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First Ebola Death in U.S.; Dog Euthanized for Fear of Ebola Spread; Manhunt For Eric Frein; Will New Gun Law Stop Mass Killings?; Football Under Fire; Smoking in the Service
Aired October 11, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome to the program. And thanks for joining me.
Ebola hits home. The battle moves right here in New York City where tough new screenings begin today at JFK. But will that really do any good? I've got my doubts. I'll ask an expert.
If the you want a friend in Washington you know what they say, get a dog. That was Harry Truman's advise. Well, President Obama has two dogs so at least he's got two friends, even former members of the president's own team are taking pot shots in tell-all books. Is all fair in politics and publishing?
And finally, smoke them if you got them. The battle over a ban on smoking in the military. Let's get started.
This week America saw its first Ebola death. And along with it a slowly rising panic that's triggered government action. A stricter screening for Ebola begins today at New York's JFK airport, fears about the disease have led to several bizarre incidents including this, a guy sneezes on a plane, and then he joked that he had Ebola. Watch the result.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've done this for 36 years, I think the man that has said this is an idiot and I'll say that straight out. If you hear me that's fine. I want you to keep your wits about you because people coming on that are often watching the news so they look like they are in the bubble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: And there was this. A one-day walkout at another New York airport by workers who clean the planes. They say they are not being protected from potential exposure to Ebola.
Mary Schiavo is a former inspector general of the D.O.T. who is now an attorney for victims of transportation accidents, she says it's not just possible to fully disinfect planes coming from the Ebola zone. Mary, is this window dressing these new tests that are being done, for example today at JFK? MARY SCHIAVO, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIMS OF TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENTS: Well, I won't say it's entirely window dressing because we have to do something. We can't put the health of the American public at the mercy of temperature checks from Ebola-stricken countries. But there is much more that has to be done to really keep people safe and as far as I can tell other than the CDC putting out guidelines aircraft workers, cleaners, et cetera, haven't really been given the training or any equipment to do it.
SMERCONISH: But here's Thomas Duncan, the first death, we hope not the first of many, he arrived asymptomatic. So that which is going into effect today at American airports would not have prevented his arrival nor that which followed.
SCHIAVO: Right. That's why eventually depending upon how the outbreak and if there is more spread in the United States, for 150 people a day that are arriving from those countries to the United States, compare that with the 18 million passengers, so one has to ask if it wouldn't make more sense to eliminate the 150 travelers from Ebola zones than putting 547 airports, 106 of them are international ports, I mean that's a lot more screening than could potentially be necessary if they did restrict the travel from, for 150 people a day.
But that decision has been made so what they have to do is beef it up and do it right. The problem is by the time they screen the people the airport, the airplane cleaners will have already been on and off the plane.
SMERCONISH: Let's revisit that decision. In other words, you're advocating that instead what we should do is impose a travel ban from those West African nations that are most affected by Ebola. Why aren't we doing that?
SCHIAVO: Well, because we're a nation, it's in the constitution we praise travel, we want to leave the travel open. Even the CDC has said though it's not their job, they said they are worried about the economies of those three countries. I don't think people are focusing on how few travelers there are and that it would be more sensible and more efficient to do that. But the country already made the decision and the decision was to allow travel to continue but to screen. And I just think the economies of scale are vastly skewed when you do it that way.
SMERCONISH: OK. So today someone flying into JFK is noted to have, from a West African point of origin, is noted to have an elevated temperature. Now what do we do with this individual and how concerned are you about the ability of the FAA and the CDC to work together in this regard?
SCHIAVO: Boy, have you hit it. So far the FAA has punted to the CDC. In fact, the FAA put out a press release saying it's up to the CDC. The CDC has said that they will conduct the screenings, and then if someone had the elevated temperatures they will do the questioning and that they will have seclusion rooms or quarantine rooms where they can decide what to do. But as you and I know, if someone is sick and needs to go to the hospital they don't have a lot of ability to detain people, quarantine people, et cetera and we're about to head into two seasons, one bad, one good. We're heading into flu season and Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday and the peak travel season of the year when people will be traveling with children as well.
