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December 18th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

At what cost technology replacing personal contact?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The holidays are upon us - traditionally a time spent with our families, friends and loved ones… intimate gatherings in our homes, which give us all a chance to reconnect. And maybe the need for that is greater than it's ever been.

Here are a few statistics that might be something for us all to think about:

There are 270 million cell phone subscribers who sent more than 110 billion text messages last December - that was double the number sent a year earlier. The average teenager sends more than 2,000 text messages every month.

At the same time - the average length of a cell phone call declined last year. The problem is, this is all stuff we mostly do alone.

We spend five hours a day watching television… and another two hours on the computer…

Walk down the street in any city in America and notice how many of us never see our surroundings. Our faces are buried in personal communication devices - At the expense of seeing someone smile as they pass you - of noticing someone who might be in need - or of missing something like a changing street light that can actually put you in danger.

It doesn't seem to be a big deal now but my guess is in 20 or 30 years we won't recognize ourselves because of the effect all of this has had.

That we will be different is certain. Whether we'll be better off is very much an open question…

Here’s my question to you: At what cost is technology replacing personal contact?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
December 18th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Reminding voters about Bush era best strategy for Democrats?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When Democrats swept into power in Congress and the White House last year - a big part of their message was running against the record of the Bush administration.

And some are hoping that strategy works for them again in the 2010 midterm elections.

The web site Talking Points Memo reports Democrats plan to tell voters that Republicans only want to turn back the clock to the Bush era. They say the Republican Party in Washington today is no different than the one that ran Congress before.

Also Democrats insist the party won't take the same kind of beating at the hands of Republicans that it did back in 1994. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says they "fully intend to be in the majority" after November - and other party leaders say they're more prepared this time.

They better hope they are, considering poll numbers that show support for the Democratic Party slumping. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll shows only 35-percent of voters have positive feelings for the Democratic party - that's down 14-points since February.

Also - Democrats are losing support from independents. And voters planning to back Republicans are much more interested in the 2010 races than those planning to vote Democrat.

Here’s my question to you: Is reminding voters about the Bush era the best strategy for Democrats in the midterm elections?

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: Bush Administration • Democrats
December 18th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Federal agencies get 10% budget increase while people on Soc. Security get none

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It happened quietly at the White House this week - almost like they didn't want us to notice:

President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill which increases budgets in many federal agencies by about 10-percent.

The bill includes almost $450 billion for the operating budgets of different departments. Among those seeing increases: The FBI, the Veterans Health Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

Democrats say this spending is critical in order to help the economy out of the recession. But Republicans are slamming what they call out-of-control spending - and criticizing about $4 billion going to more than 5,000 earmarks requested by individual lawmakers.

Doesn't exactly sound like the change President Obama promised, does it?

One watchdog group says the earmark projects include the construction of a Kentucky Farmer's market, the renovation of a historic theater in New York and the restoration of a Rhode Island mill.

The bill also approves a 2 percent pay increase for federal workers.

Meanwhile the 50 million Americans receiving Social Security won't be getting any increase next year - for the first time in more than 3 decades.

So nothing for the country's seniors... but there's always money for more government.

Here’s my question to you: Do some federal agencies deserve a 10-percent budget increase when people on Social Security get no increase at all?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Social Security • Uncategorized
December 17th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should cell phone stores have to post radiation levels?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

San Francisco could become the first city in the country to require radiation labels for cell phones.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is backing a proposal that would require stores to post the radiation levels next to each cell phone - in a size at least as large as the price. They would also have to tell customers what the radiation levels mean.

So far - scientists don't agree whether cell phones pose a health hazard, and the Federal Communications Commission insists that all phones legally sold in the U.S. are safe.

Not surprisingly - a cell phone industry group disputes the idea that cell phone radiation is dangerous. They point to research from groups like the American Cancer Society that cell phones are "unlikely" to cause cancer... and from the World Health Organization that cell phones aren't a public health risk.

But not everyone is so sure. One advocacy group says only recently have studies taken a look at radiation effects of people using cell phones for more than 10 years. They point to research in other countries that shows increased rates of brain and salivary gland tumors - especially on the side of the head where people use their cell phones.

