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The McLaughlin Group

Issues: Middle East Intervention / Restaurant Tipping / U.S. Heroin Problem

Participants:
John McLaughlin, Host
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast
Clarence Page, The Chicago Tribune
Tom Rogan, National Review/Opportunity Lives

Taped: Friday, March 25, 2016
Broadcast: Weekend of March 25-27, 2016

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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: Libya Trigger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, Should we intervene militarily -- do we have an answer the day after?

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): President Obama says he learned hard lessons from his use of U.S. military force in Libya. That action four years ago this month helped Libyan rebels removed dictator, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, from power. But chaos filled his vacuum.

Today, Libya is divided between a divided government, Islamist militias and terrorist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, and the Islamic State or ISIS. ISIS now holds more than 100 miles of Libya’s Mediterranean coast line and is plotting attacks against the West.

In response, U.S., British and French Special Operations Forces are now operating in Libya.

And note this: last month, U.S. military airstrikes killed about 40 ISIS fighters, including a mid-level commander.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: should the U.S. deploy more ground forces against ISIS in Libya? Pat Buchanan?

PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR & COLUMNIST: John, you know, General Petraeus said on the way up to Baghdad, "Tell me how this thing ends."

We know how it ended in total disaster in Iraq. It ended in disaster, I think, in Afghanistan, which is going to be revert to the Taliban, after 15 years when we leave.

And, look, Obama did the same thing. With Hillary Clinton pushing him, we knocked over that horrible Gadhafi, and now, we got ISIS, something far worse in terms of the United States.

Now, there’s a real push on in Europe and also in the United States to intervene in there militarily, with troops on the ground, because ISIS is a real enemy. It’s very close to Europe there. I don’t know if they’re going to do it.

But I’ll tell you, John, I don’t think Barack Obama is going to send an army in there, and I think we ought to think very seriously and long before we send another army back into the Middle East.

MCLAUGHLIN: What role can the U.S. play?

ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, first of all, the Libya intervention was not a U.S. unilateral operation. It was a NATO-led intervention.

And I agree with you, everybody fell down on the job once they got rid of Gadhafi. Chaos reigns and it’s now becoming really a haven for ISIS. So, I can’t say anything good about Libya.

But we are hearing a lot of loose talk, particularly on the Republican side, about being really tough. And when you press them, most of the candidates don’t really advocate sending ground troops in. But Donald Trump is beginning to talk about sending 20,000 to 30,000 troops in. And that is echoing I think what Lindsey Graham and John McCain have been saying for some time.

And Trump in his usual grandiose manner says, don’t worry. They’ll be coming home really fast. We’ll get the job done really quickly.

CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Right.

CLIFT: I hope nobody falls for that.

PAGE: Yes, who said that before?

MCLAUGHLIN: Did President Obama make a strategic mistake in January of 2014 by dismissing ISIS as a, quote, "jayvee squad", unquote? Yes or no?

TOM ROGAN, NATIONAL REVIEW/OPPORTUNITY LIVES: Yes, manifestly. But I think in Libya’s case, what you’re going to see is the formation of the government, and it’s slowly moving forwards. There will be that continued and necessary continued deployment of special forces there from the West that, you know, the French taking a leading role because of the Paris attacks, and that allows you to, you know, gather intelligence, direct airstrikes, et cetera. And then, hopefully, with the aligned -- the newly aligned Libyan government, which won’t be -- it’s a patch work thing. You can begin to push ISIS out of those coastal strongholds.

But I would say, you know, in agreement with Pat and Eleanor, you know, the person I look to, Pat mentions Petraeus, tell me how this ends -- but I think Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary said, you know, the next time an American president wants to invade another major Middle Eastern country, he should have his head checked.

I think we do need to -- I have to say, I have my disagreements about what we should -- we do need to more in Iraq and Syria. But again I think there has been a fundamental structural learning curve from both Democrats and Republicans about the legacy of Libya, because quite frankly, you know, we -- this has been years. It’s not fair.

PAGE: At least we’ve learned from it. And you’re right.

ROGAN: It’s not fair on the troops is what I mean.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: You ask Colin Powell or anybody else, the old Vietnam warhorses or anybody since then, they would say the same thing. You know, don’t get into an action like this unless you have some idea of an exit strategy.

