Guest: Michael Smerconish, Cheri Jacobus, Jack Burkman, Stacy Honowitz, Jayne Weintraub, Jean Casarez, Chip Babcock, Tom Lucero
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: “The Jerry Springer Show”? No, it‘s tonight‘s top headline, violence and arrests at the University of Colorado.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
The governor wants him fired. The state legislature has called him evil for comparing 9/11 victims to Nazis, but will elected officials have the guts to say enough is enough?
And he brutally murdered his grandparents. Now this teenager blames a drug that was prescribed by his doctor. Could your child be at risk? And could you be the next target? A SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY investigation you can‘t afford to miss.
And not psyched for the big game on Sunday? An alternative for the vulgarian in your household.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Radical college professors put on notice by middle America. But do your elected officials have the guts to do anything about it?
It‘s time for tonight‘s “Real Deal.” Now, for years, Americans have been led to believe that campus radicalism was confined to Ivy League Institutions and left-wing enclaves like, say, Cal Berkeley. But the firestorm that has erupted over Professor Ward Churchill anti-American 9/11 screed has proven what college students have known for generations, that colleges in middle America have long been led by left-wing leaders who are radical by any measure, radical when it comes to politics, radical when it comes to culture and, yes, radical when it comes to faith.
Now, I loved my years at the University of Alabama. But my college professors were almost to a person liberal. And that was in the reddest of all red states. Now, don‘t get me wrong. I learned a lot by having college professors who attacked Ronald Reagan as a dangerous warmonger, who questioned my religious faith and who openly mocked my family‘s middle American families.
There were exceptions of course at Alabama, but only one or two. So the question you need to ask yourself is this. Why are my elected officials using my tax dollars to promote values that are radically opposed to my own views? And if there‘s academic freedom and academic diversity, as we‘re told, why don‘t those two principles apply to conservative professors?
You know, a recent study showed that seven out of eight college professors promoted left-wing views in their classrooms, while conservative professors rarely got a chance to even teach college students. Now, this monopoly ensures that another generation of college students are going to be brainwashed to believe that the values their parents spent instilling in them for 18 years are quaint, obsolete notions.
I say enough is enough. It‘s time to pick up the phone and call your state representative and demand action. It‘s time to call your governor and demand a full investigation into the political bias that infects state colleges that you keep open with your tax dollars. And it‘s time to put campus radicals back on their heels and tell them that they simply can‘t chant the words academic freedom any longer. That is not going to cow us into accepting the status quo.
It‘s time to take our college classrooms back, friends. And if our elected officials won‘t do it, then we will run them out of office and we‘ll find somebody who will listen to us. Again, this fight is not about free speech. It‘s about how and for what our tax dollars are spent. And that‘s tonight‘s “Real Deal.”
Now, things are heating up at the University of Colorado, where a debate is raging over whether a controversial essay by a professor crossed the line of academic freedom. Now, just to remind you, Ward Churchill is the college professor who compared 9/11 victims to one of Hitler‘s henchmen. He called them terrorists—the terrorists soldiers.
Now, here are the tenured actual words. And I quote him—quote—
“As to those in the World Trade Center, well, really. Let‘s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Give me a break.”
Now, yesterday, the issue came before the university‘s board of regents in a meeting that disintegrated into chaos.
Andrew Resnik from our Denver affiliate KUSA was there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The issue is that he is being punished for something that he said.
ANDREW RESNIK, KUSA REPORTER (voice-over): Supporters of Ward Churchill defended the professor‘s right to free speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His job should not be in jeopardy because of his exercising his right as an American citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to welcome all of you.
RESNIK: The chairman of the board of regents said there will be no public comment at this meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re not being fair.
RESNIK: That‘s when the first man was arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Understand that you will start a new era of McCarthyism if you allow this to happen.
RESNIK: At least one person in attendance was disgusted by the repeated interruptions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kind of anti-intellectual shouting is the real book burning. These are the book burners. These are the fascists of our time.
PHIL DISTEFANO, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: As I have said...
RESNIK: Chancellor Phil DiStefano was the first to speak. He announced plans to investigate Churchill‘s body of work.
DISTEFANO: What are the boundaries of free expression?
RESNIK: Regents then took their turns speaking, increasingly interrupted by the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I protest Tom Lucero‘s statement.
RESNIK: Then came the second arrests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off of me, man. Get your hands off of me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This country represents nothing but hate and murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him go. Let him go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Public meeting? Where was the public in this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was the public?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him go. Let him go. Let him go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop. Stop. Stop. Don‘t hurt him.
