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April 27th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

What about Pres. Obama's second 100 days?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The consensus is that President Obama's first 100 days in office have been very successful. But the outlook for the next 100 days may not be nearly as rosy. The president's first three months in office focused, among other things, on the economy, reaching out to world leaders and winding down operations in Iraq while ramping them up in Afghanistan.

But despite job approval ratings of about 65 percent - not exactly chopped liver - there is criticism. Conservatives say President Obama hasn't worked for real bipartisanship, while some Democrats are worried about bailouts of big financial institutions and car companies as well as with his plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

CNN's John King points to three things that could trip up the president in the days to come: First, he's perceived as a liberal, which is often a liability in U.S. politics. Nearly 4 in 10 Americans think Mr. Obama is trying to do too much at once; and if there are major setbacks, the risk is voters will question his leadership and governing skills.

In the next 100 days - look for some new issues to take center stage, including the president's push for health care reform along with energy and environmental proposals. It's yet to be seen if the American public will back Mr. Obama's push for more government intervention in these areas. But if the current poll numbers are any indication, Mr. Obama's honeymoon is far from being over.

Here’s my question to you: How are President Obama's second 100 days likely to be different from the first?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: President Barack Obama
April 24th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

New law for your state's constitution?

There's a growing chorus of voices in California who think it's time to rip up the state constitution and start all over. Support for a proposed constitutional convention - once considered nothing more than a gimmick - has been building.

Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger supports amending his state constitution so government can run more smoothly.

Even Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he would back an effort to change the document so the state's government could function more smoothly.

California's constitution - which has been amended more than 500 times - is one of the longest and most complicated in the world. Supporters of a constitutional convention want to put a proposal on the November 2010 ballot that would focus the convention on a few key issues - like budget reform, open primaries, and allowing local governments to collect and spend tax revenues - instead of the state. It would not include controversial social issues like gay marriage.

One supporter insists California needs to change its constitution because the state is in crisis. He points to serious issues with education, the transit network, the water supply and an overflowing prison system.

But critics claim this is all just a ruse to raise taxes; and could open up the constitution to changes driven by special interest groups. One expert says it's reasonable for voters to be scared of the prospect: "Once you open it up, you don't know where it's going to go."

Here’s my question to you: What new law would you add to your state's constitution?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
April 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Mistake for some in GOP to call Democrats 'Socialists'?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It seems like some Republicans still haven't realized that they lost big-time last November because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. And here's Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as Socialists.

Some RNC members argue Pres. Obama wants to restructure U.S. society upon socialist ideals.

Politico reports RNC member James Bopp, Jr. of Indiana is accusing President Obama of wanting to restructure American society along socialist ideals, saying: "Just as President Reagan's identification of the Soviet Union as the evil 'empire' galvanized opposition to Communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to Socialism."

16 RNC members agreed to the resolution and are petitioning Chairman Michael Steele to set a special meeting to consider it. An RNC spokesman wouldn't say what Steele thinks about all this, but a memo from earlier this month suggests that while he agrees with hardliners who say the president is leading the country toward socialism, he's probably not going to make it official party policy.

And it's not just Democrats who they're after - Bopp also wanted to criticize the three Republicans who supported the stimulus package: Senators Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. But that effort was apparently watered down - the resolution instead praises those in the party who have opposed bailouts and Democratic spending plans.

Several Republicans threw around the "socialist" label during last year's campaign; and more recently Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama claimed there were 17 socialists in Congress. None of this seems like the best way for the party to attract voters.

Here’s my question to you: Is it a mistake for some Republicans to try and brand Democrats as 'Socialists'?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Democrats • GOP
April 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Will Bush officials ever be prosecuted for 'enhanced interrogation' program?

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Bush Administration officials such as Nat'l. Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, CIA Dir. George Tenet, and VP Dick Cheney approved the use of harsh interrogation methods.(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The torture debate continues to heat up in Washington; with President Obama and top Senate Democrats pushing back against the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration's approval of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Some Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for an independent panel - like the 9/11 commission - to look into waterboarding and other harsh techniques.

But the president says a special inquiry would take away time and energy from his policy agenda, and could end up being a distraction looking back on the Bush years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backed the president, saying everyone should wait for the results of an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee due out late this year.

