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Sweeping Powers; Obama Mania; Gearing up for Missile Launch; Exporting American Jobs

Aired March 26, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Tonight U.S. war ships are steaming to the Sea of Japan as North Korea is preparing to launch a missile that could reach the United States.

And tonight people in Fargo, North Dakota, are in a desperate race to save their city from disastrous flooding.

A United Nations vote to restrict your freedom of speech, a story you'll see only on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT -- tonight, all of that, all the day's news, and much more straight ahead.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, March 26th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening everybody. Treasury Secretary Geithner today went before Congress again, this time with a proposal for an extensive overhaul of our financial system. For decades Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the White House have worked to roll back the rules on bankers and brokers. Critics say that that's what put us where we are today facing a financial crisis, perhaps the worst since the great depression.

While secretary Geithner was on the Hill, President Obama was on the Internet, taking questions in his first online town hall discussion, the first ever, in fact, ever hosted by the president. It is just the latest move in the White House P.R. offensive that has put the president on talk shows, prime time televisions, ESPN, all in a permanent campaign mode. We begin our coverage tonight on Capitol Hill with Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, secretary Geithner asked Congress today to sign off on legislation, or to sign off on a plan that would give the government sweeping new powers to regulate big banks and financial institutions. He wants Congress to create what some have deemed a super regulator that would oversee these corporations, that if they were to fail could threaten the very health of the U.S. economy.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: To address this will require comprehensive reform. Not in modest repairs at the margin, but new rules of the game. And the new rules must be simpler and more effectively enforced. The president has made it clear that we're going to do what's necessary to stabilize the system, to get credit flowing again and restore the conditions for a strong economic recovery.


KEILAR: Now under Geithner's plan this super regulator could force these corporations to have enough cash on hand to, to -- in order to back up the bets they make against derivatives like mortgage- backed securities. Geithner also said the federal government should have some input on how these corporations pay their executives.

That it should be geared more towards long-term performance, instead of short-term profits. And as you can imagine, Lou, all of this talk about so much government involvement in the private sector had many Republicans very squeamish today. Fearful that the government would overreach, stifle these corporations, these big banks and financial firms and that ultimately it could have the adverse effect of hurting the economy instead, Lou.

DOBBS: All right Brianna, thank you very much -- Brianna Keilar from Capitol Hill.

The president tonight is continuing his public relations offensive. President Obama held a live Internet forum today at the White House, the latest in what has become an almost daily effort to sell his policies to the American people in a campaign-style event. Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Lately we're seeing President Obama more and more in the role of politician in chief. Two town halls in California last week, this week, a virtual town hall.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promise to open up the White House to the American people. In this event which is being streamed live over the Internet...

SCHNEIDER: Appearances on "The Tonight Show", "60 Minutes", ESPN, two prime time news conferences, door-to-door canvassing by his grassroots supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here getting support for Obama's...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... initiatives in energy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health care and education.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great, because we don't have any money.

SCHNEIDER: A TV ad. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call Congress and tell them to support President Obama's budget plan to get our economy moving again.

SCHNEIDER: All this politicking. Is President Obama violating his promise to change the tone of American politics? Actually, the president's tone has not been particularly harsh or partisan, even when he spoke to two Democratic Party fund-raisers, audiences eager for partisan red meat.

OBAMA: And a bunch of the critics out there, I've already said show me your budget.


OBAMA: Show me what you want to do. And I'm happy to have that debate. Because I believe in the vision of the Democratic Party.

SCHNEIDER: So far the president is leaving the harsh rhetoric to his critics.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: The president's budget will hurt the economy and destroy jobs in our country at the very time that our country needs help. And I think it's completely irresponsible.

SCHNEIDER: He saved his harshest rhetoric for, um, us.

OBAMA: I know it can be easy especially in Washington to get caught up in the day-to-day chatter of cable television to be distracted by the petty and the trivial.


SCHNEIDER: Now is there a risk of overexposure? There are some in the press who think so. Columnist Gail Collins writes in today's "New York Times", "Barack Obama is going to be on television every day forever. No venue is too strange." "Dancing with the Stars", "The Weather Report"?

