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The War on ISIS is Discussed; Melissa Rivers Weighs In on the #MeToo Movement and the Golden Globes; Michael Wolff's Book Discussing President Trump's Mental Health Is Evaluated; The Responsibilities of Legalizing Marijuana Were Examined. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired January 6, 2018 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. The President was up early tweeting defenses of his mental health calling himself, quote, like really smart and a very stable genius. Part of the ongoing White House response to the book that he helped propel to number one by having his lawyers try to prevent its publication.
Among the many "Fires and Furies" stoked by author Michael Wolff are questions about the President's mental health. I'll talk to one psychiatrist who says sometimes leaders perform better with a touch of mental
illness. Speaking of which, are the President's seemingly unhinged, belligerent tweets against Kim Jong-un that are making so many anxious actually a strategy and one that's working?
Plus, after California legalizes pot, Jeff Sessions immediately bogarts it, empowering U. S. attorneys to start enforcing federal laws against the drug. Where will this end? I'll ask former Congressman Ron Paul. Here's one of his recommendations.
RAND PAUL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R)KENTUCKY: Mr. President, why don't you Fire this guy? Why don't you fire Jeff Sessions?
SMERCONISH: One thing President Trump is getting credit for is the war on ISIS. Are they still a threat in 2018? I'll talk to Graham Wood. He's the author of that provocative essay which explained what ISIS really wants.
And it's the first major awards ceremony of the Me Too era. Besides the actresses all dressing in black, how else will tomorrow night's Golden Globes cope. I'll ask red carpet expert, Melissa Rivers.
But first, one of the most talked about aspect of Michael Wolff's new book on President Trump has been its calling into question Trump's fitness for
office, not just in terms of his knowledge, temperament, and experience, but also his mental fitness. And the last one treads into territory that troubles me. Let me explain. In 1964, a magazine called "Fact" polled mental health professionals on U. S. Senator and Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater's fitness to serve as Commander in Chief. The magazine published a cover story claiming many found him unfit. After the election, Goldwater sued the editor for liable and won. This engendered a debate in the mental health community as to the propriety of rendering opinions about an individual they've never met much less examined, even if that person is a public figure.
Eventually this led to the American Psychiatric Association, in 1973, adopting what's been known ever since as the Goldwater Rule which is says in part, it's unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has been conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement. The rule has been in place and was largely respected for more than 40 years until the candidacy and election of Donald Trump. His behavior led many to express frustration at what they feel as a gag rule, claiming they've seen enough of Trump from his public utterances and his tweets to decide.
A group of 27 mental health professions went so far as to collaborate on a book expressing their concerns called, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump" and this week came news that in early December the book's editor, Yale University psychiatry professor, Dr. Bandy X. Lee met on Capitol Hill with more than a dozen members of Congress concerned about Trump's recent behavior. Now several quotes and episodes in Michael Wolff's book have thrown fuel on this debate including Steve Brannon saying that Trump has, quote, lost it. On Friday, when asked about Trump's fitness for office on the "Today" show, Wolff said this:
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR OF "FIRE AND FURY": Let me put a marker in the sand here, 100% of the people around him, they all say he is like a child. And what they mean by that he has a need for immediate gratification. It's all about him.
SMERCONISH: That some have questioned the President's fitness is not new. In fact one Election Day poll found that 63% of all voters felt he lacked temperament to serve effectively as President. That included 19% of
those who voted for him and those numbers have not improved in the last
year. But, I don't think we should encourage this sort of speculation. First, it's inexact and subjective.
Second, it's unfair and unseemly. Just as I said it was when some speculated about what ailed Hillary Clinton when she took a stumble on September 11 of 2016. I don't distinguish between mental and physical,
in respecting privacy. But more importantly, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of getting rid of the Goldwater Rule which was imposed for a purpose. It wasn't fair to Senator Goldwater that he was the subject of arm chair diagnoses. We'd set a dangerous precedent in allowing our public servants to be diagnosed by lay people or professionals who have not met them professionally. We might discourage some from seeking public service, and had this always been the thinking, we'd also have denied ourselves many fine public servants if
we precluded those with mental illness, Lincoln and Churchill among them.
