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tv   Lou Dobbs Tonight  CNN  September 17, 2009 7:00pm-7:46pm EDT

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>> his name is like arakobimbala. >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> thank you, jeanne. remember, i'm now on twitter. go to twitter.com/wolf blitzer cnn one word. read what i'm tweeting. we'll put you in the situation room. up next "lou dobbs tonight." thank you. president obama blowing up plans to build a missile defense shield aimed at protecting us from iran and abandoning some of our key allies in europe. does the administration know who our real enemies are? maybe the most disturbing acorn hidden video to date released today. talk of smuggling under age girls across the border for sex. this is as more lawmakers are voting to cut off all federal funding to the group. also tonight house speaker nancy pelosi says she is afraid there will be blood and warns
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president obama's critics that their words could lead to violence. also tonight, does the white house have a secret plan to take your personal information from websites such as facebook and twitter? good evening everybody. betrayed. that's how a few world leaders feel after president obama decided to scrap plans to build a missile defense shield in eastern europe. the program started under the bush administration. arguably it would have helped guard against a missile attack from iran but one leader who is smiling is medvedev, afraid the shield would compromise his nuclear capabilities. the white house stressed it will continue its policy to protect europe but republicans were quick to lash out, senator
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mccain calling the move seriously misguided. either way the decision could potentially have far reaching consequences. >> reporter: in a major foreign policy decision likely to calm russian anger president barack obama pulls the plug on a bush-era missile defense plan based in poland and the czech republic claiming the threat of long-range missiles from iran has changed. >> we have updated our intelligence assessment of iran's missile programs, which emphasizes the threat posed by iran's short and medium-range missiles. >> reporter: the new approach with its new technology the president says will use ships with sensors and interceptors and eventually land-based systems throughout the region. as the president faced the cameras, he was facing fire from republicans for what they call a rushed and wrong decision. >> the consequences of this decision may be albeit
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unintentionally encourage further belligerence on the part of the russians and a distinct lack and loss of confidence on the part of our friends and allies in the word of the united states. >> reporter: in poland palatable anger from a former president, saying it's not because we needed this missile defense system so badly. it's all about a way of treating us. it has to change. >> i've spoken to the prime ministers of both the czech republic and poland about this decision and reaffirmed our deep and close ties. >> reporter: but from moscow president medvedev who attacked the missile shield plan as a threat to russia praises what he calls mr. obama's responsible move. the two leaders meet in new york at the u.n. general assembly next week and mr. obama is hoping mr. medvedev will back stronger sanctions on iran to stop its nuclear program. but in this three-dimensional, diplomatic chess game, medvedev's praise could backfire
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for obama, creating the impression he's caving in to the russian pressure. though russia might benefit from mr. obama's decision, a senior administration official claims that potential benefit was not factored into this decision. the vice chairman of the joint chiefs agrees and says this decision was driven by cost savings and being able to have a more nimble reaction to the real threat of short and medium-range missiles. lou? >> thank you very much. well, president obama's call to kill the missile shield program could give more ammunition to his critics who say he has become far too friendly with the wrong people. just last week the obama administration agreed to talks with iran and north korea. earlier this year president obama very publicly shook hands with the antiamerican president of venezuela hugo chavez and has since aligned with chavez and other leftist latin american leaders on the issue of the
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honduran coup. president obama met with russian president medvedev in moscow in july. now the president is embracing russia, giving in to russian demands that the united states drop the missile defense shield, which the president has just done. the change in policy raising new questions about the obama administration's position and stand on iran. u.s. military leaders have long considered a missile attack by iran to be a serious threat. now defense secretary robert gates has reversed his position on the assessment of that threat and what the united states should be doing about it. >> reporter: today defense secretary gates personally conducted a pentagon press briefing to explain why he had completely changed his mind about the threat from iran in renouncing the defense missile shield he supported just three years ago, gates said his decision to go with a new system was based on military intelligence.
