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The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Iran Nuclear Deal / Prison and Sentencing Reform / Pluto Exploration Mission

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author & Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, July 17, 2015
Broadcast: Weekend of July 17-19, 2015


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ANNOUNCER: From Washington, THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP, the American original. For over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Issue One: Done Deal?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon. This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring. Every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off and the inspection and transparency regime necessary to verify that objective will be put in place.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of America’s most ardent adversaries. But this week, after years of diplomacy, Iran agreed to a 15-year nuclear deal with President Obama.

Here’s what it entails: in return for sanctions relief and an unfreezing of tens of billions of dollars, Iran has agreed to four international demands. First, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent. Second, two-thirds of Iran’s centrifuges will be disconnected. Third, Iran’s enrichment will be capped at the low level of 3.67 percent, far lower than the 85 percent to 90 percent enrichment level needed to create the bomb. Fourth, international inspectors will be granted access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

President Obama says that this deal will bring a more peaceful future. Others are less certain. Listen to how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the deal.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: What a stunning, historic mistake. Israel is not done -- is not bound by this deal with Iran.

MCLAUGHLIN: Republicans on Capitol Hill are also deeply skeptical of this deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can’t imagine any member of Congress, even members of the Democratic Party who supported the negotiations at this point, voting for a deal that not only gives Iran a signing bonus of tens of billions of dollars, not only lets them preserve their nuclear capability, but also has the possibility of lifting a conventional arms embargo.

MCLAUGHLIN: Critics believe that the deal imposes too many restrictions on when, where and how inspectors will be able to access suspect Iranian facilities.

Republicans and some Democrats are also distressed that eight years from now, Iran will be allowed to trade a ballistic missile technology.

Congress has 60 days to consider Commander-in-Chief Obama’s agreement. To prevent him from concluding it, Congress needs a two-thirds super majority, a tall order.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: is this a good deal, Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: It’s an historic deal, John. And I think it’s going to stick, because the Iranians have a real vested interest to making this stick.

They don’t want a bomb. They’re using -- their whole bomb program was designed to explain to the Americans what they will do if they will get these sanctions lifted. They got what they wanted. The sanctions lifted, $100 billion coming their way, basically, entree to the international community once again.

And the Republican Party, I’ll tell you, they may succeed in the first strike in basically vetoing or putting in a red resolution of rejection, but the second when Barack Obama vetoes it, they will not be able to override. The United Nations, John, of all things, the Security Council, very early on, all five Security Council major members in there are going to OK the deal.

The deal is done, whether the conservatives and Republicans, like it or not.

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s to stop the Iranians from hiding --

BUCHANAN: John, we’ve got -- they cut their uranium by 98 percent, their centrifuges by two-thirds. They got inspectors all over the place. And they can get out of this deal, but it would take them a year of producing highly enriched uranium. And if they’re going to do that, they’ve got to have some secret site, because these are all locked down.

MCLAUGHLIN: Fifteen or 18 months from now, are inspectors going to be able to get in there without a lot of red tape?

BUCHANAN: Inspectors are going to be in there for 10 years.

MCLAUGHLIN: Without a lot of red tape?

BUCHANAN: Look --

MCLAUGHLIN: Restrictive red tape?

BUCHANAN: Look, if there’s alleged violation or something, there’s apparently, the majority on the committee that decides is non-Iranian, and the 24 days is the maximum time. And if you are building, you know, enriching uranium to 90 percent, you’re not going to be able to move all of that stuff out of some place in 24 days.

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes.

BUCHANAN: It’s a solid agreement.

MCLAUGHLIN: You don’t think they can hide --

BUCHANAN: Why would they do it?

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: It’s radioactive, John.

CLIFT: Right. They can’t hide --

BUCHANAN: American intelligence says they don’t want a bomb. American intelligence -- let me correct that -- U.S. intelligence says they don’t even have a bomb program. It was fairly easy to prove.

MCLAUGHLIN: There are ways to move radioactive materials.

PAGE: Yes, but it leaves a trace, though. That’s hard to hide.

CLIFT: Right. It has a half life like a million years. So, you can’t cover up.