ELIZABETH HOFFMAN, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: And I thought that, at a minimum, we could all have an opportunity to speak in a civil way today. And I am sorry we did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome public comment, but it has got to be done in an appropriate form.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, so let me get this straight. The people that were screaming so nobody could hear the board of regents talk are the people that support free speech? I don‘t get that.
But that report from Andrew Resnik from our Denver affiliate KUSA.
Also, yesterday, the University of Colorado board of regents passed a resolution apologizing for Ward Churchill‘s remarks. It read in part: “The University of Colorado agrees that Ward Churchill‘s post 9/11 comments have brought dishonor to the university.”
With me now, University of Colorado regent Tom Lucero, one of the sponsors of the resolution.
Tom, it looked like a madhouse in there. Tell us about it.
TOM LUCERO, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOARD OF REGENTS: Well, it disintegrated quickly. The board finally had an opportunity to come together collectively, speak with one voice with the resolution.
And then we each wanted to take the opportunity to express our opinions individually. And you heard what happened. You‘re exactly right. The irony is rich here that, when it comes to freedom of speech, as long as you agree with me, you can say whatever you want. But the minute you challenge their beliefs, they want to shout you out.
SCARBOROUGH: And it‘s amazing. These are also the same people, of course, that are so passionate about the rights of Ward Churchill to compare those slaughtered on 9/11 are the very same people for some reason don‘t want to protest what has been going in the Middle East for years in Iraq and other countries.
Now, we have been saying for some time that college campuses are the last bastion of liberalism in America. I want to read a quote about a seminar that is going to be held at a Minnesota college. It says this.
This college in Minnesota plans to discuss treating terrorism with—quote
· “empathy”—and I quote—“to help understand the position of Osama bin Laden as presented in the video and explore in what ways the origins of terrorism are to be found, not in some foreign citizen, but in the actions we take out of fear, hate and retribution.”
Again, somebody else that wants to understand Osama bin Laden and blames America first.
Now, Tom, when are we going to take control of our college campuses again and when can we count on, let‘s say, the Colorado board of regents of firing somebody like Ward Churchill, who compares 9/11 victims to terrorists? Do you all have the guts to fire this guy?
LUCERO: Well, what we don‘t have is a legal right to do so. We are following due process, as you and I discussed last time I was on the show. This is a Boulder campus issue and the chancellor had to initiate action, which he did yesterday. He has clearly called for the investigation.
SCARBOROUGH: After the investigation, can you fire him?
LUCERO: No. He then still has to go through the due process procedures and ultimately it ends up at the board for a vote.
We have fired a professor before, violated his due process because we believed it to be so egregious. We were sued and we lost. We wrote him a check.
SCARBOROUGH: But, in the end, though, you all have the power, after the due process has run. You all do have the power to fire this professor?
LUCERO: Yes. We are the final say in whether or not a tenured professor is removed, correct.
SCARBOROUGH: Will you vote to fire him?
LUCERO: I can‘t say. If I say right now, then his attorney is going to show up at the hearing and say, Tom Lucero has already prejudiced himself. We want him removed. And he would have a valid argument. And I don‘t want to remove myself from the proceedings.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. All right, Tom, I will tell you what. We are going to stay in touch with you through this process. Thanks for being with us.
And I know there are a lot of taxpayers out there, from Maine to San Diego, that hope you and the board in Colorado do the right thing.
Now, down to Houston and the man who defended Oprah Winfrey against the beef industry when the beef industry brought one of the stupidest, stupidest lawsuits I have ever heard in my life, because Oprah talked about hamburgers in a disparaging way.
We bring in now Chip Babcock.
Chip, thanks for being with us.
CHIP BABCOCK, MEDIA ATTORNEY: You bet.
SCARBOROUGH: That really was. That was one of the dumbest lawsuits I have ever heard of in my life. I think you got it dismissed, right?
BABCOCK: Well, we had to try it to a jury. And it wasn‘t so dumb to the people out there in Amarillo. There is a...
SCARBOROUGH: Good lord.
BABCOCK: There was an editorial, an op-ed piece that said that the people of—on the jury, whoever was selected, ought to stand behind their hometown industry and vote for the cattle guys.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, give me a break.
Well, anyway, Chip, in this case, I‘m not talking about private schools. I‘m not talking about Ward Churchill having a chance to write what he wants to write in papers or have a talk radio show host or go on the corner and speak for free. But why should taxpayers who are deeply offended by this language continue to support a professor who spews hatred for America that doesn‘t line up with their values?
BABCOCK: Well, this whole thing has sort of gotten out of hand, hadn‘t it?
But what I think they‘re facing is, you have a public university, which is a part of the state, thinking about dismissing, firing somebody solely because of an essay. And, frankly, I read it. It seemed like it was an off-the-cuff essay four years ago on a matter of public concern. And I don‘t think they can—even if they give him due process, which I understand they‘re doing, I don‘t think they can do that consistent with the First Amendment.
