Return to Transcripts main page

Lou Dobbs Tonight

Olympic Gamble; Big Spenders; China's Show of Force

Aired October 01, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

President Obama in full campaign sprint trying to help Chicago win an Olympic bid, but not everyone is feeling the president's Olympic spirit. The city is divided.

Also, Americans cutting back during the recession, struggling with foreclosures, layoffs, pay cuts. Meanwhile, Congress approving plans to spend more and more on themselves.

And voices of support for Roman Polanski beginning to quiet down -- details of the director's crime are indisputable. Rape is rape.

Also, should you allow your kids to play football? A new study reveals many of the hidden dangers of the sport. We'll be talking tonight with Hall of Fame Giants' linebacker Harry Carson (ph), a leading neurosurgeon and "New York Times" sports reporter all about the danger to our children and to the NFL.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Thursday, October 1st. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

An Olympic-size gamble -- President Obama is in full campaign mode trying to help Chicago win a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. President Obama, on his way to Copenhagen, Denmark, to personally attend the international Olympic Committee meeting to put in a pitch for Chicago. And he's putting an awful lot of political clout on the line, and he has help, of course.

First lady Michelle Obama is already in Copenhagen, along with Oprah Winfrey, making the case for their hometown. Chicago may not have the flare of competitor Rio de Janeiro, but it does have Oprah, who also joined team Obama. But not everyone agrees Chicago's Olympic cause is the best use of the president's time and the city itself is deeply divided. Ed Henry reports tonight from Copenhagen.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there was any doubt about whether President Obama will do anything to bring home the Olympics to Chicago in 2016, Mr. Obama pretty much put those doubts to rest last month when he played with a light saber on the south lawn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should have seen the president in there fencing. It was -- it was pathetic.

HENRY: White House aides are hoping his diplomatic skills are better than his fencing, as he and first lady Michelle Obama embark on an unprecedented joint diplomatic mission to beat out Madrid, Rio and Tokyo.

VALERIE JARRETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: What a dynamic duo they will be. I think it will be high impact. I think their presentation will be both very personal, given that they know and love Chicago so well.

HENRY: But what if they fly all the way to Denmark and enlist the help of Oprah Winfrey and still fail to collect the gold medal?

KENNETH VOGEL, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: If he goes and does not bring home the Olympics, it's going to be kind of a blow for him on the international stage.

HENRY: Republican Party Chair Michael Steele questioned whether the president should take on yet another challenge, amid debates over health reform and whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Who is he rooting for? Is he hoping to hop a plane to Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio?

HENRY: White House officials privately say they had little choice but to raise the stakes, with competitors Brazil, Japan and Spain all sending their heads of state to Copenhagen, leading Mr. Obama to become the first U.S. president to ever make such a direct pitch for an American city. Though dating back to his days as a senator from Illinois, he's also made no bones about his personal interest, too.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I only live two blocks away from -- from where the Olympics are going to kick off in 2016 and I also in the interest of full disclosure, I have to let you know that in 2016, I'll be wrapping up my second term as president.


HENRY (on camera): There's a lot of speculation here on the ground that the president is only coming here because he got a secret heads-up that Chicago will win. So it's no risk for him. He's just coming to celebrate a victory. But two sources close to the process insist that the White House got no intelligence up front, no private heads up, and that this is still very much up for grabs with Chicago and Rio the front-runners. Lou?


DOBBS: All right, Ed Henry from Copenhagen.

The Olympic Games, of course, attractive to the president and many others in Chicago, but a recent poll shows the city to be evenly divided as to whether or not the city should even have the games. And the city's mayor, Richard Daley (ph), says he hopes not to use any taxpayer money to cover the almost $5 billion price tag.

But a lot of taxpayer money is already being spent. And if history is any judge, the reality of the games may be very complicated indeed. Bill Tucker has our report.



BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to top the Olympics in terms of spectacle or excitement.

MAYOR RICHARD DALEY, CHICAGO: The Olympic and Paralympic Games would be a huge boost to our economy, raising it to a new level.

TUCKER: The Olympics are also very hard to top in terms of cost. Just ask the people of London, host of the 2012 games, where costs are estimated to have risen to $19 billion and counting, up from an original estimate of $8 billion or Vancouver, where the 2010 Winter Games will be held. Estimates there vary widely but the city's debt rating has already been downgraded as a result of cost. Chicago's Olympic organizing committee says, hold on, not every Olympics is a money loser.

