Dancing with Springer
(Willie Geist, “Tucker” Senior Producer)
We invited Jerry Springer on the show today under the guise of a strong desire to hear his take on the news of the day. In truth, Tucker just wanted to size up the enemy. Springer will join Tucker as one of the contestants on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” when the show begins on Tuesday, September 12th. Today, the tension between these fierce competitors was palpable, and frankly a little uncomfortable for the rest of us. Their smiles and pleasantries masked the deep-seated loathing that only a competition of this gravity could bring about.
From the outset today, Springer’s approach was clear. He sandbagged and aw-shucksed his way through the interview. He told Tucker he only practices about 6 hours a week. He said he’s too old to dance. He said the only thing his partner needed to know is CPR. He called himself “hopeless”. We get the idea, Jerry, but we ain’t buying it. Being the wily veteran he is, Springer is clearly trying to get Tucker to look past him in this competition, perhaps toward NFL great Emmitt Smith or to that handsome devil Harry Hamlin, the guy from “Clash of the Titans.” Jerry was a good and gracious guest, but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw one of the porn-addicted transvestite little people who often appear on his show.
By all rights, Tucker should beat Springer. The Las Vegas oddsmakers have made Jerry a 49-to-1 longshot to win “Dancing With The Stars”. Tucker’s odds are 21-to-1. But before Tucker starts celebrating and working on his Week Two meringue routine, I would remind him that a guy named Buster Douglas was a 42-to-1 underdog when he stepped into the ring with the invincible Mike Tyson several years ago. We all know how that ended. I would hate to see Tucker lying on the canvas with Jerry Springer standing over him in a ruffled satin shirt and skin-tight pants. That would be embarrassing.Video: Video: Who's worse? Tucker or Springer?
Is America safer with Jeffs behind bars?
To hear the government tell it, the capture of Warren Jeffs is a major victory.
Jeffs was on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, along with Osama bin Laden, and Whitey Bulger, who's charged with 18 counts of murder. So now that Jeffs is behind bars, is this a safer country?Video: Jeffs overrated on FBI list?
'Dancing with the Stars' update
(Bill Wolff, Vice President of Primetime Programming for MSNBC)
As television viewers wait breathlessly for Tucker Carlson’s September 12th "Dancing with the Stars" debut (and self-serious media critics savage him for being an adventurous, self-effacing human being), we at MSNBC receive daily updates about Tucker’s strict training regimen. Here’s what we learned today:
- Tucker’s debut dance will be some combination of the waltz, the quickstep (the quickstep?), and a Michael Jackson-esque robot dance. OK. If you continue to run around and say you’re not going to watch, flaunting your “I have a life” posture or some claim of intellectual superiority or taste, you have zero credibility. Waltz? Quickstep? Robot Dance?
- Tucker’s dance partner is tough! She grew up in the former Soviet Union. She was once lucky enough to acquire some chewing gum and was so completely thrilled that she chewed it for days and days and days, and when the gum lost its color, she painted it with a magic marker. Tucker’s actually a fairly tough guy (seriously). He’s been through some harrowing experiences and NEVER winces or pouts or complains. But, if there were some sort of Texas death match between Tucker and his dance partner, the smart money would be on the dance partner. Sorry, Tucker. We’d all bet on you in any sort of debate. Or Revolutionary War re-enactment!
- Tucker’s dance partner doesn’t like to be tickled. During practice today, Tucker mistakenly put his hand under her arm rather than behind her back… AND GOT SCOLDED FOR TICKLING HER!!! Not a funny scolding either!! A scary scolding!!!
And still, the man achieves détente, gets through rehearsal, knows about every news story in the world, and can now do the robot on command. Guy’s impressive, folks.
John Mark Karr's mullet
(Willie Geist, "Tucker" Senior Producer)
All the talk about the JonBenet Ramsey murder case today concerned the lavish flight that suspect John Mark Karr took from Bangkok to Los Angeles. He drank champagne. He dined on roast duck and prawns. He even clinked glasses in a toast with the Boulder, Colo., investigator traveling with him. To me, that outrageous flight was not the story of the day. John Mark Karr’s outrageous mullet was.
In home video shot nearly 20 years ago and obtained by NBC News, Karr sports one of the most offensive mullets you will ever see. Our experts in the MSNBC Hair and Makeup department have not yet completed their analysis of the tape, but to the casual observer, Karr appears to be showing off the classic “Business Party” mullet while singing and playing the guitar at a friend’s wedding in 1987. To the uninitiated, that’s a hairstyle that’s all business in the front and an all-night party in the back.
In a matter of moments this afternoon, Karr went from a relative mullet unknown to a significant figure in the history of the world’s finest hairstyle. Now I’m not prepared, or qualified, to put Karr’s mullet into any kind of historical context. It’s just too early to do that and frankly it would be irresponsible. But there are those in the blogosphere who are already calling Karr’s the greatest of all time. A veritable Muhammad Ali of mullets. Here’s a recap of what Karr is up against in his bid for mullet supremacy:
5. David Bowie
Considered by some “The Godfather” of the movement. The Ziggy Stardust look prompted a wave of glam mullets in the 1970s. Purists discount the Ziggy mullet however, saying it’s part of a costume and therefore unauthentic. Note to our readers: do not argue with mullet purists.
4. Tucker Carlson
He hasn’t achieved the classic mullet yet, but when he goes a few weeks without a haircut, he certainly knocks on the door. A potentially groundbreaking figure because he does not fit the profile of the typical mullet wearer. Here’s an artist’s rendering of what Tucker would look like with a true mullet.
3. Andy “The Viking” Fordham
I don’t mean to editorialize here, but World Dart Champion Andy Fordham has never received the credit he deserves from the mainstream media for his prolific mullet. Perhaps everyone has been afraid to make light of his hair given his size and the fact that he throws precision darts for a living.
2. The National Hockey League
No organization has done more for the mullet than the NHL. It’s too difficult to single out one player, but current New York Rangers’ star Jaromir Jagr has been the poster boy for well over a decade now. Hockey players actually pride themselves on their mullets. The hair that flips out of their helmets and trails behind them as they skate is known as “flow”.