SCARBOROUGH: But, again, we‘re talking about tax dollars supporting this gentleman‘s life. If I‘m a Colorado taxpayer, I want him fired. Isn‘t that my right? Can‘t we take our college campuses back?
BABCOCK: Well, I don‘t think we can.
But, more importantly, I don‘t think we should. There are a lot of views that are espoused on college campuses that I think you and I could sit down and say, we like this one, we don‘t like that one. But the genius of our system is, we tolerate all sorts of views, even ones we don‘t like.
And the ones we don‘t like are frankly the ones we have to protect the most. I used that line in the closing of the Oprah case, because there was incredible hostility in Amarillo, Texas toward Oprah, if you can believe it.
SCARBOROUGH: No, I really can‘t.
BABCOCK: Over what she said about the beef industry.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Chip, well, I‘ll tell you what. I agree with you on that one.
But I think, in this case—and I‘m a big believer of what Thomas Jefferson called the free marketplace of ideas. I don‘t mind it being as aggressive as possible. I just didn‘t think taxpayers should be forced to subsidize views they don‘t believe in.
Chip, thanks for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
BABCOCK: Sure. You bet, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And I‘ll tell you what. We‘ll be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: A 15-year-old boy on trial for killing his grandparents when he was 12. He says he did it. But his defense, prescription drugs made him do it.
That story in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: Prosecutors say that Chris Pittman, who was 12 years old at the time—quote—“waited until his grandparents went to bed, went to sleep. He came in, shot them in the face with a shotgun,” calling it as cold and brutal an act of murder as they have seen in 25 years of prosecuting.
Now, did the antidepressant Zoloft make him commit this horrible crime or is he a disturbed child who should spend the rest of his life behind bars?
We‘re going to debate that in a second.
But, first, let‘s go to Court TV‘s Jean Cazara (sic) in Charleston, South Carolina, where the trial got under way earlier this week.
Jean, what is the latest on this brutal murder and the trial?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Hi. Good to be with you. I‘m Jean Casarez.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I‘m sorry, Jean.
CASAREZ: That‘s all right.
The reason the trial is so unique is for several reasons. No. 1, he was 12 years old when he committed this crime, which is an amazing age. No. 2, he is facing life in prison. And No. 3 is the Zoloft defense, saying that the drug made him do it.
Now, this week has been the prosecution‘s case. We‘re now into the defense case. But the facts are really uncontested, just as you said, Joe, that he went to the gun cabinet, got the shotgun, loaded it, shot his grandfather straight in the mouth as he slept, shot his grandmother in the back of the neck. They died instantly.
Went to his grandmother‘s purse, got money out of her purse, got a lot of weapons out of that gun cabinet, got rolls of coins from his grandfather, put them all in a truck, set the house on fire, drove away right when it started to burn.
SCARBOROUGH: And they‘re going to use this Zoloft defense, saying that the prescribed drugs made him do it?
CASAREZ: Well, the defense is saying that he was on this antidepressant. He had not been on it too long, and that, because of the dosage and because of the way the medication affected him, he didn‘t know right from wrong when he pulled that trigger.
And it‘s a temporary insanity defense, saying that he just didn‘t know what he was doing. And they‘re relying on FDA analysis, FDA hearings that say that Zoloft antidepressants can cause suicidal tendencies. But they‘re going to link in this trial that suicidal tendencies and homicidal tendencies have a link in common.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jean Casarez, thanks so much for that report.
We greatly appreciate it.
Now to talk about the case are Stacy Honowitz, a Broward County, Florida prosecutor. We also have Jayne Weintraub, a defense attorney.
I want to thank both of you for being with us.
Jayne, let‘s begin with you.
Do you think a commonly prescribed drug that a 12-year-old took made him go in, put a gun to the mouth of his grandparents, pull the trigger and kill them?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It very well may have. I think that there‘s clinical evidence to demonstrate that this drug,, which you call commonly prescribed—remember, Joe, this is a 12-year-old little boy. A 12-year-old kid is not a man. He‘s not the 15-year-old child that you even see on the screen from Court TV.
You‘re talking about a 12-year-old little boy who tried to kill himself who was given antidepressants after he was abused and abandoned by his mother. I think that there was a lot going on. There‘s clinical evidence to demonstrate irritability, erratic behavior. We know what medication and overmedication or alcohol can do to the brain. Why wouldn‘t you think Zoloft could do the same?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, the thing is, you say it‘s just a 12-year-old kid. I‘ll tell you what. There are child psychiatrists that are giving this stuff out like it‘s candy.
