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Lou Dobbs Tonight

GOP Family Feud; Referendum on Obama?; New Chapter in Afghanistan; Where are the Jobs?; Shrinking Paychecks; Tuition Hike

Aired November 02, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf.

A big election push -- the White House scrambling trying to help Democrats in states the president won with ease a year ago. What's changed in that one short year? Are voters looking for change?

Also, a new chapter in Afghanistan -- President Obama looks past the election chaos. A new war strategy is now expected in weeks. What exactly does the president plan to do and why has it taken him so long to decide?

Also the government spending almost $800 billion in stimulus money mostly to create more government -- is the Obama administration blurring the lines between capitalism and socialism, are such lines still existing?

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Monday, November 2nd. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. President Obama scrambling to avoid embarrassing Election Day defeats, voters in three states go to the polls tomorrow in closely watched races. Contests that many say could have significant national political implications. And if the polls are right, it could be a rough day for Democrats.

The White House isn't sitting idly by. President Obama out stumping hard for gubernatorial candidates in both New Jersey and Virginia, Vice President Joe Biden (INAUDIBLE) upstate New York where a dramatic race for Congress is under way. Mary Snow reports now on a race that could help determine the direction of both the Democrat and Republican parties.


BILL OWENS (D), NEW YORK CONG. CANDIDATE: A lot has happened over the past few days. As all -- as I'm sure you all know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's right.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): And what's happened landed the vice president campaigning in an upstate New York congressional race for Democrat Bill Owens. What was a three-way race dwindled to two when the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, a moderate who supports abortion rights and gay rights, abruptly withdrew this weekend and endorsed her Democratic challenger. She had been losing ground to Doug Hoffman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, how are you doing today?

SNOW: The newest darling of the conservative, endorsed by Sarah Palin and Dick Armey, a supporter of the Tea Party movement. Joe Biden seized on the Republican family feud.

JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They may not have any room for moderate views in the Republican Party upstate anymore, but let me assure you, we have room. We have room.

SNOW: Newt Gingrich was among Republicans who had supported Scozzafava, arguing that the Republicans needed to have a big tent. But critics like Rush Limbaugh say Scozzafava was a Republican in name only.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: For Dede Scozzafava to endorse the Democrat in New York 23, I know a lot of people got mad about it, said, no, folks, it's great. Dede Scozzafava is illustrating precisely what moderate Republicans will do and who moderate Republicans are.

SNOW: The conservative putting the GOP to the test says he doesn't see a civil war within the Republican Party. But, he says, he does see candidates like him emerging in future races, expressing concerns, voiced at Tea Parties and anti-government rallies.

DOUG HOFFMAN (C), NEW YORK CONG. CANDIDATE: I think that what you'll see is average people like me who aren't career politicians and don't have the polish and poise of career politicians standing up and saying, "We can do it."

SNOW: And some political watchers say while Republicans deal with the rupture, Democrats see a gain, even if they don't win a congressional seat that's been Republican dating back to the 1800s.


SNOW: In a new poll from Siena College Research Institute shows conservative candidate Doug Hoffman leading Democrat Bill Owens by five points but the number of undecideds is 18 percent. That number doubled once the Republican candidate dropped out -- Lou.

DOBBS: Mary, how is it that this would be even with a loss for the Democrats, a gain?

SNOW: Well (INAUDIBLE) David Gergen who we spoke to earlier today said that...

DOBBS: He came up with this algorithm all by himself?

SNOW: That was his thinking that Democrats are kind of cheering this on to see a divided Republican Party. They're trying to portray Republicans as being far too much to the right. So he thought that this race might be something that Democrats celebrate.

DOBBS: And when Scozzafava, she's described as a moderate Republican, many, perhaps -- and I don't know to what moment it matters because she's out of the race...

SNOW: Right.

DOBBS: ... and her career is basically over, but it would seem she'd be described more as a liberal Republican, would she not, rather than a moderate Republican? That sounds like a term of art that the Democrats would use to describe her. When you say she described -- she supported gay rights, does that mean gay marriage?

SNOW: Some gay rights. The Pentagon's policy of "don't ask, don't tell", that was one thing that she said she would abolish.

DOBBS: Some gay rights.

SNOW: Yes.

DOBBS: But we wouldn't want to go with the whole 14th Amendment thing, would we? OK, Mary, thanks a lot.


DOBBS: It just seems like if you support gay rights, you should support gay rights, right?

SNOW: And one other thing I did want to mention though, too, the stimulus package was one big focal point of this campaign as well. And that she had supported -- the stimulus spending -- and that really drew fire from fiscal conservatives.

DOBBS: All right. She had more than enough problems.


DOBBS: Thanks very much. It will be a fascinating race. Right now, Hoffman's, what, five or six points ahead?

