updated 7/11/2006 1:41:15 PM ET 2006-07-11T17:41:15

Guests: Viet Dinh, Jane Harman, Ilario Pantano, Mike Allen, Roger Simon, Pam Ippel, Jeff Ippel

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Was Bush‘s big bang a blunder?  George Bush attacked Iraq to scare Iran and North Korea, but Iraq has exploded in our face and Iran and North Korea are both threatening to explode far worse.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  Was this weekend of horror just a preview of worst horrors to come, with new threats from North Korea, more U.S. troops accused of rape and murder in Iraq and over 50 people killed in the streets of Baghdad, Iraq appears to be deteriorating into a morass of civilian and sectarian violence.  Plus in a rare move against the White House, powerful house Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee questions whether the Bush administration ignored or even violated the law. 

And later, “Time Magazine” says Bush‘s cowboy diplomacy is dead, and Viet Dinh served as assistant attorney general under President Bush.  He is now a law professor at Georgetown University.  We begin with Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, who‘s the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.  Congresswoman, President Bush bet that attacking Iraq back in 2002 would intimidate the countries of Iran and North Korea, the other parts of the axis of terror.  Was it out of blunder, because they seem to be wilder than ever right now? 

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, enormous mistakes have been made after the military action in Iraq, and very poor planning has required us to surge all of our resources and intelligence resources into Iraq.  I think we took our eye off the ball.  Iran and North Korea are more dangerous.  We must pay attention to them.  I think there is some good news.  The president is engaging in diplomacy, which is, I think, the right approach to both of those problems, very, very tough problems.  But I think that the deteriorating situation in Iraq is going to make it hard for us to get the results we need in the other places. 

MATTHEWS:  But didn‘t those two governments, I‘m asking you again rather aggressively, but didn‘t those two other governments say wait a minute, here, if they went into Iraq for fear they might have some day get a nuclear weapon, the best way to preempt the United States and follow the U.S. preemption strategy is to create nuclear weaponry before they come in so then they won‘t come in.  Wasn‘t that thinking on the enemy‘s side pretty smart, pretty dangerous and a mistake for us to have triggered? 

HARMAN:  Well, I don‘t know what their thinking is.  I think the key thing for us now is to determine what their capability is, and what their intentions are, and to get the best intelligence we can and make the best policy decisions.  As far as Iraq is concerned, it is deteriorating, and I have suggested that we have some short-term political objectives to help this government succeed, to get some Sunni buy-in into the government to curb their insurgency and with respect to the Shia, to disarm these militias, and form them in to one national security force.  If we can‘t achieve those objectives, there will be civil war and we should not be target practice in their civil war. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you still trust the president‘s judgment? 

HARMAN:  I think that the president has to work with Congress in ways that he has not.  He does not have a blank check to do whatever he wants as the Supreme Court has recently said, and that Congress, after all, has some insights, both into Iran and North Korea that I certainly hope he‘s listening to. 

MATTHEWS:  Has he left you and the Congress and you‘re on the intelligence committee, you‘re the top Democrat, has he left you in the dark on his whole intel program? 

HARMAN:  Not in the dark.  But Pete Hoekstra, the chairman of the committee, is right when he says we have to play 20 questions to learn about programs.  We need to be fully and currently briefed and that‘s required by law, the National Security Act of 1947, the whole committee needs to be fully and currently briefed.  This so-called gang of eight process in my view is broken and the president has not shared all the information he should with Congress. 

MATTHEWS:  Does he follow the old rule that if your pants are on fire or if your dress is on fire, he‘ll tell you if you ask him? 

HARMAN:  I don‘t know that that‘s quite the rule he follows, but I was quite annoyed that the only time I was briefed on the so-called Swift program, which has leaked to the newspapers, was after it leaked.  I‘m the ranking member on the committee.  Five members of Congress were briefed once each in four years, before it leaked. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, then Bill Cower, the executive editor of the Times is right, and I‘ve questioned his judgment, but he is right you‘re saying, because he said that one of the justifications for him to put that story on the front page was that the members of Congress could see it. 

HARMAN:  Well, each newspaper has to make its own judgment, but my preference would be for the Whistle Blower Act and for the inspector general process and for oversight by Congress to work.  I think if all those things happen, we wouldn‘t have as many leaks, but we would have better programs that comply fully with the law. 

MATTHEWS:  But you were saying that you were tipped off to the Swift program, the use of these banks in Europe and Brussels especially, to find out what money is being transferred in that part of the world, which has proven dangerous for us.  You‘re saying that you wouldn‘t have known about that had not the Times not run it? 

HARMAN:  Well, that specific program, you bet.  I certainly know that we‘re tracking money and I support that capability, but it has to fully comply with law and Congress doesn‘t know if it does, since these briefings have been drive-by briefings and we have not had the oversight, the hearings, the investigations that we need to have to make sure they comply with the law. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about presidential power.  You and I grew up in the United States where we always understood the balance of power among the three branches of government, Judiciary, Executive and Legislative.  Does this president presume to increase the power of the executive? 