So that poses a lot of problems for the CDC on retaining and detaining people. And I think that is probably where we run into problems with false positives. It's not going to work for long in the holiday season.
SMERCONISH: Mary, one additional question. Let's assume that today someone arrives at JFK, their point of origin was a West African nation affected by Ebola. They are noted to have an elevated temperature and consequently there is a process now that gets followed. What becomes of the airplane? What becomes of the tray tables and what becomes of the blankets, what becomes of the pillows. We don't have a definitive finding, right? All we know is someone got off and had an elevated temperature. What are we now going to do with regard to the plane and the people who are charged with cleaning it?
SCHIAVO: Well, by this point the plane has already gone on to its next assignment, its next flight of service. The CDC said that if there are bodily fluids on the plane they have to don the moon suits and clean it that way but the problem right now is federal aviation regulations have absolutely no requirement in them about cleaning the planes.
Right now the tray tables aren't wiped, the seats aren't wiped, the arm rests aren't wiped. And so by the time this is determined that plane has done its 30 minute turn or whatever is off on its venture so they have to put into place some way to detain the plane. That hasn't been done yet.
SMERCONISH: Mary Schiavo, thank you as always.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: Now, I want to turn to a story that sparked outrage around the world. Spanish authorities euthanize a dog belonging to a nurse's assistant who has been stricken within Ebola. The mixed breed dog named Excaliber was killed on Wednesday out of fear that it might spread Ebola. A fear that my next guest says is misplaced.
Peter Cowen is an associate professor of epidemiology and public health at North Carolina State's College of Veterinary Medicine. He advised the CDC and the World Health Organization on transmission of diseases from animals and the CDC itself tweeted it's working to develop guidance for the U.S. pet population.
Dr. Cowen, did Excaliber have to die?
PETER COWEN, COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE, NC STATE UNIVERSITY: There's never been a known transmission from dogs to humans of the Ebola virus. So we really could have learned a lot by trying to move in another direction with this animal. SMERCONISH: Why couldn't the dog be quarantined like I understand is the case with the husband of the nurse in Spain who tested positive?
COWEN: We needed to learn whether that woman had transmitted Ebola to the dog before we even know the next question which is can the dog then transmit it to others. So once the dog is euthanized we never get an answer to that. And we really need answers to these questions. You know when we study the Ebola virus, we study it mainly in humans and we do a little bit of work in wildlife to find out that bats and other chimpanzees and other animals at risk but we really need to take a one health approach and study among all of the spectrum of animals.
SMERCONISH: Dr. Cowen, thank you so much for your time.
COWEN: You're welcome.
SMERCONISH: Up next, tough times at the White House with crisis from Ebola, ISIS. Americans seem to be losing faith in President Obama. Is anybody on his side?
Also ahead, how an accused cop killer has evaded a police manhunt in Pennsylvania's woods for a month. A former Navy seal tells us how he's getting that done.
SMERCONISH: Hey, it's not easy being President Obama these days. The president's juggling crises from Ebola to ISIS and predictably taking a lot of heat from the GOP. But even his fellow Democrats are keeping him at arm's length. Listen to Senate candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you vote for President Obama? 2008, 2012?
ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KY SENATE CANDIDATE: You know, this election isn't about the president. It's about -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know but did you vote for him? Did you vote for him?
GRIMES: (INAUDIBLE) we put Kentucky back to work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you vote for him?
GRIMES: I was actually an awaited delegate for Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're not going to answer?
GRIMES: Again, I don't think the president is on the ballot as much as much as Mitch McConnell might want him to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Even former members of the president's own team are taking pot shots with tell-all books like the latest from former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Of course it's nothing new for former staffers to kiss and tell but doing it while the president is still in the White House just wasn't done, at least not at this rate.
So, is the president all alone? I'm joined by Paul Begala, CNN political commentator, democratic strategist and senior adviser to Priorities USA Action. Also Crystal Wright, editor and blogger for conservative blackchick.com.