SNOW: Five points, 18 percent undecided.

DOBBS: Is that all? All right, thanks a lot Mary. It will be a fascinating race to watch.

SNOW: Sure.

DOBBS: Mary Snow, thank you. The races for governor of New Jersey, and Virginia have Democrats concerned as well about losses in states the president carried handedly just a year ago. In New Jersey, a state that Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote, the Democratic governor, Jon Corzine, is now running even with Republican Chris Christie, but the big news may be the surprising success of a surging Independent candidate, a sign that voters may be more fed up than ever -- Candy Crowley with our report.



CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If they held an election and Barack Obama was not on the ballot, would Democrats still win? We're about to see.


CROWLEY: Barack Obama won Virginia by more than six points last year. This year, the Republican running for Virginia governor is ahead by double digits.

BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: It's a fiscally conservative state and some of these things that have been proposed by the United States Congress aren't resonating with the Virginia voters.

CROWLEY: But the president is still resonating in Virginia, his approval rating around 56 percent. He hopes a bit of that will rub off on to Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds, who has neither the Obama magic nor the money to crank up that Obama machine.

CREIGH DEEDS (D), VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: And here's the thing, the president spent $70 million in Virginia last year, unprecedented. We'll spend maybe $20 million. We're trying to build on what he did as much as possible.

CROWLEY: In New Jersey, in 2008, Barack Obama won by 15.5 percentage points.

OBAMA: If New Jersey votes like it voted last year, if all those folks who had felt disenfranchised and felt forgotten are reminded of the incredible power of ordinary people...

CROWLEY: If New Jersey were to vote like they did for Barack Obama last year, Democratic Governor Jon Corzine would win re- election. But he's struggling in a three-way race against a conservative Independent and a Republican. The president, the vice president, and the former president have all made their way through New Jersey to help punch up his prospects against Republican Chris Christie.

CHRISTOPHER CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY GOV. CANDIDATE: After all these stars leave it still comes down to me and to Jon Corzine and which one of us would be the better governor.

CROWLEY: New Jersey polls show Corzine leading in a race that could still go either way.


CROWLEY: When a party in power loses an off-year election it's usually explained away as a contest about local issues with no national import. But should Democrats lose Tuesday night in New Jersey and Virginia, it will be hard to shrug off Wednesday morning and certainly Republicans aren't about to let them -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, Candy, and the amount of money being spent in New Jersey, considerable, right?

CROWLEY: Yes, considerable amounts of money. And, you know -- and as you heard, in Virginia as well, and Corzine, in fact, has so outspent his rivals, the Independent that we talked about, spent I think about one million the last time I saw. And yet he's doing reasonably well in the polls, enough to alter the race in some ways.

A lot of people thought he was polling from the Republican. But when we looked inside one of the polls today it shows that a lot of those who are going for the Independent say that they would go for Corzine as a second choice. So he seems to be taking equally from both of them and that's without spending any money.

DOBBS: Without spending any money and when I talked with Chris Daggett here I asked him about his money and we were talking about Corzine spending about 25 million of his own money, that was the last number I'd seen, and Daggett was talking with great enthusiasm about maybe raising another $1 million before Election Day. Thanks a lot, I appreciate it, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thank you.

DOBBS: Candy Crowley. We'll have a lot more on the impacts of tomorrow's elections with our political panel here later in the broadcast.

Moving on to the other major issue now facing President Obama -- the war in Afghanistan -- President Obama today declared a new chapter in Afghanistan after Hamid Karzai was named the country's legitimate president following the re-election and the runoff election scheduled for November 7th was canceled after Karzai's chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out because he said the whole process is fraudulent.

Dan Lothian reports now from the White House. And Dan, the election controversial complicating the president's decision on a new war strategy. What's the latest on the plan now?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It really does complicate it, Lou. You know, the president this afternoon did reach out to Mr. Karzai. He called him on the phone and congratulated him for winning his second term as president in Afghanistan. But, I'll tell you, there's no celebrating here at the White House.

This was an administration that had pushed very hard for that runoff election. They were hopeful that it would restore some credibility to the process there. That, of course, did not happen. But there is a president in place and it does remove one big unknown.


OBAMA: Although the process was messy, I'm pleased to say that the final outcome was determined in accordance with Afghan law, which I think is very important, not only for the international community, that has so much invested in Afghan success, but most importantly, is important for the Afghan people, that the results were in accordance with and followed the rules laid down by the Afghan constitution.


LOTHIAN: President Obama today was also putting pressure on Hamid Karzai, saying that he expects him to really step up and make a serious effort to crack down on corruption, and also step up the training of Afghan troops, so they can eventually take over their own security there, basically the bottom line here, the president saying that he really wants to see proof here rather than just words -- Lou.

