Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year . . . .

. . . . But remember to be careful out there.

Spiders on drugs:

Oh Canada, oh Canada.

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Saddam Hussein's Execution

Al-Jazeera reports "grainy image of Saddam's execution was probably captured on a mobile phone by a witness":

A new video has emerged showing Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, exchanging taunts with onlookers before the gallows floor dropped away and he was hanged.

The video, first broadcast by Al Jazeera on Sunday, was captured on a mobile phone when Saddam was executed on Saturday.

Someone among the witnesses can be heard praising Muhammad Bakr al-Sadr, the founder of the Shia Dawa party and an uncle of Muqtada al-Sadr, who was executed in 1980 by Saddam.

"God damn you," a guard said.

"God damn you," replied Saddam.

Saddam appeared to smile at those taunting him from below the gallows. He said they were not showing manhood.

Then Saddam began reciting the Shahada, a Muslim prayer that says there is no God but God and Muhammad is his messenger, according to an unabridged copy of the video clip, which was posted on a website.

Saddam made it to midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word was Muhammad. Then the floor dropped out of the gallows.

'Act of revenge'

Najib al-Nuaimi, a member of the defence team, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that no Sunni lawyer was allowed to be among the execution witnesses and that the conduct of those present showed it was an act of revenge and for political purposes.

"This is not in the normal procedures to execute a normal person," he said.

"It's full of hatred and it's very ugly. It's nothing to do with the Dujail case."

By several accounts, Saddam was calm but scornful of his captors, engaging in a give-and-take with the crowd gathered to watch him die and insisting he was Iraq's saviour, not its tyrant and scourge.

Munir Haddad, an appeals court judge who witnessed the hanging, told the BBC: "He said we are going to heaven and our enemies will rot in hell and he also called for forgiveness and love among Iraqis but also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians."

Witness account

Another witness, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi national security adviser, told The New York Times that one of the guards shouted at Saddam: "You have destroyed us. You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution."

Al-Rubaie told the newspaper that Saddam responded: "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persians and Americans."

Saddam has been buried in Awja village, close to Tikrit.

Ali al-Nida, head of the Albu Nasir tribe, said that the burial had taken place at 4am in a family plot in the village of Saddam's birth.

It is Muslim practice to bury the dead within a day. Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, are buried in Awja.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Hoda Abd al-Hamid said he was buried in a remote corner, his grave covered with the Iraqi flag.

Saddam's family had hoped to bury him in Ramadi, a symbolic site, but they were prevented from doing so due to security reasons.

Peace prospects

There is little prospect of peace from al-Qaeda in Iraq, but Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, and George Bush, the US president, hope that more moderate Sunnis may now choose negotiation over violence.

Unusually, the government did not even see a need for a curfew in Baghdad.

Protests in Saddam's home town and in the mainly Sunni west were small.

Although resentful at a loss of influence, few Sunnis found much to mourn in Saddam's passing.

Many Kurds were disappointed that Saddam was not convicted of genocide against them in a trial yet to finish.

With violence killing hundreds every week, Iraqis have other worries. Celebrations in Shia cities and the Sadr City slum in Baghdad were brief and fairly restrained.

Execution condemned

The UN, the Vatican and Washington's European allies all condemned the execution on moral grounds.

Many Muslims, especially Sunnis, making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca were outraged by the symbolism of hanging Saddam on the holiest day of the year at the start of Eid al-Adha - some Shia also said his death was a suitable gift from God.

After complaints of interference by Shia politicians in the trial, the speed of the execution may add to unease about the fairness of the US-sponsored process.

Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother, and Awad al-Bander, a former judge, will be hanged for the same crimes in January.

Sectarian violence

Al-Maliki, his fragile authority among fellow Shia significantly enhanced after he forced through Saddam's execution over Sunni and Kurdish hesitation, has reached out to Saddam's Sunni supporters

"Saddam's execution puts an end to all the pathetic gambles on a return to dictatorship," he said in a statement as state television showed him signing the death warrant in red ink.

"I urge ... followers of the ousted regime to reconsider their stance as the door is still open to anyone who has no innocent blood on his hands to help in rebuilding ... Iraq."

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

It Wouldn't Be New Year's Without Beans, Beans, Beans . . . .

. . . . For more, more, more of these beans:

Just about every culture in every country has a New Year's traditional food, that includes some kind of bean (legumes, plentiful and thus cheap), although whatever is seasonally abundant will do.

In my circle of family and friends, starting the new year without eating a large bowl of black-eyed peas is like driving without insurance - Sure, you might not get into an accident, but what if you do? Black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is an old southern tradition that is supposed to bring good luck and better fortune. We also open all of the windows and doors at the stroke of midnight (between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day), to usher out the old year's energies and spirits and invite in the new year's luck and fortune.

I cook a rich, savory cassoulet-like black-eyed pea stew with pork (ham hocks), and serve the peas (for luck, although some say they also represent coins) with cornbread (for gold) and sauteed leafy greens (for paper currency, like greenbacks).

Begin this recipe on December 30th (about an hour before you go to sleep), by soaking the dried black-eyed peas overnight. Change the water after the first hour.

The next day (December 31st), cook the rest of the dish before you start your New Year's Eve reveling and refrigerate for New Year's Day:
Black-Eyed Peas

1 lb. black-eyed peas, dried
2 Tbl olive oil
4 oz diced Tasso ham
1 C onion, diced
2 Tbl garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 small ham hocks
2 qts chicken stock, preferably homemade

Salt and pepper

In a large stock or soup pot, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the diced Tasso ham and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and saute for another couple of minutes, until the onions are transluscent. Add the minced garlic, bay leaves and ham hocks. Season with salt (lightly) and pepper. Drain the soaking black-eyed peas (discard the water), add them and the chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook between 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender.

Remove the ham hocks from the pot, pull the meat from the bones in mouth-sized chunks, discard the bones and return the meat to the pot. Fish out and discard the bay leaves.

It's ready to eat. Or refrigerate it overnight - it's even better the next day. Taste and adjust the seasoning just before serving.

This recipe doubles (and triples, quadruples, etc.) easily and well.

Don't forget the Bean-O™.

Now, for the best cornbread you will ever taste:
Maeven's and Mary Steenburgen's Corn Spoon Pudding

1 (8 1/2-oz) box of corn muffin mix
1 (7 1/2-oz) can of whole kernal corn
1 (7 1/2-oz) can of creamed corn
1 C sour cream
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 C melted unsalted butter
1 C grated Swiss cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 C of the cheese in a large mixing bowl. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes.

Sprinkle the rest of the Swiss cheese on top and bake 10 minutes more. You will know it's done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve warm.

Ok, I have a confession to make.

With the exception of the amount of Swiss cheese (she calls for 1/2 C of Swiss cheese) and putting it in the batter (she puts it on top of the cornbread for the last 10 minutes of baking), this is just Mary Steenbergen's recipe.

I don't know Mary, I've never met Mary, but I feel as if I do given the number of times that I've (mis-)made Mary Steenbergen's corn spoon pudding* for my family and friends.

I have never, ever, made this recipe the same way twice, or the way that it was written. For some reason (because I prepare it at the last minute, after guests have arrived, and I start yakking away and don't pay close attention), I always realize too late that I've put the cheese into the batter. I have to grate more if I want to put any on the top - and trust me, you do want to put more on top because it becomes like a frico, caramelizing as it melts into, and becomes one with, the browned crust on the cornbread's top and edges. And I certainly wouldn't want to leave it out of the batter. I have put as much as 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese into the batter and another cup on top, and not a crumb of this cornbread has ever remained on anyone's plate.

It is that good.

[* Lifted directly from "Potluck at Midnight Farm: Celebrating food, family and friends on Martha's Vineyard," by Tamara Weiss (with a foreward by Carly Simon). I wouldn't pay any attention to the reader reviews; I found it to be a charming reflection of the lives and tastes of the people who collaborated in making the book, with some fabulous recipes, in addition to the one for cornbread. William Styron's description of Bill Clinton's apparent passion for Daphne Lewis's fried chicken is worth the price of the book alone had the book not included the recipe. But it does. I've made it and it is a very good fried chicken. And if anybody knows who made the tea service on page 35, or where I might find one like it, please drop me a line.]

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Bush is Desperate for Saddam Hussein's Execution -- What's the Rush?

With the hanging execution of Saddam Hussein moments before sunrise (on the religious holiday Eid al-Adha, coinciding with the haj pilgrimage to Mecca), Iraq forfeits the opportunity to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for the murder of hundreds of thousands of others -- Iraqis, Kuwaitis and Iranians -- for the "crime of all times" and other genocidal crimes, against the Kurds, Shi'ites, and marsh Arabs.

While the appellate decision on Saddam Hussein's first trial affirmed that a death sentence be carried out within 30 days of December 26, 2006, what's the point of challenging Islamic law by rushing the execution instead of waiting for the end of the holiday? That would have satisfied both the judicial appeal directive (execution by January 27, 2007) and Islamic religious law.

What was the rush?

Saddam Hussein should have been tried in an international court of law, answering to all of the charges against him. Not in the chaotic civil war-torn, unsettled Iraq for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in the town of Dujail where assassins tried to kill him in 1982. International lawyers and Saddam Hussein's western lawyers maintain that this trial was fraught with errors, not the least of which was that they had been barred from examining documents that were admitted into evidence at Saddam Hussein's trial and used against him. Ironically, in George W. Bush's effort to 'democratize' the region, this rule in Iraq's penal code is one of the many changes that Bush and Republicans have made to the U.S. criminal code (the Torture Bill).

To claim that it is Iraqi law that death sentences be carried out within 30 days is to not know that Iraq's laws were imposed on them by the U.S. The Iraq Constitution was written by Americans, and includes Paul Bremer's 100 orders (one of which prevents Iraqis from ever owning their own country's resources again and requiring them to have western nations' corporations as their business partners).

The conditions in Iraq worsen every day, and executing Saddam (by the method reserved for common street criminals, hanging) at this time is likely to fuel broader unrest throughout the region. It begs the question, Why is the Bush-Cheney administration so desperate to kill Saddam Hussein?