PAGE: Right.

CLIFT: No, this is a good deal, exactly what Pat said. It has a strong verification procedure. They now have the capability to make 10 bombs, they’re going to reduce the stockpile to the point where they have the capability to make a quarter of one bomb. They’re really boxed in.

And secondly, on -- if they do cheat, you can put the sanctions back and you don’t need Iran, as part of the agreement, and China and Russia to go along with it. So, the West can re-impose this.

Plus, the military option is always on the table. We haven’t, you know, given that up. And I think the president really makes the right point when he says, what is the alternative?

I mean, all the blowhards on the other side say, "Oh, we would have negotiated a better deal." This is the best you’re going to get, and in a dozen years from now, a U.S. president is going to be in a much stronger position with Iran than this president has been, looking at a breakout period of perhaps two or three months. It will be a year.

And it offers the possibility of maybe reshaping the Middle East.

MCLAUGHLIN: The details on the inspections regime still needs to be negotiated and Iran made no ironclad concessions on access to the military sites.

PAGE: OK.

MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of that?

PAGE: Well, the fact is that well, I think the biggest complaints about the deal had to do with the verification and the procedures you have to go through with the Iranian government, to go to sites in order to do inspection, that there is that 24-day delay that Pat was talking about. But at the same time, we’re talking about radioactive materials which do leave traces and are easy to detect, where they have been, before the hiding takes place.

But I think the important thing here is that the administration believes that the incentives favor Iran not wanting to have a bomb, that favors their not wanting to take on a war-like posture over there in that region, and that they will want to stick with this deal because they benefit so much from it.

MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of this logic? The campaign clock was ticking. Obama knows that it will be harder to get a deal through Congress in a campaign year, so he was in a hurry to finish the deal now. This way, the 60-day review and voting would be over by early fall, giving Democrats a year to recover before the election.

PAGE: Well, the timetable is true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad deal --

CLIFT: Right.

PAGE: -- because I think just like Eleanor was saying --

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it’s a rushed deal.

PAGE: Well, what isn’t rushed?

MCLAUGHLIN: Have you been involved in rush deals that would prove to be bad?

PAGE: Well, what’s more important is that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon. And now, that’s put on hold for the time-being -- we hope for at least 10 years.

CLIFT: Rushed? They’ve been negotiating for two years and years before that was kind of in the works. Not a rush.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let’s get serious, all right?

AIPAC, do you know what AIPAC is?

MORT ZUCKERMAN, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: I think I do.

MCLAUGHLIN: What does it stand for, Mort?

ZUCKERMAN: American Israel friendship league basically --

BUCHANAN: Political Action Committee.

MCLAUGHLIN: Political action committee. Jewish --

ZUCKERMAN: That’s the political --

MCLAUGHLIN: Jewish political action committee, is said to be gearing up to fight the deal on Capitol Hill. While J Street -- what’s J Street?

ZUCKERMAN: Also another Jewish organization.

MCLAUGHLIN: Jewish community, but what kind of work?

BUCHANAN: It’s a counterpart to AIPAC and it’s more moderate, more sort of you might say progressive, in terms of Palestine and Iran.

MCLAUGHLIN: Right, it’s progressive, meaning liberal.

BUCHANAN: Yes.

MCLAUGHLIN: J Street is reported to be ready to spend millions defending Obama.

So, you got one group of Jewish worthies who want to kill the deal, and you got another that want to salute him. What do you make of that? Where were you, by the way?

(CROSSTALK)

ZUCKERMAN: John, let me just respond to that comment. I had been active in this community for many, many years. I’ve never seen two groups get along. It’s just in the nature of the beast. Nobody ever agrees --

MCLAUGHLIN: You mean in the Jewish community?

ZUCKERMAN: In the Jewish community. There’s a whole range of people who -- political views in that community.

MCLAUGHLIN: Which on is stronger?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, I would say, generally speaking, the Jewish community has always been a very liberal community, OK?

BUCHANAN: I think AIPAC politically, if you’re talking about --

CLIFT: Right.

BUCHANAN: -- politics on the Hill, that’s AIPAC far and away.