In any case - there are 270 million cell phone subscribers in the U.S... and, if this becomes law in San Francisco - California often times leads the rest of the country when it comes to this stuff.

Here’s my question to you: Should cell phone stores have to post radiation levels?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health
December 17th, 2009
04:45 PM ET

Chaos and failure legacy of climate summit?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The clock is ticking down in Copenhagen with some suggesting the legacy of the two-week long climate talks will be nothing but chaos and failure.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech in Copenhagen on the 11th day of the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech in Copenhagen on the 11th day of the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference.

Things pretty much ground to a standstill yesterday: Thousands of protesters clashing with police outside the meetings - While inside, negotiators expressed frustration that they would likely leave empty-handed. At best - a weak political agreement that wouldn't do much about combating global warming. One key meeting ran 18 hours behind schedule.

The plan was for the 115-plus world leaders to show up today and tomorrow and bargain over the final details... Not gonna happen. There are still no answers about how much to cut carbon emissions, how to prove the cuts are made and which nations should pay for these changes... along with a stand-off between China and the U.S.

Although some are still holding out hope - others are already talking about holding another international climate summit in Mexico City next summer - months ahead of schedule. One UN official says without a real deal in Copenhagen - it would be better to put off big decisions until the next summit.

Meanwhile after racing to wrap up business in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is headed to Copenhagen, leading a 21-member bipartisan Congressional delegation. Pelosi - who's reportedly using at least two Air Force jets to get this posse to the climate summit - says the meeting is all jobs ... creating millions of new clean-energy jobs for Americans. Sure.

Here’s my question to you: Are chaos and failure the legacy of the Copenhagen climate summit?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Global matters • Global Warming
December 17th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Can U.S. survive without health care reform?

ALT TEXT

An activist participates in a vigil to support public option in health care (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama says the federal government "will go bankrupt" if Congress doesn't pass health care reform.

In an interview with ABC News - The president warns that without new health care legislation - people's premiums will go up and employers will add on more costs. Also - he says it's possible employers will start dropping coverage all together - because they just can't afford the increase in costs, somewhere to the tune of 25 to 30 percent a year.

Mr. Obama adds that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid are headed in an "unsustainable" direction... and threaten to bankrupt the government if nothing is done. The president says anyone who's worried about rising deficits or future tax increases has to support the bill - because otherwise, health care costs will just eat up the budget.

But not everyone is buying what the president is selling. Polls suggest Americans are increasingly skeptical - with support for health care reform falling... while the opposition grows stronger. One new survey shows that for the first time more people say they would prefer Congress do nothing on health care than those who want reform.

It's unclear if the Senate will be able to pass its bill by the president's deadline of Christmas. Among other things, moderate Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska - a key holdout - says the question of abortion funding still hasn't been answered to his liking.

Here’s my question to you: Can the U.S. survive without health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care
December 16th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Where does controlling the volume of TV ads rank as an issue?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Congress is turning its attention to one of the most pressing issues of our time: lowering the volume of TV commercials.

That's correct - apparently we no longer need to be concerned with the little stuff... you know... like the worst recession since the Great Depression, health care reform, skyrocketing deficits, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 10-percent unemployment, a crisis in education... the commercials on television are too loud and something must be done.

The House has passed a measure by a voice vote called Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act - or CALM... which says that ads can be no louder than the TV shows during which they appear. An identical measure is making it way through the Senate.

Supporters call loud ads annoying and frustrating and say they came up with the bill after finding out this was a common complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The measure would require the FCC to set new rules within a year - and start enforcing them a year later. Meanwhile - experts say viewers may not even be able to tell the difference if this becomes law.

When asked why Congress has to get involved in this, Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida said: "You can say, 'Well, that's fine. Just turn it off. But it's constantly an irritant when you have to do it. And we've got all the new bowl games coming up."

I now want to sharpen a pencil and jam it in my ear because I cannot take it anymore.

Here’s my question to you: On a list of the great issues of our time, where does controlling the volume of TV commercials rank?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm 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: Government • Media Coverage
December 16th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Good idea to move Gitmo detainees to Illinois prison?

