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Lou Dobbs Tonight
School Speech Plan Attacked; High Unemployment Rate; Approval Ratings; Brazil's Health Care; Arson; Democrats Divided
Aired September 04, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LISA SYLVESTER, GUEST CO-HOST: Thanks, Suzanne. Tonight, is the White House telling teachers what to teach in your child's classroom -- the White House dismissing this as a partisan attack, calling it quote, "silly season."
The nation's unemployment rate at its highest in a quarter of a century and that doesn't even include the millions of Americans who can't get enough work or have given up searching entirely.
And that killer wildfire near Los Angeles is the work of an arsonist and now there's a homicide investigation. We will have brand new details in a live report.
Also, more trouble for a presidential advisor -- maybe you've heard the crude remark he made about Republicans. Well, there is a lot more to this story and we will have all of that straight ahead.
But first controversy following the president all the way into the nation's classrooms where he plans to make a back to school speech on Tuesday -- White House planners may have thought that this was a sure thing, a simple presidential pep talk urging children to study hard and stay in school, but oh they were so wrong.
Critics are now accusing the president of trying to indoctrinate America's children. Tonight the White House is trying to brush this off with phrases like "silly season." Dan Lothian has our report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Education matters.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Past presidents have spoken to school children before but it was the homework that the Obama administration gave to students ahead of a back to school address that sparked a revolt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he might be introducing some of his agenda which as a conservative parent I don't agree with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My rights as a parent are being circumvented so that this president can speak to my children.
LOTHIAN: The Department of Education has suggested that students be assigned to quote, "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." He in turn plans to encourage them to stay in school, but some conservatives say Mr. Obama is pushing propaganda on school children. Jim Greer, the head of Florida's Republican Party, even accused the president of turning to kids to spread his liberal lies.
JIM GREER, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA: I think the president has enough to do focusing on the economy and finding jobs for Americans than writing lesson plans out of the oval office.
LOTHIAN: School officials across the country scrambled to address the problem. The Salt Lake City District advised teachers to notify parents if they planned on airing the address in class and allow students to opt out. Similar moves in states like Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Kentucky and Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So will I send my child? I don't know. Right now, I would say no. I'll keep him home.
LOTHIAN: Reacting to the uproar White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said "I think we've reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can't tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school." Some people agree seeing the address as inspiring, not political.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think anytime that someone talks about education and kids staying in school, there's no other motivation for that.
LOTHIAN: So the administration did acknowledge some confusion and a lesson plan was tweaked rather than letters on what they can do to help the president, the students are instead being asked to write about their education goals and how they can achieve them and to further allay fears the White House plans to release the speech on Monday online so that parents can have a chance to read it -- Lisa.
SYLVESTER: All right, Dan, but they still have those lesson plans. Dan, I want to ask another question. The White House also changed its policy on releasing the names of visitors to the White House, but not all visitors, right?
LOTHIAN: That's true. You know the White House is outing this as unprecedented saying that this is part of their transparency effort, but there will be some exceptions as to what names will be released. First of all any private visitors to the family's quarters such as friends for the first kids as well as if there are any Supreme Court nominees that are being considered and brought here to the White House, their names will be withheld for a time but then later released.
And also the White House saying that any national security concerns, if there's some undercover kind of CIA operative who comes here to the White House, these are the kinds of names that would not be released but will be decided on a case by case basis. Again, they're pointing out because of national security.
SYLVESTER: OK, Dan Lothian, thanks for that report.
And today we learned that the unemployment rate in this country is at a 26-year high, the Labor Department says the jobless rate rose to 9.7 percent last month. That is the highest since 1983. The figure is based on Americans who are actively looking for work but there are so many people out there who have given up and others working only part time. Tonight we continue our series "DOBBS & JOBS NOW!" Louise Schiavone has this report.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two hundred sixteen thousand more jobs lost in the U.S. economy. Bringing the unemployment rate to a 26-year high. Vice President Biden says it would have been much worse without the stimulus bill.
JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There would have been another 500 to a million jobs lost had we not had this recovery act up and running.
SCHIAVONE: Still for jobless Americans, a painful punishing experience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, what I'm getting is a lot of I'll give you a call. So, as of right now, no, it's not getting better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People who are struggling are probably saying hey, you know what the heck. What's going on because the rest of us are pushing brooms and mops and trying to buy groceries and keep crackers in the cupboard.
