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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Economic Progress; Nuclear Defiance; Right-Wing Extremists; Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit

Aired April 14, 2009 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf. Good evening everybody.

President Obama is strongly defending his ambitious economic agenda today declaring his policies are generating what he called signs of economic progress, but President Obama also warning that tough times and tough decisions lie ahead. We'll assess the president's speech and the president tonight also facing tough decisions on North Korea's escalating threats and defiance, North Korea defying the United States, the United Nations and the rest of the world and today announcing it will restart its nuclear reactor. We'll have the very latest for you.

And important new developments in the legal showdown over white and Latino firefighters charging the city of New Haven, Connecticut with racial discrimination, serious and unanswered questions also remain about the conduct of the courts in this case more than five years after the case was originally brought.

We'll tell you about a bizarre warning as well from the Department of Homeland Security about the threat to this country from those concerned about the issues of illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights and concerned as well about returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We begin tonight with the president's sweeping defense of his economic policies, President Obama directly confronting critics of his economic agenda. He said the worst thing the government could do now is cut spending or for that matter, the president also warned the American people not to cut their spending, the president again declaring there are what he called glimmers of hope in the economy, he also warned the country is not out of the woods yet. President Obama also rejected criticism of his administration's decision to give huge sums of taxpayer money to financial institutions and the carmakers. Candy Crowley has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has sunk hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into programs to boost the economy. He may need more, so the president has to show the first investment is working.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And taken together these actions are starting to generate signs of economic progress. CROWLEY: But economic signals are mixed, Americans still aren't spending and presidents can't afford to lose touch with main street reality.

OBAMA: 2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America's economy and obviously most difficult for those who have lost their jobs. The severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain before it ends.

CROWLEY: Part professor, part salesman, President Obama spoke at Georgetown University defending as absolutely necessary the enormous amount of money spent so far, no sale in some quarters, particularly the Republican ones.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: His statement that if government didn't do this, it would prolong the depression, he's absolutely wrong on that.

CROWLEY: Just a bit of what will come as the budget battle gets down to the nitty-gritty, in his bid to preempt the critics, the president offered a full spectrum view of the economy, what happened.

OBAMA: It was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.

CROWLEY: Why he spent so much money.

OBAMA: The worst thing that we could do in a recession this severe is to try to cut government spending at the same time as families and businesses around the world are cutting back on their spending.

CROWLEY: And what he wants next.

OBAMA: We have to realize that we cannot go back to the bubble and bust economy that led us to this point.

CROWLEY: President Obama argued that his legislative agenda is an essential part of long-term recovery, outlining something we calls the five pillars to grow a new economy, new rules and regulations for Wall Street, more money for education programs, more money to invest in renewable energy and technology, money for health care reform and cuts in the federal budget to bring down the debt.

OBAMA: If we don't lay this new foundation now, it won't be long before we're right back where we are today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: It was nothing he hasn't said before, but expect to hear more of it, whether in Washington, the heartland or points beyond, the president needs to both sell his programs and hold on to his most important power base, the American people. Lou?

DOBBS: Candy, thank you very much -- Candy Crowley from Washington.

A majority of Americans appear to support the president's economic agenda, according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. Almost 60 percent of Americans say President Obama has a clear plan for solving this country's economic problems. But Americans are not convinced that Democratic control of Congress is good for the country, only 49 percent say the United States is better off, with a Democratically-led Congress, compared with 56 percent back in January.

Plans for a nationwide protest across the country tomorrow, April 15th, the deadline for tax returns. In a modern day revival of the Boston Tea Party, organizers across the country want Americans to send tea bags to their congressmen to show their anger at how the government has handled the economic crisis and the prospect of higher taxes.

President Obama tonight faces what could shape us as the most serious foreign policy crisis of his young presidency. North Korea today expelled inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and declared it will restart its nuclear reactor. Those defiant steps, one day after the United Nations Security Council issued a diluted, weakened protest of North Korea's ICBM test earlier this month. Ed Henry has our report from the White House -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, I remember when North Korea tested that missile, we were in Prague and the president had a speech where he was very stern, tough talk in going after North Korea, saying that they needed to play by the rules, that the rules are binding, that there needed to be strong action to show them that and that words matter and he wanted the U.N. to back it up.