CLIFT: Yes.

BUCHANAN: They’re very powerful. Republicans are going to vote, my guess is, virtually unanimously in both houses against this deal, the first time out. And one of the reasons is, AIPAC is moving more and more toward the Republicans because they are seen as much more friendly to Netanyahu’s position than Barack Obama is.

CLIFT: Yes. The president has got to hold the Democrats. And I think the fact that California Senator Dianne Feinstein has come out strongly for the deal, and she’s the ranking member of the intelligence committee and she stressed the fact that this is not based on trust, it’s verification, and there are lots of sophisticated detection procedures that we have, since we were playing cat and mouse with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

So, I think, the president has to hold enough Democrats to override a --

ZUCKERMAN: He may and may not be able to do that, but there is a great deal of controversy over how seriously flawed this agreement is, and how it’s going to be very difficult, in fact, to follow-through on a lot of these, shall we say, checkpoints in order to determine what Iran is doing.

But in any event, it’s a hugely dangerous thing from the point of view of Israel, which is why a lot of the groups --

BUCHANAN: Mort, let me ask you, why would Iran -- I don’t believe Iran wants a bomb. That wouldn’t make them more secured. What it’d do to South Africa? What’s it done for North Korea? Made them a pariah. They want to get out of that penalty box.

If there’s no war in the Middle East, Iran naturally rises basically to be the hegemon of Persian Gulf. Why do they want a bomb?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, I’ll tell you why -- because if you follow the fanaticism at that religious group in Iran, you’ll realize this is not the normal kind of calculation, OK? They have a hugely serious ideology that drives most of what they’re doing.

BUCHANAN: Either they’re going to build a bomb to use it, and then they get -- the Israelis have about 300 to drop on them and we have about 5,000.

CLIFT: Well, whether or not they want a bomb, the deal has lots of procedures to make sure if they take one step towards acquiring a nuclear weapon, we will know about it. And I don’t see how that leaves -- I don’t see how that leaves Israel in a worse position. And what is the alternative?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, let me say this to you, Israel is going to be in a position 10 years from now, 12 years from now, where one single bomb, OK, on top of one small missile, could destroy the whole country, because who’s going to stay in a country if atomic weapon, atomic bombs can be dropped overnight and you can’t stop it? So, it’s a hugely dangerous --

PAGE: And Tehran would be bombed next day.

ZUCKERMAN: What’s that?

PAGE: Tehran would be bombed the next day.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Not only Tehran, everything else --

ZUCKERMAN: Maybe and maybe not. I’m not saying. But they are --

Let me just finish.

BUCHANAN: But you think – you’re saying they’re suicidal?

They have -- they are much more ideological and much more radical in their ideology than a lot of other countries that you would normally deal with, OK? If you follow what they say and you read what they say -- you may not want to believe any of it.

BUCHANAN: What is the evidence of their suicidal behavior? I mean, the idea of dropping a single bomb on Tel Aviv, for example, it’s the end of not only Islamic Republic of Iran, of Persia and all the rest of it. Why would they do that?

ZUCKERMAN: You know --

CLIFT: But also, if you’re worried about a single bomb 12 years now, they have the capability today to make ten bombs. So, why is leaving the situation as it is now better than putting it a dozen years into the future, when you have the potential of change?

BUCHANAN: Exactly. Eleanor is exactly right.

CLIFT: And you can also -- the military option will always be there. Nobody’s removing it.

BUCHANAN: What do you got to do, Mort, supposed they start enriching up to 20 percent and 90 percent, we will know, the Americans will say, what are you doing? You have a year to do it, and if you don’t stop it in 48 hours, the B-2s are coming. We’ve got the military option.

ZUCKERMAN: Do you think the United States is going to do that?

BUCHANAN: Well, listen, if they started enriching to 90 percent, I’m not in favor of war in the Middle East, but there’s only one reason for that, and that’s to build a bomb, and I would support a president would take -- have to take action.

MCLAUGHLIN: Would Congress approve Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran? Yes, or no?