Wayne Madsen has some answers: Saddam Hussein's execution brings a second trial (begun in August 2006 for war crimes, for the gassing of the Kurds in the Anfal campaign in 1988) to an abrupt halt.

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The Clock is Ticking - Cloned Food Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You!

You have until April 2, 2007, to tell the FDA what you think about cloned animals entering America's food chain.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released a preliminary report on the safety of meat and milk from cloned animals. Their verdict: that these food products are no different from those derived from conventionally bred animals, and are therefore safe to eat. But don't expect your local butcher to be selling hams or rib eyes from cloned animals any time soon. The FDA's report is now available to the public and open for a 90-day comment period. Only after this time will the agency make a final decision on the safety of food products made from cloned animals, a process that may take until the end of next year.

Dolly, the first sheep known to have been cloned from an adult somatic cell, and her offspring, Bonnie.

Time magazine has prepared an FAQ:
Are there any food products from cloned animals on the market?

No. In 2001, farmers and breeders voluntarily agreed not to sell any meat or milk from cloned animals to the public. They were willing to wait until the FDA could determine whether these foods were safe for human consumption, and wouldn't pose any health risks to people. This FDA report does not change that moratorium.

How are cloned animals made?

The most common method used is the same procedure that produced Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned. Scientists remove the DNA material from any cell in the animal they wish to clone (usually a skin cell) and place it into an egg that has had its own DNA removed. That egg is electrically and chemically activated to begin dividing, and after a few days in the Petri dish, it is transplanted into the womb of a surrogate until birth.

Why are cloned animals needed in agriculture?

Breeders are constantly looking to produce the highest quality, highest yield animals they can. Just as crop farmers create hybrid strains that can resist drought and disease, animal breeders want to target healthy animals that are good milk or meat producers. Cloning such elite stock is one way to maximize their yield.

Aren't cloned animals more prone to genetic defects and other abnormalities?

It's true that the cloning process itself is still inconsistent and expensive. On average, only about 2% to 5% of clones make it from egg to live birth. However, most of the genetic problems occur early in the cloning process, so that the few embryos that do successfully divide and mature turn out to be relatively normal.

Will eating products from cloned animals pose health risks to people?

Probably not, according to the data the FDA analyzed. That's because even if the FDA eventually gives the go-ahead, meat or milk from the cloned animals themselves will likely not be what is for sale. Instead, breeders will almost certainly use cloned animals as they use prize bulls — they will mate them in the natural way. and it will be the offspring whose food products will end up on supermarket shelves. Based on studies of cloned cattle, pigs and goats born so far, any genetic defects generated by cloning seem to be limited to the clones themselves, and are not passed on when these animals mate naturally.

Will cloned products be labeled so I know that they came from a cloned animal?

The FDA is waiting until the comment period is over before making this decision. But Stephen Sundlof, director of the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine, says: "If we felt that the food introduced substances that were harmful to people, labeling would be in order. But assuming that the draft risk assessment is not altered in content, which notes that the science shows that the food from these animals is not different materially from the food from other animals, we would not require labeling."

Which animals are being cloned?

For potentially commercial use, breeders are currently cloning cattle, pigs, goat and sheep. The FDA's report, however, only addresses the safety of food from cattle, pigs and goats, since there isn't enough information yet on products from cloned sheep.

Where can I go to post my comments about cloned meat and milk products?

Until April 2, the FDA welcomes public comment at [link] -Docket Number & Title: 2006P-0415 - Petition Seeking Regulation of Cloned Animals.

Not really. The FDA's website is a mare's nest and once you find the report you want to comment on, you're limited to 4000 characters. Time magazine is assisting the FDA in discouraging public comments by giving a link that requires you to have to wade through 15 pages for the Cloned Animal report.

Here is the direct link, and an under-4000 character comment:
The shorter life spans of cloned animals indicates that there is a difference between the clone and the original animal. The effect of the difference on the consumer is, at this point, unknown. By rushing to approve these animals and their byproducts for human consumption (and not requiring labeling), it would seem that the FDA intends to use Americans as guinea pigs, to test their safety on an unwitting and captive public, as it is almost certain that Europeans will be banning the importation of these products into their countries.

The FDA was created to protect the American people and not work for big business. If the FDA goes forward with this plan, cloned meat, their progeny and all byproducts should be clearly labeled so that consumers can make educated purchasing choices.

On Friday 14 February 2003, scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland put Dolly to death. She had been suffering from a progressive lung disease.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wayne Madsen on Bush's Impatience for Saddam Hussein's Death

From The Wayne Madsen Report:
Dec. 26-27, 2006 -- Why the Bush crime family wants Saddam to die. Iraq's former dictator managed to avoid one of the world's most high-tech assassination efforts during the Iraq War campaign only to be allegedly discovered by U.S. forces hiding in a hole in the ground near Tikrit. There is little doubt that the trial of Saddam Hussein by a U.S. puppet government in the Green Zone of Baghdad has been a charade and a miscarriage of justice. Saddam's death sentence decided by an Iraqi government-appointed and U.S.-approved judge on Dec. 26 was never in doubt, considering the knowledge the former Iraqi leader possesses of past crimes of the Bush family and their coterie of friends and partners in providing Iraq with much of the biological and chemical weaponry used against the Kurds, Shi'as, and Iranians.

Saddam Hussein's willingness to provide the Western media with documents and other evidence of the connivance of George H. W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Frank Carlucci, and other Reagan-Bush administration principals was made apparent to this editor in the months preceding the March 2003 American attack on Iraq. A senior Iraqi official contacted a British colleague of this editor and passed on a personal offer from Saddam Hussein to provide an "enterprising" Western journalist with the proof of America's sanctioning of Saddam's use of U.S.-supplied chem-bio weapons during the Iran-Iraq War, including Iraq's attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja. Also included in Saddam's "package" would be top secret information regarding his role as a longtime asset for the CIA, dating from his student days in Cairo.

The Bushes want Saddam very dead: the Iraqi ex-dictator knows too much about the chem-bio weapons supplied to Iraq by Reagan and Bush.

The essence of the offer passed to this editor via the British interlocutor was that Saddam, aware that George W. Bush was going to attack Iraq, ordered his intelligence service to gather up all incriminating evidence that would show the world that Iraq's past "weapons of mass destruction" were provided by the Reagan and Bush I administrations. This proof undoubtedly included tape recorded conversations between Saddam and his advisers and Ronald Reagan's personal envoy to Iraq, Rumsfeld. Saddam hoped that the exposure of the Reagan-Bush administrations would embarrass Washington and derail its attack plans.

The offer from Baghdad was straightforward -- arrive in Baghdad overland from Jordan and the proof would be handed over. There was one slight hitch. Having such incriminating evidence -- documents and proof that the Reagan administration and that of George W. Bush's father aided and abetted in Saddam's military's use of chem-bio weaponry against Iranians and his own people -- would have likely made any "enterprising" Western journalist an inviting target for a number of bad actors the moment that journalist crossed into Jordanian territory from Iraq.

Ironically, Saddam Hussein was more willing to provide the media with classified and sensitive information to expose the machinations of the United States than anyone in the George W. Bush administration or that of his father. It is very clear why the Bush administration wants Saddam dead and it has nothing to do with Saddam's alleged "crimes against humanity."

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's the End of The World - Episode 3

It's television as it should be:

If television was like this, I'd probably have an English bulldog named Gustav.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bush Ponders $10 Billion New Deal to Create Work for Unemployed Iraqis

As if the hundreds of billions of dollars Americans have spent in Iraq couldn't have been better spent here, at home.

American homeless families sleeping in hallways.

Homeless sleeping in Washington, D.C. parks.

Times Online reports:
The White House is expected to announce a reconstruction package for Iraq as part of a plan for a “surge” of up to 30,000 troops into Baghdad when President George W Bush unveils America’s new strategy next month.

Bush is being urged to give up to $10 billion (£5.1 billion) to Iraq as part of a “New Deal” that would create work for unemployed Iraqis, following the model of President Franklin D Roosevelt during the 1930s depression.

At the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff are insisting on reconstruction funds as part of a package of political and economic measures to accompany the armed forces. They fear the extra troops will be wasted and more lives lost if Bush relies purely on the military to pacify Iraq, according to sources close to General Peter Schoomaker, the army chief of staff.
Military commanders have come round to the idea that an increase of troops is likely to form the backbone of Bush’s new strategy on Iraq. “People are warming to the idea that some sort of surge is necessary,” said a military official.

Robert Gates, the defence secretary, held talks with Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, at Camp David yesterday, where he reported back on his three-day tour of Iraq. He said the willingness of Iraqis to “step forward” had advanced significantly.

Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House and a member of the defence policy board advising the Pentagon, is calling for a cross between the New Deal and the post-second world war Marshall Plan that would “mop up every young Iraqi male who is unemployed”. He said it would be “as big a strategic step towards victory as whether you have more troops or fewer troops”.

Gingrich believes his position as a staunch conservative could help to sell the reconstruction package to sceptical Republicans who argue that Iraq has already cost too money. The Pentagon this month requested an extra $100 billion from Congress as an emergency supplement to the 2007 military budget, bringing the total to $663 billion.

Americans have already spent nearly $40 billion on economic aid for Iraq, much of which has been squandered. Bush’s proposals are likely to be more modest than the former speaker’s but he has been listening carefully to advice from generals such as Peter Chiarelli, who stepped down as head of the multinational forces in Iraq last week. He believes a US-funded, Iraqi-led job creation programme is essential to weaken the power of militias.

Bush is also thought to have been influenced by advice from retired General Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan, author of Choosing Victory, published by the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank. The report, which advocates more troops, argues that “reconstruction is a vital part of stabilising and securing the Iraqi population”.

“The military commanders have been emphasising this heavily,” said Kagan. “It is tremendously important. We’re proposing that an economic team goes automatically into areas where the troops are sent in.”

The plan is to extend significantly Chiarelli’s innovative use of Sweat teams (responsible for sewage, water, electricity and trash) to back up military operations.

Local leaders will be asked what they need to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods and the unemployed will be put to work. According to Kagan, the scale of the package should be linked to the degree of co-operation over disbanding militias and providing intelligence about insurgents.