HARMAN:  Absolutely.  I have said often that I think this president thinks the constitution starts with article two, which creates the executive branch.  Article one creates the legislative branch and he‘ll deal with article three as long as he nominates the judges, but my problem with that is that the separation of powers is supposed to check excessive power by any branch and that‘s what the courts are now trying to do in the recent Hamdan decision about detentions at Guantanamo.  But Congress has not exercised its constitutional responsibility in recent years to check the power of this White House. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go to an expert here, a law professor at Georgetown and a former member of the judiciary at with justice department.  Let me ask you about this.  Everybody knows civics here and you know that we divide power in this country, that nobody holds it all.  The president has said because of his role as Commander-In-Chief, he can do what he damn well please.  Doesn‘t he say that?  He says so in terms of intelligence gathering.  Where does he see his limits? 

VIET DINH, FMR. BUSH JUSTICE DEPT.:  Even the framers, in the absence of war, recognize that the executive branch is the best branch in order to administer the law, because according to the words of James Wilson, they can act with “secrecy and dispatch.” 

MATTHEWS:  What can‘t the president do? 

DINH:  He cannot, for example, pass his own, the action in order to raise funds for his own actions. 

MATTHEWS:  So the only thing Congress can do is to cut off his money? 

DINH:  No, they have a number of things.  They can cut off his money. 

They can hold hearings.  They can do oversight. 

MATTHEWS:  But, that‘s all B.S. compared to doing something.  You‘re saying the definition of presidential power is anything Congress pays for? 

DINH:  Congress makes a law, the president enforces the law. 

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute, we‘re talking about areas here where Congress didn‘t, Congresswoman Harmon just told us she never even knew about the Swift program, so you can‘t tell me that Congress legislated in this area, did they? 

DINH:  The operative word there is fully and currently briefing Congress.  Representative Harman was completely right when she said that she knew and everybody knew that the government was tracking terrorist finances, was tracking money laundering.  The question is how far into the details of the billions of dollars, hundreds of programs of intelligence must the government brief members of Congress.  After all—

MATTHEWS:  Do they need authority from Congress to do this? 

DINH:  It does need authority and authorization in general to conduct intelligence programs, but it has that.  Nobody has made any argument that there was not adequate authority to do this because after all, this was only one contract with one private company.  Does the Congress need to know about every governmental contract, especially when it jeopardizes a very good program, good simply because it was secret, good specifically because we were able to monitor the flow of money. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me just check a member of Congress.  Congresswoman Harmon, do you believe as you understand the constitution and your responsibilities as legislator that the president of the United States has the authority to conduct these surveillance program, whether they be on telephone calls here to over there, to al Qaeda areas, whether it‘s financial transfers within the Arab world, do you understand that that‘s all within his statutory authority or constitutional authority, which is it? 

HARMAN:  Well, it depends.  In the case of eves droppings on Americans in America congress passed a statute, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978.  

MATTHEWS:  And he ignored it. 

HARMAN:  Well, I wouldn‘t say they ignored it, but I would say there‘s not full compliance with FISA and Congress has been unable until recently to get the briefings necessary to decide what to do. 

MATTHEWS:  In what way did this White House recognize, deal with, honor the FISA Act?  Did they seek court orders, did they seek warrants, did they do any of the things required by the act? 

HARMAN:  Well the program is classified, so I can‘t tell you how it works, but I‘m saying that the program can and must fully comply with FISA.  That‘s the exclusive law that applies in this case and the president cannot claim that he has inherent authority to do this program without dealing with FISA. 

MATTHEWS:  One last question.  The president of the United States has made it pretty clear that he has authority from Congress statutorily from the resolution passed right after 9/11 and of course right before the 2002 election, which gave him the authority to go to war in Iraq, to pretty well do what is necessary to defend this country.  Do you see any limits on that authority, congresswoman?

HARMAN:  You bet, and this recent Supreme Court decision called Hamdan on behalf of someone in prison at Guantanamo says that the authorization to use military force does not justify some of the things they‘ve done beyond the bounds of law. 

I mean, there needs to be a legal framework around the new security policies to deal with what is a big threat.  But there has to be a framework.  Congress has to be dealt in.  It‘s not just a question of providing the money, it‘s a question of the constitutional requirement in Article I to regulate and legislate in this area and we‘re being ignored.

MATTHEWS:  My son asked me the other day, how can we stop fighting the South Vietnamese government after we left?  Why don‘t we let them fight their own war after we got them help to do it, and I never got a very satisfactory answer.  But is that ultimately the power of the Congress to pull up the money?

DINH:  Congress always has that power, it has other powers, but up to this points, I‘ve heard nobody as much as have been heard from the Hill—heard nobody say that we will pull money from these programs, precisely because they work, precisely because they are fully legal and constitutional.

HARMAN:  Well, they‘re fully legal and constitutional is what I disagree with.  And the Supreme Court just disagreed with one of the programs.  We need the capability to track terrorists and prevent them from harming us in the future, but that capability must comply fully with our laws in the Constitution and Congress has to be dealt in.

MATTHEWS:  A very important American debate.  I hope we‘re debating this 200 years from now, because the power of the government must always be debated.  Thank you Viet Dinh, thank you sir—Professor Dinh.  And Congresswoman Jane Harman of southern California.  Coming up, U.S. troops are being prosecuted for terrible crimes like rape and murder.  What is going on over there?  We‘re going to talk to a marine lieutenant who was cleared of shooting Iraqi civilians about what it‘s like to get charged in the first place.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The number of U.S. atrocities in Iraq continues to mount.  The latest incident under investigation involves U.S. soldiers who allegedly raped and murdered an Iraqi teenager and then killed her and her family.  What‘s behind the latest violence and why is it happening right now?  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  On her identity card, Abeer al-Janabi is pictured as a little girl.  But the 14-year-old‘s death certificate hints at her horrifying end, shot in the head and burned after being killed.