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>> although the iranian long-range missile threat is not as immediate as we previously had thought this system will allow us to incorporate future defensive capabilities against such threats as they develop. >> reporter: joint chiefs of staff general james cartwright said the new system has more flexibility for future threats. >> one thing i'm relatively sure of is the threat will change. we have a thinking adversary and have it acknowledge that. >> reporter: a strategic analyst at the conservative heritage foundation nil gardner says the obama administration abandoned allies under pressure by the russians. >> this is an appalling surrender by the obama administration to the russians, an incredible about face with regard to u.s. policy and the undermining of key allies in eastern and central europe. this is all about appeasing moscow. >> reporter: congressman don misulo a republican member of the house foreign affairs committee says obama's new stance will embolden iran. >> it simply sends the wrong
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message to the iranians at a time when we should be stronger. i am very much concerned over the president's shift in a big policy issue. >> reporter: one clue as to why the administration has made such a sudden shift comes from the language of president obama's remarks on the issue. he emphasizes a, quote, less costly, less controversial system to defend against iran's short and medium-range missiles. secretary gates also appears to have changed his mind on china. in previous years defense officials have stressed military cooperation, even joint military exercises with china. well, now this week secretary gates said china's military modernization could pose a threat to u.s. bases and forces in the pacific. lou? >> quite a display of if you will flexibility on the part of the administration on all quarters. it comes as the international atomic energy agency says in its assessment on this very day as this -- the president has
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reversed course for eastern europe on the defense shield that iran can now or shortly be able to make an atomic bomb and is working toward a missile delivery system for such a bomb. remarkable timing on the part of the president here. thank you very much, kitty pilgrim. well, outrage over acorn, the leftist activist group, is growing. undercover tapes, one that could be the worst yet, an acorn employee offering to help smuggle underage girls across the border with mexico for sex. house speaker nancy pelosi says there could be blood if the president's critics continue to criticize. she's afraid antigovernment health care crowds could turn violent. we'll assess what is going on in her mind and is the white house secretly fishing around the internet putting its hands on your personal information for its purposes? we'll have that report here next.
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president obama today talked of a health care rally at the university of maryland. video of his speech was streamed live by the white house on facebook. his speech comes with the news that the white house is now saving user information from social networking sites including facebook and twitter and doing so without notifying users or asking their permission. >> reporter: the obama administration has been a pioneer in using the internet to get messages out to supporters and interact with them. recently it solicited bids from
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private contractors to archive comments, videos, and tweets left on white house social networking sites like facebook and youtube, part of an effort to comply with the presidential records act. user messages like "great job obama" or "this president is full of it" could be digitally ar kifd. the national legal and policy center, a group that favors small government, is worried the government may use information for purposes other than archiving. >> we believe this is the blueprint for a massive data mining operation by the white house which would allow it to collect personal information on millions of americans with the potential of identifying friends and enemies. >> reporter: an administration spokesman says, quote, the white house does not archive personally identifiable information or any information that users do not disclose voluntarily on the white house pages. it's complying with the federal law that requires documenting communications to and from the white house. patrice mcdermott from open the
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government.org doesn't think the government will mine the data. >> i think you have to read this in a context of a commitment of this administration to maintain the public record. >> reporter: but the privacy watch dog epic says the white house needs to spell out legal limitations on how it collects and uses data from social media sites. >> if you're going to broadly say that the government has the right to collect this type of data, i think you should also broadly say that the government has an obligation to protect privacy of the data it collects. >> reporter: this isn't the first time the obama administration's use of new media has prompted debate. it recently terminated flag at white house.gov. an e-mail address for citizens to flag so-called myths about health care reform. and the white house told cnn it's committed to protecting the privacy of its visitors and is also committed to following the legal obligations of the presidential records act, adding, quote, that pra applies
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to social media and public comments on the official websites of the white house, lou. >> it's interesting that a watch dog group like open the government.org would ascribe to anyone it's watching over motivation for what they're doing. they're collecting information from users without their permission or reporting that they're doing so at the time. >> and the white house says if you leave a page on the white house page on facebook that's information you're leaving for the white house. >> but going to user information and identifying those individuals through that information on a social networking site goes beyond what most people would assume would be done with that information. it's striking that the watch dog groups that were so concerned about other issues in a previous administration seem to be giving this administration a free pass. striking. thank you very much. appreciate it. a warning tonight from house speaker nancy pelosi. the speaker says the heated health care debate could lead to political violence. the speaker even compares the