1. Billy Ray Cyrus
The Gold Standard. Without Billy Ray Cyrus, the mullet might have forever remained some kind of a cult interest: a hairstyle to be discussed and compared among friends only in the small towns and back woods of rural America. But when Cyrus’s 1992 single “Achy Breaky Heart” somehow became an international phenomenon, the mullet announced its arrival as the preeminent hairstyle of its generation. Billy Ray Cyrus didn’t invent the mullet, but he might as well have.
Many people have suggested John Mark Karr was not involved in JonBenet Ramsey’s death and that he confessed to having a role in her killing merely to feed his pathetic, childish need for attention. Well, if Karr’s goal was to insert himself into the history books, he has succeeded. That mullet is one for the ages.
Dolls are for boys, too
(Willie Geist, "Tucker" senior producer)
A guilty pleasure is something that, by definition, you are not proud of. I’m not proud of a lot of things - lying on my resume to get this job jumps to mind immediately (note to MSNBC: I was not Secretary of the Interior in the Ford Administration) - but I can assure you I feel no guilt whatsoever about the pleasures I confess to here, and in MSNBC.com's Guilty Pleasure extravaganza . In short, if collecting porcelain figures is wrong, I don’t want to be right.Video: Dolls are for boys, too
Answers to your burning questions
(Bill Wolff, Vice President of Primetime Programming for MSNBC)
MSNBC World Headquarters is abuzz beyond its normal news-obsessed hum.
The reason: The announcement yesterday that our own Tucker Carlson will compete this fall on the popular reality-competition-entertainment show “Dancing with the Stars.” Like most people in our business, people around MSNBC watch a lot of TV (not all of it news). After the blush of excitement about Tucker’s impending turn on a primetime network reality show, most folks had lots of questions. Here are the ones we can print (along with the answers we can print).
Q: Did Tucker call the show or did the show call Tucker?
A: They called Tucker. Are you serious? Do you think he secretly pines to dance in a costume in front of millions of people? They called him.
Q: What dance is Tucker going to do?
A: I’m not at liberty to say.
Q: Is management okay with Tucker doing “Dancing with the Stars?”
A: Yes. Tucker is a great guy. Anybody who works with him every day would attest to that. “DWTS” isn’t about political perspective or disagreements about world news; it’s for fun, and it will be, we all think, a chance for a big audience to see what a good sport and charming person Tucker is. Plus, we all want to see if he can dance.
Q: Do you think Tucker can actually dance?
A: Sure. Yeah. Absolutely. Why not? I don’t know. He’s working on it.
Q: Is he excited about doing the show?
A: Which show?
Q: “Dancing with the Stars!”
A: Yes. He is some form of excited about “DWTS.” He is ALWAYS excited to do his show (every day at 4 PM and 6 PM ET on MSNBC). That’s incontrovertible fact.
Q: What’s he going to wear?
A: Nobody knows. We’re all hoping for a ruffled shirt, big nasty cuffs, and spandex in any form. What I can report without fear of contradiction is that Tucker has been issued a pair of black jazz shoes (what used to be known as Capezios). Upon seeing him with the Capezios in the office, the staff responses ranged from “Capezios?!” to “Ha!” to “Dude!! Capezios!!”
Q: How’s he getting ready?
A: This whole thing is no joke. Tucker’s working out (well, you know, learning how to dance) for hours every morning. He does his morning work on his own show with his staff in between practice sessions. It takes some serious discipline (and mental acuity) to go from learning to dance with a stranger to processing all the news in an incredibly important, extremely busy moment in the news business.
There are other questions bouncing around the building, but this is a family news Web site, and some things are better left unsaid. The one thing everyone talks about is the chance that Tucker will succeed. How will he do?
Though there is no gambling allowed at MSNBC, the unofficial commissary odds makers have Tucker as a live long shot. (Off the record, I’ve got him in a 2-dollar trifecta box with Harry Hamlin and Vivica A Fox)
Dancing scares me
And it turns out, I’m still not. I started my training last week. So far it hasn’t been physically difficult. If you can make it through a squash or racquetball game without dying, you can handle “Dancing with the Stars.” Intellectually, though, it’s the toughest thing I’ve done in a while. Imagine trying to recall a long list of random three-digit numbers, in order. That’s the experience of trying to memorize a dance routine. For someone like me, who never advanced beyond 10-grade math, it’s a challenge. After five days of practice, my legs feel fine, but my head hurts.Video: Tucker: Pre-dance nerves
It’s been a long time since I’ve been as bad at something. Like most people over 25, I spend my life doing things I’m good at, or at least familiar with. This is totally new, like learning Ukrainian. The good news is, the standards are lower. My goal for “Dancing with the Stars:” getting through the first episode without falling down. If I can do that, I’ve won.
Tucker is Dancing with the Stars
(Willie Geist, “Tucker” Senior Producer)
It's official. Tucker Carlson is appearing on this season's "Dancing with the Stars," along with an all-star cast that includes Jerry Springer, Blossom's older brother, Emmit Smith, Vivica Fox, Harry Hamlin, A.C. Slater from "Saved by the Bell," Willa Ford, Monique Coleman, Sara Evans and Shanna Moakler.
I've had some pretty awful dance partners in my life, but no amount of experience could have prepared me for the unspeakable horror I witnessed when I stepped onto the dance floor with Tucker Carlson. Tucker is a legitimately great man and a good friend, but when he dances, he’s not only an embarrassment to himself and his family, but a living, breathing affront to rhythm and movement in space. I’m not saying I’m Fred Astaire, but Tucker dances like he’s just been tasered after leading police on a high-speed chase.Video: Tucker cuts a rug
That’s why, on the surface at least, his decision to enter a nationally-televised dance competition might be a confusing one. Privately, Tucker confesses he agreed to do “Dancing With The Stars” mainly for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to wear a turquoise, ruffled, satin blouse and heeled Capezio jazz shoes in front of millions of people. Do you want to be the one to tell him he can’t pursue his boyhood dream? I sure don’t.
The early morning line out of Vegas will probably have Tucker as a long shot to get past the first week. My sincere hunch is that he’s going to surprise you. You see, Tucker is taking this very seriously. He’s bringing his exotic Eastern European dance partner on vacation with his wife and children. I’m not kidding. The odds are certainly against a man of so little natural ability and the competition is fierce (that Mario Lopez can really move), but I wouldn’t bet against Tucker Carlson.
