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Bailing out GM; Lost at sea; Red Storm Rising; Rights under Assault

Aired June 1, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. Good evening, everybody.

The Obama administration is in effect nationalizing General Motors. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. We'll have complete coverage and one of GM's top executives joins us here.

Also, rescuers are searching tonight a huge area of the Atlantic Ocean after an airliner disappeared on a flight from Brazil to France; the aircraft carrying 228 people. We'll have the very latest for you.

And new controversy over Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor and her position on group and identity politics -- this after her court ruled in favor of the city of New Haven in a racial discrimination lawsuit. That's the topic of our "Face-Off" debate here tonight.

And we'll examine the threat to free speech in this country with author Brian Jenkins (ph) who's written an important new book entitled "Censorship".

We begin tonight with the effective nationalization of General Motors. President Obama today declared the federal government will own 60 percent of General Motors after it emerges from bankruptcy. This after GM filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court. The government will give another $30 billion of financial aid to General Motors in addition to the $20 billion that it's already provided.

The president today insists he has no interest in running General Motors. Suzanne Malveaux has our report from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Car giant General Motors is bankrupt and the American people now own it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are acting as reluctant shareholders because that is the only way to help GM succeed.

MALVEAUX: That's the president's line, notably a tough sell to American taxpayers who have already shelled out $20 billion to GM in low interest loans and will now be forking over another $30 billion. The president at times sounded like the reluctant car salesman in chief. OBAMA: What I have no interest in doing is running GM. Our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hand's off approach and get out quickly.

MALVEAUX: But the federal government will now own 60 percent of GM, a company already $172 billion in the red. Unclear is how Obama's team remains hand's off while protecting the taxpayers' investment.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Is the president going to thumb through engineering reports and each page of the annual report? No.

MALVEAUX: But previously, the president had said GM's business model was not working and needed to be changed. The new total of help from the federal government is about $50 billion, just a little more than the federal government wants to spend next year on education, but would only account for about four months of last year's spending on the Iraq war. Regardless, entering the messy business of now owning a failing auto icon, the president made it clear, he is intent on avoiding the political mine field.

OBAMA: When a difficult decision has to be made on matters like where to open a new plant or what type of new car to make, the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision.


MALVEAUX: But the president is pushing GM to make more fuel efficient cars to produce them here at home as opposed to abroad, but the administration it means simply it is dependent on this new board it is help selecting to hope that it perhaps contributes and cooperates with the president's agenda and Lou, the big question here is the end game, when does the government get out of the auto business industry and one senior administration official in the auto task force this evening admitting that two to five years would be in his words a good outcome. Lou?

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Suzanne -- Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

The restructuring of General Motors comes at a huge cost of the company's workers, its dealers, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost, also another setback of what is left of this country's manufacturing industry. Brooke Baldwin has our report.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beginning of a new General Motors signals the end of an era for America's middle class as part of its bankruptcy and restructuring plan, GM will close 14 factories and three warehouses. As many as 20,000 U.S. workers will lose their jobs by the end of next year. The largest of those facilities employs several thousand workers in both Michigan and Tennessee. The mayor of Lansing, Michigan, is calling this historic day an American tragedy. MAYOR VIRG BERNERO, LANSING: They've outsourced the American dream; the American standard of living is what they've been pushing overseas and taking our jobs. These other countries didn't steal our jobs, we gave them away.

BALDWIN: According to GM, by the year 2013 it will have reduced outsourcing to below 30 percent of the vehicles it produces for sale in the United States. Gertrude Foster, 24-year GM veteran knows the government is throwing GM a $50 billion lifeline, a huge expense for American taxpayers.

GERTRUDE FOSTER, GM EMPLOYEE: And people say, well, the taxpayers are paying all the loans, well I'm a taxpayer. (INAUDIBLE) and this is my job. You know. What are you going to do? It's like a day by day situation.

BALDWIN: It's not just the workers but dealerships who are hanging on day by day. GM announced it will shut more than 2,000 U.S. dealerships by next year, which could lead to as many as 100,000 job losses and according to the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, this job hemorrhaging is just the beginning.

SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMER. MANUFACTURING: The ripple effect from today's announcement is going to spread throughout the supply chain and every state is going to be affected and I don't think, unfortunately, the American people are going to realize that until it's too late.


