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Aug. 31, 2006 | 5:02 p.m. ET

Biloxi didn't end with Katrina
(Kim Harvey, "Scarborough Country" producer)

I had never been to Biloxi before, but what an introduction I had. A few hours after my plane landed in Mississippi, I was treated to a Sunday drive ... by train.

August Taconi and Carla Beaugez of the Biloxi Tour Train have been telling the city’s story to visitors for over forty years.

Even though the face of Biloxi has changed since Katrina, Carla still plays the original recording that tells tourists about all the shops that line the Business District (it’s called the Vieux Marche, French for “Old Market”). But the shops are no longer there. There are just a bunch of empty, roofless buildings with broken windows and boarded up doors that look like they’ve been through a war.

As the train approaches the Point Cadet neighborhood, Carla talks about all the people that used to come outside to wave to the train.  They’re no longer home. Fifty-two Biloxi residents died in the storm; Carla knew 5 of them.

Since Joe, Chris (my Executive Producer) and I returned home yesterday, I’ve been telling people about the tour, and many have asked why Carla is still giving them. Carla says, “The history of Biloxi didn’t end with Katrina. The tour is a way of preserving the history that wind and water erased” one year ago. 

After Hurricane Katrina hit, Carla and August took the train off the road for awhile, but it’s back, and perhaps more important than ever.

Aug. 29, 2006 | 12:15 p.m. ET

Biloxi is back
(Chris Licht, "Scarborough Country" Executive Producer)

This is my first time in Biloxi since long before Katrina hit. As Joe and I drove from the airport on highway 90 along the coast, I am stunned by how devastated things still are. There are shells of buildings, twisted metal where gas stations once stood and historic homes boarded up, seemingly waiting to be torn down. There is a Denny’s sign teetering on a pole, in front of a now empty lot.

But there are also signs of life -- a hotel here and there, one brand new just waiting for tourists. I also see an apartment complex that’s been rebuilt, including a spray painted warning: “We are home, looters will be shot.”

Joe was here in the hours after Katrina hit then once again six months ago. He has a different take. To him things look remarkably better. Much of the debris is gone and there is a sense of hope and determination. Joe and I were stopped on the street yesterday by three women who lost everything and are living in a FEMA trailer. They weren’t complaining or demanding answers. They just wanted to thank us for being there. They also had a message for America: “Biloxi is back!”

Aug. 25, 2006 | 3:59 p.m. ET

Dixie Chicks: Don't quit your day job

We have received word on high that the Dixie Chicks and Harvey
Weinstein are teaming up to bring a Chicks documentary to your hometown just in time for the election. Movie producers believe it could sway this fall’s elections.

Yeah. Right.

You have to hand it to Hollywood stars. They are a persistent lot.

For years, rock icons, pop tarts, movie moguls and some of Tinsletown’s brightest stars have shined their lights for Democratic candidates. And usually, the results have been dismal.

I remember watching in horror as the Eagles performed a benefit concert for Jimmy Carter’s failing 1980 campaign.

”Why are my heroes supporting that bumbling fool?” I asked no one in particular while ironing my chocolate brown leisure suit. I needn’t worry. Reagan swamped Carter and “The Long Run” never quite measured up to “Hotel California.”

Four years later, the Democratic candidate may have changed but my favorite bands were still sticking it to the Man—my man! REM’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, used the group’s platform during their 1984 concert at the University of Alabama to tell us why Walter Mondale was
America’s best choice for president.

Walter Mondale?!?

Hey dude. How ‘bout playing “Sitting Still” and leaving the voting to us.

A month or so later the old man we elected king won 97% of the vote in Alabama and swamped Mondale in a 49 state landslide.

By 1988, I finally learned to love my favorite bands while ignoring their politics. The “Boys of Summer” and “The Last Resort” were rock anthems whether Don Henley was a raging Marxist or a neo-fascist. And REM would have to slap a family member in the face to get “Fables” out
of my CD changer after 20 years.

And “Thunder Road” will remain my favorite rock song regardless of how many dorks Bruce Springsteen supports for president. How do I turn off lines like “It’s a town full of losers/I’m pulling out of here to win”?

The answer? I don’t.

