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Terror Plot Suspects Head to Court; Rains Spark Floods in the South; President Obama on the World Stage
Aired September 21, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, three terror plot suspects in court. The plot they're accused of being involved in sparks fears about a potential attack on trains and commuter systems.
And fears of more bodies floating in the floodwaters. It's a grave situation in the South right now -- unyielding rains sparking floods, washing cars off roads. There's even a toddler missing after the parents' home was split apart. And the rain is likely not over yet.
And a former world leader said to have been drunk, half naked in the street, trying to hail a cab. And Bill Clinton is the one apparently revealing this story about Boris Yeltsin.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, says it reminds all of us -- quote -- and I'm quoting him now -- "that terrorism hasn't gone away." Fresh details are emerging about an alleged terror plot to detonate bombs here in the United States. Three men originally from Afghanistan are among those under investigation. Each appeared in court today. They are not facing terror charges right now, but allegedly lied to federal agents during the terror probe.
In Denver, an airport shuttle driver and his father appeared in federal court. Here in New York, a Muslim cleric and funeral director went to court. This follows a series of raids in New York last week.
Let's get the latest from CNN's Deborah Feyerick.
She's joining us from Brooklyn right now with the latest -- Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can tell you that 37-year-old Ahmad Wais Afzali automatically entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment here at federal court in Brooklyn today. He will be held at a detention center until a bail hearing on Thursday, that at the request of his lawyer. Prosecutors do want to keep him incarcerated until more charges, possibly, are brought against him.
Now, he is charged with lying to authorities who were investigating a plot to detonate bombs in the U.S. targeting, potentially, subways and trains. Video of Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan found on the computer of a suspect out in Denver.
Now, Afzali says that he was not involved with that. And his lawyer says that, in fact, Afzali -- the imam was trying to help federal investigators, who had come to him asking what he knew about this Denver man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON KUBY, AMAD WAIS AFZALI'S ATTORNEY: The authorities generally requested that the imam find out any way he can where Zazi is, where he's been, where he's going and what he is up to. That's what they wanted to know. And that makes sense, because they thought he was coming to New York for the purpose of -- of carrying out a terrorist attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: Now, prosecutors say otherwise in the criminal complaint it alleges that the imam was very interested as to whether federal authorities had found evidence in a rental car belonging to Najibullah Zazi. And they also say that the imam suggested that it was a good thing that federal authorities had come to the imam asking for help.
However it was a, quote, unquote, "bad thing" that they had picked up the suspects so quickly in the investigation.
All of this now in play. And Najibullah Zazi was also in court today. But right now, Afzali maintaining his innocence. He did have family in court. He waved and then blew kisses to his wife, his father and brother, who were all sitting in the front row -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And -- and, Deb, what are you hearing about more arrests?
There's a lot of reports out there that these are just the first three, but there could be several more, even in the coming days.
FEYERICK: Well, we are hearing -- we are hearing information to that effect. What's very interesting -- keep in mind that these three men were charged with making calls to state and to federal authorities. But they have not, so far, been charged with any specific terror-related charges. Investigators, by accusing them or by -- by charging that they made false statements, are able to continue investigating without revealing too much information or too much evidence that they may have obtained. So that's one of the reasons.
BLITZER: And we're going to be speaking in the next hour with Ron Kuby, the attorney representing the Queens imam. Stand by for that.
Deb Feyerick, thank you.
Afghanistan certainly plays prominently into another story many of you are deeply concerned about. Right now, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, says the war will likely end in failure unless he can get lots more U.S. troops within the next year. That according to "The Washington Post, " which obtained a revealing classified document -- a recommendation from General McChrystal.
Let's bring in CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour -- Christiane, you had a chance today to interview Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. You asked him about this McChrystal report.
Let me play a little clip of what he told you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: I have seen General McChrystal's report. He came and presented it in full form some three weeks ago. I found some very important elements in that report that I fully back. One of the most important was rather than concentrating on killing and eliminating terrorists and the Taliban, the report talks of protecting the Afghan people -- the communities, the civilians. This part has my full support and, also, surely the support of the Afghan people.
Where General McChrystal is asking for more resources, in all aspects, to boost the effort against terrorism, he has our support there -- there, too, fully. So the overall report, as far as Afghanistan is concerned, is one that has the right approach and we back it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. He wants a lot more U.S. troops to come in. I guess that shouldn't be a huge surprise, given the precarious situation in Afghanistan right now.
