015.
Here's an excerpt from The New York Times. Quote: "Mr. Obama's order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government. This new order also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on their combat mission," unquote.
Question: Why has President Obama flip-flopped on Afghanistan? What changed since last May, when he went to Afghanistan and declared that U.S. combat operations would end at the end of the year?
MR. ROGAN: I think what's changed, number one, is Iraq, with the withdrawal there and the consequence that's had in terms of losing influence with political interlocutor relationships, but also losing capability to smash groups like ISIS.
But really in Afghanistan, I think what the president is seeing, - his military advisers are telling him - is that the Afghan army, though it is developing, though it is holding ground in places like Helmand and taking casualties and really acquitting itself in strong ways, as much as the Afghan National Police has issues, that until it develops the aviation, logistics, intelligence and other support factors, the United States needs to be there.
So the president is right to do this and he's right to allow America to be able to consolidate the gains we were making.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let us hear an echo, I'm sure, from over here, from Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Well, what happened was the collapse of the Iraqi army. And I think that was a cautionary tale to not let that happen in Afghanistan. But this is sort of the rule number one of being a president if you've got troops in the field. It's called troop protection. And the generals and the people on the ground there were telling the president that they need more help in fighting off the Taliban and other extremist groups.
So I think he's done the responsible thing. It is not escalating the war. It's trying to get out of the war in the safest way possible for a soft landing.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, what he's doing, he's trying to prevent happening in Afghanistan what happened in Cambodia, in Vietnam and Iraq and Libya, and that is a decent interval after the Americans pull out before the collapse of the government.
I know a lot of folks who are deeply pessimistic. The Taliban, whatever you say about them - tough, resourceful, brave, willing to fight and die, bombing people in Kabul right now - if we pulled out immediately and fully, I think that place would go right down. And frankly, it's hard to be very optimistic in the middle term.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MS. CLIFT: He was never going to pull out immediately and fully. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree -
MS. CLIFT: That was never in the cards.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: - with what Pat just said. That whole situation is deteriorating. The Taliban, somehow or other, keep on coming at them, over and over and over again. The government is very, very weak. Without us, they would just fall apart. So we cannot - after all the sacrifice that we have made there and all the investment, we cannot just walk away. So I think this is -
MS. CLIFT: It's a new - it's a new government too. I mean, Karzai is gone, and the people in charge now are very friendly to the U.S -
MR. ROGAN: Afghanis -
MS. CLIFT: - and they're competent.
MR. ROGAN: We do have - I think Eleanor is - that is a key point.
MS. CLIFT: There's an opportunity there.
MR. ROGAN: It is an opportunity. And the president, I think, you know, is good - I give the president credit. Under pressure from the liberal base, who would want a movement out, he is consolidating. And the Afghan National Army - again, this is a thing that is not reported as much as it should be - is holding ground. And the Taliban, actually, as much as - you know, Pat is right about that. The Taliban have alienated a lot of people, including the Pashtun south.
So there is an opportunity. This is not going to be some Jeffersonian democracy, but there is a potential to allow for a situation in which the Afghan government continues to develop, women have more rights, and that, over the longer term, you have some semblance of a better state.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to conclude with this general thought, and that is, the leader of Russia is a man by the name of Putin, as we all know. He has reignited the great game. In addition to his territorial claims on Crimea and Ukraine, Putin has also asserted that the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan lack legitimacy and could be part of a Novorossiya. Afghanistan is the new front line in what could be a tug of war in Central Asia between Russia and the West.
What do you think of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I just do not underestimate anything that Putin might do. I do think, frankly, he's in trouble now, and he may want to shift some of his, shall we say, aggressive resources to that part of the world. But after all that we have been through in Afghanistan, we can't just walk away from it.
MS. CLIFT: The Russians are not going to -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're not going to walk away from it. We're going to be present there in order to inhibit this acquisition -
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he's not -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - of an enormous amount of property -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - by Vladimir Putin.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree. That's why I say -
MS. CLIFT: Afghanistan -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You understand that. This is a new dimension to it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I agree with that. I agree with that.
MS. CLIFT: Afghanistan was a killing field for the Russians. Remember? They're not going to go back in there again.