U.S. military investigators believe the teenager was initially raped by an American soldier who then killed her and her entire family.  Last week, the suspected ringleader in the attack, former private first class Steven Green was charged in federal court.

And on Sunday, military officials identified four more soldiers, all from the 101st airborne division, who faced charges as well.  The incident is just the latest alleged atrocity in Iraq by U.S. troops.  Seven marines await trial and charges of killing an Iraqi man who was disabled and reportedly in a wheelchair in the town of Hamandiyah. 

Two soldiers await trial for killing an unarmed Iraqi man in the town of Ramadi.  Four U.S. soldiers have been charged for killing three Iraqi prisoners near the canal in Salaheddin Province.  And eight Marines face charges in the most notorious U.S. atrocity in Iraq, the killing of 24 civilians last fall in Haditha.  So why does it all seem to be getting worse?

COL. KEN ALLARD (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  It‘s happening right now for two main reasons.  No. 1, this conflict has dragged on, No. 2, you‘re dealing with a much smaller force than we‘ve ever dealt with before.

SHUSTER:  That means more combat and more stress for those on active duty.  And adding to the tensions, the random nature of the war‘s biggest killer: IEDs.  Military commanders say it‘s often difficult to distinguish between the insurgents leaving and detonating the bombs and ordinary Iraqis living in the same community. 

Experts say it‘s reminiscent of the difficulties U.S. troops had in Vietnam in separating friend from foe.  Last month, former Marine Corps general Bernard Trainor told HARDBALL the challenge in Iraq is even greater.

GEN. BERNARD TRAINOR (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  I think it‘s very difficult for these kids to be making judgments like that, particularly when they see their friends getting blown away.  But once again, discipline, training and leadership are the key.  They cannot commit crimes such as cold-blooded murder.

SHUSTER:  Iraq‘s leaders are demanding the right to try U.S. soldiers in Iraqi courts.  Members of Congress are united in saying no way.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  I think we have a circumstance there where they can‘t even control their own country or stop the ethnic violence, so to turn over American citizens for them to prosecute, I wouldn‘t really support anything like that, because they can‘t even run their own country.

SHUSTER:  But the violence has put political pressure on the Bush administration and members of Congress who were trying to reassure the fragile new Iraqi government that the U.S. will seek justice.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA:  I can assure the Iraqi people, we will take misconduct by our troops very seriously and vigorously prosecute anyone who has committed a crime while serving in Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  The U.S. military says all of the atrocities under investigation are isolated and that the public, both in Iraq and here at home should try to keep these incidents in perspective.  But all of this comes at a sensitive time.  The sectarian violence keeps getting worse in Iraq, putting more pressure on Iraqi civilians and ratcheting up the stress on U.S. troops.  I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster.  Former marine lieutenant Ilario Pantano says firsthand the system of U.S. military justice—he saw it, he was charged with murdering two Iraqis in 2004 and was finally acquitted in May of last year.  He tells of his ordeal in his new book “Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.”  Good evening, sir.  Lieutenant, let me ask you, are you still in the military?

ILARIO PANTANO, FORMER MARINE LIEUTENANT:  I‘m not.  I resigned my commission a year ago.

MATTHEWS:  Why?

PANTANO:  Well actually a couple of byproducts of the investigation, one of them was that my family received death threats and I think that‘s probably the most important aspect to consider, that there are long-reaching consequences with these investigations.

MATTHEWS:  What kind of people came after your family?

PANTANO:  There was a Web site that came out of Pakistan that showed an image of me beheaded and said that I deserved it.  It was a jihadi image.  The FBI is working an investigation on that.  We even received information that a cell in the United States had accumulated information on my mother, my wife and I.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about, what do you think of military justice?

PANTANO:  I think it can be draconian when you‘re in the cross-hairs, but I‘ve got to tell you that our adversarial system is exactly what any parent or law-abiding folk would like. 

We have prosecutors and investigators that are very vigorous in how they do their job and I‘ll remind your audience that they have a separate chain of command than the rest of the military. 

Prosecutors and investigators will get promoted if they‘re successful in the investigations and prosecutions of their case.  They take them very seriously.  I would even argue sometimes overzealously, as we see with some of the very heinous allegations that are made, often at an attempt to kind of maximum bob the penalties.

MATTHEWS:  How about a defense attorney, does he get rewarded with a promotion for getting someone off? 

PANTANO:  I would argue. yes, you exactly hit upon the core of our system.  It‘s adversarial nature is exactly what works.  This is the check and balance, if you will, that makes our system effective, but the only issue though with the defense attorney is that in the military, defense attorneys can‘t actually make a statement until when the hearing is actually underway, so what happens in the case for example of Hamandiyah is you‘ve go the military puts out a set of charges that are very aggressive and the military defense cannot respond to that, that‘s why often you see civilian counsel get brought in, as I chose to do in my case. 