WEINTRAUB: And I think it‘s disgraceful. I have a 13-year-old. And I can tell you this. We don‘t even give them more than one Tylenol without calling someone.
SCARBOROUGH: Stacy, let me ask you, do you believe that this drug could have caused this 12-year-old to murder his grandparents and do you think that that defense is going to hold up in court?
STACY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I don‘t think the defense is going to hold up in court. I‘m sure Jayne is going to totally disagree with me on this one.
The defense has a huge hurdle to get over. And insanity, insanity, to begin with, is very tough to get a jury to buy. But, in this case, there are so many factors that would lead you to believe that he knew exactly what he was doing and he did know right from wrong.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about them.
HONOWITZ: Based on waiting until they went to sleep. He was lying in wait for them to be sleeping.
SCARBOROUGH: How long? Do you know?
HONOWITZ: I don‘t know how long it was. Afterwards, he stole money.
He lit the house on fire to cover up the crime. And what‘s missing in...
WEINTRAUB: Maybe he lit the house on fire because he was still in a rage from the drug, Stacy. We don‘t know.
HONOWITZ: What you don‘t remember, Jayne, is when he confessed to the crime, he said, I‘m not sorry and they deserved it. So you have to factor all of those things in and make that decision whether or not this drug—and you have to show a causal connection, that there was so much drug.
And the pharmacologists are going to have to say that it‘s not suicidal in this case. It‘s homicidal. It‘s a big jump. It‘s a big link. And it‘s my opinion that it‘s not going to fly in front of a jury.
WEINTRAUB: Not only should this little boy not be on trial, Joe. But I think if they had the evidence to show that this drug manufacturer knew back in the ‘80s, like we heard in the openings, knew in the ‘80s that this was a potential consequence, suicide, homicide, erratic behavior, especially in adolescents, and it shouldn‘t be prescribed to them, I think that the manufacturer ought to be indicted criminally, as well as the executives who covered this up.
HONOWITZ: This isn‘t the case. We‘re in a criminal case now.
SCARBOROUGH: Jayne, hold on one second. Hold on.
I want to build on Jayne‘s point here. Now, back in October, the FDA said it would require warning labels on all antidepressants. And, parents you need to listen, because a lot of people are prescribing these drugs to their kids. This is a warning. These drugs “increase the risk of suicidal behavior in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder, MDD, and other psychiatric disorders.”
Now, however, prior to that mandate, the drug was flying off the shelves. During the time period from 2000 to 2003, antidepressant use in children had jumped by 20 percent. And in preschoolers, it rose by 49 percent. Much of the gain of the drugs used to treat attention deficit disorder.
Now, Stacy, you hear about these warnings that it may cause—you know, basically, it may fry a kid‘s brain. Why is it such a reach to say it fried this kid‘s brain, who was already unstable, and made him do this incredibly brutal, bloodthirsty deed?
HONOWITZ: Because I think, Joe, what you need to do—listen, I‘m not a pharmacologist. I‘m not a doctor.
But I can tell you that, with antidepressants, because we have a lot
of cases where there are children on antidepressants—and even in adults
· it‘s not just where you take the pill and something happens a day later.
The body has to learn to absorb it. You have to be monitored. Even if he took a dosage before, it doesn‘t mean that he is going to go out and commit this crime. So what you have to look at in this case, what you will have to hear from these experts is whether or not you‘re going to be able to link Zoloft, the drug itself, and the dosage he had with these homicidal tendencies.
HONOWITZ: And you need to look at the surrounding factors, just like you need to do in any insanity defense.
WEINTRAUB: It will be about all the experts. You‘re exactly right. You have to listen to both experts. And if the defense expert creates a reasonable doubt and gives you a maybe, a pause, you will have reasonable doubt.
And this little boy is such a danger to himself and to others, do you remember? He is released on bond right now. He is on home detention.
SCARBOROUGH: Here is my problem, though, Jayne. If this 12-year-old gets away with murder, isn‘t this a free pass for any child that takes an antidepressant...
SCARBOROUGH: ... to beat people up, to rape them, to murder them, to do whatever and they can use this defense?
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s that?
WEINTRAUB: Isn‘t this a wakeup call for parents, try stopping a quick fix? There is no quick fix to help your child. You have to work with your children. You have to love your children. You don‘t just pop pills in kids. I‘m sorry.
HONOWITZ: Let me tell you something.
Listen, the FDA put a warning on, saying, it could cause, it might cause. There are plenty of things that cause violent tendencies in people. But they can curb their behavior.
WEINTRAUB: This is a 12-year-old adolescent who doesn‘t have good judgment to begin with.
HONOWITZ: People that drink, Jayne, are aggressive. They learn to curb their behavior; 12-year-olds are not.
