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Head On Collision

Head On Collision

Head On is a proud sponsor of Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer. You apply it directly to your forehead. My question is: What happens if you apply it to some other body part?

Today, the head-on collision that is North Korea was Topic A on the Head Shows. Not much comedy there. And all of the panels touched on the Lamont/Lieberman contest — Causing me to apply my palm directly to my forehead, several times.

Meet the Press was preempted by Wimbledon in my locality. But you can read the transcript here, if you’re so inclined.

This Week With George Stephanopoulos featured Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) on North Korea, the Webb vs. Allen Senate race in Virginia and a roundtable with George Will, Peter Beinart of The New Republic and Donna Brazile.

Dick Lugar thinks that Bush is on the right course on North Korea, namely, the Six Party Talks (6PT). Lugar agrees that it’s okay to have 1 on 1 talks inside the 6PT, but not outside. (huh?) The U.S. should work with China, because there can be no change if China is shoring up North Korea. According to Lugar, Japan sees North Korea’s missile tests as a national threat, and is prepared to produce nuclear weapons in response. Then we’ll have an arms race in Asia. Lugar essentially agreed that North Korea has gotten more dangerous on Bush’s watch. It has made $1.5 billion selling missiles to third parties in recent years.  Also, a poll in South Korea finds its citizens are equating North Korea and America in terms of threats to South Korea. "Young South Korea" doesn’t remember the Korean war.

Lugar says reports of a rape by U.S. soldiers, Haditha, etc. are damaging to America’s standing in Iraq, but Iraq also sees that America is addressing the problem through military justice. Sectarian violence in Baghdad is "all too real," but Iraq’s regular forces are beginning to crack down on the Iraqi militia.

Stephanopoulos interviewed both Jim Webb and George Allen in taped pieces, but interviewed Allen second and gave Allen the opportunity to respond to (Stephanopoulos’ characterization) of Webb’s answers. In response to questions about the length of U.S. military presence in Iraq, Webb noted that Bush was building four permanent and "huge" military bases and planned for us to be in Iraq for 30 years. Webb didn’t favor the Congressional Dems’ resolutions re: withdrawal, but thinks we should be out of Iraq in two years. Allen responded that Webb wanted to "duck tail and run," and robotically repeated the Bush line that withdrawal should depend on circumstances on the ground.  Allen’s also chuffed that Saddam Hussein’s in prison rather than in one of his palaces.

Questioned about running as a Democrat after being a part of the Reagan Administration, Webb said that if Ronnie was alive today, he might wonder where his party had gone. Webb was a Republican in light of Democratic foreign policy post-Vietnam, but after 9/11, he felt more aligned with Dems in matters of fairness and economic justice. Allen expressed skepticism that the Gipper would be a member of the party of John Kerry, Harry Reid and Tom Daschle. Allen also denied, unconvincingly, that he was a rubber-stamp Republican, citing his difference with Bush on immigration reform.

During the roundtable, George Stephanopoulos characterized Ned Lamont’s message as "Lieberman is with Bush on the war, so Democrats have to be against Joe." Lamont is, Steph says, simply a one issue candidate popular with "left-wing activists, particularly in the blogosphere." Not surprisingly, George Will agreed with Steph and raised him one, stating that anti-Joe Democrats are exhibiting "monomania." Will assured viewers that Joe is a "good liberal." Not to be outdone, Donna Brazile declared "I’m a Joe Lieberman Democrat." She allowed, however, that Lamont’s challenge was good for the party because he had ignited a "healthy debate." Peter Beinart also piped up, claiming that activist Dems want a lockstep party, making it harder for pols to "go offer the reservation" (by representing the wishes of their constituents) These Dems, says Pete, "see Karl Rove as their role model."

Will asserted that North Korea was a problem without a solution, declaring himself of a proponent of the conservative philosophy that there are limits on the United States’ ability to shape a recalcitrant world. Brazile asserted that North Korea is a fiasco for Bush. On the New York Court of Appeals’ ruling against marriage equality, Beinart claimed the ruling was positive, because public opinion is growing more accepting of gay marriage, whereas court recognition of equal rights only "retards that movement" and causes backlash. Will thinks federalism is the solution: let some states experiment with gay marriage and see what happens.

Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (Second Hour) opened with a Nic Robertson report from Iraq. The news is bad: two bombs in a Shia market killed 10 and injured 25. Meanwhile, Shiite militia squads are roaming freely in Baghdad, checking papers, killing Sunnis and leaving "piles of bodies." I guess Nic hadn’t watched Dick Lugar on This Week.

