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SMERCONISH

Obama's Middle East Strategy; Banning Redkins' Name and Logo; Dad Indicated in Son's Hot-Car Death; Does Pot Reduce Drug Overdoses?

Aired September 6, 2014 - 09:00   ET

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


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: First off, exactly what is President Obama's plan to quote "degrade and destroyed ISIS"? Lawmakers want answers from the president's top diplomat secretary of state John Kerry. Well, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce and the panel's ranking Democrat Elliot Engel will both join me. We'll also hear from Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling.

Meanwhile, the top Republican says ISIS should be bombed back to the stone age. Is the GOP pivoting from non-interventionalists to hawk standing?

And could medical marijuana be the solution to drug addiction? You heard me right and I'll talk to the lead author of a startling new study.

Let's get started.

My first headline is from today's "New York Times." Obama recruits nine ally nations to combat ISIS. Top Democratic and Republican lawmakers want answers from the Obama administration about what it is doing to fight ISIS. The House foreign affairs committee will call Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on September 16th.

The chair of the committee, Republican Congressman Ed Royce and the ranking Democrat Elliot Engel join me now. Chairman Royce, let me begin with you. The news from Wales seems to be as I just indicated that a strategy against ISIS is taking shape. It is a strategy that would involved at least nine allies. The U.S. will be in the lead and U.S. air strikes will be the primary component. Is this, sir, what you have been waiting for?

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CHAIRMAN HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: It's a long time coming. We will have a hearing in which our secretary of state will layout the strategy. I think it's key here that we have allies that are willing in that region to put the infantry on the ground. Because the United States is not going do that.

We are, however, supportive of using targeted air strikes here in order to attack ISIS and especially to prevent them from having a staging area. I think our key concern is that they have been able to have a sanctuary and grow out of that sanctuary. We want that sanctuary, that safe haven destroyed.

SMERCONISH: When Secretary Kerry is in front of you on the 16th, what is it that you most want to ask him?

ROYCE: Well, I think a strategy in which we understand now that there are thousands of Europeans with passports that can come to the United States and we have, you know, several hundred Americans that are now reportedly in that part of the world fighting with ISIS. We want to hear a strategy that tells us how do you target those individuals because ISIS has now said their goal is to carry the war into attacks in the United States.

They are obviously abducting and killing U.S. citizens. So we want to hear a strategy to take out ISIS. There are only about 17,000 of them. So I think if we have other allies in the region willing to put the infantry on the ground, such as the Kurds and Iraqi security forces, the Free Syrian Army, we should be supporting them with the equipment they need. We should be working along with the NATO members on air strikes targeting ISIS.

SMERCONISH: Congressman Engel, one of the things that troubles me is I look at the composition of these nine allied nations is the lack of an Arab component. And I worry that this lineup, if you will, will become a recruitment tool for ISIS to say here we are again under siege from the west. How do we get more Arab input?

REP. ELLIOTT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think we will have it as the time goes on. First of all, I'm delighted that the president is taking the lead and making the move. This is not something with which we have a choice. ISIS is a very dangerous group. Just like we experienced with the Taliban in Afghanistan, when the Russians left Afghanistan, we didn't move in or do anything. We allowed Al Qaeda to have no man's land to plot and plan against the United Sates. And the result was 9/11.

This will happen again if we do nothing. That's why I think it is important to take the fight to ISIS and not let them control when we fight them, but to destroy them now.

SMERCONISH: Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? By that, if Iran is willing to play a role, should we welcome them?

ENGEL: I don't welcome Iran into anything. I think they play a very destructive role. I think that NATO should take the lead. Because just the way the United States is vulnerable to a terrorist attack, so are our allies in Europe. In fact, they are more vulnerable because geographically they are closer to Iraq and to Syria. So I think it's good that NATO takes the lead.

You know, I think NATO really in this post-dictante time with the Russians really, is on the line, NATO is really on the line and I think that this is one of the things that NATO should be doing. Just like in 1999 in Kosovo, they were a force for good. I think NATO has to be a force (INAUDIBLE).

SMERCONISH: Chairman Royce, would you welcome Iran if Iran was willing to participate. Would you want their assistance?