Let me tell you something. Whatever he did, he learned how to cover up the crime. He learned how to steal. And then, after the fact, he told the police, I‘m not sorry.
WEINTRAUB: He‘s an abused kid.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, we are going to have to leave it there.
But I want to follow up on a point that was made by Jayne earlier about the manufacturer. The fact is that Pfizer says on their Web site that they don‘t understand how this drug works in children‘s brains. That is comforting.
Jayne, Stacy, thanks so much for being with us.
And, coming up, a U.S. general with some alarming comments. He says it is fun to shoot people and fighting is a hoot. Is he alone or is that what a lot of our military men and women think?
And Teresa Heinz Kerry undergoes a change. And I have got issues with it. That‘s back when we come back after the break.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, a U.S. general with some shocking comments about war. He says it is fun to shoot people and that fighting is a hoot. We are going to talk about those comments with our political panel when we return.
But, first, let‘s get the latest news that your family needs to know.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, cowbell. I tell you, that song, if they just put cowbell in it, like “Don‘t Fear the Reaper,” it would be so hot. Two words, more cowbell. You see that “SNL”? More cowbell. Boy, that song rocks, doesn‘t it? Sort of the Zeppelin anthem of the 21st century.
It‘s now time. I‘ll tell you what. Wake up your kids. Call Aunt
Matilda. This show is about to get hot. It‘s time for our discussion of
all things political, where nothing is left off the table and everything—
and I mean everything—is fair game
Tonight, what one Marine general says about the realities of war. Also ,at the end of the State of the Union week, is momentum up or down for President Bush?
To talk about this and much more, I‘m joined by Republican strategist Jack Burkman. We have got Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Flavia Colgan. We also have Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus.
Thank you all so much for being with us tonight.
Flavia, let me begin with you.
I want you to hear this clip of this Marine general who said, heck, he likes shooting people. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. MARINES: Actually, it‘s a lot of fun to fight, you know? It‘s a hell of a hoot. It‘s fun to shoot some people. I‘ll be right up front with you. I like brawling.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Hell of a hoot. Hell of a hoot. Fun to shoot people.
Flavia, you know what offends me the most about this? I have got a lot of friends over there and friends of friends over there. All they want to do is do their job, come back home, see their wife, see their baby girls or boys and raise them. And here this guy is saying it‘s a hoot to fight in a war. What should happen to him?
FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don‘t know what should happen to him.
But I do want to say that I really think that he is an anomaly, the exception, rather than the rule. You know so many people over there, as do I. And I think that that type of despicable jubilation and nonchalance at the taking of human life is really not something that you‘re going to find amongst our men and women in uniform.
But I think that his comments bring up a lot of other interesting issues that I hope we get to. One is that we really don‘t see the face of civilian casualties, for instance, in Iraq. That‘s something that in this country we don‘t see a lot of. And it‘s something we have to consider in terms of the huge toll of war.
And, in addition, another thing is, we see people that are coming back in body bags or people that have come back without limbs. But what we don‘t see is the tremendous strain this has on people mentally and how much help and support our soldiers really need. And that‘s why we need to make sure that Bush does not underfund the VA again and that we have to give health care benefits...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on, Jack Burkman.
I want to talk to you first, Jack. Let me ask you a question. That‘s how this game works, baby. Play with me.
SCARBOROUGH: Aunt Matilda is up. And she doesn‘t you interrupting Joe. She likes good old regular Joe.
Jack Burkman, the thing that bothers me is, we hear across Europe in America from people that are against this war that Americans are bloodthirsty. They don‘t give a damn about who they kill over in Iraq. And here, this guy comes in and he confirms a lot of people‘s worst suspicions. Should he be fired?
JACK BURKMAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Joe, tonight, I think I am going to be outnumbered 3-1. And that‘s unusual.
Look, it‘s a very inappropriate comment.
SCARBOROUGH: Should he be fired?
BURKMAN: No, absolutely not.
Listen, if you‘re talking—if he is killing the people he should be killing—and we have every reason to believe he is—those are Baathists. Those are Saddam supporters. Those are people who are harming and maiming American soldiers. Should he enjoy killing those people? Yes, he should. We should exterminate that scum.
COLGAN: Oh, my...
BURKMAN: That is a man who is doing it. There is nothing wrong with that kind of a—let me tell you something. It points up a broader issue. Flavia is right. But it‘s not—Look, the comment is inappropriate, but I will tell you the broader issue.
There‘s is veil of P.C. that is descending down upon our war effort.
SCARBOROUGH: Wait a second now. I am a least P.C. guy on the planet.
What bothers me is, this gives America a bad name. It gives the men and women in uniform over there a bad name. And it makes light of a terrible situation. Again, most of the soldiers and Marines I talk to support this war. But, at the same time, it‘s hell. They want to come home. And he makes it out to be a hoot.
