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Health Care Reform Town Halls Continue With Intensified Debate; Misinformation Rampant About Health Care Reform Proposals; Former American Private Hired As An Assassin By A Mexican Drug Cartel; A New Study Concludes Aspirin Decreases Death From Colon Cancer

Aired August 12, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And once again, welcome, good morning. Glad to have you with us on this Wednesday, August 12th. I'm Kiran Chetry

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

A lot going on this morning and here are the stories that we're breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.

President Obama's road show to sell health care reform, kicking off in New Hampshire, the crowd orderly and polite yesterday. But in Pennsylvania and Missouri, town halls turn ugly. We will go beyond the sound bites to find out why so many people are so angry.

CHETRY: An American soldier serving his country and allegedly Mexico's drug lords. An 18-year-old army private now accused of being a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel, shooting a DEA informant on U.S. soil. CNN's Ed Lavandera is live with the violent new reality of the drug war on this side of the border.

ROBERTS: It has been used for more than a century and sold for pennies a pill. Now a Harvard study on aspirin says it can be a lifesaver for people with colon cancer. Once medical expert says the findings could be, quote, "revolutionary".

CHETRY: And we begin with President Obama trying to calm fears and to clear up some of the noise when it comes to health care reform.

He is on a road show taking his message straight to the people. The president holding a on the town hall meeting yesterday in New Hampshire. And the crowd was civil.

That wasn't the case though in other town halls held in Missouri and Pennsylvania where they turned confrontational. In fact security officers removed members of the audience when things got too tense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to be led out of here. You are welcome to go. Now wait a minute. Now wait a minute. Now wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day god is going stand before you and he is going judge you and the rest of your cronies up on the hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. OK. We have just had a demonstration of democracy. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand this rudeness. What is this? I don't get it. I honestly don't get it. Do you all think that you are persuading people when you shout out like that?

You don't trust me?


I don't know what else I can do. I don't know what else I can do. If you want me to go home --


CHETRY: In New Hampshire, the audience was polite as the president pitched his plan. Our Jim Acosta live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this morning.

So as we are talking about the make or break month for health care reform, the president had a tough sell on his hands. His town hall meeting that he held was largely much more civil than that. Was this a handpicked crowd or was anybody able to come to this one as well?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, this was not a hand-picked crowd, and the White House has said that repeatedly, that this was not a handpicked crowd. Folks were allowed to go online and obtain tickets to the even prior to the town hall meeting.

And I think we now all know why many Democrats wanted to get health care reform done before the August recess. The longer this debate goes on, the harder the sell gets.

And even though the president's town hall was not as rowdy as some of these congressional town halls across the country, he was forced to confront some of the more outrageous claims coming from reform opponents.


ACOSTA: The debate over health care reform has come to this. A little girl holding a sign that says "Obama lies, grandma dies."

ACOSTA (on camera): What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What that means is women with health care, they will not take care of the elderly people and older people probably as well as they do now with private insurance.

CROWD: Patient choice! ACOSTA: It's a reference to the false claim made by some reform opponents that Democratic health care plans would create a bureaucratic death panel to decide end of life issues for the elderly and disabled.

The president confronted the rumor.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The rumor that has been circulating a lot lately is that the idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we have decided that we don't -- it's too expensive to let her live any more.

I am not in favor of that.

ACOSTA: As the president tried to turn down the heat inside the town hall...

OBAMA: Let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.

ACOSTA: ... tempers flared outside the event. Police kept supporters and opponents of reform on the opposite sides of the streets.

MICHAEL REIDY, MASSACHUSETTS UNION MEMBER: We're here to make sure the right wing doesn't distort the truth and that everybody is well aware of everything that is going on in this building.

JOEY DAUBEN, LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER: If this government health care program goes through, then my small business will suffer even more.

ACOSTA: One protestor actually brought his handgun to the event. Because he had a permit for the gun, police allowed him to stay.

ACOSTA: Will you keep that holstered when the president comes by?



I like my life.

ACOSTA: With these August town halls turning into summer carnivals for Democrats, the question for the White House is whether these events are changing any minds.

William Anderson asked the president whether reform plans would set limits on more expensive prescription drugs. He wasn't convinced.

WILLIAM ANDERSON, TOWN HALL AUDIENCE MEMBER: Saying one thing is one thing and doing the right thing is something else.

ACOSTA (on camera): And the president has not sold you yet?

ANDERSON: Not yet, no.


