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June 30th, 2008
02:40 PM ET

Was the Iraq war about oil all along?

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Iraqi flags flutter at a new oil refinery plant in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, central Iraq. Click the Play Button to see what jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to the real reason for the Iraq war, we've pretty much heard it all: First it was WMD, then it was about the war on terror and removing Saddam Hussein, then it was about spreading democracy. But it was never about the oil.

Now, as Bill Moyers reported on PBS: "...one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be ... the bottom line. It is about oil."

More than 5 years after the start of the war, the U.S. has lost more than 4,100 troops, tens of thousands more are wounded for life, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead, millions more are displaced, and the U-S taxpayer is stuck with a bill that could top trillions of dollars. And, what about the oil? Well, it hit a new record high today of more than $143 a barrel. Gas prices are up almost 38% from a year ago.

The New York Times reports that the Bush administration played a key role in drawing up no-bid contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq. Critics accuse the administration of making sure Western companies get this access in the country that holds the third-largest oil reserves in the world. For example, Russian companies with experience in Iraq were hoping for contracts, but they're still waiting.

The White House denies steering the Iraqis toward any decisions. A State Department official says its advice was "not binding."

Here’s my question to you: Do you believe the Iraq war was about oil all along?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Oil Prices • War in Iraq
June 30th, 2008
02:30 PM ET

McCain's military credentials overrated?

 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:

John McCain's military service doesn't automatically qualify him to be president according to retired General Wesley Clark.

General Clark is a former NATO commander who backed Hillary Clinton and now supports Barack Obama. He says that performing heroic military acts is not a substitute for command experience. Clark says he honors McCain's service as a POW, and calls him a hero. He credits McCain's time on the Senate Armed Services Committee and his travel worldwide, but he points out that John McCain hasn't held executive responsibility. General Clark says, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

McCain was more than just a fighter pilot, though. After being a POW, he went on to become the commanding officer of the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy.

McCain's campaign responded, saying Obama doesn't stand for a new kind of politics, that he's willing to do and say anything to get elected - including allowing his surrogates to "demean and attack" McCain's military record.

Barack Obama has formally rejected Clark's comments, with a spokesman adding that Obama "honors and respects" McCain's service.

But, Clark isn't the only one. The Politico reports that John McCain is coming under fire about his military service from critics on the left and right. Some accuse him of war crimes for bombing targets in Hanoi during the '60s. One liberal blog is accusing McCain of "disloyalty" during his time as a POW since he participated in Vietnamese propaganda films and interviews. Others are asking for more detailed records from McCain's Navy service.

Here’s my question to you: Are John McCain's military credentials overrated?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: John McCain
June 30th, 2008
02:23 PM ET

If Iran is attacked, should the U.S. or Israel do it?

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Balloons in the colors of the Iranian flag read anti-US and anti-Israel slogans as Iranians take part in a rally to mark the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Tehran. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Time is apparently running out to do something about Iran's nuclear program.

In the latest issue of New Yorker, Sy Hersh reports the U.S. has stepped up covert operations inside that country–everything from spying on Iran's nuclear program to supporting rebel groups opposed to the country's ruling clerics.

Meanwhile, a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, tells London's Sunday Telegraph that Iran may have a nuclear weapon within a year. And he says there's no doubt Iran intends to use it once it gets it. He says the time is getting shorter for Israel to act.

Unlike the U.S., which has spent more than 5 years looking for Osama bin Laden and invading Iraq and not succeeding at either, the Israelis tend not to mess around.

Ask Syria. Last year an Israeli airstrike reportedly targeted a partially built Syrian nuclear reactor. Ask Iraq. In 1981, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor in Baghdad, saying they thought it was making nuclear weapons to destroy Israel.

While the international community, led by President Bush, continues to bluster and sanction and threaten, Iran continues its relentless march toward nuclear weapons.

There's a lot of stuff the civilized world doesn't want to deal with. Iran having nuclear weapons would be somewhere near the very top of the list. Unless they have a change of heart – a la North Korea – it looks more and more like Iran is going all in. And it's going to be up to somebody in the west to decide whether or not to call.

Here’s my question to you: If Iran is attacked, who should do it: the United States or Israel?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Israel • United State of America
June 27th, 2008
04:55 PM ET

Will future of Supreme Court weigh on your vote for prez?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's no shortage of issues concerning Americans when it comes to their vote for president in November: the economy, skyrocketing gas prices, Iraq, health care, and more.