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current climate in this country to san francisco in the 1970s when two politicians were murdered. candy crowley has our report. >> good morning. the speaker of the house thinks the tone of the health care debate borders on dangerous. >> i have concerns about some of the language that is being used because i saw this myself in the late '70s in san francisco, this kind of rhetoric was very frightening and it created a climate in which we -- violence took place. >> reporter: as she recalled the early, turbulent fight for gay rights, nancy pelosi suggested even if a speaker has no violent intent the words could set off a less stable person. >> they have to take responsibility for any incitement that they may cause. >> reporter: the most violent incident reported recently was when a pro health care reform
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liberal bit off part of the finger of an antireform conservative after being punched. talk to democrats and republicans privately and the debate is even fiercer. republicans say democrats are stoking the false church of racism to diminish honest opposition to the president. democrats say for political reasons republicans have not condemned what are clearly racist signs and words in some of the protests. today the republican leader tried. >> it is not welcomed. listen, this whole issue of race people have tried to raise here over the last week or so and this insinuation that the people who are opposing the president's policies are motivated by race capped off by former president carter's remarks over the last couple of days, let me tell you what. i reject this resoundly. >> reporter: there is bipartisan agreement on one thing -- politicals on both sides of the aisle say the health care debate has become one of the nastiest
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they've seen in decades and there is just one thing missing. >> this is not about black and white. this is about insuring america. >> reporter: oh, yeah. health care. again today the administration tried to calm these waters. this time it was vice president joe biden saying neither he nor the president thinks the protests of his policies are race based. at this critical point as congress puts together a bill the white house would rather the health care debate be about health care. lou? >> and president carter continues to assert in even stronger terms, this time that it's racist for those to oppose his public policies because this president is black. is there no direct response to the former president from the white house, from the democratic leadership? >> reporter: this is not a debate the white house wants to get into at all either to, you know, say yes or no, other than that the white house through robert gibbs, through the vice president, was asked directly
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about former president carter's remarks and the response was, the president does not agree. this is not -- race has never been something this president has wanted to have get into the policy debate. it is particularly true with something as critical to both his administration, the american people, and his future as health care. so it's something that the white house did address but it is a muted address at this point because they just don't want to get into it. >> but there seems to be a seeking of ideological and partisan advantage here on the part of those who are condemning language and protests and demonstrations, for example, speaker pelosi, one could argue, just as she in the issue of the health care debate, that the murder of the antiabortion protestor just about two weeks ago, i mean, to lay that at the feet of those who are debating in good faith, the issue of
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abortion or opposing abortion, it seems a strikingly difficult, if you will, piece of logic to sustain. >> i have to tell you that i called around a lot on capitol hill today talking to people who are in some of these leadership offices, republicans and democrats. it is very tense back there because what you have is you have democrats saying for political reasons because they don't want to lose this constituency, the republicans will not go out and condemn specifically racist signs or speakers. then you have the republicans saying this is the most hypocritical thing that the democrats are doing. they point out the sorts of things that you're talking about, the man whose finger was bitten off by a liberal. >> right. >> reporter: they say they are doing this simply because they know if you can denigrate the messenger, you can denigrate the message. there is no meeting of the minds about who's playing politics
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here on capitol hill. >> one would hope that whether left or right, whether conservative or liberal, democrat or republican, that violence could be condemned by the leadership of both political parties and any kind of racist or inflammatory language should be condemned irrespective of partisan advantage. >> right. it sounds pretty simple. >> it does indeed. but then perhaps we're just too simple, candy, you and me. thank you very much. >> sure. >> reporter: up next, much more on race and politics. i'll be talking with the naacp's hillary shelton. and an about face for the obama administration and what's going on with this health care proposal from the senate? and the activist, left wing activist group acorn, they are running out of cover and now money. they could face new investigations. as a matter of fact, double the number of investigations as of a week ago. ♪ today
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as promised senator max baucus released his controversial health care proposal. it is the last of five to emerge