And here, it’s ironic to see Barack Obama, who was elected on a mandate of people who were opposed to our intervening so recklessly in Iraq, that he’s gotten involved in the same thing. I mean, with the best of intentions, as always, you know, the initial idea was to stop Gadhafi.

OK, we stopped Gadhafi. Gadhafi was killed. But then, what came after? Obviously, our diplomatic actions and our military actions which were completely lacking.

BUCHANAN: You got to ask yourself, we go in, you can -- I’m sure we can knock over ISIS and chase them out and chase them down deeper into Africa. And then you pull out of there, and who’s to prevent this evil devils who are willing to fight and die more than the moderates, from just coming back in and taken over?

ROGAN: I would say an optimistic thing, that what we should really be doing here is to be giving a lot more military aid support, presence support, military trainers, to Tunisia, which is the best, most hopeful -- the birthplace of the Arab Spring in terms of, you know -- a guy burnt himself his death in protest against police corruption.

It first had an Islamist government in, which failed to deliver jobs, which failed to deliver social mobility. So, they actually got in a moderate government now, which ISIS is desperately trying to destabilize. We have to show that we will support Muslim democracy.

CLIFT: And we should let our -- encourage our European allies to take the lead. This is their neighborhood.

BUCHANAN: You got Egypt -- Egypt is right next door.

Libya is an under-populated country. It’s a big country. It’s got a lot of oil. Algeria is over there on the other side. Frankly, I would talk to him and tell him, go ahead and divide it and take it.

CLIFT: Talk to who and tell him?

BUCHANAN: The president of Egypt. Say, if you want to go all the way to Benghazi, it’s fine with me.

CLIFT: Well --

ROGAN: But I think the reason you want the Tunisia example is that you have a democratic process, that is flawed, but allows -- no, but it works there. In Tunis, it is working.

Where people have --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Democracy is not going to work in Libya.

ROGAN: If you have al-Sisi going in there and trailblazing anything, then it’s just going to have the gravitation towards the extremists again. Libya is going to be a complete mess, but it’s managing the mess and protecting Tunisia I think is another.

BUCHANAN: Libya is the most tribalized country in the whole place, except for Yemen.

ROGAN: Right. So, we buy people off and create --

BUCHANAN: You have a democracy, what are you talking about?

ROGAN: You create warlords in your favor, essentially, and assemble the unity government --

BUCHANAN: You’re going to have elections and all that good stuff?

ROGAN: Over time. But in the short term --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: I think Libya has two governments, actually.

MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Is the ISIS threat in Libya is something that can be defeated with air power and special forces, or is it a long term fight, Clarence?

PAGE: It’s going to take more than just air raids, and air raids have to be guided by ground observers as well. But we do need a multilateral, a multi-nation force to try to stabilize the area.

MCLAUGHLIN: Here’s another exit question. Did Obama -- I mean, that worked with you, Clarence.

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Thank you, thank you.

ROGAN: I think --

MCLAUGHLIN: Did Obama make a -- excuse me, President Obama, make a strategic mistake in January 2014 by dismissing ISIS as a, quote, "jayvee squad", unquote?

BUCHANAN: It’s not a strategic mistake. It’s just a big gaffe.

CLIFT: Right, exactly, and he wasn’t he only one.

ROGAN: I think it was a strategic mistake, in that it informed his trepidation about doing more earlier, and the big loss there is the Sunni Arab tribes who he could have mobilized, I think.

PAGE: Well, history may also record that it was a jayvee squad then, but it grew, precisely because we didn’t take the right kind of action.

ROGAN: Well, it was -- in 2013 even, it was doing a lot of attacks. I mean, it was -- they’ve also been nasty little -- as Pat said.

PAGE: But they were alone. Now, they’ve consolidated a lot of these other rival groups.

ROGAN: But I think Eleanor makes a point, though, you want buy-in from Europe. And one key way to do that with Germany -- I think we need to get we’re getting to the point now, we need to say to Germany, either you provide greater support or we’re pulling our military bases out of there and putting them somewhere else. Because it is unfair, a country as wealthy as Germany does so little in terms of participating in --

CLIFT: Well, there’s a reason for that.