BALDWIN: Some, perhaps (INAUDIBLE) will call it silver lining here. There is news of a potential plant opening or I should say really a reopening. Last Friday GM announced it would build a smaller fuel efficient car at one of its idle plants here in the U.S. and we did learn today that the plant would be one of the UAW plants, what they're referring as standby status. Either we're hearing the assembly plant in (INAUDIBLE) Michigan, Spring Hill (ph), Tennessee, or one recently closed in Jamesville (ph), Wisconsin, but the plants do not win that bid, Lou, will likely be closed, at least that saves some jobs from the chopping block.

DOBBS: Some jobs, but unfortunately there will be far more losers than winners in this.


DOBBS: All right, thank you very much, Brooke. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

DOBBS: Brooke Baldwin. One of the key figures in the president's so-called auto task force is a 31-year-old former campaign aide to then Senator Obama. Brian Deese (ph) is officially a, quote, "special assistant to the president for economic policy". But he's also one of the most influential figures now in the restructuring of the American automobile industry. His powerful position, a reminder of another 30-something advisor, Neel Kashkari, who played a pivotal role in the government's huge bailout of the banks during the Bush administration -- Kashkari who's 35 years old continued serving in the Treasury Department after President Obama took office. We believe Kashkari is no longer working for the government, but the Treasury Department today wouldn't return our phone calls when we sought some of that much wanted transparency.

President Obama today also highlighted the latest developments in Chrysler's bankruptcy. President Obama said Chrysler is gaining what he called a new lease on life. This after a judge last night approved the sale of most of its assets to Fiat of Italy. The United Auto Workers union will own 55 percent of the new company. The United States and Canadian governments which are giving billions of dollars in loans to Chrysler will own 10 percent.

As General Motors filed for bankruptcy, we learned that GM is being dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 83 years in the index. Another company that could be nationalized, Citigroup is also being dropped from the index. Cisco will replace General Motors, the insurance company Travelers once part of Citigroup will take Citi's position in the Dow. Those changes effective next Monday.

Turning to what could be the worst commercial airline disaster since 2001; rescuers are tonight searching a huge area of the Atlantic Ocean for an Air France jetliner carrying 228 people, including two Americans. The jetliner disappeared almost 24 hours ago, the Airbus 330 jet left Rio de Janeiro at about 6:20 p.m. Eastern Time last night.

Air traffic control's last contact with the plane was at 9:30 p.m. At 10:00 p.m. the aircraft apparently hit an area of powerful thunderstorms and high turbulence. A few minutes later, Air France received an automatic message indicating that the aircraft had a malfunction in its electrical systems. As the search intensifies French President Sarkozy said, "The prospects of finding survivors are now very small." Brian Todd has our report.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A massive air and sea search that may never provide definite answers on the fate of flight 447. Air France officials say the plane experienced turbulence and electrical problems before it vanished in or near what experts call the intertropical convergence zone, an area where the northern and southern hemispheres and their trade winds meet spawning some of the world's most severe thunderstorms. Experts say a lightning strike is a possibility, but...

JOHN WILEY, FORMER AIRBUS PILOT: On average every airliner is struck at least once a year by a lightning strike. They don't go down.

TODD: Experts say when lightning strikes a plane the bolt typically hits a sharp part of it, a wing tip or a tail surface, millions of amps of energy run through the aircraft and usually exit out another sharp point. But sometimes if components aren't well grounded high voltages can cause electrical damage.

This plane, an Airbus 330, is equipped with a fly-by wire system. Unlike standard aircraft where the pilot's controls are manually attached to control surfaces like rudders and flaps with fly-by wire the pilot's controls in the cockpit are linked to the movable surfaces by electrical wires and computers, so essentially a signal is sent to move those devices. Experts say there are backup fly-by wire computers and wires, but a lightning strike could possibly disable those as well.

PROF. JOHN HANSMAN, MASS. INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: If you have a massive electrical problem it's possible that you could cut off all the commands of the control surfaces.

TODD (on camera): We asked Airbus for a briefing on possible causes, on the electrical warning system, what protections are built in for lightning strikes. An Airbus spokeswoman said it's way too early at this stage and the company does not want to engage in speculation.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


DOBBS: Lightning strikes on commercial aircraft are common. Each large passenger jetliner on average is struck by lightning every three years. Regional aircraft, which fly at much lower altitudes, are struck far more frequently, about once a year. Most incidents end with little or no damage to the aircraft. If there is damage it's usually superficial such as small dents in the fuselage.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner goes to communist China in what critics say is an effort to appease Beijing and North Korea at it still, ignoring warnings from the Obama administration.