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think, importantly, two things. He saw it three weeks ago, which is about the time it had been shown to President Obama, August 30th. He also says that Afghan people want them, which flies in the face of this sort of conventional wisdom that the Afghan people don't want more U.S. troops. He has always said the Afghan people see the current troops there as liberators, as friends and as people who can help them out, not as occupiers. That's very important.
BLITZER: This is really a dilemma for the president of the United States right now. This is about a sensitive document as there is out there. And now everybody has it. Bob Woodward got it. It was in "The Washington Post" today. And it puts the president in a real serious box.
AMANPOUR: Well, a Defense official to me confirmed the elements of the report and said that he confirmed the elements of the quotes that have been attributed to General McChrystal. So it's out there.
Of course, there is some politicking, obviously, going on, in terms of why it was leaked. But generally, most people who've had anything to do with this kind of counter-insurgency knows that the only way is to have a real ratio of troops to the civilian population in order to be able to have a counter-insurgency. Plus, as General McChrystal has said and President Hamid Karzai, very, very important to protect the Afghan people and to give the Afghan people a sense that they have a strong power on their side, stronger than the Taliban.
BLITZER: And it's going to be fascinating to see whether the Congress has the appetite to dis -- dispatch another 30,000 or 40,000 U.S. troops, on top of the 68,000 already committed there.
AMANPOUR: And the truth is that might be, again, a political wrangle. But in all these situations, through experience, through talking to military officials and the others, this kind of thing takes years -- years, a lot of patience, a lot of effort. And it will not be done quickly.
BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much.
A very important programming note for our viewers out there. You all now about Christiane's decades of experience. Now, a new show on CNN called "AMANPOUR." She'll interview political leaders, cultural icons, influential people on the global stage. You can watch "AMANPOUR" on Sunday, September 27th, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. That's when it debuts.
How to proceed in Afghanistan is among the biggest questions facing President Obama right now.
He spoke about that with CNN's John King on "STATE OF THE UNION" yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "STATE OF THE UNION")
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we came in, I think everybody understood that our Afghanistan strategy was somewhat adrift, despite the extraordinary valor of the young women -- men and women who are fighting there. So what we said was let's do a soup to nuts re-evaluation focusing on what our original goal was, which was to get Al Qaeda, the people who killed 3,000 Americans.
To the extent that our strategy in Afghanistan is serving that goal, then we're on the right track. If it starts drifting away from that goal, then we may have a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We may have a problem.
All right. Let's bring back Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Ask the president and he'll tell you it's the news media's fault that this country has descended into a screeching, yelling, nasty batch of rudeness and lack of manners. President Obama appeared on five -- count them, five -- Sunday morning talk shows, which is a lot even by his visible standards. The idea was for Mr. Obama to continue calling for health care reform and trying to sell his plan to the American people -- a plan which, by the way, some Republicans are saying today is dead.
But during several of these interviews, although President Obama insisted he wasn't doing media bashing, he was doing media bashing.
Right here on CNN, the president called out the three cable news networks, said the easiest way to get on any of them is to say something rude and outrageous.
That's why I'm here every day.
He said if people are polite and sensible and don't exaggerate about their opponent, it's harder to get noticed by the press. President Obama said that, instead, he would like to see: "All of us reward decency and civility in our political discourse."
The president went on to say that news organizations cannot get enough of the conflict, calling it "catnip" to the media. He says in the 24 hour news cycle, the extreme elements of both sides get the most attention.
And he's right. Last week on The Cafferty File, you may recall, we reported on celebrities from Kanye West to Serena Williams to Congressman Joe Wilson behaving badly and asked what their uncivilized behavior says about the rest of society.
Well, here's today's question -- are the news media responsible for the recent outbreak of rude behavior across this country?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
Nothing new about politicians blaming the news media for damn near everything.
BLITZER: Because whenever -- it goes back, you know, as long as I've been a reporter. Whenever a president or a prime minister or anybody has problems, they say the news media is to -- to blame.
CAFFERTY: Absolutely. It's all our fault.
BLITZER: What exactly is catnip?
CAFFERTY: It's stuff that -- it's like, it's a stimulative herb for kitty cats. It makes them go nuts.