Yet it's unclear how much of that panel's findings will ever be made public, since this is an investigation dealing mostly with classified information.

Meanwhile a new Senate report shows that top Bush administration officials approved the use of waterboarding as early as 2002 and 2003 - the harsh methods were approved by the likes of then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, CIA Director George Tenet, and Vice President Dick Cheney. Maybe that's one reason we're hearing so much from Cheney these days.

And expect for more of this stuff to keep dripping out... The ACLU says that the Defense Department will soon release "a substantial number" of photos showing abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan; these could prove that prisoner abuse during the Bush administration was widespread and reached far beyond Abu Ghraib.

Here’s my question to you: Will Bush administration officials who authorized and oversaw the enhanced interrogation program ever be prosecuted?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Bush Administration
April 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should 17-year-olds get "morning-after" pill without prescription?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

17-year-old girls will soon be able to buy the so-called morning-after pill without a doctor's prescription - and for that matter without their parents' knowledge or permission. The emergency contraceptive is currently available to women 18 and older, but the FDA says it will soon be available to 17-year-olds as well.

Plan B, also called the morning-after pill, is intended to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

The agency decided to accept a recent ruling from a federal judge that lifts Bush-era restrictions limiting over-the-counter sales of Plan B to women. The judge also directed the FDA to determine whether all age restrictions should be lifted.

Plan B - or the morning after pill - is emergency contraception that contains a high dose of birth control drugs. It's a series of two pills; and if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can reduce the chances of a pregnancy by almost 90 percent.

Women's groups say the decision is long overdue; and "a strong statement to American women that their health comes before politics." Supporters also say the pill is safe and effective and could help reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies.

But critics - many of them conservatives - say parents should be furious at this decision as it steps on their rights. Some also say the drug - which they liken to an abortion pill - will encourage promiscuity.

The debate over the morning-after pill has been going on for years. Critics of the FDA say the agency has refused to listen to scientists who have recommended that the drug be made available with no restrictions.

Here's my question to you: Should 17-year-olds be able to get the "morning-after" pill without a doctor's prescription?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health • Health care
April 23rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Recession means more abandoned pets

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Lola the cat reaches under her enclosure at the Sacramento SPCA. Lola was surrendered to the shelter back in February when her owner’s home was foreclosed upon. (PHOTO CREDIT: David Paul Morris/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With all the stories about the bad economy, here's something you probably haven't heard about:

The Detroit News reports an unprecedented number of abandoned cats and dogs being left behind in foreclosed homes, in dumpsters and in parking lots all around the city. Meanwhile more people who bring their pets to shelters are saying they've lost their jobs and can't afford to care for them. Or, after losing their homes, they're moving to apartments that don't allow pets.

And it's not just Michigan. The American Humane Association estimates that with 8,000 houses going into foreclosure every day, between 15,000 and 26,000 animals are in danger of losing their homes daily.

A recent national survey by petfinder.com finds that 84 percent of shelters and rescue groups are caring for more pets because of the economy; and as you might expect, 37 percent of them report seeing a decrease in pet adoptions in the last year.

Some shelters are trying to help people keep their pets by creating pet food assistance programs. There are groups donating pet food to seniors - some of whom had been feeding delivered meals meant for them to their pets.

Animal groups encourage people who have lost their homes to take time to plan for their pet; to try and find an apartment that will accept animals and not just leave them behind to fend for themselves. They can't.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the recession, what can be done about the growing number of abandoned pets?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession
April 23rd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Does anybody care what Dick Cheney thinks anymore?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Dick Cheney is at it again. This time the former vice president is criticizing Pres. Barack Obama on the economy. Cheney tells the F-word network that the president's expansion of the federal government into the financial sector is likely to have "devastating" long-term effects.

He says he's "very concerned" about where the Obama administration is taking the country economically. Cheney adds that there doesn't seem to be any kind of limits on spending - this coming from a member of the administration that more than doubled the national debt in eight years and gave $700 billion to Wall Street with virtually no questions asked.

Cheney said beyond growing deficits, he questions if the White House is redefining the relationship between government and the private sector. These comments are just the latest in a string of criticism aimed at the sitting president.