BETH WHITE, CHICAGO 2016: Salt Lake City had a surplus of almost $100 million, $253 million in Los Angeles and the folks in Atlanta ended up turning over their surplus in more in facilities, dorms to the universities, Turner Field, so games in the U.S. have done very well.

TUCKER: Chicago's Olympic effort is privately financed and privately funded, backed by $1 billion in financial assurances and taxpayer money from the city and state, along with financial insurance policies if there are cost overruns. The Olympic committee's bid includes use of existing structures to keep costs low, yet cost projections have grown from just over three billion to just under $5 billion, which is why some in Chicago say, spend the money in other ways.

BOB QUELLOS, NO GAMES CHICAGO: The Olympics should not be the top priority in Chicago now. We need a host of things to be taken care of in this city. Better services for the people of Chicago, better public transit, better schools.


TUCKER: Now, it cost a lot of money to spend a lot of money and preparing a bid for the Olympics isn't cheap. Chicago's Olympic committee said it spent about $70 million so far just trying to woo the Olympics to the city. Final cost, Lou, could be around $100 million.

DOBBS: Hundred million dollars just to make a bid?

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: So if the city loses it, it's lost $100 million?

TUCKER: Right -- $100 million that could have arguably gone to schools and a lot of other areas in Chicago.

DOBBS: Or perhaps making the young people of Chicago safe on their streets.

TUCKER: Exactly.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Bill -- Bill Tucker.

Well Chicago's Olympic bid comes as the city deals with what is nothing less than a continuing violent crime wave that is now generating national attention. President Obama has decided today to send Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to the city in the wake of some very violent incidents and episodes.

Police are now investigating another beating of a Chicago teenager. A 14-year-old boy, his skull was fractured after he was attacked by a group of people. His beating comes just a week after a deadly attack on another teenager in Chicago, a 16-year-old honor student beaten to death, this disturbing video of that honor student, Derrion Albert (ph).

He was savagely, brutally murdered in the streets by a group of thugs, four of whom have been charged with first degree murder. Three other suspects are still sought. These attacks are the latest in what has become a deeply troubling trend in Chicago violence.

Thirty-six students have been killed in just the past year, and the number has risen over the past three years, a dramatic increase from 2006 when seven students were killed in Chicago. The overall murder rate in Chicago has also been rising. Five hundred eleven murders last year in Chicago, 445 in 2007.

Well, turning now to overseas developments tonight, a constructive beginning that must be followed with constructive action, that is how the president described the first day of high-level talks with Iran over its nuclear program. The meetings in Switzerland with four world powers and the United States were called frank and straightforward.

President Obama is demanding Iran allow international inspectors complete access to those nuclear plants, specifically the recently disclosed secret site. News tonight that a key member of the president's foreign policy team has stepped down -- Mark Lippert (ph) serving as chief of staff for the National Security Council and a top aide in the president's Senate office as well. The White House says that Lippert (ph) has decided to return to active duty in the Navy. He was deployed in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 as an intelligence officer for the Navy SEALs.

Well coming up here next -- a new study by the National Football League, the sport even more dangerous perhaps than we all can imagine.

Also, cutting back during tough economic times obvious to most Americans unless, of course, you happen to be serving in the United States Congress -- lawmakers have just agreed to spend millions more on themselves. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Senate Finance Committee Democrats tonight are prepared to end debate on their health care bill. Chairman Senator Max Baucus claims he now has the votes needed for approval. Democrats ripping out all the amendments proposed by Republicans, among those amendments an anti-abortion provision and I.D. provision that would have required illegal immigrants to demonstrate their legality before obtaining benefits and immigration enforcement provisions as well.

A final committee vote is expected next week after a Congressional Budget Office review. The full Senate and then the House would be expected then to act on the measure perhaps as early as this month.

Congress busy with major issues such as health care managing to find time to shift some taxpayer money their way -- Americans all across the country tightening their belts during this recession while Congress has decided to increase its spending on itself -- Ines Ferre has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And guess what...

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five hundred thousand dollars for mailers to inform constituents about town hall meetings, salary raises of about five percent for House of Representative staff members, a new roof for the Rayburn House office building, 50 million for renovations to other buildings -- just some of the items in Congress' operational budget for the coming year, while Americans are tightening their budgets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a small-time business owner. We're cutting and cutting and cutting, so if I can do it, they can do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The recession and all I think they should be tightening their budgets. I don't think we have any money to be spending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't do a very good job and it's not a good time.


