Guest: Mark Cuban, Eugenie Scott, Bruce Chapman, Paul Krugman, Dan Bartlett
DAVID GREGORY, GUEST HOST: President Bush rounds up his economic team at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. We will get the bottom line from the counselor to the president, Dan Bartlett. Plus, the evolving debate over evolution and intelligent design.
I‘m David Gregory. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Hi, everybody. I‘m David Gregory, in once again for Chris Matthews.
Flanked by his economic advisers, President Bush spoke at his Crawford ranch today and said the economy is gaining steam and job growth is strong. Will the new numbers on the economy be enough to turn around the president‘s approval ratings?
Dan Bartlett is counselor to the president. He is at the Crawford ranch, near the Crawford ranch, I should say now.
DAN BARTLETT, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks for having me, David.
GREGORY: I know the president talking about the economy. We‘ll get to that in just a moment.
But let me begin with Iraq and some of the latest poll numbers. One from “Newsweek” magazine puts approval at the handling of the war in Iraq at 61 percent—rather, disapproval at 61 percent, approval at 34 percent. And this from the latest Gallup poll: Has the war on Iraq made us safer from terrorism? Only 34 percent saying yes, 57 percent now saying no.
Dan, is the reality for this president that he is saddled with an unpopular war?
BARTLETT: Well, David, I think, as you know, that these public opinion polls are snapshots in time.
And what you‘re seeing is that these polls are being taken when there‘s some pretty tough fighting going on in Iraq, when particular—and if you look at the last week or so, we had those unfortunate deaths of 20 Marines from Ohio. That is unsettling to the American people. We are in the middle of a war. It‘s a tough war up against a very determined enemy.
And I think it is anxious times, when you see that type of thing on your TV sets or hear it on the radio or read it in the newspaper. But what President Bush will continue to argue and what the commanders on the ground understand is that this war is necessary, that this war is making our world safer by making Iraq free and whole and secure. It is going to be a crucial step in winning the overall war on terror.
But we have some tough fighting. But we are also seeing some great progress being made on the ground at the same time that there‘s violence. The political process is moving forward. A constitution is being written. It is going to be ratified by mid-August. These are important, critical steps, not only for the future of the Iraqi people, but in defeating the insurgency as well.
So, President Bush has confidence in the strategy that is in place in Iraq. He understands that the consequences are enormous. If we don‘t win in Iraq, if we don‘t defeat terrorists there, we are only going to make America and our friends around the world more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
GREGORY: Dan, when you look at the—the sharp change in public opinion, and, as you say, it can go up, it can go down, depending upon news, why doesn‘t the president make a more concerted effort on a more regular basis to do something he really hasn‘t done and really give a very detailed picture of what we are up against in Iraq that‘s geographical, that involves the number of troops, that involves Iraqi security forces, give the kind of detailed presentation that this president gives about the problem with Social Security?
BARTLETT: Well, David, I would argue that he has done that. He‘s given multiple updates to the American people about the progress in Iraq.
He talks about the conduct of the training of the Iraqi security forces. He talks in detail about our strategy on the political front. He talks about reconstruction. You heard him himself said, at times, he hasn‘t been satisfied with the pace of reconstruction, that we are redoubling our efforts to train Iraqi security forces.
So, often, there are these discussions saying, oh, the president just needs to say this or that, when, in fact, he has been making those points. He has been discussing the detailed plan in Iraq. He has been discussing, not only the strategy, but the consequences and why it is important that we get it right. So, I believe he is making that case and he‘ll continue to do that, not only through the month of August, but going into the fall as well.
GREGORY: The president doesn‘t like to give a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. And, yet, the commanders on the ground, the individuals the president said he trusts, have said, by next spring, you could see between 30 on the low end, perhaps even 80,000, U.S. troops come back if the political and security conditions are right. Does the president agree with that? Does he support that?
BARTLETT: Well, what you‘re hearing is very consistent with the strategy that the president outlined at Fort Bragg just several weeks ago. He said, our strategy is very basically putt. As the Iraqis stand up, we stand down.
And what the generals are talking about is a conditions-based environment. As the conditions improve, or security forces get strengthened and they are able to take over portions of the country themselves or cities or provinces, then our troops will have less of a presence there. So, this is a conditions-based approach.
As your—you noted correctly at the top that the president doesn‘t believe that a deadline or an artificial timeline of withdrawal would be smart, because that will just tell the enemy when we plan to leave, and they can plan accordingly. But what we will do is, as their conditions enhance, our conditions—we will step back.
And that has been something that he‘s been very direct with the American people. Now, as far as the specific numbers, it is expected that the Pentagon and military planners are going to discuss different scenarios, but we won‘t know precisely until we determine exactly how security forces are being built up next spring.
GREGORY: Let me ask you a political question. Is having the force strength that we‘ve got in Iraq right now attracting jihadists? Is it hurting public opinion in terms of the new Iraqi government, the United States? In other words, is such a huge force structure in Iraq actually hurting our goals, detracting from our goals?