What the White House was pushing for clearly was not just a condemnation of North Korea, but they also wanted sanctions, but as you noted, the U.N. did not go through with that after almost two weeks of debate. They went through with a statement -- it was unanimous -- saying that North Korea shouldn't have done this, but there were no sanctions attached. There was no actual tough action.

Nevertheless, today the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted that the White House was satisfied so far with the progress at the U.N. and both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that it was time for North Korea to drop its threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are viewing that as an unnecessary response to the legitimate statements put out of concern by the Security Council and obviously we hope that there will be an opportunity to discuss this not only with our partners and allies, but also eventually with the North Koreans.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We called on North Korea to cease its provocative threats, respect the will of the international community and to honor its international commitments and obligations. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: North Korea, however so far showing no signs it's willing to honor those international commitments. The six-party talks for example that the Bush administration invested so much time and energy and pretty much all but finished right now, really no progress there and they have all been broken down, Lou.

DOBBS: And Ed, certainly President Obama not the first president to be both disappointed by North Korea's behavior, and to be absolutely let down by the United Nations Security Council.

HENRY: No doubt about that and when I was in Prague and I heard the president giving his speech, a broader speech about trying to rid the entire world of nuclear weapons, but in that speech he had some tough talk for North Korea. When he talked about how he wanted some action by the U.N., I knew then that that was going to be a lot easier said than done. As you noted, a lot of administrations have talked about getting action from the U.N. and a lot of times it ends up -- it winds up being just that, talk, Lou.

DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much -- Ed Henry from the White House.

The Obama administration tonight saying it is preparing to make concessions to another country -- the reports that it's preparing to make concessions to another country with nuclear ambitions, that is Iran, are simply untrue. This after published reports saying the United States will allow Iran to continue the enrichment of uranium even as negotiations to end Tehran's nuclear program go on.

Enriched uranium of course can be used to make nuclear weapons, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs again saying those reports are inaccurate. The Obama White House has already modified U.S. policy toward Iran once by joining international talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Up next here, you won't believe what some members of Congress are adding to spending bills. We'll be reporting on the worst examples of pork barrel spending. And a brewing controversy over a peculiar even bizarre Department of Homeland Security report on threats by those interested in illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights and those returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The Department of Homeland Security tonight warning of a new terrorist threat facing America. The threat comes from what it calls right-wing extremists in this country. the report says people who are opposed to restricting Second Amendment rights to bear arms or who are concerned about illegal immigration and border security could well fall under the Department of Homeland Security definition of an extremist. Jeanne Meserve has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Political conservatives are fired up.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is an effort to criminalize political dissent, standard, ordinary, every day political dissent.

MESERVE: This fury a reaction to an assessment from the Department of Homeland Security saying right-wing extremist groups could exploit fears about the economic downturn, gun control and the election of an African-American president to attract new recruits. It says groups dedicated to a single issue such as opposition to abortion or immigration may fall within the definition of extremists.

LIMBAUGH: We are not extremists. They are the extremists.

MESERVE: To make its case, DHS cites a surge in purchases of guns and ammunition and the recent shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers by a man reportedly influenced by racist ideology and fears of gun confiscations. An organization that tracks extremist groups thinks DHS has the picture at least partially right.

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: The election of Obama certainly has played for these groups in the last six, seven, eight months. The economy, I think is much more questionable. We really don't know if that is having an effect.

MESERVE: A Homeland Security officials say DHS is not trying to squelch free speech. "There is no link between extremists being talked about in that report and conservative political thinkers, activists and voters." But conservatives aren't buying it.

ROGER HEDGECOCK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If the Bush administration had done this to left-wing extremists it would be all over the press as an obvious trampling on the First Amendment rights of folks and dissent.

MESERVE: In fact in January there was a warning about left-wing extremists. It was issued by the Obama administration but both reports were begun under President Bush.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: This new DHS assessment says right-wing extremists may try to radicalize disgruntled veterans to exploit their military knowledge. Some conservatives find that offensive, but DHS points to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a veteran of the first Iraq war -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jeanne, this is at the very least a broad, general threat assessment if you will. Why are there not names named and specific targets referenced here if there is a legitimate threat to the interests of the United States?