Paul, if you were working, if you were running the Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign, and that question came up, what advice would you whisper in her ear? How should she answer it?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, obviously you don't want to make the election about Obama. But the fact that you're eating up air time and everybody else's, it's legitimate. With that gap shows that it was not the right answer. I mean I think thing is put Mitch McConnell - so, yes, I took the lesser of two evils, like a lot of Americans, I'm disappointed in that vote. But I'm more disappointed when Mitch McConnell votes against minimum wage.
I'm much more disappointed when Mitch McConnell votes to have Medicare and make it a voucher program. I'm more disappointed, when Mitch McConnell - you know, make it about Mitch. I think that's like the political consultants, this political consultants preferred an answer.
SMERCONISH: Crystal Wright, when is it appropriate for someone who served as a confidante of a president, a cabinet member, close associate, whatever the case maybe, to finally write their memoir, doesn't loyalty demand that you wait until the president he or she is out of office?
CRYSTAL WRIGHT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I would love to hear what Paul would say to that question. Because I don't remember folks who served in the Clinton administration, you know, any time while President Bill Clinton was serving, and then they left the administration writing these awful critiques on the president. I think it's unprecedented to have two former defense secretaries in the middle of President Obama's second term basically say his foreign policy was almost nonexistent.
You had Bob Gates who said that he had a contempt for the military, he didn't even want to deal with Afghanistan. And now of course we saw what Leon Panetta said that the president acts more like a law professor and doesn't have any passion for leadership. That has left us with a mess in Iraq and Syria.
So when I look back on President Bush, President Clinton, I just don't remember staffers coming out with this level of a critique. I think what it says is that how bad and things have gotten for President Obama really Democrats have lost confidence in him. I mean when Jimmy Carter -
SMERCONISH: Let Paul Begala respond to that.
WRIGHT: Wait. Real quick. SMERCONISH: This is unprecedented?
WRIGHT: Real quick, Jimmy Carter who knows a little bit about failed foreign policy has come out and critiqued President Obama. I mean that's really not something that promotes confidence from anyone.
SMERCONISH: Paul, go ahead.
BEGALA: Well, it's sadly, there's lots of precedents. I worked for President Clinton. I still - I have written five books about politics, none about my time with President Clinton. One of my best friends, I hate to bring this back. He is really one of my closest friends in my life, George Stephanopoulos - he did write a book about his experience with President Clinton. It was I think way too critical. And so did Bob Rice, the labor secretary.
When Bush was president. Scott McClellan. No one was closer to President Bush than Scott. Scott was an old pal of his from Austin Times, he was his press secretary, during his presidency Scott wrote a scathingly negative book. I will say at least from own sort of consistency - each time even when Georgie wrote his book and what Scott did against Bush I said it was wrong. Not because it's factually false, I don't know, I wasn't in the Bush White House but because - I think it is disloyalty.
I think that those - people like Gates and Panetta, Leon is a personal friend. These are really impressive public officials, they really served their country with honor and distinction but they should wait for their memoirs until the presidency is finished. It would be a better because history requires a little bit of reflection.
WRIGHT: Well, I agree.
SMERCONISH: Paul Begala, I want to ask you about the cover of the "Rolling Stone." Because as you well know, Paul Krugman has written and he says this is what a successful presidency looks like. Paul Begala, is this what a successful presidency looks like?
BEGALA: Well, I think there is no question. Yes. I think history way kinder to President Obama than some of his former cabinet officers. Absolutely. Just pick - first off General Motors is alive and Osama Bin Laden is dead, as Joe Biden famously said. Absolutely true. Both very important.
We would have no American automobile industry but for Barack Obama. Beyond that we might have a good Wall Street reform bill, an excellent health care reform which presidents all the way back to FDR tried and failed, and the deficit, which all my conservative friends have been screaming about as - my boss' surplus and drove it to a deficit is down from 10 percent of GDP to 2.8. This is the fastest -
SMERCONISH: Crystal Wright, let me read to you if I might, something else that Paul Krugman wrote. He said "Obama delivered less than supporters wanted, less than the country deserved, but more than detractors acknowledge." How about that last part. Obviously, I know that you don't believe this is what a successful presidency looks like but how about the last statement from Professor Krugman where he essentially says, you know, the guy doesn't get any breaks from those who are his opponents.
