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July 28th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should Obama meet with Prof. Gates and Officer Crowley?

ALT TEXT

Pres. Obama has invited Sgt. James Crowley (left) and Prof. Henry Louis Gates (right) to the White House Thursday evening. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

After the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates spiraled into a national debate about race, President Obama is hoping to take things down a notch with a casual meeting at the White House.

The president is scheduled to meet Thursday evening with Professor Gates and the arresting officer - Sgt. James Crowley. The White House says the meeting - which is set to happen at a picnic table outside the Oval Office - is about "having a beer and de-escalation."

It's clearly to the president's advantage if he can take the heat away from this story, get it out of the news, and let the focus return to his priority of health care reform.

Mr. Obama has said he hopes the incident in Cambridge can end up being a "teachable moment" for the country. The president acknowledged that he contributed to the whole incident by saying the police "acted stupidly" without knowing all the facts in the case.

Gates initially called himself the victim of a rogue officer and made allegations of racism; although Friday he said he looks forward to meeting with the president and Crowley. Gates says he hopes this moment can help improve racial relations.

Crowley, who has taught a course on racial profiling for years, stands by his actions; and Cambridge police - who had called on President Obama to apologize - have praised Crowley.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama meet at the White House with Professor Gates and Officer Crowley?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
July 27th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How can U.S. prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. will do everything it can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is futile.

The tough talk comes after Clinton annoyed Israel last week when she said the U.S. would cope with a nuclear Iran by arming allies in the region and extending a "defense umbrella." Israel said the U.S. should focus on stopping Iran from getting a weapon, instead of acting like it's a done deal.

Iran insists they are enriching uranium for energy. A lot of people think they're lying.

Meanwhile the U.S. is trying to convince Israel that diplomatic efforts with Iran are worthwhile. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates - who met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today - says the U.S. hopes to make progress with Iran by September.

President Obama has warned Tehran that it has until the end of the year to show serious progress toward ending its nuclear program.

According to Netanyahu, Gates said the U.S. and Israel see eye-to-eye when it comes to Iran's nuclear threat. Netanyahu stresses "the need to use all means" to stop Iran from getting a weapon. Other Israeli officials have also said that "no option should be removed from the table."

The U.S. is worried that if Israel goes ahead with a pre-emptive strike against Iran - it could create even more problems in the Middle East.

Here’s my question to you: How can the U.S. prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • United States
July 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How can Obama regain momentum on health care reform?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Health care reform took a serious hit last week; and the White House is going to need to find a way to get things back on track. Despite President Obama's lofty rhetoric and flowery speeches, divisions within the Democratic party are threatening to derail the centerpiece of his presidency.

The Senate won't be taking action until the fall; and it's not clear whether the House will act before its August break either.

The president also made matters worse by wading into the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates at his prime-time news conference. That put much of the focus during the later part of the week on racial issues - instead of health care.

More bad news for the president has come from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO estimates the health care plan supported by the White House would save almost no money over 10 years. They're talking about an outside panel that would decide what treatments would and would not be covered by Medicare.

Finally, most Americans are not in that big a rush to get health care passed.

A Gallup Poll shows that less than half of those surveyed - 41-percent - say health care reform needs to be passed this year. 30-percent say it should be done, but not necessarily this year... and 24-percent say there shouldn't be health care reform at all.

Here’s my question to you: What can President Obama do to regain momentum on health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • President Barack Obama
July 27th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Has Palin been treated unfairly by news media?

ALT TEXT

Sarah Palin delivered her farewell speech as she officially resigned during the annual Governor's Picnic at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. (PHOTO CREDIT: ERIC ENGMAN/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While stepping down as Governor of Alaska - Sarah Palin is blasting many who she sees as critics, including the news media.

In the kind of speech only Palin can give, she said freedom of the press was an important right... and one that soldiers have died to protect... adding, "So, how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up."

Palin also said, "Our new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone."

The former governor didn't elaborate on her criticism of the media... but in the past she's talked about her and her family being unfairly treated by reporters and bloggers. However, she didn't seem to have a problem with the media when she was using her family to try to get elected last fall.

Palin also criticized so-called Hollywood starlets who are active against gun rights, along with the "partisan operatives" who filed ethics complaints against her. She even went after one undefined group who she said, "seem to just be hell-bent on maybe tearing down our nation, perpetuating some pessimism and suggesting American apologetics." ... Say what?

As for Palin's future - she's being equally vague... Concluding yesterday's campaign style speech by saying only: "Let's all enjoy the ride."

Palin has plans to write a book and campaign for other Republicans. Some think she'll end up hosting a radio or TV show or hit the speaker's circuit. Others say Palin has her eye on the White House in 2012.

Here’s my question to you: Has Sarah Palin been treated unfairly by the news media?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: News Media • Sarah Palin
July 24th, 2009
05:44 PM ET

Is Palin still relevant?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gets ready to quit Sunday and become former Alaska governor - a new poll might put a damper on her future political plans.

The Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows 53-percent of Americans view Palin negatively, while only 40-percent see her in positive terms - the lowest level in this poll since she was tapped as the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Palin is one of the most polarizing figures in modern politics. She is still quite popular among members of her own party: 70-percent of Republicans view her in a positive light - but that number is down from pre-election levels. More importantly she has also lost ground among white evangelicals - the base of the Republican party.

Here's some more...

57-percent of those surveyed say Palin doesn't understand complex issues. What's wrong with the other 43-percent? I guess they didn't see the Katie Couric interviews.

47-percent say Palin understands problems of people like them...

And only 40-percent say she is a strong leader.

Sarah Palin - who is leaving office about 18-months early - says she plans to campaign for Republican candidates. A lot of people think she has her eye on a White House run in 2012 - yet this poll shows Palin running third behind Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents.