ROGAN: OK, but you know --

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: I was going to say, how many U.S. troops do we have in Germany right now.

ROGAN: Right, but you know --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: History is something you remember, but it cannot define -- you know, Germany could play a really constructive role there, and they don’t.

CLIFT: Yes. Actually, Italy and the U.K. and France have more at stake I think in Libya than Germany does.

ROGAN: Well, with all the refugee flows and ISIS people coming in, Germany has a problem.

CLIFT: It’s really not up to us to fight among ourselves as to which European nation should do what.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: To Tip or Not to Tip?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There’s no danger of, you know, a slow night, a server not making any money.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): So says one New York City restaurant owner who has replaced discretionary tipping. On all other restaurant billing, he attaches a 20 percent administrative charge on checks. Tipping offers the option to pay extra for services rendered and it is a long and defining tenet of U.S. society. And for waiters, delivery persons and others, tipping is a means of living. Without tips, a server may not earn enough to make the rent.

Regardless, more business owners are replacing tipping with raise list prices and other additional menu charges.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is tipping more trouble than its worth and should we send it to the trash can?

I ask you, Pat.

BUCHANAN: No. I think the restaurant can do what it wants. But the idea to me of tipping, it’s much more of a human communication with the people who are serving you dinner, and when you -- if you’re known as a good tipper, it says, "Thank you very much for the service." And I think people appreciate it and I think it helps basically in terms of the communication between the folks serving and the folks making the dinner and the folks who are enjoying the meal.

So, I mean, I prefer it and I will say, John -- I like -- I like tipping pretty well to folks, and if they’ve given you -- you get to know people and everything else. This idea of putting an automatic thing and the restaurant owner writing it off --

CLIFT: Well, not everybody has a family restaurant that they go to routinely, and you got to know everybody. But I do think tipping is so ingrained in the culture, you’re not going to get rid of it. And I think it should be up to the restaurant. But one thing, it does make it more equitable, because the people who are back in the kitchen making the food, they don’t get any tips.

And so, this sort of spreads the income around and I think it’s more -- it’s more equitable.

BUCHANAN: It’s a good socialist thing?

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: Well, I think everybody should -- and I agree with Hillary Clinton, who says that tipping minimum wage, which is ridiculously small, it’s a way for restaurants to pay us the cost onto the consumer. That should be raised. I mean, that’s way too low. It’s not a living wage at all.

ROGAN: Look, I think it’s better that you retain the system, because you want the best people in the best positions where they can earn more. Theres no surprise, you go to a higher end restaurant, that the servers there tend to be better, because these are people who’ve got that experience and a lot of those skills and are now earning some really good paychecks off those tips.

I think, though at the lower level, you also, when you go to somewhere, yes, and it’s good service, you probably should pay more because the 20 percent on lower bill is going to be lower than 20 percent on the high-end steak house.

But I have the concern here, if we move to this administrative charge, what you will see is the reflection of European or global service types, in the sense that, there is a reason service is not as good in those countries as it is here, because there’s less insensitive.

MCLAUGHLIN: There are other --

ROGAN: It does vary from culture to culture there. They have that -- over in Japan, they don’t tip and they have excellent service.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

Well, how can we be sure that a restaurant owner will limit its tips and --

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: -- its prices will pass on the difference to the wait staff.

PAGE: Maybe you need my opinion on this because I happen to have a son who’s a tip worker right now. And so, I’ve got a different perspective now as a consumer, I don’t mind it.

But as someone who knows someone who’s a worker, it’s true that National Restaurant Association has done a very good job of lobbying government. They have this separate minimum wage for tip workers and just increases inequality out there and --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: What does the government getting into the thing for? For heaven’s sakes!

PAGE: Pat, the government’s there. I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: And they’re going to order everybody in all personal relationships?

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: The National Restaurant Association is called the other NRA, because that’s what it is, it’s a very powerful lobby, and they defend tipped workers, they defend a lower minimum wage for people who are working in the service industry.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: What’s going to happen in your case --

PAGE: And more and more people are working in the service industries now because of the decline of manufacturing in this country.

BUCHANAN: What’s going to happen to your K Street lobbyists in the age of Trump?

PAGE: What’s going to happen to K Street --

(LAUGHTER)

CLIFT: I think they’re going to be paying 20 percent, one way or the other.

