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March 31st, 2008
05:48 PM ET

Record 28 million Americans on food stamps

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's a heart-breaking statistic. We tout ourselves as the richest country in the world. But the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million this year.

The New York Times reports this is the highest level since the food stamp program began in the nineteen sixties.

The number of recipients around the country who have near poverty incomes to qualify for the aid are staggering. Fourteen states have seen record increases in the number of people on food stamps just since last December. Among them, Michigan, where it's one in eight, West Virginia where it's one in six, and Ohio, where it's one in ten. Of the 50 states, 40 saw their numbers rise with several of them actually seeing increases of ten percent or more.

While the federal government is bailing out failing investment banks like Bear Stearns, an estimated two million people are looking at the possible loss of their homes through foreclosure. Last month the U.S. economy actually lost sixty three thousand jobs. While the cost of food is expected to go up by four percent this year, and the average cost of a gallon of gas is three dollars and twenty nine cents... almost a dollar more than it was a year ago. Some experts predict $4 a gallon gasoline this Spring.

Here’s my question to you: What’s the answer to a record 28 million Americans being on food stamps?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: US Economy
March 31st, 2008
04:59 PM ET

Iraq on the campaign trail

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Iraqi Madhi army militiamen dance as they stand near a burning Iraqi army vehicle after attacking it on March 30, 2008 in the city of Basra. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Iraq is back in the headlines and making its way back into the discussion on the campaign trail. A recent surge of violence in Baghdad and the southern city of Basra has revived the political debate over the war.

According to Iraqi officials, at least two hundred people were killed and another five hundred wounded just in Basra fighting since Tuesday. More than 100 were reported killed in Baghdad as of Sunday. This was the result of a U.S.-supported Iraqi effort to rid Shiite militias from the southern city of Basra.

The radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr called a truce yesterday between his Mahdi Army and Iraqi security forces. He wants concessions from the Iraqi government in return. And a curfew imposed by the government as a result of the fighting has been lifted for now. But the fighting could resume at any moment.

And the overriding question remains–is the surge in Iraq working? John McCain, who has staked his political fortunes on his support for the troop surge in Iraq, insists it is. He argues the recent uptick in violence is proof of the dangers of an early withdrawal of troops.

Senator Obama says the surge has decreased violence levels, but has not resolved the underlying tensions that exist in Iraq.

And Hillary Clinton says keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is a clear admission that the surge has failed.

Who is right?

Here’s my question to you: How will the recent violence in Iraq affect the campaigns of the presidential candidates?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Iraq
March 31st, 2008
01:54 PM ET

Bill Clinton tells Democrats to “chill out”

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Chill out. That's Former President Bill Clinton's advice to Democrats who think the race between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has gone on too long.

He says that letting all of the voters have their say will actually strengthen the party.

This comes on the heels of two senior senators, Patrick Leahy and Chris Dodd, themselves Obama supporters, calling for Hillary Clinton to pull out of the race - something she says she won't do.

Clinton told the Washington Post that she would take her campaign all the way to the convention floor if need be.

Barack Obama says that Clinton has every right to stay in the race as long as she wants to.

Meanwhile - Obama picked up an endorsement today from Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota... he's also expected to get the backing of North Carolina's seven Democratic house members. Party officials say that Klobuchar, like her colleague in the Senate, Bob Casey who endorsed Obama on Friday, had planned to remain neutral. Klobuchar is also a superdelegate whose vote could help decide the fate of the democratic race.

Another good sign for Obama is a new Gallup national tracking poll shows him with an eight point lead over Hillary Clinton, 51 to 43 percent. Over the weekend, Obama topped Clinton by ten points which was the first double digit lead that either candidate has had over the other since February when Clinton was leading Obama by 11 percentage points. A new pew poll out today also has Obama up by ten points.

Here’s my question to you: Bill Clinton says that Democrats need to "chill out" and let the election process play out. Is he right?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Bill Clinton • Democratic Race
March 28th, 2008
06:52 PM ET

Age a bigger factor in election than race, gender?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the Democrats sweat it out over how voters perceive race and gender in this election, maybe it's time for the Republicans to take a look at how Americans feel about electing a 71-year-old man.