Stephen Biddle, a military expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, who recently advised Bush at the Oval Office, is backing plans for economic reconstruction but is sceptical about its chances of success.

“If Sunni death squads are murdering your relatives and you’re afraid they will slaughter you if you compromise with the Americans, promising to rebuild the local health clinic won’t help,” he said.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dick Cheney Will Appear As Witness For The Defense In The Scooter Libby Trial . . . .

. . . . And I've got this beautiful bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

IHT reports:
Vice President Dick Cheney will be summoned as a defense witness in the trial of his former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, a defense lawyer said Tuesday in federal court. A spokeswoman for Cheney signaled that he would not resist the request for his testimony.

The decision to call Cheney was announced by Theodore V. Wells, a lawyer for Libby, whose trial is scheduled to begin next month.

"We're calling the vice president," Wells said at a hearing before Judge Reggie B. Walton in Federal District Court.

Cheney has been a looming presence in the CIA leak case from the start, and his appearance as a defense witness would keep the vice president and the White House in the foreground of Libby's trial. Libby is the only person charged with a crime as a result of an investigation into whether anyone in the Bush administration intentionally leaked the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency officer.

After the announcement at Tuesday's hearing, Lea Anne McBride, Cheney's spokeswoman, said: "We've cooperated fully in this matter and will continue to do so in fairness to the parties involved. And as we've stated previously, we're not going to comment further on the legal proceedings."

The prospect of Cheney's testimony suggested that Libby's trial could be transformed from a narrowly gauged perjury case into a riveting courtroom drama with the taciturn vice president as the star witness. He would testify under oath and be exposed to cross-examination by prosecutors.

Cheney would be the first sitting vice president, at least in modern times, to appear as a witness in a criminal trial, said Prof. Joel Goldstein of the St. Louis University Law School, an authority on the vice presidency.

Although Cheney has been a vigorous proponent of sweeping executive authority, which includes the notion that the president and perhaps other high officials could resist calls to testify in criminal trials involving their official conduct, his appearance may not set precedents, legal experts said. That is mostly because the Libby case presents a different situation from one in which such officials are subpoenaed to testify, they said.

Cheney appears to have voluntarily agreed to testify on behalf of Libby, whom he has steadfastly supported. It is unclear whether Cheney would appear personally in the courtroom or seek to testify in a less exposed manner like having his testimony taken at the White House and introduced into the trial by videotape.

The trial stems from the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak. The fallout from that disclosure led to an investigation by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a special prosecutor, into whether the leak violated any laws and whether Ms. Wilson's name was disclosed as part of a campaign to punish her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, for his criticism of the White House.

Wilson wrote an opinion article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003 — shortly before the Novak column — in which he claimed that the White House had twisted intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. He wrote that he had personally investigated whether Iraq bought uranium in Africa and had not found any basis for that belief.

Fitzgerald did not bring any charges in connection with laws that prohibit the willful disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity as a covert operative. But he did indict Libby, also known as Scooter, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, saying he had untruthfully testified to a grand jury and federal agents when he said he had learned about Ms. Wilson's role at the CIA from reporters rather than from several officials, including Cheney.

Libby's lawyers have said, in court papers, that they will seek to demonstrate that he had no motive to lie and that if he made any inaccurate statements about his conversations with reporters, they were a result of his being distracted by far more important issues of national security.

In his testimony, Cheney will probably be asked to affirm Libby's statements that he was occupied with many important issues and that there was no deliberate White House plan to disclose Ms. Wilson's identity.

Prosecutors have said in legal filings that Cheney played a central role in the White House reaction to Wilson's Op-Ed article. Fitzgerald has hinted in filings that Cheney may be a prosecution witness, although he said at the hearing that the government had no plans to call the vice president.

According to Libby's grand jury testimony, cited in prosecution legal papers, Cheney believed that the article falsely attacked his credibility because it asserted that the vice president's office instigated Wilson's 2002 trip to Niger.

Prosecutors have already disclosed a copy of the article on which Cheney made handwritten notations asking whether it was Wilson's wife who sent him on the trip.

In previous legal briefs, prosecutors have said they want to use Cheney's notes as evidence, saying they show the agitated environment in Cheney's office and the importance that Libby attached to the effort to rebut the article.

After Cheney expressed concern, Libby told several reporters that Cheney's office had not sent Wilson on the trip and that he might have traveled on what was little more than a junket arranged by Ms. Wilson.

With the trial scheduled to start on Jan. 16, Libby's lawyers and federal prosecutors skirmished throughout the hearing over several likely issues about Libby's motives and state of mind.

William H. Jeffress Jr., one of the defense lawyers, said he planned to call Libby as a witness, along with several reporters who interviewed him in mid-2003, to show that Libby had encouraged the reporters to testify or give depositions in the case.

It's never going to happen. Never ever. It would leave Cheney open to having to answer questions, under oath, about the wider conspiracy within the White House to take the country to war based on lies.

Neither one of them, Cheney nor Libby, will ever take the stand. The defense isn't concerned with making promises to the jury that it fails to deliver because the defense doesn't care about Libby getting convicted; the "fix" (a Presidential pardon) is in.

Somebody Ought to Tell Tony Snow, "Those 'Medical Privacy Rights' That You Think We Have, We Don't, Thanks to Bush & the GOP"

. . . . And, the First Lady's health IS the people's business.

Like everything else that comes out of this administration, the announcement of Laura Bush's treatment for skin cancer shows us once again that the Bush administration has a mistakenly warped idea of what is and isn't the people's business.

At the White House press briefing today:
Q Tony, can you tell us about Mrs. Bush's skin cancer? How is she doing? And how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?

MR. SNOW: Yes, I talked to her a couple of minutes ago. She's doing fine. And she said, "It's no big deal, and we knew it was no big deal at the time." Frankly I don't think anybody thought it was the sort of thing that occasioned a need for a public disclosure. Furthermore, she's got the same right to medical privacy that you do. She's a private citizen; she's not an elected official. So for that reason she didn't disclose it. But she's doing fine, and thank you for your concern.

Q She is often an advocate for women's health in the area of breast cancer or heart disease, advocating screenings, preventative care. Is she likely to talk about skin cancer in that way?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. Fortunately, squamous cell carcinoma, at least in this particular case, was not dangerous. But let me just say, without having cleared it with her, I'm sure that she would be more than supportive of anybody to go out, and if you think you've got a problem with a change in a mole or some skin problems, go get it checked out by a doctor.

Q And she didn't feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?

MR. SNOW: No, again, there are any number of -- this is a room full of public people who tend not -- and I know you say, wait a minute, I'm different than the First Lady. Well, no, she's a private citizen. And the fact is, she is entitled to her medical privacy. And, again, it's no big deal. In this case, it's just not a big deal.

Q May I follow on that? The President is also a private citizen, as well as being the President. So --

MR. SNOW: Well, he's an elected official. It's different.

Q He's an elected official and a private citizen. You can make the same claims of a number of people who have public lives. Mrs. Bush has made herself part of this party and this White House's very public face. So my question is, if this were to be something that is a big deal, would the White House feel obliged to share that with the public?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. She didn't feel obliged, and she believes that she has the same medical privacy rights that you and I have.

Q Did the White House doctor treat her?

MR. SNOW: That I don't know. I didn't ask. There is the confidentiality -- and guess what? Medical privacy also applies to her case in this particular incident.

Q This morning you said you'd make that inquiry.

MR. SNOW: Yes -- you know what, I didn't.

Q But you will?

MR. SNOW: No. It's medical privacy, and I'm not going to get into this.

Q Was it done offsite or was she treated here at the White House? That's a question to add to your list.

Q May we ask, just so that you don't say, you never asked so that's why we haven't told you -- is the Vice President well these days? Has there been any medical incident that would be of interest to the American public?

MR. SNOW: As you know, whenever there is a medical incident involving the Vice President -- I've been an anchor when these things have happened -- you are notified promptly and immediately; cameras are dispatched to the scene, where people stand and wait and wait and wait and wait, until they can see the Vice President getting back into a limo and returning to wherever he is.

So as you know, the President and Vice President, being the two chief elected officials in this country, if there are important health developments, you hear about it. And we think that that's appropriate.

Q Tony, on this point, did the First Lady say she actually does not plan to come out in any way? You know, as someone who would advocate for people --

MR. SNOW: Let me repeat to you exactly what she said. She said, "It's no big deal, we knew it wasn't a big deal at the time." Apparently, she's wrong about this.

Q No, what I'm saying is, as far as encouraging people to be checked. What I'm saying is even though she may not be an elected official, she's a very public official and very well loved. And as someone who has two adolescents who don't like to listen to mother when she says, put on the sun screen, get out of the sun, she could potentially have a great influence on a lot of people's lives, especially young women.

MR. SNOW: She's also had colds, she's had the flu, she's had stomach aches --

Q When? (Laughter.)

Q But those tend not to be --

MR. SNOW: -- she's had a number --

Q Melanoma can kill, skin cancer can kill. It can be very serious.

MR. SNOW: This particular one could not.

Q But she could still -- it could be a platform.

MR. SNOW: You guys are really stretching it. I mean, it is now officially a really slow news day.

There's no pleasing Tony Snow. When the media does as the administration wants and turns their already short attention span from the escalating violence that is a civil war in Iraq, Snow still slams them.

The role of the wife of the President of the United States is, unofficially, as an ambassador and hostess. The Office of the First Lady has a multimillion-dollar budget paid for by the people of the United States. The First Lady employs a chief of staff, a press secretary, a social secretary, and at least a dozen others.

Laura Bush, like all First Ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt, has traveled around the world separately from her husband on public business and at the public's expense. Taxpayers pick up the tab for her travel when she is sent by the RNC around the nation, for purely political purposes, to campaign for Republican candidates. Taxpayers pick up the tab for Secret Service protection of the First Lady and all other members of the President's immediate family. This is done strictly for the peace of mind of the President of the United States. The American people have much at stake in the peace of mind of the President.

