December 6, 2004 | 8:20 p.m. ET

Democracy can be messy (Joe Scarborough)

Last week I connected the dots between the breathtaking democratic uprising in Kiev and the fight for freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Few can remember how grim the realities were for the Afghan people — especially women — before U.S. bombs chased Taliban thugs out of town wearing women's clothes. Though it is taking much longer, I suspect the only thing the terrorists in Iraq will be wearing when they leave the country will be a shroud.

This weekend, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz also compared the Ukrainian uprising to the fight to liberate the Arab world:

"When the world's only superpower stakes the future of the world on democracy, it's going to have ramifications — and we saw one intended ramification in the astonishing conduct of the Afghan people, who went to the polls in mass numbers two months ago.

And now, in Ukraine, we're seeing this new popular commitment — a commitment by Ukrainians to take charge of their own lives and their own politics.

The blogger Tulip Girl, an American living in Kiev, published a beautiful letter from her Ukrainian friend Lena last week. Ignore the grammatical problems and revel in it:

'Quite recently I didn't believe that my people able to resist to violence and humiliation. Two months ago I guessed that I live in the worst country in the world. I was oppressed when I could not see a dignity in my fellow citizens, willingness to freedom and happiness...Now I can see that they are not passive mammals who want just to dig [a] comfortable burrow, to generate they own posterity and to finish life in poverty, pretending that there is no another way.

'Since Nov. 22 there are not a crowd on the main square of my country. This is the PEOPLE. This is the NATION. Love, faith and hope filled up a whole space of capital of my country.'

To what extent the Ukrainian revolution has been influenced by American evangelizing about the power of freedom and democracy is something we won't know for a while. But we can be sure it played some kind of role — and that's an unintended consequence of which we can all be deeply, deeply proud. And another reason to give thanks for the sacrifice of those who are fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan."

As I said last week on this subject, democracy can be a messy form of government. The fall of the Soviet Empire has proven that over the past 13 years. But, as Podhoretz pointed out in his column, the former Soviet Bloc nations are now entering a mature stage of freedom. This development has allowed the Ukrainian uprising to occur.

Just as with Eastern Europe, the road to democracy in Iraq will be a difficult journey. But it is a trip we have no choice but to make.

What do you think?  Send all e-mails to

December 3, 2004 | 3:20 p.m. ET

Why is the Bush administration covering for Kofi Annan? (Joe Scarborough)

The Associated Press reported today that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell described Kofi Annan as a "good Secretary-General of the United Nations" leaves me with one question: What the hell does one have to do in that position to be described as bad?

Annan has reigned over a corrupt U.N. regime, lied about his son getting kickbacks from the U.N. Food for Oil Program , and turned a blind eye to his top assistant pocketing millions of dollars in oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein.

At the same time, Annan has been the US soldier's worst enemy— providing aid and comfort to our enemies by calling the US attempt to bring freedom to Iraq as "an illegal war."

This little pronouncement brought great relief and provided cover to terrorists like al Zarqawi, whose killing of innocent Iraqi civilians rarely meets with rebuke from the U.N. Secretary-General.

But why should we be surprised? Annan has a long history of turning a blind eye to murderous regimes so his latest see-no-evil pose is nothing new.

In the 1990s Annan was willfully negligent while millions were slaughtered in Sudan and Rwanda, and recently sat on his hands while our soldiers were trying to free a country terrorized by mass graves, systematic torture, and Stalinist oppression.

Let me take that back. Kofi Annan didn't sit on his hands. He actually worked overtime to hurt the cause of freedom in the most oppressed region on earth.

Meanwhile, as Muslim terrorists continue to kill, rape and torture their fellow countrymen in Sudan, Kofi Annan once again is proving himself to be a useless tool for the forces of oppression.

Dante wrote that the hottest places in hell were reserved for those who remained silent in a time of moral crisis. If that's the case, Kofi Annan is in for a blistering afterlife.

Shame on Colin Powell and the Bush Administration for providing cover to a bureaucrat whose words and deeds have been destructive to the cause of liberty. And thank God Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman has the guts to call for Annan's resignation .

Now if only more Washington politicians would have the guts to follow his lead.

E-mail me at

December 2, 2004 | 10:03 p.m. ET

Brian Williams: Welcome to the battlefield (Joe Scarborough)

Just got finished watching Brian Wiliams wrap up his first newscast as NBC's anchor . Despite fears from media critics, 30 Rock was not consumed by locusts or bombarded from above by flying frogs.

No doubt Brian will be bombarded with bad news or snarky reviews in coming months. After all, replacing a news legend at a time when broadcast viewership is on a decade-long decline is not the safest of TV jobs.

Harry Truman once quoted Andrew Johnson's bitter assessment of his predecessor in the White House, Abraham Lincoln. Faced with Impeachment, the embattled president simply said, "Heroes know when to die."

Truman enraged the left wing of his party -- then in its ascendancy -- by standing with Churchill against the same Stalin that FDR had deeded Eastern Europe to during the war. (A long story but it was payback for 12 million Russian deaths on the Eastern front while American GI's prepared for D-day.)  Johnson enraged Lincoln's Republicans by following the slain leader's advice of showing malice toward none during Reconstruction.

Both presidents were considered failures by their contemporaries and both believed that their sainted predecessors would have fared no better if they had lived to face post-war realities of their times.

Before I get too carried away with this analogy, let me state for the record that Tom Brokaw is not dead, Brian Williams will not be "impeached," and this matter does not concern a continent's freedom. Instead, I am talking about delivering news on what the Times' Maureen Dowd described today as an "idiot box."

Still, for those of us working within that box, the battlefield Brian Williams looks over tonight is remarkably different from the one Tom Brokaw surveyed his first night in NBC News' anchor chair.

Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Jon Stewart, and pajamahadeen bloggers who took Dan Rather down have cluttered the global village with a million different news outlets.

Cable News has also added greatly to the clutter over the past 20 years.

No longer content to simply insult and humiliate other cable news networks, Fox's Roger Ailes now has his sights set on the big three networks. He believes he can surpass CBS News first and then blow past NBC and ABC.

Judging from Ailes' track record, he may be right. But I also expect MSNBC to record growth over the next 18 months and transform the way Americans get their news.

This information revolution presents the first real challenge to any new broadcast anchor.

Challenge number two for Brian is the fact that America has changed culturally over the past 20 years.

When I was growing up, my family would get together for dinner every night and watch the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. These days, I just don't know any family with children in their home who do that do anymore. Do you?

Finally, the issue of media bias continues rearing its ugly head.

Very few Americans who followed the evening news over the past decade would conclude that any of the three network anchors got into voting booths in Midtown Manhattan to vote for Reagan or for Bush 41 or 43. For some reason, bringing up this obvious fact enrages many mainstream media types. It shouldn't.

Tom Brokaw is a great example of a man who held his own political beliefs, but like MTP's Tim Russert, always played it down the middle. I know Brent Bozell went after Brokaw with relish, but while I think Bozell is right most of the time, I never understood why he targeted Brokaw. Unlike Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, I just never saw bias in Brokaw's reporting.

(For those who think this is a shameless suck-up to fellow NBC employees, I said the same thing on news shows while in Congress. Besides, NBC News President Neal Shapiro encourages me regularly to seek out media bias stories even if they lead back to our own network.)

Back to Brian Williams.

Just as video did not kill the radio star, something tells me Brian Williams will prosper in an increasingly challenging environment.

A quick story.

During the 2000 recount, I was so sickened by the blatant bias I saw on most broadcast and cable news shows that I stopped watching all programs other than those on Fox and Brian Williams' newscast. I figured with Fox, if news was going to be slanted, I wanted it slanted in my direction. But with Williams, I actually saw a news reporter who reported the news down the middle without trying to shade sentences or toss out loaded questions.

So I did something I had never done before. I picked up the phone and called a reporter to thank him for being fair. I remember telling him that if I had a gun to my head and my life depended on guessing correctly whether he voted for Bush or Gore, I figured I would only have a 50% chance of surviving this news anchor roulette game.

Four years later, I'd still say odds are even money.

I know that a guy who is more interested in what his wife and kids think of him than what network execs and Manhattan elites whisper behind his back will stay in touch with Middle America long enough to brush off the sniping that is sure to come the next few months. Instead, Brian will focus on gaining viewers' trust and telling the news just the way it is.

BTW, Harry Truman may have faced some of the harshest criticism any president endured following FDR's death, but is now remembered as one of America's greatest leaders.

Despite all of the challenges facing him, I expect Brian Williams to be remembered as a great anchor 20 years from now. And hope I can attend his retirement party at the top of 30 Rock many years from now just so I can shake his hand and say, "Hey Brian, my odds of survival are still no better than 50%."

Thoughts?  Email me at

November 30, 2004 | 10:30 a.m. ET

Epic change in the Middle East? (Joe Scarborough)

There are cracks in time when leaders are given a chance to bend history and forever change the course of events inside countries and across continents.

Americans did it in 1776, the French in 1789, Europe reverberated with revolution in 1848 and 1989, while New Yorkers and the world saw their lives transformed on a clear fall morning three years ago.

But being the optimistic fool that I am, I dare to believe that 2005 could be a year of epic change in the Middle East by ushering in an era of freedom to a region that has only know death, despair and dictatorships over the past century.

I know I sound terribly naive in a week when we are confronted with stories of a young Palestinian girl riddled with bullets, U.S. troops continuing to be blown up by cheap and plentiful roadside bombs, and Israeli security checkpoint guards taunting Palestinian citizens in a way that elicits memories of the Holocaust for Jewish survivors.

As a strident defender of Israel, I am sickened by the news of this young girl being gunned down and then filled with countless bullets after she was already dead. Read the story and tell me how the hell this could have happened.

Meanwhile, the chances of success in Iraq seem more remote everyday, but only because media outlets in America and across the world obsess on the negative while dismissing U.S. progress there. The notable exception at the New York Times was Dexter Filkens' piece on Iraq that we linked earlier this week. In case you missed it, here it is again. A MUST READ!

As Tom Friedman noted in his "Postcards from Iraq" column, U.S. troops continue to believe they are fighting a war that is noble, and more importantly, the most important military battle of our generation.

America is not fighting to defend oil fields or colonial holdings. We are fighting to save Western Civilization from an exceedingly grim future filled with terror attacks in New York, Washington and the rest of the world.

But it is a war Americans are determined to win.

A year ago, NBC executives visited MSNBC to get a briefing on the 2004 election. While some outside analysts present predicted American deaths in Iraq would spell doom for the President's reelection effort, I took a contrary position. (What a surprise.)

I told NBC's leaders that Americans outside of Manhattan and L.A. understood on a visceral level that our nation was in a world war with Islamic terrorists, and that the cost of victory would include the death of many young Americans. I said Iraq would not be viewed as Somalia or Bosnia or Kosovo.

This would be seen as a war centered on American self-interest— the very narrow interest of protecting our families and loved ones from future terror attacks.

Given the choice of fighting the war in America or Iraq, Americans would chose Iraq any day of the week.

I repeat this conclusion a year later— which set a few eyes rolling at the time— because Americans confirmed my prediction in the 2004 election by picking George Bush and a group of new Republican Senators.

While that shocked most journalists in the mainstream press (read Tom Wolfe's column in Rolling Stone this week), it surely shook up Zarqawi and the other terrorists fighting in Iraq even more.