But perhaps as important as any of these is the future of the Supreme Court of the United States. In recent weeks, the high court has made some key and often close 5-4 decisions. These include the reversal of the handgun ban in Washington, outlawing the death penalty for child rapists... and upholding the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to appeal in U-S courts.

All of this serves as a reminder that the next president – be it Barack Obama or John McCain – could have a significant role to play in the make-up of the court perhaps for decades to come.

The Boston Globe reports that legal analysts say the court will likely have at least one vacancy in the next administration, and it could well be more than that.

The oldest justice is 88 and two others are in their 70s. And since the court is now split between 4 liberal and 4 conservative members with Justice Anthony Kennedy often as the deciding vote – even one vacancy could mean a big change. One expert suggests McCain could have more influence to swing the court if he becomes president because two of the oldest justices – John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg – are part of the liberal bloc. Antonin Scalia is the only member of the conservative bloc who is older than 60.

Both Obama and McCain have attacked the other for the kind of justices they would appoint. But somehow despite the intensity of our politics, our Supreme Court has remained comprised of justices who are fair-minded and dedicated to upholding the law. Most of the time.

Here’s my question to you: How much will the future of the Supreme Court matter in your vote for president?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Supreme Court
June 27th, 2008
03:44 PM ET

How united are Obama and Clinton?

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Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Today's rally with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Unity, New Hampshire, was the latest in a series of staged events designed to show that all is forgiven between two former rivals for the Democratic nomination. Like a children's fairy tale... if it doesn't have a happy ending, it won't sell.

Yesterday, Clinton praised Obama in front of two major interest groups that had supported her in the primaries. And the two Democrats appeared before a group of Clinton's top donors last night. Clinton told supporters that Democrats "are a family" and Obama hailed Clinton and her backers, for their passion. Both Obama and his wife Michelle gave the maximum $2,300 to help Clinton retire her debt.

But how close-knit is this family really? The fact is each is forced to rely on the other as the general election ramps up. Obama needs Clinton to help convince her supporters to vote for him in November. And Clinton needs help in paying down her campaign debt, plus she wants to know that she'll be treated as a top surrogate throughout the campaign and at the convention.

Fine, but there are sticking points. Aides describe the relationship as one that's "slowly thawing" with a lot of unanswered questions. As we told you in the Cafferty File yesterday – they're reportedly using a high-powered Washington attorney to negotiate some of these issues.

And then there's Bill. The former president and Obama have not spoken since Obama wrapped up the nomination. Wouldn't you think the last sitting Democratic president might want to talk to the party's presumptive nominee? There may be less here than meets the eye.

Here’s my question to you: How united do you think Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton really are?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • New Hampshire • Unity
June 27th, 2008
02:50 PM ET

How would you retire if you were Bill Gates?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Bill Gates is walking off into the sunset... well, kind of.

Today marks his last day as a full-time worker at Microsoft, the software giant he co-founded more than 30 years ago. At 52, Gates isn't totally retiring. He'll still put in one day a week at the company and will remain Microsoft's chairman and its largest shareholder.

But, Gates plans to spend more time working on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's the richest philanthropy in the world and is focused on global health and education.

Not too shabby for the Harvard dropout, who was the richest person in the world for years. Gates was worth more than $100 billion in 1999, although he's "only" worth about half of that now because of the drop in Microsoft's shares along with donations to his foundation.

Gates leaves behind an amazing legacy – he's been known as the company's genius programmer, its technology guru, its primary decision maker and its ruthless leader. He figured out how to turn software into a moneymaking industry, and in the process it's safe to say he has changed the world forever.

Consider this: there are more than 1 billion copies of Microsoft Windows operating on PCs around the world.

It's probably safe to say you won't find Bill Gates living a run-of-the-mill retirement at some old-age home in Florida, playing shuffle board and dining on early bird specials.

Here’s my question to you: If you were Bill Gates, how would you spend your retirement?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Bill Gates
June 26th, 2008
05:52 PM ET

Obama supports death penalty for child rapists

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There was a moment yesterday during his news conference when Barack Obama could have made a huge mistake. But in the end his political instincts proved much keener than those of Michael Dukakis a few years ago.

When asked about the Supreme Court decision on the death penalty for child rapists, Obama came down on the side of the conservative minority. He criticized the high court's 5-4 decision to outlaw the death penalty for people who rape children.

Obama insisted that the death penalty should be applied quote "in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes”, which he says includes the rape of a small child. He believes states should have the right to consider capital punishment in such cases.