MESERVE: Well, they say there is no specific threat here, but they sent this out to law enforcement all across the country so they would be aware of what DHS perceives as something that's emerging and so they can get an even better assessment of what's going on through the eyes of those local officials. That's why this was issued at this point in time.

DOBBS: This was attempted once again relying in some measure on the Southern Poverty Law Center last month with the so-called Missouri documents, the Missouri state patrol had to withdraw the so-called fusion report. Is that likely to happen here?

MESERVE: I don't know. The Missouri report went considerably further, as you know, it mentioned to be on the lookout for people with certain sorts of political bumper stickers on their car. This report goes nowhere near that and by the way, I don't think they relied on the Southern Law Center...

DOBBS: No, I said...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Yeah.

MESERVE: Right, right. But certainly they seem to be in sync to a certain degree here. Both the Department and the Southern Poverty Law Center say they are seeing some increase in those right-wing groups.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much -- Jeanne Meserve from Washington.

Well we'd like to know what you think about all of this. Our poll question tonight is do you think a person concerned about borders and ports that are unsecured, illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights or returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is likely or even possibly probable, as the Department of Homeland Security suggests to be a right-wing extremist? Yes or no. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

The president tonight is creating a new position to oversee security efforts along our border with Mexico. Former Justice Department official Alan Bersin will be named as the nation's border czar. The Obama administration has promised to help Mexico fight drug cartel violence. Bersin held a similar position at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to make the official announcement tomorrow during a trip to the border.

A number of items tonight on both sides of the amnesty debate, there's new support for the president's amnesty agenda, two major organized labor organizations, the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Federation agreed to support comprehensive immigration reform or amnesty. Those unions now become allied with the pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the issue of amnesty.

"The New York Times" applauded the president's amnesty initiative and labor support. Today's lead editorial states quote, "The ingredients to reform are clear, legalization for 12 million." The Pew Hispanic Center today released a new study on illegal aliens in this country. The report saying about 12 million illegal aliens live here now.

The report also says illegal aliens make up more than five percent of the workforce and children of illegal aliens make up seven percent of students enrolled in our elementary and secondary schools. The Immigration Policy Center for its part claims amnesty would be good for the economy. A new report saying legalizing the illegal workforce would improve working conditions and raise tax revenues.

On the other side of the amnesty issue, Maryland today stopping the practice of giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens, licenses already issued to illegal aliens will expire by 2015 and will not be renewed. In Oklahoma, Congresswoman Mary Fallin is blasting the Obama administration's policy on amnesty and immigration law enforcement, writing in today's Oklahoma newspaper that the Obama administration is, quote, "charting precisely the wrong course on immigration enforcement at a time when we can least afford it."

And the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector finding that if the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens here are granted amnesty, the population in the United States would actually increase by between 20 and 35 million people as illegal immigrants would bring in their family members. Turning now to wasteful spending by Congress, "Citizens Against Government Waste" tonight releasing its 19th annual pig book.

In the last year Congress stopped (ph) more than 10,000 pork projects worth nearly $20 billion into 12 appropriations bills. Some of the worst examples include more than $80 million for 86 projects by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, including $900,000 for fish management at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, $800,000 for oyster rehabilitation in Mobile, Alabama. Nineteen senators, 10 Congressmen pushed for $4.5 million to research ways that wood can be used and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa asking for almost $2 million for swine odor and manure management, and Congressman Howard Berman requesting $200,000 for a tattoo removal program in his home state of California.

Up next, a controversial workplace discrimination case is headed to the Supreme Court -- why the case could affect workplaces all over the country and a dangerous new threat to our health, what you need to know about a killer virus. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: There is a dangerous new threat to your health, a deadly super bug that is resistant to antibiotics has resurfaced in this country, it has been found in more than 40 states and has infected half a million people each year causing up to 30,000 deaths. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty percent of the cases of clostridium difficile are in nursing homes or hospitals. But according to the CDC, 20 percent can turn up in people who have had no exposure to health care facilities. While once considered an old person's disease, it is increasingly hitting the young, and while the highly contagious bacteria that affects the colon has been around for decades, a deadly epidemic strain has caused a spike of infections since 2001. Dr. Dale Gerding has been studying it since 1980 and says there is a progressive increase in cases in hospitals in the United States two to three times the rate seen in the year 2000.