WRIGHT: Well, I don't know how Obamacare is delivering more than the president promised. He said hey, I'm going to bring health care to the majority of Americans, and if you like your health care you can keep it. And that was a disaster. And back to we were initially talking about with the candidate Alison Grimes running against Mitch McConnell - I mean she won't even utter Obama's name because we know that the failed rollout of Obamacare is exactly why so many Democrats are running away from this president and can't even say his name.
I would say this to Paul, George Stephanopoulos and Scott McClellan they weren't secretaries of defense and I agree with you, I think folks should wait until after they serve the president of the United States before they critique.
SMERCONISH: Wow. On that happy note of agreement we're done. Paul Begala, Crystal Wright, thank you both so much.
SMERCONISH: I have to take a quick break. When we come back an accused cop killer hiding in the Pennsylvania woods for a month, how has Eric Frein managed to evade police for so long?
And are they closer to catching him?
Also, a new law in California that would allow family members to take guns out of the hands of relatives who could be potential mass killers.
SMERCONISH: Authorities have been searching for a month now for suspected cop killer Eric Matthew Frein. He disappeared into the Pennsylvania woods on September 12 after an ambush that killed Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded trooper Alex T. Douglas outside a Pennsylvania State police barracks in (INAUDIBLE).
Now the search is focused on a five square mile area in Monroe County including Barrett township where supervisors have canceled Halloween trick-or-treating and the annual Halloween parade.
I'm joined now on the phone by Joseph Kohut. He's a staff writer for the "Scranton Times Tribune." And Joe has been all over this story. Joe, you reported that there have been four sightings, potential sightings, of Frein thus far. Here is my question. After they think they have seen him, why don't they immediately encircle and move in at least with dogs?
JOSEPH KOHUT, STAFF WRITER, "SCRANTON TIMES TRIBUNE": Well, I think that they do. The problem though is that the terrain is incredibly difficult to move through. I know I was there yesterday and we took a little bit of a venture, and it really is as difficult as they have been saying. The brush is so thick in places where you literally need to get down on your hands and knees and crawl through it in order to pursue. So, though they may see him as 75 to 100 yards, that's a pretty significant distance when you're dealing with this type of terrain.
SMERCONISH: Is the perimeter sealed? Is there an opportunity for him to get out at some point if he attempted to do so?
KOHUT: Well, based on my experience when they have a possible sighting of him, the best one that comes to mind most recently was Sunday at a tree nursery. They have very, very hard perimeter. They have troopers with heavy weapons stationed every few yards that could stretch on for quite some distance. A couple of miles.
And in addition to that they have teams that sweep through the area to try to flush him out like trying to flush out deer towards the perimeter. They have numerous helicopters circling overhead. So they do make quite significant and pretty dramatic attempts to apprehend him but like I said, the terrain is very dense, very difficult to move through. Especially when they need to -
SMERCONISH: Joe Kohut, thank you so much for your reporting.
So, how has Eric Matthew Frein managed to evade police for so long? My next guest has some ideas. He is Cade Courtley, a former Navy S.E.A.L. and he hosted "Surviving Disaster" on Spike TV. Cade, how can the guy survive for a month being encircled by law enforcement without the ability to fire his weapon because if he were to fire his weapon to hunt, he would draw the attention of law enforcement.
CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, I tell you what. The region of the Poconos he is in, 67,000 acres, 40 miles of river, you know, 100 miles of trails, the guy's got plenty of water, plenty of opportunity for food. Plenty of opportunity to hide. I mean, and the biggest thing is based on the temperature. Mid 70s, it's not dropping below mid-40s, this is stuff that a boy scout with some average training is going to be able to do with shorts and a t-shirt.
SMERCONISH: What happens then with the seasonal temperatures? Because I imagine the guy can't light a fire for the same reason he can't fire a weapon.