MATTHEWS:  Most people, me included, when somebody gets arrested for a crime, we assume they‘re probably guilty.  We don‘t assume they‘re guilty I guess, technically, because we‘re all innocent until proven guilty, but there‘s a supposition out there that most of the people who face a judge or face a jury have done something wrong.  Do you hold that belief having been through the system now as a defendant? 

PANTANO:  Well listen, as a father of two and a husband ...

MATTHEWS:  Do you hold the belief that most people charged are probably guilty?  Do you hold that belief now?

PANTANO:  I hold the belief that I want my prosecutors and my investigators to be as aggressive as possible.  As a father and as a husband, I would want, if anything were to happen to my family, I would want them to go out, overturn cars, get to the bottom, conduct whatever searches they had to do to find the perpetrators.  I think that the challenge comes when you‘re on the other side of that and especially in combat, where a lot of these guys don‘t have combat experience and they‘re going out, investigators and prosecutors and even some high level commanders that haven‘t left the green zone are going out to make determinations about what‘s appropriate on the battlefield and sadly we want the line to be a very rigid, moral one. 

Unfortunately, that line moves as the intensity of combat builds.  We still have to comport ourselves ethically, and General Trainor made an excellent point, it is about the training, absolutely, but we have to also remember that combat is fluid and we need to be receptive to that. 

MATTHEWS:  When is rape justified? 

PANTANO:  Never.  In fact, I‘ll tell you again, most of the professional military married, fathers, children, I‘ll tell you something else, Chris.  Within the rules of engagement, if you see a criminal act going on, a rape or a murder, not only are you obligated to stop it, but you can use deadly force to stop it.  Now wait, I want to be very careful.  These are allegations that have been made against these servicemen. 

Terrible allegations were made against me that didn‘t bear out to be true.  Having said that as a unit leader, as a platoon commander, as a marine officer, if I saw my own men committing crimes of that nature, I would stop them using whatever force is required and I think that 95 percent of your military that‘s out there behaving very honorably would do the same. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to go back to my first question.  Maybe it‘s unfair, do you look upon these cases when you read the paper, like I do, and everyone else does watching, you pick up the paper and it says today, I think four men charged with this rape and murder case, horrible case, a beautiful young Iraqi woman, mid-teen or sub-teen, raped, then she‘s killed, these are facts, they‘re dead, and the family is killed, apparently, well, allegedly—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you make the judgment when you see that, do you say this happened, do you say this is a mirage, what do you say? 

PANTANO:  Well, I know for a fact that not only are Iraqi autopsies suspect, and this was something that was actually a fact in my case, they were very suspicious.  An autopsy.  For example the death certificates and all of these filings, we‘re finding issues with that in this Haditha investigation.  And listen, any crime against a female, against a child, a sexual crime, this is criminal behavior.  This isn‘t battlefield behavior.  It doesn‘t have place and no one, no professional soldier, and I consider myself a professional, my brothers in arms are professionals, would advocate that, and again, I say if these guys are guilty, believe me, the punishment is going to be severe. 

Nobody will tolerate that kind of behavior.  There‘s never a time and never a place.  Having said that, not only do you have people in Iraq that incentivised to tar and feather the people, you have people back here that are incentivised to tar and feather the effort.  Listen, your own correspondent used the word atrocities a dozen times in that intro.  How about these are crimes and we‘re going to investigate them and they‘re all alleged crimes.  To date, none have been proven.  Yes, you have dead Iraqis.  Sadly, you have 50 dead Iraqis blindfolded every day.  

MATTHEWS:  I read the report beforehand, but let me tell you this, there are dead people.  Are you saying they may not be dead? 

PANTANO:  I think there‘s no question that there are dead people.  There are going to be plenty of them before this war is over.  That‘s just a reality of combat, but I would also say that we have to be very careful in rushing to judgment against our troops.  The reason being, we ask them to apply judgment and give the benefit of the doubt to an Iraqi.  We have to do the same for them. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you want some advice? 

PANTANO:  Please. 

MATTHEWS:  Go to law school.  I mean it.  Anyway, Lieutenant Pantano who knows where he‘s coming from.  When we return, is the Bush administration‘s “Cowboy Diplomacy,” that‘s what is was called.  Is it dead, is it now all hat and no cattle?  We‘ll ask “Time Magazine‘s” Mike Allen.  He wrote the cover piece this week on “Time Magazine”, and Bloomberg‘s Roger Simon, one of the great political reporters, about the headlines of this week and our “Hardblogger” political news roundup is coming up in a minute.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The decision 2006 election is now only 120 days away.  It‘s still time for shopping.  It‘s moving fast and so we‘ve asked a couple of “Hard Ballers” to join us with the latest news.  Roger Simon, what a reporter, chief political correspondent for “Bloomberg News,” and Mike Allen who owns “Time Magazine,” front page today about George Bush and the end of “Cowboy Diplomacy.”  I‘m fascinated.  For those who don‘t buy the magazine, even on the news stand, what does it say, front page? 

MIKE ALLEN, “TIME MAGAZINE”:  Chris the first part of the president‘s term as you know the foreign policy was characterized by very aggressive use of American power in the American interests.  Tough action.  Now you hear the president talking a lot about diplomacy, talking about working with others, talking about patience.  Now what the White House says is we‘ve always said that unique circumstances call for unique action, and Tony Snow today on your air, I saw him saying was the president a cowboy when he engaged in diplomacy. 