So let the Dixie Chicks prance, preen and preach all over Europe and American movie screens this fall. Their movie won’t change a vote but it may teach rock stars worldwide an important lesson: fight the good fight, try to change the world, but for the sake of god and your
long-suffering agent, don’t quit your day job.


Aug. 22, 2006 | 1:26 p.m. ET

Only Jon Stewart can have it both ways

It’s called having it both ways.

The fake news champs at The Daily Show love blasting politicians and pundits. And why not? We turn ourselves into comic cannon fodder every day. But whenever someone like Geraldo Rivera or Bill O’Reilly challenges a cheap shot, Jon Stewart squeals with delight.

“We’re not even a real news show!” Stewart will declare with a chuckle that lets viewers know how the protesting target is a real stiff.

But the Comedy Central host will also take interviews with the likes of Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel, allowing these news giants to bestow great meaning to his fake broadcasts. It is all the rage with the kids, after all. How they get their news. The next generation of information. An ironic look at blah, blah, blah.

While on his “I-Am-An-Important-Pundit” tour of 2004, Stewart even dared to mix it up on CNN’s Crossfire. He used his soapbox to lecture Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson about how their show was overly partisan and divisive. Of course, when prodded by Carlson, Stewart replied by famously calling the conservative commentator a “dick.”

Hmmm. Is this how Stewart would bring together our fractured nation?

Funny how none of those press hounds who spent the 2004 election year licking Jon Stewart’s face missed the hilarity of his real life act.

It’s also funny how someone who makes his millions mocking others every night is so shrill and thin skinned when taken out of his own protective wrapping.

Last night in Scarborough Country, guest Flavia Colgan mocked Geraldo and O’Reilly for responding to Stewart’s fake news broadcast. But the Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar gave insight into just how powerful the Daily Show has become. For millions of younger viewers, it really is their main source for news.

That’s why Stewart’s “fake news” bit seems a bit disingenuous. You either rub chins with Tom Brokaw or run a real fake news show.

You can’t have it both ways. Unless, of course, you’re Jon Stewart.

Comments? Email JScarborough@msnbc.com
Watch “Scarborough Country” Mon.-Thu.  at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

Aug. 21, 2006 | 9:26 a.m. ET

Keep Bush away from the press

The Washington Post ran an article that talked about the growing discontent among some conservatives regarding George W. Bush and his not-so-conservative administration. Last week’s Scarborough Country segment that asked whether our president was an idiot, as pop tart Linda Ronstadt suggested, got heavy play in the Post piece.

Asking whether our President is mentally engaged in the job is an important question to ask. With al Qaeda back in the headlines, Iraq deteriorating, Hezbollah in rapid ascent, Iran defying the world, Israel in turmoil, Afghanistan in crisis mode and North Korea behaving more recklessly every day, President Bush needs to assure America and the world that he is intellectually engaged.

Still, I am uncomfortable asking these questions of any president, especially this one.

I voted for George Bush twice and would do it again if Al Gore and John Kerry were once again the alternatives. I spent a few hours alone with President Bush on Air Force One. He was likable and sharp.

I have met more than a few world leaders and I can tell you our President seemed as mentally equipped as most leaders I have met.

But the George Bush of 2006 seems to be a far cry from the man I spoke with in 2001, or the back-slapping governor who charmed the hell out of me when I visited him in the Texas governor’s mansion in 1999.

These days the President seems distracted, disjointed and dumbed-down in press conferences. His jokes fall flat and are often inappropriate.

And like Reagan, George W. Bush seems to be getting worse with age instead of better.

When teenage boys misbehave, I blame their fathers. When presidents come up short, I blame their staffs.

In the case of Bush I wonder whether there no one in the West Wing that can tell their boss he needs to spend more time in front of a teleprompter and less time watching ESPN.

Has anyone told him that making jokes about pig roasts after being asked about the bombing of the Beirut airport is not how a Commander in Chief acts in front of the international press corps?

Has anyone considered keeping the President away from the press altogether if he is no longer up to the task of answering questions?

I’m serious.

If George Bush has lost his ability to give a commanding presser, then stage manage him differently. Play to his strengths. Control Bush like Deaver controlled Reagan. Show him only in settings where he is in control.