ACOSTA: The president will try again with two more town halls later this week in Montana and Colorado. And like New Hampshire, those states were presidential battlegrounds last fall. Now they are the front lines in the White House fight for health care reform -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Jim Acosta for us this morning, thanks so much.

And we have seen and heard the anger and frustration. We have heard these insults being thrown around at these town halls. But through all the shouting, is the message getting through? Does the president have to explain that he won't pull the plug on grandma? That is what he was saying yesterday. Our panel of experts weighs in.

ROBERTS: Also developing right now, a U.S. army private under arrest this morning accused of being a contract killer for a Mexican drug cartel. The 18-year-old soldier is one of three men charged with murdering a midlevel cartel member who was also a DEA informant.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is following the story for us. He's live in Dallas this morning. And what makes this so shocking, Ed, is that this fellow was allegedly working for a cartel on the Mexican side of the border, but the hit was on the American side of the border.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's a chilling example of the power, influence, and reach of the Mexican drug cartels. And there is a growing concern on the U.S. side of the border that the reach of the Mexican cartels might be beginning to corrupt U.S. officials, authorities, other people working along the border, much like we have seen for years on the Mexican side.


LAVANDERA: Eighteen-year-old Michael Jackson Apodaca still wearing his military uniform in handcuffs and charged with capital murder. El Paso police say Adopdoca fired the shots that killed this man three months ago outside his home.

The shooting victim was a midlevel member of the Juarez drug cartel but also an informant for American federal agents.

CHIEF GREGORY ALLEN, EL PASO POLICE: We do feel this was retribution for the fact that the death, the deceased person had pretty much gotten the person in trouble in Juarez. He was arrested by federal authorities over there. And so consequently this was the retribution for that arrest.

LAVANDERA: According to court documents, Apodaca was paid to carry out the hit by Rubin Rodriguez Dorado, a member of the Juarez cartel. Court documents say Dorado ordered the murder because the Juarez cartel discovered the victim was talking to American authorities.

ALLEN: And I want to stress that this was a pay-back situation and not something that is an ongoing type of battle like you see in Mexico right now.

And even thought this can be considered to some degrees spilled over, we don't look at it in the same way as it's occurring in Mexico.

LAVANDERA: According to officials, Michael Apodaca joined the army about a year ago. He worked as a crew member that launches Patriot missiles. But his family says they don't believe the charges against him.

DAVE JACKSON, APODACA'S FATHER: He was in the top of his class. He talked to all his sergeants. He is a good soldier.

Before he went in, he was in with the -- a bad crowd.


LAVANDERA: And John, authorities in El Paso very sensitive to the fact that this takes place on U.S. soil. They went to great lengths yesterday to point out that they believe this is an isolated incident, someone who was targeted for a very specific reason and that the general community there in El Paso doesn't have any reason to fear.

But, as they have seen several times in Juarez, a lot of times when you have these shooting, there are people who are standing by innocently who have been killed in the past -- John?

ROBERTS: But the bigger picture here Ed is there were Americans that were recruited by this Juarez cartel, and is this just sort of the tip of the iceberg? Could there be more people out there in these sleeper cells who have been recruited for military or for law enforcement who are just waiting to do the bidding of one of these cartels?

LAVANDERA: You know, they have a ton of money to be able to pass around to do these jobs. We have reported in various other parts of the border where they have seen this happen.

And there is also the concern that authorities, whether in military uniform, police uniform, a federal agent uniform, that they also might be susceptible to taking the bribes on the side, helping smuggle drugs though, or helping smuggle people through. It's a vast criminal enterprise that exists along the border.

ROBERTS: Wow. Vast sums of drug money, bad economy in the states. It's a volatile combination.

Ed Lavandera for us this morning. Ed, thanks so much.

CHETRY: And also new this morning -- aspirin may be a wonder drug for people with colon cancer. There is a new Harvard study out that found patients who regularly took aspirin reduced their risk of death from colon cancer by as much as 30 percent. Researchers say aspirin blocks the production of a certain enzyme which prevents the cancer from spreading.

We will talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about this study coming up in about 20 minutes.

ROBERTS: Federal prosecutors now have e-mails from the Bush administration allegedly showing former presidential advisor Karl Rove was involved in the controversial firing of a U.S. attorney.

The dismissal of David Iglesias at eight other attorneys in 2006 led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House e-mails were turned over to prosecutors by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers. No word yet on whether Rove could face charges.