FERRE: The $4.7 billion budget for Capitol Hill was rushed through Congress on the coattails of an urgent stop-gap measure to keep funding going for federal agencies through October. One group that favors lower taxes is outraged that Congress increased its operational budget by nearly six percent.

RYAN ALEXANDER, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: It's really a problem that the way that Congress makes decisions about how to spend our tax dollars so often happens kind of undercover of night and in a huge rush.

FERRE: Sixty-two senators voted for the measure, 38 opposed it, including Senator Tom Coburn.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: And most people in this country are spending less money on everything they do, some by choice, some out of fear, and some out of absolute circumstances that they have no control over, and yet we pass a bill for us that makes us look absolutely foolish in Americans' eyes. America gets it. We don't.

FERRE: Senator Ben Nelson, chairman of the subcommittee that helped shape the bill, told his fellow senators that the bill would allow the legislative branch to move forward during the next year, and his spokesman argues that if you take into account the stimulus bill in emergency spending, the increase year-to-year is only 3.5 percent.


FERRE: Nevertheless, this spending may seem unreasonable to Americans who are struggling to stay in work and in their homes. They already hold Congress in low esteem. The latest poll show fewer than 30 percent of people approve of the job Congress is doing.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Ines Ferre.

Well former President Jimmy Carter today trying to back away from remarks he made saying that people who criticize President Obama's public policies are racist. In an interview this morning with our Candy Crowley, the former president denied saying racism was at the center of criticism of the president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what I said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said those on the fringe element that had the vituperative personal attacks on President Obama, those were the ones that I included, but I recognize...

CROWLEY: Your first remarks were that overall...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it wasn't. If you read the remarks carefully you'll see that that's not what I said. I said those that had a personal vituperative attack on President Obama as a person that was tinged with racism, but I recognize that people who disagree with him on health care or environment and things like that, the vast majority of those are not tinged by racism.


DOBBS: Well, we not only carefully reread his remarks, we went back and we listened to them again. We thought you would enjoy doing so as well. This is what President Carter told NBC's Brian Williams on the 15th of September. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. That racism interconnection still exists and I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.


DOBBS: As you note, the president did not at any time say he was speaking about a fringe element. The president now says that he was speaking about a quote, "fringe element" and he now maintains that the vast majority of Americans who disagree with the president are not driven by racism.

Coming up next a disturbing new report linking football with dementia -- this study by the NFL -- what does it mean for high school and college players all across the country, peewee and midgets? Well NFL Hall of Famer, former New York Giants' linebacker Harry Carson (ph) joins us. "New York Times" sportswriter Alan Schwartz (ph) and a leading neurosurgeon will assess what is happening and what we should be thinking about as our kids go off to football practice.

Also a military show of force -- communist China rolling out its latest military hardware celebrating the 60th anniversary of the communist revolution -- 60 years of communist rule and dramatic setbacks today for director Roman Polanski as the admitted rapist faces extradition to the United States.


DOBBS: In Beijing today, tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers joined ranks of tanks, missiles, fighter jets to mark the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. The massive military display a showcase for communist China's latest weapons in technology, a display that U.S. analysts are scrutinizing with great care and rising concern. Kitty Pilgrim has our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It had all the pageantry of the Olympics and a lot more. Military hardware, wave after wave of weapons, designed to show the world and the Chinese people that China had made great strides in its military capabilities. We talked to several China analysts, including Gordon Chang, who points out that the Communist Party was making a strong statement with this parade, a party led by President Hu Jintao, its general secretary.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF China": Notice that he is wearing a Mao suit. That is to show that he is in line from Mao Zedong (ph) and that is extremely important. The other people on the podium, although important as well, are in western business suits, and clearly they do not have the same standing as Hu Jintao. This is meant to bolster Hu's position.

PILGRIM: There were several weapon systems that were visible to analysts for the first time close up. We spoke to another analyst of Chinese military affairs, Rick Fisher.

RICHARD FISHER, INTL. ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CTR.: The DH-10 is one of the real first-time revelations in this parade. We have been expecting China to develop strategic range cruise missiles for some time, but now for the first time we actually see it. It exists. It is a threat, mainly to Taiwan, but because this missile is mobile, it can be a threat to many of the countries on China's border.