DOBBS: All right, Dan. As the president is now saying and defying many of his detractors and critics that will take a number of weeks before he reaches a decision, do we have any guidance whatsoever on which way he is leaning?

LOTHIAN: We don't know which way he's leaning. We know that the president last -- did ask last week for a sort of province by province assessment of the leadership, their strengths, and whether or not international help would be needed in some of these regions. Beyond that, we don't know what else is being debated behind closed doors. But as you pointed out, this administration now for more on this a month has been saying that the president would make a decision in a number of weeks and today now they have a leadership in place in Afghanistan, still saying a number of weeks.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much, Dan Lothian, from the White House.

Up next more on Afghanistan -- we'll be talking about that with our political panel. Also, the government isn't telling you about one important facet of the stimulus plan. It turns out that those jobs created -- and there's a great deal of uncertainty about just how many have been created -- well most of those dollars going to create even more government. Are you shocked?

And in California the bankrupt state government there has found a way to take more taxpayer money without raising taxes. How about that?


DOBBS: There are clear signs tonight that jobs created by the federal economic stimulus plan may result in an even bigger federal and number of state governments as well. New administration figures show the bulk of jobs created so far in the public sector, while little is being done to bolster small business or create jobs in the private sector -- Ines Ferre with our report.



INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Obama administration claims the stimulus plan has so for created or saved 640,000 jobs, even more if you include the plan's tax cuts, grants and awards.

OBAMA: We've saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters and teachers, who are today on the beat, on call and in the classrooms because of the Recovery Act.

FERRE: A closer look shows that the largest number of jobs were created or saved by state governments, 400,000 state jobs through the Department of Education alone. In Florida, for example, more than half of the 30,000 jobs saved or created so far are in the public school system. One group advocating lower taxes said the stimulus has done little to create private sector jobs in a state where one out of nine residents are out of work.

DOMINIC CALABRO, FLORIDA TAXWATCH: The private sector jobs create many, many, number one, generally better paying jobs at the higher end and secondly, they're more sustainable and they have a greater economic multiple, meaning they'll create even more, more jobs.

FERRE: Other states show a similar pattern. The free market CATO Institute says the stimulus is merely moving money around from one part of the government to another.

DAN MITCHELL, CATO INSTITUTE: All that happened with the stimulus is that the federal government gave state and local governments money that they then used to pay for programs that they were going to pay for anyhow.

FERRE: The administration argues the money spent on education is an investment.

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: With class sizes potentially skyrocketing and critical support services disappearing, but let me be clear, it's not enough for us to simply make the same investments in the same programs.

FERRE: But since the stimulus bill passed, approximately 2.6 million jobs have been lost, nearly all of them in the private sector.


FERRE: And the White House says unemployment would have been worse if we didn't have the stimulus. But critics question the notion of measuring jobs created or saved. Adding that stimulus spending is just helping maintain the public sector and what's really needed, they say, Lou, are private sector jobs.

DOBBS: And yet that wasn't the direction, purpose, goal of the stimulus package at all, was it?

FERRE: Well, you definitely have people that say that they wanted to create jobs in the private sector, but what's been seen so far from the numbers that are out so far, is that you've seen a lot in the public sector.

DOBBS: Yes, as a matter of fact, less than one percent of the total stimulus package going to small business, which creates 70 percent of the jobs, so one wonders what that's all about. All right, thank you very much, very informative, appreciate it -- Ines Ferre.

Well California so far has received the largest amount of that stimulus money, $12.5 billion of a promised 50 billion. But California is still struggling to pay its bills, so the state government is turning, again, to their taxpayers, this time for something of a sneaky kind of loan. Casey Wian has the story.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the paychecks of California workers are shrinking because the state is increasing the amount of money it's withholding for taxes. California lawmakers voted in July for a 10 percent increase in state tax withholdings starting this week.

They also approved accelerating estimated tax payments for businesses and the self-employed. The two actions are expected to raise $2.3 billion to help close California's budget deficit. Here's what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said before he signed the budget bill.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: First and foremost this budget does not raise your taxes. We don't look to the taxpayers or businesses to foot the bill for Sacramento's appetite for spending.

WIAN: Technically, he's right. By itself the new law does not actually increase taxes. The additional payments will result in either a larger tax refund or a smaller tax bill at the end of the year. But it does amount to a $2 billion interest free loan from California taxpayers to their government. Critics say it's another case where California lawmakers are using accounting gimmicks to mask rather than solve the deficit.

TONY STRICKLAND (R), CALIF. STATE SENATE: We keep borrowing money and this is one classic example of us not putting our fiscal house in order. It's no wonder California government over long -- last 10 years has been spending more than it's been taking in because of accounting gimmicks just like this.