CHETRY: And police in London are searching this morning for two men who stole $65 million in jewelry in broad daylight. The surveillance video shows security let them right into this swanky London show. Police say they then pulled out guns and took 43 items including ring, bracelets, watches.

It's believed to be Britain's biggest gem heist ever.

ROBERTS: So we hear all these criticisms of the health care plans, and all of these concerns about the health care plans out there. Sarah Palin said it would create death panels. President Obama yesterday said no, we will not euthanize grandma.

Other people say it will pay for abortions, 80 million will get thrown into a public plan. You'll lose your private insurance.

Our Carol Costello digs deep on this. Coming right up she will tell you what to believe is and what not to believe when it comes to health care reform.


ROBERTS: The song says it but nobody is doing it, unfortunately. As the health care debate wages on, we are looking closer at what the shouting is about.

CHETRY: We're trying to filter out the static for you. Are the angry talking points even true? Carol Costello is in Washington this morning digging deeper on all of this for us. Hey, Carol.


You know, the number one thing to keep in mind before we dive into this is there is no, and I repeat, no health care reform bill ready to be voted on by both the House and Senate. There is no final bill.

The key House committee did pass a bill. That's that 1,000 page bill you hear about, but that is not a final bill either. It likely to change. That's why lawmakers are holding the town hall meetings that aren't exactly answered questions sometimes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't trust anyone (ph).

COSTELLO: If you are looking for answers about health care reform, good luck.

Politics, misinformation, noise is about all you seem to hear. Time to quiet the noise and bust the myths -- or not.

Let's start with this. Death panels -- true or false? As Sarah Palin put it, seniors and even babies with disabilities "will have to stand in front of Obama's death panel so his bureaucrats can decide whether they are worthy of health care."

BILL ADAIR, POLITIFACT.COM: That one is so wrong it has gotten a pants on fire on our truth-o-meter.

COSTELLO: Phil Adair who runs says false. Palin's allegation arose out of an idea to allow for Medicare to pay for counseling for people who want advice about end of life are.

OBAMA: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

COSTELLO: True or false? In theory, these things are true. but there are valid concerns.

ADAIR: Given that this is going to dramatically change the marketplace of health insurance, we don't know if any given health insurance will be offered the same way in a few years.

COSTELLO: Rationing -- true or false?

Arguably, private health insurance plans ration. They decide what is covered and what's not. says there is nothing in the House bill that specially addresses rationing. But it is logical to assume that someone has to decide what and how much is covered.

ADAIR: If you like the post office and the department of motor vehicles and you think they're run well, just wait until you see Medicare, Medicaid, and health care run by the government.

COSTELLO: But government can't run big programs, true or false? Critics have gone as far as drawing up a diagram of how dysfunctional the government health care plan will be, even though no such diagram actually exists.

ADAIR: If the government can run Medicare what's to say it couldn't run this kind of a program?


COSTELLO: Of course, if you want to cut to the chase, to the heart of what critics fear about this health care plan is that, in the end, we will have universal health care or socialized medicine.

The White House says it is interested in covering those without insurance and giving Americans more choices, not in driving insurance companies out of business.

Now, there are plenty of other sources to fact check what is in or not in this House version of the health care reform plan. So go to our Web site,

I have a dozen credible sites you check out to find out what is fiction and what is fact. Don't just believe me, don't just believe anybody you hear out there. You just have to go the right places.

ROBERTS: That's a great idea. Thanks for putting it all together for us like that, so people -- one stop shopping for people to get the fact on health care.

CHETRY: As she said, again, there still is no bill.

COSTELLO: And isn't that part of the problem, there is no blueprint, so you can't really look at is and say I don't like this or this? Because nothing has been decided yet.

ROBERTS: Carol, thanks so much for that, great piece this morning.

It's coming up now on 19 minutes after the hour. Is the era of McMansions gone? We'll find out. stay with us.


ROBERTS: Has the McMansion gone the way of the (INAUDIBLE)?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. Maybe this recession has meant that you can't have a great room, a mud room, two dining rooms and a former dining room that you never use.

The latest numbers in the Census Bureau show that the size of the homes we're building is getting smaller. That hasn't happened in 15 years.

There is a variety of reasons for this, but in the first three months of this year, new homes, the size of them down 7 percent. Since 1994, the size of the homes we are building has been getting bigger and bigger and bigger. They are shrinking. Basically, we lost an average sized room.

CHETRY: What do you need a great room for anyway?