BARTLETT: Well, David, that is a very interesting question and one which commanders on the ground grapple with on a daily basis.
In large part, the Iraqi people want coalition forces there. They are providing security. They are going after the bad guys. Many of them are, as you said, foreign jihadists. Whether those foreign jihadists are being recruited there because of American presence is something that is—that is debated both inside and outside the administration. We do believe we are going to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that our intentions is obviously not to occupy Iraq, but to turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people.
But it is also important that we don‘t leave prematurely, to make sure that they can secure the country, because the worst thing we could do is to pull up stakes and cut and run, leave the Iraqis high and dry, give a victory to the terrorists, which only will make America more vulnerable.
GREGORY: Let me ask you about the economy. Certainly, good facts, good news that the president pointed to today, and, yet, you look at a poll from last week by CBS News, 52 percent disapproval on the economy. Why is the message not getting through?
BARTLETT: Lots of focus on polls tonight, David.
Well, in this one, I would just say that it is a little bit different. If you look at the consumer confidence polls and those things looking at people who are asked questions about their personal finances and about their personal outlook on the economy, they are quite strong, relatively strong for an economic recovery that we are—that is under way.
Now, the question is from a political standpoint about economic approval. And I think those get colored by issues such as high gas prices or the fact that we are in a war on terror. The bombings in London, for example, I think are unsettling to the American people. And, sometimes, these break down by partisan lines. So, I don‘t think that is unexpected in the political climate that we live in today.
But what the president is concerned about are the fundamentals of the economy. And, as he reported, they are very strong, over three-and-a-half million jobs created since September of 2003. Productivity is high, as we saw in report today. Jobs are being created across the country. He‘s not satisfied, but what we are seeing is strong economic growth. And this is good for the American people.
GREGORY: The president talked about the importance of giving people their own money. Yet, people aren‘t saving anything. And they are spending too much. And, in part, they‘ve got to spend a lot just to gas up their cars. Does he worry about that?
BARTLETT: Well, it is a concern. Something that he talked about today is there are two big concerns that the president has about our economy going forward, not only rising energy costs, which he was obviously gratified to sign a bill into law yesterday to implement a comprehensive energy plan that will begin to put America on a path to economic security when it comes to our energy. It is not going to happen overnight. He‘s been very straightforward about that.
But it is important that America now has adopted a strategy to get us on that path. Secondly, the president is concerned about rising health care costs. This is something that is making it hard for families to make ends meet. It is important to say, though, that they have—the fact that they do have more money in their pocket, they are able to afford these higher increases in expenses like health care.
And President Bush has a comprehensive health care agenda to address the root causes of health care increases. So, these are things that are concerning to the president. But, overall, we must be very pleased if you see what this economy has overcome during a time of war, national emergency, overcoming the stock market crash, 9/11, the corporate scandals, a remarkable, flexible economy. Now, most of this credit obviously goes to the American people themselves.
The resiliency of the American people, the flexibility and ingenuity has made this economy as strong as it is today. But President Bush‘s policies has also—has also helped in this economic expansion. We are going to implement these pro-growth policies.
GREGORY: All right, we are going to leave it there. Thanks very much, Dan Bartlett, from Crawford Texas, tonight.
BARTLETT: Always good to see you, David.
GREGORY: All right, Dan, thanks.
And when we return, what does the Bush administration‘s economic agenda mean for the typical American family? CNBC‘S Larry Kudlow and Paul Krugman of “The New York Times” will be with us.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
GREGORY: Coming up, President Bush says the American economy is on the rise, but it is rising for everyone?
HARDBALL returns after this.
GREGORY: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
On the day that the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point, President Bush touted his economic policy of allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn and said the strategy is paying off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The economy is growing faster than any other major industrialized country. Job growth is strong. We added over 200,000 new jobs in July.
This country added nearly four million new job since May of 2003. The unemployment rate is 5 percent, which is below the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Americans have more money in their pockets. And that is good news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Paul Krugman is a Princeton economist and “New York Times” columnist. And Larry Kudlow is an economic analyst and host of CNBC‘s “Kudlow & Company.”
Welcome to you both.
PAUL KRUGMAN, COLUMNIST, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Hi there.
GREGORY: Paul Krugman, let me start with you. Do you see the same economic portrait that the president does?
I mean, look, some job growth is better than none. It is—you want to put these in perspective. That—last month was a pretty good month for this administration. It would have ranked 69 out of 96 in terms of job growth during the Clinton years. So, it is not—it is not really terrific news. And it‘s a recovery that is not really delivering. There‘s not a whole lot trickling down to wages.
It is—it is a disappointing recovery, although it‘s a lot better. Thing are certainly better than they were in the summer of 2003, when it was really depressing.
GREGORY: Larry, is this a strong recovery? Is it a surge? Or is it kind of anemic?