DOBBS: Well, a terrific column by Gail Collins today, as you point out. The president talking about the petty and the trivial, he just simply rejected all of that critical judgment applied to his policies. Anyone who disagrees with him is being petty and trivial. That's a pretty good position to assume is his initial bargaining position I guess.

SCHNEIDER: Well that's what he called us, people on cable television. He said we dwell too much on the petty and the trivial.

DOBBS: Well or we can interpret any critical judgment as being petty and trivial in his view. The fact of the matter is he's going to have plenty of it. There won't be any shortage of it in the weeks, months, years ahead. Thank you very much, Bill Schneider.

By the way, isn't it -- isn't it really somewhat, well, sensible to just refer to what he is doing as advanced 21st century fireside chats, a la FDR. I mean he's really just taking advantage of the -- of both the 24-hour business -- news cycle and the technology, isn't he?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, he is. It's a whole new model of media where he deals directly with his supporters and with the people bypassing the traditional media like the old media, television, newspapers. It's direct.

DOBBS: Direct, I think precisely what FDR did. His technology advance of course was radio.


DOBBS: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it, Bill Schneider.

Our economy had its biggest one-quarter decline in 26 years in the last quarter of last year. The gross domestic product shrank by an annual rate of 6.3 percent. Still that's better than had been expected by most economists. Those economists surveyed by had been expecting a contraction of 6.6 percent. Tonight Republicans in Congress have revealed their budget blueprint to counter the president's $3.6 trillion spending plan.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We're going to show a leaner budget, a budget with lower taxes, lower spending, and lower borrowing. It's going to be a budget that says here's how best to get America out of the struggling economy and here's how best to preserve the legacy of the American dream, the legacy of this country, which is to leave the next generation better off.


DOBBS: Republicans offered few details. Congressman Ryan, who you heard there, saying those details will be presented on the House floor next week. This sounds a bit like a secretary Geithner plan.

Well some members of Congress apparently not busy enough right now want to take on college football playoffs. They want to reform the BCS, the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS is an internal object of scorn among football fans. A Senate subcommittee saying it will hold anti-trust hearings.

Senator Orrin Hatch, the committee's top Republican is leading the push for these hearings and a change in the BCS to playoffs. People in his state, Utah, simply furious that Utah was passed over for the national championship, despite being undefeated in the regular season last year.

Up next, a state of emergency in Mississippi after a round of violent storms, and bracing for a North Korean missile launch, the United States has deployed warships into the region. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The U.S. Navy tonight is deploying warships into the Sea of Japan as North Korea is obviously preparing now to launch a long- range ballistic missile. A missile that intelligence agencies fear could reach the United States. Satellite imaging confirming that North Korea has moved a missile to an East Coast launching pad, that move is raising alarms all across Asia and the Pacific.

North Korea could launch that missile as early as the beginning of next month. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling the planned launch a provocative act that would have consequences. Japan saying it will shoot down that missile if it enters it air space or threatens its air space. The guided missile destroyer USS Harper is already on station off the coast of Korea. Two other American destroyers with anti-missile capabilities are leaving their port in southwestern Japan tonight.

Communist China today calling a Pentagon report a gross distortion of its military capabilities. They Pentagon report released yesterday and reported here last night finds that China's military strength is growing rapidly and is shifting the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region. Communist China in addition to increasing its traditional military forces is now developing new cyber warfare, nuclear and space weapon capabilities.

Joining me now to assess the threat from both North Korea and communist China's growing military strength, also the threat on our southern border with Mexico, one of the country's most respected former military commanders, General David Grange -- General, good to have you with us. Let's start first with the move right now into the Sea of Japan of U.S. Naval forces in anticipation of a missile launch, that if it is not a satellite could be something that our intelligence agencies fear could be a direct challenge to either Japan or a threat to Japan and the United States -- the appropriate response?

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, FORMER ARMY RANGER, GREEN BERET: Well it may just be posturing as the North Koreans are known to do quite often with regular warfare type techniques, but let them fire it. Shoot it down with everything you have to include those weapons of Japan, and let's put it to rest. Let them do it.

DOBBS: And with that, with that do you think it would be the end of this nonsense, if you can call this kind of serious threat nonsense from Kim Jong Il?