And why stop with elected officials? Why not speculate about policemen, or about a cable anchor, or a school principal, or even a psychiatrist. Not only is that unfair to the person being spoken about, but it's unfair to those dealing with mental health issues to have their very real diagnoses, become political fodder. If you want to impose a standard that any person seeking the highest office first be rendered mentally and physically fit in a manner that applies to all, okay. But to arbitrarily scrutinize one particular candidate or officeholder, at least in my opinion, is wrong.
Now, what if a certain amount of instability is not a deficit in a leader, but an asset? That was the theme of a book that I read in 2015 which includes these statements: When our world is in tumult, mentally ill leaders function best, and in the storm of crises, complete sanity can steer us astray while some insanity brings us to port. The book is "A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness" and joining me now is its author, Dr. Nassir Ghaemi. He's a Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School and a researcher at the Novartis Institutes. Dr. Ghaemi, first would you like to react to anything that you've just heard me say?
DR. NASSIR GHAEMI, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR: hello, Michael, first, thank you for having me and let me just say, my opinions are just my own, and not those of any of my employers. I partially agree with what you said. We, actually I organized a meeting at the American Psychiatrist Association annual conference last year on the Goldwater Rule in which I argued against it. And I think the problem with the Rule is that it's too absolute, not that it's completely wrong but it goes too far. The problem with Goldwater, you well described, and I think currently with President Trump, it is easy to use the epithet of narcissistic personality disorder as have been done by psychiatrists you mentioned to criticize him if one disagrees with him politically.
And I think that's a problem that needs to be controlled. On the other hand, I think that absolute censorship doesn't make sense either, and that there are public behaviors and signs, as well as documentary evidence like medical records that should allow for a legitimate psychiatrist diagnosis to be made in public figures in some situations.
SMERCONISH: I thought your book was provocative. I'm going to read the thesis as you summarized it very early on. "The best crISIS leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal. The worst crises leaders are mentally healthy." Explain.
GHAEMI: Well, the ideas of "a first rate madness" come out of my own clinical experience as a psychiatrist. I've treated a lot of patients with depression and bipolar illness. And as a researcher in that field where there's evidence that there are some positive benefits to some psychiatric symptoms and conditions. For instance, people who have some depression are more realistic and more empathic towards others than people who have no depression who are mentally healthy. And people who have mild manic symptoms, mania being the idea that you're sped up in thinking, movement and feeling.
People with mild manic symptoms are more creative and more resilient to stress than normal mentally-healthy people. And so these four traits of creativity, resilience, empathy, and realism which occur in manic depressive illness and depression and bipolar illness, are seen in some of our best crISIS leaders. And in the "First Rate Madness" I basically describe the cases of some of those leaders, some of whom you've mentioned like Churchill, Lincoln, and others, who had these conditions, had these traits as part of their psychological makeup, and also showed those traits as benefits of their leadership in times of crISIS, I should say not always, but in times of crISIS when you need them the most.
SMERCONISH: Let's run through an example or two. Winston Churchill -- I consider myself a Churchill buff. I know that he was, had to deal with what he called his black dog, his depression. How did this impact Churchill?
GHAEMI: Churchill was a great case. He had very severe episodes throughout his life. Sometimes, he had trouble getting out of bed, going to Parliament. He had suicidal thoughts. He would not stand close to balconies or near a railway platform with thoughts that he might jump in. And in these cases we have other evidence that these are real diseases. For instance genetics, Churchill's daughter committed suicide. He had many family members with psychiatric who were hospitalized. Now if you think about depression related to realism, the research involves different types of studies for instance a light coming on if you push a button, the researchers will control when the light comes on. And people with a little depression have more awareness of their control of the light. And there are more complicated studies as well. But people with a little depression are more realistic than normal people. And Churchill in the 1930's when he was very depressed, was quite realistic about the Nazi threat compared to the very mentally healthy normal leaders of his own Conservative Party and the other party as well as most of the population of Britain. That's an example of where his depression enhanced his realistic leadership. I should mention -
SMERCONISH: I want to put on the screen if I might Doctor, a quote from your book. I'll read it aloud, "Why not just exclude the mentally ill from positions of power as we've seen such a stance would have deprived humanity of Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Kennedy. But there's an even more fundamental reason not to restrict leadership roles to the mentally healthy. They make bad leaders in times of crISIS just when he need good leadership most." Explain.