It will provide comfort to our friends and let our enemies know that this President has what it takes to lead America’s War on Terror.

Right now, this President cannot afford to bumble his way across the world stage. He needs to be seen as a strong, confident leader capable of managing the greatest foreign policy crisis since the Cold War.

That burden falls as much on the President’s staff as it does on the President himself.

Aug. 17, 2006 |8:41 p.m. ET

Focus remains on Patsy Ramsey

So many things don’t add up in the JonBenet Ramsey case even after that creepy reptile of a suspect was allowed to slither out of his Bangkok prison cell.

Last night I spoke to Patsy Ramsey’s sister on Scarborough Country.

She was obviously relieved that the world finally had a reason to divert their suspicions from her dead sister to a serial child molester. But investigators I am talking to on and off camera tell me that their focus remains on JonBenet’s mother.

Why? Because they think John Mark Karr’s confession may be an attempt to get out of a life sentence in Bangkok. Better to spend your remaining years in US federal facility than a Thailand hell hole.

Investigators say even taking the rap for a brutal murder will be a better deal if it gets him back on American soil.

Besides, they say his performance in the press conference was pathetic. One told me, "He looked like he was lying through his teeth."

Others still don’t buy Patsy Ramsey’s story. Remember after the murder how watching the slain girl’s mom made you feel uneasy in all those interviews? Her story didn’t seem to add up then and it doesn’t add up now.

The biggest question centers around how an outsider like Karr could have carried this off without the help of a family member.

Video: John Mark Karr's body language Does anyone really believe this guy would travel from Georgia, break into the house, pull the little girl out of her room undetected, take her down into the basement, tie her up in an elaborately evil fashion, practice writing a long ransom note, rewrite that long ransom note (that demanded the exact amount of John Ramsey’s bonus), rape the little girl and then slip out undetected?

Anything is possible, but those chain of events coupled with the Ramseys' bizarre behavior after the murder still leaves me wondering whether this school teacher could have committed such a crime on his on.

Last night I once again gave Patsy Ramsey the benefit of the doubt. I concluded that since I had never been through such an unspeakable tragedy, I was in no position to judge her conduct.

But Mark Klass, who lost his little daughter under similar circumstances, quickly interrupted me. Mark, like so many others talking about the Jon Benet case, said the Ramsey’s behavior simply was not consistent with that of a parent who had lost their child.

I suspect we will learn more about Patsy Ramsey and this murder once Karr starts talking to police. But whether what we learn absolves or implicates her is anyone’s guess.


Aug. 16, 2006 | 12:49 p.m. ET

Is Bush an idiot?

The greatest political gift a politician can receive from enemies is the gift of being underestimated.

Democrats have always played into Republican presidents’ hands by dismissing them as dimwitted dunces who somehow stumbled their way into the most powerful position on Earth.

Eisenhower was supposedly a dope who frittered away his time on golf courses.

Chevy Chase portrayed Gerald Ford as a bumbling, accident-prone commander-in-chief in countless SNL skits.

Ronald Reagan was branded a lightweight for years and described as a confused old fool in Tip O’Neill’s autobiography.

For the past six years George W. Bush has been the target of ridicule from liberal circles. But now, instead of laughing at Democrats’ ill-directed arrogance, Republicans are quietly joining the left in questioning the President’s intellectual prowess.

The biggest knock on Bush’s brain is his lack of intellectual curiosity. Former administration officials still close to the White House will tell you Mr. Bush detests dissent, embraces a narrow world view and is intellectually incurious.

Worse for this White House is the fact that George W. Bush has daily smackdowns with the English language and the English language usually wins.

Video: Video: Is George Bush dumb?

His gaffes are funnier than most SNL skits. But more disturbing are his rambling, disjointed press conferences like the one he held earlier this week.

Friends and foes alike agree that George W. Bush is one political figure who gets worse with age. Look back at his performance as Texas governor and you will see a funny, self-assured public figure who inspires confidence. But these days, the mere opening of Mr. Bush’s mouth makes many GOP loyalists shake in their tasseled loafers.

So does it matter in the end whether our president is articulate and intelligent?