LAWRENCE KUDLOW, CO-HOST, “KUDLOW & CRAMER”: I think it is a—it is a solid recovery that is getting stronger as we go on. And I think President Bush is exactly right.
His tax cuts on investment and capital were big precursors of the last two years, creating four million jobs and dropping the unemployment rate to 5 percent. You know, interestingly, David, we‘ve been growing now, I guess, at a 4 percent annual rate for each of the last two years, since those tax cuts. But I don‘t think the administration has been very good at communicating their success.
I was quite surprised on Friday, given a big jobs increase, that the president didn‘t hold a special news conference to talk about it, not to crow about it, just to put the facts on the table. He‘s running low on the economic polls. He‘s got a lot to take credit for, in my judgment, after inheriting a recession and a stock market plunge and, of course, the war. And he‘s helped us get out of that. So has the private economy. So has the work force.
But I, frankly, am sometimes baffled by their lack of communication.
GREGORY: Paul, why is that, if there‘s a rash of good facts, good economic facts, the American people are still pretty gloomy about it?
KRUGMAN: Well, they aren‘t...
GREGORY: Larry mentions last week, a CBS News poll found 50 -- found 52 percent disapprove of the president‘s handling of the economy.
KRUGMAN: Well, remember, the facts aren‘t that good.
Even Larry, in his attempt to spin it, is saying, well, it‘s pretty good when you consider recession, stock market crash, the war. The fact is that, you know, by normal standards, this is a subpar recovery, by any standard. The Congressional Budget Office had a study out just yesterday talking about how much below the typical this recovery is in terms of job growth. It is not just not—it is not great. It‘s not—don‘t want to make it doomsday, but it is not great, very little shared by—recent study by Congressional—sorry—Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said, you know, you can look at seven indicators of strength of a recovery.
On six of them, this is just way subpar. It‘s the worst of the postwar period. The only one that is really above par is corporate profits. Well, that doesn‘t mean anything to most people. People are not feeling good about their job prospects or their wages.
KUDLOW: It might be a little stronger than Paul is—look it, income after taxes and inflation is rising very nicely. It‘s growing at over 3, three-and-a-half percent. And total incomes are rising at about 6 percent, six-and-a-half percent.
I agree with Paul. If you compare this to the late ‘90s, it not as strong. But there was a lot of overhiring in the late ‘90s, from the Y2K problem and the Internet bubble explosion.
KUDLOW: The 5 percent unemployment rate is actually lower than the average of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. And that is a pretty good proxy for how things have improved.
But the point I‘m making is, in that—as we move forward here, we have very low inflation. We have solid growth of about three-and-a-half percent. You‘re creating jobs at about 175,000, 185,000 a month. All you need to break even is about 100,000. This thing has got legs. It can go on for four, five, six more years. And I think that is the point the White House should make, that people should be more confident about the future.
GREGORY: Paul, quickly, why did the Fed raise the interest rate?
What does it mean?
KRUGMAN: The Fed is concerned about, you know, eventually, having some inflation, although there is no sign of that really in the numbers right now.
And a lot of this is conditioned by the fact that they are trying to get the markets ready for the fact that interest rates will eventually go up. There was a—there‘s a long story about 1994, when—when the bond market suddenly said, oh my God. the Fed is eventually going to raise rates. And things plunged. So, they have got this view. I think they are wrong.
I think that they are fighting a risk that isn‘t there. But it is mostly a matter of signalling to the markets that the really low interest rates of 2003 are not going to last.
KUDLOW: I‘m just dying to say.
GREGORY: Go ahead, Larry. Before the break, go ahead.
KUDLOW: At the risk of being read out of the conservative movement, that I agree with Paul Krugman.
KRUGMAN: Once, in a while, it happens.
KUDLOW: Regarding the Fed.
KRUGMAN: It‘s like a stopped clock twice a day.
KUDLOW: ... tightening at all. I think Mr. Krugman has it exactly right. There ain‘t no inflation. And the Fed should take the next six months off.
GREGORY: All right. We can with—we can to go press with that headline.
GREGORY: But we are going to a break. We are going to be right back with Paul Krugman and Larry Kudlow.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
GREGORY: We are back on HARDBALL with Paul Krugman of “The New York Times” and Larry Kudlow, host of “KUDLOW & COMPANY” on CNBC.
All right, guys, one of the ways that Americans feel the economy and whether it is doing well or not is, they look at how their homes are doing, what the value of their homes are vs., say, their stock portfolio. And, certainly, in the past few years, it has been good news if you own a home, if you‘re trying to sell a house, certainly good news.
Paul, you‘re worried that Americans may be kidding themselves, that there may be a bubble about to burst here. Why?
KRUGMAN: You just look at the—first of all, you look at the numbers. The number are—not the national averages, because there is a large part of the middle of the country where nothing is happening.
But if you look at the coasts, the house price increases are way out of line with everything that might justify it. They are way out of line with the increase in rents.
KRUGMAN: They are way out of line with the economy—economic growth. So, it looks—the numbers look like they did before the Nasdaq bubble burst. And...