SCHIAVONE: This woman just landed a job after a two-year search. One of the success stories in this gloomy recession where according to the Labor Department's latest figures, more than half of the nation's unemployed or nearly eight million have been looking for work for 15 weeks or longer. About five million of them have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.
JOHN CHALLENGER, CEO, CHALLENGER, GRAY & CHRISTMAS: It's so important right now to be out there pushing, not letting the inertia of say a longer period of unemployment get the better of you so people need to look for ways to expand the scope of their search.
SCHIAVONE: More than 3.5 million people are holding down several jobs, according to the Labor Department. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 17 percent of the U.S. workforce is either unemployed, has stopped looking for work or is working part time while seeking a full-time job.
PETER MORICI, ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Unemployment will continue to rise because the rate of growth in the economy is simply too slow to absorb the productivity growth and additional workers we get every year.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHIAVONE: Lisa, economists agree that the course of recovery will be a long, tough slog. The White House forecast, unemployment will eventually hit 10 percent or higher. Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Yes, we are very close to that 10 percent number now at 9.7 percent. Thank you very much, Louise, for that report.
Well the number of state governments suffering because of the recession continues to grow. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, at least 27 states plus the District of Columbia -- that's more than half of the country -- they have either had to lay off or furlough workers. Those states are projecting a cumulative budget shortfall of close to $143 billion.
Well the polls we've been reporting on this week show President Obama in a bit of trouble -- his approval ratings slipping to just above 50 percent. An opening for Republicans -- yes, but they aren't necessarily taking advantage of it. Candy Crowley has our report.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's summer slide in the polls continues but as he hovers in the mid to low 50 percent range, there's no equal and opposite movement for Republicans. Democrats continue to dominate on the biggest issues of our time.
CROWLEY: When it comes to handling health care, the economy and Afghanistan, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Americans believe Democrats would do a better job, even in traditional Republican strongholds. Taxes, foreign affairs, deficits, Democrats virtually tie the GOP.
Republicans prevailed substantially in only one category, who is best able to handle the challenge of terrorism. Overall, the CNN poll found 52 percent of Americans believe Democratic policies will move the country in the right direction. Just 43 percent say that of the GOP. Still support for Democrats has gone down five points since May and support for Republicans has ticked up by four. Also worth watching as the health care debate heats up September.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: We just don't need the federal government this involved in the delivery of our health care.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My hope is we can do it in a bipartisan fashion, but the most important thing is getting it done for the American people.
CROWLEY: On the subject of who isn't playing well with others, Republicans still fare worse but the number of people who think the president is not doing enough to cooperate with the other side has jumped by 10 points. Also worrisome for Democrats, 64 percent of Americans say they're angry about the way Washington is working and most of the anger is directed at the party in power -- Democrats. The trend lines are inklings of hope for Republicans as the calendar marches toward another election year.
CROWLEY: A catchy little jingle but it's about 13 months and five to 10 poll points premature, inklings do not an election make.
CROWLEY: And while 64 percent is a lot of angry Americans, it's not yet a revolutionary kind of number. In 1994, the election which swept in the Gingrich revolution, 72 percent of Americans described themselves as angry. Lisa.
SYLVESTER: All right, Candy Crowley, for that wrap-up, thank you very much.
Turning overseas in Afghanistan tonight, NATO officials admit that civilians are among the 90 people killed in an air strike aimed at the Taliban. The attack targeted two fuel trucks Taliban militants had hijacked in northern Afghanistan. At the time, the military believed there were no civilians near the trucks. Later, NATO learned that was wrong. NATO and the Afghan government are now investigating.
North Korea is once again raising the stakes in the international standoff over its nuclear program. The North state run news agency says the country is now in the final stages of enriching uranium which would make it much easier to produce nuclear weapons. North Korea has already been processing plutonium for atomic bombs.
Still ahead, a high level presidential advisor in even more trouble after being caught using vulgar language to describe Republicans and town hall anger as the debate over the health care overhaul continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what the heck you're talking about. I don't know what you're talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: One congressman, he's firing back at his audience -- also this -- amazing video of the final blow in a college football game. Whoa, you're going to want to stick around to see more of this.