ROYCE: No, you don't want Iran more engaged. Because Iran, frankly, has been part of most of the problems in that part of the world. I mean you just had a situation where Iran was sending long-range missiles to Hamas. Those rockets you saw fired into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I think that any engagement by Iran is going to be counter productive.

SMERCONISH: Let me bring in Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling if I have General Hertling, I'm anxious to ask you, sir, is the threat of Russian expansion diverting the attention of eastern Europe away from ISIS? Are normal allies in eastern Europe pre-occupied with Russia and therefore not prepared to step up to this plate?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY (RET.): They certainly are. They see it as much of a problem as we see ISIS. I think what was interesting as you cited, Michael, the "New York Times" article this morning. One of the key members that signed up for contribution was Poland. Poland has a lot to gain or a lot to lose with Russian expansionism. And I think their ability to look in two directions says a lot about how far they have come over the last 10 years.

SMERCONISH: Mr. Chairman, maybe I have seen too many movies. Doesn't this all necessitate a declaration of war? Doesn't there need to be with the Congress and the chief executive a formal declaration?

ROYCE: It's going to depend on the scope of operations. Clearly, there's authorization to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil and that's the authorization the president has right now. But as this expands, what we want to see is the president and the secretary of state come to Congress and layout their plan. Once we see that plan, we will see what type of authorization is need.

But again, that authorization is not going to include U.S. combat forces in the region. Because there is no support in Congress for U.S. infantry troops on the ground for military combat.

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: General Hertling, that then begs the question at least from this civilian. How do we know what to strike unless we got support on the ground? Doesn't it necessitate some level of U.S. ground involvement?

HERTLING: It does but it can be in nuance ways, Michael. I think that is what the president has been formulating as part of the strategy. It is not only the contribution of our European allies, but I think Mr. Kerry and Mr. Hagel have both been in the Middle East after the NATO summit, trying to generate support from countries, from moderate Islamist countries, Sunni islamists countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE. He is looking for intelligence factors out of Jordan and some other areas.

So I think this has got to be a worldwide, not just a NATO wide condemnation of ISIS. That is the critical point of the strategy. You have to get every one in the world countering this horrific terrorist organization.

SMERCONISH: Congressman Engel, I ask about Iran if they wanted to participate, that answer would be no. What about Bashar al Assad? How do we handle Assad in Syria?

ENGEL: Well, I think we take first things first. First of all, I think we missed the opportunity a couple of years ago to aid the Free Syrian Army. I think if we had done that and perhaps they would have been the leading group fighting Assad. What happened is ISIS moved into the void.

But ISIS is really, really the terror right now. And so we have to concentrate on ISIS. But no, not Assad. Assad is a murderer. He has killed his own people. He has to go. But right now, the threat is ISIS both in Iraq and in Syria and they are the ones we really that we have to really destroy.

SMERCONISH: Chairman Royce, you get the final word. I know you wanted to say something a moment ago.

ROYCE: Well I would just say it is time to get the Kurdish forces and the communications equipment so that they can communicate with us. Let them be on the ground. I agree with Elliot Engel here. Let the Free Syrian Army on the ground to have the support. Work with the Iraqi security forces on the ground. We don't want to see U.S. troops re- engaged on the ground. We will support air power used to target and eliminate ISIS.

SMERCONISH: Congressman Royce and Congressman Engel, General Hertling, thank you all so much. You remember that original headline from today's "Times," Obama Recruits Nine Allied Nations to Combat ISIS. What I would have written, it's a war without declaration.

With the U.S.'s next steps against ISIS in question, would the GOP pursue a path of non-interventional or return to its Hawkish roots?

Plus, football is back. And the team's name is again under fire. But is having the media pen the name. The answer...

And prescription drug overdoses are way down in some states. Why one expert says smoking pot could be the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: My next headline is from today's from the "Washington Post." Rise of Islamic State tests GOP anti-interventionists. As the mid-term elections draw closer, are we seeing the reemergence of the GOP war hawks? Consider that after months of apparent hedging on U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria, in an opinion piece in "Time" magazine Senator Rand Paul says he supports destroying ISIS and he insists he is not an isolationist nor an interventionist.