Forget that BS you've been reading from some left-wingers saying these thugs wanted Bush to win to aid recruitment. It is absolute nonsense.

Zarqawi has been posting messages to his followers for months predicting doom for his deathsquads in Iraq if the Shiite majority backed Iraq's new government and January's free elections. Bush's re-election sends the clear message to terrorists that Americans have decided this is a war that must be fought and won.

Regardless of what the New York Times wants you to believe, this war is not Vietnam. JFK stumbled into Southeast Asia and LBJ got elected in 1964 before any serious escalation tool place. By the time Johnson was up for reelection four years later, the war had destroyed his presidency.

About 30 years later, Americans rehired a president who let them know he is going to use all powers available to hunt down and kill every last terrorist on the face of the earth. So just as that cowboy Reagan getting elected in 1980 and 1984 cast a pall over the Kremlin, Bush's victory made bin Laden's cave-for-the-night seem a bit more damp and cold than usual.

OBL always believed America was a paper tiger that would cut and run at the first sign of trouble. He used Bill Clinton's speedy retreat from Somalia as exhibit #1. But over the past three years, America's president, its brave troops, and its stubborn voters have ignored the same liberal elites Reagan brushed off twenty years ago to prove bin Laden wrong time and again.

That determination gives America— and more importantly Iraq— its best chance at establishing the first liberal democracy in Middle East history. As Tom Friedman wrote in his column yesterday, we are throwing seeds on rocky soil. But those seeds will grow because we have no other choice but to keep tilling and planting until freedom trumps terror from Palestine to Pakistan.

Ahh. But what about the Palestinians? We are continually reminded by our European allies that Israel will continue feeding bin Laden's terror network while breeding resentment across the Middle East.

I have long said that it was worthless to negotiate with Arafat or any elected Palestinian leader. Why? Because after Arafat walked away from the Oslo peace talks in 2000, he became a lame duck tyrant.  Clinton, Barak, and the world finally figured out that Arafat couldn't take the best deal the Palestinian people would ever get because he knew Hamas leaders would order his killing the next day.

But with the Godfather of modern terror six feet under, Hamas leaders are suggesting they may consider laying down their guns and become part of the Palestinian political process. (See yesterday's post on .)

At the same time, Israelis repulsed by the sight of their solders gunning down a young girl and then firing a flurry of bullets into her dead body may be more willing to follow Sharon's move to transfer Gaza and other territory to the Palestinian authority.

Only Nixon could have gone to China, and perhaps only Sharon can go to his own people and explain why it is time to make peace with their most hated enemy.

If Sharon can make that sell, then the future of the Middle East will rest in the hands of a group of terrorists who have spent the past few years blowing up little children at bus stops and slaughtering students and grandmothers on buses.

Will Hamas choose peace and change history or continue deluding itself by believing Israel will wilt under continued terror attacks?

Let's pray they choose peace, because just like George Bush and America, Mr. Sharon and his people will get peace with security or they will keep hunting down and killing terrorists until the last one is dead.

And God knows we will all be dead before that day comes.

Btw, if you want to vote for Pat Tillman for Sportsman of the Year, here is the link.

What do you think?  E-mail me at

November 28, 2004 | 5:45 p.m. ET

King of terror cries foul (Joe Scarborough)

The head of the Iraqi terror network lashed out at Sunni clerics yesterday, blaming them for the beating his terrorists took in Fallujah.

While liberal newspapers and talking heads continued their sky-is-falling-routine when debating Iraq, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi sounded like a wounded bully who knew his murderous network suffered a serious setback last week by losing the Sunni city that had served as his base of operations.

"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy,"Zarqawi said on a videotape. "You have stopped supporting the mujahedeen. Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."

That silence spread across the Middle East.

Many left-wing journalists and commentators had predicted the Fallujah operation would cause a great uprising in the fabled "Arab street." But a week after American tanks flattened Zarqawi's terror base in that town, few Arab leaders went out of their way to register words of protest.

Iraqis, who have witnessed Zarqawi's slaughtering of their fellow countrymen, likewise remained mum on the U.S. operation.

Seems like the Beast of Beheadings is losing the war to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

So Zarqawi is now reduced to striking out at Sunni clerics who hold great sway over the only region left to pacify before democratic elections can be held in January.

"You made peace with the tyranny and handed over the country and its people to the Jews and Crusaders, by resorting to silence on their crimes and preventing our youth from heading to the battlefields in order to defend our religion," he complained.

But with American troops being allowed to hunt down and kill terrorists wherever they may be hiding, Iraqis seem to be realizing that the United States is finally getting serious about winning the war on terror-- not only in New York and Washington but also in Baghdad and Fallujah.

With U.S. elections over, al-Zarqawi knows that American leaders' new determination to hunt his forces down and kill them is very bad news for those who see freedom as terror's greatest threat.

Tell me what you think.  Email me at

November 24, 2004 | 10:18 p.m. ET

Iraq and Ukraine - growing the seeds of Democracy (Joe Scarborough)

Tonight, while US troops sweep through Iraq's "Triangle of Death," pundits at home continue to describe their efforts in the bleakest of terms.

If I didn't know better, I could almost conclude these elitists at home were cheering against America's grand democratic experiment in Iraq--lest they once again found themselves on the wrong side of history.

Most of those blasting away at our Iraq policy are, after all, the same chattering classes who spent the better part of the 1980s predicting Ronald Reagan's confrontational policies toward the Soviets would lead to World War III. Instead, Reagan's drive to export freedom behind the Iron Curtain led, well, to freedom.

Score one for the ideologues.