GRANGE: No, I'd say then they'll sit down with a six-nation team and talk about what happened and what you're going to do next, North Korea.

DOBBS: Let's turn quickly to the new report from the Pentagon on the Red Storm rising, the obvious increasing strength, military strength of communist China and the ambiguity of its interests and ambitions.

GRANGE: Well I think one thing about China, it's not only the conventional military strength that they're growing that we have to be cognizant about, but also their -- again, their regular warfare capability, which is quite extensive. How they would attack or hobble the United States of America through virtual attack and air traffic control, banking systems, cell phones, et cetera. It is a threat.

DOBBS: Let's turn to Mexico. The secretary of state announcing that there's a, as she put it, co-responsibility in Mexico because of the -- of American dependence on drugs, which by the way to me seemed to be akin to suggesting the children on playgrounds bore responsibility for drug dealers in the neighborhood. But nonetheless, the assessment is that Mexico, despite its protestations, remains by Pentagon assessment one of two states that does face the possibility of a collapse, the prospect of being a failed state. What is your assessment first of the military and the civil situation in Mexico and the appropriate U.S. involvement, if any?

GRANGE: Well, Mexico's military capability obviously has to be increased, as well as their legal system, their rule of law. But this is -- I think it's a national issue for the United States. And maybe we have a demand issue here. We provide a lot of the weapons through some illegal weapons buying. But I think that this is a national issue.

The first mission of our military, of our government is to provide for common defense of this homeland. And if we don't surge and mass all private and public sector capability, in other words, a whole nation approach and really pile on to clear out this problem, and then hold it and build it for the future where it doesn't rise again, we're wrong. We're making a mistake. And it's the duty of the leadership to do something about it. * DOBBS: And Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, is committing exactly the sin that you're suggesting would be the obverse of your recommendation. She's saying that those forces that she has added, that is intelligence some 100 -- about 160 other personnel are adequate for the threat. It's unlikely that this administration is going to listen to General David Grange when President Felipe Calderon and his attorney general in Mexico are saying they don't want to "A", militarize the border, don't want a fence on that border, and in effect are saying all of that to the United States while they put 5,000 troops into -- and federal police -- into Juarez, the city of Juarez alone.

GRANGE: Well if you just do a limited holding action, this is going to continue forever or get worse. And a failed state in Mexico challenges the security and safety of American citizens. So I don't see how you cannot take it as a top priority and mass the capabilities along with our ally in Mexico to do something about it. I disagree with that approach.

DOBBS: General David Grange, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it as always.

GRANGE: My pleasure.

DOBBS: Up next, the fight for free speech. We'll tell you what surprising resolution that the United Nations has approved. Also extreme measures being taken tonight in North Dakota as our fellow citizens there are trying, trying desperately to preserve their city in the face of a worsening flood. That story is next and a great deal more. We'll return in one moment. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The folks in North Dakota tonight are bracing for floods, sandbagging and preparing for flood, the likes of which it is -- they've just never seen. In freezing cold, the thousands of residents of Fargo are piling sandbags high, trying to save their city from unprecedented flooding. The National Weather Service predicting that the Red River could swell to 43 feet this weekend.

That's almost two feet higher than a record that had been set back in 1897. And 200 miles to the west of there, near the capital of Bismarck, crews are using explosives to break up ice jams in the river that caused waters from the Missouri River to overflow its banks. Most of that area, unfortunately, is already flooded tonight. Thousands of people have been evacuated.

Well, some towns are preparing for the worst and other towns have already been hit and hit hard. In central Mississippi a tornado tore through Magee destroying buildings there, injuring at least 20 people. Debris from that tornado was spread over an area of more than 50 miles. Tonight residents from east Texas to North Carolina are on alert for more storms.

Well turning now to the fight to stifle First Amendment rights -- the United Nations Human Rights Council tonight approving a resolution to restrict free speech -- free speech about religion -- the vote 23- 11. Most of the opposition to the blasphemy rules coming from Western nations. The resolution calls on member states to make it a crime to criticize Islam.

The United States isn't part of the Council, so it didn't vote. The resolution introduced by Pakistan, backed by Islamic governments, of course, and that -- that resolution has passed.