Robert Costa is the national political reporter for the "Washington Post" and joins me now. Bob, that was your headline from the "Post" that I was quoting at the outset. Did ISIS end the non-interventionist momentum that seemed to exists within the GOP?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER "WASHINGTON POST": I say it did. And it's very interesting because Senator Rand Paul was the leading voice for those non-interventionists within the Republican Party. As he moves towards a hawkish line, not having Paul at the forefront has really hurt that wing within the party and you see the hawks resurging.

SMERCONISH: So what is the answer? Was he never the chip off the old block of the father that some envisioned he was or is Rand Paul now taking a look at 2016 and saying, "hey, in order for me to win primary and caucus support, this is the way I've got to pivot."

COSTA: I think it is more of the latter. He is someone who worked for his father's campaigns, backed the more isolationist platform when his father ran for president in 2008 and 2012. But I think it comes to your point that Rand Paul does have ambition and he knows the party at its base still believes in more of that George W. Bush world view. He is moving towards that as he tries to seek the nomination.

SMERCONISH: But I would suggest that there is an untapped resource within the GOP and maybe within the Democratic Party as well, a voice that "Reason" magazine and the libertarians embody of people who say stay out of it all. I guess my question for Robert Costa is who can tap into that mindset on either party?

COSTA: I think Rand Paul is the person who stands to benefit most from that. Maybe Michael, we're seeing is Rand Paul moving to the right on foreign policy ahead of the primaries in places like Iowa. But if he ever won the nomination, he would probably move back towards the center when it comes to foreign policy but there are other top voices at Rand Paul that are out there.

SMERCONISH: Switch to the other side of the aisle. Within the democratic caucus, what is going on? Al Franken sounded rather hawkish this week by way of illustration of me not seeing a voice within the Democratic Party that is pursuing the non-interventionalist's path.

COSTA: I covered Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts for example, out in the campaign trail. When I talked to those progressive voters, the liberals, they really are uncomfortable with Secretary Clinton and they believe she is a hawk. She voted for the war in Iraq and looking for someone in the Democratic Party to step up, to have a different view and they don't see Martin O'Malley really doing that, Elizabeth Warren is wary about running. So we're going to have to see who emerges to try to challenge Clinton. Something just beyond being a Clinton, can they challenge her ideologically on foreign policy?

SMERCONISH: I know you are paying close attention to those toss up senate races across the country and you're writing about them as well. Do you think that we are about to see a change in this cycle where it is not the economy, it's not health care, it is actually foreign policy?

COSTA: Yes, we have even health care and economics. These have been issues on the fringe of the mid-term discussions, but nothing has galvanized this year, nothing has become the core issue. I think foreign policy could become it. Congress is coming back next week. They're going to try to fund the government and also come up with a strategy for ISIS. We are going to see foreign policy in some of these key Senate races - Arkansas, Iowa, New Hampshire become the issue. SMERCONISH: Hey, Robert, great to see you again. Thank you for coming

to the program.

COSTA: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: You remember that original headline from "The Washington Post?" Rise of the Islamic State Tests GOP anti-interventionists. What I would have written Hawks Win GOP Primaries.

It has been their name for more than 80 years. So why the controversy? Why now even some in the media have banned the Redskins?

And smoking pot can get you high, but there could be a surprising new benefit. Preventing people from overdosing on painkillers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Are you ready for some football? Tomorrow is this season's inaugural Sunday game, but for the Washington Redskins, controversy is posing a new challenge for sports reporters. The headline from "New York Magazine," says The Daily News Bans the Redskins' Name and Logo.

First, "The Washington Post" editorial board said it would know no longer use the term Redskins. And now the "New York Daily News" says it will avoid using the term and the team's logo. "Kansas City Star," the "San Francisco Chronicle, "The Detroit News" they have all done likewise. Fans are also saying no thanks to that team's clothing and other items with the Redskins' logo.

Reid Hunt is the former chair of the FCC and joins us now. Mr. Hunt, thank you for being here. Do you worry about the chilling effect that could take place when media outlets make this decision for themselves?

REID HUNT, FORMER FCC CHAIR: You know, one of the jobs of the Federal Communications Commission has always been to nudge broadcasters into paying attention to emerging standards of decency. Back in the 1960s, the FCC took the lead in making sure that broadcasters were not using their free licenses to broadcast hate speech and to use the "n" word.