BURKMAN: Joe, I agree with you. The comment is inappropriate and he should be spoken to.
But should anything be done to him? Of course not. You can‘t be that sensitive. The United States has already bent over backward. You‘re talking about European public opinion. If you want to lead the world, you have to lead boldly. You talk about P.C. We have a P.C...
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? You need to lead boldly, Jack, but you also need to lead with discipline. You have to have discipline. And if you don‘t have discipline at the top of your ranks, you won‘t have discipline at the bottom of your ranks.
Let me go to Cheri.
Cheri, should this general be fired?
CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, I don‘t think he should be fired.
I think some of this was taken out of context. When you first hear of what he was saying, it is appalling and it‘s inappropriate and it‘s jarring. But when you look in the fuller context of the sort of examples he was giving of why you might enjoy killing some of the bad guys, it‘s a little bit easier to understand.
But I, too, am afraid that we‘re becoming so overwhelmed with the political correctness about this. Our Army guys and our Marines and our top people are not necessarily the best P.R. folks. They are not slick politicians. And I think, when we start requiring them to be so, we lose something.
JACOBUS: And, as civilians, I don‘t think we‘re necessarily supposed to know everything that goes on, on the battlefield.
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, you know what? You know what? You know what? That is fine. If they want to talk that way while they‘re sitting around having a beer, that‘s fine. I understand they are trained to kill people. They are trained to be killing machines. But don‘t get in front of a microphone and say that.
I want to go now, Flavia, talking about George W. Bush, State of the Union. Does George Bush end the week stronger or weaker?
COLGAN: Well, I think that you automatically get a bump from the State of the Union. You are able to define your message and your priorities for the country, sort of without much of a response on national TV.
But I think that the American public is growing increasingly tired of his rhetoric not matching reality and this rosy picture he portrays about Iraq, about the economy.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it was pretty darn pretty rosy on Sunday, though, wasn‘t it?
COLGAN: Well, no, I mean, obviously, he dialed it back significantly after the inaugural address, because facts on the ground forced him to. But I think that people are beginning to see the toll that we‘re paying and the incompetence in this war. And that‘s why the majority of Americans...
JACOBUS: I feel like I‘m listening to Nancy Pelosi here.
SCARBOROUGH: One at a time.
BURKMAN: Flavia is both smarter and prettier than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy. And if the Democrats had any brains, they would her as the national face. That‘s the best Democratic spin I have heard.
Listen, Flavia is frustrated.
SCARBOROUGH: By the way, Jack, way to follow a condescending remark with a compliment. Continue.
BURKMAN: I will tell you, Flavia is frustrated, because what the president has done is brilliantly is something called preemption. He has taken all the Democratic issues, in case nobody has noticed. He‘s taken education. He‘s taken Medicare.
COLGAN: No, Jack, he did not do preemption brilliantly. That‘s why 1,400 people are dead, Jack. Sorry.
BURKMAN: Flavia, hold on. He has taken Medicare. He has taken Social Security.
And the polling. You know what the polling is starting to indicate? Both young and old support what the president wants to do on Social Security, because it‘s the smart thing. And I will give you one more, Joe.
BURKMAN: The president is finally beginning to emerge as a great public speaker, something, frankly, for all his great strengths, he never was. That is one of his best speeches.
George Bush is hitting his stride. He‘s hitting his stride at the peek of his power and the peak of his presidency. The Democratic Party is collapsing. And you hear nothing but sheer partisanship.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, Jack, anybody, Jack, that says that the president is not a good public speaker simply misunderestimates him.
Cheri Jacobus, let‘s move on to Howard Dean. Didn‘t he say misunderestimates? Something like that.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know.
Let‘s talk about the Democrats. And I am going to focus on you and Flavia for this. It looks like they‘re about to select Howard Dean as their chairman.
JACOBUS: Yes. Can you believe it.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you rejoicing?
JACOBUS: No, I‘m not rejoicing necessarily. I don‘t know if that‘s a good thing or a bad thing for the Democrats.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s a bad thing.
JACOBUS: I don‘t think they quite know who they are yet.
We saw Nancy Pelosi going off on the president on just about everything this last week. I think she risks becoming very irrelevant, meaning that Dean could actually emerge as some kind of a voice for the Democratic Party, but it‘s going to be for the far left. He still is who he is. And I think that they still are showing that they haven‘t quite got their sea legs after the November elections.
I don‘t think they‘re any better off than they were. I don‘t think they have found their voice. And I don‘t think this is a big-tent type of thing. I simply think they don‘t know who they are as a party.