PILGRIM: The ZBD-05 amphibious assault vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is another indication that China is developing capabilities to project power. Marines in this case far from its borders and is on its way to becoming a global power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DF-15 B is also very interesting. It's the first time we've seen it up close in the parade. And because it has an apparent maneuverable warhead, it may also be able to target ships.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this means is that China now has a missile that can defeat current and future U.S. missile defenses.

PILGRIM: The only thing analysts cannot judge from the video is how well all these weapons work.


PILGRIM: Analysts we talked to told us they didn't see anything in this parade that they didn't already know about but for some of these weapons, it was the first sighting. And, of course, it's impressive to see them all in one place, they say to us, and when they compare it with a parade a decade ago, it really represents a very significant improvement in the operational capability of the Chinese military. Lou?

DOBBS: "Red Storm Rising" I believe is the -- is what we have been calling these reports for a number of years now. Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, earlier today we sat down with one of this country's top analysts on China's military. Jim Mulvenon told us that his greatest concern was a particular missile. The missile is the DF-21 D and the military analyst had been hoping to get a glimpse of it in the parade but it didn't turn up. However, a very similar missile did show up in the parade and Mulvenon explained to us why the DF-21 D is a potential threat to U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific Ocean.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. JIM MULVENON, DEFENSE GROUP, INC.: So this is the DF-21 C. This is China's intermediate range ballistic missile that it recently began developing conventional versions of. Historically, this was a nuclear missile. Not this particular missile because this is the Charlie (ph), but the DF-21 Delta (ph) is the missile that is the anti-ship ballistic missile that poses such a dangerous threat to U.S. carrier strike groups, but it's based on this exact missile air frame. It just has a different warhead on it.

A DF-21 D is the anti-ship ballistic missile that they believe poses a fairly lethal threat to carrier strike groups. It would come in at a very high rate of speed. It would overwhelm our existing ship borne (ph) missile defense systems and then shower the deck of the carrier with sub munitions basically igniting all of the aircraft and the jet fuel and everything.

I'm actually most worried about DF-21, particularly DF-21 Delta (ph) because the basis of our military power in the Western Pacific is the carrier strike group, and for the first time the Chinese are actually threatening to be able to directly attack the carrier strike group for which we have really no countermeasure and the U.S. Navy in particular is extremely worried about it.


DOBBS: For which we have no countermeasure. Well, those military analysts telling us at least the Chinese, whether they have tested it or not, the official Pentagon assessment is right now that the missile has not yet been deployed.

Up next a disturbing new report linking professional football and dementia. What this study means, though, for younger players, high school, college players, peewee and midgets. NFL Hall of Famer, former New York Giants' linebacker Harry Carson (ph) joins us, sportswriter Alan Schwartz (ph) and a renowned neurosurgeon.

Also, Congress takes on the White House czars. Powerful positions awarded without vetting, Senate confirmation or true public understanding of just who are these people.

The backlash building against rapist Roman Polanski -- tonight even a few in Hollywood are beginning to withdraw their support. We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Dramatic setbacks today for admitted rapist Roman Polanski now facing extradition to the United States for the rape of a 13-year-old more than 30 years ago. French and Polish government officials are now backing off their support for the director, and even some in Hollywood are beginning to voice outrage. In a devastating blow to the defense, a former prosecutor has now admitted charges of judicial misconduct were a simple lie.

Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Roman Polanski's immediate fate is in the hands of the Swiss judicial system.

LORENZ ERNI, ATTORNEY FOR ROMAN POLANSKI: I have filed my request for the provisional release of Roman Polanski, and more I cannot say.

WIAN: Swiss authorities say they will not be swayed by public opinion or politics in deciding if the 76-year-old director should be returned to Los Angeles to be sentenced for having sex with a 13-year- old girl more than 30 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If Swiss justice comes to the conclusion that he has to be extradited, then he will probably be extradited.

WIAN: Polanski's lawyers claim he was the victim of judicial misconduct. In the HBO documentary "Roman Polanski Wanted and Desired," a former prosecutor said he influenced the judge in the case to back out of a plea agreement after a picture surfaced of Polanski drinking with young females while free on bail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "You know, judge, you've made so many mistakes I think in this case. Look, he's giving you the fingers. Flipping you off. I said, haven't you had enough of this?" He said what, "What? What? He's not getting away with that."

WIAN: Now, Wells tells Wolf Blitzer he made up the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That whole thing was complete fabrication.