If John McCain wins, he will be the oldest person ever to serve a first term as president. And a new survey out suggests that the public might have more doubts about voting for someone of McCain's age for president than they would for an African-American or a woman.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows 72% of those surveyed say voters are ready to elect a qualified black candidate, 18% say they're not. Meanwhile, 71% say Americans are ready to vote for a woman, 20% say they're not. But only 61% say the voters are prepared to vote for a person over 70, while 29% say they're not. Not exactly encouraging numbers for McCain and the Republicans.

Besides his age, McCain has had his share of health issues. He survived 5½ years as a POW in Vietnam, where he was badly mistreated. He's also been treated for melanoma – a potentially deadly form of skin cancer – four times in the last 15 years. But the Arizona senator is active and keeps up as tough a work schedule as any of the candidates out on the campaign trail.

Doctors say there's no reason McCain wouldn't be able to serve as president, although they point out that certain health risks – like heart disease and cancer – a can become bigger factors for people in their 70s.

McCain’s campaign plans to release details of his medical history next month.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to electability, is John McCain’s age a bigger factor than the Democratic candidates’ race or gender?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • John McCain
March 28th, 2008
06:02 PM ET

E-mail addiction a sign of mental illness?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Before you sit down to write in to the Cafferty File, think about this: sending excessive e-mails and text messages could be a sign of mental illness – and some of you are on the margin. An editorial in The American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that these obsessive-compulsive symptoms are now so common that they should be included in an industry manual on mental disorders.

Here's how to tell if you need help:

– Excessive use, which often goes along with a loss of any sense of time when you're online.

– Withdrawal, which includes feelings of anger, tension or depression when you can't get to a computer.

– The need for a better computer, more software and even more hours of use.

– And, negative repercussions, which can include arguments, lies, and social isolation all due to your time spent online.

In South Korea, which has the highest use of broadband internet worldwide, internet addiction is considered one of the most serious public health issues. The government estimates that more 210,000 children are affected and need treatment, and another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction. In China, it's believed that nearly 14% of adolescent internet users are addicted... that's 10 million Chinese youngsters.

So it comes as no surprise that there are now internet addiction clinics around the world. Experts say it's also become a more significant legal issue in criminal, divorce and employment cases.

Here’s my question to you: Is sending excessive e-mails and text messages a sign of mental illness?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
March 28th, 2008
05:08 PM ET

Can Pennsylvania Sen. Casey’s backing help Obama with working-class voters?

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Sen. Bob Casey announced his endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama at the Soldiers and Sailors Museum and Memorial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, today.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Jerry Reed had a big hit record a few years ago called, "When You're Hot, You're Hot." These days Barack Obama is hot, especially on Fridays.

Last Friday, just as the Reverend Wright story was threatening to engulf him, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson rode to the rescue with an endorsement of Obama that took Reverend Wright right off the front page. That was followed closely by the news that Hillary Clinton failed to tell the truth about her visit to Bosnia in 1996, portraying herself as someone in a James Bond movie ducking bullets and running for her life. All false.

Now as we approach the Pennsylvania primary in a few weeks, Senator Clinton had locked up all the endorsements that mattered in that state... until today.

Suddenly Senator Bob Casey who had vowed to remain neutral said, "I have changed my mind. I want you to vote for Barack Obama." Casey is just what the doctor ordered for Obama. His constituency is working-class Pennsylvania families – Clinton's strength and Obama's weakness.

'Tis the season of March madness, and every year it seems there is a Cinderella team that comes out of nowhere to make a real run at the national title. So far this year, Cinderella's name is Barack Obama.

Here’s my question to you: Can Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey’s endorsement help Barack Obama among working-class voters?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama
March 27th, 2008
05:54 PM ET

Should superdelegates back candidate with most pledged delegates?

 Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A group of high-profile Hillary Clinton supporters is going after Nancy Pelosi.

Nearly 20 Clinton donors sent a letter to the House Speaker, criticizing her for her recent suggestion that the Democratic superdelegates should not overturn the election results. Pelosi has said it would hurt the Democratic Party if the superdelegates did not support the candidate who ends the race with the most pledged delegates. The Clinton donors want Pelosi to "clarify" her position.

The letter says Pelosi's take is at odds with the party's original intent on the role of superdelegates, those nearly 800 party insiders and elected officials who will likely decide the outcome of this race. The Clinton donors insist the superdelegates should look at a whole range of factors to help them decide who will be the party's strongest nominee in November.