GREGORY: And what drives that, just people willing to pay a lot of money in coastal areas?
KRUGMAN: Well, and the fact that people see that other people have made lots of money on their houses.
KRUGMAN: Everyone who buys a house now in New York or Miami or in San Diego assumes that the price will just keep going up and up and up. And that is what you call a bubble, because it doesn‘t happen.
KUDLOW: I just feel—look it, I have a different take on this.
Quick anecdote. Last weekend, I was with my congresswoman from the East Side of Manhattan, Carolyn Maloney. She‘s a liberal Democrat. I‘m a supply-side Republican. But she was telling me the story how she was touring in Harlem, New York, and the building boom, the real estate boom, folks buying homes. They had access to credit. That whole area is being rebuilt.
There was a story on the front page of “The Wall Street Journal” a month ago., the inner city of Baltimore being rebuilt because of the housing. And it is true in Philadelphia as well. I think the housing boom is a tremendous plus for middle-income people, for low-income people. And, yes, people that already own homes in Naples, Florida, and Beverly Hills, maybe they are overpaying.
KRUGMAN: Well, bubbles are fun when they are happening.
GREGORY: But isn‘t the scary point...
KUDLOW: This thing is one of the best things that could happen to this country.
GREGORY: All right.
KRUGMAN: Bubbles are fun when they are happening. We were all very happy when the Nasdaq was soaring.
David, you should know there‘s a little bit of history here. Back in 2000, Larry wrote a number of scathing articles about self-important college professors who thought that the tech stocks were overvalued and urged his readers to go ahead and—and keep on buying tech stocks.
I mean, Larry always thinks the market is right. I sometimes think there is a bubble. I think the numbers are really, really clear here, and the frenzy, the atmosphere as well.
GREGORY: All right, so, what—what happens? Because if—if—if the concern is that people are not saving—the personal savings rate is abysmally low—and people are spending a lot of money. They are spending it to gas up their cars and on other things in life. But they are looking at stocks vs. real estate and saying, well, at least I am going to be able to hold my investment. It is going to hold my line if I invest it properly in real estate.
KUDLOW: Right. Very important. That‘s a very important point.
KRUGMAN: Well, I‘m really...
GREGORY: But—but—but, Paul, is that—I mean, what—what concerns you about that?
GREGORY: And what happens if that thinking is wrong?
KRUGMAN: A lot of people are going to find themselves with mortgages they can‘t handle. They are going to find themselves—you know, personal bankruptcy will go up, except, of course, the laws have been tightened on that now, quite brutally.
But the main thing, I‘m just—we—you know, this—this economic recovery, I‘ve been complaining about it, but at least it is a recovery. And it is driven, it is driven mostly by housing.
KRUGMAN: It‘s the increase in housing construction. It is the increase in wealth, which leads people to spend more. I‘ve done the numbers, say about that three-and-a-half to 4 percent of GDP is housing. The tax cuts are around 1 percent. This is much more a housing story than a tax-cut story.
KUDLOW: Well, I—I...
KRUGMAN: And when the housing thing bursts, we are in big trouble.
KUDLOW: I‘m prepared to agree with part of that. But I think capital investment is now picking up steam.
But I want to just come back to two points. Number one, when the Federal Reserve got too tight in year 2000 and inverted interest rates on their head, then I said get out. So, Paul is being a little unfair.
More to the point, regarding housing, the expansion of homeownership among the middle, lower-middle and lower-income classes is one of the great benefits and boons of this economic prosperity.
KUDLOW: And I don‘t think we should be so worried about the super rich in Naples, Florida, or Beverly Hills, California, nor do I think the Federal Reserve should direct policies at stopping...
GREGORY: Well, Larry, let me ask you this, just more of a real-world problem.
KUDLOW: This is a good thing. It is rebuilding inner cities.
KUDLOW: And this ownership is a model for how the rest of the economy can expand.
GREGORY: Final—final question on this. If people are too leveraged, if they are putting too much of their money into real estate and the values don‘t hold up, aren‘t they in for a rude awakening?
I mean, that—this is exactly what we are worried about. We are worried that there will be a rude awakening, that people will find themselves in trouble. And it‘s not just the people who are, you know, heavily leverage and bought real estate. But, again, the economy—we‘ve got a real-estate-driven economy right now. It is all—you know, if you ask, where‘s the growth coming from, the answer is, the bubble did it.
And if the bubble bursts, it actually—as I said in “The Times,” it sort of deflates slowly. But then we are in a lot of trouble, all of us.
GREGORY: All right, Larry, Larry, you can have the final word here.
KUDLOW: Just real quick, I think it is an investment-led recovery, particularly capital investment.
I agree that housing is very strong. I‘m totally in favor of that; 97 out of 100 people who make these borrowings know exactly what they are doing. You know, it is as though journalists and other professors think that the rest of the people don‘t get it. They do get it. They know precisely what they are doing. They know how to roll over loans. They know how to fund them 30 years.