Now we are talking about the "r" word and a new awareness of a standard of decency and it is right and proper for the FCC and broadcasters to have a discussion about that.

SMERCONISH: So you think it is a healthy role for the media outlets to exercise that discretion?

HUNT: Absolutely. I think you have to give a lot of credit to the print media. They seem to be encouraging some members of the broadcast industry to decide that the "r" word is just as bad as the "n" word. I think that this is a conversation that ought to continue until we have a consensus and the last holdout, Dan Snyder, will come into that agreement eventually.

SMERCONISH: It just seems, sir, at odds with what has been drilled in to me that my responsibility and my role here is to report on the news and not to make the news. These are media outlets that are now changing the story themselves.

HUNT: I think that broadcasters have always been at their highest level. A mere of decency in American society. I'm sure that you, yourself, would not want to use the "r" word.

SMERCONISH: If you were chair of the FCC today, and I know you wrote along those lines hypothesizing how you would handle your responsibility, what would your approach be?

HUNT: Well, first, I would say that NFL should not stand for not following laws. We see in the Michael Sam case, an awareness in the NFL that gays should be tolerated. We see in the recent suspension of Jim Irsay, that an owner is subject to standards of decency. So having a conversation with the NFL about the use of this name is a good starting point.

Commissioner Jessica Rosen (INAUDIBLE) of the FCC said she was concerned about the use of the name. I would like to encourage her to hold a meeting with the NFL and with broadcasters and just have an open discussion about standards of decency.

SMERCONISH: Final question for Reid Hunt. I read a report from a senior linguist at Smithsonian by the name of Ives Goddard (ph), who spent seven or eight months and I know you know this issue looking at the origin. He said that Native Americans themselves coined Redskins. And that it had an entirely benign intervention. I know you know that but that doesn't dissuade you of the opinions you've offered.

HUNT: You know, history is history, and as the "New York Daily News" said the use of this name is a throwback to a banished era. An era that we are glad is gone. Time to get up to a current standard of decency, Dan Snyder, NFL.

SMERCONISH: My prediction on the chyrons, on our television sets, as we watch the scores come in, there's going to be a heck of a lot of Washington, you know seven Philadelphia 26 as opposed to Redskins and Eagles. Any way, Reid Hunt, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate you.

Remember that original headline from "New York Magazine." "The Daily News bans the Redskins' name and logo. What I would have written, banning moniker. Media makes news.

The death of Joan Rivers was shock to many of us. Why her passing is raising questions about outpatient care centers? Plus a new benefit of making medical marijuana legal, it could cut down on hard drug overdoses.

And with students headed back to college, should we be telling our young women to prioritize finding a husband over graduation? The Princeton mom sure thinks so.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: A Georgia dad who allegedly left his 22-month-old son to die in a sweltering SUV could face the death penalty if he's convicted. Prosecutors say they'll make the decision on whether they will seek the death penalty in a couple of weeks.

We are taking a closer look at this and some of the other big legal stories this week. Joining me now is legal analyst, attorney and author, Lisa Bloom.

Lisa, is it clear a view that there sufficient grounds to make the hot car death case a death penalty case?

LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: Well, you know, that say decision for the prosecutors to make after he is arraigned. They have to look at a lot factors.

You know, I'm not clear if it is a death penalty case. I don't know if he has a prior record, et cetera. I think there is clearly sufficient evidence to charge him with murder, and that's what they've done. There is a lot of evidence to indicate, for example, that he intentionally left his little boy in the car to die.

I don't know if they've got to be under reasonable doubt. That's for trial. But they certainly have to charge here.

SMERCONISH: What's the relevance of the sexting? You and I remember from law school lectures if the probative value is outweighed by the potential poisonous nature of the testimony, that it might not come in. I'm trying to understand, because everybody is talking about the sexting as if it comes in whether it really is relevant to him having potentially killed his son.

