Ups and Downs for the Week of June 2-6

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, June 7, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: It's time for the ups and downs.

Up, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.

Israelis and Palestinians commit to the road map for peace and take the first steps toward implementing it, Abbas by meeting with Islamic militants to try to halt terror attacks, and Sharon by ordering the dismantling of West Bank settlements.

Now, the problem is that on Friday, Hamas, the terrorist group...


KONDRACKE: ... broke off talks with, with Abbas, and that could be the precursor to terrorist attacks, which will set on Abu Mazen, Abu (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Abbas the might, the mighty test. Does he crack down and try to disarm these terrorist groups, or does he not? If he does, we're still on the road map.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: But if he doesn't, we've missed another opportunity for peace.

BARNES: Yes, yes. Now, what are we going to call him? We going to call him Abu Mazen, or...

KONDRACKE: Both. Either one, either or both.

BARNES: ... Mahmoud Abbas? (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but his real name is Mahmoud Abbas, right?

KONDRACKE: Mahmoud, Mahmoud Abbas, right.

BARNES: Mahmoud Abbas, OK. Let's call him that.

Then there's Yasser Arafat, who is still the president of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, and he will still do anything to undermine Abbas as prime minister. And I think that includes blocking any attempt to really crack down on the terrorists, because he does not want Abbas to succeed, because that means if Abbas succeeds, Arafat is really out of the picture.

And so I fear Abbas is in a situation where he won't be able to actually carry out an effective crackdown. All right.

Down, The New York Times.

The other shoe finally drops in the Jayson Blair scandal. Executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd resigned Thursday. The two caught big-time flak for elevating one reporter who fabricated stories and tolerating the practice of a second one who relied extensively on stringers to do his reporting.

Now, you know, the next step, of course, is for The New York Times to become a conservative newspaper and be very pro-Bush and, and, and favor Republicans, of course. But I'm just joking about that. That's not going to happen.

I do think, though, that many of the liberal excesses of The Times that have sort of marked the Howell Raines regime there, and I'm not just talking about the columnist Maureen Dowd and, and, and Paul Krugman, but crusades like the one to get women admitted to the Augusta National Golf Course, where the Masters are played. I don't think we're going to see silly crusades like that any more.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, this is the, the, the paper's opportunity to return to its historical greatness...


KONDRACKE: ... and...

BARNES: It's got a ways to go.

KONDRACKE: Yes, the problem may not be Howell Raines, who's like the coach of the basketball team...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... but the owner, you know, Pinch Sulzberger...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... who is a kind of a '60s, '70s radical chic kind of lib, you know. And, and teams do tend to reflect the values of their owners, so that's, that's still trouble.

BARNES: Indeed.

KONDRACKE: Up, Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

She strikes a deal with Senate Republicans on an issue that's -- she's been advocating since the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- the $350 billion tax cut was passed last month, that is, extending child tax benefits to minimum-wage workers.

Well, hooray for Blanche Lincoln, and hooray for the 94 senators, Republicans and Democrats who agreed to give this this tax credit...


KONDRACKE: ... to, to minimum-wage workers. Now...

BARNES: Pardon my groan.

KONDRACKE: ... look, look, but wait a minute, before you call this welfare, remember, these people are workers...


KONDRACKE: ... they, they, they work for living, they, they pay Social Security taxes...


KONDRACKE: ... and how would you like to live...

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... on $10,500 a year?

BARNES: Look, you know what I'd do? I'd moonlight. I'd get another job. Maybe I'd get two extra jobs...

KONDRACKE: Some of them do have that.

BARNES: ... I know, I know lots of -- well, they (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KONDRACKE: It's too hard.

BARNES: ... they're going to make more than $10,000 if they do.  There are lots of -- there are millions of people...

KONDRACKE: A compassionate Republican...

BARNES: ... moonlight and do...

KONDRACKE: ... would help them.

BARNES: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Now, wait a minute. A compassionate Republican would help them and already does with our earned income (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tax credit, which does offset their Social Security taxes.  Now, look, I'm not particularly for it either, because I think it, it gives people money that they didn't earn, and I'm basically against that.

But there is a rationale for it. There is no rationale except for pure giveaway, pure welfare, for this thing that's not a tax credit, because they're not getting credit for any taxes they pay. They didn't pay taxes.


BARNES: Tax cuts are for taxpayers. These people, they're not taxpayers.

And here's what it is, it is a giveaway to Democratic constituents, and that's why Democrats are for it. You know, we got you a check in the mail, vote for us.




BARNES: Here's a Scrooge for you. Down, Martha Stewart.

The queen of clean has legal and public relations mess on her hands after being charged this week with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, securities fraud, and lying to investigators.

I think she has been dramatically overcharged. You know, she wasn't charged with insider trading, which seems to have been the core of the problem here. But it's her public statements. She's charged with securities fraud for public statements that the prosecutors claim were designed to keep the stock up in the company that she owned.

I mean, that, I mean, that seems like...

KONDRACKE: Yes, well...

BARNES: ... a violation of free speech. So they expect her to admit some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) something in public? She was defending herself. So I, I think what they're trying to do is overcharge her, get her to agree to a plea bargain in which she serves some jail time.

KONDRACKE: She's not going to do that. But, but...

BARNES: I don't think so either.

KONDRACKE: OK, but I don't know whether she's guilty or not, but the charges are that she got information from her broker that the ImClone stock...


KONDRACKE: ... that, that was involved was, was, was going to, was going to sink...

BARNES: Drop, and she better sell, yes.

KONDRACKE: Right, right, and, and she, and she sold, and then she lied about what she did. You know, when, when asked about it, what did she know and when did she know it...


KONDRACKE: ... she lied. That, that's the allegation.

BARNES: Yes, so what do you think?

KONDRACKE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) don't know whether it's true or not. I don't know whether it's true or not.


KONDRACKE: I'll wait for the trial.

BARNES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She was a big Gore supporter...

KONDRACKE: I don't care, I don't care.

BARNES: ... like that. All right.

KONDRACKE: It's on the merits.

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