ROMANS: Yes, it's not so great -- 2,065 square feet is what the average size of a new home is right now. Why are they shrinking? A couple of reasons here -- affordability. You can't buy a big house if you cannot afford it. Energy costs -- a lot of people got burned when energy prices, gas prices got up to $147 a barrel last year.

Aging boomers -- look, the people who are in the market right now seem to be people who are empty nesters. They don't need four plus bedrooms.

And it's hard to get big loans. If you can't get the big loans, you can't get the big monster house.

Also, some of the experts are saying we might be entering a new era of...


ROMANS: Quality over quantity. The American consumer for years has gone more, more, more.

ROBERTS: I hardly seems like the American consumer.

ROMANS: I know, so we'll see if it lasts.

Here is my Romans numeral, I will give it to you. I will do it backwards this time. The size of the new home in 1978, any guess what it was?

ROBERTS: 1,700 square feet.

CHETRY: 1,250 square feet.

ROMANS: Close -- 1,755. We're still very much bigger than we were when any of us were growing up.

But still, the recession shrinking the size of a new house.

CHETRY: Wait, was that the numeral?

ROMANS: That was it.


ROBERTS: So aspirin has been called a wonder drug for a long, long time, decades, right?

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: Now they have found a new use for aspirin that may be the best one of all. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has got the information on that coming right up. You will want to hear about this.

CHETRY: Absolutely.

And we will also want to talk to our political panel. The politics behind the health care town halls that are turning nasty, why is it so hard to have a civil debate about this issue? We'll be talking about that as well.


ROBERTS: There is news this morning that one tiny pill could help fight colon cancer, and it's probably a pill that is already in your medicine cabinet. It is nothing exotic, believe us.

A new study just out this morning finds colon cancer patients who take an aspirin regularly cut their chances of dying by nearly, listen to this, one-third.

To break it all down, we're paging our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is in Atlanta this morning. Sanjay, what is this all about?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I love stories like this, because we are talking about something that is so simple that might have a huge impact as well.

We talk about colon cancer, this is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. So this is a big deal. And science has been focused on ways to try and cut that number down in terms of cancer death for some time.

We have known for some time, John, you may have known that aspirin is pretty good at preventing colon cancer from developing in the first place.

What this study really looks at is people to take the aspirin after they have already been diagnosed and trying to figure out what kind of impact it might have then.

And this is after controlling a lot of things in these studies. People had the same sort of family history of heart disease, the same risk factors.

What they found, as you said, at 29 percent roughly, decreased risk of death. So if the outcome is trying to figure out the mortality or likelihood of death from colon cancer, aspirin really seemed to make a difference.

John, it is unclear exactly why, but it is believed that inflammation really plays a role in accelerating some of the cancers. Aspirin is an inhibitor of a lot of these inflammations, specifically something known as cox-2 (ph), which a lot of these medications target, aspirin does as well. And that may be why it works so well.

But John, as you mentioned, it's cheap, it is probably in your medicine cabinet, and it could have this sort of benefit.

ROBERTS: It's the simplest of things, too, Sanjay. It was originally derived from the bark of a willow tree exit has become a wonder drug.

Would it be wise now with this news about colon cancer for all adults to be taking a small daily dose of aspirin? GUPTA: You are right. It costs pennies a day. It is one of those things like most things in medicine. Even something as seemingly benign as aspirin, you still have got to weigh the risks and benefits.

People who take it regularly may have trouble with bleeding in the stomach. So you have to balance those things.

We try to figure out the answer to that very question, and really, most of the data for now is still sort of focused on the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

As far as these colon cancer recommendations, John, we're reporting this to you today. It's just come out. This is something a lot of doctors in the cancer world will be paying attention to.

ROBERTS: Particularly for people with family history of colon cancer.

GUPTA: That's right.

And as I mentioned earlier there has been a lot of evidence in the past showing that aspirin can help prevent colon cancer from developing in the first place. This takes it to the next step.

ROBERTS: Wow, the miracle little pill.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for joining us this morning. Doc, we'll see you in a little while.

GUPTA: Sure, John.

ROBERTS: Got some questions to ask you about health care.

Coming up now at the half hour. It is 7:30 in the Eastern Time zone.

Early this morning, Marines launched a helicopter assault on the Taliban -- that was before dawn -- to try to take back a key area in southern Afghanistan before next week's presidential vote there. A reporter embedded with the first wave says they were met with mortar rounds and rocket propelled grenades.