You can make it more affordable by allowing yourself the new mortgage options that thankfully are available. You‘re not going to have a housing bubble go bust when the unemployment rate is low and the economy is growing at 3, 4 percent. The name of the game here keep taxes down and stop the fed from throwing a monkey wrench into this prosperity.
GREGORY: We are going to leave it there. My thanks to Paul Krugman and Larry Kudlow.
Up next, the battle over evolution vs. intelligent design. Which one is a real science? And what should be taught in schools? That debate straight ahead.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
GREGORY: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I‘m David Gregory, in tonight for Chris Matthews.
It is a question both basic and controversial. Where did we come from? And it moved to the front burner last week when President Bush weighed in on whether intelligent design, which acknowledges the hand of a powerful guiding force in our creation, should be given equal time in American classrooms with the theory of evolution.
Referring to his days as Texas governor, the president said—quote -
· “I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught, so people can understand what the debate is about.” He went on: “I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You‘re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas. And the answer is yes.”
To debate this issue, we are joined now by Eugenie Scott of the National Center For Science Education, and Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute.
Welcome to you both.
BRUCE CHAPMAN, PRESIDENT, DISCOVERY INSTITUTE: Thank you.
EUGENIE SCOTT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENCE EDUCATION: Thank you.
GREGORY: Mr. Chapman, the shorthand in the intelligent design community is that you should teach the controversy. What is the controversy?
CHAPMAN: Well, first of all, we do not suggest and are not proposing that the schools should teach intelligent design. And, to that extent, we really want to emphasize that there are problems with evolution, per se, and that students really need to know the weaknesses and strengths, from a scientific standpoint, of Darwin‘s theory of evolution. That‘s the—that‘s the main issue. The other is a side issue.
GREGORY: That is the controversy—but is that the controversy that ought to be taught?
GREGORY: In other words, that students ought to be taught that there are some holes in the theory of evolution?
CHAPMAN: They ought to be taught that there are—there is evidence for evolution, but there is also strong evidence, growing evidence against evolution.
GREGORY: What—what is that evidence?
CHAPMAN: There is all kind of evidence. In the peer-review science literature, it goes on for—you could pile it a foot, two, three feet high on everything from Haeckel‘s embryos to the gill slits to the peppered moth theory, to the Urey-Miller experiments, all these things that Jonathan Wells in his book “Icons of Evolution” refers to as icons, have serious problems.
GREGORY: All right. But—I‘m sorry. But that is hard to follow.
What is the bottom line? What does that tell us?
CHAPMAN: Well, the bottom line is that scientists increasingly recognize that there are serious problems with Darwin‘s theory as a way of explaining life and the universe. And, therefore, we think that people ought to be able—particularly, students—to know that there are these serious and growing instances of evidence against Darwin‘s theory.
GREGORY: Is intelligent design a scientific theory?
CHAPMAN: Well, first of all, I want to say again that we are proposing that Darwin‘s theory be taught. We are not proposing that intelligent design be taught in high schools. But it is a robust and interesting scientific theory, that is intelligent design, that certainly should be in the universities and seminars in robust kinds of dialogues that take place. And people have a right to know that, too, and to be protected.
GREGORY: All right. But I‘m just trying to nail down, do you think that intelligent design is a scientific theory?
CHAPMAN: Yes, of course.
GREGORY: It is?
CHAPMAN: Yes, of course it is.
GREGORY: Just like evolution?
CHAPMAN: Yes. Well, and it—yes, it is.
So, Ms.—Ms. Scott, then let me get to the crux of it, because it does appear that there is some parity here in Mr. Chapman‘s mind. Do you agree with that?
GREGORY: Do you believe that this is a controversy?
SCOTT: Well, by saying it is parity doesn‘t make it so.
The bottom line is that the Discovery Institute wants teachers to pretend to students that there is a nonexistent debate going on among scientists about whether evolution happened. And that simply is not happening. And you don‘t have to take my word for it.
I would suggest anybody who is interested in this go to your local university or community college library and just pick up a half-a-dozen science journals and see if any of those articles are discussing—arguing over whether evolution took place.
What you will find—and this is where the ground definitely gets trampled and muddied—is scientists arguing about how evolution takes place, the pattern the tree of life takes. That is what all this hand-waving about Haeckel‘s embryos and peppered moth and stuff is about. We are arguing about the details. We are not arresting about the whether.
But that is what these people want to us tell children is going on.
And it simply is not true.
GREGORY: But, now...
SCOTT: It would be a great disservice to teach—to students to teach them that.
GREGORY: Are there holes in the theory of evolution and is there a body of scientific evidence that creates those holes that ought to be taught to provide some context to what children are learning in schools?
SCOTT: Well, in the scientific community, we don‘t talk about holes. We admit that all scientific theories, including gravitation, are incomplete. Nobody is claiming we know everything there is to know about evolution.