The moment when he was asked about it brought back memories of something similar that tripped up Dukakis during his run for president in 1988, and perhaps doomed his candidacy. Dukakis was asked at a debate if the death penalty would be appropriate if his wife was raped and murdered. He answered no, without any emotion or passion. Dukakis was ridiculed, Republicans used it against him and George Bush went on to win in landslide.

Obama has 2 daughters, who are 7 and 9, and he has long supported the death penalty while criticizing the way it's used at times. As a state lawmaker in Illinois, he helped to change the death penalty system in an effort to protect against innocent people being put to death.

Here’s my question to you: Barack Obama condemned the Supreme Court decision outlawing the death penalty for people who rape children. How will this affect his campaign?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Supreme Court
June 26th, 2008
02:20 PM ET

Hillary Clinton's role at the convention?

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Sen. Clinton will introduce some of her top donors to Sen. Obama on Thursday night in Washington, and on Friday the two of them will appear together at a rally in Unity, N.H. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

After a rough and tumble primary season, the Democrats are now hard at work trying to heal the wounds.

The New York Times reports that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are working their way through a stack of complicated issues with the help of one of Washington's top lawyers - sort of like a couple in a troubled marriage going through counseling.

On the table are topics like how to repay Clinton's campaign debt and what her role should be at the Democratic convention. Aides say no one has raised the issues yet of a potential V.P. slot for Hillary, or what to do about Bill Clinton.

When it comes to Clinton's debt – which is estimated at more than $22 million, including $10 million of her own money – Obama has asked his big-dollar fund-raisers to help her out. However, he says he's not going to e-mail his small-dollar donors to pitch in since "their budgets are tighter." Some Clinton backers are disappointed that Obama hasn't made the symbolic move of writing Clinton a check for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Others think Obama hasn't made much of an effort to hire Clinton staffers.

As for the convention, the two sides are negotiating which night Clinton should make a prime-time speech and if her name should be symbolically put into nomination. The talks have been described as complicated, but not hostile.

Meanwhile, Clinton and Obama will have a joint meeting with some of her top donors tonight in Washington and tomorrow the two will appear together at a rally in Unity, New Hampshire.

Here’s my question to you: What should Hillary Clinton's role be at the Democratic convention?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

June 26th, 2008
02:14 PM ET

Become president without campaigning on weekends?

 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:

Turns out John McCain doesn't work weekends...sort of.

The Politico reports that McCain has held only one public campaign event on a weekend since wrapping up the Republican nomination in February, more than 4 months ago.

McCain aides say he uses time on the weekends to return to Arizona so he can rest, work on policy and meet with aides. McCain has also hosted reporters and donors over the weekends, appeared on Saturday Night Live and visited troops in Iraq and at Walter Reed. His advisers say McCain will campaign on weekends for a lot of the summer, including a speech in Washington and a fundraiser in Kentucky both on Saturday.

Nevertheless it's a topic that raises some eyebrows, particularly because of McCain's age. Political experts suggest that the decision to not campaign on weekends was not the best use of the extra time McCain had when the Democrats were still going after one another. Ed Rollins – who ran Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign – says it's easier to draw big crowds on weekends when people aren't working. Rollins says McCain could have used the time to go to less populated areas and "rejuvenate" the Republican base.

His defenders point out that it's such a bad environment for Republicans right now that McCain could have exhausted himself and not had much to show for it.

Barack Obama has made 7 weekend appearances this month alone.

Here’s my question to you: Can a candidate be elected president without campaigning on weekends?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election
June 25th, 2008
05:20 PM ET

Are gas prices changing your life?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The market is beginning to do what no politician can. As we head into the summer driving season, rising gasoline prices are cramping the style of many Americans.

With the average price holding steady above $4 a gallon, demand for gasoline fell 2.7% last week compared to the same week one year ago. A MasterCard report says it's also the ninth consecutive week of declines compared to 2007.

The New York Times reports rising energy costs are forcing many Americans to reconsider life in the suburbs, now that commuting as well as heating and cooling their homes is becoming more and more expensive.

In the 1950s, we began fleeing the hustle and bustle of the cities for the peace and tranquility of the suburbs. But energy costs threaten to reverse this 50-year pattern. Analysts say that in cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes outside the urban center have been falling in value faster than those within it.

Economists and real estate agents believe that skyrocketing energy costs are a top reason why home prices continue to decline in the suburbs. In fact, a recent survey found that more than 75% of home buyers would rather live in a city because of fuel prices.

The bottom line is millions of Americans just can't afford to drive as much. The government found that in March, Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles than in the same month of 2007 – that's the largest one-month drop since they started keeping track of this stuff.

Here’s my question to you: How are gasoline prices changing your life?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Gas Prices
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