Well, the Obama administration has not commented on the passage of that resolution, but it is also pushing a politically correct agenda, controlling language in the public as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano demonstrated in an interview with "Die Spiegel" often using the phrase quote, "man-caused disasters" instead of terrorism. In that magazine interview, Secretary Napolitano said quote, "man-caused disasters indicate a move away from politics of fear toward a policy of preparedness for all risks", end quote.

This week the Pentagon and its speechwriter sent this directive out from the Office of Management and Budget. Quote, "This administration prefers to avoid using the term quote, 'long war' or quote, 'global war' on terror. Please use quote, 'overseas contingency operation'", end quote.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says he hasn't seen that directive, adding that the Obama administration is not focused on phraseology, but on making the country safe. Apparently the word hasn't gotten out to all elements of the government. But these are only the latest examples of what seems an effort at political correctness, perhaps a hyper (ph) effort.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department stopped using the term enemy combatant in a filing concerning prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Now those prisoners are referred to simply as detainees.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts. Gary in Ohio, "Napolitano wants to refer to terrorism as 'man made disasters'. Isn't that what happened to Wall Street?"

And Steve in Georgia, "If passed, President Obama's multi- trillion dollar budget would be a 'man caused disaster'".

And Jim in Texas, "Well keeping with all of the political correctness, our country is leadership challenged."

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts to A reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon here in New York on WOR 710 radio and in your area go to to get local listings for the show. Please join us.

Up next, what President Obama said today about legalizing marijuana and what he said today about outsourcing middle class jobs and the treasury secretary, he needs a little more power. We'll be talking about that plan for new regulations with some of the best economic minds in the country. We're coming right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: IBM facing sharp criticism tonight after "The Wall Street Journal" reported this morning that IBM is slashing thousands of jobs in the United States. IBM in that story reported by "The Wall Street Journal" will outsource most of those jobs to India at a time when millions of Americans are unemployed. As Bill Tucker now reports, IBM continues to create more jobs overseas while it lobbies for more federal stimulus money.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Between four and 5,000 American workers at IBM are believed fired. The group Alliance at IBM representing the union employees says the job cuts are spread all across the country, most in the global business services unit. The company won't comment or confirm. While the jobs are disappearing from America, they are apparently not disappearing from the company.

LEE CONRAD, ALLIANCE AT IBM: We have be getting reports from IBM employees that they have been turning their offshore replacements for quite some time. We are hearing that these jobs will be eliminated here in the United States and the work shifted to India, China, Asia Pacific and Latin America. TUCKER: Some IBM'ers now derisively say IBM stands for "I've been mugged". It's not as if the company is hurting. It reported $103 billion in revenue last year a record, record earnings per share, and a cash flow of $14 billion. Ironically the news came even as the president was taking a question about outsourcing at his town hall meeting with an answer that didn't seem very hopeful.

OBAMA: It's dependent on low-wage, low-skill labor. It's very hard to hang on to those jobs because there's always a country out there that pays lower wages than the U.S.

TUCKER: But a union spokesman says that many of the jobs IBM is cutting are not low skill, low-paid jobs, but high-skill jobs that can also be done in countries that pay lower wages than in the U.S. Last year on the campaign trail candidate Obama waved a sword that President Obama now seems reluctant to wield.

OBAMA: I say let's end tax cuts for companies that shift jobs overseas. We'll stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, give them to companies that are creating good jobs right here in Virginia.

TUCKER: In the opinion of one economist who worked in the Clinton administration, it's the difference between wanting power and being in power and out of touch.

PROF. PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: When you have a presidency that's staffed by Ivy leaguers, no one that's ever manufactured anything, it's no wonder that they view jobs that make things in America with the saying, ship them off to India, borrow the money we need, and employ everybody at a municipal government office.


TUCKER: And the numbers being talked about if they hold up means that IBM will have quietly fired somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,000 U.S. workers so far this year according to the union. And we should not forget that IBM CEO earlier this year lobbied in Washington for stimulus money to the high-tech, Lou, telling the president that $30 billion would create jobs. Of course I guess you know he neglected to say where it would create jobs.