PROF. DALE GERDING, LOYOLA UNIV. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: In part it's due to a new epidemic strain of this organism that has really spread tremendously throughout the United States and into Canada and now also into Europe and the United Kingdom.

PILGRIM: The mortality rate is high, five to 10 percent of patients and a quarter of the patients have at least one relapse of the disease. Dr. David Clain, the acting chief of digestive diseases at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center, says the symptoms are severe diarrhea, even bleeding from the bowels. Dr. Clain says the suspicion is that the disease is becoming more frequent with overuse of antibiotics which kill the good organisms in the digestive tract and allow the deadly bacteria to thrive.

DR. DAVID CLAIN, BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CTR.: We do tend to overuse antibiotics. They -- you know everyone thinks they are the magic pill for colds and viruses, which they're not and so they tend to get overused.

PILGRIM: Doctors recommend not taking antibiotics unless necessary as a measure to prevent the disease.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now there is some hope. Dr. Gerding points out they're developing another bacteria that can counter this deadly one and vaccines are also under development. But for now this deadly disease is something most hospitals are very concerned about, Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Well coming up here next, a rising number of states are reasserting their 10th Amendment rights trying to limit the influence and the intervention of Washington on state affairs. And we'll tell you about the role that politics played in the legal fight over white and Latino firefighters who charge the city of New Haven Connecticut with racial discrimination.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Well new questions tonight about a discrimination case that is going to the Supreme Court. Hearings will be on April 22nd. White and Latino firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut claim they were denied promotions because of their race after taking a promotion exam. That exam, they took it five and a half years ago. It has taken the case more than five years to go through the lower courts and to reach the Supreme Court.

Critics say that is simply too long and they want to know to the degree that politics played a role in the way in which the judicial system has handled this case. Joining me now with more is Karen Torre. She is the attorney representing the 20 firefighters against the city of New Haven. Good to have you with us, Karen.

KAREN TORRE, FIREFIGHTERS' ATTORNEY: Hello, Lou.

DOBBS: Let me ask you, first dealing with the issue of these courts, two years of evidence, hearings and the judge on this case was replaced at the last minute. A summary judgment was sought by both parties in the suit. That is the plaintiffs and the defendant. There are some who say that looks like a peculiar, peculiar decision on the part of the court system and perhaps one of judicial interference and politization of the judicial system. What's your reaction?

TORRE: Oh, I have no comments about that, Lou. I'm not aware of any misconduct. There was a judge change in the case but that happens sometimes in the district courts. And the two years that the case remained in the federal court was not all that unusual. Sometimes these cases can last actually three years or more in the district courts before they can go on to the appellate court.

DOBBS: It is -- well if I may say just on the side there -- let's have a sidebar on the issue of how long it takes to adjudicate in this country. Now this is hardly an advanced society when cases take five, six years to resolve. This is becoming an onerous burden on the people of the United States, correct?

TORRE: Well, certainly in this area of the law, Lou, I think it is a huge problem in this country now where cities cannot fill critical public safety positions in fire and police departments without protracted litigation over virtually every single civil service test that is administered. This has been going on for almost 30 years now.

DOBBS: And, Karen, these firefighters, 19 whites, one Latino, ostensibly, they were denied promotion because no blacks in the fire department were in the top 15 of those taking this test. And there has been no promotion since in five and a half years?

TORRE: It is incredible, isn't it? In this day and age it's a post-9/11 society, this is a major first responder agency on the Eastern Seaboard and the city has not filled these vacancies all these years despite having had before them to choose one of the -- the greatest group of guys you ever met. These guys worked their hearts out, studied their hearts out, prepared so intensely for three months, some studying 12 to 15 hours a day.

They have degrees. They have certificates. They have a lot of experience. They really were such a great benefit to the public, and yet the city turns them down and refuses to hire the most qualified people because it didn't meet the racial quotas that the city had in mind for political reasons.

DOBBS: I talked here with Victor Bolden, the corporation counsel representing the city last night. He said that the city was caught because had they promoted after that exam they would have been subject to lawsuits from both -- from the white, the Latino, and the black firefighters. You know this is a bloody awful mess, when there are clear standards about how to proceed with promotions and the public safety is at risk here.