GHAEMI: So if you think about the benefits of mild depression and mania, the flip side is that there are limitations to mental health. If people mentally healthy and normal are not extremely empathic people. They often have some unrealism that psychologists called it mile positive illusion. An exaggerated sense of one's self worth, a somewhat elevated self-esteem. This is actually a good thing in normal life. You don't want do go about life feeling bad about yourself, but when you're in power, when you're in the bubble of power, this mild positive illusion can grow into what Lord David Owen, the British neurologist has called a Hubris Syndrome. And then the leader can get very unrealistic in a way that can be dangerous. And the examples I used historically is Neville Chamberlain during World War II, General George McClellan during the Civil War. Lord Owen referred to George W. Bush and Tony Blair as examples where this kind of Hubris may have occurred in power. And Lincoln once said, if you want to test a man's character, give him power. And I think this is the kind of idea that he was referring to.
SMERCONISH: Are we ready for this, as a society in 2018? Are we ready for the findings of your book which argue that in times of crises, someone afflicted with a bit of mental illness might be better suited to ride out the storm? Because I worry about the stigma that unfortunately still applies to this subject matter?
GHAEMI: I totally agree and that's part of the reason I wrote the book. So I think one of the big problems with the Goldwater Rule prohibition is that it actually enhances this stigma. The idea that it's that mental illness, psychiatric disease is so terrible that we can't even talk about it, is part of stigma and discrimination against mental illness in our society.
We should be willing to make psychiatrist diagnoses in our leaders and thereby not necessarily disqualifying them, but maybe even qualifying them in some ways. But keep in mind, in times of crISIS, these benefits occur. When things are fine and there's peace and prosperity, mental health is fine. You just need to be realistic and creative and empathic. You just need to make the trains run on time. And if you're a little too creative, you may make too many changes when you don't need to. One of the my concerns about current politics is that we're not in a time of crISIS; our economy is prosperous, we don't have a major war. So if you do have a leader who has manic symptoms, for instance, that could lead to actually to impulsive behavior that could actually create crises that need not occur. SMERCONISH: Dr. Ghaemi, the book is Entitled "A First Rate Madness." We're not even here to promote the book. You wrote it most recently in paperback form two or three years ago, but I think it's terrific. Thank you.
GHAEMI: Thank you Michael. Nice to talk to you.
SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses throughout the course of the program. What do we have? Two from Facebook. Maybe a mentally ill leader creates the crISIS in the first place.
Stuart, that's not a subject dealt with by Dr. Ghaemi in his book, but I get where you're going with that.
Next Facebook comment -- Personality types are not mental illness. Helena, nobody here is trying to break it all down and say that's what we're dealing with it's in the current situation. Look, I thought immediately, as this debate was ensuing in the past couple of days, of this book that I read a couple years ago. And I think the doctor explained it quite well. I'm personally unsettled with the conversation that's been taking place publicly in the last coming of days. I'm having it in the historical context about some of those who have served us like Lincoln and Roosevelt and Churchill and Kennedy.
One more, I think it's a twitter comment. I prefer my leaders to be relatively free of mental illness. Jetpackevin, it might depend on whether it's a time of crISIS or stability. Because that's the thesis of Dr. Ghaemi's book.
Up ahead, as soon California legalized pot, longtime opponent of the drug, Attorney General Jeff Sessions empowered U.S. Attorneys to start enforcing The Federal restrictions. How's this going to end?
Well, Ron Paul is here and he thinks he has a solution.
RON PAUL, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Mr. President, why don't you fire this guy? Why don't you fire Jeff Sessions?
SMERCONISH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing back on states legalizing marijuana. Recreational pot now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, Another 22 states allow only medical marijuana, and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract. But this week, Sessions sent a memo to U.S. attorneys; he reminded that Federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana. This effectively repeals the 2013 Obama Administration policy that refrained for prosecuting individuals if they're complying with their state's marijuana laws.