You bet your life, it does. I’m not saying we need to elect a dork like Michael Dukakis, who famously spent vacations at the beach reading books on Swedish land use or was so overwhelmed with the details of the old SALT treaties that he would sulk off to bed depressed.

But when America is fighting a global war on terror where the battle is for hearts and minds instead of beachheads and landing strips, we need a leader who can explain to friend and foe alike why America is in Iraq, why we keep sending arms to Israel and why liberal democracy really is preferable to Islamic fascism.

Right now, George W. Bush is not that leader.

Aug. 8, 2006 | 5:57 p.m. ET

“Go left, young man!”
(Joe Scarborough)

The conventional wisdom for tonight’s Connecticut primary seems to be that a Joe Leiberman loss will yank the Democratic Party so far left as to make other Democratic candidates unelectable this fall. The logic is laughable and similar to what I heard from Republican leaders in 1994.

That was the election year when the most conservative wing of the GOP took over the party and swept into power in the US Congress. None would have predicted that outcome just two years earlier.

George Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 had put Republican operatives and strategists in a panic. They feared that Bush had been beaten like a drum because radical conservatives like Pat Buchanan, Phyllis Shaffley and Pat Robertson had hijacked the GOP Convention. So while Bill Clinton spent the next two years moving left, the Republican National Committee desperately sought moderate candidates that would talk, walk and vote like, say, Joe Lieberman. The goal was to blur all differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Because of that logic, I spent most of 1994 fighting Republican bureaucrats on the local, state and federal level who did everything in their power to elect my very moderate opponent in the GOP primary. A week before the primary, the Republican Congressional Committee campaign director let me know that I might as well give up. 1994 would be the year of the Moderate.

Yeah, right.

Within a few months of that conversation, scores of right-wing, knuckle-dragging, spear-carrying conservative barbarians like myself ran through our moderate Democratic opponents like Barry Bonds through a bottle of roids. It was ugly. Darting to the base was the ticket to victory for the Party of Reagan.

Fast forward twelve years and now we find many making the same misguided arguments, except this time they are giving their stupid advice to Democrats generally and Connecticut voters specifically.

Ned Lamont may be a pencil-necked geek, as Imus claims, but he is the type of candidate that will bring out the Democratic base in an off-year election. That is especially true this year because George W. Bush is even more unpopular than Clinton was when the GOP swept into power.

My advice to Democratic voters this year is “Go left, young man!”

There may be hell to pay in 2008, but for now the only thing that should matter to you is seizing control of Congress. Do that for the first time in a decade and then you can start worrying about swing voters in the suburbs.

Aug. 8, 2006 | 11:58 a.m. ET

Hollywood Babylon
(Joe Scarborough)

When it comes to Scarborough Country, the best cure for the Summertime Blues on hot August nights seems to be spending time looking at the pop culture capital of the universe, Hollywood, California. I’m always amused by how many newshounds will ask me why I fill the back half of my shows with entertainment industry news.

The question suggests that such soft news has no place on our show. I couldn’t disagree more.

To understand American culture and the way the world looks at us, you have to understand Hollywood. While Karen Hughes and the State Department are having a terrible time telling our America’s story to Middle Eastern Arabs, our creative community is winning the hearts and minds of young people from Baghdad to Beirut. For better or worse, America’s image is defined in large part by what our friends and enemies see on their TV sets and movie screens. And chances are good their content will be American in origin.

After thinking conservatives had taken over the country’s reins in 1994, I learned quickly that the press and movie makers had a much greater impact on American society than congressmen or senators. I began telling young students that if they really wanted to change the world they should skip politics and consider being a movie director or broadcast journalist. And if they ever did follow my advice and became a reporter, they could try to answer the question of what they cover and why.

Last night we dipped into the pop culture well by starting our second half hour talking about Paul McCartney’s sloppy divorce.

Video: Messy divorce

Paul should get a gold star for his family life through the years.

In 1969 while John Lennon was eating acid by the hand full and George Harrison was having sex with as many women as he could bed, Paul McCartney was retiring to a farm in Scotland to get married, have children and raise a big family. And that’s exactly what he did, marrying Linda in 1969 and raising four children.