BUCHANAN: Congress will initially reject it and Obama will veto their rejection, and they will be unable to override and the deal will stick. It is a done deal, as you said at the beginning.

MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

CLIFT: The deal sticks.

MCLAUGHLIN: As he described it?

CLIFT: Yes. I mean, it could be over --

MCLAUGHLIN: What are you saying? Could be?

CLIFT: A majority of a Republican Congress may well reject it. But they will not come up with the two-thirds to override a veto.

MCLAUGHLIN: Are you predicting that? Are you predicting that?

ZUCKERMAN: No.

CLIFT: I don’t care one way or the other. The deal sticks in the end.

MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, if your German mother were here, she would give me a straight answer.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Pat’s got it. It’s going to be -- the Republicans will probably stand together as usual and try to – they’ll vote against it and then Obama will veto it, and the veto will be upheld.

MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?

ZUCKERMAN: I’m going to point this out, OK? Everyone of our allies in the region are up in arms over this thing. I mean, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, you name all of the people that we have normally to been to sort -- Egypt, OK, the Emirates. I mean, we are in a situation -- those people are always absolutely focused on this.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see --

ZUCKERMAN: And they are all terrified of what this is about.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Criminal Injustice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: People who are in an environment in which they are adapting, but if given different opportunities, a different vision of life, could be thriving the way we are. That’s what strikes me. There but for the grace of God.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit a federal prison. Shortly before touring the El Reno corrections facility in Oklahoma on Thursday, the president commuted the sentences of 46 imprisoned drug offenders. Mr. Obama asserted that the 46 were not, quote/unquote, "hardened criminals," and had been punished excessively.

OBAMA: We have to reconsider whether 20-year, 30-year, life sentences for nonviolent crimes is the best way for us to solve these problems.

MCLAUGHLIN: But the president isn’t satisfied with a few commutations. He plans to continue reforming the criminal justice system, scheduling a review of sentencing laws for criminals that are nonviolent.

Mr. Obama is also concerned about employers who failed to ban the box. The "box" meaning an employment questionnaire with a box designated, check here if you have been convicted of a crime. If checked, the box is seen as a major reason that many former prisoners are unable to find employment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is Mr. Obama correct? I ask you, Clarence.

PAGE: Correct in so far as sentencing reform. Yes, this is a major issue, especially among African-Americans, and more recently now, on the right. We’re seeing a remarkable coalition building up with libertarians like Rand Paul, with conservatives like Ted Cruz, and the Koch brothers have been sitting down with the Obama White House folks, because they’ve been pushing the ban the box movement now because they see this as being unproductive for the folks caught up in this incarceration explosion, as well as being just fiscally irresponsible.

We spent $30 billion a year now on keeping people locked up, many of whom are nonviolent offenders, who ought to be released to the more productive life.

MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence, what do you think of this statement of his -- there was a very personal tone to his remarks, and his observation? This is not his exact language but he said it even much better, that his youth was not that different from some of the inmates in the jail.

PAGE: Have you heard of the Choom Gang, John?

MCLAUGHLIN: No.

PAGE: The Choom Gang?

BUCHANAN: The Choom Gang.

PAGE: That was a little group clique that Obama belonged to back in high school in Honolulu.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, but --

PAGE: Choom is slang for marijuana.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we’re not talking about marijuana here.

PAGE: He has written about marijuana in his autobiography, that they tried a little cocaine as well.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

PAGE: But he didn’t get caught, didn’t get arrested.

BUCHANAN: Let me give you the other side, John.

Would you talk about the incarceration explosion? There has been almost a tripling of people in jails, in prisons, federal, local, and there’s a consequence since 1991 or something. Violent crime and crime in cities has dropped astronomically in the United States to a degree we never imagined. I mean, take -- why is Rudy Giuliani a hero?

And now, it started back up again because there’s a change in people’s thinking. It’s -- now, they’re focused on criminals and people that take drugs, and can we let these folks out?

There’s always a balance, John, you know? Salus populi lex --

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. What did you say?

BUCHANAN: Salus populi lex suprema.

CLIFT: Right.

BUCHANAN: The safety of the people is the highest law.