DOBBS: Intelligence officials tonight say North Korea is now preparing to fire a long-range missile designed to reach Alaska and Hawaii. This after North Korea's nuclear weapons test a week ago and a series of short-range missile tests over the past week. North Korea's defiance comes despite a new warning from Defense Secretary Robert Gates who said the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us. At the end of the day, the choice to continue as a destitute international pariah or chart a new course is North Korea's alone to make. The world is waiting.


DOBBS: It's not clear what, if anything the United States would do were North Korea to continue its nuclear and missile programs. U.S. troops in South Korea remain in what the Pentagon calls a heightened watch condition.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is tonight in North Korea's closest ally, communist China. They're discussing the global economy, more specifically the U.S. economy. Geithner is trying to convince Beijing that its huge holdings of dollar assets are safe, despite a worsening U.S. budget deficit and sinking dollar. Some say Geithner's trying to appease Beijing after his tough talk on communist China before he became treasury secretary. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in a speech at Peking University (ph) this week had a completely different tone when it came to China than he did just a few months ago. Critics were hoping for stronger comments on trade and the needs of U.S. manufacturers. After all, as treasury secretary sticking up for manufacturers is Geithner's job.

He did not address the issue except briefly in the last lines of the speech. "We expect increased opportunities to export and to invest in the Chinese economy." Back in January when Secretary Geithner was confirmed by the Senate he strongly accused China of manipulating their currency. Back on the campaign trail, President Obama also took a hard line accusing China of currency manipulation and closing its markets to exports -- in Pittsburgh, April 2008.

OBAMA: It's not fair to you and we are going to change it when I'm president of the United States of America.

PILGRIM: In South Dakota the following month.

OBAMA: China devalues its currency to make our exports more expensive and their exports cheaper.

PILGRIM: So what happened to all the tough talk -- a $2 trillion deficit? China is the chief banker for the U.S. government holding some $768 billion in treasury securities. A former economist with the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency, says U.S. policy when it comes to China is misguided.

PROF. PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Frankly we shouldn't be borrowing so much from China. We shouldn't be thanking them for buying our bonds because the reason they have so many dollars is that they manipulate their currency. They essentially print their currency; sell them for dollars to keep their exports cheap.


PILGRIM: Now when asked today if they were worried that China would stop buying U.S. debt the White House spokesman said the U.S. was not concerned about it. Back in March Chinese Premier Nguyen (ph) called on the U.S. to quote, "guarantee the safety of China's assets." Geithner assured China its investments in U.S. financial assets are very safe. Lou? DOBBS: And I'm sure there's a great discussion involved about currency manipulation, China promised to end that, I'm sure, as a condition for any further discussion.

PILGRIM: It was very lightly glossed over and it was -- not really gone to in the...

DOBBS: What has happened to this administration, this president who was going to be so tough, who was going to be so straightforward and demand responses to these huge policy decisions?

PILGRIM: Well you know, some people thought this speech was so conciliatory that Geithner actually sort of blamed the U.S. for the financial crisis and said you know the shortcomings we've been damaging the -- you know...

DOBBS: Oh my gosh.

PILGRIM: You may learn from our shortcomings. It was -- it was not exactly the kind of speech that everyone was hoping...

DOBBS: That a U.S. treasury secretary is expected to be making abroad I believe would be the construction there. Thank you very much, Kitty -- terrific report -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Well while the country's economy is suffering, recent trips by President Obama have added a fairly large tab for taxpayers. Last week the president flew to Las Vegas for what was a two-day fund raising trip. The National Taxpayers Association estimates that trip cost taxpayers just under $300,000.

This weekend the president flew to New York with his wife for dinner and a Broadway show. The entourage took three smaller aircraft, apparently to keep costs lower. The White House won't comment on the cost of the evening, but a modest estimate just for the aircraft alone is just about $25,000. President Obama is said to have paid for his own theater tickets. Those come in at about 97 bucks apiece.

Apologies from Congressman Charles Rangel tonight for comments that he made in reference to a police shooting in New York City and in Harlem and to the president's own safety. Saturday, Congressman Rangel was at a news conference discussing the shooting of a black police officer in Harlem -- that shooting by a fellow police officer who was white.

When asked about the president's visit to New York, he said, quote, "Make sure he doesn't run around East Harlem unidentified. There's no question that being of color puts you in jeopardy in communities like Harlem and East Harlem." His comment drew immediate criticism.

Mayor Bloomberg said the congressman's comment was just plain wrong. Today Rangel issued his apology saying "It was entirely inappropriate to bring the president and his wife into this discussion during their visit to New York and I hope my off-the-cuff comment did not cause embarrassment to anyone."

An abortion doctor a target of threats for decades, murdered in church and the daring rescue of two men clinging for life at the edge of a waterfall.