The Marines say they've captured several suspects and have found over 60 pounds of opium.

Costa Rica's president says he is sick with the swine flu. The 69 year old Oscar Arias is under quarantine at home with a fever and sore throat. The H1N1 virus is still a problem in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. The Costa Rican leader also says he suffers from asthma and therefore the virus could post a high risk for him.

And if you have plastic from AMEX or Discover in your wallet and you're over your credit limit, you don't have to worry about a penalty fee anymore. Those companies just announced that they will soon be ending those charges that added insult to injury for many customers who are already in the red. Kiran.

CHETRY: There you go now. All you have to worry now is the over draft, right? And then you'll be all right. Well, the president is taking the health care debate on the road. Holding his town hall meetings, running into some vocal protests on the outside. A little bit of a more civil debate on the inside. But here to look at the new tone about what's going on, especially at some of these other town hall debates held by local congressmen as well as senators.

Jennifer Donahue, she is a contributor to the "Huffington Post," and she's a political director for New Hampshire Institute of Politics is in Boston this morning. Good to see you, Jennifer. We also have with us here -


CHETRY: We also have in the studio today, John Avalon, a columnist for the "Daily Beast" and author of "Independent Nation." Great to have you as well.

So one of the things I want to show you guys first, right off the bat - we're going to show a little bit of the president's town hall meeting with two of them that got quite lively yesterday where one is held by Senator Claire McCaskill as well as Senator Arlen Specter. Let's take a look at some of the moments of those two town halls.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: OK. OK. We've just had a demonstration of democracy. OK.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I don't understand the rudeness. What is this? I don't get it. I honestly don't get it. Do you all think that you're persuading people when you shout out like that?


CHETRY: And Jennifer, let me start out with you. You hear Senator McCaskill really seem to just throw up her hands and say she asks at one point, do you want me to leave? What's going on? Why have we seen this debate sort of turn into a situation where there is a lot of shouting, where people can't even really get answers on either side?

DONAHUE: Yes, it's really amazing. You think really what is happening is the public is getting angry. Obviously and taking, first and foremost on the congressmen and senators. We didn't see that in New Hampshire as much. We'll get into that. But the bottom line is the recession is so deep right now and when Congress recessed there were no details about how the health care plans would be paid for. I think it's creating a tremendous unrest among independents on healthcare. There are a lot of people pro-health care. Most people would like to see reform. There are some who are loudly oppose and we're seeing that. But a lot of what's happening is a growing discomfort over the idea that taxes could go up. Where will the money come from? People are getting scared out there.

CHETRY: And John, I want to ask you about that because - I mean, Jennifer said that most people are - most people seem to understand that yes the system is not quite working as well as it needs to be, working that there are concerns about people uninsured but if you ask them do you want things to change for you, the majority say no. So, how is this debate being framed right now as we try to - you know get past the hyper partisanship but just as she said for the independents and for people who are more in the center. What are we trying to accomplish with these town halls? And what are we trying to accomplish? And what are we trying to hear from our lawmakers about what the plan is.

JOHN AVALON, DAILYBEAST.COM: Well, remember that President Obama was elected predicated on the rejection of the play of the politics of the past. But what we are seeing are the persistence of hyper partisanship in the face of that. Now this is being drummed up by a couple of different things.

First of all, like Bill Clinton back in 1993, there is the perception however unfair that President Obama is governing more liberally than he campaigned. And there are deficits adding to that concern, especially among independents. Breaking with the administration on fiscal issues, the deficit and the growth of big government, healthcare is at the heart of that. But there are two new factors that are really stirring this pot.

One is the internet. It didn't exist the last time we debated health care and the self centered, the political segregation on the internet is giving rise to a lot of rumors, allowing fear mongering to proliferate and really stirring that pot. And ageing population is the other factor. Those two things are making this debate much easier to go off the rails for folks who want to that. You know, hate is an easy and cheap recruiting tool but it can be murder on democracy and that's somewhat what we're seeing.

CHETRY: And Jennifer, I want to get your take on that. What John brought up which is you know, trying to debunk some of these myths that are out here - these death panels, saying that, you know, it's going to force people to make decisions about euthanasia and the president actually addressed this yesterday at his town hall. Let's take a look.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: This idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for death panels, that will basically pull the plug on grandma. I am not in favor of that.


CHETRY: I mean, is this where the debate has gone, Jennifer? That he has to say with a straight face that he's not in favor of pulling the plug about grandma?