SCARBOROUGH: Flavia, we have agreed on a lot of things about how John Kerry mishandled the 2004 campaign. And you didn‘t disagree with John Kerry after the campaign. You were saying it all along.
What surprises me about Howard Dean is, you have got the Republican Party moving to the right. You have got Hillary Clinton moving to the right. You have got the country moving to the right. And here you have the—probably the most left-wing major Democratic candidate since George McGovern. Why name him the head of the DNC, instead of somebody that can reach out to the South and the Southwest, as Bill Richardson said this morning on “Imus”?
COLGAN: Well, Joe, I have to say, I patently disagree that he is one of the most liberal candidates. This is a man who got a great rating from the NRA, in fact was endorsed by them.
SCARBOROUGH: He is Mr. MoveOn.org, Flavia.
COLGAN: He cut taxes five years in a row. He cut out waste and fraud and duplication in government. It‘s certainly more than the drunken-sailor spending that we see coming out of the White House right now, if you want to talk about fiscal responsibility. The Republicans, unlike you, have left that a long time ago.
Look, I didn‘t support Howard Dean during the race. You know that. I think that there was a little bit of a—he was somebody you wanted to date and maybe not marry.
SCARBOROUGH: I wouldn‘t want to date him, but go ahead.
COLGAN: There‘s no question about that.
JACOBUS: There‘s a question about that.
COLGAN: You don‘t want to date either.
But the head of the DNC I don‘t think is just a spokesperson.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
COLGAN: I think they‘re someone that needs to help the framework of the particularly.
COLGAN: And he understands that we need to go to the grassroots level and market the way tupperware parties do. Let neighbors market to neighbors.
SCARBOROUGH: He‘s that—he may be that guy. I may be proven wrong, Flavia.
I will say this about him. He can name all 50 states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Jack Burkman, Flavia Colgan and Cheri Jacobus, thanks a lot for being with us tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
And, by the way, if you want to be on our panel with Flavia, Jack, Cheri, whatever, write me an e-mail at Joe@MSNBC.com and tell me why you need to be in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s political roundtable.
And coming up next, I have got issues with the ladies of Wisteria Lane, my “Desperate Housewives” desperation. That‘s coming up next.
SCARBOROUGH: My subscription to “Us Weekly” expired, and I have got issues.
Now, I have got issues with Teresa Heinz. That‘s right, Heinz. I would say I‘ve got issues with Teresa Heinz Kerry, but the would-be first lady has decided to drop the Kerry from her last name. “The Washington Post” reported that Heinz no longer uses her husband‘s—her second husband‘s last name, as she did during the presidential campaign.
Now, talk about kicking a guy when he is down. Was it just a campaign gimmick? I feel so used. It remains to be seen if Teresa will readopt her late husband‘s Republican Party.
And I have got issues with “Desperate Housewives.” My wife and I never miss an episode. And we watch it and Denny Crane‘s “Boston Legal” every Sunday night. So, I was mildly pleased, to say the least, to learn the show‘s creator told “TV Guide” that a spinoff is in the works, bringing my family twice the Wisteria Lane drama every week.
My issue, the spinoff is not going to be for—quote—“a couple of seasons.” A couple of seasons? Look, you‘re killing me. America is desperate for more “Desperate Housewives.”
Now, have I offended my conservative friends? Well, if I have, you can vote at Joe.MSNBC.com on whether you think “Desperate Housewives” is bad for America.
And, finally, I have got issues with the upcoming Lingerie Bowl. This week‘s pay-per-view alternative to the Super Bowl halftime show in which scantily-clad model play football with each other will feature a rematch between the Los Angeles Temptation and the New York Euphoria. But unlike last year, the girls will not be wearing helmets or shoulder pads, only lingerie.
Hey, ladies, ladies, safety first. And, as John Madden always says, speed kills. From the looks of these images, these may be some of the fastest women around.
And if you‘re lucky enough to be flying around to the Super Bowl this weekend, that may not be a laughing matter. Now, earlier today, two flights into New York were held at JFK after receiving hijacking threats and reports of—quote—“people of interest” on board. Fortunately, those reports proved false.
But with me now to talk about the safety in our skies is Michael Smerconish. He‘s the author of “Flying Blind.”
And, Michael, there are so many things going on right now with the FAA, it‘s frightening. I could talk about the deregulation of maintenance. I could talk about how planes are allowed to fly closer together. I could talk about these incidences.
Should Americans feel any safer today than they felt on September 10, 2001?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, AUTHOR, “FLYING BLIND”: Not too much so, Joe, because, unfortunately, we Have failed to learn our lessons.