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from congress and like each of them the senator's 856 billion dollar proposal would require every american to have health insurance or face thousands of dollars in fines for not doing so. president obama, in fact, supports that requirement and the baucus proposal. that doesn't square with what candidate obama had to say on the campaign trail last year. lisa sylvester has our report. >> reporter: the health care bill proposals on capitol hill all require that every american have health insurance and without it you could face tough fines. in the proposal by senator max baucus those penalties could be as high as $3800 a year. and families on modest incomes might need to devote a fifth of their income to health insurance to avoid a fine. >> his plan has suggested that americans could be required to spend 20%, nearly 20% of their income on health insurance. that's simply unaffordable for a
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family who's around 400% of the poverty line struggling to pay their bills let alone pay for health insurance. >> reporter: the issue of affordability was one then senator obama brought on the campaign trail and in these flyers criticizing senator hillary clinton's call for mandated health insurance. mr. obama pointed to the experience of massachusetts and called the fines a stiff penalty. >> now they're worse off than they were. they don't have health insurance and they're paying a fine. >> reporter: now president obama has embraced the idea of mandatory insurance and the threat of fines. why? to bring down the cost of universal health care requires having not just older and sicker people in the insurance pool but spreading the risk. this according to families usa which supports a health care overhaul. >> the costs for people depend on who's in the insurance pool. if the insurance pool is only made up of older, sicker people, then the premiums are going to skyrocket. >> reporter: the congressional bills offer subsidies to low income people to help them pay
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for health insurance. but getting coverage is still going to take a huge chunk out of the average family's paycheck. based on analysis of congressional budget office projections, a family of four making $42,000 a year and receiving subsidies will still have to shell out about $6,000 a year of their income. a family earning $54,000 a year could see 18% of their income going towards mandatory health insurance. >> do you have any idea of the individual mandate it's really going to rub people the wrong way and feed into this idea that the government is taking over health care essentially. >> reporter: senator baucus in a news con frenls, you know, we acknowledge his bill is not exactly perfect but the reason why death is that he wanted to limit the overall price tag on his legislation. lou? >> well, not perfect. i mean, this is a situation where the president who supports this legislation absolutely bought into after he criticized
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on the campaign trail senator john mccain's proposal to tax health care benefits. now he is making a center piece of the hillary clinton mandatory requirement for health care and fines up to $3800 per family. i mean, this is breathtaking, is it not? >> it is. you know, any time that you tell someone you have to buy, in this case insurance, you're going to get some pushback. this is one of the reasons why people are saying essentially this is big government at work here, telling citizens what they have to buy and penalizing them if they don't follow through. >> it's interesting that there could be any doubt about the fact that the government legislating over a sixth of the economy would not be effectively taking over but that debate of course is wide open and raging. thanks very much, lisa sylvester. up next, bill cosby jumping into the race debate. he agrees with jimmy carter. most of the president's critics just don't want a black man running the country.
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also, millions of dollars from the stimulus package spent to upgrade remote northern border crossings. nobody seems to know why. but guess what? janet napolitano doesn't like our reporter because our reporter is the one who brought this to everyone's attention. you'll meet him here next. and acorn shen nexposed. is it truly a criminal organization? despite charges of a main stream media blackout the facts are if you will dribbling to the public consciousness. announcer: "it looks like nothing else on the road right now," proclaims "gq" magazine. did you see that? the interior "positively oozes class," raves "car magazine." "slick and sensuous," boasts "the washington times." "the most striking vw in recent memory," declares-- okay, i get it already. i think we were in a car commercial. ♪ yeah
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trouble is piling up for the left wing activist group acorn. a fifth video showing employees of acorn offering advice to independent film makers posing as a pimp and prostitute has been released as of today. that video shows a worker appearing to discuss plans to bring underage prostitutes across the mexican border to work in the united states in a whore house. >> reporter: the latest undercover video released by
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conservative activist james o'keefe shows the film maker and a female companion playing the role of a prostitute visiting an office of the liberal activist group acorn, a san diego suburb. they meet an acorn employee and discuss a scheme to bring 13 to 15-year-old girls from el salvador to work in a brothel. they ask for advice getting the girls across the mexican border. >> tijuana is better. >> why? >> because i have a lot of contacts in tijuana. >> okay. they might be able to assist in crossing the border? >> acorn says the worker was entrapped and after the meeting notified a relative who is a police detective about the conversation. the video comes on the heels of one from an acorn office in san bernadino. an employee there said she previously worked as a madame, offered business advice on running a brothel, and claims she got away with killing her husband, a story she now says she made up to play along with her visitors.