DOBBS: The suspect in the murder of a Kansas abortion doctor is in jail tonight, 51-year-old Scott Roeder is accused of killing Dr. George Tiller. Tiller is one of the few doctors in the country who perform late-term abortions. Dr. Tiller was ushering at the Reformation Lutheran Church (ph) in Wichita, Kansas, yesterday when he was shot once and killed.

Tiller ran the Women's Health Care Services Clinic in Wichita. It is one of three clinics in the United States that perform late term abortions. Dr. Tiller had been a major target of anti-abortion protests for decades. He is the fourth abortion doctor in this country to be killed. The suspect, Scott Roeder, was a regular protester of abortion.

Health officials in California have confirmed two deaths related to swine flu. Both of the victims were middle aged and according to health officials both had preexisting medical conditions. There have been more than 800 confirmed cases of swine flu in California. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed 17 deaths in the United States from swine flu, not including these two deaths in California.

Other stories we're following here tonight -- in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of our soldiers was killed and another wounded in a drive-by shooting at an Army Navy Recruiting Center. Police now say the shooting may have had political and religious motives. Authorities have identified the alleged shooter as 24-year-old Carlos Bledsoe, now known as Abdula Hakim Muhammad (ph).

Muhammad converted to Islam and police say the attack stems from his disagreement with military actions. Authorities say Muhammad was targeting the military and appears to have acted alone. He faces one count of capital murder, 15 counts of engaging in terrorism.

In Virginia, a dramatic rescue, two fishermen were forced to abandon their boat at the top of a 75-foot dam when their engine failed. They grabbed on to a pole just before their boat went over the edge. Rescuers in a helicopter tried to drop life jackets to the men, but one of them let go of the pole and was -- and grabbed that line instead. Rescuers then were forced to drag him through the water to safety. They then were able to double back and to drop a net to save the second fishermen. Both men tonight are uninjured and OK.

In Indianola, Iowa, a police officer caught an unusual getaway on his dash cam. He was driving down a busy road when a deer sprinted across -- there you see him leaping over the hood of the car. The police officer said the deer caught him completely by surprise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OFFICER DAN DEFFENBAUGH, INDIANOLA POLICE DEPT.: I don't know who was scared more, the deer or me. I think as you watch the video, I wish that you could see my face expression. I think we probably had the same expression.


DOBBS: He said the deer appeared to aim for his car and when asked why, he replied maybe it doesn't like cops.

Well General Motors effectively becomes government motors; a top GM executive joins me here to explain what's next and Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, group and identity politics and her controversial ruling in the New Haven firefighters' case. That's our "Face-Off" debate.


DOBBS: President Obama again finds himself having to explain comments made by his nominees or aides. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's 2001 comments sparking controversy. She said more often than not a Latino judge would reach a better decision than a white male. Critics concerned the judge will put identity politics above the law. The president in an interview with "NBC News" Friday tried to ease criticism of his nominee.


OBAMA: I'm sure she would have restated it, but if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through that will make her a good judge.


DOBBS: The president has also toned down remarks by his attorney general or at least tried to on Second Amendment rights. Attorney General Eric Holder on a trip to Mexico said the president would quote, "reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons, but White House secretary -- press secretary Robert Gibbs said there are no plans to push for the assault weapons ban, saying quote, "I think the president believes there are other strategies we can take to enforce the laws that are already on our books."

Judge Sotomayor's rulings on Second Amendment issues raising concerns -- her court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled the Second Amendment does not guarantee rights on the state level, which could lead to new state efforts to further erode the rights of gun owners in this country. Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The right to keep and bear arms is not a right enjoyed by or guaranteed to all Americans. There are six states that have no state constitutional guarantee of the right to bear arms, which is why gun owners want to know where Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor stands on the issue. Some see previous rulings as cause for alarm.

PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: There are two cases that suggest that she did not view the right to bear arms as a fundamental right. That leaves open the possibility that she would vote against the application of that right to the state.

TUCKER: Those two cases are U.S. vs. Sanchez Velar (ph) in 2004 and in this past January in Maloney vs. Cuomo (ph). Both cases decided in the Second Circuit of Appeals by a panel on which Judge Sotomayor served. The court wrote that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms imposes a limitation only on the federal government, not state governments. Neither decision is deemed to be out of the judicial mainstream and even some pro second amendment lawyers say where she stands is not cut and dry.

DON KILMER, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: There is an implied finding that maybe she's not friendly to the second amendment, but I think that that's wholly unfair to the judge. I think she should be asked, do you believe in the right of self-defense. Setting aside the second amendment itself, do you believe in the right of self-defense?