CAFFERTY: I have five cats. You put a little catnip on the floor, the show is on.
BLITZER: OK, Jack. Thanks very much.
I'm going to Tweet about that. We have a way for you to find out -- another way, that is -- to find out what's going on behind-the-scenes here at THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm now on Twitter. You can get my Tweets at Twitter.com/wolfblitzercnn. That's all one word -- wolfblitzercnn.
It's among the biggest tests of his presidency -- President Obama soon meeting with world leaders here in New York City.
How might he handle friends and foes?
And it will devastate millions more lives and impact millions more families -- a new report says the number of people with Alzheimer's Disease is rising rapidly. Wait until you hear how fast.
And what's going on for this?
And a former Russian president drunk in his underwear, trying to hail a cab near the White House -- that's the claim in a new book and Bill Clinton is said to be telling the story.
BLITZER: Coming out right now, embarrassing revelations about a man formally one of the most powerful leaders in the world. And these once secret disclosures are coming out courtesy of a new book which Bill Clinton actually helped along.
Our Brian Todd has more -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a couple of very startling incidents recounted in this book, "The Clinton Tapes," by Taylor Branch. They're about President Clinton's level of concern about the drinking habits of then Russian President Boris Yeltsin. And according to the book, a couple of incidents played out in late September of 1994 that really highlighted that. They occurred here at Blair House in Washington. This is where dignitaries stay when they're visiting the president of the United States.
Now, according to the book, one day in the pre-dawn hours, late September of 1994, Boris Yeltsin snuck out of Blair House, out here onto Pennsylvania Avenue, dead drunk, clad only in his underwear, alone and tried to hail a taxi cab.
When he was confronted by Secret Service agents, he had a loud argument with them, according to the book, slurred his words, said he didn't want to go into -- back into Blair House, said he wanted the cab to go get a pizza.
When asked what came of the incident by the author, Mr. Clinton just shrugged and said, "Well, he got his pizza."
Now, these days, neither me nor Mr. Yeltsin or anybody else can come out to Pennsylvania Avenue and hail a cab because several months after that, Bill Clinton because of the Oklahoma City bombing and other security concerns, closed this section of Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic. It's only open now, as you can see, to pedestrian traffic. Now, another incident, according to the book, played out the very next night and again here at Blair House, where Boris Yeltsin, according to the author, snuck down the back stairway inside of Blair House, into the basement, was mistaken by a security guard for a drunken intruder. And there was some very tense moments, according to the book, until Russian and American security agents got to the scene, hashed out their stories, figured out who they were dealing with. But, again, they really highlighted Mr. Clinton's level of concern about the drinking habits of then Russian President Yeltsin. And both those incidents played out in successive nights here at Blair House -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian.
As you say, a drunk -- a drunken half naked Russian president trying to hail a cab near the White House isn't the only revealing tale in this new book. There are many others. And you may be shocked to learn them when the author of the book, "The Clinton Tapes," comes to THE SITUATION ROOM. The historian, Taylor Branch, will be here next week, October 1st. That's a Thursday. Stand by for that.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, covered Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton extensively as our Moscow bureau chief, also as a White House correspondent before that.
Jill is joining us now live -- Jill, you remember similar stories about Boris Yeltsin?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't remember Boris Yeltsin in his underwear. But I do remember a couple of cases where -- one in particular that I was thinking about during the first Chechen war. There actually was a news conference, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton sitting side by side. And they were talking about Chechnya. And Boris Yeltsin went on a rant. And he was, you know, gesturing with his hands and saying, "These people are monsters and they wear green bands over their heads." And he was almost exploding in front of our eyes.
And Bill Clinton literally looked at him -- and his eyes were getting bigger like, you know, what is going on with this man?
And it was obvious that, you know, has was under the influence of something. There's other stories, you know, where he was thrown into a river once, he claims, and ended up almost drowning. Another time I remember on a pool where he was directing a circus, as I remember it was, and almost fell into the main ring.
So there were a lot of different experiences with Mr. Yeltsin. But he did have a problem, there's no question, with alcohol.
BLITZER: No, there's no -- no doubt -- no doubt about that, Jill.
And who can forget when he was singing and dancing at that one event?
At the same time, let's not forget that Boris Yeltsin did play a significant -- very significant role -- in the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991. Boris Yeltsin certainly an important and colorful political figure.