SYLVESTER: New disclosures today of just how deadly the swine flu virus has become. The World Health Organization today said at least 625 people died this week from swine flu. The total number of reported deaths now stands at more than 2,800. The WHO also said the number of reported cases of swine flu is more than 254,000, but a spokesman said the actual total is much higher as countries are no longer required to report new cases. Well, the American public has been making their voices heard over the plans to overhaul health care in this country. At times, contentious town hall meetings as congressional Democrats have been trying to win the support of skeptical citizens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: Anybody who has told you or you've heard somebody say it, that you're going to have to give up or somebody can take away your insurance or that the government is going to make a decision for you is totally wrong. That's not the bill I worked on. I don't know what the heck you're talking about. I don't know what you're talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Many Americans still remain unconvinced. A series of rallies around the country sponsored by the Tea Party Express have been protesting what they call government intervention in the lives of American families.
Well we've been reporting here on health care around the world. We've examined the health care systems of more than 20 countries and compared their systems to ours. Tonight, we take a look at Brazil. It has a mix of public and private health care coverage. Critics say the quality of care in Brazil is higher for those who can afford to pay. Life expectancy in Brazil is 72 years. Ines Ferre has our report.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the past two decades, health care in Brazil has been a constitutional right. Nearly 200 million Brazilians have access to free public medical care. That includes everything from medication to complicated surgeries. While the country's poor rely on the public health plan, those who can afford it often opt for private care. There is one doctor for every 833 patients in Brazil compared with one to 416 in the U.S.
Many doctors work in both sectors prompting problems with absenteeism in public hospitals. Private care generally has better treatments and technology while public care is strained and access is often delayed.
DR. EDUARDO GOMEZ, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: There's been less money available for the public sector and so they're very stretched and it's very difficult for the government to finance a hospital, so the quality of care in hospitals, public hospitals and programs for the poor has been declining somewhat.
FERRE: Funding for Brazil's public health plan comes from federal, state and local governments through various taxes. Brazil spends about 7.5 percent of its GDP on health care. Less than the nearly 16 percent of GDP spent by the United States. An average of $765 is spent per person per year on health care. The United States spends 7,290 per person yearly on health care. Life expectancy is 72 years. Despite its challenges, the system has made progress.
MAUREEN LEWIS, WORLD BANK: There's been a big move to do outreach and a number of states have done some very creative programs where they've gone into the very low income areas and provided health care.
FERRE: Years ago, Brazil took on the task of combating AIDS. In a controversial move it began producing generic HIV/AIDS drugs by itself. The government also negotiated lower costs for imported drugs by threatening to produce them locally. These steps saved Brazil $1 billion.
FERRE: And poor management and public hospitals over-use of services and inefficiencies are challenges the country's health care system still faces -- Lisa.
SYLVESTER: All right, Ines thanks for that report. And we will continue with our coverage of the health care systems of other nations. Next week the quality of health care in the Czech Republic, then Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
Coming up, President Obama, he's expected to detail his health care plan when he addresses Congress next week. Also controversy grows over startling comments made by an Obama advisor. The story just keeps getting bigger and bigger and we have some new comments that he made that we will share with you coming up.
And the probe into the California wildfire -- it's now a homicide investigation -- shocking details next.
SYLVESTER: California firefighters today paid respects to two of their own killed in that massive wildfire north of Los Angeles. Officials say the cause of the deadly fire is arson. And the charred woodlands are now the center of a homicide investigation. Brian Todd has our report from Tujunga Canyon, California.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The remains of a fallen firefighter are driven past his saluting colleagues. His death and that of another firefighter mean the biggest wildfire in Los Angeles County history is now a homicide case. That's because investigators are now calling this arson. The incident commander adds another phrase.
CHIEF MIKE DIETRICH, INCIDENT COMMANDER: Any act of arson in the wildlings (ph) is domestic terrorism. That's my personal opinion. I believe that other folks have said that because it affects communities, citizens, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and what else could it be.
TODD: This could be ground zero. Mile marker 29 on the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest roped off with red flags carefully placed. Veteran investigators tell us it's likely they believe this is the point of origin. Officials here are not commenting on a "Los Angeles Times" report that incendiary material was found here.
The source for that information didn't specify what material that is. Tom Fee, a former Pomona fire chief who's investigated thousands of wildfires all over the U.S. says it could be a range of things.