MATTHEWS:  Has he become more moderate because he‘s out of troops, because he‘s learned his lesson, because he can‘t deal any more, has it been an educational process that has toned him down or is it a lack of resources now and public support? 

ALLEN:  Well what the White House would say to you is that he has always said that he‘s going to do something different.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t want to hear from the White House.  I want to hear from you.  I want an objective report. 

ALLEN:  But little bits of all of what you said exist.  George Will himself has said that the three members of the axis of evil are all more dangerous than they were at the time that the president identified them.  Strob Talbot, now head of the Brookings Institution, former assistant secretary of state, he was into the time bureau today and he said this foreign policy has changed more in one presidency than any in history.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you this Roger.  When you look at this president.  He came in like new kid on the block.  His brilliant statement 9/14 at the rubble of the World Trade Center, we‘re going to go get the guys that attacked us.  The country and the world were behind him right through maybe the first year in Iraq and now they‘re against him, the world and most of Americans now on the issue of Iraq.  Is he changing or is the country changing him?

ROGER SIMON, BLOOMBERG POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, I think the country is changing him.  I think there‘s a difference between success and failure in your foreign policy and he‘s seen failure and he‘s changing it.  It‘s an excellent piece.  But I commend everyone to read it, but it‘s a profoundly depressing piece.

MATTHEWS:  Do we have the—last question, gentlemen.  Do we have the ground troops to fight a war in North Korea on the DMZ at 38 parallel?  Do we have the ground troops to fight in Iran or do we have the troops for neither campaign, right now assuming we‘re still in Iraq?

SIMON:  We know that Iraq is pressing us to the limits right now. 

MATTHEWS:  I guess the answer is no.

SIMON:  The answer is absolutely no.  We can‘t find a ground war.

MATTHEWS:  We used to say we could fight two big wars and one small one, remember that, when we were growing up?  Now we can‘t fight more than one small one, right?

ALLEN:  Well, you would need a coalition and that‘s going to tough to build right now.

SIMON:  The money quote of the piece is right here, it‘s about midway through.  “If Iraq gets better, everything gets better,” a White House official says.  “If Iraq doesn‘t get better, there‘s no hope.”  Well how many people do you know who think Iraq is going to get better in the next 20 months?

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a pretty damn weak if.  Anyway, up next, we‘ll be right back.  Was Tom DeLay, by the way, coming back to run for Congress again?  I thought we did the last rights on that fellow.  Anyway, “Bloomberg‘s” Roger Simon and “Time‘s” Michael Allen—Michael, are staying with us.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with our hardballers, “Time” magazine‘s Mike Allen and “Bloomberg‘s” Roger Simon.  Just when you thought it was gone, by the way, Tom DeLay is back.  The former Texas congressman stepped down from his seat last month, hoping that it would help his party in November, by having a better candidate run against the Democrat in that district.  Now a federal court says DeLay can‘t be replaced on the ballot with another candidate.  “Time” magazine reports with a source close to DeLay says he‘s ready for an aggressive campaign to return to Congress if the decision holds.  Mike, I think you‘re the source.

ALLEN:  Well, Chris....

MATTHEWS:  ... No, I think you‘re the reporter, as I remember, from the hot note there.

ALLEN:  Chris, when I saw Mr. DeLay‘s comments in Texas, I thought he sort of causing trouble, needling, people suggesting—you know, trying to show a little leg.  But we wrote this item because I found out that in fact if the decision is not overturned, he is ready to run a real campaign and basically give the Democrats something to cry about.  He said...

MATTHEWS:  ... Is this like “Carrie,” the scary movie where the hand comes back up from of the rocks at the end?  You know, of the dead crazy girl?

SIMON:  I can‘t believe his lawyers are going to let him do this.  They are going to sit him down once again and say you need to be concentrating on helping us keep you out of prison, not on running for office again.

And No. 2, juries and judges are tougher on office holders who are accused of crimes, rather than former office holders.  He would help himself by not running again.

MATTHEWS:  OK, but that‘s advisory and that‘s uncle to news talking, but what difference does it make?  He‘s going to run or he‘s not going to, no matter what we say here.  If he runs again, can he win?

ALLEN:  He left because he got a poll that showed that it was a...

MATTHEWS:  ... Called me up that night and said my polls were as bad as they were last November, they‘re not getting any better, they‘re terrible, they‘re getting worse this summer.  The Democrats are going to pound me, I‘m getting out of here, is basically what he said.  So now, nothing has changed, right, Mike?  Nothing—is his poll dipping upwards or has something happened?

ALLEN:  Right and another factor in the calculation was that they knew the legal problems were not going to get better. 

SIMON:  He also said I‘m going to resign, retire, because I don‘t want to be a lightning rod to let people use me as an attack on the Republican Party.  Well apparently he doesn‘t care about that anymore.

ALLEN:  Unlike a lot of people who leave offices like that, he does plan to stay visible.  He signed a deal with Stephen Mansfield, who wrote “The Faith of George W. Bush,” a “New York Times” best seller, to do a biography, a sort of “as told to.”