So what does this mean for the future of legalization? Well, my next guest has a strong opinion, he says fire Jeff Sessions. You know Ron Paul.
He's the former Congressman from the great state of Texas, Presidential candidate. In 2011 he introduced legislation with Congressman Barney Frank to remove criminal penalties for marijuana use. It's great to have you back Congressman. Thanks for being here. Why must Sessions go?
RON PAUL, FORMER UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: Well, because he represents something that is so un-American, as far as I'm concerned. The war on drugs, to me, is a war on liberty. I think that we overly concentrate on the issue of the drug itself, and I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice, on doing things that are of high risk. And we permit high risk all the time. I mean, if you look at the study of philosophy and religion, that's very risky stuff. There's bad ideas out there. Generally, we allow people to eat what they want, and that is very risky. But we do overly concentrate on what people put into their bodies. So to me, it's an issue of liberty. And Jeff Sessions is not a Libertarian. He's not a civil Libertarian at all. And the war on drugs is a totally illegal system, and if you look at it carefully, our traditions have been that the government recognized that we don't have the right to regulate the sale of drugs.
In 1914 when it passed the Harrison Act, it was done over taxes. Tax them, that's how we'll get them to quit using it; 1937, the same thing with marijuana. The same thing when they wanted to manipulate Obamacare, they put taxes on it. They don't use the, they don't endorse the concept they have a right to do all of these things. So, I think it's very questionable constitutionally, They shouldn't be doing it but it's so terrible. It is an excuse to violate civil liberties wholesale. And Jeff Sessions is -- has been one of the worst and usually, I don't ever get involved in these personality squabbles but this is one major setback. Obama did something decent there. He backed off and I thought that was a good move, and Sessions wants to reverse that.
SMERCONISH: What I wanted to say, Congressman, in the context of the pot case, I agree with you, and i think it tramples on state's rights. But in "The Wall Street Journal" today, there's an editorial that I think raises a valid point. Let me read a photograph from "The Journal." It says:
Social mores are changing and add a majority of Americans support legalizing pot, but instead of taking the cop-out of blaming Mr. Sessions, legalizers in Congress ought to have the courage of their convictions and try to decriminalize pot nationwide. Let Senators Cory Gardner and Kamala Harris persuade their colleagues that's what good for Colorado and California is what's good for the country. Don't they have a point? This is Congress' fault.
FORMER REP. PAUL: Well, in a way, but what if it's unconstitutional, they shouldn't even be doing it, that's all you need is somebody that's dedicated to the Constitution. But if you look at the Rohrabacher Law that was passed a couple years ago, it really opens the door for Obama to have done what he did, and besides they shouldn't do it. It's bad results. It's an attack on liberty. It's unconstitutional, and people should have the right or responsibility of dealing with what is dangerous. Once you get into this thing about government is going to protect us against ourselves, there's no protection of liberty. People are frightened about liberty. They always want it to be taken care of. Just because you legalize something doesn't mean everyone's going to do it, and then if you look at the consequences, of the war, why don't the people just look and read and study prohibition. You know, they changed the Constitution because they knew this was not the right thing for the Federal Government to do. So, they write an amendment to the Constitution.
Total failure. And the war on drugs is every bit as bad and worse. But we have made progress. I brag about the fact that the Libertarian message about allowing people to make choices has been a good move. And now, we've even introduced the notion of nullification. That should be a legal option, a Constitutional option. The states are nullifying the intrusiveness of the Federal Government. So I think there are some great things that have been happening. And I predict that Sessions is not going to be victorious on this. And unfortunately, it's for reasons that I don't get excited about. It's because the states want to collect all of those taxes, so it becomes this tax issue. I want to legalize freedom. I don't want to just do it because the states get more revenues but it's going to help us, you know, cancel out this bad move by Sessions.
SMERCONISH: I want to hit you with a totally unrelated subject for a quick reaction. When I think of Ron Paul, I think of the gold standard. I know your view on that issue. Bitcoin is all of the craze, I'm going to be talking about it later in the program. Give me Ron Paul's CliffsNote version on Bitcoin.