TORRE: Well, that's one of the problems I think that this case demonstrates, which is, you know, it's a promotion process that is by law supposed to be race neutral, race blind and where everyone is given equal opportunity and where candidates are tested strictly on what matters. Their job knowledge, their ability to lead first responders in dangerous situations and to make life and death decisions.

And somehow, to this day, the government insists on race coding everyone and turning it into a race conscious process. Everyone would be better off if everybody played by the rules. The rules of the game are race neutral and race blind.

And yet what the government does is it puts a race label on everyone and then in the end, looks at the result of any job competition and says we don't like the racial results. So what did people study their hearts out for? What did people go get degrees for?

It seems to me that the government is going in the wrong direction when it starts to punish people for their hard work, punish them for their success and their hard study.

The public wants the best people in command of our public safety agencies. And in New Haven, they had the best people and they refused to accept them because they didn't like the color of their skin. That's not what equal opportunity is all about or the civil rights laws.

DOBBS: The allegation of racial discrimination, part of the evidence you'll be discussing before the Supreme Court, a press release at the mayor's office has prepared for distribution to the civil service board went ahead and gave credence to the eligibility test rather than throwing it out. A 2-2 vote, we should point out, on the part of the civil service commission.

Here is that press release that was apparently ready to go out under the mayor's signature. "We are disappointed to learn that the commissioners have disregarded the advice of corporation counsel and human resources and voted to certify the promotional list. Despite the actions of the civil service board, we will not be forced into discriminatory promotions. Therefore the direction of Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., Chief Michael E. Grant will not be forwarding any names to the board of the Fire Commissioners."

That would be the mayor overturning the civil service commission and what is that all about?

TORRE: Well, that's one of the bits of evidence of many, many bits of evidence that we discovered during the federal court proceeding. All along, Mayor DeStefano's administration tried to make it look like this was a decision on the side of some independent civil service board, when the fact is those board members are political appointees of the mayor. And what ordinarily would have been the establishment of an eligible list was interrupted when the mayor and his top inner circle members started to lobby and pressure the board to scuttle these promotions.

DOBBS: Including the fire commissioner?

TORRE: That's correct, the fire commissioner ultimately threatened the board with political ramifications if they proceeded to promote my clients. But the mayor was prepared to override the board's vote if the vote did not come out the right way. So the suggestion that the board was somehow independent is simply not supportable by the record in this case, which clearly shows a collaboration between the mayor's office and the board.

DOBBS: Before the Supreme Court on the 22nd of this month, what do you expect?

TORRE: Well, I think we expect to get a fair hearing and we look forward to it and no matter what the outcome, I think my clients will be satisfied that the issues in this case which are important will be given very serious consideration by all nine members of the court and you can't ask for anything more than that.

DOBBS: Karen Torre, thanks for being with us. One thing that we think that all of us should be able to ask for is the judicial process that takes under this amount of time to resolve. It's really embarrassing that an industrialized nation would behave this way in this judiciary. We thank you very much, Karen Torre.

TORRE: My pleasure, thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, President Obama defending his economic policies but issuing a warning as well. I'll be joined by three of the best radio talk show hosts in the country. They'll tell us what their listeners are saying.

And states fighting back. They're moving to keep the federal government out of their business, your business, states rights, 10th amendment, the constitution of the United States. It's alive and well, how about that? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: States in this country, 28 of them asserting their constitutional right to sovereignty. More than half the country's states are apparently fed up with Washington's intervention and intrusion in what they consider to be state affairs. Those states now considering legislation to prevent the federal government from intervening and intruding. Bill Tucker has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas appears ready to declare it's sovereignty again. A resolution doing just that has the unabashed endorsement of the state's governor.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I believe the federal government has become oppressive. I believe it's become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of its citizens and its interference with the affairs of our state.

TUCKER: The bill, H.C.R. 50 is currently in Texas's House. It reasserts the constitutionality guarantee of the tenth amendment, which says "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people." H.C.R. 50 is sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat.

BRANDON CREIGHTON (R), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: It's important to me and hopefully the rest of the Texas legislature to stand up for 23 million Texans and to make sure that their constitutional rights are protected.

TUCKER: Texas is not alone. Wisconsin this week added its name to a list of some 33 who have or are presently considering similar legislation. According to the Tenth Amendment Center, a group that supports states in asserting their rights, says the bills were defeated in two states and approved in three others.