While few of those leftists who are once again criticizing America's effort to bring freedom and liberty to an enslaved people dare criticize the character of our troops, most who bloviate on the hopelessness of the war do so from the swankest parts of Manhattan or Georgetown, while ignoring the judgment of our Marines whose boots are on the ground in Fallujah and Baghdad.

Most of those men and women believe we are fighting what Tom Friedman called "a noble cause."

But as one person sarcastically wrote in an email to me this past summer, "I'm sure the elitists who are debating this war in a Starbucks in New York City have a better grasp of what's going on over here than those of us who are fighting the war. How easy it must be for them to draw conclusions on things they know nothing about."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Sometimes the road to democracy can be rocky. The years following the collapse of the Soviet Union have taught us just how difficult planting freedom's seeds can be.

Tonight in Kiev, over one hundred thousand protesters filled the Ukrainian city's main square to protest recent elections . And while tomorrow's newspapers will be filled with stories about civil unrest in the former Soviet Republic, European historians have to be viewing the political spectacle with wide-eyed wonder.

A little over a decade ago, such a spontaneous demonstration would have brought out tanks, tear gas and rubber bullets from the USSR's finest. Protesters would have been beaten and dragged off to jails in the Ukraine or shipped to gulags in Siberia.

But today, I saw pictures of protesters approaching police barricades armed with nothing more than smiles and flowers.

Perhaps we have entered a Prague Spring that is not false.

Leftists in American newsrooms and on college campuses in the 80s ridiculed Reagan for his arrogant belief that freedom could--or even should--be exported to the Soviet Union and its satellite states.

But history proved them wrong. And tonight, those protesters taking to the streets to support a presidential candidate embracing liberal reforms, are Reagan's legacy to Europe and the world.

Will we be monitoring similar democratic protests in the Middle East ten years from now, as another region freed from the grip of totalitarian rule, struggles to grow the seeds of democracy at home?

I believe we will. But freedom will grow in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the Middle East in spite of the best efforts of elitists in America and Europe to derail America's noble effort to ease misery and suffering in a region that has known little else over the past 500 years.

De Tocqueville wrote,"I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it."

Well, freedom is on the march in our time. And it will not be stopped by newsroom elites or tenured survivors from the Age of Aquarius. Their day has past.

What do you think?  Let me know at

November 23, 2004 | 12:30 p.m. ET

Iraq is a noble cause (Joe Scarborough)

It is hard to look at the pictures— to stare into the eyes of a young Marine or soldier in Iraq— in a shot taken just minutes before he dies.

It's just as difficult to read about a young man in the prime of his life stuck on a rooftop in Fallujah, dreaming of the day he can return home and pick up a surfboard instead of a gun. But for him, and too many others, that day will never come.

For all those days "The New York Times" lets me down, there are others that remind me why I read the newspaper that conservatives love to hate. One of those was Sunday.

Times war reporter Dexter Filkins wrote an extraordinary article on his time shadowing our troops in Fallujah. Coupled with Tom Friedman's "Postcards From Iraq," the Times gave us a view of American soldiers like no other.

Filkins' ability to give the reader a fleeting glimpse of urban warfare in the 21st Century was nothing short of remarkable. It is a must read.

Tom Friedman's op-ed piece is similarly important. As always, Friedman refuses to give the reader easy answers, but his recent trip to Fallujah left him with the same impression that I have been given after talking to our troops on the ground: that Iraq is a noble cause in which the great majority of our fighting men and women believe.

Bringing some degree of freedom and respect to a nation brutalized by centuries of colonial rule, corrupt leadership, and theocratic tyrants is a historically challenging goal. Some would say impossible. But as Tom Friedman concluded long ago, America and Europe cannot leave one-fifth of the world in the darkness of totalitarianism without serious consequences.

Or as former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky said in a speech last week, freedom is the best antidote to terrorism.

If he is right, and I still believe he is, then our children and grandchildren will owe those Americans in Iraq every bit as much as we owe those men who liberated Europe and brought down Hitler.

What do you think?  E-mail me at

November 18, 2004 | 1:31 p.m. ET

Why expectations are higher for the paper of record, "The New York Times" (Joe Scarborough)

A cottage industry dedicated to reaching the great unwashed on the sins of media bias has sprung up over the past few years faster than you can say "Fox News." New Left-wing outfits claim that conservative control of one cable news outlet proves that Republicans have taken over big media. The argument doesn't even pass the straight-face test when you consider the degree of control liberals still maintain over the mainstream media.

By now, you know the broadcast media stories involving Dan Rather and broadcast peers at CBS, but nowhere is media bias more pronounced at the newspaper of record, "The New York Times."

Notice how, unlike most of those claiming the existence of media bias, I do not put the Times' description in quotation marks. That's because the Times is America's paper of record, and what they write impacts the world.

Maybe that's why news observers like myself are concerned when liberal bias escapes the Times' editorial page and makes it to the front page in the form of a headline or story. Take yesterday's above-the-fold story on the CIA.

A casual reading of the headline would suggest that new CIA chief Porter Goss demanded blind loyalty of his employees toward President Bush.

The concept was troubling. As a congressman who was appointed to the Armed Services Committee for four terms, I can assure you that America needs an independent Central Intelligence Agency to check the worst instincts of presidents, congressmen and senators. The fact my friend and former colleague Porter Goss would place a loyalty oath on the entire CIA troubled me.

Then I read the story.

The news item never lived up to its headline. Goss had simply not issued decrees denouncing dissent.

I turned the page and ate my bagel with peace in my heart.

I learned early on in Congress that many of your constituents read headlines, look at pictures, and then turn to the sports section. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But unlike local papers that dot America's landscape, the newspaper of record has a higher responsibility to make sure their headlines are dead on and descriptive of the content inside the story's body. Yesterday's CIA story was not.

(For the record, I actually thought the Times front page coverage of Condoleeza Rice's selection to actually be a bit slanted in the Bush Administration's favor. Never thought I'd write that!)