TUCKER: This past April, Kilmer won a California case in which the federal appeals court ruled that right to bear arms is a fundamental right, but not all courts have determined that right to be fundamental and it's not the only one in the bill of rights that doesn't apply to the states. The others are the right to a grand jury proceeding, the right to a trial by jury in cases involving more than $20, and the right to not have a militia in your home without content.


TUCKER: The question where Sotomayor stands on gun rights becomes more important with new developments in the ninth circuit. A judge on that court has requested that the entire court review its ruling of this past April. We don't know which judge requested the vote or even why. We don't even know, Lou, when the vote will be taken.

DOBBS: We know one thing, at least one judge didn't like the result.

TUCKER: Exactly right.

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

Another important ruling by Judge Sotomayor is under scrutiny and that is the topic of our face-off debate tonight. The judge's court upheld a decision that favored the city of New Haven, Connecticut, in a racial discrimination lawsuit. 20 white and Latino fire fighters with the highest scores on the test sued after the city of New Haven threw out that examine and its results because the city said the test was unfair to black fire fighters who did not score among the top 20. The case is before the U.S. Supreme Court now and joining me to discuss all of this is Ed Whelan the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center critical of the judge's ruling in this case. Good to have you with us. Professional Alan Dershowitz from Harvard Law School who says the judge's court made the right decision. Good to have you with us.

Let's turn, Mr. Whelan, you said the judge got the case wrong, why?

ED WHELAN, PRES. ETHICS & PUBLIC POLICY CTR.: The basic problem is that Judge Sotomayor and her panel of colleagues didn't give the plaintiff fire fighters a fair shake. They tried to bury their claims and fortunately, Judge Jose Cabranis a Clinton appointee, a fellow Hispanic and in fact a long-time mentor to Judge Sotomayor called out the panel on it, wrote an extraordinary dissent in which he exposed all these shenanigans and said they're important claims here, these folks deserve better than you gave.

So that's the basic problem. Frankly this is a flip side of President Obama's empathy standard. If you're going to invite justices to indulge in empathy towards certain litigants, the flip side of that is you're going to end up with antipathy against other litigants. That's what the white firefighters faced here.

DOBBS: Ed Whelan brings up the idea of symmetry, if you will, when it comes to empathy. What do you think of that, Professor?

PROF. ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: First of all, you have to understand this is a case that doesn't reflect judicial activism. What she did is she and the lower court upheld the decision of the New Haven city elected officials presumably, and appointed officials, Democratically selected officials, and so she didn't interpose any judicial activism.

Second, it's a very difficult case. Everybody recognizes it's a closed case. The oral argument in the Supreme Court showed a very, very divided court. It may come out the other way, but you don't judge a judicial candidate by how she wrote an opinion. Her name is not even on the majority opinion, in one case. This doesn't necessarily reflect how she views affirmative action, quotas. I think the people who may be the most disappointed in Judge Sotomayor is going to be the extreme left wingers who may find that she's too centrist and not politically correct on issues of abortion, issues of affirmative action, prosecution, the death penalty, separation of church and state.

DOBBS: It's amazing when you put it that way, Professor, that President Obama would have even bothered to nominate her. You're so convincing.

DERSHOWITZ: I think he's a centrist. Obama is a centrist so it wouldn't surprise me if she became a centrist.

DOBS: A professor but an advocate always. Good to have you with us, Professor. Judge Sotomayor, as Alan Dershowitz points out, Ed Whelan, this is basically less than a page long, the decision that was the foundation for what the Supreme Court is adjudicating now. Why so much of this one case and why do we -- what are we to gain from her -- about her judicial philosophy studying this one case?

WHELAN: It's precisely because it was such a dismissive treatment of the case, that's what Judge Cabranis circumstance complained about. I'm glad to hear Alan say this is a closed case because most of the judge's defenders have been saying this is a slam dunk. Only if it were a slam dunk, only if it were completely dictated by precedent could you begin to understand the treatment the second circuit gave it. It appears there were shenanigans going on, Judge Cabranis called it out. He said this case far from being unimportant as the panel treats it is so important that the Supreme Court needs to address these issues at first impression.

DERSHOWITZ: What do you mean shenanigans?

WHELAN: The shenanigans Alan are the ones that Judge Cabranis pointed out. In the first place, the panel tried to use a summary order, non-presidential, to utterly bury the case so no one would know anything about it.

DERSHOWITZ: It's very common in the second circuit.