The dissatisfaction at the state level ranges from federally mandated increases in spending on Medicaid and education, to federal legislation that requires states to comply with federal policy or lose funding.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is reluctant to call this a trend, but...

KARL KURTZ, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES: I think there is a frustration in certain quarters, particularly among Republicans about the growth of government. And these resolutions are a kind of get government off our backs kind of resolution.

TUCKER: Advocates of the resolutions agree.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKERS: And supporters of the resolution argue that the federal government has shown it is inept at managing its own affairs and therefore should be kept as far as possible out of the management of the business of the states, Lou.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Bill Tucker.

A reminder to vote on our poll tonight, do you think a person concerned about borders and ports that are unsecured, the issue of illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights or a returning veteran from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is likely, as the Department of Homeland Security is suggesting, to be a right wing extremist? Yes or no, cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results here in just a few moments.

Up next, President Obama warns we're not out of the woods yet as he put it. And a new push for so called comprehensive immigration reform. What some call amnesty. We'll be talking about that and more with three of my favorite radio talk show hosts, here next. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now, three of my favorite radio talk show hosts. In Minneapolis, KTLK, Minneapolis, KBRC Houston, Chris Baker. Good to have you with us, Chris. Simulcasting live on WGN in Chicago, my old buddy Steve Cochran.

STEVE COCHRAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What do you mean, old?

DOBBS: Well, you know, as in length of time.

Here in New York, from WOR, John Gambling. John, good to have you.

JOHN GAMBLING, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Lou, great to see you again.

DOBBS: Tea parties tomorrow all across the country.

GAMBLING: I have my lemon, I have my sugar, I'm ready.

COCHRAN: Make sure it's green tea, so it's good and healthy.

GAMBLING: Absolutely, right.

DOBBS: I got a kick out of this, because so much of the media has been focusing on the involvement of some Republican conservative organizations in this and there is always this peculiar omission, no discussion of the professional involvement on the left, but focused like a laser on the professional involvement on the right.

GAMBLING: When the left seems to have dismissed this completely, it's a group of wackos that are going to be assembling at some 500 places across the country.

DOBBS: Is it up to 500?

GAMBLING: Well, that's what I've heard. That's a number I've heard fannied about.

COCHRAN: That's the Lipton number. Lipton is putting that number out.

GAMBLING: The number of tea bags to be served tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see, but I can tell you, as you know, Lou, there is anger across the country about the amount of money being spent and the lack of any tangible evidence that it's doing what the president and others would like it to do.

COCHRAN: You know, Lou, John is exactly right. The lack of forensic accounting on this is a complete joke. You have to keep your checkbook handy. You have to know how much money you have. When you go to the ATM, if you don't have $200, you can't have $200 out of the machine. And nobody can tell you in Congress of the trillions they gave away, where it is, who has it and where it's being spent. It's just ridiculous. To me, it's one of the worst crimes that have happened in a very, very long time in this country. And as you know, that's a challenging list.

DOBBS: It is a challenging list. Go ahead, Chris.

CHRIS BAKER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, one of the things you forget about is you could use the government method at the ATM, which is find a guy who's not as strong as you, club him in the head and take his money. That's what they do. Let's be honest, OK? There's no ATM. These guys are writing checks they can't cash and they're taking the money from you and from me.

And the purpose of this tea party, it's not about Republican versus Democrat, it's about a choice. You either want to be a citizen, a subject or a useful idiot. And that's what we have coming from the left. They can't debate these issues, so they have to demonize who they see as their opponent and that is Americans exercising their First Amendment right. * COCHRAN: Lou, as you know, I try to be the beacon of common sense in an other wide idiot world, but I've got to say this tea party thing is a wonderful thing. And Americans ought to be able to protest. But just to beat a dead horse here, I would like to know where my first few trillion is and how it's being spent. Where's the Web site? Where's the expenditures? What's going out? What's coming in? Call me crazy, I just don't think we've got a handle on it.

GAMBLING: Nobody knows what those numbers are and where it is. I mean, you talked to Barney Frank. I talked with him just this morning. He had no idea either. It's really a crime as has already been said that this is happening to us with nobody doing any accounting.

DOBBS: Is there any wonder, gentlemen?

BAKER: I have an answer.

DOBBS: OK.