We're going to be talking about media bias tonight and how it impacts the news you see, read and hear. Hope to see you in Scarborough Country tonight. No passport required and only fair reporting allowed.

E-mail me at

November 14, 2004 | 1:05 p.m. ET

We here at Scarborough Country take a brief time-out to acknowledge a court case that riveted all of us— The Scott Peterson Murder Trial

Laci's legacy (Lia Macko, executive producer, MSNBC)

We learned Friday that Scott Peterson won't be on the golf course with OJ searching for his murdered wife Laci's real killer.  Victims' rights advocates breathed a sigh of relief, crowds cheered, and throngs of well wishers left notes and flowers at Laci's home.   Despite cocky claims of innocence by the Peterson defense team, the June dismissal of a juror who seemed more likely to grab a beer with Peterson post-verdict than convict him, several juror dismissals in the past week, and the lack of a weapon or even an eyewitness, a panel of twelve moved beyond reasonable doubt to convict the defendant of the premeditated murder of his wife and the second degree murder of his unborn son. 

Though it would be undignified to label any outcome in a murder trial a victory, the Peterson verdict does signal something important — and perhaps necessary —about evolving community tolerance for acts of domestic homicide and violence.  Statistics on this front are staggering and the demographics would shock many. Murder is the number one cause of death of pregnant women in the United States.  A third of female murder victims in recent years were killed by their spouses or others close to them, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, and according to the FBI, just more than 800 spouses killed their partners in 2002.  Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey. 

The Peterson case reminds us that perpetrators of domestic homicide and violence often defy stereotypes— this group includes physicians, businessmen, athletes, police chiefs, and religious leaders. The many televised and published portraits of Laci and Scott Peterson as a young, attractive and loving couple remind us that real life villains often look benign, and that yes, these acts of violence could indeed happen to your next door neighbor, friend, or daughter.  The distrubing facts and images of the case— the dark, evil Christmas Eve disappearance of a beaming and vital expectant mother— remind us that the unthinkable is possible.  But the Peterson verdict helps transmit a message of deterrence to would be abusers that diminishes the aura of permissiveness haunting this realm of law since the conclusion of OJ's trial, the so-called trial of the century. Instead of reinforcing that a husband can get away with the murder —literally —in the state of Californina, the Peterson jury said the opposite, concluding that even in the absence of direct evidence, an unlikely defendant can be found guilty of murder.

Lia Macko writes about legal and political issues and womens' rights.  She is a graduate of Georgtown University Law Center, the co-author of a book about working women and power titled, 'Mid-Life Crisis at 30:  How the Stakes Have Changed for a Generation and What to Do About It,' and is an Executive Producer at MSNBC.

Thoughts?  Email us at

Click here for more information about the Peterson trial & verdict.

November 11, 2004 | 12:25 p.m. ET

What would Bubba do? (Joe Scarborough)

I have been in touch with Democratic friends in Washington over the past few days to see what stage of mourning they have entered.

We are told there are, what, four, five stages of mourning?

Well, whatever the number, my friends are in the stage where the victim is really, really ticked off. (There is another word that is far more appropriate than "ticked" but the Justice Department probably reads these blogs, so the homogenized version will have to do) .

For those mentally healthy Democrats who are ready to put conspiracy theories behind them and start preparing for the next election, may I suggest you take a listen to one of the lone voices for moral values in the Democratic Party— Bill Clinton.

I will leave it to you to determine exactly what it means to the Democratic Party that a formerly impeached and disbarred politician is the voice of moral reason in his own party. But all that ugliness aside, right now William Jefferson Clinton seems to understand better than most what it takes for a Democrat to win votes in states like Missouri, Iowa, and Florida.

And no, my elitist, lefty friends: People in Kansas City don't want to launch a jihad against gay men. They just don't want appointed judges in Boston, Massachusetts passing orders to their Kansas leaders on the subject. Bill Clinton understands that better than John Kerry. That's why Mr. Clinton was called "Mr. President" for eight years while Senator Kerry's own Senate peers now call him "loser" behind his back.

It's not fair treatment for a man who just pulled in tens of millions of votes in such a way, any more than it is fair for MSM elites to dismiss all of us who live in flyover space as Jesus freaks.

Mr. Clinton knows that the stereotyping has led his once proud party to the edge of a cliff by creating a cultural divide between Us and Them.

How exactly does one respond to a New York Times opinion piece that suggest Christians who believe in the biblical version of Jesus' birth are on par with al Qaeda terrorists? What smoke signal does a Democrat living west of Manhattan send the Mother Ship explaining that insulting millions of voters' faith in God may not be the best way to win elections? (New York Times website subscription only— free but required)

James Carville claims the 2004 election was a "born again" experience for him, and that he now  understands the importance of values to Americans living in Red States. But soon after making that proclamation, he boiled the entire GOP message under Bush down to this: "We will protect you from terrorists in Tikrit and homos in Hollywood."

Maybe you need to get back on your knees, James.

As I explained after the Times opinion page compared those who believed in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ to Islamic fascists, there are many middle Americans who believe in the virgin birth who also drink vodka— just as there are those who go to church on Sunday morning and watch " Desperate Housewives" Sunday night.

Interesting isn't it, that a year after bashing George W. Bush for living in a world of black and white, it is his most vicious critics in the elite media who are incapable of grasping nuance?

Manhattan and Hollywood insiders have spent the past week dismissing 90 percent of America's land mass as "Jesus-land," while Bill Clinton and a scattering of Democrats begin their efforts to save the Democratic Party by mainstreaming it. But the task won't be easy.

Just as elites convinced themselves that the Democratic Party lost its foothold on the South because of some secret racist strategy adopted by Richard Nixon, these same political losers are now blaming Jesus for their worldly woes.