But a gap is not a problem. And Mr. Chapman talks about gaps and problems in evolution. Well, that is not a problem. We are still working on—on answering a number of very interesting questions about how living things came to...
GREGORY: Mr. Chapman, let me pull back for just a minute. Isn‘t this just a way to get religion to be taught in the schools?
CHAPMAN: No, it is not just a way to put religion in the schools, not from our standpoint. We have expressly said, we didn‘t want religion to be brought into this at any point.
But if you want to know who is bringing religion into the—this whole argument over evolution, it is the National Center For Science Education, because I have right here an example from a Web site that they helped put together with taxpayers‘ money, federal taxpayers‘ money, to teach teachers how to teach evolution.
And, in this, they give examples of how to bring religious people and their views into the classroom to instruct children that evolution and religion are perfectly compatible, and not only that, but evolution will help enrich your faith.
Now, I don‘t have any opposition to people having those views.
CHAPMAN: But I do have an opposition to somebody criticizing anybody who says that evolution is flawed as being implicitly religious, when explicit...
GREGORY: ... to respond to that in our remaining time.
CHAPMAN: Explicit—explicit—explicit cases are being made for evolution and religion being linked by the National Center For Science Education.
GREGORY: All right, Mr. Chapman, I‘m almost out of time.
Ms. Scott, go ahead and responsible.
I—I welcome anybody to go to the Understanding Evolution Web site and see if that is true. What you will find is descriptive statements, not proscriptive statements. There is nothing that says, you should do it this way. It just describes a variety of religious views, most of which the intelligent design people do not accept.
They do not accept the idea that God created through evolution. That is theistic evolution and the intelligent design people are strongly on record as rejecting that.
GREGORY: All right.
SCOTT: But intelligent design requires God‘s direct intervention to create things like...
CHAPMAN: That is absolutely not so.
SCOTT: ... the bacterial flagellum. If that is not creationism, I don‘t know what it is.
CHAPMAN: That is simply not true. And none of our people have said that. And you are misquoting them again, as you have misquoted in the past.
GREGORY: All right.
SCOTT: But how does—how does—how does the bacteria flagellum get—get made?
CHAPMAN: All intelligent design does...
SCOTT: Evolution can‘t do it. Evolution can‘t do it. It has got to be God‘s actions.
GREGORY: I‘m going to get in between you two, if I can at the moment.
This is a debate that is most certainly to be continued.
Thank you, you both, for your views tonight.
And coming up, a new TV ad released by the National Abortion Rights Action League criticizes Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, saying that he -- quote—“excused violence” against abortion clinics. Is it just the beginning of the ad war over his nomination?
This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
GREGORY: Coming up, what is Mark Cuban‘s beef with Senator Orrin Hatch? The outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks joins us when HARDBALL returns.
GREGORY: The first television ad opposing the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts is now on the air. And it has ignited controversy. The ad says Roberts sided with violent anti-abortion extremists, an accusation that Roberts‘ defenders, including the Republican National Committee, say is false.
So, what is the truth?
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster now reports.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ad was released by the National Abortion Rights Action League, and it refers to a bombing seven years ago of a women‘s health clinic in Alabama. The explosion killed a security guard and severely wounded nurse Emily Lyons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NATIONAL ABORTION RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE AD)
EMILY LYONS, BOMBING SURVIVOR: When the bomb ripped through my clinic, I almost lost my life. I will never be the same.
NARRATOR: Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber.
LYONS: I am determined to stop this violence, so I am speaking out.
NARRATOR: Call your senators. Tell them to oppose John Roberts. America can‘t afford a justice whose ideology leads him to excuse violence against other Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: NARAL is spending $500,000 to run the ad on national cable and on local stations in Maine and Rhode Island, states that are home to moderate Senate Republicans.
NANCY KEENAN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ABORTION RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE: What
we worry about is, again, that Justice Roberts, in his ideology and his views, that he will not protect our personal freedom as women in this country.
SHUSTER: The problem with the ad is that it blurs the line between the Alabama bombing and Supreme Court arguments made by John Roberts five years earlier in his capacity as deputy solicitor general.
In 1992, while responsible for the representing the views of the U.S. government led by President Bush, Roberts weighed in a case that pitted women‘s health clinics against anti-abortion activists, including Operation Rescue. The clinics were trying to use an 1871 civil rights law to protect women and keep the protesters away.
According to a transcript of the court arguments, Roberts said—quote—“The United States appears in this case not to defend petitioner‘s,” Operation Rescue‘s, “conduct, but to defend the proper interpretation of the statute.”
Roberts‘ argument won 6-3, a bitter defeat for women‘ health clinic and a loss that NARAL has not forgotten.
KEENAN: The groups he sided with were engaged in horrific, a horrific campaign of violence.
SHUSTER: But the White House points to memos, including one Roberts endorsed in the Reagan administration in 1986, that said abortion protesters should not receive special consideration for pardons—quote—
“No matter how lofty or sincerely held the goal, those who resort to violence to achieve it are criminals.”