PAGE: I love that you change the subject so quickly. I’m talking about wealth inequality.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: All right, Pat, Pat --

PAGE: If it weren’t for wealth inequality being so bad as it is right now, Donald Trump wouldn’t have a campaign. That’s a big reason why his campaign is so successful because people at that level, the ones who are the most receptive to his message, for good reason.

MCLAUGHLIN: Can you guess why --

BUCHANAN: People getting tips are the people voting for him.

MCLAUGHLIN: Can you guess why celebrity chiefs Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich were ordered to pay $5.25 million to employees, Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN: Well, probably, because they didn’t reward them enough for what they were doing. I’m not familiar with that particular case, John. But I’m sure that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court, too.

CLIFT: Right. Listen, I’m for whatever protects workers, and all of that has gotten out of balance in the current society, which is why you see such anger out there on the campaign trail.

ROGAN: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: They were sued for skimming the tips of employees and they lost.

PAGE: Well, good.

MCLAUGHLIN: It’s naive to think higher menu prices mean higher wages. It’s naive to think that higher menu prices means higher wages.

PAGE: That’s right.

CLIFT: It’s also naive to think that lower menu prices means higher wages. I don’t think --

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: I wouldn’t automatically regard every restaurant owner as, you know, a shyster who’s out there to bilk people. When you research this issue, you see plenty of new restaurant owners who are coming into this with a very idealistic view and really do want to share the profits of the business.

BUCHANAN: My guess is, the people who really serve you well and love doing it prefer the tips, because they do better. And the people --

CLIFT: Not if they’re back in the kitchen preparing it.

BUCHANAN: -- who are just throwing the dish in front of you and moving out don’t like tipping.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: You know, I fear that if you change the system, you are actually see a reduction in server employment because the restaurant owners would say, well, we’ve got a 20 percent of admin charge on every check, whereas before, you could say to servers, come in, because you can earn your money. But if you’ve got an admin charge, then you want to minimize your employees.

PAGE: Let’s forget the admin charge euphemism. I mean, it’s ridiculous. But, you know, this is like some many other things. When the economy is doing well, then, yes, employers got to pay more, because people have some choices. When the economy is not doing that well, there are fewer choices. And our economy has been shrinking for people in lower income earning categories.

And again, that’s why we have the kind of angry electorate that we have right now, especially because white folks are not used to this. Black folks have been accustomed of this for generations, as far as getting screwed on these server jobs, and now, it’s not a new thing.

BUCHANAN: Do you think the white working class folks that are coming out and working for are voting for Trump and voting for Bernie, do you think they have a rough time?

PAGE: I think they’ve had a rough time and they’re having a time that -- all I’m saying is, you’re seeing all this anger among white folks now because they didn’t have the same kind of squeeze before. For 50 years now, our economy as been squeezing people in the lower income brackets. We haven’t had a minimum wage increase since the late ‘70s.

This is all bubbling up now with this new kind of anger we see on the right.

ROGAN: When I first came out here, I was waitering for money. That’s how I made rent. And so --

PAGE: I waited, too.

ROGAN: Right. But the problem is, and that’s why I worry so much about things like the minimum wage, who is going to suffer at that point -- or the admin charge? It’s the person at the bottom of the ladder who was trying to get experience, skill, to build up out there. And they’re going to be priced out of the market.

(CROSSTALK)

CLIFT: That’s always the argument, the corporate barons make.

ROGAN: And economists, the majority of economists.

CLIFT: Same arguments they make against -- you can’t do anything about climate change because that will hurt the incomes of -- when all of these things, if they sort out, everybody will do better.

ROGAN: Let’s see what happens. This is a good thing, in the coming years, because you see in places like Seattle, with $15, New York, San Francisco, we’ll see what their economies do. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe --

PAGE: We’re already seeing it. We’re already seeing it now. You can go out there and see, restaurants are closing up right and left.

When the economy is doing well, the real minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, because of simply the fact that labor is more in demand.

MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sure?

PAGE: Absolutely.

CLIFT: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MCLAUGHLIN: What’s more likely, if tips are eliminated, then owners will pass on earnings from higher prices to wait staff, or their owners will pocket those price increases for themselves?