The way I look at it, even if Tucker is kicked off the show early, at least he’s getting dancing lessons. The world is a better, and indeed a safer, place for that.Video: Tucker Carlson in Beirut Video: Tucker Carlson in Cyprus Video: Tucker Carlson with the Israeli army
From the Lebanese borderVideo: Tucker Carlson on the border
What I saw on the Lebanese borderVideo: Tucker Carlson in Haifa
What are we doing at Guantanamo Bay? (Tucker Carlson)
What a crock. Like the Islamic extremists we’re fighting, much of the so-called “international community” hates us for who we are, not for what we do. If we closed Gitmo tomorrow, they’d still hate us. So who cares what they think? They can just be quiet.
On the other hand, what exactly are we doing with all those detainees in Cuba? Many have been there for four years. It’s not like they have fresh information about al Qaida. If they’ve committed crimes, let’s try them. If they haven’t, let’s release them. But hold them indefinitely? The only people who benefit from that are anti-American propagandists.
Give Patrick Kennedy his wish (Tucker Carlson)
No one seems to know. During a speech yesterday in Boston, Kennedy claimed he welcomes an arrest and mug shots and fingerprinting — “What anyone else would have done to them if they were an African-American” in a poor part of town.
As if his DUI were part of the larger civil rights struggle.
It’s time for law enforcement to take the congressman up on his offer. And it’s well past time for Kennedy’s fellow Democrats to demand that their colleague be held to the same standards as anyone else who endangers the public by getting behind the wheel wasted. Otherwise, the rest of us may begin to wonder: If it’s OK for Patrick Kennedy to drive under the influence, why can’t I?
Hey, Tom Friedman — shut up (Tucker Carlson)
Sounds like a great thing, right? That all depends on who you are. If you’re a middle-class American who uses an SUV for work or to transport a big family, it could be a godsend. But if you’re a rich liberal intellectual, it’s immoral.
In a column yesterday, Tom Friedman of The New York Times attacked GM for offering cheap gas. Oil fuels terrorism and the insurgency in Iraq, Friedman wrote. If you’re burning gasoline, you’re helping the enemy. Or, as he put it, “the more Hummers we have on the road in America, the more military Humvees we will need in the Middle East.” Friedman’s solution: tax gasoline till people can’t afford to use too much of it.
Not only is this mindlessly simplistic — oil profits don’t go directly to al-Qaida — it is also pure hypocrisy. Keep in mind that it was written by a man who flies around the world for a living on jets that consume more fuel than 1,000 Chevy Suburbans do. Will Friedman give up his frequent flying? Not likely. Then he shouldn’t ask a mother of four to stop driving her kids to school.
Protect yourself and your family (Tucker Carlson)
I’ll never forget a man my producers and I met in New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina. He was riding his bike alone through the lower Ninth Ward when we saw him. For three days he’d been trapped in his house as a gang of drunk teenagers roamed through his neighborhood looting houses and setting buildings on fire. Finally, the thugs had arrived at his house with a can of gas and a cigarette lighter. He fled for his life.
“I’ve always been for gun control,” the man said. “But I wish to God I had a gun.”
The man had always imagined that if something bad ever happened in his neighborhood the police would be there to protect him. Instead, a good percentage of the New Orleans police department simply took off when the hurricane hit. Some left the state entirely. Others looted a local WalMart. Those who remained busied themselves confiscating firearms from citizens trying to protect themselves. Which only added to the panic, and to the danger.
The National Rifle Association announced today a campaign to prevent cities from taking guns from law-abiding citizens in the wake of natural disasters. Many police departments oppose the idea. Tough luck. Because in the end, the police may not save you. It’s your job to protect yourself and your family. And no matter what they claim, you can count on no one else to do it.
Cruise in Bush territory (Tucker Carlson)
We talk a lot about Tom Cruise on this show. For almost a year we've covered virtually every twist and turn of Cruise's remarkable self-immolation, from his lectures on female body chemistry, to the Oprah couch-jumping debacle. Throughout it all, we've sneered. Relentlessly. And we've enjoyed every second of it.
Until now. A new opinion poll out today shows Cruise's popularity evaporating. Only about a third of Americans say they like him anymore. Cruise is now officially in George W. Bush Land, more highly regarded than halitosis, but only by a thin margin.
In other words, Tom Cruise is now the underdog. Suddenly, making fun of him feels wrong. It's like kicking Gary Coleman, or shoving Tattoo from Fantasy Island. Cruise isn't quite that short. But you get the point. It's mean.
So from now on, you won't hear an unkind work from us about Tom Cruise. Yes, we'll continue to report on his hijinks. But this time, only with a straight face. And only in the nicest way.
Routine testing for AIDS (Tucker Carlson)
The federal government recommended this week that doctors routinely test their patients for HIV. As of this summer, the CDC will encourage physicians to offer a voluntary AIDS test to everyone between the ages of the 13 and 64. Officials say they’d like HIV testing to become as common as cholesterol checks.
It’s easy to see why. People who don’t know they have HIV don’t get treated for it. They’re also far more likely to spread the disease to other people. More than half of all new infections are spread by people who don’t know they’re carrying the virus.
Routine testing is a great idea and a completely obvious one. The only question is: What’s taken so long? AIDS has been a public health crisis for 25 years. More than half a million Americans have already died from it. A rational society would have begun routine testing in 1981. [Click here for Newsweek's special report: AIDS at 25]
But when it comes to AIDS, we haven’t been rational. We’ve been intimidated, by aggressive, politicized activist groups who claimed that universal testing would stigmatize AIDS patients. Meanwhile thousands more became infected and died. It’s time to ignore the activists. They were wrong. Their protests don’t matter. Public health is what matters.
Thank you ACLU(Tucker Carlson)
But occasionally we get another sort of complaint, about factual accuracy. We take those seriously. And every once in a long while, the complaint turns out to be right.
Earlier this week, we talked about the Rush Limbaugh drug case. Limbaugh spent years and untold millions fighting charges that he bought too many prescription painkillers. I made the point that a case never should have been brought against him in the first place. He didn’t steal. He didn’t sell drugs. He didn’t hurt anyone but himself in any way. Where, I wondered, was the ACLU? Why weren’t they defending Rush Limbaugh?