WIAN: Some Polanski supporters are back pedalling as well. Despite grand jury testimony that he plied the girl with alcohol and part of a Quaalude, then raped and sodomized her "The View's" Whoopi Goldberg defended Polanski, Monday.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, HOST, "THE VIEW": He did not rape her --

WIAN: But Thursday Goldberg called the "Today Show" to say she was only trying to point out he pled guilty to a lesser charge. Hollywood's reaction has included a petition signed by Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and more than 100 others demanding Polanski's release. Now another side of the entertainment industry is emerging.

JILLIAN MICHAELS, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": If somebody drugged and raped my 13-year-old, I would shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's probably one of the greatest child molesting directors of all time.

WIAN: Actress Kirstie Alley used Twitter to rip Polanski's defender, while Jay Leno found humor in his arrest. JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": While experts say that Polanski is going to need a miracle to stay out of jail, but unfortunately for him, you know, God already used that miracle on the Detroit Lions last week so kind of add a miracle to throw one.


WIAN: Polish and French authorities both harshly critical of Polanski's arrest earlier this week have now made public statements supporting the legal process. And Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton told a local radio show, Polanski should be brought back to jail -- brought back to Los Angeles and thrown in jail for 20 years -- Lou?

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Casey. A slight change in tone emanating from both Poland and France, and as well as even Hollywood.

Thank you very much.

Well, I'll have a few thoughts about Polanski and all of the day's issues. Join me on the radio Monday through Friday for "THE LOU DOBBS SHOW," 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 1710 radio here in New York. Go to to get the local listings in your air for the show, and please while you're there subscribe to our daily podcast and follow me on on Lou Dobbs News.

There is a new report from the NFL. It's an alarming report linking football and dementia. A study by the NFL and the University of Michigan has found retired players particularly between the ages of 30 and 49 are at risk, are in fact 19 times more likely to have Alzheimer's disease or memory-related diseases than men who never played professional football.

Joining me now to assess this study and what it means for young players all across the country and, of course, the NFL. We're joined by NFL Hall of Famer, former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson.

Harry, great to have you here.


DOBBS: "New York Times" sportswriter Alan Schwarz, great to have you with us, Alan.


DOBBS: Nominated for a Pulitzer for reporting on this very topic.

And Dr. Philip Stieg, who is professor and chairman of neurological surgery at Weill Medical College, also a neurosurgeon-in- chief at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Good to have you all here.


DOBBS: Harry, let me say the NFL comes out with this study. This has been talked about. It's been discussed at the margin.

Is there anything in this study that -- that's brand new to you?

Not really brand new to me. I think it's stuff that former players like myself are very much aware of. I mean, we've seen our teammates and guys who we've played against deal with dementia at a very early age. For me, prime example is Mike Webster, who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike left football --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The finest center.

CARSON: Yes, Mike left football after 16 years and never really was able to find his way. He was diagnosed with neurological issues and eventually he passed away at the age of 50. But, you know, I've seen older players who had to deal with dementia as a result, in my opinion, of playing the game. Now I'm starting to see players who are younger than me who are having neurological issues and these players are calling me.

I was diagnosed in 1992, two years after I left football, with post-concussion syndrome. Now, when I played, everything was fine but I knew something was wrong with me but I couldn't really put my finger on it. If it had been a knee, an ankle or something like that, it would have been clearer to diagnose. Because it was neurological, I really didn't know. I went through my own two days of testing by someone who I -- I went to a doctor who I was referred to. And so when it was diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome, I knew what I had to deal with. I educated myself. And as a result, there are so many other players who are aware of my situation, who call me and ask me for assistance and problems that they're dealing with right now.

DOBBS: Is the NFL helpful?

CARSON: The NFL is a bit more cognizant now than they were when I played. More attention has been shed on the subject.

DOBBS: Alan, you have reported extensively on this, nominated, as I said, for a Pulitzer Prize.

Is the NFL -- I mean, first, the NFL should get great credit for carrying out this study. But are they going far enough with, particularly the players in the NFL, their support and their understanding of the impact of concussions particularly?

SCHWARZ: Well, that's not really for me to say, Lou. I think that a lot of people believe they should do more, and a lot of people feel as if they're going down the right scientific course. I do think that the concern that a lot of people have is what information do they have and what information do they share with their employees? And how do they handle players like Harry and other 50-year-old, 60-year-old men who are having issues. Are they considering the possibility that this is football related and, therefore, their disability plan should reflect that and they should be compensated, or should they be told, as they repeatedly are, that no research has found that there are any long-term effects to concussions in National Football League players. I think it's the dissemination of that information that gives a lot of players and scientists pause.