Whether the Roberts ad is fair or not, television commercials over Supreme Court nominees date back to the Robert Bork nomination 18 years ago.
ROBERT BORK, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: What I was criticizing here is a statement by Holmes (ph).
SHUSTER: Bork was attacked over abortion rights and discrimination.
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: This is a full-page ad today in newspapers around the country.
SHUSTER: Four years later, during the Clarence Thomas hearings, when Anita Hill made allegations of sexual harassment...
ANITA HILL, ACCUSED THOMAS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: He got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk...
SHUSTER: ... conservatives ran this ad blasting Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Ted Kennedy, suspended from Harvard for cheating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER (on camera): The difference with the John Roberts nomination is that his at the moment lacks the fireworks that marked Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork. Still, the question is, will the anti-Roberts ad now on the air turn the nomination into the kind of fight that so many in Washington are preparing for?
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
GREGORY: Thank you very much, David.
And when we return, why is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban trying to get Utah Senator Orrin Hatch voted out of the Senate? Cuban joins us next on HARDBALL.
GREGORY: We‘re back on HARDBALL.
Whether it‘s on or off the court, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is the mouth that roared. Even with over a million dollars in fines from the NBA, he isn‘t slowing down now.
Now in the off-season, he‘s taking on a new target, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch. Cuban is calling the Utah Republican—quote—“the digital Joe McCarthy of our time” because of his views on technology, and is now working to get him replaced in the 2006 election.
Mark Cuban joins us from our Dallas bureau.
Mark, hello. And I see the shirt there. It‘s covered up a little bit, but it says, “I have political enemies.”
GREGORY: Apparently, you‘re not shrinking from that at all.
Well, explain yourself here. These are pretty strong words, calling Senator Hatch...
MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Well, I...
GREGORY: ... the Joe—Joe McCarthy of our time when it comes to—in the digital age. What do you mean by that?
MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Well, not nearly as strong as Senator Hatch‘s words. I mean, there was a point a couple years ago where he said that anybody who happens to download music illegally or any copyrighted material illegally, their personal computers should be destroyed.
Now, I don‘t know about you, but most kids and most college students, even most people I know, have at some point gotten on the Internet and sampled downloading music that they might not have had license to download.
And to even suggest—and he was serious about it—to suggest that their personal computers should be destroyed? That‘s like, you know, if you happen to know a communist, you should be blackballed from anything and everything. To me, they‘re equal.
And the ramifications and implications of even saying that just suggests that Senator Hatch really doesn‘t have a true understanding of technology. And, in his position as head of the Judiciary Committee, that‘s just scary.
GREGORY: Well, let me ask you this. The idea that what he‘s really after is protecting intellectual property. You‘re somebody who has intellectual property, the Dallas Mavericks.
GREGORY: How would you feel if somebody ripped off your brand and started selling it illegally in a way that you didn‘t profit? Wouldn‘t you be upset about that?
CUBAN: Well, first of all, I—well, I own more than a half a billion dollars in content. Beyond the Mavericks, we have HDNet, HDNet Movies, 2929 Productions. “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” a film that just came out and did really well, we own.
You know, it‘s going to happen. Just like when we were little kids, we sat with tape recorders in front of the radio listening to songs and record them. That was illegal. You know, piracy, shrinkage, that happens.
GREGORY: But wait a minute. So, your position, with all of that content, all of that ownership, is that it‘s going to happen and that it shouldn‘t be protected?
CUBAN: Well, you know, you can put a war on piracy all you want, but it‘s not going to stop it. And you start taking things to extreme measures, where you get diminishing returns. And I don‘t think Senator Hatch understands the distinct—the difference.
You know, to say that you‘re going to cut off the hands of every shoplifter isn‘t going to stop shoplifting, and it‘s not going to end up with better results for—for the country. And in this particular case...
GREGORY: But hasn‘t—hasn‘t a threat to go after people who illegally download music, or other kinds of piracy, hasn‘t that cleaned up the marketplace?
CUBAN: Oh, no.
GREGORY: After all, hasn‘t the iPod changed a lot of this by charging 99 cents per song? Isn‘t that a good thing for the marketplace?
CUBAN: Well, two issues there. One, has the iPod changed things for the better? Absolutely. Has this war on piracy by the RIAA and others changed anything? No, not at all.
As a matter of fact, there are surveys that have said that the ability to illegally download gives people the chance to sample music and other products and has actually led to an increase in sales. The music industry can‘t even say with certainty that piracy has led to a decrease in sales.
If you look at other digital content providers, games, DVDs, among software, they‘ve all seen substantial increases in sales over the same period. So, you know, Senator Hatch is not working from a definitive base of knowledge. He‘s using his own, you know, backwards approach to try to justify what he‘s doing. And it just doesn‘t make sense.