While most of America has caught up with McCartney by trying to be in the family way, Paul was twenty years ahead of his time. And his life with first wife Linda was a great love story that saw the couple separated only three nights during their 20 year marriage.

Linda died of breast cancer in the late 90s and McCartney, like so many men, quickly remarried. The results have been ugly but only because Heather Mills had little of the class that Linda showed during her days with the greatest songwriter in Rock history.

Let’s hope there will be a happy ending to the man that brought so much happiness to us all through the years.

Aug. 4, 2006 | 5:18 p.m. ET

Yarvitz Country
(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

Ever heard the expression "drunk with power"? That's how many of my "Scarborough Country" colleagues describe me these days.

Between radio interviews, Internet write-ups and YouTube appearances, they claim the fame from my Mel Gibson drinking experiment this week has gone to my head. Video: 'Scarborough' producer let's fame go to his head

Last night's show displayed in all its glory how unfazed I've become from all the attention. Sure, there was that incident where I mistook Joe's office for my own cubicle or the confusion that ensued when I took my Executive Producer's reserved parking spot, but I swear, one night of drinking has not created a monster!

My agent tells me there's no such thing as bad publicity and I think he's right-- Damn, my egg timer just rang, I think my 15 minutes are up...

Aug. 2, 2006 | 11:04 p.m. ET

Mission accomplished
(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

Just finished the Mel Gibson experiment and it seemed to be a success.

We realize we couldn’t replicate the same situation Mel was in, but the larger point we were trying to make was that a .12 breathalyzer test may not be an excuse for anti-Semitic rants. As you heard the police officer say during the show, New Jersey’s blood alcohol limit used to be a .10, it only recently got lowered to a .08.

For those of you who understood the point of our experiment, thank you. While I was legally drunk and would have probably failed a field sobriety test, I still felt I had my cognitive abilities and could control the words coming out of my mouth. I’ll admit I was at the point where I should not have been driving, but I still had a level of awareness of my surroundings and knew what I was saying. 

Anyway, thank you for all your emails and thanks for watching. Off to be driven home now (don’t drink and drive). Be sure to tune in tomorrow.

Aug. 2, 2006 | 10:39 p.m. ET

This just in from Irena…

Mike, you are adorable, adorable, adorable...  There is one good thing that came out of Gibson’s drunken encounters - we got to meet you!!!

Great job on the experiment...

Irena,  Thanks for the email... Glad something good could come out of Mel Gibson’s drunken fiasco... Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me on the air soon and glad you enjoyed the experiment. Thanks for watching

Aug. 2, 2006 | 10:33 p.m. ET

This just in from Samantha…

I have to say, this is an absolutely great experiment, but I think someone needs to get you riled up in order for anything outrageous to come out of your mouth. You may be composed right now, but put yourself in a party or a bar situation... Wouldn’t that change things? You’re on national TV, so I’m sure you are watching what you say. How many drinks have you had at this point? I hope you made them buy you top shelf liquor and you aren’t drinking something cheap! Have a good time with this experiment! It’s not everyday a host lets their producer drink for free ;)

Samantha, thanks for the email... To answer your question, it took me about 4-5 drinks to get to a .12 on the breathalyzer test. Your point is a fair one, we coudn’t replicate the exact situation Mel Gibson was in, but the thing we were trying to get across was that a .12 (while certainly impaired), may not be enough to start spouting out anti-semitic comments. Thanks for watching...

Aug. 2, 2006 | 10:22 p.m. ET

Time for viewer mail
(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

We’re done with the show and I’ve got some time to check out the viewer mail.  This just in from Veronica….

I just saw on the show where people are saying it isn’t a fair comparison.  True - to be fair they needed to have an alcoholic do the test.  The alcoholics that I know don’t even seem impaired at all at a .12 (we have the same alcohawk that you are using!). 

You proved the point even better.  The alcohol at .12 affected you MORE than it could have affected Mel, and you were completely in control of your mental faculties.

Nice try Mel.

Thanks for the e-mail, Veronica... Glad to hear you have the same Alcohawk breathalyzer test that we used.  I’m glad you understood the point of our experiment... if Mel Gibson is an alcoholic and made those statements at a .12, then something is seriously wrong. Thanks for watching, and I’m glad our point was not lost on you.