PAUL: Well, first thing is when in Congress, I introduced legislation to allow competing currencies because I abhor the system that we have. The official counterfeiters at the Federal Reserve, that is big mischief and a big problem. So the people should have the right to choose
and they did originally when money started. Then they picked gold and silver. But government has always took it over and abused that standard and monopolized it, and then destroyed it which we have done in this country.
So first, I want to legalize all of those options and what people want to use as money. But no fraud. You can't commit fraud. That's the problem with the Government. So there's a regulation on there. I - I think the - the jury's out on how far they're going to go with cryptocurrencies acting as money. Right now, I don't see it because, in my studies of monetary history, it's always been something tangible. People want something tangible. When it's related to it, it works. But since 1971, it's not been tangible at all, it's been totally phea (pf) and that's why everything is a big bubble. As a matter of fact, the big bubble comes from quantitative easing.
And all of that money out there is also participating in blowing up the price of these cryptocurrencies. They're up to $275 trillion and nobody has anything they can touch. So I would say it's questionable but the principle is right. Somebody has to sort it out if it ever becomes money. But I have questions because historically, money should be something that's tangible, but it should be legal, as long as there's no fraud.
SMERCONISH: Now, I know why I've missed You. Come back and thank you.
PAUL: Thank you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: Congressman Ron Paul. Let's see what you're saying at my Smerconish twitter and Facebook pages. What do we got? Smerconish, I'm smoking my first bowl of today watching you this morning and I've got a message for Sessions. I'm getting high today, tomorrow, and every day until I die. My body, my choice. Hey, 4:20 time, I'm for you. I don't like the trampling on state's rights. I did want to raise that journal point, however, which I think the burden really is on Congress to get off of the Federal books that which he now is empowering U.S. Attorneys to empower,to use, to enforce. That's the word.
Lots to come. Did the President's name calling, nasty tweets against Kim Jong-un actually work? I'm about to weigh in on that. And Trump getting credit for winning the war against ISIS, but is the group defeated?
SMERCONISH: Twitter just issued a statement explaing why it won't ban world leaders or remove their controversial tweets. The site says it would, "Hide important information people should be able to see and debate." And hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions. Twitter didn't
name any particular leaders but it was clearly in response to President Trump's public handling of the nuclear threat of North Korea which has been hostile, and at times, downright infantile. But recently, I began to wonder might his strategy also be effective? He's treated an adversary with nukes as if the two were teenagers on a queen's playground or a campaign opponent with high school-like insults.
That might have worked for Candidate Trump but there's a big difference once you're the leader of the free world and the opponent that you're calling Rocket Man or Little Rocket Man really has rockets. This week, the President tweeted this, "North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the Nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food-starved regime please inform him, I too have a nuclear button, but it's a much bigger and much more powerful than his and my button works."
Well the comment drew sharp criticism from Democrats and members of the establishment foreign policy community. Senator Edward Markey, for example, tweeted that this bordered on Presidential malpractice. And he continued, "We cannot let this war of words result in an actual war. However, in the last week, North and South Korea have been in communication both about the Olympics and borders. The U.S. and South Korea declared that they
would refrain from military drills during the Olympics. And then the really big news is that South and North Korea officials will have their first major peace talks in over two years. These substantive successes, compared to the escalating tensions during the Obama and Bush years, beg a question. Is Trump's approach actually working?
Perhaps the Trump motivation stems from thinking that years of sanctions and the international equivalent of double secret probation have been unsuccessful. The President's inconsistency and willingness to talk about war, even recklessly, might have Kim looking for answers out of fear. Now, of course, several other explanations for the recent progress have little to do with President Trump. The first and most obvious is that Kim may be successfully build a nuclear arsenal. And whether Trump wants to admit it or not, North Korea can wage nuclear war. With that ability comes a large degree of security especially in a relationship with a nonnuclear capable neighbor. It's also possible that China or Russia has gotten Kim's
attention and positively influenced his behavior.