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>> i apologize for that to acorn. but it was a joke. it's still a joke. nothing was true. and that's all there is to it. >> reporter: left out of the originally released tape but included in a transcript the film makers later released is her statement that acorn would have nothing to do with their prostitution business. still, california governor arnold schwarzenegger wrote to state attorney general jerry brown wednesday asking him to launch a full investigation into acorn's activities in california. nationally acorn has admitted its employees have given inappropriate advice and fired four caught on previously released tapes. >> it was outrageous. it was indefensible. even though we know these tapes, no one has shown totally unedited tapes because you don't see tapes where they were thrown out of acorn offices. >> reporter: acorn promises reforms but republican lawmakers are pushing for a justice department investigation.
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the house of representatives today voted 345-75 to strip acorn of all of its federal funding. the senate has already done the same thing. even if president obama signs the law, acorn says it receives only a small percentage of its money from the federal government. lou? >> a small percent, just about 40% is the best we can determine, and the reason that there hasn't been an investigation of acorn to this point, because these charges have been out there for some time. >> reporter: i can't give you a good answer, lou. i think just because these tapes have brought so much light onto the alleged abuses at acorn we've been talking about for a long time, as you mentioned, public officials in many different states now taking a look. the federal government is taking a look. these film makers have basically forced their hand, lou. >> all right. thank you very much. so did the main stream media fail to cover acorn responsibly? that's the subject of our face-off debate tonight.
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joining me now are the political editor of "the washington examiner" and the director of the center for politics at the university of virginia. good to have you both with us. let me start if i may, professor, with why in the world have we not seen more coverage of this outfit? congressm congressman issa in july put out a report that this was a criminal enterprise as it was structured in that report. >> there are a couple reasons, lou. first of all, you did see a lot of it on certain channels and in certain blogs and on certain news sites, stow all depends on what you're reading and watching and seeing. the second point, look. it's obvious. acorn is an organization devoted if you read their charter to empowerment of the poor. that fits into the personal ideology of many reporters who work for some main stream tv,
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radio, and newspaper outlets. >> chris, do you agree? >> well, yes. i certainly agree that that bias is real but i think we have to take this a step further. i think we have to look at the fact that when organizations like the "new york times" or "the washington post" don't take on a story that was laying on the ground to be picked up by a couple of kids in these outlandish pimp and prostitute outfits, that they could pick this story up off the ground, is -- tends to discredit the argument that "the times" or "the post" or that strain of the establishment media somehow can give people the whole story. and it's hurting their credibility just as it did in the story of van jones. when these things get pushed on them and they eventually have to react and cover, that looks very bad for them. >> professor, the left and the right wing, is there now a
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defined line in the national main stream media between the left, which in the last survey i saw, 70% of all reporters, editors, producers, define themselves, describe themselves as liberal, is there a defined line there between the left and the right in their news coverage? >> well, yes. to a great degree, but, lou, when you and i grew up, we had three networks. >> right. >> run by essentially the same kinds of people. >> right. >> with the same kinds of anchormen, reporting on the same five stories in about the same order every night. so i like to tell people that because today's system is actually so much better. there's tremendous diversity in the media and if you're looking for a story or looking for a particular outlet you can find it today. so i have no particular concern that one network is liberal, another network is conservative,
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the network we're on is centrist for the most part. i think you have lots of different outlets. you can find what you need and it's better today than it's ever been before. >> i think that's a fascinating point. you said the lack of coverage of acorn in particular starting with voter registration fraud has more to do with president obama than with acorn, itself. what do you mean? >> well, here's what i think. i think that the president then senator candidate obama received most garishly positive effusively praising coverage of any candidate i've ever seen for any office from outlets like "the times" and "the post." it was astonishing. so in this environment in which they were pushing so hard for president obama not just during the primary but during the general election, in both halves of the contest last year, you go through this phase bringing up problems with a community