Floods sweep people away and fears of bodies floating in the water -- it's being called a grave situation in the South, unyielding rains causing disaster and more rain is forecast.
And a comedian walks into an interview and criticizes a CNN political contributor, except it's no ordinary comedian. It's a noted economist and political observer, Ben Stein. Wait until you hear what he said about James Carville. Guess what?
Ben Stein and James Carville -- they're both standing by live. They're here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Betty Nguyen is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
right now -- Betty, what's going on?
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Plans are being finalized in California for the funeral for Yale graduate student, Annie Le. Services will be held on Saturday at a church in El Dorado Hills. Now, her fiance's synagogue is also planning a memorial service on Wednesday in New York. Le vanished from a Yale research building on September 8th and her body was found five days later on what was supposed to be her wedding day. A lab worker has been charged with her murder.
In Washington State -- boy this is story -- sheriff's officials say a legally insane killer who escaped while on a field trip has been recaptured. Forty-seven-year-old Philip Arnold Paul was caught three days after he slipped away after a trip to a county fair. Paul was committed after being diagnosed as a schizophrenic. He had been acquitted by reason of insanity for the killing of an elderly woman back in 1987.
Authorities in Naples, Florida tell CNN that Haitian police believe they've nabbed a man wanted for questioning in the killings of his family. The man's wife and five children, ages nine years to 11 months, were found dead in their Naples apartment on Saturday. Sheriff's officials are working with the FBI to confirm the identity of the man in custody.
And a mob trial with all the trappings -- prosecutors opened the fourth racketeering trial of John Gotti, Jr. in Manhattan today. The 45-year-old son of infamous mob boss John Gotti is accused of ordering the deaths of two drug dealers. The judge announced just before the trial began that seven jurors had asked to be dismissed. He did not disclose the reasons and they were sworn in anyway -- Wolf. BLITZER: Betty, thanks very much.
President Obama has a series of meetings with international leaders this week. They may be on home turf, but could set the tone for how the world views the president of the United States.
We're going to hear what James Carville and Ben Stein have to say about that.
Also, living with Alzheimer's Disease -- a new report says debilitating dementia is growing in the United States by leaps and bounds.
And the controversy deepens over a South African athlete whose sex became the center of a political firestorm. Now a top sports official admits to lying about gender tests.
BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, he admitted to the affair but now a new article challenges John Edwards' insistence that he could not have fathered his former mistresses' child.
Could the once rising Democratic star salvage his political career?
Michael Moore targets banks, politicians and everyone in between in his latest documentary. CNN's Susan Lisovicz talks to the controversial filmmaker about "Capitalism: A Love Story".
And he's been in a maximum security prison since admitting to a plot to blow up a transatlantic flight. Seven years later, restrictions are easing on the notorious shoe bomber, Richard Reid. The decision is raising new concerns about safety.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama is here in New York for a series of meetings with the world leaders at the United Nations. They come in advance of the G20 Summit later this week in Pittsburgh.
Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is joining us now.
These meetings, the speeches and all that, important, but what happens on the so-called sidelines could be even more important.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's going to be very interesting to watch, because President Obama is going to be tested by friends and foes alike. The delicate dance of diplomacy involves engaging some, but also ignoring others. But the side meetings just as important, if not more, than formal speeches. President Obama's first face-to-face meetings will be with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. It is a signal that the Obama administration still puts Middle East peace at the top of its list of priorities.
Now, while administration aides are telling me that they don't expect any major breakthroughs on specifics regarding Palestinian security or Israeli settlements, the president wants to show the world leaders that he is still engaged in the highest level when it comes to Middle East peace.
BLITZER: But there are some world leaders who will be here in New York the president would just as soon avoid.
MALVEAUX: Yes. And I think he is going to avoid them. One of those people, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's going to be attending this international summit. And the White House aides are telling me that the president -- he has no intention of engaging him. He, along with Libya's Moammar Ghadafi, who just gave a hero's welcome to the Lockerbie bomber, who returned recently to Libya -- both of them not on the invite list -- but, Wolf, you never know, we journalists live for that moment when a chance encounter between one head of state meets another head of state. So we'll see.
BLITZER: We'll watch it closely, as will you, Suzanne.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Let's talk more about what's at stake at the United Nations meetings here in New York this week. I'm joined by CNN political contributor James Carville who is joining us from New Orleans and "Fortune" magazine columnist Ben Stein who is joining us from Los Angeles. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.