So when Tony Snow states that Laura Bush is "a private citizen with the same medical privacy rights as you and me," no, she isn't. That ship sailed when she stayed married to "Bushie" when he decided to run for public office. The American people have every right to know what may be preoccupying (or what potentially could be or will be preoccupying) the President's mind. Tony's Snow's dismissal of squamous cell carcinoma as "no big deal" (or her squamous cell carcinoma) isn't anything that I would take Snow's word for. Or anybody's in this administration - their relationship with truth is casual, if not altogether absent. It's been about six weeks since Laura Bush had the tumor removed from her shin, and she's still wearing a bandage over the site. That wasn't just a few cells scraped off the top layer of skin; it was "the size of a nickel," "a sore that wouldn't go away." That's a significantly sized growth that she obviously didn't seek treatment for right away as her spokeswoman tried to claim.

But I wish some member of the press corps in the room had asked Snow, "What medical privacy rights do you and I have?"

Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress gutted them

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Monday, December 18, 2006

" . . . . (NOT) a good and honorable person"

I'm kicking off a new category, something of a personal pet peeve.

It's for documenting those times when some media talking head says of someone in the news something to the effect of ". . . He/She is a good and honorable person" - effectively vouching for that person's character. As if the viewing public should "Take my word for it," and adopt the opinion of the talking head because the talking head is, 1) a good and honorable person him- or herself, and 2) a good judge of character.

Today's entry comes from MSNBC's SCARBOROUGH:
SCARBOROUGH: Well, the White House apologizes to NBC. The White House press secretary, Tony Snow, says he‘s story about the heated exchange with David Gregory of NBC last week, when Tony accused Gregory of being, quote, “partisan,” causing many on the right, like Bill O‘Reilly, to attack NBC and Gregory.

Well, here, we‘ll report, and you decide.


DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Can this report be seen as anything other than a rejection of this president‘s handling of the war?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Absolutely. You need to understand that trying to frame it in a partisan way is actually at odds with what the group itself says it wanted to do. And so you may try to do whatever you want in terms of rejection, that‘s not the way they view it.

GREGORY: OK, I just want to be clear. Are you suggesting that I‘m trying to frame this in a partisan way?

SNOW: Yes.


SCARBOROUGH: And today, Tony Snow surprised Gregory and the rest of the White House press corps by setting the record straight and saying he was wrong.


SNOW: You and I had a conversation last week that got a whole lot of play in a lot of places, where I used the term “partisan” in describing one of your questions, and I‘ve thought a lot about that. And I was wrong. So I want to apologize and tell you I‘m sorry for it.

And the reason I do that is, not only because it‘s the right thing to do, because I want people in this room and also people who watch these to understand that the relations in this room are professional and collegial. And if I expect you to do right by us, you have every right to expect that I‘ll do right by you. So, in any event, I just want to say I‘m sorry for that.


SCARBOROUGH: You know, that was the right thing to do. Tony Snow is such a good man, such a good human being, I just wish more people were like him in Washington, D.C.

But, you know, does that, though, leave Tony Snow‘s defender on the right with egg on their face, and will they follow Tony‘s lead? I think, again, he did the right thing.

With us now, Bob Kohn, he‘s the author of the book “Journalistic Fraud.” And Matthew Felling, he‘s the media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs. And still with us, MSNBC analyst and former Reagan communication director Pat Buchanan.

Matthew Felling, I just want to say, again, I mean, I don‘t know Tony Snow exceptionally well, but he just seems to be such a decent, upright guy. He‘s got a tough job right now, because the White House is going under and he‘s got to be a positive spokesman for them, but I think he did the right thing.

But, of course, you remember last week, Bill O‘Reilly jumped all over David Gregory after Snow called him partisan. I want to play you what O‘Reilly had to say.


BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Mr. Gregory is a partisan. He has come to the conclusion that Iraq is a loser and bases his questioning upon that belief. While Gregory may be correct, using loaded questions to bolster his point of view is not what straight news reporting is about.


SCARBOROUGH: So, Matthew, should we now expect Bill O‘Reilly to apologize?

MATTHEW FELLING, THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Oh, of course not, man. This is love story, baby. Being Bill O‘Reilly means never having to say you‘re sorry.

I think what I saw last week was actually something that we should be concerned about, especially here in this building, in this network, where there is—a concerted effort has begun on the part of the White House and on the part of conservatives, where they‘re kind of starting to chip away at NBC.

They‘ve started by talking about the guy who leads into this program, Olbermann. Then they moved into the decision to call this a civil war, and now they‘re taking on Gregory. It seems to be a little drip, drip, drip battle that they‘re starting to engage in.

SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask you, Bob Kohn. Were you surprised by the apology today? Do you think he did the right thing?

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR: Well, I think he did the right thing. I mean, you and I have talked on this program about the left-wing bias in the media that‘s existed for many, many years. That includes NBC.

And, you know, I do think that David Gregory may have deserved what he got, because he did ask a question that wasn‘t out of the particular report. He just tried to frame it in a way that said, “Is this a rejection of your policy?”


SCARBOROUGH: But, Bob, you know what, though, Bob? Hold on, Bob, let‘s talk. I mean, let‘s talk about this, because I know David Gregory. I work with him. I work with a lot of people around here. I don‘t know whether David is a conservative or a liberal. I would guess, though, in most broadcast news operations, outside of FOX News, Democrats would probably win 90 percent of the time.

But the guys I know and the women I know that work here are tough on both sides. That‘s why Media Research Center called David Gregory the fairest reporter a few years back.

KOHN: I‘m not so sure—I think that‘s a broad statement. I don‘t think that‘s something that you‘ve agreed with in the past or I would agree with today. But I think Tony Snow did the right thing. Even if David Gregory did deserve it, in Tony Snow‘s mind, he did the right thing, because he‘s got to live with these people.

SCARBOROUGH: Do you think Bill O‘Reilly will apologize? Should he apologize?

KOHN: No, I think Tony Snow did the right thing, in the sense that, you know, he‘s taking the high road here. I think that Bill O‘Reilly is probably not going to apologize. You know, I would apologize. I would apologize tonight to David Gregory, because I think a lot of us came down pretty hard on him for this thing, because, you know, the press has been trying to get the administration to admit things in a partisan way.

I mean, asking a question, “Does this reject your policy?” What would that possibly add to the public discussion of this, if the administration said, “Yes, this rejects our policy,” or, “No, it doesn‘t reject our policy.” So I don‘t think he was trying to seek news there.

And I think I would agree with Tony Snow‘s general reaction. I think he should continue to question the premise of the questions. But at the end of the day, he took the high road. I think it was all taken out of proportion.

SCARBOROUGH: And let me just say, you took the high road, too. And, you know, I screw up all the time. And when I do, I come on and I apologize for that, even if I get kicked around by some people afterwards.

But, Pat Buchanan, I just said I think Tony Snow is a good guy. I think he made the right choice. I hope Bill O‘Reilly follows and apologizes, also, to David Gregory. You and I both know, though, that‘s probably not going to happen.

But let‘s just talk historically. Put this in historical context. I mean, White House spokesmen, when they screw up, they usually zip it up and keep going, because they know they‘ll get beaten up if they‘re truthful. Were you surprised that Tony Snow took the high road and apologized? Again, he said partisan last week. He just didn‘t mean it; it just came out.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I‘m not surprised, because I think Tony Snow‘s a class act, and I think he reflected on it.

Look, David‘s a very tough reporter. He‘s a tough, aggressive questioner. He hits hard. That‘s a contentious relationship. It‘s a professional relationship. And Tony should not have gone and directed, attacked his motives. Now, look, once you get on talk TV and things like that, I think you really cut loose back and forth. That‘s a brawling situation. It‘s perfectly legitimate. And Tony Snow is the president‘s spokesman.


SCARBOROUGH: And, again, we‘ve all made those mistakes before, haven‘t we, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Sure, sure.

SCARBOROUGH: You say something and you want to pull it back.

BUCHANAN: He‘s the president‘s spokesman. Wait a minute. He‘s the president‘s spokesman. And as that, he wants to say, look, I want to respond and toughly respond and answer and knock it down, but I shouldn‘t have gone at your motives and said you‘re hauling water for the Democrats. I apologize for that.

Now, in this business, Joe, you and I, we can let anybody have a back and forth and take it. Tony Snow did the professional thing and the right thing.

KOHN: Joe, when the tables are turned, when the press makes a mistake you know, we all make mistakes—when the press makes a mistake, look what the “New York Times” did when they had Jayson Blair on. Basically, he was writing stories that were false and embarrassed the administration, particularly the Justice Department and Attorney General Ashcroft. Did the “New York Times” ever apologize to the Bush administration for that? No, they didn‘t.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know...


SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve talked about this, also, though. I think the good news is they‘ve got an ombudsman there who‘s now getting more aggressive. And I‘ll tell you what: That is all I ask, Matthew Felling, that people police themselves, that the “New York Times,” NBC News, other news outlets police themselves. I think it‘s worked very well.

But, bottom line, let me ask you, Matthew, why do you think Tony Snow apologized? What was the motivation?

FELLING: Well, I think—well, first of all, I think it was a little bit calculated because he saw that what he did last week was becoming the story. It was the old technique of attacking the messenger. And I think what he‘s also done—and I think it was accidental in this case—is that he actually bought himself some good graces into January, because January is going to be a very tough month for him.

And I agree with what Pat Buchanan said earlier. I remember when Ari Fleischer would say to somebody, who asked a very pointed question, “It‘s your job to ask that; it‘s my job to answer it the way I choose.”

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it. That‘s what they do.

Bob Kohn, Matthew Felling, Pat Buchanan, thanks for being with us. And I want to underline I agree with Pat. I think Tony Snow, whether you‘re a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or a conservative, he‘s a class act. And I am so glad he apologized, not for David Gregory. David Gregory can handle it. But just because what it says about Tony‘s character.