COURTLEY: Well, which is interesting because some of the places they found him he's actually lighting fires, so here's what happens. Nobody wants us to go into November but in November average temperature is going to start dropping below freezing. And so what do you have to do in order to survive, you need to be able to get a water source within two to three days. And you need to be able to stay warm.
And if that happens, either you set up shop near a place where this guy is going to be able to get water or you start using thermal imagery to find out where he is lighting the fires to stay warm at night and the thing he's got against him is this is one man who has been on the run by unlimited law enforcement who keep resupplying, get some rest, rotating. We're going to find this guy. It's just a matter of time. Unfortunately, based on what this guy, his I don't know, his crazy mental movie, is probably going to be a shoot-out. SMERCONISH: Final question. The concept of posse comatatus would
prevent the S.E.A.L.s, for example, in getting involved in this. But hypothetically, if the S.E.A.L.s were involved would you wait him out or would you be moving in now?
COURTLEY: If it was up to me we'd go in aggressively. Look, unfortunately this isn't - this is somebody missing. Everybody get on line and try and find them. This is somebody that can shoot back if you're sending in the S.E.A.L. teams, absolutely we're going to aggressively hunt this guy down and if it's five square mile this is guy is dead by tomorrow.
SMERCONISH: Cade Courtley, thanks so much. Thanks for your service.
SMERCONISH: Quick break. But when we come back, California's new gun law intended to stop the next mass killing before it happens. Can it work?
Also Friday night lights out. The high school football team's season canceled over allegations of shocking abuse by players. What is it about America's game and scandalous behavior?
SMERCONISH: California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law this week that would allow concerned family members to petition a judge to take away guns from a relative that they fear may commit a violent crime. It's the first law of its kind in the country and it's meant to prevent mass killings. But will it?
I'm joined now by the man who introduced the legislation, California State Assemblyman Dos Williams, also John Lott, who's the author of "More Guns, Less Crime", and the founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
OK, Dos -- would this law if it had been on the books have prevented those horrific killings in Isla Vista?
DOS WILLIAMS, CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLYMAN, SANTA BARBARA: We're not prescient people. We can't look into the past and know for sure. But there would have been two junctures in this case where this could have been prevented. And there are far more mass killings, spousal murders and suicides that this law could prevent.
SMERCONISH: You know that a criticism of the law and I'm sure John will mention this, I'll mention it before he gets to it, is that potentially you are seizing someone's weapon, they would say in violation perhaps of the Second Amendment, before they had the opportunity to have a hearing. That's the way the GVRO works, right?
WILLIAMS: That's right. It's just like a domestic violence or spousal or a stalking domestic order. And unless you think that domestic violence orders are unconstitutional, this should be constitutional. And, you know, let's face it. The worst thing that would happen if somebody got this wrong is someone would lose their weapon for 23 days. While I view that as negative if they are innocent, the worst thing that happens if we do nothing is we lose lives forever.
And so, the due process in this law allows someone who is the subject of a gun violence restraining order to go to a judge and get a hearing and get their weapons back, if they are not a danger to themselves or others.
SMERCONISH: John Lott, what of that argument that says this is framework in a domestic violence capacity?
JOHN LOTT, AUTHOR OF "MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME": Well, I don't know, I think this is quite different in a number of ways. You already have the power for police to go and take somebody in for 72-hour psychiatric evaluation. What this does is it cuts the psychiatrist out of the loop. You basically if a police officer has a reasonable belief, he can go and with the judge take away this person's right to be able to go and defend himself for some period of time.
If somebody's a danger to themselves or others, surely you can go and put them in some type of situation where they are locked up and taken out of that possibility of doing harm to others. But I don't see how this would have stopped the Isla Vista case there. You know, if you really think somebody is a danger, that person killed three people with knives. You should go and lock them up rather than just take away a gun. Here he planned for 2 1/2 years in advance.
SMERCONISH: John Lott, I have often heard from the NRA advocates and Second Amendment purists say look, guns don't kill people, you know the tag line, people do. It's the mental health, it's not the weapon.