TOM FEE, WILDFIRE INVESTIGATOR: Probably they either found the match that was left there, the lighter that was left there, the incendiary device that was left there, the road flare that was used to start this fire.
TODD: Fee takes us through the CSI of wildfire investigations, clues he says are everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paper on the ground like this also becomes good indicators.
TODD: These he says are indicators of the direction the fire burned in at the point of origin. An investigator on scene elaborates.
RITA WEARS, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Indicators can be things such as burned rocks. It can be soil that's been damaged.
TODD: Fee says while these clues reveal the direction, arson is revealed by anything from something on the ground to a confession, but another key question...
(on camera): In a territory that is the size of a major city, burned acreage for as far as the eye can see, not only finding that point of origin but determining that it's arson really fairly quickly in a matter of a few days, how do they get to that point in just a few days?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, each fire is a little bit different, but the things that we use are early on aerial photographs, sometimes satellite photographs, witness statements, the firefighters that first arrived, they will know what the area involved was at the time they arrived.
TODD: With those methods he says you can narrow down the point of origin to an acre or less, maybe even to a manmade object like this burned out bottle. They comb through the scene with everything from sifters to dogs and of course look for witnesses. Lisa.
SYLVESTER: All right, Brian, you've been doing some fantastic reporting out there. Thanks very much for that report.
TODD: Thank you.
SYLVESTER: Well still ahead, the White House faces a potential new PR crisis over a presidential advisor's controversial statements, also the final farewell for Michael Jackson. And police scour cold case files as the search for more possible victims of Jaycee Dugard's alleged kidnapper.
ANNOUNCER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT continues.
SYLVESTER: The standoff over the president's health care plan has Democrats struggling to regain their footing in Washington. But is the damage irreparable? That's the subject of tonight's "Face Off" and joining me now, Ed Kilgore, managing editor of "The Democratic Strategist" -- he says that Democrats can regain momentum with health care -- and Chris Stirewalt, political editor of "The Washington Examiner". He says that it could be tough for Democrats to bounce back.
Chris, I want to start with you. You say that this was a pretty brutal recess for the Democrats. Tell me why so.
CHRIS STIREWALT, POLITICAL EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, look, you've had a confluence of events that have made this a tremendously difficult time for the majority party and it's been reflected in low approval ratings for the president, bad approval ratings for Congress, people don't think the country's going in the right direction because what you've had is foreign and domestic issues.
You've had trouble in Afghanistan. And you've had the president not able to make a convincing case on health care. You have generally slipping confidence in the ability of the government to execute fundamental duties, people are worried and it's attaching itself to the Democratic Party.
SYLVESTER: Ed, can Democrats recover?
ED KILGORE, MANAGING EDITOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Oh, absolutely. I mean, in terms of what Chris just said it's -- I guess it's natural for hounds chasing a rabbit around a track to believe they're always closing in for the kill, but I -- you know the president's approval ratings by and large, and even if you look at particular categories of voters, it's pretty much where it was on election day last year. As you may recall, the president won.
It was not a great month in terms of the polls, the dynamics or public perceptions but this is part of a long process and I think it was very predictable that August would be a good month for opponents of health reform because they've really had pretty much an uncontested say. When some of the misperceptions that have been put out there about health reform begin to become clear in the next month or so and when the president has his say next week, I think you'll see some positive momentum for Democrats.
SYLVESTER: Look, there are people out there in the country though that are quite angry...
SYLVESTER: When they were asked the question, which party are they really angry at? The question was which party makes you angry, Democrats, take a look at that number, 28 percent versus Republicans only 17 percent. Chris, comment on this.
STIREWALT: Well, look, I mean when you're in charge, people are going to blame you when things don't go right. And that's the problem the Democrats are having right now is that they won, they're in charge. It's their town and they're expected to run it. It's proving to be very challenging. And I think that competence questions are the big thing that they're starting to dog the president and the Congress -- is are they able to do the work?
Not whether or not the people agree with them. I mean, people mostly like the idea of a government-run health care concept, but they don't feel comfortable that the government can actually execute the things that they say. People like the idea of having a successful and aggressive foreign policy, but if they don't feel like we can actually execute victory in Afghanistan, they're not going to get behind the plan. So right now, the Democratic party is sort of at a pivot point and the president's speech is going to be a crucial moment for this if he can reboot, offer something very different, offer something more dynamic, and something that sounds a little more centrist and competent, then the Democratic Party is going to be in much better shape just a couple of weeks from now.