Well it turns out they were defending Rush Limbaugh. Repeatedly. The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief on Limbaugh’s behalf, and issued a series of press releases supporting his right to keep his medical records confidential.
Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time beating up on the ACLU. And I assume that tradition will continue. But in this case, I was wrong and they were right. Good for the ACLU.
That $100 was yours to begin with (Tucker Carlson)
And it was. Consider the reasoning behind it. Each year the average person pays about a hundred bucks in federal taxes on gasoline. Rather than simply lower or eliminate that tax, Congress planned to collect the money, run it through the bureaucracy a few times and send it back to you.
Why? Because sending you the check might leave you with the impression Congress had given you a gift. A present. Like Christmas. You might forget that it was your money to begin with. You earned it, most likely by driving to work every day. And it was that very drive– probably long, unpleasant and frustrating– that lawmakers are profiting from every time you fill your tank. All so they can return your money to you, so that you’ll have the opportunity to feel grateful to them for their compassion.
And the worst part is, you might not even notice. That’s how deep the Stockholm syndrome is.
So next time, do notice. And don’t thank Congress for whatever they give you. It was yours to begin with.
Condi Rice should know better (Tucker Carlson)
On CBS Sunday morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked how she feels about the new Spanish version of the Star Spangled Banner.
Rice said it’s just another example of the “individualization of the American national anthem,” whatever the hell that means.
She also said, “From my point of view people expressing themselves as wanting to be Americans is a good thing."
"People expressing themselves as wanting to be Americans.” If only that’s what the Spanish-language anthem were about. People who want to be Americans come here legally, obey the law once they arrive, learn English and teach it to their kids, and sing the American Star-Spangled Banner.
People who come here simply to profit from our superior economy don’t bother with formalities like green cards. They just sneak in. They send most of their wages back to their home countries. They don’t assimilate. They don’t study the language or embrace the culture. Instead of bothering to learn the national anthem, they write their own Spanish version.
That's the difference between immigrants and illegals. Even Condi Rice should know that.
Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer: Gas-guzzling hypocrites (Tucker Carlson)
Then, as the Washington Post reported this morning, Boxer jumped into a gas-guzzling Chrysler for the block-long ride to her office. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York did virtually the same thing, choosing to drive mere yards back to the Capitol from his photo-op.
And they’re not alone. The list of politicians who espouse belt-tightening and conservation for you and me but not for themselves is endless. Diane Feinstein rides in a Town Car, Ted Kennedy in a minivan. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana uses an 8-cylinder Dodge Durango. It gets 14 miles to the gallon.
The point is obvious: They’re hypocrites, and self-righteous too. So here’s the new rule: if you drive a block to work, or own an SUV, or fly in any sort of private aircraft any time for any reason ever, don’t say word one to me about fuel economy. You haven’t earned the right.
Neil Young's ridiculous new song (Tucker Carlson)
The lyrics are as subtle as the title, and just about as smart. (Keep in mind that convicting Bush would make Dick Cheney the president.) In any case, here’s a sample of Young’s latest protest tune:
What does that even mean? The U.S. government is sheltering Al Qaida? In New Orleans? Huh? It's literally nonsense.
But politically, it does mean something: good news for Bush. An arrogant, out-of-touch rich guy from Canada weighing in on American political issues he clearly doesn’t understand? That’s a political gimme, manna from Heaven for the GOP. As a strategist I spoke to tonight put it, “It’s people like Neil Young who give Republicans a chance."
Tony Snow makes better press secretary (Tucker Carlson)
That may soon change. As of today, six years into his term, Bush has finally chosen a spokesman worth listening to: Tony Snow. Columnist. Fox radio host. And for what it’s worth, a very good guy personally. Snow will soon become the new White House Press secretary.
For this White House, it’s a remarkable appointment. Not only is Snow a better person than previous press secretaries, he’s dramatically more honest and independent. Tony Snow is not a throne sniffer. In recent columns, he has described Bush as the free spending, politically correct, ideologically adrift president that he sometimes is. “George Bush has become something of an embarrassment,” Snow wrote last November.
Bush hired him anyway. Good for Bush. When you stop requiring your employees to worship you, you’re making progress.
Prince Harry shows honor (Tucker Carlson)
Harry announced the other day that he will resign from the British military if he is not allowed to fight on the front lines of Iraq or Afghanistan. You don't have to agree with either war to be impressed. Talk about other options. Here's a kid who could easily spend the rest of his life sampling esoteric cognacs in Gstaad with swimsuit models, and instead it's his one desire to walk around Basra with a flak jacket.
For once, I tip my cap to The Royals. At least to one of them anyway.
Cardinal Mahoney's destructive path (Tucker Carlson)
Last month Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles jumped into the public debate over illegal immigration.
"The war on terror isn’t going to be won through immigration restrictions,” Mahoney thundered from the pulpit. He went on to scoff at the idea that al Qaida terrorists would bother to walk through the hot desert from Mexico just to attack the United States. The cardinal’s opinions about national security were taken seriously by the press.
Still, you had to wonder, is Roger Mahoney really a man capable of recognizing a threat when he sees one? Apparently not.
According to today’s L.A. Times, Mahoney let at least 12 priests continue to work around children, in some cases for many years, after they’d been accused of molesting kids. Mahoney was warned twice about the behavior of one of his priests. The cardinal did nothing about it. That priest ultimately pleaded guilty to four counts of lewd conduct with a child under 14.
And yet, despite all this, Mahoney still has the gall to lecture the rest of us about our moral inferiority because we don’t support illegal immigration. At this point, Roger Mahoney isn’t in a position to tell anybody anything. Instead, he ought to spend the rest of his life on his knees, begging forgiveness from God and from the boys whose lives his priests destroyed.
Dems clueless on Middle East (Tucker Carlson)
Just when you thought our government’s Middle East policy could not be more inept, a supposedly competent Democratic leader pipes up to remind you that, yes, in fact, it could be more inept. And indeed it likely will be more inept if Democrats take over the Congress this fall.