DOBBS: This is striking and it's embarrassing one would think for the president to be having taken a position on the campaign trail and basically today in that Internet virtual town hall meeting to say, basically, adios to the jobs, good luck. And they weren't jobs we wanted anyway.

Extraordinarily disappointing in one -- an issue that is going to be front and center with this presidency as it appears now.

Thank you very much, I appreciate it Bill Tucker.

Well, this broadcast has reported extensively on the ramped up outsourcing by American multi-nationals for years now. And in fact I even wrote a really terrific "New York Times" bestselling book called "Exporting America" some five years ago.

And we have been reporting on this issue on this broadcast for at least six years. Here's an example from this broadcast back in 2006.


DOBBS: Middle class jobs continue to disappear as working men and women are watching corporate America outsource their jobs by the hundreds of thousands to cheap foreign labor markets, and so-called free trade agreements are endangering almost every manufacturing and technology business in this country and the livelihoods of all who work in those fields.


DOBBS: At the time by the way I wrote that book, we literally had to assemble all of the data because the federal government does not keep track, even today, of the outsourcing of American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets.

As Bill Tucker just reported, outsourcing of American jobs still a way of doing business for too many American companies.

Joining me now, three of the best economic thinkers in the country: I'm joined now by Allen Sinai, Chief Global economist and President of Decision Economics and in our Washington, D.C. Bureau, Dr. Pat Choate, author of "Dangerous Business," also Ross Perot's Vice Presidential running mate in 1996 and author of "Dangerous Business."

And good to have you with us Pat --


DOBBS: And Boston Professor, Jeffrey Miron, a professor of economics at Harvard University. It's great to have you with us, professor.


DOBBS: Allen, let me turn to you, first of all. We just heard Peter Morici talk about the Obama administration, but this is really business. Multinationals, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are continuing this practice.

IBM, a very well-run company doing very well financially, killing American jobs, having those jobs exported to India, to other parts of Asia, simply on the basis of it's cheaper.

Why in the world is there not a moral voice in this country saying in a corporate America this is the wrong thing to do when unemployment is rising by the hundreds of thousands each month?

ALLEN SINAI, DECISIONS ECONOMICS INC.: It's a great question. But morality doesn't enter business much of the time. Business is all about cost and revenues.

DOBBS: God, don't say that to me. I mean, if morality is not part of business, what is business?

SINAI: You're asking someone who doesn't think at the business and financial world does much other than worry about the bottom line. The issue of whether that's right or not is a separate issue. I might not agree with that, but that's the way it is. It only changes when our political system tells the politicians to change it. And we change our officials and then they pass legislation to change the mindset.

DOBBS: And we changed our officials, Professor Miron, in November 4th of last year. We just heard this President talk just like the previous President when it comes to the outsourcing of middle-class jobs. Your response, your reaction, and your thoughts.

MIRON: Well, I guess I have to disagree with your perspective on this one. I think that when corporations or any business decide that they can do something in a less costly way, including outsourcing jobs, that, in fact is both beneficial for the business and beneficial for the country.

And it's the moral thing to do because it means that on average those businesses will stay in the U.S., if they can continue to be competitive by outsourcing some of their jobs. It means that people in other countries will be wealthier and they'll demand more of our goods and services. And that will be good for other parts of the U.S. economy.

So I think being cost-effective which is what outsourcing is doing is in fact not only good business, it is a moral thing to do if you want to put it in those terms.

DOBBS: And I do.

Dr. Pat Choate, you're reaction Pat?

CHOATE: I totally disagree. I think that the idea of what's good for these corporations is good for America is nonsense. If we want different behavior from these corporations, we need to set different rules.

We have and I think real expectations to these corporations. We give them certain legal privileges to operate as a corporation. We give them massive subsidies from the American taxpayers. The corporations don't recognize that.

And so I think we're going to just simply have to change our trade policy to demand that these corporations once again become stakeholders in America.

DOBBS: If it is good business then for markets to take this, as Warren Buffett put it, this economy off a cliff, at what point do we say it is time for a less than philosophical approach and say that it is time to re-examine the entire idea of corporatism in the country because what you and professor Miron are describing is not free markets. You're describing corporatism. And corporatism combined with government power is famously fascism. And if we are to eliminate morality as a consideration from business practices, why would we not eliminate morality from political choices and public policy choices because ultimately I agree with Dr. Choate?