DONAHUE: I think this is where the debate is. And one of the reasons it was probably helpful to have this town hall meeting in New Hampshire is that you had opponents who are wearing opposition t- shirts and they were grass roots opponents. They were the real deal. They didn't get up and yell. And they think the Obama people, I was told by senior officials were nervous that could happen but of all places, they felt well, you know what, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, not only is a fairly democratic base but New Hampshire has town hall meetings all the time. Maybe we are in a better place to hear and address some issues. And that's what Obama did. He took the opportunity to address the rumor.

There are so many rumors circulating out there and one thing you see that's been happening that over the internet and even the main stream media, I think what you're seeing is basically the rumors chasing ahead of the story. So people are probably trying to figure out if there are going to be mobs outside or people who are going to attack Obama, instead of actually trying to figure out why people are so uncomfortable. Is there going be a government plan? Is private insurance, as we know it, going to go bankrupt? These are huge questions.

CHETRY: Right.

DONAHUE: Are taxes going to go up?

CHETRY: And I think the problem -

DONAHUE: I think there is a legitimate reason for discomfort.

CHETRY: I think one of the problems and we've talked about this, John, is that there is no actual bill.

AVLON: Right.

CHETRY: There are versions circulating around. So it's hard to defend something that doesn't exist. It's hard to defend against rumors of things that don't yet exist. So where do you actually get things accomplished?

AVLON: Well, in the center and that's where President Obama needs to do, is re-sees the center, regain that high ground that came from his post partisan mandate which was not a liberal ideological victory in 2008. And part of the problem is the folks on the left who want to do this triumphalism and push through a bill with a party line vote, they are not his friends. They are actually working to undermine unintentionally his presidency. He needs to go back, reclaim the center, embrace the bipartisan bill that Senator Bacchus and Grassley put forward that take away the public option, and replace it with a non-profit cooperative effort. It achieves the same goals. But without that ideological (inaudible) that is being used for a slippery slope to socialism. And things like adopting -

DONAHUE: One thing that has really happened. You know, it's really interesting when Pelosi started talking about the bill and using very divisive loaded political terms that were absolutely unbelievable. Kennedy was going be the guy on this bill. Finance is the committee for it. Bacchus, Obama needs to give up the ideas that the public doesn't want. The public wants healthcare. The time is now. This is the tipping point. If they don't pass a moderate bill, this country can say goodbye to the idea of a healthcare entitlement for a generation.

AVLON: And every major - bill of this nature in the past whether you are talking social security, Medicaid, welfare reform, have all been passed with major bipartisan motions. If people try to say ignore that, you're just a party line vote. That is the worst possible thing they can do. Because even if it passes it would be politically unsustainable in the future. And he is to depolarized this debate. That's what the White House needs to do today.

CHETRY: All right. You guys are great.

DONAHUE: It was indicated - I just wanted to say it was indicated that Obama is willing to give up on one of those key components that he is willing to actually give up on the public financing government option if needed.

CHETRY: Great to talk to you both. We had a civil debate and there are no signs in the background. Jennifer Donahue and John Avlon, great to see both of you. Thanks.

AVLON: Thank you.


ROBERTS: So every time you go online, are people watching you? Do you get those cookies. Do you get those spy ware that infects your computer? But there are some concerns as to who may be watching you in the future. Could it be the government looking over your shoulder? We'll find out. Brooke Baldwin reports, coming up next. 39 minutes after the hour.



ROBERTS: When you are online, do you know who is watching you? Hackers and cyber spy are constantly trying to track your points and click to get all kinds of personal information. But as our Brooke Baldwin reports now, a new proposal in Washington has some worried that Uncle Sam could become the next big brother.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House, playing the role of America's advocate or big brother? Proposed changes in the federal government's online privacy rules have set up alarm bells in certain circles. An issue, a proposal to reverse a decade-old ban on the tracking of users who visit government websites. The tracking technology known as a cookie keeps information about computers and users who visit website. The White House says that just like cookies facilitate communication on social networking websites, it would help government be more accessible and transparent.

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees but argues.

MICHAEL MACLEDO-BALL, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: There can also be certain precautions taken so that people are confident that their personal internet usage patterns are not being collected and stored and used by the government for some perhaps nefarious purpose.

BALDWIN: The White House says it understands these concerns. Government spokesman Kenneth Baer says that "any update of current policy will balance the need to use new web 2.0 technologies to open up government with the imperative to protect privacy." This comes just days after some criticized a White House blog posting that advised users "if you get an e-mail or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, e-mail us."