WIAN: For a single California taxpayer earning $51,000 a year, the added withholding will be about $200 a year. A married couple with two dependants earning $145,000 will be temporarily deprived of nearly $900. Taxpayers do have a way to soften the blow, an accounting gimmick of their own. They can instruct their employer to increase the number of personal exemptions they claim and reduce the amount of state taxes withheld from their paychecks.


WIAN: But there's no escaping several actual tax increases already passed by California lawmakers this year as part of their deficit reduction measures. So far, they've raised the sales tax rate by one percent, raised the personal income tax by a quarter percent, and nearly doubled the vehicle license fee, all in the midst of the worst recession in three generations -- Lou.

DOBBS: Brilliant I think is all any economist would say to that, Casey. They really expect that they're going to get the $2 billion that -- I mean why in the world wouldn't state taxpayers simply go out and say, look, you're not going to get my money in the middle of a weak economy, a recession, and I'm taking extra exemptions, deductions?

WIAN: I think -- I think they're banking on people to be either too lazy to do it or to be not informed well enough to do it. You know this is something that hasn't received a lot of publicity here in California. I think a lot of state taxpayers are going to be surprised to find out that their paychecks are getting smaller. They're not going to know why.

DOBBS: All right. Thanks very much, Casey. You got to love California, right -- Casey Wian from California.


DOBBS: To hear my thoughts on that story and all of the big issues across the country, join me on the radio tomorrow for "The Lou Dobbs Show" 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each afternoon of WOR 710 radio in New York. Go to to get the local listings for the show and to subscribe to our daily Podcast and follow me on loudobbsnews on, if you will.

Up next, waiting for the president's decision on Afghanistan, should he bring our troops home? Should he send in more troops? That's the subject of our "Face Off" tonight.

Also, tuition costs skyrocketing. Why are college students bringing home million dollar paychecks? We'll have that report next.


DOBBS: Good news on the economy tonight. Ford reporting it made a profit of nearly $1 billion, its first quarterly profit in more than a year. Ford is the only major carmaker, U.S. carmaker that avoided filing for bankruptcy and avoided a bailout -- the carmaker receiving a bump in sales from the "Cash for Clunkers" sales program along with the rest of the carmakers of course.

And despite the good corporate news, news not as good for the struggling middle class in this country. Tuition is skyrocketing, not only at the country's private college and universities, but at public schools as well. As families desperately are trying to come up with higher tuition payments, college presidents are taking home million dollar salaries -- Kitty Pilgrim with our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a nice job, president of a college. Nice view, housing, benefits, retention bonus, even a retirement pay package. Twenty-three private colleges have paid their presidents more than $1 million this year, including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of New York, Suffolk University of Massachusetts, University of Tulsa Oklahoma, Webster University Missouri, even the median college president salary of $358,746 is not bad and is up 6.5 percent in the last year. "The Chronicle of Higher Education", a college trade magazine, keeps track of pay packages for colleges.

JEFF SELINGO, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: These complicated pay packages are actually copied from the corporate world. So for many people and the trustees, they don't see -- they see these salaries and they don't act very surprised. And they do raise some eyebrows on Capitol Hill since these institutions are all nonprofits.

PILGRIM: Senator Charles Grassley says colleges with special nonprofit tax breaks need to be monitored. He charges that highly paid consultants push for higher salaries for college administrators, boosting their own fees.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: What you do is you get into a ratcheting up effect here, where consulting organizations say that a nonprofit organization ought to -- executive ought to be paid more and then that consulting firm gets a reputation for recommending higher salaries so then they get more business, and then the next time around they raise the salary up more and it just feeds on itself.

PILGRIM: But all that money has to come from somewhere, most frequently tuitions. Tuitions are up 6.5 percent over the last year for state colleges, 4.4 percent for private colleges. Some 58 private colleges now charge tuition of more than $50,000 a year. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that from 1987 to 2007, many colleges became bloated bureaucracies, hiring legions of what they call paper pushers, driving up college costs.


PILGRIM: Now the Center for College Affordability and Productivity finds that for every new freshman entering college on average, two administrators were added. That's been going on for two decades. Senator Grassley and some education watchdogs say the nonprofit status of universities makes them very indifferent to the rising costs and they've been able to pass those costs on to students for decades -- Lou.

DOBBS: Run that back -- for every student that comes in...

PILGRIM: For every freshman that entered college from 1987 to 2007, two administrators were hired in colleges.


PILGRIM: And this is in the age of technology when you actually are supposed to be consolidating administrative jobs, so it is preposterous. Administration costs have ballooned beyond...

DOBBS: This is public universities as well as private?

PILGRIM: Yes, public and private.

DOBBS: That's...


DOBBS: That's insane. Any disparity between public and private...

PILGRIM: Yes, there is. There is. I don't have the exact numbers, but I find that...