BAKER: I have an answer, I have been researching this. The craziest expenditure I have seen so far is Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania too cheer up the people of Pennsylvania, a World Series apparently didn't do it. But they're hiring comics, magicians and mimes, true. Check the facts.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: You said world series. Wasn't the Super Bowl even better?

GAMBLING: Well, the super bowl, yeah.

DOBBS: I would like to go to the -- to given all this, 28 states, we have a new count, 33 states now, looking at, pushing the Tenth Amendment, declaring state sovereignty. This is becoming a very big deal to push the federal government out of the way here.

GAMBLING: Well, they should push back because the federal government over the last 200 years has gotten more and more intrusive with every passing Congress. And this one and the presidency want it to have even more. Look at the educational bills, No Child Left Behind and the new one that Obama wants to modify. I mean, if that's not intrusive, if that's not the federal government getting involved in things that are states rights, I don't know what it is.

DOBBS: Go ahead.

COCHRAN: I was just going to say, but you've got to keep in mind people that have to get their minds out of "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" for 20 minutes and realize this is going on.

I'm not knocking folks, everybody's busy. These are difficult times. You've got to work, but this ratification, Tenth Amendment issue, is bigger than the tea parties and is a really big deal and I would guess I could stop 100 people out here on Michigan Avenue and a good chunk of them wouldn't know what's going. However, it sends a great political message. I just wonder who's listening.

DOBBS: That's a great point. We also have another issue that is building and that is the surprise, I think it's fair to say a surprise announcement that comprehensive immigration reform, Chris, will be a major initiative this year on the part of the Obama administration. Just when you thought it was safe to -- yes?

BAKER: Everybody's cashing in on their election investment. And that's exactly what this is. They're cashing in on their election investment with this administration. What people seem to not realize, what they don't realize about this issue is that by opening the borders and forgetting about the rule of law, you are now welcoming the exact same corruption that has destroyed Mexico. The country of Mexico's government is historically corrupt.

And, you know, this is only bringing the same corruption and lawlessness right into our country. I know. I've lived on this border for a long time. I've seen it every day. I've watched these smuggling gangs force 13-year-old girls into prostitution. I've watched them shoot up my neighborhoods.

This is dangerous. It's absolute pure evil. And it's a human rights abuse that has never been fully covered the way it should be. This is only opening the door to more lawlessness and the same exact corruption that has destroyed the Mexican economy will now start working on our own economy.

COCHRAN: Lou, I wish you'd talk about it. I wish you'd bring up immigration occasionally.

BAKER: Have you heard about this, Lou?

COCHRAN: It's really, Lou, it's a growing issue. You've got to get on this.

(CROSSTALK)

GAMBLING: Isn't it the same that you're seeing with Iran and Cuba? I mean, it falls into the same sort of, you know, let's put our arms around everybody and things will be better and things will get right.

COCHRAN: Well, but here's the deal. And I do salute you, Lou, because this would not even be a national issue if you and your staff hadn't done the work you've done over the last five plus years. But having said that, this is where the cowardice of Congress works in your favor if you're against this idea because it is a foolish idea.

Nobody is going to step up in Congress and vote for this. And the same way they haven't voted for a comprehensive bill of any kind positively or negatively. Again, it's a lot of words, it's a lot of noise, it's a lot of luster. But unless we take the border security seriously and Congress steps up and does their job, it's going to be fine. It doesn't matter what the AFL-CIO says or any other union.

DOBBS: We're going to be back with our panel in just one moment, stay with us. But first, coming up at the top of the hour, "No Bias, No Bull." Roland Martin in for Campbell Brown. Roland?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, stunning new information about growing number of American-born children whose parents are illegal immigration. We'll debate what our government should do about this.

Also, President Barack Obama says his strategy to jump-start the economy is working and he says this is no time to pull back. The question is, is he right and are we really seeing glimmers of hope? Ali Velshi will be here with "The Real Deal."

And just days after U.S. forces rescue the firefighter captain, Richard Phillips -- the freighter captain, I'm sorry, Somali pirates are back in business, seizing more ships in the Indian Ocean. We'll look at just what the Pentagon is prepared to do when it comes to protecting Americans at sea. All of that, Lou, at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: It will be interesting to know what those countries whose citizens are being held hostage are prepared to do as well, wouldn't it?