But religious bigotry and stereotyping won't save the Party of FDR. Instead, their leaders should be asking the one question I continually urged John Kerry to ask himself throughout the 2004 campaign: W.W.B.D.?

Yes, my friends— What would Bubba do?

Ask that question, listen to the former president's answers, and those same clueless Democrats who once again find themselves out of power may actually get themselves locked up in a competitive election with Karl Rove in the next few years.

And if they can stop from looking down their noses long enough to ask for our votes, they may even win a race or two west of New York City.

Thoughts? Reactions? E-mail

November 8, 2004 | 10:55 p.m. ET

Religion-baiting — The elite media declared open season on the President and his supporters (Joe Scarborough)

A nasty streak of religious intolerance is rearing its ugly head in America. And it's coming from America's cultural elites.

The election of George W. Bush has exposed an ugly anti-Christian streak in many of those who work in America's most powerful newsrooms. A flood of vicious opinion pieces over the past few days have generalized Christians who helped elect the President as a group of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals whose aims are nothing less than anti-American.

Not surprisingly, some of the most offensive and bigoted rhetoric came from the opinion pages of The New York Times, a paper that at one time embraced diversity of thought and belief. But apparently, those positions of convenience are closeted away when it comes time to opine on conservative Christians.

The day after George Bush's victory, the Times ran an Op Ed by famed historian Gary Wills, who questioned whether a people who believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus can be called an enlightened nation. Wills suggested that because of those Christians who helped elect George Bush, America now shares more in common with al Qaeda and Saddam's Sunni loyalists than modern Europe. Wills wrote, "Americans wonder why the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous... They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed."

So according to the Times Op Ed page, if you believe in the Bible's account of Jesus' birth, you are at par with those terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th. Strip it down any way you want, but that is what lies at the base of Wills' jihad argument.

Thomas Friedman, long one of my favorite columnists on all matters foreign, concluded that Mr. Bush was elected by Christians who are hell bent on legislating social issues and "extending the boundaries of religion so hard that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution and not electing a president."

Rewriting the constitution? Just because George Bush carried Ohio by 100,000 votes? Talk about one of our most gifted writers losing all perspective.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne swung wildly at windmills blasting away at the "exploitation of strong religious feelings" and the "radical efforts to destroy the achievements of progressive government."

George Bush and Christians radicals want to destroy American government? Oh really? I guess I missed the debate when the W. laid out that plan of attack.

Michael Moore blasted the President, of course, for pandering to the Christian conservatives, while Maureen Dowd accused Mr. Bush of taking America into "another dark age, where we replace science with religion and facts with faith."

The Pulitzer Prize winner concluded that "The new evangelicals challenge science because they have been stirred up to object to social engineering on behalf of society's most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different."

Dowd also accused the President of running a "jihad along the fault lines of fear, ignorance and religious rule."

Never in my life as a practicing attorney, a newspaper publisher, a Congressman or a news host have I witnessed America's cultural elite become so unglued over any historical event. And most distressing is the fact that these opinion leaders are singling out a group of Americans for no other reason than the God they worship.

To paint all Republican Christians as angry, hate-filled, science-loathing, right-wing beasts only helps explain why the Mainstream Media continues to lose market share and why those Democrats who take solace in their bigoted anti-Christian screeds remain out of power for another four years.

It leads me to wonder, can we only be good Americans if we turn our backs on our faith, or become champions of abortion on demand, stem cell research without reservation, and marriage defined in a way that conflicts with the spiritual beliefs of a majority of Americans?

Isn't it interesting that when pluralism and diversity of thought become politically inconvenient, it is the cultural and media elites who become the most close-minded and bigoted?

What do you think?  E-mail me at

November 7, 2004 | 7:28 p.m. ET

"I told you so." (Joe Scarborough)

My mom always knocked me on the head whenever she heard me say "I told you so." No bragging allowed in the Scarborough home or else.

Maybe that's why I have been biting my tongue and laying low on the blog scene since election night. There were so many predictions that I made about the election that ended up being dead on, I figured anything I wrote would end up gaining me nothing more than knots on my head.

Let me show you the conclusions of my final blog on election morning when most polls were showing a Kerry bump, and almost every media type I spoke to was predicting a Bush beating.

Here was my take:

Two political insights on reading all these final polls:

1) Except in the last days of presidential races, polls are usually not taken on the weekend because weekend polls always trend Democratic. Every pollster I ever met while in Congress told me the same thing. So I am not paying too much attention to tracking polls that take Friday and Saturday surveys into account.

This would include every tracking poll in America.

2) Pollsters like John Zogby believe that young voters are preparing to swarm to America's voting booths to boot Bush out of the White House. All I know as a guy who started his run for Congress as a 29 year old maverick is that my greatest political frustration then— and now—was how hard it was to get people under 30 years old to the polls.

Unless John Kerry has some magic pixie dust that I don't know about, I seriously doubt the granite-faced senator from Blandsville will be the one candidate who unlocks the mystery of pushing millions of new young voters to the polls.

Last prediction: Bush 279-Kerry 259

Well, nobody's perfect. Iowa belatedly went for Bush and I ended up being 7 points off in my final prediction. Considering I was almost the only media types predicting a Bush victory, I would guess the seven vote difference still made me the only one among the media chattering classes to call it this way.

I spent two nights trying to give viewers a reality check on that dreaded youth vote that the entire media world swore would drive Kerry to victory. And when bloggers of all types started gloating about those exit poll results spelling doom for the White House, all I could do was laugh it off. The numbers were skewed 59%/41% female to male.

I told anyone who would listen that if Bush were only one point behind in Florida and Ohio with that kind of gender gap in polling, it was going to be a good night for the president.