Consider what Senate minority leader Harry Reid told a crowd in Nevada today. According to the AP, Reid said the Bush administration should be taking the lead in convincing Iran to give up its nuclear program, but instead is relying on Germany, France and Great Britain to do the heavy lifting. “It is hard to comprehend,” Reid said. “We should be involved at trying to arrive at a diplomatic solution. ... Not just these three countries.”
So let’s see. President Bush should enlist more countries in our negotiations with Iran. He should also make certain that America takes charge of those very same negotiations. Unilateral and multilateral diplomacy. Simultaneously. Very tricky.
Obviously Harry Reid has no idea what we ought to do with Iran. Nor do his colleagues in the Democratic Party. If they did, they’d tell us, and possibly even fulfill their role as a check on the president’s foreign policy ambitions. But they’re as clueless as anyone else, maybe more so.
So yes, the Republicans may get creamed in the elections this November. Then again, maybe they won’t. No matter how bad Bush may be, you can’t beat something with nothing.
Church cardinal a lobbyist for illegal immigration
A couple of weeks ago Los Angeles cardinal Roger Mahoney pulled the ultimate trump card in the debate over border security by implying that God himself supports illegal immigration.
A new poll shows that the people Mahoney purports to speak for don’t agree. As it turns out, only a third of American Catholics support amnesty for illegal aliens, about the same percentage as non-Catholics.
In other words, American Catholics may like Cardinal Mahoney, but they’re not listening to him.
Which shouldn’t be surprising, since Mahoney wasn’t really talking to American Catholics in the first place. Instead he was making a marketing pitch to his real constituency: illegal immigrants.
The truth is, American Catholics are abandoning their church by the thousands, many driven away by the unforgivable molestation and cover-up scandals of the past two decades. The church needs new parishioners. Latin immigrants fit that description.
There’s nothing illegal about this, just as it’s not against the law for the trial lawyers association or the sugar beet growers to make their case on Capitol Hill. But let’s be honest about it: They’re all just lobbyists.
Exxon Mobil chairman's repulsive greed (Tucker Carlson)
You, meanwhile, are paying close to $3 dollars a gallon for gasoline.
Raymond's compensation package is repulsive and wrong. Here's why: First, it's greedy. Embarrassingly so. Lee Raymond doesn't own Exxon Mobil. Shareholders do. They should have stopped him before he walked off with more than half a billion dollars. But just because they didn't doesn't mean he should have taken the money.
Second, CEO pay packages like this— and Raymond's is only one of many- devalue the relationship between work and money. Lee Raymond didn't invent oil. He ran a company that imports it, mostly from other countries. That's not the same as curing cancer or inventing the laptop. As a society we ought to reward innovators over managers.
Third and finally, Raymond's greed invites government interference. Congress doesn't regulate CEO pay. But thanks to greedheads like Lee Raymond, it someday will. You watch.
There's still time for Raymond to redeem himself, though. Keep a hundred million and send back the rest to the shareholders who earned it. You'll still be rich. And much more decent.
Bye bye, bow tie (Willie Geist, 'Situation' senior producer)
The decision was all his. There were no focus groups. No executive orders. No interventions from family or friends. Tucker just casually announced to us the bow tie was history. A little too casually, actually. This was big news and we were just supposed to go on with our lives as though everything was normal? Superman wasn’t wearing his cape. Mr. T wasn’t wearing 17 gold medallions around his neck. Paris Hilton wasn’t wearing a glazed-over look of entitlement and apathy on her face. Everything wasn’t normal.
Tucker’s over it though, so I guess we should get over it too. Based on your responses, it looks like you’re moving on pretty quickly yourselves. Here are just a few of your e-mails:
Anthony in St. Petersburg, Florida wrote, “Since you’ve decided to stop wearing bow ties, you should send all the bow ties you own to me. I would wear them with pleasure to myself and honor to you.”
Please don’t wear them with too much pleasure to yourself, Anthony. Seriously. That’s just creepy. As a matter of fact, you’re not getting any ties.
Pamela from Parts Unknown wrote, “Wearing that bow tie made you look like the biggest dork on television. Bury them, burn them, but don’t give them to the needy. The needy have enough problems. They don’t need to look like dorks!”
Pamela, you should have said “the biggest dork on cable television”. As long as that guy on “Extreme Home Makeover” is collecting a paycheck, we’re all playing for second place in the dork department.
Cecile from Copenhagen, Denmark writes, “Your choice to lose the bow tie has affected me more than I thought it would. On one hand, I never really liked the way it looked. On the other, I thought it was a symbol of how you didn’t give a (blank) about what other people thought.”
A lot of people don’t know this, but “The Situation” is huge in Denmark and really throughout the whole of Scandinavia. We’re awfully proud of that. Oh, and don’t worry, Cecile. I assure you Tucker still doesn’t give a (blank) about what people think of him. That had nothing to do with the bow tie. See you on “The Situation”!
Ban gives government too much power (Tucker Carlson)
Almost exactly 24 hours from now, New Jersey will join the long and growing list of states that have banned smoking in restaurants. And not just in restaurants, but outside of them. As of this Saturday, it will be a crime to light a cigarette within 25 feet of a dining establishment in New Jersey.
No matter how you feel about smoking, you may be wondering where the state got the right to regulate tobacco use outside, where it injures no one but the smoker himself. Good question. According to New Jersey’s health commissioner, the new law will prevent groups of smokers from congregating outdoors, a practice that is quote, “not only unsightly but unpleasant.”
In other words, government can now punish you for doing things it believes are unattractive. Not dangerous or immoral. But quote “unsightly” and “unpleasant.” Aesthetics at the point of a gun.
This is a big step, and also a scary one. Once we give government the power to ban things simply because the majority doesn’t care to look at them, there isn’t much the government can’t do. And not just to cigarette smokers. But to you. Remember that the next time you see someone doing something “unsightly” and “unpleasant” outside of a building.
No reasoning with religious zealots (Tucker Carlson)
“In the name of Allah. I bear witness that there is no other God, but Allah.”
“Allah is Greatest. Oh, Allah. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.”