And it seems to me the California initiative at least is seeking to do something about the mental health aspect of this. No?
LOTT: You already had be able to do with mental health. If a police officer, the sheriff's deputies went to the person's home, if they believe that he was a threat to himself or others and they didn't believe that, but if they had believed it, they could have taken him in for 72-hour psychological evaluation. They didn't do that.
What this does is, this takes the psychiatrist out of the process. Why -- what's the gain from taking psychiatrists out of the process, evaluating whether or not somebody is a threat.
SMERCONISH: Dos Williams, respond to that argument by John Lott.
WILLIAMS: This does not take psychiatrists or psychologists out of the process. In fact, what it does is it means that we're not just going to rely on law enforcement to recognize the first warning signs. Often family members, especially spouses or other people living with the person who is either homicidal or suicidal and mentally unbalanced are the first ones to recognize that there may be an issue.
LOTT: There could be that in any way.
WILLIAMS: And this allows them -- this allows them, they cannot do that, they can only go to law enforcement. This allows them to go to a court, and ask the court for a gun violence restraining order.
SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, thank you.
WILLIAMS: And if that court -- if that the judge find that they are a danger to themselves and there is clear and convincing evidence.
LOTT: Family members before went to the police. The police didn't find the Isla Vista case. Here, you're going to allow the second cousin's wife to be able to go and bring these types of charges against somebody -- completely unrelated people.
SMERCONISH: Gentlemen, I wish we had more time. I wish we had more time.
Dos Williams, John Lott, thank you both for being here.
I have to take a quick time out. And coming up, extremely disturbing allegations of abuse by students on a high school football team. Now, the season is canceled and anguished parents are asking, how could it happen?
Also, smoke and mirrors, why one congressman says a proposed ban on the sale of tobacco on military bases is an assault on freedom?
SMERCONISH: A scandal over allegations of brutal hazing is shaking the community of Sayreville, New Jersey.
Reports that high school freshmen football players were routinely bullied and some claim sexually assaulted by older players in the locker room. Now, details come from New Jersey advance media for NJ.com. I have to warn you this is disturbing.
The unidentified parent of a player in the program says, quote, "in the darkness, a freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen, then the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum, sometimes the same thing was then shoved into the player's mouth. Football season in Sayreville now canceled. Meanwhile, in the NFL, there is plenty of anger over professional bad behavior. Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, they both dominated the headlines.
So, here's my question: is the classic American sport in jeopardy?
Joining me now is Breitbart Sports' Dan Flynn. He's the author of "The War on Football".
Dan, you wrote that book a couple years ago and I'm wondering what do you think now? Now that you see this confluence of factors, is the American pastime threatened by all this news?
DANIEL FLYNN, EDITOR, BREITBART SPORTS: I think it's always been threatened. And every year, it seems something different. You look back a few years ago it was suicide. There was this lie being pushed that NFL players killed themselves at exaggerated rates. And the reality was, when the government looked at it, the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they found that American men actually killed themselves more than double the average of NFL veterans. Last year, people talked about NFL players dying young. And that same study, that same study by the NIOSH, the federal scientists, they found that the NFL players, the men in society actually were dying in almost double the rate as men in the NFL. So, they were outliving their peers, having better health outcomes and things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, basically that men who are on the field, they're going to outlive the guys watching them in the stands.
SMERCONISH: OK. So, here's what I'm hearing you say. I'm hearing you say that, you know, when you really delve in the data, I did a segment on this two weeks ago where I looked at some of the data with regard to brushes with the law by NFL players, in comparison to society at large. So, I get the point you're making.
But never the less might suburban moms be listening to this news and information saying to their son, hey, you're not playing football. You're playing soccer, some other fall sport -- and in the end, might that impact the direction of the game?
FLYNN: Yes, I think that's already happening, particularly at youth football. You see all of these scandals with NFL players but where it's impacting is not the bottom line in the NFL. They are as rich as they are ever going to be.