MR. BUCHANAN: Putin's not going back there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not saying they're going to go back in. I'm going to say Afghanistan, under our tutelage, will serve as something of a bulwark -
MR. BUCHANAN: John, he's -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: - to prevent him -
MR. BUCHANAN: Vladimir Putin -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand that?
MR. BUCHANAN: Vladimir Putin is not -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MS. CLIFT: OK. All right.
MR. BUCHANAN: - going into Central Asia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Oil and El-Badri.
ABDALLAH SALEM EL-BADRI (OPEC secretary general): (From videotape.) We are going to produce 30 million. Why you people are concerned about our production? Why you are concerned? Doesn't that - if the price will come down, doesn't that will help you to fill your car? Why you are concerned about this, unless you are a trader? (Laughs.) But if you are a journalist, that's good for you.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OPEC Secretary General Abdallah Salem el-Badri engaged with journalists at last week's Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries at their OPEC summit.
OPEC consists of 12 oil-producing nations. They are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
OPEC is a 54-year-old cartel that regulates the volume of OPEC oil output, which in turn makes oil pricing go up and go down. The basic intent of this fluctuation is to maximize the economic interests of OPEC members.
But last week OPEC decided not to reduce oil output in response to plummeting oil prices. Here's how Secretary General el-Badri explained OPEC's decision.
SEC. GEN. EL-BADRI: (From videotape.) I think we have to wait and see and review the market very carefully. And then maybe we need to wait for some time to really have the real trend. Is it a blip or fundamental (change ?)?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's behind OPEC's decision to keep its current oil production at the levels they now are?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Saudis are the man in charge. It's killing Venezuela. It's killing Russia. It's killing Iran. For one thing, Iran is - the Saudis want to bring them down. Secondarily, if they let the price drop to, say, $60 a barrel, that makes shale oil in the United States, which the Saudis are terrified of, that makes shale oil, you know, a non-economic investment. And so they're doing both.
Secondly, they're not going to cut production, because they know the other OPEC countries will sneak in, cheat -
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. BUCHANAN: - and take out their market. And so they're riding this out. They've got the whip hand.
MS. CLIFT: They don't trust each other. It's every oil -
MR. BUCHANAN: They (don't love each other ?).
MS. CLIFT: - every oil baron on his own. And so they're going to let the price go down.
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MS. CLIFT: And that lower price is -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let -
MS. CLIFT: - a huge transfer of wealth in this country -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rogan.
MR. ROGAN: Yeah, I think -
MS. CLIFT: - and at the gas pump. It's terrific. Every penny that drops at the gas pump translates into disposable income for a lot of Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good American thinking.
MS. CLIFT: It's terrific. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK, quick.
MR. ROGAN: Two points here - (inaudible). And I would disagree slightly with Pat. I think actually shale oil especially, which is a U.S.-produced oil, has a profitability level that the Russians are not going to be able to undercut, or OPEC. But also -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are right on the money. Shale is a terrific source. And it's just becoming known.
MR. ROGAN: Yeah. We need the president to get behind it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) - played a card at this big oil game. Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. It's a huge game. For one, as you say, shale oil resources in the United States have just been exploding in terms of our ability to translate that into energy. Secondly, it weakens countries like Russia, because they're so dependent on this thing. So it's going to be a huge transfer of wealth, and therefore power.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautifully stated, Mort.
Issue Four: Retail Revolution.
It was a bust. Weekend sales fell from over $57 billion in 2013 to $51 billion in 2014 - a $6 billion plunge. With the national economy upticking, Thanksgiving sales were expected to uptick also. Instead sales downticked. Major retailers reached for their crying towels. The stock market swooned with spluttering share prices.
Question: What's behind this apparent misery that day after Thanksgiving? And what does it augur for Christmas sales?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's Internet sales, John, and they're growing and growing and growing. And a lot of us like them because we buy our books and things like that. But there's a tragedy involved here, and that's going to be the loss of neighborhood stores and shops one by one. And that's why you're seeing this drive to put sales tax on Internet sales and let the states do that. There's a real political battle in the Congress.
So this is a good thing. And frankly, it's a sad thing. But it's, you know, progress. And progress isn't always beneficial.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants to see the preservation of brick and mortar. Do you understand?