GREGORY: All right, I do want to mention this, because his campaign manager did release to us, to HARDBALL, this statement in response to what you‘ve said about him. He says—this is from Dave Hansen, who is his campaign manager—“The comments are totally inappropriate and uncalled for. As from Mark Cuban, it‘s not the first time he‘s been in trouble with his mouth. The senator‘s record on high-tech issues is very good.”
A quick comment. Then I want to ask you about something else.
CUBAN: Well, I mean, if he feels that his record on high technology is very good, he‘s not paying attention either to his constituents or the people around the country. Other than the people—you know, he‘s the back-pocket boy for the music industry.
But beyond the music industry, there‘s nobody who thinks that what the senator has done has been good for America from a technology perspective, no one.
GREGORY: All right. Let me ask you about steroid use in sports.
GREGORY: You‘re a big player in the sports scene. Do you think that Congress , do you think the government should be getting involved in some way to crack down on this? You‘ve seen the baseball players who are testifying before Congress.
Do you think this is a place where the government can do some good?
CUBAN: I think it is a place where the government can do some good, as long as they‘re quick and dirty about it. It‘s a very specific and obvious issue. And I think they actually handled it well.
The—the hearings were kind of grandstanding, but they brought it to a conclusion and they made their point very quickly. And it really was a case where the government handled it well, I think, in this instance.
GREGORY: Do you think it‘s a problem in the NBA, steroid use?
CUBAN: No. No. I mean, you see all the skinny guys in the NBA.
And, you know, steroids are not an issue at all.
If anything, there might be some issues we have to address where people are using some off-the-shelf nutritional supplements that they don‘t fully understand and may have a crossed the line with some of the new guidelines.
But that‘s just an educational issue. There‘s nobody who has a syringe and is using anabolic steroids that I‘ve heard of or know of at all.
GREGORY: But where—where is the disincentive? I mean, you look what Major League Baseball is doing. And they just—they gave a 10-day suspension, as you know, to Rafael Palmeiro after their testing showed that he was apparently using steroids. He says he wasn‘t aware that that was the case.
I mean, is this an educational issue, or does there have to be some kind of punitive measure? And is what Major League Baseball doing, is that enough?
CUBAN: Yes, there has to be punitive measures. I mean, you can argue whether or not it‘s enough. I mean, 10 games for Rafael Palmeiro in a 162-game season, you know, I would say that that‘s not very dramatic. But, you know, that‘s only step one. If he does it again, then, you know, it escalates.
But I think what a lot of people fail to realize is that professional sports are so Darwinian, that, if a player can‘t perform, then he‘s going to fall off the mat very quickly anyways. And so, you know, those who need steroids are going to be weeded out, and those who can excel without them will do just that.
So, I think it was a right first step. I think, in the past, that professional sports didn‘t take the right measures. They just tried to sweep it under the rug. But, with Congress‘ efforts, now it‘s front and center.
CUBAN: And I think that will have a big impact on players and their attitudes towards...
GREGORY: But, Mark, do you—do you really believe that?
GREGORY: I mean, Jose Canseco...
GREGORY: ... who wrote the book “Juiced,” talked about, if you‘re a -
· you‘re a super athlete and you use steroids, you can become simply extraordinary. How many young kids who come into the NBA or to Major League Baseball can effectively be dissuaded from cheating, you know, from trying to achieve supreme performance through drugs?
CUBAN: Well, I—I mean, I‘m lucky, because, really, taking steroids isn‘t going to help your basketball game a lot. It might make you jump a little higher, a little bit quicker, but it‘s not going to make your skills specifically better.
Football, where strength and conditioning and explosive ability is an impact, and baseball, the same thing, that‘s a little bit different of an impact. So, I think they have to look at from a different viewpoint than we do.
But I think what happened was, you know, Jose Canseco in his day, in the early ‘90s, when he was doing it, it was new. It was under the radar. It was one of those things where, you know, professional athletes like to push the limits of what they‘re doing. And because they didn‘t get caught and because they got immediate results, they took that path of least resistance.
CUBAN: I think kids do follow that. And I think kids do see what their heroes are doing and the players that they look up to are doing. I think this effort by Congress and hopefully an educational effort will push down to those kids.
And I think where you‘ll really see the impact is where you see guys who made huge gains, whether they admit it or not, and are not able to come back and perform at same levels, and they get pushed out of the league. Then kids will say, “What happened to my hero?” And then they‘ll learn that they took the wrong road. And I think that‘s what will really get the gains with kids.
GREGORY: All right, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, with a lot to say on a lot of issues, thanks very much for coming on.
CUBAN: Oh, my pleasure. Really enjoyed it, David. Thank you.
GREGORY: Appreciate it.
Tomorrow on HARDBALL, we‘ll be joined by Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris, who was at the center of the Florida recount, of course, back in 2000. Today, she has announced she‘s running for Senate to seek the seat of Democrat Bill Nelson next year.
Right now, it‘s time for “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN.”
And, Keith, I understand you‘ve got the latest on Dana Reeve‘s announcement that she has lung cancer.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”: That‘s right, David. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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