Wikipedia has this to say about Tony Snow:
Snow's method of dealing with reporters has departed from many past press secretaries' emphasis on political spin and bluffing. Snow is known to reply to reporters' queries in a mocking and condescending manner, especially reporters who work for news outlets that have generally been regarded as unfriendly to the George W. Bush administration. (When Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death a few days before the 2006 midterm elections, Maureen Dowd asked if there had been communication between the White House and Iraq to coordinate the timing of Hussein's sentencing to directly precede the midterms. Snow responded by asking Dowd, nicknamed "the Cobra" by the President, if she had been "smoking rope."[1])

He has, however, shown a willingness to admit to reporters when he doesn't know an answer; he even adopted what he termed a "bupkis list" for questions he plans to research and get back to reporters on. Bupkis is a Yiddish word for "beans," usually used to mean "nothing" or "not worth anything." Snow first used the word to ridicule a question from longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas before later applying it to his list. Snow has been known to dismiss other reporters' questions as well, such as when he suggested that the second part of a two-part question that he deemed "preposterous" should "die a crib death."[7]

Ridiculing and demeaning others isn't the hallmark of "a good and honorable person" - It's the hallmark of an asshole. And when you're the chief spokesman for the most powerful officeholder in the world, it's the hallmark of a power-abusing bully.

And when you scratch beneath the surface of Tony Snow's history, it becomes clear that it is the power-abusing bully that George W. Bush hired to represent him in front of the media.

According to Joe Scarborough, Tony Snow apologized to David Gregory, not to his face, not privately, not one-on-one, but when the red light went on on the television camera in the White House press room. Where are the apologies to Helen Thomas, Maureen Dowd and the rest of the reporters he has insulted and treated poorly? History shows us that when Tony Snow apologizes, when he acts out of character, it's to achieve another agenda on behalf of the Bush administration that is intended to deceive the American people, to distract our attention. It's meant to change the subject.

Tony Snow hitting his head on the podium as he fields another question about the Iraq Study Group's report.

Whether it's "tarbabies" (Snow's gaffe on his first day as Bush's press secretary) or being caught in a bald-faced lie regarding Flynt Leverett and White House censorship during the press gaggle today, Snow has a serious problem when it comes to honesty and integrity. SourceWatch has gone the extra mile, examined his entire public career and has documented just how not "a good and honorable person" Tony Snow is.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's the End of The World - Episode 2

It's television as it should be:

If television was like this, I'd have no reason to blog.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Time to spruce up for the holidays.

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Bush Intends to Start the War in Iraq All Over Again

Bush won't say what his response to the Iraq Study Group's report is until sometime in January, but has been using reporters for the cable news channels (CNN, MSNBC, Fox) this week to break the news to Americans that "White House insiders are saying that the U.S. will increase troops on the ground in Iraq by 20,000 to 40,000."
But where will they come from?

No sooner had the White House announced that Bush wouldn't be responding to the ISG's report by Christmas (as had been promised), than I began seeing army recruiting commercials popping up in some of the most unlikely places. Such as on FoodTV and Bravo. In between segments of Paula Dean cooking her favorite holiday treats were pitches to minority youth, blacks and hispanics, to become "army strong." In one of the commercials, a young black woman explains to her mother all of the wonderful opportunities that joining the U.S. Army will afford her - health care and a college education.

I've long thought that the Bush administration's style and practice of using the media to leak unpopular plans that it has in store for us and the rest of the world, to soften the blow, is the epitome of cowardice. It's also straight out of "Bad Leadership & Management 101." These new ads strip away the last vestiges of any defense against that charge:

Bush's last stand in Iraq will be to hide behind a front line of young, black American women.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

John Edwards on Hardball

John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, with Chris Matthews on Hardball College Tour:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 6

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Hi. I‘m Chris Matthews, live from the southern part of heaven, the University of North Carolina, home of the Tarheels here in Chapel Hill with the HARDBALL College Tour. Our guest tonight, North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic nominee for vice president, John Edwards.

MATTHEWS: Well, I‘ve been a Tarheel born and a Tarheel bred and when I‘m dead, I‘ll be a Tarheel dead. Is that tough enough? Is this tough state or what?


MATTHEWS: This is the greatest place. I went to grad school here, Senator, for one year. It‘s the southern part of heaven. It‘s as great as it ever was. It was the greatest comeback. I‘ve been sick for two weeks. I‘ll tell you more about that. It‘s so great to be back and to be back in heaven here. It‘s the best place.

J. EDWARDS: Thank you. Glad to have you back. Welcome back.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, Senator.

Let me talk—but we‘re going to have a tough—this is HARDBALL, by the way, I‘m not here to be...

J. EDWARDS: I understand that.

MATTHEWS: This is...

J. EDWARDS: You may not remember this. I‘ve done this a time or two with you.

MATTHEWS: This isn‘t “Success” magazine here, you know.

J. EDWARDS: I understand.

MATTHEWS: Not that anybody has ever heard of “Success” magazine anymore.


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this thing today. The president of the United States put out the word that after all the work that went into the Iraq Study Commission, he‘s not going to have a change or an alteration in policy until come next year, sometime early next year. He‘s put it off again.

Our people just figured out—the American people ought to know this

we‘ve lost 34 men since the Baker Commission came out with its report.

What do you think of this foot dragging? What do you think of this war?

J. EDWARDS: I think the war is a mess. The Iraq Study Group report makes that very clear. It‘s a very sobering indictment of what‘s happening in Iraq right now, and the desperate need to change policy.

And it‘s amazing to me and completely unacceptable that the president of the United States, after having led us there and help create this mess along with the help of others, is not taking responsibility in changing course.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of the job we‘ve got now? The Sunnis—

57 people were killed today in Baghdad—you read about it.


MATTHEWS: They were killed by a Sunni suicide bomber. We could‘ve been there with 10 million troops, that guy would have done that.

J. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: That‘s what they do. If somebody had come to this country in the middle of our lousy Civil War that we went through here, if some Iraqi had shown up with a bunch of people and said we are going to referee the American Civil War, I don‘t know what—I guess we all would have killed them.

But the question is, what are we doing trying to referee a civil war?

J. EDWARDS: Well, that‘s exactly what we‘re doing right now, and the one thing that the Study Group report makes clear which should have been clear a very long time ago is the fighting between Sunni and Shia, the sectarian violence that‘s going on in Iraq, the tribal wars that have gone on there for centuries, the idea that we can fix this with a military intervention is absolute nonsense and we should have known that from the very beginning.

The only solution is a political solution which is—in reconciliation, which is very, very difficult now.

MATTHEWS: Well, the “USA Today” poll came out today—I‘m sure you saw it on the cover of “USA Today,” a Gallup poll—one if five Americans -- this is how bad we are right now—trust the president of the United States, George W. Bush, to do the right thing in Iraq. Right now, one in five. Are you one of them? Do you trust him?

J. EDWARDS: I am—I am—I do not trust him. I‘m not one of the one in five. But I have to say...


J. EDWARDS: I think that skepticism and cynicism is well-deserved. I think the president has shown a complete inability to change, a complete incompetence in the management of the war in Iraq. And when it‘s clear that things aren‘t going well and that there‘s a huge civil war going on in Iraq and all this sectarian violence is going on, he has, until very recently, continued to stay the course.

And now he tells us it‘s going to be January before he takes any different course? It‘s just not acceptable. It‘s not leadership. That‘s not what America needs.

MATTHEWS: A scary thing came out the other day. Talabani, the president of Iraq, said—and he‘s usually one of our best buddies over there.

J. EDWARDS: Yes, he is. He is.

MATTHEWS: He‘s a Kurd. He likes us, like most Kurds do. He said we are building an Iraqi army which is packed with Shia militia people, all part of it. It‘s like picking up a police force with bad guys off the street. We picked the wrong people.

And then he said if you put American soldiers on top of these guys, embed them with these guys, it will be even worse. You‘ll have Americans joining in militia actions—you know, death squads.

J. EDWARDS: Well, it‘s part of the entire problem that we have in Iraq. The allegiance is to Shia, Sunni, Kurd. The allegiance is to the tribe. The allegiance is not to Iraq and to a national government and that‘s what we are seeing every single day with the Sunni insurgents, with the Shia militia and with the Kurds, who I think, ultimately, would like to see themselves be independent.

MATTHEWS: How many more months of this would you support if you were president now? I know it‘s—you haven‘t announced yet, formally, but with two more years of this administration, should we spend the whole next two years grinding this thing down to its inevitable conclusion and have a couple thousand more American guys killed, another 100,000 Iraqis?

J. EDWARDS: Well, we‘ve got to change and we ought to change dramatically. I mean, I have been saying that for a year or more, that we ought to have a significant drawdown of American presence there to send the signal that we are not going to be there forever and we‘re not there for oil. The president of the United States needs to say that very directly, because the rest of the world does not believe it. They don‘t believe it.

MATTHEWS: He‘s saying the opposite. He‘s talking about permanent bases over there.

J. EDWARDS: That‘s right, and he‘s wrong about that. We have to say the opposite, which is what the Baker Study Group said, we‘re not going to have permanent bases in Iraq and we‘ve got to start pulling our troops out.

MATTHEWS: We‘ve got 140,000 people over there now. How many would you withdraw fairly quickly?

J. EDWARDS: Forty to fifty thousand.

MATTHEWS: And then what would be the rest of the deployment. What would be the role?

J. EDWARDS: Then the responsibility is to do everything we can. I do think the embedding is a good idea, to do as much as we can to get the Iraqis trained. The danger, of course, is when you—the very reasons you just described—when you embed American soldiers into these Iraqi forces, they are extraordinarily at risk. They‘re already at risk and that‘s going to increase the risk for them.

MATTHEWS: Well, yes, but...

J. EDWARDS: But...

MATTHEWS: ... what happens if we reduce our complement of troops, as you recommend, and we‘re in a weakened deployment over there and a bunch of these guys, these militias, the Shia militiamen, grab a couple of our guys because they‘re out there all alone in some God awful unit made up of militia people?

They‘re grabbed, they‘re captive, they‘re torturing them, and you‘re president of the United States, what do you do then? We can‘t protect our own troops if we let them scatter.

MATTHEWS: But all of this, Chris, is dependent on—anything we do militarily should be dependent on the Iraqis actually taking serious steps toward reconciliation.