The 9-11 hijackers said these words – chanted them – for most of United 93’s last, horrifying flight. They invoked Allah as they killed the pilots and a flight attendant and slashed the throats of passengers. They called out to Allah as they murdered every person on that plane, including themselves. At the moment the plane slammed into a Pennsylvania field at near the speed of sound, they were still calling out for Allah.
It’s worth pointing this out because it’s a reminder of what all of us know, but what many of us choose to forget: The 9-11 hijackers committed murder for Islam. Not for political reasons, not for financial gain, but for God, or their version of it.
There’s no reasoning with people like this, with religious zealots who think the Lord wants them to kill, and there is no appeasement.
So let’s stop kidding ourselves. There may be a diplomatic component to the war against radical Islam, but there is no diplomatic solution. They die, or we do. Those are their rules, and we have no choice but to play by them.
Goodbye bowtie (Tucker Carlson)
But from now on, I’m going without. No ties at all.
No, I didn’t lose a bet. It is not a political statement. I didn’t ditch the bowtie as a protest, or in solidarity with any oppressed group. It’s not a ratings ploy. I just decided I wanted to give my neck a break. A little change is good once in a while. I feel better already.
So to the three of you who watched for the bowtie, I’m sorry. To the rest of you, who don’t take a position on neckwear one way or the other, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Quesadilla Night (Willie Geist, 'Situation' senior producer)
There are only a handful of foods on the vast culinary landscape that warrant their own theme night. Pizza is such a food. Tacos certainly qualify. You could make a good case for ice cream sundaes too. These are foods with personality. They’re foods that don’t just please the palate, but also move the human soul. They are foods that say, “This night will be different from all the others”.
At the MSNBC cafeteria, known as the MSNBC-Dot-Commissary (get it?), one food and one night stand above the rest. The food is the quesadilla. The night is Thursday. Most working people thank God when it’s Friday. At MSNBC, we thank God when “Quesadilla Night”, known in some circles as “Thursday”, has finally returned after six agonizing days away. Marta, the terrific woman who works the cash register, put it best in an exclusive interview with me when she said, “People are happier on Quesadilla Day”. I know I am.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the Dot Commissary on the other nights, it’s just that there’s something so right with it on “Quesadilla Night”. The brilliant idea was the brainchild of George, the man who runs the MSNBC cafeteria. In an interview you won’t see on any of the other cable news networks, George reported to me that quesadillas were so popular at lunchtime; it only made sense to give them their own night. The rest is history. Quesadillas have a way of making men like George look like geniuses.
There’s electricity in the air when you walk into the cafeteria at about 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday. It’s a palpable sense that whatever else is going on the world— CIA leaks, missing teenagers, or one of Tom Cruise’s Scientological episodes – everything is OK in the Dot Commissary. It all starts with Luis, the chef and artist whose canvas is a flour tortilla and whose palate holds a colorful mix of peppers, onions, corn, rice, and guacamole. Luis is so good, you don’t even have to order. When you walk into the bustling cafeteria, he points at you and immediately recites your order. “No onions”, he’ll say. That’s right, Luis. No onions. Luis put the fear of God in us when he recently took a two-week vacation. We thought there had been a shakeup in the staff. With all due respect to his fill-in, going to “Quesadilla Night” without Luis is like going to a San Francisco Giants game and finding out Barry Bonds has taken the day off. You just want your money back.
Quesadillas mean different things to different people. Noted food over-analyst Tucker Carlson views them as a means to an end. “The quesadilla is merely a platform for the guacamole,” he recently explained in a sitdown interview granted only to MSNBC. “An aircraft carrier isn’t about the boat, is it? It’s a platform for the planes”. Pretty well said, you have to admit.
Now if you think it’s a little sad that adults give this much thought to a weekly Mexican theme night in their cafeteria, you’re wrong. It’s a lot sad. We recognize that, but let me tell you, sadness and lack of life perspective have never been so delicious. Especially with a little guacamole on the side. See you on “The Situation”!
With additional reporting by Situation producer Vanessa McDonald
U.S. should be more like Mexico (Tucker Carlson)
Enter Mexico illegally. Never mind immigration quotas, visas, international law, or any of that nonsense.
Once there, demand that the local government provide free medical care for you and your entire family.
Demand bilingual nurses and doctors.
Demand free bilingual government forms, bulletins, etc.
Keep your American identity strong. Fly Old Glory from your rooftop, or proudly display it in your front window, or on your car bumper.
Speak only English at home and in public and insist that your children do likewise.
Demand classes on American culture in the Mexican school system.
Demand a Mexican driver license. This will afford other legal rights and will go far to legitimize your unauthorized, illegal presence in Mexico.
Drive around with no liability insurance.
Insist that Mexican law enforcement teach English to all its officers.
Good luck is right. The Mexican authorities wouldn't put up with that kind of behavior for a second. As they shouldn't. As we shouldn't. And yet we do. In this one way, it would be nice if we were a little more like Mexico.
Mandatory health insurance a bad idea (Tucker Carlson)
Naturally, the insurance companies love this idea. So do politicians, most of whom devote their lives to forcing people to do things. Governor Mitt Romney, who is expected to sign the bill, explains the wisdom of the idea this way: We make motorists buy liability insurance. Why not make the public buy health insurance?
Well because for one thing, the two have nothing to do with each other. Liability insurance protects other drivers. Health insurance protects only you, and you can't make people protect themselves.
And once you do start forcing people to protect themselves in the name of the common good, where do you stop? Why not prevent people from eating unhealthy foods? Or from drinking more than one beer at a time? Or from engaging in any sexual practices that might spread AIDS? Laws like these would make us a much healthier nation. We'd save billions in health care costs. Don't think politicians haven't thought about it. Don't think it couldn't happen.
The truth is, some people don't want to buy health insurance. That may be stupid. It may be reckless. But if they're adults, it's their right and it's a right that really matters. No matter what the politicians say.
Illegal immigrants flooding New Orleans (Tucker Carlson)
If you watch this show, you know that's my position, and it's heartfelt. Those on the other side of the debate, however, do have at least one good point: illegal immigration doesn't happen in a vacuum. The rest of us make it possible.