We are talking about a public policy choice that permits corporations to take advantage of the wealthiest consumer market in the world at the expense of our workforce and our middle class.

SINAI: I think when the jobs picture gets bad enough, which is it's going to get, and people are unemployed for a long, long time, then we can get a change in corporatism, as you describe it. I think you have it right. It is corporatism, not marketism, it's corporatism.

And we're already seeing some signs of that. For example the mantra of maximizing shareholder value, which is partly behind shedding workers...

DOBBS: Right.

SINAI: And lowering worker cost and shipping jobs overseas as you put it because they think it will maximize shareholder value; that is an overriding slogan and used by almost all CEO's in our corporate world.

DOBBS: Right.

SINAI: We are going to change that. That's going to change. It's not going to be that anymore.

And Jack Welch has already started, one of the inventors of it, has already started to rethink that notion. It's terribly short- sighted, at least to the kinds of things that you're talking about.

DOBBS: And interestingly Professor Miron, Jack Welch, as CEO of GE amongst the many things that he accomplished there was to bring true empowerment to a broader range of employees. And empowerment was the catch phrase of the '80s in corporate America.

It is one of the last words you would hear a CEO use today, isn't it?

MIRON: Well, that's right. But I guess I want to come back to some of these general themes and say...

DOBBS: As so long as you start by affirming what I've said.

MIRON: We're focusing on the wrong actor here. The actors making crucial mistakes are governments giving bailouts to companies...

DOBBS: Right.

MIRON: ...and corporations that make mistakes. If they are allowed to try to maximize shareholder value and then are left to hang out to dry when they make mistakes, then their behavior will on average be quite consistent with the overall welfare of the country.

So blaming the corporation for trying to make profits is like blaming the bear for wanting to sleep all winter. That's just what companies do.

The question is, do we reward companies which make bad decision, whether it's with respect to outsourcing or anything else. And that's the problem. It's the politicians and not the corporations.

DOBBS: Pat Choate, you get the last word here tonight.

CHOATE: Free market absolutism has got to send to the problem and basically, what we're going to have to do is change the rules of the game. And fundamentally government and the people are going to have to say to business, what are you going to do for America?

DOBBS: Thank you very much. Pat Choate, Jeffrey Miron thank you very much and Allen Sinai, old friend good to see you.

SINAI: Great to see you Lou.

DOBBS: Coming up next, Texas educators moving to challenge the evidence on evolution. This could affect how the origin of life and the science of natural selection is taught in our public schools. We'll have that story for you.

And blaming America for Mexico's drug cartel violence; the Attorney General lining up. He's next, then after the Secretary of Homeland Security, after the Secretary of State, of course blamed America. It's going to be a popular theme, it seems.

We'll be right back with that story and a great deal more.


DOBBS: New disclosures tonight that Attorney General Eric Holder may be backing away from his earlier promises to curtail our constitutional rights to bear arms; the attorney general recently blaming American weapons for Mexico's deadly drug violence. He claimed a new ban on so-called assault weapons in the United States could reduce the flow of weapons to Mexico's drug cartels.

Louise Schiavone has our report.


LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General Eric Holder's early intentions to attack Mexico's cross-border violence with a U.S. ban on assault weapons have hit the back burner. What happened? Tough Congressional pushback for one.

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R), TEXAS: I think many members of Congress, probably a majority, have real problems with an administration who using drug violence along the border as an excuse for gun control. It's like they have a hidden agenda, and we're very aware of it.

SCHIAVONE: Lamar Smith is the house judiciary committee's top Republican. But there are 65 house Democrats who have written to Attorney General Holder warning, quote, "We would actively impose any effort to reinstate the 1994 ban or to pass any similar laws," end quote. In the senate, Montana Democrats John Tester and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus have advised the attorney general, quote, "We will impose any legislation that will infringe upon the rights of individual gun owners" end quote. The National Rifle Association says the public should be clear about the weapons themselves.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: This so-called assault weapons ban thing is a fraud on the American public. It was lied in the law by having them believe they were machine guns or they were more powerful or they sprayed bullets or they were weapons of war like our soldiers used when they weren't any of that. The lie got found out. That's why Congress let it expire.