WHELAN: On some cases, Alan. Not on a case like this. When Judge Cabranis, when they were aware the judge was exposing what they were doing, they switched it then to a per curium published order that incorporated by reference the court opinion and again, in a way that --

DOBBS: Let me ask you this, Professor Dershowitz, you talked about a closed case at the appellate level, is -- after the oral arguments, most people at least with whom we spoke seemed to think that the court was expressing great reservations about the appellate court decision or at least suggesting at least they inferred I guess we can leave it at that. Which way do you expect the decision to come down from this Supreme Court?

DERSHOWITZ: I think they may very well reverse the second circuit. It would be very interesting to see what happens if they go out of their way to criticize the lower court decision and thereby interject themselves into the confirmation process. That would truly be a shenanigan. I doubt we'll see that. I think we'll see a judicial decision indicating it's a very close case. There's been extremely technical case, it really has to do with what standard of review applies, whether it's strict scrutiny in this case or another kind of standard of review. This will not make exciting reading for the average reader unless one of the justices aboard go out of their way to make this into a decision about Judge Sotomayor.

DOBBS: Whelan, shaking his head.

WHELAN: In this case, the Obama justice department in its brief to the Supreme Court said that Judge Sotomayor got it wrong.

DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

WHELAN: You have the White House spinning things in a way that's at war not just with the judge but the Obama justice department. You may have all nine justices, perhaps differing on the rational, but all saying that Judge Sotomayor and her colleagues got this one wrong. The case may involve technical issues but hugely important matter for every day Americans.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree. She may have the decision wrong and a great justice and a centrist justice who may disappoint people on both extremes.

DOBBS: There's no possibility she would be a liberal justice, is that right, Professor?

DERSHOWITZ: I think she's not going to be liberal in the traditional sense of the form.

DOBBS: So she'll be a nontraditional liberal justice?

DERSHOWITZ: I hope so. I hope she doesn't fit into any conventional labels. Those have been the best justices.

DOBBS: Ed Whelan, final word?

WHELAN: Only by the standards of liberal academia would Judge Sotomayor be anything other than a hard left justice.

DOBBS: All right. So we have a range of choices and we appreciate your providing those choices, gentlemen. Thank you. Professor Dershowitz, Ed Whelan, thank you.

The latest effort by pro amnesty groups to pressure Congress. This time they're calling for a boycott of the census and a top General Motors executive joins me to tell us what General Motors can do with another $30 billion.


DOBBS: A new era tonight for the automobile industry in this country. General Motors today filing for bankruptcy, the federal government will own 60 percent of the company. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that General Motors is now Obama Mortors. Joining me is Raymond Young, the chief financial officer of General Motors. Good to have you with us.

RAYMOND YOUNG, CFO, GENERAL MOTORS: Thanks, Lou, for inviting us.

DOBBS: I know these have to be awfully tough times for everybody at General Motors. What you're doing here going into bankruptcy, is there some acknowledgement here that perhaps it's something you should have done much, much sooner?

YOUNG: Lou, in fact when we started the process of looking at our alternatives, what we called contingency planning late last year, we went to Congress to discuss with Congress support for our company as we headed into the economic downturn. We started the process of bankruptcy around December, but over the course of last five months we clearly became a lot more knowledgeable of what it can do and can't do.

DOBBS: How many plants are you going to close in the United States?

YOUNG: We're going to close 14 plants. I mean a lot of it is accelerated actions that we've already previously announced.

DOBBS: What will be the size of the payroll in the United States when you get through?

YOUNG: It's still going to be significant. We're still going to have like 40,000 hourly employees and about 25,000 salary employees. We're still going to represent an important economic force in the American economy here.

DOBBS: Yeah. And what was it, 20 years ago?

YOUNG: It was significantly larger. Then again --

DOBBS: About a half million?

YOUNG: About half a million. But we're far more efficient nowadays as well in terms of number of hours it takes.

DOBBS: That's a lot of folks paying for efficiency I think in the eyes of many. Particularly with $30 billion in taxpayer money now coming for General Motors, $20 billion already advanced. That's -- that works out to just about a million dollars a job for the taxpayer doesn't it?

YOUNG: Yeah. This is a significant ask from the American taxpayers and we take this very, very seriously. We looked at all our options over the course of last year, this year in terms of how we can raise capital, but unfortunately we came to the conclusion that there was no other alternative but to seek support from the American government.

DOBBS: It's -- have you got a sense, we talked with the folks in the Obama administration, the federal government, the treasury, they don't have an idea, at least one they'll share with us, as to how long it will take for General Motors for a profitable, robust, successful company. Does General Motors?