DOBBS: Dr. Stieg, we've got peewees all across the country playing and dreaming of being Harry Carson someday or carrying the ball or avoiding somebody like Harry Carson.

The idea that this has such an impact at this level, is this something parents should be frightened of across the board?

STIEG: Yes, just to briefly address the things that they've also said. I think it's really important to understand from a medical standpoint, this isn't new news. We have known for a long time with boxing and in soccer that repeated head traumas are risk factors for dementia. The question is, what kinds of traumas and it really kind of dissect it and sort it out.

And that's where it becomes important for you as a parent with a child. You know, they go in, they get their bell rung, the quote, "ding," versus a real concussion where they get knocked out. You know, how many of those does it take? And the coach says go back in there and get in there, and then there's a second impact injury problem, you know, where their brain is still swollen and they get another hit and then it can result in a sudden death syndrome. So I think it's really incumbent on us as parents to protect our kids.

DOBBS: All right, and to what degree? Throw this out for all of you.

To what degree is there a technological advance that would perhaps diminish, because when you talk about Harry Carson, you're talking about a big, powerful guy who not only -- not only brings all of that talent, but he can fly at such a rate of speed --

CARSON: I used to be able to fly.

DOBBS: Well, let me rephrase it. I'm sorry.


SCHWARZ: What's interesting, Lou, is actually the story that I wrote for tomorrow's newspaper deals with exactly that. I think there's a lot of concern among the experts that helmets have pretty much reached their maximum protection point, OK, because almost by definition, the foam inside a helmet can either stop a really hard hit, which would otherwise cause skull fracture, which doesn't happen anymore, but then it allows the concussive and sub-concussive hits that is believed to cause some of the issues that Harry and other people are experiencing.

So -- I mean, there's a helmet by Riedel that includes six accelerometers that send information to the trainers to say this guy just sustained a hit of 90 Gs. You better check him out. And also there's a Zenith helmet has special shock absorbers, that's new and advanced. But it's more about understanding the importance of taking care of the injury after it's happened. Preventing it is almost impossible given the game's rules.

STIEG: And also, I think it's important, you know, we're talking about earlier, the public loves this. You know, when Tivo got knocked out, the crowd in Kentucky was cheering. And, you know, what do they do with NFL today is they show that big hit is --

DOBBS: And the gators were across the country yelling.

STIEG: Yes. It's a big quandary about how football is going to deal with this.

CARSON: Well, you know, the public can love it if everybody, when they go in NASCAR races, they want to see the big wreck. But the player and his family really need to have this information to make an informed decision as to whether they should play or not.

When you look at the advance that's have taken place with helmets and shoulder pads and so forth, it really doesn't matter. I played the game, and I know, I went from air suspension helmets to water filter, air filled, and whatever the advance was. It really didn't matter, because the pure nature of the game is force against force. And when you have -- you go back to Newton's third law of physics, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. And just as I was out there and knocking people around, you know, I was getting the results of, you know, knocking people around myself.

When I look at Mike Webster, and I look at every time he would come out to block me, he was known as the strongest man in the NFL at that time. I had to load up and really give it to him. I had to give him a forearm to the face and then get my hands on him to throw him off to make the tackle.

DOBBS: You feel at all guilt for the damage...

CARSON: No, no, no.

DOBBS: ...that Mike Webster sustained?

CARSON: I really do feel guilty. I feel that I was part of the reason why he was having neurological problems. But when you're out there playing, you don't think about that. Now, years down the line when you're far away from the game and you see the destruction that it has imposed on a player who really doesn't recognize his family members or he's having a whole host of problems, you feel somewhat responsible for that. I was the only non-Steeler at Mike Webster's funeral because I respected him that much and I knew that me playing against him caused or contributed to his demise.

STIEG: The other thing that Harry brings up that's important to remember is that it's not just the, you know, head-to-head, helmet-to- helmet contact, but it's really your brain is suspended in water and there's this whole rotational thing so your brain really gets shook inside your skull and it magnifies the problem.

DOBBS: You know, and I realize that we have to put it in some context when you talk about Mike Webster. Some folks may not be aware that Mike Webster was considered the finest center of his generation.

Let me ask you as we wrap up here. I want to ask this question of each of you and get your very best answer for the parents out there, whether they've got young children playing peewee, midget, or high school, whatever the level, I'm going to start if I may with you, doctor.