DOBBS: Is it worse for public or worse for private?

PILGRIM: You know what -- I have to check. I'm...

DOBBS: It's one or the other. Kitty, I'm sorry to bring it up.

PILGRIM: I have to...

DOBBS: Well I was just thinking...

PILGRIM: No, it's a fascinating statistic, isn't it?

DOBBS: That is insane. Fascinating -- it is absolutely mind- boggling. Universities teaching young people presumably dispensing knowledge and behaving like idiots. I mean I'm not sure that's a great thing for...

PILGRIM: Hiring is out of control apparently.

DOBBS: Well, again, you know it's really amazing when you think what we're facing in this country during a period of economic weakness. We've got 30 million people unemployed. Wages are declining. In fact, they've been stagnant for years. And the private sector versus the public sector far more union organization in the public sector, far less -- just extraordinarily, if you're organized labor workers in the private sector.

And they're the ones supporting the public sector. I mean this is -- this gets crazier and crazier. A million dollar president for a university, while, you know, working man or woman, their families trying to support a kid going to college.


DOBBS: I mean it just makes no sense.

PILGRIM: It does not.

DOBBS: All right. Thanks a lot, appreciate it, Kitty -- a startling story.

Up next a congressional contest in upstate New York drawing national attention -- it's going to be what some say is a referendum on the future of the Republican Parties. Others say it's just going to be a hoot.

And the Obama administration ponders options for Afghanistan. Is the president also considering whether to pull our troops out of Afghanistan? That is the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight. We're coming right back with that. Stay with us.


DOBBS: President Obama today congratulated Afghanistan's President Karzai on his election victory. The president, President Obama, is still weighing his choices for forces in Afghanistan. The strategy for those forces. That is the subject of our face-off debate.

Joining me now is Jeremy Scahill. He's journalist and fellow at the Nation Institute. Good to have you with us. Patricia Degennaro, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. Good to have you with us. Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Thank you for being with us. Good to see you again.

Let's turn to, first, what happened here? Last week, there was going to be a delay as we had a -- all of that nasty fraud in the election. There had to be a runoff on the 7th of November. Suddenly, now, in the 2nd of November, the president sort of blesses Karzai and says we're done just because his opponent withdrew.

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think Abdullah Abdullah realized he would lose the runoff election, just as he had lost the initial election. And the reality is, there was fraud. There was a lot of fraud. Hamid Karzai's still the most popular politician in Afghanistan. He still has a lot of legitimacy, especially amongst the Pashtuns where the insurgency is based. And I think we've been focusing too much on the election because the people I spoke to in Afghanistan when I was just there were more concerned about what their government is delivering for them, rather than how it was selected. I think there's still a good opportunity to work with Hamid Karzai, work with the governors, to increase the kind of governing capacity that Afghanistan has to defeat the Taliban --

DOBBS: You're not saying corruption be damned, give the people what they want and they'll be fine?

BOOT: No, corruption is a huge problem, but it's not just corruption in the polling place, it's corruption in day to day governments and we have to work on that and the best way to work on that as I discovered myself in districts in central and southern Afghanistan is to send more American troops, to send more civilian workers, to send more diplomats, so they can work -- be mentoring very closely with Afghan officials and improving and raising their level of governance.

DOBBS: Today the president said at least this is resolved in response to both my point, and that of Max, at least it was determined in accordance with Afghan law which is very important. You don't feel that was the right tone. JEREMY SCAHILL, NATION INSTITUTE: I think it was unfortunate that President Obama used the term re-elected to describe Hamid Karzai. The fact of the matter is the Karzai government is filled with drug warlords, war criminals, thugs that have murdered people in mosques in Afghanistan. We're spending $5.5 billion a month. U.S. troop casualties and deaths are going up. Afghan civilians are being killed at record numbers. The whole country is a complete mess right now. The fact of the matter is the United States occupation is the single greatest recruitment tool for the insurgency in Afghanistan including the Taliban.

DOBBS: Trisha, you worked with President Karzai.


DOBBS: You say the election puts any U.S. policy that's taken, any direction taken by this president, in a very difficult position. What do you mean?

DEGENNARO: I think it's taken away the legitimacy of the government. The Afghans, my colleagues there, and within the country that I've worked with through U.S. aid and through UNDP and other areas, the Asia Foundation, have told me basically that they thought this would be the outcome. So they were just going to sit back because the Americans had already decided. That in itself gives it illegitimacy. If the Afghans are not deciding who their leaders are, who their government is, then what faith do they have in the process at all? And to couple that, to have us -- or have the international community, including the U.N., say that fraud really doesn't matter, nor did the corruption, also puts us in a very precarious position, saying we're also illegitimate.