MATTHEWS: Would you risk the life of an American soldier in some Iraqi unit, let him under some Iraqi officer out in the middle of nowhere where they can pull the guy out of the unit and torture him to death?

J. EDWARDS: I would never put him under the control of an Iraqi officer. Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: So you‘re talking about American soldiers embedded in units that are directed by American forces?

J. EDWARDS: And we—we, as Baker said and the Study Group said in their report, we need to have people in these groups in order to be able to get them trained as best we can. Now, having said all that, if we don‘t see substantial movement on the political front, we should not continue to support what‘s happening there.

MATTHEWS: What‘s the lesson over there? Did we—did we—I know you have been very direct just saying it, you, among a lot of senators in both parties supporting this war was a mistake.


J. EDWARDS: I said I was wrong. I said I was wrong.

MATTHEWS: You said something very interesting in that article. In the lead, you said there was a political agenda here. It wasn‘t just WMD. What was that? What was the president up to here with going to war in Iraq?

J. EDWARDS: It‘s impossible for me to know. I think he had an agenda against Saddam Hussein from the moment he stepped into office.

MATTHEWS: Was it a daddy thing?

J. EDWARDS: It could be. I think—I can‘t get inside his mind, but it‘s possible.

MATTHEWS: He never told us that.

J. EDWARDS: No, of course he didn‘t tell us. No, he said this was all about the war on terrorism, central to the war on terrorism. He took a place that was not central to the war on terrorism and made it central to the war on terrorism.

MATTHEWS: You‘re a student of American life. You‘re very in active in politics, very successful. Do you think that it‘s scary that a president of the United States of limited ability was able to take this country and create a firestorm of almost messianic nuttiness about the fact of the French are no good, we‘re going to have freedom fries. The Dixie Chicks are no good. He created a national attitude of you have to be for me, or you‘re bad. Did that scare you a little?

J. EDWARDS: I think the lesson is there‘s a depth, a maturity, an experience, the ability to exercise good judgment that‘s required of the president of the United States that ought to be on the forefront of any decision that a voter makes in 2008.


MATTHEWS: I‘ll come back and bet you on yourself, buddy, when we get back.

J. EDWARDS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask the audience, how many people here believe that the United States would be better off, after all the interesting points made here, to just leave, get out of Iraq?


MATTHEWS: How many say we should keep a large deployment of troops over there through the next two years?

OK, we‘re going to come right back and talk to John Edwards, the senator from this state who wants to run for president, I‘m told, and is up against some very big people like Barack Obama—did I say that right—and Hillary Rodham Clinton, although now it‘s Hillary Clinton. Anyway, we‘ll be back to talk about how he takes on the big boys. He‘s doing number two in the polls right now.

You‘re watching the HARDBALL college tour live in Chapel Hill.


MATTHEWS: Look, you were mentioning in the first block about the president and the fact that he‘s had a hard time, he‘s gotten stuck in Iraq. And a lot of people believe—I‘m one of them—that he didn‘t prepare himself for the office well enough, he didn‘t have an instinct for foreign affairs, even a curiosity.

So I‘m going to be a little tough with you right now. OK? You ready?

J. EDWARDS: You mean, unlike usual?

MATTHEWS: Unlike usual.

When the president was running, George W. Bush, he didn‘t have any foreign affairs background and a Boston reporter named Mandy Heller (ph) asked him to name the head of government of four countries. And they were somewhat obscure countries: South Korea, Chechnya, Pakistan—I forget the other one. And he only got one right.

And that‘s what I got right at the time, too because I was—I mean, guessing that the head of South Korea‘s name is Lee is probably a pretty good bet, which is like Smith in England, you know.

So I‘m going to ask you some easy ones, I think. But they may be hard. And if you want to pass on them, you can do that.

Who‘s the prime minister of Canada?

J. EDWARDS: The prime minister of Canada is Harper, I believe.

MATTHEWS: Very good.

Who‘s the president of Mexico?

J. EDWARDS: He‘s the new president, he‘s Calderon.

MATTHEWS: Great. Great. And who is the...

J. EDWARDS: This is not—this is ridiculous.

But go ahead.

MATTHEWS: No, no, no. It‘s not ridiculous. Who‘s the president of South Africa?

J. EDWARDS: I don‘t know the answer to that.


Who‘s the president of Iraq? The president?

J. EDWARDS: The president is Talabani, who I met before he became president, as a matter of fact.

MATTHEWS: The president of South Africa is Thabo Mbeki.

J. EDWARDS: There we go.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s see. The chancellor of Germany?

J. EDWARDS: The chancellor of Germany is—I just met with her—


MATTHEWS: Who don‘t you know here?

J. EDWARDS: Keep going.


MATTHEWS: Let‘s try—really very obscure? Italy.

J. EDWARDS: Italy is...

MATTHEWS: Was Berlusconi.

J. EDWARDS: ... Prodi—Pradi (ph). I‘m not sure I can say it right.

MATTHEWS: Is that right?


J. EDWARDS: They‘re going to say yes no matter what.

MATTHEWS: I‘m going to go back in my box because Harper is pretty obscure. What‘s his first name?

J. EDWARDS: I don‘t know.

MATTHEWS: Steven Harper.

What party is he?

J. EDWARDS: Don‘t know that, either.

MATTHEWS: He‘s Tories, conservative.

What about Calderon? You think he‘s—he‘s a conservative?

J. EDWARDS: Calderon is a conservative.


MATTHEWS: ... despite all this anti-American feeling in the world, and yet, it‘s not about ideology. A lot of these countries are electing relatively conservative leaders, Germany, Canada...

J. EDWARDS: They‘re more conservative.

MATTHEWS: ... Mexico. And why do you think we‘re still hated around the world?

J. EDWARDS: Why do I think America‘s still hated?

MATTHEWS: Yes. We are.

J. EDWARDS: Because I think that over the last six years, the Bush administration has shown a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to lead. I think to lead you have to have more than power. You need power.

MATTHEWS: right.

J. EDWARDS: You need to be strong militarily, economically, et cetera.

But I think you also have to show that you have the moral authority to lead. Countries have to naturally want to come to you. In order for that to be true, you have to sometimes act in things that are outside your own strategic self-interest, things like the genocide in Sudan.

MATTHEWS: You—when President Bush ran for office, he said something that grabbed me. He said, I think we need to be a little more humble in our foreign policy. Do you think 9/11, as horrible as it was, screwed up our value system about humility in the world, whether we‘re the boss of the world?

J. EDWARDS: No. I think George Bush screwed up our value system.


MATTHEWS: You think—I was asking the audience earlier what‘s the biggest weakness—see, every presidential election seems to be about solving a current problem.


MATTHEWS: With Ike he was the clean—he cleaned up after Truman.

Kennedy was the young guy coming in. Reagan‘s strength.

This time around, what is it—what is the ingredient people are looking for in the new leader that‘s missing clearly now to most people?

What‘s the key, missing factor that they‘re looking for in a president?

J. EDWARDS: Optimism and the character and strength and vision for what the world and America needs from us.

MATTHEWS: So it‘s optimism?

J. EDWARDS: I think optimism is a component of it. I don‘t think it‘s the only thing. I think depth and maturity, which I spoke about earlier, are also critical.

MATTHEWS: Do you think...

J. EDWARDS: I think it‘s really important—if I can say one last thing about this.


J. EDWARDS: I think it‘s very important for anybody who‘s considering running for president, instead of thinking about being a candidate to think about actually occupying the Oval Office, the difficult decisions that would need to be made, and how they would go about making those decisions and believing that they have the judgment to make them.

MATTHEWS: And you‘ve got it?

J. EDWARDS: That‘s something I‘m getting—that I‘m in the process of deciding right now.

MATTHEWS: But a preliminary decision would...

J. EDWARDS: Do I think I have the qualities to be president? Yes, I do. I think the question is—that‘s not the question, though. The question for me personally, is whether this—is this the best place for me to serve? Because I want to spend the rest of my life serving, and the question is, is the best place to do it?

MATTHEWS: So you think there are a number of people that are qualified to be president?

J. EDWARDS: Qualified on paper, yes.

MATTHEWS: And instinct and values?

J. EDWARDS: That remains to be seen. I think it‘s not—I think you have to, particularly if you haven‘t been through this in a national campaign before, I think that there‘s some very good people who are considering running. I personally think it would be good for us if they all ran so that we have as many good choices as we can have.

MATTHEWS: But you‘ve been to the Super Bowl before, unlike Obama and unlike Hillary. So you‘ve got that edge on them.

J. EDWARDS: Well, I don‘t know if it‘s an edge. But I think I understand.

MATTHEWS: But you said running before gives you an advantage.

J. EDWARDS: No, you said that, I didn‘t say that. I said running before makes you focus on something different. Instead of focusing on how crowds respond to you and what everybody seems to love you. That‘s not the test for being president. The test for being president is are you the best person to occupy the Oval Office and be the leader of the free world? Because literally the future of the world is at stake here. This is not about popularity and excitement.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know, the trouble is that some people say yes to that when they‘re wrong.

J. EDWARDS: That‘s true. But ultimately the candidates don‘t decide, the American people decide.

MATTHEWS: We‘ll be right back with John Edwards and the competition he‘s facing as he apparently runs for president. Elizabeth Edwards is going to be here with the HARDBALL College Tour from Chapel Hill.



J. EDWARDS: So you have problems with not enough food, with the HIV/AIDS, with not enough medicine? Are there many orphans? Why so many orphans?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rebel activities.

J. EDWARDS: What happens with the orphans? Who takes care of them?


MATTHEWS: Well. We‘re back at Chapel Hill. We have a student with a question for John Edwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, I wanted to know what message you think it sends to a child from a low-income home to see so many candidates spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their campaign? Does he think he can run even though his family might not be in a high financial situation?

J. EDWARDS: The answer to your question, is it sends exactly the wrong message and it‘s one of the reasons that we need to solve this problem, not the only reason. We spend so much money on political campaigns and we raise money from lots of interest groups and a lot of people don‘t feel like they are participating in this democracy as a result. I think the answer to this is to publicly finance our campaigns.

MATTHEWS: Is McCain-Feingold a failure?