BUCHANAN: I think that’s an exit question.

There’s no doubt about it. Some owners will simply take the money and not give it to employees. But some people, even with the admin charge, I think will tip a little extra for the waitresses or the waiters if they do a good job.

CLIFT: Yes, if owners behave badly, they’re going to have a lot of turnover and that’s not worth it, and they’re going to -- it’s going to be counterproductive. So, I mean, I think you’d start with the premise that restaurant owners are trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I am.

ROGIN: I think the fundamental underpinning of U.S. society is that you want to empower people opportunity. Absolutely, right, there’s not opportunity for a lot of people at the moment. We need to work big time on that.

But if you have a situation in which people are priced out of that market, you know, you want the best people to be having opportunities to earn more and develop.

PAGE: Well, let’s speak to how the restaurant business is a very tough business, people operate very close to the margin. And I don’t think that restaurant owners deliberately trying to rip people off because they won’t stay in business very long. It’s hard enough to do it.

CLIFT: Exactly. This is -- this is all part of the whole dialogue about whether minimum wage needs to be raised, whether it should be a living wage, and all of that. So, this is one aspect of a much bigger issue that will be fought out on the campaign trail, where Donald Trump has said in the past, wages are too high.

ROGAN: And there’s a positivity to that, that this is an issue, these issues are being actually and with quite big discrepancies on – actually, Trump has his opinions.

PAGE: Trump, the working class hero, I love it, you know?

CLIFT: Wages are too high.

PAGE: I want to see how much he’s paying the waiters at his hotels. I’m sure we’ll find out.

BUCHANAN: My guess is they’re doing very well, or they’d be gone.

PAGE: I would hope so. We’ll see.

ROGAN: I have to say, I did stay in a Trump hotel in Toronto. It was one of the best -- I got to deal --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: I did a blind booking on one of those websites, Millennial Adventure, but it was very good.

BUCHANAN: I debated the great Mario Cuomo down at Mar-A-Lago and we got a nice tour. This is where the folks serving us seemed to be doing very well, very happy.

CLIFT: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Very good.

MCLAUGHLIN: So, what’s the conclusion?

PAGE: I think we --

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Let the restaurants --

CLIFT: Individual restaurants --

BUCHANAN: Let the individual restaurants decide.

(CROSSTALK)

MCLAUGHLIN: Let the owners do it? Let the owners do it?

CLIFT: Yes, and individual communities. I mean, this is going to either, it’s gong to take root some places, and not in another places.

MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

BUCHANAN: I think let the restaurants decide, but I prefer the tipping thing, which is more human interaction.

MCLAUGHLIN: Actually, it’s a bit of both, employee salaries might rise, but most of the menu price hikes will end up in owners’ pockets. I think we emphasize for --

BUCHANAN: I think I said the same thing. Some of it.

MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Narco Allies?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re pushing two, three patrols a day, and even if it’s your off-day, you can expect to go out on QRF to bust your guys out of a bad situation.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): As Sazam Ahmed noted for "The New York Times", Helmand province, Afghanistan, is awash with a thriving opium trade. Opium is used to produce a narcotic heroin, and while the U.S. attempted to diversity Helmand farmers away from opium, many say diversification was always doomed.

One U.S. Marine who served in Helmand described it to THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP this way, quote, "Why would you grow corn if it sells for less and is less reliable? It makes no sense," unquote.

But opiates have a way of establishing a big reach. President Obama launched $1.1 billion to help alleviate the nation’s growing heroin addiction crisis. According to studies, more than half of American heroin addicts do not have access to reliable forms of treatment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Question: How should Congress respond to President Obama’s request? I ask you, Tom Rogan.

ROGAN: Look, I think it’s an issue for the states, I have to say. But it is a critical issue and I would hope that the states would put more investment into it, because you do see this growing crisis, especially in places like West Virginia, and that’s -- but yes, it ruins, it destroys lives and it destroys families.

CLIFT: Well, Republicans discovered this on the campaign trail, and Democrats too, in New Hampshire and I think you’ve got all the candidates are pushing for something. Look, we’re not going to be able to change what -- the crops they grow in Afghanistan. We’ve been at that for decades, it doesn’t work.