Critics worry the move could stifle free speech.


BALDWIN: There could be an attempt to gather names as supporters for political purposes. The White House insists it's no big brother.


BALDWIN: But if the government is doing no wrong, then the non- profit electronic privacy information center has this question.

JOHN VERDI, ELECTRONIC PRIVARY INFORMATION CENTER: What's the justification for this alteration of the policy? Clearly the government is intending to do something with that. At this point they are either unwilling or unable to tell us what.

BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: All right. Well we had -

ROBERTS: Beware.

CHETRY: Yes, absolutely. Well, we had a big debate in the NEWSROOM this morning about this one. Take a look at how people rated the top bands. It went up and down the generations. There were some ones on there and some ones that were left off that frankly had us raising our eyebrows this morning. We are going show you the list. Favorite -

ROBERTS: People were heard the scream this morning. What? No U2? What? No Nirvana? Carry Underwood? What?

CHETRY: That's exactly how it went down.

ROBERTS: It's kind of just like characterization of conversation this morning. It was a little different than that.

CHETRY: No GNR? What's going on, man? We are going to show you the list. And you can judge for yourself. Is it really the best music of all time? 45 minutes after the hour.



ROBERTS: Anyone who saw Paul McCartney perform this summer saw it in the audience, their moms, their kids and their children's children, all singing along to every song. No surprise that a new survey found that the Beatles are truly a band that bridges generation.

CHETRY: The Pew research actually did a survey and they found that the fab four is still the top musical act when people were asked across all generations. Michael Jackson was the number one pick for all of those over 30. People in the 30-49 bracket, they said Eagles as their top choice. The baby boomers, 50-64, also picking the Beatles. And for those over 65, it was Frank Sinatra, old blue eyes. That was the favorite.

ROBERTS: And 40 years after Woodstock, rock and roll is the musical genre of choice for everyone under the age of 65. Two-thirds of Americans say they listen to rock often or sometimes with older people preferring country music. The top five acts overall in the poll are Elvis at number five -


ROBERTS: Michael Jackson at number four.


ROBERTS: Number three, Johnny Cash.

CHETRY: Not bad.

ROBERTS: The Eagles at number two.

I like the Eagles just fine but better than like Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin? And the Beatles standing alone at number one.

CHETRY: Yes, other notables on the list, let's see. Number six, country star - wait a minute, the Rolling Stones were number six.

ROBERTS: That's right.

CHETRY: Aretha Franklin and you got Carrie Underwood at number nine. Garth Brooks at number 10. Hendrix made it.

ROBERTS: Wait a minute, Carrie Underwood at number 9?

CHETRY: Yes. Hendrix made it. Madonna at 17.

ROBERTS: I like Carrie Underwood just fine but WTF with her being in the top 10 -

CHETRY: Well, you know what - ROBERTS: Did I just - Oh, I didn't do it again today?

CHETRY: I don't know what that means, but I will tell you about this. Coldplay at 18.

ROBERTS: What the flip. What the flip is she doing in the number 10 -

CHETRY: Kanye West at 19. Grateful dead at 20. So I feel like Guns N' Roses was left out. Come on, Guns N'Roses.

ROBERTS: Well, yes, they weren't even on the top 20.

CHETRY: Aerosmith is not on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should be.

CHETRY: Aerosmith should be on here.

ROBERTS: I don't notice Led Zeppelin in the top 20 either.

CHETRY: Jay is one of our stage managers. He wears an Aerosmith shirt every single day of his life. I do have different shirts, not just one.


ROBERTS: He's not wearing his Aerosmith shirt today.

CHETRY: The one day, he didn't wear it.

ROBERTS: In the laundry - Was your favorite band left -

CHETRY: He's not wearing until Steve Tyler recovers.

ROBERTS: Was your favorite band left off the list? Let us know who's top on your chars. Logon to and share your comments with us this morning.

CHETRY: If you're going to put Garth Brooks on, you got to put on Kenny Chesney. Come on.

ROBERTS: What about George Straight and what about Willie Nelson? And come on.

CHETRY: I know. And Milli Vanilli didn't make the list. Rob Marciano has been crying about that all morning.

ROBERTS: He's crushed.

CHETRY: No Miley Cyrus on here for you.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: How does Led Zeppelin not make that list? I mean, that's just ridiculous. And people under 30 they were still kicking around in the sandbox when Michael Jackson was in his prime. So I don't understand that whole deal. CHETRY: You know what, they know his legend lives on.