Even if President Trump has contributed to Kim returning to the table, the emasculation approach is a risky proposition. Some of this strategy can be planned by the impressive generals that surround Trump. But often it feels to me like it's been spit-balling by the President himself as he does in other realms. And, I worry that time will eventually run out if the President talks tough and doesn't deliver like President Obama did with his red line in Syria, then it's going to be impossible to tell when he's bluffing. And if Kim misreads Trump, he might be goaded into launching a missile strike that could lead to war. Look, whatever the reason for Kim's recent willingness to engage with South Korea, here's hoping it
bears fruit and fast.
Now, a look at that other threat, ISIS. The most insightful analysis I've ever read about ISIS was Graham Wood's 2015 wildly popular "Atlantic" article, "What ISIS Really Wants," would challenge much conventional wisdom about ISIS including the often-repeated assertion that it's inherence represent a perversion of the Islamic faith. He also warned against discounting the movement's strong Islamist roots, and explained if ISIS ever lost its grip on territory in Syria and Iraq, it would no longer be considered a Caliphate. Well, last month the Iraqi military announced that it had fully liberated all of Iraq's territory of ISIS terrorist gangs and retaken full control of the Iraqi/Syrian border.
With the President saying we've turned a corner, I thought it appropriate to ask Graham, is ISIS really gone? Graham Wood joins me now.
he's also author of the book "The Way Of The Strangers: Encounters With The Islamic State." Hey, Graham, I want to begin with this. Let's review, you previously disabused me of the idea that they're some ragtag band of miscreants united by their poor lot in life. Instead, you said they're united by their literalist interpretation. Is that fair?
GRAHAM WOOD, AUTHOR: Yes, well they're a ragtag bunch of creeps and miscreants in a way. They're also true believers and they do, as you say, have some purchase on the Islamic tradition. That is, they tap into one part of that Islamic tradition. Of course, being a ragtag group of hairy creeps in the desert does not keep them from actually creating a state which is what they did, and it's very important that we've deprived them of that. So it's actually a very good thing that we no longer have major cities in Iraq and Syria.
SMERCONISH: And I have learned as well from you, they want to get it on? They want to get confrontation with the west?
WOOD: Yeah, they got it. And it didn't work out for them the way they thought it was going to. You know, they thought that the United States would show up, Turkey would show up, and what they would get is an Armageddon war, a big religious war that would usher in the end of the times. So a lot of them are disappointed by that. I think we should remember, there are a lot of them. There are 40,000 people who travelled to fight for them. Of those, there might be a third of them or maybe half of them who are dead. But that still leaves 20,000 people who in the very recent past believed this was the way to be a Muslim, was to fight. And many of those are not just returning home sheepishly, they've got some ideas of how to continue even after ISIS has lost the territory.
SMERCONISH: We're a year into the Trump Administration. The President, the White House are taking credit for having turned a corner against ISIS. Do they deserve that credit?
WOOD: Well, they were really continuing the Obama policy. It doesn't take a genius, or stable genius, I guess to know that the U.S. military was going to destroy ISIS on the battlefield. That was the easy part and the Obama
Administration knew it and the Trump Administration kind of accelerated that and like I say, it's good that they took back those cities. What I think the Trump Administration hasn't really made much progress in, though, is handling the diaspora of fighters from the ISIS project after the territory was lost. They also haven't made any progress in making sure the territory once its retain from ISIS becomes stable and doesn't again become a breeding ground for some kind of ISIS 3.0. That still could be it's in the offing.
SMERCONISH: I also remember from the piece that you wrote for "The Atlantic," that sort of built into the ISIS argument is this notion that they're going to take their lumps, right? In other words, they've drilled Their followers to accept setbacks because this is the way this ends
oddly enough with Jesus coming to their rescue?
WOOD: Yes. There are some of them I think who expected an easy victory quickly. But the ones who are really looking at the ISIS propaganda, the ISIS supporters who were reading chapter and verse, they were saying that ISIS is going to be successful at first, and then it was going to lose territory and be down to the last 5,000 fighters and then Jesus would come to their aid. So when ISIS talks about what's happening now, they will often say, yeah, we predicted from the beginning that there would be good times and bad times. And the bad times would be pretty bad. And that's what we're in right now. We're seeing says ISIS, the time when the true believers are Really tested. I wouldn't hold out too much optimism if I were them, but that's how they're selling it to their true believers.