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organizing a group that had, to which senator obama had connections in the past, doing legal work for them, and that was found to have colluded or tried to with elements of the obama campaign to try to get him elected. that was a story that would have brought a very negative look to what senator obama -- to his campaign. i think that's a big part of the reason why they suppressed that story and didn't want to talk about it at the time when they should have when the voter fraud was going on. >> professor, if -- you're really saying that the liberal main stream media, the preponderance of which is liberal, would avoid and may have avoided in this case the acorn story because it is a, if you will, a conservative media story. is that correct? >> yeah. that's basically true. the firing of van jones, you know, the controversy involving
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the green jobs czar in the obama administration, there is another case. that was essentially a conservative story. it was covered by conservative media although it did spread to cnn. i think quite a few stories aired eventually on cnn about it. but the point is this. because we have diversity in media today, it gets out there. the story gets out there. whether it's from the left or from the right, it gets out there and then events take over. look, a heavily democratic house of representatives today repudiated acorn and cut off all their public funding. so it just goes to prove that whatever source puts the story out there, if the facts back up the story, then action proceeds from there. that's a good thing. >> it is a good thing. i'm going to have to interrupt. thank you very much. i appreciate you being with us. and to follow up, professor, with what you were saying, it follows as well, the senate vote which was overwhelming as well to defund acorn but we should
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also point out that today's vote followed six other attempts to bring to a vote defunding of acorn, which have been stifled by the speaker of the house over the course of her tenure as speaker. further enforcing what you've both just been saying. thank you very much. i appreciate it, gentlemen. up next, why the department of homeland security is scrapping plans to spend millions and millions of dollars at remote border crossings where almost no one crosses. why is that? why did they stop? we'll be introducing you to the man who helped them make that decision, our special report, next. and former president carter says critics of president obama are racist. bill cosby apparently agrees with him. we'll hear what the naacp has to say about all of that.
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bill cosby is echoing charges that racism is at the heart of opposition to the obama administration policies. the firestorm start eed earlier this week when former president jimmy carter asserted that, in fact, opposition to the president's policies and to the president are rooted in racism. the president, however, himself disagrees with those claims but the controversy, of course, continues to rage. hillary shelton joins us now, the director of the naacp's washington bureau. he's the senior vice president for advocacy and policy. good to have you with us.
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>> it's great to be with you. >> this latest development that bill cosby has come out and agreed with jimmy carter on the issue of racism at the root of opposition to the president's policies, what's your reaction? >> i think he's absolutely right. in all too many cases if you look at the incidents that have occurred with president obama, even during the time he ran for president, the opposition to him speaking at a public school and then more recently being interrupted by congressman wilson, what you're seeing is in many ways racist tendencies and racially disparate attitude being played out to not even hear what he has to say. i would say jimmy carter and bill cosby are right on target when they talk about it this way. but we have to be careful how we talk about it because the kind of racism they're talking about is differently rooted than what we're used to in this country. we're used to the fire hoses, police dogs, people being locked up and beaten. but in this case we're seeing that very well even the power of
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ideas are stifled when you have an african-american serving in the role of president of the united states. >> now, let's get to that in a moment. let me deal with two things you said which i find interesting. one, you said that was an expression of racism when there was opposition to president obama speaking to school children. and i want to deal with that first because there was the same opposition but even more virulent if you will when george h.w. bush in 1981 wanted to do precisely the same thing. the democratic party called for investigations and indeed conducted hearings on the president for doing so. so how do you square those two things up? >> what we have is people wanted to stop him from actually speak agt all and accusing him of indoctrinating our children with socialist ideologies. very well concerns around president bush didn't play out quite the same way. i'd also go on to say that if we look at things like the decorum of congressman wilson in the u.s. congress, when the
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president of the united states goes to speak before a joint session of congress and actually gets interrupted with the word "liar" accusing him of, stopping him from speaking, what we have -- >> you're lying -- >> exactly. what we have is the disruption of the president playing out a traditional role. in the eight years of george bush i've never seen him interrupted while he addressed a joint session of congress. >> i think you're exactly right. >> nor di see it with anybody else. >> however i do think we have an analog and the senate majority leader himself, hilary saying george w. bush is a liar and a loser. subsequently he did apologize. but then only for calling him a loser. the decorum that you mention, i think by the way it was an absolute affront to the office of the president for congressman wilson to have said "you lie" in the midst of that joint se

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