BLOOM: That's right. Actually, sexting didn't even exist when I was in law school. It sure does exist now. And the argument that the prosecutors are going to make is that he was sending sexually explicit messages to an underage girl, which is illegal, that's a charge in the case now, while his little boy was slowly dying in the car in the heat of that summer day. That shows the callous nature of his crime. It shows the complete depraved indifference to human life.

SMERCONISH: Do you worry that it will prejudice a jury because you hear that and you think what a dirt bag this guy is. I guess he did kill the kid.

BLOOM: Well, you know, prejudicing a jury is exactly what prosecutors want to do, right? The only question is whether it's relevant, and that's for a judge to weigh. But so far, that it is in the case. It was going on at the very time that his son was dying. We're not talking about something a week before or a month before. So, I think it's relevant and I think it will stay in.

SMERCONISH: Let's talk about Ferguson. Of course, the Justice Department announcing an investigation in Ferguson this week. Similarly, does that now poison the well for the police officer because as a grand jury is taking testimony about the Mike Brown death, now maybe the grand jury says it doesn't bode well for the officer?

BLOOM: You know, I don't think so. We are talking about two separate investigations. I question why the DOJ is being so reactive. Why didn't they do the investigation years ago when the people of Ferguson were crying out for it, complaining about racial bias and the way the police in the town have been conducting themselves.

So, at least they're doing it now. That's a good thing. But I'm not concerned about it poisoning the grand jury.

SMERCONISH: I want to talk about the Joan Rivers passing. The older I get, the more often I find myself saying things like, my, God, she was only 81.

BLOOM: Yes, yes. And, you know, I think that's an important issue, because a lot of people look at the death of an 81-year-old. You say, well, you know, it must have been old age.

The fact is that Joan Rivers was vibrant. She's very active. She was probably doing more shows than anybody else in showbiz and I think she had two TV shows, two online shows. She was about to go off to London to do a series of live shows. She had QVC. She was tweeting constantly.

I mean, my goodness, this woman was very, very busy. So, the question that the New York State Department of Health has to answer is why did she die from a routine minor medical procedure on her vocal chords? Why was that done in a clinic and not a hospital? Were all the other procedures in place?

Sure, mistakes can happen at anytime and any medical procedure, but what exactly happened here?

SMERCONISH: It seems like it's a typical potential medical malpractice action and nothing more. But I think that some lay people hear that there's a state investigation going on and they think that there is potentially more to it.

BLOOM: Right. And so far, no wrongdoing has been found. Look, any of us who go in for any medical procedure were given all of those warnings. Anytime you go under anesthesia. It could result in damage, even death. I'm sure that she was given all those warnings. But still, the clinic and doctors have to live up to all of the appropriate medical standards. It's only an investigation at this point, but I'm glad they're doing it.

SMERCONISH: Lisa, great to see you. Thanks for being here.

Medical marijuana --

BLOOM: You, too. Love the show.

SMERCONISH: Thank you.

Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and District of Columbia. And a lot of people use it to dull chronic pain. But there's a new benefit to legalizing the drug and it may surprise you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SMERCONISH: My next headline from the "St. Louis Post Dispatch". States allowing medical marijuana report fewer prescription drug overdose deaths. Right now, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

And there may be an unintended benefit. A new study finds that the states that allow medical marijuana have 25 percent fewer perception drug overdose deaths on average.

Colleen Barry is the senior author of the study and an associate professor of health, policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Thank you for joining us, Dr. Barry.

So, I think we all know that opioid painkiller addiction is a big problem in this country, oftentimes can lead to heroin addiction. What is it that you wanted to find out?

COLLEEN BARRY, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: So many individuals use prescription pain medications like OxyContin and Vicodin to address pain. And we were interested in looking at whether medical marijuana as an alternative for pain management might lead to a reduction in overdose deaths since medical marijuana isn't subject to the same risks of unintentional overdose of these medications.

SMERCONISH: And what did you find?

BARRY: So, we compiled death certificate data from the CDC. And we found that across all states, the rate of prescription pain medication overdose deaths has been increasing over our study period over the last 12 years. However, we found that the yearly rate of overdose death in states with medical marijuana laws, as you said, had a 25 percent lower on average rate than in states without medical marijuana laws.

And in absolute terms, this is pretty sizable. In 2010 alone, there were about 1,700 fewer overdose deaths in these states with medical marijuana laws than we would have anticipated based on trends before the laws were passed.