CLIFT: Yes. I don’t think the correlation is as direct as you say. There are a lot of other reasons why the crime rate fell and why it may be spiking up marginally right now.

PAGE: Right.

CLIFT: But President Clinton this week apologized for signing a crime bill in 1993 that had all mandatory minimums. And we’re talking not about violent offenders. We’re talking about minor drug crimes, people being put away for 16, 20, 30 years. I mean, that is nonsensical.

PAGE: Because of mandatory minimums.

CLIFT: Right. There were 500,000 people in jail when Clinton was president. There are over 2 million now. We have 5 percent of the world’s population. We have 25 percent of the incarceration.

You look at -- the numbers are stunning, and there is now a cause to behave in these communities because of that.

BUCHANAN: A lot of those drug offenses are plea bargains for other crimes, where a guy comes in --

CLIFT: Oh, please?

BUCHANAN: -- and he’s going to be prosecuted for something. And they said, look, plead guilty for the drug part and we’ll send you away.

PAGE: Not the long term sentencing, though.

BUCHANAN: Right. You don’t get 20 years for marijuana.

PAGE: You wouldn’t take a plea bargain on --

BUCHANAN: No, you don’t get 20 years for marijuana.

PAGE: But it’s still nonviolent offenses we’re talking about.

MCLAUGHLIN: What are you saying?

PAGE: And there is a point of diminishing returns if you keep locking up and after a while, you’re actually contributing to rising crimes rather than fighting. When you talk about rehab, alternative punishments --

CLIFT: And some of your kindred spirits agree with this now, because you do, you have the ACLU and the Koch brothers, you know, sitting down and saying it’s ridiculous, we’ve taken it way too far.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: How’s New York City under de Blasio?

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s ridiculous?

CLIFT: Putting people away for long period of time for nonviolent offenses.

ZUCKERMAN: The crime rate has gone up considerably in New York.

BUCHANAN: Crime rate has gone up significantly in New York, and you’ve got this more lax attitude. Baltimore, it’s double the murders or something like that. Before we start down this road, you ought to think what’s at the end of it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Have any of you on the panel have knowingly hired an ex-con to work in your home or your business?

I ask you.

BUCHANAN: In my home? I don’t think so, John.

CLIFT: Well, I’ve written about the ban the box movement. And there are 70 million people in this country who have a felony conviction, some of them from years ago, and it’s a real barrier. You can’t even get past the first application form. So, ban the box --

MCLAUGHLIN: OK.

CLIFT: -- and the president is expected to issue an executive order that does eliminate that.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: There’s a stereotype about felons that they’re all mass killers or something. The fact is a lot of them are paper felons. They have various paper violations --

MCLAUGHLIN: Have you hired anyone?

PAGE: -- having to do with certain legalities. But they still can’t vote --

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: I don’t hire a lot of people in general.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: I have worked with them in the White House. Good heavens --

CLIFT: Right. What about Chuck Colson and Jeb Magruder?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: Who hasn’t been before a federal grand jury?

MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Are you joking?

BUCHANAN: No, I’m not.

MCLAUGHLIN: Are we back with (INAUDIBLE)?

BUCHANAN: We have something like 19 of my colleagues went to prison. What are you talking about?

CLIFT: And these white collar people like Colson and Jeb Magruder --

MCLAUGHLIN: Can’t you give it up? We talked about Nixon, that’s why.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: Bernie Kerik, they come out as reformers.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Hello, Pluto.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWD: Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one --

(CHEERS)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): NASA’s New Horizon space probe reached its destination on Tuesday, Pluto. Launched over nine years ago from Earth, New Horizon has taken data recordings and photographs of Pluto and its five moons.

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, describes this accomplishment as the end of man’s, quote, "initial reconnaissance of the solar system", end quote.

But already, having traveled 3 billion miles, New Horizon isn’t stopping. It’s now on its way to the Kuiper Belt, a collection of diverse stellar material that rights the solar system.

NASA is celebrating. They see this as another step on an American journey of space exploration that begun with President John F. Kennedy, over 50 years ago.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT: The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not. And it is one of the great adventures of all time. And no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race to space.