It's youth football. They lost 6 percent of the player population last season, about 6 percent the season before. In some areas of the country, there's not going to be youth football left if this keeps up like this because there's a constant barrage against the game. We're seeing that now play out with domestic abuse. And I think everyone is pretty much outraged over the NFL's handling of Ray Rice, but the reality is that no one's hearing is that NFL players have an arrest rate at about 13 percent of society's arrest rate according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
The statistics are pretty consistent with domestic abuse as well, that it's about half of what the domestic abuse rate is in society. So, it's not that there is an epidemic of domestic abuse in the NFL. There is an epidemic of coverage of domestic abuse in the NFL. So, we get a perception.
SMERCONISH: Yes or no question. Should the Sayreville program have been canceled for the year?
FLYNN: Yes. I think the police should get involved, and go after. This is sexual assault.
SMERCONISH: I agree with you.
OK. Dan Flynn, thank you. Appreciate you being here.
FLYNN: Thank you for having me, Michael. SMERCONISH: After a quick break, smoking in the service. The
Pentagon's considering a ban on the sale of tobacco on bases and on ships. And that's got at least one congressman -- well, smoking mad.
SMERCONISH: Even if you don't smoke, you've seen the warning on packs, right? One of the strongest simply says smoking can kill you. So, it shouldn't be much after surprise the Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale of tobacco products on military bases and ships. At least one congressman is really angry about the idea.
Listen to California Republican Duncan Hunter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: You sleep in the dirt for this country, we get shot at for this country, but we can't have a cigarette if we want to for this country because that's unhealthy. Well, I'll tell you what -- if you want to make us all healthy, then let's outlaw war, because war is really dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: I'm joined by Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com and Reason TV.
You agree with the Congressman?
NICK GILLESPIE, REASON.COM: I agree that smoking is dangerous and I would love to see war banned, but yes. But generally speaking actually, I think, you know, military guys have enough to deal with and if they want to smoke they should be allowed to, as long as it doesn't interfere with their ability to do their job. In general, I'm not a fan of employers, whether it's the government or the military or Reason Foundation that employs me getting in the inner life of their employees.
SMERCONISH: I always love to probe the sometimes rigidity of libertarian thought.
SMERCONISH: So, I get it. You know, smoke them if you got them is what you're saying.
SMERCONISH: But what if it's, in fact, $1.9 billion in health care and lost productivity that they are costing us by smoking? Then, we're burdened.
GILLESPIE: No, and I agree and this is also where -- it's the Pentagon is the one pushing for this. This isn't -- you know, it's not some left wing liberal senator. It's the secretary of the Navy and it's -- you know, Chuck Hagel looking into it. It could be that they say you know what, on balance this is a problem and we dictate what tattoos, what hair styles you can have, how tall or short or fat you can be. We're going to cut out smoking.
But at the same time, I do think that there is a rush to kind of say, OK, you know what, you're an employee and especially in the military we own you. And we're going to remake you. That's problematic because the there's a lot of morale problems in the service.
SMERCONISH: How about CVS? CVS says we're getting out of the business. I think they want to be our primary health care provider and that's probably why they do. But whatever the motivation, you're cool with that?
GILLESPIE: Yes. I mean, I think any private employer should be able to do what they want. You know, cigarettes are legal. This is one of the things that we need to keep in mind. You know, it's not like these are illegal products that they are selling.
I think CVS, you know, I would say -- I applaud any business that stakes a claim to saying this is what we're going to be doing, this is how we're going to be doing it. By the same token, I think CVS is getting easy publicity because, in fact, they're not getting rid of a lot of the negative stuff that they sell in their stores. They're not adding fresh vegetables, and they're actually not adding those kind of treatment places like demand time treatment which would be great. And that actually -- you know, I would love to see that. I'm not saying they should do it but --
SMERCONISH: I can still go in and I can still get a big soda.
GILLESPIE: That's right. Yes, a beef jerky.
SMERCONISH: Donut, whatever.
GILLESPIE: Up the yin-yang. So, it's like these are all problems.