Consider what's happening right now in New Orleans. Two years ago, there were virtually no illegal aliens in that city. Today there are tens of thousands, mostly from Mexico and Central America. They've come to work on construction crews rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. These aren't lettuce picking jobs. This is relatively high-paid, honorable work, skilled work. And there's a lot of it to be had, thousands more unfilled jobs in the region. Soon waves of new illegal immigrants will arrive to take them.
Meanwhile, thousands of Katrina evacuees— American citizens all of them— remain in Houston and other cities, unemployed and living on government aid. So why aren't Americans choosing to return to New Orleans to work? And since they're not, why should taxpayers continue to support them? Good questions. Depressing questions.
Say what you want about illegal immigrants- and we do. But you've got to admit: They've got what we used to think of as an American work ethic.
Affirmative action unfair to everyone (Tucker Carlson)
But recently, maybe inevitably, that's changed. Men are now oppressed too, just like everyone else, and so entitled to the same affirmative action benefits, at least when it comes to getting into college.
At many colleges, far more qualified women than men apply for admission. So rather than fix the problem by helping high school boys get their grades and scores up, educators are doing what they've done for 40 years: they're selectively lowering the standards.
"It would be great to have the very best qualified students in a classroom,” one college administrator told the Salt Lake City Tribune. But holding everyone to the same standard would mean too few boys. So boys are held to a lower standard.
Heard this story before? Of course you have. It was wrong then. It is wrong now, no matter what the so-called victims look like. Even if they look just like me.
It is wrong because it's unfair. Boys aren't boys because of anything they did. You don't earn your sex, anymore than you earn your race or your height. We should reward people for the things they do, not for the accidents of their births. That's the way we're supposed to do things in America. Let the best man win, even if she's a woman.
Borders book chain mocks First Amendment (Tucker Carlson)
But not in the United States. Not a single person was injured in this country over the cartoons, or even seriously threatened. So why is Borders unwilling to sell them? We put that question to a Borders spokeswoman today. Her response? Quote: “the safety and security of our employees and our customers is a top priority for us. We believe that stocking this particular issue of the magazine presented a challenge to that priority.”
Try to ignore the creepy euphemistic language for a second. ("Presented a challenge to that priority"? What the hell does that mean?) Consider the deeper irony. Borders says it supports and respects the First Amendment. That makes a nice slogan. But what does freedom of speech mean if you're too afraid to speak? Or in the case of Borders, too afraid to stock a magazine? It doesn't mean anything.
Let's be honest here: What Borders has done is cowardly. Faced with the implied threats of Islamic terrorists, the company caved without a fight. Borders doesn't respect the first amendment. It mocks it. Keep that in mind the next time you're wondering where to go book shopping.
Misleading conversation on immigration (Tucker Carlson)
Which is both correct and completely misleading. Yes this is a nation of immigrants. No this is not a nation of illegal immigrants. Not yet anyway. And there is a difference.
America isn't an easy place to get to. If you want to come here legally, you've got to spend months, even years, standing in line, navigating the bureaucracy to get your paperwork in order. It takes a huge amount of effort. As a result, the immigrants who make it here legally want to be here more than the average Hollywood celebrity does. They understand the promise of America. They've sacrificed a lot of participate in it. These are the immigrants— from Ethiopia and India and Ecuador and all over the world— who make this country a great place. They played by the rules.
Illegal immigrants didn't. The moment they arrived, they displayed contempt for our system, and by extension, for us. They don't deserve to be here, and we should never pretend otherwise.
But immigrants? They're terrific. Send us more. We'll send you Barbra Streisand in return and call it a deal.
Bill Clinton's wasted opportunities (Tucker Carlson)
Sure enough, his talk gave special emphasis to the second point. Not only are Britain's economy and its environmental policies terrific, Clinton said, but they are the envy of the United States. In other words, they're better. Because as Clinton never tires of implying, the United States is not as impressive as you think it is. He's made the same points recently in Africa as well as, most damagingly, in the Middle East.
Yes it's offensive to see a former president cast aspersions on his own country. But worse than that, it's a shame, and a wasted opportunity. Clinton is only 59 years old. He's energetic. He has no job and unlimited free time. He's also popular—in some places even beloved— around the world. He'd make a great ambassador for American interests. Imagine: a respected former president making our case to doubters abroad. We could really use that right now. Too bad Clinton is the sort of man who can only brag about himself.
Supreme Court rules on Anthrax libel case (Tucker Carlson)
But it's not enough. Hatfill may have been libeled by the press. He was certainly smeared by the U.S. government. Then-attorney general John Ashcroft called Hatfill a “person of interest,” which as any TV watcher knows, is merely a euphemism for “the guy who did it.”
Except in this case, it's not at all clear that Hatfill did do it. The government has never provided any evidence that he— or anyone else for that matter — was connected to the attacks. Instead the Justice Department destroyed Hatfill's life through innuendo, “Steven Hatfill once worked in Zimbabwe. Did you know there was once an anthrax outbreak in Zimbabwe.” That sort of thing.
Hatfill was fired from his job, ostracized by his friends, followed at close range by a team of FBI agents as he tried to go out to dinner. And in the end, he was never charged with anything.
And the worst part is, nobody noticed. The anthrax murders remain unsolved, but we in the press have moved on to Natalie Holloway and other crimes. But Steven Hatfill hasn't moved anywhere. He remains stuck where he was four years ago, in an endless limbo of disgrace and suspicion.
It's time to end this story. The government ought to charge Steven Hatfill with killing five people, and explain how and why he did it. Or the rest of us in the press and in the government ought apologize to him. Profusely.
Tequila sunrise (Willie Geist, 'Situation' Senior Producer)
Technology rarely lives up to its promises. I mean, it’s 2006 and I still haven’t vacationed on the moon. Weren’t robots supposed to be policing our streets, doing our taxes, and mixing our cocktails by now? And whatever happened to flying cars? You thought we forgot about those. The technological community has thrown up a smokescreen of microwaves and fax machines to distract us from the fact that our cars are completely incapable of flying.
Every so often, however, technology exceeds our wildest dreams. It has done that with the Internet. It’s impressive enough that I can type the words “Tucker Carlson” into a search engine and in .13 seconds have 2,160,000 different opinions of him (hundreds of which are complimentary). If you actually try to contemplate how Google works, it will cause you irreversible brain damage. It’s like the popularity of David Hasselhoff: don’t bother thinking about how it happens, just appreciate that it does.
