A (Somewhat) Spicey Defense
Somewhat begrudgingly, Buck kicked off Tuesday's episode of America Now by “playing defense” with Sean Spicer, who made blunderous comments comparing Bashal al-Assad to Hitler and saying the latter didn’t use chemical weapons against his own people, a comment that led to groans, mockery, and some condemnations from groups asking for his resignation.
“This isn’t reading off a teleprompter, this isn’t reading off notes,” said Buck in defense of Spicer. “I have some sympathy for Spicey. What he said was a blunder.”
“Of course, his boss, Donald Trump, has been getting compared to Hitler by the media for months,” Buck pointed out.
“It’s a clumsy comparison that doesn’t need to be made,” Buck explained. “He made a mistake, he wasn’t thinking clearly when he said this, which can happen. People think it’s easy to stand up there and take questions. This’ll blow over, this’ll go away. But let’s be clear about this: Sean Spicer is not the story today.”
Tillerson in Moscow
Buck then turned to the “real story": the declassification of a document that confirmed Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad was behind the chemical weapons attack that also held Russia partly responsible for the attack, as supposed guarantors of chemical disarmamament.
"The Trump administration has done more to reel in Russia on Syria than Obama did in years," said Buck. "While Obama was dithering for years, half a million people died. That’s the body count. But the media says, oh, he’s for the Muslim ban, he can’t possibly be for helping Syria.”
“Rex Tillerson is making some interesting and bold statements with regard to Russia," said Buck. "This is supposed to be the administration that was pro-Russia," and so far they've made great progress.
Buck called out Seth Molton of Massachusetts, who appeared on Tucker Carlson's show claiming that the missile strike against Syria was part of Trump’s collusion with Russia.
“They’ve been promoting this story without evidence, without facts, without supposition, and it’s so corrupted the minds of Democrats and people on the street--and members of Congress!--that you have to wonder: Have these people lost their minds?"
ISIS' Third Capital?
Hassan Hassan, co-author of the book ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, then joined Buck to discuss ISIS movements before and since the Syria strikes and the political viability of Assad's displacement.
“Raqqa will fall, that campaign will be a success," Hassan began. "The problem is that ISIS has already been building terrain to pull back on. If the United States put that in focus right now, that would be far more effective than allowing them to find another corner.”
Buck asked about something Hassan had written in an excellent piece in the Guardian concerning whether ISIS’s governmental operation has come to a halt.
“The problem is that the US-led coalition is so focused on Mosul and Raqqa that many ISIS operatives who run the government have started to leave Raqqa. ISIS is leaving the fighters behind and putting the people who have been in charge of running the caliphate elsewhere. They’re looking to rebuild the third capital of ISIS, aside from Mosul and Raqqa, in the areas in Syria where Iraq and Syria meet. ISIS is not hiding that—they’ve been talking about it since last year.”
Buck also asked for a realistic scenario involving the removal of Assad.
"I don’t think it’s a realistic scenario," said Hassan. "Turkey, Iraq, and other major powers in the region do not want Assad to fall abruptly, because if that happens, they don’t know who is going to take over.”
A longer recap of that interview can be found here.
The United Snakes on a Plane of America Now
Buck then jumped to the United story, playing a clip of Sean Spicer saying “it could have been handled better" and pointing out that the CEO of United, Oscar Munoz, changed his position twice in one day. "That shows how much attention this story has gotten."
"If you have flown in recent years, you’ve been subjected to this treatment. As everything around us is getting better faster cheaper, airline service has been getting worse, there are additional charges, and no one seems to care."
Buck then got into a discussion of flyers' rights.
"Where this gets shady is that you are entitled 1,350 dollars or four times the price of a ticket if they bump you and you can’t get to your destination in a few hours," said Buck. "Why is that capped? Why can’t it be whatever they can pay somebody to get them out of their seat? I want to know why that cap is there in the first place. Is this free market? Or is this what the airlines have negotiated at the expense of customers?"
The Only Thing Socialist Europe Is Better At
To help explain this mess, Buck brought on Matt Welch, editor at large of Reason, for some libertarian talk.
“Let's beat up on United for a while," joked Buck.
Welch's explanation for how things got so bad was simple.
"We’ve got five airlines in this country. There is more competition between airlines in socialist Europe than the United States, and that’s been true for a decade."
"You’re right, you can fly from Paris to Dusseldorf for the price of a weinerschnitzel!” Buck exclaimed.
Welch attributed this to high regulations and the rule that private owners of airlines are limited to a less-than-25% stake, saying that's what drove Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Airlines, crazy.
"These European countries have privately run airports. We don’t," said Welch. "Hopefully this episode will put pressure on capped fees for how much you can pay flyers. But ultimately you need real competition."
Magically They Disappeared
Briefly, Buck mentioned that he attempted to have two members of the Resistance movement at Harvard, which is aligned against Trump's agenda, on the show, but they canceled late.
“I just want you to know, I tried,” said Buck. “I was just going to ask them questions. I wasn’t going to call them names. I wasn’t going to call them dumb--well, I might call Nancy Pelosi dumb, because she does dumb things sometimes--but I wasn't going to call them dumb."
“Leftists, if you’re listening, you can call in. We’ll have you as a guest some time," Buck said.
Border Patrol Gets Backing
Finally, Buck closed by discussing the big issue remaining on the Trump agenda for the first 100 days of the administration—immigration enforcement—playing comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that promised stepped-up enforcement of the laws on the books.
"The Bush administration was bad on this issue. Obama was bad on this issue—and dishonest on top of that," said Buck. "Other countries want an orderly system for this, they’re not just letting people come in and become citizens."
"I’ve spoken to Border Patrol in the past, and during the Obama administration they said you knew if you were too zealous in your pursuit of the law, you couldn’t expect that the administration would have your back," said Buck. "To send people out to enforce the law and then in public to undermine the reasons for those laws---what is that supposed to mean?"
Buck feels that "Border Patrol finally has someone in the White House that has their back. And once you have the enforcement mechanisms in place, you can start talking about the policies."