Cheney has previously questioned Mr. Obama's national security policies, saying the president is increasing the risk of another terror attack. And he's also been very vocal in the debate over those Bush era interrogation memos.

Obama aides say the former vice president is out of line in his role as an elder statesman; but Cheney disputes that, saying he hasn't been personal in his criticisms and he thinks these issues are too important not to speak out.

Note to the former vice president: you and your friends had eight years to run the country... and lots of people think you botched it up pretty good. Now it's President Obama's turn.

Here’s my question to you: Does anybody care what Dick Cheney thinks anymore?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Dick Cheney
April 22nd, 2009
05:35 PM ET

Greater threat: big government or big business?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A majority of Americans see big government as a greater threat than big business... A new Gallup poll shows 55 percent of those surveyed are concerned about big government; but that number is down from 61 percent in 2006.

Meanwhile 32 percent of Americans say they're worried about big business; and that number is up from 25 percent three years ago. Only 10 percent view big labor as the greatest threat; that number hasn't changed much since 2006.

The poll also shows partisan differences. No big surprise here... More Republicans now view big government as the most significant threat to the country than did 3 years ago. And the same goes for Democrats who see big business as a bigger threat. Independents' views didn't change much over this time. More of them say they're concerned about big government.

Gallup suggests these numbers show that the change in administrations from Republican to Democrat - along with the government's actions to stabilize failing companies and try to right the economy - have not caused the fear of big government to grow beyond what it was last year.

Meanwhile failing banks, CEOs that jet around on corporate planes to beg Congress for handouts, and companies that blow taxpayer money on things like bonuses and lavish parties without a second thought... these have probably not helped the image of big business.

Here’s my question to you: Which is a greater threat: big government or big business?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
April 22nd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

OK to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" if they worked?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama's national intelligence director says that Bush-era interrogation techniques - which many call torture - may have worked. Dennis Blair wrote in an internal memo: "High-value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

Nat’l. Intelligence Director David Blair says interrogation techniques have hurt America's image; and the damage they've done outweighs any benefits.

Blair added that he'd like to think he wouldn't have approved such methods in the past, but doesn't fault the people who made the decisions at the time and will defend those who carried out orders they were given.

He says the information gathered was valuable in some cases, but there's no way of knowing whether they could have found out the same things using other methods. Blair says the bottom line is that these techniques have hurt America's image around the world... and the damage they've done has outweighed any benefits.

Former Bush officials have argued the interrogations were an important part of the war on terror. Former CIA director Michael Hayden says the use of these techniques "made us safer." Former Vice President Dick Cheney agrees and says he's asked the CIA to declassify memos showing what was gained from harsh interrogations.

Just yesterday, President Obama left open the possibility of criminal prosecution for former Bush administration officials who authorized this stuff. But he continues to insist that CIA officers who carried out the interrogations shouldn't be prosecuted.

Meanwhile a new Senate report shows senior Bush officials authorized aggressive interrogation techniques - like waterboarding and forced nudity - despite concerns from military psychologists and lawyers.

Here’s my question to you: If so-called "enhanced interrogation" techniques yielded results, does that make them okay to use?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
April 22nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama's biggest accomplishment in first 100 days?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A week from today will mark President Barack Obama's 100th day in office. And whether you agree with him or not - it's fair to say that the president has been one busy guy. According to one report - a top White House aide says of the 100-day marker: "This isn't Biblical. You don't do 100 days and rest," but acknowledges that President Obama's first 100 days have been the most productive since FDR's.

First 100 Days: What has been President Obama's greatest accomplishment?

Here's only some of what's been on the president's plate:

– When it comes to the economy: the passage of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, the bank bailout plan and housing recovery measures.

– Setting a fixed timetable for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and ordering an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.

– Ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison and ending the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques."

– Lifting President Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

– Meeting with leaders around the world, promising a new era of American leadership and cooperation.

And there's no indication Mr. Obama plans to slow down any time soon. The White House often speaks of his top goals of reviving the economy, health care and energy. And then there's education, immigration, tax reform. and on and on...

But some wonder if by trying to do so much, the president could wind up accomplishing little.

Here’s my question to you: As he prepares to mark his first 100 days in office, what has been President Obama's greatest accomplishment?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
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