DOBBS: There's a perception issue I think everyone's aware of in terms of other nation's views about our policy there, and NATO's, of course. But the real issue here is how much -- how many more lives are lost there, how much more money can be spent there, because now after more than eight years there the poppy crop is every bit as vigorous and substantial as it ever was. That's hard for Americans to tolerate and certainly for this government to explain. More than 900 of our troops have been killed there now.

BOOT: Well, Lou, I mean, you could talk about the fact --

DOBBS: Well, I'm going to, but just if you will, and then I want to hear your view. Give than backdrop what is the proper course for the president? He says in the next few weeks he's going to make a decision on strategy. What should his decision be?

BOOT: I think his decision should be to back General McChrystal who is a terrific general who has a great team with him, and has done a very careful study of the situation, concluded that he needs about 40,000 more troops to turn the situation around. Now Lou, you were talking about all the problems that still exist in Afghanistan. Of course, they're very real. I think it's inaccurate to say we've been fighting the war for eight years because it's been chronically under- resourced for eight years -- DOBBS: But Max, I --

BOOT: -- in a lot of areas where I've visited --

DOBBS: I take your point, Max. Here's my point, if I may. We have been in Afghanistan for eight years. The most powerful --

BOOT: In a very limited way. In a very limited way.

DOBBS: Well, to the point that more than 900 of our troops have died.

BOOT: That's true.

DOBBS: More than 4500 of our troops wounded.

BOOT: We've never made the kind of commitment we made in Iraq.

DOBBS: But what I would argue, that a general staff who spend the lives of 4,500 casualties, plus more than 900 dead, that's a striking --

BOOT: Well, the problem --

DOBBS: -- the measure of --

BOOT: The problem is, Lou, people who don't want to send more troops are basically in favor of the strategy you're talk about, which is muddling through --

DOBBS: I'm not talk about a strategy --

BOOT: No, the people who oppose sending more troops basically say they want to keep our commitment roughly where it is, which puts Americans lives into danger without giving them a chance to win. If you send more troops -- then you give them a chance to win.

DOBBS: Jeremy?

SCAHILL: First of all, let's remember, there are 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan right now and 74,000 mercenaries and other private contractors. The United States is the second biggest force in Afghanistan. We've hired and outsourced this war to essentially a corporate army.

DOBBS: Let's give those numbers one more time.

SCAHILL: 68,000 troops, U.S. troops in Afghanistan right now. 74,000 individuals employed by for-profit corporations making a killing off this war.

DOBBS: What should be the president's decision?

SCAHILL: I think the United States --

DOBBS: Strategy? SCAHILL: I think the United States is creating a national security problem for itself by keeping the occupation going in Afghanistan. I think the United States should pull all of its military forces out of Iraq and cancel the plans -- excuse me, and Afghanistan, and cancel its plans to build a colonial fortress in Islamabad Pakistan which the Obama administration has asked for almost $1 billion to build.

BOOT: You know, we tried pulling out of Afghanistan once before. It didn't work out so well on 9/11.

SCAHILL: When did the United States pull out of --

BOOT: We made a commitment to overthrowing the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, then we wrote off Afghanistan and said what happened there didn't matter. I think in 2001 we discovered it does matter.

SCAHILL: You think drug dealers and war criminals being on the payroll in Afghanistan --

BOOT: What I feel comfortable with -- what I feel comfortable with is making a larger commitment to win the war and to prevent the Taliban from taking --

SCAHILL: How can we win the war? We're losing our own security by keeping --

BOOT: What I'm in favor of --

DEGENNARO: Gentlemen -- actually, I think --

DOBBS: -- to talk --

DEGENNARO: I think the bottom line here is we continue to focus on a war-type strategy. And with all due respect to General McChrystal, he did his job very well, and that is what he was asked to do and he should be highly, highly respected for that. But the U.S. and -- continues to focus on the war-type strategy, without looking at what the civilian capacity should be. You were speaking about 78,000 people. With all due respect, I don't think at all the resources are unlimited there. I think the management lacks, the strategy lacks --

DOBBS: So what should we do? Jeremy says withdraw. Max says meet McChrystal's number.

DEGENNARO: We have the perfect opportunity to hold a loya jirga in the area and use our power for something good and something for the Afghan people and something that's legitimate.

DOBBS: More troops?

DEGENNARO: No, not more troops. We're almost up to the number of troops --

DOBBS: Fewer troops -- DEGENNARO: -- that the soviets had, 155,000 at that time, and we should start to scale down and build up our civilian capacity efficiently.

DOBBS: Patricia, thank you very much. Max, thank you very much. Jeremy, thank you.

Well, coming up next, how tomorrow's New Jersey, Virginia, gubernatorial elections could test the president's political standing and effect public policy in this country for at least another two years. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Joining me now, Ron Christy, who is the president of Christy Strategies, former special assistant to President George W. Bush; Miguel Perez, syndicated columnist, professor at Lehman College, CNN contributor and Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor. Thank you for being here.