What would you say to parents about the risk of football? What should they be saying? And how should they be guiding their children?

STIEG: You know, I tell you as a parent, my children didn't play football. I love watching football, but it's -- you know, it's a violent sport. And there are risks. Now that being said my children do other sports that carry kind of equivalent risks for falling on their head and hurting themselves.

So, again, I think that we as parents have to respond or be responsible and teach our kids not to go for the direct hit to the head and try to play the game in a different way. I guess that's the only reasonable thing we can really ask for.

SCHWARZ: I think the issue is it's not, no one is saying don't play football at all. It's if you're going to play football, understand how to do it as safely as possible. It's a brutal game. You're going to get hurt. Hey, you can get hurt skiing. There are a lot of things that are dangerous. But particularly for anyone 18 and younger, if you sustain a concussion and you do not let it heal -- and it takes a lot longer than people had any idea.

DOBBS: How long?

SCHWARZ: You don't know. That's the problem. It could take a week. It could take two months. But if you go in before your brain is healed, you can be killed almost instantly on the football field.

CARSON: I played the game, and I know firsthand the human body was not really built to play football, especially on the professional level. Now, you know, guys are going to play and, you know, everybody wants to see it. But my opinion is, the human body was not built to play football with the impacts that you have as a result. You're going to have situations like this where players long after their playing days are over are going to have to deal with dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, let alone those physical injuries that they have to deal with, whether it's knee, back, hip surgeries, shoulder surgeries. You know, the body wasn't built to do that.

DOBBS: All right, thank you very much.

CARSON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Dr. Stieg, thank you.

I appreciate it, gentlemen.

Coming up next -- President Obama calls nuclear talks with Iran a constructive beginning. Also, a congressman tries to be clever. His opponents say he's a fool.

And First Lady Michelle Obama raises eyebrows with comments she made today in Copenhagen.

We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Well, joining me now, three of my favorite political analysts, all CNN contributors, by the way. Republican strategist, former White House political director Ed Rollins.

Ed, great to see you.

Economist for the "New York Daily News" Errol Louis.

Errol, great to see you.

And Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.

Well, let's turn to first, Iran. The president says a constructive beginning.

What does that mean?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It means very frankly that we have begun -- we have begun a dialogue. Hopefully it will lead to results. I think what's very important coming out of the White House and coming from the State Department is that the statement and the comments that this dialogue has got to produce results quickly, that's really going to be the test.

DOBBS: Thirty -- 30 years of sanctions against Iran and tons of rhetoric, it looks -- it looks like there's room for more rhetoric and more sanctions. What's your expectation?

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Well, obviously, there are limits to what you can do with rhetoric and sanctions.

DOBBS: But the president says all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear power.

LOUIS: The reality is they are accepting what insiders have said for a long time, which is that Iran will become nuclear at some point. And the point is to surround them with some combination of sanctions, diplomacy, threats, carrots and sticks, to make sure they never use it.

DOBBS: And I want to turn to the president's sex school czar, Kevin Jennings, who is under immense criticism after he admitted to mishandling a case involving a teenager having sex with an adult. Some are even calling for his resignation. Given that, should Jennings fill the way of Van Jones and resign? ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's very hard for him, especially when you know the story. This was a young boy who was picked up on a men's room by a 40-year-old man and taken to his apartment and came to this particular man for counseling, and he basically said to him, make sure you use a condom. Didn't report -- this is a 14-year-old boy solicited by a 40-year-old man.

By the law in California at the time, you're supposed to report any infraction like that. He did not do that.

I think the bottom line is because of the job that he's in, which is to protect kids in school, I think it makes somewhat of a hypocrisy out of that. I think it would be very difficult for him to survive.

DOBBS: Your thoughts?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, I think it's important to remember this tragic situation took place 21 years ago, and the world was very different then. It was the height of the AIDS epidemic. And he did counsel this young man, and he certainly acknowledged his misjudgement. But he has had an exemplary career and I think he's well-suited for this position. I hope he stays on the job.

DOBBS: Errol, Michelle Obama in Copenhagen, the president on his way. They are there talking -- Michelle Obama talking smack with the First Lady of Brazil about the Olympics.

Is this an appropriate -- well, initiative on the part of the Obamas?