Video: Tila Tequila Our guest on Thursday night’s “Situation” is a living, breathing, tattooed product of technology’s finest hour. Without the Internet, Tila Tequila would be just another cute girl from the neighborhood. With it, she is an international superstar. In case you missed the show (you’re permitted three excused absences with a doctor or parent’s note), Tila Tequila is a young woman who has turned herself into a celebrity thanks to the popular networking Web site MySpace.com. She has received a quarter of a billion hits on her MySpace page. She’s now on the cover of national magazines. She makes public appearances. She’s even getting endorsement deals. So who is she? It’s unclear really. She’s a good-looking woman who says of herself, “I’m no girl next door. I’m the bitch down the street”. Her talent isn’t particularly discernible, but that’s hardly the point anymore.
Paris Hilton created a new category of celebrity. Everyone wanted to meet her, take her picture, and read about her in US Weekly, but they couldn’t exactly tell you why. At least Paris is rich, she’s reasonably attractive, and most of us have enjoyed a good night’s sleep and a continental breakfast in one of her family’s hotels. Tila Tequila is just a chick with a computer. She has taken fame-for-its-own-sake to another level and she has used the Internet to do it. You can whine all you want that Paris Hilton and Tila Tequila don’t deserve to be famous, but it’s too late. They already are.
So three cheers for technology! The Internet has done even more than it promised. It doesn’t just help us find information. It helps us invent human beings, “Weird Science” style. But don’t pat yourself on the back too hard, techno geeks. I just looked out in the driveway and saw no sign of a flying car. Get back to work. See you Monday on “The Situation”!
Rescued peacemakers should show a little gratitude
There was good news out of Iraq yesterday. US and British forces rescued three Western hostages from captivity outside Baghdad . The three men were Christian peace activists, two of them from Canada, the other from Great Britain. They'd been held for close to 100 days. A fourth man, an American, was murdered by insurgents before he could be rescued.
There's no spinning this: It is great news, both for the men and their families, and for the governments that saved them. But that's not how the newly-released hostages see it. The group the men, who work for Christian Peacemakers, released a statement today celebrating their release. It thanked the Iraqi people, as well as quote “Muslim brothers and sisters” around the world. And yet, in more than 700 words, there was not a single word of thanks— not one— for the American soldiers who carried out the rescue.
Instead the statement attacked the US government for its policies in Iraq. It also pledged love and prayers for the kidnappers.
The Peacemakers say it's their Christian duty to pray for their persecutors, and doubtless it is. But that doesn't mean they can't pray for their rescuers too. And for the many thousands of young Americans who've been killed and maimed in Iraq, mostly blown to pieces by bombs. There wasn't a word about them, either.
The statement summed up the hostage's mindset this way. Quote: “They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers.”
It's a nice sentiment. But in this case, it wasn't God or the international community who saved these guys. It was the United States Army, with help from the Brits. The peacemakers ought to remember that. And be grateful for it.
Misty-eyed 'lefties' flock to Venezuela (Tucker Carlson)
The New York Times reported this week that Venezuela has recently become a favorite destination for vacationing left-wingers. Misty-eyed young lefties from around the word are heading to Venezuela to see and to celebrate Hugo Chavez's fabled revolution.
The only problem is, there's nothing particularly revolutionary going on in Venezuela. It's still an old-fashioned, corrupt Latin American dictatorship run for the benefit of a small group of rich people. Just because those rich people now wear military fatigues and quote Che doesn't make them progressive. It merely makes them unoriginal. We've seen this movie before.
So if Venezuela isn't really revolutionary, why are so many upper-middle class college kids making pilgrimages there? Because the government of Venezuela hates the United States. And for the left, hating America trumps everything.
If you hate America enough, the left will forgive you for almost anything. You can starve your own people by the millions, as Robert Mugabe has. Or throw AIDS patients into concentration camps, as Fidel Castro used to do. Or build a brutal secret police force, as the Sandinistas did. And all is forgiven as long as you hate America.
So have fun in Venezuela, kids. Be sure to believe the propaganda and ignore the repression. And while you're there, why don't you just stay forever.
On trial for his life (Tucker Carlson)
A man named Abdul Rahman is on trial for his life in Afghanistan this week. His crime? Converting to Christianity. He’s not accused of burning mosques or of denouncing Mohammed or even trying to convert anyone else. He was merely a Christian.
Four years after the fall of the Taliban, believing in any faith but Islam is still a capital offense in Afghanistan. You can be killed for it. And Abdul Rahman may well be.
According to authorities, he was, quote, “found to be carrying a Bible.” The judge in this case has promised to allow Abdul Rahman one more chance to renounce Christianity, because as the judge put it, the religion of Islam is one of tolerance.
But if he’s convicted, if he does not renounce his new religion, he will be executed.
While the Taliban are gone, many of that country’s medieval laws are not. They’re still there. In fact, they’re enshrined in the country’s constitution, the constitution we helped write and made possible.
See, here’s how it works. On September 11, a little over four years ago, Islamic extremists based in Afghanistan attacked us, killing thousands. We, in turn, lost hundreds of men liberating that country from the Taliban and the Islamic extremists who ran it, only to see the country becoming run again by Islamic extremists.
Reporters asked state department spokesman Nicholas Burns about the case. Burns’ reply? “From an American point of view,” he said, “people should be free to choose their own religion.”
From an American point of view? As if the right to believe in your own faith was merely an American cultural tic, like wearing low-rise jeans or drinking Diet Coke.
In fact, freedom of religion is a human right, one of the human rights we’re supposedly fighting for in Afghanistan and Iraq. Radical, intolerant Islam—the kind that would murder Abdul Rahman— is our blood enemy in that fight.
So opining about freedom of religion isn’t good enough in this case. Not nearly. It’s time for the US government to save Abdul Rahman’s life. We liberated Afghanistan. We currently occupy it. For the memory of the 278 American soldiers who have died there, let’s make certain that place doesn’t return to what it was.
We should do something about this, and we can. The United States government should do something about this, because while it is an independent country, with its own government, we have the right to influence it. We’ve paid for that right, and I hope we exercise it.