SYLVESTER: You know from these town hall meetings a lot of people -- the theme that came up again and again is that people don't trust the government. Ed, is this -- these numbers that we just saw, is that a warning for Democrats?
KILGORE: Well, first of all, they don't much like insurance companies either. So there's a lot of mistrust going around among a lot of people and a lot of different institutions. As far as anger goes, something I've always said whether it's Democrats are angry or Republicans are angry, unless that anger is communicable, you know you only get to vote once.
It's pretty obvious that a lot of the anger we're seeing are from Republican conservative-based voters who are very upset that Barack Obama won the election in the first place. It's understandable that they're angry. They have every right to express their anger, but they're not necessarily representative of the public at large.
SYLVESTER: Chris, how should Democrats proceed? Should they just shelf health care reform altogether, start all over?
STIREWALT: Well look, I think most anybody would agree that this would be a good time from a tax perspective to back up and reengage in a different way, but I don't think they're in a position to do that because the president has trouble on his left. He has trouble with his base right now, again because of Afghanistan, but also because they're not convinced that he's still holding fast to the goals that they helped elect him to achieve. So, he has to do something on health care, but again, he's really trying to thread an almost impossible needle here because he has to do enough to keep his base which is flagging, which is losing its enthusiasm engaged, but not continue to push away voters in the middle, and that's what the game's all about is a third of Americans in the middle who really run the show in this country, they're skeptical and they're worried. I don't think that it's a permanent damage to the Democratic brand, but I think that right now, a very different approach is what's needed.
SYLVESTER: OK, Ed, very briefly, how would you thread that needle that Chris was talking about, then?
KILGORE: Well, it's pretty clear that the House is going to pass a bill, pretty close to what they've been talking about all along. The tough job is in the Senate. Just this afternoon, we heard reports of a possible deal between Senator Snowe and the White House for a sort of triggered public option.
That's on one of the real hot button issues in health reform. That's an important step. I think the Senate will pass a bill, the real test is going to come in conference committee, you know, getting that through the Senate later down the road. But we're months away from that and the president's really going to get his first opportunity next week, not only to reframe the debate or reboot it as Chris said, but also to deal with some of the, frankly, lies that have been put out there about health reform over the last month or so.
SYLVESTER: OK, all right. We're going to have to end there. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining me, Ed Kilgore, Chris Stirewalt. Thank you very much for being on our show. And now, some other stories that we're following. Ines Ferre, she's got the very latest for us -- Ines.
INES FERRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks Lisa. Well, police in Nevada are trying to determine if the man charged with kidnapping a California girl 18 years ago is also responsible for several unsolved cases. Philip Garrido was charged with abducting Jaycee Dugard and keeping her captive in his backyard for 18 years. Garrido was also convicted on charges of rape and kidnapping back in 1976 and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He served less than 11 years before being paroled.
Also about 200 family members and friends paid their final respects to Michael Jackson last night, in Glendale, California. The singer was interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park more than two months after his death. Last week, the Los Angeles coroner ruled Jackson's death a homicide. The coroner determined a fatal combination of drugs was given to Jackson just hours before he died. No arrests have been made.
And an extremist environmental group is claiming responsibility for toppling two radio towers in Snohomish County, Washington. The group, the Earth Liberation Front says the towers were downed over "health and environmental concerns." The Earth Liberation Front is a group of radical environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks since the 1990s.
And the University of Oregon has suspended a top running back for attacking an opposing player after Thursday night's loss. Legarrette Blount punched a Boise State player for allegedly taunting him on the field. Blount even punched a teammate and charged some fans in the stands. Blount, a senior, will not play in any games this year, including bowl games. He will, however, be allowed to keep his scholarship and remain on the football team.
And those are some of the stories we've been following tonight -- Lisa.
SYLVESTER: Yeah, whoa, he really nailed him. And you saw it in more than one angle, too. All right, thanks, Ines.
Well, just ahead, liberals in Congress tonight demanding President Obama include a public option in his health care plan. Also the president's school speech under scrutiny. Is he overstepping his bounds?
And new controversy surrounding White House advisor, Van Jones and some of the comments that he made about Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: Well, the answer to that is they're (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Tonight, we will have more stunning statements. These are statements you've never heard before from Jones. We will have those coming up next.