Pelosi hasn't endorsed either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Her office responded to this letter saying, "As chair of the convention, she is neutral and her position has remained the same throughout the primary season." She also repeated her position that the superdelegates should not "overturn the will of the voters."

The Obama campaign says the letter from Clinton donors is "inappropriate” and calls on the Clinton campaign to "reject the insinuation contained in it."

Here’s my question to you: Do you agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the superdelegates should support the candidate with the most pledged delegates?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
March 27th, 2008
05:03 PM ET

What does it mean if AT&T is having trouble finding skilled U.S. workers?

 Randall L.Stephenson, Chairman and CEO of AT&T.

Randall L.Stephenson, Chairman and CEO of AT&T.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The top U.S. phone company is having a hard time finding enough skilled American workers.

Say what? Reuters reports AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson says the company is coming up short in finding enough Americans capable of filling the 5,000 customer service jobs it promised to bring back to the U.S. from India.

So far, about 1,400 of those positions have been returned to the U.S. The company set a goal of 5,000 jobs back in 2006 and says it still plans to stick to that target. But they're not having much luck.

Stephenson is particularly worried about the state of education, pointing to some parts of the U.S. where the high school dropout rate is as high as 50%. He says: “If I had a business that half the product we turned out was defective or you couldn't put into the marketplace, I would shut that business down."

The U.S. economy lost 63,000 jobs last month, which was the largest cut in 5 years. And, if the American public isn't educated enough to handle customer service jobs at AT&T and probably thousands and thousands of others with all different kinds of employers, these companies will have little choice but to continue shipping jobs overseas.

Here’s my question to you: What does it suggest about the state of this country when AT&T says it’s having a hard time finding enough skilled American workers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
March 27th, 2008
02:06 PM ET

Clinton receives lowest positive rating since ’01?

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Sen. Hillary Clinton takes the stage with her daughter Chelsea before speaking at a fundraising event in Washington on Wednesday. Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Hillary Clinton is taking a hit when it comes to how Americans view her.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton receiving the lowest "positive" rating in this survey since March of 2001.

Only 37% of those surveyed say they have a positive view of Clinton compared to 48% who give her a negative rating. That's an 8 point drop in her positive rating in just the last two weeks.

Also, for the first time, this poll shows there are more women who have negative views of Clinton than positive, 44% to 42%.

As for Barack Obama, he gets a 49% positive rating and a 32% negative rating. One Democratic pollster calls this poll a "myth-buster", because it shows the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy is quote "not the beginning of the end for the Obama campaign."

When asked which candidate can best unite the country, Obama comes out on top with 60% compared to 58% for the Republican John McCain and 46% for Clinton.

Overall, these poll numbers suggest that the negativity of the Democratic battle for the nomination seems to be hurting Clinton more than Obama.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if after all the campaigning Hillary Clinton's positive rating is the lowest it has been since 2001?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Democratic Race • Hillary Clinton
March 26th, 2008
05:47 PM ET

Should military be allowed to tell its story in public schools?

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A wedding photograph of a US soldier affixed to the inside of his helmet from Ghostrider Company 3rd Squadron 2nd Stryker in Diyala Province, Baghdad, in March 2008. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Forest Lake Area High School in Minnesota was all set to have some veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come and talk to the students.

The event was billed as an academic classroom discussion around military service – teach the kids about military service in the context of their history classes. But suddenly the veterans were told, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Forest Lake Area High School principal Steve Massey said there were concerns the event was becoming political, instead of educational and that made it inappropriate for a public school. Translation: Massey got some calls from parents who complained, he buckled, and canceled the appearance by the veterans. The Star Tribune newspaper reports some parents had threatened to stage a protest if the visit by the soldiers went forward.

The visit was sponsored by "Vets for Freedom", a nonpartisan group whose mission is to educate the public about the importance of achieving success in Iraq and Afghanistan. The head of the organization, who graduated from Forest Lake Area High School and served in Iraq, calls it "extremely unfortunate" that a school would bow to political pressure and not bring in a veterans organization.

One education expert suggests what happened in Minnesota might be just the tip of the iceberg in this long political year. He recommends that schools still tackle tough subjects, but invite opposing groups to speak out on each issue.

Here’s my question to you: Should the military be allowed to tell its story in public schools?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
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