It's a very -- it doesn't get more sensitive on the international stage, the president of the United States could be forced to shake hands with an Ahmadinejad or a Ghadafi, James. He's got to try to avoid that kind of close encounter, doesn't he?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, right after -- shortly after world war ii and there's been pretty hideous people who have come to New York and presidents have had to navigate this kind of thing before and I'm sure he's going to be able to do that, but as to the nature of having the U.N. here in the United States is people come in and, you know, not every world leader is somebody that we like or that I like or that there can be some pretty bad people but it's a big job he's got. He's got a big staff, he ought to be able to negotiate these waters pretty good.
BLITZER: We remember, Ben, that back, what, in April of the summit of the Americas, he found himself very close to Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela which created an awkward moment that was dissected and dissected by those of us in the news media.
BEN STEIN, "FORTUNE" COLUMNIST: He seemed to almost be embracing Hugo Chavez, although I don't think he really does embrace him. Let's remember American leaders, head of government as well as head of state, often embrace people who are quite morally repellant. We have the specter, the horrifying specter, but necessary, of FDR, one of the great men in history embracing Josef Stalin, maybe the worst person in history except for Hitler, so these kinds of things happen on the world stage. It doesn't mean I'm sure that Mr. Obama likes Ahmadinejad if he does run into him and shakes his hand or if he runs into Chavez and shakes his hand. It's an extremely delicate situation, but what concerns me is that Mr. Obama said he's going to negotiate with Ahmadinejad without conditions. I'm not sure how you do that with a person who denies the holocaust and slaps Obama in the face when Obama makes a gesture of deference and kindness to him about missile defense.
BLITZER: Ben, let's not forget that Stalin at the time was the leader of the Soviet Union which was a close ally of the U.S. and Britain in World War II.
STEIN: I completely agree. Stalin also at the same time was murdering his own people by the millions, even as he was fighting Hitler, but my point is not in a very nice person but sometimes on the world stage American leaders have to shake hands with people who are not nice. Mr. Nixon works certainly was no friend of communism, shook hands and embraced Brezhnev, I'm not sure, embraced whoever the leader of the soviets was at the time when he signed various strategic missile treaties so it has to be done. It's unfortunate but it has to be done.
BLITZER: James, you remember it wasn't that long ago, a few months ago, when we saw what appeared to be the president of the United States bowing as he met the Saudi King, King Abdullah, although the white house said he wasn't bowing. It looked like he was and he got a lot of grief for that.
CARVILLE: Yeah, look, you know, they dissect it and will replay this thing, like somebody catching a pass out of bounds and I think Ben is right. Look, you know, we were friends with Saddam Hussein at one time. I mean, you know, Bismarck said that, you know, alliances change, interests don't. It happened and I'm sort of glad that the United Nations is on our soil and that comes with that some diplomatic tight walks that presidents have to perform, but it's a big job and they ought to be able to accomplish it.
BLITZER: There was a story over the weekend in "New York Times," Ben, I want you to weigh in on it, that this president internationally is a lot more popular than president Bush was, but where -- where's the result? Where's the benefit of that? Is the U.S. gaining what it wants from all these adversaries or allies out there even as the president is very popular around the world?
STEIN: Well, not at all because the people who are our adversaries don't care about the will of their people. I mean, the people who are adversaries, people like Mr. Ahmadinejad or Mr. Putin don't really care what their people think. They care what they think and what the interest of their political clique demands. They are not at all interested in polls, and I don't think it's doing him any good here at home. The people in the United States don't really care if foreigners like Mr. Obama, and I -- as a matter of fact, they probably like him less if foreigners like him more, so I -- I'm not sure what good it does him. I have an old-fashioned perhaps childish view that they would respect us more if we are stronger armed forces rather than if we had a more smiling and cheerful president.
BLITZER: Let me go to James very quickly. Does this president of the United States need to get tougher with friends and foes alike?
BLITZER: Good strong answer and to the point.
STEIN: That was short.
BLITZER: He's very good at that.
Guys, stand by, because we have a lot more to talk about, and to our viewers, you may laugh at what the economist and the comedian at tiles, the actor Ben Stein, has to stay about our own James Carville. How is James going to react? They are both standing by. We'll talk about that and more. That's coming up.