SCHIAVONE: But in Mexico City today, Secretary of STATE CLINTON said that while the ban was in effect, police were able to drive down crime.

Analysts say the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Washington D.C.'s 32-year-old handgun ban has made reinstituting the assault weapons ban tougher.

CULLY STIMSON, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: What's interesting is, how quickly he put that idea out there and how quickly he pulled it back. It tells you that it's a very politically sensitive issue even for this administration.


SCHIAVONE: Lou, not to be dismissed by a White House determined to succeed, the fact that when Congress approved the assault weapons ban in 1994, Democrats lost 54 house seats -- Lou?

DOBBS: And the message is still very clear. And the cavalier way in which Eric Holder, the attorney general, brought up the assault weapons ban reinstitution idea gives you very clear evidence, if we needed it, as to how opposed this administration is to the second amendment and how supportive our Congress remains to the second amendment rights of the American citizens.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

In the White House Internet forum today, President Obama was asked whether legalizing marijuana would help stimulate the economy. Here's the president's interesting reaction to the question.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high. And that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation.

And I don't know what this says about the online audience, but I just want -- I don't want people to think that this was a fairly popular question, we want to make sure it was answered. The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.


DOBBS: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today refused to discuss the president's position on medical marijuana. Last week Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration would stop any raids on distributors of medical marijuana in California.

We would like to know what you think. Here's tonight's poll question. Do you think the president should be laughing about legalizing drugs while drug cartel violence is raging in Mexico? Cast your vote at; we'd like to know what you think. We'll have the results here later.

Joining me now with more on the assault on our Second-Amendment rights, the escalating drug cartel violence in Mexico, Senator John Barrasso, he's ranking member of the Western Hemisphere Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs subcommittee.

Senator great to have you with us.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: Great to be with you, again, Lou.

DOBBS: You're on your way to Mexico with a number of other lawmakers into El Paso, what do you want to see come out of this trip?

BARRASSO: First I want to thank you. You've been sounding the alarm about the issues of violence along our southern border for years. And I'm glad to see that people are listening to you now and following that and responding to the alarm.

We're going to be in El Paso, where there's significant amounts of violence. We're going to look at the two products moving north, which are humans as well as drugs; and the products moving south, which are guns as well as money.

And I met with some senators from Mexico yesterday. We're going to hold hearings and I'm going to do some surveillance as well up the border on Sunday.

DOBBS: As you know, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying while in Mexico City, saying that our demand for drugs is what motivates the drug gangs. Is that not somewhat similar to saying that money in banks motivates bank robbers?

BARRASSO: Well, Lou, I really do not ever approve of this let's blame Americans first approach. I just don't think that's the way to go.

These are narcotic traffickers. It is a network of criminals, and we need to do everything we can to disrupt the entire network. If they weren't moving drugs, the president was making a joke of legalizing marijuana, and I have to tell you, I think that we should not go that way under those circumstances.

The same criminal networks would just do another form of crime to try to make profits.

DOBBS: What is your reaction? Attorney General Eric Holder even now as Louise Schiavone just reported proposing obviously a ban on assault weapons early on, intimating that that would be a priority to this administration and blaming the Mexican drug cartel violence as its motivation.

What is your reaction to any call for a ban on assault weapons in this country?

BARRASSO: Well, of course, I would be opposed to that. Lou, I was at a gun show in Casper, Wyoming, this past weekend; huge crowds. Very concerned about even reloading and trying to find what they need to do that; great concern about the assault on our second amendment rights. Our freedoms are under fire.

I would love to invite you to Wyoming to one of these. You would feel at home, in addition they're handing out teabags. I mean, people at home, people understand the threat that this attorney general could pose to us.

And, you know, I voted against his confirmation. I had a brief in the Supreme Court opposite of his on the D.C. handgun position. So I know that the second amendment really refers to our individual rights, not to a well-regulated militia, which is his position.