He signed up with the speaker‘s bureau, so he wants to be visible, this running a campaign would certainly would be a good way to do it.  The first thing you would be doing would be raising money.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ve got a quickly news story here.  Singer/songwriter Orrin Hatch has helped one of his colleagues get out of trouble over in Dubai.  What‘s this about?

SIMON:  This is about the rich and powerful taking care of the rich and powerful.  Here is a guy who goes to Dubai, for Naomi Campbell‘s birthday, carrying with him he admits, a gram and a quarter of cocaine and ecstasy.  What happened to bringing flowers or chocolates?

MATTHEWS:  These were gifts?

SIMON:  Apparently.  And he gets caught, he gets thrown in jail and Orrin Hatch, who shares an entertainment attorney with him, helps spring him.

ALLEN:  One of the most astute observers of bee-hive state politics that I know.

MATTHEWS:  Utah politics.

ALLEN:  Pointed out that if in a couple weeks down the road, Orrin Hatch gets a record contract, we‘ll know that something‘s up.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think was the motive?

ALLEN:  Well somebody else pointed out to me at least the guy wasn‘t a flag burner, which is something that Senator Hatch really wouldn‘t be concerned about.

MATTHEWS:  What I want to find out from you guys is, why did Bob Bennett, the other Utah senator, also a conservative Republican, oppose the flag burning amendment?  When Orrin Hatch was the guy that proposed it.

SIMON:  Why did he oppose it?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ALLEN:  Because he‘s a conservative and he doesn‘t think that things should be added to the Constitution that don‘t need to be there.

MATTHEWS:  OK, good, the rare purest among us.  Anyway, former Massachusetts governor Mike Dukakis, remember he was the guy in the tank, isn‘t in the music business, but he does know a little bit about the T.V.  business.  Dukakis‘s presidential campaign took big blows back in ‘88 from hard-hitting ads.  Today the “Boston Globe” reports that Dukakis himself will lead a panel of Democrats to watchdog T.V. ads in this year‘s Massachusetts election.  Is he the right guy for the job?  Massachusetts has picked—the Democrats have picked Mike Dukakis, the guy in the tank, rocking the squirrel, to be the guy to blow the whistle on bad T.V. ads.  Will it work?

ALLEN:  Chris, you know, these do-gooder groups always have a great track record of really changing what a political consultant does when they‘re really desperate. 

SIMON:  This is going to be the long unintended consequence.  If you really want to get publicity and don‘t have enough money to put up a big ad buy, you put up a scurrilous ad and you let this commission attack you and then the mainstream media will cover you.

ALLEN:  And then they‘ll run it on HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS:  Who are you betting on in the Lieberman-Lamont race? 

Lieberman. 

SIMON:  Lieberman

MATTHEWS:  To win the race? 

SIMON:  To win the primary, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s fair for people who are against the war to vote against Lieberman? 

ALLEN:  They can vote how they want? 

SIMON:  It‘s fair, of course it‘s fair. 

MATTHEWS:  A lot of editorials and comments are coming out and saying it‘s wrong to be to disciplined for the party. 

ALLEN:  It may be short sighted, it may be foolish, but they‘re free to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  When are we going to have elections about the Iraq war?  When‘s the election coming we‘re allowed to vote in because this country is to gerrymandered, you can‘t vote in crash race to have any difference.  Everybody‘s in stays in.  If you‘re a red state, your vote doesn‘t matter.  This is one of those few elections, if you‘re in Connecticut right now, where you can actually influence public policy. 

SIMON:  This is why primaries are going to become more and more important and more and more vicious. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at this.  Florida‘s Katherine Harris went in to Walter Reed Hospital today for testing to get ready for surgery next week to remove an ovarian mass, what a terrible situation.  She said she‘s looking forward to getting back to work and hitting the campaign trail hard in her race against Senator Bill Nelson, the incumbent.  We wish her well.  I like her myself, “Saturday Night Live” has had a lot of fun with her. 

But she‘s great.  She‘s out there. 

Anyway, Mike Allen and Roger Simon are staying with us and when we come back, could the Internet site you too and others be the wave of the future for political campaigns?  Can they do more than millions of dollars spent on advertising.  This is a new, free way to get your message out without any censorship.  This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Call it modern day pamphletering.  It‘s the new way of getting your political message out.  And come 2008, it could make or break the next president of the United States.  YouTube.com is a booming new Web site, now partner with NBC Universal, that us, that let‘s users post videos.  Here‘s one a YouTube user made as a fake ad for John McCain.  Take a look. 

OK.  What did you make of that one? 

ALLEN:  What strikes me about this and a lot of those ads on YouTube,  is that they‘re better, funnier than 99 percent of the professionals ads I‘ve seen over the years. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think.  These kids are doing this for nothing. 

A lot of young people.  They‘re putting these things on their blog sites. 

They‘re having fun with their own cameras. 

SIMON:  There‘s less at stake. 

ALLEN:  And you get the ad passed to you by someone you know, it‘s the Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman theory about influentials, you make your decision about who you‘re going to vote from your local news and people you know, as opposed to maybe a massive carpet bombing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at the next one.  Here‘s another political ad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Joe Lieberman on presidential power. 

SEN JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT:  In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation‘s peril. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Joe Lieberman on the Iraq war. 