SYLVESTER: A new controversy tonight threatens to become another public relations crisis for the Obama administration. A high level Obama appointee, Van Jones, the special advisor for green jobs, is at the center of the controversy. Mary Snow has this report.
MARY SNOW, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Van Jones may not be a well-known administration figure as an adviser for green jobs, but he's been thrust into the forefront over questions surrounding this 2004 petition he signed on the 9/11 Truth.org Web site demanding "... a call for immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur." Van Jones is listed as "Signer 46."
Asked why his name is on it, an administration source tells CNN that Jones did not carefully review the language in the petition. And in a statement, Jones said, "I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Jones' name appearing on the petition, responding, "It's not something the president agrees with," and that Jones continues to work in the administration.
Jones has also gained attention for comments he made before his White House job, including this one now on YouTube when he was talking about Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How were the Republicans able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators but somehow we can't?
JONES: Well, the answer to that is they are (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
JONES: That's a political science technical term.
And Barack Obama is not an (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
SNOW: In 2005, he was quoted in the "East Bay Express" saying, "By August, I was a communist" when explaining about his radicalization following the acquittals in the police beating case of Rodney King in 1992. Jones said, "If I had offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize."
The green jobs guru has come under scrutiny by conservatives.
Before this, Jones was primarily known for his environmental work. Back in May, in comments on The San Francisco Chronicle's Web site, Jones even won the praise of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, now a Republican candidate for governor in California.
MEG WHITMAN, FMR. EBAY CEO: He's done a marvelous job.
SNOW: Whitman now says she didn't know Jones well and is distancing herself, saying it's clear he holds views she entirely rejects.
SNOW: And tonight, Republican lawmakers are turning up the heat. The chairman of the House Republican conference, Congressman Mike Pence, is calling on Jones to either resign or be fired. And he wants a congressional hearing before any more czars are appointed since advisors like Jones don't have to go through a Senate confirmation -- Lisa.
SYLVESTER: OK, thanks very much for that report, Mary.
Well, joining me now in Washington, White House reporter for "Politico," Nia-Malika Henderson and here in New York, Republican strategist, former political director for the White House and CNN contributor, Ed Rollins, and syndicated columnist and CNN contributor, Miguel Perez. I want to get started first, we have some new comments. We just saw that piece that Mary did of some of the problems, the statements that Van Jones has made. Well, there's new comments that have come to light. And I feel I need to provide some context. These comments were back, it was a lecture back in December of 2005 and he was actually saying we need to be compassionate towards all kids, black kids and Latino kids and white suburban kids who might be in a -- committing some type of crime. Let's roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, we can't believe it happened here, we can't believe it was these suburban white kids. It's only them!
Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He's not going to shoot up the whole school. My cousin's up in here, I ain't going to shoot the whole school, I might hit my cousin. I'm going to shoot you, though.
But these young white men will be in so much pain and so isolated, so (INAUDIBLE), they'll shoot up the entire school. Where is the concern? Where is the love? Where is the compassion for these young men?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: OK. Let's get started first with Ed. The White House today, Robert Gibbs he basically said you know, Jones continues to keep his job when he was asked about this. Is this a big problem for the administration?
ED ROLLINS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it's going to be a bigger problem because obviously, they're going to dig for anything he's said and he's been a very controversial guy. I don't know the man, he may be a superb environmentalist, but at the end of the day, anybody in a high level White House staff position or even low level, which he is, you don't embarrass the president and the president does not need more distractions. And so, my sense is either he has to learn to keep his mouth shut or resign.
SYLVESTER: Nia, should he have been vetted a little more carefully?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICO: Well, the thing is, I mean, he is what we're calling a czar, which means he doesn't have to go through congressional approval. What you see now is a lot of conservatives who have had problems with a number of czars in the Obama administration, there's something like 30 czars in his administration.
This is giving them kind of a new talking point and a new flash point for really pointing out that these czars do need to be essentially vetted and to be looked at more closely. And I think Ed is exactly right, that they're going to be digging some more into Van Jones' statements and probably other czars to see what they can uncover.