LOUIS: You know, it's interesting. I kind of agree with Michael Steele on this one that she probably going to led the delegation herself, frankly. But, you know, she sounded to me like a real Chicagoan. Apparently people in Chicago don't really want this thing, and it starts to feel like a real burden to them. I think the first lady may be reflecting some of that, perhaps subconsciously.

DOBBS: Subconsciously, and we're going to find out more about consciously the reflections with our panel.

We'll be right back.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're back.

Errol, we're talking about the first lady. Her good buddy, Oprah Winfrey, with her, and she's claiming she has made a great sacrifice, she and Oprah. This is exactly what she said.

"As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to accompany us this few days, so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home."

That is a heart-warming statement.

LOUIS: Indeed. Indeed.

DOBBS: Graciously accepting the sacrifice, the burden of a European vacation...

LOUIS: In the spirit of shared sacrifice...

DOBBS: ...with Oprah Winfrey on a 757.

LOUIS: I will patriotically offer to fly on Air Force One for a European vacation myself. And give a couple of speeches.

DOBBS: So you are ready to do the sacrifice on this one.

LOUIS: I can do no less.

DOBBS: God bless you.

Let's turn to the very idea of Alan Grayson talking about knuckle-dragging Republicans, and saying the Republican plan is to die quickly, I believe, is the way he put it.

How did that go over in your mind?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, even worse than his statement was his apology that he made afterwards, and Democrats look like hypocrites. If they're going to attack Republicans for that, for vulgar, disrespectful language and not also call out Congressman Alan Grayson for what an excusable conduct.

ROLLINS: If you believe in representative government, idiots and imbeciles get represented, too, and Mr. Grayson can represent the idiots and imbeciles. I promise you'll have serious opponent and make a beating on this issue.

LOUIS: Let's point out he was talking about a serious study that estimates that 44,000 people died because they're not insured.

ROLLINS: And he discredited that study by his language.

DOBBS: And I have to tell you, I think the great thing is, based on what I just said, the idiots in this country are well-represented in Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are over represented.

DOBBS: Over represented.

Thank you very much. Let's hope so.

Coming up the top of the hour, Campbell Brown -- Campbell?


Well, we are also going in depth tonight on President Obama's trip to lobby for the 26th Olympics. Why are so many people giving him grief about a trip that won't even last 24 hours? That's coming up.

Plus, our special investigation tonight -- are your kids hooked on this hot new drug on campus? It's incredibly popular with college students, very easy to get. We're going to have the details on that, just ahead.

Also, we've got the story behind the amazing rescue of a four- year-old trapped in a burning building. That's all at the top of the hour -- Lou?

DOBBS: What a report.

Thank you, Campbell.

We'll be right back here.


DOBBS: All day today here on CNN, we're revealing our top ten CNN Heroes of 2009. Since January 1st, we received more than 9,000 nominations from 100 countries, and all of the nominees are everyday folks who are changing the world.

Anderson Cooper joins me now with more -- Anderson?


Right now, I want to announce another hero. His name is Roy Foster. He's an army veteran from West Palm Beach. Roy once struggled with addition and homelessness himself. But those personal battles inspired him to create the Stand Down House, a program that's helped close to 900 homeless veterans in south Florida turn their lives around.

DOBBS: And if you're our CNN hero, what does it mean?

COOPER: Well, being name one of the top ten means their life and their ability to do good deeds is about to change dramatically, and it's about to change right now. We've seen it happen again and again, Lou.

Every one of our top ten receives $25,000 and the chance to become the CNN hero of the year. Now if they're named that, they'll get an additional $100,000 in recognition of their work, and it's all now up to our viewers.

DOBBS: Well, how do our viewers vote to make one of those ten honorees the hero of the year?

COOPER: Yes, right. Voting for hero of the year begins at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight. We're running a 360 special at 11:00 to introduce you to all ten of the Heroes, also to our judges, and to show you how winning this really changes lives. Also, at 11:00, you can go to That's when the voting begins. You can vote there for your favorite hero.

DOBBS: And in Thanksgiving night, the hero of the year will be announced, right?

COOPER: That's right. It's a big night, an the all-star tribute from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

DOBBS: All right. Looking forward to it, Anderson.

Thank you very much.

CNN Heroes tonight with Anderson Cooper at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. And we thank you for being with us tonight, and please join us here tomorrow.

For all of us, we thank you for watching.

Good night from New York.

Coming up here next, "CAMPBELL BROWN."

ANNOUNCER: CNN primetime begins right now.