MATTHEWS: Thank you. That‘s making news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, senator. Two years ago, we heard about your idea of the two Americas and your ambition to bridge the two. Today, Senator Barack Obama has the audacity to hope for a better American dream for its citizens. Frankly, how is your vision of the American dream different from that of Barack Obama‘s? What separates between you two?

J. EDWARDS: Well, I don‘t know the extent to which our vision is different. I don‘t know enough about what he Senator Obama is saying. I think that when he talks about hope, hope is something that I myself talked about a great deal when I was running for president and for vice president, restoring hope. Hope is on the way with was one of the phrases that I used. So in terms of the substance of what he wants to do, I don‘t know whether he believes as I do that the most important responsibility of the next president is to restore America‘s leadership in the world, to address big moral issues in the world like global poverty, AIDS, genocide. And what we need to do here at home. I just honestly don‘t know enough about where he stands on those things, although I‘m sure if he runs for president, he‘ll tell us.

MATTHEWS: Do you think he has gotten too much hype, press hype? I mean, the press went nuts over him up in New Hampshire this weekend. Do you think that was overdone?

J. EDWARDS: No, I think it‘s—listen, he‘s an exciting, charismatic guy and I think he would add something to the race if he decided to run for president. And then the real test, as those of us who‘ve been through enough.

MATTHEWS: How do you break into that interesting bout that they‘re developing between Hillary and—give us another question for the senator. The slogan out there is “Don‘t tell mama, I‘m for Obama.”

J. EDWARDS: I thought you were going to let them ask questions.

MATTHEWS: The reason is, I was waiting for the next person to get ready, senator. But if you‘re going to get snippy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Senator Edwards. If hypothetically you were to be running for president, what would you say to critics who think that you don‘t have enough governing experience on a national scale?

J. EDWARDS: I would say that I should be tested on that. I think that anybody who is considering voting for me ought to hear me talk about what I think needs done in America, what I think America needs to be doing in the world and they ought to listen to both the depth and the substance of what I‘m saying and decide whether they believe I have both the personal qualities and the vision, the substantive vision for America and the rest f the world, that the president of the United States needs. If I run for president, I‘m prepared to be tested on that.

MATTHEWS: Any thoughts on that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess I was getting at more on was kind of the foreign policy aspect. As a senator for two years, did you have enough experience in the foreign policy realm to kind of comfort the American people at a time where foreign policy is really at the forefront?

J. EDWARDS: It‘s a really good question, an important question.

I think that the answer is, first of all, I was in the Senate six years, not two years. No, it‘s OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Communications major, sorry.

J. EDWARDS: You know, some of the rest of us make mistakes like that, too. I was there for six years and then subsequent to the presidential campaign in 2004, my time has been spent, a big chunk of it, has been doing work overseas. The home audience just saw me traveling through Uganda, I‘ve been doing humanitarian work. I spent time speaking in the Middle East, speaking in the Middle East, in India, in Asia, in Europe, speaking, meeting with leaders. And I think that has been enormously valuable in terms of adding to the depth and maturity of my view about what‘s happening in the world.

MATTHEWS: OK, we‘ll be right back with more questions for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, possibly running for president.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The College Tour is here in Chapel Hill, the southern part of heaven. I love this place. I went to grad school here, but our special guest is Senator John Edwards.

You live around here, right?

J. EDWARDS: I do, not far from here.

MATTHEWS: It‘s so great. You know, I want to ask you about poverty in America and what strikes me, not just the real destitute cases, but the towns in America, the town like you grew up in. You travel across the Midwest of the United States, you go through places like Spencerville, Ohio, Michigan City, Indiana and nothing is left but the Blockbuster and maybe a diner.

J. EDWARDS: Right. Right.

MATTHEWS: They‘re deindustrialized, nobody‘s got a job, the kids leave. Is this Wal-Mart doing this? Who‘s doing this? There‘s no downtowns. There‘s no gift shop. All this stuff is now at Wal-Marts now. Is—I know I‘m feeding you here, but I really want to know. Are you ready to say that Wal-Mart has hurt America?

J. EDWARDS: I think the honest answer to that question—I know what

the best answer politically to say. I think the honest answer is, it‘s complicated. I think Wal-Mart does something good. They provide low cost goods to people who badly need them. That‘s a good thing.


J. EDWARDS: There are others like Costco who do the same thing and they pay their employees well and they give health care coverage. I think what my concern is about Wal-Mart, and a lot of people‘s concern is, what they do to the kind of communities you are talking about; and secondly, that so many of their employees and their children are dependent on taxpayer money to get the health care that they need or to get any kind of peace in life.

MATTHEWS: How does that work?

J. EDWARDS: Well, basically, they‘re dependent on Medicaid.

MATTHEWS: So they impoverish themselves.

J. EDWARDS: Almost have the children of Wal-Mart employees get their health care from Medicaid. Taxpayers, the American people, are paying for that. And they shouldn‘t be subsidizing—you know, there are some very well to do people who own a lot of Wal-Mart stock, the people who started Wal-Mart, and that‘s part of the American story. There‘s nothing wrong with that, but they shouldn‘t be doing on the backs of taxpayers.

MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about the big—labor is big behind you, I hear. You have got a lot of support among labor organizations, right? You‘re solid with them?

J. EDWARDS: For what?

MATTHEWS: For running for president. Nevada, SEIU, Unite, you‘ve got a lot of support in labor, right?

J. EDWARDS: I‘ve done a lot of work with labor because what they are doing is trying to strengthen the middle class in this country.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the prominent American. Back in the ‘50s, ‘60s, when I grew up, you could quit high school or leave high school and get a job. You could work at a Bud plant, a big aerospace plant, and you could make enough money to raise a middle class family. You‘d have a car, a TV, you‘d have a vacation. Your wife, if she didn‘t want to work, she didn‘t have to work. It was a different world.

Now we can go to an emporia, emporiums, big stores like Wal-Mart, they have got everything. They‘ve got all the khaki pants in different sizes. They‘ve got every kind of style. They got Nautica. They got everything right, but the price we pay is there isn‘t a job for that guy coming out of high school. And what about that tradeoff?

Labor says let‘s go back so a guy comes out of high school with a pretty good technical ability and can himself or herself a job and work in industry. Can we bring back American industry as labor says they want to do?

J. EDWARDS: We can grow and strengthen the middle class and one of the components of that is—I‘ll give you one example. We have 50 million service economy workers, people who work in hotels and hospitals and home health care workers—those kind of workers, who if they are a member of a union, they earn middle class wages, they‘ve got pension protection, they have health care.

If they don‘t, they, for the most part, earn close to the poverty level or below the poverty level. So their right to organize is important. There are probably going to be 10 million more of those jobs over the course of the next decade.

MATTHEWS: Are you for the card check?

J. EDWARDS: I am for the card check.

MATTHEWS: You think that‘s fair to be able to have four people from a labor union, big people come up to a little person and say you‘re going to vote for the union, aren‘t you? You‘re going to vote for the union, aren‘t you?

Today the law says you have to have a big meeting and everybody has to be there to vote for the union. You‘re saying—the card check says all you need is 51 percent of the people to be individually talked into signing a card and you think that‘s OK.

J. EDWARDS: I think it‘s democracy. I do.

MATTHEWS: But not having an election?

J. EDWARDS: It‘s democracy because what happens is the way the system has been loaded up is the employers bring in these union busters who are exerts at busting the union. They sometimes violate the law. The way the enforcement works is almost nonexistent. Three or four years down the road there‘s a slap on the wrist.

All I want is I want to see a level playing field. If employees want to join a union, democratically they ought to be able to do that. If they don‘t, they can choose not to.

MATTHEWS: OK, the average person is working at the mill, they‘re working on the job and they‘re on the machine, and four guys come up to them, big guys, they go up and say sign this card, we want to start a union here. And that little person goes I‘d rather not. You‘d rather not? Isn‘t that kind of intimidating for a person?

J. EDWARDS: But why would you assume it‘s the fellow employees who are going to intimidate...

MATTHEWS: Because it‘s the outside labor organizations.

J. EDWARDS: ... them instead of the guy who‘s writing their check?

MATTHEWS: Because if they international union guys come in. I‘m asking you a question. Do you think that shows independence our your part, or the fact that you‘re in bed with labor.

J. EDWARDS: I think it shows that I am a complete believer in workers having a voice and being able to collectively bargain. I don‘t think we have a problem in America with big, multinational corporations being able to have their voice heard. Their voice is heard loud and clear.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.

Up next, we‘re going to be joined by another famous UNC grad, Elizabeth Edwards—she‘s sitting over here—and more questions from the audience as the HARDBALL College Tour continues in Chapel Hill.


MATTHEWS: Welcome to the HARDBALL college tour live from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of Senator John Edwards. He‘s here with us right now.

And when he was a law student here at Chapel Hill, UNC Chapel Hill, he met another law student named Elizabeth Anania. And they were married in 1977.

Let‘s have a Tarheels welcome for Elizabeth Edwards.



You look Catholic. You know that?

E. EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: Well, that‘s the Italian, I think.

MATTHEWS: I know, it‘s the Italian in you.

E. EDWARDS: Anania. And I brought you...

MATTHEWS: What‘s this?

E. EDWARDS: ... a “Go ‘Heels” button.

MATTHEWS: “Go ‘Heels”. Thank you.


MATTHEWS: And Elizabeth, being very academic, I want you to start off by explaining to the American people why the people of North Carolina, especially the old brigades, were named the Tarheels? What it about?

E. EDWARDS: Well, I mean, there‘s a lot—actually there‘s more than one story. There‘s the story you told about the—about walking through the Great Dismal Swamp and getting tar on their feet. There‘s others that they were fighting so hard and they wouldn‘t—they would not give up, so they stuck to the ground as if they had tar on their feet, which I like. I like that determination.


MATTHEWS: The second‘s much more of a build-up. Not that you have to build-up to North Carolina.

So you‘re back here. You‘re living here again, the state where you were elected to the Senate from. And you‘ve written a book. You put together this great book about a people‘s home.

And you‘ve been through so much.