YOUNG: Yes, we do, Lou. The plans that we had presented to the automotive task force are very aggressive plans.

DOBBS: When will you be?

YOUNG: We believe we will get our cost structure down so we will break even on a basis at a 10 million U.S. industry, assuming some level of modest U.S. economic recovery, we should be well above the 10 million unit next year.

DOBBS: That assumes a middle scenario between what has been historically a much higher unit as you put it, automobile industry, there are those who don't believe that we're going to see the American consumer return in the next five years to anything like their patterns of behavior as consumers of new cars, for at least five years. What is your strategic thinking?

YOUNG: Our sense is that it will take a while before we return to what we call normalized trend volumes here in the United States for our industry. We think --

DOBBS: I love those expressions.

YOUNG: 17 million units we believe something would be a normal industry. We're not predicting levels of that recovery any time soon. We believe the replacement rate on our industry is 12.5 million units. Even next year we may get towards that level. Our objective is to make money even at a replacement rate level.

DOBBS: Break even you reach by when?

YOUNG: We believe in North America we could make money next year assuming a modest industry recovery.

DOBBS: The plants that will be kept open, there's great controversy as you know about the idea that General Motors or any company receiving taxpayer money would be shutting down American plants, moving that production to a foreign producer, Mexico, Canada, wherever it might be, and then shipping that product into the United States economy. And displacing American jobs. That's precisely what you intend to do.

YOUNG: When you look at the data, Lou, in the United States, about two-thirds of the products sold in the United States is built in the United States. That ratio has been fairly consistent over the past few years. In fact, we made a commitment to the UAW that we're going to build the new small car in the United States going forward which will increase the ratio. There's a perception that we bring cars in from China. In fact, for General Motors China, 99 percent of the vehicles built in China are sold in China.

DOBBS: I have no such impression but I have a very clear impression that just about a quarter of every car you're making right now is made somewhere else. And when you're making parts, when you are building cars and assembling them with that large a percentage of the product built somewhere else, those are American jobs that are lost to those foreign chief producers. Am I incorrect in my analysis?

YOUNG: When you think of NAFTA, Kenda for example is a major producer of vehicles and ship vehicles to the United States. A lot of the Canadian vehicles are built in the United States and shipped to Canada. That's part of the reason the Canadian and Ontario government --

DOBBS: I would be wrong to think your reason for outsourcing jobs is for reasons of efficiency and cost effectiveness?

YOUNG: The economy is important in our industry and that's the reason we have NAFTA which helps us reduce the costs of our vehicles that are sold here in North America. DOBBS: It sure tears up the united auto workers union and our manufacturing?

YOUNG: The UAW understands the importance of --

DOBBS: I'm not suggesting what the United Auto Workers Union understands or doesn't. As a matter of fact, American manufacturing power and capacity and our manufacturing base has been torn up under the business practices followed by not just General Motors, but the multinationals who are taking advantage of, whether it be NAFTA or business practices that permit the offshoring of production and the outsourcing of American jobs that displaces American workers from good, strong, high-paying jobs?

YOUNG: Again, Lou, we are an American company. We're --

DOBBS: Hallelujah.

YOUNG: We're making a commitment --

DOBBS: $30 billion more of an American company.

YOUNG: We take this very seriously. For us to ask the American taxpayers to support us is a huge responsibility on the part of our management team here. So from our perspective we're making a commitment to build a new small car here in the United States. We believe it's the right business decision. Setting aside the political decision we believe that's the right business decision for our company.

DOBBS: So do I. Let be clear about that. I think it's the right decision for General Motors to tell President Obama and his, as he puts it, auto task force, it's time to straighten out business practices that permit multinationals to take advantage of the world's richest consumer market and to displace American workers. It's time for people to do a little better thinking than that in Washington, D.C. We appreciate you being with us. We wish you and General Motors all the very best of luck.

YOUNG: Lou, thank you very much. I wanted to thank the American taxpayers for their support.

DOBBS: Indeed. Thank you very much.

A move to boycott the 2010 census to force comprehensive immigration reform and the political push to censor talk radio.


DOBBS: Ethnocentric special interest groups in California tonight are trying to pressure illegal aliens to boycott next year's census in an effort to force Congress to pass so called comprehensive immigration reform amnesty. Not counting illegal aliens would have an impact on California's representation in Congress and its eligibility for considerable federal funding. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. constitution calls for a census every ten years in which every person in the United States is counted. That includes even illegal aliens. The census determines not only how federal dollars are allocated to states but the number of Congressional seats each state gets. But one prominent Hispanic group, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, which represents 20,000 Latino churches, is urging illegals to boycott the census. Why? As a way to pressure Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would grant amnesty to the country's 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens.