It's hard to see how he survives, how he survives this, how he gets through the weekend. Of course, next week we'll be focused more on health care and even the president addresses the students on Tuesday. So, maybe if he survives the weekend, he'll be OK. But again, I think what Ed said is exactly right, it's hard to see how he survives and it's kind of golden rule of not embarrassing the president. It seems like he's certainly done that.
SYLVESTER: Right. Miguel, should he resign?
MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it's coming. Sooner or later he's going to have to. This is a guy who obviously goes overboard too much, too often and you know, with YouTube and the media nowadays, you can't hide those things and obviously it shows a lack of judgment on the part of the White House, I think, not having seen, this guy is a vowed communist. What is he doing in the White House? That's my question.
SYLVESTER: OK, I want to turn to another issue that conservatives have been talking a lot about. And this is the president's decision to deliver this speech to school children. But I have to say, it's not just the speech because other presidents have gone before schools, certainly, and have delivered speeches. But it's actually a lesson plan. I mean, if you take a look, and we've got some graphics that we're going to share with you.
In fact, we went on the Department of Education's Web site and actually pulled these lesson plans, they're called a menu of classroom activities and there's nothing you can say except calling these lesson plans. They're essentially telling teachers what to teach in the class. Let's put up our graphic if we can here.
One of the items: Why is it important that we list it on the president and other elected officials like the mayor, senators, members of Congress or the governor? Why is what they say important? That's one of the items from this.
Another one, why dozen President Obama want us to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?
Ed, do you have a problem with this?
ROLLINS: You know, I don't have a problem with the president speaking to students and trying to inspire them at the beginning of the school year. What I do have problems is the Department of Education is now trying to basically have a nationalized program. The role of education is moving more and more to Washington, both in the resources that they're allocating and what have you, and for the federal government to devise a curriculum and maybe this being the first step, I think that's a disaster. Local schools are what are very important. Local school boards are what are very important, the backbone of America.
SYLVESTER: OK, we're going to have to take a pause here, but we're going to pick up this conversation when we get back and we will be right back with our panel in a moment, but first, this breaking news. Police in Glynn County, Georgia, have arrested Guy Heinze, Jr. on eight counts of murder. You will recall last week, Heinze made a dramatic 911 call telling dispatchers he discovered his murdered family. Well, Heinze was arrested on evidence tampering and drug charges after the bodies were found and he was released on bail.
Police will be holding a news conference later tonight. Again, police in Glynn County, Georgia, they have arrested Guy Heinze, Jr. on eight counts of murder. Heinze made that dramatic 911 call telling the police that he found his family members dead in their home.
Stay with CNN for more details.
SYLVESTER: And we are back now with our panel.
I want to turn to you, Nia. The White House has come under fire for President Obama's decision to deliver this speech to school children, what are your thoughts?
HENDERSON: Well, I mean, I think the big problems that they had was there was this appearance that the White House was putting teaching materials in teacher's hands and I think a lot of people saw that as the long arm of the federal government really infringing on what they think should be kind of a local matter.
SYLVESTER: OK, Miguel, let's talk about health care in the time that we have remaining. You have a set up right now where you've got progressive Democrats who are essentially saying, look, we want to have a public option in there. You've got Blue Dog Democrats saying you can't have a public option in there. How do they thread that needle? How do they split the difference?
PEREZ: Well, when the president speaks to both Houses, he's going to have to show that he's a leader, he's going to have to come and have them reach some kind of compromise, convince the liberal and the extremely right and extremely left to come some kind of middle ground. If he is not able to achieve that, if he goes all the way with the liberals in his own party, he loses. The president has to try, for his own sake, to save some kind of health care plan, he's a logical guy, I think he'll go the moderate route.
SYLVESTER: Ed, do you agree?
ROLLINS: The House certainly will have a nationalized plan, there's no question about that. I think the Senate probably won't and they you got to fight it out in conferences, you always do. But, I think at the end of the day, the votes won't be there. The quicker, closer it gets to Election Day, these progressives are going to want it and the Blue Dogs are going to basically be worried about their own reelection.
SYLVESTER: OK, Nia, your thoughts.
HENDERSON: Yeah, I mean, he's essentially going to make the case that Clinton really faced a backlash because he failed to deliver anything, not because he pushed for something too big, so that's the argument he's going to make and they're betting in the end that those progressive Democrats who are pushing so hard for this public option will essentially want to back something rather than look like a failures in the end.