Sorry Mom. But I was right again and almost everyone else was wrong.

My frustration with dealing with a confederacy of dunces throughout election night continued as results started pouring in from Florida. Knowing Sunshine State politics as I do, it was very obvious to me that Bush was giving Kerry a pounding.

Precincts around Tampa and Orlando that had gone for Gore were swinging Bush's direction. By the time polls closed in Northwest Florida, Broward County's votes had already been cast.

The GOP calls Broward the "Killing Fields" for good reason. Republican candidates usually lose the liberal county by 200,000 votes. But with Broward already tallied and conservative Northwest Florida polls about to close, Bush was holding a 250,000 vote lead. Meanwhile, I was getting reports of 600 college students singing "God Bless America" in the pouring rain while waiting three hours after polls closed to get a chance to vote in my hometown of Pensacola.

I knew in an instant Florida was a done deal.

But the networks, who I trust had the same numbers in front of them, took hours to make the painfully simple call. Just as CBS News refused to call Ohio for the president when he led by 139,000 votes.

It seems there were 140,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted.

Poor CBS.

Once again their professional judgment was clouded by their hatred of President Bush. It's too bad, because in the end, they and the rest of the mainstream media only ended up making fools of themselves.

What do you think?  Email me at

November 5, 2004 | 4:36 p.m. ET

NBC News London Bureau Chief Chris Hampton has an interesting piece on how America, with its vote, told Europe to "shove it."

If you believe the newspapers — [Europe] woke up with their worst hangover for four years.  America had told us, quite clearly, where we could shove our opinions. (Not difficult in the U.K., because the sun doesn't hardly shine anywhere here).

Of course, there are those in these parts who welcome the re-election of President Bush.   But, mostly, they’re keeping quiet about it. Round here, it’s not something that wins the "make-my-day" award. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

This is what Joe was talking about last night, when he said Europe isn't really getting it. "The Europeans, the French, the Germans, the people that Rummy mock as old Europe, almost seem to have contempt for George W. Bush's brand of Christianity." ( Read a transcript of the show.)

Thoughts? Comments? E-mail 

November 3, 2004 | 3:55 p.m. ET

Around the blogs, the day after

Looking around the leftie blogosphere, the emotions are strong - there's now a draft Dean for Party chair movement.  There are two posts that I think are especially good: Mark Schmitt on the troubles of a Bush second term and David Newert on Democratic problems in rural areas.

This was a resounding victory for Bush and the right-wing, but it was also a close one.  One thing is clear - there is no silver lining for Democrats.

Matt Stoller writes for the Blogging of the President at

November 2, 2004| 8:17 p.m. ET

Blogger Buzz (by Will Femina, Communities editor)

A lot of folks in the blogosphere are mulling over Jeff Jarvis’ “Pledge.”

After the election results are in, I promise to:

  • Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him.
  • Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him.
  • Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.
  • Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

Some time ago there was a similar pledge that basically said that no matter who wins they’ll treat the president with respect.  I think this is an effort by the blogosphere to put the brakes on some of the extreme partisanship and general bashing out there.

Today, Jarvis’ pledge is being agreed to, or in some cases countered, but in general (even looking at the folks writing in to Altercation ) the rally crowd that spent so much energy leading up to today has voted and is now considering the future of amateur punditry .

November 2, 2004 | 6:45 p.m. ET

In other news...

Outside the bubble of the American election, blogs are focused on other news, too.  There is still much discussion that Osama Bin Laden declared war on the Red States.  Bill Hobbs writes that that Osama, based on a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, does not want Bush re-elected.  Bird Dog at Tacitus that the speech was originally mistranslated and, based on an accurate translation, Bin Laden says he will not harm states that vote against Bush, but will not guarantee the security of pro-Bush states.

Powerline reports that the Islamic website Al-Qal'a has this interpretation of Osama's message:

"[H]is message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy."

Additionally, and quite disturbingly, a Dutch film maker was murdered yesterday after making critical statements about Islam.

Erick Erickson,

November 2, 2004| 12:15 p.m. ET

Jay Cost and Joe Scarborough both doubt the youth will get out the vote, which is what many pundits seem to be saying (Case in point, check out Joe Trippi's column today ).

Jay Cost speaks

MSNBC blogger cafe
Just had an interview with Jay Cost of the Horse Race Blog, which, in a period of one month, has become the must read site for analysis of the election.  Jay, a graduate student in Political Science at the University of Chicago, has taken to blog commentary like breathing and has provided enough insight to be quoted across the Internet by both conservatives and liberals.

I asked Jay about the youth vote that many are saying will sweep Kerry into office.  "That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at the 7/11," said Cost.  "18 to 22 year olds have done nothing but squander [the right to vote] over the last thirty years."  Cost says the problem is that most young voters at college are not registered to vote where they are in school.  Without extreme diligence and an active political machine at the university, the young voter will probably not have his ballot cast.  "Just ask Howard Dean," Cost interjected.

Jay Cost also does not believe in the much hyped incumbent rule. The conventional wisdom is that undecideds will break against the incumbent.  Jay agrees that the rule applies to legislative races, but in executive races, i.e. governors and Presidents, the undecideds will break for the incumbent. Privately, some Democratic strategists have been whispering the same thing to me.

Finally, Jay Cost predicts a Bush win.  He points out that, regardless of what the horse race numbers say in the polls, every poll agrees that the top two issues are terrorism and Iraq.  Every poll has been consistent in showing a majority prefer Bush to handle both.

—Erick Erickson, Red State.Org

November 1, 2004| 4:13 p.m. ET

Complaints over documentaries and films

The left side of the blogosphere has been quite critical of PAX television, Clear Channel, and Sinclair for even attempting to show "Stolen Honor," the documentary about John Kerry's anti-Vietnam war protests. The right is now equally critical of showings of Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11. In addition to a free showing hosted by the City of Macon, Georgia, in Florida, a high school teacher is getting criticized for showing the Michael Moore film in a class.