Aug. 2, 2006 | 9:43 p.m. ET

just took another breathalyzer test, i’m at .10... not feeling any anti-Semitic urges coming on, but that may be because I’m Jewish. The emails have been pouring in with some criticism of our experiment, but we’re trying to make a larger point... I’ve reached a .10 after just 3 drinks... obviously alcohol affects everybody differently, but to blame anti-Semitic remarks on a couple of glasses of alcohol is a cop out

Aug. 2, 2006 9:28 p.m. ET

Answering to mom and dad
(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

9:28pm and my parents have just written in to make sure I’m doing okay....

You look pretty good. I just hope that you don't say anything embarrasing. Tell Joe that we're watching closely (ha-ha). I'm sure that this will be no different that a Saturday nite at Syracuse. Seriously, hope you feel ok....
Mom and Dad

They’ve warned me not to say anything too embarassing. Still at .08 for the moment, which means I’ve got about 20 minutes to get to Mel status. Mom and Dad, I’m doing fine... I’ll be at .12 soon

Aug. 2, 2006 | 9:22 p.m. ET

Legally drunk

It’s 9:22pm, 2 drinks into the Mel Gibson experiment, and I’m at a .08 on the breathalyzer test. That’s legally drunk in New Jersey, and I’m heading towards Mel Gibson’s .12. I just passed a field sobriety test administered by one of Nutley New Jersey’s finest officers. Will keep you updated on my progress…

(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

Aug. 2, 2006 | 2:10 p.m. ET

It was the booze talking!
(Mike Yarvitz, "Scarborough Country" Producer)

Mel Gibson's claim that the booze was responsible for his now-famous anti-Semitic rant just didn't add up to us here in "Scarborough Country." Could alcohol alone turn a once-sane person into a raving mad, misogynistic, religious-epithet screaming loony?

Video: Matching Mel We've decided to put Mel's defense to the test live on "Scarborough Country" tonight. With the help of a trusty bottle of whisky (sorry Mel, I'm not a wine guy) and one of Nutley, New Jersey's, finest, we'll find out if a Blood Alcohol level of .12 is really enough to send someone (me) over the edge.

Starting at 9 p.m. ET, I’m going to match Mel drink-for-drink, and see if I completely lose my sanity by the end of the show.  The breathalyzer test will be on-hand and we hope to "blow" a hole right through Mel's defense!

If you've got a question for me about tonight's experiment, send me an e-mail at joe@msnbc.com with the subject, "Hey Mike."

Watch “Scarborough Country” Mon.-Thu.  at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

July 6, 2006 | 7:22 p.m. ET

Joe, you’re no Dutch
(Joe Scarborough)

I am not an expert at winning Democratic primaries in Connecticut, but were I in Joe Lieberman’s shoes, I would stay away from Ronald Reagan quotes. But early in tonight’s debate, there was the candidate the left loves to hate telling his upstart opponent, “There you go again.”

That well-rehearsed line helped the Gipper bury Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes in 1980, but it may not be as effective in a Democratic contest for the heart and soul of the party 26 years later.

While very few outside D.C. are focused on this Connecticut race, the results have broad implications for the Democratic Party. If the man who received more votes for vice president than any other Democratic candidate just six years ago ends up being rejected by his own party, the war debate will be yanked leftward overnight.

That will be great news for the president, Karl Rove and the swarms of GOP candidates running for president in 2008.

When it comes to matters of war, Democrats can’t follow their hearts any more than they can follow the latest polls. They are still the party of George McGovern and defeatism to millions of Middle American voters — who still blame them for losing the Vietnam War.

Hey. Don’t get snippy with me, Alger. I’m just giving you the facts from Red State America. Follow Ned Lamont if you want. Just don’t be surprised if your little parade dead-ends into another six years in the minority.

There you go again!

Comments? Email JScarborough@msnbc.com
Watch “Scarborough Country” Mon.-Thu.  at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

June 28, 2006 | 2:50 p.m. ET

Bush and Rove’s political stunt (Joe Scarborough)

The Senate has just finished a heated debate of flag burning, an act that some Republicans say is an attack on American troops. Democrats blasted back, saying the constitutional amendment to ban flag burning was pure politics. Ultimately, the amendment failed by one vote.