Let's start with Ron Christy, we've got also in the midst of all of this tomorrow, we've got a mayoral race in New York, where the incumbent mayor is spending $100 million for a job for which he receives $1.


DOBBS: To his credit.

CHRISTIE: It seems a little excessive to me. Here comes a man who said he was only going to come in, he believed in term limits, he wanted to clean up the city of New York and move aside. As a Republican, I look at him, he used it be a Democrat, Republican, who's now an independent, and I say, don't you believe anything of what you preach? Don't you believe in the value of the ballot box? Don't you believe that when you give your word --

DOBBS: He's just a mayor, come on, Ron.

CHRISTIE: He's just a mayor but one of the most powerful cities in the world, Lou. I think that's why --

DOBBS: -- we have an army --

CHRISTIE: There's a reason why people are so cynical about politicians and I think Mike Bloomberg gives a lot of credence to those who say once in power, these guys can't give it up.

DOBBS: Miguel?

MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I like Mr. Bloomberg. I think New York needs a good leader like him. I have no problem with him --

DOBBS: Even though he's spending $100 million --

PEREZ: It's his money and he's only collecting $1 so what's the problem? It's his money.

DOBBS: And the overturned term limits to do it? It's starting to feel a little funny, don't you think? I like Mike Bloomberg too, but --

PEREZ: If he gets elected, it will be the will of the people.

DOBBS: All right. Hank, I know you've got a view on this. Maybe you should divulge fully --

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I have to disclose I am a consultant to the Bloomberg re-election campaign and proudly so.

DOBBS: And is he going to win tomorrow?

SHEINKOPF: I'm not allowed to discuss anything. Seriously, I can't discuss things with the media about it. It wouldn't be appropriate.

DOBBS: But I wanted to have the opportunity to come forth and --

SHEINKOPF: I needed that.

DOBBS: All right, well, let me turn to, then, something a little closer to home, Jon Corzine, governor, New Jersey. A tough fight with Chris Christie. And it's tight. I mean, to say the very least, in fact, the Quinnipiac poll has them in a statistical dead heat.

SHEINKOPF: Not good for anybody. Why Democrats have a built in eight percentage point edge and turnout and performance in New Jersey, that's number one. Number two, it will be about who turns out tomorrow at the polls. Frankly, why is it important? Obama would like to see this stay in the Democratic column. New Jersey's too close to this media market and a good place to raise a lot of money.

DOBBS: And a lot of money is being spent. Jon Corzine throwing a fortune at it. My e-mail just smoking today, with reports of, Miguel, all sorts of act visits being brought in to drive votes, allegations that the absentee ballots in New Jersey, that it looks like the fix is in. Such a thing has never happened in New Jersey.

PEREZ: As you know, Lou, I live in New Jersey. So I've been watching this very, very closely. And when I put my Spanish TV on in Jersey, I see President Obama speaking Spanish and endorsing Governor Corzine so I see that the president has invested a lot of political capital in this particular race.

DOBBS: Obama speaking Spanish in that?

PEREZ: Yes, he is, at least a few words in Spanish.

DOBBS: What were the words?

PEREZ: I forget right now actually.

DOBBS: What were -- give us all three of them. PEREZ: I actually forget what the phrase is he uses.

DOBBS: [speaking Spanish]

PEREZ: No, not quite. But the point is he has invested a lot of political capital. Everybody seems to be placing -- placing all this emphasis on how this could be a referendum on Obama. So many things are going to happen between now and midterm elections and the next presidential election. This is not going to mean a hill of beans what happens tomorrow.

DOBBS: You think Corzine's going to lose?

PEREZ: I think --

DOBBS: You sound like you're managing --

PEREZ: I think he's going to pull it off.

DOBBS: One would think he would.

PEREZ: The Democrats do more to mobilize crowds.

CHRISTIE: I think this say referendum on Jon Corzine. When you look at Daggett being in the race, the third party individual, and Chris Christie, you have 50 percent if not more, of the people who live in the state of New Jersey who want to fire their governor. I think the high taxes in New Jersey, I think the sense that government's out of control, they want a new person in Trenton. Jon Corzine he might eke it out. He is extraordinarily unpopular. The Republicans I think would be wise to say this is what happens when big government goes amok. This is what the Obama administration is not the hope and change they promised.

DOBBS: You think the Republican Party might be smart enough the next time if this is what does transpire, to look to the independent vote and say, you know, we're not going to be a bunch of idiots anymore, expecting simply an anti-Democratic vote because that game isn't going to be played by millions of Americans.