MS. CLIFT: I think we all would. But I don't - I think malls are on their way out. I don't think there's been a new shopping mall built in this country in the last 10 years. And what developers are now looking at, they call them the multi-use communities. There's a big one in Washington, D.C. called City Center. You have office buildings. You have high-rises, condos. And you have shops. And so the shops are just about as close as your Internet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: You can push send on your Internet, but you can also walk to the bricks-and-mortar store.
MR. ROGAN: Yeah. I think -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're a fashion icon. What do you want to tell us?
MS. CLIFT: That's the future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.
MR. ROGAN: I will give you an example. I think the Internet is a key thing. My generation, I was looking, waiting for the deals on different websites, comparing - Google, whatever, Yahoo. You can compare different websites, get it at that moment. So people are waiting for the deal, because there's more competition.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful. Beautiful.
You hear that? Buy it on the Internet.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: He's absolutely right. It's going to transform retail shopping in this country to a dramatic degree. It's going to reform and drastically change the whole range of buildings that are going to be built, not just shopping centers but office buildings, et cetera. It's all going to change because of the role of the Internet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to try to get in on this deal, you, with all your buildings?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I want to make sure I don't get in on this deal, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Going to stay brick and mortar?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm into brick and mortar for a lifetime. There's no question about that, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you survive?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: So far, so good, I have to say.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So far, so good, Mort.
OK, so long, shopping as we knew ye - down in 2014, but Internet sales were up. Online sales increased 14.3 percent on Thanksgiving Day, and on Black Friday by 9.5 percent. Also, staggeringly, Black Friday sales via cell phones were up 28 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Americans are now choosing to shop online, as we've noted here, rather than in store. This begs the question, is the Internet to brick-and-mortar stores what the asteroid was to the dinosaurs?
MR. BUCHANAN: It was what Wal-Mart was also to the brick-and-mortar stores, these great big things that destroyed the little stores. You know that neighborhood we both lived in -
MS. CLIFT: My father had a deli. And when the first supermarket opened, he said they'll never survive; people want service. Well, people want service, but they want cheaper prices.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where was the deli?
MS. CLIFT: In Queens - well, Brooklyn first, then Sunnyside, Queens.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Were they emigres?
MS. CLIFT: They were, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know where they came from.
MS. CLIFT: They came from an island in the North Sea called Fohr, F-O-H-R, with an umlaut over the "o." And they came through Ellis Island. And I have their names on the wall of Ellis Island.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you visited Fohr?
MS. CLIFT: I have, numerous times.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What'd you think of it?
MS. CLIFT: It's wonderful. It's like a trip back to a century ago. It's cobblestone streets and thatched-roof houses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I have visited Fohr. Would you believe it? Would you believe it?
MS. CLIFT: You have?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Beautiful.
MR. ROGAN: I -
MS. CLIFT: How'd they let you get away? (Laughs.)
MR. ROGAN: I think one of the things that'll happen here is that there will be a place where people, if they (feel ?) the neighborhood, they have a connection there, they will continue to go.
But if you look at, for example, Apple, with Apple stores, with a lot of people in store, with a technology product that could otherwise be sold online -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. ROGAN: - people still go there because they get that experience that you always keep learning. And I think Microsoft - other companies will -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They go to the store. They get the spiel. And then, when no one's looking, they start ordering it on their -
MS. CLIFT: That is so - (inaudible). I don't do that.
MR. ROGAN: But you have to -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What did you think of that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, the one thing that I am convinced of, since I happen to be involved with the Apple store in New York, it's only the single most successful retail store in the country on every level that you could think of. And their sales are not going down. They're going up.
MR. BUCHANAN: They rent from you, don't they, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, they do. That's one of the reasons why - (laughter) -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's one of the reasons why you want sales to go up.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I am very proud of their sales, which they report.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On a larger scale, do you think it's a good phenomenon or a bad phenomenon?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's an inevitable phenomenon that retailing is going to change, just as newspapers have changed and products of that sort have changed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's no way of avoiding it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But malls are so good. You can meet people.
Forced prediction, yes or no: The price of gasoline will fall below $2 a gallon before July 4th, 2015. Yes or no? Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Dream on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Yes. It's $2.15 in Maryland.
MR. ROGAN: No.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is it in New York?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's two and a quarter, two and a half.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you follow the price of gasoline?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, why not?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you've got four different chauffeurs.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, I see. That's the reason.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you still follow it.
The answer is yes.