And if I could comment on that JFK story, because I think you will really find the background interesting; 9/11, those hijackers have race, gender, religion, ethnicity and appearance all in common. And then our government goes after United and American, the two airlines that were victimized on 9/11, and fines them each $1.5 million because they say, hey, you‘re taking into consideration when you screen passengers some of those commonalities.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael, I have got to stop you right there, OK, because I want our viewers to get active on this issue. You say our government. Who specifically?
SMERCONISH: Department of Transportation, under the direction of Norman Mineta, had an enforcement action against United and American Airlines and forced the two airlines that lost two airplanes and 30 of their personnel $1.5 million each.
SCARBOROUGH: Because they‘re screening young Arab men.
SCARBOROUGH: Instead of my 14-month-old baby, which they screened four months ago, where they would hold her and frisk her while she was crying. You know, these guys and whatever walked past.
It may—don‘t tempt me. Do not tempt me.
SCARBOROUGH: Michael, explain this to Americans. I‘m laughing about it, but it‘s outrageous. And I‘ll tell you what. People are going to die because of this.
SMERCONISH: Wait until I tie it to today‘s events.
So, at the same time American and United are getting find, Delta sends out a letter. I‘ve got it right here. It‘s a memo worldwide to all of their personnel under the signature of the president. And they say, hey, in a post-9/11 world, we have got to be tolerant of other cultures. And the Department of Transportation says, hooray for Delta; they have the right idea.
Now, fast-forward to this past June. The same Department of Transportation that was cheering Delta hits Delta with a $900,000 fine. Why? Because they say they were doing the same discrimination as American and United.
SCARBOROUGH: Against Arab-American males?
So, look at the mixed messages that we‘re sending. On one hand, the government fines Delta $900,000. On the other hand, today, our feds step in and they land these airplanes. And they say, hey, we may have a problem here. Well, which way is it going to be? Because we have got to make up our minds.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Michael, Norm Mineta is appointed by the president of the United States. There are transportation subcommittees on Capitol Hill and committees.
Who should Americans write? Should they write their president? Should they write their congressmen? This is outrageous. And, again, I‘m predicting it tonight. It‘s February 4, 2005. More people will be killed in the air because of this political correctness. How do we change things?
SMERCONISH: Joe—all right, I testified last June 24 in front of the Senate on this matter, so I know well who you have to bark at.
It‘s the members of Congress, your old colleagues, and members of the Senate. And the change that we need is at the Department of Transportation. Mineta has got to go. And, secondly, now the TSA comes under the umbrage of the Department of Homeland Security. I think this new guy, Judge Chertoff, is a tough guy. I like him so far. But he is the one who can change all this.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Michael Smerconish, thanks so much.
The book is “Flying Blind.” If you want to learn more about this, make sure you read Michael‘s book. It‘s fantastic.
And I‘m telling you what, friends. Your life and your family‘s life is on the line. Political correctness can kill you if we don‘t get in touch with our representatives in Washington.
Thanks again, Michael. We greatly appreciate it.
Now, coming up next, SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY‘s first “Heartland Hero.”
Don‘t miss that.
We will be back in a minute.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, a big controversy erupted this week when some people said that that hugging scene at the State of the Union was staged. Well, coming up, we‘ve got our answer with our first “Heartland Hero.”
That‘s in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for the SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY “Heartland Hero.”
Now, this week‘s hero is Sergeant Byron Wayne Norwood. Of course, Sergeant Norwood was only 25 when he was killed last November 12 by sniper fire while battling for Fallujah. After graduating from high school in Pflugerville, Texas, in 1998, Sergeant Norwood joined the Marines and served for six years until his death. He was in the second deployment to Iraq as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and had planned on attending Texas Tech University this fall.
As you may know, Sergeant Norwood‘s mother, Janet, wrote a letter to President Bush in which she quoted her son on his last trip home, saying for her not to worry. He said: “You have done your job, mom. Now it‘s my turn to protect you.”
It was that letter that caught the eye of the White House and led to the Norwoods‘ very moving appearance at this week‘s State of the Union address after his death.
The Norwoods established a fund to help the families of fallen and injured Marines in Byron‘s unit. Donations can be sent to the Sergeant Byron Wayne Norwood Memorial Fund, care of Texas Association of Counties, P.O. Box 2131, Austin, Texas, 78768.
And all of us in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will keep the Norwoods in our prayers.
Now, that‘s all the time we have for tonight. We will see you on Monday. And make sure to catch Senator John Kerry talking to Don Imus on Monday morning. Maybe Don will ask him why his wife dropped his last name. That hurts, almost as much as Ohio.
Hey, we will see you on Monday. Have a great weekend. Be safe.
And, by the way, the Patriots are going to annihilate the Eagles by about 17 points. Count on it.
We‘ll see you. Good night.
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