SMERCONISH: Do you know enough to conclude that there are a significant number of individuals who given the option of being able to smoke pot are turning away from the opioids or is there more that needs to be ferreted out?

BARRY: So, there is definitely more that needs to be done in terms of research to inform policy. We don't know the mechanism. We think that as the risks of addiction and overdose become better known, providers and their patients may choose to opt instead to look at medical marijuana for treatment rather than narcotic painkillers. However, we don't know whether that's a full substitution or a supplementation. So, these questions need to be better understood.

And we need to know more about the benefits of medical marijuana in terms of helping people, who benefits, what are the long term health and quality of life trajectories of individuals who used medical marijuana for a debilitating pain.

SMERCONISH: I know you're a PhD and not an MD, I'm not sure you want to answer this. But is it fair to say that we as a society are better served if given a choice between the two, patients are pursuing pot instead of the opioids because of the less side effects and repercussions?

BARRY: I think it's critical to find better options for individuals who are experiencing chronic pain and proponents of medical marijuana laws identified this as a strategy for dealing with people with severe and chronic pain like cancer and multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. And so, I think we benefit from having more options available and I think it's critical for people to better understand what the risks are associated with narcotic pain medications.

We have a tripling of a rate of overdose in this country over the last 10 years. And overdose death has exceeded even motor vehicle crashes in terms of cause of death.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Colleen Barry, thank you so much for being here.

You remembered the original headline, "States allowing medical marijuana report fewer prescription drug overdose deaths", what I would have written -- getting high keeps overdose deaths low.

If I told young women heading off to college that they should find a husband first before graduating, would you call me a sexist? That's what the Princeton mom says. Why she says women should marry smart.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: My next headline, "Why I told female Princeton students to find a husband."

My next guest has caused a lot of controversy with her comments about college women. Susan Patton, also known as "The Princeton Mom", is the author of "Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One" and joins me now.

You know, Susan, when I read the original piece, which included the advice: find a husband in campus --

SUSAN PATTON, THE PRINCETON MOM: Right.

SMERCONISH: -- by the time you graduate, I think I understood what you were saying. That there are so many institutions out there -- our family, our workplace, our social environment, that are conducive to finding a spouse. Why shouldn't college be considered one of them?

PATTON: Not only should college should be considered one of them, it's the best one, Michael. It is the best one.

You are saying the workplace -- no. Do not consider finding a spouse in the workplace. What an awful idea. And I'm a human resources consultant and I tell young women all the time, don't even think about dating somebody at work. What a terrible idea. You put your professional persona at risk when you start dating around the office. No, don't do it at work.

When you are on campus, when you are a student, it's the very best opportunity for women to find a husband. You are talking about a concentration of men who are age appropriate, they are single, they are like-minded and you have an opportunity to meet them in an organic way -- over class or walking on campus or over a meal. You'll never again have this concentration of extraordinary men to choose from.

SMERCONISH: But what you're always saying, I think, take advantage of all of the leg work and investigation and screening --

PATTON: Yes.

SMERCONISH: -- that the admissions office did.

PATTON: Already did for you. Yes.

SMERCONISH: OK.

PATTON: That's right.

SMERCONISH: I want to ask about something going on in California. California has a "yes means yes" law. Silence no longer consent. Yes only means yes.

Your reaction. Gloria Steinem thinks this is a positive step in going to cut down on sexual assaults on a college campus.

PATTON: I think it's absurd and I'll tell you why it's absurd. Certainly yes means yes, but we never have verbal consent. Imagine this, the scenario is young people are out on a date. They're getting a little romantic, things are moving along towards intimacy. Do you honestly think that they're going to stop and one says to the other, would you like to have sex with me now? And the other says, well, yes, I would like to have sex with you now.

That doesn't happen. That never happens. So, the de facto consent in the scenario is, women get a little tipsy, men get a little tipsy. They -- women, I hate to say it, they have to be smarter for themselves than this. They are falling out of their clothes, they're draped all over some man. They're whispering nasty things in his ear. He takes that as consent. That is de facto consent in the absent of verbal consent without saying it never happens.