SYLVESTER: OK, thank you very much to our panel, Nia-Malika Henderson, Ed Rollins, and Miguel Perez, always a pleasure, thanks everyone for joining us.
And coming up at the top of the hour, Rick Sanchez, he's in for Campbell Brown.
Rick, what do you have for us?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Lisa, you're not going to believe this. We've got a development now on the story that we've been following here at CNN for quite some time. You may have heard this story, folks, it's about eight people who are dead, all of them found dead inside a home, actually there may be nine dead because police are saying that there's a 3-year-old that's still on life support. And you've all known that the reason police found out about this is because a man picked up the phone and called 911. In fact, a quote that he gave to police at the time was, "My family, they're all dead, I'm in the house," and then he went on to describe this gruesome scene.
Well guess what. We've just been handed a piece of paper that seems to suggest that police are going to charge this guy. His name is Guy Heinze, Jr. police are calling a news conference. We're going to have the developments for you right here at 8:00 as we move forward. But it sounds like they're about to issue an arrest warrant for Guy Heinze, Jr. who had already been picked up, by the way, they had let him go on $20,000 bail, or not let him go, but they posted $20,000 bail, and now apparently they're going to be charging him for this heinous murder. We're also going to be talking to somebody else in the show, by the way, who's a convicted child molester.
Lisa, back to you.
SYLVESTER: All right, Rick, that's a pretty packed show. Thanks very much and we'll be tuning in.
Well, just ahead, here, "Heroes." Tonight the inspiring story of Army Captain Christopher Carbone who returned to Iraq for a third tour despite sustaining life-threatening injuries from a roadside bomb.
SYLVESTER: And now "Heroes." Tonight we honor Army Captain Christopher Carbone. Despite life-threatening injuries he never gave up in his quest to help the people of Iraq. Bill Tucker has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL TUCKER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christopher Carbone is a man of uniform, one blue that he wears on duty for the police department of Wayne, New Jersey, one green that he wore while on duty in Iraq for the U.S. Army.
CAPT CHRISTOPHER CARBONE, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: I'm a cop and I always wore my badge with me, and that was my connection with home. That was my goal for getting out of Iraq.
TUCKER: Carbone served three tours in Iraq. He left behind a lasting legacy, not of guns, but of responsibility and trust. That legacy began with the children of Iraq when he told his dad of their needs. His dad and his community responded.
CARBONE: Soccer balls, pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, rulers, you name it, we had it. The children are the future of what's going to become something positive in Iraq and that's why supporting them, to us, was so important.
TUCKER: That show of support didn't end with the children. The Wayne Police Department collected bullet-proof vests and sent them to the Iraqi police force.
CARBONE: We provided them to them as a piece of body armor and also a show of the solidarity internationally between, you know, police.
TUCKER: A show of solidarity that helped forge a bond of trust with the Iraqi national police. During his second tour in Iraq, Carbone sustained life-threatening injuries.
CARBONE: We were on patrol one day, we were coming back to our area of Ramadi from a village called al Tash, just south of there, I received a call on the radio that one of my Bradley's required assistance and the last thing I remember was turning to my driver and telling him to speed it up and then there was just a flash and I woke up outside the truck with mayhem around. It was an IED, a roadside bomb.
TUCKER: Shrapnel to his legs, his face shattered.
CARBONE: There's approximately 20 titanium screws and plates all throughout the right side of my skull that they used to put it back together.
TUCKER: After rehab and three more years as a cop in Wayne, Carbone returned to Iraq.
CARBONE: For me it helped to lay a lot of demons to bed from the second tour. Going back there and really being able to see the progress and see how things have changed and close that chapter and open a new chapter on Iraq and in my life and that was good and like I said, I've come home with lifelong friends.
TUCKER: Carbone received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor for saving the life of an Iraqi police major who is now one of those lifelong. It is one of the 11 medals and three ribbons that he is most proud of. Carbone is back home serving in Wayne now, but...
CARBONE: If the Army calls, the Army needs me at some point, so be it. Until then, though, I plan on being patrolling in Wayne and just enjoying my time there.
TUCKER: Bill Tucker, CNN.
SYLVESTER: And his younger brother Eric is a West Point graduate, he leaves for Iraq in November. We wish him luck and we thank all of our brave men and women in uniform.
And thanks for being with us tonight. Next, is Rick Sanchez in for Campbell Brown.