Interestingly, the crticism in the Florida case is not political. "The controversial film, Fahrenheit 911, was recently shown to students in Brittany Bennett’s TV production class. Her mother says it has no business being in class because it is an R-rated film and parents were never given parental permission slips for the viewing."

—Erick Erickson, Red State.Org

November 1, 2004| 9:09 p.m. ET

Sorting through the bipolar tracking polls (Joe Scarborough)

NEW YORK, NY—Talk about bipolar! The last tracking polls are tortured, twisted, and, well, impossible to read.

Nationally, the President enjoys a slight lead while internal GOP and Democratic polls show him up by two to three points. Unless there is a record setting turnout of younger voters, expect Bush to win the popular vote by about 1.5%.

Things get trickier when you start gazing zombie-like at your computer screen trying to make your way through the spate of battleground polls in swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

If you believe Zogby, Bush is going to win Ohio but get thumped in Pennsylvania.

If you follow the CNN/Gallup polls, Kerry breezes to victory in Ohio but loses to the Prez in Pennsylvania.

Florida and the five or six other states that will decide this election remain deadlocked according to most recent polls.

So what's it all about, Alfie?

It means the 2004 race for the White House comes down to little more at this point than which side is best prepared to get their people out to the polls. Democrats, with their union buddies, always owned this facet of campaigning until the 2002 off year elections. Now it's time to see if the GOP can repeat its GOTV success from two years ago.

Two political insights on reading all these final polls:

1) Except in the last days of presidential races, polls are usually not taken on the weekend because weekend polls always trend Democratic. Every pollster I ever met while in Congress told me the same thing. So I am not paying too much attention to tracking polls that take Friday and Saturday surveys into account.

This would include every tracking poll in America.

2) Pollsters like John Zogby believe that young voters are preparing to swarm to America's voting booths to boot Bush out of the White House. All I know as a guy who started his run for Congress as a 29 year old maverick is that my greatest political frustration then— and now—was how hard it was to get people under 30 years old to the polls.

Unless John Kerry has some magic pixie dust that I don't know about, I seriously doubt the granite-faced senator from Blandsville will be the one candidate who unlocks the mystery of pushing millions of new young voters to the polls.

3) Finally, if all these swing state calculations that you have been hearing about over the past month have you weary, just remember these facts:

If Bush wins Florida and Ohio, nothing else matters. He wins the election.

If John Kerry takes Florida, Bush should call it a night. That is, of course, unless he can pull both Pennsylvania and Ohio into his camp.

But don't expect that to happen— especially if he can't even carry Florida.

Latest prediction: Bush 279-Kerry 259

October 31, 2004| 9:19 p.m. ET

Chuckles in the Right side of the blogsphere over Kerry endorsements

The Republican bloggers out there are getting a good chuckle out of endorsements for Kerry.  Here in the U.S., many have endorsed Kerry and a large portion of those in the media who endorsed him have been more about tossing Bush than electing Kerry.  See, for example, Mickey Kaus and the gang at Slate.

What really is getting the right side of the blogosphere laughing today is that, while the media at home is giving Kerry endorsements in cautious language, foreign newspapers are endorsing John Kerry in glowing terms at a time when he is just now getting beyond the "global test" comment.

Red State points out Kerry's endorsement by the left-leaning Guardian in the United Kingdom and Matt Margolis over at Blogs for Bush finds a certain amount of humor by the left-leaning Le Monde endorsing Kerry in France.

—Erick Erickson, Red State.Org ,

October 31, 2004| 1:12 p.m. ET

Who is smelling victory today? (Joe Scarborough)

Just a couple of quick thoughts as the election streaks down the home stretch.

As mentioned yesterday, Republican insiders on the Bush campaign are smelling victory as internal polls in most of the swing states are inching their way. Now we read the same from an Associated Press article posted early this morning--except this time it is Kerry supporters who are sensing the tide may be breaking against them.

This from the AP:

"The men were campaigning Sunday in tightly contested battleground states. Both had appearances scheduled in Florida and Ohio; Kerry was also speaking in New Hampshire.

A new poll showed the president moving ahead of Kerry in the popular vote, and Democrats said their private surveys hinted at momentum for Bush."

Ohio polls also appear to be breaking Bush's way. A victory by the President in Florida and Ohio makes Tuesday an early evening.

On the other side of the equation, a Kerry victory in Florida dooms W's reelection chances. The only reason I bring up a Florida loss for Bush, which I have been dismissing for weeks now, is because the remarkable scenes at the Supervisor of Elections office in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida. Voters waited in line for up to five hours yesterday in a heavily Republican leaning area, and yet it was a decidedly Democratic crowd that was spending their Saturday waiting to vote for John Kerry.

Karl Rove and the Bush White House has known this election was going to be about voter turnout for four years now. We will see if they were prepared for the onslaught of early voters they are now facing.

One final thought. Taking a quick look at the front page of the New York Times this morning was telling. While Bush supporters were holding signs in praise of their candidate, the top Kerry photo showed a father, his young daughter and a baby doll with stickers emblazoned with a lined out "W."

When the election is more about who you hate than who you love, you are less likely to get out and vote. Just ask all those Clinton-haters in the 1990s, who despite seeing the Democratic president as evil personified, never got within striking distance of getting him out of office.

I suspect the hoard of Bush haters will wake up Wednesday morning learning the same bitter lesson.

I'll check back in from Flyover Space in the next few hours. Till then, don't give in to hate.

Peace out.


Thoughts?  E-mail me at


Discussion comments