And he's a so-called shoe bomber. He's doing hard time at a super max prison but Richard Reid is now free to do a few more things. We'll explain. That's coming up.
BLITZER: All right. We're back with James Carville and Ben Stein. Ben took on James by name in a commentary on CBS yesterday. Listen to this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEIN: I was a bit surprised when I read that Mr. Carville had recently blasted the men and women at the anti-Obama tea parties as so quote, classless, end quote, that they shocked him.
CARVILLE: I was shocked by how utterly classless the crowd was.
STEIN: Wait a minute. I thought the Democrats were the party of the little guys and those who aren't classy are well born. Now the Democrats' political enemies are the ones without social class, so now the Democrats are admitting they are the party of the rich?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that what you're admitting, James?
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I understand that Ben had some nice things to say about me before that and echo that I think he's a good guy. If you went to the videotape, Ben, would you see that I held up a sign, that a CNN executive told me thousands of people that said, bury Obama care with Kennedy. Classless was the mildest word that I could come up with. My emotions were raging and I was thinking of a lot worse things to say and I tried to hold them in check. Anybody who celebrates the death of a man who leaves a family and children and friends behind, who I think leaves a great legacy behind and is sort of celebrating that, classless seems to me about the mildest word that I can come up with.
BLITZER: That's a fair point. Ben?
STEIN: Well, that was -- that's a perfectly valid point, and as James said I praised him lavishly at the beginning of my commentary, which you seemed to have edited out.
The point I think is this. You can call -- you can call them stupid. You can call them insensitive, but to call them classless sort of implies that they are of low social class. That doesn't celebrate the death of Edward Kennedy, for whom many people feel very sorry for his family and I do, too, but the additional point that James made was to make fun of the people at the tea parties for being old. I think you said in a rather mocking way, they are what 72.4 years old. Well, of course, to youngsters like me and James who are only 64, that does seem incredibly old, but the Democrats were supposed to be the party of people caring about old people, and then other people were making fun of the demonstrators because they were white and then -- that wasn't James but other people were doing that, and I don't see why we disavow or don't pay any attention of the views of people because of their race and other people were making fun of them because they were from small towns. I don't see why we pay attention to people more or less depending on whether they are from a big city or small town.
We have a phenomenon here in Los Angeles and New York and Washington, D.C., in any high-class very expensive white neighborhood, all the cars with Obama bump f-stickers, used to have hated Bush bummer stickers, the Democratic party has become the party of very well-to-do white people by and large. Upper middle class white people, I'd say, yes, Republicans, but the elites in this country have become strikingly Democrat, and this is a big, big change.
BLITZER: Go ahead, James.
CARVILLE: Yeah. A couple points I would make. If you're a hostile white educated over 65 you're likely to be a Republican. I wrote about this in my book. If you're under 30 you're very likely to be a Democrat. I'm a little bit against the mole. I'm as white as they come and I'll be 65 next month and I'm a Democrat. I understand the demographics are a driving force behind politics. I'm not sure that that's something that the Republicans should be celebrating.
We have a lot of people that watch this show. I think our advertisers would just assume we have 35-year-olds and not 70-year- olds. That's the nature that it is and that's the kind of point I was making here. Look, I like -- a vote is a vote and any Democrat will take a vote, but if you're comparing, you know, if you're saying bury Obama care with Ted Kennedy, you know, you've got to an itch the Democratic Party can't scratch, and I understand that and you can't get all the votes --
STEIN: My point --
CARVILLE: Go ahead, Ben, I'm sorry.
STEIN: With all due respect, my -- my bigger point is not that the Republicans should be celebrating the fact that the Republican Party is the party of an ethnic group that is rapidly becoming a minority in the country, that's a giant problem that will have to be addressed by Republican strategists and I'm not a Republican strategist but it will have to be addressed or else there will have to be a new party but my point is during the days of FDR the enemy for the Democrats was the economic royalists and the malefactors of great wealth and now the economic royalists are almost all Democrats.
If you look at Republicans, you're looking for a white, working man in a small town or in a suburb or a white small business owner. That's what the Republicans are nowadays. They are not the malefactors of great wealth, the big guys on Wall Street, the big guys in Hollywood, the big guys of finance they are Democrats. The ordinary small businessman, that's a Republican.