LIEBERMAN:  We are now at a point where the war in Iraq is a war of necessity. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Joe Lieberman may say he represents us, but if it talks like George W. Bush and acts like George W. Bush, it‘s certainly not a Connecticut Democrat.  Let‘s get our voice back in Congress.  Vote Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate. 

NED LAMONT (D), FOR SENATE IN CONNECTICUT:  I‘m Ned Lamont and I approve this message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?  Here‘s a guy, Ned Lamont, who is running an anti-war campaign against longtime Senator Joe Lieberman who is a big hawk and it seems like there‘s the case where you have the perfect storm.  You have all these bloggers out there, all these people that are pajamahadeen out there all campaigning, all on the left politically, and they‘re putting this ad and circulating this around.  You don‘t think this will work though? 

SIMON:  It‘s a great ad and it was 100 times better. 

MATTHEWS:  The message is this guy is Bush. 

SIMON:  If you‘re a Democrat, don‘t vote for George W. Bush, vote for Ned Lamont.  It was 100 times better than Lamont was in the debate, but here‘s the problem.  Ads are successful because they‘re embedded into entertainment programming and news programming.  They‘re foisted on an unsuspecting public who is watching 24 and suddenly an ad comes on.  The YouTube ads, which are terrific, are only for people who click on YouTube but want to consume that product.  So will they reach the general audience. 

MATTHEWS:  So they‘re like porn? 

SIMON:  Porn is highly successful. 

MATTHEWS:  This is great, I love this stuff.  What do you think of these ads?  Because it is a well done ad. 

ALLEN:  Roger made a great point, the ads are great, but I think generally the pajamahadeen does not turn people out, but I will say that in the California race to replace Duke Cunningham, bloggers cleverly circulated dumb quotes that one of the candidates had made and it really made a difference. 

MATTHEWS:  Is Joe Lieberman trying to turn the U.S. Senate into a hedge fund.  I mean, if I don‘t win the Democratic thing I go in the general.  If I don‘t win the vice-president‘s, I‘ll go in the Senate.  This is getting a little bit tiresome, isn‘t it?

SIMON:  He doesn‘t want to lose his job. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you allowed to get two bites of the apple whenever you run? 

SIMON:  He is going to use everything he can to help hang on to that job, along with 99 percent of all the incumbents in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Will he run again if he loses?  If he loses the general, will he run again if six years? 

SIMON:  I don‘t know if he‘ll be able to run again in six years.

MATTHEWS:  Will he get a cabinet post from Bush for trying?

SIMON:  He might get one either way. 

MATTHEWS:  He might get defense, what do you think.  Everyone will be happy then.  Democrats will be rid of him and Bush will have him.  Here‘s another political ad we found in YouTube.  This is an amazing ad.  Talk about going beyond the bounds of usual conversation. 

North Carolina conservative Vernon Robinson, he is running for Congress down there, he‘s a Republican nominee.  But this time he‘s the nominee, last time he was an also-ran.  Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you‘re a conservative Republican, watching the news these days can make you feel as though you are in “The Twilight Zone.” 

Americans are under attack from Islamic extremists in every corner of the world.  Homosexuals are mocking holy matrimony, and the lesbians and feminists are attacking everything sacred.

Liberal judges have completely rewritten the Constitution.  You can burn the American flag and kill a million babies a year, but you can‘t post the Ten Commandments or say “God” in public. 

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN:  One nation under...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Seven out of every 10 black children are born out of wedlock, and Jackson and Sharpton claim the answer is racial quotas.

And the aliens are here, but they didn‘t come in a spaceship.  They came across our unguarded Mexican border by the millions. 

VERNON ROBINSON:  I‘m Vernon Robinson.  If you send me to Congress, I‘ll send that back to “The Twilight Zone.” 

I approve of this message and of traditional American values. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What did you think of that shot at Jackson and Reverend Sharpton? 

(CROSSTALK) 

SIMON:  It was way over the top. 

ALLEN:  Idiotic, but obviously this gentleman‘s voters are not the highest denominator crowd.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  So you‘re talking down to these people.  That‘s going to help this guy who‘s doing this ad, you know, what you just did there, Mike.

But what do you think?  I‘ve never seen ads this tough.  This is—

(inaudible) tough, it‘s strong, it makes of the other side viciously, but I remember it.  I‘m going to remember this ad. 

ALLEN:  And there‘s a lot of people that will watch that ad and say, amen. 

SIMON:  But it doesn‘t make fun of the other side; it attacks the other side.  I think the most effective ads are the ones that make fun of the other side, as in the Lieberman ad.  This was just a...

MATTHEWS:  That didn‘t make fun of Democrats, Sharpton and Jackson?

SIMON:  It was a dead-on attack.  He wasn‘t making fun of them.  It was just saying these people are evil and terrible, and vote for me and I‘ll make sure they... 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, I‘ve never forgotten the piece you did with Jackson.  What was it called, “Road Show?” 

SIMON:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  When you sat all night with a tape recorder, the Reverend Jackson, he was quite a personality when you were with him, and you caught that personality, that interesting, edgy, sleepy, interesting middle-of-the-night conversation you had with Jackson, which is one of the best pieces of journalism I have ever seen.  Because we watch these guys on TV, they perform.  You got him at night, the real Jackson.  What a show.