MARTIN: Great point.

DOBBS: Roland, thanks a lot. Good to see you, we'll be looking forward to it at the top of the hour.

Up next, more with the panel and tonight's poll results. Stay with us, we're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: We're back with our panel, Chris Baker, Steve Cochran, John Gambling. Let's turn to Steve Cochran. Steve, the president, he's talking about glimmers of hope. The rhetoric has turned positive. He's cautious and realistic. But he's talking more positively. That's got to be helpful, don't you think? COCHRAN: Well, I think it does help. I don't really know what the point of the speech was today. We were talking about this last hour on my show here in Chicago on WGN, note the cheap plug I just worked in.

DOBBS: Yes, we missed the microphone.

COCHRAN: Yeah, yeah. Well, I don't entirely -- you know, it's managing expectations. I just don't know what the speech did today as far as moving the agenda goes. It's better, nobody's running out into the streets throwing $100 bills around. Times are tough. I think most people know that.

I think it's another example of Washington underestimating the intelligence of the American public. I mean, everybody knows it's tough.

GAMBLING: The president said in the speech, in the hour-long speech today three times, "We have got to do this now. We have got to do this now." And repeated it one more time before he finish up.

And I must admit, I think Americans have had enough of this. We've been told, we must do it now for the last six months. And we haven't seen -- again, I come back to where I started. We haven't seen anything.

DOBBS: And it's strange to hear anyone, the president or anyone else, and we've heard a number of people say it, during a recession, encouraging people to spend money. You know, it's the wrong antidote for most people's whose budgets are just being crushed.

GAMBLING: Well, he can ask anybody to do that that he wants, but we just don't have any money. People don't have any money.

DOBBS: It just seems prudent at best. Go ahead, Chris.

BAKER: Here's what I don't understand about this guy, is one day, things are getting better. Then all of a sudden, oh, it's not that good, be careful. It seems to be that there's more covering up for in case things go bad again, they won't be able to be blamed.

But why are listening to a guy talk about finances and actually waiting for him to say something that's going to stimulate our economy from a guy that couldn't even buy his own house? I mean, I don't understand why we're listening to ...

DOBBS: Well, he is the president of the United States. That would be my first answer.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: I'm sorry, Steve?

COCHRAN: I'm just saying as president of the United States -- as president of the United States, he'll generally get an audience. Whether or not you like what he says or not. Look, if you look the Dow as a scorecard, it's up 1,000 points. Things aren't proceeding in the right direction. But today, it was a purely political speech, another thing you get to do if you're president.

DOBBS: And how about the U.S. Navy Seals? We're not going to close without.

GAMBLING: Absolutely.

BAKER: Awesome.

COCHRAN: The best.

DOBBS: What a job, the United States Navy, those Navy Seals, it's terrific.

COCHRAN: God bless them and go get the rest of them. Who knew even the French would be helping us?

DOBBS: Whoa, whoa, why are we going after the other ones, they didn't do anything to us?

COCHRAN: Well, they got three more ships today.

DOBBS: But they're nor ours. Let somebody else take care of their own for a change.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Chris, Steve, thank you very much.

COCHRAN: Here, here.

BAKER: We talk, they...

DOBBS: They pirate.

BAKER: Yeah. I don't know why they said, the pirates weren't scared, they took three, four more ships. Yeah, they're pirates, that's what they do.

DOBBS: You know what we do here? We talk. Sometimes, we talk too long. This is one of those occasions. I take complete responsibility. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Appreciate your time. We've got to move on here.

Tonight's poll results. I'm in trouble. My producers are going to kill me, 92 percent of you say a person concerned about borders and ports that are unsecured, if you're worried about illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights or a returning veteran from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not likely as the Homeland Security Department suggests to be a right-wing extremist. Are you listening Janet Napolitano?

And let's quickly take a look at just a couple of your thoughts. Tom in Texas says, "Our system no longer works, taxation without representation. We've come full circle." And Michael in Michigan, "I love the way you promote honest and unbiased reporting. Thank you for simply telling it the way it is."

Send your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book, "Independents Day." And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Go to LouDobbsRadio.com to get the listings in your area.

We thank you for being with us tonight. "No Bias, No Bull" starts right now. And in for Campbell Brown, none other than Roland Martin. Roland?

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