But with military, you know, the ultimate is like, what is the mission of the military? It's to defend the United States. And can soldiers do that when they are smoking? You know what? If they say you can't anymore. You know, that makes sense.
SMERCONISH: OK. Nick Gillespie, thanks. Great to see you here, by the way.
GILLESPIE: Thank you.
SMERCONISH: After a quick break, Islam by the numbers. You've heard some of the heated agreements lately about Islam and violence. When we come back, the facts.
SMERCONISH: "Islam is the mother load of bad ideas", those words from author Sam Harris last week on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" touched off a debate with actor Ben Affleck and heated exchanges in the blogosphere. Listen to just a bit of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM HARRIS, AUTHOR: When you want to talk about the treatment of the women and homosexuals and the free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us.
The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of the Islamaphobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people, and that is intellectually ridiculous.
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: Hold on. Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?
HARRIS: I'm actually well-educated on this topic.
AFFLECK: It's gross. It's racist.
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: It's not -- but it's so not.
AFFLECK: It's like saying you shifty Jew.
MAHER: You're not listening to what we are saying.
AFFLECK: You guys are saying, if you want to be liberals, believe in the book of principles, freedom of speech, like we are endowed by forefathers with inalienable rights, all men are created equal.
HARRIS: Ben, we have to be able to criticize bad ideas.
AFFLECK: Of course we do. No liberal doesn't want to criticize bad ideas.
HARRIS: But Islam at the moment is the mother lode of bad ideas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Sam Harris sought to challenge the conventional wisdom, which holds that those Muslims who threaten us are a handful of extremists who hijack an otherwise peaceful religion. To the contrary, both he and Bill Maher argue, those extremis views are much more widely held among Muslims than most of us have acknowledged.
Well, I wanted to learn more. So, this week, I read Harris' 2004 book "The End of Faith", which has since been re-released in paperback. Harris argues with abundant citations that, quote, "on almost every page, the Koran instructs observant Muslims to despise nonbelievers. On almost every page, it prepares the ground for religious conflict." Consequently, he says that those who believe that the Koran and what it represents are going to be sympathetic to radical slam, bin Ladenism, if you will.
Some regard that as incendiary hyperbole. But some very strong polling data demands that we have the conversation about the teaching of slam and its impact on followers. Consider this, "The Washington Post" published results of a series of polls this week that asked Muslims questions about radical practices and it's concerning. The 2013 Pew poll of 38,000 Muslims in asked about honor kill, the practice of killing someone for bringing shame to the family or community.
Take a look at the results. When the question asked is if honor killings are permissible. Only 24 percent of people in Afghanistan said that honor killings are never justified, that 74 percent think an honor killing could be permissible. In Iraq, the number is 22 percent who say never justified, 71 percent believe an honor killing could be justified.
How about when it comes to stoning adulterers to death? As "The Washington Post" data pointed out the practice is favored by the strong majorities in the Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.
Another question: death for apostates? Majorities of Muslims in six countries say that if you leave the religion, you deserve to die. In Afghanistan, the number 79 percent who believe that.
Now, it's the true majority of Muslims in Western countries do not share this extremist sentiments. But Harris' point was that we can no longer comfort ourselves in the belief that we are threatened by a handful of the outliers.
And one other point: Harris and Bill Maher, they are equal opportunity offenders when it comes to matters of religion. They are both critical of all faith. In fact, Harris' solution is to argue that Muslims need to ignore most of their canon, in the same way he says that Christians have learned to do so. After all, the bible also promotes violence.
Here is what I think is most important -- that we not condemn an entire group for the sins of some of its members, in this case, an entire religion that. We acknowledge the vast majority of Muslim who don't embrace radical or violent thinking but that we acknowledge data suggesting that extremist views are held by more than an abhorrent few followers of Islam. We mustn't be afraid to candidly and respectfully discuss this relevant aspect of the most challenging issue of our time. If we ever hope to turn the tide against jihadism, we first need to understand its depth and what drives it.
Thanks so much for joining me. Don't forget, you can follow me on Twitter as long as you can spell Smerconish.
I'll see you next week.