SIMON:  Every time you say that, my Amazon rating goes up. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ve got to tell you, that is journalism.  That‘s the old Joe McGinnis stuff, middle-of-the-night stuff. 

Anyway, Mike Allen, Roger Simon, great to have you.  By the way, you‘re hardballers. 

Up next, we‘ll meet a husband and wife from Kansas, who are both running from office against each other.  You got that?  This is Carville and what‘s her name all over again.  You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

It is not often that you see a husband and a wife running for office at the same time, not to mention running against each other.  Well, that‘s the case of Jeff and Pam Ippel of Overland Park, Kansas, who are battling for a spot in the state legislature.  One is a Republican.  That‘s Jeff.  And one is a Democrat.  But their opponents say it is just a gimmick to weaken the GOP.  Pam and Jeff, thank you.

I‘m going to test now to see whether this campaign is for real between Jeff and Pamela, both of you wonderful people, or whether you‘re just trying to hurt some conservative guy on the Republican right. 

Where do you stand on Hillary Clinton, Jeff? 

JEFF IPPEL ®, RUNNING FOR KANSAS LEGISLATURE:  I think she‘s just—she is just—she doesn‘t have any stock left in her.  She‘s a bright woman.  She can speak on the spot about just any topic.  But I think she just wants to socialize too much of our own government.

MATTHEWS:  So you think she is an out-and-out socialist, right?

J. IPPEL:  Yes.  I think she‘s too close to it.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  And you, Pam, what‘s your view and gut sense of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the senator from New York? 

PAMELA IPPEL (D), RUNNING FOR KANSAS LEGISLATURE:  You know, I‘ve always thought a lot about Hillary Clinton, but lately we‘ve been spending so much time in Kansas, I‘ve been thinking more about Kansas issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but right now you‘re on television and I‘m asking you a question.  What do you think about Hillary Clinton? 

P. IPPEL:  I like Hillary Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  So you ever argue about this?  Do you ever argue?  Husbands and wives seem to argue about these things all the time.  My wife and I discuss this issue with some heat once in a while.  What do you—do you argue about it? 

J. IPPEL:  No, we don‘t usually argue.  We usually state our opinions, but we don‘t debate them. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Jeff, are you a hawk on the war in Iraq? 

J. IPPEL:  No.  Definitely not. 

MATTHEWS:  Pam, are you a hawk on the war in Iraq? 

P. IPPEL:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you both against war in Iraq? 

J. IPPEL:  I felt it was a...

MATTHEWS:  A mistake?

J. IPPEL:  I felt it was a mistake from the beginning. 

MATTHEWS:  How about you, Pam? 

P. IPPEL:  I was against it from the beginning. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Pam, Jeff, where are you on a woman‘s right to have an abortion under the Constitution?  Are you for it or against it?  Do you think it is a good decision by the court or a bad decision? 

J. IPPEL:  I think it‘s—I think the decision has been made.  And I think it is a good decision.  It is better to be done in a controlled way than rather in the back alleys. 

MATTHEWS:  And what do you think, Pam?  Was it a good decision, Roe v.

Wade, or a bad decision? 

P. IPPEL:  Good decision. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What about guns?  Are you both pro-gun?  Both pro-Second Amendment, rather? 

J. IPPEL:  Well, in Kansas, we just passed a concealed carry bill.  I am signed up for a class the day after the primary. 

MATTHEWS:  You believe in a right to carry. 

J. IPPEL:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe in a right to carry, Pam? 

P. IPPEL:  I‘m not sold on it, but I‘m used to having guns around the house.  Jeff is a hunter, and I feel comfortable with him going forward with it. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you people argue about?  You‘re pretty close on the war.  You‘re both skeptics about the war, if not doves.  You are both, basically, it seems like, for a right to choose under the Constitution.  You‘re both not among the anti-gun people. 

What is it that distinguishes your campaigns if you‘re running against each other?  What will be different if you win, Jeff, rather than your wife? 

J. IPPEL:  Well, we both want a good government, an efficient government, but we‘re just going at it differently.  She‘s focusing on education and health care.  I feel the government continues to grow twice the rate of our income in Kansas. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, tell your wife where she‘s wrong. 

J. IPPEL:  She‘s wrong because she just does not see where there needs to be a limit on the amount of spending.  It‘s just—she sees a new program and her heart bleeds for whoever program it is. 

MATTHEWS:  So she‘s a bleeding heart liberal.  And you‘re a solid conservative.  She‘s a bleeding heart liberal.

J. IPPEL:  Right.  Fiscal conservative. 

MATTHEWS:  And she‘s a bleeding heart liberal? 

J. IPPEL:  I don‘t know about the bleeding heart part. 

MATTHEWS:  How about, Pam, are you bleeding—you gave your husband -

you shot him quite a look there when he started to go at you.  What do you fear he‘s going to hit you with when it gets close to the election?

P. IPPEL:  Well, he‘s got to get past the primary first.  But I think that we‘re going to have some differences on that.

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think when I look at you two?  I think this marriage will survive.  Anyway, thank you very much, Jeff and Pam, both candidates for the state house in Kansas.  Good luck to you both, I guess.

Right now, it‘s time for our new neighbor, Tucker.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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