SMERCONISH: OK. Final thought, it sounds to me like Graham Wood most worries where they're all headed next?
WOOD: Yeah, I said 40,000 people that traveled. Now remember Al Qaeda, on September 11, 2001, had somewhere between 200 and 1,000 fighters. ISIS had 40,000, and most of those people, we don't know where they are. They might be dead in the desert, that would be great. But some of them are still out there and it doesn't take very many for them to perpetrate something that's truly horrific. It grabs headlines and really disfigures world politics. So I'm worried about what happens next, both in Syria with the keeping of that territory and making it a safe and durable peace. And also what happens in the West. If any of those foreign fighters who are over there make it back, they're battle hardened, they're committed to fighting, and they're committed to drawing blood. It could be very bad if even a few of them make it back.
SMERCONISH: So appreciative of your sober analysis. Thank you, Graham.
SMERCONISH: Still to come, the mood at tomorrow night's Golden Globes promises to be trickier than usual as it's the first major awards ceremony in the shadow of the hashtag Me Too movement with actresses
planning to wear all black. I'll ask veteran red carpet expert Melissa Rivers what we can expect.
SMERCONISH: Tomorrow night's Golden Globe awards usually kick off Hollywood's annual season of self-congratulation, but this year, the
women will be wearing all black, just one signifier of the new reality ushered in by this past year's #Me Too revelations of abuse and harassment in the industry. On Monday, 300 prominent actresses and female agents, writers, directors, producers, entertainment executives, they all launched Times Up, a far-reaching plan to fight systemic sexual harassment not only in Hollywood, but also in blue collar workplaces like factories and restaurants and hotels. They've launched a Go Fund Me page to crowd source a legal defense fund that as of today has already raised more than $15 million. So will this cast a long shadow over the red carpet. I spoke recently with somebody who grew up in show biz and then covered many a red carpet scene, Melissa Rivers, host of E Channel's Fashion Police and who's most recent book, "Joan Rivers Confidential." Covers her famous mom's half century in the industry.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: So here comes award season. We start tomorrow night. Seth Myers does the monologue at the Globes. In a post-Weinstein era, what do you anticipate?
MELISSA RIVERS, AMERICAN ACTRESS, TELEVISION HOST, PRODUCER, AND PHILANTHROPIST: First of all I think it's going to be challenging and quite a - a - a not tough but definitely a challenge I think is really only, the only right word for Seth who is so smart and so funny to figure out how to read the room and read it quickly. You know, it's, this is, we're living in a time where if you say anything you're condemned. If you don't say anything, you're condemned. We can't seem to have a civil conversation -
RIVERS: -- about any of this and I think this is going to make everything from the red carpet to the show
to the post shows to the wrap up shows very complicated.
SMERCONISH: I mean he has to thread that needle as you're saying, but he can't not go there in the opening monologue. Wouldn't you agree?
RIVERS: I agree. You have to go there. You have to address the elephant in the room. But, what is, what is half the audience going to laugh at and what is half the audience going to find offensive? Right? Remember you've got to think back, right after the whole Weinstein thing broke, a couple people made jokes at private events and there, I mean James Corden was one of them and there was this outrage.
RIVERS: So, I -
SMERCONISH: I got to believe the ex-
RIVERS: You're going to have to read the room and read it fast.
SMERCONISH: I got to believe that the acceptance speeches will also touch on that theme. You referenced the red carpet. When I think of the red carpet, I think of Melissa Rivers. I think of Joan Rivers. How might fashion be impacted by all of this?
RIVERS: I think, you know, first of all a lot of the women are going to be wearing black and this is where we're getting not able to have a civil conversation. Everybody is allowed to express their support for this movement which is really what it is in their own way. So there's a group that's going to condemn people for wearing black. And there's a group that's going to condemn people for not wearing black. And anyone who wants even to begin to talk about fashion and is labeled "not serious" is going to have a problem.
I - I've spent a lot of time thinking how would I personally handle it, I think you have to address that this has been a year though of change and women are speaking with this collective voice which is amazing to the point where the collective voice of women became "Time's" Person of the Year, yet it's also a night of celebrating people whose work is being honored and the viewers want to see the clothes and they want to see the excitement and in this time of such unhappiness and darkness, everyone needs to just enjoy and be light for at least the red carpet.