REV. MIGUEL RIVERA, COALITION OF LATINO CLERGY & CHRISTIAN LEADERS: We went through the same process with President Bush and the Republicans in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and nothing happened so at this time what we're doing is to put true pressure on members of Congress so they're not skipping their responsibility.

SYLVESTER: According to a study by a group that favors immigration restrictions, California with a large illegal presence picked up three house seats. Other the hand, Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi each lost a seat. The evangelical group's push is met at odds with other organizations like the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

ARTURO VARGAS, ASSN. OF LATINO ELECTED & APPOINTED OFFICIALS: I think it's political suicide in the sense we are here at a time when the Latino population is growing, the immigrant population is an important part of American society, the American economy.

SYLVESTER: President Obama has said he wants Congress to pass an immigration bill.


SYLVESTER: And this has shown a real divide within the Hispanic community over the issue of illegal immigration. Lou, in -- they pointed to the translated slogan before being counted we must be legalized. Lou?

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown. Welcome back.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Lou. It's good to be back and good to see you.

Tonight, we are going to talk about race and identity politics. As you know, it is driving much of the controversy over nominee Sonia Sotomayor. We're going to look at why and we'll ask does your race decide your politics?

Plus, my exclusive interview with former President Jimmy Carter. He breaks with President Obama on a key policy decision. We'll also talk about what he thinks about whether Bush administration officials should be prosecuted for war crimes.

And speaking of former Bush officials, Dick Cheney, the subject of our great debate tonight, is he saving the Republican Party? His daughter Liz Cheney and Democratic strategist Paul Begala are going to square off live at the top of the hour. Lou?

DOBBS: Thanks very much, Campbell. Those debates are a good idea. Welcome back.

A new move to censor talk radio next.


DOBBS: A move to reimpose a so-called fairness doctrine raising a lot of concerns tonight. The doctrine claims to create balance in broadcasting but my guest says tonight what it would censor talk radio. My guest is Brian Jennings, conservative talk show programmer, award winning journalist and author of "Censorship, the Threat to Silence Talk Radio, the Fairness Doctrine So-Called Exposed." Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Michael Cops, the FCC commission chairman, said if markets cannot produce what society really cares about, like a media that reflects the true diversity and spirit of our country, then government has a legitimate role to play. Is that a call for government takeover of media?

JENNINGS: It sure sounds it to me. That's an incredible statement for an acting FCC chairman to make. Society doesn't have the right to determine what it wants to listen to, when it wants to listen?

DOBBS: Government knows best, you know.

JENNINGS: Government. But government has no right in the content share. Absolutely no right.

DOBBS: It's the arrogance here is beyond imagination.

JENNINGS: This man should be taken to the wood shed as far as I'm concerned and I am --

DOBBS: Not by this president. Not by this administration. Perhaps not in the previous administration. President Obama said that he's against the fairness doctrine. But we hear all this talk about localism and diversity and it sounds like they very much to and Nancy Pelosi wants the doctrine returned.

JENNINGS: Absolutely does. In fact, she stood in the way of the broadcaster freedom act now for two years, that's a mike pence bill to ban the doctrine. She's not allowed a vote on that wanting a direct opposite. This woman wants free speech in America, that's a very easy bill to allow a vote on. I don't understand why she won't.

DOBBS: Localism and the fairness doctrine, the difference? JENNINGS: Localism is probably the new fairness doctrine. It could be worse. Requiring stations to run local programming, many cannot afford to. Many of the markets cannot afford to hire those kind of local personalities and the markets would shut down talk as a result.

DOBBS: And the idea that liberals would be talking about the fairness doctrine, there's nothing very liberal about the idea to be mandating content.

JENNINGS: Unbelievable because what they can mandate comes back to bite them. They have to understand. This is not a conservative versus a liberal fight. This is an American freedom. This is an absolute cherished freedom that we have. And if we give up any of this, any of this, all other freedoms matter none.

DOBBS: All right. Well, Brian Jennings, we thank you for being with us. The book is very important one. we commend it to you, "Censorship, the Threat to Silence Talk Radio," the new threat from the fairness doctrine and those that love censorship. Thanks for being here.

JENNINGS: You're quite welcome. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

A reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2 to 4 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio here in New York City and go to for the local listings for the show.

Thank you for being with us tonight. Campbell Brown starts right now.