Sarah Palin has also been in the spotlight since last fall's election for other reasons - including ongoing ethics charges and public family feuds.

Here’s my question to you: Is Sarah Palin still relevant?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sarah Palin
July 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should Obama apologize for saying cops acted "stupidly" in Gates arrest?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Cambridge cops want an apology from the President of the United States for saying the police "acted stupidly" in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

They didn't get one today – but they got something:

The president made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room today... saying he spoke with the arresting officer and that he didn't mean to malign the police department. But he stopped short of apologizing.

This was a local story that likely would have gone away in a day or two... until President Obama got involved.

Mr. Obama criticized the arrest of Gates even though he admitted he didn't know all the facts. The first black president also talked about how blacks and Hispanics are still unfairly singled out for arrest.

Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct - when police responded to a possible break-in at his home. They say Gates at first refused to display ID... and then accused the officer of racism.

Turns out the arresting officer Sgt. James Crowley - who stands by his actions - taught a racial profiling course for five-years. The commissioner of the Cambridge police department says Crowley's actions were not racially motivated.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police says it's "critically important" to have all the facts on any police matter before making a public statement. And Republicans say Mr. Obama wasn't acting "presidential" by rushing to judgment.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama apologize for saying Cambridge police acted "stupidly" in the Gates arrest?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

July 24th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Will you contact your congressional reps about health care during the recess?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Keep on your members of Congress, keep up the heat. We've got to get this done." So says President Obama. But while the president calls on Americans to pressure their lawmakers on health care reform - it seems like many members of Congress are in no rush.

They're going on vacation for four weeks and then may or may not finish their work on this.

Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said his chamber won't vote on the legislation until after the August recess, look for the legislation that the president wanted fast-tracked to move to the slow lane.

Reid says slowing things down may be the right way to go now - instead of trying to jam something through. The main reason for the delay in the Senate is the finance committee - which is trying to come up with a bipartisan bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says they'll take the bill to the floor "when it is ready"... and at that point, she insists they'll have the votes to pass it. But moderate and conservative Democrats there continue to voice complaints about cost - among other things.

Meanwhile one of the president's top Republican critics, Senator Jim DeMint, is echoing Mr. Obama. DeMint - who said stopping the president on health care would be his Waterloo - is calling on voters to connect with their representatives and "let them know that Washington shouldn't make their families' health care decisions."

Here’s my question to you: Do you plan to contact your congressional representatives about health care during the August recess?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Health care
July 23rd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Did Wall St. learn from last year's meltdown?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Only months after being bailed out by billions of our taxpayer dollars... Wall Street is on track to pay employees even more than it did before the financial meltdown.

The Washington Post reports that so far this year the top 6 banks have set aside 74 billion dollars to pay employees - that's up from 60 billion dollars at this time last year - before the bottom fell out.

Washington is up in arms over this... with lawmakers blasting these financial institutions for going back to old habits. They are also promising to pass legislation to increase oversight on Wall Street pay days.

In last night's press conference - President Obama said Wall Street hasn't changed its behavior yet, saying: "I'd like to think that people would feel a little remorse and feel embarrassed and would not get million-dollar or multimillion-dollar bonuses."

All six of the top U.S. banks got federal bailout money last year. Three of them - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase - have since returned those funds. Yet - they still benefit from other emergency federal programs.

All of these banks - except for Morgan Stanley - posted profits this quarter. Some bank executives say it shouldn't be surprising that compensation goes up as performance improves.

Here’s my question to you: Did Wall Street learn anything from last year's meltdown?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Wall Street
July 23rd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should Congress stay in session until it completes health care legislation?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It seems unlikely that President Obama is going to get his way... when it comes to Congress passing health care reform before its August recess. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists that the Democrats have enough votes to pass their health care bill in the House - she hasn't scheduled a vote yet.

Pelosi has suggested she may keep the chamber in session past its scheduled vacation if necessary - saying she wants to see a bill.

However, one top conservative from the so-called "Blue Dog" group of Democrats says even though they're making progress in negotiations, "we have a long way to go."

Republicans don't think it's going to happen either. House Republican Whip Eric Cantor says, "If they're going to get this passed next week, it's going to have to be a changed bill." Meanwhile - over in the Senate - officials say it appears the hopes of holding a vote before the August recess are gone.

Although the president didn't repeat his demand last night that Congress pass legislation before the month-long break... the White House insists the time to act is now. It's likely that Mr. Obama realizes time is not on his side if this thing gets delayed, saying :"If you don't set deadlines in this town, things don't happen. The default position is inertia."

The House is scheduled to leave town next Friday - and the Senate the following week.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress remain in session until it completes the health care legislation?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Health care
July 23rd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should use of wild animals in circuses be outlawed?

ALT TEXT

File photo of Ringling Bros. elephants. These animals were not featured in the video we aired. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released a video that it says shows abuse of circus elephants by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The video shows animal handlers using a sharp metal object known as a bullhook to strike the elephants across the head, legs and body. In one part - a trainer curses at an elephant and then strikes the animal… telling it to "back up."

PETA says the video was shot by an undercover member who posed as a stagehand and worked for the circus for six months.

He said the circus elephants and tigers are regularly put through this kind of cruelty. The animal rights group says it has filed a complaint with the Agriculture Department under the Animal Welfare Act.

The circus denies the abuse claims and says it's looking into the validity of the video. They say they were in compliance with federal, state and local laws - and were inspected 10 times during the period that PETA claims the video was taken. The company says it loves its elephants and is proud of its efforts to care for and increase the endangered Asian elephant population.

But this isn't the first time Ringling Brothers has come under fire for allegedly mistreating animals. A 2000 case is set to be decided in federal court this month.

Here’s my question to you: Should the use of wild animals in circuses be outlawed?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
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