MARCIANO: And it will.

Hey, guys, check this out. (INAUDIBLE) meteor showers, I want to show you this. It's happening right now, peaked last night. Folks kind of get out there, you want to see them? Just go out there in the middle of the night tonight. It will still be happening as the earth travels through what's left of the (INAUDIBLE) comet. So you just go out there. You see shooting stars. You don't need a telescope. Just go out there, take a blanket, lay out, take it easy.

All right. Listen, we're looking at showers and thunderstorms that are going to pop across much of the mid-Atlantic, the Piedmont and also towards parts of the south. Daytime highs today will be in the 80s and 90s. Seasonal temperatures I think is what we're looking at. So that's it. I totally dispute that poll you guys have there but -

CHETRY: Who do you think got left off? Who do you think should have been on there?

MARCIANO: Led Zeppelin's got to be somewhere in the top at least 10, if not five.

ROBERTS: They're not even in the top 20.

CHETRY: U2's not on there?

ROBERTS: U2 should be on there as well.

MARCIANO: Both bands have great composition and longevity.

CHETRY: That's right. And they have a nice beat, you can dance to it.

MARCIANO: Yes, I got a groove.

ROBERTS: Carrie Underwood, number nine. As I said, I like her just fine. She's very talented.

CHETRY: Can you believe that? Plucked from obscurity, thanks to "American Idol."

ROBERTS: Look at her. I'm not sure about this.

CHETRY: There are some new ads that show the Obama girls, and some are now saying should they be off-limits. They've been up in subways everywhere asking the question. President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches, why don't I? Who's behind the ads and we'll talk a little bit about the controversy they're stirring up. It's 52 minutes after the hour.


(MUSIC PLAYING) ROBERTS: Hey, we're six minutes to the top of the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. President Obama has made it perfectly clear that his daughters are off-limits. Well that has not stopped a non-profit group from making the Obama girls part of a new ad campaign to promote healthy school lunches and it has grabbed the attention of the White House. CNN's Elaine Quijano has got the story for us.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, these ads are only up at one train station here in Washington but they're apparently enough to make the White House sit up and take notice.


QUIJANO (voice-over): In Washington's Union station, the ads never show their pictures, or mention first daughters Sasha and Malia by name, but next to an image of a smiling eight-year-old the question - President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I?

DR. NEAL BARNARD, PHYSICIANS CMTE, FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE: We wanted them to see this ad, not once, not twice, but over and over again so they are thinking about children, especially disadvantaged children all across the U.S.

QUIJANO: Dr. Neal Barnard heads up the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the group behind the ads. They're aimed at Congressional staffers who pass through to prod Congress into getting more vegetarian and vegan lunch options in public schools. Barnard says the ads grab the White House's attention, too.

BARNARD: They called and said basically would we take the ads down? And I'm quite sure that the president would be quite delighted with the ads but some of his handlers got nervous.

QUIJANO: The ads are still up. Historian Doug Wead who wrote "All the President's Children" doubts President Obama will be delighted.

DOUG WEAD, HISTORIAN: The famous quote of a president is "my children are nobody's damn business."

QUIJANO: And former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart agrees.

JOE LOCKHARD, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All the president's children are off limits, particularly young ones.

QUIJANO: He recalls the Clintons deciding against having daughter Chelsea introduce her father at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

LOCKHART: It would have been a magical political moment and the president and first lady said no way. No way, because if we use her for that, then she's fair game. MALIA OBAMA: Daddy, what city are you in?

QUIJANO: Fast forward to the 2008 democratic convention. Still, Lockhart believes children growing up in the White House deserve to be kept out of debates no matter what the cause.

LOCKHART: These are young kids. They didn't sign up for this. They deserve their privacy.


QUIJANO: The White House isn't confirming whether officials asked that the ad be taken down. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration hopes others will be respectful and not use the first daughter as a publicity stunt. John? Kiran?

CHETRY: Elaine Quijano for us this morning, thanks so much.

Meanwhile, we're going to be speaking in just a few minutes to Congressman David Scott. Someone spray painted a swastika on the office sign right outside his building there. This is after he held a town hall meeting. It wasn't on health care actually but someone, a doctor, in fact, asked a question about health care. Things got a little bit ugly for a few minutes. And he says that this is the result. So we're going to talk about why this debate has seemed to wade into this nasty territory.

ROBERTS: Somebody making a comment there.