ALT TEXT

The Thomson Correctional Facility in Thompson, Illinois. President Obama has announced that the prison will be home to roughly 100 prisoners currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Obama administration is coming under fire for its decision to move some Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois maximum-security prison.

The plan is for the federal government to buy the Thomson Correctional Center - 150 miles west of Chicago. The Defense Department would then run the part of the prison housing what's expected to be fewer than 100 Gitmo detainees. There are about 215 prisoners currently being held at the controversial facility in Cuba.

Administration officials say the detainees going to Illinois would be those facing trial in U.S. courts or by military commission.

Illinois' governor says this move could bring 2,000 jobs and $1 billion to the local community - a big help to a state with an 11-percent unemployment rate.

But critics say it could wind up being another place where detainees are held indefinitely without trial. Republicans suggest this shows the White House has forgotten about the 9/11 terror attacks; and that they're bringing terrorists into the country under the guise of a "jobs program."

The ACLU is blasting the move as well, calling the Illinois prison "Gitmo North." They say closing Guantanamo is only a symbolic gesture if "we continue its lawless policies onshore."

Here’s my question to you: Is it a good idea to move Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois prison?

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: Guantanamo Bay • prisons
December 16th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Special commission the answer to finally addressing the deficit?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The national debt - now topping $12 trillion - has more than doubled in just the last eight years...

The National Debt Clock in midtown Manhattan in July 2009. Those numbers currently top $12 trillion.

The National Debt Clock in midtown Manhattan in July 2009. Those numbers currently top $12 trillion.

And experts say that if the government doesn't come up with a plan soon to get the debt under control - we could risk panic in the financial markets. They say the government shouldn't raise taxes or cut spending immediately so as not to hurt the economic recovery. But the changes will have to happen by 2012 or else. Don't hold your breath...

One option on the table is a bipartisan commission to look into sweeping tax increases and spending cuts. CNN is reporting that President Obama is seriously considering an executive order to set up such a panel. Excuse me, but isn't that what the government is supposed to do... manage taxes and spending?

This latest brainstorm would have a bipartisan group taking months to study the problem and then decide AFTER the 2010 midterm elections what to do. Wouldn't want to raise taxes or cut spending before they're up for re-election, right?

Meanwhile - instead of the proposed $2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling - fiscal hawks In Congress want to increase it by only a "couple hundred billion dollars" at a time.

I guess the idea is that way nobody will notice how far in the toilet we are. If the U.S. doesn't raise the debt ceiling by the end of this year - we will default on our debt. This is scary stuff and requires a backbone to make some tough calls. So let's get someone else to do it.

Here’s my question to you: Is a special commission the answer to finally addressing the deficit?

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.


Filed under: Deficit
December 15th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Republicans more likely to be 'highly religious' than Democrats

ALT TEXT

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More proof that religion and politics are deeply connected in the U.S. - especially if you're a Republican.

A new Gallup poll shows the religious intensity of Americans is a strong predictor of whether they're Democrat or Republican. In a survey of nearly 30,000 people:

49 percent of Americans who call themselves Republicans say they're "highly religious"... meaning they go to church at least once a week and say religion is important in their daily lives. That's compared to 37 percent of Democrats who feel that way.

At the other extreme - only 26 percent of Republicans say they're "not religious" - meaning they never attend church and say religion isn't important... That's compared to 56 percent of Democrats.

When it comes to race - the poll shows that African-Americans are strongly Democratic - regardless of how religious they are. Also, Latinos skew more toward the Democratic party.

However, the religious connection is strongest among whites. Consider this: Whites who are highly religious are more than twice as likely to identify as Republicans rather than Democrats... and - exactly the opposite pattern emerges among whites who are not religious - by a 2-to-1 margin they are likely Democrats.

In all - about half of the white population in this country is both highly religious and leans toward the Republican Party.

With numbers like these - it's no wonder we hear Republican politicians invoking God and morality more often than the Democrats.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean that Republicans are more likely to be "highly religious" than Democrats?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Democrats • Religion • Republicans
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