Many years ago, the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said because it is there.

Well, space is there and we’re going to climb it. And the moon and the planets are there. And new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And therefore as we set sail, we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The New Horizon’s mission cost around $700 million in government money. Is this money well-spent?

I ask you, Pat.

BUCHANAN: I think it is. Incidentally, that was phenomenal footage --

CLIFT: Right, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: I mean, it brought back a great time, in the period when America was really setting off. I mean, Apollo for us, John, was like, you know, Drake leaving England and Columbus leaving Spain. It was the time when the country was doing big things and great things. And quite frankly, it was a different time than we’re in today, which is somewhat of a doldrums.

MCLAUGHLIN: You met Kennedy?

BUCHANAN: Pardon? I have not talked -- never talked to Kennedy, but I was at a couple of events where he was at. One of them was a wedding, and I was also, when John Glenn came around --

MCLAUGHLIN: What about the debate?

BUCHANAN: When John Glenn went around the Earth, I was at the press conference at the center over there at the State Department, when Kennedy came in and, John, he was very, very charismatic. I was host for another guy named Nixon, but he was a phenomenal figure.

(LAUGHTER)

MCLAUGHLIN: The Nixon/Kennedy debate?

BUCHANAN: No, I was -- my wife -- Shelley, my wife, was out there in Chicago for that because she worked for Nixon in 1960. She knew Kennedy because he used to -- he had the office right across the hall from Nixon.

CLIFT: Kennedy had charisma before the press sort of used that word to apply to politicians, but you thought you knew it when you saw it.

MCLAUGHLIN: OK. By way of comparison, the Obama administration spends $500 million on subsidies to the failed renewable plant Solyndra. Does that put the cost of the mission to Pluto in perspective?

I ask you. And do you understand the question?

PAGE: Yes. I think -- when you talk about cost, you have to look at each mission on its own merits. The Solyndra was trying to develop new energy capabilities. The moon shot is talking about exploration. And I think --

MCLAUGHLIN: Solyndra was a disaster.

PAGE: Well, there’s so much we need to do, though, as far as responding to human curiosity and that’s something that NASA does that is so valuable. It’s hard to put a price tag on it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did you know Jack Kennedy? Did you ever meet him?

PAGE: Kennedy?

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

PAGE: No, I saw him campaign in 1960. I was a kid.

MCLAUGHLIN: Kennedy was magic.

PAGE: He was great.

ZUCKERMAN: He really was. I agree with that.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Pluto mission makes America the only country to have sent space probes to every planet in the solar system. Do you get that, Pat?

BUCHANAN: And the only one to put man on the moon, John.

MCLAUGHLIN: That’s right.

Does that make your chest swell?

CLIFT: And $700 million is nothing.

MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, does that make your chest well?

ZUCKERMAN: Yes, actually, it does. I mean, I think it’s quite wonderful. This country really -- it’s not limited, in a sense, to this orbit of the Earth. You know, we’ve always been the pathfinder, the nation that can go out and take on these new kinds of challenges. We have both the money and the technology and the leadership to do it.

CLIFT: And not everything NASA does succeeds. You have to be willing to accept the risk of failure. And Solyndra may have failed, but solar panels and alternative energy is going gang busters.

MCLAUGHLIN: Will you urge the next president to revitalize the space program?

BUCHANAN: I think we have to maintain a space program for the United States. But men in space I think is probably going to be done by the private sector. But the government does still have a rule, in my judgment.

CLIFT: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: Prediction, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump will sink the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty when Obama brings it home.

MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

CLIFT: Hotel rooms in Tehran will be booked solid as westerners look to make deals in the new opening of Tehran.

MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence?

PAGE: Watch for another big push for gun control legislation in Congress after the recent violent events.

MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

ZUCKERMAN: The explosion of crime among young people, and particularly teenagers, is going to continue for a good period of time. We have to no way of dealing with it yet.

MCLAUGHLIN: Ohio Governor John Kasich will shake up the Republican presidential race when he declares his candidacy next week. Governor Kasich will earn sufficient support to win a place in the first GOP primary debate.

Bye-bye!


END