DOBBS: Well, senator, first I'm going to take you up on it. We'll work that out. I would enjoy that. As a matter of fact, I've got a few -- I'm looking for a particular rifle right now. So, it would be a good idea.

BARRASSO: We'll find one for you in Wyoming.

DOBBS: Appreciate it, thank you very much, senator. And have a good trip, and I hope it is a productive one for you.

BARRASSO: I'll be happy to come back and visit with you, Lou, when we get back.

DOBBS: Please do that, if you will.

BARRASSO: Thank you.

DOBBS: Senator, thank you very much. Senator John Barrasso.

The battle over teaching evolution in Texas; intelligent design. What will be the impact on what's taught in public schools all across the country? Far more than you might suspect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: There's a battle tonight over the teaching of evolution in our schools. The Texas State Board of Education is now embroiled in a fight over the standards for science curriculum, specifically how evolution should be taught in high schools in Texas. As Ines Ferre reports, that Texas decision could affect curriculums all across the country.


INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Texas Board of Education may change its high school science curriculum this week to include language that will challenge the modern theory of evolution.

JOHN MCLEROY, CHAIRMAN, TEXAS BOARD OF EDUCATION: The evidence doesn't support it. So we have to be honest with the kids.

FERRE: John McLeroy is the conservative chairman of the board of education. He disputes the idea that humanity has evolved over millions of years from animal species.

He proposes that students should, quote, "analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry.

Biologist David Hillis (ph) says the evidence supporting evolution is clear and insists that people who want to change the curriculum are motivated by religious beliefs.

DAVID HILLIS, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: There really isn't a debate among the science community. The problem is that people with particular religious viewpoints have a strongly different viewpoint and they want to inject religion into the science classroom.

FERRE: Evolution is widely accepted by the scientific community as a basis for teaching biology to children. But some scientists question aspects of the theory like gaps in fossil records and they question whether natural selection explains evolution.

DON EWERT, BIOLOGIST: The question is, is that sufficient to explain the origin of life and the development of the complexity of life on earth? We don't want to tell them all the theories are treated as facts because otherwise it squelches the curiosity of students and these are the students we want to be the researchers of tomorrow.

FERRE: Texas is on of the biggest markets for textbooks and is expected to buy some 4.8 million new science books for 2011. That can influence what's available to other states.


FERRE: And the issue is so big that Texas lawmakers may override the school board, a bill was just introduced allowing teachers to help students analyze the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories and that's widely seen Lou as targeting the theory of evolution.

DOBBS: Yes. As somebody who many decades ago, I took a course in genetics and evolution; there are gaps in the science, but what confounds us here is that there are also gaps in the teaching of so called intelligent design. It's a peculiar argument. It's one in which you have two orthodoxies, personal belief systems, science rising to the level of religion and religion trying to assert itself as science. It becomes a heck of a contest.

FERRE: There are some who say they don't have to be mutually exclusive, you can belief in both. So it's an interesting issue.

DOBBS: Interesting issue and the idea of whether it's cosmology and big bang theory as the origin of the universe which is inadequate to explanation of the beginning of our universe as well. These inadequacies should be discussed openly while approaching it scientifically, of course, in the curriculum. So it's going to be fascinating.

Thanks you very much. A fascinating story.

Thank you Ines. Ines Ferre.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown "NO BIAS, NO BULL." Campbell, what are you working on?

CAMPBELL BROWN, ANCHOR, "NO BIAS, NO BULL": Hey Lou, tonight the drug war raging in Mexico. The latest victim, a U.S. Marshall. Anderson Cooper is on the U.S.-Mexican border and there are a lot of questions tonight this marshal's murder, about his background. We'll talk about that.

Also President Obama and your right to bear arms -- a lot of gun owners fear that the White House wants to start taking away their gun. Sean Callebs has been talking to some of those gun owners, an interesting take. We'll have that for you coming up at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: Second amendment forever and all the way. Thank you very much Campbell Brown.

We'll be right back with our poll results. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Poll results, 88 percent of you said the president shouldn't be laughing about legalizing drugs while violence is raging in Mexico.

Thanks for being with us.

"NO BIAS, NO BULL" starts right now -- Campbell.