BLITZER: Let me just interrupt for a moment. Hold on, James, for a second. There are plenty of very, very wealthy Republicans, Ben, don't you acknowledge that?
STEIN: Oh, there are plenty of them. There are plenty of them, but the great majority of million dollar plus gifts to political campaigns, the huge majority, go to Democrats, and in the media centers, the centers where the beautiful people reside, L.A., Washington, D.C., New York, those people are almost all Democrats. It's comical to be on the west side of L.A. and see how many left wing anti-Bush stickers there have been forever. It's just a joke. Now, of course, in Dallas, Houston, there are plenty of wealthy Republicans.
BLITZER: And I was going to say in Dallas and Houston lots of very, very wealthy Republicans, but go ahead, James.
CARVILLE: Right. Again, we can go -- I'm not going to get into an argument about Fortune 500 executives or banking executives and who they contribute to or anything like that. I don't live on the west side of L.A. I live in the city of New Orleans, but, again, the point is that anybody that put that sign up classless was the mildest word I can come up with, and the truth of the matter is that, yes, the older -- the only age demographic that John McCain carried was older voters, and, again, that's just a political fact of life in the United States today. We do have a demographic break, and as commentators I think we owe it to the viewers and to the network that we own to state what the facts are, and -- and that's just what the facts are, and -- and they can't be denied.
STEIN: This is a giant -- you're mentioning only one giant demographic factor. The Republicans also have the white voters, but the white voters are becoming a much smaller group day by day. That's the real interesting thing that the parties break down very largely on ethnic grounds, not so much on wealth grounds but on ethnic grounds. CARVILLE: Well, again, you know, that has -- I'd have to go back and look but the white vote has been fairly stable. Obama might have done a touch better.
STEIN: No, no, no.
CARVILLE: I would just make the point, sorry, go ahead.
STEIN: Go, I was --
CARVILLE: I was just making the point --
STEIN: Senator McCain --
CARVILLE: Okay. The only demographic, age demographic that Senator McCain carried were voters over 65. I checked before I came here.
STEIN: I completely agree with you, but I'm saying there's also a huge ethnic issue going on here which is a crisis for the Republican Party which is that McCain carried the white vote quite substantially in the United States of America. He was swamped by a very, very, very overwhelming African-American vote for Mr. Obama, but he carried the white vote substantially, but the white vote is rapidly diminishing in significance in this country and that is something that the Republican Party will have to address an urgently.
BLITZER: All right guys.
CARVILLE: You are and I agree on some things. We agree on that, too.
BLITZER: I agree with both of you. You're both good guys. Thanks very much.
CARVILLE: All right.
BLITZER: For coming in.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
BLITZER: James Carville and Ben Stein.
Michael Moore takes on capitalism. The controversial filmmaker's newest film is out, and he speaks to CNN. Michael Moore is not holding his tongue. He never does.
And Bill Clinton's stunning statement, wait until you hear what he's telling CNN about opposition to President Obama because the president is African-American. Stand by.
BLITZER: Already holding many people under its grip, and it's expected to devastate millions more. We're talking about Alzheimer's disease. Today is world Alzheimer's day, and there is new research about how many people are Alzheimer's day and there is new research about how many people are affected and how many more could be in the future. Let's bring in our CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. She's at the CNN Center.
Describe what's going on, Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on, Wolf is that baby-boomers are getting older and that means the rates of Alzheimer's disease in this country and around the world are getting higher and higher. You have to take a look at this number. It's really stunning. What this report found is that the rates of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia is going to double every 20 years. This means that by 2030, there will be almost 66 million people worldwide with dementia and by 2050, we're talking about more than 115 million people with dementia. I think what's important here is that the numbers don't tell the whole story. Alzheimer's disease affects the entire family. People have to take care of folks who have dementia and that can really be devastating.
BLITZER: Folks who released this report, what do they hope will happen now?
COHEN: What they hope will happen is that there will be more money and more support for folks who have to take care of parents or grandparents or spouses who have dementia. Take a look at this. In 2050, we'll have to spend $20 trillion on Alzheimer's care. That's not research. That's not drugs. It's just on Alzheimer's care. And that equal to 20 stimulus packages. That's how much money that is.
BLITZER: Is there any reason, any guess as to why these rates are growing so quickly?