Whether Republicans were playing partisan politics with the flag issue is open to debate, but few can argue that this constitutional amendment would actually impact many Americans’ lives.

Last year there were only four reported cases of flag burning; the year before, the grand total was three. In fact, incidents of torching Old Glory have plummeted ever since the Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to set a match to Old Glory.

Still, if the White House and congressional Republicans pulled off a political stunt, it was a popular one. A poll released this month shows that 56 percent of Americans support a flag-burning amendment, while 40 percent oppose it.

And like the marriage amendment that went up in flames last month, this flag-burning proposal is an example of George Bush and Karl Rove setting political traps for Democrats, who can now count on being painted as the party of gay marriage and flag burning.

Not exactly the best way to win back “Red State” America.

Comments? Email JScarborough@msnbc.com
Watch “Scarborough Country” Mon.-Thu.  at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

June 27, 2006 | 3:50 p.m. ET

Spying concerns prove well-founded (Joe Scarborough)

The Bush spy scandal took a nasty turn as the White House turns all guns toward The New York Times, accusing the most powerful newspaper in the world of aiding and abetting terrorists intent on killing Americans and harming this country.

The president’s angst was focused on the Times for revealing to the world a top-secret program that allows the feds to track Americans’ bank records and financial transactions.

As if a good scolding from the commander-in-chief wasn’t enough, the vice president also blasted the entire journalistic community for rewarding reporters for damaging national security.

Treasury Secretary John Snow also piled on for good measure, telling the editor of the Times that his paper’s disclosure of the top-secret program was “irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. I am deeply disappointed in The New York Times.” Editor Bill Keller responded in kind, telling the treasury secretary that our founders rejected the idea that it is wise or patriotic to always take the president at his word or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

While being battered by executive branch types all day, Mr. Keller could list at least one former president who backed his position: Thomas Jefferson.

The sage of Monticello once wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

But it seems, at least for the time being, that we are stuck with both, as well as congressmen who are now suggesting that The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal may be guilty of treason, citing the Espionage Act of 1917, which made it a crime to reveal information regarding an armed forces operation.

Last month I warned Americans that this NSA phone records program could lead us to a point where the feds would go after bank records next. I was, unfortunately, correct.

It’s scary, more so to those of us who know how Washington works and know how power can corrupt and be abused. I believe we are in dangerous times for those of us who believe, like Jefferson, that Washington is not to be trusted with unlimited police power.

Comments? Email JScarborough@msnbc.com
Watch “Scarborough Country” Mon.-Thu.  at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC-TV

June 23, 2006 | 2:20 p.m. ET

Democrats least of Bush’s problems
(Joe Scarborough)

This week, the Senate continued its “fiery” debate on whether to maintain the status quo or to bring our troops home. If it is true, as Abraham Lincoln said in his historic 1858 Senate campaign, that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand,’ Thursday’s vote showed the Democratic Party’s foundation to be a bit shaky when the Senate voted on John Kerry’s plan.

Only 12 Democrats and one independent voted to set a July 2007 withdrawal date from Iraq. The majority of Mr. Kerry’s party members voted with George Bush, which allowed the measure to be defeated 86-13.

The bitter Iraq debate holds the greatest opportunity for Democrats to retake control of Congress for the first time in 12 years, but once again, the party appears determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Make no mistake of it: George W. Bush’s Iraq war is unpopular. Americans don’t trust the president, don’t think the costs in blood and money are worth it and don’t think the Pentagon has a plan to lead this great country to victory.

And even though I still support this war, it is obvious even to me that the Democratic Party’s unity on this issue would spell doom for the president and his party. Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans would support candidates this fall who promised to bring the troops home in a year. Unfortunately, for John Kerry and the volunteers who run Democratic campaigns, the overwhelming majority of Democrats didn’t even support their own party’s amendments on the Senate floor. And because of that, the party’s road to retaking Congress just got a bit longer.

It’s time the Democrats quit running scared and offered a clear alternative to George Bush. If they choose not to, expect the Republican Party to stay in power, not because it is good at governing, but because the Democratic Party is so bad at running elections.