SMERCONISH: I get that this is -- OK, I get that this doesn't happen, but there would be less ambiguity if it were to happen. They'll be less of those gray area cases where someone misinterpreted --

PATTON: It's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. Imagine at any point in any adult life, do you ever really stop in an intimate situation and say, well, may I now do this to your that and do you want me to do -- no, it simply doesn't happen.

SMERCONISH: There's been a great deal --

PATTON: There are behavior clues and there are visual clues that move this process along in a natural way. Talk about organic. There is absolutely nothing organic about this kind of exchange that leads to what Gloria Steinem is hoping is yes. I think --

SMERCONISH: We have just a minute left between us. There's been a great deal written and expressed recently about the data pertaining to sexual assaults on campuses. I know you have strong feelings about this issue. Lay it out for me quickly.

PATTON: I have strong feelings about it. It's absolutely absurd to say that one in five women on college campuses are going to be raped. College campuses are not a women's prison. This is ridiculous.

What they are talking about is sexual occurrence that happens usually under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And the way to really cut down on assault on campus is to tell young women, you got to not allow yourself to be so drunk or so stoned that you can't extricate yourself from a situation and headed in a direction that you're not comfortable with.

The way to cut down on sexual assault is women have to remain sober enough to say, you know what? I don't like this. I am out of here and you get up and you walk out. That's how --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Susan Patton, thank you. We appreciate your expertise.

PATTON: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: You remember the original headline, "Why I told female Princeton students to find a husband", what I would have written, "Admissions office as matchmaker."

A Facebook post about death panels lit a fire among conservatives and nearly derailed Obamacare. Now, Medicare could soon pay for these end-of-life counseling sessions and my take is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REPORTER: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin introduced death panel.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death panel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Death panel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death panel lie. That's what it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug.

(END VIDEO CLIPS) SMERCONISH: I'm sure you remember those fireworks from the debate over the Affordable Care Act. Well, end-of-life planning was back in the news this week and thus far, no one is repeating the death panel mantra which is a good thing.

According to "The New York Times", as early as next year, Medicare will reimburse doctors for end-of-life consultations. It's an important development given increased longevity and the desire of many to determine how they will spend their final days, at home, in a hospital with what level of treatment.

But cost is another consideration. According to a 2010 study from Health Services Research, one out of every four Medicare dollars more than $125 billion, is spent on services for the five percent of beneficiaries in their last year of life. And it's the financial element that fueled Sarah Palin's involvement.

On her Facebook page she famously said, "And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, elderly and disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down's syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's death panel so his bureaucrats can decide based on a subjective judgment of their level of productivity in society whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system," she said, "is downright evil."

Well, the hyperbole worked. That section of the Affordable Care Act would have covered end-of-life counseling back in 2009, it was removed. And among the disappointed was Earl Blumenauer, the congressman whose idea it was to include the coverage.

On the House floor, he explained his motivations.

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REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: I'm sad to say that the minority whip, the minority leader, have been part of an effort to deal with fear and misrepresentation attacking bipartisan legislation that would have done precisely that, reform the health care system. The American public, especially our senior citizens, deserve our best efforts to meet their needs, not treat them like political footballs.

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SMERCONISH: So, now, five years later insurers have begun to fill the void left by Congress and clearly there's a need. Consider that a 2010 study in the "Journal of Palliative Medicine" found that only 15 percent to 22 percent of seriously ill elderly patients had their preference for end-of-life care in their medical records. Some insurers have begun reimbursing physicians $35 for each conversation that they have about end-of-life decisions. It's not comparable to a lawyer or an accountant's hourly wage, but for some burnout family physicians, it's a start. After all, physicians are reimbursed for smoking cessation and weight-loss counseling. So, why shouldn't they be compensated for having the most important discussion of their patient's life? I know that many are going to cynically say that insurance companies

are only interested in the cost savings that might result from end-of- life counseling, and maybe so. But by enabling doctor/patient communication, those insurers help patients make informed decisions and articulate their individual preferences and they, the patients, are the real winners.

That's it for me. Thank you so much to my producer, Nora Semitt (ph), who is off to greener pastures. You're going to be missed. Everybody else, I'll see you back here next Saturday.

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