Wolf then welcomed Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). (I can’t remember the last Sunday I didn’t see Graham’s well-scrubbed mug on one of these shows.) Boxer again called for a prompt withdrawal of forces from Iraq, noting that, during her last visit to the country, General Casey asserted that a long-term presence is counterproductive. In addition, 87 percent of Iraqis want a timeline.  American troops are in the middle of a "nightmare" and a "civil war." Lindsey Graham "wishes" we could disarm the militias, which, as they say, is not a plan. He also asserts that every time we give the Iraqi government a goal, they meet the goal, so they should be able to overcome the militias. Lindsay supports a timeline for withdrawal — but only if it comes from the elected officials of Iraq.

In a shocking development, Boxer rejected Nouri al-Maliki’s call for reconsideration of immunity for American forces accused of crimes in Iraq. She wouldn’t trust the Iraqi government to try an American citizen. Graham — did you know he was a reserve JAG officer? — agrees that troops are best tried by the American military.

Wolf asked Senator Boxer if she in fact plans to stump for Holy Joe in the Nutmeg State. Boxer answered in the affirmative, stating that she’s going to spend "a couple of hours" telling Connecticutians everything she knows about Joe. Joe’s aces on the environment, it seems. Boxer refuses to say what she’ll do if Joe loses the primary. Graham stops short of stumping for Joe, but "he’s a big fan of Joe" and has the "utmost respect for him," seeing as Joe recognizes that Iraq’s the frontline in the Global War on Terror. (Recognizes? Hell, Joe was present at the creation.)

On North Korea, Boxer thinks the 6PTs are essential, but there’s nothing wrong with some back channel talks, maybe with a special envoy. The shape of the table doesn’t matter. Graham says the Chinese are the key to the North Korea problem; they must join the world in hardline diplomacy.

In a segment on terrorism, CNN’s Peter Bergen said the New York subway plot was more serious than that of the Miami terrorist wannabes; not a "huge deal" but definitely worth stopping. Bergen scoffed at Abu Gonzales’ suggestion that loose cells not a part of al-Qaeda are the new new threat, since al-Qaeda has reconstituted itself on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and the heads of al-Qaeda are still on the loose. Bergen pronounced himself astounded by the DHS decision to cut New York anti-terror funding by 40 percent, as NYC is still a central target.

Blitzer also interviewed the military and civilian defense lawyers in the Hamdan case, Neal Katyal and Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift. Katyal scoffed at Bush’s claim that the Supreme Court "accepted" the use of Gitmo in its Hamdan opinion, stating that claim was the equivalent of one that the high court approved $4.00/gallon gas prices. It was simply not an issue in the case.

Fox News Sunday  The first guest was Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, and the subjects were North Korea and Iran. Burns’ talking point was multi-tracking. Burns is hoping for a Security Council resolution re: North Korea in the next several days. Meanwhile, Bush and Condi are in touch with regional leaders, asking China to exert its influence on North Korea. And, of course, there’s the 6PT. 

Burns claims that the U.S. has been successful in isolating North Korea and Iran. Regarding Iran, those wily Iranians thought they could divide the world community, but our coalition is in full effect. Time’s almost up for the Iranians to respond to that June 1 coalition proposal re: dis/non-armament. We’ll know this week if the Iranians are serious or just dicking us around. (I paraphrase.)

On North Korea, Rep. Peter Hoekstra says that the key is international pressure, even though Korea will never keep its word no matter what the world does. Asked about his letter to Bush suggesting that Bush had violated the law by keeping the House Intelligence Committee in the dark about his secret programs, Hoekstra said that the letter triggered a briefing on at least one previously undisclosed program. Ex-CIA chief James Woolsey also thinks China must "lean hard" on North Korea, if it doesn’t want four new nuclear neighbors (Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan). During this segment, FOX displayed a graphic asserting that Kim Jong Il "loves western music and congac." (Other turn-ons: starving masses and platform shoes.)

In the first panel segment, Bill Kristol declared himself disgusted with Bush on North Korea. He pronounced Burns’ "complicated world" rhetoric and talk of U.N. resolutions a throwback to the Clinton Adminstration. Kristol wants to dump the 6PTs, tighten sanctions on N. Korea and make Korean nukes a litmus test for relations with China. Hume was dismissive of the Korean threat, citing the failure of the recent missile tests. He thinks sanctions are a non-starter, given China’s veto on the Security Council. Mara Liasson recalled Bush’s axis of evil rhetoric, stating that it made Bush look even more impotent when he couldn’t deliver. She believes the military option has been all but ruled out.

The panel also spoke of Holy Joe, who is, according to Wallace, fighting for his life. Hume states that Joe’s troubles are evidence how far the Democratic Party has moved to the left. The anti-war faction is now the dominant force in the the Democratic Party, and it’s all to Bush’s benefit. Kristol claimed that Hillary Clinton went out of her way to state she’d support the winner of the Connecticut primary because she fears the left. Kristol thinks that Lamont can beat Lieberman. Wallace also floated the fantasy that Tom DeLay might win if he remained on the ballot in Texas in November; not even Kristol thought that might happen.

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