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June 15, 2006 | 2:30 p.m. ET

Bush back in the saddle
(Joe Scarborough)

The swagger is back. George W. Bush says “hell no” to troop withdrawals in Iraq and uses Wednesday’s press conference to tell the world that when it comes to his war policy, the song remains the same.

An upbeat and smiling president succeeded in throwing down the gauntlet for his anti-war critics.

The theme of Wednesday’s event seemed to borrow from Mr. Kerry’s 2004 campaign.  That borrowed from Bruce Springsteen’s “No Retreat, No Surrender.” 

But Mr. Bush’s new attitude may not be welcome by Republicans on Capitol Hill.

While one recent poll suggests 60 percent of Americans now believe Mr. Bush can win the war in Iraq, a clear majority also believe this war is not worth its cost in blood or money, leaving supporters of the president’s policy in a political purgatory, at best.

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June 8, 2006 | 2:45 p.m. ET

Death knell for ‘amnesty’ plan? (Joe Scarborough)

The president’s call to pass his immigration bill gained new political urgency after what was supposed to be a bellwether special election Tuesday in California turned into a referendum against the president’s immigration plan.

Republican Brian Bilbray snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by actually attacking the president’s so-called “amnesty plan.” Bilbray’s opponent, Democrat Francine Busby, also helped the former and future congressman by suggesting last week that illegal immigrants could vote in the election.

Despite the fact that the president’s own party is running from him on immigration, a new Gallup Poll shows conservative support for the president has gone up 9 percent since he began pushing for a ban on gay marriage. But will those gains be offset as the immigration debate grinds on through the summer?

And when will the president concede that his plan to let 40 million to 100 million immigrants into this country stands no chance of passing Congress?

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June 7, 2006 | 2:50 p.m. ET

The immigration disconnect
(Joe Scarborough)

As National Guard troops continued streaming to the U.S.-Mexican border,  President Bush visited a border patrol training facility in New Mexico on Tuesday. He watched recruits as they stopped fake illegal immigrants at a fake border checkpoint.

Mr. Bush then made yet another pitch for his guest-worker plan, which some Republicans call amnesty.

Blame it on the heat or Mr. Bush’s sunny disposition, but gloomy souls who inhabit Washington, D.C., couldn’t help but scoff at the president’s prediction that he might have an immigration bill to sign any time soon.

The House and the Senate remain hopelessly divided, with the Republican Party at war with itself and the media. Still, the Republican House of Representatives refuses to strike any deal that would allow amnesty provisions to be signed into law by the president.

Conservatives are citing a Heritage Foundation study that predicts the passage of the Senate bill would lead to the immigration of more than 100 new immigrants in the next 20 years.

That’s right — 100 million new immigrants coming to the United States if the president’s plan is put in place. This despite the fact that almost 80 percent of Americans want immigration levels frozen or cut back.

In all my years in Washington, I have never seen such a disconnect
between Middle America and the political and media machines that run Washington, D.C.

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June 6, 2006 | 2:15 p.m. ET

Don’t mess with Texas (Joe Scarborough)

With Washington stalled on how to stop the massive flow of illegal immigrants over the U.S. border, Texas Governor Rick Perry and other border governors have decided to take matters into their own hands.

The Texas governor is angry at the federal government for slashing his budget to protect the border by 30 percent.

While National Guard troops are moving to the U.S.-Mexican border, stunning new statistics showing the massive scale of an ongoing invasion of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that 10 percent of Mexico’s population is now living in the United States, and that 1 out of 7 Mexican workers migrates to America.

Now there are more concerns that along with the workers come drug dealers, gang members, convicted felons and quite possibly terrorists. And yet, Washington politicians are cutting the budget for Texas to patrol its border with Mexico.

That’s one reason the Texas governor is now spending $5 million on video surveillance cameras to do the job he says Washington politicians refuse to do. The cameras will be placed along the border, will stream images to the Internet and will allow Americans across the country to view the video feeds and report any illegal crossings.

Think of it as virtual Minutemen without the pup tents.

So what does it mean that the president’s successor has more confidence in Radio Shack cameras than the commander-in-chief when it comes to protecting America’s southern border?

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