SMERCONISH: Right. It's an entertainment show when all is said and done. How do you think Joan Rivers would have reacted to the hashtag me too era?
RIVERS: I think she would have written hashtag I'm supported but I'm kind of annoyed that that's never happened to me too because my career would be a lot further. It would be the world's longest hashtag.
SMERCONISH: I hope I can laugh at that.
RIVERS: Yes. But absolutely, I mean, my mom never thought of herself as being a feminist. Yet, especially like when you look at the book, you realize she was. But, she never had that kind of self awareness that she was a social commentator, yet for her, this would have been Christmas everyday with material.
SMERCONISH: There's a, there's a great, I don't know if they can see it if I hold it up, but there is a great spread within the book of "The National Enquirer", some of the references to Joan Rivers. She was rumored to be involved with everyone from Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys to one Donald Trump. What was her relationship with like the The Donald and how would she see him as President?
RIVERS: Her, the relationship was friendly. You know, they knew each other socially. Obviously we remember my mom won "The Apprentice." The thing with Donald is, which everyone keeps discounting, is he's smart. He's not a fool. He is maybe the world's greatest marketer to come around since P.T. Barnum and that's a compliment. And I think she would have believed in that but she always believed that women could do anything and everything as well if not better than men. And I think that's how she felt politically as well. SMERCONISH: Can I just say the book sort of transcends her. It's
like a pop cultural tour of a certain era and I think it's extremely well done. I really appreciate your being here.
RIVERS: Thank you so much. I'm thrilled to be here.
SMERCONISH: Joan Rivers Confidential. Great, great book. Still to come, your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments.
SMERCONISH: Hey, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Check out the all new Smerconish.com. Here's some of what is just coming in this hour. What do we got? Firing Sessions will be the demise of the Mueller investigation. Really Carol (ph), do you think that Sessions is on his way out and that what? Then he'd be replaced? It's not Sessions who has the power.
He recused himself. I guess your point is a new attorney general would not have recused him or herself. And therefore they could fire Mueller. I don't think it happens. Call me naive, I don't think Congress, even the Republican controlled House and Senate would allow that to take place.
I think that Mueller probe has moved too far and people want it brought to some type of a conclusion, not by the firing of Mueller. There've been too many notches in his belt so far with either prosecutions that have resulted in a plea or that are currently pending. That's my thought. What's next?
After watching the first two segments, I think that perhaps our country might benefit if Trump used some cannabis chill out before tweeting. And Carol (ph), I don't -- I'll take this as a serious point. I don't like what Jeff Sessions did this week relative to all those states that have legalized and frankly those that are on the cusp like New Jersey of doing so.
Because among other things, it's disruptive to the banking industry. And it also precludes those states from bringing in from the cold, you know, bringing in from being part of the underground economy, those that they'd like to be participating in a legalized structure. But I have to say, Jeff Sessions is enforcing federal law. And frankly, we ought to be taking it up with the Congress.
Take that law or series of laws off the books that allow Sessions to want to impose his thinking. Another one, if we've got time, and we do. Smerconish, I've seen news that they are still trying to claim that marijuana is a gateway drug.
If that's the case, then isn't beer a gateway to hard alcohol and alcoholism? Sue (ph) Crekle (ph), I don't have credentials to offer you anything more than a gut opinion on this. I don't see it as a -- as a gateway. And I have a -- I have a hard time understanding how last night I could have had a Manhattan and I did, and somebody else can't have a joint. I mean, there's an inconsistency between the two that I've just never
quite understood. So I'm with Ron Paul on this. I wouldn't go as far as he goes on all of it, but I do in that respect.
Quickly, one more, I promise I'll make it real fast. If a person is coughing, sneezing, has red eyes and shivering, I don't want to be a doctor to determine you're sick. Yes, Leavly (ph) I think it's different with -- with mental health.
Hey, stick around, listen to this now, there's another great hour coming up right here on CNN.
SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. President Trump meeting at Camp David Today with Senate GOP leaders, staff and several cabinet members, but not Attorney General Jeff Sessions.