But the market has been flooded with these prescription drugs and again, the pharmaceutical companies are making a lot of money on it, people take it and then they discover, it’s too expensive to feed their habit with those drugs and they turn to heroin. Heroin is now cheaper.

But you are getting a change of attitude, not only on the left, but on the right, that this a public health issue that needs to be treated, and the counter-opioid is now being stocked regularly in drugstores to counter the effects of overdoses.

So, I think we’re beginning to come to awareness of this. It’s very important that Congress pass the legislation that’s before it, and I think they will because you do have again, all the candidates, potential presidents are all for this.

BUCHANAN: Before we got into Afghanistan, the Taliban had eliminated the production as I understand it, of opium. And they did it in the old Mao Tse Tung way, which is, they killed all the users and then they killed all the producers of it, just slaughtered them.

But now, they’re making money off of it, and they’re terrorists, in order to take back power. But you mentioned -- you’re right about --

PAGE: That happened pretty early, Pat, because they had been making money off of it for years.

BUCHANAN: Well, they have been making money I think since -- ever since we overthrew them, you know? And it gives them money for their war.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let’s remember, we’re talking about heroin here.

PAGE: Yes, we’re talking about heroin. Opium, which we’re talking about, from which heroin is derived.

BUCHANAN: But, John, let’s go back. Was it really -- I mean, remember Timothy Leary? What is it, turn on, tune in and drop out? The big drug culture, let’s take all these drugs.

CLIFT: Yes, but that was LSD. That’s entirely different.

BUCHANAN: It’s killing -- drugs are killing a significant slice of every young generation you’ve got.

CLIFT: And white -- it’s come to White America, which is -- well, it’s true. That’s the difference now and it’s getting --

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: Because I was about to do it, I don’t want to sound like a broken record. You know what the number heroin state is right now? Vermont. And it’s because what you were talking about. People who --

CLIFT: It’s gotten attention.

PAGE: -- were hooked on oxycontin as a pain reliever, turned to heroin because it’s cheaper.

CLIFT: That’s right.

PAGE: And it’s a sad tragedy. It’s been going on since about 1995, ‘96. And now, that is hitting -- I don’t want to middle class, but some middle class homes as well. But the problem is spreading. It’s not just a, quote, "ghetto", unquote, problem anymore and now, people are starting to see it seriously as a public health problem, which is what it is, and that’s the way it ought to be treated.

ROGAN: It’s a social problem, because it flows to the collapse of the family.

MCLAUGHLIN: There are --

(CROSSTALK)

ROGAN: In a lot cases.

PAGE: Absolutely.

MCLAUGHLIN: Drug gangs are peddling more heroin now, and the reasons why is, one, it’s available from Afghanistan, two, it’s profitable because it’s addictive. Three, cartels -- the marijuana trade is dying off because marijuana is slowly becoming legalized.

PAGE: And four, you’ve got all those Vermont drug gangs hanging out on corners up there.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: They’re under those maple trees, et cetera.

MCLAUGHLIN: Did you see how those factors go here?

PAGE: I’m saying that there’s a lot of stereotypes we got to get passed, because the problem, the heroin problem is changing, as more serious, spreading to more people. And it does need to be treated as a public health problem. And fortunately, now it’s being treated that way.

CLIFT: And marijuana is not the, quote, "gateway drug". It turns out prescription drugs are the gateway drugs. And they’re trying to pressure the FDA to make the drug companies put more and more warning labels on these. It’s way too easy to get these powerful prediction drugs.

MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Given the way Bernie Sanders did on trade in Michigan, and Donald did on trade in Michigan, the Trans Pacific Partnership, John, is not even going to come up for a vote this year.

CLIFT: I have to build on that.

If it has a prayer of passing, it will be in the lame duck after the presidential election, when the Congress looks at the president’s coming in, and a Republican Congress that largely supports the TPP realizes that it’s only change to pass.

MCLAUGHLIN: Tom Rogan?

ROGAN: The Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State will begin before the summer.

PAGE: Much to the disappointment of journalists far and wide, there will not be a brokered convention. Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton will clinch their nominations before conventions.

MCLAUGHLIN: I predict, given the souring public mood on trade, President Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership will not win congressional approval this year.

Bye-bye!

END