E. EDWARDS: We‘ve been through a lot.

MATTHEWS: You‘re amazing. And you were diagnosed with breast cancer right at the end of the last campaign. But here you go. You‘re smiling.

E. EDWARDS: And you‘ve been through a lot and you‘re smiling too.

MATTHEWS: But I‘m just introducing this. This is easy.

This is easy. I‘m just introducing the act.

So you want him to run for president?

E. EDWARDS: He gets my vote if he does. I mean, he‘s...


MATTHEWS: So it‘s like the union checkoff, you know, just sign the card and that means...

E. EDWARDS: That‘s right. He got me alone, arguing to me, yes.

J. EDWARDS: Only a recent development, by the way.

MATTHEWS: A recent development.

What do you think—what—did you learn anything running for president or is it just a big rush?



J. EDWARDS: I learned a lot.

MATTHEWS: I mean, when you go around and shake ten thousand hands and smile ten million times, do your cheeks hurt? Do you mentally from that?

J. EDWARDS: No. I think what you gain from the experience is a better understanding about what really matters. It‘s not—you know, the first time I ran for president I spent an awful lot—this is the truth—an awful lot of time worrying about how good a candidate I was, was I making a good speech or was I—it‘s just not what about I think about these days.

I think that anybody who‘s seriously thinking—my advice to anyone who‘s considering running—ought to be thinking about the job they want to do as president.

MATTHEWS: Did you enjoy running for V.P.?

I don‘t think you did.

J. EDWARDS: No. No. No, I wasn‘t crazy about it.

MATTHEWS: Is there something about the phrase “vice president” that doesn‘t turn you on?

J. EDWARDS: No. There‘s something about not being able just freely say exactly what you think.

MATTHEWS: Were you on a short leash?

J. EDWARDS: Anybody is, running for vice president. Your job, basically, is to advocate for the presidential candidate. People vote for presidential candidates...

MATTHEWS: Were you well used by John Kerry?

J. EDWARDS: I‘ll ask—I‘m not—I‘ll let you guys talk about that.


MATTHEWS: I want to fight here.

What did you think of hi joke about—if you flunk out of school, you don‘t do too well, you‘re not too smart, you get us stuck in Iraq. And it got turned around.

What did you make of that?

J. EDWARDS: I think he just made a mistake.

MATTHEWS: What was he saying?

J. EDWARDS: I think he was trying to say, you better stay...

E. EDWARDS: Don‘t go there.


MATTHEWS: No, no. Come on.

J. EDWARDS: ... not the first time.

MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you one thing. I could tell there was a fight coming because Hillary dumped on him, McCain dumped on him, nobody cut him an inch. He just screwed up a joke. He‘s not a comedian, OK?

J. EDWARDS: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: He‘s just not a comedian.

J. EDWARDS: Too big a deal was made of it.

E. EDWARDS: There are not that many politicians who are actually very good at jokes. John spoke one time and I said I wouldn‘t even go because it was—he was supposed to be funny and I didn‘t think he could carry it off.


MATTHEWS: I love it. You‘re great. Behind every great man, there‘s a woman trying to kill him.


E. EDWARDS: He has great characteristics.

MATTHEWS: What is it? Does she do this? Does she bust your balls like this when you come home? When you get (INAUDIBLE), does she do that?


E. EDWARDS: My children are watching this.


MATTHEWS: What‘s this with the equal marriages? Why do people marry their equals? It used to be different? What happened to the Stepford wives, the good old days? What happened?


MATTHEWS: Oh, how P.C. How—why don‘t you hiss?

Oh, thank you. Finally, the freaking hiss. I needed it. It was the hiss. I needed that.

E. EDWARDS: You know have to know how smart his wife is in order to...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. This is...

J. EDWARDS: He immediately got...

MATTHEWS: ... because you know—because Senator—Senator—

Senator Edwards was really—I thought I‘d try to get him at an angle here. He said that, having ran, it‘s like the Super Bowl, they usually win, the team that‘s been there before, or the Final Four, in the case of the UNC, which is always in the Final Four.


MATTHEWS: You‘ve been there before. You have an edge over Mrs.

Obama. Do you have an edge, Mr. Clinton, the first spouse? Do you have an edge over these guys? I‘m mean, you‘ve been there as a candidate‘s wife, you‘ve been there as a candidate.

Can you roll into New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Iowa with some edge?

E. EDWARDS: What I have in those places is not an edge. I think that there are, among the potential spouses this time, I mean, these are fabulous people with enormous skills. I have a lot of friends. I mean, I don‘t go in and...

MATTHEWS: Well, they won‘t be friends.

E. EDWARDS: I beg your pardon?

MATTHEWS: Once the campaign gets going.

E. EDWARDS: No. No, I mean—actually, I had a good relationship, I think, through most of the campaign with the other spouses. But no, I mean, in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, in Nevada, in those—

I have a lot of friends in those. If John decides to do this, I‘m going—

I won‘t be walking into a room full of strangers.

MATTHEWS: Has Hillary ever called you back after you said you had made happier choices than she has and you have a more joyous life than she does because of the choices she made? Meaning, she let Bill mess around?

E. EDWARDS: Is that what I meant?


MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that what you meant?

E. EDWARDS: That was completely taken out of context.

MATTHEWS: What was the context?

E. EDWARDS: I had said that the choices I had made—I worked as a lawyer for 17 years, and now I get a lot of intellectual simulation from the conversations about policy that I got from work before, I know get from conversations....

MATTHEWS: But he has not caused any trouble.

E. EDWARDS: No, he hasn‘t.

MATTHEWS: So what did you mean when you said—what did you mean by Hillary having made bad choices?

E. EDWARDS: I wasn‘t. I was talking about my choices making me happier.

MATTHEWS: So I‘m been unfair?

E. EDWARDS: Well, and unfair to both of us, honestly.

MATTHEWS: Because that wasn‘t...


E. EDWARDS: I have nothing bad to say about her.

MATTHEWS: On reflection. Do you think—do you think...

J. EDWARDS: It is HARDBALL, remember.


E. EDWARDS: I want to point out that although we love the men‘s Tarheels, the women‘s Tarheels are also No. 2 in the country in basketball.


E. EDWARDS: And the women‘s soccer team just won the national championship. The women‘s soccer team won the national...

MATTHEWS: And Mia Hamm is from here.

E. EDWARDS: Yes, she is.

J. EDWARDS: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: Mia Hamm is from here.

Look, you‘ve held up the cause of women‘s opportunity and equality.

So why don‘t you run for president?


E. EDWARDS: I was president of my junior class in high school.

People do nothing but complain to you. I‘m through.

MATTHEWS: You‘re too nice. I can‘t play HARDBALL with you.

We‘ll be right back with Elizabeth and John Edwards, John and Elizabeth from Memorial Hall of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


MATTHEWS: We are back with Senator John and Elizabeth Edwards here in North Carolina, at the University of North Carolina.

Senator, you just got back from Uganda. What was that like?

J. EDWARDS: It‘s a terrible tragedy, a humanitarian crisis that the world is not paying any attention to. I went there with the International Rescue Committee. There has been a civil war going on for about 20 years now, and there are over a million displaced people in northern Uganda, been herded into camps, terrible living conditions. Children are being abducted by the rebel army, turned into soldiers and sex slaves, and this is a place where America can make a real difference if we got involved.

MATTHEWS: I was just thinking of the movie I saw on Franklin (ph)

Street here last night, “Blood Diamond.”

J. EDWARDS: It‘s heart breaking. Uganda, the genocide in Darfur, there are so many places that America could make such a difference. And I think in a process restore the way the world should look at it.

MATTHEWS: How do we go in, militarily or any other way, without shooting people and having them hate us for having come in, like we did back with—when we got involved in Mogadishu?

J. EDWARDS: We don‘t need to. For example, in Darfur, which is the place that has been most discussed, probably putting American troops on the ground would be damaging. But right now, there are about 7,000 African Union troops that are completely incapable of creating stability. So we have got to get another force on the ground. We just have to carefully select where that force comes from.

MATTHEWS: Will they accept white people from outside getting involved? Seriously?

J. EDWARDS: That‘s the issue. It would be a real problem probably.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about something very personal here. You lost a son, Wade.

E. EDWARDS: We did.

MATTHEWS: And there is a memorial to him. Catherine?


MATTHEWS: Stand up, tell us about that out there. She is sitting on a chair that‘s...

E. EDWARDS: They redid this beautiful auditorium, Memorial Auditorium, and asked alumni if they wanted to contribute. And Wade, who died at 16, loved the University of North Carolina, and so we thought one thing we wanted to do was contribute to the refurbishment of this hall, in which we graduated from law school, and also leave a chair in his name. And so Catherine is sitting in Wade‘s chair.

MATTHEWS: What do you have—I remember my family, we lost a kid, a young kid, what do you tell a mother who loses a son?

E. EDWARDS: Each day, you get more used to the loss, but you can‘t—you can‘t reassure them that it is going to be better, some day where all of a sudden you‘re going to be back to the person you were, because of course you won‘t. But you know, the things you do, like memorializing them in places that they loved, is therapeutic.

I mean, when I think of Catherine sitting in that chair, it makes me happy. It makes me sad that he‘s not here, but that makes me happy, because he has a permanent place.

MATTHEWS: Senator, how much has the loss of Wade given you a kind of moral—I don‘t mean messianic like President Bush, OK? I‘m not saying something strange here. But how much of it drives you to try to be a bigger success, a bigger person?

J. EDWARDS: I think that like anybody, it‘s not like we are special. Other people who have lost children, it makes you think about what you are doing and makes you probably more interested in serving than you might have been before, but I don‘t think we‘re the exception in that regard. I think most people are like that.

MATTHEWS: They want to make life count for more.

J. EDWARDS: They want to feel like they‘ve done something important. I mean, when I die, I want to feel like Wade‘s death and his life helped me realize this. I want to feel like I‘ve done everything I can to serve, whatever that turns out to be.

MATTHEWS: I sympathize so much with you, Senator. Thank you.

J. EDWARDS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Elizabeth, you are great.

E. EDWARDS: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: You‘re always great. Thank you very much. John and Elizabeth, great people.

But Presidential?