COHEN: What they think is just the aging of Americans. As the baby-boomers get into their senior years, the numbers are going to go up. There's no other reason for that. It's really just statistical.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Elizabeth. Very worrisome information.
A storm of controversy over a South African gold medallist. The track star's gender is called into question. Now a top sports official admits to lying about it.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's a new twist to the story that's rocked the world of sports. It involves an athlete some people are calling -- sorry. Hermaphrodite based on U.N. confirmed reports. Now a key figure in this story enflames the controversy by admitting he lied about something. CNN's Robyn Curnow has more from Johannesburg, South Africa.
(BEING VIDEOTAPE) ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Caster Semenya arrived home from the World Athletics Championships with a gold medal and into the political firestorm. For many South Africans, the sensitive questions about her gender were blamed on jealousy and racism in the International Athletics Federation or on a mischievous media.
JULIUS MALEMA, POLITICIAN: Once again, the world-controlled media, you are wrong. She is a female.
CURNOW: A month ago, the president of Athletic South Africa fueled the controversy by saying the South Africans knew nothing about gender tests done on their star athlete.
LEONARD CHUENE, PRESIDENT, ATHLETICS SA: We did not have any information that people are doubting. We did not have. And that's the point. How, how, how, tell me how?
CURNOW: But it turns out that these statements made in front of the world's media were not true. The president of South African Athletics now admits he was aware that gender tests were done in South Africa by South Africans before she ran in world athletics championships and before the international athletics body ordered its own test. He also said he was asked by a doctor and the athletics federation to withdraw Semenya from competition until the issue of her gender had been resolved.
CHUENE: I believe at the time that my consistent denial would have to protect her. That's what I believed.
CURNOW: The South African government has called for him to be fired and the public is speculating that he let Semenya run to get more gold medals, something he denies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like he clearly messed up obviously. And going for personal glory compromised the whole situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly as South Africa, we betrayed Caster Semenya.
CURNOW: No comment from Caster Semenya, but it's clear from her body language, that she's never been comfortable with all the attention.
South Africans still firmly support Caster Semenya. But the lies and secrets surrounding athletic South Africa still make this deeply controversial issue here. There are many unanswered questions, for example, did Caster Semenya know that she was undergoing gender tests or was she duped by her own doctors? What were the results of those test and the other ones taken by the international athletics body? The result of those only due at the end of November. So until then, Caster Semenya is reportedly studying for exams, training and trying to stay out of the spotlight.
Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Quite a story indeed.
All right. Jack Cafferty is here with "the Cafferty File."
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks Wolf. The question this hour, are the news media responsible for the recent outbreak of rude behavior across America?
Rob in North Carolina, "Rude behavior is a choice. There is rudeness everywhere and to assume that the media is somehow responsible for this is insane. I agree it probably doesn't help to show it, especially in role models but this was a problem before and it will be after. You can't make people care about and respect each other."
Allen in Illinois, "The media is not responsible for the crazy people out there. That being said, they do know that being outrageous may get them on TV. All you have to do is watch local news reports to see reporters doing a report on a murder or something and some nut is usually behind them laughing and smiling while the reporter is trying to do a serious story. The media is not to blame but they do help bring the nuts to the forefront."
Cy in Arlington, Virginia writes, "Largely, 24 hour news channels, like yours, have substituted heat for light. All of you would rather show yelling and screaming about nothing than risk someone hitting the remote because facts are boring. In the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" there's a line, when the truth conflicts with the legend, print the legend. In our day and age when the truth conflicts with the red faced lunatics spewing venom, go with the loonies."
Ron writes, "The president did not mean CNN. I think he meant your competition." Thank you Ron.
David in Pennsylvania, "Yes because that's the only thing you vultures will cover, the more tasteless the better. When's the last time Cafferty had something good to say?"
And John in Colorado writes, "Serena Williams is still playing tennis. Joe Wilson remains in Congress and Kanye West continues making big bucks. Whatever happened to personal responsibility and real consequences for very bad behavior? The news media are only reporting the facts, and the facts that these people should all be unemployed, but they aren't."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile and look for yours there among hundreds of others.
BLITZER: You say nice things all the time.
CAFFERTY: I'm a very nice person, as you are.
BLITZER: You are. Thank you. CAFFERTY: You're welcome. Attractive, too.