CHRISTIE: And I'm sure we'll talk about this as it relates to the commonwealth of Virginia --

DOBBS: We will. By the way, I accidentally raised my hand there. I apologize. We'll be back with more of Ron Christie. I'll also bring in Hank and Miguel. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: We're back with our panel. Ron, Virginia, who wins?

CHRISTIE: I think Bob McDonald wins by double digits. I think the Republicans learned a lot from last year's election, cultivated a lot of the independent vote, made sure to talk about bread and butter issues, transportation, taxes, rather than getting involved in the social issues. Ten points. DOBBS: The poll shows also a ten-digit lead in Virginia, Miguel, for the lieutenant governor or the Republican lieutenant governor candidate as well as the attorney general Republican candidate. This is going to be driving the Obama people nuts.

PEREZ: Again, I don't think it's a mandate.

DOBBS: It's got to be driving them nuts.


DOBBS: I don't believe in mandates.

PEREZ: The media, I'm not saying it's you, Lou --

DOBBS: It's me. It's me.

PEREZ: All day today I've been hearing about how the two or three races tomorrow are going to be a referendum of the president. I don't see it. I don't see how. There are so many other issues that we'll be voting on.

DOBBS: When you and Hank sitting there nodding on that. You guys make me think he's had real trouble.

SHEINKOPF: What it is, it's a referendum on something else, Lou. What this is really about is Obama figures the Republicans are dead, keep the foot on their throat and they'll all die. If somebody gets up from the ground, they're alive again. That's now New Jersey is important. That's why Virginia could be important but it's not going to be. New Jersey, particularly, they want to kill the Republicans off in 2010, it's easier to hold on to what they've got.

CHRISTIE: Gentlemen, this is a referendum on Obama in Virginia and I'll tell you why. High taxes, Obama care with health care. People are very nervous. If you look at the ability that Obama had to come into the commonwealth last year, do very well not only with African-Americans and younger voters, but with the independents. Now you have a lot of people who are very scared about the size of government, what Congress is doing and Speaker Pelosi by having the health care vote this upcoming Friday, I think it will portend very strongly for the Republicans. If we win in this state and she makes these blue dogs take the plank and take a very difficult vote, it will be a referendum on President Obama.

DOBBS: What do you think?

SHEINKOPF: Not a referendum on President Obama. This is -- New Jersey referendum on Jon Corzine.

DOBBS: Virginia?

SHEINKOPF: Virginia is a referendum on a mess. The other guy didn't put a good campaign together, end discussion.

PEREZ: We have a congressional race in New York that may be a referendum on the Republican Party because they basically threw the one Republican under the bus. She switched to --

DOBBS: Didn't she jump under the bus?

PEREZ: Maybe she jumped under the bus. However she got under the bus, still --

DOBBS: The Republican candidate in New York, if I may say, is fascinating. She had the endorsement of both A.C.O.R.N. and Newt Gingrich and still kind of got it messed up. That's a broad spectrum approach. You think it would work.

Ron, thank you very much. Miguel, thank you very much. Hank, thank you sir.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown.

Campbell, tell us all about it.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there Lou, tonight we have crucial information, new information to help you protect your family from h1n1, especially important to pregnant women and their children. This coming out of the CDC today.

Also, the sheriff who wants inmates to pay rent. That's right. Rent. Is it a good idea or cruel and unusual punishment? We'll talk to that sheriff. He's going to join us in a few minutes.

Plus our "Mash-up" of the day's other top stories all at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: Looking forward to it, Campbell. Thank you very much.

Coming up next here, we'll have your thoughts.


DOBBS: Let's take a look at some of your thoughts now.

Vinnie in Florida said, "Lou, I enjoyed your special edition show about health care. I learned more from those doctors in one hour than I learned from our politician in months and without reading 2,000 pages of nonsense." We're glad you liked it.

Roy in Washington says, "The only way we'll get a good health care plan is to make congress take the same coverage."

Grant writes in to say, "Thanks for presenting the health care debate in such a balanced and informative manner. It would be nice if our representatives in D.C. would do the same." Thank you.

And Clay in Texas, "We need to send our troops anywhere that threatens our freedom and American way of life. I'm thinking Washington, D.C." I think that's pretty good thinking.

And Nancy in Ohio, "I thank you for keeping the American people informed. Without people like you, we would have no one to speak for us, keep fighting the good fight. We are right there with you." We will. And thanks.

Send us your thoughts to We love hearing from you. Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America." And our brand new independent American t-shirt.

Join me on the radio Monday through Friday for the Lou Dobbs Show, 2 to 4 p.m. each afternoon on WOR 710 radio here in New York. And go to to subscribe to the daily podcast. That's

Thanks for being with us tonight. We appreciate your being with us. Join us here tomorrow.

Thanks for watching. Good night from New York.

Coming up, next, right here on CNN, none other than Campbell Brown.